the Scholar Class, Levels 1 – 14

The Scholar class is an Intelligence based non-spellcaster class that lets D&D players take on the role of tactical geniuses, medical prodigies, and savants of all stripes. Previously on the Sterling Vermin we were careful to spend time honing the first 5 levels and our last version took the class up to level 10. Today’s update brings the Scholar class up to level 14 and gives us one last shot at making whatever fine tuning we need to do to the early levels before we have a full 1 – 20 version.

If this is your first time seeing the Scholar, you should check it out now!

the Scholar, Levels 1 – 14

If you’ve been following the Scholar from previous updates you may notice some of the following changes or additions:

  • The Scholar Hit Dice has been changed from d8s to d6s. This was not a balance concern but done for flavor reasons.
  • The Critical Analysis feature was renamed to Sage Advice and the old Sage Advice is now gone. This was one because a reader pointed out that they were thematically very similar abilities and I agreed. The 2nd level was a bit feature heavy anyway.
  • Quick Study was moved from 4th to 6th. I thought there was precedence for gaining a feature along with the Ability Score Improvement at 4th level but looking back through the PHB recently I realized there wasn’t. Plus it’s a good fit for 6th level.
  • Iron Will was moved to 7th as a result of Quick Study moving to 6th.
  • Both Field of Studies have features that underwent some changes for balance purposes. Both Field of Studies also got new 14th level features.
  • Analytical Assault is new and continues the Scholar’s damage scaling to match other classes.
  • The Expansive Intellect feature is new and I’d love feedback on it.

If you’re new to the Sterling Vermin and like what you’ve read here today we hope you’ll consider subscribing to our subreddit, following us on twitter, and most importantly supporting us on Patreon. If the Scholar got you excited about the kinds of content the Sterling Vermin Adventuring Co. produces you can see some of the player options we’ve already made available on the DM’s Guild here, including our popular streetfighting class, the Pugilist, and our spellslinging swordswinging class, the Magus.

12 thoughts on “the Scholar Class, Levels 1 – 14

  1. Overall, I’m really loving the updates you made and the new levels. I have more specific notes organized by category (General Scholar, Physician, Tactician, and Erudite Applications) below.

    General Scholar:

    In Sage Advice, what is the “critical analysis modifier”? I noticed the same wording is used in Quick Study, Analytical Assault, and Strategic Advantage, but it’s never explained. Reading Intelligent Assault and Analytical Assault, I realize that the critical analysis modifier (which I think would read better as “critical analysis bonus”) is not the Intelligence modifier, but no where in the document is it explained how to find it.

    I like Expansive Intellect a lot. It’s simple, but makes a huge impact. And I don’t feel it’s broken.

    Also, is it just me, or would a Scholar with the Crossbow Expert feat be really good? That bonus action hand crossbow attack while wielding a weapon in the other hand (perhaps a second hand crossbow?) seems like it could be really strong with the bonuses from Intelligent Assault and Analytical Assault. Like the other potential build I describe below, I don’t think this is broken by any means because it requires feat investment; I just wanted to point out that it’s possible and the potential cool factor of it.

    Physician:

    In Doctor’s Orders, since the creature is rolling only one die, “1 hit dice” should probably read “1 hit die”.

    I like Treating Physician quite a bit, especially since it can only be used during a short rest. It’s really useful, and people will love a Scholar that has it in the party, but it can’t be used in combat or during a very short period of time. There’s always an element of risk when using it in hostile territory since an hour is quite a long time, so I love the balance, risk, and utility of the feature. It will lead to a lot of cool party discussions about whether it’s worth it in the particular scenario.

    I love Resuscitating Procedure and Restorative Treatment. 9th level Physician is awesome, but not broken.

    Rejuvenating Technique is, like the rest of Physician, awesome but not broken. It’s just really useful in niche cases when a spellcasting ally felt forced to go full HAM to save the party, but there’s still the rest of a dungeon to face.

    I really love the changes and additions to the Physician, and I’d love to see one in action.

    Tactician:

    Just first, I feel like a dual-wielding Scholar that takes the Dual Wielder feat would be extremely good, especially when using two rapiers and taking the Unarmored Defense Application. Adding IntMod (max 6) and the critical analysis modifier (whatever that ends up being) to both attacks each turn with a potentially 22 AC, even without adding DexMod to the second attack, is really strong. I don’t think such a build is broken because it requires serious investment and higher levels, but I just wanted to point out that such a build is possible.

    The new 3rd-level features for Tactician feel much more balanced, and interact in really cool and meaningful ways with the base class’s features. I like it a lot.

    Warlord’s Rush is sick. I really, really like it.

    I feel like Rallying Surge is way too strong for 9th level, though, and Commander’s Strike is a bit weak for 14th level. I think I would like those two to switch levels.

    I love the idea and application of all 3 9th and 14th features, especially the way Commander’s Strike can combo with Tactical Advantage (and they way that combo interacts with Rogues).

    Overall, I like the balance of the Tactician much more than in the previous iteration, and with a couple more tweaks, I think it’ll be perfect.

    Erudite Applications:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for removing Bonus Feat.

    Discerning Character and Keen Senses may still be a little too good. Advantage against a full school of spells is a little strong for 2nd level, especially with other added bonuses.

    I love the new Survival Skills.

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    1. Hi Ross!

      The document originally didn’t have the Critical Analysis Modifier column on the class table but it is there now. Essentially it’s a proficiency modifier that’s exclusive to the Scholar class as others had pointed out previously that otherwise some of the Scholar features scaled oddly when multiclassed.

      Some concerns came up today in various forums about abusive combinations of the way the Scholar’s damage scales currently and various feats so I’m going to be looking closely at that. Crossbow Expert was one among them. I haven’t looked at them yet though so I’ll have to wait and see.

      In general I think I have gotten some good feedback that this initial plan for damage scaling may not work. So I need to think about that as well.

      RE: Physician

      Thanks, I think it’s come a long way since the last iteration. I’m probably going to nerf Doctor’s Order’s just a smidge (hit die will be rolled rather than auto-giving maximum) but other than that there aren’t a lot of changes I think are absolutely critical. Still very carefully considering the effects of the Rejuvenating Technique feature. I want it to stay in but I know it could be dodgy.

      RE: Tactician

      I’ll think about Rallying Surge. My baseline for that feature was the spell *Haste*. It got nerfed in this version to take an action to use and to only affect up to your Int mod in creatures but it could possibly go higher in the archetype.

      It probably won’t swap places with Commander’s Strike because, at the moment, Commander’s Strike is kind of upping the damage per round of the Scholar (which I think is more important than the one round burst that Rallying Surge does). That said, it depends. I may end up deciding that the 11th level damage scaling should go to archetypes in the Scholar in which case then I could totally see Commander’s Strike moving down some.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I definitely have a lot to think about in terms of how to tighten up what’s here as well as finish up the class – and then I still need to generate quite a bit more Erudite Applications too!

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      1. Hello, Benjamin!

        The Critical Analysis Modifier looks good to me!

        To prevent abuse using the current damage scaling, perhaps you could change the wording in Intelligent and/or Analytical Assault to “Once per turn, when you hit with a weapon attack, you can add your [Intelligence modifier/critical analysis modifier] to the damage roll.” That allows the Scholar to still hit with one big attack on their own turn and when making opportunity attacks, which is what I believe to be the original intention, but it prevents bonus action attack and Extra Attack (via multiclassing) abuse. Do you think that might help?

        RE: RE: Physician

        I like the idea of rolling the hit die instead of just getting the maximum when using Doctor’s Orders. It certainly makes the feature less consistent and thereby less powerful.

        Also, I think there is a way of slightly nerfing Rejuvenating Technique without destroying it. Perhaps, this procedure must be performed immediately after a long rest on a single creature. The target then gets the choice of whether to benefit from a long rest once during that day after a short rest. This makes the feature less flexible, especially if there’s more than one spellcaster in the party (or if there’s a spellcaster + a barbarian that the party needs to rage every single fight to tank like a monster), so the feature must then be used proactively, rather than reactively as it is now.

        RE: RE: Tactician

        The problem with Rallying Surge is that, by 9th level, an Artificer could easily have a +5 IntMod, meaning it could target every single member of the average party size. Haste, while certainly a great spell, imposes very strict limits on what can be done with the extra action so that it doesn’t get out of hand. Rallying Surge does not, and that worries me for the simple fact that the entire party getting an unrestricted extra action could simple lead to the fight being over, or very near over, due to the sheer action economy advantage. A spellcaster could cast a high level crowd control spell and then cast a damage cantrip with most likely advantage. A martial class could get an enormous number of highly potent attacks (especially at later levels), a paladin could get 4 Smites in a single turn, etc. If perhaps, the extra action granted by Rallying Surge were restricted in a similar way to Haste, it would be perfectly balanced. As it is now just seems too strong, especially with how much stronger it becomes for martial and half-caster classes at later levels due to the way their damage scales.

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  2. I agree that the potential for abuse is there for the int to damage feature but looking at the scaling of it we are looking at either 2d6+20 at max damage or 2d8+20 for melee fighters, unfortunately while this isn’t really out of line, the potential is there for someone to ride into a class that grants additional attacks or the ranged fighting style. Restricting it to once a turn is probably the best solution.

    I do think lowering the explosive potential of rallying sure is also a great idea, one attack is much more manageable then three or even four at higher levels, and it still gives a good chunk of damage or utility to the party. Also imposing the restrictions like haste limits the ability to just give your party another turn.

    I do think the 14th level feature is a bit late for something that should be core to the class, and swapping it with the ninth level feature will mean it will be explosive late game, but by that time spells will have caught up and the enemies hopefully tougher.

    Rolling the healing from the physician is probably the best choice to keep the healing away from making life clerics feel a bit obsolete.

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    1. Just saw critical analysis gets added to damage post 11, I would either make the feature only once per turn or seek to add another feature as opposed to more damage.

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      1. Ah okay, that makes sense now that I think about it. I still enjoy the idea of handing the other player a die, but since it’s not as automatic as Bardic Inspiration (requiring a reaction) the player can focus on what she does to provide the benifit.

        I like everything I’m seeing with this class, and it feels like a great addition to any game. hopefully I will get the chance to playtest it, though I think by the time we play dnd it will be finished already! I’ve been wanting a non magic using intellectual for a long time! Awesome work!

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  3. Hey I was just wondering how playtest is going? Is the full 20 levels next for release or a new direction? When can we enjoy such an update? 😀 I haven’t had to play at all to try it, but I am lovIng it all the same!

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  4. I really like the way this class is so I hope that you didn’t forget about it and left it incomplete, And I would add some food for thought. for the 16th level ability it would be a ounce a long rest that gives you and your party ignores your opponents resistences until the end of your next turn, and when you reach 19th level it upgrades to ignoring immunities. the reason I thought of this is because it would take advantage of the scholars intellectual and analytical way of fighting by observing an oponents defenses and creating a plan to bypass it’s defences and it would be a cool ability to have on there, but I would respect your decisions regardless is you decide not to take my Ideas.

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