July 1, 2016

Razor Mage

Arcane Tradition
Comments from the Finger: Another take on the Daggerspell mage, this time from the perspective of a wizard that's obsessed with knives.

School of Razormancy

Conjuration is a specific field of magic, but it takes a special, or at least especially deranged, wizard to specialize in conjuring blades. Wizards of the School of Razormancy, often called Razor Mages, are formidable foes in combat, for their singular obsession with sharp things lends them considerable skill for violence. Often, they are experts in blending stealth, swordplay, and spellcasting in ways few other mages can equal.

Razor Savant 
Beginning when you choose this tradition at 2nd level, you gain proficiency with all simple melee weapons, as well as scimitars and shortswords.
     Additionally, you can always find a blade at hand. You can use your bonus action to summon a dagger and draw it to your hand out of thin air. This dagger vanishes when you use your bonus action to dismiss it, or 10 minutes after it has left your grasp.

Daggerspell Strike
At 2nd level, when you cast a cantrip which requires a single spell attack roll, you can channel this spell through a melee weapon you are holding. Make a melee weapon attack against a target within your reach. On a hit, the cantrip successfully hits the target and also deals weapon damage as normal.

Uncanny Dodge
Starting at 6th level, when an attacker that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to halve the attack’s damage against you.

Spontaneous Cloud of Daggers
Starting at 10th level, you can cast a limited version of the spell cloud of daggers without preparing the spell or expending a spell slot. The effects of this spell last only until the beginning of your next turn.

At 14th level, all melee weapon attacks you make deal double damage.

Changelog: 7/1/16: Warmonger: No bonus action attack anymore -- just double melee weapon damage
7/2/16: Razor Savant: Proficiency reduced to all simple melee weapons and scimitar and shortsword. Bonus action to summon and dismiss a dagger
Daggerspell Strike: Works with all melee weapons


  1. If they are proficiency with everything that does slashing, why do they summon a dagger? Also, why can't they cast through other weapons?

    1. I agree. Shortswords don't do slashing either to my knowledge.

    2. Yea... the inability to cast through any other weapon has me baffled too.

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    4. Well, initially this was a balancing mechanic. Since the class previously got many more attacks than it does now, higher hit dice weapons threatened the damage balance. Also, this tied up the class as a symmetric opposite to the Daggerspell Mage, which is a spellcasting rogue with the Imbue Dagger feature.

      Now, I'm thinking about changing a few things. Firstly, I'm just going to give a list of weapons that the Razor Mage is proficient in, so that I limit the ability for the razor mage to focus in things like axes. Secondly, with the more limited pallet of weapons available, I can expand daggerspell strike to more weapons (and I'll probably have to rename it) without fear of having too much damage.

  2. Very interesting archetype. This is definitely something I would love to play. I do have a couple questions.

    1. What made you feel that uncanny dodge was the right choice for the 6th level feature?

    2. Is there a limit to Spontaneous Cloud of Daggers, or is it something that they always have at their side, sort of like a cantrip.

    3. Do you think the 14th level ability is a bit too strong? Many players, including myself, would love to multiclass this with rogue. And if you double the damage, that's basically allowing something better than a crit to occur on a much higher chance to happen, and giving it to a class that does absurd damage with a single strike. Maybe instead all hits are considered criticals? At least that stops the modifier being doubled. I'm interesting in hearing your thoughts.

    1. Uncanny Dodge: As a thematic choice, uncanny dodge more directly ties this class to the rogue. Mechanically, it's permissible since other subclasses have offered it before, and it's necessary since this wizard has plenty of incentive to go into melee.

      Spontaneous Cloud of Daggers is at will, like a cantrip.

      Warmonger *might* be too strong. I'll be looking into it with some math tomorrow. I don't really worry about multiclassing as a concern here, since you can do that with this feature at minimum level 15. The big concern (which is something I didn't even consider, since it's not PHB) is greenflame blade, which deals its damage as part of a melee weapon attack. This is actually doubled, which is somewhat problematic.

      As it stands now, warmonger allows for a cantrip and two dagger attacks on a turn, each of which are doubled in damage (3d10+4d4+20, with daggers, firebolt, and 20 Dexterity). This is an increase of about 30 damage from a conventional cantrip, which is indeed probably too high. I /intended/ for this feature to be very powerful, since being in melee as a single-classed wizard deserves some benefit. However, it seems I overstepped a little bit. I'll be messing with this feature tomorrow.

  3. The level 14 feature is very strong, especially if you combine it with the green flame blade cantrip. But the idea is a very strong one. Maybe you could accomplish a similar effect with a static modifier to damage or with the addition of extra dice? The subclass as a whole is amazing and I love it.

    1. Thanks for mentioning greenflame blade -- this cantrip completely slipped my mind. I'll probably be changing this feature tomorrow sometime to fix the damage, which is indeed higher than I expected. I mean, I /intended/ it to have a lot of damage, but it exceeded the amount I expected, especially with greenflame blade.

    2. If I may, being able to cast blade barrier might do well, seeing as Wizards normally can't cast it?

    3. Finger. I thinks it's fine. Here's my reasoning. Free flame blade wants you to make an attack to use it. So just say that the feature doesn't allow you to make multiple attacks per turn

  4. I rather like this subclass, it reminds me of playing Fable II and maxing out the Swords spell first as my main damage dealer.

    However, I have a couple of problems with the subclass as is: firstly, the 14th level ability is much too strong, and forces the Wizard into melee. Secondly, there is a complex interaction between Razor Savant, Daggerspell Strike, and Uncanny Dodge. As written, Razor Savant is useless at range because you need your action to summon a dagger, effectively giving your opponents free daggers and preventing you from throwing it, which I think rather clashes with the image of the "knife wizard" as someone creating a deadly hail of sharp bits, filling an overturned table with them after their opponent leaps behind it in a panic, to the sound of "TUNKTUNKTUNKTUNKTUNKTUNKTUNKTUNKTUNK."

    More importantly, as written Razor Savant allows the character to be proficient in many melee weapons, but Daggerspell Strike encourages you not to use any of them for fear of screwing up your action economy on magic. You also will often be trading the range on your cantrip attacks for a measly 1d4 additional damage; as well as forcing the Wizard into melee combat when they haven't obtained Uncanny Dodge to let them survive it at such low levels.

    Overall, I think Daggerspell Strike needs to allow for knife throwing and more sharp weapons, Razor Savant needs to be reduced to a Bonus Action and have its time limit reduced perhaps to allow for throwing to be at all effective, and Warmonger needs to be toned down. I think the power reduction in Warmonger will make up for the ability to cast short range cantrips at a slightly longer range, and throw a bottomless number of daggers. Making the whole thing work a little more like a knife obsessed Arcane Archer makes more sense to me, though with emphasis on the sharp bits rather than the magic.

  5. Razor Savant I would rephrase one sentence to "You can always find a blade at hand," and add a way to dispel your summoned daggers at will, or as a free object interaction at least.

    Also, as others have mentioned, the weapon proficiencies seem a bit off.

    Re: GFB, this is technically a spell attack with a melee weapon attack as part of the spell attack action, so according to Jeremy Crawford's interpretation of RAW it wouldn't get doubled. Not to say Warmonger shouldn't be re-worked. Multiplicative damage modifiers are rare in 5th and cause problems when stacking with crits. How about extra dice of damage instead?

    1. An additional die of damage doesn't effect the ability score modifier added to the damage, which is the real take-away from doubling damage if you've optimized things. To replicate this, I would have to give two additional dice of damage for each attack, or something strange like that, to keep the damage in the realm that I want it. Moreover, that doesn't really reward the Razor Mage getting MAD and investing in Strength or Dexterity, which is something I'd like to do for a gish character.

    2. Then maybe: "You may add your strength or dexterity modifier to any melee damage you deal, even if you would normally include it in the damage".
      Alternatively: "When you roll damage with a melee attack, if the damage is lower than twice your Strength or Dexterity modifier you may use that instead"

    3. I am going to go out on a limb and risk my neck by saying that this subclass is all over the place and most of the features don't well-align with the fluff. It talks about being a specialist in conjuring daggers, but the only features that directly do this are the dagger-manifesting base trait (which is almost completely forgettable once you have cash for a real weapon, since 90% of the subclass does NOT work with thrown weapons) and the 10th level feature.

      I hate to say this, but I think this thing needs a Redux.

      On a different topic, why does the Daggerspell Mage halve your SA when you attack with an imbued dagger? SA IS rogue damage in this edition, and even a rogue using single target multi-ray evocation spells doesn't come out ahead for what it loses except exactly when it takes the subclass.

      I can provide math if you think I am kidding, but the restrictions in play pretty much lock it to Instantaneous Evocation spells, which are well, mostly just damage. I find the subclass really inspiring but it flat-out rewards/encourages strange, backwater tactics like prepping the dagger you want to stab with in advance earlier in the fight and then stabbing with it as a BA TWF attack when you have already sucessfully dealt SA that round as if the 2nd strike misses and fails to deliver the spell it will simply carry the charge over to the next round where you can try again.

    4. Firstly, we love criticism here -- I don't want you to feel like you're going out on a limb to provide it. Response here in two parts:

      --Razor Mage--

      This subclass has already seen some major changes, and from the direction of your criticism, I think a they might have hurt more than they helped. Originally, Daggerspell Strike worked only with daggers, much like Imbue Dagger. Do you think I should roll back this feature to encourage the use of daggers?

      Secondly, I've seen a lot of feedback about this class not working with ranged weapons: yeah, that's the point. I can't just give flat damage increases through additional weapons attacks without some form of drawback. In this case, the additional damage comes as a trade for being close in melee combat as a wizard. 6th level's uncanny dodge helps to reinforce this, as it gives you some better survivability in close quarters.

      --Daggerspell Mage--

      This subclass was a rollercoaster to design, but if a change is required, it probably won't be a quick fix. I'll go over the math again tonight, but I'm not sure how to change it to avoid prepping spell daggers for the second attack. That being said, I'm pretty sure your math must be off for normal types of SA and imbued SAs, since this is something I've checked the numbers on pretty extensively.

      As for spells -- it's no accident it basically only works with instantaneous evocation spells. I mean, you only get to choose from transmutation and evocation anyway, so there wasn't a lot of variety in the first place. Remember that we're talking about a 1/3 spellcasting subclass, not a full or half caster, so the restrictions are totally in line with total game balance.

  6. Okay I love the fluff on this, but some of the mechanics, especially some of the changes, seem odd to me.

    I don't really get the need for short swords and/or scimitars if you want to encourage the use of daggers, but hey that 1 point of damage wont hurt balance too bad I think.

    What I do not get is the level 10 feature. Sure "cloud of daggers" fits thematically well and casting a 2nd level spell at-will seems great and all but that spell is really really crappy compared to what you could use your action for otherwise at level 10 (or 11 especially!)

    For cloud of daggers to surpass even your normal cantrip damage at that level you would have to face some really stupid enemies. I mean you guys normally are so creative when designing your features but this one just seems "meh"

    1. The idea with Spontaneous Cloud of Daggers wasn't to create a feature to deal more damage than a cantrip, but to provide the wizard with an area denial feature. The goal here is battlefield control -- more interaction-y than simply dealing more damage than a cantrip. The same logic went into the shadow adept Consuming Darkness feature, which has similar utility. I was originally going to write an almost identical feature here, but realized that there was a pre-existing spell which filled the same role.

      The problem seems to be that it takes an action, rather than a bonus action. Do you think this would work better if you could cast the spell as a bonus action once per short rest, or possibly, just kill the limited duration thing and be able to concentrate on multiple instances of this spell at once?

    2. I would like to say that I will be responding to your previous comment (in response to mine) later tonight after I get home from work, but while I have a quick minute to mention on this topic -

      The 10th level feature is absolutely the best, most true-to fluff feature here. Please don't take it away.

      Something to consider with Wizard subclasses is that any wizard who takes, say, Razor Mage is giving up not just the features of the CRB wizard subclasses, but also the 1/2 price spellbook adding for a school.

      Speaking personally, I come to Middle Finger of Vecna looking for alternate class fantasies - this is why I jump for joy at things like Daggerspell Mage and Path of the Fin, while things such as Master Thrower and the new Explorer Fighter (Desert Update) leave me underwhelmed.

      As a general statement, I think there should be more focus on Dagger Summoning Wizard here than Melee WizRogue

    3. I love the idea of being able to utilize a not-so-great spell to greater effect because it fits theme. After all that's what a specialization is for: becoming better than everybody else at a certain thing.

      Keeping in mind that you want the 10th-level ability to be area denial, I think being able to keep up multiple instances would be better than being able to just bonus action it with the short duration since that would most likely just become plain "extra damage" in most cases.

      The image of a swirling cloud of magical slicingness, that expands to engulf more and more of the battle field just seems a lot more stylish and thematic

  7. What if for the 10th level ability you made it a bonus action and/or gave it a duration of Intelligence Modifier rounds? Too powerful? Maybe reduce it to 2d4 or even 1d4 if the intent was area denial.

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  8. I think Daggerspell Strike should allow thrown weapons as well, if even just daggers.

    1. Also, since Warmonger says "All melee weapon attacks deal double damage" rather than "All melee weapon damage you deal is doubled" or something similar, as written it also doubles the cantrip damage from a Daggerspell Strike. Is that intended?