While I'm working on some other topics, I wanted to take the time to do a breakdown on BG3's implementation of the Sorcerer class. Yes, I know, I never did get around to doing the focused feedback threads for the other class, life got away from me, but I am going to do this one, and maybe I'll be able to work back and get to the others eventually.
So, Sorcerer! Sorcerers are innate magic-users who has a natural connection to the weave. Unlike Warlocks and Clerics, who receive their powers through a powerful intermediary to the weave, and unlike Wizards who don't truly have a connection to the weave at all, and master its effects through raw intellect of form and process, a Sorcerer is intrinsically connected to the weave, feels its power directly, and in most cases, must
use that power, lest it find ways out on its own, uncontrolled.
It's a fun class, and a much loved one by many; for everyone for whom the words “You use magic; I am magic.” resonate, there is the sorcerer.
In D&D 5e, Sorcerers have a spell list that is mostly identical to Wizards, with a few notable exceptions, especially in the higher levels. They learn fewer spells overall, and cannot pick up new ones as they go, except through their level progression, but they always have immediate access to the spells they do know, without preparation, they don't rely on a spell book, and they develop specialised ways to alter or augment their spells in creative ways, as well as modulating the amount of power they have flexibly, so that they can always have power to spare of the level they need when they need it.Sorcerous Origin
Sorcerers come in a myriad of flavour, but for BG3 we're restricted to just the original two that appeared in the Phb – Draconic, and Wild. You get to pick your heritage at level 1, since it's innately a part of you. You get one perk from your origin immediately at 1st level, and additional perks at levels 6, 14 and 18. These levels tie in to compliment features and perks you get at other levels from other aspects of the class, such that you generally get something nice or new each level, but never too many things at once. Draconic Bloodline
In 5e, picking Draconic lineage grants you a couple of immediate perks; you gain a natural armour which means that while you aren't wearing any other armour, you can choose to calculate your AC as being 13 plus your Dex mod – this functionally makes it an 'always on' mage armour, that can't ever be removed or dispelled. It's worth noting, for those less familiar with the system, that this is just an alternate way to calculate your AC – so it doesn't 'stack' with other AC calculation methods. If you cast mage armour on yourself, your AC won't change, for example, because Mage armour itself just gives you another way you can calculate your AC – coincidentally the same way that your dragon scales do. Draconic Sorcerer Monks, by contrast, can choose to calculate their AC as 13 +Dex, by their Dragon lineage, or as 10 +Dex +Wis, as a monk – but they only pick whichever of those two is better – Not
13 +Dex +Wis.
In BG3, this has been implemented in the same way fairly smoothly and, since the earlier days, Larian have improved the way the game handles calculating AC, such that things now reference a Base AC – the wording and form is a little clumsy, but the result is that it all works correctly now, which is good to see!
You also gain more hit points as you level – BG3 grants you 1 extra hit point per sorcerer level, as a draconic sorcerer, just like it does in core 5e. Looking good so far ^.^
At the time that you pick your sorcerous origin, Dragon Sorcerers also get to pick what type of dragon they have a connection to – this plays into some features that they'll get later on, but they don't drown you in new things right off the bat.
BG3 gives Draconic Sorcerers one other thing at 1st level which the core rules do not – an extra spell.
This is an interesting choice. One of the big difficulties for Sorcerers has always been that they acquire fewer spells than other full casters – even bards learn more spells than they do. Thi is often contrasted by some folks by saying that sorcerers always have all of their spells available, but in reality that defence doesn't amount to much: Level for level, a Wizard or a Cleric, or any other prepared caster, will be able to prepare more spells each day than a sorcerer even knows – so in reality, the Sorcerer will have a single fixed toolkit that contains fewer spells than the Wizard's daily choices, and they won't be able to change them on a whim like clerics and wizards can – it's not much of a defence, in the end. As such, the limitation on Sorcerer spells has often been heavily criticised, and WotC do seem to have accepted that there are grounds for the complaint in recent times – the latest two sorcerers origins they have published have contained expanded spells, much like a cleric gets, such that they know two extra spells per spell level, up to 5th level spells, which don't count against their known spell limit. These spells are usually designed to be ones that fit the origin in a thematic way. Many have since called for the existing sorcerous origins to be given a back-treatment to give them extra spells too – it's not a balance issue, since the new lines get these extra spells on top of their perks, which are more than equivalent to the existing origins'. It seems likely that the future 5.5 publication will do this, when it releases, in fact.
So, adding a new spell for Draconic sorcerers? It's perfectly acceptable, and even a nice choice... but I will admit that I would have preferred, if they're doing this, that they do it fully and properly, and give each sorcerous origin they put into the game the full set origin spells - two per spell level up to fifth.
In terms of how it actually works, there are still some minor bugs with the Draconic Lineage spell: The main issue is that it cannot be upcast. There is the chance that this was a deliberate implementation choice and not a bug, but if so it needs to be corrected.
Consistency is key here, and in 5e style design, you know the spells you know, and can cast them like any other spell you know, unless specifically stipulated otherwise. Most features that grant an extra spell use a specific wording: They say “You know the [spell name] spell,” first, usually followed by, “and can cast it once without expending a spell slot. You cannot cast the spell this way again until you finish a long rest.” This style is specific, and the wording deliberate, because the key point is that You know the spell
. You can use the feature to cast it for free, but you know the spell, first and foremost, and you can cast it in the same way you cast other spells you know – using your spell slots.
In particular, the way that the spell has been implemented in BG3, you have to use a spell slot to cast it – but you're only allowed to use a 1st level spell slot, not a 2nd. This design is inconsistent with the rest of the spellcasting system, and as well as limiting players also risks leaving them confused or put out at not being able to do something that they expect they should.
That aside, what spells are they giving us? By dragon lineage, we get:
Red (Fire): Burning Hands
Black (Acid): Grease
Blue (Lightning): Witch Bolt
White (Cold): Armour of Agathys
Green (Poison): Ray of Sickness
Gold (Fire/Weakening Breath): Disguise Self
Silver (Cold/Paralysing Breath): Feather Fall
Bronze (Lightning/Repulsion Breath): Fog Cloud
Copper (Acid/Slowing Breath): Hideous Laughter
Brass (Fire/Sleep Breath): Sleep
Most of these look like pretty decent choices, considering the fact that we're limited to 1st level spells only. They've elected to give the metallic lineages non-damaging spells, and where possible made them at least as closely related to their alternate breath abilities as possible with first level spells. Grease, for the Black dragon's acid affinity is a little odd, but better choices were sparse, and I can accept that trouble. I might have suggested swapping Hideous Laughter and Feather fall – Laughter incapacitates, to line up with the Silver's paralysis breath, while Feather Fall, at a stretch slows your falls, to make a tenuous reach to the Copper's slowing breath... I feel that at least works better than the way it is now, but it's not something that's worth raising major complaints over.
In Character Creation for our Draconic Sorcerers, they also tell us that our lineage pick will give us more perks at level 6 – this felt a bit odd, since they don't yet have any other places where they tell us what we can get. I'd strongly prefer, as I feel many would, that we be able to see what lies ahead of us on a class' level progression both when we level up, and at character creation. Don't take away telling us what we'll get at 6th level, but rather, tell us more accurately, and tell us what levels we can expect other features too, and tell us this for EVERY class and archetype, please.
What they do tell us is a bit vague, sadly: they say that our element-aligned spells will “become stronger”, and that we “can gain” resistance to our element... this isn't very helpful, however.
In 5e, at 6th level, you can add your ability modifier to one damage roll of any spell you cast that deals your element damage. Not just any Sorcerer spell, but any
spell – this is an important distinction for multiclassing. Whenever you do that, you can also spend one sorcery point to gain resistance to your element for the next hour.
We don't know how this will be implemented in BG3 yet, of course... though given the way other hour duration effects and spells have worked so far, it seems likely that you'll be able to take that resistance until you next rest, or else that you'll simply get it innately – either would actually be acceptable perks, and buffs to the feature, in my opinion.
One other thing that I noticed in character creation: If you are a draconic sorcerer, and you have a pretty scale pattern... you cannot dream of a daisy with scales, alas. In conscientious objection to being asked to design a physical representation of who attracts me, I tend to always make my dream character an exact duplicate of my own character, unless I'm intending to use my tadpole... but I couldn't do that with the dragon sorceress, because I couldn't give the daisy scales.
At 14th Level, in 5e, Dragon Sorcerers gain a set of fully functional wings, granting them a pretty sweet appearance upgrade, a handful of potential fashion problems, and a flying speed equal to their base speed. Unless BG3 implements a functional flying system and proper 3d movement and positioning, this is going to be a fair let down of a 14th level perk; we'll have to wait and see.
At 18th level, Dragon sorcerers get a special ability that lets them charm or frighten, their choice, creatures within a massive radius, at the heavy cost of 5 sorcery points. Anyone that passes the save is then immune to it. It's actually a very potent ability, however, as fitting an 18th level capstone, because the fear/charm effect that it inflicts only offers an initial save: it offers no save-outs at any point, and does not break on damage.... so if you fail, you're locked into the effect for the duration, and it can be maintained for up to a minute... which is more than long enough for a dragon sorcerer to murder you with impunity while you're charmed and literally not allowed to fight back. Sadly, we're likely not going to get to a high enough level to see this ability in the flesh.Wild Magic
The other sorcererous origin we can pick from is Wild Magic. Wild magic sorcerers tap the most chaotic elements of the weave, and act as conduits for its raw wild chaos into the material.
We don't make any additional extra choices at 1st level, as a Wild Magic sorcerer, but instead get two intertwined features: you get your core features: 'Wild Magic', and 'Tides of Chaos'
In 5e, 'Wild Magic' causes you to roll a d20 whenever you cast a sorcerer spell (spells you get from other sources that aren't sorcerer spells for you do not count) of 1st level or higher, with a one in twenty chance of causing a wild magic surge (though it can only occur once per turn, sorry action-surge enthusiasts). You roll on a table containing 50 possibilities, for a wild, unpredictable result. Some of these results cause you to immediately cast another spell as a result of the wild magic, but it's out of your hands to the point that you can't influence a surge-caused spell with your metamagic. Surge-caused spells also last for their full duration, and do not require concentration.
The wild Magic feature in BG3 doesn't give us as clear information on how it works, currently – it doesn't tell us anything at all, in fact, other than some flavour text that more or less repeats the introductory text we've already seen. We also don't see any wild magic rolls in the combat log, so I cannot actually report on how the wild magic mechanic, in its basic form, works. What I can say for certain is that, like the core rules, it has a chance of creating a surge when you cast a levelled spell; I don't know whether the one per turn limit applies here.
The Wild Magic Surge table has been worked out for BG3's current implementation, however. Larian confirmed for us that it has 10 entries on it, instead of 50, and Larian seem to have focused exclusively on tangible, mechanical effects, without any of the silly or humorous flavour ones. To be honest, I found this disappointing – This would be a perfect place for Larian's signature ridiculous goofy flair to show up in full force, and they didn't. Maybe there will be more surge options at full release, and they only put in the ones that would actually need testing?
The effects we can get are:
Along with Wild Magic at 1st level, we also get the core ability that is meant to assist with it:Tides of Chaos
In the core rules, Tides of Chaos is the tool you are meant to use to help achieve wild magic surges with the degree of regularity you want, rather than leaving it to the extremely rare 1-in-20 roll. It allows you to take advantage on an attack roll, ability check or saving throw of your choice, with the offset that your DM's can call a surge to happen for you any time you would otherwise roll for the risk of it happening.
The important thing here is that when you surge as a result of using your Tides of Chaos, your Tides of Chaos then recharges immediately, allowing you to use it again, and trigger another surge.
If you don't work with your DM to use this, what you have, as a wild magic sorcerer, is a core ability that more or less never occurs, and an ability that you can use once per long rest to take advantage on one thing. It's pretty dull.
When you work with an understanding DM, however, what you have is a feature that becomes a game of risk and reward, where you see wild magic surges at a reasonable frequency to make the class feel worthwhile, and you balance the game of how often you want to use your ability to take advantage on something, with how often you want to risk a surge.
Currently, the implementation in BG3 is much closer to the first version of things, and it's depressing. They've allowed tides of Chaos to replenish on a short rest instead of a long rest, but not allowed it to replenish on a surge, so the result is, as we saw in Swen's last Swen-plays-BG3, the player being perpetually gun-shy about whether 'now' is the right time to use up their tides of chaos... because they aren't going to get it back without resting... and as a result, we also saw, very, very few surges. It didn't make for a very good exposition of the subclass at all.
- Using tides of Chaos should guarantee a surge, or at least give a very high percent chance (as in, 80% or higher) to cause one at the next opportunity.
- Having a wild surge should recharge Tides of Chaos.
This is how it's 'meant' to work, and how it should work in a video game format.
Tides of Chaos is currently set up to work like a reaction, though it doesn't consume a reaction, but with the reaction system that Larian has at the moment, as with all such things, it strips the feature of a lot of its flexibility and usefulness. For example – it's virtually impossible to use Tides of Chaos to take advantage on a saving throw you need to pass, which is one of the things it's meant to do.
Beyond 1st level, wild magic sorcerers get Bend Luck at 6th level, which lets you spend sorcery points (2) to give someone an extra d4 to a roll they make, in the moment – it uses a reaction that you can use after you know what they rolled, but before the outcome has been declared, making it a very versatile little feature. You can also use it to subtract from enemy rolls in the same manner. A proper reaction system is going to be essential if Larian want to implement this feature properly, so we'll see what they do.
After that, they get Controlled Chaos at 14th, which lets them roll twice on the surge table whenever they surge and pick which result they'd prefer – there isn't really a good way to do this one without a system that can pause to ask the player what they want, either... so again, this is going to be one to watch, if we get to 14.
Lastly, at 18th level they would get Spell Bombardment... which is, frankly, a deeply underwhelming subclass capstone... It functionally lets you add one damage die to damage dealing spells you cast once per turn, provided you roll max damage on at least one damage die in your initial roll. It's... not great for a level 18 ability. Regardless, though, we won't be going here in BG3 anyway, so, it's a fairly moot point.
That's it for subclass abilities at least. On the whole, these are fairly well handled, but with a few pointed issues, and a bumpy road ahead with later features, if we don't get a proper reaction system.
The core sorcerer features don't fare quite as well, unfortunately, with some strange decisions in the translation from 5e rules to BG3.Core Class FeaturesFont of Magic
At level 2, Sorcerers traditionally get their Font of Magic feature. This introduces the player to sorcery points, and teaches them what they can do with those points just 'as is'. It's intended to introduce the primary sorcerer currency and the nature of Sorcerer's flexible casting, without drowning the player in too much at once.
Font of Magic is the controlling ability that lets you spend sorcerer points to create new spell slots, and expend available spell slots to create sorcery points: It's VERY flexible, and deliberately so, and it comes with some caveats, to keep it a balanced:
- First, you can never have more sorcery points that your current sorcery point maximum (usually dictated by your level, but there now exists a feat to give you a couple more).
- Second, any spell slots you create disappear when you finish along rest.
Your sorcery points also regenerate on long rests. These caveats allow you to do some fairly unusual things and still be fairly within the bounds of the rules, and not broken. For example: Your party might be 6th level, but if your sorcerer really needs it, they can create a 4th level spell slot for themselves and upcast one of their other spells with it, even though they don't normally have access to 4th level slots.
In BG3, they haven't called this feature Font of Magic, and they haven't described it particularly clearly. Instead, you just get two separate abilities, called “Create Sorcery Points” and “Create Spell Slots”
They have not implemented the maximum on sorcery points, allowing you to burn spell slots to create as many sorcery points at once as you wish, but they've also not provided the full set of conversion options, and these only unlock as you gain access to higher spell levels. The result is that... and I'm saying this again, sorry everyone... they've elected to take something, do it differently and in their own way for no reason, and ended up doing it only partially as well and leaving it lacking key elements and features as a result.
The two separate abilities we get, which each have to occupy their own buttons on our hot bar if we wish to use them, give only a very brief description of how they work and, while it's sufficient, it doesn't let us see what we will be able to do as we progress. Our sorcerers in BG3 can only assume
that they will be able to make 3rd level slots and 4th level slots; they don't know this for certain, and they also don't know how much that conversion will cost, because they options are not visible. Despite Having
7 sorcery points at level 7, they will not be allowed to Make
a 5th level spell slot, and will only be told that they can two levels later, at level 9. I can foresee, after launch, people spamming Larian with bug reports upon reaching 11th level, to report that the option to create 6th level spell slots hasn't appeared... because they're expecting it to, and don't know that 5th level is as high as you can create.Metamagic
Leaving aside the fact that the UI calls your metamagic 'Class Passives'... Another confusing choice in design here. After having a level to digest and learn about your new currency and get a feeling for how you can use it, Level 3 traditionally brings the other major feature that defines sorcerers in 5e – Metamagic. Metamagic as the name suggests, is magic that affects magic... it's another way to spend your sorcery points, and the player has to make some careful choices about this, in terms of how they feel like they want their character to develop. Metamagic abilities cost between 1 and 3 sorcery points, with one or two powerful exceptions that cost a number of points equal to the level of the spell they're being applied to. You normally get this at level 3, so that you can pick from all of the metamagic options, and be able to use them immediately. You get to pick two options, from a short list, and you gain more at higher levels – much higher. You don't pick up your third metamagic option until 10th level, and your fourth at 17th.
Larian decided to give you your first Metamagic picks at level 2 instead of level 3 – at the same time that you've just been given your sorcery points, and your intro to flexible casting. This means that instead of being given the flexible casting system first, and then, after a small chance to experience it, being given tow more thing you can do, you're now being presented with four different things you can do with your sorcery points all at once, and being asked to pick two of them at the same time, before you've had any experience using the currency.
A more pressing issue than this, is that at level 2 you only have 2 sorcery points, so you cannot use some of the metamagic options. BG3's solution to that problem is to simply not offer them to you, and make you pick two metamagic options from a cut down list that doesn't include several options. The initial level 2 list is also missing at least one metamagic that only costs 1 point, so I'm not really sure of their reasoning here.
I say initial list, because they then present you with the metamagic list again at level 3, the very next level. They ask you to pick a third metamagic option from the existing ones, plus several more that didn't appear the first time... this sets a fairly awkward precedent, since it seems to imply that we'll be regularly adding to our pool of metamagic as we level, and have a lot of them before long. We don't get any more at level 4, but we also don't know what Larian's plans are regarding this, going forward. If we don't get any more until level 10 now, then having some at level 2 and then more at level 3 is a very awkward, clunky situation.So, that's it for Sorcerer for now; what's the verdict?
Draconic Bloodling is looking good, more or less, but I would strongly prefer that they give each Sorcerous origin a full expanded spell list, as Clockwork and Aberrant have been given. The one bonus spell we have needs to be treated as a proper sorcerer spell, and upcast correctly.
If we can put scale patterns on our body, we need to be able to do it for our Daisy as well.... and on the rest of our bodies too. More customisation all around please Larian.
Wild magic is feeling... lacklustre. It's not nearly as wild as it should be, especially considering Larian's normal style. Tides of Chaos needs to be rechargeable through player action, not just resting, and it needs to be clear about how it affects your surge chance. The surging should be equal chance for all surges.
Font of Magic should be called as such, and it should let us know the conversion values in full, up front. The hard cap on maximum sorcery points need sot be instated, so that we can potentially make spell slots of a higher level than we can normally cast, but can't go overboard with it.
We should not be getting our metamagic until 3rd level, and it needs to present all of our metamagic options at once, so that we can pick the ones we want, without being restricted.
Metamagic targeting is in an asinine mess of a state right now, but this is the result of Larian's current engine and how it handles spells and spellcasting. They should NOT be writing these limitations into their spell and metamagic design, however – they need to fix it. There should be no pointless cripple of functionality between attack roll and saving throw spells, for example. That's just stupid.
For the most part, the implementation looks solid, and I found few major bugs with it in actual practice, outside of these design and implementation issues.
This might be the last focused feedback thread I do for a little while - I'm working on another one, but there's a lot to do for it, and I'd like to get it done as soon as possible, at this stage. Have fun until next time folks ^.^