Changing Spellcasting Modifiers in D&D 5e
Guest Blog by Andy Johnson
In the past, I have been known to get into debates online as one is prone to do at times. While this is often not a great policy it can lead to some interesting ideas, one of which was why can't a warlock use intelligence as their casting trait?
The prevailing rumor is that this was the intention with 5th edition but the playtesters said that charisma just felt right and so it was so. But with the recent release of the lineage system, a new thought occurred to me. A thought, that in retrospect should have been there all along. Why not change it?
The first rule of the book is to have fun and do what works for your table after all. So why can't my warlock be an intelligence-driven caster who dared to learn forbidden knowledge to gain their power?
Many often assume the warlock is at the whim of their patron but a great old one might not even know some little mortal is using their power in their ancient slumber. What if a sage found a ritual to tap into the wellspring of energy flowing from the far realms and uses that to power their arcane might?
Now let us take this theory one step further, why limit this to just warlocks? Because it has always been done is not a good answer, in my opinion, tradition is great but this is the sort of thinking that can hold back new stories. Sure a bard that uses intelligence might not fit the usual mold but I do not see how that is a bad thing.
"If you want to play an intelligence-based caster be a wizard, arcane trickster, or eldritch knight" I have been told but those classes just do not appeal to me. The wizard looks fun but the subclasses just don't connect with me, and the limited spells for the other two have never worked for my character ideas. The prospect of playing a martial class that has gained a bit of power, a hedge wizard that can fight on the front lines and use his limited magic to aid him out of battle is what I enjoy.
And what harm does this do? There is no real advantage to this. It is not some over-the-top min-maxed character that breaks any game, I just swapped one stat for another to make my story feel more like mine and not a copy of every other hexblade out there.
So what I ask of you fellow game masters is this; when a player comes to you and says they want to try something a little different than the normal go with it. Worse case you find a mechanical reason it does not fit and you agree to change back to tweak it. This is how we grow and gain new ground in-game systems. And you will be helping a player make their character feel more unique and special and that can lead to those moments that they will remember long after the campaign ended.
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