Spell Remakes for the Gish
This week we welcome back our friend James Waddell from Friends with Dice.
Throughout D&D there is generally a division, the spell casting classes, and martial classes. Even in the martial classes where they add spells, the Ranger, Paladin, Eldritch Knight, there tends to be a feeling of bi-polarity. The spells are just taken from the main spell casting classes’ spell lists without any change. Some spells cross that divide like the Ranger’s arrow based spells like Hail of Thorns, the Wizard's Steel Wind Strike, which Eldritch Knights cannot even get, and the Paladin’s various Smite spells.
Despite this small number of fringe spells Gish characters are mostly just borrowing spells from the main spell casting classes and I have always felt it was a poor fit for the characters. The idea of weapon-based spell casters is accepted in no place more emphatically than in anime; one need look no further than Black Clover, one of the most popular recently released anime to show this.
It is understandable from the standpoint of WotC, creating a whole new class of spells is a royal pain in the rear end, and would require hundreds of hours of creation, balancing and editing. My love of Gish characters and anime drove me to redesign some well-known spells to fit more in an anime or weapon-based spell caster. To be fully candid, I also wanted to have some spells that no one else had... I mean what player that runs a character with any spell casting doesn’t want their character to be a bit unique, and what is more unique than having your own spells?
What are Gish focused spells?
We have all seen weapon-based attacks in anime, in games, in comics and even in the movies and tv shows. Warriors that can do special attacks utilizing a form of magic, but a separate sort of magic than the wizards in these same stories. The magics tend to be more physically based, allowing them to utilize their physical attacks more effectively or making up for certain weaknesses such as facing many opponents at once.
These spells are almost always different than the spells the wizards utilize. This is because in these stories and games the writers attempt to make characters different and unique. Most people attempt that with their characters as well, but Gish characters are forced to utilize the same spell that the wizard is utilizing. Therefore if one were to play an eldritch knight character he is just a fighter dabbling in some wizardry, never fully making it their own. Many people see characters in our favorite stories and wish to play a PC similar to what that character does.
In rewriting these spells I hoped to make the spells a bit more customized for Gish characters, to hopefully make people feel like their characters were using magic the way that they saw their character use magic in this imaginary world where anything is possible.
How I changed the spells:
I began trying to imagine ways spells could be focused through weapons since generally, that is what differentiates a Gish from a full spellcaster. One thing I first thought was that their main weapon or a weapon, in general, should be the material component for the spells. Secondly, I thought that damage should revolve around physical attacks more than the magical attributes added to the attacks. So instead of a spell dealing say 3d6 fire damage it should do the majority in piercing, bludgeoning, or slashing damage and then a bit of fire damage. I made these changes to a few spells, and that is the most basic changes.
I then started thinking of the effects I saw in the stories that I enjoyed and what would be the way a character who is mostly a fighter would like to use magic. They would want to lock down opponents, make it easier to hit them, give them extra attacks, and the like. Then I took some of those effects and tried to work them into spells, adjusting them to add effects but then I had to adjust the spell to make it balanced. I used what I saw in my favorite stories to adjust them, non-full spell casters tended to have shorter range abilities, they seemed to use more personal energy to cast the spells, and their effects were much more focused.
I have also created one spell (Summon Greater Familiar) to fill a niche that I had seen that was missing in 5E, cantrips evolve, spells cast at higher level give additional effects but non-attack cantrips do not, and a wizard’s familiar never gets any better. That never made any sense to me, why would an Archmage’s familiar have the same abilities/statistics as a 1st level apprentice’s familiar?
Please feel free to try them out below spells and let me know what works, where you had problems, and what spells you would like to see revised in the future or a spell you wish was out there! (Currently working on “Dimension Slash”...) So without further delay here are the remakes, with fun pokes at my friend's characters from our previous campaign.
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