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D&D Next Q&A: 02/28/2014
Rodney Thompson

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1 Do sorcerers and wizards have the same spell list?

No. The sorcerer has its own spell list, though sorcerers and wizards do share many spells. The sorcerer also has some spells on its list that the wizard does not have, and vice versa.

2 Will wizards have access to metamagic effects or is that exclusively a sorcerer thing now?

What we call metamagic effects (the ability to alter the way spells work) is a function of the sorcery point mechanic. We think the ability to alter the way a spell works on the fly fits in more thematically with the wilder, more instinctive sorcerer, as opposed to the wizard, whose academic study and rigid formula implies a broader breadth of knowledge, but a stricter understanding of the way spells function.

3 Does the gish fighter subclass mentioned in Legends & Lore have spells or just magical effects during combat?

It has a little bit of both. The gish fighter does gain some limited spellcasting ability, but it also has some class features that rely on magical effects that aren’t spells.

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Rodney Thompson
Rodney Thompson began freelancing in the RPG industry in 2001 before graduating from the University of Tennessee. In 2007 he joined the Wizards of the Coast staff as the lead designer and developer for the new Star Wars RPG product line. Rodney is the co-designer of Lords of Waterdeep and is currently a designer for Dungeons & Dragons.
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I think it is very good idea to allow Sorcerer to shape spells, while Wizard is not allowed to.

I played mostly Wizards and in previous editions they were always better than Sorcerers in almost any aspect. I think that restricting shaping mechanics only to Sorcerers would make them much more fun to play, while Wizards will still be much better in terms of versatility.

In terms of fluff I feel like Wizard is kind of a scholar. Educated in the art of magic, while Sorcerer is more like savant. He does not understand his powers but he manifests them in a manner Wizards can't comprehend, because it's not learned, but comes from the inside.

It's quite like real world savant vs mathematics professor. Savants think completely different to others and that is why they possess abilities that even greatest scholars can't achieve (like calculating complicated formulas almost instatly or remembering whole books). But it comes with a price - they often don't even unde... (see all)
Posted By: Overpain (3/5/2014 10:08:14 AM)


This is in regards to Spell Shaping, Wizards and Sorcerers. Why would a wizard not have the power to shape spells? You'd figure after long and careful study that a wizard would know every way a spell could be manipulated just by altering the spell's formula. I'm thinking along the lines of a spell being like a computer program and designed to work a certain way. But a programmer, especially an experienced and well educated one, could come in and manipulate that same program to do anything he wants. As for sorcerers, why do they get special treatment. If their ability is based on potential and no actual formal training, then wouldn't spell shaping of any kind be a dangerous undertaking? PLease don't tell me that a sorcerer somehow knows what they are doing though some supernatural agency and a wizard can't learn it, well just cause! It sounds like WotC is getting off the logic train once again with this one.
Posted By: kimby (3/3/2014 4:44:54 PM)


The wizard has a broad knowledge of many pre-packaged spells, while the sorcerer has deep knowledge of a few.

The wizard is Batman. He has a wide arsenal of tricks, but they are all external to him - he can't suddenly decide that he needs a batarang that splits into three when thrown in order to stun three different perps. He'd need to go back to the batcave and build a splitting batarang.

The sorcerer is Banshee. He's got a sonic scream, but no other powers - but he can pull a number of different tricks with his sonics. He can use them for both physical (through vibrations) and mental (through harmonics) attacks, on both individuals and over areas, and do assorted other tricks with them. However, he can't peer through a wall, protect himself against poison gas, analyze chemicals, or any of the other things Batman has gadgets for.
Posted By: Staffan (3/4/2014 3:19:35 PM)


Staffan's bizarre characterization of spellcasters illustrates the limitations of using analogies as an analytical tool. In Third Edition you needed a feat to do metamagic, and a character who prepares spells had to prepare the metamagical version of the spell in order to cast it. That might possibly be the default arrived at by compromise in Fifth Edition, but I think we're supposed to be discussing what would be the best implementation. We've been presented with a provocative premise–that some sorts of metamagic are the entitlement of one or more non-Wizard caster subclasses. If you buy that, you're playing D & D, but not the game Rodney is proposing. I say he's got a Dragon Disciple under the table, and the question is whether a big, juicy metamagic feat includes lots of loosely related effects, like excluding potential targets and enlarging range as well as area, or instead provides flexibility in the form of being able to apply the metamagical enhancement in the same way ... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (3/4/2014 8:21:32 PM)


I'm glad you brought up the subject of shaping spells to avoid hitting allies. Spellcasters in general should have and need the ability to exclude allies from spell effects. I can recall several sessions where allies would get damaged by spells with or without their permission, because a wizard or sorcerer or whatever couldn't or wouldn't control who a spell could affect. In 4E Living Forgotten Realms, players had to ask permission on whether or not they could include allies in a spell's effects. This was annoying because either 1. The player went ahead and included the ally in the effect whether the ally said it was okay or not, 2. The allied player always said no, minimising the wizard's effectiveness in combat and 3. People get tired of always having to ask if they could use their wizard for fear of offending other players with their "Blast it first" playstyle. All spellcasters need to have the ability to control the effects of their spells or at least exclude allies from ... (see all)
Posted By: kimby (3/5/2014 5:56:46 PM)


When you're spraying napalm out a fire hose, there's going to be collateral damage. The only offensive spells I can find in the playtest which allow you to discriminate among targets are Cause Fear and Slow. Moving the borders of or creating holes in an area effect is a natural fit for "shaping," so the developers are going to have to decide whether that's a metamagical aspect, or not harming friendly creatures is an evocation/conjuration and/or enchantment/maybe transmutation thing. I'm up for believability and down on entitlement myself. @Overpain your argument is majorly convincing, but I still stand with the older players who think it's reasonable that something short of DM-overseen research can allow other mages to alter their spells in ways similar to those of sorcerors.
Posted By: RadperT (3/5/2014 10:50:42 PM)


I'd like to credit Germytech as the inspiration for this comment. I don't think the spells/level/day progression has improved much for half-casters. First-level spells might be of some use to a second- or third-level bard, paladin or ranger, but making them wait until ninth level for Water Breathing is pretty silly. That's when half-casters get third-level spells, meaning they have a small number of offensive spells which typically inflict 3d8 dice of damage, when a full caster can impose 6d8 or 8d6 on an area (using Cloudkill and Flame Strike as examples). My point is that while allowing character level as caster level is a step in the right direction, half-casters would find a smaller number of higher level spells much more useful than the same amount of spells as a full caster half their level.
Posted By: RadperT (3/3/2014 1:31:44 PM)


1. I'm glad to hear at least their spell list will be different. That never made sense to me, how someone without the formal training can still do the exact same magic effects with the same consistency as a wizard. That's good to hear. If it were me they'd be almost completely different spell lists, but that would probably add too many spells as well.

2. I'm mostly ok with that. It would be kind of cool if Wizards could create a custom spell to give them some similar changes, but that makes sense to me. Metamagic could get really broken anyway, and limiting it to a (presumably smaller) spell list and a single class would go a long way towards balancing it. Sounds good.

3. The Gish Fighter subclass sounds pretty cool then. I'd love to see more of it later...
Posted By: Claymore65 (3/1/2014 11:18:17 PM)


I'm pretty satisfied with all this. Looks good, Rodney.
Posted By: Aavarius (3/1/2014 5:16:32 PM)


As far as I am concerned, a wizard acquires his/her arcane ability and might through long, diligent study and that anyone can be a wizard IF they simply study long enough.

A sorcerer is someone who was literally hit by a bolt of lightning, a fireball, an ice storm or some other arcane effect and was instantly transformed into an arcane phenomenon.

A warlock is a wizard who tried to take a shortcut to acquiring arcane ability and might and who has instead become an arcanist who unwillingly serves an extra-planar personality.
Posted By: arnvid2008 (3/1/2014 6:27:07 AM)


I find the comments section today pretty sad.
It made me discover (yet again) that people is basically just attached to words. They want the "Wizard" word to encompass everything magical. All the rest should be just variants. That's absolutely not fair. Each class must cover some ground of its niche, not all. If the Fighter can be as tricky as a Rogue, there's no reason for the Rogue to be. So the Wizard can't expect to cover everything magical. The Wizard uses one of many methods to get arcane spellcasting, and as with anything, a method has pros and cons. You want to know lots of spells and always have the spells you need (aka studying a lot, aka Wizard)? Then you lose the ability to actually shape spells. And people see it as THEY lost that ability. Why?? Quite simply, if you wanted a spell-shaping magician, the class for you is the Sorcerer. It's not like you're forced to take draconic heritage if you don't like it, we've been told there will be more sorcerous herita... (see all)
Posted By: LordArchaon (3/1/2014 2:44:06 AM)
Posted By: drowsword (3/1/2014 12:57:44 AM)


Why is the sorcerer not a wizard class choice again? I don't really see the need for such granularity other than for the sake of having a "big number" on the marketing when it comes to class choices.

Eh, whatever. It's not like we won't just houserule it to fit whatever we want to play, anyway. If a "wizard" wants to have "sorcerer" class abilities/spells/who cares, then I don't see why it would matter. Same mechanic, different flavor.
Posted By: nukunuku (2/28/2014 2:36:56 PM)


I'm hoping there'll at least be some feats wizards can take to meta-magic stuffs. or hopefully they can get item creation feats.
Posted By: awogaman (2/28/2014 12:50:06 PM)


A sorcerer's magic is inborn and inductive, while a Wizard's is the result of studying magic and using deductive logic and experimentation to codify the materials.

As an academic, I can say that within the field of knowledge I study, I am well versed and capable of discussing a great many things--but I am not able to comment on fields of knowledge outside of my own.

Both classes focus on the acquisition of knowledge to become better spellcasters--so I think both should have "metamagic" qualities. While a sorcerer has the ability to reflexively create metamagic effects, the wizard should be actively discovering new properties of magic and codifying them, based on experience and reflection.

Mechanically, that would mean the Wizard doesn't get "on-the-fly" metamagic abilities, but when preparing spells, can modify them based on his/her knowledge of the way magic works/the experiments and syntheses the wizard has conducted on the way di... (see all)
Posted By: fepriest (2/28/2014 12:34:53 PM)


This response makes me arch my eyebrows a bit...

"What we call metamagic effects (the ability to alter the way spells work) is a function of the sorcery point mechanic. We think the ability to alter the way a spell works on the fly fits in more thematically with the wilder, more instinctive sorcerer, as opposed to the wizard, whose academic study and rigid formula implies a broader breadth of knowledge, but a stricter understanding of the way spells function."

So because the wizard has a better academic understanding of the way magic works, he or she cannot deviate from a spell formula? Wouldn't that make it easier to manipulate magic? Seems like in an effort to make the sorcerer different the wizard loses out on abilities.
Posted By: Jimbro (2/28/2014 11:04:01 AM)


Sure he can. In the lab, after a couple of days/weeks/months of moving thaumas around and adjusting the energy flows to achieve the desired result.

What, you wanted them to be able to do everything?
Posted By: Telwar (3/3/2014 2:45:30 PM)


More like the G-D's are trying to figure out where metamagic fits in their new, leaner D & D, and picked a really bad answer. Not that there won't be a splat book for those of us who want to customize other sorts of casters (arcane, divine and others) with metamagic, and of course I'll buy it!
Posted By: RadperT (3/3/2014 9:02:52 PM)


It is a bummer to hear that the two classes will have different spell lists. I've always seen balancing classes by spell list as a poor use of book space and inelegant design. It messes up backwards compatibility and serves little function-- that I can tell-- besides encouraging power creep as new spells are published in sourcebooks. And heaven forbid you be the guy who wants to use the cool class from one of those sourcebooks, as it is unlikely that other sourcebooks will support it. If the Weird Mage Class from Complete Unearthed Arcana of Power or whatever had access to "arcane spells" or was balanced by their level progression rather than their list, it wouldn't be an issue.

So yeah; increasingly fragmented and subdivided spell lists is one of the things from earlier editions that I am not happy to see here. If the goal was to sell more splat books or spell compendiums-- which I'm not snarking at; the point of publishing books is to sell books-- it seems t... (see all)
Posted By: mordicai (2/28/2014 7:45:36 AM)


This is where the game differs for many people. I on the other hand LOVE that there are separate spell lists. I like that the Ranger can cast spells the Druid can't, the Paladin can cast spells the Cleric can't. Not using future supplements that may or may not increase this divide is totally up to you.

Having the option is why I love Next.
Posted By: NinjaPlease (2/28/2014 9:54:57 AM)


All those books had supplemental spell lists for the preexisting classes. The ones which got missed were developed concurrently, which is more a problem of poor management than power creep or bloat. There will be power creep and bloat, of course, but DMs can always decide which books they are going to allow in their games.
Posted By: RadperT (3/2/2014 9:41:44 PM)


1) But on what basis the designers will decide which spells can be included in the Sorcerer's list and which can not? I think that's a big issue to which Rodney has not answered. Is not a secondary question.
Posted By: Silentwind6 (2/28/2014 6:28:45 AM)


(Sorry, I cannot reply to myself or edit my own comments.)

P.S. IMHO, I want WotC's designers to nerf the wizard. I hated having to do it myself at the table every time I DMed one; other than with 4th ed. Especially when the wizard was high level, and being played by a total rules lawyer. (Which was most of the time.) Something about wanting to be god, rules lawyering, and playing the wizard character all the time seems to synch up in people...I wonder why...
Posted By: seti (2/28/2014 6:14:55 AM)


This'll be a fun read in about 12-24 hours. As will the WotC forums on this weeks Q-Ampersand-A.

All the people who have to play a game where wizards can do everything any other class can do but better (because: WIZARDS!) are going to be complaining about how the sorcerer is nerfing the wizard...

"Unfair!" they'll be shouting, "BadWrongFun! Breaking sacred canon! This ruins my immersion!"
Posted By: seti (2/28/2014 6:08:59 AM)


1) Limits on what a class can do with their class features are a good thing. But if Wizards are going to be given the same huge range of spells that they were in 2e and 3e, then that doesn't leave much space for other caster classes (both Sorcerors and Psions) to have much that's unique to them that isn't a Wizard spell mildly refluffed. If the difference turns out to be that the classes can do the same things, but with different ways to do them, then it would seem simpler just to provide alternative casting methods rather than entire new classes.

2) I think academic knowledge tends much more towards "narrow but deep". Almost the exact opposite of what you're suggesting is characteristic of the Wizard. Dabblers tend to broad but shallow. I could see allowing wizards to apply metamagic to one school with powerful effects, while sorcerors apply their weaker metamagic to the whoel range of spells they know.

3) Proof. Pudding. Eating.
Posted By: Bluenose (2/28/2014 3:56:24 AM)


1: I really hope there's a lot of differences between sorcerer, wizard, AND psion (or psionicist, or whatever you'll call them in a few years when, or if, they finally see print). A wizard should never be as good at blowing stuff up as a sorcerer, and a wizard should never be as good at manipulating minds as a psion. A wizard should be like a multi-tool; caster-wise. Not as good as any single tool, but cool in that you can do a lot of different things somewhat well.

What about the warlock? I know people love them now, but how are they really any different than the other casters? Aside from some major flavor, of course...At least the sorcerer is shaping up to be different from the wizard in both fluff and crunch.

2: EXACTLY. Thank you. A wizard studies and memorizes. Period. I also don't know yet if I even like wizards being able to cast lower spells in higher slots for more damage...Metamagic manipulation should be something they cannot or would not do. I don't ... (see all)
Posted By: seti (2/28/2014 2:13:40 AM)


On a completely different note...

If one were to have the "Mage" encompass numerous classes...

I like the idea of choosing a "tradition" within the Mage CLASS. Among traditions, you could choose: wizardry, sorcery, or warlock-y-ness."

Wizardry = a spellbook. The specialty (a sub-sub-class) grants you unique abilities).

Sorcery = a set spell list, +1 casting per level per day? The origin/heritage grants you unique abilities and metamagic effects?

Or have the spellcastong method be separate from the style and unique abilities? Why not?

I have a sense that it would work. Why is it not being attempted?
Posted By: Germytech (2/28/2014 1:44:01 AM)


There was a massive backlash against the idea of having them all one class.
Posted By: KoboldAvenger (2/28/2014 3:01:50 AM)


They already tried that, but you design yourself into a corner that way. Not enough flexibility. It would be like trying to merge the cleric and druid. You COULD do it, but they are distinct enough to merit their own class.
Posted By: Ramzour (2/28/2014 6:43:45 AM)


I don't think putting arcane spellcasters into one class is limiting at all. Making the magic system dependent on the class instead of modular is what's limiting. Why all this emphasis on sorcerer's innate dragon-daddy talent in arcane powers instead of a cleric's innate solar-mommy talent for divine powers or a Druid's nymph-mommy talent for primal powers?

Fluff inconsistency aside, I think that making it possible to trade the standard spellcasting scheme for a spell point or anything-else-that-comes-along system for any class would be phenomenally cool and allow for customizability and creativity. Druids that use Runecasting without the need for a separate class (which makes a whole lot more sense to me flavor-wise anyway). Clerics with divine heritage that drives their powers with spell points. At the same time in the same party, a Runecasting Paladin and a Spell Point Ranger. Yup, why should half-casters miss out? They'd just have a slower, more mild progression just lik... (see all)
Posted By: Kwizzy (2/28/2014 3:14:48 PM)


I'm pretty sure a bunch of the Sorcerer's spell-list will be dependent on their bloodline/source. And given the description of the Dragon Sorcerer I'm guessing that Sorcerers will get a bunch of magical abilities that aren't spells, like breath weapons as they're probably like the Dragon Disciple but without the obvious physical changes.
Posted By: KoboldAvenger (2/28/2014 1:43:39 AM)


I'll bring this up again, only because I believe it makes sense, given the direction of Next...

I'm assuming the "gish" might have a half-spellcasting feature simillar to the paladin?

What makes sense to me is that you have ONE spellcasting table (as in the last public playtest packet). And different classes grant you "+1 spellcasting level" at different rates.

For wizards/sorcerers: +1 spellcasting *every level.* In addition, wizards grant specialty school abilities, or sorcerers grant spell point abilities: I am okay with this.

For paladins: every even level for cleric spellcasting, according to the same table?

For gish: every odd level?

I don't know: I am not a game designer, but this makes intuitive sense to me: unifying the mechanic yet allowing variation. A simple "+1 spellcasting," referwncing a single table, makes sense.

Honestly, if the rules of Next don't explicitly s... (see all)
Posted By: Germytech (2/28/2014 1:32:43 AM)


1) This answer is no surprise, though somewhat disappointing. I'd prefer the Sorcerer's spell list to be distinctive and not as utility focused as the Wizards, with a clearer separation between the two. Help reinforce that whole 'Separate Class/Different Mechanics' concept.

2) Not going to lie, but this goes against Tradition in a bad way, and for me to say that is pretty heinous. The Sorcerer should be able to pump more power into his spells, or adapt on the Fly. Sure, I can agree to that, but I think they should have to pay for empowering their spells in this manner, either through longer casting times or some other balancing mechanic.

Restricting the ability to use Meta-magic solely to the Sorcerer though? That's straight up silly, and the forced nature of his answer shows it. If anything, the Wizards through research and experimentation are going to discover new and possibly better ways to use their spells, and perhaps create new ones. They shou... (see all)
Posted By: LupusRegalis (2/28/2014 1:26:06 AM)


"Wizards through research and experimentation are going to discover new and possibly better ways to use their spells, and perhaps create new ones."

I think this'd be good. But, it should take months of the PC's downtime, access to a arcane university, lab, library, etc., and a lot of gp. Also, at the table, making up a spell should be up to the DM and the player(s) who wants to do it. They'll have to work it out. I'd allow it if I was DMing, but some DM's probably would not. Especially in any type of 'organized play' setting.

I actually stand by the above statement that metamagic stuff should be a sorcerer only thing.
Posted By: seti (2/28/2014 2:32:10 AM)


I'd agree that perhaps the wizard should be able to weave some metamagic effects into a spell, BUT

not on the fly.

He should have to choose to memorize the metamagicked spell at the beginning of the day when he's picking which spells from his book to memorize.
Posted By: bogmad (2/28/2014 11:59:30 AM)


Do you plan on making the Psion part of the Sorcerer or will you give it it's own class?
Posted By: Spykes (2/28/2014 1:14:01 AM)


I would cry foul if the Sorcerer killed the Psion.
Posted By: Haldrik (2/28/2014 5:50:54 AM)


For the Psion to be eliminated by the Sorcerer, one would have to accept the idea that psionic power is the same as arcane power. Which brings up the question of how do you differentiate psionic power effects from arcane power effects, or from divine power effects?
Posted By: arnvid2008 (3/1/2014 6:17:48 AM)


This has been really helpful.
Posted By: Prom (2/28/2014 12:50:03 AM)



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