New: D&D Wizard Astrologer
Welcome back to the Zurn blog! Today we're looking at a new wizard subclass: the Astrologer. A student of the heavens, the astrologer is a wizened sage whose power is enhanced at night. With an emphasis on star-based spells and divination magic (but without the portend dice of the Divination Wizard), the astrologer offers unique support options for the wizard.
As always, we'll start by looking at the theme of the subclass before looking at the mechanical benefits of taking this subclass.
I. Astrologer: Theme and Inspiration
As a quick clarification, "astronomy" is the study of planets, stars, and their dances through the heavens. "Astrology" is the study of heavenly bodies for religious and magical means which vary by culture, so to be clear, this is not a scientist: this is a wizard, seeking knowledge and power from afar.
This means, naturally, that whether it's from the stars or the moon, this subclass is a night-centric subclass, which should grow more powerful if it's dark out. It can't have everything rest on it being dark, as many adventures happen at night, but it should see a boost at night.
It also means that the predictive instincts and abilities of the character should go up to reflect the knowledge that the astrologer gleans from the heavens. We could leave this open-ended, and there are spells like Augury and Divination that do this for us, but it can also be communicated in mechanical terms, which we will see later.
But one last thing that we wanted to consider is how the dance of the heavens gives the astrologer different information: if they are reading the heavens for information, the progression of the stars and moon across the sky should change the benefits you get from one night to the next. To this end we wanted an easy way to track where the stars are in their dance, and we opted to use the fullness of the moon as our symbol, 1) because the moon is heavily entwined in all manner of prediction across the ages, and 2) because it's easy to see and less for a DM to track. So is it a perfect system? No. Does it work and provide a semblance of flow and variance? Yes.
So with this in mind, let's look at the astrologer.
II. Astrologer: Mechanics
You can find the details of the subclass here, easily printable for your game master to consider if desired thanks to the team at Homebrewery. To start off you gain three abilities at 2nd level. The first is a list of spells you add to your spellbook for free from 1st to 5th level, most of which are divination spells, and the rest are star-centric or moon-centric spells. Most of these are non-combat spells, though there are spells like Hunter's Mark and Moonbeam that have good combat applicability.
You also get Arcane Recovery which is a staple 2nd level ability for wizards, allowing you to recover some of your spell slots once per day. It's a small boon, but it does help wizards to keep doing what wizards do: cast spells and look cool.
The third ability is a very niche ability that might come up in your game, or it might not: when it is dark (from dusk until dawn) you gain a bonus to your spellcasting rolls that allows you to never have a result below an 8 on the die unless you roll a 1. This is not going to come up in your daytime adventures, and if you are in a place that is, for example, perpetually daytime (like the Celestial Mountains) you'd never get this ability. Similarly if you were in a location that was always night (the Shadowfell, some parts of the Feywild, etc.) you'd always get this ability. So who knows: maybe you'll benefit from it? It's hard to say from where we are sitting here.
At 6th level you get the aforementioned "moonlight chart" ability: you learn to draw some of your magical power from the moonlight around you, enhancing your magic based on how much light the moon is reflecting and a random table. You select a bonus (or the DM can make you roll 1d8 and then consult the appropriate line on the chart) based on how full the moon is. Each reflects a different emotion or virtue that begins with the letter "P" (because I randomly thought of like 6 that had "P" for the first letter so I decided to fit the other two in), and if the moon is full or waxing you get a bigger bonus than if it's waning.
As an example, if you rolled a 3 your perception would be heightened by the moon's illuminating light. If the moon is waxing (getting bigger) you gain a tremorsense of 60ft (or add 30ft to your tremorsense if you have one already) for that night. If the moon is full you'd gain a blindsight out to 60ft (which is better than tremorsense). If the moon is waning you'd gain darkvision out to 60ft (or add 30ft to your darkvision if you already have it, as this is worse than the other two but still useful), and if the moon is dark you gain no benefit at all because there's no light to gather magic from.
That last result is true for the entire chart: you always get nothing in a new moon scenario, so beware those dark nights with the dark moon.
At 10th level you get a mix of "ribbon abilities" and useful abilities to reflect your use of the heavens to predict what is to come. To start, you can use your divination spells an additional time before you must roll for a random result. This is not always useful, but hey - if you want to predict if a given course of action is dangerous, you can do that more often with Augury than other wizards, clerics, etc. So it's useful.
You also gain proficiency with Dexterity saving throws (to reflect being informed of dangers before they hit you) and you add +2AC when struck by an attack that you can see. This will require you to see the attack, so be careful if you go the Variant Human route and don't have darkvision or another type of sight enhancing ability or item, but if you can see the attack, you are harder to hit as you evade the danger that the heavens predicted.
You can also get two benefits from the moon chart at once, instead of one, allowing you to take advantage of the moon chart more effectively.
And finally at 14th level you adhere to the movements of the spheres, harmonizing your actions with the heavens. You get a token bump to your move speed (which is a nice but not particularly powerful ability), can reroll some of your rolls a number of times a day equal to your Intelligence modifier, and you can use three bonuses from the moon chart at once instead of two. So you go all-in on night bonuses and get decent bonuses during the day.
The Astrologer offers unique support options for the party (at 14th level and higher getting Guidance on three people at a time is really nice, not to mention scrying on three people at once), and allows you to lean heavily into being the party augur. If that appeals to you, consider playing an Astrologer.
Until next time,