Transmutation Wizard

Transmutation Wizard Fixed: D&D 5e Subclass Revision

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I created a revised Transmutation Wizard to plug some of the subclass holes and make it more fun. As mentioned in my Wizard subclass rating article, the Transmutation Wizard leaves much to be desired. It actually works against what a transmuter should be focusing on, especially the tenth-level ability. I believe we can make minor revisions to the School of Transmutation Wizard to improve it so it doesn’t feel like a trap. Wizards are strong in their own right, so a weaker subclass isn’t a dire problem; however, I enjoy making each subclass viable if it’s lagging far behind. Let’s fix the Transmutation Wizard with the magic of homebrew.

I’ll offer a quick explanation for my text formatting so you can quickly discern between my homebrew suggestions and what already existed for the subclass. My commentary is provided below each section to explain why I did or did not change something. Italicized text indicates my homebrew alterations to Transmutation Wizard features. The entire description of each feature is bolded, and my commentary is found below each feature in normal text.

I give you the Transmutation Wizard revised!

Level 2 – Transmutation Savant [Unchanged]

Beginning when you select this school at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy a transmutation spell into your spellbook is halved.

Each PHB Wizard Arcane Tradition has a ‘Savant’ ability for learning spells of their specialized school of magic. No need to change this.

Level 2 – Minor Alchemy [Reworked]

Starting at 2nd level when you select this school, you can temporarily alter the physical properties of one nonmagical object, changing it from one substance into another. You may use your action to perform a special alchemical procedure on one object composed entirely of wood, stone (but not a gemstone), iron, copper, or silver, transforming it into a different one of those materials. This transformation lasts for one hour unless you use your action to end it. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Intelligence bonus, and you regain your expended uses when you complete a long rest.

Additionally, you gain proficiency with alchemist’s supplies. If you already have this proficiency, you gain proficiency with one other type of artisan’s tools of your choice.

You learn the Cure Wounds spell and always have it prepared. It is a Wizard spell for you and you add it to your spellbook, but it is not compatible with Spell Mastery and other Wizards cannot scribe it into their spellbooks.

I added the alchemist supplies that this subclass needed. Sure, the Artificer has its Alchemist subclass, but the Transmutation Wizard was meant to be the OG PHB alchemy specialist. I also opened up the original Minor Alchemy manipulation of physical properties. It can now be used instantaneously, doesn’t require concentration, and has a set number of Minor Alchemy uses before the transmuter must rest.

Cure Wounds is added because it feeds into the Transmuter’s later abilities to heal allies with the Transmuter’s Stone. I enjoy how Cure Wounds is on the Artificer spell list, and I thought it would be enjoyable to add it to the Transmuter. I considered adding more spells learned, but I stuck with this one only because it wouldn’t normally be available to a Wizard. I disqualify it from being used with Spell Mastery at level eighteen as a Wizard (unlimited healing seems like too much).

Level 6 – Transmuter’s Stone [Reworked]

Starting at 6th level, you can spend 1 hour creating a transmuter’s stone that stores transmutation magic when you complete a long rest or during the long rest. When you create the stone, choose a number of benefits equal to your Proficiency Bonus (minimum one) from the following options:

  • Darkvision out to a range of 60 feet.
  • Movement speed 10-foot increase while the creature is unencumbered.
  • Proficiency in Constitution saving throws.
  • Resistance to acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage (your choice whenever you choose this benefit). You may choose this benefit more than once to gain multiple resistances.
  • Water breathing.
  • A 100% increase or 50% decrease to body hair.
  • Altered skin colors and patterns, such as to resemble a tattoo. This can also apply to scales, furs, and other body coverings.
  • Slightly deepened or heightened voice tone.
  • Altered body hair color.
  • Enhanced sense of smell for +1 to Perception checks that rely on smell.
  • Remove the need to wear glasses or otherwise aid vision.
  • Improved reflexes for +1 to Initiative checks.
  • Altered eye color.
  • Power a prosthetic limb.
  • Facial beauty as if always wearing makeup, granting +1 to Persuasion checks.
  • Grow or shrink one foot in height.
  • Conceal all body blemishes, such as warts, scars, moles, or birthmarks.
  • Blindness.
  • Deafness.
  • Smell like fragrant perfume or cologne.
  • Stink like disgusting body odor and poor hygiene.
  • Smell like nothing (you don’t produce smells).
  • Inability to feel physical pain. Great for medical procedures!

You can benefit from the stone yourself or give it to another willing creature. You gain all the selected benefits your stone is imbued with when you hold it. Another creature holding your stone will only receive one of the imbued benefits (your choice).

Each time you cast a transmutation spell of 1st level or higher, you can change one beneficial effect of your stone if the stone is on your person. If you create a new transmuter’s stone, the previous one ceases to function.

If a creature holds your Transmuter’s Stone when it shapeshifts into a different creature (such as by the Polymorph spell), and the carried Transmuter’s Stone merges with the new form, the creature retains the ability to audibly speak languages known in its normal form (even if the form lacks mouth, tongue, teeth, lungs, etc.), and it may retain its mental stats (Int, Wis, Cha). The Transmuter Stone’s holder can gain the stone’s benefits as normal while the stone is merged into the new form as if the creature were carrying the stone.

Holding the Transmuter’s Stone can also help a mute creature, whose race would normally be able to speak, to speak.

My main goals with the Transmuter’s Stone were to expand its options without adding anything game-breaking, allow more benefits at once, and add scalability. I added fifteen new benefits, most of which allow for cosmetic character changes. You can choose several benefits equal to your Proficiency Bonus to no longer limit yourself to one choice. The owner of the Transmuter’s Stone gets more utility out of it than someone else. This change makes the Transmuter far more interesting at low levels. I added the last part about being able to speak when transformed because it sounds fun.

Since Polymorph will likely be used, I wanted the Transmuter’s Stone to benefit the transformed character. Maintaining the ability to communicate is surprisingly useful. This makes the Transmuter better at transmutation magic, as it should be.

Level 10 – Shapechanger [Removed]

I got rid of Shapechanger to replace it with a completely new Arcane Tradition feature because Shapechanger is an impractical waste of space. I described why Shapechanger is bad in my Wizard subclass ratings article. Here’s what I wrote about Shapechanger in my article:

“The Shapechanger ability troubles me. If you’re playing a Transmuter, you’ll probably choose Polymorph for your spellbook three levels sooner at level seven. There’s no need to wait until level ten when Polymorph’s power level begins declining. It’s mildly cool to get what is essentially a free Wild Shape since beasts offer unique utility options. The only time this feature is acceptable is if you’re starting a campaign at level ten or higher, so you don’t care about the timing of learning Polymorph.”

Level 10 – Residual Recycling [New]

Beginning at 10th level, casting transmutation spells comes so easily to you that you can harness and repurpose the excess arcane energy. When you cast a Wizard transmutation spell of 2nd level or higher using a spell slot, you regain one expended spell slot. The slot you regain must be at least one level lower than the spell you cast and can’t be higher than 3rd level.

This might sound familiar because it’s an altered version of the Divination Wizard’s Expert Divination feature. Expert Divination is actually a pretty horrible feature for diviners, but it’s on-brand and fun for a transmuter. Residual Recycling allows a crafty transmuter to freely cast several transmutation spells without worrying about burning through precious spell slots.

There are far more transmutation spells than divination spells. Transmuters won’t struggle to utilize this feature (a problem I’ve pointed out with the Divination Wizard). Some transmutation spells can be cast as rituals. A spell cast as a ritual will not trigger Residual Recycling because a spell slot was not used to cast it. Due to the nature of Transmutation spells, I limited this ability to spell slots of 3rd level or lower. This is for balance reasons, particularly for spells like Polymorph which are extremely useful and powerful. I also limited this to Wizard spells.

Level 14 – Master Transmuter [Reworked]

Starting at 14th level, you can use your action to consume the reserve of transmutation magic stored within your Transmuter’s Stone in a single burst. When you do so, choose one of the following effects. Your Transmuter’s Stone is destroyed and can’t be remade until you finish a long rest.

  • Major Transformation. You can transmute one nonmagical object—no larger than a 10-foot cube—into another nonmagical object of similar size and mass and equal or lesser value. You must spend 10 minutes handling the object to transform it.
  • Panacea. You remove all curses, diseases, and poisons affecting a creature you touch with the transmuter’s stone. The creature also regains all its hit points and loses one level of Exhaustion.
  • Restore Life. You cast the raise dead spell on a creature you touch with the Transmuter’s Stone without expending a spell slot or needing to have the spell in your spellbook.
  • Restore Youth. You touch the Transmuter’s Stone to a willing creature, and that creature’s apparent age is reduced by 3d10 years, to a minimum of 13 years. When you use this effect on a creature other than yourself, it doesn’t extend the creature’s lifespan.
  • Pure Transmutation. Cast a transmutation spell of 5th level or lower. It does not need to be from the Wizard spell list, and it does not need to be a spell from your spellbook.
  • Diminutivity. You touch the Transmuter’s Stone to a willing medium or small creature. The creature’s size becomes tiny for eight hours, or until either you or the creature wills the effect to end.

The Master Transmuter feature is already a unique, useful ability. I slightly tweaked its effects by increasing Major Transformation’s size limitation and adding Exhaustion relief to Panacea. I made Pure Transmutation the main addition for greater flexibility to cast a transmutation spell in an unexpected moment of need. It’s like a weaker, specialized Wish spell.

I added the ability to become tiny because it sounds like something crafty players would enjoy. I chose only to shrink because there are already hijinks with the new Rune Knight Fighter increasing its size and then getting an Enlarge/Reduce spell to grow even larger.

Someone commented on YouTube that they used this subclass revision for a year. They have been much happier with the revision than the PHB version. The feedback I received made a good case to allow the Transmutation Wizard’s Restore Youth option to actually make the Wizard younger. It made sense to me, so I allowed it in the design change.

What Do You Think?

This version of the Transmutation Wizard leans further into transmuter specialties: transformations, alterations, tinkering, and more. The Wizard is a most powerful class that deserves fun options like my expanded Transmuter’s Stone. This feels much more like an alchemical manipulator of flesh and elements I envision for D&D 5e transmuters. I hope my revision of the transmuter is more than the PHB version.

Tell me what you think of it, please! I may alter my version based on your feedback. I’d like to hear about any other revisions you’ve homebrewed or discovered to the Transmutation Wizard. Cast ‘Speak with Flutes’ in the comments section at the bottom of this page to discuss the transmuter’s new form (perhaps its final form)!

Before you go, enjoy more of our articles about Wizards. Have a lovely day.

27 thoughts on “<b>Transmutation Wizard Fixed</b>: D&D 5e Subclass Revision”

  1. Jason Lasica

    Forever DM, so I’ve never played a Wizard, but this sounds like it’d be a lot of fun! I only know the Transmuter’s reputation as a weaker subclass (wizards being super good still makes them pretty great), but I would absolutely allow this. It feels a lot more like what a specialization like this should be.

    My campaign is reaching a pause point soon while 2 of my players have a baby, so I’ll get to play a series of one shots and short games with others for awhile and would love to give this the college try.

    1. Hi Jason,
      That’s exactly the reaction I am hoping to elicit with this revised Transmutation Wizard! I hope you will try it and let me know how it went. 🙂

  2. Hello. i just would like to say that transmutation wizard was already fine.i mean, my first wizard ever was a transmuter, and i do not regret my choice in the least. i appreciate your proactiveness though. you should work on Oath of vengeance paladin or Oath of the ancients, because those are really bad. i loved the concept of vengeance, but it’s just too bad to play. i love your stuff, and i’ve been perusing your content for a time, so continue!

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Jake! I have heard from many players who enjoy the Transmutation Wizard. I wanted to bring out more of its strengths in this revision.
      Do you have a thesis on why the Vengeance and Ancients Paladins need revision? Most players I talk to love those subclasses, and I can see why! What do you think they’re lacking? I’d probably get a lot of flack for claiming to fix Vengeance haha.

      1. Oath of vengeance revolves almost entirely around it’s Channel Divinity features, and you don’t gain additional uses of it like the cleric does at higher levels. as for Oath of the ancients, i guess it’s fine after all ( i still wouldn’t choose it)

      2. 10 level I changed it that the wizard cast Polymorph once without using a spell slot, it recharged after long rest.
        Also when polymorphing themselves can add PB to beasts int. ie polymorphing into a dire wolf he has an Intelligence of 7 instead of 3.

  3. I love the changes! I have been playing a transmutation wizard (rock gnome) for 4 years now and I have been frustrated by the limitation on the transmutation features, especially the minor transmutation (should have been an action from the start!). I was also frustrated by the add of polymorph at level 10 it just seemed so underwhelming and mostly ever guide calls for adding polymorph at level 7

    1. Hi, sonik! Those problems you mentioned are exactly what I sought to remedy with this revision. You clearly have heaps of experience playing the subclass, so thank you for weighing in.

      1. I’ve only used Minor alchemy once in 4 years, that should be an indicator of how cumbersome it is to use. I think the intent was to make it similar to a ritual, but it is extremely limited for such a heavy time investment. you can’t change it’s shape just its composition… should have been an action from the beginning. Ever get the feeling like someone on the writing staff kinda mailed it in that day when they were writing up School of Transmution?

        1. I think this is more a case of them being so afraid of the power being abused that they ended up making it useless. The only practical use I’ve found for the power is to render a barrier breakable, assuming the rogue or barbarian doesn’t get past in the 10 minutes you’re fussing about. >_<

          1. My DM and I went over your changes together and we are going to try them out on my (NOW LEVEL 9!) Transmutation Wizard. 1-action minor transmutation is gonna blow the team’s mind. Also, the Cure Wounds spell really fits with how my character has played (always seeking healing potions for the team, using medicine to stabilize downed fellows) I don’t see a lot of room for abuse (there might be a multi-class method but I will leave that to the min-max crowd to discover) Again, I think these tweaks are great and already made a homebrew DnDBeyond Transmuter Stone that can be tweaked to reflect the features you choose (4 at level 9!).

            1. Hey sonik! I’m ecstatic to hear that you’re giving this revision a shot in your game. I pray thee, return to let me know how it goes because I want to get this right. That’s cool that you made it work with D&D Beyond, too. I’ve not used it for any of my character creation stuff, but I know how handy D&D Beyond can be.
              I’ve never seen a min-max, game-breaking trick that involved Cure Wounds, so rest assured it’s a harmless change. 😛 I know your Reddit post had some pushback on the Cure Wounds bit, but I believe it’s fine. Definitely let me know how it goes at level ten as that’s the feature that I question the most with this revision.
              Have a good weekend!

  4. I think you’re on the right track with some of your upgrades here, particularly the “Cure Wounds” addition and the proficiency with alchemy tools, but I still don’t feel like the core problem you identified has been solved, namely: the transmutation wizard is still not really better at transmutation than other wizards.

    To me, the biggest weakness of transmutation spells that a transmutation wizard should be able to overcome is concentration. For example, a transmutation that has polymorphed herself into a T-Rex to enter melee is forced to make a concentration check every time she takes damage. This isn’t a balancing issue; if she polymorphs the fighter into a T-Rex there is no such limitation. Also, a wizard cannot maintain multiple concentration spells at once, so a wizard focusing on transmutation isn’t getting to use transmutation frequently, as most transmutation spells last 10 turns or more.

    A solution to both of these issues that can be added to the base class and relies on the transmuter’s stone could look something like this: once per short rest the transmutation wizard can cast a transmutation spell onto the transmuter’s stone, and whoever is holding the transmuter’s stone receives the effect of that spell (in addition to the normal effect). This effect does not require concentration and lasts the full duration of the spell, allowing the transmutation wizard to effectively maintain two transmutation spells simultaneously. Further, if we keep your creative idea that the transmutation stone fuses with the holder if they polymorph, this allows the transmutation wizard to polymorph herself without fear that a bad con save will break her spell and leave her stranded amongst foes.

    Let me know what you think!

    1. Hi Zed H, thank you for your input!
      I would be extremely hesitant to take away the need for concentration because then the Transmuter could do some absurd combinations with Polymorph, an already hyper-impactful spell. I’d be more inclined to try something like allowing all Transmutation spells of fourth level or lower to be cast as rituals. Another minor benefit would be to have advantage to concentrate on transmutation spells or not have concentration break as a result of taking damage (similar to what the Conjuration Wizard gets). Do you think any of these ideas make a good middle ground?

      1. I genuinely think the removal of the concentration is the right track, limit it to only if it’s used on self, and keep the inability to cast spells while polymorphed, I think that should honestly solve both issues?

        1. I’d have to playtest that to see how it’d go. I’m extremely hesitant to ever remove concentration, particularly from Polymorph since it’s one of the best spells in the game.

    1. Thank you, sonik! I just saw your comment here! Looks like your Reddit post got way more engagement than when I post my own stuff, hahaha. Thank you for letting me know you posted it! I was surprised that Cure Wounds was a sticking point for some folks. The level-ten ability is giving me the most pause. I may try to think of something else for it, maybe with the potion angle like you were saying.

      1. Yeah… the ‘Wizards don’t heal mantra’ is strong with some. We opted to forgo it as we already have a Cleric, and we felt that the bonus heal would just detract from the transmutation wizard’s intended function after reading some comments. I have been pondering it for a while now and what if it was a daily feature (long rest) and something like spare the dying not cure wounds? I think would be inline with your intention of life saving progression and would be less likely to cause an allergic reaction among from the Reddit DMs. 🙂

          1. Thank you again for sharing and offering feedback, sonik! I’ll post if I make tweaks to the revision. My view of a transmuter is based on alchemy (long before the Alchemist Artificer was a thing). The Alchemist can heal people with “science” using Cure Wounds, and I see the Transmuter the same way. I don’t have the same “allergy” to a Wizard with a minor/not-that-great healing spell as the Redditors, haha. Good luck with your game!

  5. Hey flutes, glad to see the changes got made. Only thing is that because Cure Wounds becomes a Wizard spell, even if it’s not added to the spellbook immediately, they can still scribe it on a scroll and then add it to their spellbook, making it once again eligible for Spell Mastery. This is a very easy fix with something along the lines of “You learn the Cure Wounds spell and always have it prepared. Your spellcasting ability for this spell is Intelligence but it is not a Wizard spell for you.” or you could just directly call out Spell Mastery and say “This spell is not eligible for Wizard’s Spell Mastery feature”. Either one of these will achieve what you intended

    P.S: Thanks for the mention at the end of Master Transmuter lol, glad I could help

  6. Hey! Working on revising some of the weaker 5E subclasses myself, and codifying them into a document for my players. I like your version quite a bit! Stealing about 70% of it. Here are my changes to your changes(!):

    – No alchemy kit proficiency at level 2. Yes, I agree with you that it’s great flavour. It’s just not a flavour I’m necessarily interested in enforcing on players if they want to play a more high-magic wizard. They can get it from backgrounds. Anyway, it feels weird to have a) three different things packed into a single level 2 ability; and b) only one of the eight magic schools associated with a toolset.

    – It also feels weird and gimmicky to have a specific subclass ability just outright refuse to play with a class ability from the same exact class. That’s why I don’t like your *cure wounds* addition to Minor Alchemy as written. I like the addition of some minor healing, and understand your concern about Spell Mastery abuse, but felt like there must be a more elegant solution. So here’s what I included with it instead: “When you cast [cure wounds], you can choose to expend a hit die instead of a spell slot to do so, but you must expend one or the other each time you cast it.” That level of specificity beats Spell Mastery–so even if they pick it, they’re still spending hit die to cast it ‘infinitely.’ Is that still plenty of healing in one day? Absolutely. But nobody can afford to give up HD resources less than wizards. In a game where long rests are frequent, this still allows plenty of functionally free healing–but so would the frequent the long rests, so little actually changes. And the classical sympathy-magic undertones are great for flavour.

    – I felt like your Residual Recycling feature cribbed too much from other subclasses. They should get to stand on their own feet mechanically. And I don’t mind Transmutation wizards being *polymorph* specialists–the problem with Shapechanger isn’t that it gives a free *polymorph*, it’s just that it doesn’t do enough else. So I heavily expanded it, particularly toward utility. So I deleted the ‘beast-type only’ and ‘self-target only’ requirements for Shapechanger. And I added this to the base ability: “When you cast *polymorph* or a similar transmutation spell that heavily alters one or more creatures’ statistics, you can choose one ability score per target. That target retains its native score for this ability, rather than receiving a new one. You can also transform a target into an object of your choice. That creature remains animate as an object, using the statistics from the *animate object* spell, but is indistinguishable from a mundane object while it remains motionless.” The ability to retain a score of your choice is obvious for higher-Int recon, but you could also pick a battle form for someone and boost their AC by carrying over their high Dex. It rewards the planning facet of the wizard, which should really be at an all-time high with transmuters (and diviners I guess). The second part of this now hits just one level after many transmutation wizards will take *animate objects* anyway; it furthers their identity as masters of form; and it’s gonna allow for SO MANY SHENANIGANS. I can’t wait to see it around my table.

    1. Thank you for your interest in my design! I look forward to hearing about how your take on it goes in practice. Transmutation certainly makes for an interesting subclass.

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