D&D 5E Companion thread to 5E Survivor - Subclasses (Part X: Sorcerers)

Lack of competition. If we look only at the officially published stuff:
  • Wild's ... wild. And sucks
  • Dragon's very very bland for a dragon. It's just kinda there at best (Draconic Resilience is dull and amounts to Mage Armour plus half a weak feat), a little extra damage at 6th level and fly way after it's truly useful at 14th.
  • Storm's outright Berserker level "If you actively use these abilities it will get you killed" - a sorcerer that wants to be near melee with too little defensive tech.
  • Aberrant Mind is a psion by another name - but the tentacles annoy a lot of psion fans so there's a core of people hating it
  • Clockwork Soul's signature ability is about no-selling and this annoys people.
  • The rest are not core and thus have been played by far fewer people. Which means they will get fewer upvotes and fewer people looking to kick them out.
Which means that the two officially published subclasses that are thematic and don't have a base that really dislike them are Divine Soul and Shadow Soul (which are the top two). And maybe Dragon which I can't call remotely good but it's merely irritating.
Taking things from a different direction, that is, thematics rather than mechanics per se

Dragons are awesome, so there will always be people into it. Not everyone thinks dragons are awesome, but a lot do.
Sea Sorcery evokes pirate themes. Pirates are, likewise, awesome and thus attract attention.
Shadow is obvious: ninjas. Ninjas are awesome, so being a magic ninja must be even better.
Divine Soul lets you have that "touched by an angel" theme. I prefer other methods for that, but I can see the appeal.
"Oncoming storm"/"ride the lightning" is solid gold themeing, particularly due to the many (often PoC) electricity-powered superheroes.

By comparison, Pyromancer comes across thematically as pigeonholed (fire and ONLY fire), Wild Magic has the implication of being unhinged and dangerous to others, and Clockwork seems a contradictory thing (the heady in-the-blood rush of...perfect lawfulness...?)

Giants and Phoenixes don't have massive fanbases like dragons, ninjas, and pirates, but they've got fans, so they're holding on. Lunar is somewhat obscure, but a connection to cosmic cycles isn't too weird (I actually quite liked the concept of the Cosmic Sorcerer in 4e), and it may be picking up secondary vibes from Shadow due to moon -> night -> darkness.

So, from a purely thematic standpoint, the front-runners and middle-grounders are pretty much what we would expect, and the ones that have been eliminated or are lagging behind likewise fit into the less-popular/not-well-received themes.

In truth, mechanics, thematics, and experience-in-play all factor in here, so there's a lot of noise in these signals.
 

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J-H

Hero
I am DMing a PBP for a 14th level party right now. It includes a Wild Magic sorcerer. He's using Tides of Chaos almost every round for something, specifically to trigger Wild Magic surges.

The 14th level ability to roll twice and pick the most beneficial has been pretty useful. What I recall going off for wild surges are:
Fog cloud (very handy, just had enemy melee teleport next to him)
Potted plant (at the end of a battle while enemies were Banished)
Random Unicorn (healed Good aligned party members)
Some random color/smell/etc. stuff
A couple of random damage spells, I think.

Overall Wild Magic has been a boon to the character, and has stacked up to effectively "cast two spells at once" several times.
Concentration-less Fog Cloud is pretty handy too, especially when you then Wall of Force the perimeter.

It may be less useful at lower levels when the table is more out of the character's control.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I can see the Divine Soul sorcerer subclass being a workable alternative to multiclassing...like, maybe you want to be an arcanist and a healer, but you don't want to slow your advancement too much (and the Magic Initiate feat won't cover it.)

I wonder what it would look like going in the other direction? What if there was a cleric domain that gave you sorcery points and metamagic features? Would that be any better?
 

niklinna

Legend
I can see the Divine Soul sorcerer subclass being a workable alternative to multiclassing...like, maybe you want to be an arcanist and a healer, but you don't want to slow your advancement too much (and the Magic Initiate feat won't cover it.)

I wonder what it would look like going in the other direction? What if there was a cleric domain that gave you sorcery points and metamagic features? Would that be any better?
I can see how subclasses in general could be a workable alternative to multiclassing. Except they aren't! In general. Not even among the homebrew collections I've seen. Not that I've seen every homebrew collection out there. There are a few notable subclasses that add arcane spellcasting onto martial classes, but that's about it.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I can see how subclasses in general could be a workable alternative to multiclassing. Except they aren't! In general. Not even among the homebrew collections I've seen. Not that I've seen every homebrew collection out there. There are a few notable subclasses that add arcane spellcasting onto martial classes, but that's about it.
Yeah, I think that's what the Divine Soul sorcerer is trying to do. It's great for a player who wants metamagic healing, but doesn't care about turning undead or whatever...and it's great for a campaign setting where the gods are distant (or dead) and there are no organized religions. For such a player and campaign, it's a great choice! For everyone else, 👎.

But I'm biased, I'm not a fan of multiclassing. I'd rather work with my DM to create a new base class that merged 2+ classes into a single one. I could make sure that it had everything that was important to me and none of the stuff that wasn't, and the DM could make sure it was balanced and actually fit the setting. Since I'd likely be the only one playing it, there wouldn't be a need for a whole suite of subclasses, either. It's more work, but I think it would be a better product (less muddled and more balanced, at the very least.)

Anyway. Divine Soul sorcerer gets a thumbs-up from me. Not that subclass specifically, but because of what it represents: it's both a workable alternative to multiclassing, and an example for DMs to follow and hopefully make more.
 
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J-H

Hero
I wish there was a way to get Druid spells without being a Druid. Sorcerer is probably the right chassis, but I think access to the Sorc/Wiz list AND druid list would be a bit much.
Druid-only list means you run into the problem of not enough non-Concentration options.

Maybe say "you get the druid list top pick from, but your subclass always-known spells are from the sorc list?"
 

It's great to hear about an actual Wild Magic getting played!

The 14th level ability to roll twice and pick the most beneficial has been pretty useful.
But you kind of need that 14th level feature to make the subclass swing towards positive.

He's using Tides of Chaos almost every round for something, specifically to trigger Wild Magic surges.
And, as worded, you need DM permission to get to recharge Tides / roll for Wild Magic surge. So it feels really uncomfortable to pick a subclass whose entire identity is tied behind the DM's mood, as opposed to just getting a thing that just works.
 

renbot

Explorer
I wish there was a way to get Druid spells without being a Druid. Sorcerer is probably the right chassis, but I think access to the Sorc/Wiz list AND druid list would be a bit much.
Druid-only list means you run into the problem of not enough non-Concentration options.

Maybe say "you get the druid list top pick from, but your subclass always-known spells are from the sorc list?"

How about a "nature sorcerer" (terrible name) origin feature that allows spending sorcery points to negate the need to concentrate on a spell from the druid list? Maybe SP = spell level, can only have one active at a time.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Yeah, I think that's what the Divine Soul sorcerer is trying to do. It's great for a player who wants metamagic healing, but doesn't care about turning undead or whatever...and it's great for a campaign setting where the gods are distant (or dead) and there are no organized religions. For such a player and campaign, it's a great choice! For everyone else, 👎.
Divine Soul is way more flexible thematically than that. It can be an almost lily white cleric wannabe, yes, but it can also be divine in the Greek/Polytheistic sense(look I'm a Demigod!) Also, it matches very well with "I'm the chosen one!"

Beyond that, it is way closer to what a sorcerer should be, not a wizard clone, but a spellcaster that isn't bound by "da rules" nor by rote convention.

Mechanically, you can choose to be a healer or not, the ability to combine more diverse spells is a pretty cool one.
 

Flights of Fancy

Candy is King
In my view the only downfall of Divine Soul is the feature that focuses on healing only. It is good for that alignment/build, but what about the other ones? Your free spell could also be something like inflict wounds but curing as a later feature doesn't fit. So, that feature needs to be flexible depending on your earlier spell choice.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
In my view the only downfall of Divine Soul is the feature that focuses on healing only. It is good for that alignment/build, but what about the other ones? Your free spell could also be something like inflict wounds but curing as a later feature doesn't fit. So, that feature needs to be flexible depending on your earlier spell choice.
Yes, it is the biggest issue, but not one too hard to ignore.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Why limit yourself to just Angels? I think that with a little elbow grease, the Divine Soul can be a great baseline for other outsider-themed bloodlines.

Like, just by changing the name and flavor text, you can get:
Sorcerer: Infernal Soul
Sometimes the spark of magic that fuels a sorcerer comes from an infernal source that glimmers within the soul. Having such a cursed soul is a sign that your innate magic might come from a distant but powerful familial connection to an infernal being. Perhaps your ancestor was a devil, transformed into a mortal and sent to fight on behalf of of a Duke of Hell. Or your birth might align with an ancient prophecy, marking you as a servant of the fell gods or a chosen vessel of infernal magic.

An Infernal Soul, with natural magnetism, is seen as a threat by some religious hierarchies. As an outsider who commands blasphemous power, these sorcerers can undermine the existing order by claiming a direct tie to Hell itself.

In some cultures, only those who can claim the power of an Infernal Soul may command religious power. In these lands, ecclesiastical positions are dominated by a few bloodlines and preserved over generations.

(Source: Xanathar's Guide to Everything)

Infernal Magic
Your link to Hell allows you to learn spells normally associated with the cleric class. When your Spellcasting feature lets you learn a sorcerer cantrip or a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher, you can choose the new spell from the cleric spell list or the sorcerer spell list. You must otherwise obey all the restrictions for selecting the spell, and it becomes a sorcerer spell for you.

In addition, choose an affinity for the source of your infernal power: good, evil, law, chaos, or neutrality. You learn an additional spell based on that affinity, as shown below. It is a sorcerer spell for you, but it doesn't count against your number of sorcerer spells known. If you later replace this spell, you must replace it with a spell from the cleric spell list.

Good: Cure Wounds
Evil: Inflict Wounds
Law: Bless
Chaos: Bane
Neutrality: Protection from Evil and Good

Favored by the Fallen
Starting at 1st level, infernal power guards your destiny. If you fail a saving throw or miss with an attack roll, you can roll 2d4 and add it to the total, possibly changing the outcome.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Empowered Affliction
Starting at 6th level, the infernal energy coursing through you can empower damaging spells. Whenever you or an ally within 5 feet of you rolls dice to determine the the amount of damage a spell causes, you can spend 1 sorcery point to reroll any number of those dice once, provided you aren't incapacitated. You can use this feature only once per turn.

Infernal Form
Starting at 14th level, you can use a bonus action to manifest a pair of spectral wings from your back. While the wings are present, you have a flying speed of 30 feet. The wings last until you're incapacitated, you die, or you dismiss them as a bonus action.

The affinity you chose for your Infernal Magic feature determines the appearance of the spectral wings: raven wings for good or law, bat wings for evil or chaos, and dragonfly wings for neutrality.

Unearthly Recovery
At 18th level, you gain the ability to overcome grievous injuries. As a bonus action when you have fewer than half of your hit points remaining, you can regain a number of hit points equal to half your hit point maximum.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

And if you also change the spells and abilities, you can get:
Sorcerer: Feyborn Soul
Sometimes the spark of magic that fuels a sorcerer comes from a capricious and mysterious source from the Feywild. Having such a soul is a sign that your innate magic might come from a distant but powerful familial connection to an Archfey, a faerie, or other feywild being. Perhaps your ancestor was a Knight of the Seelie Court, transformed into a mortal and sent to fight in the name of Queen Titania. Or your birth might align with an ancient prophecy, marking you as a servant of the archfey or a chosen vessel of wild magic.

A Feyborn Soul, with natural magnetism, is seen as a threat by some religious hierarchies. As an outsider who commands otherworldly power, these sorcerers can undermine the existing order by claiming a direct tie to The Feywild itself.


Feyborn Magic
Your link to theFeywild allows you to learn spells normally associated with the druid class. When your Spellcasting feature lets you learn a sorcerer cantrip or a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher, you can choose the new spell from the druid spell list or the sorcerer spell list. You must otherwise obey all the restrictions for selecting the spell, and it becomes a sorcerer spell for you.

In addition, choose an affinity for the source of your Feyborn power: the Seelie Court, the Unseelie Court, the Wild Hunt, or the Court of Roses. You learn an additional spell based on that affinity, as shown below. It is a sorcerer spell for you, but it doesn't count against your number of sorcerer spells known. If you later replace this spell, you must replace it with a spell from the druid spell list.

Seelie Court: Charm Person
Unseelie Court: Fog Cloud
The Wild Hunt: Hunter's Mark
The Court of Roses: Entangle

Favored by the Archfey
Starting at 1st level, the power of the Archfey guards your destiny. If you fail a saving throw or miss with an attack roll, you can roll 2d4 and add it to the total, possibly changing the outcome.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Empowered Enchantment
Starting at 6th level, the feywild energy coursing through you can empower enchantment spells. Whenever you or an ally within 5 feet of you casts an Enchantment spell of 1st level or higher, you can spend 1 sorcery point to have that spell affect one additional creature, provided you aren't incapacitated. You can use this feature only once per turn.

Faerie Form
Starting at 14th level, you can use a bonus action to manifest a pair of spectral wings from your back. While the wings are present, you have a flying speed of 30 feet. The wings last until you're incapacitated, you die, or you dismiss them as a bonus action.

The affinity you chose for your Feyborn Magic feature determines the appearance of the spectral wings: dragonfly wings for the Seelie Court, wasp wings for the Unseelie court, falcon wings for the Wild Hunt, and bee wings for the Court of Roses.

Unearthly Recovery
At 18th level, you gain the ability to overcome grievous injuries. As a bonus action when you have fewer than half of your hit points remaining, you can regain a number of hit points equal to half your hit point maximum.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
Sorcerer: Elemental Soul
Sometimes the spark of magic that fuels a sorcerer comes from a powerful being from one of the Elemental Planes. Having such a soul is a sign that your innate magic might come from a distant but powerful familial connection to an effrit, marid, or other powerful elemental being. Perhaps your ancestor was a djinn, transformed into a mortal from a carefully-worded wish. Or your birth might align with an ancient prophecy, marking you as a servant of the Dao Lords of the Plane of Earth.

An Elemental
Soul, with natural arcane power, is seen as a threat by some religious hierarchies. As an outsider who commands elemental power, these sorcerers can undermine the existing order by claiming a direct tie to The Elemental Chaos itself.


Elemental Magic
Choose an affinity for the source of your Elemental power: the Plane of Air, the Plane of Earth, the Plane of Fire, or the Plane of Water. You learn the Absorb Elements spell, as well as additional spells based on that affinity, as shown below. They are sorcerer spells for you, but don't count against your number of sorcerer spells known.

Plane of Air: Thunderwave, Feather Fall
Plane of Earth: Catapult, Earth Tremor
Plane of Fire: Burning Hands, Faerie Fire
Plane of Water: Fog Cloud, Ice Knife

Favored by the Elements
Starting at 1st level, the power of elemental magic guards your destiny. If you fail a saving throw or miss with an attack roll, you can roll 2d4 and add it to the total, possibly changing the outcome.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Empowered Elements
Starting at 6th level, the elemental energy coursing through you can empower enchantment spells. Whenever you or an ally within 5 feet of you rolls dice to determine the amount of damage a spell causes, you can spend 1 sorcery point to change the damage type to your chosen element: acid damage for the Plane of Earth, cold damage for the Plane of Water, lightning damage for the Plane of Air, and fire damage for the Plane of Fire. You can use this feature only once per turn.

Elemental Form
Starting at 14th level, you can use a bonus action to manifest a pair of spectral wings from your back. While the wings are present, you have a flying speed of 30 feet. The wings last until you're incapacitated, you die, or you dismiss them as a bonus action.

The affinity you chose for your Elemental Magic feature determines the appearance of the spectral wings: flames for the Plane of Fire, clouds for the Plane of Air, dust for the Plane of Earth, and seafoam for the Plane of Water.

Unearthly Recovery
At 18th level, you gain the ability to overcome grievous injuries. As a bonus action when you have fewer than half of your hit points remaining, you can regain a number of hit points equal to half your hit point maximum.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
Sorcerer: Aberrant Soul
Sometimes the spark of magic that fuels a sorcerer comes from a capricious and mysterious source from the distant and incomprehensible Outer Planes. Having such a soul is a sign that your innate magic might come from one of the Great Old Ones, great and terrible primordial beings.

Aberrant Magic
Your link to the Outer Planes allows you to learn spells normally associated with the warlock class. When your Spellcasting feature lets you learn a sorcerer cantrip or a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher, you can choose the new spell from the warlock spell list or the sorcerer spell list. You must otherwise obey all the restrictions for selecting the spell, and it becomes a sorcerer spell for you.

In addition, you learn the Arms of Hadar and Hex spells. These are sorcerer spells for you, and they don't count against your number of sorcerer spells known. If you later replace one of these spells, you must replace it with a spell from the warlock spell list.

Favored by the Old Ones
Starting at 1st level, the power of the Old Ones guards your destiny. If you fail a saving throw or miss with an attack roll, you can roll 2d4 and add it to the total, possibly changing the outcome.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Empowered Aberrations
Starting at 6th level, the dark energy coursing through you can empower enchantment spells. Whenever you or an ally within 5 feet of you rolls dice to determine the amount of damage a spell causes, you can spend 1 sorcery point to reroll one of those damage dice. You can use this feature only once per turn. You can use this feature only once per turn.

Aberrant Form
Starting at 14th level, you can use a bonus action to manifest a pair of shadowy, spectral wings from your back. While the wings are present, you have a flying speed of 30 feet. The wings last until you're incapacitated, you die, or you dismiss them as a bonus action.

Unearthly Recovery
At 18th level, you gain the ability to overcome grievous injuries. As a bonus action when you have fewer than half of your hit points remaining, you can regain a number of hit points equal to half your hit point maximum.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

The Divine Soul sorcerer is pretty dull as-written, IMO, but it makes a very good chassis for building better campaign-specific options. So I'm downvoting it for how it's written, but not for what it could become.
 
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The Divine Soul sorcerer is pretty dull as-written, IMO, but it makes a very good chassis for building better campaign-specific options. So I'm downvoting it for how it's written, but not for what it could become.
I guess my problem with thinking of it in these terms (which you're clear you aren't) is that, by that description, almost any mechanically-effective subclass can be rewritten. It's part of why I have a pretty dim view of people voting based on their homebrewed version of the subclass and not the subclass proper; not because I want to disparage their positive experience (that would be foolish), but because it's straight-up Oberoni fallacy re-purposed for suckiness-vs-awesomeness instead of brokenness-vs-functionality. "I can fix it so it isn't broken" -> "I can rewrite it so it isn't bad."

"This is a useful chassis and could be repurposed to make something legitimately cool in its own right" is a positive quality, it just doesn't seem like a quality that deserves ranking something more highly than things which already exist. Championing something that could be awesome instead of something that is good feels disingenuous, making an unfair comparison between potential-but-unrealized awesome vs extant issues. The potential world is always better than the extant one, because potential is a nebulous cloud of possibility unconstrained by logic or rationality or mathematics.

Edit:
Also, looks like we're headed for a three-way showdown between Sea, Shadow, and Storm. ...which sounds like a solid fantasy book title, now that I think about it.
 
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MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I think that it is going to be a race between shadow magic lovers and everybody else pilling on it. My money is on sea somehow surviving to the end because it remains unnoticed.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I think that it is going to be a race between shadow magic lovers and everybody else pilling on it. My money is on sea somehow surviving to the end because it remains unnoticed.
Unnoticed?!
It's actually a pretty cool subclass, especially for a nautical campaign setting. It's perfect for a sea-witch type character.
  • Water-breathing and swim speed, and the ability to curse your enemies, all at 1st level.
  • 6th level you gain fire resistance and the ability to shrug off damage.
  • At 14th level you can change into liquid form
  • At 18th level you are ageless, resistant to bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage, and you're immune to crits.
 
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MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Unnoticed?!
It's actually a pretty cool subclass, especially for a nautical campaign setting. It's perfect for a sea-witch type character.
  • Water-breathing and swim speed, and the ability to curse your enemies, all at 1st level.
  • 6th level you gain fire resistance and the ability to shrug off damage.
  • At 14th level you can change into liquid form, and at 18th level you are ageless, resistant to bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage, and you're immune to crits.
So? it doesn't change the fact it never make it to publication, and storm an divine soul are drawing aggro to them and if they survive shadow are mostl likely to turn on each other.
 

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