D&D (2024) So... What happened to sorcerer and ranger bonus spells?


Throughout 5e's life, one the most curious (and frustrating) trends in design was ranger and sorcerer subclasses granting bonus spells. The subclasses in the PHB did not grant bonus spells, and both classes were very spell-starved for it. In Xanathar, the ranger subclasses gained a collection of bonus spells, but the sorcerer did not (though they toyed with it for divine/favored soul and storm sorcery in UA, both were dropped). Then in Tasha, the sorcerer ones began granting them (with the ability to swap them out for other spells of certain schools). However, the post Tasha subs had the ranger lose bonus spells (drakewarden) and gain them differently (lunar magic) making their inclusion erratic.

It would make sense then that with One D&D, they began the process of settling on if both classes granted bonus spells (like the cleric, paladin, or warlock) or don't. However, the two subs we've seen so far (hunter and draconic) lack bonus spells. So, I gotta wonder if WotC plans on formalizing if ranger and sorcerer subs are all going to grant bonus spells or is the design for boths classes going to continue to be erratic.

(For what it's worth, I gave all the subs that don't have spells a bonus spell list. I was just hoping such a design would be formalized. One D&D seems like the perfect place to do that).

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It looks like they decided to give the Sorcerer access to the whole Arcane list and a lot more spells, while giving Rangers the run of the Primal list and the ability to prepare different spells every day.

On the other hand, I actually kind of like the bonus spell mechanic. I wish they would drop subclass picks to level 1 just so they could give every caster a list of bonus spells always known tied to subclass.


I think bonus spells tied to subclass should be the norm for any caster. It adds so much distinctiveness and variation. When everyone pulls from the same list, everyone ends up converging on the best picks for their style of play.

Of course, it would help if the spells were at least kinda balanced. A lot of the spells in the PHB are just flat-out bad.


I think a good indicator will be if any later subclasses make it into the "big subclass dump" UA packet. Both classes only had two PHB subs, so they are due for two additional ones in the PHB.

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
For both Ranger and sorcerer, the extra spells were a correction from what they had initially presented in the PHB. Sorcerers were short spells, and this was a way to fix it withioout claiming errata. The revision of the classes will count as a "reset".

I expect that the subclasses for Sorcerer will not have a list of bonus spells; that's already rolled into the revision of the class.

It could still happen in a Ranger subclass, but I would not expect it to be standard -- an extra magical subclass might have access to thematic spells, though.


I want options that are unique.

Dragon Wings for instance, is something only Dragon Sorcerers get. And I like that. (Though it might be a bit weak).

Dragons breath might let them use Burning Hands with d10 dice.

Dragon Scales could be rewritten to be a upgrade to Mage Armor.


Three possibilities.
  • It's just been dropped.
  • It's been dropped because base number of spells have gone up so it's no longer needed
  • The Dragon Sorcerer is never meant to get it because they get dragon-stuff and are at the martial end of sorcerer subclasses, and Hunter didn't have them either.


I think bonus spells tied to subclass should be the norm for any caster. It adds so much distinctiveness and variation. When everyone pulls from the same list, everyone ends up converging on the best picks for their style of play.

Of course, it would help if the spells were at least kinda balanced. A lot of the spells in the PHB are just flat-out bad.
Yup. I am not a fan of all access. It reduces flavour and will end up with different classes all using the same powerful combos.


I have no opinion on whether the Ranger or Sorcerer will or will not get bonus spells... but I did want to say that one thing I'd like to see happen (although I do not expect it as it is extra word count that would probably get ignored by 99% of the playerbase)...

...is that rather than the base class having a pre-selected spell selection recommendation in these class write-ups, that instead we saw a recommended spell selection appear in the write-up for each subclass. That way they could print different spell load-outs for different subclasses and actually make the spell choices more applicable to their respective subclass themes.

After all... what use is it to have WotC list in the class write-up that Sorcerers can start with Burning Hands at 1st level if there ends up being a Storm Sorcerer subclass in the book? Obviously a Storm Sorcerer should be pointed towards Fog Cloud or Thunderwave at 1st level, not Burning Hands.

This is actually I think the one advantage though of having bonus spells for each subclass-- especially if those bonus spells are always prepared. A member of the subclass will always at least have a couple spells prepared that on theme. Which I think is preferred. There's nothing worse in my opinion than a player who wants to play a Shadow Sorcerer (for instance) but who has Fireball as their main combat Spell Known merely because it does the most damage. At that point, why even bother with the subclass if your spell load-out doesn't even come close to matching? Or for a Wizard, a so-called Necromancer who is a Necromancer in name only but is actually more of an Evoker based upon all the fireballs and lightning bolts and thunderwaves they throw around because they're the ones that do the most damage.

And I suspect if they keep things the way they are, with Sorcerers having access to the entire Arcane spell list... this will only get worse. As someone said something similar above... mostly every Sorcerer will end up with the exact same spell load-out as they load up on all the "best" spells with little to no concern to the theme of their sorcerous origin. Which, you know... is fine, I guess. There's no requirement that they do. I just know I don't prefer that "mechanics trumping story" playstyle myself, and it's for that reason that I usually create specific Sorcerer spell lists for each subclass so that my players HAVE to mainly try to stay on theme... but it'd be nice if WotC agreed with me. I don't expect WotC to, and it won't ultimately be an issue if they don't... but I'd still like it nonetheless. :)

I'm of so many minds on this.
  • On one hand, giving different sub-classes distinct spell lists (including sometimes spells the class otherwise can't access) does give each subtype of the class have a distinct flavor.
  • On the other hand, if that isn't on the table, then there might be a greater push to give each of them actual unique non-spell abilities (perhaps leaving 'extra bonus spells and expanded spell option boundaries' to the 'caster's caster' subclasses, such as Land Druids).
Part of me leans towards the second hand argument, since I think we mostly all are a little frustrated with 5e defaulting to turning every new mechanical bit into a spell, but at the same time that's honestly kinda water under the bridge at this point and if it's going to be the case, best to leverage it to get what one wants (in this case, distinct-feeling subtypes)

Beyond those concerns, I agree with the notion that keeping each class spell list distinct and not having everyone default to the same small list of best spell options is a goal to have. At the same time (another two-minds place), I remember a bunch of 3.0/3.5 Prestige Classes and mid-3.5 new full-20-level classes (Duskblades and Healers and Shugenja and the like) having their own unique spell lists and that being nearly impossible for the devs to balance (or consistently update as new books and spells came out); to say nothing about the imbalance of things like 2e differing-spheres priest subtypes.

Not sure where that lands me on a position here, but those are my thoughts.

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