Thursday, February 16, 2017

Unearthed Arcana: Sorcerer

Hey Game Fans, we’re playing a little catch up on our Unearthed Arcana articles.  Wizards of the Coast has been doing great stuff on releasing new ideas and concepts for expanding the base classes through additional archetype options.  Today we’re going to take a look at the Sorcerer, and we’ll have another article just like this on the new Warlock and Wizard options, which are apparently bananas.  The UA train is still on full steam ahead, so i imagine we’re going to get a look at the Mystic class that Mike Mearls has been teasing us for weeks about, and maybe some other new options and ideas.  Let’s get down to brass tacks and take a look at the new Sorcerous Origins for the Sorcerer.  

Sorcerous Origins

Every Sorcerer and Sorceress draws their power from a connection to an ancient force of magic.  Some draw the from bloodline of dragons, while others tap into the raw power of magic itself.  Today we have four new options:
The Favored Souls, who are touched by the power of the divine.
The Phoenix Sorcery, which draws its power from the raging, burning heart of the phoenix.
The Sea Sorcery, which draws its power from the inexorable power of water in all forms.
The Stone Sorcery, which draws its power from the bond between elemental earth and all things.

Each one of these origins draws its magical prowess from a different source that fundamentally alters the way the sorcerer or sorceress in question operates, while still being a member of the sorcerer class.  Let’s take a closer look at each one in turn, and see how they work.

Favored Soul

Some sorcerers and sorceresses draw their power from a deep connection to beings that draw their power from divinities and the servants of the gods themselves.  Sometimes they are in the direct lineage of a divine servant, or perhaps the play into divine scriptures about a destiny.  However this shakes out, a Favored Soul is a charismatic wielder of magical power that can channel the power of the gods themselves.  Depending on the deity they claim kinship to, this can be met with praise or suspicion.  Let’s take a look at the abilities that a Favored Soul has access to.

Divine Magic

The connection to divine power that a Favored Soul has allows them access to a wider range of magical powers than a typical sorcerer or sorceress has access to.  When the Spellcasting feature allows a Favored Soul to pick up a new sorcerer cantrip or spell of 1st level or higher, the Favored Soul can instead select a spell from the Cleric spell list.  The spell or cantrip is the same level and the sorcerer or sorceress has to obey all the normal restrictions for selecting a spell.  The spell becomes a sorcerer spell for the Favored Soul.  
Note: This a level of flexibility among spellcasters that is unique for the Favored Soul, and is one of the most interesting blends of arcane/divine power.  I want to tinker with the spell lists and see what sort of interesting combinations are possible with this level of flexibility.  

Supernatural Resilience

At 1st level the divine blessing of the Favored Soul manifests as greater resilience.  They gain an additional maximum hit point, and they gain an additional hit point every time they level up

Favored by the Gods

Divine power guides the destiny of the Favored Soul.  At 1st level, whenever the Favored Soul fails an attack roll or a saving throw, the Favored Soul can roll 2D4 and add that to their roll.  This can change the outcome of the roll.  This ability can recharge on a short or long rest.  

Blessed Countenance

At 6th level, the Favored Soul undergoes a minor physical transformation that imbues them with an otherworldly aesthetic (beautiful, kind, youthful or imposing).  If you make a Charisma check that your proficiency bonus applies to, double your proficiency bonus.

Note:  This can lead to some interesting face characters, and being able to double a proficiency bonus on something as broad as an ability check is extremely potent.

Divine Purity

At 14th level, the Favored Soul is suffused with divine energy, granting them immunity to disease, poison damage, and the poisoned condition.

Unearthly Recovery

At 18th level, the Favored Soul is capable of astounding feats of recovery.  As a bonus action, if the Favored Soul is below half his or her starting hit point value, they can recover hit points equal to half their starting value.  This ability recharges on a long rest.  


The favored soul is an interesting blend of arcane and divine power.  With the ability to sub in cleric spells for sorcerer spells when they level up, the Favored Soul opens up a lot of different game styles and options.  With the right combination of backgrounds, the Divine Countenance ability becomes extremely powerful for building a talky character.  Unearthly Recovery is a very solid capstone ability that lets a Favored Soul operate by itself for an extended period of time.  Overall it’s a neat combination of abilities and potencies.  

Phoenix Sorcery

The Phoenix is a powerful symbol of magic, being able to transcend death.  Sorcerers and sorceresses who claim a tie to the Phoenix are an unpredictable and potentially dangerous lot.  The fire is a strong lure for them, and their love of it can often have unexpected consequences.  They are just as vulnerable to the flames as everyone else, and the same fire that can restore their life can also take it.  

Note 1: Be sure to check out the Phoenix quirks table for some ideas of how being part Phoenix may affect your behavior.


Phoenix Sorcerers are drawn to the flames and can start them with a touch.  As an action, a Phoenix Sorcerer can cause a flammable object to burst into flames by touching it.  This works best when applied to paper, tinder, or other small flammable objects (People are not flammable).

Mantle of Flame

At 1st level the Phoenix Sorcerer can magically wreathe himself or herself in swirling flames while their eyes glow like coals.  This effect lasts for 1 minute and has the following benefits.

  • The Phoenix Sorcerer sheds bright light in a 30 foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet.  
  • Any creature within 5 feet that hits the Phoenix Sorcerer with a melee attack takes fire damage equal to the Sorcerer’s charisma modifier.  Creatures touching the Phoenix Sorcerer also take this damage.
  • Whenever the Phoenix Sorcerer rolls fire damage for any reason, they add their charisma modifier to the result.

This feature recharges after a long rest

Phoenix Spark

At 6th level, the Phoenix Sorcerer can channel the power of the Phoenix to stave off his or her own death.  If reduced to 0 hit points, the Phoenix Sorcerer can use her or her reaction to instead drop to 1 hit point and immediately deal fire damage equal to ½ sorcerer level + charisma modifier to every creature within 10 feet.  If Mantle of Flame is active, this ability deals fire damage equal to sorcerer level + twice charisma modifier and Mantle of Flame immediately ends.  

This feature recharges on a long rest.

Nourishing Fire

At 14th level, the Phoenix Sorcerer can draw health from the flames.  Every time the Sorcerer expends a spell slot to cast a spell that deals fire damage they regain hit points equal to the spell slot’s level + their charisma modifier.

Form of the Phoenix

At 18th level, the Phoenix Sorcerer truly masters the phoenix within.  When using the Mantle of Flame ability, they gain the following benefits.
  • The Phoenix Sorcerer has a fly speed of 40 feet and the hover ability.
  • Resistance to all damage.
  • When using the Phoenix Spark ability, the ability deals an extra 20 points of fire damage to creatures hit by it.  


The Phoenix Sorcerer is a much more offensively minded sorcerer than any of the other versions we’ve seen.  It has several abilities that key off of each other, and there’s never really a reason for it not to be utilizing nourishing fire once it has access to that ability.  Mantle of Flame is an interesting ability that powers up nicely as the character levels up.  I think it could be an interesting addition to the right party of adventurers.  

Sea Sorcery

Water has been a source of power forever, and the Sea Sorcerer draws on a deep connection to that power.  It fuels their spells, gives them resilience, and allows them to move around obstacles that get in their way.  Connected by the bloodlines of merfolk and other great aquatic powers, the Sea Sorcerer draws strength and comfort from the vastness of water, and doesn’t feel comfortable unless close to it.

Soul of the Sea

The Sea Sorcerer is kin to fish and all manner of aquatic creatures.  He or she has the ability to breathe underwater and has a swimming speed equal to their walking speed.  

Curse of the Sea

At 1st level the Sea Sorcerer can afflict the targets of their spells with a dread curse.  The Sorcerer has to hit the target with a spell, or the target has to fail a saving throw against a spell cast by the sorcerer.  The curse lasts until the end of the Sorcerer’s next turn, or until they curse something else.  Once per turn, when the sorcerer casts a spell that deals cold or lightning damage, or forces the target to move, he or she can trigger the curse for additional effects.  After the effect is triggered, if the spell wasn’t a cantrip, the curse ends.   The Sorcerer chooses which effect if the spell deals multiple conditions.

  • Cold Damage:the target’s speed is reduced by 15 feet until the end of the Sorcerer’s next turn.  If the target has a speed reduction from something else, choose whichever reduction is greater.
  • Lightning Damage:  If the target takes lightning damage from the spell the Sorcerer  casts, they take additional lightning damage equal to the Sorcerer’s charisma modifier.
  • Forced Movement:  If the target is moved by the Sorcerer’s spell, move the target an additional 15 feet.

Watery Defense

At 6th level, the Sea Sorcerer can assume a watery form to reduce damage.  First, they gain resistance to fire damage.  Further, When hit by a melee attack that deals bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage, they can use their reaction to reduce the damage dealt by their charisma modifier, and immediately move up to 30 feet without drawing attacks of opportunity.  

This reaction ability recharges after a short or long rest, but the resistance is a constant.

Shifting Form

At 14th level, the Sea Sorcerer can assume a liquid form while moving.  When moving, the Sea Sorcerer only takes half damage from opportunity attacks, and can move through squares occupied by hostile creatures.  Further, the Sea Sorcerer can move through tiny spaces (at least three inches in diameter) without squeezing.  This ability only works when the Sea Sorcerer is moving, and if they have to stop for any reason, normal squeezing rules apply, and they can be pushed back to the first available space they can normally occupy.  

Water Soul

At 18th level, the Sea Sorcerer truly becomes one with the sea, and they gain the following benefits.
  • The Sea Sorcerer no longer needs to eat, drink, or sleep
  • Critical hits against the Sea Sorcerer are treated as normal hits.
  • The Sea Sorcerer has resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.  


The Sea Sorcerer is built around battlefield mobility as a concept, and i think it’s an interesting role to fill.  The ability to breathe underwater and the swim speed as starting abilities are surprisingly potent, and can open up a lot of different options for mobility.  This sorcerer can tailor its spells to take maximum advantage from its curse of the sea ability, and being a highly mobile spellcaster is advantageous in most situations.  The capstone ability to turn critical hits into regular hits is potent, but not overpowered.  Neat concept and execution, i like this archetype from a lot of different perspectives.

Stone Sorcery

Stone is an enduring material that draws power from the constancy of its form.  It can be shaped, folded, remade into other things, but the inherent strength and power of the underlying elemental earth energy remains a universal constant.  This is a more martially inclined sorcerer who seems to have an instinctual understanding of the role armor and weapons play on the battlefield while maintaining the full power of the sorcerer’s spellcasting mayhem.  

Bonus Proficiencies

At 1st level, the Stone Sorcerer gains proficiency with shields, simple weapons and martial weapons

Metal Magic

The Stone Sorcerer’s affinity for metal gives them unique access to some non-sorcerer spells.  When the Spellcasting feature allows them to learn a new spell, they can learn the following spells at the listed levels.

1st level     Compelled Duel
1st level    Searing Smite
1st level    Thunderous Smite
1st level    Wrathful Smite
2nd level    Branding Smite
2nd level    Magic Weapon
3rd level    Blinding Smite
3rd level    Elemental Weapons
4th level    Staggering Smite

Note:  Hmm, this is an interesting approach to take for a melee masher, though i am seriously concerned by the lack of armor proficiencies that come with Stone Sorcerer.  These are spells that i would want on a Paladin (where most of these come from) or a fighter type.  It’s an interesting choice, but i think i would want armor to go with these selections.  

Stone’s Durability

At 1st level the Stone Sorcerer draws on their connection to the energies of elemental earth for fortitude and resiliency.  First, they gain +1 maximum hit point, and an additional +1 maximum hit point every time they level up.  Second, and this one does a fine job of managing my concerns about armor, as an action, the Stone Sorcerer can assume a stony visage that gives them an Armor Class of 13 + their Constitution modifier.  This lasts until the Stone Sorcerer turns off this ability with a bonus action, is incapacitated, or the Stone Sorcerer puts on any armor other than a shield.  

Note: Neat ability that gives the Stone Sorcerer some additional staying power and the ability to avoid getting hit by having a functional armor class.  A 1st level Stone Sorcerer who builds towards this goal can easily end up with a +2 constitution modifier and a shield.  Said Stone Sorcercer has a super respectable 17 armor class and 9 hit points.  

Stone Aegis

At 6th level, the Stone Sorcerer draws on their connection with the Earth to protect their allies from harm.  As a bonus action, the Stone Sorcerer can grant an aegis (aura) to any allied creature it can see within 60 feet.  It manifests as an aura of grey earth energy, and protects the target from bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.  It reduces said damage by an amount equal to 2 + Sorcerer Level divided by 4.  The effect lasts for one minute, until the Stone Sorcerer uses the ability again to target a different ally, or the Stone Sorcerer is incapacitated.  

In addition, when a creature that the Stone Sorcerer can see within 60 feet hits the protected ally with a melee attack, the Stone Sorcerer can teleport to an unoccupied space it can see within 5 feet of the attacker.  (The teleport can only be performed if the attacker and the Sorcerer are on the same surface, so this is an earth slide type effect).  The Stone Sorcerer, as part of this reaction can immediately make a melee attack against the attacker.  If this hits, it deal an extra 1D10 points of force damage.  (This damage increases as the Sorcerer levels up).  

Note 1:  I think the damage reduction can be expressed as “Reduce the damage taken by the Sorcerer’s Proficiency Bonus” and is easier to understand for new players.

Note 2:  The reaction ability currently doesn’t have a recharge feature, meaning you can theoretically do it whenever the hell you want.  I don’t think it’s going to make it through playtesting as it sits.  

Stone’s Edge

At 14th level, the Stone Sorcerer imbues their magic with the elemental energy they have been channeling.  When the Stone Sorcerer casts a spell that deals damage, they can select one target of that spell (meaning you can pick out a specific target for this effect in an otherwise area of effect spell) to take additional damage equal to half the Stone Sorcerer’s Sorcerer Level.  For spells that do damage over time, this ability only works the round the spell is cast.  It can also only be used once per casting of a spell.  

Earth Master’s Aegis

At 18th level, the Stone Sorcerer can protect up to three of his or her allies using his or her Stone’s Aegis ability.  


The Stone Sorcerer is perfectly capable of rolling up into melee combat and theoretically can hold their own with most of the front line combatants.  The issue i see with them is that they have to work on 3 attributes, Charisma for Spellcasting, Constitution for Armor Class, and Strength for damage dealing.  They can get a lot of work done with their spellcasting, and their abilities are thematically interesting and they can be interesting to play.  I like the archetype, and would want to get some playtesting in with.  

Overall Thoughts and Ideas

So Wizards have given us four distinctly different takes on the sorcerer, each of which fills an interesting role, and can do very different things.  I like these archetypes, but i would want to playtest them a little harder to see what shakes out.  If you were being funny, you could theoretically play an all sorcerer party (with each player playing a different archetype).  The roles are distinct enough that everyone has a niche, and they can still all utilize the underlying abilities of the Sorcerer class.  It’s a neat update, and i hope these make it to full production.  

So That’s Sorcerer, we’re going to try to catch up on Warlock and Wizard, and see what those Mad Wizards drop on us next week.  Game on, Game Fans.  

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