Let’s be real: sorcerers in D&D haven’t been getting a ton of love. After surveying the player base early last year, the class was among 3 that players were least satisfied with. While the Druid and Ranger (the other 2 classes that indicated the least player satisfaction) did get updates through Unearthed Arcana that have dramatically improved choices for players of those classes, the Sorcerer has been relatively neglected until now, with D&D releasing new subclasses for the sorcerer that are very exciting. Let’s break them down:
The favor of a god, magical or divine being is extremely common in mythical tales, allowing them to accomplish feats that would otherwise have been impossible if not for the favor of a higher being. A number of possible causes for being a Favored Soul sorcerer are listed, including having lineage from a divine being (like the New 52’s Wonder Woman origin) to being the child of prophecy (think Harry Potter or Anakin Skywalker). Beyond the fluff of your character’s personal ties to divinity, the reflection of the divine favor in terms of crunch is pretty significant: a sorcerer who has access to spells from the cleric spell list.
You also get some other fun effects (including becoming perpetually youthful, beautiful or imposing at 6th level and immunity to disease and poison at 14th) but opening up access to a whole area of spellcasting is the big differentiator and gives substantially more options for playability.
Unnaturally drawn to fire, but not immune, the Phoenix sorcerer takes pyromancy to a whole new level. You can absolutely cheat death, though your fetish and reliance to flame and its destructive abilities imperil you and your group. Playing this subclass is a little like having the indomitable power of Human Torch and the vulnerability to flame and personality quirks of Mad King Aerys. The Phoenix Soul Quirks table includes such gems as, “You admire fire, even if it burns your friends,” and, “You cackle like a fiend when you unleash your fire spells.”
This subclass is arguably one of the most rich subclasses both in terms of roleplaying opportunities and combat effectiveness given that you can now get all sorts of bonuses when channeling your inner phoenix. Also, like the Human Torch, you can eventually learn to fly, though hopefully not away from your angry group whom you may have unintentionally engulfed in flames.
I’m not sure if my somewhat lukewarm reaction to this subclass is partly because I grew up in the landlocked prairies, without a reference point to the attractive yet destructive nature of sea, or because being able to swim or breathe underwater never seemed like a mystical power (scuba gear is a thing in my reality), but the Sea Sorcery subclass in this Unearthed Arcana seems to be the most underwhelming of the classes. There is a big difference to the personality quirks of a Phoenix sorcerer, whose flaws are both inane but characterful to those of this subclass, which is simply characterized with: “Like a river, you feel the call of the ocean. The call is ever present in your heart, and you are never completely at peace until you are near the sea.”
Despite the fluff being underwhelming, the abilities are extremely useful (and ultimately fall overall towards the defensive) in combat. Being able to momentarily turn into water to avoid most physical damage, as well as move freely through combat is pretty intriguing, though again, I would have preferred to see more emphasis on hydromancy the way it has been depicted in shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, where harnessing the sea and water is both defensive and offensive. Expanding Curse of the Sea and the ideas therein contained might have been more satisfying for this subclass.
I am biased towards combat spellcasters, if only for the interesting juxtaposition offered. I feel like it is often the best representation of what fantasy roleplaying classes offer: combat that is enhanced by magic. With improved resilience and AC (as an unarmored combatant), proficiency with martial weapons and access to spells which enhance their use, and even spells that offer protection to allies and dealing their attackers additional damage, this class is a fantastic addition to most groups, and a counterpoint to armored magic users like Paladins and Clerics.
As always, D&D is taking in responses from players about these classes, so after you tell us what you think in comments, head their way and tell them the same.
Featured Image & Blog Image Credits: Wizards of the Coast
Teri Litorco loves the idea of playing a Jean-Grey style Phoenix sorcerer but can’t stomach the idea of a character liking their steak well-done. She’s a professional fangirl, author of a book about thriving in the gaming community, and social media oversharer.