Last time, we started through the sorcerer’s seven subclasses. Now we wrap up that journey. As a reminder, there are three main categories I am looking at as I judge the power level of each subclass: combat strength, allowance for a range of powerful builds, and how it interacts with multiclassing. So let’s finish up the sorcerer with the final three entries.
3. Aberrant Mind
Don’t be tricked by the numeric proximity of this entry to fourth place; this is where the sorcerer’s power increases significantly. The commonality between this and the other two top entries? A much greater number of available spells and spells known.
Level 1 – Psionic Spells
You learn additional spells when you reach certain levels in this class, as shown on the Psionic Spells table. Each of these spells counts as a sorcerer spell for you, but it doesn’t count against the number of sorcerer spells you know.
Whenever you gain a sorcerer level, you can replace one spell you gained from this feature with another spell of the same level. The new spell must be a divination or an enchantment spell from the sorcerer, warlock, or wizard spell list.
|1st||arms of Hadar, dissonant whispers, mind sliver|
|3rd||calm emotions, detect thoughts|
|5th||hunger of Hadar, sending|
|7th||Evard’s black tentacles, summon aberration|
|9th||Rary’s telepathic bond, telekinesis|
This feature brings both of those improvements. Not only does it grant the sorcerer 10 additional spells by 9th level, but any spells you don’t want can be swapped out for spells from three different spell lists. Of course, you are limited by the school of the spells, blunting this feature somewhat, but it’s still a massive improvement over what previous sorcerer subclasses had to offer.
Level 1 – Telepathic Speech
As a bonus action, choose one creature you can see within 30 feet of you. You and the chosen creature can speak telepathically with each other while the two of you are within a number of miles of each other equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1 mile). To understand each other, you each must speak mentally in a language the other knows.
The telepathic connection lasts for a number of minutes equal to your sorcerer level. It ends early if you are incapacitated or die or if you use this ability to form a connection with a different creature.
As far as secondary features go, this is a decent one. Telepathy isn’t hugely powerful, but it offers flexibility for creative players to navigate social situations. It’s also nice for games where the GM is harsher on “table talk.”*
Level 6 – Psionic Sorcery
When you cast any spell of 1st level or higher from your Psionic Spells feature, you can cast it by expending a spell slot as normal or by spending a number of sorcery points equal to the spell’s level.
If you cast the spell using sorcery points, it requires no verbal or somatic components, and it requires no material components, unless they are consumed by the spell.
Now the sorcerer has a more efficient way to cast some of their spells that also avoids things like Counterspell. If you aren’t in a combat situation where you might want to spend your sorcery points on Metamagics it is always better to cast your Psionic Spells this way.
Level 6 – Psychic Defenses
You gain resistance to psychic damage, and you have advantage on saving throws against being charmed or frightened.
Psychic isn’t a terribly common damage type, but resistances are always nice. Advantage against two of the most common conditions is significantly better, making this a very powerful defensive tool.
Level 14 – Revelation in Flesh
As a bonus action, you can spend 1 or more sorcery points to magically transform your body for 10 minutes. For each sorcery point you spend, you can gain one of the following benefits of your choice, the effects of which last until the transformation ends:
- You can see any invisible creature within 60 feet of you, provided it isn’t behind total cover. Your eyes also turn black or become writhing sensory tendrils.
- You gain a flying speed equal to your walking speed, and you can hover. As you fly, your skin glistens with mucus or shines with an otherworldly light.
- You gain a swimming speed equal to twice your walking speed, and you can breathe underwater. Moreover, gills grow from your neck or fan out from behind your ears, your fingers become webbed, or you grow writhing cilia that extend through your clothing.
- Your body, along with any equipment you are wearing or carrying, becomes slimy and pliable. You can move through any space as narrow as 1 inch without squeezing, and you can spend 5 feet of movement to escape from nonmagical restraints or being grappled.
Most of the time this feature will be used to gain 10 minutes of flight for one sorcery point. Thankfully, that’s enough to make this a good feature. Compared to other flight features at this level slot, the secondary effects on Revelation in Flesh aren’t enough to make up for the limited flight time, but its almost as good as unlimited in combat situations, and that’s still great to have.
Level 18 – Warping Implosion
As an action, you can teleport to an unoccupied space you can see within 120 feet of you. Immediately after you disappear, each creature within 30 feet of the space you left must make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 3d10 force damage and is pulled straight toward the space you left, ending in an unoccupied space as close to your former space as possible. On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage and isn’t pulled.
Once you use this feature, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest, unless you spend 5 sorcery points to use it again.
A full-action teleport that does a small amount of damage while targeting a strong save isn’t great in my book. Coordinated parties will most likely be able to leverage the forced movement of this feature, but even then its unreliability leaves it feeling incredibly weak for an 18th level feature.
Sorcerers have been hurting for extra spells since 5E’s release, and this subclass does a good job remedying that problem. However, the weaker spell school selection and subpar late-game features leaves the Aberrant Mind in third place.
2. Clockwork Soul
The Clockwork Soul is good for a lot of the same reasons the Aberrant Mind is; it just does them a bit better.
Level 1 – Clockwork Magic
You learn additional spells when you reach certain levels in this class, as shown on the Clockwork Spells table. Each of these spells counts as a sorcerer spell for you, but it doesn’t count against the number of sorcerer spells you know.
Whenever you gain a sorcerer level, you can replace one spell you gained from this feature with another spell of the same level. The new spell must be an abjuration or a transmutation spell from the sorcerer, warlock, or wizard spell list.
|1st||alarm, protection from evil and good|
|3rd||aid, lesser restoration|
|5th||dispel magic, protection from energy|
|7th||freedom of movement, summon construct|
|9th||greater restoration, wall of force|
Almost identical to the Psionic Spells feature we’ve already discussed, the difference here is which two schools of magic the Clockwork Soul has access to. To put it simply, abjuration and transmutation are better than the Aberrant Mind’s enchantment and divination. Not only are there more spells for the Clockwork Soul to choose from,* but they include powerhouse options like Aid and Wall of Force. Even without swapping this feature’s default spells, it is an amazing addition to the sorcerer’s arsenal.
Level 1 – Restore Balance
When a creature you can see within 60 feet of you is about to roll a d20 with advantage or disadvantage, you can use your reaction to prevent the roll from being affected by advantage and disadvantage.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
This is a decent secondary feature that can help protect the sorcerer’s party. Players don’t often roll with disadvantage, but when they do, Restore Balance is there to help. On the flip side, stopping enemies from attacking with advantage can also be very helpful, especially at lower levels when the total number of enemy attacks is at its lowest.
Level 6 – Bastion of Law
As an action, you can expend 1 to 5 sorcery points to create a magical ward around yourself or another creature you can see within 30 feet of you. The ward lasts until you finish a long rest or until you use this feature again.
The ward is represented by a number of d8s equal to the number of sorcery points spent to create it. When the warded creature takes damage, it can expend a number of those dice, roll them, and reduce the damage taken by the total rolled on those dice.
This is easily my least favorite feature of the Clockwork Soul. Sorcery points represent a massive amount of power, so any feature that uses them needs to justify that expense. An average of 4.5 hit points per point spent does not meet that standard. Yes, Bastion of Law can be stacked with temporary hit points and the Aid spell to make an unexpectedly tough sorcerer, but you’ll usually be better off spending those sorcery points killing your enemies faster.
Level 14 – Trance of Order
As a bonus action, you can enter this state for 1 minute. For the duration, attack rolls against you can’t benefit from advantage, and whenever you make an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw, you can treat a roll of 9 or lower on the d20 as a 10.
Once you use this bonus action, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest, unless you spend 5 sorcery points to use it again.
Thankfully, we’re back to good features now. Negating advantage on attacks against you won’t come up too often,* but concentration checks certainly will. Combining this feature with the sorcerer’s constitution save proficiency means it’ll be almost impossible to lose concentration against damage amounts below the mid-30s. The ability to reactivate the feature with sorcery points is nice, although five sorcery points is pricey enough that I doubt I’d do it often.
Level 18 – Clockwork Cavalcade
As an action, you summon the spirits in a 30-foot cube originating from you. The spirits look like modrons or other constructs of your choice. The spirits are intangible and invulnerable, and they create the following effects within the cube before vanishing:
- The spirits restore up to 100 hit points, divided as you choose among any number of creatures of your choice in the cube.
- Any damaged objects entirely in the cube are repaired instantly.
- Every spell of 6th level or lower ends on creatures and objects of your choice in the cube.
Once you use this action, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest, unless you spend 7 sorcery points to use it again.
This is the best sorcerer subclass capstone, and it’s not particularly close. Even at 18th level, 100 hit points is a lot, and the ability to split it up however you please means you can send the bulk to whoever is being targeted most while handing smaller amounts out to unconscious party members to bring them back into the fight.
This feature’s healing would be enough to make it good, but it doesn’t stop there. A selective Dispel Magic effect is great if the party ever finds themselves against spellcasting enemies, a fairly likely occurrence at this level. The ability to repair damaged items is easily the weakest part of this ability, but the rest of it is great, so who cares?
I had a tough time deciding on where to place the Clockwork Soul on this list. I think for many players, this will be the best sorcerer subclass. It has a lot of general power that is easy to understand and use. However, for players with a plan it falls to second place.
1. Divine Soul
How do you make the best sorcerer subclass? You give them an entire second spell list to choose from. While the Clockwork Soul and Aberrant Mind subclasses expand the number of spells the sorcerer knows, the Divine Soul remains unrivaled in the total number of spell options it adds.
Level 1 – Divine Magic
Your link to the divine allows you to learn spells from the cleric class. When your Spellcasting feature lets you learn or replace 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 divine 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.
|Neutrality||protection from evil and good|
I’m sure it’s not a surprise that adding a second spell list as a 1st-level feature is very strong. However, anyone looking to get the most from this feature should have an exact plan for which cleric spells they want to take. Divine Soul sorcerers are still extremely limited in their total spell selection, so a poorly planned build can result in a caster who is simply bad at using two spell lists.
Spells like Aid, Spirit Guardians, and Holy Weapon all make excellent sorcerer spells, especially when paired with Metamagic. Spirit Guardians in particular works very well when multiclassing the Divine Soul with some amount of warlock or paladin, allowing for a frontline character with area damage who can rely entirely on the charisma stat.
This feature does have a second, albeit significantly smaller, component. You can choose one of five 1st level spells to add to your known spells. I usually go for Cure Wounds if I don’t plan to pick up Healing Word, or Bless if I do. This is nice at lower levels when the sorcerer is most squeezed on spells, but becomes much less important as the character increases in power.
Level 1 – Favored by the Gods
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.
As I’ve mentioned many times, saving throws are some of the most important rolls a character will make, so having a tool that helps you make those rolls is very good. I’m sad this feature is limited to a single use, but at least it recharges on short rests.
Level 6 – Empowered Healing
Whenever you or an ally within 5 feet of you rolls dice to determine the number of hit points a spell restores, 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.
Another bad use of sorcery points for a 6th level feature. The best healing options in the game either heal through multiple small rolls or restore a flat amount of hit points, two situations where this feature is very weak. If you do plan on using upcast Cure Wounds as your main method of healing, you will gain some benefit from this ability, but such methods are terribly inefficient even with the boost this gives.
Level 14 – Otherworldly Wings
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 Divine Magic feature determines the appearance of the spectral wings: eagle wings for good or law, bat wings for evil or chaos, and dragonfly wings for neutrality.
Unlimited flight continues to be great.
Level 18 – Unearthly Recovery
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.
While not as good as what Clockwork Soul gets at 18th level, having the ability to restore half of your hit points each rest is still a very good ability. I wish this ability could be reused via sorcery points like the Tasha’s subclasses, but even once per rest, this benefit will be noticeable.
While the Clockwork Soul’s average power might have been the highest, the power ceiling of Divine Soul remains unmatched. For many builds, the existence of this subclass removes the need for cleric levels outside a single dip for armor proficiencies. I’m still not sure I like the design decision to simply staple a second spell list onto the sorcerer to make it good, but there’s no denying this divine powerhouse first place.
That wraps up the sorcerer. We’ll need to wait a couple weeks before the next installment, as Wizards of the Coast rudely announced new content while I was in the middle of a series, but I shall begin my journey through the warlock soon!
I have also created a tier list for those of you who are interested.
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