So I'm in the midst of character creation, and I was looking to see how multi-faceted I can make my character. To give greater potential for stuff later on.

I've got a Sorcerer on my hands, and every information page I can find on how to set them up eventually refers to a feature called a Sorcerous Origin, of which I've found Draconic Ancestry, Wild Magic and a relatively new feature called Favoured Soul to be the only "Origins" available. That's all well and good, so I chose Draconic.

But now what I'm exploring is the concept of Archetypes. Sorcerous Origins seem to be something you need to pick regardless of the path you want to take with your character, whereas an Archetype (from my understanding) is an optional thing. So my question is, can I have my Sorcerous Origin and an Archetype (along with all the features and traits they unlock) at the same time? And if so, do those features/traits/skills/etc coexist unless they specifically mention replacing a previously existing feature?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "an Archetype (from my understanding) is an optional thing"? An archetype is like an specialization of the classes that grant aditional and unique class features, you HAVE to pick one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Manner
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, then that at least clarifies their necessity. (Even though it's a little strange that many Archetypes say you gain traits from one as early as level one, yet you're meant to pick one at level 3..) Question still remains whether or not a Sorcerous Origin is replaced by an Archetype. Because many Sorcerer features and spells are granted at the same levels as Archetypes. I'm new to DnD so I don't know if having that many capabilities at once is "normal". \$\endgroup\$
    – HunterV
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorcerers don't quite have an "archetype", they have the "Sorcerous Origin" and "Metamagic" instead. Are you reffering to multiclas? \$\endgroup\$
    – Manner
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 16:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ See, there's where my confusion is stemming from. Because when I look at the list of Archetypes, I fail to find Draconic Ancestry, Wild Magic or Favoured Soul among them for Sorcerer. There's a REALLY similar one to Draconic but it grants a load more features and spells than Draconic Ancestry does in all the main Sorcerer articles. Unless there's an etiquette against posting links here I can link the archetypes list versus what.. practically all Sorcerer main articles say. \$\endgroup\$
    – HunterV
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 16:59
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Manner that looks like the beginnings of a good answer. As a comment it will get deleted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 17:11

2 Answers 2


D&D Wiki did to you what it does best: Confused new players.

There are 5 official Sorcerer's "archetypes"/Origins on D&D 5e: Draconic Ancestry, Wild Magic, Favoured Soul, Shadow Magic and Storm Magic.

That second link you posted from D&D wiki is what we call "Homebrew", things made up by players and that are not official. Be very careful if you use one of these, they're mostly imbalanced and not recommended for new players.

Try building your character using the official books of D&D 5e:

  • Player's Handbook
  • Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
  • Dungeon Master's Guide
  • Volo's Guide to Monsters (For additional races)
  • Xanathar's Guide to Everything
  • \$\begingroup\$ Very helpful, thanks so much. I may end up with a Homebrew Archetype that seems sound, because our campaign will be homebrew in itself anyway. But I'll be sure it's a reasonable one that the group can all agree on. Thanks very much for the swift solution. \$\endgroup\$
    – HunterV
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 17:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why are you scare quoting "arquetypes"? The original question does not use that odd spelling, nor do the rules, and I don't find it on D&D WIki either. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ TC was confusing Archetypes with the numerous Homebrew Sorcerer's Origins. \$\endgroup\$
    – Manner
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 17:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ So it's just a spelling error in this answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 18:04
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ My point is that no one has "arquetypes" with that spelling. I am not trying to nitpick the spelling, though — I was wondering if you meant anything by it. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 18:37

Every class in 5E has built in subclass options.

The Basic Rules and Player's Handbook don't use the term subclass, but it's both obvious and helpful. Xanathar's Guide, an optional supplement, uses it as the chapter title for the section adding more of these significant, branching choices to each class. From that chapter, there's a nice clarification of the confusion you have:

Each class offers a character-defining choice at 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level that unlocks a series of special features, not available to the class as a whole. That choice is called a subclass. Each class has a collective term that describes its subclasses; in the fighter, for instance, the subclasses are called martial archetypes, and in the paladin, they’re sacred oaths.

The answer is: some classes have a thing called archetypes, but for the sorcerer, there is a thing called Sorcerous Origin. I guess technically you could tell your DM that you don't want this and forgo the benefits, but most of the interesting class features come from the origin.

For reference, the different subclasses are called:

\begin{array}{lll} \text{Class} & \text{Subclass Name} & \text{Level Chosen} \\ \hline \text{Barbarian} & \text{Primal Path} & 3^\text{rd} \\ \text{Bard} & \text{Bard College} & 3^\text{rd} \\ \text{Cleric} & \text{Divine Domain} & 1^\text{st} \\ \text{Druid} & \text{Druid Circle} & 2^\text{nd} \\ \text{Fighter} & \text{Martial Archetype} & 3^\text{rd} \\ \text{Monk} & \text{Monastic Tradition} & 3^\text{rd} \\ \text{Paladin} & \text{Sacred Oath} & 3^\text{rd} \\ \text{Ranger} & \text{Ranger Archetype} & 3^\text{rd} \\ \text{Rogue} & \text{Roguish Archetype} & 3^\text{rd} \\ \text{Sorcerer} & \text{Sorcerous Origin} & 1^\text{st} \\ \text{Warlock} & \text{Otherworldly Patron} & 1^\text{st} \\ \text{Wizard} & \text{Arcane Tradition} & 2^\text{nd} \\ \end{array}

So we can see that Fighter, Ranger, and Rogue, have "archetypes" — the rest have a path, a college, a circle, a domain, a tradition, or some other name.

Sorcerer subclass choices

For Sorcerer, from the free Basic Rules, your only Origin choice is

  • Draconic Bloodline

while the Player's Handbook adds

  • Wild Magic

and Xanathar's adds

  • Divine Soul
  • Shadow Magic
  • Storm Sorcery

As of right now, there are no other official subclass options for Sorcerer. For more variety, look into multiclassing, feats, or maybe simply choosing a backstory and really playing it up.

You will also find "homebrew" (non-official) origins of various quality and balance if you look online (it seems you found many of these), and there are also playtest Unearthed Arcana options — these are unofficial and unfinished (some of the are the test material for the ones that made it into Xanathar's). If you want to use one of these, work with your DM, and don't be surprised to hear "no", or "okay, but...".

Final notes

Finally, it's worth noting that many classes have other "path-type" choices which have some effect on the flavor of the class but aren't as significant as the subclasses (which often introduce whole new game mechanics not found elsewhere). For example, the ranger's Favored Enemy and the warlock's Pact Boon are class-feature options which have follow-on impact, but they're smaller in scope than a subclass.

In retrospect, it might have been nicer if the game designers had used the term "subclass" in the Player's Handbook to distinguish these very significant class branches. Instead, in supplementary material like Unearthed Arcana: Modifying Classes from 2015, the unfortunately-vague term "class option" is used, as in:

Each class contains at least one major decision point, referred to here as a class option.

(Strikethrough added because I don't want people skimming this answer to accidentally latch on to this outdated reference.)

I don't think archetype was ever used as the general term for these series of class features in anything official, but apparently some homebrew sites picked it up as a sort of jargon. It would probably be better and less confusing if everyone would shift to using subclass.


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