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Introduction:

I'm trying to make a Sorcerer subclass that has a Lovecraftian/Far Realm theme. I tried to balance it around Shadow, Divine Soul, Storm and the Abberant/Psionic Mind UA. (I realize that is probably over-tuned some) I'm hoping this isn't overly powerful though probably on the higher end of the spectrum. I'll be play testing it in about a month give or take a week.

Design

One of the things I wanted in this subclass was an extended spell list as I feel, having played a sorcerer in Pathfinder 1e and DnD 5e, that the limited spells known combined with everyone being a spontaneous caster shoehorn Sorcerers a bit too much into glass cannons with no real versatility.

I also wanted a unique feel and theme without stepping on the other subclasses' toes.

The Subclass

Umbra Spawn

Level 1:

Improved Dark Vision:

  • Dark Vision - 120 Feet

This is right from Shadow Sorcery

  • Expanded Spell List:

These spells are granted as you gain the appropriate level in this subclass to cast them. They are gained automatically and do not count towards spells known. You can see through magical darkness caused by any of these spells that you cast.

Spell Name           Spell Level        Class Level
Arms of Hadar          level 1            level 1
Darkness               level 2            level 3
Hunger of Hadar        level 3            level 5
Shadow of Moil         level 4            level 7
Synaptic Static        level 5            level 9

I'm not too thrilled with Synaptic Static but couldn't find a better thematic spell from PHB or XtGE. I thought about giving Dimension Door at 9 but it made the wording clunky and I felt a linear progression made more sense. I also considered making these spells castable through Sorcery points a la Shadow Magic, though I left that out.

Level 6:

Far Touch:

  • You can cast spells with a range of touch up to a range of 30 feet.

I'm unsure of how necessary this is, it might make level 6 too strong, though feels thematic.

Umbra Tendril:

  • As a bonus action you can create a void tendril to push or pull yourself or another creature you can see 10 feet. If the creature is unwilling, it makes a strength save against your spell save DC. This ability has a range of 30 feet.

I discussed this feature with the DM of my upcoming game, he's going to rule that a creature willing to be moved will trigger Attacks of Opportunity. So the question becomes how powerful is the versatility of this ability.

Level 14:

Into the Void:

  • As a reaction to being targeted by a creature you can see, you may spend 2 sorcery points, you are under the effect of blur until the start of your next turn. This does not require concentration.

I originally had levels 6 and 14 switched, but I want the core of the class to be the tendril and not the blur. The downside being a lack of sorcery point dumps for 14 levels.

Level 18:

Umbra Incarnate:

  • As a bonus action you may spend 6 sorcery points to manifest the void for 1 minute. While under this effect you gain the following:

    • You have a Flying Speed equal to your movement speed.
    • You may use your void tendrils up to three times as a bonus action and when this ability is activated. If the target fails their save they take 2D6 force damage.
    • Magical Darkness is centered around you with a radius of 15 feet. Any number of creatures in range you designate when this ability is activated can see through this darkness.
    • You are immune to fear effects.

Question

Is this balanced as a Sorcerer subclass and is the wording and intent of each feature clear and in line with officially published materials?

I had the flavor of the class in mind while designing this and really wanted the expanded spell list. I am completely unsure of how the tendrils, especially at level 18, are balanced as they work a bit differently from published materials I am aware of.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As written, the void tendrils allow this class to almost always avoid opportunity attacks for no cost other than using their bonus action. Is that intentional? Or did you intend to impose some sort of sorcery point cost to it? \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Oct 13 at 0:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical I realized that was the case, as noted in the question and assumed it was too powerful, but left it in to see if others knew what the impact of it was . \$\endgroup\$ – Warcupine Oct 13 at 1:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand what this sentence means: "You can see through magical darkness granted through this sub class' features." \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Oct 13 at 1:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Darkness and Hunger of Hadar that the Sorcerer casts as well as the lvl 18 ability (though you could always designate yourself with that one). \$\endgroup\$ – Warcupine Oct 13 at 1:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I still intend to do a review on this, but I got assigned the onerous task of taking my wife to dinner last night when she got home; that removed my free time block for dreaming up an answer. Will try again tonight. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 27 at 16:31
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Most of this looks fine, so I'll mainly focus on the outliers.

And boy-oh-boy is the level 18 ability an outlier. That said, I do want to preface this by saying that stepping outside the bounds of balance is the best part of homebrew. This criticism shouldn't distract from the fact that you've got a fun subclass on your hands; it just needs a bit of tweaking.

Umbral Incarnate is significantly more powerful than any other Sorcerer option, and probably any other ability in 5e.

I would be scared to put this ability on a BBEG, let alone a PC. As it stands, it will warp player choices across classes while simultaneously resulting in an unsatisfying gameplay pattern. Let's start from the top.

  • Flying speed: by itself, this is a perfectly sound choice. Flight is prevalent at higher levels and lends itself well to over-the-top, dynamic battles. No problems here.
  • 3x tentacle use + 2d6 force damage per tentacle: This provides far too much battlefield control and damage. This effectively allows the user to emulate a Repelling Blast/Grasp of Hadar Warlock's entire Eldritch Blast rotation on a bonus action. Martial classes salivate at the idea of this much battlefield influence.
    • Thematically, necrotic damage would be a better fit for this ability.
    • Recommendation: I can sense that this is intended to amplify the satisfaction of using the tentacles, which I think is a good goal, as it's the most unique thing this class has to offer. This should require a full action. As it stands, it provides far too much utility and versatility to be balanced.
  • Magical darkness penetrable by you and your allies: very few creatures can see through magical darkness. To my knowledge, only devils and creatures with blindsight or truesight are capable of doing so. This means that the sorcerer and their party will be effectively under the effect of Greater Invisibility against almost every creature in 5e. All their attacks will have advantage, all attacks against them will be made at disadvantage, and they will be immune to any spells that require sight... at any range (as heavily obscured is distance-agnostic). With this effect alone, Umbra Incarnate obliterates this and any other similar ability in the game, bar none.
    • Compare this to the Draconic Bloodline's capstone ability: it inflicts the significantly weaker Frightened condition (disadvantage on attacks + movement penalization), requires a save, requires Concentration, is activated on an action, only affects targets out to 60 feet, and provides no benefits to allies.
    • This effect has anti-synergy with the flight ability, which encourages movement, as the Sorcerer will be encouraged to stay bound to their party at all times.
    • Recommendation: this should just be regular magical darkness that only the Sorcerer can see through. Applying it to allies makes this stronger than just about any capstone ability in 5e. Additionally, this is too strong of an effect to be activated on a bonus action; make this an action instead.
  • Frightened immunity: there's enough going on here already.
    • Recommendation: remove this.

Overall, there's just way too much stuff in this ability, but it's not a bad idea. Tone it down and you have a cool kit-amplification ability.

6th Level has too much packed into it.

Either abilities are fine on their own, but I strongly prefer keeping Umbra Tentacle over Far Touch:

Umbra Tentacle is a neat, gameplay defining tool, as it:

  • Requires no sorcery points to use.
  • Takes a bonus action, meaning it's almost always available, as Sorcerers rarely take bonus actions.

I would clean up the verbiage to make it the source of the ability more clear (does it come from you or a point of your choosing?), but on its own I think this ability is a solid foundation to build upon.

Far Touch, however, takes this ability over the top. Umbra Tentacle is similar in power to each other 6th Level ability, so there's no need to cram another ability in, especially something as powerful as a cost-free Distant Spell usage on every touch spell.

Far Touch should be moved to 14th Level. Into the Void can go.

As the ability to see through magical darkness is an integral part of this subclass, in most cases the Sorcerer will want to engage enemies from the cover of magical darkness. As such, attacks against them will already be made at disadvantage, so Into the Void will rarely be useful.

Good news: this is the perfect spot for Far Touch.

1st Level is great!

1st Level is thematically satisfying and directs the Sorcerer into choices that will reinforce the thematic of this subclass. No tweaks needed here.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think adding far touch to lvl 14 instead is good. Perhaps adding the ability to cast from the tendrils as an addition at that level would be a good thematic addition to far touch? \$\endgroup\$ – IT Alex 2 days ago
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    \$\begingroup\$ You saved me a post; covered 4/5ths of what I had in my incompleted notes. Nice answer +1. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast 2 days ago
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    \$\begingroup\$ Small nitpick on "as the Sorcerer will be encouraged to stay bound to their party at all times" it was meant to only apply to allies in range at the time it is activated, that might not have been clearly worded. (though it seems should be dropped altogether.) Thanks for the breakdown of the capstone, I was quite unsure of its power. \$\endgroup\$ – Warcupine 2 days ago
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Balanced yes, though some changes may make the subclass more distinct

Sorcerer Homebrews are difficult to balance, because you always have to think about the sorcery point cost of abilities. What I've given below are estimates of what I think would be balanced, but the best way to be sure of what does and does not work is to playtest.

Extended Darkvision - Useful, probably letting you see most hidden creature before they see you, but not overpowered.

Expanded Spell list - My only worry about giving the sorcerer extra spells would be their interaction with Metamagic, however I don't believe any of these would be problematic. If you don't like Synaptic Static, Maybe consider Enervation (Though its interaction with Metamagic may be strange, specifically Twinned Spell) or Negative Energy Flood.

Far Touch - This is basically giving the player the Distant Spell Metamagic but removing the Sorcerer point cost. Useful, but might be unnecessarily overlapping.

Umbra Tentacle - This is interesting, and sorcerers don't often get to make use of there bonus action so it is a nice addition, however I think the two level 6 abilities might be best if combined together, as below:

Umbra Tentacle - As a bonus action, you summon a spectral milky black tentacle within 30 feet of yourself. The tentacle has an AC of 10 + your Charisma Modifier, and hit points equal to 2 times your sorcerer level. The tentacle can then target a creature within 5 feet of it and force them to make a strength saving throw. On a failure, the creature is pushed 10 feet from the tentacle. On subsequent turns you can move the tentacle up to 20 feet and attempt the push again as a bonus action. You are also able to cast spells with a range of touch on creatures you can see as though you were in the tentacle's space. The tentacle disappears after one minute or if you end your turn more than 50 feet from the tentacle. You are unable to summon the tentacle again until after a long rest or if you spend 2 sorcery points.

This changes the tentacle to be something you need to control its location, instead of these 2 abilities being able to influence anything on the battlefield in range. I think by making the tentacle have a location and having to move it around the battlefield makes the pull unnecessary, and the ability should be fine with just a push. I tried to make this ability comparable to other similar abilities:

  • the Shadow Sorcerers Hound of Ill Omen ability is comparable, though it is able to deal damage, which I think makes it strong enough to justify the extra sorcery point cost compared to this ability.
  • The Trickery Domain Cleric has its Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity, which is very similar; the main difference being the Cleric can cast any spell, not just touch from the target space, and the Umbra tentacle also has its push and can be hit.
  • EDIT: the UA Lurker in the Deep Warlock subclass has a similar ability as the tendril, Grasp of the Deep. This is a damaging attack more than a utility one like yours, however it still might be worth taking into consideration for any future iterations of this class you try. Overall this may still feel a bit underwhelming, maybe adding some damage to the tentacles push, and increasing the Sorcery point cost to 3 could buff this up, but you would have to play test to confirm.

Into the Void - I'm not sure if 2 sorcery points is the correct cost for this ability. Blur itself is a second level spell, and it lasts for a full minute, though this ability is able to be used as a reaction. My idea using my alternative Umbra Tentacle:

Void Swap - as a reaction to being targeted by an attack from a creature you can see, you spend 1 sorcery point swap your position with your Umbra Tentacle. The attack has disadvantage on the tentacle, as the tendril's squirms in place after the transfer.

Since you wanted the tendril to be the core of the class, this would give the level 14 ability a further tie to the tendril, while still having a similar effect to the original ability. Again, Playtest to figure out the correct number of sorcery points here, I decreased the cost as it would only apply to a single attack instead of until the start of your next turn, and you are likely to use this ability frequently when targeted.

Umbra Incarnate - I think this is excellent! Really matches the flavour of the class, gives a buff to the Tendril (and works with my alternative), and seems powerful enough to justify being a level 18 ability. Nicely done. Only thing to address is Sorcery Point cost: at level 18 you can use this ability 3 times before a long rest, which seems good to me, but you would need to playtest to be sure. EDIT I missed that you now get to use your tentacle three times as a bonus action. Tha's too much. Make it still one time and overall the ability is nice.

Summary: Playtest!

The only way to know if this class is working is to playtest over and over and over again. Is the Spell List sensible? Does the Tendril have too high of a cost? Does the reaction drain spell points too quickly? You won't know until you see it in action.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Solid breakdown, really nice ideas here. I have no clue how I missed Enervation I've combed through the entire PHB and XtGE spell lists probably half a dozen times since beginning this homebrew, apparently not very well... I had the same thoughts on Far Touch, it is only half of the metamagic but arguably the better half. Into the Void was certainly something I was looking to revisit, but was drawing a blank. This is a very cool idea. \$\endgroup\$ – Warcupine Oct 27 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’d suggest comparing the tentacle to the UA Lurker in the Deep Warlock’s tentacle ability. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Oct 27 at 22:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Worth noting... that's 3 times per long rest unless you convert spells to get more shots at it. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden 2 days ago

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