Barbarians have "Primal Paths", bards have "Bard Colleges", clerics have "Divine Domains", etc.

Is there any generic name for those "feature-trees" as a group since we find them in each class? "Features tree" is a name I came up with, but I can't read the actual name anywhere in the PHB, if such a name exists.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The answers so far refer to the class itself, not the collection of abilities. A cleric chooses the Tempest Domain, and becomes a "subclass" or "archetype", but that refers to the cleric character, not the collection of abilities. I'm not sure the question has been answered as asked. (I'm not sure if it has an official answer.) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2017 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Specialty", "Specialization" \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2017 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


These are referred to informally as subclasses in the community. Although the term does not appear in the core books or System Reference Document, the designers of 5e have used this term in Sage Advice rulings, and the following appears in the introductory passages to the expansion book Xanathar's Guide to Everything (emphasis mine):

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.

Another commonly used term in the community is archetype, which is actually used in the names of the Roguish Archetype, Ranger Archetype (tentatively revised to Ranger Conclave in an Unearthed Arcana revision), and the Martial Archetype of the Fighter.

Finally, the properties that characters get from their classes are called features, and when there is a choice among several features they are often called options. Therefore, you can call the collection of game features that a character gets from their chosen subclass by any of the following phrases and you would probably be understood in any circle of people familiar with 5e: subclass features, subclass options, archetype features, or archetype options.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ While looking through the DMG, because I knew that there is a chapter about creating and modifying classes I found that the term they use in prints seems to be class options (DMG p.288). Might want to add that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thyzer
    Jan 28, 2017 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder - excellent edit. That answers the question very well. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 29, 2017 at 8:18

While the closest thing to an "official" name could be subclass, the term that I use is Archetype. Two of the twelve classes, Ranger and Rogue, do not have "special" names for theirs, and are simply called Roguish/Ranger Archetype. And the way I see it, each option for those features is literally an archetype of that class. Wizards have their schools of magic, archetypes defining the kinds of things they do.

Cleric Domains, Druidic Circles, all of those are literally archetypes. A quick Google search yielded this definition, among others:

A very typical example of a certain person or thing.

Following that, each option grants features that help to make the character into that type of thing, and that character becomes an example of that type. An Evoker Wizard does what you expect a Wizard who specializes in Evocation magic to do, and you probably expect that because of their archetype.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "Archetype" is a very nice term to represent what I described. It totally reflects exactly those subclasses as they're apparently called. I think I'll use this one personally, but my question is more of absolute and "subclass" comes first in that regards ;) Earlier I kind of discarded that term because it was present in "Roguish Archetype" and "Ranger Archetype". I wish I hadn't make that rule \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2017 at 15:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OlivierGrégoire I think it is usable precisely because it is present there. The Unearthed Arcana for the Revised Ranger provides a name for the set of features. Rather than simply calling them "Ranger Archetypes" they are called "Ranger Conclaves." \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Jan 28, 2017 at 17:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Javelin Ah, I see your point, comment removed. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 29, 2017 at 15:53

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