[RPG] Is this Void Themed Sorcerer Subclass Reasonably Balanced



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.


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.


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.

Best Answer

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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