Three Sorcerous Arts (5e)
This pdf clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After a page of introduction, the first sorcerous origin provided within would be Royal Sorcery. At first level, the noblesse oblige feature nets the friends cantrip, and targets affected do not notice that they were subjected to it. The feature also yields proficiency in Persuasion and the ability to reroll a natural 1 on any Charisma ability check, with the requirement to spend 2 sorcery points to do so. I like this, but the verbiage would have been more precise, if it stated whether Charisma-saves and Charisma-based skill-checks are eligible. As written, it’s up to GM-interpretation. At 6th level, we gain an extra attack as well as the ability to regain sorcery points equal to ½ the level of the spell slot expended when casting a spell that does not only target the sorcerer, but also targets allies. Spells that also target enemies are not eligible. Minor nitpick: The verbiage, since it’s based on halving, should specify a minimum value for e.g. level 1 spells (Do they qualify? Yes or no?).
Other than this oversight, I do like how this blurs the boundary between two restricted resources without delimiting them. At 14th level, the royal sorcerer may, as a reaction when an ally within 30 ft. casts a spell, apply a metamagic effect known to the ally’s spell, at the normal sorcery point cost +1. Quickened Spell is explicitly excluded from this one – thankfully. Really cool ability that enhances teamwork. Finally, at 18th level, the sorcerer can’t be charmed as long as at least one creature is charmed by the sorcerer. Same goes for the frightened condition. This is actually pretty amazing and a cool rendition of the aegis of respect rulership entails, by means of codifying it as rules. Additionally, you can use your action and spend 5 sorcery points to exude an aura of awe and fear, range 60 ft. For one minute or until you lose your Concentration, hostile creatures in the aura must make a Wisdom saving throw or be either charmed or frightened, depending on your choice, until the aura ends. Creatures that make their save are immune to the aura for 24 hours. All in all, while not perfect, this certainly represents a compelling, cool sorcerous origin.
The second origin within would be tidal sorcery. The 1st level feature nets you a swim speed equal to walking speed and proficiency with water vehicles. Whenever you complete a short rest in or near a large body of water, you regain 1d4-1 sorcery points, but if you regain at least one sorcery point, you need to take a long rest to regain them this way again – great way of implementing a regain that is kept in check – two thumbs up! Once you gain Metamagic, you gain an additional option, namely Call the Tides. When casting a spell of 1st level or higher, you can spend 2 sorcery points to use one of 4 effects associated with the tides. Slightly confusing – this references a table that has not been depicted as a table in the final pdf, instead appearing as a bullet point list. This may be used once per rest-interval. The effects include a Strength-save to move the target 10 feet in a chosen direction, temporary hit points, acid damage and the forbiddance of using reactions for a brief period. 6th level adds water breathing/water walk to the spells known list, and you may cast them as rituals; alternatively, you can cast them as a reaction (to what??) and they may not be dispelled by any creature other than you. At 14th level, when you roll an attack roll, save or ability check and roll a natural 2 – 5, you may add 10 to the result 1/per long rest interval. You also regain the use of this feature on a natural 1 on an attack roll, save or ability check. Hand me those kittens, I must attempt ability checks until I botch to refresh the obvious and unnecessary feature exploit… You can also roll a d100 twice and chose the effect that you like better, but this use of the feature can’t be replenished. At 18th level, spells dealing cold, fire, lightning or thunder damage, you may change damage type to bludgeoning, substituting the energy with a brutal burst of sea water, which also may count as cold damage for vulnerability purposes. You also add control water to spells known. This one is almost amazing – I love the engine per se here, but wished that the obvious cheesable component had been taken care of.
The third sorcerous art within would be winter kin sorcery. At 1st level, you gain resistance to cold damage, and after taking cold damage, you temporarily become immune to cold until the next turn. You also can pass easily through iced/snowy terrain. Additionally, 1st level lets you use a bonus action when damaging a creature with cold damage, allowing you to add a shove attack, using spell attack bonus instead of Strength (athletics). Additionally, you may briefly charm/frighten targets damaged by your cold spells. At 6th level, the sorcerous origin nets you the option to change the damage of any spell you enhance with sorcery points to cold damage. At less than ½ maximum sorcery points, you gain vulnerability from fire as a bonus action. Why would you? Well, if you do, all ranged attacks against you suffer from disadvantage, and any target dealing damage to you in melee takes cold damage based on your sorcerer level. Cool! (Get it? Haha…sorry, I’ll punch myself later…)The 14th level ability enhances your speed when moving on ice, and as a bonus action, you can generate slippery ice in your space and 6 additional 5-ft.-squares. Via the expenditure of sorcery points, you can generate more ice, and the squares have to be contiguous, and yes, you can generate ice-bridges, etc., and the pdf does specify what happens when you ice squares that are occupied. The 18th level feature lets you spend a bonus action when damaging a target with a 1st level or higher spell that deals cold damage, in order to restrain a target. On a particularly botched save, the target may even be paralyzed or petrified! This also enhances the brief charm/frighten effect of your cold spells. Easily one of the best ice-based sorcerer options I’ve seen in recent years.
The second part of the pdf is devoted to an assortment of magic items, 7 to be precise. All of these sport the proper scarcity ratings and whether they require attunement. They also come with a nice, little story bit that allows for easier contextualization of the item in-game. Kudos there! Here, we can find the fanged mask, which allows you to unerringly track certain critters by putting blood on the mask’s fangs – and this includes sorcerous targets as a possible “type” of creature – basically, a great sorcerer-hunter tool! The Frozen Soul is a legendary spear that adds +1d6 cold damage and you can call it to your hand if it’s nearby. The item also has charges and allows you to expend them to enhance damage output. Winter-kin and draconic (silver + white) sorcerers are particularly in tune with this, and get additional benefits. Cool!
The Green Book of ka-Jorra enhances your illusion spells of 1st level and greater, allows you to deal psychic damage to targets failing their save, including, multiple damage instances possible on spells with multiple saves. You also impose disadvantage on Intelligence (Investigation) checks vs. illusions and disguises you create. Creatures reduced below 1 hit point are explicitly knocked out, making this a good choice for good characters. Herim’s Final Manuscript has only room for 5 level 1 spells, but allows you to control their damage output via lightning or thunder damage substitution, and spells that already inflict that damage allow for further enhancement. The Libram of the Crimson Wasting allows you to use a reaction to expend spell slots to lace the disease known as crimson wasting into your being, affecting a target within 60 ft. that deals damage to you. The save DC is based on spell slot level expended, and a target that makes the save is temporarily immune. Necromantic spells penned down in the tome add a bonus to attack rolls, spell damage and saves – neat. Crimson Wasting is btw. fully codified and as nasty as you’d think it is. Like it!
Sorcerer’s Coronet is silver filigree set with black diamonds, and you can spend a sorcery point when casting a spell to gain temporary resistance to the damage type your spell inflicts; if the spells cause charm/frightened, you can temporarily gain advantage on saves against that condition for a while. The item also makes your spells threaten a critical hit on 19 and 20, and 3 times, you can take sorcerer level damage as a bonus action to regain 1d4 sorcery points – this one refreshes midnight. Cool! Finally, the staff of the tides nets you a swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater. You can also cause the staff to become a paddle, oar, etc. The staff has 10 charges, which may be used to cast a couple of water-themed spells, and the staff’s charges replenish on the day’s first high tide. And yes, this one is particularly useful for a tidal sorcerer.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the pdf sports a couple of hiccups that could have easily been avoided and that slightly mar the otherwise impressive rules-language precision the pdf generally exhibits. Layout adheres to the unique 2-column full-color standard of Tribality Publishing’s offerings, including the classic and charming photography used as art. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a slight comfort detriment, but is okay at this length.
Brandes Stoddard took the high road here. Granted, there are a few instances of minor rules imprecision that could have been avoided, but know what? I don’t mind them that much. Why? Simple: While the few hiccups are unnecessary, I’d rather have a few hiccups in an ambitious book, rather than none in a bland one. Not one of the items or the class options within take a safe route. All of the sorcerous origins herein really CHANGE how the sorcerer class feels and operates, often using genuinely intriguing engine tweaks that really alter the playing experience…and they mirror the respective concepts. When a “water”- or “ice”-themed class option can get me even moderately excited these days, it’s a feat indeed, and the options within succeed in doing just that. They actually make me want to play such a sorcerer! What more can you ask for? Add to that the ridiculously low price (a mere $2!) and we have a pdf that definitely warrants rounding up from a final verdict of 4.5 stars. Well done!!
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