The Chosen, Playtest and Update

November 16, 2021

Back in May of this year, I published a playtest document for a new class for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition called the Chosen. This was my answer to the Sorcerer, which I feel is one of the least satisfying (both in a mechanical and thematic sense) class in 5e.

Yeah, that’s right. Cue shock and awe.

It’s maybe not a common opinion, but it’s a strong one among those who hold it.

Why am I posting about this now? Because I am revisiting the Chosen playtest and wrapping it up, ready for publication!

Here are my issues with the Sorcerer:

1st-level Subclasses

This should probably come later in my issues, but it’s an important one. The Sorcerer has 1st-level subclasses because it must. The theme of a Sorcerer requires 1st-level subclasses because your magic is intrinsic to who you are.

If the idea was the power was emergent, it would make a better Wizard subclass.

The reason this is an issue is because of how the Sorcerer’s class specific features are structured, namely Sorcery Points and the two main features that interact with SP: Font of Magic and Metamagic.

These features appear at 2nd- and 3rd-level respectively, which means the 1st-level subclass feature can’t interact with them. The first opportunity for a subclass to interact with the Sorcerer’s main class features is 6th level, much too late in my opinion and an awkward level for a full caster as there isn’t a ton of room for a big and interesting feature here.

Sorcery Points and Font of Magic

Font of Magic is, in my opinion, the best feature that a Sorcerer has for class identity. And Wizards of the Coast knew it, because they started experimenting with expanding it in the original Class Feature Variants Unearthed Arcana.

These right here:

This feels sorcerous and is unique to the Sorcerer. Much more interesting than what the Sorcerer typically gets with Font of Magic.

The reason it’s such a shame that the 1st-level subclass feature can’t interact with Font of Magic is, can you imagine subclass specific options here? You don’t have to, here are two quick ideas I whipped up:

Draconic Might

As a bonus action, you can transmute one of your hands into a dragon’s claw for 1 minute. This claw can be used to make unarmed attacks, which use your Charisma modifier instead of your Strength modifier for the attack and damage rolls and deal 1d10 slashing damage. This attack is magical for the purposes of overcoming resistance to nonmagical damage.

Surge of Chaos

As a bonus action, you can spend 1 sorcery point to roll on the Wild Magic Surge table. When you do, you regain the use of your Tides of Chaos feature if it was previously expended.

Metamagic

Similar to Font of Magic, by being 3rd level the Sorcerer misses out on having subclass-specific Metamagic options. You are a Dragon Sorcerer, not a Sorcerer who happens to also have Dragon Blood. Why are you casting burning hands when you could be breathing fire? Subclass specific Metamagic Options would have been a great place to handle this.

Are You Really a Dragon?

This one is a bit of a bigger issue with identity, and goes back to what I just said:

You are a Dragon Sorcerer, not a Sorcerer who happens to also have Dragon Blood.

This is a problem with Sorcerer identity in 5e: Wizards didn’t seem to want to commit to the idea that you were a mutant.

The most interesting Sorcerer subclasses are the ones that lean really hard into the idea of emerging throughout the levels into your bloodline or origin, eventually becoming that.

In fact, the Wild Magic sorcerer actually gets less wild as they level. They gain control over the chaos instead of embracing it. That sounds like something a Wizard would do, at least to me.

Lastly, just a Wizard Without a Book

The other big issue with Sorcerer for me is just it’s identity alongside its counterpart: the Wizard.

A Sorcerer is a Spells Known caster, which could have been an opportunity to build on the idea of “Why cast delayed blast fireball when I could just cast a bigger fireball?” but instead comes off as “I’m not studious enough to learn more magic.”

The problem here is the emphasis on I’m not a Wizard, so I’m a Sorcerer as opposed to I am a Sorcerer, and here’s what sets me apart from a Wizard.

The Chosen

So, the Chosen sets out to address these issues. The last page of the playtest pdf includes the design notes, but I’ll repeat them here:

I will begin by prefacing that this document represents a class that is designed with the intent of being a direct replacement for the Sorcerer class in 5th edition. The Sorcerer class, in my opinion, does not fully realize itself as a “creat[or of] magic the way a poet creates poems, with inborn talent honed by practice.” (Player’s Handbook 3.5e).

Moreover, a sorcerer’s origin has little impact on how or what kind of magic they can produce. It seems to be more of a personal—and, often times physical—influence over who they are and not the nature of their magic.

One of the primary design goals here was to capture the essence of a spellcaster who gains more control over spells inherited from their power source as they cast them more frequently, as opposed to simply growing into learning new spells as they gain levels. To that end:

Chosen Casting

I’ve chosen (heh) to use the Warlock class casting as a base for the Chosen. Looking at the class table, that might not be self evident, so let’s break that down. We have three distinct paths of spellcasting here, and cantrips for funsies.

Spontaneous Magic: A chosen’s magic is spontaneous. It doesn’t come from a book, or object of power, it literally erupts from the chosen themself at their will. Spontaneous Magic is difficult to control, so it’s a more limited resource (twice per Long Rest) and spells cast are always cast at their highest level.

How does that translate to gaining more control? Say you take burning hands at 1st level. You can only cast it twice per long rest as a 1st-level spell until you gain the Adept Casting feature.

Adept Casting: You’ve now unlocked the ability to cast burning hands as a 2nd-level spell twice per long rest as Spontaneous Magic. But you’ve also gained mastery over the spell. You can also cast it twice per short rest, but only as a 1st-level spell.

This continues still until you reach 6th level as a Chosen, and gain the Innate Spell Mastery feature.

Innate Spell Mastery: By 6th level, you can now cast burning hands as a 3rd-level spell twice per long rest; and a 2nd-level spell twice per short rest.

And you can also cast it at will as a 1st-level spell. It’s become second nature to you. You conjure that wave of flame like as easily as a barbarian swings their axe.

These three paths of spellcasting are not unlike a Warlock’s Eldritch Blast and Eldritch Invocations, Pact Magic, and Mystic Arcanum. However, the progression of growth rather than suddenly gaining new abilities is meant to highlight the Chosen’s increasing talents.

I’ve also chosen to limit a Chosen to 7th-level spells, to build on the idea that there is a difference between what a trained spell master (a Wizard) or a Deity-fueled caster (a Cleric) can accomplish. This is part of a larger reimagining of the place of high level magic in a world, but I feel it fits thematically well on the Chosen even in a traditional Dungeons & Dragons world.

Hidden Talent

Similar to a Warlock’s pact, the chosen’s Hidden Talent is an additional layer to their inherited power. It’s an ability they unlock as they develop their powers, and is uniquely theirs.

Origin

In this draft, we’re showing the Draconic Blood origin. This might not be the best example of how this class differs from the Sorcerer, but it does reinforce my intentions of having the Chosen as a replacement for it.

A focus of the Origin here, through the use of Origin spells and ways to expend uses of your Spontaneous and Adept casting features, is to reinforce that you have a form of magic unique to your Origin.

Three additional subclasses are planned to the final draft:

  • the Raw Magic chosen that will be reminiscent of the Wild Magic sorcerer
  • the Wild Talent chosen, a spontaneous inheritor of the art of Psionics
  • and the Fated chosen, a chosen whose takes their fated destiny into their own hands

Sardior, the Ruby Dragon

October 20, 2021

Written by Bryan Holmes


While the great chromatic and metallic dragons wage battles and intrigue, sometimes in the name of Bahamut or Tiamat, the gem dragons are content with more philosophical ways, enjoying contemplation and meditation. While Tiamat lords over chromatic dragons with an iron claw, and Bahamut inspires goodness in his followers, most gem dragons don’t pay all that much mind to Sardior: the ruby dragon.

Sardior is the creator of gem dragons, although where he came from is unknown. Some say a ruby coalesced in the elemental chaos or the far realms, growing until it became touched by divinity where it grew into an egg and eventually Sardior hatched fully formed.

Sardior is playful, enjoying intellectual exercises with other creatures. He also possesses a sharp wit, and is an infamous conversationalist. At the height of Netheril, Sardior considered the wizards to be sometimes allies and sometimes foes, although always a group to count on when going against the Phaerimm. Today, he is more concerned with proliferating psionic power within all the races of the world.

Ideal. “Leave the world a better place than it was when you entered it.”

Bond. “The world is full of arcane and divine… it needs more powers of the mind to balance them out.”

Flaw. “My ascension to divinity makes it easy to understand the big picture, but hard to see the impact on individuals.”

DMs wanting to know more about Sardior should check out the following books: “That’s not in the Monster Manual” from Dragon #37, Planes of Law, and “The Legend of Sardior, The Mind’s Eye” from the Wizards of the Coast website (found here)

Editor’s Note:

While not Bryan’s intention, while reading this over I couldn’t help but think of Niv Mizzet, from the Magic: the Gathering world of Ravnica. Sardior’s statblock, as presented below, could be used for Niv Mizzet if you are using the setting guide Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica! Bonus!

Sardior’s Lair

The Ruby Palace is a flying castle which travels the material plane high above the world. Clouds generate around the castle as threads of the astral plane boil away around the fortress. If the palace remains in place for at least one week, the regional effects of the castle begin to spread out at a rate of 1 mile per day, to a maximum of 8 miles.

Lair Actions. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), Sardior can take a lair action to cause one of the following effects; he can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:

  • Sardior changes gravity, replicating the reverse gravity spell except he can orient the area in any direction, causing creatures and objects within to fall toward the end of the area.
  • Sardior shapes the walls or floor of his castle into an object, replicating the stone shape spell.
  • Sardior can channel energy through his castle, healing one other creature Sardior can see. That creature regains 15 hit points.

Regional Effects. The region containing Sardior’s lair is warped by his magic, creating one or more of the following effects:

  • Sardior is aware of the number of minds in his region with intelligences above 3, and those with intelligences below 3. Sardior is not aware of creatures with the Undead, Construct, Ooze, or Plant type.
  • Bodies of water at least 10 feet in diameter become Color Pools as described in chapter 2 of the Dungeon Masters Guide.
  • Clouds within the region become connected to the astral plane. When a creature spends at least 1 minute within a cloud, when they leave the cloud roll 1d20. On a 19 or 20, they exit in the astral plane.

Sardior as a Mythic Encounter

Sardior is a powerful encounter on his own, but if the adventurers want a true challenge fit for the gods, you can use his Ruby Soul trait. Using this trait marks a drastic turn in the encounter as his divine spark flares into overdrive. Once Sardior has used this trait, he can choose one of his mythic actions when he uses a legendary action.

Read or paraphrase the following text when Sardior uses his Ruby Soul trait:

Sardior stands before you, eyes filling with ruby light. It’s then that you notice it: a light burning deep within the gem dragon. This light grows brighter, and brighter, until it’s almost painful to look at.

“Silly mortals. I’m no mere child of divine blood. I am not a simple chromatic creature, or a scion of metal. I am pure thought! My mind is an infinite plane of contemplation, and now, I contemplate your DOOM!”

Rewards

Fighting Sardior as a mythic encounter is equivalent to fighting two CR 30 creatures in one encounter. Award a party 310,000 XP for defeating Sardior after he uses Ruby Soul. You can also reward them with Ruby of Free Thought, Resurrection Egg, and the spell Ruby Armor of Sardior in addition to any other treasure he might hold.

Sardior

Gargantuan Dragon, Always Neutral

Armor Class 25 (natural armor)

Hit Points 615 (30d20 + 300)

Speed 60 ft., climb 40 ft., fly 120 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
28 (+9) 12 (+1) 30 (+10) 30 (+10) 26 (+8) 29 (+9)

Saving Throws Constitution +19, Intelligence +19, Charisma +18

Skills Arcana +17, History +17, Nature +17, Perception +26, Religion +17

Damage Immunities fire, force, psychic, radiant; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical attacks

Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, poisoned, stunned

Senses darkvision 120 ft., truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 36

Languages All, telepathy 120 ft.

Challenge 30 (155,000 XP; Proficiency Bonus +9)

Discorporation. When Sardior dies, his body is destroyed but his essence travels back to his Ruby Castle, and he is unable to take physical form for a time.

Innate Psionics. Sardior’s innate spellcasting ability his Intelligence (spell save DC 17). He can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components:

Legendary Resistance (5/Day). If Sardior fails a saving throw, he can choose to succeed instead.

Limited Magic Immunity. Unless he wishes to be affected, Sardior is immune to spells of 6th level or lower. He has advantage on saving throws against all other spells and magical effects.

Magic Weapons. Sardior’s weapon attacks are magical.

Ruby Soul (Mythic; Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). When Sardior is reduced to 0 hit points, he does not die. Instead, Sardior is filled with divine wrath. Sardior regains 305 hit points and gains 305 temporary hit points.

Additionally, Sardior casts bright light in a 250-foot radius, and dim light 250 feet beyond that. Spells which magically create darkness are automatically counterspelled within this area. Creatures who fail their saving throws caused by Sardior’s breath weapons while in the area of bright light are also blinded until the start of their next turn.

Regeneration. Sardior regains 30 hit points at the start of his turn.

Sensitive Mind. Sardior is constantly benefitting from the effects of detect evil and good, detect magic, find the path, and find traps.

Actions

Multiattack. Sardior can use his Frightful Presence. He then makes four attacks: one with his bite, one with his tail and two with his claws.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +17 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 32 (4d10 + 10) piercing damage.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +17 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 32 (4d10 + 10) slashing damage.

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +17 to hit, reach 25 ft., one target. Hit: 36 (4d12 + 10) bludgeoning damage.

Breath Weapons (Recharge 5-6). Sardior uses one of the following breath weapons:

Concussive Breath. Sardior exhales concussive force in a 120-foot line that is 10 feet wide. Each creature in that line must make a DC 27 Dexterity saving throw, taking 70 (20d6) force damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one. Creatures reduced to 0 hit points by this breath weapon are not dying and instead are stabilized automatically.

Blazing Radiance. Sardior exhales a blast of radiant fire in a 90-foot cone. Each creature in the area must make a DC 27 Dexterity saving throw, taking 31 (7d8) fire damage and 31 (7d8) radiant damage.

Frightful Presence. Each creature of Sardior’s choice that is within 240 feet of him and aware of him must succeed on a DC 26 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to Sardior’s Frightful Presence for the next 24 hours.

Bonus Actions

Quick Breath. Sardior attempts to recharge his breath weapon.

Legendary Actions

Sardior can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. Sardior regains spent legendary actions at the start of his turn.

Express Psionics (Variable cost). Sardior casts one of his innate psionics. At will powers use 1 legendary action. 3/day use 2 legendary actions. 1/day use 3 legendary actions.

Hardened Scales (Costs 2 actions). Sardior hardens his scales, reinforcing them with mental fortitude. The next time Sardior takes damage before the start of his next turn, he has resistance to all damage that turn and this effect ends.

Wing Attack. Sardior beats his wings. Each creature within 15 feet of Sardior must succeed on a DC 27 Dexterity saving throw or take 24 (4d6 + 10) bludgeoning damage and be knocked prone. Sardior can then fly up to half his flying speed.

Mythic Actions

If Sardior is a Mythic encounter, he can choose from the options below as additional legendary actions for 1 hour after using the Ruby Soul mythic trait:

Dive Bomb. (Costs 2 actions). Sardior moves up to half his flying speed away from the ground. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks. At the start of his next turn, Sardior immediately plummets directly towards the ground, creating a large shockwave in a sphere with a radius of 5 feet for every 5 feet of movement Sardior plummeted. Each creature within this sphere must succeed on a DC 27 Dexterity saving throw or be knocked prone and pushed 15 feet directly away from Sardior. Creatures who succeed on this saving throw instead are only pushed 5 feet directly away from Sardior and not knocked prone unless that movement causes them to collide with a creature or structure.

Telekinetic Throw. Sardior’s eyes glow bright blue. Before the end of his next turn, when Sardior uses the multiattack action, as a bonus action he can cast telekinesis.

Reflective Scales. Sardior’s scales shift and twist like prisms. As a reaction before the start of his next turn, whenever a spell is cast on Sardior and he succeeds on his saving throw, Sardior can choose one creature that he can see who is a valid target for the spell and it is cast upon them instead.

Rewards

Below are spells and magical items you can reward your party for defeating Sardior, the Ruby Dragon.

Ruby of Free Thought

Wondrous item, mythic (requires attunement by a spellcaster)

One of the many ruby scales that comprise Sardior’s tough exterior that gleams brighter and more radiant than the others. This scale—which could easily be mistaken for a gemstone—can impart powerful psionic power to a spellcaster who chooses to attune to it.

Psionics. When you attune to the ruby, your mind begins to race at a pace previously unknown to you. You gain the ability to cast some of your spells without expending spell slots or using components.

At Will: Any 1st-level spell you know.

3/day: Any spell you know up to 5th-level.

1/day: Any spell you know up to 9th-level.

Empty Mind. While attuned to the scale, you are always under the effects of the spell mind blank. If a spell or effect would attempt to sense your emotions or read your thoughts, you can choose to share any information you’d like, or nothing at all.

Sentience. The Ruby of Free Thought is a sentient object of neutral alignment, with an Intelligence of 30, Wisdom of 26, and Charisma of 29. It has hearing and blindsight out to a range of 300 feet, and it can communicate telepathically with any creature within that range.

Personality. The ruby, while sentient, does not contain Sardior’s true mind but instead a sort of pseudo-intelligence designed to share specific information with whomever it attunes to. It instructs its bearer on psionic teachings and practices, and will take any opportunity to lead the bearer back to the Ruby Palace, or to a nearby gem dragon who can assist in reaching the palace. It harbors no ill will towards its bearer and will share whatever information it can to help protect them, but its ultimate goal is to be reunited with Sardior.

Destroying the Ruby. The ruby is a powerful artifact, immune to the effects of all traditional forms of damage. To destroy the ruby, it must be brought to a hidden location within the Ruby Palace: the chamber where Sardior keeps the fragments of the egg from which he hatched.

Resurrection Egg

Wonderous item, mythic (requires attunement)

This egg resembles a very large ruby egg roughly the size of a halfling. This egg is always warm, regardless of the actual temperature surrounding it. When a creature puts their ear to the egg, they hear a deep heartbeat within.

When the creature attuned to this egg dies, they can choose one of the two following effects to occur 7 days later:

Resurrection. The attuned creature is resurrected as per the spell resurrection with no drawbacks.

Reincarnate. The attuned creature is reincarnated as per the spell reincarnate. The attuned creature can choose from the table which creature they’re reincarnated as.

When a creature is brought back to life using either spell, the creature loses attunement and the egg hatches and a new adult gem dragon is born (d6: 1 - Amethyst, 2 - Emerald, 3 - Sapphire, 4 - Topaz, 5 - Crystal, reroll any 6) and a new egg grows in the hoard of a gem dragon. That gem dragon will become Sardior in the event of his death.

Ruby Armor of Sardior

6th-level abjuration (mythic)

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Self

Components: V, S, M (a ruby of any value)

Duration: 24 hours

Classes: Wizard

Crushing the ruby used in casting the spell into a dust, and then coating your skin with it, a protective spell is raised. This shield has a total hit point value equal to the GP value of the gem used in casting the spell. Whenever you take damage or when you fail your saving throw against a spell or magical effect from a creature, you can use your reaction to negate it.

Negating damage in this way reduces the remaining hit points of the shield by the amount of damage dealt. Negating a spell in this way reduces the remaining hit points of the shield by ten times the level of the spell. Negating a magical effect in this way reduces the remaining hit points of the shield by ten times the CR of the creature.


About the Author

You can find more of Bryan’s work at his website here and can follow him at Twitter.

Sardior, the Ruby Dragon is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

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