Persuasion Check: Unearthed Arcana – Sorcerer and Warlock

Wizards of the Coast dropped a nice surprise in some a new spell and new class options for the Sorcerer and Warlock! After a 3 month wait, I wasn’t expecting to get another Unearthed Arcana just 3 weeks later!

The Sorcerer is getting an Aberrant Mind sorcerous origin and the Warlock gets a new patron in the Lurker in the Deep. We have a cool, mysterious theme going on with this edition of Unearthed Arcana, be it of eldritch origins or deep below the surface, and I’m excited so let’s dive in!

Sorcerer: Aberrant Mind
The Aberrant Mind Sorcerer is a little bit of a foray into psionics in Fifth Edition. Flavor-wise, some past event is likely the cause of this eldritch connection, be it a past encounter with a Mind Flayer, living to close to the Far Realm, or some other event that could leave your mind permanently afflicted with a psychic splinter.

Invasive Thoughts, Psionic Spells, and Warped Being
At first level the sorcerer gets a slew of abilities, as to be expected. Firstly, Invasive Thoughts allows them to create telepathic links with creatures within 30 feet as a bonus action so that they can speak to them for up to 10 minutes. If the target creature understands a language, they can speak back as well, and there are no restrictions on moving outside of the 30 feet once the link is established which should allow for some shenanigans.

Psionic Spells are, of course, the bonus spells known for the Sorcerer. Unsurprisingly, we have spells here of an eldritch or telepathic origin, such as dissonant whispersdetect thoughts, and modify memory. Not much to say other than it’s a nice, thematic list and opens up to a few spells that Sorcerers previously could not access.

And lastly, we have the Warped Being class feature, which simply grants an AC of 13 + Dexterity modifier while not wearing armor. Having another unarmored defense-esque feature on a Sorcerer makes sense, but what I like even more than that is the flavor that it can take the form of viscous slime or a invisible psionic barrier. I love when class features make sense both mechanically and thematically.

Overall some nice, basic abilities at level 1. I would like to see some clarification around Invasive Thoughts and if that breaks when, say, one party goes into another plane, because as of right now it doesn’t. Other than that, no complaints and nice and flavorful so far!

Psionic Sorcery & Psionic Defenses
Once you hit level 6, a Aberrant Mind Sorcerer gets Psionic Defenses and Psionic Sorcery. Psionic Defenses is simply resistance to Psychic damage and advantage on saving throws against being charmed or frightened. Again, makes sense; your mind is already under some kind of influence so it’s harder for anything else to get in there.

Psionic Sorcery, however, may seem simple but has big implications. From hereon out the Sorcerer can cast spells gained from the Psionic Spells list by spending a number of sorcery points equal to the level of the spell. So, on the surface, that’s great because it gives the Sorcerer a few more spells per day. That is until you remember that Sorcerer’s have as many sorcery points as they do Sorcerer levels and that you also read that spells cast this way require no components. Thematically, going with Psionics, makes sense that they can just cast with their mind. But it also makes them fairly powerful in that so long as they are conscious they can cast spells, and not just that but a lot more. This gives a 6th level Sorcerer two extra 3rd levels spells, and a 20th level Sorcerer two extra 9th levels and a 2nd level spell. That many high level spells can get ridiculous pretty quickly, and I’m not sure how it balances out. 

I think maybe putting a cap on the highest level spell castable this way, perhaps Sorcerer level divided by 4 rounded up or down would work? In any event, I’m not feeling this feature if only for the exploitation it allows. Thanks to Rules Goblin for pointing out that this only applies to spells gained from the Psionic Spells list! This makes this feature way less overpowered, and less powerful than even my suggested fix.

Revelation in Flesh
At level 14 an Aberrant Mind Sorcerer now can spend sorcery points to gain additional benefits. As a bonus action that can spend one or more to gain one of the following feature for a minute: gain a swimming speed equal to their walking speed and breature underwater, gain a flying speed equal to their walking speed, change so they become slimy and can squeeze throw openings as narrow as 1 inch, or get eye-tendrils and see hidden and invisible creatures within 60 feet.

Not a bad list, and certainly some useful features there that may or may not be outdone by certain spells if the Sorcerer knows them, but at any rate are good to have in the back pocket. I can’t see anything amiss or overpowered here, and so I’ll give it my stamp of approval.

Warp Reality
And finally, we have Warp Reality at level 18. It does what it says on the packaging, in that the Sorcerer becomes a point where reality warps. They can radiate a 20 foot radius aura for 1 minute, once per long rest. While this is active, other creatures treat this aura as difficult terrain and they take 2d10 psychic damage when they start their turn in it. Thankfully for the rest of the party, the Sorcerer can choose creatures they can see to be immune to both of those effects. Furthermore, they can use a bonus action to end the aura early and teleport themselves and any number of creatures in the aura they choose to a point they can see up to a mile away, with unwilling creatures getting a Charisma saving throw.

Ok, so, I’m not going to go too deep into this, but I am going to point out a few things. Firstly, so long as the Sorcerer is fighting something that has the same or slower movement speed, that creature is never getting out of their aura and is going to take 2d10 damage with no save for 10 turns. But more than that, or additionally to that, do we not see the problem with a Sorcerer that can fly through some means (such as Revelation in Flesh) walking up to a creature, probably the BBEG, and using their action and bonus action to try and teleport that creature up 200+ feet in the air? So long as the Sorcerer can fly or otherwise get down safely, that’s a big drop and a ton of damage. I generally don’t critique super high level abilities since the wish spell is a thing, but something about this just rubs me the wrong way.

Overall, I like the theme of the class, but some of the minutia around some of the abilities I just don’t get or like. Hoping that Wizards of the Coast takes some feedback and tweaks it, because I would love to get my psionic Sorcerer on!

Warlock: The Lurker in the Deep
The Lurker in the Deep is a nice addition to the Otherworldly Patrons for the Warlock, symbolizing something residing deep in the ocean or even on the Elemental Plane of Water such as a kraken or primordial being.

Expanded Spell List, Grasp of the Deep, & Scion of the Deep
Three class features present themselves at first level for the Warlock. Scion of the Deep allows the Warlock to communicate telepathically with any aberrant, beast, elemental, or monstrosity within 120 feet so long as it has an innate swimming speed. This also allows them to understand you and communicate back, effectively allowing you to communicate with less intelligent life as well.

The Expanded Spell List is, unsurprisingly, a list of additional spells that the Warlock can choose from when they learn a spell. Thematically many of these make sense, having to do with the ocean or stormy conditions, such as sleet stormcontrol water, and cone of cold.

Lastly, Grasp of the Deep allows the Warlock to summon a spectral tentacle that attacks enemies. It has 10 foot reach, lasts for one minute, and deals 1d8 cold or lightning damage while reducing movement speed by 10 feet until your next turn. This goes up to 2d8 damage at level 10, and as a bonus action the Warlock can move it and make another attack with it as a bonus action. I mean, I like this. Is it the best thing ever? No. But is summoning tentacle out of the ground to slap around your enemies fun and thematic? Yes, yes it is.

Fathomless Soul & Guardian Grasp
At level 6 Fathomless Soul helps out by giving the Warlock some passive abilities, such as the ability to breathe both air and water, being able to swim at the same speed that they walk, and gaining resistance to cold damage. It fits, and it allows the Warlock to get that much close to their patron.

Additionally they get Guardian Grasp, which modifies Grasp of the Deep. Now when you or a creature you can see within 10 feet of the tentacles takes damage, as a reaction the tentacles can sacrifice themselves to reduce the damage by half, effectively acting as a guardian. I like this; it adds more versatility to the Warlock’s tool belt and makes positioning the tentacles even more important.

Devouring Maw
Devouring Maw makes its way into the class at level 10, allowing the Warlock to now also manifest said maw on the ground in a 10 foot radius. While there, each creature in the area must making a Strength saving throw or be restrained, and any creature starting their turn in the area takes 3d6 cold or lightning damage. Additionally, the Warlock gains temporary hit points if there are any creatures in the area at the start of their turn. They can only use this once per short or long rest, but it can be useful for tying up an enemy and dealing some damage to them while your patron basically tries to swallow them whole. Still on theme, still not breaking the bank, still sounds like a blast to play. The more I read, the more I’m liking the Lurker in the Deep class option.

Unleash the Depths
Finally, we come upon their final class feature at level 14, Unleash the Depths. This once per long rest ability is effectively two in one, allowing you to either make a great escape or dish out some damage courtesy of your patron getting involved.

The first use of Unleash the Depths is Transport. You pick a point within 30 feet of you for your patron to tear through reality like the Kool-Aid man and grab you and up to five friendly creatures within 30 feet to transport to a place within 100 miles that you’ve been to in the past 24 hours. Pretty nice for getting out of a tough spot, or when you don’t feel like backtracking through a trap-laden death dungeon.

The second option is Fury, where they still tear through reality but then use their tentacles to smack around up to 5 creatures within 30 feet. Each target must makes a Dexterity saving throw. If they fail, they take 6d10 cold or lightning damage and get knocked prone, otherwise they take half and aren’t knocked.

I like this class ability. Like everything else, I don’t think it’s too powerful, and actually might be a little on the weaker side, but I enjoy it so much thematically that I can overlook it. Tentacles tearing through time and space is a fun thing for a Warlock to do, and I’m here for it.

New Spell: Mind Sliver
Mind Sliver is very much on point with the above class options, having the same feel of the deep, dealing psychic damage to those who find themselves on the receiving end of the spell. It’s a cantrip, and appropriately does d6 psychic damage on a failed Intelligence saving throw, and has the added benefit of reducing the target’s next saving throw by d4 before the end of your next turn. This is great, because reducing saving throws against hardier spells is always helpful, but also because you can keep a chain of Mind Slivers up that are all benefiting from the d4 reduction. Finally, the damage increases up by 1d6 at 5th, 11th, and 17th level.

Conclusion:
And at the end, I’m here to give a thumbs up to Lurker in the Deep, and a thumbs in the middle-ish to Aberrant Mind. To me, Aberrant Mind just has way too many exploitable features for me to consider using it as is, while Lurker in the Deep is fun and ready to be used in game. I expect both to get some tweaks, and hope those bring the class options in line from a power perspective with the other class options out there.

Be sure to give these class options a try and give Wizards of the Coast your feedback with their usual post-Unearthed Arcana surveys so that these options can get refined and added to the game!

What did you think about this Unearthed Arcana? Be sure to join in the discussion over on our Discord channel where we talk tabletop!


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7 Comments on “Persuasion Check: Unearthed Arcana – Sorcerer and Warlock

  1. Psionic Sorcery only applies to spells gained from the Psionic Spells feature. Still potent, but not as unhinging as if it applied to any spell the sorcerer knew.

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  2. I’m currently playing a Warlock, so I’ll try to convince my DM to allow me to try this new Patron. Wish me luck!

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  3. Not crazy about Psionic Sorcery, even if it’s limited to psionic spells. I have concerns about player confusion when you give them a class ability that changes the math on a core class-defining feature (in this case, Metamagic). I see players forgetting the limitation and casting all their spells with sorcery points, accidentally or otherwise.

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    • Definitely something to be concerned about. I would trust a few of my players to remember the restriction, but I think it would downright confuse others.

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