New: D&D Bloodstained Sorcerer
Welcome back to the Zurn blog! This week we continue looking at new blood-centric subclasses for D&D, today looking at the Bloodstained Sorcerer. While the barbarian makes an oath sealed by the shedding of his/her own blood, this sorcerer sheds his/her own blood to tap into the magical power that flows through it.
As always, we will start by looking at the theme and inspiration for the subclass, and then we will examine the mechanics of the subclass. We will add a trigger warning though before this one: if you have a past history with cutting, we recommend you skip this subclass, as it plays an integral part in the concept of the character.
I. Bloodstained Sorcerer: Theme and Inspiration
The sorcerer class gains its magical abilities through the lineage of the person which makes it unique (and really fun to play). This subclass is a "lineage agnostic" subclass in that you can descend from any ancestor: what makes you a bloodstained sorcerer is your use of your magical blood to power up your spells and unlock new magical abilities.
Like the other blood-centric subclasses, this subclass uses your hit die as its primary resource, allowing you to use them in new ways to give you new powers. It presents a new challenge for sorcerers, though, as sorcerers have 1) the lowest hit die in the game for a player character, 2) consequently not a lot of hit points to start with, and 3) no access to healing magic in the base class, so expending hit die in combat comes with the added pressure of not being able to spend them to heal yourself during a short rest.
So we want to note upfront that 1) we hear you, 2) we're aware of this, and 3) we are going to go ahead and use hit die as the primary resource of the subclass for a few reasons. First, having played sorcerers and seen a lot of sorcerers in play at my table, your hit dice won't actually recover all that many hit points anyway, so what you lose in healing is actually not that much. More than that, compared to the damage a single attack does in the game, it's generally worth less than 1 attack's worth of damage, so the scaling of the hit points recovery is pretty weak already (and only gets worse as you reach higher levels).
But more than that, short rests aren't used by all game masters. Some days will pass when you won't use a short rest, or you won't have suffered damage when the short rest is taken, meaning that you have a resource sitting around that is not being used for a decent bit of the campaign. And if you had the ability to use that resource to avoid taking damage in combat, help the party out of combat, etc., that's a good use of the resource.
So know upfront that you are more fragile (than a sorcerer already is) if you play a Bloodstained Sorcerer, and that's fine! Embrace it! Pour out your blood to release your inner powers, and rely on resting and party members to fix your frail body.
We also wanted sorcerers to get more than just extra damage or sorcery points from this subclass. Both of those were obvious as they play into the uniqueness of the class, but we wanted to take this one step further by allowing you to manifest more abilities (spell slots) and new abilities (spells known) through your magical blood. So we added these to the subclass as well, providing that flavorful, "What will we find is within us today" vibe.
And so with that, let's look at the Bloodstained Sorcerer.
II. Bloodstained Sorcerer: Mechanics
You can find the details of the subclass here, easily printable for your game master to consider if desired thanks to the team at Homebrewery. Starting at 1st level you get a straightforward ability: you can spend a hit die when you deal damage with a spell to add the total to the damage roll. If the spell hits more than one person, the total is applied to all targets affected by the spell.
It is worth noting that you do not add the die to the damage of the spell: you add the total, so if the spell attack results in a critical strike, you don't double the hit die: you add the total to the final result.
At 6th level you gain the ability to fuel your magic through the shedding of your blood, allowing you to gain sorcery points and recover expended spell slots by spending a hit die. It's also worth noting here that none of these abilities allow you to stack hit die like you can with the Blood Oath Barbarian: you'll only be spending one hit die at a time for each of these abilities, and that becomes an important part of the equation here.
At 14th level you gain the ability to spend a hit die to cast a suite of utility spells that sorcerers do not typically gain access to (and even if they did probably wouldn't take because of their limited spell preparation), each of which can be cast in this way once per long rest. Some of them are useful in combat, like Bane and Remove Curse. Others are more useful non-combat spells like Pass without Trace and Identify. The advantage is that this really rounds you out, allowing you to deal with threats that would otherwise not be easily dealt with, and without having to use your limited spell slots and spells known to handle those threats.
And finally at 18th level you gain the ability to spend a hit die to reduce the saving throws that people make against your spells, potentially turning a successful save into a failed save (or a failed save into a seriously failed save if the spell allows for a more devastating result if a roll is very low). In addition, you regain sorcery points equal to the amount on the hit die, so you refuel your special abilities as you crush your enemies. A very useful feature, especially at the highest levels of play when you have very potent spells and a lot of hit dice.
The Bloodstained Sorcerer lacks the resilience of the Draconic Bloodline or the Divine Soul Sorcerer, and lacks the potential damage and potency of almost any other sorcerer. But what it gains is a well-rounded, well-stocked profile, allowing you to handle a wide range of situations effectively with a class that is generally strapped for options due to its spell constraints. And if that appeals to you, you should consider playing a Bloodstained Sorcerer.
Until next time,