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Delvebound: Sorcerer Revised

What is a Sorcerer

Much like the changes to the Nightblade class, and the Rogue class before it, we have been reevaluating many of the custom classes found within Delvebound in order to make sure the classes are thematically on point within the lore of TES, mechanically sound at the table, and of course, enjoyable to play. This preview aims to make adjustments to the sorcerer while keeping much of its core concept the same. 

Check the link below to jump into the changes!

Getting Started

To begin, we ask the question: what is a sorcerer? And more specifically, what is a sorcerer in The Elder Scrolls? We already have some baggage that we carry with us because of how sorcerers are represented in 5e, but in Delvebound, what’s important is how they need to be rethought to suit sorcerers of Tamriel. 

Game Representation

One of the best facts about the sorcerer as a class in The Elder Scrolls is that it is the only class that has appeared in every single class-based TES game, as far as I am aware. This is a pretty important fact to pay attention to. It means it will have the most amount of iterations of the class. 

To start with, back in Arena, they presented our key concept for the sorcerer: the magical battery.  The first version of the sorcerer was incapable of regenerating magicka (or spell points, as they were called at the time) by resting, but instead restored their critical power by absorbing them when targeted by magical effects. They also had the largest bonus to total magicka points. So big pools for big power, but reduced regeneration. This version gives us some major concepts to set the sorcerer apart from the other Mage type classes. 

The first game of the TES series set things up for a while, and was by far the most true to the pen-and-paper games they were based on. By the time Daggerfall came around, a few short years later (those were the good ol’ days), the sorcerer more or less stayed the same. Same with Battlespire. Magical battery with a massive pool of magicka. Another piece that was a bit different from the mage in the early games was their ability to wear a slightly wider range of armor, and an extra weapon bonus.

By the time Morrowind came around, we saw our first shift in tone of what a sorcerer in Tamriel looks like. Absorption and large magicka pools were out, and conjuration and heavy armor was in. Sorcerers in this game adopted a bit of an edgelord-bad-boy of spellcasting feel (sorry, nightblade). They were more about summoning Daedric beings and undead, becoming the best class to choose if you wanted to play a necromancer archetype. This was a pretty big departure to the previous style and essentially redefined sorcerers moving forward. 

In Shadowkey, we stepped back a bit, which may have more to do with the game limitations than anything else. In the mobile game, sorcerers kept the massive magicka pool. 

When it came time for Oblivion, things went back to what they were like with Morrowind, with some minor changes to suit the mechanical differences of the games. Both depict them a bit more closely to a classical spellcaster, skilled in all forms of magic, but having a bit of a twist with heavy armor, making them a bit heartier than a typical mage. 

Skyrim was a bit of an odd duck, since there weren’t player classes, but there were NPC class types. I think the most notable adjustment here was that they dropped conjuration magic from their skills. A few years later in Elder Scrolls Online, they went all in on conjuration and destruction, returning to the Morrowind style of dark magic and summons. 

Two Iterations

As we follow along, we can see the sorcerer essentially had two different conceptual designs. In the earlier games, sorcerers had a unique mechanical identity from the other spellcasters. They were unable to restore magicka naturally and had to rely on absorbing harmful magical attacks. To make up for this disadvantage, they had access to the largest pool of magicka points in the game. 

From Morrowind onward, they changed into master summoners, commanding Daedric servants. The flavor text given to sorcerers painted them as practitioners of dark magic and destruction. This was a pretty big shift from the original concept, but also allowed them to fill a niche that was built more on style than purely gameplay mechanics.

Preliminary Conclusion

Both of these concepts were strong and helped delineate a sorcerer from a mage. While their role and style changed over the years, both concepts were consistent in themselves during their era. Throughout both styles, sorcerers did seem to keep one thing in common: their ability to wear better armor. Once armor was separated into categories in the games, they were able to don heavy armor.  

While their overall style did change, it gives us two different concepts to lean into. And the best part is that both of those styles can complement each other. Combining the two gives us a class that could have a large pool of magicka, a unique regeneration style, and can focus on themes of destruction, dark magic, and conjuration. Sounds like a great start to a character class.

Delvebound Class Concepts

Under the Delvebound class philosophy, every class fits under either the Mage, Thief, or Warrior, or is a combination of two. Kinda like a color wheel of classes. 

Sorcerers fit directly into the Mage category. One way the core categories work is they have at least 2 main versions, with one including their namesake. The Warrior category includes the warrior and the barbarian, the Mage has the mage and sorcerer, and the Thief pairs the thief and rogue together. 

Sorcerer Concepts

Ever since its conception, the sorcerer was clearly a Mage category type. But then we started looking closer at what that means and we started thinking of it a bit differently. What if the sorcerer is to the mage as the barbarian is to the fighter. This shifted our mindset a bit — though it fits nicely with what we had already developed. 

Fighters don’t take hits, they mitigate them with armor, but the barbarian gets right into battle, taking direct hits and absorbing the damage through their rage. To keep the sorcerer casting powerful spells, they need to get hit by spells. They need some form of mitigation to compliment their playstyle. Sorcerers are about raw magical power, where mages are about focused magic, similar to how the fighter uses martial training rather than the barbarian’s brute force.

Next to this, are the core concepts we’ve already talked about. The early representation of the sorcerer as a magical battery, absorbing spells to cast their own, and struggling to regenerate on their own. This is a fun one that needs to be looked at in an eye for 5e mechanics. It would be really difficult to emulate this mechanic purely (not regaining magicka on rest) without severely stunting the fun of the game. The potion of magicka from LGtC helps out with this a bit, but definitely shouldn’t be relied on.

Later versions of the sorcerer were all about wielding powerful magic. Relying either on summoning Daedric creatures or casting dark magic on their enemies. They leaned into the darker sides of magic, favoring destruction and conjuration magic. They also relied on wearing armor to help mitigate physical harm. 

After all of that, we end up with some solid ideas for concepts to emulate in the Delvebound version of the sorcerer:

  • Sorcerers are spellcasters with massive pools of magicka. 

  • Sorcerers are magical batteries, limited in regeneration, but able to absorb magical effects.

  • Sorcerers deal in raw magical power rather than arcane study. 

  • Sorcerers are masters of dark magic and commanding Daedric servants.

  • Sorcerers wear armor to protect themselves from physical harm.

This is a great start to making the sorcerer feel different from a mage and to really lean into the existing elements of the class while also building on top of what is already there.

Applying Sorcerer Concepts

Now we take those five conceptual ideas and start comparing them to the existing class design. Justifying existing mechanics, applying new concepts where needed, and adjusting anything else to suit.

Proficiencies. To fit in with the concept of protecting themselves with armor, sorcerers now also gain medium armor, and some subclasses can pick up heavy armor. We see quite a few sorcerers in-game decked out in armor, so I think this really brings in that TES feel.

Spellcasting. Sorcerers aren’t like other spellcasters. They are able to tap into the essence of magicka and draw out unmatched power. This incredible potential is offset by their reduced ability to regenerate magicka. The Stunted Magicka aspect of their spellcasting feature introduces a unique regeneration for the Sorcerer that comes in the form of a drawback to their power.

Sorcery. Offsetting their Stunted Magicka, Sorcerers get bonus magicka points. These were previously just lumped into the sorcerer's total magicka, but it’s now been separated to easily see the bonus given to sorcerers, and to make multi-classing a bit more intuitive.

Capacitor. This was truly the defining feature of the sorcerer in the early TES games, and it’s something we took to heart for our version. The Capacitor feature has been updated to include new ways to recover magicka points to help with the drawback of stunted magicka. The intent remains largely the same in design, but now works with all kinds of magical effects. 

Power Overwhelming. While this feature offered the sorcerer a unique bonus to their power, its limitations made its power underwhelming as a core feature. It’s been updated to scale off your proficiency bonus and no longer costs the extra magicka. Additionally, if you successfully use your Capacitor feature, you regain an expended use of Power Overwhelming.

Equilibrium. This feature got bumped up to 5th-level from 10th to help get back some power at lower levels and leave room for some new features later on.

Persistence. An entirely new feature, this one aims to add a little more defense to the class. 7th-level is commonly a defensive boost level (ranger, monk, rogue come to mind for examples). This also synergizes nicely with Equilibrium, and going forward from here, the Hit Die will become an additional resource pool you can tap into to crank your spells up to 11.

Surge. Another new damage improvement for the sorcerer, Surge also taps into your Hit Dice and maximizes the damage output of your spells. This will cause the damage rolls for spells to easily average much closer to their max damage then before. This helps fit in with the concept of raw magical power, on top of Power Overwhelming. What I really like about this is how it brings in that “a sorcerer is to the mage as a barbarian to the warrior” feel talked about in the concept.

Amplitude. While this is not exactly a new feature, Amplitude has been split out from Power Overwhelming to make sure it wasn’t overlooked. No other class in Delvebound can cast two 6th and 7th-level spells in a day, so it felt fitting to let that part stand out and shine on its own. 

Subclasses. Previously, sorcerers gained their choice of a subclass, now called Sorcerous Talents, at 1st level. We’ve switched that to 2nd level, and allowed them to gain their Capacitor feature at 1st level. This makes a bit more sense with what we come to expect from a sorcerer. They are born with this unique magical capability, rather than specific knowledge.

With the revision of the class comes new and revised subclasses that better suit the theme and mechanics of the class. 

Daedric Summoning. As a companion archetype subclass, the Daedric Summoning sorcerous talent allows the sorcerer to have their own Daedric pet to bring into combat with them. 

Supplication. The Supplication sorcerous talent comes from seeking out unholy knowledge and putting that to good use. This talent centers around manipulating both magic and your lifeforce.

Eldritch Warding. Using restoration magic in a unique way, Eldritch Warding sorcerers don’t heal, but they support their allies by mitigating damage and increasing their ability to deal damage.

Storm Calling. The archetypal elemental damage dealer, the Storm Calling sorcerous talent is a revised version of the previous Storm Caller with new original features.

Last Remarks

Digging into what a sorcerer is in the Elder Scrolls franchise really helped reinforce that we were on the right track to begin with, we just needed to give some good quality of life improvements and lean into those ideas a bit more. I hope you enjoy these updates and improvements, and the new customized subclasses.


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