D&D 5e: Clockwork Soul Sorcerer Guide
D&D 5e: Clockwork Soul Sorcerer Guide
Role in the Party
Touched by the ineffable forces of the Planes, the Clockwork Soul Sorcerer can always find order in the chaos of the world. Whether that means discovering the patterns that make people tick or pulling at the skeins of reality to force the world to bend to their will, the Clockwork Soul is a subclass that’s all about control.
Expanding on the Sorcerer’s traditionally limited spell list, the Clockwork Soul Sorcerer’s abilities balance out the class, allowing it to function as a blaster, buffer, and controller; throwing arcs of chain lightning even while significantly boosting the abilities of their allies.
The Clockwork Soul Sorcerer subclass is found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Click here to pick up your own copy of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything!
Clockwork Soul Features
Clockwork Magic: (Epic once you start replacing spells.)
The Clockwork Soul automatically learns extra spells at the levels below. These are added to your spells known and are always available to cast. This is amazing on a class that’s traditionally restricted by spells known, increasing spells known by a significant chunk, for the whole of the character’s adventuring career.
Another big advantage the Clockwork Soul has over classes with similar abilities is the option to replace these spells as it levels up. Each time you level up, 1 spell from the list below can be freely replaced with any Abjuration or Transmutation spell from the Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard lists. That’s a lot of spell selection and adds a ton of variety compared to other Sorcerer subclasses.
Alarm: Alarm is a useful spell, but mostly because it can be ritual cast. You can’t do that, so it lessens in value
Protection from Evil and Good: Provides heavy protection against certain types of enemies. When you need it, you’ll be glad to have this, and it’s only a level one spell.l
Aid: A solid chunk of temp HP at low levels, but it falls off fast. Aid is a good spell to swap out after a few levels
Lesser Restoration: When you need this spell, it’s invaluable, and as a full caster you can throw it out when needed. I wouldn’t choose it for most Sorcerers, but you get it for free
Dispel Magic: Remove harmful effects and make mages hate you by dispelling key spells. You’re a full caster, meaning you’re the perfect user for this
Protection from Energy: If you know you’re going to fight a dragon or an elemental, halving most of the damage they deal is a nice ability to have in your pocket. Not bad for a free spell
Freedom of Movement: Incredibly useful when you need it. But the situations where you might are pretty rare
Summon Construct: A strong, tanky summon that has scaling damage and health, lasts an hour, and doesn’t require actions to command. More of this, please. The only downside is this requires concentration, locking out other spells, but it’s powerful enough that you won’t care
Greater Restoration: Another spell that’s very situational, but you’ll be glad to have this spell when you need it.
Wall of Force: Finishing the free spell list strong, Wall of Force lets you lock out entire encounters, blocking away key enemies by trapping them behind a wall or bubble of impenetrable power.
A lot of enemies literally have zero option to stop this from going off, because there’s no save to stop it, the wall can’t be removed by anything except Disintegrate, and it lasts up to 10 minutes. If you’re fighting non-spellcasters, a smartly used Wall of Force is basically an I-Win button.
Restore Balance: Starting from level 1, you can switch off Advantage or Disadvantage, as a reaction. This is green because it won’t always be useful, but the ability to switch off the effects of debuffs on the party, or neutralize a strong attacking monster, can be absolutely invaluable if it does come up.
Certain party compositions can push this ability to purple. In particular, if you have a Paladin or Rogue, this can let you switch off Disadvantage so they can attack at full strength, and fish those crucial smites and sneak attacks.
Bastion of Law: From level 6, spend an action and up to 5 sorcery points to create a shield around yourself or another character. Whenever a character protected by this ability takes damage, they can spend points from the shield to roll that many D8s, and reduce the damage by that much.
It’s hard to feel good about this ability. Directly reducing damage is incredibly strong, but it’s only D8 per Sorcery Point, and those are much better spent on Metamagic or extra spell slots. One upside is that once spent, the ability does last all day, so if you have spare Sorcery Points from somewhere, you can burn them here, but it’s a relatively underwhelming ability.
Trance of Order: At level 14, spend a bonus action to enter a trance for 1 minute. The first part of this prevents Advantage on attack rolls against you, which is nice, but the main draw is the consistency on rolls.
For the duration of the trance, whenever you make an attack roll, ability check, or save, anything less than 9 counts as 9. This is absurdly powerful, adding a level of consistency that almost no other character can boast. With proficiency bonus and CHA added, that means your minimum rolls for attacks are probably going to be 19, near guaranteeing hits against a lot of enemies, and you’ll also know your absolute minimum floor on saves and ability checks.
Finally, you can reactivate this ability for 5 Sorcery Points, which is a heavy cost, but more than worth the price.
Clockwork Cavalcade: Another strong ability to finish up with, Clockwork Cavalcade is another once-per-day ability that can be recast for a hefty 7 Sorcery Points.
Using it requires an action, but throws out three powerful effects in a big area of effect in front of your character: a large heal that can be split between allies (as strong as a 9th level Heal spell,) repairing all items in the cube (woohoo?) and finally, ending all spells of 6th level or lower on creatures of your choice. (Realistically, that’s the whole party, plus any enemies that are protected by spells, as well as enemy summons.)
That makes this an incredibly powerful emergency button. Fully healing several members of the party on top of automatically dispelling basically every harmful spell effect is incredibly powerful. The asking price of 7 Sorcery Points means this only costs as much to cast as a 4th level spell slot, and the effects are vastly more powerful than that.
The Clockwork Soul is a spellcaster first off, and one without much in the way of defenses. But that’s less of an issue when you can dictate who gets to act, whether attacks hit or a spell takes hold.
The Sorcerer is one of the best blasters in the game, able to throw out spells that just wouldn’t be possible for most other caster, ignoring their allies despite them being in the direct area of effect, and twinning key spells to disable two enemies at once.
The Clockwork Soul also compensates for one of the traditional Sorcerer weaknesses; Limited spells known, by adding another 10 permanent spells to their spell list. That’s a 66% increase in total spells known, which is absolutely colossal, and massively increases the flexibility of the class by giving it more slots to spend on less used, utility spells or options that might be more situational.
Outside of combat, the Clockwork soul has less to do, but can effectively contribute to social situations, as well as backing up the rest of the party for skill checks and challenges, by making absolutely sure that the ones that need to pass, do.
The Clockwork Soul, like every Sorcerer, is incredibly squishy. A d6 hit die and zero armor proficiencies result in a character that can’t take any significant hits. The Sorcerer spell list, and subclass abilities, also don’t have much in the way of layered defenses that meaningfully contribute to making them tougher.
That means the best defense for the Clockwork soul is going to be not getting hit. They are going to have to rely on other party members to keep them healthy, but that’s in their best interests, because of the strength of keeping you alive.
Sorcerers are also limited in their out-of-combat options, both in skill options, and utility spells. The Clockwork soul is a little better here, with more spells known, but the class still lacks options like ritual casting, which many other full casters get by default.
Best Race Options
Warforged: Flexible stats, free skills, extra AC, and ignoring a bunch of things that regular people have to care about, like sleeping and breathing, is a powerful suite of abilities. And tying powers directly into the fact that you’re a constructed being is just good flavor.
Drow Half-Elf: All half-elves make good Sorcerers, especially the skills the base race brings if the build leans towards party face. But the spells of the Half-Drow are useful all the way up to level 20, and a Drow that rebels against their heritage and embraces order is a fun story hook.
Variant Human: The choice of stats and skils are nice, but the free feat is what you want. We lean towards taking a feat that grants extra spells. Sorcerers are very limited at early levels, and an extra spell or two can prove invaluable all throughout an adventuring career.
Choosing the Right Skills
The Sorcerer class is very limited in skill slots. Most Clockwork Soul characters will only have 4 skill slots total, so it’s important to choose ones that count.
Every character should probably take Perception, as it might be the most used skill in the game. Sorcerers should also take at least one social skill, as the class’s need for high CHA means that they’re going to have high bonuses in them.
The remaining choices should be spent on skills that will benefit the party and the campaign. Most Sorcerers will have a reasonable DEX score, so Acrobatics is a fine choice, and taking one or two knowledge skills for checks is also a generally decent option.
Metamagic Adept: This feat teaches the Sorcerer another Metamagic, which is nice, as there are some incredible options on the list. But it also gives 2 more Sorcery Points, which is a much bigger benefit for the Clockwork Soul, considering most of its subclass abilities are fueled by the resource, and an early game infusion of two extra points could mean up to 50% more metamagic per day.
Inspiring Leader: Most Clockwork Soul Sorcerers are going to build to support their party members, and adding a significant chunk of temporary HP to the party at the start of every day is a fantastic way of doing that. (At all levels, Inspiring Leader gives out equivalent HP to having an entire fifth party member.)
Gift of the Chromatic Dragon: This feat offers two things, both useful. Once per day, you can touch a weapon as a bonus action, adding 1d4 elemental damage of your choice for one minute. This is a great bonus for martial allies, helping to push through resistances and regeneration, or just dealing a little more damage if you have a free bonus action.
The second benefit is the defensive portion and that it can be used several times per day to gain resistance to a list of damage types as a reaction. And for a class as squishy as the Sorcerer, more defense is always a good thing.
Gate Urchin: Deception and Sleight of Hard are excellent skills for a sneaky Sorcerer type, and Thieves Tools are essential for someone in the party. You also get proficiency in an instrument. (Music is all timing, right?)
Guild Artisan: Persuasion is exceptional for a Sorcerer, Insight less so. A language is also good, especially if you can tailor it to the campaign. Finally, a tool proficiency lets you build a background that works with your power set, not to mention it adds some interesting fluff and downtime options
Courtier: Double down on languages with the Courtier background. Similar to Guild Artisans, this background also offers Persuasion and Insight.
Fathomless Warlock: All Warlock subclasses synergize really well with the Sorcerer. The most obvious choice is Hexblade because that offers by far the most for a 1 or 2 level dip. But a lot of what the Hexblade brings isn’t useful for a Clockwork Soul, which generally doesn’t want to be swinging swords or burning bonus actions on curses that boost attack rolls.
Instead, the Fathomless gives the Sorcerer a bonus action summonable spell effect; a tentacle (easily flavored as magical chains) that lashes at enemies in range, lasts a minute, deals damage, and slows targets down.
Add regenerating spell slots, which can be transformed into extra Sorcery Points to fuel your abilities, and access to the almighty Eldritch Blast cantrip, for the simplest way to turn your Clockwork Sorcerer into a ticking time bomb. You also gain a swim speed, because why not?
Order Cleric: While the stat requirements might be annoying, this build only needs the minimum WIS 13 for the multiclass, as we’re taking a single level dip into Cleric, and a lot of spells on the Cleric list don’t need WIS to be useful.
What does that one level get us? Heavy Armor and Shield proficiency, increasing AC by several points and making the Sorcerer significantly harder to hurt. It also allows access to the Cleric spell list, which has some incredibly useful spells for any caster (Healing Word and Bless are stand-out level 1 spells.)
But we want the incredibly powerful Voice of Authority ability. Whenever you cast a spell of at least level 1 on an ally, they can spend their reaction to attack. This can outright double the damage of certain classes, (Rogues spring to mind, out-of-turn attacks trigger another entire sneak attack) and breaks the action economy in half.
Even better, this ability has no limit on uses, past having to cast a spell using a spell slot. Every time you throw a buff or heal onto a party member, they get to attack again. It’s as powerful as it sounds.
Chronurgy Wizard: Even more time manipulation! A 2 level dip into Chronurgy Wizard gives a Sorcerer access to more spells, including incredibly useful options like Find Familiar, low level ritual magic, and doesn’t impact spell slot progression.
But the main thing we want is Chronal Shift, available at level 2, which lets you force a reroll two times per day on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, as a reaction. After you see the roll. Yes, this is yet another ability that allows you to mess with the dice rolls of the party and their enemies.
Is this better than going Clockwork Sorcerer all the way to 20? Maybe not, but it is absolutely hilarious to hold up a hand whenever your GM makes a good roll, and ask them to try again. If you’re leaning into this, make sure you take the Lucky feat for three more rerolls and practice your best trolling grin.
Would I recommend playing a Clockwork Soul Sorcerer?
Traditionally, Sorcerers are considered to be blasters, throwing out spells that explode into pretty lights and huge bursts of damage.
But the Clockwork Soul’s abilities lend themselves towards a more thoughtful, supportive character, who takes their time to consider all the variables, before waving a hand and striking at the perfect moment.
Played well, a Clockwork Soul will leave their enemies ticked off, and alarm the party with its effectiveness, as enemy attacks miss, wounds close up by themselves and harmful effects just cease to exist. All puns aside, putting in the extra hours (sorry) to understand what the Clockwork Soul can do is guaranteed to pay off, it’s a powerful subclass, and one that’s an absolute ton of fun to play.