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Character Classes Review: The Mage, The Spiritualist, and The Commoner

What’s this, reader? You’re not satisfied with giant robots and creepy puppets from my last bout with homebrew character classes? You want to see what else might be out there? Then take my hand and let us venture into the world of alternative character classes!

#1 – The Mage

Looks like wizards are going to have some company in their spellcasting modifier. Yellowbyte Studios has potentially given us a second Intelligence-based spellcasting class. As with every spellcasting class that crosses my review pile, I have to ask– “just how is this different, if at all?” Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised at said difference….Though I can’t say DMs will feel the same.

Basic Gist

So, first and foremost– forget that spell slot nonsense. Rather, a mage utilizes a pool of mana points that grows with every level, each spell costing a certain amount of points. (For example, 1st level spells cost four points, 2nd level costs eight, and 3rd level costs twelve. It moves up by four points.) You can cast any spell you want, provided that you have the points for it….Also, about that

Key Features

Let’s be upfront here. The mage class is a weird mix of potential overpowering and serious limitation.

The overpowering comes in the form of level features. As a mage, you’re automatically granted features at 2nd, 3rd, and 17th levels. The specialization (AKA “mage subclass”) you pick actually kicks in at 1st level, determining which features you get at 1st, 6th, 10th, 14th, 18th, and 20th levels. Oh, and you get a whopping two class features with every one of these milestones. (These pairs come in the form of an original spell and a secondary effect in battle.) Obviously, this alone causes concern for overpowerment….

But it might actually be a way of compensating for the slim spell options a mage might find themselves with. A mage’s spell options are actually pretty limited when compared to other classes, only able to access four spells total at every level. (Well, for the most part. We’ll get to that.) Furthermore, these spells strictly adhere to the specialization theme, stunting a mage’s options and battle. This could also potentially screw them over if, say, they pick a flame specialty and they run into things that are immune to the fire spells they only have access too.

Yes, I know. I’ve whined about subclass theming before. But spellcasting classes can stick with theming and still offer a variety of spells. For example, take a look at clerics. Their domains are specialized (i.e. life, trickery), but their spell list isn’t limited to that domain. My trickery cleric is just as able to disguise herself just as she is capable of raising dead mooks or summoning insect plagues.

But how we actually look at the mage specializations?

  • Flame Specialization. Obviously, fire spells. However, you can expect perks to heat things up in battle. (I will not apologize for dad jokes.) For example, you can automatically deal additional fire damage for rounds equal to your Intelligence modifier.
  • Cold Specialization. For those who want to get their Sub Zero on. Ice spells (again, obviously). You can expect perks that deal with the Frozen status effect and increase damage. However, this specialization does draw a bit of ire from the narrative part of my brain, due to the fact that 6th level sees a cold mage’s spells ignore an enemy’s cold resistance.
  • Arcane Specialization. AKA “the subclass you should probably pick.” Arcane mages have access to much more of a variety with spell options. In fact, they even have more than four possible spells per casting level. It’s like the makers of this realizes that the previous specializations are lackluster and tried making up for it here.
Final Verdict

Interesting idea for a spellcasting class for sure, but I can only recommend playing the arcane specialization…

Until we get to the part where I have to warn you that, according to the credits section, Yellowbyte Studios used Midjourney when making art. Which Dungeon Masters Guild is very much against. (As am I, but that’s besides the point.) In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this class runs out of mana and fades away from the marketplace sometime in the future.

Until then, you can take a gander here.

#3 – The Spritualist

One look at this and I immediately got shaman class vibes. (Which I enjoyed as a character class option.) However, the spiritualist class actually shares much more DNA with the warlock and sorcerer classes. (Right down to Charisma as their spellcasting modifier and a variation to sorcery points.) Thus I must ask– how is this different from these classes?

Basic Gist

Lore wise, spiritualists don’t make contracts, so much as survive near-death experiences that makes them aware of spirits. Furthermore, they can channel spirits for the sake of gaining power, 20th level seeing them temporarily become a spirit. (Complete with a fly speed.) Honestly, I can’t cover everything about this class due to the sheer scope.

Key Features

As many layers as the underworld, but I’ll try my best to cover this (surprisingly dense) class.

First, let’s talk about the class features. They flirt with overpowerment. Or at least this one called Occult Insight– which allows free-casting a single spell once every long rest- does. If you have to cut one feature, send this one to the chopping block to balance things out real easy.

But some other one are really useful. 3rd level’s Thanatophobia allows proficiency with death saving throws (which does make sense lore-wise). 5th level’s Lingua Mortis allows easy access to Speak With Dead. 10th level’s Stygian Inhalation allows you temporary hit points twice your spiritualist level, provided a living creature dies within 30 ft of you. (Okay, this one’s a little overpowered too. Maybe nerf it a little.) Spiritual Shroud at 18th prevents death from old age and gives you even more advantage on death saving throws. And at 20th level you get access to Ectoplasmic Transubstantiation; you turn into a ghost.

Of course, 2nd level gets you access to the Ectoplasm feature. At a given level, you have a certain amount of ectoplasm points, which are similar to sorcery points due to allowing a spiritualist to trade them for spell slots.

Which brings us to the subclasses. AKA “death’s thresholds.” These are based on how your spiritualist died, and include–

  • Beast and Briar. Death by animal or misadventure in nature. Animal-centric spells such as Speak With Animals and Animal Friendship, as well as the Druidcraft cantrip. You can also possess animals and summon ghostly flora/fauna.
  • Bloody Blade. Death by your fellow humanoid. Your attempted assassination gets your access to spells like Vampiric Touch and Hunter’s Mark, in addition to an emphasis on physical combat.
  • Plague and Poison. Death by sickness or toxin. You’ve come back with poison resistance and access to spells such as Blight and Contagion. Much of your perks revolve around spreading illness and suffering to your enemies.

Which brings us to the final part of this class– the spirits you can channel after a ten minute ritual. There’s eight types: Despair, Greed, Hubris, Jealousy, Hate, Madness, Shame, and Terror. Each offer their own perks and spell lists. The number of spirits you can channel depends on your level, your repertoire only able to be changed after gaining a level.

Final Verdict

Cut out the Occult Insight and nerf Stygian Inhalation, and you’ve got an insanely-cool class. The combination of subclasses and spirit types creates an insane amount of mixing and matching, as well as carrying a surprising amount of balance. (Again, excluding Occult Insight. Exorcise that thing.)

#4 – The Commoner

This…is a weird one, reader. For one thing, this is described as a “level 0 class option.” For second, it’s got as much bells and whistles as your average twig. But the funny thing is, that it’s still a pretty interesting character class, if only from a narrative standpoint.

Basic Gist

The commoner is just that; a commoner. They weren’t born into some fancy bloodline. They aren’t part of some proud tradition outside of being the latest in the long lines of laborers. And the only prophecy that concerns itself with them is the one that says their days will be the same as the previous. And that some bard might try to seduce them.

Key Features

The author(s) are very upfront about this being a significantly more squishy class of character. In fact, you’re actually encouraged to make multiple commoners.

Lacking any sort of subclass, commoners only have features at 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and 1st levels. Yes, you read that right. Partial levels.

Speaking of the class features, they go as following–

  • Common Flaw. Obtained at 1/8 level, these are the things that get your commoner in trouble. For example, the Illiterate common flaw not only renders your commoner unable to read, but also extremely suspicious of those who can.
  • Common Talent. Obtained at 1/4 level, this little skill help your odds of survival finally reach the double digits. One such talent is called “the Gift,” which allows you to pick one cantrip from the cleric, sorcerer, or wizard list.
  • Uncommon Talent. At 1/2 level, the Common Talent you picked gets an upgrade. Let’s say you picked the Gift. Well, now you can pick a 1st level spell from the same list and cast it once every long rest.
  • Unflawed. If you survive all the way to 1st level, your Common Flaw looses its effect.

So, that’s pretty much it with the class in regards of progression. And at first glance, this seems like the sort of class someone would be forced to play after losing a bet. But…

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a narrative-heavy campaign, then I wouldn’t be so quick to deny this class. Taking your first level in commoner allows a character a unique experience in starting out. You can use the commoner class to allow your character a chance to “discover” themselves. (Though this does cost you going the full twenty levels in a class.) Not to mention that you can use this class when making a commoner NPC or enemy with a bit more oomph to them.

About the Author
Went to film school instead of real college. Writes stuff, animates things, and programs whatchacallits. Currently playing a rogue/cleric (trickery) warforged that's basically a life-sized Victorian porcelain horror doll. You can find more of her stuff at kerahildebrandt.com, including D&D modules/such!

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