Sandshifter (Sorcerer)

Elemental sorcerers seem such a natural fit. But for some reason, elemental always means fire. In order to break that trope, here’s a sorcerer that draws their power from the Elemental Plane of Earth! Let’s dig in…

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Sandshifter (Sorcerer)

I dug in the desert for 40 years and never found much but sand. I can’t quite remember how it happened. What called me there. Why I dug in that spot. The assuring clink of my shovel was the bell that tolled that life.

I am the earth now. I know its power.

Sandshifter Class Features

Sorcerer
Level       
Feature
1st Earthen Kit, Pocket Sand
6th Head on the Ground
14th Darude
18th Excavator

Build Notes

Spell List

While extra spell lists aren’t standard for sorcerers, there’s been a trend in that direction in a lot of the recent playtest sorcerers, and players love it. It’s definitely worth it if you can rely on the spell list to drive a lot of flavor of the class.

I actually cribbed this spell list from an old Genie Pact Warlock subclass I did. Warlocks get two spells with their class spell lists, so the cool thing I did with that one was to give a base layer of genie spells, with a second set based on the different elemental pact you chose. For this list, I just stole the Dao set. I did go back and reevaluate the choices, and found no changes to be necessary.

Sandshifter Spells

These are all pretty self-explanatory in terms of earth theme. To ensure the sorcerer was using on-brand damage spells, it was important to give access at an early level. So, earth tremor, dust devil, and erupting earth provide damage options in the first three spell slots. The cool thing about these spells is that they also have battlefield impact.

  • Earth tremor knocks creatures prone and creates difficult terrain.
  • Dust devil provides some battlefield manipulation by repositioning creatures.
  • Erupting earth creates difficult terrain.

By 7th level, the hits start coming harder, so you get some defensive support with stoneskin.

Finally, at 9th level, wall of stone comes in as a true battlefield manipulation spell that can also be used during downtime to do things like creating fortifications and strongholds.

Earthen Kit

As you may have noticed from the Time Domain (Cleric), I like giving my spellcasters a tool that they can use as a spellcasting focus.

In this case, you’re dealt a spade. Since the class is themed around moving earth, I thought a shovel would be a funny thing you could use to cast. If this seems a little too silly to you, feel free to use any other spellcasting focus.

This class feature is named after Eartha Kitt. It’s not the last musical reference you’ll get.

Pocket Sand

I needed something flavorful but not too powerful for the 1st level option. Something relatively mundane but useful over the course of a character’s entire life.

I recalled that I had once made a memey item called “pocket sand!” I went back and took a look to see what I could use, and boy what a kludgy nightmare.

I decided it needed massive streamlining to be a functional. Realizing I had built it so technically to keep it from being overpowered for a mundane item, I wouldn’t have that same concern building a class feature for a spellcasting subclass. To some degree, I’m just a better designer now. Here’s how it changed from the item to the feature:

As a baseline, I kept two charges and recharging on a short rest. This just fits the narrative too well. It doesn’t even need to necessarily be flavored as magical. That’s about where it stops. I doubled the range to increase the usability, especially since sorcerers don’t necessarily want to mix it up in melee. I reduced the action economy from an action to a bonus action. I removed the attack roll. I removed all the “improvised weapon” baggage that we don’t need because it’s a class feature. I cut down the dodge mechanic massively and removed the contested attack-vs.-Dexterity save mechanic that’s sure to grind the table to a halt.

I really happy with how elegant this feature turned out. It’s an escape hatch against one creature for the sorcerer. The only way to make a save is to try and dodge the sand. If so, you get a save, but you’ve spent your reaction. Ergo, no opportunity attack. If you decide not to take the save, you’re blinded. Opportunity attacks can only be made against creatures you can see. Ergo, no opportunity attack. Since it’s a bonus action, this enables the sorcerer to cast a spell and still escape one creature that may be threatening them. This comes in real handy at 1st level since earth tremor centers on you.

The name of this feature is obviously a King of the Hill reference, but since removed all those frilly mechanics, I also made space to open with a Star Wars prequels reference!

Head on the Ground

At 6th level, you get to start doing your best purple worm imitation. You gain a burrow speed of 20 feet. This can be used for all sorts of fun and hilarious tactical shenanigans. Mostly, it can be used to establish cover, even in an open field. 20 feet is enough to have fun without abusing pop-in and pop-out kiting.

Our second musical reference of the subclass, this is an homage to the opening line of The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind?

Darude

This feature is pretty long, but it’s mostly a mashup of two spells: spike growth and wind wall. I added a little magic to juice up the damage. Instead of just deflecting the projectiles, you can wrap them up in your whirlwind and smack them into the next creature that wanders into the sandstorm. I vacillated for a while over the type of damage to make this feature. Having been on a beach in high winds too many times, my personal experience reads piercing. It’s like a thousand needles stinging you.

Our final musical reference of the subclass, this is an homage to the Finnish DJ who created the most recognizable EDM tune of all time: Sandstorm.

Excavator

Finally, you can take your allies along on your magical underground journeys. Your burrow speed is doubled, but if you move at half speed, you can create tunnels for your allies to follow you. In order to keep players from reshaping the world with this feature, the tunnels collapse after 24 hours. You’ll still be able to plan a quick getaway!

If you like this content and want to support ThinkDM, while getting access to sneak previews and exclusive content, check out the ThinkDM Patreon. Colossal thanks to Willy Abeel who was invaluable in workshopping this subclass. Check out Willy’s stuff!

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