Favored Soul Subclass Guide (UA)

Last Updated on January 22, 2023

Divine prowess, once the staple of none other than clerics, has spread throughout many classes throughout the history of D&D. Entanglement with the gods is a great basis for incredible roleplay and in-depth stories, so it stands to reason that classes such as the warlock, druid, and paladin would come into existence at some point.

Allowing a character’s devotion to their deity to affect the very abilities they use to conquer enemies is an incredible feat of storytelling, game design, and immersion. It’s no wonder that we continue to see new and exciting classes and subclassing that rehash this same concept in a new light.

Today, we’re looking at a reimagining of a 3e class, the Favored Soul. In 5e’s playtesting material, Unearthed Arcana, this was represented as a sorcerous origin of the same name.

Because this is playtest material from several years ago, this article is split into two different focuses. The first piece of this article is our standard subclass analysis, reviewing the features and discussing how to create an optimized character. The second piece will focus more on the journey the favored soul has taken from a full-fledged 3e class to a finished, fantastic 5e subclass.

Favored Soul (UA) Subclass Guide

What Is a Favored Soul Sorcerer?

Favored Soul is a sorcerous origin that represents a creature so touched by a divine influence that the very fabric of their being has been changed, giving them incredible power. While this is thematically similar to other god-focused classes, it is still molded on the foundations of the sorcerer class, which has some exciting implications for both mechanics and roleplay.

The Favored Soul sorcerer is best understood if we look at other classes and see how they are influenced by the deities they worship.

Clerics are the most obvious example of this, often viewed as adventuring priests of whatever religion they belong to. Clerics channel divine power into spellcasting, and this is typically used for healing magic. As they grow in power, they can channel more and more of their deity’s power, even to the point of summoning their deity to intervene in mortal affairs.

The various subclasses of cleric focus on different types of deities or domains. Each of these domains represents a different aspect of the material world, so clerics themselves are incredibly varied as a result.

An offshoot of clerics is the druid class, which is focused more on the concept of nature than specific deities. However, their devotion to a force of nature is almost indistinguishable from divine influence and sometimes includes the worship of an appropriate nature deity. 

Druid powers are then much more focused on natural phenomena, although the subclasses of druid worship different aspects of the natural world, allowing us to see some decent variety here.

Then, we have warlocks. Rather than explicitly worshiping deities, warlocks enter a pact with a powerful patron, which could range from an ancient primordial to an unknowable eldritch being. This causes their powers to manifest in some strange and eldritch ways, often more concerned with the dark and mystical than the divine and blessed.

All of these show us what to expect in a sorcerer transformed by the power of a divine being. While sorcerers themselves have the ability to cast powerful spells and manipulate the magic that originates from inside of them, their divine aspect would focus their powers on a specific domain or aspect of the deity. 

This is represented in both of the iterations Favored Souls received in UA. The subclass incorporates aspects of the cleric’s spellcasting, while also attempting to focus the sorcerer’s efforts on more divine abilities. Things like angelic or demonic wings, immunity to poison, and healing abilities are all explored.

At its core, the Favored Soul sorcerer is a sorcerer infused with the basic themes of a cleric. This thematic leaning is represented across each and every feature present in either of the UA versions of this subclass. However, each version focuses on different aspects of the cleric class, so they both end up feeling like rather unique subclasses, even if the inspiration is the same.

Subclass Features

Since each UA incorporates different features, we’ll be looking at each of them individually and judging them as if they were isolated subclasses in their own right. Then, we’ll look at the differences between the two and talk about which ones achieve the thematic goal better.

Favored Soul: UA Class Design Variants (2015)

1st Level: Chosen of the Gods

When you take this subclass, choose one of the cleric class’s divine domains. Whenever that domain would receive their domain spells (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th level), you add those spells to your known spells. These don’t count against the number of spells you know and are considered sorcerer spells to you.

1st Level: Bonus Proficiencies

You gain proficiency in light armor, medium armor, shields, and simple weapons.

6th Level: Extra Attack

You can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

14th Level: Divine Wings

As a bonus action on your turn, you can sprout a pair of wings from your back (feathered or bat-like, your choice), gaining a flying speed equal to your current walking speed. They last until you dismiss them as a bonus action on your turn.

You can’t manifest your wings while wearing armor unless the armor is made to accommodate them, and clothing not made to accommodate your wings might be destroyed when you manifest them.

18th Level: Power of the Chosen 

When you cast one of the spells you learned from your Chosen of the Gods class feature, you regain hit points equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1) + the spell’s level.

This Favored Soul splits its focus into several areas. As a result, it feels like an experimental dive into adding divine powers to the sorcerer, which is what it is.

We start out with an awesome ability that allows us to choose a cleric domain and gain its domain spells at the appropriate level. This does an amazing job of connecting the Favored Soul with a specific deity without having to create unique features for each domain. It also is a huge power boost, but it’s one that’s extremely justified.

Since sorcerers are almost exclusively focused on spellcasting, the design team wanted to avoid adding too much to the class that directly ties back to spells. So, from here on out, most features are focused on another aspect of clerics: combat. 

We get all the combat-related proficiencies that the base cleric class receives, and this does a lot in terms of allowing us to engage in combat without casting our spells. Then, at 6th level, we get extra attack, ripped straight from the fighter class, and can now attack twice with the Attack action.

This means that in combat we now have the choice of making two decent attacks against our enemies or casting a powerful spell that’s likely focused on our domain. Everything adds to the sorcerer subclass, and nothing really takes away. 

We follow this up with a thematic flight speed and a solid healing ability as our final two features, improving our martial and spellcasting respectively.

Altogether, this is a subclass that can really stand its own whether it’s using weapons or spell slots. Unfortunately, it’s spread out enough that it doesn’t reach the peaks of power we often see with subclasses. The desire to incorporate multiple cleric aspects into a subclass, rather than a new class, means that you’re very limited with how much you can add.

The features here range from A to S tier, but the lack of focus and synergy means that this subclass ends up at more of a B tier. While it’s a menace at lower levels, it quickly gets outpaced by other subclasses that actually specialize in their thematic and mechanical goals.

Favored Soul: UA Sorcerer (2017)

1st Level: Divine Magic

When your Spellcasting feature lets you learn a sorcerer cantrip or a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher, you can choose the new cantrip or spell from the cleric spell list in addition to the sorcerer spell list. You must otherwise obey all the restrictions for selecting the spell, and it becomes a sorcerer spell for you.

1st Level: Supernatural Resilience

Your hit-point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 again whenever you gain a level in this class.

1st Level: Favored by the Gods

If you fail a saving throw or miss with an attack roll, you can roll 2d4 and add it to the total, possibly changing the outcome. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

6th Level: Blessed Countenance

Your appearance takes on an otherworldly version of one of the following qualities (your choice): beautiful, youthful, kind, or imposing.

Whatever your choice, if your proficiency bonus applies to a Charisma check, double that bonus.

14th Level: Divine Purity

You become immune to disease, poison damage, and the poisoned condition.

18th Level: Unearthly Recovery 

As a bonus action when you have less than half of your hit points remaining, you can regain a number of hit points equal to half your hit-point maximum. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

When the favored soul was revisited two years later, we saw a lot of differences. At first glance, we can immediately see that this is a much more focused subclass. There are no features that specifically focus on melee combat, although we can utilize a few of these to be more effective if we ever get stuck with a dagger in our hand and no spell slots.

We get three features at 1st level, all of which are indicative of the divine influence we’ve received. 

Divine magic allows us to essentially have two spell lists to choose from whenever we learn new spells. If we want, we can focus entirely on cleric spells and flavor ourselves as a cleric with access to metamagic. Or, we can mix and match as necessary to come up with a wide variety of different builds since there isn’t a lot of overlap between these two spell lists normally.

Supernatural resilience is a nice steady boost to our HP maximum, which makes us more durable, even if it won’t make us a tank. Since sorcerers aren’t known for their resilience, this is nice to have, and this feature alone makes this subclass compelling for prospective sorcerers that don’t want to die two sessions into a campaign.

The last starter feature we have is a bit of divine luck, allowing us to add 2d4 to a failed saving throw or attack roll. It can only be used once before we have to take a short or long rest, which makes it a hail-Mary feature, but that doesn’t take away from just how helpful an additional 2d4 can really be in a pinch. 

Used wisely, any of these three features so far can feel like the most important feature. What’s more, they all feel very cohesive. We are simply a divinely empowered sorcerer with a greatly expanded spell list. 

Our 6th-level feature might seem out of the blue, but sorcerers are often the face of the party. Charisma checks can be expected, and we should definitely have a few Charisma skill proficiencies. Boosting these checks just reminds us that we are still a sorcerer and that our sorcerous traits are all empowered by the divine influence acting on us.

We then gain more durability in each of our final features. A set of immunities is amazing, especially with common damages and conditions. Then, regaining half of our hit-point maximum is a huge bonus that will turn the tides of battle, even if we’re only using it once per day.

This is a really synergistic subclass. Everything here reminds us that we are still a sorcerer focused on doing what sorcerers do best. It’s the divine influence empowering each of these abilities that adds a solid cohesive theme. Even with access to the cleric’s entire spell list, we don’t feel like a sorcerer playing pretend priest.

Comparing Favored Souls

Each of the two subclasses we’ve looked at has its merits. While the 2017 version is definitely much more clear about what it is it’s trying to accomplish, the 2015 version brings in some exciting abilities that allow a sorcerer to feel connected to a specific deity, much like a cleric would.

We often find that the 1st-level features define how a subclass will perform. Everything after that point is just supplemental or a way to stagger and slowly improve the very same 1st-level feature. For both Favored Souls, the 1st-level feature to focus on is related to spellcasting.

With one, we get access to the domain spells of a cleric subclass, and with the other, we get access to the entire cleric subclass. It’s hard to say which is better, and ultimately, it comes down to what you want to do with your build.

A sorcerer with access to the entirety of the cleric’s spell list is essentially multiclassing without having to sacrifice higher-leveled features. They don’t get any extra spells, but that’s fine since extra spells don’t come with extra spell slots. Whether you know four or eight spells at 3rd level, you can still only use six spell slots before taking some time to recoup.

However, the domain spells offer something that the cleric spell list doesn’t. With a domain, we get precise focus on what kind of spells we want to dish out. Normally, this would be accompanied by an equally focused channel divinity and several features, but simply grafting an entire cleric domain onto a sorcerer isn’t quite an effective way to build a new subclass.

At the end of the day, my preference lies with the domain spell list option. Losing access to higher-level cleric spells is something I can easily accept for a clear spellcasting goal. If I want to be a healer, I can choose the life domain, but if I want some extra fiery spells, I can choose the forge domain. 

Outside of these two very similar features though, the 2017 one is very clearly the winner. The interesting thing about it though is that it doesn’t seek to improve or balance the abilities of the 2015 version. Instead, it takes the subclass in a new direction.

Since the biggest problem with the original was a lack of cohesivity, a new direction was probably the best solution, but that doesn’t wipe away the fact that we missed out on some cool concepts that were present in the original.

Favored Soul Build Guide

Since this is UA material we’re dealing with, we’ve foregone the normal tendency to discuss a variety of options for each stage of the character-building process. Instead, we’ve created a cohesive build design for the 2017 Favored Soul, and we’ll discuss the reasons behind each decision we made in brief.

For this build, we’ve used the standard array ability scores present in the PHB (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8).

  • Race: Aasimar
  • Background: Acolyte
  • Ability Scores: STR 10,  DEX 13, CON 15, INT 8, WIS 12, CHA 17
  • Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Religion, Intimidation, Persuasion
  • Language Proficiencies: Common, Celestial, Primordial, Abyssal
  • Tool Proficiencies: None
  • Equipment: A light crossbow, 20 bolts, arcane focus, explorer’s pack, two daggers, a holy symbol (a gift to you when you entered the priesthood), a prayer book, 5 sticks of incense, vestments, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 15gp
  • Celestial Revelation: Radiant Soul
  • Feats: Lucky, Metamagic Adept

This build is a basic template for the Favored Soul. Because of the nature of the merged spell lists, the build can go in many ways, but I’ve specifically chosen to cover the basics. From here, you can still choose any combination of spells and end up with an incredibly effective build.

We start with the aasimar race because they make the most thematic and mechanical sense — they’re a perfect fit. Aasimar have divine influence coursing through their veins, either descendants of a celestial/humanoid romance or chosen by a celestial being. They also get Charisma-focused abilities and some healing potential.

Just like the subclass, our race is cleric themed but fitted for the sorcerer. In other words, it focuses on divine abilities while using the sorcerer’s main ability score to fuel it. Just about any of the celestial revelations would feel appropriate, but the radiant soul gives us luminous, spectral wings, which is a nice callback to the original favored soul.

Our ability scores represent the standard sorcerer spread, but then we start to see some outside influence. We could choose a background that offers us more charismatic skill proficiencies, but the two we get from our sorcerer class are enough to justify a more charismatic background and access to the study of godly languages.

This leaves us with the feats that we choose, and interestingly enough, we don’t need many to make this build run. Normally, spellcasters will try to find some extra spells in their feats so they can have more variety. Since we already have two full spell lists to choose from, we don’t need to worry about that at all. 

We choose the Lucky feat to double down on the divine luck present favored by gods, allowing us to succeed on far more rolls throughout a typical day.

Then, we could be done with feats, but we’ll take Metamagic Adept to give us access to more sorcery points and more metamagic options. This little boost can allow us to cast or augment a lot more spells in a day. Without the need to diversify, we’re given the option to simply focus on what we’re already good at.

I’ve mentioned that you can go a lot of ways for spells, so I will clarify a bit what that looks like. There are three basic categories you’d see in this kind of build: mainly cleric spells, mainly sorcerer spells, and a selective mix of both.

There are almost double the spells available on the sorcerer spell list when compared to the cleric spell list. By the very nature of numbers, this means that clerics are more focused, and that’s apparent. Cleric spells tend to be based on healing, support, or control with a few damage-dealing spells thrown in the mix so that you’re not totally helpless.

On the other hand, sorcerers can go down a lot of different routes on their own. Perhaps the only thing they don’t really venture into is healing. Their support is also very limited.

So, we can end up with a support/healing sorcerer that replaces any of their underwhelming damage moves with more appropriate sorcerer options. We could end up with a control build that really splits the difference between both classes’ lists. Or, we could see a standard damage-dealer with some added capacity for any of the cleric’s specialties.

Fortunately, there’s nothing in the actual subclass’s abilities that forces us down any route. Were we to see a few healing/support features, we’d be basically directed to grab those spells, but we’re not, and so the world is your oyster. Not only has the divine influence given you power beyond your average sorcerer, but it’s also given you the ability to pursue whatever adventuring path you desire.

Favored Soul Unearthed Arcana Review

Alright, you’ve gotten the full analysis of the Favored Soul. Now, it’s time to let you in on a little secret. The Favored Soul was published! Well, sort of. In Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, we received the Divine Soul subclass, a clear derivative of the Favored Soul playtest material that gives us yet another look at how this theme can be approached.

As the final product, this is going to be the most frequently used as not all tables allow for old UA, putting it on the same level as homebrew. 

From Favored to Divine: UA to 5e

So, what changed? Well, a decent amount and not that much all at the same time. What we ended up with was a fusion of the two versions we’ve seen so far. Rather than drop an entire extra subclass (which you can find in our Divine Soul Guide), I’ll just run you through the changes briefly.

We keep the merged cleric/sorcerer spell list as our 1st-level feature with a small bonus of choosing an affinity, which nets us a single extra spell from five options. We also keep Favored by the Gods, which is completely unchanged.

At 6th level, we get an entirely new feature that lets us spend sorcery points to bolster an ally any time they roll dice to heal. This new direction does slightly shift the theme, using a sorcerer feature to access a cleric-like ability. We then return to the winged flight speed at 14th level and keep the ability to regain half our HP maximum at 18th level.

That’s three features from 2017 with minor to no changes, one feature from 2015, and one new feature that attempts to meld the two.

It’s an interesting mix we end up with and one that actually feels less cohesive than 2017 while still being an amazing S-tier subclass that is extremely popular. 

The path that got us here was interesting. We started with more than a concept as the entire Favored Soul was based on the 3e class of the same name. That class was an exceptional spellcaster and martial combatant with its only similarities to the cleric class being the spells they could cast. 

The 2015 UA attempted to reconcile this, but without creating a new class that would feel eerily like a stronger paladin, it wasn’t quite possible. In fact, the incredible overlap between the paladin and the 2015 Favored Soul was likely the reason that so many changes were made. One of the tenets of 5e is to avoid redundancies so that each class and subclass feels special and unique. 

In 2017, we swung in a new direction, leaving martial prowess behind for more focus on the natural abilities present in the sorcerer class. Rather than a martial healer with sorcerous spellcasting, we got a divinely empowered sorcerer. As you can probably tell by those descriptors, this was a much more cohesive build, but it was still found to be lacking.

This was likely because this Favored Soul was better at being a cleric than the cleric was. Sure, some cleric subclasses could rival the 2017 Favored Soul, but most would have trouble keeping up with the amount of synergy and spellcasting that was present.

Our first UA was a bit of a mess with some great ideas, and those ideas were too finely polished in the 2017 version. We needed to nerf this subclass a bit, so a feature was dropped, and we swapped out an interesting social feature for something that reminded us of our sorcerous roots.

Whether or not the nerfing was successful is largely open to interpretation. It’s certainly still an incredible subclass and is largely lauded as one of the best sorcerous origins in 5e. After all, access to two entire spell lists that don’t generally see much overlap is sure to turn some hands and provide the space for incredible builds to arise.

What Could Have Been: The Sacred Soul Sorcerer

The Divine Soul represents certain aspects of the Favored Soul’s design and intent and is an excellent subclass that 5e players can utilize today. I’m still left thinking of all that was left on the cutting floor though, so I want to explore an alternative timeline. Allow me to introduce you to the Sacred Soul.

This sorcerous origin takes the pieces of the Favored Soul that didn’t quite make the cut and gives us something new. Let’s get straight into it, and then I’ll explain my decisions.

Sacred Soul Sorcerer

1st Level: Chosen of the Gods

When you take this subclass, choose one of the cleric class’s divine domains. Whenever that domain would receive their domain spells (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th level), you add those spells to your known spells. These don’t count against the number of spells you know and are considered sorcerer spells to you.

1st Level: Bonus Proficiencies

Your hit-point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 again whenever you gain a level in this class.

6th Level: Divine Protection

You gain resistance against a damage type from the following: radiant, necrotic, fire, lightning, and poison. At 14th and 18th levels, you may choose an additional damage type.

14th Level: Sacred Form 

As an action, you may sprout a pair of spectral wings with an appearance related to the domain you chose at 1st level. While the wings are present, you have a flying speed of 30 feet. The wings last until you’re incapacitated, you die, or you dismiss them as a bonus action.

If you dismiss the wings as a bonus action, you regain a number of hit points equal to half your hit-point maximum. Once you regain hit points in this way, you may not do so again until you finish a long rest.

18th Level: Empowered Dominion

Whenever you cast one of the spells you learned from your Chosen of the Gods class feature, you regain a number of sorcery points equal to half the level of spell slot spent (minimum one). 

I wanted to see a more focused version of the 2015 Favored Soul. Choosing a domain is just such an incredible piece of flavor built into a subclass that I couldn’t see it passed on. Flavor aside, it also feels much more like a sorcerer with some cleric influence rather than a complete mesh of the two classes.

I also enjoy the fact that this template provides you with a clear goal. You want to be focused on your domain spells rather than any old collection of cleric or sorcerer spells. 

The other thing I wanted to focus on was incorporating the flavor of the 3e Favored Soul, which was very martially focused. Fortunately, they had many abilities that helped them survive, something that isn’t specific to martial combatants and which can greatly assist the sorcerer.

This is where the new 6th-level feature comes in, which is more or less a 5e translation of the 3e Favored Souls 5th-level feature. Combined with the increased HP maximum, we have a rather durable sorcerer, but it doesn’t stop there.

I’ve kept the wings that made it all the way from 3e to the Divine Soul, but I put a small twist on them. I’ve also incorporated the regain-half-your-hit-points ability, but it comes at the cost of closing your wings. Wings now take an action to activate, meaning you’d have to use a whole turn to regain hit points, which is a reasonable payoff for pushing such a strong ability up a few levels.

Lastly, I love the incorporation of sorcery points into subclass features. I wanted something that shows how the Sacred Soul is rewarded for devotion to their deity, so regaining sorcery points made perfect sense. This isn’t enough to produce infinite spell slots, but it’s enough to keep them augmenting their spells as long as they’re focusing on their domain.

Altogether, this might be a bit unbalanced, but that’s where you come in. Playtest it, and see if it meets the standard of your table. I know that its design doesn’t conflict with 5e’s principles, which is more than I can say for the Divine Soul. 

Instead of a cleric-sorcerer hybrid, I’ve created a sorcerous origin rooted in a connection between a mortal and a specific deity. I personally believe this gives a lot more guidance for both roleplay and combat, making it a character that I’d really like to see in action.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this deep dive into unearthed arcana material. If you did, be sure to tell your friends so that we can get more views on this page and do more of this kind of thing. As always, happy adventuring.

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