Tal'Dorei Reborn Subclass Reviews

Tal’Dorei Reborn Subclasses Reviewed & Analyzed: D&D 5e

Tal’Dorei Reborn subclass reviews featured image is Voldaren Bloodcaster – Fanart by alexvnart.
This article contains affiliate links that add gold to our coffers.

I recently took a chance on the Tal’Dorei Reborn book, and it impressed me with its content. The book caught my interest because I was interested in getting into Critical Role lore, but I also enjoy reading about unofficial subclasses that have been created by skilled writers. I read through them and put them under the microscope to help other players who are interested in Critical Role player character options.

These subclasses are found in Critical Role’s Tal’Dorei Reborn book for a D&D 5e campaign setting and lore companion to the official setting of Critical Role! It’s now available on Amazon.

Rating Tal’Dorei Reborn Subclasses

Let me explain my philosophies for what I’m looking for in a subclass. I enjoy subclasses that don’t retread what other subclasses can do mechanically or thematically, so they should feel unique and innovative. Any subclass that amplifies a game mechanic, especially one that is underutilized, immediately improves its worth in my eyes. If a subclass theme excites me with new ideas for a character, that’s indicative of a worthwhile subclass.

I’m going to rate each subclass against other subclasses of their respective classes, while also considering how they measure up to the other Tal’Dorei subclasses.

My ratings tend to focus on five points:

  • Innovation
  • Thorough, mindful game design
  • Ease of use
  • Thematic richness
  • Usefulness

You can skip ahead to a particular subclass by clicking it here:

You can also watch/save this YouTube playlist below of all our Critical Role videos (including the Tal’Dorei Reborn subclasses when they’re all released).

Path of the Juggernaut Barbarian

My rating: 5/5

I settled on a rating of four because the Juggernaut leans into game mechanics that are less used and makes them more viable. The Juggernaut is unusually dependent on team composition to really shine, but in the hands of an experienced group of players, this is not a problem. Allow me to explain why this Juggernaut Barbarian, in my eyes, is a brilliant game design.

The Juggernaut Barbarian is effectively the best Barbarian for maintaining a position and interfering with enemy positioning. It’s a subclass that can feel like something of a battlefield commander or warlord. This subclass’ details impressed me, though it’s easy to feel underwhelmed by the subclass if focusing on individual features.

Juggernaut Barbarian Subclass Features

  • Level 3:
    • Thunderous Blows – Your melee attacks while raging push enemies five feet (ten feet at level ten), though monsters Huge or larger can make a Strength saving throw to avoid being pushed. You choose the direction.
    • Spirit of the Mountain – While raging, you can’t be knocked prone or moved along the ground against your will.
  • Level 6
    • Demolishing Might – You deal double damage to objects and structures, and your weapon attacks dish out another 1d8 to constructs.
    • Resolute Stance – You may choose to form a defensive stance at the beginning of each of your turns in combat that lasts until your next turn starts. The stance makes you immune to being grappled, and attacks have disadvantage to hit you. As a downside, your weapon attacks are made with disadvantage while you are in the defensive stance.
  • Level 10
    • Hurricane Strike – Use a reaction to potentially force an enemy prone (Strength save) when you push the enemy five feet as you leap next to them. Also, allies can also choose to react and make an attack against enemies you push within five feet of the allies (no matter how you push them).
    • At level ten, Thunderous Blows (level-three feature) improves to a ten-foot push.
  • Level 14
    • Unstoppable – Rage makes you immune to speed reduction and the following conditions: frightened, paralyzed, prone, and stunned. If you suffer from frightened, paralyzed, or stunned conditions while not raging, you can still use a bonus action to enter rage (effectively suspending the conditions until your rage ends).

My Notes on the Juggernaut Barbarian Tal’Dorei Subclass

The Thunderous Blows feature allows you to push a creature away from you in a direction you choose. This is unique to most push abilities. Push effects usually push in one direction away from you. The Thunderous Blows feature allows you to choose the direction you’re pushing them away. Cool!

At level ten, your Thunderous Blows can knock enemies ten feet in the air to make them take fall damage and fall prone. You pick the direction you push enemies, so you can choose to knock them skyward. That’s super fun! Ten feet is the threshold for taking fall damage, so your attacks will effectively deal 1d6 additional damage while knocking the enemy prone (see Xanathar’s Guide to Everything for that rule).

Spirit of the Mountain will prevent you from falling prone out of the sky if you’re a flying race. A flying race’s weakness is being knocked prone (without hover flying). It can be a death sentence. The Juggernaut is perfect for flying-race Barbarians.

This subclass is superb for teamwork and pushing enemies into disadvantageous positions. It can also maintain its own position and utterly crush objects and fortifications. It’s highly dependent on allies who capitalize on reaction attacks or enemies being pushed around. Playing in a campaign that requires PCs to destroy property and fight constructs will also make this subclass feel satisfying to play, but I can’t guarantee that kind of satisfaction in all campaigns. I love the idea of this subclass specializing in destroying objects and fortifications, not just creatures.

Hurricane Strike’s leap reaction reminds me of Dragonball Z, knocking an opponent across the battlefield only to be right there again in an unrelenting flurry. This is a nice touch to an already interesting subclass. It’s the kind of move I picture myself executing, but I don’t always have the movement or the freedom from opportunity attacks to do it; the Juggernaut takes care of that problem so I can feel like Goku.

The Resolute Stance feature is interesting because you can effectively get a free Dodge action at the start of your turn if you’re willing to hinder your offenses. I say it’s interesting because you can also choose to use Reckless Attack to attack normally then and make enemies unable to attack you with advantage. This is because single instances of advantage and disadvantage cancel one another out by RAW, and additional instances don’t stack. In other words, if an enemy has three reasons to attack you with advantage and one reason with disadvantage, it will attack you normally. This means Resolute Stance + Reckless Attack effectively gives you the level-18 Rogue feature, Elusive!

It’s unclear to me whether Resolute Stance allows you to break out of a grapple you’re already in automatically. I don’t know if it prevents new grapples or removes current ones. Ask your DM how they’ll handle it.

Speaking of Rogues, they will love working with a Juggernaut Barbarian. Hurricane Strike allows an allied Rogue to use Sneak Attack again as a reaction since they can use Sneak Attack once per turn (not per round).

Unstoppable is a feature that feels like it would’ve belonged to the Berserker Barbarian if it had been designed to resist more than charms and fright effects. Additionally, I appreciate that this subclass feels like an homage to the Juggernaut character from the X-Men comic books, a character known for being unstoppable. I’m not sure why you become immune to being prone when Spirit of the Mountain already makes you unable to be knocked prone while raging; additionally, I don’t know how this interacts with the prone condition if you are already prone when you start your Rage.

Juggernaut subclass features also play nice with some of the best Barbarian feats (Polearm Master, Great Weapon Master, Sentinel) while stacking with others (Crusher, Charger, Shield Master). I appreciate it when a subclass doesn’t directly disincentivize a player from choosing proven-effective feats while still encouraging a player to select less-picked feats.

College of Tragedy Bard

My rating: 4/5

The flavor and roleplaying of this subclass write themselves. It’s so useful, unique, and fun! Like the Juggernaut Barbarian, I believe this Tragedy Bard subclass rewards experienced players who can navigate its nuances. It will feel strange to celebrate rolling ones!

Tragedy Bard Subclass Features

  • Level 3:
    • Poetry in Misery – When your allies roll 1s on attacks/saves/checks, you regain one use of Bardic Inspiration.
    • Sorrowful Fate – Expend a use of Bardic Inspiration to change a saving throw type to a Charisma saving throw and potentially deal psychic damage and force the creature to wax poetic when it dies. You can do this once per short/long rest.
  • Level 6
    • Tale of Hubris – For a reaction and use of Bardic Inspiration, you punish an enemy for scoring a critical hit by making attacks crit easier on the target (ends when they’re hit with a crit).
    • Impending Misfortune – Get +10 to an attack or saving throw, followed by -10 to the next one (unless you rest first). You can use this again after you rest or reach zero hit points.
  • Level 14
    • Nimbus of Pathos – Use your action to give a willing creature benefits and drawbacks for one minute: +4 AC, advantage on attacks, advantage on saving throws, weapon/spell attacks deal extra 1d10 radiant damage, (drawback) attacks against the creature crit on 18-20. When the effect ends, the creature drops to zero hit points and starts dying.
    • The crit range of Tale of Hubris improves to 17-20.

My Notes on the Tragedy Bard Tal’Dorei Subclass

Poetry in Misery is interesting because you could potentially regain Bardic Inspiration at an unintended rate. If your DM uses skill checks often, especially group checks, your party might roll 1s for you to regain your resources.

Charisma saving throws are often a weakness for creatures. Changing a saving throw to a Charisma save can dramatically increase your ally’s chance of success in casting a spell. The psychic damage can potentially mess up some spells that end when a target takes damage, so be careful. It can be fun to make the DM improvise dramatic final words/motions from a creature.

Punishing enemies who crit is unique to the game. I love that! Your party’s Paladin or Rogue will want to rush that target as they suffer Tale of Hubris. You can enjoy roleplaying this feature so much.

Gaining +10 to an attack or saving throw is impressive with Impending Misfortune. You might be able to avoid the downside of the -10 completely, or it might not matter as much as the +10 you needed. For example, your next attack might be to deal very little damage that wouldn’t have been impactful. In other words, you should try to make an attack ASAP to get the -10 out of the way! It’s a nice touch to allow Impending Misfortune to refresh when you reach zero hit points.

Nimbus of Pathos is my least favorite part of this subclass. I’m not saying it’s bad, but I really like the front-loaded features. Nimbus of Pathos might be best to use on an ally whose hit points are already low since the effects might give them longevity in combat, and they won’t lose too many hit points when they drop to zero hit points after one minute. It’s a great feature to use in a final boss fight where you don’t anticipate additional combat afterward. I highly recommend using Nimbus of Pathos on an ally who uses Eldritch Blast since each blast will deal more damage and ranged attacks will keep them out of trouble (to avoid getting crit easier). You should probably give them a Death Ward first, somehow.

Blood Domain Cleric

My rating: 4/5

This subclass reminds me of the Death Cleric in some ways. It can use martial weapons and augment damage with necrotic damage. The abilities are pretty diverse, so it’s not dependent on synergy. To some players, the Blood Cleric might feel like it doesn’t know what it wants to be, trying to do too many things. I have a bias toward paralysis effects and mind control, so I enjoy this subclass design.

Blood Cleric Subclass Features

Domain spells by level (all of these are unique to Clerics except for Hold Person):

1st – False Life, Sleep
3rd – Hold Person, Ray of Enfeeblement
5th – Haste, Slow
7th – Blight, Stoneskin
9th – Dominate Person, Hold Monster

  • Level 1:
    • Bonus Proficiencies – Become proficient with martial weapons.
    • Bloodletting Focus – Extra necrotic damage (2+spell level) when dealing damage with instantaneous-duration leveled spells to creatures who possess blood.
  • Level 2
    • Channel Divinity: Crimson Bond – Spy on a creature you see or for whom you possess blood while you concentrate for up to an hour. You learn the target’s approximate location within ten miles, hit points, and conditions affecting it when you use an action to do so. You can intensify the bond by taking 2d6 necrotic damage to see through their senses, though they can make a Constitution saving throw to resist. They remain unaware of the ability when they make the saving throw, but they may feel uneasy.
  • Level 6
    • Channel Divinity: Blood Puppet – Target a creature or corpse that has blood so you can control/animate it while you concentrate for one minute.
    • Sanguine Recall – Suffer necrotic damage to regain spell slots (1d8 necrotic per level of a spell slot) with a combined level not exceeding half your Cleric level (rounded up). You can do this once per long rest.
  • Level 8
    • Divine Strike – Extra 1d8 necrotic damage with an attack each turn.
  • Level 14
    • Divine Strike improves to 2d8.
  • Level 17
    • Vascular Corruption Aura – Activated with an action, you deal damage and reduce healing to hostile creatures within 30 feet of you for one minute.
    • Blood Puppet can target creatures up to size Huge.

My Notes on the Blood Cleric Tal’Dorei Subclass

The domain spell list is full of spells that Clerics can’t normally cast. Some are better than others, but I love domain spells that aren’t already Cleric spells. I also have a bias toward enchantment spells, so I enjoy these domain spells.

The first feature, Bloodletting Focus, could use clarification. Does it only deal extra damage once per casting of the spell, or can it empower a spell’s damage beyond the moment of casting? I believe Bloodletting Focus uses a modern 5e design, working once per spell and only when it’s cast. It’s up to you if you want to interpret it differently. You’ll also need to decide if Magic Missile has each missile empowered with more damage, or if it only works once per target. If you allow each missile to receive bonus damage, upcasting Magic Missile will be nuts. Magic Missile would require a feat or multiclass to get for a Blood Cleric. Here’s a Jeremy Crawford tweet to give you a headache.

Sanguine Recall is rightfully limited to once per long rest. If it wasn’t, you could keep gambling hitpoint loss against gaining spell slots to heal up. However, you can greatly mitigate the damage you take from Sanguine Recall if your party has a way to give you a substantial amount of temporary hit points. You’ll suffer an average of 4.5 damage per level of spell slots you wish to regain. This means you can effectively use Healing Potions to greater effect since they can function like a Pearl of Power magic item to help you regain spell slots.

The Channel Divinity options are pretty interesting. Marking a creature with Crimson Bond so you can spy on them is fine. Blood Puppet will likely get more players’ attention; animating a corpse or controlling someone is neat. Some spells can achieve the same result. In other words, you can gain a temporary undead minion that is better than Animate Dead, and you can control a person three levels earlier than when you learn Dominate Person. You can also control a non-humanoid to effectively gain control similar to Dominate Monster at sixth level!

Vascular Corruption Aura would be a great ability for a villainous monster. I’m not sure it’ll be useful often for player characters. I like that the design of the feature involves denying healing to enemies, so I applaud the innovation.

Moon Domain Cleric

My rating: 3/5

The Moon Domain plays with interesting game mechanics without going too far. However, some of the intended synergies are underwhelming. It’s not a weak subclass, and it doesn’t work against you, but I believe it could’ve leaned harder into its synergies. Similar to the Blood Domain, this subclass tries to be too many things at once, but the Moon Domain tried to establish more synergies between its features. I applaud the innovation, but it could’ve been better. I’ll explain below.

Moon Cleric Subclass Features

Domain spells by level (all of these spells are not usually available to Clerics):

1st – Faerie Fire, Silent Image
3rd – Invisibility, Moonbeam
5th – Hypnotic Pattern, Major Image
7th – Greater Invisibility, Hallucinatory Terrain
9th – Dream, Passwall

  • Level 1:
    • Clarity of Catha – Give an ally advantage on a Wisdom saving throw as a reaction.
  • Level 2
    • Channel Divinity: Blessing of the Full Moon – Give one of two blessings (Watchful or Blood-Drenched) to a creature within 30 feet.
      • Blessing of the Watchful Moon: For one hour, +10 movement speed and advantage on Wisdom Perception and Wisdom Survival checks to track a creature or involving smell.
      • Blessing of the Blood-Drenched Moon: For ten minutes, advantage on attacks when a capable ally is within five feet of the target. This is basically the Pack Tactics feature that some monsters get.
  • Level 6
    • Channel Divinity: Mind of Two Moons – Concentrate on two spells at once, but both spells must be on this subclass’ domain spell list (see above). Concentration saving throws to maintain both spells at once are made with disadvantage. Roll a single concentration save for both spells together, and failure results in losing concentration on both spells.
  • Level 8
    • Empowered Cantrips – Add Wisdom modifier to cantrip damage.
  • Level 17
    • Eclipse of Ill Omen – Bonus action to create reddish, dim light in a 60-foot radius with you at its center. Creatures in the area of dim light have disadvantage on saving throws unless you exempt them from the disadvantage. You must concentrate on this effect, which can last up to one minute. Concentrating on this effect is compatible with Channel Divinity: Mind of Two Moons. Once per turn, you can curse a creature within the area of dim light when you deal radiant damage to it. The curse lasts the duration of the Eclipse of Ill Omen. A cursed creature cannot regain hit points, and its speed is halved.

My Notes on the Moon Cleric Tal’Dorei Subclass

Mind of Two Moons uses the coveted mechanic of concentrating on two spells at once. Ever since I started playing D&D 5e, players have been working with DMs to gain ways to concentrate on multiple spells. This feature is innovative in that it limits the spells that can simultaneously use concentration.

How useful is Mind of Two Moons, though? Faerie Fire, Silent Image, Hypnotic Pattern, Major Image, Invisibility, and Greater Invisibility are compatible. Invisibility needs to be the second spell cast, or the spell’s description will end it when the second spell is cast. You can be invisible while you use illusion spells, but you might reveal your presence when you use verbal components. Overall, the synergies of these spells that can share concentration are unimpressive to me. After all, it’s risky to concentrate on two spells in this way since concentration rolls have disadvantage. Maybe you’ll have fun being invisible while creating an illusion of yourself to distract enemies.

I suspect this subclass is meant to use Moonbeam to greater effect, and I can respect that, but Moonbeam is often not great, and this subclass doesn’t do enough to enhance it. By the way, you could choose to concentrate on the same spell twice, so maybe this subclass is intended to use two Moonbeams at once (I’m not sure). Remember, overlapping Moonbeams does nothing for you since the same spell/effect doesn’t stack in D&D 5e. If this subclass wants to use Moonbeams better than other characters, it needs an option to move one or both Moonbeams as a bonus action instead of an action.

Regarding double Moonbeam, remember two of the same spell can’t stack on each other. You can’t drop two Moonbeams on the same creature and expect two damage rolls. You’ll deal damage once. This is how spellcasting (and any ability) works when you try to stack multiple things with the same name.

Bolstering Wisdom saves is good, but I don’t know that it’s enticing for players beyond maybe dipping a level into this subclass for an optimization build that needs better Wisdom saves.

The two Blessing of the Moon options are actually pretty good. Watchful Moon is good for dungeon delving and exploring. Giving an ally advantage on attacks (essentially Pack Tactics) can be incredible. It’s not the flashiest Channel Divinity ever, but it’s fundamentally solid.

Eclipse of Ill Omen can synergize with Moonbeam’s radiant damage to curse enemies. The eclipse will force disadvantage on Moonbeam’s saving throw, so it’s more likely to deal full damage. Eclipse of Ill Omen comes at level seventeen, so upcasting Moonbeam to be much higher than second level is possible. The curse reduces their speed, so it’s easier to move Moonbeam to hit them. My problem with this is that it ends up being pretty similar to just using Spirit Guardians (since it similarly deals radiant damage and halves speed).

Circle of the Blighted Druid

My rating: 3/5

The Blighted Druid subclass is certainly unique. I believe it scratches an itch that the Spores Druid didn’t fully satisfy, but I’m not sure that the Blighted Druid is much better. I’d especially look forward to level ten because the features prior to that don’t amaze me. Let’s review each feature for the Blighted Druid.

Blighted Druid Subclass Features

  • Level 2:
    • Defile Ground – Bonus action to corrupt a 10-foot radius of water or land for one minute. It’s difficult terrain for your enemies, and every creature within the area (seemingly includes allies) takes 1d4 extra damage once per turn when damaged by an attack or spell. Move the area as a bonus action up to 30 feet.
    • Blighted Shape – Gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill. When transformed by Wild Shape, gain +2 AC, 60-foot darkvision (or additional 60 feet of darkvision if the form has darkvision already).
  • Level 6
    • Call of Shadowseeds – Creatures who are not undead or constructs can trigger your reaction when they take damage within your Defile Ground area. Doing so allows you to summon a blighted sapling next to them, which immediately attacks them if you choose. Blighted saplings act on your initiative obeying your spoken commands after being summoned. The blighted sapling remains until it’s reduced to zero hit points, you summon another blighted sapling, or you finish a long rest. The book includes stats for the blighted sapling.
  • Level 10
    • Foul Conjuration – When you summon a beast, fey, or plant, it gains two new traits:
      • Blighted Resilience: immunity to poison and necrotic damage and the poisoned condition.
      • Toxic Demise: When reduced to zero hit points, the creature explodes with necrotic damage to nearby creatures who fail a Constitution saving throw. The damage varies by the challenge ratings of the summoned creatures (table of damage provided in the book). You can use an action to blow up one of the summons.
    • Defile Ground area increases to a 20-foot radius with 1d6 damage.
  • Level 14
    • Incarnation of Corruption – Aesthetic changes, necrotic damage resistance, and +2 AC. While in your Defile Ground area, you may use a bonus action to gain temporary hit points equal to your PB.
    • Defile Ground damage increases to 1d8.
    • Blighted sapling gains Multiattack (two attacks).

My Notes on the Blighted Druid Tal’Dorei Subclass

The way Defile Ground’s damage is worded would mean spell-like effects (not technically spells) would not deal extra damage. I doubt that nuance is intended. Interestingly, the damage enhancement harms allies and enemies alike. Flying creatures being immune is logical. This feature would be bad in the action economy if it used an action, so I commend the designer’s choice to make it a bonus action. I also appreciate how it scales at later levels.

I was worried about how Conjure Animals would interact with Defile Ground. My concern was that each summoned beast would have its own turn, so each beast could add damage to an attack on each turn in the defiled area. However, I re-read Conjure Animals and confirmed that it says the summoned beasts are treated as a group, so they all act on a single turn together. Since they don’t each get a turn, they can’t abuse Defile Ground’s damage boost.

Toxic Demise is a cool way to punish enemies that destroy your summons. It’s noteworthy that Toxic Demise won’t trigger if the spell ends, at which point the summons disappear without their hit points changing. I would’ve raised an eyebrow if all the summons automatically exploded when the spell ended.

Call of Shadowseeds is weak on its own, but I detect potential shenanigans. One of the first details I noticed is that blighted saplings are plants (duh), so they synergize later with Foul Conjuration. I suddenly wish this subclass could add Cloudkill to its spell list, but Druids don’t normally learn it. This would’ve been cool because blighted saplings become immune to the poison damage with Foul Conjuration; additionally, they have blindsight, so blighted saplings can fight advantageously in a poisonous cloud. Regardless, Toxic Demise makes an explosive punishment for enemies who choose to slay your teenage Groots.

By the way, Toxic Demise’s damage table for exploding summons has specific rules for creatures with no challenge rating. This is important for summoning spells from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything where the summoned creature has no CR. As for your blighted sapling, its CR scales with your PB.

At level fourteen, your Wild Shape receives +4 AC by stacking Blighted Shape and Incarnation of Corruption. It makes sense that Incarnation of Corruption would give you resistance to necrotic damage because you are the embodiment of blighted earth and water, and you definitely dish out necrotic damage.

Way of the Cobalt Soul Monk

My rating: 2/5

Marisha on Critical Role famously played this subclass in campaign 2. Despite that, this subclass is underwhelming. Its synergies are weak or non-existent. I think I’d rather play a Sun Soul Monk…

Cobalt Soul Subclass Features

  • Level 3:
    • Extract Aspects – Analyze creatures you strike with your Flurry of Blows (Monk feature). You can use a reaction to attack an Analyzed enemy with an unarmed strike when it misses you with an attack (assuming you’re within reach). You learn the following details about Analyzed creatures: damage vulnerabilities, damage resistances, damage immunities, and condition immunities.
  • Level 6
    • Extort Truth – Spend 1 ki point when you hit a creature with an unarmed strike (or touch it), so the creature makes a Charisma saving throw. Failure on the save means the creature can’t deliberately lie and Charisma checks directed at the creature are made with advantage for ten minutes. You know if the creature succeeds its saving throw. The creature knows about the effect, so it can still speak evasively when questioned.
    • Mystical Erudition – Learn a language. Gain proficiency in one of the Intelligence skills. You potentially get x2 proficiency bonus if you already knew the chosen skill.
  • Level 11
    • Mind of Mercury – Spend 1 ki point to gain an extra reaction once per turn.
    • Gain another language and skill from Mystical Erudition.
  • Level 17
    • Debilitating Barrage – Spend 3 ki points when you hit an enemy with an unarmed strike to give it vulnerability to a damage type or suspend its resistance to a damage type for one minute (wording unclear if it’s meant to last until the next instance of that damage).
    • Gain another language and skill from Mystical Erudition.

My Notes on the Cobalt Soul Monk Tal’Dorei Subclass

Extract Aspects gives you information about a creature once before it stops being helpful. Damage resistances and such often reveal themselves quickly without needing a feature to do so. It’s cool that you can retaliate with a reaction against an Analyzed enemy, but this clashes with the Monk’s striker style. Don’t let this feature trick you into thinking you’re a front-line tank! Thank the stars this doesn’t cost ki points.

Extort Truth is effectively the second-level spell Zone of Truth. In other words, this feature is late and it is bad!

Mystical Erudition is fine because it allows you to gain more skills and turn them into x2 PB (essentially Expertise), but this is nothing to aspire to at the levels it grants them. You can grapple worthily, but that’s not what Monks do best.

The Mind of Mercury feature synergizes with Extract Aspects to gain more reaction attacks, but good luck making that work for your Monk. You’ll drain your ki points really fast if you want mileage out of this combination.

I cannot decipher how Debilitating Barrage functions. Does it last for one minute or until the end of the first turn that it vulnerably suffers damage to the chosen damage type? It’s cool to suspend resistance if you can capitalize on it, but that’s not as important. Giving a creature vulnerability is going to make that creature die very quickly if your party can lay on that damage. You’ll probably choose bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage so your martial allies can capitalize on the vulnerability.

If you coordinate Debilitating Barrage with your party, the entire party could Ready action their attacks of the same damage type, so they all deal damage during a single turn of combat. While it could be epic, it may not be likely that your entire party can all deal the same damage type. Martial types would struggle since they’d be giving up Extra Attack.

Oath of the Open Sea Paladin

My rating: 5/5

The Open Sea Paladin design is impressive. Its features have subtle synergies while remixing mechanics that exist in the game already to re-flavor and (in my opinion) improve them. I don’t think Travis did this subclass justice when Fjord multiclassed in Critical Role campaign two. This subclass is actually really cool and innovative.

Open Sea Paladin Subclass Features

Oath spells by level (all of these spells are not usually available to Paladins):

1st – Create or Destroy Water, Expeditious Retreat
3rd – Augury, Misty Step
5th – Call Lightning, Freedom of the Waves (homebrew spell)
7th – Control Water, Freedom of Movement
9th – Commune with Nature, Freedom of the Winds (homebrew spell)

  • Level 3:
    • Channel Divinity: Marine Layer – Summon a layer of fog that emanates twenty feet from you to obscure the area. You and allies within five feet of you treat the heavily obscured area as if it’s lightly obscured. Lasts ten minutes and cannot be dispersed early without you choosing to do so.
    • Channel Divinity: Fury of the Tides – Activate as a bonus action to augment your attacks once per turn for one minute to push a target ten feet. The target of your push attack suffers bludgeoning damage equal to your Charisma modifier if it strikes an obstacle or creature when pushed in this way.
  • Level 7
    • Aura of Liberation – Your ten-foot aura makes allies unable to be grappled or restrained. If already grappled or restrained, they can use five feet of movement to escape non-from magical restraints. The aura also removes underwater penalties to movement and attacks. Aura radius becomes 30 feet at level 18 as usual for a Paladin.
  • Level 15
    • Stormy Waters – As a reaction, enemies entering or withdrawing from your reach suffer 1d12 bludgeoning damage and must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
  • Level 20
    • Mythic Swashbuckler – The usual Paladin transformation feature. Use your action to transform and gain the following benefits:
      • Athletics advantage
      • Climbing speed gained or enhanced
      • Advantage to attack isolated creatures
      • Dash or Disengage as a bonus action
      • Advantage on Dex checks and saves when you can see

My Notes on the Open Sea Paladin Tal’Dorei Subclass

These oath spells are unique to Paladins, which I always love to see. Not only that, but this subclass has custom homebrew spells on its spell list. They’re pretty cool spells, too. They have unique effects that couple with teleportation and flight. I’m impressed with the spell design here.

Channel Divinity: Marine Layer is similar to the classic combination of the Devil’s Sight invocation and the Darkness spell, but this doesn’t require concentration or multiple resources. Notably, enemies with Devil’s Sight won’t be able to function in this fog layer if they’re not allies next to you. Unlike the Darkness/Devil’s Sight combo, this feature has a built-in teamwork function to allow allies to see. Limiting a spellcaster’s sight can severely hinder their spellcasting since spells often require line of sight. Enemies and allies alike won’t be able to see around the fog, so it hinders ranged attacks from outside the area.

Enemies inside Marine Layer’s heavy obscurement attack with disadvantage as they’re effectively blinded. The duration is also long enough to prep it for combat or out-of-combat utility. Marine Layer can function like Pack Tactics for your allies if they can stay close to you and attack enemies. Allies with ranged attacks will do the best in Marine Layer’s fog if they’re near you. Counterspells won’t be effective against your allied spellcasters since enemies won’t be able to see them.

Channel Divinity: Fury of the Tides is ok. I’d rather use the obscurement perks of Marine Layer. I don’t believe Fury of the Tides’ forced movement synergizes with Stormy Water, but that would be an improvement if it did. It pushes enemies away to possibly be harmed by Stormy Waters if they need to move next to you to attack. Fury of the Tides is also once per turn, so it can be used with opportunity attacks. I smell a Polearm Master build in there somewhere.

Aura of Liberation will be useful more often than it seems. Even outside of water, many nasty monsters have grapple and restrain effects that pair with their attacks (vampires, for example). I like that this aura removes movement and attack penalties underwater, but especially the attacks part. If you don’t have a swim speed, some Paladin weapons wouldn’t work so well underwater. This aura helps you and your nearby allies in that regard. I’m not certain, but this aura might be better than having a swim speed.

Stormy Waters is an interesting ability. The damage averages at 6.5, which is not much, but it’s automatic. Potentially knocking a fleeing enemy prone could be really good because that will limit their movement and possibly foil their plans. I don’t believe Stormy Waters synergizes with forced movement from Channel Divinity: Fury of the Tides. I actually think this feature would be better and still balanced if it didn’t require your reaction. It’s underwhelming as a reaction that takes an entire subclass feature slot.

Mythic Swashbuckler is loaded with buffs, which is good because they’re individually underwhelming for a level-twenty feature. Collectively, they paint a picture of a character who becomes incredibly mobile and difficult to lockdown. It’s not a bad transformation, but it lacks some of the ‘wow’ factors that other Paladin Oaths possess at level twenty.

Runechild Sorcerer

My rating: 5/5

This is an incredible subclass that is on par with the modern D&D 5e subclass design philosophies for Sorcerers. It keeps pace with the Sorcerous Origins from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. I applaud this subclass for being interesting, thematic, and useful without taking anything too far. I consider this subclass to be perfect for experienced players who enjoy rationing their resources (Sorcery Points, charged runes, uses per adventuring day, and spell slots).

Runechild Sorcerer Subclass Features

Runic spells by level (excluding Telekinesis, these spells are not usually available to Sorcerers):

1st – Longstrider, Protection from Evil and Good
3rd – Lesser Restoration, Protection from Poison
5th – Glyph of Warding, Magic Circle
7th – Death Ward, Freedom of Movement
9th – Greater Restoration, Telekinesis

  • Level 1:
    • Essence Runes – Using Sorcery Points will activate your runes (charged runes). Five active runes make you glow. Charges last until used or until you long rest.
    • Runic Magic – Gain spells that can be swapped out for transmutation or abjuration spells from the Warlock, Wizard, or Sorcerer spell lists.
    • Glyph of Aegis – Use charged runes as a reaction to reduce incoming damage. Upgrades later.
  • Level 6
    • Manifest Inscriptions – Expend a charged rune to gain a sense for detecting hidden magical glyphs, wards and more. You also augment your Arcana checks to discern and read them. Lasts one minute.
    • Sigilic Augmentation – Expend a charged rune as a reaction to gain advantage on a Dex-Str-Con ability check or saving throw. If you use it on a saving throw, you can only use this feature in that way once per long rest. The ability check part of the feature is not rest-limited.
    • Glyph of Aegis can be used on allies.
  • Level 14
    • Runic Torrent – Expend two charged runes when you cast a spell to change the spell’s damage type (if any) to force damage. The spell also knocks enemies prone or knocks them 15 feet from the spell’s point of origin (your choice). You can do this once per short/long rest.
  • Level 18
    • Arcane Exemplar – Use a bonus action and expend a charged rune to transform into pure magical energy until the end of your next turn. You can perpetuate the transformation by expending another charged rune at the end of your turn (no action required) to extend the duration to the end of your next turn. You become stunned for one round when the transformation ends. Arcane Exemplar can be used once per long rest. While transformed, you gain the following perks:
      • Fly speed 60 feet
      • Creatures have disadvantage against your Sorcerer spells
      • You resist spell damage
      • You regain hit points equal to the level of any spell you cast
    • Glyph of Aegis dice become d8s.

My Notes on the Runechild Sorcerer Tal’Dorei Subclass

The Runic Spells list isn’t impressive, to be honest, but I like how most of the spells are unique to Sorcerers (and fit the theme). Additionally, they can be swapped out, adding to the versatility of the Sorcerer with this subclass. It’s noteworthy that the Runechild can swap to get Armor of Agathys to upcast it as a full spellcaster (and make it force damage later). Armor of Agathys pairs well with Glyph of Aegis. I’d consider swapping out Longstrider first.

The Essence Runes are an interesting way to incentivize the use of Sorcery Points. I think more Sorcerer subclasses should emulate this design. The added bonus of glowing is a nice touch. This feature also makes this subclass exceptionally synergistic with the popular Coffee-lock build, a Sorcerer/Warlock multiclass concept that focuses on Pact Magic and short rests to fuel Sorcery Points.

Glyph of Aegis is a useful tool that reminds me of the Abjuration Wizard’s Arcane Ward. It’s not the most reliable way to reduce damage, but it’s pretty much a freebie since you’re rewarded for casting spells. This feature also reminds me of the Clockwork Soul Sorcerer’s Bastion of Law feature. Still, I believe Glyph of Aegis is superior because it rewards you for using Sorcery points instead of making you choose between spellcasting and Bastion of Law with Sorcery Points.

Sigilic Augmentation will probably be most useful for Constitution saving throws to maintain concentration. Dexterity saving throws are common, too. However, Sigilic Augmentation can also be used for Dexterity ability checks, and that includes Initiative rolls. I recommend keeping at least one charged rune between combat encounters so you can roll your Initiative with advantage. This feature is an excellent tool for a spellcaster looking to control the battlefield.

Manifest Inscriptions is essentially a ribbon feature. It’ll be nice for exploration since you can probably skip the concentration spell Detect Magic to pick better spells (though Detect Magic lasts longer and is a ritual). The ability to detect wards, glyphs, and other magical features is very thematic for this subclass.

Runic Torrent is a fantastic way to augment spellcasting at high levels. Fireball’s damage output has become less relevant at level fourteen. Still, now you can alter it to be a proper blast that knocks enemies around and doesn’t worry about fire resistance (making it great for underwater). Even non-damage spells can knock enemies around; Hypnotic Pattern, for example, could knock enemies prone in addition to incapacitating them (or knock them off a cliff while they can’t cast Feather Fall). The Strength saving throw is also separate from the spell’s natural saving throw. You can only use Runic Torrent once per long rest, but it’s a massive boost to a single spell that may already be augmented by Metamagic.

Arcane Exemplar is worth eighteen levels of Sorcerer and I love the risky nature of its design. The benefits of having Arcane Exemplar active are incredible for a spellcaster, but you must weigh the pros and cons of when to use it to get the most out of it and avoid becoming stunned before a fight concludes.

Blood Magic Wizard

My rating: 2.8/5

The Blood Magic Wizard’s subclass design tried to have some fun, but it ultimately falls short with me. Not enough synergy, too much deviation from the Wizard’s playstyle without enough rewards, and missed opportunities. It can actually get your character killed to use its abilities if you’re not careful. New players should certainly steer clear of this one. However, there are some fun details to the Blood Magic Wizard.

Blood Magic Wizard Subclass Features

  • Level 2:
    • Blood Channeling – Your body becomes an arcane focus when you are missing hit points. Additionally, you can forego costly material components by taking 1d10 necrotic damage per 50 gp cost you ignore (damage can’t be reduced).
    • Sanguine Burst – When casting a leveled spell, you can choose to suffer necrotic damage equal to the spell’s level to reroll a number of the spell’s damage dice equal to your Intelligence modifier.
  • Level 6
    • Bond of Mutual Suffering – Use a reaction (once per short/long rest) when a creature you can see harms you with an attack, causing them to suffer damage equal to half the damage they dealt to you. It can’t be used against undead or constructs.
  • Level 10
    • Glyph of Hemorrhaging – You may curse a creature for one minute when you damage it with a spell. A cursed target suffers an extra 1d6 necrotic damage from attacks. The creature can make a Constitution saving throw at the end of its turns to end the curse. You can curse a creature once per short/long rest, and it doesn’t work on undead or constructs.
  • Level 14
    • Thicker than Water – Spells and magical effects heal you an extra amount equal to your proficiency bonus. You resist bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical attacks while you concentrate on a spell.
    • Bond of Mutual Suffering can be used twice per rest.

My Notes on the Blood Magic Wizard Tal’Dorei Subclass

Blood Channeling is interesting in that it can free up your hands for spellcasting while holding other things, such as a shield, staff, or other useful items. It’s thematic to make this dependent on hit points. Taking necrotic damage to replace gold costs for components is pretty cool. However, it’s unclear whether you can do this partially (for example, taking 1d10 damage to reduce a 300 gp cost to 250 gp), or if you must replace the entire component by taking damage. I believe this would be particularly useful for preparing Glyph of Warding and other costly spells when you’re not in the heat of combat, and you expect to have time for recuperation.

Sanguine Burst is a fun option to keep in mind when you’re weighing your moves in combat. I recommend using Sanguine Burst on area-of-effect spells like Fireball, not targeted spells like Disintegrate. Doing so will get the most out of the feature for the cost you’re incurring. Try not to make yourself lose concentration on another spell when you take damage from this feature (be picky about when to use it).

Bond of Mutual Suffering is ok, but it’s not amazing when you can only use it once per short/long rest. I like that it can be used twice at level fourteen. The problem is that your reaction is usually spent avoiding damage when you play a Wizard, and this feature is best used against large sums of damage being dealt at once. Against an enemy that can’t be stopped with the Shield spell, you might settle for Bond of Mutual Suffering as your reaction.

Glyph of Hemorrhaging is great if you have allies making many attacks. Monks will love it, and anyone casting Eldritch Blast will jump at the change to deal more damage per attack. You might want to invest in multi-attack spells like Scorching Ray to rack up this extra damage on multiple attacks. Your summoned/raised creatures will stack heaps of damage when you use this curse. I believe the ability is only meant to apply to one creature you damage with a spell, not each creature in a Fireball’s area of effect.

Thicker than Water is disappointing for a fourteenth-level Wizard feature. Why is the damage resistance limited to non-magical attacks? The damage resistance’s value will vary wildly from game to game, depending on the DM and the story/module. Being healed slightly more is nothing to write home about. You might make a fun Life Cleric/Druid multiclass concept out of this to make Goodberries that heal you a lot, but that’s a stretch. You’re better off having someone else in the party who can cast Goodberry so you can enjoy them more. Your DM might rule that Goodberry doesn’t apply to Thicker than Water, so I can’t rate this feature highly. I believe Goodberry should work, especially because this feature only functions with magic and spells that heal you (no Healer feat, sorry).

The only reason I’d want to play this subclass would be to use Glyph of Warding at a reduced cost by taking damage. Cheating on costly components is incredible. That could be a fun way to use it. Pay-to-win, baby!

Here are other Wizard spells with costly components that I think are worth noting for Blood Channeling (not an exhaustive list; just my favorites):

  • Simulacrum
  • Soul Cage
  • Find Familiar
  • Force Cage
  • Sequester
  • Symbol
  • Plane Shift
  • Legend Lore
  • Magic Circle
  • Clone
  • Magic Jar
  • Arcane Lock
  • Instant Summons
  • (most summoning spells)

Overall Impressions of Tal’Dorei Subclasses

I’m pleasantly surprised at how balanced these subclasses are. Some subclasses received more praise than others, but I’m glad to see that they’re not repeats of Chronurgy Wizard and Echo Knight Fighter from the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. I didn’t expect to want to play these subclass, but now I’m strongly considering them. Tell your DM that I give these subclasses the stamp of approval to be played.

There’s one caveat with the blood-based subclasses; not everyone is ok with character themes involving body horror, self-harm, or grotesque use of blood. Make sure your fellow players are ok with these themes so everyone can enjoy the game. You can re-flavor a subclass you’re excited about it you need to ditch the blood themes.

Want to get this lore and more for yourself? Buy Critical Role’s Tal’Dorei Reborn book for a D&D 5e campaign setting and lore companion to the official setting of Critical Role! It’s now available on Amazon.

I did my best to summarize my thoughts for each subclass feature, but I bet you noticed something I missed between the lines. What do you think of the subclasses? Where do we disagree on ratings? I’d love to hear your perspectives.

You can also watch me talk about these subclasses with Dungeoneer’s Pack and Wintry Wyvern on YouTube:

4 thoughts on “<b>Tal’Dorei Reborn Subclasses Reviewed & Analyzed</b>: D&D 5e”

  1. I did play Cobalt Soul Monk for a while and one thing I can suggest is giving a new ability at 3rd level: “You gain a bonus to any intelligence check equal to your Wisdom modifier.” and I feel like Extort Truth needs something, what I’m gonna talk about it within 6 seconds? Maybe enemies trigger an opportunity attack even though they take the Disengage?

  2. I actually made a half-orc with the juggernaut subclass,, she whipped a lot of ass, I went with sentinel, great weapon master, and polearm master, but I might change the sentinel to mobile, what do you think?

    1. That sounds fantastic! I’d probably prefer Sentinel over Mobile with a Juggernaut Barbarian for knocking back enemies when they approach.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top