Reviewing The New Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft Subclasses

guide to ravenloft subclasses

Dark days are upon us: Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft is finally here! Like with most settings, Wizards’ of the Coast has provided some interesting character options to go along with all of the spooky stuff. In addition to some interesting options like Dark Gifts and Lineages, the book also includes two new subclasses. We break both of them down with our Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft Subclass Explainer.

Guide to Ravenloft Subclasses

While additional subclasses are not the primary focus of Van Richten’s, there are two new options to be aware of. They include the College of Spirits Bard and the Undead Warlock. I’m intrigued by both of these Guide to Ravenloft Subclasses.

Bard: College of Spirits

See Our College of Spirits Bard Guide

The College of Spirits Bard isn’t a song-and-dance man. Instead, this subclass is based on ghost stories. The flavor for the bard is fantastic, especially for Ravenloft. But do the mechanics hold up? There is some good stuff on that front, but it probably won’t blow you away.

At level 3, you gain the guidance cantrip and can use unusual items like candles or tarokka deck’s as a spellcasting focus. At level six, the bard spells you cast through this focus get a small boost to healing or damage. It’s a nice boost that that is available on every turn. At level 3 you also get Tales from Beyond, where you can spend a bardic inspiration die to have a ghost tell you a story. With a bonus action, you roll from a random table of buffs. The stronger buffs are only available at the top-end of the table, meaning you will only roll them when your bardic inspiration is maxed out. It is a clever feature.

At level 6, you can spend an hour performing a ritual that gains you a necromancy or divination spell you did not already know. The level of the spell depends on how many other characters participate in the ritual, and you cast it as a bard spell. The spell you choose must be of a level equal to the number of creatures that conducted the ritual or less and the spell must be of a level you can cast. This spell stays with you until you begin a long rest.

Finally, level 14 gives you more control over Tales from Beyond. Not only can you roll twice and pick your favorite, but if you roll the same number twice you can choose anything from the table. This has a wild magic vibe that sounds like a lot of fun.

Warlock: The Undead

See our Complete Undead Warlock Guide

The Undead Warlock is also appropriately themed for the setting. Unsurprisingly, your patron is an undead being that defies the cycle of life and death. These patrons are often vampire and liches. For starters, there are some useful options on the expanded spell list like Bane and Speak with Dead. however, some of these spells seem more focused on the theme as opposed to usefulness.

At level 1, you also get Form of Dread. This allows you to transform into the form of your patron for 1 minute. When transformed, you get temporary HP, frighten creatures following successful attacks, and are immune to fright. You can take this form a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus.

At level 6, you no longer need to breathe, drink, or eat. You can also convert attack damage to necrotic and also boost damage from Form of Dread. At Level 10, you are now resistant to necrotic damage. When in the Form of Dread, you are immune to that damage. The best part of this feature is that when you hit zero hit points you can use your reaction to instead drop to 1 and deal 2d10 + your warlock level in necrotic damage to every creature within 30 feet of you. Not only do you gain a point of exhaustion but you cannot use the feature again until after 1d4 long rests.

Finally, at level 14 you get Spirit Projection. This allows you to leave your physical body and take a spirit form. When projecting into your spirit form, you maintain your stats but not your possessions. In this form, both your spirit and body are resistant to piercing, slashing, or bludgeoning damage. You also get other benefits like flying speed and the ability to cast without material components. Best of all, combining this with Form of Dead allows you to drain HP when dealing necrotic damage. While this feature is fun, it is underpowered compared to other level 14 traits.


That wraps up our Guide to Ravenloft Subclasses. Both of these options seem fun yet far from game-breaking. Let us know what you think about them in the comment section, and don’t hesitate to check out the rest of our Ravenloft content!

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