Runechild 5E | Sorcerer Subclass from Critical Role

The Tal’dorei Campaign Setting Reborn is one of the closest 3rd party Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition books to being “legitimate” in the eyes of many players. Tal’dorei is close to the heart of 5E, thanks to the impact of Critical Role. Because of that, it is important to look at the classes involved within this book to see if there are any classes worth talking about! The Runechild is an interesting specimen. Insanely potent magical batteries, the Runechildren are Sorcerers who store their magic in runes that dance along their bodies. This makes them obvious targets to those who wish them harm, but offer incredible boons in return. Interested? We can tell you what this class does in our Tal’dorei Runechild Origin 5E guide.

Homebrew Content: This subclass is not official WOTC material.

The Body’s Story: Runechild Sorcerer 5E

runechild 5E

The Runechild is a potent utility Sorcerer. It has great access to support spells, able to grab buff spells from Wizards and Warlocks. Its main mechanic, the Charged Rune system, allows them to problem solve quite well. They gain access to defensive, utility, and even pure offensive magical abilities if they are willing to spend their Runes. This is a potent all-rounder with lower-than-average damage for a Sorcerer, but makes up for it with pure utility.

Essence Runes

At level 1, you gain a new resource called Essence Runes. You have 1 essence rune per Sorcerer level. At the end of a turn where you’ve spent sorcery points, you gain a number of Charged Runes equal to the sorcery points spent. You also may spend 1 Sorcery Point as a bonus action to charge 2 Runes. You lose these charged runes if you spend them on Runechild powers, or if you take a long rest.

Charged runes glow on your body, visible unless clothes cover them. If you have 5 or more charged runes, your body glows for 5 feet of Bright Light and 5 feet of Dim Light.

The Rune system, as described here, is a new resource. Runechildren must spend Sorcery Points to charge them, so you don’t really get access to this ability until level 2.

Simply put, these make your Sorcery Points slightly stronger. Your Essence Rune abilities are strongest when used with defensive or problem-solving purposes, which is slightly different than the normal uses of Sorcery Points. You’ll find yourself able to spend points on aggressive magic much more often thanks to your future class abilities.

You also gain the ability to basically spend 1 Sorcery Point to gain 2 bonus Runes. The wording of this ability implies that you will still gain the 3rd charged Rune at the end of your turn, making this great for power turns involving many runes. You’ll rarely want to go on this path, since you honestly don’t have many Charged Rune slots early on. However, by the time you reach level 18, you can burn quite a few runes per turn. Remember that you have this bonus action later.

Runic Magic

Also at level 1, you learn additional spells. You cast the following list as a Sorcerer.

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

In addition, whenever you gain a level, you may learn a different Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard spell of the Abjuration or Transmutation schools. In general, this ability is great! Sorcerers have a very, very limited list of spells known. This ability adds 10 spells to your list. That’s almost double! That alone is a great boon to your list.

The list you get by default is situationally potent. Longstrider is a rare buff, but Protection from Evil and Good is ridiculously strong for a level 1 spell. Lesser and Greater Restoration are bad until they are the best spells in the game. Protection from Poison and Magic Circle are both a bit too situational to be handy, though Glyph of Warding has potential if you’re given an hour. Death Ward is great, Freedom of Movement is great in very specific situations, and Telekinesis is fantastic combat control. Not the world’s best list, but you’re a Sorcerer! Take what you can get.

Other than the spells noted on Runic Magic, you have an additional 57 spells that you can cycle in. The spells that are from other classes are the Restorations, Protection from Poison, and Freedom of Movement. We suggest keeping at least Greater Restoration. Other winners include spells like Counterspell/Dispel Magic, Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp, Shield, and Haste/Slow. Don’t be afraid to use this ability to get extra Sorcerer spells! Even just spells known are great.

Glyph of Aegis

Also at level 1, you may spend Charged Runes on a defensive shield. As a reaction that triggers from taking damage, you spend charged runes. Each rune spent reduces the damage you take by d6, rolled cumulatively. At level 6, you can spend up to 3 charged runes as an action to touch a creature and give them this defensive ability. This lasts for 1 hour or until they take damage. When they next take damage, the Aegis automatically deploys with no action spent, reducing damage by d6 per charged rune spent. This ability does not stack with itself.

At level 14, your Glyph of Aegis improves to d8 per Charged Rune. What a wordy ability! It’s strong, though, but must be used with care.

Overall, the ability to reduce damage will always be nice. This ability drops damage by 3.5-4.5 per charged rune spent. That can save your life early on, and even be enough to drop damage to 0 from some attacks. However, this can very, very quickly spend all of your Charged Runes! Watch your stores when defending yourself.

Giving another person 3d6 to 3d8 “temporary hitpoints” is a nice gesture, and it only costs 1 Sorcery Point, thanks to your Bonus Action. Set this up before a dungeon and hope this is enough to keep your Fighter or Barbarian alive for an extra attack. An attack on them is an attack not being sent straight at you! Alternatively, you can give this to someone who doesn’t get hit often – like a Rogue or Cleric – to improve their tiny health pool by a significant amount. Use this ability liberally. It’s an okay Reaction. Just make sure you aren’t going to be in a situation where you could Counterspell or spend a Reaction doing something proactive and life-saving.

Sigilic Augmentation

At level 6, you can spend a charged rune as a reaction to gain advantage on a Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution ability check. Once per long rest, you may use this ability to spend a charged rune on a Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution saving throw.

Sure! This is fine. Sorcerers tend to be awful at the Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution departments. However, that barely matters when you can roll twice and take the better result. You should probably not be the one opening gates or jumping across gaps, but this ability will be here just in case.

Much stronger is the once per day ability to roll a saving throw with advantage. A Constitution saving throw can mean your death in some cases, and a Strength or Dexterity save can hurt you a lot. Being able to potentially save your life by just spending 1 Charged Rune? That’s extremely worthwhile! This ability should probably only be used on the Saving Throw. Other uses of it would be a bit of a waste of your Sorcery Points and should be considered only for emergencies.

Manifest Inscriptions

At level 6, you can spend an action – and a Charged Rune – to automatically reveal hidden or invisible arcane traps, marks, runes, wards, sensors, or glyphs within 60 feet of you. This burst reveals them as a dim light. You have advantage on Arcana checks to understand these traps. This ability also lets you read these glyphs, even if you wouldn’t otherwise understand the language they were in.

Another fairly situational boon at level 6. Use this in conjunction with a high Perception check or a good Detect Magic. Once you spot something invisible, you can pop this ability and screw over your DM’s traps and hidden doors. You can then use magic to disable them, or have magical trap disabling items to help you get through safely.

This ability can be insanely strong, and at the cost of 1 Charged Rune… Not awful. Don’t spam this as you walk through a dungeon, unless you can be reasonably sure you’ll find something when you do it. There are less expensive ways to find these, like ritual casting Detect Magic, that can ensure you’ll find something interesting. 

Runic Torrent

At level 14, you can burn 2 charged runes to force a spell you cast to deal Force damage instead of its actual damage type. In addition, the spell gains an additional effect – a Strength saving throw, or they are knocked prone or pushed 15 feet away from the spell’s point of origin. This ability can be used once per short or long rest.

This ability is a bit situational, but the situations where it applies are plentiful. This is basically “1” sorcery point to both ignore most damage resistances and immunities, and knock something on its back. That’s solid! Force damage is the strongest damage type. That change makes this ability not a strict damage increase, but an overall damage increase. You’ll be able to Fireball a horde of Demons, or Lightning Bolt an Air Elemental.

However, this can only occur once per short rest. Because of that, try to use your magic on other spells… Until you can make good use of your ability to knock the target prone. Then, your magic can deal maximum damage and your melee allies can make use of the prone condition! This combo is critical. You can rush down enemies with unrestricted damage and a very strong debuff.

Notably, this knocks all enemies prone (or away from the source). And nothing says that the spell must deal damage. If your DM agrees with this interpretation, you can cast a Slow that knocks everyone down. That can be crippling! This is seriously strong. Time it right and watch as your opponents get destroyed by force damage and the force of gravity!

Arcane Exemplar

Finally, at level 18, you can spend a bonus action and charged rune to become charged with magic. You gain:

  • 60 feet of flight
  • Resistance to spell damage
  • Healing whenever you cast a spell, equal to the spell’s level
  • All creatures who save against your spells have disadvantage on their saves.

This form lasts for a turn unless you expend another charged rune to extend it for another turn. When you run out of time, you are Stunned for a turn. This ability is only used once per day. Arcane Exemplar can be used for 60 turns in a single use if you convert all of your Sorcery Points directly to Charged Runes. You can use it for longer if you spend spells to make more Sorcery Points. That’s a long time to give enemies disadvantage on your spells! Spamming this ability throughout a long fight can be a legitimately strong strategy, as long as you have spells to work with. You can spend Bonus Actions to get 3 more turns of duration, after all.

Other than that last bonus listed, the rest are… Fine? Flight is always stellar, letting you get out of melee range of enemies. Resistance to spell damage is usually handy, though the dangerous spells just outright kill you or take over your mind. Healing when you cast a spell is fine, but it’s only for the spell’s level. Healing for 9 health when you cast Meteor Swarm is useless. Remember you have that, though. It could save your life.

Combo this with Runic Torrent to guarantee force damage, a debuff, and a prone. That’ll be expensive for your Charged Rune count, so prepare in advance. Overall, this is probably your best use of Charged Rune. However, you’ll still have to save it for a long and difficult fight. It’s only usable once per day! Make it count, and ruin that boss’s day!

Best Race for Runechild Sorcerers

The Runechild needs high Charisma. It has so many effects based on your spell DC. Make sure your race improves your Charisma in some way. However, your racial abilities can focus on spellcasting, such as giving you armor proficiency.


The boring choice, but it must be said. This Player’s Handbook race gets good with the Variant Human. With the bonus feat, we recommend Metamagic Adept. This will give you 2 extra sorcery points and more metamagic options. The Sorcery Points will let you use Glyph of Aegis at level 1 to keep yourself alive. However, in the late game, those points will always allow you to cast Metamagic, even if you spend the rest of your points on Charged Runes. It’s a basic choice, but a powerful one for the class build.


These little fellas, from Acquisitions Incorporated, are great for this class! They have Charisma and Constitution, naturally heal more during short rests, and can use Telepathy. They gain Persuasion for free, but the strongest ability they have is advantage on Wisdom and Charisma saves. With this ability, this class is able to save against almost every single saving throw with advantage! Well, once per day for the physical stats. This race has so many options for a friendly sorcerer.

Conclusion – Our Take on the Runechild Sorcerer

The Runechild is a really cool all-rounder. We recommend that you learn how a Sorcerer works before taking on this archetype, as there is a lot to take in if you decide that you want to play this class. There is a lot of fun to be had here, although I’m not sure it stands up to Mercer’s Circle of the Blighted.

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