The Shadow Sorcerer Arrives In Xanathar's Guide To Everything
Todd Kenreck: The Shadow Sorcerer gets their magic from the Shadowfell itself. It makes them very resilient, and also, can make them incredibly quirky and fun to play.
Mike Mearls: Shadow Sorcerer was really fun to design because it's the dark sorcerer. It's the sorcerer who is kinda creepy and draws upon the power of the Shadowfell shadow magic. It really plays with the boundary between life and death, and that's where I really see this character, as this very weird, sort of gothic ephemeral, like, you know. What I love about him ... I hear the thing about the class. Even counting the mechanics, it's the table of quirks, where it's things like, you know, your heart beats once an hour, things like that, or your hands ... Like-
Todd Kenreck: You blinked once, like last week.
Mike Mearls: I totally picture, if you are familiar with the Phantasm series of movies, there's an actor, a fantastic actor. I don't know why he didn't get more work as a villain. Angus Scrimm plays the Tall Man, the nemesis of the heroes in the series, and I always picture if I was in a play with Shadow Sorcerer, I would play it like Angus Scrimm, who is this very tall, imposing guy, and in the first movie he poses as he is running out ... He is a mortician. That's, like, his cover for his evil deeds, I would totally play my character as Angus Scrimm the mortician in D&D, obviously geared up to adventure, but that's totally just like this real thin, tall kinda creepy guy, who just can't look at other living creatures except as things that could be embalmed.
Like, how will I make you look good once you're dead? Right? Having that morbid sense of humor about it, and it's very easy to just go dark, grimdark, grimdark, grimdark, right? But to me, this character is really fun when you play with that idea of the dark humor. We are all going to die eventually, right? Things like that. Death is just part of the system. It's part of life, you know. It's the point of life, you could say, that's what, you know, this character would say. We are all going to die, and maybe death is more important than life, in some ways, to this character. So, that was really fun.
You know, this idea that when they get dropped, instead, like, on the zombie mechanic, instead of getting dropped, you know, once per rest, they don't stay dropped at that point, sort of denying death. I like to think of it as not that they're denying death, as at they are sort of familiar with death, that rather than be afraid of it, they just greet it, you know, like "Well, death's here." That doesn't phase them, and so they don't drop.
The Hound of Ill Omen shows up as one of their abilities, and this is one where, you know, it's still a mechanic in the hex played for the Warlock. They just didn't seem to fit in, but here it really does that sort of Hound of the Baskervilles feel. The creepy, you know, the Black Dog in Irish myth, things like that, you know, it's the hound. It's foretelling your doom, you know, things like that, because again, this is the character who, being at the intersection of life and death is comfortable to them. They are used to traversing that barrier, and so here's like, this manifestation of that power that they can command, to help people along the way, preferably their enemies.
I really like that feeling. I kind of just picture that character as just a mortician straight out of the classic almost kind of Old West-looking mortician-type guy, so that Angus Scrimm appearance.
Todd Kenreck: It's kind of like a utility as well, like, you can just use your Sorcerer points to, like, not spam darkness, but you can shoot darkness around, and you can see in magical darkness.
Mike Mearls: Yeah. No, again, that's me. That's the idea, and I think, if I was playing that character, you know obviously you wouldn't just say, "It's a darkness spell." To be, it's like, well, what does this darkness actually represent? You decide that you are so comfortable with it, and again, it goes back to me, that idea of straddling life and death, that to you the darkness is just a different state of light. It's not something to be afraid of, and being attuned to it as a Shadow Sorcerer, you are used to traversing, and it doesn't phase you.
It is tactically fun, if you are more on the tactical end of things. Like, what's cool about this character? Shutting down the line of sight, you know, it's a very powerful ability, because you can't see me, but I can still see you, because I can see through it, and so I can throw spells through it. Things like that, and so that is something, I think, is really fun to play with, and again you can play up that idea of, you think that the rest of the party can't see through it, but this character can. So, again, you are treading on that idea of: I am comfortable here in the darkness that comes before death. Everyone else might be freaked out. They don't want to be there, but to you, it's, as a Shadow Sorcerer, that's where you live.
Todd Kenreck: You can find the Shadow Sorcerer in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. You can purchase that book on D&D Beyond.com and earn pre-order bonuses as well. I'm Todd Kenreck. Thanks for watching.