If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me

Time after time

If you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting

Time after time

Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper

Introduction

Enforcing the order of the universe is the Clockwork Soul Sorcerer’s bread and butter, which is humorous because it turns out the universe is made of dice. As such, half of the Clockwork’s features influence the machinery of the universe (d20s) in somewhat novel ways. The other half of the features instead rewind the clock on creatures, objects, and effects, restoring them to a previous state. If you want some supportive features on a Sorcerer chassis, let me show you how the universe ticks.

Fundamentally, the Clockwork Soul is a Sorcerer with an extra ten spells of the Abjuration or Transmutation schools, which can open some interesting options. Several staple spells, like Shield and Counterspell, belong to those schools which can free up the Sorcerer to take other spells with their regular spell choices. We’ll discuss some of those options further down the article.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Clockwork Soul Features

  1. Clockwork Magic: There is a lot of complexity buried in this feature that’s very easy to overlook, but understanding what makes this so powerful will help you to capitalize on it.

    The first and most obvious benefit is that you get several excellent spells, including some cleric options like Aid and wizard options like Summmon Construct and Wall of Force. Not everything on the list is a gem, of course, and be sure to check my Cleric Spell List Breakdown (for the cleric spells which you get by default) and my Warlock Spell List Breakdown and Wizard Spell List Breakdown for details on the spells borrowed from the Wizard’s spell list as well as possible retraining options.

    Slightly less obvious: this adds a total of 10 known leveled spells to your sorcerer. A 20th-level sorcerer typically knows just 15 spells, so this is a massive increase. Even at level 1, you know twice as many spells as a typical sorcerer.

    Third, and easiest to overlook, is the retraining mechanic. The Sorcerer can already retrain one known spell every time they gain a level, but Clockwork Magic also allows you to retrain the spells granted by the feature. Surprisingly, you can choose from the sorcerer, warlock, and wizard spell lists, though you’re limited to abjuration and transmutation spells. Of course, there are plenty of excellent abjuration and transmutation options (Absorb Elements and Shield are good at any level), so that’s not a problem. Trade in spells that you’re not benefiting from as you gain levels, especially since abjuration options are often useful long after their spell level stops being defining in combat.

    1. 1st Level: Protection from Evil and Good is a staple buff at any level, covering a wide range of dangerous creatures. Alarm isn’t useful enough to justify on a sorcerer, so retrain it.
    2. 3rd Level: Two staple cleric options.
    3. 5th Level: A staple utility option and an important defensive buff. Not glamorous or flashy, but hard to go without.
    4. 7th Level: Freedom of Movement is situationally useful, but helpful against enemies which like to grapple. Summon Construct is a wizard exclusive, and it’s a decent summon option if you need a pet Defender.
    5. 9th Level: Greater Restoration isn’t as important as Lesser Restoration, but it’s still very important. The conditions which it fixes are miserable and in many cases borderline lethal. Wall of Force (another wizard exclusive) is one of the best area control effects around, especially if you have another spellcaster in the party who can drop some ongoing area damage before you put your enemies inside the impenetrable hemisphere.
  2. Restore Balance: This solves a lot of problems. Creatures which have Advantage on saves against specific conditions are common, and for a sorcerer encountering those resistances can handicap you a great deal due to your limited pool of spells knowns. Similarly, if your allies have Disadvantage on a save (such as because they are Restrained or Poisoned), you can help protect them. The usage pool is limited, so save this for when it really matters.
  3. Bastion of Law: This is similar in many ways to temporary hit points (though you can notably apply this on top of temporary hit points). The duration is great, and allowing the target to choose when to use the ward allows you to take a little damage when you know that there’s a Short Rest coming so you can spend some hit dice to manage your limited resources.

    Compare this to casting False Life. False Life is a 1st-level spell, so you can spend two Sorcery Points to get a spell slot with which to cast False Life. False Life lasts for one hour, and grants 1d4+4 (average 6.5) temporary hit points. Each additional spell level adds 5 more hit points. For those same two Sorcery points, you can give a creature a ward with two dice, which will prevent an average of 9 damage and lasts until you take a Long Rest. Each additional Sorcery Points adds 4.5 more damage protection, compared to one or two Sorcery Points for 5 more temporary hit points from False Life. So Bastion of law is cheaper compared to a 1st-level spell slot, and the scaling cost of converting Sorcery Points into spell slots keeps this more efficient.

  4. Trance of Order: The Fundamental Math of DnD 5e assumes that players will succeed on attack rolls against a typical CR-appropriate AC if they roll an 8 or better (provided that your primary ability scores hits 16, 18, and 20 at levels 1, 4, and 8), giving players a 65% chance of hitting an attack against an average, CR-appropriate enemy. Giving you a minimum guaranteed roll of 10 on attacks, saves, and ability checks means that you’re mostly guaranteed to hit with attacks, pass on any saves in which you’re proficient and have a decent ability score, and pass any ability checks with skills in which you’re well-suited. With a 1-minute duration, this is enough to get through one combat or to perform series of skill checks if you move quickly.

    This is a great ability on almost any other class, but on the Sorcerer its usefulness is extremely limited. Spells which require attack rolls (with the exception of cantrips) mostly vanished around 2nd-level spells unless you’re upcasting low-level spells. Sorcerers are proficient with Constitution saves so this helps with Concentration, so this helps a lot with that. Since sorcerers are Charisma-based, most of your skills will be too and using Persuasion in combat doesn’t work particularly well. So the three best uses for this are cantrips, upcasting low-level spells like Scorching Ray, and Concentration. That’s underwhelming for an ability which costs 5 Sorcery Points to recharge.

  5. Clockwork Cavalcade: Even with three effects, this is still only situationally useful. The 100 points of healing will be the most consistently useful option for adventurers, allowing you to get allies back on their feet and restore a nice chunk of hit points. But at this level, healing options like Mass Cure Wounds and Heal have been around for a while.

    The repair effect is neat, but only rarely useful. This could be used to solve some puzzles though: Picture the Rosetta Stone, now picture the Rosetta Stone after a Clockwork Soul snaps their fingers and all the broken pieces that have been missing for millennia just reappear in place with complete text and all the wear and tear of time is undone.

    Perhaps the most remarkable effect is the last one, which outright ends spell effects without the ability checks required by Dispel Magic. But even then, it’s rare that you’ll face more than a small handful of enemies with magic effects on them, so in most cases you can just upcast Dispel Magic to 6th level to get the same effect if you don’t want to risk making the ability checks.

Clockwork Soul Ability Scores

Not substantially different from the Sorcerer Handbook.

Str: Not important for Single-Classed Sorcery.

Dex: Get some AC cause we don’t have Armor.

Con: Get some HP cause we need it.

Int: Maybe for skills if you have extra points.

Wis: Maybe for skills and saves if you have extra points. Unlike the majority of the other casters, Sorcerers are not proficient in this save.

Cha: Primary caster ability score. Spell DCs, Spell Attacks. It’s good, get it.

Point BuyStandard Array
Str88
Dex1514
Con1513
Int810 (12)
Wis812 (10)
Cha1515

Clockwork Soul Races

There isn’t much to add that hasn’t already been said in the Sorcerer Races Breakdown.

Clockwork Soul Feats

The advice in the Sorcerer Handbook already does a splendid job of explaining feats.

Clockwork Soul Weapons

Cantrips and leveled spells are your ‘weapons’.

Clockwork Soul Armor

Sorcerers don’t get Armor naturally, but if you can swing a multiclass for Medium and a Shield while occasionally casting the Shield spell you’ll end up harder to kill than most non-casters. If you can’t fit in that multiclassing, perhaps a race with natural armor would work as well.

Clockwork Soul Multiclassing

  • Warlock: The one thing that Trance of Order is missing on Sorcerer is a reason to make attacks. Two levels of Warlock for some Agonizing Eldritch Blast is a great reason. Any Warlock would do, but Hexblade giving Medium armor and Shields is a really strong option. I would rate this higher if Trance of Order didn’t show up so late.

Example Clockwork Soul Build – Precision Engineering

Maybe you’ve never noticed, but the underlying time of the universe lurches forward every six seconds.

Pray you never learn why.

Building a Clockwork Soul requires a bit more decision making than the older Sorcerer subclasses because of the extra decisions to keep or trade out the expanded spells. Some are easier to give up than others but a few depend on what the rest of your party can provide.

Abilities

We’re using a Mountain Dwarf for a few reasons, but as a nice side effect of that we get +2/+2 to our ability scores. We’ll put those into Constitution and Charisma. Thanks to the racial traits giving us Medium armor proficiency, we can stick to 14 Dexterity, and we’ll also put a 14 into Constitution to keep it round when we add +2. This gives us enough free points to bump up our Wisdom a tiny bit to help against those awful Wisdom saves.

BaseIncreasedLevel 20
Str888
Dex141414
Con141618
Int888
Wis121214
Cha151720

Race

Custom Origin Mountain Dwarf gives us good armor but also gives us a pile of weapon proficiencies that we’re trading away for Tools. What tools? All the tools you’d need to build clocks.

Background

We’re taking the Guild Artisan background, getting Insight, Persuasion, and a free choice of Artisan’s tool. We’re taking Tinker’s Tools.

Skills and Tools

For skills, we have Arcana, Insight, Intimidation and Persuasion at first level. Later on we take Perception when we pick up the Skill Expert feat.

For tools, we have Carpenter’s Tools, Glassblower’s Tools, Jeweler’s Tools, Leatherworker’s Tools, Mason’s Tools, and Tinker’s Tools. Together this is everything you would need to make clocks and watches. Because it’s funny to have the Clockwork Soul Sorcerer literally be a clockmaker.

Feats

At fourth level, we take Fey Touched, adding +1 Charisma and learning the Dissonant Whispers spell. It’s a fine option for ruining a foe’s positioning and we can pseudo upcast the free casting by applying the Twinned Spell metamagic.

At eighth level, we take an ASI for +2 Charisma, getting us to 20 Charisma.

At twelfth level, we take Resilient (Wisdom) to shore up our defenses against those incredibly debilitating effects.

At sixteenth level, we take Skill Expert, adding +1 to Wisdom to round it out. We take the Perception skill and Expertise in Arcana.

At nineteenth level, we take another ASI for +2 Constitution.

Levels

LevelsFeats and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1Medium Armor

Sorcerous Origin
-Clockwork Soul
–Restore Balance

Spellcasting
-Cantrips
–Fire Bolt
Mage Hand
–Mind Sliver
–Prestidigitation
-1st-level spells
–Alarm
Magic Missile
–Sleep
–Protection from Evil and Good (c)

Skills
-Arcana
-Insight
-Intimidation
-Persuasion

Tools
-Carpenter’s Tools
-Glassblower’s Tools
-Jeweler’s Tools
-Leatherworker’s Tools
-Mason’s Tools
-Tinker’s Tools
As a Sorcerer, we have the benefit of getting our subclass at first level, so we start as a Clockwork Soul.

Our first feature is the ability to remove Advantage or Disadvantage from a d20 roll made nearby. A great feature for supporting allies by removing penalties from allies and benefits from foes.

For cantrips we get to choose four, so we’re taking Firebolt as a damage filler, Mind Sliver for the debuffing potential, and Mage Hand and Prestidigitation for utility.

For spells, we’re taking Magic Missile for reliable damage and Sleep to instantly win encounters for a few levels. From Clockwork we’re granted Alarm and Protection from Evil and Good. Alarm isn’t super useful without the ability to cast it as a ritual, so it will get traded out next level, but Protection from Evil and Good will serve well for a while when fighting the specific targets which it affects.

For skills, we’ve got a few social options and Arcana so that we can pull Face duty while also having the ability to scribe scrolls.

We’re also taking a large number of Tool proficiencies so that we can be a literal clockmaker as a Clockwork Soul.

As a Mountain Dwarf, we also have Medium Armor proficiency. We might be able to scrape some funds together to start with Scale mail.
2Font of Magic

Spellcasting
-1st-level spells
–Shield
Silvery Barbs
-Removed
–Alarm
With Font of Magic we gain our Sorcery Points (SP). We don’t have any Metamagic yet, so the only thing we can do with these is make an extra 1st-level slot.

Speaking of 1st-level slots, we’re learning Shield by trading out Alarm while also learning Silvery Barbs.

We could take Armor of Agathys off of the Warlock list with our Clockwork spells feature. Casting this spell would give us some temporary HP for an hour that reflects some cold damage every time a melee attack connects on us, but this would be an anti-synergy with our medium armor and our not trying to be in melee. We could even stretch out the temporary HP, and therefore squeeze out even more damage, when we get Bastion of Law later, but this would require a melee attack to get through our eventual 22 AC when half plate is combined with the shield spell.

This is a fine combination, but it’s also a different build and play-style entirely from the one in this guide.
3Metamagic
-Twinned Spell
-Extended Spell

Spellcasting
-2nd-level spells
–Aid
–Lesser Restoration
–Tasha’s Mind Whip
For Metamagic we pick up Twinned Spell and Extended Spell to stretch out our spell slots.

Speaking of Twinned, Protection from Evil and Good is one of the better uses because the effect is so good for the price.

We’ll be learning Aid, Lesser Restoration, and Tasha’s Mind Whip.

Aid will give our party a bit of a buffer on health and will be useful for a few levels at least. You can also use it like Mass Healing Word because it raises creatures maximum and current hit points.

Lesser Restoration is great for removing a lot of problem conditions.

Tasha’s Mind Whip is a good spell that really messes a target up. But we have Twinned Spell so we can mess up two targets.
4Feat-Fey Touched
–+1 Charisma (17=>18)
–Dissonant Whispers
–Misty Step

Spellcasting
-Cantrips
Minor Illusion
-2nd-level spells
–Web (c)
Fey Touched will give us Dissonant Whispers and Misty Step, two good spells. Whispers is another good choice for Twinned Spell, especially because the upcast is just extra targets, so Twinning the base version is like upgrading a 1st-level slot for the price of one SP.

We also get another Cantrip at this level. Minor Illusion can be an incredibly useful utility.

For leveled spells, we’re taking Web because Web is great. Technically we could Extend it, but we won’t need to in any realistic situations.
5Spellcasting
-3rd-level spells
–Dispel Magic
–Hypnotic Pattern (c)
–Protection from Energy (c)
Dispel Magic is handy, but every caster gets it, so it’s a prime candidate for trading next level if your party has other spellcasters.

Hypnotic Pattern can really turn a fight around by taking about half of the fight out of it with only one save.

Protection from Energy is one of those nice to have spells, especially when it can be Twinned.
6Bastion of Law

Spellcasting
-3rd-level spells
–Counterspell
–Fireball
–Fly (c)
-Removed
–Dispel Magic
–Sleep
Bastion of Law lets us erect a forcefield around someone. Place it on whoever is going to be taking the brunt of our foes’ assault.

We’re also taking some good spells at this level.
Unfortunately, Sleep has to be put to bed and replaced with Fireball.

We’re also learning Counterspell because it is Counterspell.

And then we’re trading out Dispel Magic for Fly. You might think we can only trade out one spell each level, but that’s not true. Both Spellcasting and Clockwork Magic have independent rules for replacing spells that can both be used at the same level up.
7Spellcasting
-4th-level spells
–Freedom of Movement
–Summon Construct (c)
–Greater Invisibility (c)
-2nd-level spells
–Enhance Ability (c)
-Removed
–Aid
Freedom of Movement is a pretty good buff that doesn’t eat Concentration.

Summon Construct is a decent spell, and we might use it for now, but we’ll be trading it out next level.

Greater Invisibility is one of those great spells that would be a little better if it could hit two guys. Oh wait, Twinned.
8ASI: +2 Charisma (18=>20)

Spellcasting
-4th-level spells
Polymorph (c)
–Fabricate
-Removed
–Summon Construct
More Charisma, better Save DCs.

Polymorph, like Greater Invisibility from the previous level, is a great candidate for Twinned Spell.

We’re trading out Summon Construct for Fabricate because it’s fun to have the ability to make stuff with magic, especially with all of those Tool proficiencies. Also because it’s not normally available to Sorcerers and that makes it cool.
9Spellcasting
-5th-level spells
–Greater Restoration
–Wall of Force (c)
–Wall of Stone (c)
Greater Restoration is nice to have but the uses are uncommon enough that it’s better for a prepared caster to ready it as needed.

Wall of Force is a great spell for trapping foes in an impenetrable dome, especially if they’ve been also stuck with a persistent AoE.

Wall of Stone might seem redundant, but it has different uses. In combat, it can be used to create doorways that your heavy frontliner can stand in by walling a box around your foes. Remember, they only get a save if they are completely encased, but they get no save if you leave a hole that just so happens to be filled with a Fighter.

Secondly, if Concentrated for the full duration, it’s a free pile of stone for the Fabricate spell.
10Metamagic
-Quickened Spell

Spellcasting
-Cantrips
–Blade Ward
-5th-level spells
–Hold Monster (c)
–Passwall (Optional)
-Removed
–Greater Restoration (Optional)
Dropping a spell in as a Bonus Action is great, so we’re taking Quickened Spell.

For our last Cantrip, Blade Ward is the option for these higher levels. When Concentrating, this cantrip is great for smoothing out incoming damage so we can more easily make our saves.

We’re also learning Hold Monster because it gets things killed.

Optionally, if we’re able to rely on another caster for situations requiring Greater Restoration, I suggest trading that for Passwall. Being able to make a door in basically anything is very useful and is only available on a few spell lists.
11Spellcasting
-6th-level spells
–True Seeing
True Seeing gives true sight to see through all sorts of problems. Good for Extending or Twinning.
12Feat-Resilient (Wisdom)Wisdom saves are attached to dangerous effects, so becoming Proficient in them is a solid boost to our defenses.
13Spellcasting
-7th-level spells
–Draconic Transformation (c)
Draconic Transformation, for when we want to do some consistent AoE damage without spending a bunch of spell slots. Fly around and do Force Damage breath attacks with the damage of Fireball.

Since they only take a bonus action to use and the spell requires Concentration, perhaps use your actions for Dodging or Blade Ward, but if your enemies can’t harm you, you can use that same action for offensive spells.
14Trance of OrderHaving a floor on all of our d20 rolls for a minute is pretty great. Even if we don’t really make attack rolls, this is a powerful defensive stance against incoming Saving Throws. And don’t overlook the fact that it also negates Advantage on incoming attacks.
15Spellcasting
-8th-level spells
–Sunburst
Sunburst is just a big Fireball with the Blinded condition. Good spell.
16Feat
-Skill Expert
–Perception
–Arcana Expertise
–+1 Wisdom
We’re taking Skill Expert because leaving our Wisdom odd after that boost to saves is abhorrent to an orderly universe.

So we train in Perception and gain expertise in Arcana to make up for our low Intelligence.
17Spellcasting
-9th-level spells
–Blade of Disaster (c)
Wish
-Removed
–Magic Missile
I Wish I didn’t have to put Wish on every build, but it’s totally in my contract.

Instead I’d learn a spell like Blade of Disaster that makes attack rolls so I could benefit from Trance of Order.

I’ll just have to trade out something like Magic Missile for it I guess.
18Clockwork CavalcadeClockwork Cavalcade is a powerful effect that will only occasionally do more than heal a few people.

Removing spell effects is sometimes useful, but what I’m referring to is that Cavalcade can repair anything that fits inside the area. Now that doesn’t sound impressive since Fabricate could basically do the same thing, but with Cavalcade we don’t need to know how to repair it. It’s just fixed. 

Plenty of Adventures run across some broken ancient device that we couldn’t possibly know how to fix. We’ll fix it anyway.
19ASI: +2 Constitution (16=>18)More HP, better saving throws.
20Sorcerous RestorationGetting some SP back when we finish a short rest is better than not getting some SP back after a short rest.