I like how many sources of magic there are in D&D. Wizards study how magic works and learn to manipulate it. Druids draw power from nature. Sorcerers spontaneously manifest magical energy. Psionic classes reach deep within their minds. Warlocks make pacts with beings greater than themselves.
Every now and then, I think about new sources of magic. What’s been buzzing in my head lately (so to speak) has been sound. Imagine a singer with a gorgeous voice. They are slowly realising that their talents are not entirely natural. Their passion, their joy, their source of fame is a conduit for strange magic…
Can you play a soundmage without creating a homebrew class? Absolutely. Simply take a core class and personalise their abilities.
The soundmage sings as beautifully and sweetly as before. And yet, something has changed. There is a dark undercurrent of power between the notes. The song changes key, carrying with it a hint of destruction. The warlord drops his sword, clutching his eyes in pain.
A bard is an obvious fit. What’s different from most bards would be the spellcasting focus. Our soundmage might not know how to play an instrument, focusing instead on their voice. Perhaps a simple drum for keeping rhythm. Or perhaps they use something like a small totem, a trademark of their act, to channel magic.
With eyes locked onto the goblin, the soundmage bellows. The roar cracks through the air. Screeching, the goblin’s attack fumbles. The soundmage hums, filling the room with pale light.
The soundmage is blessed by the god(dess) of sound and/or music. Two cleric domains fit this theme. The first is the Tempest Domain, which has many options for thunder damage. The second is the Light Domain.
Well, the Light Domain reskinned as the Sound Domain. The features for the Light Domain involve distracting enemies with flashes of light and filling rooms with light. You know what else is distracting and fills rooms? Sound.
The soundmage chants as it strikes the air. With each word, their fists move faster. Soon they are a blur, a storm of fists with horrendous shouting at its centre.
Then they are still. Silent. They open their calm, murderous eyes.
A monk is a great fit not only for a soundmage, but also for the backstory. A singer is not going to be armed on stage.
You might point out that monks can be stealthy. There’s nothing that says a soundmage is only about creating sound, though. If they can control it, that gives them a boost to stealth.
The soundmage’s hands flash as they chant to themselves. The distinctive traits of spellcasting. What’s less expected are the vibrations filling the room. An irritating hum accompanies each gesture. Hands stand on the back of each neck. The spell unleashes with a crack, cutting down the captain of the guard.
I’ve talked about singing-as-sorcery, but that was a metaphor. Let’s go literal. A Wild Magic Sorcerer could be a conduit for chaotic, untamed sound – a raw elemental force from just beyond reality. The soundmage channels it while singing, struggling to keep the torrent of energy at bay.
There is silence as the soundmage closes their eyes. It is haunting, still, beautiful. Even in the mdst of battle, there is peace.
And then they open their eyes. Waves of mad voices clamour from their mouth, overlapping and merging in the foulest orchestra this world has known. The enemy spellcasters drop to their knees as the whispers enflame their souls.
Warlocks already use sound for many of their spells. What if we took it further?
The best thing about the Great Old Ones pact is that, as far as patrons are concerned, anything goes. Lovecraft’s descriptions of these creatures defy logic as we know it. Many beings have no fixed form. Or no form at all. “A seething cacophony of inhuman noise” probably describes at least half a dozen of them.
Given the concept of a singer with a magical voice, what comes to mind? Let me know in the comments because I’d love to hear your take on this concept.