Will-o’-Wisp Playable Race/Class | New Player Option for Fifth Edition

About a year ago this time I created one of my first ever playable race/classes, the will-o-wisp for one of my players. Hard to believe this, but a year ago I was still pretty new to class and subclass creation. So overall, the class was a disaster. Recently, I’ve noticed a few folks are going back to my old stuff and checking it out. Therefore, I thought I might revisit it and work to tighten it up some.

This is the result.

Will-o-Wisp as a Race and Class

The will-o’-wisp isn’t only a playable race, but it’s also a class. During character creation, for the first two steps, you must choose will-o’-wisp. From there, follow these steps.

Determine Ability Scores

As an incorporeal creature, your Strength score is automatically 1. You then generate your character’s five other ability scores randomly, rolling four 6-sided dice as normal. If you want to save time, or don’t want to use random rolls, you can use the following scores instead: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10.

Apply Will-o’-Wisp Racial Traits

As a will-o’-wisp, these are your base traits.

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 5.

Age. Will-o’-wisps are at the same maturity level at the time of creation as they were at the time of death. Will-o’-wisps are effectively immortal, and can not die through old age. In addition, time moves much slower for them. A single round feels like a minute to a will-o’-wisp, ten minutes an hour, and a day feels like a tenday. A month feels like a year, and a year seems like a decade. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for will-o’-wisps to resent the “slows” around them.

Alignment. Will-o’-wisps are often filled with despair, malevolence, and a natural hatred towards life. For this reason, they are typically chaotic evil. However, some youngers wisps are able to push past these thoughts towards the neutral alignments.

Size. The core of a will-o’-wisp is usually not much bigger than a few inches in diameter. Being ephemeral, they have no discernible weight. Your size is Tiny.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 0 feet and you have a flying speed of 30 feet.

Darkvision. You have perfect darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Class Restrictions. As a will-o’-wisp, you can only take class levels in the will-o’-wisp class.

Variable Illumination. You shed bright light in a 5 to 20-foot radius and dim light for an additional number of feet equal to the chosen radius. You can alter this radius as a bonus action.

Ephemerality. You exist and don’t exist at the same time. For this reason, you cannot wear or carry anything, and you cannot make unarmed strikes. You are immune to lightning and poison damage and the following conditions: exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, poisoned, prone, restrained, and unconscious.

Mage Hand. You know the mage hand cantrip.

Undead Nature. You are immune to game effects that only affect humanoids, and you are affected by game effects that affect undead. You do not require air, drink, or sleep, and you do not gain exhaustion from lack of sleep and you can’t be put asleep through magical means. Instead of sleeping, you enter a dreamless recharge phase for 4 hours a day. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep.

Consume Life. You cannot regain hit points through magical means. Instead, when you hit a creature with your shock attack, you can use your reaction to drain life from the creature unless the creature is undead or a construct. When you do, you regain hit points equal to half the damage dealt. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of once) and regain all expended uses after you finish a long rest.

Languages. You know Common and one other language of your choice. These are the languages you knew in life before undeath.

Will-o’-Wisp Class

When creating a will-o’-wisp, think about where your character comes from and his or her place in the world before and after death. Talk with your DM about the appropriate origin for your will-o’-wisp. Did you die in a magically-charged swamp, alone and afraid, only to be reborn as a hateful, ephemeral light? Or did you make a deal with a devil to become the fastest creature in the universe… but at what cost?

And now what is your purpose? Are you spreading your hatred across the world, destroying all life you come across? Maybe you are working for a band of evil adventurers to trap the innocent using your faux-hopeful light. Or perhaps you are still good, and you seek a “cure” to this horrible condition that’s befallen you.

Quick Build

You can make a will-o’-wisp quickly following these suggestions. Put a 15 in Dexterity and a 14 in Wisdom. Then, take the Dark Master compulsion.

The Will-o’-Wisp

Level Prof. Bonus Flying Speed Dark Energy Powers Shock  Features
1st +2 30 ft. 1d8 Innate Spellcasting, Undead Origin
2nd +2 40 ft. 2 1d8 Increased Flying Speed, Dark Energy
3rd +2 40 ft. 2 1d8 Undead Origin feature
4th +2 40 ft. 2 1d8 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 40 ft. 3 2d8 Wisp Resilience (Active)
6th +3 45 ft. 3 2d8 Advanced Ephemerality (invisibility)
7th +3 45 ft. 3 2d8 Undead Origin feature
8th +3 45 ft. 3 2d8 Ability Score Improvement
9th +4 45 ft. 3 2d8 Advanced Ephemerality (great invisibility)
10th +4 50 ft. 3 2d8 Improved Wisp Resilience (1 resistance)
11th +4 50 ft. 4 3d8 Undead Origin feature
12th +4 50 ft. 4 3d8 Ability Score Increase
13th +5 50 ft. 4 3d8 Telepathy
14th +5 55 ft. 4 3d8 Wisp Resilience (Passive)
15th +5 55 ft. 4 3d8 Improved Wisp Resilience (2 resistances)
16th +5 55 ft. 4 3d8 Ability Score Improvement
17th +6 55 ft. 5 4d8 Undead Origin feature
18th +6 60 ft. 5 4d8 Advanced Ephemerality (etherealness)
19th +6 60 ft. 5 4d8 Ability Score Improvement, Improved Wisp Resilience (3 resistances)
20th +6 60 ft. 5 4d8 Mastery Over Death

Class Features

As a will-o’-wisp, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d6 per will-o’-wisp level

Hit Points at 1st Level: 6 + your Constitution modifier

Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d6 (or 4) + your Constitution modifier


Proficiencies

Armor: None

Weapons: None

Tools: None

Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma

Skills: Choose two from Arcana, History, Investigation, Perception, Religion, and Stealth


Equipment

You do not start with any equipment.


Innate Spellcasting

At 1st level, you have multiple innate spells that you can cast at will. You know the shocking grasp cantrip, plus one of the following cantrips of your choice: chill touch, guidance, friends, message, minor illusion, prestidigitation, or true strike.

Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells. You use your Wisdom whenever a feature refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Wisdom modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a wisp feature you use or when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier

You never require somatic or material components without a gp cost for casting a spell, innate or otherwise.

Your shocking grasp cantrip is a small jolt of electricity that leaps from your form. It still counts as having a range of touch.

Undead Origin

At first level, you choose an undead origin, which describes the way in which you became a will-o’-wisp: Dark Magic or Fiendish Pact, both detailed at the end of the class description. Your choice grants you features when you choose it at 1st level and again at 3rd, 7th, 11th, and 17th level.

Increased Flying Speed

Starting at 2nd level, your flying speed increases by 10 feet. Your speed continues to increase as you reach certain will-o’-wisp levels, as shown in the Will-o’-Wisp table.

Dark Energy

As you become accustomed to your undead nature, you expand upon your wisp powers which allows you to augment and improve your innate abilities.

At 2nd level, you gain two dark energy powers of your choice. Your dark energy power options are detailed at the end of the class description. when you gain certain will-o’-wisp levels, you gain additional dark energy powers of your choice, as shown in the Dark Energy Powers column of the Will-o’-Wisp table.

Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the powers that you know and replace it with another power that you could learn at that level.

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. You can’t increase your Strength score above 1, Dexterity score above 30, and any other ability score above 20 using this feature.

Wisp Resilience

Starting at 5th level, when you are hit an attack that deals bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage from a nonmagical weapon, you can use your reaction to gain resistance against bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage until the start of your next turn.

Starting at 14th level, you gain permanent resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

Improved Wisp Resilience

At 10th level, choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, necrotic, or thunder. You become resistant to that damage type. At 15th level and again at 18th level, you can choose one additional damage type to become resistant to, or you can choose a damage type that you are already resistant to and gain immunity to that resistance.

Advanced Ephemerality

At 6th level, you can use your action to cast the invisibility spell, targeting only yourself. At 9th level, you can use this feature to cast greater invisibility instead, targeting only yourself. And at 18th level, you can choose to cast etherealness. Once you use this feature to cast one of these spells, you can’t do so again until you complete a long rest.

Telepathy

Starting at 13th level, as a bonus action on each of your turns, you can target one creature that you can see within 30 feet of you and communicate with it mentally. The contacted creature doesn’t need to share a language with you, but it must be able to understand at least one language. A creature without telepathy can receive and respond to your messages, but can’t initiate or terminate your telepathic conversation. The contact is broken as soon as you and the target are no longer within range of each other or if you contact a different creature within range. If you are in the range of an antimagic field or in any other location where magic doesn’t function, you can’t send or receive telepathic messages.

Mastery Over Death

At 20th level, if your hit points are reduced to 0, you can choose to rejuvenate. You regain all of your hit points. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again for seven days.

Undead Origin

Not all will-o’-wisps are created the same way. Although many variations exist, most of these origins fall into two categories: Dark Magic or a Fiendish Pact. (The Dark Magic undead origin is a Patreon Exclusive available at all tiers.)

Fiendish Pact

When a mortal makes a deal with a devil, demon, or some other powerful fiend in exchange for enhanced speed, ability, or awareness, the deal often turns them into a will-o’-wisp.

Fiend Magic

Starting at the 1st level when you choose this undead origin, you gain the ability to cast spells granted by your fiendish patron. You have two spell slots to cast these spells with; all of your spell slots are the same level as shown on the Slot Level column of the Fiend Magic table. To cast one of these spells of 1st level or higher, you must expend a spell slot. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a short or long rest.

For example, when you are 6th level, you have two 3rd level spell slots. To cast the 1st-level spell burning hands, you must spend one of those slots, and you cast it as a 3rd-level spell.

The spells known column of the Fiend Magic table shows you the spells that you know as you gain levels in this class. When you reach 5th level, for example, you learn the fireball spell.

Fiend Magic

Level Slot Level Spells Known
1st 1st burning hands, charm person
3rd 2nd darkness, scorching ray
5th 3rd fear, fireball
7th 4th dimension door, fire shield
9th 5th contact other plane, flame strike

Firestarter

At 1st level, you know the firebolt cantrip.

Devil’s Tongue

Also 1st level, after hanging around fiends for a while, you’ve learned a little about making deals. You have proficiency in Charisma (Deception and Persuasion).

Devil’s Sight

Starting at 3rd level, you can see in darkness, both magical and nonmagical, to a distance of 120 feet.

Hellfire

At 3rd level, spells you cast ignore resistance to fire damage. In addition, before you make an attack using your shocking gasp cantrip, you can choose to make the spells’ damage fire in place of lightning.

Instant Teleportation

At 7th level, you gain the ability to quickly shift your presence from one place to another. As a bonus action, you can teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until the end of your next turn.

Possession

At 11th level, while you are in the same space as a humanoid, you can use your action to try and possess the creature. The creature must succeed on a Charisma saving throw against your spell save DC. On a failure, you possess the creature. Your body disappears and the target is incapacitated and loses control of its body. You now control the body but don’t deprive the target of awareness. You can’t be targeted by any attack, spell, or other effect, except ones that turn undead. You retain your alignment, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. You otherwise use the possessed target’s statistics, but don’t gain access to the target’s knowledge, class features, or proficiencies.

The possession lasts until the body drops to 0 hit points, you end it as a bonus action, or you are turned or forced out by an effect like the dispel evil and good spell. When the possession ends, you reappear in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the body. The target is immune to this feature for 24 hours after succeeding on the saving throw or after the possession ends.

Once you successful possess a creature and the possession ends, you can’t use this feature again until you complete a long rest.

Infernal Intervention

Beginning at 17th level, you call upon your fiend to intervene on your behalf. You act as a catalyst for the fiend, allowing it to temporarily take hold of your vessel. From there, the fiend will assess the situation and help you as it sees feet. The DM chooses the nature of the assistance: the effect of any sorcerer, warlock, or wizard spell would be appropriate.

After your fiend intervents, you can’t use this feature again for 7 days.

Dark Energy Powers

If a Dark Energy Power has prerequisites, you must meet them to learn it. You can learn the power at the same time that you meet its prerequisites. A level prerequisite refers to your level in this class. (Get 5 more powers with the PDF on Patreon—only $3 to join.)

Dual Zap

You can choose two creatures to target with your shocking grasp cantrip instead of one so long as both creatures are within 5 feet of each other. You must make a separate attack roll for each creature.

Eldritch Sight

You can detect magic at will.

Energize

You can cast haste targeting yourself. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

High Voltage

When you cast shocking grasp, add your Wisdom modifier to the damage it deals on a hit.

Lightning Caster

When you cast shocking grasp, you can choose to make the range of the spell 30 feet.

Lightning Field

Prerequisite: 5th level

You can discharge electricity in a 20-foot radius sphere centered on yourself. When do you, each creature in the area must make a Dexterity saving throw. If a target is wearing armor made ot metal, it makes its saving throw at disadvantage. A creature takes 6d8 lightning damage on a failed saving throw or half as much damage on a success.

Lightning Shield

When you are targeted by a ranged attack that deals damage other than radiant damage, you can use your reaction to deflect the attack with your shocking grasp attack. When you do so, the damage you take from the attack is reduced by the damage for your shocking grasp cantrip.

Stunning Grasp

Prerequisite: 5th level

When you deal damage with your stunning grasp attack, you can force the creature to make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the creature is stunned until the end of your next turn. The next time you use this feature on a creature that failed its saving throw within the next 24 hours, it has advantage on its Constitution saving against being stunned.

Sustained Volt

After you hit a creature with shocking grasp on your turn, on each of your turns while you maintain concentration for 1 up to 1 minute, you can use your bonus action to deal damage equal to your shocking grasp damage to the target automatically. The spell ends if you use your action to do anything else. The spell also ends if the target is every outside of the spell’s range or if it has total cover from you.

Trick of the Light

You can cast silent image at will.

Wisp Defense

As long as you remain in your true form, your AC equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Wisdom modifier. You cannot gain the benefits of armor, magic items, shields or spells that increase your armor class while using this power.

Wretched Whispers

Prerequisite: 5th level

You can cast bestow curse. Once you use this power, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.


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4 thoughts on “Will-o’-Wisp Playable Race/Class | New Player Option for Fifth Edition

  1. Hi there,
    This is very interesting. Kind of like a combination Warlock / Cleric for capabilities, especially with the Dark Energy set of Powers.

    Regards,
    Christopher Simpson.

  2. I like the idea and the flavor! One question though. What happens when you drop to 0 hp if you’re immune to the unconscious condition? Do you continue to operate as normal while making death saving throws?

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