The Illrigger – An MCDM Class for D&D5e – Breakthrough

All images in this article belong to MCDM

The Illrigger is the new class coming from the creators of the Arcadia magazine (Issue 1 || Issue 2 || Issue 3), as well as Strongholds & Followers. Having read the playtest version a long time ago just after The Chain of Archeron started its pause, I’m incredibly surprised to see how much it changed, and all for the better! As always, MCDM shows off how great its playtesters are by presenting quality content.

Before I begin, as I’ve been doing with the first three issues, I need to clarify that this content seems to have been made at the same time that the three issues from Arcadia were being made, meaning screen readers don’t properly read this document. It’s a shame because they did a great job adapting Issue 3 for this to not be accessible in the same way. However, if that means that all content in the future will be fully accessible, then this won’t be much of a problem. It would be really cool from their part however if this class was to be updated to be fully accessible.

As regards the art, this document has amazing pieces, probably some of the best out of the work from MCDM. They also changed the way they were laying out art, using a style more similar to how official D&D books do it as I’ve been suggesting in the previous issues’ breakdowns. That’s amazing! I hope they keep this format because I don’t really like seeing the art in boxes. I’m just being picky though, but it’s my personal opinion.

The Illrigger

The document starts with some text that shows what the Illrigger is all about. Matt Colville loves writing some fluff for the stuff he creates, as we’ve seen in Strongholds & Followers. It was an interesting piece to read that besides showing implicitly the tenets of the Illrigger while sharing more of his world. I love how he is filling us with details from his world, which will surely end up becoming a setting in the future, starting with the Capital book to be released yet.

The illrigger is a combination of a bard, a paladin, and a warlock. It manages to be different enough from these three to be its own separate class by providing us with very cool new abilities that wouldn’t fit as a subclass in my opinion. You are a soldier from hell, ready to sow discord, pain, strife, deceit, and fear without instruction or supervision. I love the flavor of this class, even though i think you are pretty much limited to play an evil character (if you find a clever way of making a good aligned character with this be sure to share it).

  • Forked Tongue. This instantly makes your Persuasion, Deception and Intimidation checks be at least average, similar to the rogue’s reliable talent.
    • This is an excellent way to make Illriggers great at speeches, convincing, and deception, which is what devils are all about. It really makes its theme stand out.
  • Infernal Conduit. You can use necrotic magic to heal your allies with your life essence or leech it from your enemies, healing you in the process
    • The damage or healing is rolled from the number of dice you choose from your dice pool. You gain more dice as you level up. Having a dice pool means that you can do some heavy damage/healing few times or small damage/healing several times, which is a great design choice from their part in my opinion.
    • At 11th lvl you can also inflict exhaustion on your enemy when using this, up to a maximum of three points of exhaustion. As far as I know there aren’t other ways for PCs to inflict exhaustion, which is a weird design choice from their part. It’s interesting, but I don’t know if I would have chosen to add that. On the other hand, I do love seeing the exhaustion condition being used more.
  •  Fighting Style. At 2nd lvl you gain a fighting style, but none of the ones you can choose are the ones we see in other classes. In other words, you can choose between 4 different passive abilities:
    • Treachery: Bonus to attack for going solo against the enemies.
      • I love the idea of a tanky soldier from hell with one huge shield charging first against the enemies.
    • Bravado: You gain AC by wearing no armor. Similar to the class features monks and barbarians have.
    • Schemes: When an enemy attacks you you can rotate to another space around the enemy.
      • This allows for tactical repositioning, which really fits this strategical and intelligent class feel.
    • Lies: Allows you to use the Charisma mod instead of the Streangth one when wielding two handed weapons for attack rolls and damage rolls.
      • All you people who love the hexblade subclass, this is your pick!
  • Baleful Interdict. What this class is all about! You place seals on your enemies from afar, allowing you to stack seals on a single one or on different targets. When you or an ally attacks that creature, you can as a free action activate the seal to deal damage to that creature per seal you activate.
    • Not to confuse with placing seals (the sea creatures) in an enemy. That would just be weird.
    • I can already see parties creating combos with this ability and some other spells, or having the fighter make many attacks to activate three different seals in a single turn. Sounds like a ton of fun.
  • Hellsight. A lesser version of True Sight, but free to use [Cha mod] times per long rest.
  • Diabolic Contract. You get to pick between three subclasses (listed below): Painkiller, Shadowmaster, or Architect of Ruin. Each of them is connected to a different archdevil. Additionally, you gain Invoke Authority, which is pretty much a Channel Divinity from hell.
  • Ability Score Improvement. I don’t need to describe what this does. Go watch ANY other class.
  • Extra Attack. Same as above, except not all classes have extra attack. You do get the concept, though.
  • Aura of Despair. At lvl 14, when an enemy creature makes an attack roll or saving throw they decrease 1d4 from their result if they are close to you
    • It’s a constant free bane around you just for being high level. Cool!
    • It’s pretty much the anti paladin aura. I like it.
  • Summon Hell. At 15th lvl you can summon a bone devil as an action.
    • That’s a CR9 monster with Magic Resistance!! That’s powerful.
    • Ok, you don’t summon hell but a bone devil. Close enough.

Subclasses (AKA Diabolic Contracts)


This is the tanky subclass, made to be a frontliner and with a great sense of style. You need to look menacing if you are at the front!

  • Invoke Authorities. 
    • Devastator: Your allies can use a reaction to do a weapon attack.
      • Great for wombo combos. Have all PCs flank the BBEG, use this and good bye!
    • Infernal Surge: You gain an extra action in top of your action and bonus action.
      • A weaker version of haste, but a great thing to have in your arsenal nonetheless.
  • Bonus Proficiency. Proficiency in heavy armor. Makes sense
  • By the Throat. You can restrain a creature when placing a seal in them if they fail a saving throw.
    • By the name of this, I can tell Matt was going for a Darth Vader vibe force choking their enemies with this. Thank you Matt!
  • Telekinetic Seal. If someone gets melee to you, you can throw them away and have them fall prone.
    • Yeet your oponents with a force push!
  • You die on my command! If an ally falls to 0hp, you have them go back to 1hp by using your reaction.
    • Very cool thematically! I will describe it as posessing my allies’ bodies with hellish energy to keep standing a bit more.
  • Steelmind. Advantage on Wisdom saving throws
  •  Pain devil. Once per long rest you can become a hellish creature that deals force damage to those in its proximity as you rip their bodies apart. As this was not enough you gain a huge amount of temporary hit points
  • Interdict Improvements. At 6th, 10th, and 18th lvls you get improvements for your seals
    • I am Death: After placing your seal on an enemy you have advantage against it until the end of your turn
    • Hell’s Fury: You make a free attack when you place a seal on an enemy
    • Deathstrike: You can use your reaction when you consume a seal to have your attack be a critical hit.


The puppetmaster, leader of the thieves’ guilds, and master of stealth and deception.

  • Invoke Authorities.
    • Fade: You turn invisible and hide as part of the action.
    • Moloch’s Blessing: Place all your remaining seals on one creature.
      • This is perfect to deal a heavy load of damage on an enemy, excellent for an assassination!
  • Flash of Brimstone. Teleport next to those you place a seal on by using a reaction
    • Not only great for assassination but for infiltration as well!
  • Bonus Proficiencies. Proficiency in Stealth, Acrobatics, and Thieves’ Tools
    • Congrats! You are a rogue!
  • Dagger Adept. Gives you the equivalent to the dual-wielding feat and increases the dagger and sickles’ damage die.
    • It’s weird to see the sickles make an appearance, but they are greatly welcome because they really fit this subclass’ flavor.
  • Relentless. You move faster because rogue
  • Only a Memory. Advantage on Stealth checks and you can hide with a bonus action.
  • Evasion. If you are successful on a saving throw that would make you receive half damage you receive none instead.
    • Ok, this is now really stepping into the rogue’s area
  • Shadowkiller. You get darkvision and see normally in magical darkness. In addition, you can see through illusions that have it seem you are on another place, such as blur or mirror image.
    • If only this wasn’t something you get at 17th level, it would be great to pair it with warlocks that can see through magical darkness as well. You still can do that combo, but by 17th level you surely have better tactics.
  • Shadowform. You become a shadowy creature that can drain Strength just like the shadow monsters do. Additionally, you are resistant to a lot of things and can fly and move at high speed!
  • Interdict Improvements. At 6th, 10th, and 18th lvls you get improvements for your seals
    • Marked for Death: When you attack a creature with a seal you can make it so it has disadvantage attacking anyone but you, and if it fails a save, it can’t get away from you.
    • He is the Darkness: You gain half cover when you get close to a marked creature.
    • Hell’s Assassin: Your seals deal more damage when activated.

Architect of Ruin

The ones doing all the research, propaganda and creating illusions to increase the forces, all while being the group’s strategist. It’s the spellcasting subclass, that for some weird reason seems to be a 3/4 caster as it can cast 6th level spells, which is weird because they don’t add any new 6th level spell

  • Invoke Authorities.
    • Veteran of Sorcery: As a reaction you can succeed a saving throw you failed against a spell.
      • Wow, this is powerful! It’s pretty much a legendary resistance.
    • Spellbreaker: When an enemy makes a spell attack against you, you are unaffected by it, with a small chance of redirecting the spell towards the caster.
      • This is extremely powerful as well! I really need to see how this handles in play.
  • Spellcasting. The usual, except you start with 2 cantrips and get a new one at lvl8. Your spellcasting ability is Charisma, regaining spell slots on long rests.
    • I still find it weird they did a new way for the magic to work different from all other classes. I don’t know why they didn’t decide to go for a half caster. The only thing I can think of is they really wanted for this spellcaster to be able to cast 6th level spells.
  • Spellmaster. You have advantage on Constitution checks to maintain concentration.
  • Instant Illusion. When you place a seal you can cast as a reaction an illusion spell of one action.
    • This allows you to cast an illusion as an action and as a reaction in the same turn. DOPE! Imagine casting two major illusions at once!
  • By Will Alone. You can cast illusions, no components required.
    • Veteran of Sorcery and this makes it feel like they were going for a sorcerer approach with this subclass, which is quite interesting to see.
  • Asmodeus’ Blessing. You can cast fire shield as a reaction.
  • Lore Devil. You become a fiendish creature capable of nullifying the spells occurring around you, allowing you to place more seals, have sealed enemies automatically fail saving throws against your spells and there is a chance that spells you cast don’t consume spell slots.
    • This might be a lvl20 ability, but it seems way better and more powerful than the ones from the other two subclasses.
  • Interdict Improvements. At 6th, 10th, and 18th lvls you get improvements for your seals
    • Hellmage: You can expend seals instead of spell slots to cast illusion spells
    • Submit!: As a reaction you can consume a seal to impose disadvantage on saving throws against a spell you cast.
    • Magic Resistance: You gain advantage on saving throws against spells from marked creatures.

New Illrigger Spells

Without going too much into details as these spells are just for the Architect of Ruin subclass, they are all copies of existing spells, made to work with Charisma saving throws instead of Wisdom, or changing the damage to necrotic for example. I would have liked to see more original ideas, but I can see why they decided to port spells from other classes to the illrigger by slightly altering them. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel!

Lady Dazran, the NPC

The Illrigger document comes with an NPC for you to use in your games, full with a backstory and a stat block you can see below. She definitely seems to be a fearsome illrigger to have as an enemy. I can imagine a number of ways in which I could throw her in my campaign, and she can work as a badass BBEG, or lieutenant. Her stat block has a combination of all subclasses presented above, distributed in a way that makes it easy to read. She even has reactions to make combat against her even more interesting and action-oriented!


All in all, I’m really happy with the end result of the Illrigger. The Painkiller is a subclass I definitely need to play, and the shadowmaster feels interesting enough to try out. On the other hand, I have no interest in playing an architect of ruin, and still think some things about it might be a bit too powerful.

Is it worth your money? I mean… just the fact they are selling this for $6.66 at the store makes me want to buy it. The art is amazing, and there is a lot of cool things to get about it, even if you don’t end up enjoying the whole class overall. I’m pretty sure you are going to love at least one of the three subclasses.