DnD 5e - The Sorcerer Handbook
I will use 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.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Sorcerers are a challenge. They lack the versatility of a Wizard, but share many of the same capabilities, and almost all of the same spells. Where the Wizard is powerful because they own a tool for every problem, the Sorcerer is powerful because they own a few good tools and can use them to fix any problem. Sorcerers also make one of the best Face's in the game due to their skill list and dependence on Charisma. The Sorcerer's spell list allows them to serve as a Blaster, Controller, Striker, and Utility Caster.
Sorcerer Class Features
Hit Points: d6 hit points is the lowest in the game, so be sure to take enough Constitution to compensate.
Saves: Constitution and Charisma are two excellent saves, since things which effect either of them frequently incapacitate you in some fashion.
Proficiencies: No armor or shields, and only the most basic weapons, but the Sorcerer skill list contains all of the Face skills, including Insight.
Spellcasting: The Sorcerer casts spells the same way a Bard does: You get a set number of spells known, and can cast any spell from that list so long as you have the slots to do so. This means that Sorcerers always have fewer options available to them than a Wizard who can change their spell list daily, but Sorcerers make up for this lack of versatility by being able to augment their spells with Metamagic. The Sorcerer spell list is a subset of the Wizard's spell list (with a handful of additions like Dominate Beast and Earthquake), but you still have plenty of options to choose from.
Sorcerous Origin: See "Subclasses - Sorcerous Origin", below.
Font of Magic: Font of Magic is a definitive feature of the Sorcerer, especially Sorcery Points.
- Sorcery Points: Sorcery points fuel the Sorcerer's abilities and allow the class to do much more than just casting spells. You have a limited pool per day, but you have the option of consuming spell slots to get additional Sorcery Points.
- Flexible Casting: Using Sorcery Points to get additional spell slots is very expensive, so only do it when you absolutely need to do so. Converting spell slots to Sorcery Points is a bit less daunting once you have a large pool of spell slots, but be sure not to do it too much or you will quickly run out of daily resources.
Metamagic: Metamagic allows you to stretch the effects of your limited number of spells known, allowing you to easily capitalize on existing spells instead of constantly needing to find and learn new ones.
- Careful Spell: Usually you can avoid hitting your allies by positioning the spell carefully, but sometimes you need to drop a fireball on the party.
- Distant Spell: Spells generally have enough range to get the job done in situations where they make sense to use.
- Empowered Spell: If you reroll 1's you might get a few extra points of damage. The effectiveness grows as you add more dice, but it will never do a ton of extra damage.
- Extended Spell: Many fantastic buffs have short durations, and extending them can save you the trouble of casting the same spell twice.
- Heightened Spell: Use this on every save-or-suck spell you cast. Note that some of them, like Hold Person, allow repeated saves so the effect is considerably diminished.
- Quickened Spell: Cast a regular spell and a Cantrip in one turn. This is one of very few abilities which allows you to break the action economy, and it's absolutely worth the cost.
- Subtle Spell: Situational.
- Twinned Spell: A lot of fantastic buffs like Haste and Polymorph target single creatures and require Concentration. This allows you to buff two creatures at the same time.
Sorcerous Restoration: Four free Sorcery Points gives you a lot of options.
Subclasses - Sorcerous Origins
- Draconic BloodlinePHB: If you want
to use the Elemental Adept feat, the Draconic Sorcerer is among the best class
choices available. In terms of ray damage output, it's hard to match the
Draconic Sorcerer between Elemental Affinity and Metamagic. The Evocation
Wizard is comparable, but the ability to break the action economy with
Metamagic allows the Draconic Sorcerer to provide much higher spikes of damage
than the Evocation Wizard can match.
- Dragon Ancestor: Your choice of ancestor
only matters mechanically for the energy type, and it only affects
the Elemental Affinity ability. That said, you want to pick an
energy type which you can use frequently and which offers a large
number of spell options which can apply Elemental Affinity.
- Acid: About as many spell options as Poison, but you can take Elemental Adept with it.
- Cold: A few less options than Fire or Lightning.
- Fire: By far the most spell options, and while resistance to fire is common, resistance is negligible when you have Elemental Adept.
- Lightning: Nearly as common as Fire spells, and considerably fewer creatures resist it.
- Poison: Poison resistance and immunity aren't terribly common, but since Elemental Adept doesn't allow you to select Poison you will have trouble overcoming resistance. There also aren't a lot of spells which deal poison damage.
- Draconic Resilience: This helps offset your d6 hit points, and gives you the equivalent of permanent Mage Armor. You'll still want a bit of Dexterity and Constitution, but this is very helpful. Note that the bonus hit points only apply to Sorcerer levels, but if you're taking a Sorcerer dip the armor will continue to function.
- Elemental Affinity: According to Sage Advice and the Errata, this effect (and similar effects) apply to a single damage roll per spell, so it's much more effective on AOE spells like Fireball than on multiple-attack style spells like Scorching Ray. A boost of up to 5 damage per spell, especially with AOE spells, is a considerable boost, especially on low-level spells like Burning Hands, so your low-level spells can continue to be big damage dealers while consuming your less-powerful spell slots. You also have the ability to grant yourself energy resistance for an hour without the need to conentrate.
- Dragon Wings: Flight is crucial at high levels, especially for spellcasters who need to stay out of reech of terrifying melee enemies. Spells like Fly require Concentration, which severely limits your options, so the ability to remain in flight and concentrate on other effects is a massive tactical advantage.
- Draconic Presence: By this level you have a huge list of spells, several of which will solve the same problem without eating a big pile of your Sorcery points.
- Dragon Ancestor: Your choice of ancestor only matters mechanically for the energy type, and it only affects the Elemental Affinity ability. That said, you want to pick an energy type which you can use frequently and which offers a large number of spell options which can apply Elemental Affinity.
- Storm SorcerySCAG: Storm Sorcery
faces several issues, which is unfortunate because the flavor is interesting.
Tempestuous Magic doesn't scale, and it obsolete by level 3. Heart of the Storm
requires you to go into melee range with most foes. Storm Guide is just outright
worthless, and could easily be replaced by access to Control Weather. Storm's
fury is a great defensive measure, but again requires you to be in melee for
it to materr. Wind Soul is a fantastic ability, but it can't compensate for
how lackluster the rest of the Origin is.
- Wind Speaker: Essentially four free languages. Especially nice if you are your party's Face.
- Tempestuous Magic: 10 feet of flight won't get you anywhere interesting. The primary function is to remove you from melee combat without drawing opportunity attacks. This will quickly stop being exciting once you can pick up Misty Step as a 2nd-level spell.
- Heart of the Storm: Being within 10 feet of foes is rarely a good idea for a Sorcerer. The resistances are great, but it's hard to bring the bonus damage into play without seriously endangering yourself. However, the damage bonus is pretty good so if you can stand shuffling into melee to hit enemies with Shocking Grasp and Thunderclap you can do quite a bit of damage.
- Storm Guide: Unless you're in a seafaring campaign, this will almost certainly never matter.
- Storm's Fury: This is very helpful since you're apparently expected to stand within 10 feet of foes. Of course, knocking them 20 feet away means that you'll need to follow them to continue applying Heart of the Storm.
- Wind Soul: Flight for your entire party at no cost and without Concentration.
- Wild MagicPHB: Wild Magic is unpredictable,
which means it's unreliable and therefore ineffective. But it's a lot of
fun, so if your group can survive you not min-maxing this adds an element of
zany fun to your game.
- Wild Magic Surge: If your DM forgets to ask you to roll, this doesn't matter. But it's a core component of the archetype, so as a DM I would make you roll every time you cast a qualifying spell (unless we were trying to get through an encounter quickly). The effects range from comedic to catastrophic to fantastic, so there's really no way to rate this.
- Tides of Chaos: Using this for attack rolls is an absolute waste, but using it for saving throws can save your life.
- Bend Luck: When your allies fails a save against death by 1 or two, it's heart-breaking. Spend the Sorcery Points and be everyone's best friend.
- Controlled Chaos: This considerably reduces the threat of the Wild Magic table, and makes it more of a source of unpredictable buffs and comic relief.
- Spell Bombardment: The biggest die used for spell damage is a d10, so on average this is 5.5 additional damage on those spells. Most of the time the effects will be smaller.
Sorcerers are all about Charisma, and you can forego everything else.
Dex: Take a bit for AC.
Con: Take some to compensate for your d6 hit points.
Int: A bit for knowledge skills might be nice.
Wis: Wisdom saves are common, and Insight is helpful for a Face.
Cha: Commands almost everything you do..
|Point Buy||Standard Array|
Charisma bonuses are absolutely essential. Since you don't need ability score increases for other abilities, a +1 bonus can be just as good as a +2, which opens up options beyond the Half-Elf.
AarakocraEEPC: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
AasimarVGTM: +2 Charisma is obviously fantastic for sorcerers. Healing hands provides a healing mechanic very rarely available to arcane spellcastins, and you get resistance to both necrotic and radiant damage, neither of which can be gained from spells like Resist Energy.
- Fallen: Necrotic Shroud's damage boost is nice, but the Strength bonus is totally wasted on the Sorcerer.
- Protector: You can get flight from other sources, and Wisdom doesn't help sorcerers much.
- Scourge:A Constitution increase, and Radiant Consumption is a great way to repel groups of enemies who get too close.
BugbearVGTM: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
Dwarf: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- DuergarSCAG: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- HillPHB: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer
- MountainPHB: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer
DragonbornPHB: The Strength bonus is wasted, but the Charisma bonus is great, you get permanent resistance to an energy type, and you get a breath weapon.
ElfPHB: Dexterity and free Perception.
- Drow: Bonus Charisma, but sunlight sensitivity is a headache.
- High Elf: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- Wood Elf: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
FirbolgVGTM: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
GenasiEEPC: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- Air: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- Earth: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- Fire: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- Water: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
Gnome: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- ForestPHB: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- RockPHB: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
GoblinVGTM: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
GoliathEEPC: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
Half-ElfPHB: The biggest charisma bonus, plus some free skills.
- AquaticSCAG: Only if you're in an aquatic campaign.
- DrowSCAG: A few extra spells never hurt, but you have access to similar options already.
- High/Moon/SunSCAG: An extra Cantrip is always welcome.
- Keen SensesSCAG: The sidebar describing half-elf variants specifices that you can take Keen Senses in place of Skill Versatility, or a trait based on your elf parentage. Keen Senses give you a single fixed skill, and you're giving up proficiency in any two skills. It should be immediately apparent that this is a terrible trade.
- WoodSCAG: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- VanillaPHB: Two skills are great if you plan to be the party's Face.
Half-OrcPHB: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
HalflingPHB: A bit of Dexterity is nice, but Lucky is largely wasted on spellcasters since most of your spells require other people to roll saves instead of requiring you to attack.
- Ghostwise: Nothing useful for sorcerers.
- Lightfoot: Bonus Charisma, and naturally stealthy.
- Stout: Nothing useful for sorcerers.
HobgoblinVGTM: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
HumanPHB: Versatile and fantastic at everything.
- Vanilla: Sorcerers really only need Charisma, so most of the bonuses are outright wasted.
- Variant: You still get a crucial bonus to your Charisma, and you can get Elemental Adept at first level.
KenkuVGTM: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
KoboldVGTM: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
LizardfolkVGTM: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
OrcVGTM: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
TabaxiVGTM: A small Charisma bump, and increased Dexterity provides a helpful boost your AC.
Tiefling: Bonus Charisma, fire resistance, and some free spells.
- FeralSCAG: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
- Devil's TongueSCAG: The replacement spells are absolutely better than the normal Tiefling spells.
- HellfireSCAG: Burning Hands is roguhly equivalent to Hellish Rebuke for most Sorcerers.
- VanillaPHB: Good ability scores, but Devil's Tongue's spells are better.
- WingedSCAG: Flight is a massive advantage, especially without requiring Concentration.
TritonVGTM: Constitution and Charisma re both great on a sorcerer, but the innate spellcasting complements your class spellcasting very well.
Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGTM: An excellent Charisma increase, and the comibation of Magic Resistance and Poison Immunity make you very durable.
- Arcana (Int): One of the most important knowledge skills, but you may not have enough Intelligence to back it up.
- Deception (Cha): Important for a Face.
- Insight (Wis): Helpful for a Face, but you may not have enough Wisdom to back it up.
- Intimidation (Cha): Important for a Face.
- Persuasion (Cha): The king of Face skills.
- Religion (Int): One of the most important knowledge skills, but you may not have enough Intelligence to back it up.
You only get two skills from your class, so look to pick up the other two Face skills from your background. If you're a Half-Elf or Variant Human, you can pick up your missing Face skills from your racial bonus skills, which opens up a lot of other options. Bonus languages are also helpful; if you can get enough of them you may not need to learn Tongues.
- AcolytePHB: Insight and two languages.
- City WatchSCAG:
- Clan CrafterSCAG:
- Cloistered ScholarSCAG:
- Faction AgentSCAG:
- Far TravelerSCAG:
- Folk HeroPHB:
- Guild ArtisanPHB:
- Knight of the OrderSCAG:
- Mercenary VeteranSCAG:
- Urban Bounty HunterSCAG:
- Uthgardt Tribe MemberSCAG:
- Waterdavian NobleSCAG:
- AlertPHB: Going first isn't terribly important for anyone but Rogues.
- AthletePHB: Awful.
- Crossbow ExpertPHB:
- Defensive DuelistPHB:
- Dual WielderPHB:
- Dungeon DelverPHB:
- Elemental AdeptPHB: Absolutely crucial for Draconic and Storm Sorcerers.
- Great Weapon MasterPHB:
- Heavily ArmoredPHB:
- Heavy Armor MasterPHB:
- Inspiring LeaderPHB:
- Keen MindPHB: Awful.
- Lightly ArmoredPHB:
- LinguistPHB: Use magic.
- LuckyPHB: Good on anyone.
- Mage SlayerPHB: Too situational.
- Magic InitiatePHB:
- Martial AdeptPHB: Not useful enough with only one superiority die.
- Medium Armor MasterPHB:
- Moderately ArmoredPHB:
- Mounted CombatPHB: It's hard to play a mounted character without a special mount ability of some kind.
- Polearm MasterPHB:
- ResilientPHB: If you were going to be good at a save, your class would have given it to you.
- Ritual CasterPHB:
- Savage AttackerPHB: This is a bad feat. The largest damage die (d12), yields an average of 2 extra damage per turn.
- Shield MasterPHB:
- SkulkerPHB: Sniping is for Rogues.
- Spell SniperPHB:
- Tavern BrawlerPHB:
- War CasterPHB:
- Weapon MasterPHB: You get all of the weapon proficiencies that you need to function.
Weapons are for lesser beings like Fighters.
Cast Mage Armor, and learn Shield.
Multiclassing is hard for a full caster like the Sorcerer. Each level considerably expands you abilities, you don't really need anything from other classes.
- Bard: Bards also use Charisma for spellcasting, and since they're full casters you won't lost spell slots as you level. You still delay access to higher level spells, but you can get Jack of All Trades and Song of Rest from two levels and Expertise in two skills.
- Rogue: Expertise would be nice for your Face skills,
- Warlock: If you wanted Warlock abilities you should have rolled a Warlock. Eldritch Blast is popular, but you can pick it up with Magic Initiate and Agonizing Blast is not good enough to justify losing three levels of spellcasting.