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DnD 5e - The Wizard Handbook

Disclaimer

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.

Introduction

The Wizard is the iconic arcane spellcaster, capable of doing all manner of fantastic tricks, and generally limited only by their spellbook. A Wizard with a comprehensive spellbook can do essentially anything in the game, often as well as or better than a non-magical character who is built to do that thing. A Wizard with Invisibility is as stealthy as a Rogue. A Wizard with a summoned pet can replace a fighter (at least temporarily). A clever Wizard could even find a way to heal his allies and replace a Cleric.

Because Wizards can do so much so well, their roles are numerous and varied. However, in a typical party the Wizard's primary functions are as a Blaster, Striker, and Utility Caster.

Wizard Class Features

Hit Points: d6 hit points is the lowest in the game. Fortunately Intelligence is the only ability which Wizards strictly need, so you can afford a decent Constitution score.

Saves: Intelligence saves are very rare, and proficiency in Wisdom saves won't help much if your Wisdom is terrible.

Proficiencies: Wizard's weapons are pitiful, but can be easily replaced by cantrips. Unfortunately Wizards only get two skills.

Spellcasting: Wizards are the king of spellcasters. They can do everything; kill stuff, charm stuff, solve problems, gather information, travel, whatever. If you can imagine doing it with magic, a Wizard can do it. Except healing. They can't really do that.

Arcane Recovery: This provides a bit of sustainability to the Wizard which was missing in previous editions. Wizards were the biggest cause of the "five minute day", in which the Wizard would burn their biggest spells in the first encounter, then would be essentially useless unless the party immediately took a long rest. Arcane Recovery gives you the ability to recover your biggest spell slot (or several smaller ones), allowing you to continue at least through the first short rest without issue.

Arcane Tradition: See "Subclasses - Arcane Traditions", below.

Spell Mastery: Your first thought might be to pick up something to replace your cantrips as a go-to damage solution, but your cantrips hit 4dx damage a a level ago, which means they will outstrip nearly all first and second spells in terms of single-target damage. Your best bets for damage are Burning Hands (if you need a spammable AOE) and Scorching Ray, but even scorching ray only beats cantrips by an average of 3 damage. Instead, look for utility spells which are helpful to spam like Invisibility, Mirror Image, or a save-or-suck spell like Tasha's Hideous Laughter.

Signature Spell: Cool, but not nearly as important as Spell Mastery. The free castings are nice, but the biggest draw is the two extra spells prepared per day, which dramatically improves your versatility.

Subclasses - Arcane Traditions

I'm going to skip the "X Savant" abilities because they're all identical.

Abilities

Wizards are a single-ability class. All you need is Intelligence, ans everything else is supplemental.

Str: Dump stat. A Wizard should know better.

Dex: A bit for AC is nice, but that's all you get unless you go for Bladesinging, in which case you will want a bunch for the rapier that you're going to use.

Con: Hit points and Constitution saves are problems for Wizards.

Int: A Wizard's first priority should be to get 20 Intelligence. Their second priority should be to find a way to exceed 20 Intelligence.

Wis: Good for Wisdom saves.

Cha: Dump stat.

Point Buy Standard Array
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 15
  • Wis: 12
  • Cha: 8
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 13
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 15
  • Wis: 12
  • Cha: 10

Races

Intelligence bonuses are crucial, and little else matters.

AarakocraEEPC: No useful ability bonuses, and flight stops being as cool when you can cast a spell for it.

AasimarVGTM: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

BugbearVGTM: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

Dwarf: The only thing which Dwarfs offer the Wizard is hit points, and if a Wizard needed hit points WotC wouldn't have only given them a d6 hit die.

DragonbornPHB: None of the Dragonborn's abilities are helpful to the wizard, and if you want something like a breath weapon there are plenty of spells which will do the job.

ElfPHB: Dexterity is nice for your AC, and Perception can be very effective if you didn't dump Wisdom. Darkvision is welcome on any character, but when you can cast Darkvision or conjure up light it quickly stops being important.

FirbolgVGTM: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

GenasiEEPC: Constitution is great for everyone, but doesn't play directly to what the Wizard needs.

GoblinVGTM: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

Gnome: A bonus to Intelligence is exactly what you want. Darkvision is nice, but can be replicated with a spell. You also get advantage on mental saving throws against spells, which is a great flavor for a Wizard.

Half-Elf: Half-elfs are arguably the best race in the core rulebook, but they don't do much for wizards. You can still get a small bonus to intelligence, but the half-elf doesn't offer anything which you can't get elsewhere.

Half-OrcPHB: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

HalflingPHB: Dexterity is nice for your AC, but the Halfling offers little else that is specifically useful to the Wizard.

HobgoblinVGTM: The Constitution increase makes you nice and durable, and Saving Face is really great if you miss an attack roll with a high-level spell.

HumanPHB: Versatile and fantastic at everything.

KenkuVGTM: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

KoboldVGTM: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

LizardfolkVGTM: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

OrcVGTM: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

TabaxiVGTM: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

TritonVGTM: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGTM: Better suited to Sorcers and Warlocks, but purebloods still make excellent wizards.

Tiefling:A small bonus to Intelligence, and access to Thaumaturgy, which is wierd for a Wizard.

Skills

Background

With the Wizard's Intelligence, you want as many knowledge skills as you can get.

Feats

Weapons

Armor

You're funny. If you need AC, cast Mage Armor.

Multiclassing