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DnD 5e - The Sorcerer Handbook

Last Updated: March 29th, 2021

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses 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.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

Introduction

Sorcerers are a challenge, but at the same time they can be less complex than most spellcasting classes. The Sorcerer's spell list allows them to serve as a Blaster, Controller, Striker, and Utility Caster, and sorcerers make one of the easiest Faces in the game due to their skill list and their dependence on Charisma.

The Sorcerer falls into a middle ground between the wizard and the warlock. The Sorcerer lacks 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. The Sorcerer gets more spell slots than the Warlock, but knows far fewer spells than the Wizard.

The Sorcerer's versatility comes from their ability to boost their spells using Metamagic, shaping them to suit the needs of the moment. If you're accustomed to playing a wizard, expect to cast a lot of low-level spells using higher-level spell slots to get as much utility as you can out of your limited number of spells known.

After reading this handbook, I encourage you to read my Sorcerer Subclasses Breakdown, my Sorcerer Spells Breakdown, and my Sorcerer Metamagic Breakdown.

Sorcerer Class Features

Optional Class Features are detailed below under Optional 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 (example: Banishment requires a Charisma save), and since Constitution saves are used for Concentration. That means that Concentration spells are easier to maintain without investing in options like the War Caster feat.

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.

It's also interesting to note that the Sorcerer gets more cantrips than any other spellcaster, but they get fewer spells known than the Bard. Expect to cast low-levels spells at higher-level spell slots frequently, and to use metamagic to customize your spells. Most importantly, expect to retrain lower-level spells whenever you get a better option, constantly adjusting your spells known to perfect your spellcasting capabilities.

Sorcerous Origin: Sorcerer subclasses are briefly summarized below. See my Sorcerer Subclasses Breakdown for help selecting your subclass.

  • Aberrant Mind: Combine the power of psionics with the power of arcane magic to create a spellcaster with the sorcerer's deep well of spellcasting and some of the warlock's spooky, occult magic.
  • Clockwork Soul: An avatar of order, the Clockwork Soul rounds the edges off of probability and wards their allies against harm and entropy.
  • Divine Soul: Descended from a divine bloodline, add the ablity to learn and cast cleric spells in addition to sorcerer spells.
  • Draconic Bloodline: Gain additional power from your draconic ancestry, growing scales which work like armor, and dealing additional damage with spells of the damage type determined by your ancestry.
  • Shadow Magic: Masters of magical darkness, gain the ability to see in darkness and summon a powerful shadow hound to weaken and attack your foes.
  • Storm Sorcery: Adept at flight and casting spells in close quarters, storm sorcerers dart in and out of close range to deal burts of sonic and lightning damage before flying back out of reach and retreating.
  • Wild Magic: Exciting but unpredictable, wild magic sorcerers can manipulate luck to grant themselves Advantage on some rolls and to apply a small bonus or penalty to others, but casting spells may trigger rolls on the Wild Magic Table, producing unpredictable but exciting magical effects.

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. This pool is fairly limited, so budgeting your sorcery points is crucial. If you need more, look at the Metamagic Adept feat and items like the Bloodwell Vial.
  • 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. There are some cases where it can be very effective to turn a bunch of Sorcery Points into cheap low-level spell slots, but those cases are rare.

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. With a pool of spells known as small as the Sorcerer's, this is an important capability.

For help with Metamagic options, including the Metamagic Adept feat, see my Sorcerer Metamagic Breakdown.

Sorcerous Restoration: Four free Sorcery Points gives you a lot of options, but it's only 4 points every Short Rest. In a full adventuring day you can expect 2 Short Rests at most, so it's 8 Sorcery Points across a full day compared to the 20 that you already get and however many you get from converting spell slots. Plus, a Bloodwell Vial will get you 5 on a Short Rest if you spend at least one hit die, so this feels disappointingly small.

Optional Class Features

Introduced in Tasha's Cauldron of Everyting, Optional Class Features offer ways to add additional features or replace existing ones. These rules are optional, and you should not assume that your DM will allow these features without consulting them first.

Assessments and suggestions for specific Optional Class Features are presented here, but for more information on handling Optional Class Features in general, see my Practical Guide to Optional Class Features.

Additional Sorcerer Spells (Addition): A surpisingly large number of additions, the Sorcerer gets numerous spells taken primarily from the Wizard's spell list, bringing the two classes a little closer together in terms of spell options. The Sorcerer also gets Flame Blade, but Flame Blade is garbage so it's mostly there to say "neat, you get a druid spell".

I recommend allowing the new spells on all sorcerers. They're no better than what sorcerers already get, but they introduce some excellent new ideas to the Sorcerer's spell options.

Metamagic Options (Addition): Two interesting new metamagic options.

I recommend allowing the new options on all sorcerers. The new options are good but not as good as existing options like Heightened Spell and Quickened Spell, so they're not going to cause balance issues.

Sorcerous Versatility (Addition): Like other spellcasters, the Sorcerer gains the ability to retrain a cantrip. Second, you can retrain one Metamagic choice. Sorcerers get more cantrips than anyone else so retraining them isn't as impactful, but retraining metamagic is a huge benefit considering how few you get.

I recommend allowing Sorcerous Versatility on all sorcerers. Like other retraining mechanics, it's helpful but doesn't actually make characters more powerful because they're not getting anything which they couldn't already have at the same level.

Magical Guidance (Addition): This makes the spell Enhance Ability considerably less useful. A single sorcery point is a low cost for insurance against bad rolls on ability checks.

I recommend allowing Magical Guidance on all single-class sorcerers using subclasses which I've rated orange or red. Other sorcerers are already plenty effective, and if they need help with ability checks they can cast Enhance Ability.

Ability Scores

Sorcerers are all about Charisma, and you can forego everything else.

Str: Dump.

Dex: Take a bit for AC.

Con: Take some to compensate for your d6 hit points and to support Concentration.

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
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 15
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 13
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 15

Races

Charisma bonuses are absolutely essential. Since you don't need ability score increases for other abilities, a +1 bonus can often be just as good as a +2, which opens up numerous racial options. Innate Spellcasting to compensate for your small pool of spells known and racials trait which improve your durability to compensate for your d6 hit dice and lack of armor are both great choices.

Note that setting-specific races like the Changeling and the Satyr are addressed in setting-specific sections, below.

AarakocraEEPC

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and flight. Excellent, but the Winged Tiefling is better.

Default Rules: Permanent nonmagical flight is great, but you'll lag offensively.

AasimarVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two damage resistances, and Darkvision. Transformation is still the big reason to play the Aasimar. Note that the damage bonuses from Transformation work with spells, so your best bet is to make multiple attacks (Scorching Ray) or use an AOE damage spell and apply the damage to a creature which fails its save.

  • Fallen: The sorcerer generally does not belong in melee.
  • Protector: Flight when you need it in combat and a damage boost.
  • Scourge: Exciting, but you don't have the hit points to back this up.

Default Rules: +2 Charisma is fantastic for sorcerers. Healing hands provides a healing mechanic very rarely available to sorcerers, 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: Flight when you need it, and it doesn't require Concnetration.
  • Scourge: You do not have enough hit points to gamble them on Radiant Consumption.

Aasimar (DMG Variant)DMG

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two damage resistances, and Darkvision. The innate spellcasting is nice, but the Divine Soul Sorcerer gets access to the same spells so it's not especially exciting.

Default Rules: A Charisma increase, two damage resistances, and Darkvision. The innate spellcasting is nice, but the Divine Soul Sorcerer gets access to the same spells so it's not especially exciting.

BugbearVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. Surprise Attack works with spells which make attacks like Chromatic Orb, which makes single-target spell attacks a very effective option in early in a fight. However, as you gain levels spells which require attacks become less common and Surprise Attack will gradually fall out of favor. Long-Limbed is a trap; it won't work with Booming Blade or with touch spells targeting your allies.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Custom LineageTCoE

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no change to the Custom Lineage.

Default Rules: A +2 increase, either a skill or Darkvision, and a feat. I recommend Darkvision so that you don't need to get it from a spell. If you pick a feat which provides an ability score increase you can start at 18 Charisma, giving you a significant numerical advantage until at least 8th level when most characters are expected to hit 20 in their primary ability score. If you really want that extra skill proficiency, consider the Skilled or Skill Expert feats, or consider playing a Standard Half-Elf.

DragonbornPHB

The Draconblood and Ravenite subraces are addressed under Races of Wildemount, below.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increase and damage resistance. The Dragonborn's signature trait is their breath weapon, which provides a helpful short-range AOE damage option that will complement your limited number of spells known.

Default Rules: The Strength bonus is wasted, but you get a Charisma bonus and permanent damage resistance. The breath weapon can be a helpful, especially at low levels when your spell options are limited, but the short range can be risky because it brings you close to melee.

DwarfPHB

Customized Origin: One +2 increase and a second increase from your subrace, poison resistance, and weapon and tool proficiencies that you probably won't need.

  • DuergarSCAG: Invisibility as an innate spell is nice, but that's the only big appeal here. Sunlight Sensitivitiy is a pain, and Enlarge/Reduce isn't especially useful for the Sorcerer.
  • HillPHB: Bonus hit points are always nice.
  • MountainPHB: Medium armor and a second +2 increase. The second +2 increase isn't especially helpful for the Sorcerer, but with 14 Dexterity, 16 Constitution, and medium armor, you're be incredibly durable without sacrificing Charisma.

Default Rules: No dwarf options offer a Charisma increase, which makes them a hard option for the Sorcerer.

  • DuergarSCAG: Bad ability spread.
  • HillPHB: Lots of extra hit points, but you'll need to avoid spells which make attacks or rely on saving throws. Doable, but it's very difficult.
  • MountainPHB: Medium armor and Constitution are a significant increase in your durability. With enough investment in Constitution you can be durable enough to survive fighting at close range. However, lagging on Charisma compared to other sorcerers means that it's harder for you to use spells which make attacks or which allow saving throws. If you just want armor, I would consider starting with a level in Fighter to get heavy armor and shields, then go straight sorcerer after that.

ElfPHB

The Palid Elf subrace is addressed under Races of Wildemount, below.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), Darkvision, one skill.

  • DrowPHB: The innate spellcasting is great and it's Charisma-based so it will remain perpetually useful. The only problem is Sunlight Sensitivity.
  • EladrinMToF: Free teleportation on a short rest means that you don't need to spend one of your spell slots to do it. The rider effects on the teleportation are Charisma-based, too, which is perfect for the Sorcerer.
  • Eladrin (Variant)DMG: Similar to the standard Eladrin, but you give up the cool rider effect for four weapon proficiencies which you won't use.
  • High ElfPHB: More cantrips never hurt, but the Sorcerer already gets more cantrips than nay other class. Strongly consider the Drow or the Drow Half-Elf if you just need an extra cantrip.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: Not as useful for the Sorcerer as the Eladrin's more frequent teleportation.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer, so you're basically falling back on the core racial traits.

Default Rules: Dexterity and free Perception are nice, and you have a few options for Charisma increases.

  • DrowPHB: Bonus Charisma and some free spells, but Sunlight Sensitivity can be a pain.
  • EladrinMToF: Bonus Charisma and free teleportation with a Charisma-based rider effect.
  • Eladrin (Variant)DMG: Bad ability spread
  • High Elf: Bad ability spread.
  • Sea ElfMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Bad ability spread.

FirbolgVGtM

Customized Origin: The innate spellcasting adds some useful options which reduce the need to handle the same problems with your limited spells known.

Default Rules: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.

GenasiEEPC

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), but the vast majority of the Genasi's traits come from the subraces.

  • Air: Pick a race that can fly.
  • Earth: Difficult terrain is rarely a problem unless you're running around in melee. Pass Without Trace is good, but it's not enough on its own.
  • Fire: Similar in many ways to the Tiefling, but the Fire Genasi's spellcasting is Constitution-based while the Tiefling's is Charisma-based, so the Tiefling has a huge advantage.
  • Water: Only in an aquatic campaign.

Default Rules: The Constitution increase is nice, but there are no Charisma increases to be found here.

  • Air: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
  • Earth: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
  • Fire: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
  • Water: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.

GithMToF

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +2), but the bulk of your notable racial traits come from your subrace.

  • Githyanki: Medium armor is a fantastic AC boost, and coupled with Misty Step for free the Githyanki offers some interesting options for the Sorcerer, walking a fine line between the durability of the Dwarf and mobility of the Eladrin.
  • Githzerai: Mental Discipline will protect you from common status conditions, and the innate spellcasters offers several useful options which will help you stretch your limited number of spells known.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

  • Githyanki: Bad ability spread and the armor and innate spellcasting don't make up for it.
  • Githzerai: Bad ability spread and the innate spellcasting doesn't make up for it.

GnomePHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace offers a +1 increase), Darkvision, and Gnome Cunning.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: Superior Darkvision is nice, but I would only consider this in a subterranean campaign where Stone Camouflage will be useful.
  • ForestPHB: Minor illusion is a good cantrip, but a race which provides more innate spellcasting will typically be more helpful for the Sorcerer.
  • RockPHB: Tinker is barely useful.

Default Rules: The shared Intelligence increase is wasted, and there are no Charisma increases to be found.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
  • ForestPHB: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
  • RockPHB: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.

GoblinVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and Darkvision. Nimble Escape helps you stay out of melee, minimizing the need for things like Misty Step. Fury of the Small applies to spells, including AOE spells, but remember that saving for half damage will also reduce the damage from Fury of the Small so you want to apply the damage bonus when an enemy fails their save.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GoliathEEPC

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, one skill, and damage resistance. Stone's Endurance adds the equivalent of a barbarian hit die worth of ability to endure damage, but with the Sorcerer's terrible AC your enemies will cut through that damage mitigation very quickly. Don't get complacent.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Half-ElfPHB

Customized Origin:

  • Aquatic Half-ElfSCAG: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Drow Half-ElfSCAG: Good, Charisma-based innate spellcasting. The leveled spells will do a lot to help with your limited number of spells known.
  • High Half-ElfSCAG: If you want more spellcasting, you'll get more out of the Drow Half-Elf.
  • Standard Half-ElfPHB: Sorcerers only get the typical two skills from class and two from background, and if you want to be your Party's Face two additional skills means that you have much more flexibility without sacrificng Face skills.
  • Wood Half-ElfSCAG: Nothing that the Sorcerer needs.

Default Rules: Perfect ability score increases, allowing you to get 16's (maybe even a 17) in Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma.

  • Aquatic Half-ElfSCAG: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Drow Half-ElfSCAG: Some decent innate spells, and Faerie Fire isn't on the Sorcerer's spell list. Even better, the DC is Charisma-based so it will be consistently reliable.
  • High Half-ElfSCAG: Sorcerer cantrips and wizard cantrips overlap almost entirely. Avoid offensive options except potentially Booming Blade since it doesn't care about your spellcasting modifier. Generally the drow half-elf is a better choice because you get both a cantrip and some leveled innate spells.
  • Standard Half-ElfPHB: Two skills are great if you plan to be the party's Face.
  • Wood Half-ElfSCAG: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.

Half-OrcPHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. Relentless Endurance is great on low-durability characters like the Sorcerer, but Savage Attacks is wasted.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

HalflingPHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Lucky, and Brave. Lucky is less useful on the Sorcerer than on many other classes since most spells require other people to roll saves instead of requiring you to attack so you're rolling far fewer d20's than a martial character or a warlock.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: Telepathy is nice, but not especially important.
  • LightfootPHB: Naturally Stealthy is rarely useful without Cunning Action.
  • StoutPHB: Poison damage is really common, so resistance to poison on top of a solid set of core racial traits works well.

Default Rules: A bit of Dexterity is nice, but Lucky is less useful on the Sorcerer than on many other classes since most spells require other people to roll saves instead of requiring you to attack so you're rolling far fewer d20's than a martial character or a warlock.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: Nothing useful for sorcerers.
  • LightfootPHB: Bonus Charisma. Naturally Stealthy is rarely useful without Cunning Action.
  • StoutPHB: Nothing useful for sorcerers.

HobgoblinVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and Darkvision. Saving Face is the big selling point here, and you can use it for high-value spell attacks or save it for a saving throw.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Human

Customized Origin:

  • Standard: With perfect ability scores on the table for every race, there is no reason to play the Standard Human.
  • Variant: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no change to the Variant Human.

Default Rules:

  • Standard: 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 get a feat.

KenkuVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and two skills. Expert Forgery and Mimicry will rarely be impactful. Fun theme, but nothing mechanically impressive.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

KoboldVGtM

Customized Origin: +2 increase, Darkvision, Sunlight Sensitivity. Pack Tactics can offset Sunlight Sensitivity, but if you're suffering Disadvantage on spell attacks it's typically easier to just switch to a spell that requires a saving throw instead. Sorcerers aren't as heavily reliant on attack rolls as the Warlock, so Pack Tactics isn't quite as tempting.

Default Rules: There aren't enough leveled spells that rely on attack rolls to make Pack Tactics worthwhile for the Sorcerer, especially without a Charisma increase.

LizardfolkVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and 13+ natural armor. The natural armor will match Mage Armor, saving you the trouble of learning it.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

LocathahLR

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and 12+ natural armor. You won't use anything beyond the static stuff, but Leviathan Will is a great defense against numerous problematic status conditions.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

OrcVGtM

Note that errata has corrected the multiple versions of the Orc to all provide the same traits. The Intelligence decrease has been removed, and the Primal Intuition now allows selecting two skills from a list. The Orc of Exandria entry from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount omits the Powerful Build trait, but it's not clear if that was an intentional change.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and Darkvision. Aggressive is a bad idea for the Sorcerer.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

TabaxiVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and Darkvision. Feline Agility is the Tabaxi's signature trait, and it's not useful enough that the Tabaxi is an easy choice when the Standard Half-Elf is an option, but at least it's not Aggressive so you can still use it to run away.

Default Rules: A small Charisma increase, and the increased Dexterity provides a helpful boost your AC. You also get two skills, which puts the Tabaxi close to the Standard Half-Elf, but the Half-Elf gets another ability score increase and isn't limited to a fixed list of skills so they're more versatile.

TieflingPHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increase, Darkvision, and damage resistance, plus most subraces/variants give you Charisma-based innate spellcasting, which is great for the Sorcerer. These were already great benefits for the Sorcerer prior to the introduction of the Customizing Your Origin rules, but the ability to rearrange your ability increases adds a lot of flexibility, so more of the Tiefling's subraces/variants may be worth exploring depending on your build.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: Decent spellcasting, but it won't change your tactics in any meaningful way.
  • BaalzebulMToF: More directly offensive than the Asmodeus Tiefling, but roughly equivalent.
  • DispaterMToF: Some interesting utility options that would work well in an intrigue campaign, but I don't know if they'll be consistently useful in a typical adventure.
  • FiernaMToF: Great spells for social situations.
  • GlasyaMToF: Great spells if you want to be sneaky, tricky, or otherwise subtle.
  • LevistusMToF: Roughly equivalent to Asmodeus, but more ice themed.
  • MammonMToF: Situational utility options.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Flame Blade is garbage.
  • ZarielMToF: You do not want smite spells. This is not a good idea.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: The Customizing Your Origin optional rules make the Feral variant obsolete. All it does is rearrange your ability score increases.
  • Variant: Devil's TongueSCAG: Similar to Fierna, but more useful in combat and less useful outside of combat.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Roughly equivalent to Asmodeus. The difference is mostly personal preference.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: Permanent non-magical flight. Maybe not as fun as innate spellcasting, but likely more impactful.

Default Rules: Bonus Charisma, fire resistance, and some free spells. With the addition of variants and subraces, you have a ton of room to customize your sorcerer.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: A perfectly fine option, but the Intelligence is wasted and you can find better spells from Devil's Tongue.
  • BaalzebulMToF: The Intelligence is wasted, but access to Thaumaturgy could be nice.
  • DispaterMToF: Dexterity means better AC, and the spells are great if you want to be sneaky or tricky.
  • FiernaMToF: The Wisdom is largely wasted, but the spells are great for a Face.
  • GlasyaMToF: Dexterity means better AC, and the spells are great if you want to be sneaky or tricky.
  • LevistusMToF: Constitution means more hit points, and the spells offer a nice mix of defensive, offensive, and utility options.
  • MammonMToF: The Intelligence is wasted, and the leveled spells are highly situational.
  • MephistophelesMToF: The Intelligence is wasted, and sorcerers should rarely be in melee combat enough to use Flame Blade.
  • ZarielMToF: Way too melee-centric.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Bad ability spread.
  • Variant: Devil's TongueSCAG: The replacement spells are absolutely better than the normal Tiefling spells.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Burning Hands is probably worse than Hellish Rebuke for most Sorcerers.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: Flight is a massive advantage, especially without requiring Concentration.

TortleTP

Customized Origin: 2/+1 increases, one skill, and AC fixed at 17 without worrying about actual armor. Not quite as good as the Mountain Dwarf (poison resistance, Darkvision) or the Githyanki (innate spellcasting), but pretty close and you don't need 14 Dexterity to fill out medium armor like the Mountain Dwarf and the Githyanki do.

Default Rules: 17 natural armor is nice, but that's really all that you get.

TritonVGtM

Customized Origin: Three +1 increases and Darkvision. The innate spellcasting is neat, but the spells are very situational.

Default Rules: Constitution and Charisma increases, plus some innate spellcasting which will help compensate for your tiny number of spells known.

VerdanAcInc

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and one skill, but in the context of the Customizing Your Origin rule, the advantages which make the Verdan special largely vanish. Black-Blood Healing is neat but not essential, and Telepathic Insight can't compete with races like the Kalashtar, the Vedalken, and the Yuan-Ti Pureblood.

Default Rules: Constitution and Charisma is a perfect combination for a Charisma-based spellcaster, and getting Persuasion for free is great. You'll almost certainly be your party's Face, and the Verdan's Telepathic Insight can go a long way to address language barriers despite its limited capability.

Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increase, Darkvision, poison immunity, and Magic Resistance. Very durable, but the innate spellcasting is mostly useless.

Default Rules: An excellent Charisma increase, and the comibation of Magic Resistance and Poison Immunity make you very durable. Unfortunately, the innate spellcasting is borderline useless.

Setting-specific races are address below. Not every setting allows every race, and while most races presented in the core rules and in content for the Forgotten Realms can be used in other settings, races specific to settings like Ravnica aren't typically allowed in other settings. Talk to your DM about what races are allowed in your game.

Races of Eberron

BugbearERLW: See above under the general Races section.

ChangelingERLW

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rule does little to improve the Changeling since their traits already lined up well with the Sorcerer's needs, but their signature trait is still made mostly irrelevant by the ability to cast Disguise Self.

Default Rules: Not quite as flexible as the Standard Half-Elf, you give up quite a bit to get Shapechanger. Shapechanger is neat but if you want it that badly you could always learn to cast Disguise Self.

GoblinERLW: See above under the general Races section.

HobgoblinERLW: See above under the general Races section.

OrcERLW: See above under the general Races section.

KalashtarERLW

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, damage resistance, Advantage on Wisdom saving throws, and probably the best racial telepathy option.

Default Rules: A Charisma increase, and you'll be really good at Wisdom saving throws despite not being proficient. Defensively, the Kalashtar is very solid.

ShifterERLW

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), Darkvision, and one skill. Shifting is the Shifter's signature trait, offering a short-duration combat buff which includes temporary hit points which can be a good defense on top of the Sorcerer's tiny hit point maximum.

  • Beasthide: +1 AC likely won't make a big difference unless you're already getting some AC from another source like Mage Armor or the Draconic Bloodline's natural armor. if you have those options you'll be able to withstand a few hits, but you're still using d6 hit dice so don't get complacent because you have Beasthide.
  • Longtooth:Strength is not a good choice.
  • Swiftstride: Learn Misty Step.
  • Wildhunt: Too situational.

Default Rules: None of the Shifter's subraces offer a Charisma increase.

  • Beasthide: Bad ability spread.
  • Longtooth: Bad ability spread.
  • Swiftstride: Swiftstride offers a Charisma bonus, and the Shifting benefit can keep you from being bogged down in melee. Shifting offers a good use for your Bonus Action and the temporary hit points reduce the need for options like False Life.
  • Wildhunt: Bad ability spread.

WarforgedERLW

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no meaningful changes to the Warforged. You can move the Constitution increase around, but increasing Constitution is still the best way to use that increase.

Default Rules: Considering the fact that warforged are crafted rather than born, the idea that they can be a sorcerer with a bloodline defies logic. But mechanically, it works fine. The flexible ability increase goes into Charisma, and the Warforged's other traits will make you more durable than a typical sorcerer before considering spells. A warforged with Mage Armor or the Draconic Bloodline's natural armor would have an AC of 14+Dex totally unequipped, allowing you to meet the AC of characters in light armor and a shield.

Dragonmarks

While the design intent for Dragonmarks was that they would offer some innate spellcasting for everyone, every dragonmark includes an expanded spell list which is arguably a more significant benefit than most of the provided racial traits. Because the expanded spell options are such an important part of the dragonmarks, if you're not playing a spellcaster you're giving up a huge part of your racial traits, which makes it exceptionally difficult to justify playing a dragonmark character who can't cast spells.

Dragonmarked DwarfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Warding: Mage Armor once per day is enough, and access to Armor of Agathys is very tempting, but little else here is useful for the Sorcerer.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Warding: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked ElfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Shadow: Most of the spellcasting is already available to the Sorcerer, but Mark of Shadow's spell list does introduce Pass Without Trace. The Innate Spellcasting includes some staple illusion options, and the skill bonuses work great for a sneaky Sorcerer. If you want to play a stealthy sorcerer, or if you see the Arcane Trickster as too much rogue and not enough magic, this is a great choice.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Shadow: The ability increases work, and the innate spellcasting is nice, but nearly all of the dragonmark spells are already on the spell list. Still, for a sorcerer in a stealthy party this makes a lot of sense thematically and offers some helpful options to stretch your spellcasting a bit further.
Dragonmarked GnomeERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Scribing: Most of the spells are already on the Sorcerer's spell list, and the other benefits are only situationally useful.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Scribing: The ability increases work, but most of the dragonmark spells are already on the Sorcerer's spell list.

Dragonmarked Half-ElfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace some of your normal racial traits, as described in the entry for each Dragonmark.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Detection: Almost all of the spells are already on the Sorcerer's spell list, and as much as I like See Invisibility it's only situationally useful so there's very little to be gained here.
  • Mark of Storm: The dragonmark spells are already on the Sorcerer's spell list and the other benefits are far too situational.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Detection: The ability increases work, but most of the dragonmark spells are already on the Sorcerer's spell list.
  • Mark of Storm: The ability increases work, but most of the dragonmark spells are already on the Sorcerer's spell list.

Dragonmarked Half-OrcERLW

Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Finding: Some new spells from the Druid's spell list, plus Hunter's Mark, but none of the spells are especially useful and the Sorcerer has no way to make Hunter's Mark meaningful. The skill bonuses are on Wisdom-based skills which the Sorcerer has little reason to invest in.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Finding: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked HalflingERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Healing: I would only go this route if you're desperate to have healing spells but for some reason don't want to play the Divine Soul.
  • Mark of Hospitality: Good but not amazing. The Persuasion bonus is awesome, and innate spellcasting provides some easy utility. The spell list includes some new options like Goodberry and Aid, but the rest are already on your spell list. Consider taking Extended Spell to extend the duration of Aid to 16 hours so that you can cast it the night before adventuring and save yourself a spell slot.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Healing: Bad ability spread. If you want healing spells, look at the Divine Soul subclass.
  • Mark of Hospitality: The ability increases work, and with the exception of Sleep the entire spell list is new to the Sorcerer. Unfortunately the spells tend to be situational options which are difficult to justify with the Sorcerer's extremely limited number of spells known.
Dragonmarked HumanERLW

Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your normal racial traits.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: Unless you're really worried about beasts, there's little to be gained here. The ability to use Animal Friendship and Speak With Animals against monstrosities is neat, but very situational.
  • Mark of Making: Very little new here, and Magic Weapon doesn't benefit you at all.
  • Mark of Passage: If you want teleportation, play an eladrin. If you want Pass Without Trace, play Mark of Shadow. This works, but everything it gives you is available in a better package.
  • Mark of Sentinel: With the exception of Shield of Faith, everything here is either already on your spell list or you don't want to cast it.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: The ability score increases work, and many of the dragonmark spells are new to the Sorcerer's spell list, but unless your DM is going to let you tame creatures beyond your class features this isn't especially useful.
  • Mark of Making: The ability increases work, but most of the dragonmark spells are already on the Sorcerer's spell list.
  • Mark of Passage: The ability increases work, but most of the dragonmark spells are already on the Sorcerer's spell list.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Bad ability spread.

Races of Ravnica

CentaurGGTR

Customized Origin: All of the Centaur's interesting traits are tied up in Strength.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GoblinGGTR: See above under the general Races section.

LoxodonGGTR

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, resistance to charm and fear effects, and 12+Con natural armor. Basically a worse locathah unless you plan to put ability score increases into Constitution and ignore Dexterity entirely.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

MinotaurGGTR

Customized Origin: All of the Centaur's interesting traits are tied up in Strength.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Simic HybridGGTR

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no meaningful changes to the Simic Hybrid. You can move the Constitution increase around, but increasing Constitution is still the best way to use that increase.

Default Rules: The flexible ability increase can go into Charisma, and some Animal Enhancement options can help fill some functions which would normally require magic, thereby opening up space for you to learn other spells.

VedalkenGGTR

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, one skill, and one tool. Vedalken Dispassion provides an excellent defensive option, and Tireless Precision can make you more effective at some non-magical stuff. If you just want durability the Yuan-Ti Pureblood may be more effective, but the Vedalken is still a very effective choice.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Races of Theros

CentaurMOoT: See above under the Races of Ravnica section.

HumanMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

LeoninMOoT

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. Daunting Roar is neat, but the range is tiny so it's only an interesting option for melee builds. Even then, the Fallen Aasimar has a similar effect with a damage bonus and a Charisma-based DC.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

MinotaurMOoT: See above under the Ravnica Races section.

SatyrMOoT

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, one instrument, and magic resistance. While the Satyr isn't as durable as the Yuan-Ti Pureblood, the additional skills can help you expand your non-magical capabilities, which may be worth the trade.

Default Rules: Dexterity for you AC, Charisma for your spells, Magic Resistance to keep you alive, and two free skills to help you serve as your party's Face.

TritonMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

Races of Wildemount

AarakocraEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

AasimarEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

BugbearEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

DragonbornPHB

Wildemount presents two new Dragonborn variants, each replacing the standard Dragonborn's ability score increases and damage resistance.

Customized Origin:

  • DraconbloodEGtW: Roughly equivalent to the standard Dragonborn, but if you're playing your party's Face you might enjoy Forceful Presence, and Darkvision is very helpful. If you miss the damage resistance, learn Absorb Elements.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Vengeful Assault isn't helpful for a class that generally doesn't use weapons.

Default Rules:

  • DraconbloodEGtW: Roughly equivalent to the standard Dragonborn, but if you're playing your party's Face you might enjoy Forceful Presence, and Darkvision is very helpful. If you miss the damage resistance, learn Absorb Elements.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Bad ability spread.

Elf

Wildemount elves share the core traits of PHB elves, but Wildemount adds two new subraces. See above for more information on other elf subraces.

Customized Origin:

  • Pallid ElfEGtW: The skill bonuses are decent and the Innate Spellcasting is nice, but Sleep is obsolete as soon as you get it and there are plenty of other races which provide Invisibility as an innate spell.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: See above under the general Races section.

Default Rules:

  • Pallid ElfEGtW: Bad ability spread.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: See above under the general Races section.

FirbolgsEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GenasiEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GoblinEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

HalflingPHB

Wildemount halflings share the core traits of PHB halflings, but Wildemount adds a new subrace. See above for information on other halfling subraces.

Customized Origin:

  • LotusdenEGtW: The innate spellcasting is decent, but it's Wisdom-based so you'll find that it's unreliable due to the poor save DC compared to your sorcerer spells.

Default Rules:

  • LotusdenEGtW: Bad ability spread, and the innate spellcasting is Wisdom-based.

HobgoblinEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GoliathEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

KenkuEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

OrcEGtW: See above, under "Races of Eberron". Wildemount uses the updated Orc racial traits rather than the original traits published in Volo's Guide to Monsters.

TabaxiEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

TortleEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

Skills

  • 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.

Background

This section does not address every published background, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don't cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover the options which I think work especially well for the class, or which might be tempting but poor choices. Racial feats are discussed in the Races section, above.

You only get two skills from your class and Sorcerers are built to make excellent Faces, so look to pick up more 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 proficiencies, 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.

If you're having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:

  • AcolytePHB: Insight and two languages.
  • City WatchSCAG: Surprisingly good, though you probably won't get much use out of Athletics.
  • CourtierSCAG: You probably don't have the Wisdom to back up Insight, but it's still great on a Face, and you get a Face skill and two languages.
  • Faction AgentSCAG: Insight and your choice of a bunch of skills including the Face skills you need, plus two languages.
  • Guild ArtisanPHB: Two good skills and a language, but the artisan's tools probably won't be useful.
  • HermitPHB: Despite being the recommended background, this is an awful option for Sorcerers.
  • NoblePHB: A Face skill and a Language, but you probably don't have the Intelligence to make History meaningful, and gaming sets are largely useless.
  • Urban Bounty HunterSCAG: No languages, but access to the skills you need to be a Face and some good tool options.

Feats

This section does not address every published feat, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don't cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover feats which I think work especially well for the class or which might be tempting but poor choices.

  • AlertPHB: The bonus to Initiative is tempting because spellcasters can do so much to affect a fight if they go first, but nothing else is particularly helpful.
  • DurablePHB: Cast False Life or use Inspiring Leader instead.
  • Elemental AdeptPHB: Very tempting for sorcerers who enjoy blasting, but specializing in one element is severely limiting. If something is resistant to one element, use a different one. Changing 1's to 2's averages 1/6 damage per die, which is as close to nothing as you will ever see.
  • Fey TouchedTCoE: Most sorcerers learn a frustratingly small number of spells, and since Fey Touched allows you to cast your new spells using spell slots, you effectively add two spells to your pool of spells known. Unfortunately there aren't many good 1st-level spell options for the Sorcerer. Bless is always great, but nothing else is obviously a great fit.

    For more advice on Fey Touched, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • Inspiring LeaderPHB: An excellent way to capitalize on your Charisma, especially if your party lacks healing magic to help pad your hit points.
  • Lightly ArmoredPHB: Mage Armor and Shield work fine.
  • LinguistPHB: Cast Tongues.
  • LuckyPHB: Amusing, but not particularly useful to Sorcerers since they don't frequently roll attacks or saves.
  • Magic InitiatePHB: A tempting way to get cantrips from other classes, but remember that you use the spellcasting ability of that other class, and since your Wisdom and Intelligence will be poor so will your spellcasting. Consider Eldritch Blast from the Warlock or Vicious Mockery from the Bard, but otherwise stick to utility options. Also note that since you can use spell slots to cast the spell your learned if it's from a class in which you have levels, you might stick to sorcerer to get another spell known.

    For more advice on Magic Initiate, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • Metamagic AdeptTCoE: An additional Metamagic and two more Sorcery Points. An excellent addition to the Sorcerer without adding much complexity. Keep in mind that the two additional Sorcery Points can only be used for Metamagic, so you can't use them to make spell slots or anything like that. For advice on Metamagic and the Metamagic Adept feat, see my Sorcerer Metamagic Breakdown.
  • ObservantPHB: You don't have the ability scores to back this up.
  • ResilientPHB: More saving throw proficiencies never hurt, but save this for after you have 20 Charisma. You already get proficiency in Constitution saves, so unlike most spellcasters you can justify taking something else.
  • Ritual CasterPHB: Sorcerers can't cast spells as rituals by default like a cleric or wizard can. Ritual Caster removes the need to know spells like Detect Magic which are basically only cast as rituals, and it opens up options like Find Familiar which are omitted from the Sorcerer's spell list.
  • Shadow TouchedTCoE: Most sorcerers learn a frustratingly small number of spells, and since Shadow Touched allows you to cast your new spells using spell slots, you effectively add two spells to your pool of spells known. Unfortunately there aren't many good 1st-level spell options for the Sorcerer.

    For more advice on Shadow Touched, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • SkilledPHB: Proficiencies are great, especially since Sorcerers get few skills, but if you really need skills you should probably play a Half-elf or start as a Rogue.
  • Spell SniperPHB: Great for spellcasters who like to make spell attacks. Selecting this at first level as a variant Human can be really helpful when you're so heavily reliant on cantrips for damage output. You're not locked into cantrips from your own class, so consider picking up Eldritch Blast.

    For more advice on Spell Sniper, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • TelekineticTCoE: While the Sorcerer does have options to use their Bonus Action, most of them involve spending spell slots, and even if you have a mountain of spell slots to burn your Bonus Action is still going to be idle on many turns. In those cases, Telekinetic adds a useful way to spend your Bonus Action to have a tactical impact. Moving a creature 5 feet often isn't a big deal, but it's enough to break grapples and sometimes it's enough to force enemies into hazardous places like the area of ongoing spells.
  • TelepathicTCoE: Unlike many sources of telepathy, including those offered by some races, this telepathy still uses languages, so the benefits are minimally appealing even for a Face. You do get to increase a mental ability score, which reduces the cost of the feat, but the benefits are primarily the ability to communicate while being stealthy.
  • ToughPHB: Cast False Life or use Inspiring Leader instead.
  • War CasterPHB: A really great feat, but generally best left to spellcasters who can justify spending time in melee. With d6 hit points and no armor, that's not you.

Weapons

  • Dagger: Carry one or two for utility purposes at any level, but the damage isn't good enough to make it better than shocking grasp. You can make opportunity attacks with a dagger, but that's not something you should be doing frequently.
  • Light Crossbow: Until you hit level 5, a light crossbow can do more damage than firebolt. If you have at least 14 Dexterity, a light crossbow is probably a better option than firebolt when you just need to do some damage, and you can defer taking firebolt until you've gained some levels so that you can spend your limited number of cantrips on something more interesting like ray of frost or a utility cantrip.
  • Quarterstaff: A great cosmetic item, but totally useless in combat. Use Shocking Grasp or a Dagger instead.

Armor

Cast Mage Armor and learn Shield. At low levels that will be enough to keep you safe, but at high levels you'll likely dump mage armor because enemies' attack bonuses will be so high that it will stop being helpful. You might keep shield around for those rare times when it would deflect an attack, but you're better served by other spells like Blur or Blink.

Multiclassing

This section briefly details so obvious and enticing multiclass options, but doesn't fully explore the broad range of multiclassing combinations. For more on multiclassing, see my Practical Guide to Multiclassing.

  • Artificer: Starting with a level in artificer gets you a lot. Proficiency in medium armor, shields, and Constitution saving throws are really tempting (though the Sorcerer already gets proficiency in Constitution saves, so that's not as appealing for the Sorcerer as it is for the Warlock and the Wizard), plus artificers get access to some low-level spells which the Sorcerer doesn't like Cure Wounds. The Artificer's multiclassing rules allow you to round up when determining spell slots (other spellcasting class round down), so while you don't learn spells of new spell levels as quickly you still get the same spell slot progression. The Artificer also gets Ritual Casting, which is useful since sorcerers don't get ritual casting.
  • 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. A third level gets you Expertise in two skills and a Bardic College which can offer some interesting options, but I'm extremely hesitant to delay high-level spells that much.
  • Cleric: Several domains offer proficiency in heavy armor, and the Cleric's 1st-level spells include several powerful options including Bless and Healing Word which can have a huge tactical impact with little or no Wisdom. A 1-level class dip gets the Sorcerer a lot of great things, and you don't need to do it at 1st level.
  • Rogue: Expertise would be nice for your Face skills, and Cunning Action gives you a great way to get out of melee, but I wouldn't go past level 1.
  • Warlock: The addition of Hexblade makes the Warlock a powerful multiclass option. You get proficiency with medium armor and shields, you can use weapons with your Charisma instead of your Strength or Dexterity, and you get access to wonderful spells like Eldritch Blast. The Warlock's spell slots recharge on a short rest, making them useful fodder for your Sorcery Points. If you devote two levels you can pick up Agonizing Blast to make Eldritch Blast exceptionally powerful, but I think that the sorcerer spellcasting you'll give up will me more important than making Eldritch Blast do a little bit more damage. If you take three levels, you can get a Pact Boon and potentially trade your Invocation for something that improves it further.

Magic Items

Common Magic Items

  • Clockwork AmuletXGtE: Only works once per day, but in many encounters a guaranteed 10 on attack roll will guarantee a hit (Players will hit an average CR-appropriate enemy's AC on an 8 or better. See my article on The Fundamental Math of Character Optimization.) For high-value attacks like an attack with a leveled spell like Chromatic Orb, that can be great insurance. Even better: you don't need to attune this, so you can rotate through a stack of them if your DM is somehow crazy enough to let you get away with it.

Uncommon Magic Items

  • Bloodwell VialTCoE: +1 to spell attacks and save DC's, and you can recover up to 5 Sorcery Points when you take a Short Rest. The extra Sorcery Points are a huge improvement to the Sorcerer's sustainability, allowing you to stretch your capabilities over a long adventuring day much more easily.
  • Broom of FlyingDMG: Easily overlooked, but one of the best ways to get flight for any character. It doesn't require attunement, and has a fly speed of 50 feet, though many medium characters will exceed the 200 pound limit to reduce the speed to 30 feet, but even then 30 feet fly speed with no duration cap and requiring no action after speaking the command word is absolutely incredible. The only drawback is that you're using the item's speed rather than giving yourself a fly speed, so things that improve your speed won't make the broom move faster, and you can't Dash with the broom. Even so, I honestly can't justify why this is only Uncommon considering how exceptionally good it is.
  • Cloak of ProtectionDMG: Good on any character, but it requires Attunement and it's not very interesting.
  • Feywild ShardTCoE: This item is super weird. It grants access to the Wild Magic table for all sorcerers, but it's primary useful for the Wild Magic Sorcerer since they can use it more than once per day. You can also attach the shard to a weapon, replicating the benefits of a Ruby of the War Mage. The Wild Magic benefits are basically the sole purpose of the item, as it doesn't provide a bonus to spell attacks or save DC's like a Bloodwell Vial does, but if you really enjoy Wild Magic this may be worthwhile.
  • Goggles of NightDMG: Crucial for races which don't get Darkvision, especially if your party can't cast the Darkvision spell for you.
  • Pearl of PowerDMG: Useful on any spellcaster.
  • Slippers of Spider ClimbingDMG: The next-best thing to flight. Walking up a wall has all the benefits of flying out of reach.
  • Stone of Good LuckDMG: Excellent on literally any character, but if you just want better defense a Cloak of Protection may be more effective. Stone of Good Luck shines if you're heavily reliant on skills and ability checks (like Face skills), and ability checks include Initiative rolls and checks to counter/dispel things.
  • Wand of DetectionDMG: This saves you the trouble of learning Detect Magic, which is a tragically disappointing way to spend one of your limited spells known.
  • Wand of the War MageDMG: Helpful if you're heavily reliant on cantrips like Fire Bolt, but a Bloodwell Vial will be considerably more useful.
  • Winged BootsDMG: Excellent on its own, but Winged Boots are more limited in use than a broom of flying, and they require Attunement.

Rare Magic Items

  • Amulet of HealthDMG: Setting your Constitution to 19 means that you don't need to put Ability Score Increases into it unless you're really certain that you want 20 Constitution. Less ASI's into Constitution means more roo m for feats.
  • Armor of ResistanceDMG: Excellent, but unpredictable in most games since you can't perfectly predict what sort of damage you'll face. Fire is a safe choice.
  • Astral ShardTCoE: While it doesn't provide a bonus to spell attacks or spell save DC's, the Astral Shard is still a phenomenally useful item. The teleportation effect is basically Misty Step with half the range. If you're short on Sorcery Points, spend a Bonus Action to convert a 1st-level spell, then spend an inexpensive Metamagic on a cantrip or something. That's a bit of a pain, but in most cases you'll probably just cast a leveled spell with a Metamagic thrown on and teleport out of harms way. Regardless of how you trigger the effect, the teleportation removes the need to learn Misty Step while still allowing you to escape grapples, restraints, and all manner of other problematic situations.
  • Barrier Tattoo (Rare)TCoE: Way better than Mage Armor and you don't need to raise your Dexterity past 14 to still have good AC.
  • Bloodwell VialTCoE: +2 to your spell attacks and spell DC's. See Bloodwell Vial under Uncommon Magic Items for more.
  • Bracers of DefenseDMG: Get a Barrier Tattoo (Rare).
  • Cloak of DisplacementDMG: Among the best defensive items in the game. Taking damage from any source (spells, etc.) suppresses the effect temporarily, so make a point to kill anything that can damage you without an attack roll.
  • Elemental Essence ShardTCoE: This is essentially four items with the same mechanic. The d4 rolled to determine the shard's element is only rolled once (likely when the DM awards it to the player), so you're locked into whatever element you get on that roll. Still, the effects are good.
    • Air: Nearly as good as teleportation, 60 feet of flight without provoking opportunity attacks will easily get you out of melee if you don't want to be there. It won't get you out of restraints, unfortunately, so teleportation options like Misty Step may still be helpful. It's unclear how this works if you're grappled since it doesn't give you a fly speed (which the Grappled condition would then reduce to 0), but as a DM I would rule that being Grappled would prevent this flight.
    • Earth: Similar in many ways to Absorb Elements. It's not quite as good since you need to guess the damage type, but if your enemies are using spears it's pretty easy to guess "piercing".
    • Fire: The simplest option, 2d10 damage to a single target every time you use metamagic will add up quickly.
    • Water: Break grapples, get yourself out of melee reach, and knock enemies prone so that your melee allies can beat on them.
  • Elven ChainDMG: One less AC than Barrier Tattoo (Rare), but it doesn't require attunement, so in a game with abundant magic items Elven Chain may be a better choice.
  • Far Realm ShardTCoE: Simple, easy to use, and effective. The damage is surprisingly good, and Frightened is a great debuff even if it only lasts one round. Many enemies have poor Charisma saves, so you can expect to get a lot of use out of this for very little effort.
  • Ring of ProtectionDMG: Cloak of Protection is lower rarity and has the same effect.
  • Ring of ResistanceDMG: A fine item in a vaccuum, but a Ring of Spell Storing full of Absorb Elements will be much more effective.
  • Ring of Spell StoringDMG: Fill it with Absorb Elements and Shield, and recharge it whenever possible and this is a spectacular defensive asset.
  • Shadowfell ShardTCoE: This item is extremely powerful, but it's unclear how the timing works. If you use a metamagic option on a spell and then curse a creature targeted by that spell, can you cause them to suffer Disadvantage on the save against the spell? For example, could you cast Fireball and cause a creature to suffer Disadvantage on the Dexterity save for that same Fireball? Since this item is already so powerful, I'm inclined to believe that the curse effect begins after the immediate effects of the spell, so Fireball wouldn't benefit, and while the target wouldn't suffer Disadvantage on their initial save against Tasha's Hideous Laughter, they would suffer Disadvantage on the save made at the end of their next turn.

    Even with that conservatice, cautious ruling, this is still a very powerful item, allowing you to dramatically exceed the benefits of Heightened Spell at the cost of as little as one Sorcery Point. For example: you could target a creature with a cantrip that you've enhanced with metamagic (it doesn't matter which, literally any of them will sufficer), and even if your cantrip is unsuccessful, you can then curse the target with your Shadowfell Shard. Pick your party's favorite type of saving throw, then until the of your next turn you can hammer on the target with spells and special features which target that saving throw.

    Your Sorcery Points are the only limitation on usage, so you're free to repeat this every round at very little cost. This can turn low-level spells like Maximilian's Earthen Grasp or Tasha's Hideous Laughter into a nearly guaranteed death sentence for even high-level foes. Spamming a metamagic-enhanced Mind Sliver in order to repeat the curse effect and pile on a 1d4 save penalty is nearly unbeatable for most creatures, and if you have two or three suitable spells which target differing saves you can make this combo work against nearly any creature you meet. Legendary Resistances and resistance to spells are basically the only thing you need to worry about, and even Legendary Resistances will fall apart if you have a couple allies with save-or-suck spells.

  • Wings of FlyingDMG: Broom of Flying is much better, lower rarity, and doesn't require attunement.

Very Rare Magic Items

  • Absorbing TattooTCoE: Good, but too high rarity to devote to a single damage type. Get a Ring of Spell Storing and fill it with Absorb Elements.
  • Spellguard ShieldDMG: Basically only useful against spellcasters, but if you're facing a spellcaster there are few better defenses.
  • Barrier Tattoo (Very Rare)TCoE: The fixed AC matches full plate, so you don't need to worry about Dexterity to boost your AC and you don't even suffer Disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
  • Bloodwell VialTCoE: +3 to your spell attacks and spell DC's. See Bloodwell Vial under Uncommon Magic Items for more.
  • Manual of Bodily HealthDMG: Permanent Constitution bonus and raises your cap by 2. Unless you're using a magic item that fixes your Constitution as a specific score, this is excellent.
  • Staff of FireDMG: Good go-to spells a few times per day. This may be good enough that you don't need to learn Fireball, but upcasting Fireball is incredibly effective so you might still want to learn it.
  • Staff of IceDMG: Cone of Cold for quick AOE damage and Wall of Ice for a combination of damage, area control, and utility. Wall of Ice is a good spell that's normally exclusive to the Wizard's spell list, and it can be a useful utility in addition to its offensive uses.
  • Staff of PowerDMG: A +2 quarterstaff, +2 to spell attacks (though not to spell DC's for some reason, so you may want another focus), +2 to both AC and to saving throws, 20 charges, and 9 spells which you can cast. This is powerful, versatile, and all around just an exceptionally powerful item.
  • Tome of Leadership and InfluenceDMG: Permanent Charisma bonus and raises your cap by 2.

Legendary Magic Items

  • Cloak of InvisibilityDMG: Invisibility is extremely powerful in 5e. Note that this is just the invisible condition, not the spell spell Invisibility, so you can still attack or whatever while invisible.
  • Ioun Stone (Mastery)DMG: Proficiency Bonuses apply to a lot of things and a +1 bonus goes a long way. But Attunement is precious and you'll probably only get one legendary item. You can get +1 to all saves and all ability checks with a Stone of Good Luck rather than just ones where you have proficiency, and they're Uncommon so they should be easy to find by this level.
  • Ioun Stone (Mastery)DMG: Proficiency Bonuses apply to a lot of things and a +1 bonus goes a long way. Attacks, saves, skills, etc. all benefit. However, most sorcerers rely mostly on spells which require saving throws so it's not as beneficial as it would be for other characters. A Stone of Good Luck may be just as useful.
  • Ring of Spell TurningDMG: Given the choice, I would much rather haqve a Mantle of Spell Resistance simply because the Ring of Spell Turning doesn't provide any protection against area effect spells. Otherwise, this is a really fun item, and if it provided Advantage on saves against area of effect spells it would shoot straight up to blue.
  • Ring of Three WishesDMG: Learn Wish and give this to someone in your party who can't cast spells so that they can use it to give everyone permanent damage resistance.

    For more help with Wish, see my Practical Guide to Wish.

  • Robe of the ArchmagiDMG: Combine the benefits of a Very Rare spellcasting focus, a Barrier Tattoo (Rare), and a Mantle of Spell Resistance. Those are three absolutely fantastic items, and combiing them on one item is spectacular.
  • Scarab of ProtectionDMG: An upgrade from the Mantle of Spell Resistance, the Scarab of Protection adds a limited benefit against necromancy and undead creatures, and doesn't take up your cloak slot, leaving you free to take items like a Cloak of Protection or Cloak of Invisibility instead.

Example Build - Dragonborn Sorcerer (Draconic)

Jesshann the Dragonborn Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer

Orange sparks shoot from sharp talons in the dark, glinting off of a hand encased in deep red scales. Yellow reptilian eyes catch and hold your attention as the large figure steps into the light—clad in a rich, emerald green velvet robe, a black leather belt with pouches slung low across the hips. Though her age is hard to guess, the smirk on the Dragonborn’s face belies a sense of mischief, and perhaps trickery.

-- Boxed text provided by dScryb (affiliate link)

This is a "Staple Build". This build is simple, and relies on options from the SRD and the Basic Rules wherever possible. If you need a functional build with nothing fancy or complicated, this is a great place to start.

The Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer is very similar to the Evoker Wizard. With an emphasis on a specific element rather than a specific school, you trade the ability to easily switch elements for better usage of a wider variety of spells.

Abilities

We will mostly assume the point buy abilities suggested above.

Base Increased
Str 8 10
Dex 14 14
Con 14 14
Int 12 12
Wis 10 10
Cha 15 16

Race

Dragonborn. The Charisma increase is the biggest draw, and I haven't used the Dragonborn in a staple build yet, so I really want to double down on the draconic theme of the character. You'll need to choose a draconic ancestor to determine your breath weapon and your damage resistance. Personally I always prefer cones over lines, but that's mostly personal preference. Also keep in mind that you'll be able to add damage resistance using your bloodline features starting at level 6, so choose different ancestors for your race and for your class.

Since staple builds are limited to the SRD and the Basic Rules, we don't have a ton of spells to choose from, which means that the dragon ancestor you choose for Draconic Bloodline should be a fire dragon. I recommend either cold or poison for your racial dragon ancestor. Cold will be more useful offensively, but there are a lot of enemies that deal poison damage which makes poison resistance very useful defensively.

Skills and Tools

With high Charisma and access to all four Face skills, there is little reason for you to not be the party's Face. Between your background and your class skills, try to end up with Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion. Get Insight if it's convenient, but your Wisdom isn't high enough to be especially good at it so hopefully someone in your party can fill in the gap.

Background

Acolyte, Criminal, Noble, and Soldier all get you one of the Face skills we want, but there's no option to get two. If no one else in the party has Thieves' Tools proficiency, take Criminal. Otherwise I recommend Noble so that you can get the three Charisma-based Face skills.

Feats

Sorcerers only really need Charisma, so feats can be a great option. Draconic Bloodline's Elemental Affinity feature emphasizes one element, which makes Elemental Adept a particularly appealing option.

Levels

Level Feat(s) and Features Notes and Tactics
1
  • Draconic Bloodline
  • Dragon Ancestor
  • Draconic Resilience
  • Spellcasting
  • Cantrips Known:
    • Chill Touch
    • Mage Hand
    • Prestidigitation
    • Ray of Frost
  • Spells Known:
    • Shield
    • Sleep

For your starting gear, take a light crossbow, a component pouch or arcane focus, either pack, and two daggers.

We get a lot at first level, and there are a lot of decision points. Things are a little less daunting at higher levels, but we have a lot of choices to make at first level.

First we get stuff from Draconic Boodline. We need to choose a Dragon Ancestor, and since fire spells are more common than other damage spells in the SRD, I strongly recommend a fire dragon ancestor. Once we get elemental affinity at 6th level, that will present a significant damage boost across most spell levels, including cantrips.

Draconic Resilience matches Mage Armor, which saves us a spell known, and on top of that we get an extra hit point per level. That makes us very durable compared to other sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards.

Four cantrips is more cantrips than any other spellcaster. We have lots of great options. However, keep in mind that your light crossbow is a perfectly viable combat option. Even with just 14 Dexterity, +4 to hit and 1d8+2 damage will likely net more average damage than you can score with a cantrip. Eventually Fire Bolt will be your go-to combat option, but for now we can focus on more interesting options. Chill Touch gives us one of the Sorcerer's few options for dealing necrotic damage, and it's a great fallback when you face enemies with problematic damage resistances. Ray of Frost provides a nice crowd control option. That's plenty of offensive options at this level, so we have room to use the rest of our cantrips on utility.

For our leveled spells we'll pick up general staples. Shield is a powerful defensive option at every level, and Sleep is powerful enough at low levels to end an encounter outright, but you may want to retrain it later when.

2
  • Font of Magic
  • New Spell Known:
    • Burning Hands

Font of Magic is the Sorcerer's most iconic class feature. Sorcery Points allow you to create additional spell slots, but the primary appeal is Metamagic. We don't get Metamagic until 3rd level, so for now it's basically just a free 1st-level spell slot.

At this level we'll learn Burning Hands. It's probably redundant with your breath weapon, so use your breath weapon first. We mostly want it for when we pick up Elemental Affinity at 6th level.

3
  • Metamagic
    • Empowered Spell
    • Quickened Spell
  • New Spell Known:
    • Scorching Ray

3rd level introduces Metamagic. You get two choices now and two more later, giving you a total of 4 choices. There are 8 options, so obviously we'll need to skip some. We'll take Empowered Spell and Quickened Spell. Empowered Spell insulates us against poor damage rolls, and you'll get more use out of Empowered Spell at low levels than you will from Quickened Spell because you have so few Sorcery Points to spend, and rerolling three damage dice can provide a relatively large boost at this level.

Scorching Ray is a reliable damage option, but it's not very exciting. Keep in mind that Elemental Affinity will only apply to one damage roll per spell, but that also means that you only need to hit with one of the three rays to get the bonus damage.

4
  • Ability Score Improvement (Charisma 16 -> 18)
  • New Cantrips Known:
    • Fire Bolt
  • New Spell Known:
    • Blindness/Deafness

At this level our Charisma increases. More spell attack bonus means that cantrips will be considerbaly more reliable than a crossbow, so between the improved attack bonus and adding Fire Bolt, it's likely time to retire your crossbow.

Blindness/Deafness is an excellent debuff. Being blind makes it hard to target enemies with spells, and Disadvantage on attacks is a huge debuff. However, it works on Constitution saves so it's not reliably against big burly enemies which typically rely on weapon attacks.

5
  • New Spell Known:
    • Fireball

If you haven't already retired your crossbow, now is the time. Even the cantrips we've selected with the least damage now deal 2d8 (avg. 9), easily outpacing your crossbow at 1d8+2 (avg. 6.5).

5th level also introduces 3rd-level spells. Take Fireball. That gives us a big AOE damage option, so consider retraining Sleep for utility options like Detect Magic if you're not using it frequently.

6
  • Elemental Affinity
  • New Spell Known:
    • Haste

Elemental Affinity gives us a serious boost to all of our fire spells. Fire Bolt jumps to 2d10+4. Adding the boost on top of AOE spells like Burning Hands and Fireball makes them especially potent because the damage boost applies to every target.

7
  • New Spell Known:
    • Wall of Fire

Wall of Fire is the first area control option we've taken. The first damage roll will benefit from Elemental Affinity, but the additional damage after that won't. Use Wall of Fire to alter the layout of a fight; split up groups of enemies so that enemies are forced to to suffer extra damage to reach you and your allies. Once enemies are separated they'll either take the damage to get to you, or they'll be stuck waiting while you kill their allies.

8
  • Ability Score Improvement (Charisma 18 -> 20)
  • New Spell Known:
    • Polymorph

Another Charisma increase means better spell attacks, higher DC's, more damage from Elemental Affinity, and more dice from Empowered Spell.

Polymorph adds a powerful buff option for yourself or for your allies, but you can also use it to turn enemies into something harmless.

By this level you have enough Sorcery Points that you should be experimenting with Quickened Spell. Keep in mind that you still can't cast cast two leveled spells in a turn (unless you got a second Action from something like Action Surge), so Quickened Spell typically means that you're doing something else with your Action like casting a Cantrip.

9
  • New Spell Known:
    • Cone of Cold

5th level spells are important because they're the highest-level spell slots which you can create with Sorcery Points. Unfortunately, the SRD and the Basic Rules contain no fire damage spells at this level. Instead, rely on lower-level spells cast using 5th-level spell slots. Fireball cast as a 5th-level spell deals 10d6 damage (avg. 35) compared to Cone of Cold's 8d8 (avg. 36), so the gap in damage is already negligible, and Elemental Affinity will make Fireball more effective.

Empowered Spell is more effective for spells with fewer but larger dice, which should be enough that Cone of Cold can do more damage than Fireball if you want to spend a Sorcery Point to buff it. And if you're going to cast your high-level spell slot, spending a Sorcery Point to get some more power is worth the cost.

That comparison really calls attention to how Sorcerers can adjust their limited number of spells on the fly to get more versatility from their relatively limited number of spells known.

10
  • Metamagic
    • Twinned Spell
  • New Cantrips Known:
    • Any
  • New Spell Known:
    • Hold Monster

We get some great stuff at this level. An additional metamagic option gives us even more ways to customize our spells. Using Twinned Spell on single-target spells like Blindness/Deafness and Hold Monster means that we can target additional enemies as though we were casting those spells using higher-level spell slots, by using Twinned Spell. You can also twin powerful spells like Polymorph which are limited to single targets.

11
  • New Spell Known:
    • Sunbeam

6th-level spells introduce our first spell slots that we can't create using Sorcery Points. They're our "big guns", even well into high levels, and since spellcasters get so few high-level spell slots you really need to get a lot out of each of them.

Sunbeam, while its initial damage is lower than lower-level options like Cone of Cold, you can use it every round for a full minute, dealing out a huge amount of damage with a single spell slot. It's also one of the only ways for the Sorcerer to deal radiant damage, and blinding foes is really effective. If you use Quickened Spell to cast it, you cast the initial beam as a Bonus Action and you can still use your Action on the same turn to fire another beam.

This is also the last level at which the Sorcerer learns a new spell at every level. Instead, you'll learn one new spell each time that you get access to a new spell level. Expect to rely on your lower-level spells cast with higher-level spell slots, and retrain any low-level spells which you're not using.

12
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution 14 -> 16)

This is our fist ability score increase that we don't really need, so if you've decided to experiment with feats now is the time. Otherwise, enjoy a pile of extra hit points.

13
  • New Spell Known:
    • Fire Storm

Fire Storm's damage actually isn't all that impressive. 7d10 (avg. 38.5) is actually less than you would get from Cone of Cold cast as a 7th-level spell (10d8, avg. 45). Fire Storm's big appeal (beyond the damage type) is that you can position the cubes very flexibly to avoid your allies. You can also use Empowered Spell to reroll low dice, and since Fire Storm uses d10's you'll get a lot of mileage out of Empowered Spell.

14
  • Dragon Wings

Dragon Wings means free, persisten flight without maintaining concentration or spending a spell slot. If you're fighting, you should be flying.

15
  • New Spell Known:
    • Incendiary Cloud

Incendiary Cloud is an all-around fantastic offensive option. It deals roughly the same damage as a fireball cast as an 8th-level spell every round for a full minute in a reasonably large area.

16
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution 16 -> 18)

Oh look, more hit points.

17
  • Metamagic
    • Any
  • New Spell Known:
    • Meteor Swarm

At this level cantrips recieve their final damage boost, raising Fire Bolt to an impressive 4d10+5 damage.

Meteor Swarm is the biggest AOE damage spell in the game, totalling 40d6+5 damage (avg. 145). Use Empowered Spell to boost the damage and you can destroy entire encounters (including the terrain) in a single turn.

18
  • Draconic Presence

Draconic Presence is a nice way to handle crowds, but if you're in a situation where diplomacy isn't an option you'll have better luck with Meteor Swam.

19
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution 18 -> 20)

Still more hit points!

20
  • Sorcerous Restoration

Recovering sorcery points on a short rest is great. 4 points means two quickened spells.