Last Updated: March 16, 2022
The Storm Sorcery subclass is an extremely interesting subclass heavily hampered by the lack of decent spells to support it. Playing a storm sorcerer is difficult and risky, constantly forcing you to put yourself in harm’s way to apply class features which only work at short range while providing essentially no protection from inevitable counterattacks. This is a hard subclass to build and play.
Throughout this handbook, I’ll repeatedly voice my frustrations with elements of the subclass. I want to be extremely clear about where the problems lie, and by highlighting those pain points I hope to provide some insight into where the subclass falls short and where you as the player will need to compensate. Knowing your weaknesses will keep you alive.
The introduction of the new Metamagic Transmuted Spell in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is perhaps the single greatest addition to the subclass, allowing you to expand your spell options beyond the pitifully small number of spells which already deal lightning and thunder damage, but it does present a frustrating tax on your sorcery points.
If you want a fix for Storm Sorcery, you need to solve one of two problems: Spells known, and Tempestuous Magic. Giving the Storm Sorcerer some spells known that will trigger Heart of the Storm makes the subclass functional at a bare minimum because players can’t accidently negate an entire subclass feature. You could also adjust Tempestuous Magic to work with cantrips which deal lightning or thunder damage (currently only Booming Blade, Shocking Grasp, and Thunderclap), which allows the Storm Sorcerer to use Tempestuous Magic more frequently so that they can practice the hit-and-run tactics built into the class right from level 1.
Table of Contents
- Storm Sorcery Features
- Ability Scores
- Magic Items
- Example Build – Aarakocra Storm Sorcerer
- Example Build – Storm Sorcerer/Tempest Cleric
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.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we 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 the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.
Storm Sorcery Features
Storm Sorcery’s features aren’t great, and they ask you to do a lot of things that are both frustrating and dangerous.
- : Essentially four free languages. Especially nice if you are your party’s Face.
The fact that it’s free is nice, especially if you like to run into close quarters to deliver spells like Thunder Wave. If this worked with cantrips it would be a defining feature of the subclass, but limiting it to leveled spells makes this a situational novelty.
: 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.
The damage bonus is pretty good so if you can manage shuffling into melee or flying just over your targets’ heads you can do quite a bit of damage. Combined with Tempestuous Magic you can rush in, trigger Heart of the Storm, and fly safely out of reach. You’ll still need to do something to prevent enemies from walking over and killing you, but at least you didn’t end your turn within reach.
: 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
- : Unless you’re in a seafaring campaign, this will almost certainly never matter.
- : 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.
- : Flight for your entire party at Essentially no cost and without Concentration.
The Storm Sorcerer isn’t much different from other sorcerers, so the ability score needs are no different. If you plan to multiclass to get armor proficiencies, you may be able to dump Dexterity.
: AC and Dexterity saves.
: Hit points.
: Wisdom saves are common.
: Your spellcasting stat.
|Point Buy||Standard Array|
|Str: 8||Str: 8|
|Dex: 15||Dex: 14|
|Con: 14||Con: 13|
|Int: 8||Int: 10|
|Wis: 10||Wis: 12|
|Cha: 15||Cha: 15|
Improvements to your durability (AC bonuses, etc.) and improved mobility are essential for the Storm Sorcerer. You need to be able to get in and out of melee quickly, and you need to be able to take a few hits when you can’t get far enough away after using Heart of the Storm.
: +2/+1 increases and flight. Excellent, but the Winged Tiefling is better.
: Permanent nonmagical flight is great, but you’ll lag offensively.
: Nimble Escape makes Tempestuous Magic mostly pointless.
- : With perfect ability scores on the table for every race, there is no reason to play the Standard Human.
- : The Customizing Your Origin rules make no change to the Variant Human.
- : Sorcerers really only need Charisma, so most of the bonuses are outright wasted.
- : You still get a crucial bonus to your Charisma, and you get a feat.
The Winged Tiefling can fill the same niche as the Aarakocra, but trades the Aarakocra’s speed (which is suprisingly import for the Storm Sorcerer) for the ability to wear medium armor. If you plan to multiclass to get armor proficiencies, the Winged Tiefling may be a better choice, but for single-class builds the Aarakocra’s speed will help keep you at a safe distance.
Races of Eberron
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.
Dragonmark traits replace some of your normal racial traits, as described in the entry for each Dragonmark.
- : The dragonmark spells are already on the Sorcerer’s spell list and the other benefits are far too situational. This feels like a great choice for Storm Sorcery, but you still need to spend spells known to learn these spells, so the benefits are extremely minor.
- : The ability increases work, but most of the dragonmark spells are already on the Sorcerer’s spell list. This feels like a great choice for Storm Sorcery, but you still need to spend spells known to learn these spells, so the benefits are extremely minor
- PHB: If ever there was a build that could benefit from Elemental Adept, it’s the Storm Sorcerer, but even the Storm Sorcerer doesn’t need it. For the same cost you can get Metamagic Adept and learn Transmute Spell, which will solve the same problem better for the Sorcerer.
- TCoE: The Storm Sorcerer needs to eat a lot of sorcery points to feed Transmuted Spell, so two extra points and two new metamagic options is pretty great.
- PHB: Redundant with Tempestuous Magic, but it does allow you to do hit-and-run stuff without spending a spell slot.
Sorcerers rarely need weapons, but since the Storm Sorcerer spends a lot of time at close range, a weapon might occasionally be useful for opportunity attacks. If possible, a reach weapon like a whip is a good choice.
Sorcerers don’t get armor proficiency. If you want armor, take a level of cleric with a domain that gives you heavy armor proficiency. That will get you both heavy armor and shields, dramatically improving your AC.
This section briefly details some 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.
- PHB: One level and the Tempest domain does a lot for the Storm Sorcerer. Heavy armor, shields, martial weapons, new cantrips (stick to utility options), and access to staple low-level cleric spells like Bless and Healing Word. A second level gets you Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath, allowing you to maximize the damage of the spells that define the Storm Sorcerer.
This section only covers items with unique benefits for the Storm Sorcerer. For full coverage on magic items, see my Sorcerer Handbook.
Common Magic Items
Uncommon Magic Items
- DMG: Already and amazing item, but especially helpful for storm sorcerers who don’t have racial flight. The broom’s flight doesn’t prevent you from using Tempestuous Magic, and unlike a mount you don’t need to worry about flying off of your mount when you use Tempestuous Magic since the broom is an item.
Rare Magic Items
- TCoE: Basically Tempestuous Magic, but 6 times the distance and it doesn’t consume your Bonus Action.
- DMG: Using this will trigger Heart of the Storm and Tempestuous Magic, but it doesn’t solve the problems with Lightning Bolt.
Very Rare Magic Items
Legendary Magic Items
Storm Sorcery’s biggest pain point is the spellcasting, which is immensely frustrating because spellcasting is the central function of the Sorcerer. You not get any suitable spells automatically, and the pitifully small number of spells which deal lightning or thunder damage means that you’re stuck with the handful of decent spells available to you.
This section will specifically focus on the spells which trigger Heart of the Storm, limiting us to leveled spells (so no cantrips) which deal lightning or thunder damage. Any leveled spell will suffice to trigger Tempestuous Magic, but to get the full intended effect of Storm Sorcery, you want to trigger Heart of the Storm as often as possible. For full coverage on sorcerer spells, see my Sorcerer Spell List Breakdown.
You’ll note that the spell levels stop at 7 in the list below. This is frustrating, but also accurate. Spells like Dragon’s Breath, True Polymorph, summon spells, etc. don’t deal the suitable damage types as part of the spell’s effects (Dragon’s Breath’s effect is to grant a breath weapon, True Polymorph’s effect is to change your form, etc.), so they don’t qualify to trigger Heart of the Storm. They’re still great spells, but they don’t meet the criteria for this list.
- EEPC / XGtE: An absolutely essential spell, but I’m not certain if it triggers Heart of the Storm. It doesn’t deal damage, instead giving your melee attack on the following turn a damage boost. As a DM I would rule that it doesn’t trigger Heart of the Storm, but Jeremy Crawford has ruled that Dragon’s Breath qualifies, so maybe this qualifies if you use it to resist lightning damage. Discuss it with your DM. If this is allowed, you could repeatedly hit yourself with lightning damage to trigger this and trigger Heart of the Storm more frequently.
- XGtE: A fun spell, but you only have a 50% chance to deal one of the two damage types that we want, so it’s not reliable, Use Chromatic Orb instead.
- PHB: The cheapest and most reliable way to trigger Heart of the Storm. Even at high levels, using Sorcery Points to get extra 1st-level spell slots to cast this may be a better choice than casting cantrips like Fire Bolt.
- PHB: Unusually good for the Storm Sorcerer since you’re encourage to dart in and out of close range. The knockback effect makes it easier to move back to a safe position after delivering the spell, and Heart of the Storm reaches most of Thunderwave’s 15-foot area of effect so you can frequently affect all of your targets with both.
- PHB: Just not a great spell. Twinned Spell might redeem it, but it’s not worth the Action cost to re-trigger the damage every round in the vast majority of cases.
- XGtE: Not a great spell for the Sorcerer. Jeremy Crawford has confirmed that Dragon’s Breath can trigger Heart of the Storm if you choose for the breath weapon to deal lightning damage.
- PHB: Your easiest and often safest AOE damage option, but it’s on a Constitution save so many enemies will frequently pass their save.
- PHB: It’s typically very difficult to catch more than two targets in the area of effect of a 5-foot wide line. Using Transmuted Spell with Fireball is nearly always more effective.
- XGtE: Misty Step is usually a better choice, but Thunder Step has some unique interactions for the Storm Sorcerer. Tempestuous Magic can be used before casting a leveled spell, so you can combine it with your regular movement to dart into the middle of a crowd of enemies, use Tempestuous Magic to avoid Opportunity Attacks if necessary, then cast Thunder Step and trigger Heart of the Storm. The AOE for both is 10 feet, so they perfectly overlap, allowing you to deal some decent damage as you teleport away. However, Thunder Step’s 3d10 damage will be dramatically less than Fireball, even with the addition of Heart of the Storm. As cool as this combo is (and it is astoundingly cool), generally you only want to do this if you need to rescue an ally who is in trouble.
- PHB: This is a weak spell. Casting Sickening Radiance will be more effective, even with the addition of Heart of the Storm, and Sickening Radiance won’t eat your Bonus Action every turn.
- PHB: Probably the Storm Sorcerer’s best spell without considering Transmute Spell. The damage is decent, you get four targets, and you don’t need to worry about hitting yourself or your allies so you can drop it at close range to also trigger Heart of the Storm.
- PHB: There is a chance that this will deal lightning damage. Against one target, it’s a little better than 12.5% (the math is complicated). Against two targets is a little better than 25%. That’s just not enough.
Example Build – Aarakocra Storm Sorcerer
Why isn’t there a storm equivalent for the phoenix? Thunderbird? That’s the best we’ve got? Oof. Okay, fine, we’re Zapdos now.
This is probably the best that can be done for a single-class storm sorcerer. You’ll spend a lot of time being just like every other sorcerer, but at level 6 you’ll develop an addiction to running in and out of melee combat to trigger Heart of the Storm. Expect your party’s healer to be concerned for your safety at all times.
We’ll use the point buy ability scores recommended above, and put our +2/+1 into Charisma and Dexterity.
For a single-class build, racial flight is the easiest way to make the build work, so building around the Aarakocra is a good choice. I’m going to use the custom origin rules here, but if you’re not using them you’ll do just fine with the Winged Tiefling instead.
Skills and Tools
Anything that works for the Sorcerer works fine here.
Anything that works for the Sorcerer works fine here.
We can hit 20 Charisma by level 8, so there’s plenty of room for feats here. Metamagic Initiate is helpful, but beyond that it’s hard to find an easy choice.
|Level||Feat(s) and Features||Notes and Tactics|
For your starting gear, take a light crossbow, a component pouch or arcane focus, either pack, and two daggers.
At this level, you’re little different from any other sorcerer. Tempestuous Magic only functions when you cast a leveled spell, and with just two spell slots that means Tempestuous Magic only works twice per day. Your best bet is to stay out of reach using your racial flight and attack at range. If you do get dragged into melee somehow, use Tempestuous Magic to get out of reach, cast a leveled spell (remember that Tempestuous Magic must be used immediately before or after casting a leveled spell), then use your movement to get to a safe distance.
You’ll note that none of our spells deal lightning or thunder damage. Until we get Heart of the Storm at 6th level, our damage type doesn’t matter any more than it does for any other sorcerer. Until you hit level 6, Tempestuous Magic is a “get out of melee (mostly) free” card, but otherwise you just need to be a really good sorcerer.
For cantrips, I’ve suggested two offensive options: Create Bonfire and Mind Sliver. Create Bonfire is good, cheap area control so it’s a good way to use your Concentration. Mind Sliver is excellent, but the range is short. If you need to hit foes outside of Mind Sliver’s range, use your crossbow or cast Magic Missile. If you can get two or more foes in a line, use Tasha’s Caustic Brew.
Chromatic Orb would be a great spell at this level, but the 50gp material component is frustratingly expensive. Even if you choose to take gold instead of the normal starting equipment, you’ll get an average of 75gp, which means that you can afford the gem and basically nothing else. The ability to choose lightning or thunder damage also doesn’t much at this level, so Chromatic Orb isn’t essential. We’ll use Magic Missile for now.
At this level, Font of Magic is just an extra 1st-level spell slot every Long Rest.
We add Chromatic Orb here, but you might choose something defensive like Absorb Elements or Shield instead. If you want to, you can retrain Magic Missile into something that we’ll want to keep permanently.
Twinned Spell is our primary metamagic choice. You’re going to spend a lot of time casting twinned Chromatic Orb, and you can start doing that right away.
Transmute Spell won’t be immediately helpful, but it’s crucial for the Storm Sorcerer. Once you hit level 6, the ability to deal lightning and thunder damage whenever you want is essential to the build.
Shatter is decent, inexpensive AOE thunder damage. The biggest problem is that it targets Constitution saves, which makes it unreliable. If you find that Shatter isn’t working out, trade it for something else like Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp.
The ability score increase puts your spells ahead of your crossbow, especially with the damage increase right around the corner et level 5, so it’s time to grab Fire Bolt for our long-range damage needs. Enhance Ability isn’t useful in combat, but it’s absolutely amazing everywhere else.
Cantrip damage increases and we get access to 3rd-level spells. For now, Fireball is excellent unmodified. It remains a staple damage spell for your whole career, and for now we don’t need to worry about the damage type unless you’re facing damage resistances.
This is where our subclass actually gets interesting. Heart of the Storm is probably the Storm Sorcerer’s most defining feature, and using it defines the Storm Sorcerer’s signature tactics. This is where our damage type finally starts to matter, so this is where Transmute Spell starts to matter. Use Transmute Spell with Fireball and other such spells to trigger Heart of the Storm for the easy damage.
However, the 10-foot range on Heart of the Storm requires rushing in and out of close range, which is why Tempestuous Magic is so crucial. Your go-to tactic for a single turn is to rush into range, trigger Heart of the Storm (casting Chromatic Orb is enough, but any of your damage spells work thanks to Transmuted Spell), use Tempestuous Magic to fly out of reach, then use whatever movement you have left to retreat.
All of that just to trigger Tempestuous Magic, which deals a truly stunning 3 points of damage per target. It’s very exciting conceptually, but you’ll need to live with the reality that the damage isn’t great. Still, it’s guaranteed damage with no save, and if you can hit multiple targets that will add up quickly.
And since someone will ask me: No, twinning a spell does not trigger Heart of the Storm twice. You’re adding a target, not casting the spell a second time.
We already have Fireball at this level, so consider other spells depending on your role in the party. Support and utility spells like Clairvoyance, Counterspell, Dispel Magic, and Haste are all good choices. Ashardalon’s Step is a good choice offensively because it boosts your speed, provides another source of damage output, and removes the need to rely on Tempestuous Magic. If you transmute it, you can even trigger Tempestuous Magic with it, leaving your Action for a cantrip. If you go this route, you might pick up Swordburst to use as you fly through crowds of enemies.
Any spell will suffice here, but I really like Wall of Fire. It’s great area control, and you may be able to use to pen enemies into a small area so that you can fly just overhead and hit them with Heart of the Storm repeatedly. If you transmute it, you can trigger Heart of the Storm (though only when it’s cast since Heart of the Storm only triggers when you cast the spell).
Alternatively, you might go for improved invisibility so that you can remain close to enemies mostly undetected. Plus, you can continue to cast twinned Chromatic Orb and make the attacks at Advantage.
Under no circumstance should you learn Storm Sphere.
20 Charisma feels good. No tactical changes here.
There aren’t any spells that 5th level that play into the Storm Sorcerer’s tactics especially well. Take anything you like.
Do whatever you like here. Quickened Spell is the go-to metamagic option, and that’s likely what I would take here. Once you get Ashardalon’s Stride running, you can fly in, cast a quickened cantrip like Sword Burst (which you might learn at this level if you hadn’t already) and a leveled spell like transmuted Fireball or Chromatic Orb to trigger Heart of the Storm, and you’re dealing a big pile of damage very quickly. It’ll eat your Sorcery Points, though, so mind your resources carefully.
Chain Lightning is a good spell. Fireball will deal more damage for the same spell slot, but Chain Lightning doesn’t worry about friendly fire or burning down houses or anything, and if you pick your target right you can frequently hit targets in a wider area than you could with Fireball. You can use this at point-blank range to trigger Heart of the Storm, then either use Tempestuous Magic or keep Ashardalon’s Stride running to get safely out of reach.
Metamagic Adept will give you two more metamagic options and two more Sorcery Points. The Sorcery Points are probably more helpful, but you might also enjoy diversifying your metamagic options. If Metamagic Adept doesn’t appeal to you at this point, take whatever you like.
Jeremy Crawford has ruled the Dragon’s Breath triggers Heart of the Storm, so Draconic Transformation (which also does damage immediately when you cast it) should trigger it, too. Draconic Transformation gives you a consistent use for your Bonus Action every turn, so Tempestuous Magic will once again take a back seat to your spells. Start Draconic Transformation early in fight, stay just close enough to trigger Heart of the Storm with your Action by casting a leveled spell, and spend your Bonus Action to use the breath weapon every turn.
This build works very hard to keep out of melee reach, so hopefully Storm’s Fury never matters.
Again, no great spells for the Storm Sorcerer at this level, so go for whatever works for any other sorcerer.
Take whatever you want.
Learn whatever you like here. Wish is always a good choice, or you can transmute Meteor Swarm if you just want to blow stuff up.
Now your friends can fly, too!
Recovering sorcery points on a short rest will help fuel your resource-hungry tactics.
Example Build – Storm Sorcerer/Tempest Cleric
Look everybody, it’s Thor!
This build is a series of complicated trades. We trade two sorcerer levels for two cleric levels, and in that fairly small build change our tactics can change quite a bit. The addition of heavy armor, shields, and martial weapons opens some interesting tacical options in addition to dramatically improving our durability.
Since we’re multiclassing into a full caster class, our spell slots will progress at the normal rate. However, our spells known will be one level behind our highest-level spell slot, so expect to upcast spells to use those high-level slots.
To be clear up front: This build is not significantly better than the single-class build. Combining Storm Sorcery and Tempest Domain is thematically obvious and feels fun because Destructive Wrath makes lighting and thunder spells more deadly, but I’m not convinced that heavy armor (which comes at the cost of easy flight) and Destructive Wrath (which comes at the cost of knowledge of higher-level spells) are worth the trades that you make to get them.
Since we’re going for a heavily-armored build that still depends on movement, we need 15 Strength to avoid the speed penalty. We also need 13 Wisdom at minimum to allow us to multiclass into (or out of) cleric. This makes the build unusually MAD for a sorcerer, and I don’t like standing in or close to melee with only 12 Constitution.
Since we’re building around heavy armor, our race options change. The Aarakocra and the Fairy can only fly in light armor, and even the Winged Tiefling can only fly in medium armor.
Instead, we’ll look at options that work on the ground. The Centaur’s speed is tempting, but the Centaur is too strictly focus on melee. The Variant Human and the Custom Lineage both offer feats, which offers some very enticing options. The Half-Elf’s three ability score increases are also tempting, addressing our MAD issues.
We have several good options here, but we’ll go with Variant Human for the feat in this example.
Skills and Tools
Anything that works for the Sorcerer works fine here.
Anything that works for the Sorcerer works fine here.
Since this build is more MAD than the single-class build, it’s a bit harder to fit feats into the build unless we get them from our race.
|Level||Feat(s) and Features||Notes and Tactics|
|1 – Sorcerer 1||
For your starting gear, take a light crossbow (which you’ll likely sell almost immediately), a component pouch or arcane focus, either pack, and two daggers.
At this level, our build is mostly the same as the single-class build. We’re starting with Sorcerer for proficiency in Constitution saves and because the Sorcerer’s skill options suit the build better.
I’ve suggested Metamagic Initiate as our feat at first level. It’s not crucial to the build, but it gets us Metamagic 3 levels early, and offsets the loss of Sorcery Point progression due to multiclassing.
|2 – Cleric 1||
Our cleric spellcasting is extremely limited. You cabn prepare just 2 leveled cleric spells, and you don’t want to use cleric spells offensively, so stick to utility options. I recommend preparing Healing Word and something like Bless or Heroism. Your cantrip choices don’t matter much, but get Guidance. It’s really good.
Our first level in cleric also gives us heavy armor, sheilds, and martial weapons. Grab a shield and some full plate, and your AC goes straight to 20. You could use a weapon, but juggling weapons to handle spell components and spell foci can be difficult.
If you insist on holding a weapon, consider taking War Caster at first level instead of Metamagic Initiate.
Tragically, Wrath of the Storm will only work once per Long Rest, and the DC will be bad, but we have to make sacrifices somewhere. It’s still cool, but it’s not going to be a major deterrent.
|3 – Cleric 2||
Destructive Wrath boosts the damage on our big lightning/thunder damage spells. Max damage is a little less than double average damage, which is great when you’re using your highest-level spell slot. Save this for big AOE damage spells like transmuted Fireball. You can only do this once per Short Rest, but that’s generally enough to consume all of your highest-level spell slots regardless of your level.
|4 – Sorcerer 2||
If you took Metamagic Initiate at first level, Font of Magic is more useful at this level than for the typical sorcerer. With a total of 4 sorcery points, you can twin Chromatic Orb 4 times per day.
Since we’re built to stand in melee a bit better, consider retraining Magic Missile for Thunderwave. It’s a great choice to upcast and use with Destructive Wrath. Alternatively, you might retrain it for Absorb Elements or Shield.
|5 – Sorcerer 3||
Shatter is basically Thunderwave at range. Your tactics don’t change much, but now you can drop Destructive Wrath on crowds at a distance.
At 6th level and beyond, our build is very similar to the single-class build. Follow the build and tactics above, but expect to spend a lot of time standing 10 feet away from enemies rather than flying about 10 feet above their heads.
As you gain levels, look forward to using Destructive Wrath in conjunction with transmuted Fireball, Chain Lightning, and eventually transmuted Meteor Swarm.