Aberrant Dragonmark DnD 5e


Aberrant Dragonmark is an unusual and often-overlooked feat option. Buried at the end of the chapter of Eberron: Rising from the Last War which details dragonmarks (essentially subraces), it’s easy to overlook the feat both because it’s a tiny block of text in a long chapter and because the benefits of the feat are easy to overlook.

Aberrant Dragonmark’s leveled spell can be cast once per Short or Long Rest, rather than once per long rest like other spellcasting feats. That’s great if you’re picking a reliable, go-to spell like Absorb Energy or Shield which you can expect to use frequently.

For martial characters (or anyone that’s not a full caster), Aberrant Dragonmark is arguably the best spellcasting feat. While it provides fewer spells Magic Initiate, it provides a Constitution increase (reducing the opportunity cost of taking a feat), and Constitution is the casting ability for the spells gained from the feat. This is helpful for martial classes who might otherwise need to weigh increasing a spellcasting ability score like Intelligence over increasing their Constitution.

Martial Classes also have higher hit dice than full casters, so Aberrant Dragonmark’s third benefit is more slightly impactful. Getting 1d10 temporary hp or dealing 1d10 damage is a bit better than 1d6 for a wizard or something.

However, those benefits come at a cost. You get one less cantrip than Magic Initiate, and you’re limited to the Sorcerer’s spell list. While that does rule out a lot of great leveled spells, the Sorcerer still gets numerous reliable 1st-level options that work on any character. If you’re planning to repeatedly use the two spells you get from Aberrant Dragonmark, this is an easy trade to make.

Aberrant Dragonmark also offers the ability to gain an Epic Boon randomly each time you gain a level. I recommend ignoring this option both because it’s unpredictable, and because when it does happen it will immediately cause problems in your game.

For more information about spellcasting feats, including ratings of the various feats, see our Spellcasting Feats Guide.

Table of Contents


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. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: 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.

Aberrant Dragonmark Cantrip Options

The spell assessments here are adjusted for characters likely to use the Aberrant Dragonmark feat. For a full list of available cantrip options and spell descriptions, see DnDBeyond. For assessments of the Sorcerer’s full spell list, see our Sorcerer Spell List Breakdown.

  • Acid SplashPHB: Acid Splash’s ability to target two adjacent creatures isn’t useful often enough to justify selecting it.
  • Blade WardPHB: Dodge instead.
  • Booming BladeSCAG / TCoE: The go-to cantrip for martial builds. It notably doesn’t care about your spellcasting ability modifier, so there’s no need to raise your spellcasting ability to 20 to keep it reliable.

    Note that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything published an updated version of Booming Blade. According to Jeremy Crawford on the official Dragon Talk Podcast, the updated version can’t be twinned with Twin Spell.

  • Chill TouchPHB: The benefits over Fire Bolt or Mind Spike are too situational. If you’re only going to have one cantrip, you want it to be consistently useful.
  • Control FlamesEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Create BonfireEEPC: A low-budget area control spell. It does as much initial damage as most cantrips, but the ongoing damage only applies when a creature enters the area or ends their turn there, so you can only get extra damage if you can force an enemy into the space or if you cast it on them and they remain in their space. It does require Concentration, which is a problem for most spellcasters, but for martial classes with little reliance on Concentration that’s probably not a problem. If you like to grapple enemies, this is an interesting way to capitalize on immobilizing a target.
  • Dancing LightsPHB: Get a torch.
  • Fire BoltPHB: If all you want is ranged damage, grab a javelin or a bow.
  • FriendsPHB: If you need to solve social situations, take the Skill Expert feat with Persuasion. It will be more reliable, and target sof your new-found charms won’t hate you one minute later.
  • FrostbiteEEPC / XGtE: Low damage for a cantrip (d6-based), but the big appeal is Disadvantage on the target’s next weapon attack. Unfortunately, it works on Constitution saving throws, and those tend to be relatively high compared to other saving throws.
  • Green-Flame BladeSCAG: Perpetually second-best to Booming Blade, Green-Flame Blade is harder to use both due to the position requirement to hit multiple targets and due to your spellcasting modifier being used for part of the damage bonus. This makes it difficult for anyone except artificers and bladesingers to use to maximum effect.
  • GustEEPC / XGtE: Too situational and too weak. If you just want something to force enemies to move take the Telekinetic feat.
  • InfestationXGtE: Too unpredictable, and too unreliable since Constitution saves tend to be high and because poison resistance is so common. If you just want something to force enemies to move, take the Telekinetic feat. If you want damage, look elsewhere.
  • LightPHB: Buy a torch.
  • Lightning LureSCAG / TCoE: Despite the 15-foot range, this can be a great option for melee builds. Against enemies with poor Strength (like many enemy spellcasters), you can use this to drag them into melee with you and force them to teleport or Disengage in order to get away from you unharmed. If you’re flying, you may even be able to pull enemies into the air to cause a small amount of falling damage. The save is Strength, so try to reserve this for physically weak foes like other spellcasters.
  • Mage HandPHB: Take the Telekinetic feat instead.
  • MendingPHB: Too situational. Short of Rust Monsters, nearly nothing in 5e deals damage to your equipment.
  • MessagePHB: Too situational.
  • Mind SliverTCoE: Intelligence saves tend to be low, so this is easy, reliable damage at range. It also only requires verbal components so you don’t need to juggle items to cast it.
  • Minor Illusion:PHB If you want this enough to get it from a feat you should consider playing a Forest Gnome or a Glasya Tiefling.
  • Mold EarthEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Poison SprayPHB: Good damage compared to most cantrips, but poison damage is commonly resisted, the range is essentially melee, and it’s a Constitution save so enemies will frequently pass the save.
  • PrestidigitationPHB: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it’s worth a feat. See our Practical Guide to Prestidigitation for more advice.
  • Ray of FrostPHB: Decent single-target ranged damage, but if all you want is damage you should grab a bow. The speed penalty is nice, but it won’t win you any fights on its own.
  • Shape WaterEEPC / XGtE: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it’s worth a feat.
  • Shocking GraspPHB: If you’re going to be in melee, you’re almost certainly using a weapon. If you’re using a weapon, you’re going to be better served by Booming Blade. Even before Booming Blade existed, sticking to weapon attacks was probably still a better idea.
  • Sword BurstSCAG / TCoE: Bad at handling crowds? Not anymore. The damage is excellent, and as you add targets it will rapidly outpace your damage output with weapon attacks. It won’t totally replace your weapon, especially against single targets, but if you can throw yourself into the middle of a crowd you can deal a ton of damage in a hurry.
  • ThunderclapEEPC: Thunder damage is worse than Sword Burst’s force damage, and Thunderclap uses Constitution saves, which tend to be high.
  • True StrikePHB: Very situational. Typically you’ll get better results from attacking twice rather than using this then attacking once.

Aberrant Dragonmark Leveled Spell Options

The spell assessments here are adjusted for characters likely to use the Aberrant Dragonmark feat. For a full list of available spell options and spell descriptions, see DnDBeyond. For assessments of the Sorcerer’s full spell list, see our Sorcerer Spell List Breakdown.

  • Absorb ElementsEEPC / XGtE: A fantastic defensive option at any level, this will save your life when you encounter an unpredictable source of elemental damage like as a trap or a spell. The bonus damage on your next attack may be useful for martial characters, too. But remember that it has Somatic components and no material component, so most characters need an empty hand to cast it.
  • Burning HandsPHB: AOE damage is tempting for martial characters who often struggle to handle crowds, but the damage will feel unimpressive at high levels.
  • CatapultEEPC: The damage won’t stay relevant as you level.
  • Chaos BoltXGtE: Get a bow or a javelin.
  • Charm PersonPHB: Given the choice, I would take Skill Expert with Persuasion before I spent a feat to get Charm Person.
  • Chromatic OrbPHB: Get a bow or a javelin.
  • Color sprayPHB: Doesn’t stay relevant as you level.
  • Comprehend languagesPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Disguise SelfPHB: Consider playing a changeling or a race which can cast Disguise Self as an innate spell, or get proficiency in disguise kits.
  • Distort ValueAI: An amusing but situational novelty.
  • Earth TremorEEPC / XGtE: The difficult terrain effect could be useful, but the area is small and the damage won’t matter beyond very low levels.
  • False LifePHB: A good way to improve your durability, but if this is the reason you’re here you might be better served by the Tough feat. You’ll also mitigate more total damage as you level with Absorb Elements or Shield since False Life won’t scale, but the damage that you take will.
  • Feather FallPHB: Important in any party, but you shouldn’t need it often enough to justify this being your one leveled spell that you can cast every day.
  • Fog CloudPHB: Situational, but a decent escape mechanism and a way to negate Advantage if your enemies have the upper hand.
  • Ice KnifePHB: Already not a great spell, and it won’t stay relevant as you gain levels.
  • JumpPHB: Too situational.
  • Mage ArmorPHB: A +1 AC increase over light armor, but since you’re not going to cast this during combat you’re going to miss out on the cool hit die effect of Aberrant Dragonmark.
  • Magic MissilePHB: Doesn’t stay relevant as you level. There is an interesting interaction with damage boosts like Arcane Firearm and Hexblade’s Curse which makes Magic Missile an interesting choice for some builds. Because of the “Damage Rolls” rule, each missile hits at the same time and it’s considered one damage roll. This means that Arcane Firearm and similar damage boosts apply to every target, allowing you to do an unusually large amount of damage very reliably. Even better, Aberrant Dragonmark allows you to cast your leveled spell using spell slots without multiclassing (unlike Magic Initiate), and since Magic Missile doesn’t care about your spellcasting modifier it’s an easy combination without investing heavily in Constitution.
  • Ray of Sickness: Generally just not a great spell. Little damage, short duration, a commonly-resisted status condition, and it’s all on a Constitution save.
  • ShieldPHB: A reliable and consistent improvement to your AC, but remember that it has Somatic components and no material component, so most characters need an empty hand to cast it.
  • Silent ImagePHB: A fantastic and versatile utility.
  • SleepPHB: Doesn’t stay relevant as you level.
  • Tasha’s Caustic BrewTCoE: I really like this spell, and if you can hit multiple targets and maintain Concentration it can deal a decent amount of damage across the full level range. However, beyond its damage it’s not super impactful.
  • ThunderwavePHB: Situations where Thunderwave is a great tactical option are rare.
  • Witch BoltPHB: Doesn’t stay relevant as you level.