Table of Contents:
Fighter Sorcerer Multiclassing
A 5e Guide for Powerful Beatdowns
Fighters are living weapons, honed fighters who use their physical prowess to master their chosen fighting style. Sorcerers are the lucky inheritors of magic in their bloodlines, innately magical beings who wield their arcane power like an extension of their own body. Put them together and you have talent and skill combined, a spellsword with all the benefits of both dedicated training and inborn gifts. Grab your sword and tap into the power of your bloodline as we go through everything you need to know.
Why Play a Fighter Sorcerer Multiclass?
Do you want to hit people with a sword? How about hitting people with a magic sword made of concentrated darkness? There are several ways to build this multiclass, but they all boil down to swinging magical swords as an armored sorcerer and if that’s your goal this is one of the best ways to do it.
Fighters are always good in combat, but their playstyle often gets boring fast, why not add an extra sorcerous spin on it and keep things fresh and/or on fire? Sorcerers get access to practically all the same spells that wizards have but with more spell slots and options for your favorite spells.
What are the Downsides?
Fundamentally we’re mixing a full martial class with a full spellcasting class, so we have to work harder for our synergies than with many other multiclass options. Even the more magic-centric fighter archetypes use Intelligence instead of Charisma so we can’t even synergize that way. The sorcerer spell lists are a bit more limited so with a limited spell list we have to get the most out of a few low-level spells.
Our conjured weapon spell uses concentration, and that means if we’re planning on getting into melee to make our weapon attacks, we’re going to have to make sure we don’t just lose our spell the moment we’re hit. That means using feats or ability score increases on Constitution which takes those resources away from simply improving our spellcasting or our martial skill.
Finally, just like with every other multiclass character we’re forgoing late game features like 9th level spells and 20th level capstone features to gain more versatility. We’re going to reach our mid-game features later (if at all) and our spellcasting and martial progression will be slower than single class characters at our same level.
When Does a Fighter / Sorcerer “Kick In”?
There two main ways to go about making a fighter / sorcerer multiclass, and both revolve around taking a small class level dip in the other and then focusing on the primary class. For builds dipping into fighter as a secondary class we usually only want a single fighter level with the rest of our 19 levels in the sorcerer class, so those builds “kick-in” as early as 2nd level with one level in each class. For builds dipping into sorcerer as a secondary class we want to get up to our 2nd spell level, which means getting up to a 3rd sorcerer level and taking the remaining 17 levels in fighter. So those builds will “kick-in” at 4th level, with 1 level in fighter and 3 levels in sorcerer.
What Class Features Do We Care About?
Both fighter and sorcerer have relatively few but powerful core class features especially at early levels, all of which will be of importance to our builds.
Significant Fighter Features
- Hit Points. The difference between d10 hit dice vs d6 hit dice is huge and every level of fighter makes our build that much tougher which is important if we plan on being frontline fighters.
- Fighting Style. Gained at 1st level you get to select a fighting style that enhances a particular martial strategy. The option we’re going to use most often is dueling that grants 2 bonus damage to our attacks so long as we’re only using one weapon. Defense is also worth considering just for a flat AC bonus and we have one build that can sneakily make use of blind fighting.
- Second Wind. Snagged with only a single fighter level, second wind gives us self-healing as a bonus action equal to 1d10 + our fighter level every short rest. Bigger at low levels but emergency healing often comes in clutch.
- Action Surge. Gained at 2nd level, action surge breaks the action economy and straight up gives us an extra action once per short rest. Action surge is amazing on fair builds and downright broken on unfair builds. We do have a pesky spellcasting limitation that keeps us from casting multiple spells in a turn though, so it’s closer to a “fair” use for us.
- Archetypes. We’ll go into them in more detail in a moment, but a lot of the fighter subclasses and even just the initial 3rd level features of those archetypes can be incredible for the build.
Extra Attack. We gain this feature at level 5 and extra attack lets us make one extra swing every time we take the “attack action”. It’s not as amazing as it seems for us though. Many of the things we’re going for are “casting a spell” that uses a melee attack rather than making attacks and the distinction is a killer for us.
Significant Sorcerer Features
- Sorcerous Origin. Sorcerers pick their archetype at 1st level, which makes sense since it’s a magical power you’re born with. We’ll mostly be evaluating their 1st-level abilities but there are also some 6th level features worth considering.
- Spellcasting. Sorcerers are a full spontaneous spellcasting class. This means we're an arcane caster and we know a limited number of spells but aren’t limited to a prepared list. Sorcerers know comparatively few spells but make up for it with more spell slots which lends them towards blaster casting over utility casting.
- Font of Magic. This is one big feature that covers our sorcery points. The short version is that we get a pool of points based on our sorcerer level that we can spend on either gaining back spell slots, or on modifying our spells once we get the metamagic feature.
- Metamagic. Gained at 3rd level, we get to pick 2 “metamagics” that are options on how to modify our spells using our sorcery points. As is often the case, the metamagic option we’ll likely use the most is quickened spell, which will let us abuse our sword spells multiple times in a turn.
Fighter / Sorcerer Ability Scores
What scores we’ll need to focus on depend on if we’re going for a build that’s mostly fighter with a touch of sorcerer, or a sorcerer with a touch of fighter.
If you’re going for a fighter with a sorcerer dip, you’ll want your highest two scores to be Dexterity and Constitution. We’ll be using sorcerer spells that don’t actually need a terribly high spellcasting ability so we can make Charisma our third highest score. Make sure Charisma is at least 13 to meet the minimum ability scores requirement for multiclassing.
If you’re going for a sorcerer with a fighter dip, you’ll want your highest two scores to be Charisma and Dexterity, and then use Constitution as your third highest score.
In either case, Strength, Intelligence, and Wisdom are all unnecessary for our build and you should feel free to use them as dump stats.
Fighter / Sorcerer Equipment
We're mixing martial and casting classes but thankfully there's no arcane spell failure chance in 5e and we can cast spells in any armor so long as we have the armor proficiencies. By starting out as a fighter we get access to the full complement of light armor, medium armor, heavy armor, and shield proficiencies. Depending on how high we get our Dexterity we’ll want to be using either the light or medium armors. At +2 to +3 Dexterity your best options are half plate if you don’t care about stealth, and a breastplate if you do care about stealth. Once you reach +4 Dexterity or higher, you’ll be better off with studded leather armor. Do keep in mind that if you go with the draconic bloodline sorcerer you may be better off with no armor at all.
Shields are a bit tricky since we need to keep one hand free for an arcane focus to use for our spell casting. Once we take the war caster feat, however, make sure to fill that suddenly free hand with a shield for a tasty +2 AC bonus.
As for weapons we’re firmly going for finesse weaponry which means we want the rapier as the best damage dealing finesse weapon.
Fighter / Sorcerer Spells
The sorcerer fighter multiclass has some very specific spells we want to focus on, namely the melee cantrips and the 2nd level spell shadow blade. Though, with those locked down most of the arcane spell lists are open to us and you should feel free to pick and choose other powerful spells from the sorcerer spell list.
Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade (Cantrips)
I’m lumping these two arcane spells together because they’re functionally similar and we’re going to be abusing the heck out of both of them a LOT. Both of these cantrips use a melee attack roll “as part of casting the spell”. This means we’re stacking the damage these cantrips do on top of whatever damage we do with our melee attack.
Note that this counts as “casting a spell” rather than taking the “attack action”. This is an unfortunate interaction with the fighter extra attack feature, since we can only use that extra attack when we take an “attack action”. But it’s a wonderful interaction with the sorcerer’s quickened spell. Very strangely with the rules as written, we can cast booming blade or green-flame blade making an attack as part of the spell, then quicken another one with the melee attack and all!
As for the actual effects of the spells, when you hit with green-flame you deal extra fire damage to another target adjacent to them. And when you hit with booming blade you force the target to stay still on their next turn or take 1d8 thunder damage if they move. Both spells improve drastically at 5th level, with green-flame in particular adding 1d8 fire damage to both the initial target of your attack and also to the extra adjacent target.
Shocking Grasp (Cantrip)
We plan on being in melee anyway so shocking grasp is a no-brainer. As a melee spell attack, we deal 1d8 lightning damage (with cantrip scaling) and we get advantage so long as the target is metal or wearing metal armor. AND if we hit, they can’t take reactions for a turn, making this the go-to for hit and runs if we need to get out of dodge.
Sword Burst (Cantrip)
Underutilized but quite tasty for us as a martial spellcaster. Sword burst hits everything next to you for 1d6 force damage (with cantrip scaling improvement) and is worth considering as an answer to getting swarmed.
Shield (1st level)
As a martial caster we really need to block the big hits. Shield grants us +5 AC until our next turn as a reaction making this a relevant spell to have in your back pocket at any level.
Silvery Barbs (1st level)
This one feels like cheating but ever since silvery barbs was introduced in Strixhaven it has cemented itself as one of the strongest reaction spells in the game. As a reaction you can impose disadvantage on something and grant advantage to someone as both a clutch anti-crit tech and as a party buff.
Thunderwave (1st level)
A great option for us as a martial caster, thunderwave blasts everything within 15 feet of us and pushes them back. We’ll want to be using our sword most often, but this is a great option if you get overwhelmed and need some breathing room.
Misty Step (2nd level)
You’ll often need to position yourself carefully as a martial caster or get out of danger quickly after taking a few licks. Misty step is an essential mobility spell for us as it lets us blip up to 30 feet to where we need to be as a bonus action.
Mirror Image (2nd level)
This creates a set of illusionary duplicates that also occupy your space and essentially gives you several “free hits” that absorb your duplicates instead of hitting you. A great defensive buff and one of the few that doesn’t use concentration which is vital for us.
Shadow Blade (2nd level)
This spell is the main reason to do this multiclass build in the first place. As a bonus action we can conjure a magical shadow blade that works as a proper weapon we can make attacks with. We’re proficient with this weapon, it has the finesse, light, and thrown properties, and it deals a whopping 2d8 psychic damage. Assuming we get to make multiple hits with it, this makes shadow blade one of the most damaging spells or abilities in the game rivaling even divine smite or sneak attack. You also get advantage on attacks with it so long as you’re in dim light or darkness, which is damn near every dungeon environment ever. This is so strong that I still recommend using it at later levels and just upgrading the spell slot, since it adds 1d8 for every 2 levels above 2nd.
What makes this so absurd for us is not only do we have this fantastic finesse 2d8 weapon, but it’s also just straight up a weapon we can use not as casting a spell. This is why we want to use shadow blade instead of the similar flame blade that uses the sword like a spell attack.
As just a “weapon”, we can use our shadow blade to make the melee attacks that we use in casting our melee cantrips like green-flame blade and booming blade for absurd amounts of damage.
The only catch here is that shadow blade uses concentration, which means we can get hit and lose our essential blade, but we can take war caster to help offset that.
Fighter/ Sorcerer Feats
There’s a single feat that you’re really going to want with any build of these classes and that’s War Caster. This is the quintessential martial caster feat, and it has three components:
- Advantage on concentration saves.
- You can perform somatic components of spells even when your hands are full.
- You can cast spells for opportunity attacks instead of basic attacks.
All of this battle caster nonsense is amazing for us. Concentration spells can get fizzled if we fail a check and advantage on concentration makes it much more likely that we can hold onto our shadow blade. Performing somatic components with a sword lets us ditch the arcane focus and put a shield in our now free hand. Finally green-fire blade and booming blade are “spells” that we can use for our attacks of opportunity for all that shadow blade damage goodness.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Should I Start with Fighter or Sorcerer?
There is a very short and easy answer to this one and that’s you should be starting out as fighter. Sorcerers don’t gain much in the way of proficiencies and starting as a sorcerer and moving to fighter loses us out on a lot of starting gear, martial saves, and also the heavy armor proficiency.
Fighter / Sorcerer Multiclass Builds
Ultimately the plan is similar for most of these builds, it’s just a question of how we want to get there and what we want to prioritize. Our goal here is martial spellcasting with a nasty magic sword and there are a few ways to go about it.
This is perhaps the best build to exploit the interactions between shadow blade and the sword cantrips. To make this happen we’re going to start with just a single level of fighter to pick up second wind and the blind fighting style, then the rest of our 19 levels go towards sorcerer taking the shadow magic origin. When you select your metamagics, make sure to pick out quickened spell, and make sure to choose the spells shadow blade and green-flame blade.
So how does this all work? Shadow blade attacks are made with advantage so long as we’re in dim light or darkness, and the shadow sorcerer subclass grants us darkness as a bonus spell and even lets us see through our own magical darkness with 120-foot darkvision. However, to do that costs sorcery points and we want to save those for more quickened spells. Thanks to that single level of fighter, we’re going to have blind-sight no matter how dark it is and without casting our own darkness first. That means in practically all situations we’ll be swinging with advantage.
After that it's just a matter of setting up the quickened shadow / green-flame blade combo. We start out each combat by using our bonus action to cast shadow blade, then use our action to cast green-fire blade using our shadow blade as the melee weapon. After the first turn, we can use our action to do this again, and we can also quicken out another green-flame blade using our shadow blade, and this gets around the spell limit issue since green-flame blade is a cantrip.
Let’s add all this up shall we? At 5th level, green-flame blade goes up in cantrip scaling and starts dealing extra damage to both the target and an adjacent creature. Assuming our Dexterity and Charisma are both at a +3, we attack at advantage with our shadow / green-flame blade combo for 2d8 + 3 psychic damage and 1d8 fire damage along with another 1d8 + 3 fire damage to a second target. Then we can quicken another attack at advantage using the same exact combo. That gets us an average of 33 (4d8 + 6 + 2d8) damage to the initial target and 15 (2d8 + 6) damage to the guy next to him for a whopping 48 damage a turn at 5th level!
Once again, we’re going to take a single level dip into fighter and take the rest of our levels in sorcerer to try and maximize the potential of our shadow / green-flame blade combo. But this time instead of taking shadow magic, we want to go with the newly released lunar sorcery, and instead of blind fighting we want to take the dueling style.
Lunar sorcery is a funky archetype, we get extra spells determined by the “phase of the moon” and every time we finish a long rest we swap from one phase to another. We also get an enhanced sacred flame cantrip that can hit multiple targets. What we really care about though is the 6th level features lunar boons and waxing and waning. Lunar boons buff spells from two different spell schools by reducing the costs of our metamagics for them down to 1 sorcery point. Waxing and waning lets us shift what “phase” we’re in at the cost of a single sorcery point.
The phase we want is crescent moon that boosts up illusion and transmutation spells. Shadow blade conveniently is an illusion spell, sadly this won’t let us reduce the quicken cost of our combo (since that’s technically casting green-flame blade which is an evocation spell) but it can let us make good use of another metamagic.
We can use the empowered spell metamagic essentially for free on our shadow blade while in the crescent moon phase. Empowered spell costs 1 sorcery point (reduced now to 0) and lets us reroll the damage roll while notably also working with other metamagics. This means we get to do everything we did in the shadow fighter build, but now we also get to reroll those 2d8 psychic damage whenever we happen to roll low!
Shadow Blade Master
This build is very similar to the shadow fighter build and we’re still going for the same combo, but this time rather than relying on higher shadow magic sorcerer levels for higher damage we’re going to rely on the battle maneuvers to take advantage of our fancy magic blade. We want our first level to be fighter taking the blind fighting style, our next 3 levels should be sorcerer taking shadow magic, and the remaining 16 levels should all go towards fighter taking the battle master archetype.
With this build we sacrifice the higher spell slots to use on shadow blade but we gain extra ways to use our 2d8 magic blade, we just have to be careful which options we pick. We want to go for maneuvers that let us swing our highly damaging blade more times but that don’t rely on the “attack action” so that at early levels we can still use the quickened blade combo as a “spell being cast”.
Firstly, brace is an excellent option that lets us smash that shadow blade into whoever steps up to us with extra damage equal to the maneuver die to boot. Riposte works similarly except we’re making that extra swing when they miss us with their own attack. Note that for these we won’t be able to use the cantrips, but we’re still essentially getting bonus swings with our bonkers 2d8 sword.
Alternately, this build also functions fairly well changing out the shadow magic for the divine soul sorcerer subclass for healing capabilities. The divine soul gets you access to about the same amount of healing as if you took a paladin level or had access to channel divinity.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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