Sorcadin 5e

Posted by Andrew E. on

Table of Contents:

A 5e Guide for Sorcerer Paladin Multiclassing

The sorcerer is a living source of arcane power, and the paladin is a holy champion infused with divine power. Put these two powers together and you get a magical chocolate and peanut butter situation that has remained one of the most popular multiclassing options in 5e dungeons & dragons. If you’re looking to make a sorcadin then get your bucket of damage dice ready as we go through everything you need to know.

Why Play a Sorcadin?

You've got a lot of options when it comes to multiclassing. You could mix a warlock with a bard for a musical eldritch blast (imagine an agonizing blast on bagpipes), or a wizard and a barbarian for a power attack trickster. But for my money I'll take the sorcadin. The sorcerer and paladin class features line up rather neatly to improve each other and create something stronger than the sum of their parts. Sorc-A-Din. Both sorcerer and paladin are spellcasting classes that rely on their Charisma, and the numerous spell slots that the sorcerer gains can be funneled into the paladin’s Divine Smite feature for an outrageous amount of damage. Done right, you’ll also have the armor and the healing abilities of a paladin stacked atop all that damage. Sorcadins are among the strongest multiclass options in 5e, and if you’re looking for a full spellcaster still rocking armor and a sword then this combination is likely for you. Built right, a sorcadin is a character build that can fill literally every role your party needs including damage dealing, healing, spellcasting, and it can even be the face of the party.

What are the Downsides?

If this sorcadin thing is so great, why does anybody just play a sorcerer or a paladin? Well, as with any multiclass, you’re sacrificing progress on one class for features of the other. But the big issue is that sorcadins go from a SAD class (single ability score dependent) to a MAD class (multiple ability score dependent). You’ll also likely need to take a few feats to get the most of your sorcadin so sorcadins are especially thin on ability scores. It’s also really focused on spending a ton of resources for massive nova damage, but all these resources only refresh on a long rest, and you can be caught used up if fights are too long or numerous. Finally, while a sorcadin is going to be a bit tankier than your average sorcerer, it’s going to be a lot squishier than your average paladin.

What Level Does a Sorcadin “Kick In”?

Every multiclass build tends to have an optimized level where they “kick in” and they have all the features meshing properly. For sorcadins this is 5th level, or more precisely with 2 levels of paladin and 3 levels of sorcerer. That’s not to say they’re bad or unplayable before 5th level, but that’s when they start functioning not as just a paladin or sorcerer, but as our new sorcadin strategy.

Do I Take Paladin or Sorcerer First?

We’ll get into the exact order of leveling up in a second, but it’s important to lock in the fact that your first level should be paladin. Because of the way proficiencies work when multiclassing, starting with sorcerer would lose you heavy armor proficiency which is often a major part of the sorcadin build.

What Class Features Do We Care About?

While every class feature has some utility, there are a few key features we’re “going for” when putting together a sorcadin character.

Paladin Features for Sorcadin 

    • Hit Points: Every paladin level you take will gain you an average of 2 hit points more than your sorcerer levels with their wimpy d6 hit dice (just as bad as a wizard).
    • Heavy Armor: The sorcerer is flimsy, and assuming you take your first level as a paladin you’ll have access to heavy armor and shield proficiency right from the start. You'll have to do some adventuring to get that expensive plate armor but it's worth it to get that sweet base 19 AC. 
    • Weapon Proficiencies: Our sorcadin should be swinging martial weapons just as well as they sling spells, getting those initial weapon proficiencies from the paladin is key to making that happen.
    • Divine Smite: Gained at 2nd level, THIS is the big-ticket item that you’re picking paladin for over any other martial class. Divine Smite lets you sacrifice your spell slots for pure consistent damage when you hit things with melee attacks, and it doesn’t matter what class those spell slots came from. This means you can use those plentiful sorcerer spell slots as raw smite damage goodness. Each 1st level spell slot turns into 2d8 damage, with an extra 1d8 damage for each spell slot level above 1st, up to a maximum of 5d8 smite damage. Or 6d8 smite damage if the target is undead or a fiend.
    • Fighting Style: Also gained at 2nd level, your fighting style goes a long way towards buffing up your martial ability. Keep in mind that you’ll need to keep a hand free for most spells (until you take war caster), so while all the paladin fighting styles have their merits, I usually go for dueling or defense for a one-handed weapon and shield build.
    • Extra Attack: Gained at 5th level, this is one of the more compelling reasons to keep going forward with paladin levels as you won’t get it from sorcerer.
    • Aura of Protection: Gained at 6th level, this one is a lot more optional but worth considering as it’s one of the strongest defensive features in the game. You and any of your allies standing near you get a bonus to ALL saving throws equal to your Charisma bonus. 
  • Sacred Oath: You gain your first sacred oath feature at 3rd level and the oath’s aura ability doesn’t kick in until 7th. Depending on what build you go for, these archetype features may or may not be worth it, but we’ll dig into that more later.

  • Sorcerer Features for Sorcadins

      • Spellcasting: Sorcerers are full step spellcasters AND they use Charisma as their spellcasting ability. You’ll also be getting access to both the sorcerer spell list and the paladin spell list, which have some juicy applications. And since a sorcerer has full spellcasting progression, you'll get access to much higher-level slots much faster, ready to divine smite your enemies into oblivion.
      • Quickened Spell: At 3rd level you gain metamagic options including quickened spell which will allow you to really go off with nova damage. Quickened spell allows you to spend 2 sorcery points to cast a spell as a bonus action, rather than an action. Normally this isn’t as good as it looks, since there’s still the limitations on casting multiple spells in a turn. However, as a sorcadin you can now use your action to make your melee attack (and smite with it), then quicken out a powerful damage spell in the same turn.
      • Twinned Spell: Also at 3rd level, you'll be able to take twinned spell as a metamagic option. This can literally double your effectiveness with things like touch attacks so long as you have multiple targets to go after for a low cost in sorcery points.
  • Sorcerous Origins: Unlike the paladin oaths, sorcerers get their archetype features starting at first level and some of them are fantastic for a melee character. We’ll go into these in more detail in just a moment, but you’ll be getting some good stuff from this archetype choice.

  • Sorcadin Ability Scores

    While you can build a Dexterity based sorcadin, I really recommend sticking with Strength as your main physical ability since we can take advantage of heavy armor and don’t need to rely on Dexterity for AC. For most sorcadins, you’ll be doing basically the same spread of ability scores that you’d want for a paladin with a bit of emphasis on Charisma. You want your Strength and Charisma as high as possible (minimum 16) with Constitution as your 3rd-highest ability score. 

    Dexterity, Intelligence, and Wisdom can all be dump stats for you (excepting some Dex builds).

    Your stats will also be competing with a few key feats that’ll need to be taken early, so optimizing your scores is going to be key. You'll need to sacrifice at least one of your ability score increases for a feat, so try and plan ahead for that.

    Keep in mind that if you start with your first level as paladin, you’ll need a minimum of 13 Charisma to multiclass into sorcerer, and if you start as a sorcerer, you’ll need a minimum of 13 Charisma and 13 Strength. These aren’t high benchmarks, and both of those scores should be higher for you anyway, but keep above those minimums.

    Sorcadin Races

    Just like with a paladin, sorcadin characters need Strength and Charisma first, and a bit of Constitution to keep that hit point total nice and healthy. The following races gain some combination of Strength and Charisma, making them ideal choices for a sorcadin character:

    Aasimar (Fallen)

    Base aasimar gain +2 Cha and the fallen variety also get +1 Str. Aasimar are already magical with spiritual overtones so they’re a flavorful choice for sorcadins to start with. Fallen aasimar can nova even more damage through their Necrotic Shroud feature and you pick up both necrotic and radiant damage resistance for your trouble.

    Changeling

    Changelings gain +2 Cha and +1 to any other ability, which you can place into Str. Changelings are technically flavor-locked into the Eberron setting but your DM may allow them elsewhere. They fit easily as a party face role though, giving you even more reach when it comes to your party role.

    Dragonborn

    Dragonborn gain +2 Str and +1 Cha. Dragonborn get a damage resistance of your choice and a breath weapon that’s effective at least in the early levels. It makes especially thematic sense if you go with a draconic sorcerer, but more on that later.

    Half Elf

    Half elves get +2 Cha and +1 to any other two abilities of their choice, which you can make Str and Con. This spread of ability points gives you a unique opportunity to put a 16 in Strength, Constitution, and Charisma at level 1. Consider this your best option if you want to strictly min-max your sorcadin out.

    Human

    Base humans gain +1 to each ability score and the variant human gains +1 to two abilities of your choice (and a feat). Humans in both forms are super flexible but variant human (if your DM allows them) is especially tempting here as it can get you the War Caster feat ahead of schedule. If you do go this route for early war caster, remember though that it has the prerequisite of “able to cast spells”, which unfortunately means you’d have to take your first level in sorcerer instead of paladin and would miss out on heavy armor.

    Tiefling (Zariel)

    Zariel variant Tieflings gain +2 Cha and +1 Str. This variant of tiefling seems tailor made for sorcadins as you also get some of the better “smite spells” as racial spells, letting you free up some of your slots for more smites. This is on top of the quite tasty fire resistance as well.

    Tritons

    Tritons gain +1 Str, +1 Con, AND +1 Cha. Just like half elves, tritons represent an opportunity for min-maxing on the three abilities you’ll want most. Even without the min-maxing, tritons are a very appealing option for sorcadins. Besides the aquatic features, you gain some very useful utility spells, and pick up resistance to cold damage.

    Sorcadin Feats

    While you could technically do any of the normal martial/style feats with reasonable results, in my mind there’s only one essential feat you need as a sorcadin character and that’s War Caster.

    War Caster

    War caster has several features, each of which culminates to make martial/spellcasting function properly. All together you get the following features:

    • Advantage on Concentration checks made to maintain your spells.
    • You can perform somatic components of spells while your hands are full.
    • You get to cast spells as opportunity attacks.

    ALL of this is vital to a martial/spellcasting character playstyle. You get much more capable of holding onto your spells while in the middle of combat by passing those concentration saves. You get to wield a full sword/board combo or a two-handed weapon without worrying about spell components. And finally, that spell attack of opportunity can be absolutely brutal damage.

    Multiclass Spellcasting

    When you multiclass two different spellcasting character classes, things can get a little funky.

    Your spells known stay completely separate, so if you have 2 levels of paladin and 4 levels of sorcerer, you’ll know the same number of paladin spells as a 2nd level paladin, and the same number of sorcerer spells as a 4th level sorcerer.

    Where it gets strange is the spell slots. Rather than keeping spell slot progression of your two base classes, you instead combine them both into “multiclass spellcasting”. Multiclass spellcasters use their own special table (just a generic version of what most full spellcasters already have) and they calculate your “level” on that table using the levels of your base classes. The “full casters” count as a full level, while the “half casters” count has half levels.

    For our sorcadins, this means that we count every sorcerer level as a full level on the multiclass spellcaster table, but our paladin levels only count as halves. For example, if your sorcadin has 2 levels of paladin and 4 levels of sorcerer, they’d count as a 5th level spellcaster on the table. Note also that this means there’s no difference between a “paladin spell slot” or a “sorcerer spell slot”, you know the spells that you know and can apply the spell slots to spells from either class. It also means that the “correct” number of paladin levels is always going to be even, as odd paladin levels lose out on spell slots.

    Level

    1st

    2nd

    3rd

    4th

    5th

    6th

    7th

    8th

    9th

    1st

    2

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    2nd

    3

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    3rd

    4

    2

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    4th

    4

    3

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    5th

    4

    3

    2

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    6th

    4

    3

    3

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    7th

    4

    3

    3

    1

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    8th

    4

    3

    3

    2

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    9th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    1

    -

    -

    -

    -

    10th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    2

    -

    -

    -

    -

    11th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    2

    1

    -

    -

    -

    12th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    2

    1

    -

    -

    -

    13th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    2

    1

    1

    -

    -

    14th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    2

    1

    1

    -

    -

    15th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    2

    1

    1

    1

    -

    16th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    2

    1

    1

    1

    -

    17th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    2

    1

    1

    1

    1

    18th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    3

    1

    1

    1

    1

    19th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    3

    2

    1

    1

    1

    20th

    4

    3

    3

    3

    3

    2

    2

    1

    1


    Sorcadin Spells

    As a multiclass of two different spellcasting classes, you'll have access to a ton of options at each of your spell levels. The spells you'll want to focus on though are those that can enhance or take advantage of melee combat.

    Firstly, we have the melee cantrips, particularly booming blade and greenfire blade. Unlike a normal cantrip, these cantrips trigger off a melee weapon attack as part of casting the spell, which means their damage can be stacked atop your regular weapon damage AND your divine smite damage. Greenflame blade is probably the best of the two, as booming blade depends on enemy movement while green-flame blade will trigger no matter what. These are especially useful if you don't work up to (or not yet to) an extra attack.

    Next we have the min-max favorite of shadow blade. Shadow blade conjures a shadowy magic sword you can wield just like a normal magic weapon, except this one deals a base of 2d8 psychic damage. There's been some contention about this combination, but you should still be able to use a shadow blade, casting a greenflame blade, AND use your divine smite all in the same attack.

    Beyond that combo goodness, you should just take advantage of the better combat spells available to sorcerers such as shield and mirror image, and the healing and smiting spells granted from your paladin levels.

    Sorcadin Optimal Class Progression

    As with any multiclass, there’s an optimal path for advancing your character and ultimately a “correct” ratio of levels from each class. For sorcadins we have three options that I’d consider to be optimal builds of the multiclass.

    Paladin-2, Sorcerer 18

    With this progression we start out with paladin levels but they’re really just a dip for the important stuff and you simply progress with all your future levels in sorcerer. So our progression looks like this:

    Levels 1-2 Paladin

    Levels 3-20 Sorcerer 

    Pros: Highest level spells and best access to metamagic and spell slots.

    Cons: No extra attack, no aura of protection, no access to higher level paladin spells, no oath aura.

    This sorcadin build is really more like a full caster build with heavy armor and divine smite (which is still amazing). That initial 2-level dip gets you the best of what paladin has to offer without sacrificing much in your spellcasting abilities and sorcery points. This is also the squishiest character option when it comes to hit points, so you may need to devote more to getting your Constitution up to compensate. Also, since this build won't gain an extra attack, you should highly consider leaning on the martial cantrips like booming blade and greenflame blade. 

    Paladin-6, Sorcerer 14

    With this progression we start out like we did before, but we alternate back into paladin after hitting our metamagic and our first ASI to get our sweet aura of protection. So our progression looks like this:

    Levels 1-2 Paladin

    Levels 3-6 Sorcerer

    Levels 7-10 Paladin

    Levels 11-20 Sorcerer

    Pros: Aura of protection, extra attack, more hit points.

    Cons: No oath aura, lower-level sorcerer spells. 

    This is my preferred build of sorcadin. I think pushing up to 6th level in paladin is worth the dip in sorc spellcasting for not only the aura of protection but also the buffer to your hit point total. Wrap that in with your extra attack and access to some of the better paladin spells and I like this build as the best all-rounder sorcadin character option.

    Paladin-8, Sorcerer 12

    Very similar to the last progression, but we push just a bit further into paladin for their oath aura and a second ASI. It’s worth pushing up to 8 if you’re going for the 7th level oath ability, as leaving an odd paladin level really hurts your sorc spell slot advancement. So, our progression looks like this:

    Levels 1-2 Paladin

    Levels 3-6 Sorcerer

    Levels 7-12 Paladin

    Levels 13-20 Sorcerer

    Pros: Aura of protection, extra attack, even more hit points, oath aura.

    Cons: Much lower access to metamagic and spell slots for most of the game. 

    This character build will feel more like a straight paladin for most of the time you spend playing it, but with access to some powerful arcane magic. I don’t really think the push for the oath aura is worth it, but if you’re trying to make the polearm build work as a sorcadin you’ll need the 7th level aura of conquest feature from the oath of conquest archetype. I’d almost only recommend this combination if you’re a variant human for the bonus feat as it’s extremely feat intensive (war caster + polearm fighter + sentinel).

    Best Paladin Archetypes for Sorcadins

    If you’re going for just the paladin dip (paladin 2/sorcerer 18) you won’t even gain access to a paladin’s sacred oath so don’t worry about it. Sacred oaths kick in at 3rd level, providing access to select spells and a pair of channel divinity options. Then at 7th level they usually provide an aura-based feature. Then sacred oaths don’t provide anything until 15th level and 20th level, which should almost guarantee you won’t be seeing them for your sorcadin. This means that those features at 3rd and 7th levels should be the only ones you really take into consideration. There are other sacred oaths, but let’s just go through the ones best suited for sorcadin character builds:

    Oath of Conquest 

    Oath of conquest gets abused a lot in the polearm builds and as a sorcadin the most tempting part of this oath is still the aura you gain at 7th level. Also worth considering is that this oath gives you access to the spell spiritual weapon. Spiritual weapon lets you still do damage with your bonus actions once you run out of sorcery points for those quickened spells. Still, I’d only take this oath as a sorcadin if you plan on taking enough paladin levels to gain that aura feature.

    Oath of Devotion

    This is one of the best options if you’re only taking 6 levels of paladin as one of its best features is a channel divinity option you pick up at 3rd level. Sacred Weapon lets you add your CHA modifier to attack rolls for a minute, and it recharges on a short rest. Since as a sorcadin you’ll be pumping up Charisma more than your average paladin, this can make you WAY more reliable in combat.

    Oath of the Watchers

    The Watcher’s Will channel divinity option can be a huge boon against certain enemies as it grants advantage for you and your party against all mental saves for a minute. This makes it a worthy option if you’re only taking a few levels of paladin. The 7th level aura providing a bonus to initiative is also good, but I’m not sure it’s worth taking the level dip for.

    Oath of Vengeance

    This oath is a key part of some infamous Sentinel builds, mainly due to the Abjure Enemy feature that can freeze your opponents in place. You also gain access to the spell hunter’s mark and with all these sorcerer spell slots it’s not too costly to boost your damage using it. The aura isn’t worth it though, so I wouldn’t push past 6th level on this archetype. 

    Oathbreaker

    The evilest of the evil paladin oaths, and quite possibly the most damaging. Aura of Hate boosts not only your damage output but the melee damage of your nearby allies, making this oath an extremely strong damage multiplier if one or more of your allies are also melee fighters. As a sorcadin, possibly your biggest incentive to take this oath is the access to the spell inflict wounds. Inflict wounds is a POWERFUL damage dealer that is usually balanced by the fact that it takes a melee attack. As a sorcadin, melee is exactly where you want to be and a quickened inflict wounds alongside a big divine smite attack can take a boss out like it was nothing. 

    Best Sorcerer Archetypes for Sorcadins

    Sorcerers gain their sorcerous origins at 1st level, which means you’re picking one no matter how few sorcerer levels you take. As you’ll be dipping at least partially into paladin levels you won’t see the late features for quite a lot of your adventures, so we’ll focus on the 1st level core features and those gained at 6th level. Sadly, most of the sorcerer subclasses really don’t add much to a melee-focused strategy, but a few really shine. The following sorcerer archetypes are suited especially well for sorcadin builds: 

    Divine Soul

    This may seem like the boring healer option at first as it mostly enhances your healing capabilities. And while that’s true (and also a huge benefit to you as a character), you can also sneakily use it to gain access to the powerhouse spell inflict wounds. You’ll already have access to cure wounds through your paladin levels and gaining inflict here gives you the dreaded one-two punch of a divine smite attack followed up by a quickened inflict wounds as a bonus action.

    Draconic Bloodline

    This is a VERY interesting option and one that can quite frankly throw everything else out the window. The draconic bloodline gives you access to an alternative AC based of your Dexterity, making it the best way to build a Dexterity-based sorcadin and you essentially get free “toughness” and bonuses to chosen damage types. This also opens up the possibility of taking sorcerer levels first since you’ll no longer need the heavy armor proficiency (and doing so would net you proficiency in Constitution saves). I don’t know if this is the best sorcadin option, but it’s definitely the best one if you’re trying to make a Dex build (or just one with a dragon theme). 

    Shadow Magic

    This is a contender exclusively due to the Strength of the Grave feature you gain at 1st level. It essentially gives you an “undead fortitude” save to pop back up when you would have died once per long rest. This can be more powerful for your armored sorcadin than it is as a squishy sorcerer and can keep you in the melee just long enough.

    Storm Sorcery

    I adore this option for sorcadins and it’s the one I recommend the most. Your 1st level feature lets you fly 10 feet as a bonus action without provoking attacks, meaning for the low cost of a bonus action you can zip in and around melee combat with ease. The 6th level feature really pushes you to cast lighting and thunder spells, but lightning bolt and thunder wave are fine spells you’d want to cast anyway. In general, this is the sorcerer archetype that wants you in the middle of combat, which is exactly where a sorcadin wants to be.

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