The Ultimate Sorcerer's Guide for Dungeons and Dragons 5E
What are the best spells for a sorcerer? And how can your sorcerer best use their innate magical ability to vanquish foes and protect their friends?
So you’ve decided to play a sorcerer. We’ve got all the answers you need in this complete guide to playing a sorcerer in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.
With the changes made to spellcasting in 5th edition, many players believe that sorcerers are underpowered compared to wizards. This is mainly because they have a restricted spell list.
But sorcerers do have two features that give them an advantage over other spellcasters: Sorcery Points and Metamagic. If used correctly, and if the right choices are made when building the character, these two features can make sorcerers as powerful or even more powerful than wizards.
If you would like to know more about how to create and play a powerful sorcerer character, read on.
Sorcerer ability scores
Unlike a Wizard, a sorcerer’s magic does not come from studying books. Instead, it springs from within. But in order to make this power manifest itself in the world, the sorcerer must use his Charisma. Take your highest ability roll and place it into Charisma.
Dexterity is an important ability for all D&D 5E characters. It affects saving throws, armor class, and many different skills. Put your second-highest ability score into Dex.
Constitution is also important for any D&D character. The higher your constitution modifier is, the more hit points you will gain per level. This will allow you to last longer in combat without dying. Put your third-highest roll into Con.
Intelligence, Wisdom, and Strength are not very useful to a sorcerer. Put your bad ability rolls into these traits.
Best races for a sorcerer
There are a few races that make inherently better sorcerers than others. Here are a few of them:
Half elf - Half elves get +2 Cha automatically, and +1 to two other abilities of your choosing. They can also see in the dark, have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and can’t be put to sleep by magic. These are all useful features to a sorcerer.
Dragonborn - A dragonborn gets +1 Cha when first created. He also gets resistance to one damage type based on his particular draconic ancestry
Tiefling - +2 Cha and +1 Int for all new Tiefling characters. Tieflings also get resistance to fire damage and free spells such as Thaumaturgy, Hellish Rebuke, and Darkness
When creating your Sorcerer, you will be able to choose one of two origins for your magical powers. Here is an explanation of the best features from each of them.
Your ancestors made a pact with dragons or were somehow related to them. If you choose this origin, get access to the best spells by choosing to be descended from either a gold, silver, or white dragon.
Gold dragons specialize in fire spells. And since some of the best offensive spells in D&D 5E do fire damage, it only makes sense to choose this one if you want to maximize your spell options.
Silver and white dragons specialize in cold damage. And there are many great cold damage options in D&D 5E. So if you don’t want to play a character with a gold dragon ancestry, you may want to claim a silver or white dragon ancestry instead.
Regardless of which draconic bloodline you choose, Dragon Resilience is a helpful feature. It gives you an extra hit point for every level that you gain and makes your AC equal 13 + Dex modifier when you are not wearing armor. At level 14, Dragon Wings will also be useful. It will allow you to sprout dragon wings as a bonus action, which you can then use to fly.
If Wild Magic is the source of your magical power, you are channeling the powers of chaos that underlie the world.
In this case, Tides of Chaos gives you advantage on 1 saving throw, ability check, or attack roll. You can use Tides of Chaos again after a long rest. There is also a chance that you will be able to gain this ability back without resting if the DM allows you to make a roll for a random magical effect. Different DMs interpret this rule in a few different ways, so you may want to check with yours before using it.
Another great feature for the Wild Magic origin is Bend Luck. This allows you to spend 2 Sorcery Points to add a bonus or penalty to another creature’s roll.
Spellcasting and Sorcery Points
At level 1, a Sorcerer gets four cantrips and two 1st level spells. In order to cast a spell, you must expend a spell slot of the same level of the spell or above.
At first glance, this may appear to be the same system that Wizards use. However, sorcerers can practice an exception to these spell slot requirements. Beginning at level 2, you have two Sorcery Points that you can draw upon each day. You can expend these Sorcery Points to create a new, 1st level spell slot, allowing you to cast one extra spell if needed.
As you gain levels over time, you’ll get more Sorcery Points, giving you even more spellcasting flexibility.
Sorcery points can also be used for metamagic. More on that in the next section.
Best Sorcerer metamagic
As a Sorcerer, you can spend Sorcery points to produce metamagic effects. If you don’t have enough Sorcery points to spend, you can sacrifice a spell slot to get more. For example, you can expend a 1st level spell slot to gain 2 Sorcery points.
Metamagic effects make your magic more potent and useful. Here are the best ones to use.
Quickened spell - If a spell has a casting time of 1 action, spend 2 Sorcery points to speed it up, allowing you to cast it using a bonus action instead
Twinned spell - If a 1st level spell targets 1 creature, spend 2 Sorcery Points to make it target 2 creatures instead. This can also be used on higher level spells at a higher cost of Sorcery Points
Heightened spell - If a spell allows its victim to make a saving throw to reduce or avoid its effects, spend 3 Sorcery Points to give the victim disadvantage on this roll
Sorcerer armor and weapons
If you have a Draconic Bloodline origin, your Dragon Resilience will be all the armor you need. If you have a Wild Magic origin, take Mage Armor as one of your spells. It makes your AC 13 + Dex modifier for 8 hours, as long as you are not wearing armor.
As a sorcerer, you don’t need armor. Just make sure you are wearing clothes :P
For a weapon, use a crossbow, quarterstaff, sling, daggers, or darts. You’re probably not very strong, so stay away from longswords, axes, and other weapons made for meatheads.
Sorcerer protection tips
Here are a few tips to protect your friends and buff them up.
Use Enhance Ability to give your friends plusses to Con, Dex, Str, or other abilities. If a foe is too big for your party, use Invisibility to sneak everyone past. Cast Web on big monsters to incapacitate them, reducing or eliminating the damage they can do. Other options to restrict your opponents and reduce damage include Blindness/deafness and Hold Person.
Combat: How to fight as a sorcerer
Fighting as a sorcerer is simple. Just burn down your opponent with powerful spells. At level 1, choose from Acid Splash, Shocking Grasp, Fire Bolt, Ray of Frost, Magic Missile, or Thunderwave. At level 2, use Scorching Ray to do even more damage.
If you run out of spell slots or just want to save them for later, use a crossbow to take out your opponent from a distance. You can also run up and get some melee shots in, but be prepared to run in the opposite direction if things go sour. Sorcerers only have 1d6 per level hit dice, so extended melee combat is usually not a good idea.
Sorcerer utility tips
When outside of combat, Sorcerers have some very handy spells at their disposal. Use Disguise Self to slip away from someone that is looking for you or to appear as someone the target will trust. Detect Thoughts is also a useful spell for finding clues and solving mysteries
In addition, don’t forget that you have a high Charisma score. Use your personal charm to perform at non-magical skills such as Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion. For non-combat encounters, these skills are some of the best in the game. And sorcerers excel at them.
**Xanathar's Class Updates**
Divine Soul (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
Cleric by way of sorcerer. Divine souls have some celestial or fiendish heritage and basically get to be half-clerics without all that mucking about with religion. Surprisingly effective as the party healers and also as damage dealers, grab this if you want to bridge the gap between DPS and healing.
Shadow Magic (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
Shadow magic has a LOT going for it, you get lovely darkness magic, a “get out of jail free” ability to stand back up when dropped to 0, and a SHADOW DOG! It’s great all around as an archetype, but especially great to pick up for an evil or more horror-themed adventure.
Storm Sorcery (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
Do you like casting lightning bolt? Would you like to cast it MORE? Storm sorcery causes all of your spells that deal lightning or thunder damage to also damage the enemies near you. This alongside the free “jumps” you get on little cyclones make for a flavorful and terrifying damage dealer.
We[‘ve shown you the best class features, races, origins, and spells for a sorcerer. We hope we’ve convinced you that Sorcerers are not as underpowered as many believe. With their high Charisma and use of Sorcery Points, Metamagic, and other class features, they can be a great addition to any D&D party.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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