Building the character for your next D&D is going to require more than just picking a class and diving in. If you’ve selected a sorcerer, you’re also going to need to determine their sorcerous origin. This includes not only their backstory on how they obtained their arcane power, but also determines your subclass traits. Not all archetypes are created equal, however. Join us for our Sorcerer Subclasses 5E Rankings!
Updated for Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
Sorcerer Subclasses 5E Rankings
Unlike other classes with a broad range of options, there are currently only five subclasses for the sorcerer in 5E. There is good news, however. For starters, the sorcerer is a strong class regardless of your archetype. Additionally, none of the five are truly bad options. There are some winners and losers, however.
When determining our rankings, we focused primarily on optimization. We also considered the flavor of each subclass and the ease to roleplay them, but that is secondary. We also tend to pay closer attention to how these archetypes perform at lower levels. Most campaigns never reach level 20, so giving that equal weight to the level 1 traits doesn’t make sense.
In the end, only one of these options truly lags behind the rest. While you can make them all work, there are also definite winners here. let’s dive in!
1. Divine Soul
Number one with a bullet on our list is Divine Soul. This subclass is great, to the point that it might be my favorite type of caster. It is essentially a merger between cleric and sorcerer, and works exceptionally well.
The highlight of this subclass is that you gain access to the full list of cleric spells. This gives you so many options, and the fact that it is available at level 1 is exceptional. Between the two spell lists, you can build your sorcerer into any type of caster that you want. You also get an additional free spell depending on your affinity, so a lot of good stuff is happening at level 1. At level 1 you also get a boost to avoiding failed saving throws, so pretty incredible stuff right out of the gate.
Your level 6 healing ability, empowered healing, is a little lackluster. It lets you reroll some dice when healing spells are cast near you, but the impact is limited. The other high-end features are much stronger, as you gain perpetual flight at level 14 and a big boost to your HP when its low at level 18. this is one of my favorite subclasses in the entire game.
2. Draconic Bloodline
I struggled to choose the second entry on this list, and you are free to essentially treat them as tied. In the end, though, I went with the Draconic Bloodline. this subclass, empowered through some connection to a dragon, does a little bit of everything. It increases survivability in ways the other classes don’t, but it also adds some utility. What put this second is the strength of the level 1 traits, though. Draconic Resilience is an important option that effectively gives you permanent Mage Armor. This boost to AC won’t lead you to frontline combat, but it makes up for the sad amount of HP you get per level.
level 1 also includes Dragon Ancestor, which is particularly powerful when paired with the Elemental Adept feat. At higher levels, you gain the ability to sprout dragon wings and fly, boost your damage, and use fear or charm as crowd control.
3. Aberrant Mind
The Aberrant Mind sorcerer is one of several psionics-themed subclasses in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. This sorcerous origin is powerful, but it would be higher on the list if one of the first-level features wasn’t a dud. Telepathic Speech is useful, but it is less optimal than many other options for speaking telepathically with an ally.
The spell list is excellent, however. Instead of gaining additional spells to choose from each day, certain levels give you access to psionic-flavored spells without having to prepare them. There are some powerful spell options, especially at higher levels.
When it comes to high-level features, this subclass is great. You eventually gain advantage on save against charm and fear. You also can spend sorcery points to augment your body with underwater breathing, truesight, or flying speed, among other things.
4. Shadow Magic
Shadow Magic, which comes from the Xanathar’s Guide to Everything supplement, is versatile and fun. I especially like Eyes of the Dark, the best level 1 trait for this subclass. It gives you darkvision for 120 feet, and also lets you spend sorcery points to cast darkness you can see through as a bonus action. The other first level trait is pretty weak, although it is a death save mechanic.
At the higher levels, this subclass only gets better. You can call the Hound of Ill Omen, which is a sort of astral Dire Wolf that can track your enemies down and impact their saving throws. You also gain some unlimited teleportation in darkness and become ethereal. Another excellent subclass.
5. Clockwork Soul
The Clockwork Soul is an interesting subclass based on power drawn from the plane of order, Mechanus. This subclass is a very good option at low levels. You gain access to a slew of wizard and cleric spells, giving you far more casting options than most sorcerers. Your flexibility with all of these spells is a highlight of the subclass.
Unfortunately, things drop off after that. At higher levels, you get some situationally useful stuff that doesn’t stack with other archetypes. FOr example, at level 14 you can get a big boost spell attack rolls, and skill checks for a minute. However, these are things you might not be doing a lot of as a high-level sorcerer. Still, this is a great option if you are playing a low-level campaign.
6. Wild Magic
Wild magic offers interesting flavor, but it won’t be for everyone. The gist of this subclass is that your sorcerer’s magical powers stem from chaotic wild magic they can barely control. The end result is that you can fail rolls and have unintended magical consequences occur when you cast spells. These can be positive, negative, or just flavor, but they make your character unpredictable. While fun, it is less than optimal.
Thankfully, at higher levels you can learn to control these powers to a greater degree. this includes the ability to roll twice and select from two unintended consequences from the wild magic table. The other traits are pretty lackluster. Unless you love the idea of roleplaying a Wild Magic sorcerer, this probably isn’t for you.
7. Storm Sorcery
Storm sorcery is the outcast of the options on our sorcerer subclasses 5E list, which is a shame given how fun the flavor is. This archetype is cursed with lame or inefficient benefits that make it generally not worth playing. You do get some free languages, but they are the rarely-used languages of the elementals.
Outside of this, the storm sorcerer is built around the dual mechanics of tempestuous Magic and heart of the Storm. Heart of the Storm brings an AOE damage option, but it is centered on the sorcerer. Tempestuous Magic exists to allow you to use Heart of the Storm and escape immediate danger without being attacked as a reaction. Unfortunately, it only lets you travel 10 feet. To use these traits you’ll be wading into combat, which is a terrible idea for a sorcerer. The rest of the subclass is pretty bad as well except for at the highest level, where you can make your entire party fly. They tried, but this one doesn’t work very well.
Concluding our Sorcerer 5E Guide
That wraps up our Sorcerer 5E Guide. In our view, you’ve got three great options, one decent choice, and one to steer clear of. Take this information and make good choices!
Dungeons & Dragons: All Official Sorcerer Subclasses, Ranked
By Patrick TierneyUpdated
Each sorcerer has a sorcerous origin that is the source of your magical powers, each with its own perks - here are all of them, ranked.
Although the concept of a spellcasting class certainly isn't new to Dungeons & Dragons, the Sorcerer class is fairly new. Sorcerers are great for players who want to have the reality-shaping cosmic power of a Wizard but aren’t too keen on the whole “books” thing. The powers of a Sorcerer are innate, and part of the incentive to play one is the potential for a dramatic backstory that might include a divine ancestor or a traumatic childhood experience.
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Each sorcerer has a Sorcerous Origin that is the source of your magical powers, each with its own perks and shortcomings that'll influence your playstyle. The best Sorcerer subclass for you depends on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, the module you're playing, the kind of Sorcerer you want to build, and the Skills and Feats you choose to complement your overall talent base.
Updated on July 23, 2021, by Kristy Ambrose: Now that D&D 5e has been up and running for a few years, there are plenty of homebrews and supplemental materials you can use to customize their games and characters. Players and DMs alike have discovered how versatile the Sorcerer class is, and including some interesting homebrew options, there are now more like 16 Sorcerer subclasses available. The official list has also expanded and now includes a total of seven Origins, also known as subclasses, for the Sorcerer.
7 Wild Magic
- Source:D&D Player's Handbook
- Main Spells or Benefits: Wild Magic Surge, effects are unpredictable and range from comedic to catastrophic to fantastic.
- Ideal Race: Half-Elf, Tiefling
- Party Role: Damage
Make no mistake, Wild Magic is fun. It’s goofy and the Wild Magic Surge effects will bring some levity to the table, making it a good choice for a lighthearted campaign. There’s also a small chance that you can kill your entire party in a fiery explosion at Level 1 through no fault of your own.
Other than Wild Magic Surge, which can have good, bad, or neutral effects, most of your effects involve manipulating luck, which in this case means gaining occasional advantage on rolls and spending sorcery points to lower your enemies’ rolls and boost your allies’. The highest level ability, Spell Bombardment, is fairly unimpressive for an 18th level ability, only maybe giving extra damage die to spell damage once a turn. Still, it adds up, and this subclass is charming enough that you might want to choose it anyway.
6 Storm Sorcery
- Source: Xanathar's Guide to Everything
- Main Spells or Benefits: Heart of the Storm, start casting a spell of 1st level or higher that deals lightning or thunder damage, and stormy magic erupts from you.
- Ideal Race: Half-Elf, Satyr, Changeling
- Party Role: Damage
Storm Sorcery lets you embody the tempest, which means you get to do a lot of thunder and lightning damage. This Sorcerer subclass begins with Tempestuous Magic, which is essentially a better version of the disengage action that you can do as a bonus action when you cast a spell.
At higher levels, you get resistance and eventually immunity to both thunder and lightning damage, as well as the ability to deal guaranteed thunder or lightning damage in a small radius around you whenever you cast a thunder or lightning spell - great for forcing concentration checks on enemy casters. At level 18, you even get the ability to fly twice as fast as some other Sorcerous Origins and even let your friends come along with you. Overall, it's a very niche but still effective subclass.
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5 Aberrant Mind
- Source: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything
- Main Spells or Benefits: Psionic Spells, some that are normally exclusive to Wizards and Warlocks.
- Ideal Race: Half-Elf. Tiefling, Yuan-Ti Pureblood
- Party Role: Damage, Defense
This is the Sorcerer subclass for players that are also interested in Wizards or Warlocks, as it shares some of the same features, including abilities and spells. Players who want to try the Sorcerer's version of the Psionic Warrior can start their build by choosing a race with both high Intelligence and Charisma scores, abilities that are also important to other spellcasting classes.
One factor that makes Sorcerers unique from other spellcasting classes is their relatively small repertoire of spells, and since this subclass gives you several more to choose from, it's a popular option. It makes this subclass one of the more versatile, changing your role depending on what extra spells you choose.
4 Divine Soul
- Source: Xanathar's Guide to Everything
- Main Spells or Benefits: Divine Magic, which gives you access to Cleric spells.
- Ideal Race: Half-Elf, Changeling, Kalashtar
- Party Role: Damage, Healing
Divine Soul lets you be a Sorcerer in Cleric’s clothing. Whenever you gain spells, you can choose them from the Sorcerer or Cleric spell lists, effectively giving you potential access to almost twice as many spells. Plus, you get one extra Cleric spell that doesn’t count against the number of spells you know based on your deity’s alignment.
Although the access to Cleric spells that can be cast using Sorcerer Metamagic is the main draw of the class, the other abilities aren’t worthless. The ability to add 2d4 to attack rolls or saving throws in tough situations, the ability to boost your and your allies’ healing, and the spectral wings that grant you the power of flight all come in handy. At the 18th level, you can even massively heal yourself if you are under half of your max HP. If your party is looking for a versatile secondary healer, Divine Soul is a good choice.
3 Clockwork Soul
- Source: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything
- Main Spells or Benefits: Clockwork Magic, adds a total of 10 known leveled spells normally exclusive to Warlocks, Clerics, Druids, and Wizards.
- Ideal Race: Half-Elf, Kalashtar, Dragonborn
- Party Role: Damage, Defense
The reliance of Clockwork Soul on a systematic, math-based approach makes it the polar opposite of the Wild Magic Sorcerer subclass. It's more systematic, relying on order and equilibrium, which is where the connection with some Druidic abilities can be found. Spells like Restore Balance, which can help your party out if you have Disadvantage, are one example. Clockwork Soul has a few things in common with the Divine Soul subclass in the sense that you have access to some healing and defense spells usually associated with Clerics.
2 Draconic Bloodline
- Source: D&D Player's Handbook
- Main Spells or Benefits: Dragon Ancestor, determines the energy type of the Elemental Affinity ability (acid, cold, fire, lightning, or poison).
- Ideal Race: Dragonborn, Tiefling
- Party Role: Damage
Draconic Bloodline works well with the classic blaster sorcerer build. It lets you deal extra damage and be temporarily resistant to a damage type associated with a kind of dragon. You get to choose the type, giving you more build options than the lightning and thunder of Storm Sorcery. You get more armor and HP than your usual arcane caster would get normally, which lets you avoid getting taken out of the fight by a lucky goblin archer.
Related: Dungeons & Dragons: All Official Rogue Subclasses, Ranked
Your Draconic Presence gives a mass AoE crowd control ability that lasts for a whole minute, effectively changing the entire course of an entire encounter. The only drawback is that your flight is slightly less effective than the flight of Divine Soul or Storm Sorcery since it will literally tear off your clothes when you use it.
1 Shadow Magic
- Source: Xanathar's Guide to Everything
- Main Spells or Benefits: Hound of Ill Omen, impose Disadvantage on your targets' saving throws.
- Ideal Race: Human, Dragonborn, Satyr
- Party Role: Damage, Defense
As a Sorcerer imbued with the unholy magic of the Shadowfell, your sorcerous powers are linked with darkness and undeath. You get Darkvision to 120 feet from level one, which is great for players using the human, Dragonborn, or certain Fey races. At level 3, you get the spell Darkness, which you can cast using sorcery points instead of a spell slot, and since you can see through it, you have Advantage against most enemies in the area.
You can also call on necromantic energies to prevent your own death, summon a hound that can walk through walls to pursue a nearby enemy, and teleport at will from shadow to shadow. At level 18, you can even turn into a shadowy form immune to most types of damage. Overall, this class is very powerful fairly early on, and only gains more utility as you level up, earning it the top spot on the list.
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Dungeons & Dragons: The Sorcerous Origins, Ranked
Magic in Dungeons & Dragons is often thought of as something studied and learned, a craft that the player character chose to pursue out of interest or need for power. Wizards dedicate their lives to the pursuit of understanding magic, while Warlocks offer themselves to powerful entities in exchange for abilities beyond their wildest dreams. For Sorcerers, magic is in their very blood.
For some, magic is genetic, possibly coming from the blood of ancient dragons in their family line that charges the power within. For others, it's more difficult to pinpoint the origin of their power. Perhaps they were touched by a demon as a child or blessed by a Fey spirit at birth. Whatever the origin of a Sorcerer's connection to magic, that source influences the very nature of their power.
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7. D&D 5e's Clockwork Soul Is a Missed Opportunity
The Clockwork Soul archetype is intriguing for those who long to add a bit of a steampunk flair to their character development. Infused with magic from a plane like Mechanus, these Sorcerers are molded from Order itself and make for incredibly efficient and powerful beings. Often considered strange by those around them, they are keepers of law and order, using their power to banish Chaos and disorder before it can overrun the world.
Clockwork Souls have lots of potential, depending on how the player uses their abilities. Still, this subclass feels like it's missing something essential. It's a unique and interesting concept (and almost perfect for Warforged characters), but it could definitely use a little more construction. Hopefully, Wizards of the Coast revisits this concept someday or makes revisions to it.
6. Wild Magic Is Fun, but Too Chaotic in Practice
Wild Magic Sorcerers are on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Clockwork Soul -- they've gained power from the forces of chaos. Their magic is unpredictable, and every time they cast a Sorcery spell on their turn, the Dungeon Master can make them roll a d20 to determine a Wild Magic effect. While this can be fun and unpredictable, unfortunately, it also has the potential to harm the player and their party. As they grow more powerful, so do the harmful effects of their magic. Conceptually, Wild Magic is really cool, but the fact that its so dangerous makes other options way more appealing.
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5. Storm Sorcery Grants Cool Elemental Powers
Those who can trace their Sorcerous origins to the storm draw magic from the power of elemental air. Whether they were born during an unforgettable storm that shaped and molded their very soul or they suffered a near-death experience brought on by the Great Rain, the very essence of these Sorcerers is drawn from the storm. Because of their connection to air and their ability to control the weather, they often become indispensable members of seafaring vessels, guiding ships and steering storms away.
One neat thing about Storm Sorcerers is that, as they grow more powerful, they not only gain immunity to lightning and thunder damage, but can actually use their connection to air to gain a magical flying speed of up to 60ft for an hour. That's a really cool power, but other Sorcerous origins offer ever neater benefits.
4. Draconic Bloodline Is a Classic Sorcerous Origin
When people think of Sorcerers, one of the first things that often comes to mind is the Draconic Bloodline origin. These Sorcerers have ties to ancient and powerful dragons, and that allows them to draw upon magic associated with a specific type of dragon. They could gain affinity with a black dragon's acid or a red dragon's fire.
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Not only do they have the scaly remnants of their ancestral dragon to help boost their unarmored AC, but as they advance in levels, they become more dragon-like, eventually developing a dread-inducing draconic presence that either produces dread or awe. As a bonus action, they can sprout wings and gain flying speed equal to their current speed. These are outstanding features, but it also feels pretty typical when compared to some of the other potential origins.
3. Divine Soul
The Divine Soul may not know how far back their familial connection to a divine being reaches, but the spark of divinity within them will remind everyone around them of that connection. These Sorcerers are sometimes prophesied by ancient orders, beings sent by the gods to make right the world's wrongs -- which is a lot of personal pressure for the bearer of such a blessing. Because of their powerful connection to divinity, many religious hierarchies may even see them as a threat to the sanctity of their practices.
Divine Souls make it to the top three simply because they are powerful healers with the ability to sprout their own wings. Their background also presents plenty of storytelling opportunities and the chance to create an incredible personal arc over the course of a campaign.
Related: The Best D&D Feats for Clerics
2. Shadow Magic Is Perfect for Darker Sorcerers
Sorcerers with Shadow Magic can sometimes trace their lineage back to a creature of the Shadowfell, though others were touched by that place's darkness in ways that affect their nature and their abilities. When building a Shadow Magic Sorcerer, players have the option to choose a unique quirk or roll the dice to choose one for them. They could become cold to the touch or appear as though they don't even breathe while asleep. Their magic reflects the nature of the Shadowfell as well, granting them abilities to cast spells like Darkness or summon an ill-omened hound to fight alongside them.
Over time, these Sorcerers can learn to teleport, or Shadow Walk. By the time they reach level 18, they can use their sorcery points to turn their body into damage-resistant shadow. The dark nature of this Sorcerer is as mysterious as it can be terrifying, offering a player character who follows this path a unique tie to one of the creepiest planes in the multiverse.
Related: Dungeons & Dragons: How to Use Spell Concentration to Your Advantage
1. Aberrant Mind Sorcerers Use Dangerous Psionic Magic
Psionics are among the most dangerous and terrifying magical abilities in Dungeons & Dragons. Those who specialize in psionic magic have the power to tap into the minds of their foes and manipulate their thoughts, potentially driving them mad or manipulating them into doing their bidding. With access to spells like Calm Emotions, Mind Sliver and Rary's Telepathic Bond, these powerful Sorcerers control minds and affect outcomes by simply altering the reactions and actions of others.
Aberrant Minds gain their power from some otherworldly source. They may not be able to fly, but they can teleport up to 120 ft and create a heavy push of force damage that draws creatures into the last space occupied. They can also potentially convince their enemies that they could fly, right before talking them into walking off a ledge. While no one should really have that kind of power, in a game where the darkest of foes prey greedily upon the weak, having someone around who can potentially manipulate the mind of an enemy could really come in handy.
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Artist, writer, avid gamer, lover of comics, manga and anime and all around nerd, Jennifer has been creating online content for numerous websites for over 15 years. She can generally be found on Tuesday nights playing Drow Warlock Zaelien Vel'rai in the So Many Levels D&D campaign on Twitch!
Which Sorcerer subclass should you pick? (DnD 5E)
Born with magic within them, sorcerers have learned to control and bend their inner ancestral connections to spellcast. Each has their own ancestral-like relation to their magical origin, which affects the way in which they can use their abilities.
D&D 5E has many sub-classes to choose from, spanning several core books. Here are some quick summaries of each subclass, which will give a bit of insight to the theme, generalized game mechanics, and the likely play style to expect. This list isn’t the way you are expected to play the subclass, but our own interpretation of what the subclass archetype is trying to be. Your interpretation may differ, and if it does, please share how!
What’s the difference between Sorcerers, Wizards, Warlocks, and Witches?
Draconic Bloodline (SRD, PHB)
Theme: With dragon’s blood running through their veins, the Draconic sorcerer focuses on the element of their ancestry, manifesting scale armor and, eventually, dragon-like wings.
Game Mechanics: Gains resistance depending on your dragon ancestry choice, ability to speak draconic, and scale-like body armor. At later levels, your elemental spells will do more damage and you can fly with sprouting wings. At the highest level, you can create a draconic aura which can frighten anyone you choose in an area.
Play-style: You like to focus on elemental spells, and the idea of a self-sufficient spell caster is ideal (eg. having inherent armor and wings)
Wild Magic (PHB)
Theme: A lover of chaos and unpredictability, the wild sorcerer thrives in the unknown.
Game Mechanics: Generates various random effects when casting spells. They can also give themselves advantage on attack/ability rolls. Through later levels, they can benefit or penalize others attack/ability rolls. At their highest level, they can have better control of their random magic effects, and they can make their spells cause more damage.
Play-style: You are impulse driven and like doing things just to see how people react, even if it’s outside of your own control. The wild mage player has probably stopped reading and is already randomly generating their character.
Storm Sorcerer (SCAG, XG)
Theme: Lightning, thunder, and tempestuous winds incarnate, this sorcerer embodies the austere power of nature itself.
Game Mechanics: After casting a spell, they are able to fly and move around without provoking any attack. Also gains elemental languages. At later levels, you can cause additional targets to take lightning damage when you cast a spell. Strong winds will never be a worry for you, as you’ll be able to manipulate them. At the highest levels, you deal lightning damage when attacked, which can also send the target flying away. Of course, you’ll eventually be able to fly, and also grant the ability to your allies.
Play-style: You like to be as elusive and powerful as lightning and wind, dangerous to the touch, and immensely beneficial to your allies. To you, the world’s setting and weather are just as interesting as the characters within it.
Divine Soul (XG)
Theme: A sorcerer with a benevolent spirit, the divine soul draws upon an entire wealth of divine magic not typical to sorcerers.
Game Mechanics: Able to choose spells from the clerics spell list, starting off with an additional spell and an ability to heal. Later on, ability to fly and healing spells become more effective.
Play-style: You like clerics, but want to be more spell focused. You like having some healing abilities, but want to be able to also focus on offensive spells.
Shadow Magic (XG)
Theme: Creating and manipulating darkness, this sorcerer doesn’t just use shadow to their advantage, they can literally become it.
Game Mechanics: Able to cast darkness and see through it. Gains hit points upon defeating enemies. Later, they can summon a shadowy hound figure which can move and attack. At their highest levels, they can teleport between shadows, and turn into a shadow form which can move around and is resistant to all forms of damage.
Play-style: You like to surprise attack them, creating your own darkness to sneak up on them. Enemies are like prey, to be toyed with before defeating. You probably really like the Ranger, but want more magic.
5e sorcerer subclasses dnd
DnD 5e – Sorcerer Subclass Breakdown
Last Updated: October 12, 2021
Sorcerers are defined thematically by their subclass, and they’re one of very few classes who decide their subclass at first level. Because this choice comes so early, it defines your build immediately, and the way your character functions at the table depends heavily on your subclass features.
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.
I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I 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 this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.
RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
Recent subclasses introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduced a new mechanic: free spells known as part of your subclass. If you’re eyeing that addition but want to play a different subclass, check out this blog post which has some suggestions.
Sorcerer Subclasses – Sorcerous Origin
The Sorcerer’s psionics-themed subclass, the Aberrant Mind notably lacks the same Psionic Energy Dice shared by the Psi Warrior and Soul Knife. Jeremy Crawford explained that feedback from the Unearthed Arcana playtest pointed out that the Sorcerer already has a pool of class-specific expendable resources in their Sorcery Points, and adding a second pool felt weird. So, WotC listened to community feedback and removed it for the final version of the subclass. It’s fun to be part of the design process, isn’t it?
Without Psionic Energy Dice, there’s little that makes this subclass actually “psionic”; it’s mostly just themed around tentacles. In fact, it’s much more “Great Old One” than “Psionic”, though I’m starting to think that the two might be more closely related than I realize. If you can’t decide between a GOOLock and a Sorcerer, this is a great compromise.
Mechanically, the Aberrant Mind is excellent. Psionic Spells dramatically expands your number of known spells, and doesn’t completely lock you into the granted spells like most similar subclass features. The other subclass features offer a number of interesting and powerful utility options, allowing you to solve many problems without needing to find a suitable spell and committing one of your precious few spells known. If you’re more comfortable playing a cleric or a wizard and having a lengthy list of spells available, the Aberrant Mind can make the Sorcerer a much easier prospect since its toolbox is so mucg larger than a typical sorcerer.
- Psionic Spells: There is a lot of complexity buried in this feature that’s very easy to overlook, but understanding what makes this so powerful will help you to capitalize on it.
The first and most obvious benefit is that you get several excellent spells, including some warlock exclusives like Hunger of Hadar and wizard exclusives like Evard’s Black Tentacles. Not everything on the list is a gem, of course, and be sure to check my Warlock Spell List Breakdown and my Wizard Spell List Breakdown for details on the spells borrow from other spell lists.
Slightly less obvious: this adds a total of 10 known leveled spells to your sorcerer (Mind Sliver is buried in the 1st-level spells on the table, and it’s a cantrip). A 20th-level sorcerer typically knows just 15 spells, so this is a massive increase. Even at level 1, you know twice as many spells as a typical sorcerer, plus you get an additional cantrip.
Third, and easiest to overlook, is the retraining mechanic. The Sorcerer can already retrain one known spell every time they gain a level, but Psionic Spells also allows you to retrain the spells granted by the feature. Surprisingly, you can choose from the sorcerer, warlock, and wizard spell lists, though you’re limited to divination and enchantment spells. Of course, there are plenty of excellent divination and enchantment options (Hex is tempting at early levels), so that’s not a problem. Trade in spells that you’re not benefiting from as you gain levels, especially since divination options are often useful long after their spell level stops being defining in combat.
- 1st Level: Two decent low-level damage options, and the absolutely phenomenal Mind Sliver. I recommend retraining Arms of Hadar after a few levels, but you might enjoy Dissonant Whispers as an inexpensive way to force enemies to remove themselves from grapples and/or to provoke opportunity attacks.
- 3rd Level: Two options with situational uses. Detect Thoughts is difficult for spellcasters that aren’t Intelligence-based, so consider retraining it.
- 5th Level: Hunger of Hadar is an excellent AOE damage and area control option, and I’ve eyed it jealously from other spellcasting classes since 5e’s initial release. Sending is neat but not crucial, so you might retrain it, especially once you have long-distance teleportation available at higher levels.
- 7th Level: Black Tentacles is a good spell, but it does less damage and has a smaller AOE than Hunger of Hadar, and also doesn’t scale with spell level, so there’s a lot of redundancy between the two that the Sorcerer can’t justify. I recommend picking one of the two to keep and retraining the other. Summon Abberation is one of the new summon options presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, and it’s pretty good, offering three very effective choices to suit your needs.
- 9th Level: Two excellent utility options. Rary’s Telepathic Bond feels like a weird choice since you get Telepathic Speech at first level, but Telepathic Speech is extremely limited so Rary’s Telepathic Bond is a big upgrade.
- Telepathic Speech: A useful utility, but very limited compared to most forms of telepathy. You can communicate, but you still need to share a language, the duration is short, and you can only connect to one creature. That’s enough to send your party’s Scout off on their own with a way to remain in contact, but beyond stealth and subtlety there are few meanignful ways to use this.
- Psionic Sorcery: This saves you one or two Sorcery Points (depending on the spell level) when you spend Sorcery Points to get extra spell slots. You also don’t need to spend the Bonus Action to convert Sorcery Points into spell slots first. You also get to cast the spell without verbal or somatic components (and some material components), so you get the benefits of Subtle Spell for free.
It’s not perfectly clear how this works if you retrained the spells from Psionic Spells. This definitely applies to the default spells that you get, but I’m not sure otherwise. I think RAW it works with retrained spells since you still get those spells from the feature, but keep an eye out for Sage Advice or Errata, and check with your DM until then.
- Psychic Defenses: Psychic damage is rare, but charm and fear effects are very common.
- Revelation in Flesh: For a single Sorcery Point, every one of these effects is excellent. Replicating any of these is at least a 2nd-level spell, so the effects aren’t just good, they’re very cost-efficient. Note that since the fly and swim speeds are based on your walking speed, it’s easy to boost your new movement speed with buffs like Longstrider or Haste.
Personal note: I find the term “writhing sensory tendrils” upsetting.
- Warping Implosion: Great for setting up combos with Quicken Spell. Follow this with a quickened AOE damage spell life Meteor Swarm or area control spell like Force Cage and you can eliminate whole encounters in one turn even at this high level. The saving throw is Strength, though, and with the exceptions of enemies who rely on magic in combat many enemies will have high Strength saves.
Where the Wild Magic Sorcerer is chaos, randomness, rerolls, and wacky fun chaos, the Clockwork Soul Sorcerer is order, no rerolls, numerical minimums, and straight order and efficiency. It offers tools to solve a variety of problems in orderly fashion, including spell options borrowed from the Cleric and Wizard. However, the Clockwork Soul leans heavily on its spell list, and the other subclass features are often only situationally useful, leaving the player to wait for these features to matter from time to time in between casting spells every turn.
The Clockwork Soul shares a lot of design philosophy with the Abberant Mind, giving sorcerers 10 more known leveled spells and the ability to retrain them into a pair of specific schools of magic. However, the Clockwork Soul’s other features are notably more situational in nature than those given to the Abberant Mind. The Clockwork Soul is by no means bad or weak, though, and its spell list includes several excellent options from the Cleric spell list (though none of them are hit point restoration so you’ll need to get that elsewhere), in addition to a lot of staple spellcasting options which a sorcerer might otherwise be forced to take with their very limited known spells to avoid leaving their party without crucial options like Dispel Magic.
For a veteran player with a solid grasp of the rules and of their party’s capabilities, the Clockwork Soul Sorcerer is an excellent option. However, unless you know exactly where the Clockwork Soul fits into your party, you may find that the subclass has a lot of redundancies with other spellcasters. If your party wants to go without a cleric or druid, the Clockwork Soul is a great option, though you’ll still need to solve the issue of hit point restoration. For less experienced players, the Clockwork Soul may be a great introduction to the Sorcerer due to their abnormally large list of known spells, but personally I would still point new players to less complex subclasses like draconic bloodline or less “serious business” options like wild magic.
- Clockwork Magic: There is a lot of complexity buried in this feature that’s very easy to overlook, but understanding what makes this so powerful will help you to capitalize on it.
The first and most obvious benefit is that you get several excellent spells, including some cleric options like Aid and wizard options like Summmon Construct and Wall of Force. Not everything on the list is a gem, of course, and be sure to check my Cleric Spell List Breakdown (for the cleric spells which you get by default) and my Warlock Spell List Breakdown and Wizard Spell List Breakdown for details on the spells borrowed from the Wizard’s spell list as well as possible retraining options.
Slightly less obvious: this adds a total of 10 known leveled spells to your sorcerer. A 20th-level sorcerer typically knows just 15 spells, so this is a massive increase. Even at level 1, you know twice as many spells as a typical sorcerer.
Third, and easiest to overlook, is the retraining mechanic. The Sorcerer can already retrain one known spell every time they gain a level, but Clockwork Magic also allows you to retrain the spells granted by the feature. Surprisingly, you can choose from the sorcerer, warlock, and wizard spell lists, though you’re limited to abjuration and transmutation spells. Of course, there are plenty of excellent abjuration and transmutation options (Absorb Elements and Shield are good at any level), so that’s not a problem. Trade in spells that you’re not benefiting from as you gain levels, especially since abjuration options are often useful long after their spell level stops being defining in combat.
- 1st Level: Protection from Evil and Good is a staple buff at any level, covering a wide range of dangerous creatures. Alarm isn’t useful enough to justify on a sorcerer, so retrain it.
- 3rd Level: Two staple cleric options.
- 5th Level: A staple utility option and an important defensive buff. Not glamorous or flashy, but hard to go without.
- 7th Level: Freedom of Movement is situationally useful, but helpful against enemies which like to grapple. Summon Construct is a wizard exclusive, and it’s a decent summon option if you need a pet Defender.
- 9th Level: Greater Restoration isn’t as important as Lesser Restoration, but it’s still very important. The conditions which it fixes are miserable and in many cases borderline lethal. Wall of Force (another wizard exclusive) is one of the best area control effects around, especially if you have another spellcaster in the party who can drop some ongoing area damage before you put your enemies inside the impenetrable hemisphere.
- Restore Balance: This solves a lot of problems. Creatures which have Advantage on saves against specific conditions are common, and for a sorcerer encountering those resistances can handicap you a great deal due to your limited pool of spells knowns. Similarly, if your allies have Disadvantage on a save (such as because they are Restrained or Poisoned), you can help protect them. The usage pool is limited, so save this for when it really matters.
- Bastion of Law: This is similar in many ways to temporary hit points (though you can notably apply this on top of temporary hit points). The duration is great, and allowing the target to choose when to use the ward allows you to take a little damage when you know that there’s a Short Rest coming so you can spend some hit dice to manage your limited resources.
Compare this to casting False Life. False Life is a 1st-level spell, so you can spend two Sorcery Points to get a spell slot with which to cast False Life. False Life lasts for one hour, and grants 1d4+4 (average 6.5) temporary hit points. Each additional spell level adds 5 more hit points. For those same two Sorcery points, you can give a creature a ward with two dice, which will prevent an average of 9 damage and lasts until you take a Long Rest. Each additional Sorcery Points adds 4.5 more damage protection, compared to one or two Sorcery Points for 5 more temporary hit points from False Life. So Bastion of law is cheaper compared to a 1st-level spell slot, and the scaling cost of converting Sorcery Points into spell slots keeps this more efficient.
- Trance of Order: The Fundamental Math of DnD 5e assumes that players will succeed on attack rolls against a typical CR-appropriate AC if they roll an 8 or better (provided that your primary ability scores hits 16, 18, and 20 at levels 1, 4, and 8), giving players a 65% chance of hitting an attack against an average, CR-appropriate enemy. Giving you a minimum guaranteed roll of 10 on attacks, saves, and ability checks means that you’re mostly guaranteed to hit with attacks, pass on any saves in which you’re proficient and have a decent ability score, and pass any ability checks with skills in which you’re well-suited. With a 1-minute duration, this is enough to get through one combat or to solve a perform series of skill checks if you move quickly.
This is a great ability on almost any other class, but on the Sorcerer its usefulness is extremely limited. Spells which require attack rolls (with the exception of cantrips) mostly vanished around 2nd-level spells unless you’re upcasting low-level spells. Sorcerers are proficient with Constitution saves so this helps with Concentration, so this helps a lot with that. Since sorcerers are Charisma-based, most of your skills will be too and using Persuasion in combat doesn’t work particularly well. So the three best uses for this are cantrips, upcasting low-level spells like Scorching Ray, and Concentration. That’s underwhelming for an ability which costs 5 Sorcery Points to recharge.
- Clockwork Cavalcade: Even with three effects, this is still only situationally useful. The 100 points of healing will be the most consistently useful option for adventurers, allowing you to get allies back on their feat and restore a nice chunk of hit points. But at this level, healing options like Mass Cure Wounds and Heal have been around for a while. The effect to repair items is neat, but only rarely useful. Adventurers spend a lot more time breaking stuff than fixing it. Perhaps the most remarkable effect is the last one, which outright ends spell effects without the ability checks required by Dispel Magic. But even then, it’s rare that you’ll face more than a small handful enemies with magic effects on them, so in most cases you can just upcast Dispel Magic to 6th level to get the same effect if you don’t want to risk making the ability checks.
If you can’t decide between playing a divine caster or an arcane caster, play a Divine Soul. Access to the Cleric’s spell list allows you to combine some of the best spell options in the game, allowing a single character to solve nearly any problem that can be solved using magic.
Divine Soul’s biggest challenge is the inherent analysis paralysis imposed by fitting two spell lists into just 15 spells known. You simply can’t learn everything that you want to learn on one character. But that’s the guiding principle of the Sorcerer: you need to pick your favorites and use Metamagic to make those options work.
- Divine Magic: Access to the cleric spell list is amazing. They have many of the absolute best divine spells, including most of the best healing options, a ton of great support options, and many fantastic divinations. Unfortunately you’ll need to split your focus between normal arcane spells and pretending to be a cleric, but the possibilities for combinations are amazing.
You also gain an additional spell known at level 1 based on your alignment. One spell doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s still very useful for the Sorcerer.
- Good: Important in most parties, but Healing Word is more frequently useful.
- Evil: Beyond low levels the damage is poor, the scaling is bad compared to many sorcerer spells, and getting into melee to use this is risky.
- Law: A fantastic buff at any level.
- Chaos: Decent but difficult to rely upon, and if you’re going to force Wisdom saves you really want failure to be more meaningful than a small debuff.
- Neutral: A fantastic defensive buff.
- Favored by the Gods: Most features like this only grant 1d6, which has a lower average and is less reliable because it’s only a single die. This also recharges on a short rest, making it a frequent and reliable defensive option.
- Empowered Healing: The problem with this ability is the problem with healing in combat. If you’re in a fight, healing is rarely the best option. Death is easy to prevent in 5e, and if you’ve got Healing Word you can get an ally back into the fight as a bonus action. Being massively injured isn’t much of an impediment, so allies can limp around at 1 hp and still be perfectly effective. With the exception of Heal, getting a creature back to full hit points should generally be reserved for healing out of combat. Once you’re out of combat and your action economy isn’t limited, you usually don’t need to expend limited resources like spell slots to scrape together every last hit point. Sit down and spend some hit dice.
- Otherworldly Wings: Persistent flight is amazing at any level.
- Unearthly Recovery: This could be a lot of healing, but by this level you probably know Heal.
If you want to use the Elemental Adept feat, the Draconic Sorcerer is among the best build choices available. In terms of raw spell damage output, it’s hard to match the Draconic Sorcerer between Elemental Affinity and Metamagic. The Evocation Wizard is comparable, but the ability to break the action economy with Metamagic allows the Draconic Sorcerer to produce much higher spikes of damage than the Evocation Wizard can match.
Because Draconic Bloodline leans so heavily on elemental damage, the Elemental Adept feat is essentially required. Resistances will be a persistent problem which can negate your most exciting subclass features and render your favorite spells nearly useless. Also expect to take Transmuted Spell Metamagic so that you can fit more spells into your favorite element.
Draconic Bloodline is primarily a blaster, and between its unusal durability and emphasis on direct damage, it’s very simple to play. This makes the Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer an excellent choice for new players.
- Dragon Ancestor: Your choice of ancestor only matters mechanically for the energy type, and it only affects the Elemental Affinity ability. That said, you want to pick an energy type which you can use frequently and which offers a large number of spell options which can apply Elemental Affinity.
- Acid: Recent sourcebooks have gradually added new and powerful options for acid damage, including excellent spells like Tasha’s Caustic Brew. Acid damage from enemies is roughly as common as cold or lightning.
- Cold: Roughly as many damage options as Acid or Lightning, but they’re less consistently good. Expect to rely on spell options like Ice Knife and Snilloc’s Snowball Swarm which may be slightly more challenging than comparable fire-based spells.
- Fire: Of the available options, fire damage has the most available spells by far, and while resistance and immunity to fire is common, so expect to take Elemental Adept. Enemies who deal fire damage are also common, so the resistance is frequently helpful.
- Lightning: Nearly as common as Fire spells, and considerably fewer creatures resist it.
- Poison: Poison resistance and immunity are extremely common, and since Elemental Adept doesn’t allow you to select Poison you will have trouble overcoming resistance. There also aren’t many good spells which deal poison damage. Poison damage from enemies is common, but if you’re worried about it you can play a dwarf.
- Draconic Resilience: This helps offset your d6 hit points, and gives you the equivalent of permanent Mage Armor. You’ll still want a bit of Dexterity and Constitution, but this is very helpful. Note that the bonus hit points only apply to Sorcerer levels, but if you’re taking a Sorcerer dip the armor will continue to function.
- Elemental Affinity: According to Sage Advice and the Errata, this effect (and similar effects) apply to a single damage roll per spell, so it’s much more effective on AOE spells like Fireball than on multiple-attack style spells like Scorching Ray. A boost of up to 5 damage per spell, especially with AOE spells, is a considerable boost, especially on low-level spells like Burning Hands, so your low-level spells can continue to be big damage dealers while consuming your less-powerful spell slots. You also have the ability to grant yourself energy resistance for an hour without the need to conentrate.
- Dragon Wings: Flight is crucial at high levels, especially for spellcasters who need to stay out of reach of terrifying melee enemies. Spells like Fly require Concentration, which severely limits your options, so the ability to remain in flight and concentrate on other effects is a massive tactical advantage.
- Draconic Presence: Cast Fear or cast Calm Emotions or something. This is rarely 6 Sorcery Points. The big advantage over other options is that the AOE follows you and creatures that enter the area after you activate Draconic Presence are affected. The best use case for this is when a mob of enemies are charging you and your allies, but those situations are rare and could easily be handled by polymorphing into a dragon.
Powerful and versatile with a good mix of abilities, the Shadow Magic bloodline is at its best in the dark. Even in areas of bright light, the magical darkness rules will give you a massive tactical advantage over anyone except devils and the handful of warlocks (or people who take Eldritch Initiate) who have the Devil’s Sight invocation.
Hound of Ill Omen makes the Shadow Magic Sorcerer an ideal save-or-suck caster, providing an easy and relatively inexpensive way to impose Disadvantage on targets’ saving throws. While your spell selection isn’t so broad as subclasses like Aberrant Mind and Clockwork Soul, the sheer incredible power of Hound of Ill Omen allows you to thrive with a very small spell selection.
- Eyes of the Dark: Darkvision is important in a game that often includes a lot of dungeons, caves, and other poorly-lit locales. 120 ft. Darkvision means that you can safely attack other enemies with Darkvision while remaining outside their vision range. In places that are well lit (like outside, if that’s somewhere that go for whatever reason), casting Darkness using Sorcery Points means that you’ve got a fun little bubble where you (and usually only you) can see normally. Darkness is a 2nd-level spell, and converting a 2nd-level spell slot to Sorcery Points gives you 2 Sorcery Points, so all that it costs you is the Bonus Action to make the conversion.
- Strength of the Grave: This might keep you going if you’re dropped bit an attack that doesn’t deal a lot of damage, but against abilities which deal lots of damage all at once like breath weapons or spells it’s going to be very difficult to make the saving throw.
- Hound of Ill Omen: Even at high levels when the dire wolf stat block won’t be threatening, forcing Disadvantage on saving throws means that you can easily hit the target of your hound with a save-or-suck spell immediately after summoning the hound.
The hound also moves unerringly toward the target, so if they become invisible you have a great way to locate them. The hound can move through objects (though it can’t fly), so even solid walls won’t stop this thing once you summon it, and it has enough hit points that it can suffer a few attacks before it dies.
In essence, this is Heightened Spell attached to a very determine set of teeth, and unlike Heightened Spell the target suffers Disadvantage on all saves against your spells rather than the first save for an affected spell. As an example: you can target a creature with your hound then hit it with Hold Monster, and it will make every save against Hold Monster at Disadvantage. Even better, your wolf will attack it with Advantage and score automatic critical hits (provided that it hits, which is still a problem against high-AC foes) since the target it paralyzed.
Curiously, there’s no limitation on how many hounds you can have beyond the Sorcery Point cost. If you want to summon a hound every turn until you run out of sorcery points, you’re free to do so. If you want to get multiple hounds on the field then upcast Hold Monster to paralyze a bunch of things, that’s a thing you can do. I’ve done it, and it’s exactly as amazing as it sounds.
- Shadow Walk: Free teleportation as a Bonus Action! The range is pretty good, and in a pinch you can cast Darkness to create an area in which to teleport. You can even use this while travelling, allowing you to move roughly 5 times as fast as normal by combining a comfortable walking pace and frequent teleportation.
- Umbral Form: The Sorcery Points are cheaper than casting many spells which let you walk through walls and creatures like Etherealness. Hopefully you won’t need the damage resistances because you have great defensive options like Improved Invisibility, but you might be able to use Umbral Form before polymorphing and maintain the damage resistance.
Storm SorcerySCAG / XGtE
Storm Sorcery faces several issues, which is unfortunate because the flavor is really fun. Tempestuous Magic doesn’t scale, and it’s obsolete by level 3. The premise of the subclass requires you to stay just outside of melee range, dodging in to use Heart of the Storm before retreating with Tempestuous Magic.
It’s an interesting premise, but it’s extremely risky. Unless you’re somehow boosting your speed (spells like Longstrider can help) or flying (aarakocra, winged tieflings, etc.), you’re stuck within walking distance on your enemies’ turns. It’s much safer for sorcerers to remain at the longest distance possible and assail their enemies from well outside of weapon range.
On top of the simple challenge of positioning, Heart of the Storm expects that you will know some spells which deal thunder or lightning damage, but you don’t get any for free. A misguided player could select spells which make Heart of the Storm totally useless.
You can make Storm Sorcery work, but doing so successfully all but requires flight as a racial trait so that you can dart in and out of melee easily. An extremely fast race like the Centaur might also suffice, but flight is still an easier choice because putting yourself 10 feet above your enemies makes you unassailable to half of the monster manual.
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.
- Wind Speaker: Essentially four free languages. Especially nice if you are your party’s Face.
- Tempestuous Magic: 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 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.
- Heart of the Storm: 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 yourself.
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.
- Storm Guide: Unless you’re in a seafaring campaign, this will almost certainly never matter.
- Storm’s Fury: 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.
- Wind Soul: Flight for your entire party at Essentially no cost and without Concentration.
Wild Magic is unpredictable, which means it’s unreliable and therefore ineffective. But it’s a lot of fun, so if your group can survive you not min-maxing this adds an element of zany fun to your game. Just be sure that your DM is willing to play along or you’ll have trouble.
The biggest problem with Wild Magic is that the use of the Wild Magic table is left up to the DM. The DM can choose to make you roll when you cast a leveled spell, and they can choose to make you reroll to recharge Tides of Chaos, which is your subclass’s only useful feature at first level.
The DM might decide that Wild Magic is too annoying, or they might simply forget. Or they might go crazy and have a regular Wild Magic Surge occur (this requires rolling a 1 on a d20 to see if anything happens) as well as triggering Tides of Chaos’s recharge mechanic because those two outcomes aren’t mutually exclusive. You could roll twice on the Wild Magic table for casting a single spell.
To fix the Wild Magic bloodline, you don’t even need to change the rules of the subclass: you just need an established agreement on how often Wild Magic rolls will occur. Here’s what I recommend: The sorcerer always roll the d20 for a wild magic surge when they cast a leveled spell. If Tides of Chaos is not recharged, instead the sorcerer will automatically roll on the Wild Magic table.
This allows Wild Magic to occur often enough to feel meaningful, but likely not every round. Similarly, Tides of Chaos has a very clear risk when it’s used. Yes, you can use it frequently, but you’re going to roll for Wild Magic almost immediately after that, which imposes an exciting risk-reward mechanic. That risk diminishes considerably when Controlled Chaos comes online at level 14, but by then the dangerous effects have largely become minor annoyances anyway.
- Wild Magic Surge: If your DM forgets to ask you to roll, this doesn’t matter. But it’s a core component of the subclass, so as a DM I would make you roll every time you cast a qualifying spell (unless we were trying to get through an encounter quickly). The effects range from comedic to catastrophic to fantastic, so there’s really no way to rate this.
Roughly 7 of the 50 options on the table are potentially harmful to you or your allies in some way, so most of the effects are benign. Perhaps the most iconic option on the table is casting Fireball centered on yourself, which will almost certainly kill an entire low-level party. Fortunately, there’s only a 1 in 50 chance of that occurring when you roll on the table.
- Tides of Chaos: How useful this is depends entirely on how often your DM will call for a Wild Magic roll to let you recharge Tides of Chaos. Your DM is absolutely allowed to never trigger the recharge mechanic, limiting you to just one use per day. Or, they might allow you to recharge Tides of Chaos after every time you cast a leveled spell, allowing you to use Tides of Chaos frequently.
The safest bet is to assume that you will get this once per day, and possibly more if your DM is feeling whimsical. In that case, using this for attack rolls is an absolute waste, but using it for saving throws can save your life.
- Bend Luck: When your allies fails a save against death by 1 or two, it’s heart-breaking. Spend the Sorcery Points and be everyone’s best friend. Two Sorcery Points is expensive, but your allies’ lives are worth it. If your group is using magic items, strongly consider a Bloodwell Vial so you have extra points to spend.
- Controlled Chaos: This considerably reduces the threat of the Wild Magic table, and makes it more of a source of unpredictable buffs and comic relief.
- Spell Bombardment: This is a little bit of extra damage on many of your damage-dealing spells. Spells which use large dice like Toll the Dead are less likely to trigger the benefit, but the extra damage is higher on average. Spells which roll a ton of small dice (like Meteor Swarm’s small mountain of d6s) are more likely to benefit, but the additional 3.5 damage feels really insignificant for such a high-level class feature. More damage is nice, of course; it’s just not very exciting since Empowered Spell has been an option for 15 levels.
As a sorcerer, you gain the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d6 per sorcerer level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 6 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d6 (or 4) + your Constitution modifier per sorcerer level after 1st
Weapons: Daggers, darts, slings, quarterstaffs, light crossbows
Saving Throws: Constitution, Charisma
Skills: Choose two from Arcana, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Persuasion, and Religion
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) any simple weapon
- (a) a component pouch or (b) an arcane focus
- (a) a dungeoneer's pack or (b) an explorer's pack
- Two daggers
An event in your past, or in the life of a parent or ancestor, left an indelible mark on you, infusing you with arcane magic. This font of magic, whatever its origin, fuels your spells.
At 1st level, you know four cantrips of your choice from the sorcerer spell list. You learn additional sorcerer cantrips of your choice at higher levels, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Sorcerer table.
The Sorcerer table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these sorcerer spells, you must expend a slot of the spell's level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.
For example, if you know the 1st-level spell Burning Hands and have a 1st-level and a 2nd-level spell slot available, you can cast Burning Hands using either slot.
Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher
You know two 1st-level spells of your choice from the sorcerer spell list.
The Spells Known column of the Sorcerer table shows when you learn more sorcerer spells of your choice. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 3rd level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.
Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the sorcerer spells you know and replace it with another spell from the sorcerer spell list, which also must be of a level for which you have spell slots.
Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your sorcerer spells, since the power of your magic relies on your ability to project your will into the world. You use your Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a sorcerer spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.
Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier
Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier
You can use an arcane focus as a spellcasting focus for your sorcerer spells.
Choose a sorcerous origin, which describes the source of your innate magical power. Your choice grants you features when you choose it at 1st level and again at 6th, 14th, and 18th level.
Font of Magic
At 2nd level, you tap into a deep wellspring of magic within yourself. This wellspring is represented by sorcery points, which allow you to create a variety of magical effects.
- Sorcery Points. You have 2 sorcery points, and you gain more as you reach higher levels, as shown in the Sorcery Points column of the Sorcerer table. You can never have more sorcery points than shown on the table for your level. You regain all spent sorcery points when you finish a long rest.
- Flexible Casting. You can use your sorcery points to gain additional spell slots, or sacrifice spell slots to gain additional sorcery points. You learn other ways to use your sorcery points as you reach higher levels.
- Creating Spell Slots. You can transform unexpended sorcery points into one spell slot as a bonus action on your turn. The Creating Spell Slots table shows the cost of creating a spell slot of a given level. You can create spell slots no higher in level than 5th. The created spell slots vanish at the end of a long rest.
- Converting a Spell Slot to Sorcery Points. As a bonus action on your turn, you can expend one spell slot and gain a number of sorcery points equal to the slot's level.
|Creating Spell Slots|
|Spell Slot Level||Sorcery Point Cost|
At 3rd level, you gain the ability to twist your spells to suit your needs. You gain two of the following Metamagic options of your choice. You gain another one at 10th and 17th level.
You can use only one Metamagic option on a spell when you cast it, unless otherwise noted.
- Careful Spell. When you cast a spell that forces other creatures to make a saving throw, you can protect some of those creatures from the spell's full force. To do so, you spend 1 sorcery point and choose a number of those creatures up to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one creature). A chosen creature automatically succeeds on its saving throw against the spell.
- Distant Spell. When you cast a spell that has a range of 5 feet or greater, you can spend 1 sorcery point to double the range of the spell.
- When you cast a spell that has a range of touch, you can spend 1 sorcery point to make the range of the spell 30 feet.
- Empowered Spell. When you roll damage for a spell, you can spend 1 sorcery point to reroll a number of the damage dice up to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one). You must use the new rolls.
- You can use Empowered Spell even if you have already used a different Metamagic option during the casting of the spell.
- Extended Spell. When you cast a spell that has a duration of 1 minute or longer, you can spend 1 sorcery point to double its duration, to a maximum duration of 24 hours.
- Heightened Spell. When you cast a spell that forces a creature to make a saving throw to resist its effects, you can spend 3 sorcery points to give one target of the spell disadvantage on its first saving throw made against the spell.
- Quickened Spell. When you cast a spell that has a casting time of 1 action, you can spend 2 sorcery points to change the casting time to 1 bonus action for this casting.
- Seeking Spell. If you make an attack roll for a spell and miss, you can spend 2 sorcerer points to reroll the d20, and you must use the new roll.
- You can use Seeking Spell even if you have already used a different Metamagic option during the casting of the spell.
- Seeking Spell (UA). When you cast a spell that requires you to make a spell attack roll or that forces a target to make a Dexterity saving throw, you can spend 1 sorcery point to ignore the effects of half- and three-quarters cover against targets of the spell.
- Subtle Spell. When you cast a spell, you can spend 1 sorcery point to cast it without any somatic or verbal components.
- Transmuted Spell. When you cast a spell that deals a type of damage from the following list, you can spend 1 sorcery point to change that damage type to one of the other listed types: acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, thunder.
- Twinned Spell. When you cast a spell that targets only one creature and doesn't have a range of self, you can spend a number of sorcery points equal to the spell's level to target a second creature in range with the same spell (1 sorcery point if the spell is a cantrip). To be eligible for Twinned Spell, a spell must be incapable of targeting more than one creature at the spell's current level.
Ability Score Improvement
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Sorcerous Versatility (Optional)
When you reach a level in this class that grants the Ability Score Improvement feature, you can do one of the following, representing the magic within you flowing in new ways:
- Replace one of the options you chose for the Metamagic feature with a different Metamagic option available to you.
- Replace one cantrip you learned from this class' spellcasting feature with another cantrip from the sorcerer spell list.
Magical Guidance (Optional)
When you reach 5th level, you can tap into your inner wellspring of magic to try and conjure success from failure. When you make an ability check that fails, you can spend 1 sorcery point to reroll the d20, and you must use the new roll, potentially turning the failure into a success.
At 20th level, you regain 4 expended sorcery points whenever you finish a short rest.
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Magic is something that a wizard learns, and a warlock bargains for. But, if you are a Sorcerer, magic is something that you are. A powerful force lies within you, and, whether you’re excited by dominating the battlefield with exotic powers, or roleplaying a character touched by inhuman impulses, Sorcerer is not a class to be overlooked in Dungeons and Dragons.
It is, however, a finicky class that can be hard to understand, and even harder to optimise. Pairing together their many disparate features is often a tricky prospect for new players, and even veteran adventurers might need a helping hand when navigating their innate magical capabilities. The Sorcerer can make for a highly adept, damage-dealing wunderkind, but crafting a refined build that maximises their many interlocking abilities is a challenge.
So, to ease you in, here’s our comprehensive Sorcerer class guide. We’ll walk you through their many class features, delve into their powerful Metamagic, provide a rundown of the available subclasses, pick out some choice spells, and serve up some ready-made builds that you might want to take to the tabletop.
If you’re after an overview of all the classes on offer, check out our D&D classes guide, where we walk you through the basic appeal and stats of the core options. But if powerful magic courses through your veins, read on for our D&D Sorcerer 5E guide.
Sorcerer Stats 5E
|Hit Dice||1D6 per level|
|HP at Lvl Up||1D6 (or 4) + Constitution modifier|
|Primary ability scores||Charisma|
|Weapon proficiency||Daggers, darts, slings, quarterstaffs, light crossbows|
|Skill proficiency||Two of: Arcana, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Persuasion, Religion|
|Saving throws||Charisma and Constitution|
With a small pool of hit dice, and no armour proficiency, a Sorcerer is likely to be one of the more vulnerable members of any party. At first glance, the weapon proficiencies aren’t much to look at, either, but don’t estimate that light crossbow option at low levels. If you have high Dex, it’ll hit harder than your cantrips, until they get their first upgrade at fifth level.
Your saving throws are much kinder. Sorcerers are the only full caster to apply their proficiency to Constitution saves. This makes Sorcerers more reliable than any other class with powerful concentration spells, such as Haste and Dominate Person. After all, the save to keep your spell running when an orc’s axe comes to an abrupt stop in your beautiful face is a Con save.
Devoted healer: Read our comprehensive D&D Cleric 5E guide
For most Sorcerers, Charisma is going to be their most important ability score. It determines the effectiveness of their spells, and may influence some bloodline powers. Sorcerers can also use Persuasion and Deception as Cha skills, which opens up a variety of less explosive options in dealing with important encounters. Not every Sorcerer needs both; you could have an interesting game playing a character that’s fundamentally honest or dishonest.
Other abilities of note include Strength, Dexterity, and Con. Some Sorcerers use magic to enhance their weapon attacks, which are based on Str or Dex. The latter is also valuable for improving armour class, as it enhancesthe effects of mage armour or draconic skin. Finally, in addition to boosting concentration saves, Con will also grant the extra hit points that a Sorcerer’s poor D6 hit dice is unwilling to provide.
Sorcerer Class Features 5E
|Spellcasting||1 – 20|
|Sorcerous Origin||1, 6, 14, 18|
|Font of Magic||2 – 20|
|Metamagic||3, 10, 17|
|Ability Score improvement||4, 8, 12, 16, 20|
Spellcasting makes up the bread and butter of the Sorcerer. As a Sorcerer you have the highest number of daily spell slots available to a character of their level (tied with the Bard, Cleric, Druid, and Wizard). However, you can only choose a relatively limited number of spells to cast, and, unlike most of those other classes, may only change your decision when you level up. Choose wisely!
The effects of the Sorcerous Origin feature are determined entirely by the Sorcerer’s archetype. Most offer some sort of enhancement that improves your spellcasting, such as improving the damage of your cantrips, or adding extra effects to the spells you cast. We’ll discuss each in detail later.
Font of Magic allows you to turn spell slots into Sorcery Points, and then turn Sorcery Points back into spell slots of a higher level. This may sound like a bad deal, and when you first gain the power it is. But, like a fine wine, it improves with time. Once you’ve got third or fourth level slots it starts becoming worth using this ability; converting one type of slot into another.
Exploring a long dungeon with few opportunities for rest, and worried about running out of spells? Break your high level spells into several lower level spells, and continue to cast every round. Preparing for a single climactic battle with the dark overlord of the horde? Convert all of your slots into the highest level you can cast, and make every turn the best it can be.
Metamagic offers another way to spend Sorcery Points: modifying spells as you cast them. This allows you to create effects that would usually be impossible,o and grants the opportunity to expend more of your power in a single turn. You start out with two Metamagic effects, and will gain another two as you level. You can’t change them, so pick options you’ll be comfortable using for a long time.
Melodic might: Check out our D&D Bard 5E guide
A cheeky peek at feats that give +1 Cha can be worth it, if you started with an odd score. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is your friend here. Shadow Touched and Fey Touched both increase your spell variety, while Telekinetic will give you something fun to do with your underutilised bonus action each round.
Finally, Sorcerous Restoration awaits those who reach the giddy heights of level twenty. This allows you, for the first time, to get something useful out of short rests. Reliably replenishing Sorcery Points now means that you can use metamagic every fight, and can stop trying to talk the party into making every rest an eight hour rest.
Casting spells as written is for suckers, a Sorcerer rewrites the spells to suit them, and Metamagic is how they do it. Using Metamagic is simple: cross off the Sorcery Points as you cast the spell, and modify it as appropriate. It doesn’t cost an extra action, but remember that you can only modify each spell once. No quickened, heightened, and maximised sonic fireballs in fifth edition.
Since you only choose a few Metamagic tricks, and are stuck with them forever, it’s worth taking a moment to consider your options:
Careful Spell: Create holes in your AoE spells to leave allies unharmed (or less harmed, at least). Useful if your DM is fond of placing large groups of enemies in tightly packed environments.
Distant Spell: Increase the range of a spell. In most situations, spell ranges are so long that doubling them is no big deal, but the neat thing about this option is the ability to extend a touch spell to a 30 foot range. Ranged touch attacks are passable, but having a Divine Soul Sorcerer chucking ranged Cure Wounds into situations they’d rather not enter is where this Metamagic option really shines.
Empowered Spell: Reroll some of the damage dice you just rolled. This option becomes more useful the more dice you’re rolling, and is an exception to the ‘one Metamagic trick per spell’ rule. This is the mule of Metamagic options: it’s reliably useful, but doesn’t do anything flashy.
Extended Spell: Doubles the duration of a spell that lasts at least a minute. This one is pretty situational, since many fights are over in under a minute, and most journeys are long enough that doubling a spell’s duration isn’t enough to keep it active across multiple encounters.
Martial mastery: Our D&D Fighter 5E guide for the budding brute
Heightened Spell: Gives a target disadvantage on its saving throw. At low levels the effect often isn’t worth three Sorcery Points, but at high levels you’ll have more points to spare, and be throwing around effects save-or-die spells, so it really starts to shine.
Quickened Spell: Reduces the casting time of a spell to a bonus action. Doing two things in a turn is fantastic, and many Sorcerers will want this, but don’t forget the easily overlooked rule that casting a spell as a bonus action prevents you from casting any spell with a spell slot as your main action. It pairs best with a great cantrip.
Subtle Spell: Cast a spell without saying any words or moving your hands. Equally valuable for starting fights without taking the blame, and escaping (un)just imprisonment. To get the most fun out of this, boost your Cha, and bump that Deception skill.
Twinned Spell: Cast a single target spell and hit two targets. A powerhouse at low levels, since the cost depends on the level of the original spell, but comparatively expensive for enhancing higher level options. One of the hidden benefits of this option is the ability to do twice as much with concentration, such as by using a twinned Hold Person to keep two people held at once.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything adds another two options:
Seeking Spell: When you miss with a spell that uses an attack roll, spend some Sorcery Points to reroll. This option is a little more efficient than the comparable Heighten spell because you only spend the points after you , rather than when you think your enemy might save.
Transmuted Spell: Converts a spell from one energy type to another. Often this won’t do much, but it lets you exploit enemies with particular weaknesses. It can also be used for thematic reasons; if you’re trying to build some sort of ice princess on a journey of personal discovery, say, and want all of your spells to be cold themed.
Sorcerer subclasses 5E
A Sorcerer’s power comes from their bloodline being touched by a powerful entity, or force. The choice of a Sorcerous Origin defines what sort of force this is, and gives the Sorcerer a suite of abilities to call on above and beyond their usual spellcasting.
Found in: Player’s Handbook
|1||Dragon Ancestor, Draconic Resilience|
Most of the powers this archetype offers are intended to help you feel closer to being a dragon. Having armoured skin, being able to fly, and sending enemies fleeing in fear are all great flavour, and provide excellent roleplaying opportunities to viscerally describe the physical changes that reflect these statistical bonuses.
However, as with Divine Soul, many of them mimic spells you could already cast. The Fly spell was available a whopping nine levels before you grew wings. The stand out power here is Elemental Affinity, which is a powerhouse, adding your Cha to damage for spells matching the element of your dragon.
This is a nice upgrade to many of your spells, and an absolutely phenomenal one for your cantrips. To get the most out of this archetype, consider using the Quickened Metamagic to add a noticeably upgraded cantrip to any spell.
Found in: Player’s Handbook
|1||Wild Magic Surge, Tides of Chaos|
Your magic is touched with chaos, so every spell has a chance of producing an effect from the Wild Magic table. This can do anything from summoning illusory butterflies to fireballing yourself.
Learn to love the Wild Magic table; it’s weighted in your favour. For every result bad result, there are two that are good. Controlled Chaos makes the odds even better, by letting you roll twice and pick either roll. It’s not a subclass that was meant to be played conservatively; trigger Wild Magic effects early and often!
Religious righteousness: Check out our D&D Paladin 5E guide
Bend Luck lets you get advantage on any roll in exchange for letting the DM trigger a Wild Magic effect at a time of their choosing. When they do, you can use Bend Luck again. There are two schools of thought on how to handle this: one is to save that advantage so you always have it at the critical moment, the other is to use it early, and try to encourage the DM to Wild Magic you in order to use it several times per session.
To get the most out of wild mage you want to cast lots of spells to increase the chance of your Wild Magic surges. Consider using Sorcery Points to break higher level spells into multiple low level spells, and look for ways to cast spells as bonus actions, or reactions, so that you can use them more often.
You might want to consider another option if the campaign starts at first level though. The ‘Fireball centred on self’ result doesn’t scale down with level, and 8d6 is a lot of damage when everyone’s only got one hit dice.
Found in: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
|1||Aberrant Mind, Psionic Spells, Telepathic Speech|
|6||Psionic Sorcery, Psychic Defences|
|14||Revelation in Flesh|
This archetype allows your mind to be warped by alien influences to the point that you gain a power called Revelation in Flesh. How you respond to reading that ability name probably says more about whether you will enjoy this class than anything else.
The core of this class’s mechanical power is in psionic sorcery, which permits you to cheaply cast spells using Sorcery Points. This makes you much more flexible with the level of your spells, even compared to other Sorcerers. It also applies the Subtle Spell Metamagic option to everything you cast without costing any Sorcery Points, or taking up one of your precious Metamagic slots.
You’ll get the most out of this class in a game focused on roleplaying and investigation over combat. The ability to communicate silently, overcome language barriers, and do things without it being obvious that you were responsible gives you a lot of flexibility outside of a straight up fight. Deciding some things about the alien mind that touched yours, and how it’s affected your character’s outlook and personality, can provide a lot of hooks for portraying a unique character.
Found in: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
|1||Shadow Magic, Eyes of the Dark, Strength of the Grave|
|6||Hound of Ill Omen|
The closest you will get to an excuse to declare ‘I am the night’ in a D&D game, the shadow Sorcerer is touched by the umbra, and has powers associated with shadow and darkness.
The archetype has a few nice bonuses but three stand out as potentially character defining: Eyes of the Dark, Hound of Ill Omen and Shadow Walk.
Eyes of the dark allows you to create darkness that only you can see through. That’s advantage on all of your attacks, and disadvantage on all of your foes’. However, it can be frustrating for the rest of the party, so check in with them about it before you set your heart on a character that uses this ability extensively.
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Hound of Ill Omen allows you to summon a shadowy hound that moves towards and attacks an enemy each turn. The hound’s combat contributions will be meaningful when you first get it, but it doesn’t scale much with your level, and will be outclassed later in the campaign. But, your target has disadvantage on saves against your spells when it’s close. This is especially valuable for spells with incredible effects, but offer a save each round to escape them, as the disadvantage will apply to the escape rolls, too.
Finally, shadow walk allows you to teleport between shadows as a bonus action. These shows can be over a hundred feet apart, allowing you to repeatedly cast a spell at an enemy, and retreat out of its range. To get the most out of this class, you’ll need to decide which of these diverse powers you most want to orient your character around, and choose your spells and Metamagic to support that choice.
Found in: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
|1||Clockwork Magic, Restore Balance|
|6||Bastion of Law|
|14||Trance of Order|
In stark contrast to our previous option, this archetype allows you to portray a Sorcerer touched by the elemental plane of law. Your body is infused with the cold logic of machinery, and your magic can be bent to correcting whatever you see as the errors in the world.
The early powers in this archetype lend themselves to teamwork. Restore Balance allows you to negate advantage and disadvantage. You can use it to allow a Barbarian to recklessly attack with no drawback. Alternatively, become the Rogue’s new best friend, as disadvantage prevents sneak attacks. Bastion of Law allows you to create damage shields to help allies who need to be in the frontline, but don’t have many hit points.
The real power of this archetype is in Trance of Order. This allows you, for a limited time only, to treat all rolls of 9 or less as 10s. If your stats are good enough that a 10 is a hit, it is equivalent to saying ‘For the rest of this fight you cannot miss’ – wow!
You’ll get the most out of this class at higher levels, and when you’ve focused your spell selections on ones that require attack rolls. Alternatively try to talk your DM into running a buddy cop adventure, where an avatar of law and a scheming rogue make an unlikely pair who can’t see eye to eye, but must overcome their differences in order to save the day.
Found in: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
|1||Wind Speaker, Tempestuous Magic|
|6||Heart of the Storm, Storm Guide|
The storm archetype is elegant in its simplicity: you create and control storms.
All of the powers of the class lean into this. Winds carry you a few feet each turn as a short fly move. When you cast a Lightning or Thunder spell, someone you don’t like nearby is struck by lightning. When it rains, it doesn’t rain on you. When it’s windy, the wind goes in a direction of your choice. When someone hits you in melee they’re struck by lightning, and thrown away from you. You can call a storm to fly you and your allies to wherever you want to go.
None of the abilities are that complicated to use, and they all lean into the theme by giving small but concrete combat advantages. You’ll get the most out of this class if you’re someone who likes having a hammer, and making every problem more nail-shaped. Simply pick every spell on the list containing the word “thunder” or “lightning” and you’re good to go.
Found in: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
|1||Divine Soul, Divine Magic, Favoured by Gods|
So, you want to play a Cleric? Have no fear, the Divine Soul is here to give you access to all of those sweet, sweet divination spells with none of the obligations to a higher power.
The heart of this archetype is in Divine Magic, which allows you to add cleric spells to your spells known. This allows you to play the ultimate spellcaster, drawing on arcane and divine magic with equal proficiency. What’s more, you can be a better Cleric than a Cleric, since you can apply Metamagic to the Cleric spells. Empowered healing even provides an additional metamagic option to reroll healing dice you don’t like.
Creature of the night: Dive into our D&D Rogue 5E guide
The higher level options largely duplicate effects you could already create with spells, but Otherworldly Wings scores considerable style points by generating theologically appropriate wings. Be the white-feathered angel, or bat-winged demon you were born to be.
To get the most out of Divine Soul, look for ways to use Metamagic with Cleric spells to produce surprising effects, such as using Distant Spell for long range healing, Quickening powerful spells, or using Twinned Spell for a buy-one-get-one-free when you spend 1000 gold on a diamond to resurrect someone.
Best race for Sorcerer
Any race can be touched by magic, and become an avatar of some eldritch abomination, but not all abominations are created equal. We’ve picked out some of the races that will produce the most powerful 5E Sorcerers.
Found in: Player’s Handbook
If your DM uses the optional variant Human rule, it offers tremendous flexibility to Sorcerer builds, which can be used to build a wide range of archetypes.
Selecting Fey Touched as your feat adds Misty Step and a first level Divination or Enchantment of your choice to your spell list, doubling your initial spells known from two to four. As you level up, the presence of reliably useful low-level spells allows you to replace them with new options, mitigating the effects of your weak known spells. .
Additionally, the +1 Cha from Fey Touched stacks with your +1 from being a human, making your primary casting stat as good as it would be for any other race. The remaining attribute bonus and your extra skill are then free to customise your character in any direction that takes your fancy.
Found in: Player’s Handbook
The Tiefling race itself makes a decent, but not exceptional Sorcerer. It has that vital +2 to Cha, but the +1 Intelligence is wasted. Hellish Resistance and Infernal Legacy are nice bonuses, but don’t pair particularly naturally with a Sorcerer’s other abilities.
The real reason to pick it is that being a Tiefling is the prerequisite to the awesome Flames of Phelegetos feat available in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. It adds to your Cha, allows you to reroll ones on damage rolls with fire spells, and gives you a damage shield whenever you cast a fire spell.
Combined with the elemental benefits offered by some Sorcerer archetypes, this can allow you to make the ultimate hellfire wielding underworld badass.
Found in: Player’s Handbook
An unconventional choice that lacks any sort of Cha boost, the mountain dwarf will slightly lag behind other Sorcerers in terms of attack chance and save DC until they can max out their Cha at twelfth level.
However, for some characters, all of this is justified for dwarven armour training. This race feature allows you to use medium armour. In previous editions, putting on armour hampered spellcasting, but in 5E the prohibition is only against wearing armour that you’re not proficient with.
The bonus to Con is the icing on the surprisingly-hard-to-kill Sorcerer cake, increasing your hit points, and making it easier to maintain concentration spells. The Mountain Dwarf Sorcerer trades a little offensive magical power for a lot of defence.
Found in: Eberron – Rising from the Last War
The +2 Cha makes all of your spellcasting better, but the real attraction to this race is the shape changer power. Boasting a high Cha, infinite shapeshifting that isn’t detectable as magic, Deception as a class skill, access to illusions, and the ability to cast spells undetected, the potential for shenanigans is enormous.
It’s not a good choice for an ‘endless string of combat encounters’ game, but in a campaign where some well-placed deceptions can do more to advance your goals than slaying a dragon, the Changeling illusionist Sorcerer is a potent cocktail.
Sorcerer Spells 5E
Summoning shadowy hounds to harass your enemies, or throwing enemies back with bursts of lightning are all well and good, but at the end of the day, whatever flashy powers your bloodline gives you, most of your actions will come down to casting spells. Here we have gathered a collection of some of the best spells a 5E Sorcerer can choose to help them survive and thrive.
Fire Bolt (cantrip, PHB) – When you’ve converted all of your spell slots into Sorcery Points to twin a high level spell, and empower the result, what you’ll have left is cantrips. When that happens, you want a nice reliable damage option. D10 damage at a 120-foot range is reliable and effective.
Arcane artistry: Read our guide to the best D&D 5E spells
Green-Flame Blade (cantrip, TCE) – An unusual spell that will only suit some builds, Green-Flame Blade allows you to make a melee attack that deals its usual damage to the target, and then deals your Cha bonus in damage to a second target.
It’s notable because it provides support for more weapon-focused builds. The effects of levelling up on cantrip damage are effectively doubled for it, since the extra d8s of damage apply to both targets.
Magic Missile (frist, PHB) – It’s a classic for a reason. Sometimes ‘definitely doing damage’ trumps ‘maybe doing the most damage’ and Magic Missile’s property of never missing makes it a strong contender for one of your spell slots.
Mage Armour (first, PHB) – Most Sorcerers can’t wear armour, so unless you’re dragon blooded or a Mountain Dwarf, you’ll almost always want to free up a slot for this eight hour long spell that simulates wearing light armour.
Cloud of Daggers (second, PHB) – Notable for being one of your first concentration spells that creates a damaging area, this option becomes more valuable if you have ways to move enemies around, so that they can be forced back into the cube of spinning knives when they try to leave. The telekinesis feat allows you to shove an enemy a short distance as a bonus action, and adds to your primary casting stat.
Phantasmal Force (second, PHB) – An incredible spell for second level. Choosing the right illusion can take an enemy out of the fight entirely, and if your illusion appears injurious, they take damage every turn too. A powerful option available only to Sorcerers is to use Twinned Spell to hit two enemies at once, and create illusions of them attacking each other.
The benefit of this, besides attacking two enemies, is that if one saves and snaps out of the illusion, it is possible that their friend is still really trying to kill them. With the right skills, you might keep the fight going after the illusion has ended entirely.
Counterspell (third, PHB) – You have as many spell slots as any other caster, but fewer choices. In an arcane duel, you can mitigate that with the veritable defensive miracle that is Counterspell, completely shutting down the opponent’s magical attack options.
You can become resistant to having the same tactic applied to you in reverse by using Sorcery Points to break higher-level spell slots into multiple lower-level slots, so that your enemy runs out of potential counter opportunities , before you run out of spells.
Added bonus: Our pick of the best D&D feats in 5E
Fireball (third, PHB) – Big damage. Big area. Simple. Again, a particularly good spell for Sorcerers because it rolls lots of dice, which makes Metamagic Empower more effective.
Greater Invisibility (fourth, PHB) – The power to be invisible, even if you’re making attacks or casting spells. Cast on yourself, it’s a supplement to the Sorcerer’s sub-par defences. Cast on a friendly Rogue, it’s a sneak attack every round. It also offers a little flexibility given that it has uses in and out of combat.
Polymorph (fourth, PHB) – A spectacular spell that can keep a low HPally in the fight by giving them a fresh pile of hits to work with (and some fancy new options), or take an enemy out of group combat until you’re ready to deal with them. It also allows access to climbing, swimming, and flying. Truly the swiss army knife of spells.
Dominate Person (fifth, PHB) – Several of the archetypes and Metamagic options we’ve looked at can give enemies disadvantage on saving throws. Getting the most out of those requires a spell that has a tremendous effect on a failed save. Killing an enemy is quite effective, but turning them into a puppet that does whatever you wish is better.
Chain Lightning (sixth, PHB) – So you like fireball, but you want to roll more damage dice, use larger damage dice, and you want to be able to hit multiple enemies engaged in melee with your friends, all without dealing friendly fire?
Chain Lightning does all of that, replacing Fireball as your bread and butter damage spell for higher levels.
Prismatic Spray (seventh, PHB) – This is often not the optimal seventh-level spell for Sorcerers, but it’s the most fun. Are you casting Scorching Ray? Planeshift? Flesh to Stone? Yes, to all of the above, and possibly no. You’ll find out when it goes off. The impossibility of optimising such an unpredictable spell very much makes this a roleplaying choice over a mechanical one, but it’s a great fit for a wild mage, and a blast to use.
Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting (eighth, XGE) – 12d8 damage is a serious punch, and lots of dice is always good for Empowered spells, but by this level you have a hundred ways of dealing damage.
Cosmopolitan: Our rundown of the D&D 5E races
What makes this spell stand out is that it’s a statement of intent: all non-magical plants in the area shrivel and die instantly as part of the casting. For when you want to be understood, and need to say ‘I intend to kill every living thing here’, Horrid Wilting is your only option.
Power Word Kill (ninth, PHB) – Mechanically, the spell is effective, though fiddly. It only works when an enemy has less than 100 HPso you have to correctly time its use. However, it offers no save, so deployed at the right moment, this spell is ‘99 damage, no save’ which outperforms any of your other damaging options.
Thematically it’s awesome. You say one word. They die. The end.
Sorcerer Builds 5E
So you’re considering building a 5E Sorcerer and would like to see a few options? You’ve come to the right place. All of these builds use a standard 27 point build, and specify the Sorcerous Origins, Metamagic, and Ability Score increase choices. Skill and spell choices are largely a matter of taste, but if something is particularly important, it’ll be highlighted.
This is a build for players who like high numbers. It’s aimed at rolling lots of dice, doing lots of damage, and feeling impactful on the battlefield. It has a strong theme that you can build a personality around.
But whether you want to be a demonic avenger out to destroy the world over perceived slights, or a hapless hero barely in control of a force much more powerful than they are, giving battle cries of ‘oops’ ‘sorry’, and ‘we’ll fix that later’ is up to you.
Race: Tiefling (Levistus)
Subclass: Draconic (Red)
Ability scores: Str 11, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 17
|3||Metamagic choices: Empowered Spell, Quickened Spell|
|4||Flames of Phelegetos feat|
|10||Metamagic Choice: Transmuted Spell|
|12||Elemental Adept (fire) feat|
|17||Metamagic choice: Heighten Spell|
Spell selection: Fire bolt, Scorching Ray, Fireball. Anything that deals fire damage.
The feats and class features work together to maximise the effectiveness of fire spells.
Whenever you cast a Fire spell, add your Cha to the damage, and reroll any ones. Plus, if your reroll lands on another one , it counts as a two, and you get a damage shield for a turn. If your enemy was resistant to fire, their resistance doesn’t count.
These bonuses appear between fourth and 12th level, though you can have them all by eighth if you delay getting your Cha to 20.
Secondary considerations include having Metamagic that will typically be useful for the most popular Fire spells, and increasing your Con.
Some players may prefer to increase Dexterity (in which case, play a Tiefling from Dis), valuing armour class over hitpoints.
Once you pass 10th level you can branch out into spells that don’t deal fire damage, because you are able to convert them to fire damage using your new Transmuted Spell Metamagic. Just in time for chain lightning.
The wild forces Sorcerer specialises in setting up dangerous, ongoing spells, and forcing enemies to move through them, over, and over, again. It’s a fun build to play if you are resolving your fights on a battle mat, and want to approach the game as a tactical puzzle.
In terms of roleplaying options, your character’s relation to wild magic offers some personality hooks: do you intentionally draw on dangerous forces knowing there will sometimes be side effects? Has an unpredictable side effect caused an important event in your character’s past, which is driving your current actions? Do you struggle to maintain an orderly mind and lifestyle to try to hold back the forces of chaos?
Race: Human (Variant, feat: Telekinesis)
Ability scores: Str 8, Dex 12, Con 11, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 17
|3||Metamagic choices: Empowered Spell, Subtle Spell|
|4||Feat: Fey Touched|
|10||Metamagic choice: Quicken Spell|
|12||Feat: Spell Sniper|
|16||Feat: War Caster|
|17||Metamagic choice: Heighten Spell|
Spell selection: Cloud of Daggers, Wall of Fire, other spells that create damaging areas. Thunderwave, Pulse Wave, other spells that push or pull enemies. Silent Image, Phantasmal Force, and other illusions that can mislead an enemy as to the location of the dangerous areas.
This build focuses on manipulating your enemies’ positioning. Telekinesis gives you access to a short distance push that only requires a bonus action, and doesn’t need a spell slot, allowing you to summon something on one enemy, and push a second enemy into it on the same turn. Spell Sniper allows you to learn a cantrip from another class. The Druid’s Thorn Whip will allow you to pull an enemy 15 feet without needing to expend a spell slot.
In principle, you could pull an enemy through a dangerous area, and then push them back into it on the same turn. But in practice, this is rarely useful, as many spells of this nature only deal damage to an enemy the first time they enter the area in a given turn. Spell sniper also lets you ignore cover you may have created between yourself and a ranged enemy.
The other choices are largely to support this playstyle. Empowered Spell boosts the damage of many key spells. Quicken Spell lets you create a danger area and quicken Thorn Whip to pull another enemy in. Wild magic provides advantage whenever you’ve set something up you really want to work. The wild magic side effects table may also provide additional opportunities to create dangerous opportunities, or move enemies.
Subtle Spell provides some flexibility. Being able to teleport when you can’t move your arms gets you out of grapples, or other obstacles that might prevent you from manoeuvring to place hazards between you and the enemy. It also allows you to create a hazard without obviously being the cause of it, which a devious player might use for assassinations, or to build consensus against an imagined threat.
The hammer Sorcerer is that rare variety of Sorcerer that isn’t particularly good at spells. Their real effort goes into hitting people with hammers, and the sorcery is less ‘world shattering power’ than it is ‘a way to hammer more effectively’. They’ve still got a fireball if the enemy happens to be particularly flammable, but most of their problem solving is more direct.
If you’ve played a Sorcerer before, and fancy trying something that plays a bit differently, the hammer Sorcerer gives the opportunity to approach the class in an unconventional way. It could also be good if your campaign setting has done some interesting world building with Dwarves, and you want to portray how that society approaches a vocation that doesn’t play to their strengths.
There are a lot of roleplaying opportunities in the hammer Sorcerer, if you’re looking for them. Why has your character chosen this unusual path? What do they think of the relationship between their society and magic? Is there something about the world, their home, or themselves that they hope to change?
Race: Dwarf (Mountain)
Subclass: Divine Soul
Ability scores: Str 17, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 14
|3||Metamagic Choices: Twin Spell, Quicken Spell|
|10||Metamagic choice: Seeking Spell|
|17||Metamagic choice: Empower Spell|
Spell selection: Booming Blade, Shield, Shield of Faith, Healing Word, Haste and other spells that make you a better fighter.
Slap on some armour, and grab a warhammer, we’re taking this Sorcerer into the melee. This build has a surprising amount of survivability, because its race gives you medium armour proficiency, and you’ll have the maximum +2 that Dexterity can add to medium armour.
Then, if anything hits us, we can use a reaction to throw out a Shield spell for another +5. If something looks dangerous, we can stack a Divine Shield spell on top for another +2. At low levels most things will need high rolls to hit us, and if they get one we can retroactively declare they needed a 20 all along.
That’s all well and good, but what can this build do to the enemy? A standard action will be to cast Booming Blade, and hit the enemy with a hammer. The hammer deals damage. Booming Blade deals damage. The enemy is pushed because of the Crusher feat. On the enemy’s turn, if it moves, Booming Blade deals damage again. If it doesn’t move, it’s out of reach now so it’s wasted its turn.
None of which uses a bonus action, or a real spell slot. So the Quicken spell allows us to access all of the power of a regular Sorcerer in addition to our hammering. Alternatively healing word is natively a bonus action to cast and doesn’t require any Sorcery Points, so that on the rare occasions something does hit its progress can be trivially negated.
If you wanted to double down on the melee Sorcerer aspect, the later Cha advances could be swapped out for more combat options. War Caster and medium armour proficiency (to obtain shield proficiency) would be good for some more continuous armour. Tavern Brawler would enable grapple as a bonus action, for enemies like archers who you’d rather not push away. In this case, you can support it with spells that deal damage to nearby enemies, such as Spirit Guardians.
When optimising builds, rules, and options it can be easy to forget that we’re talking about a roleplaying game. So, before we wrap up the guide, I’d like to leave you with a few suggestions to enhance roleplaying Sorcerers.
‘The chunk of flesh the axe blow took away animates, and crawls back up your leg and onto your neck, where it fuses with the wound, messily plugging the gap.’
That’s one way a player could say ‘I cast healing word’, and it’ll have the same effect. The target gets d4+Cha healing. But magic feels more magical if you describe it like it is. It’s important to keep it short. Combat can take long enough without a ten-minute monologue for every spell.
Outside of spellcasting, give some thought to how your character relates to their heritage. Are they delighted by it? Upset? Do they want to further the agendas of beings like the ones they’re related to? Are they trying to become more like them? Maybe they wish people would stop interpreting everything they do as a consequence of their bloodline?
Whatever you choose, find little ways to show it. If your devil blooded Sorcerer worries about becoming something terrible, flinch when another player executes an unconscious opponent.
If your dragon blooded Sorcerer is trying to become a true dragon, mime examining and polishing your money during regular conversations, and drop contractions from your speech. If your storm Sorcerer is descended from genies, try saying ‘granted’ instead of ‘okay’ when you agree to do something.
A couple of little mannerisms done against the backdrop of regular interactions can do more to make your character feel real than hogging the limelight to give a monologue about how having Tiamat for a great-great-grandmother makes you feel.
Roleplaying games are about having fun. Make a character you think is cool, and show them off in ways that are effective. Build in a way that makes combat go the way you like, whether you’re aiming for simplicity, challenge, interesting tactics, easy victories, or whatever else makes your day. If you think the world needs a gnome Sorcerer who chooses their spells based on a colour scheme, then make your beautiful rainbow explosion, and to hell with optimisation.
Whatever you do, have a great time with your new Sorcerer.