Full Sorcerer Class Guide for 5e

Born in wildspace and raised in the feywild, strange things have always happened in the presence of Daana. Once full of whimsy and childlike wonder, she now seeks to control the chaotic energy she feels flowing through her veins.

Once they escaped from the clutches of the Illithid, Aurora found that they could peer into the minds of others. Struggling to silence the voices in their mind, they seek a life of excitement and adventure… and revenge.

Copper’s parents always told him the dragon’s blood in his veins was pure, a direct line from Baphomet himself. “A child’s tale every young kobold hears,” he would always tell himself. That is, until the day a bolt of lightning leaped from his hands as he raised them in fear.

Magic flows throughout the multiverse, making its way into the fabric of every being. Some spend many years researching the ways of the arcane in order to manipulate it. Others are given divine influence as a reward for their complete devotion to a powerful deity.

There are others still who have this power thrust upon them. Strange events, ancient bloodlines, brushes with the fantastical. All of these scenarios and more can lead to the creation of a sorcerer, a powerful mage whose mystical prowess springs from within their very core.

Today, we’re going to be talking about an incredible spellcasting class — the sorcerer. We’ll be taking a deep dive into this character, looking at what makes them special, where they excel, where they come up lacking, and just how powerful they can become. 

Of course, we’ll also be providing a guide to building the perfect sorcerer for you, whether that means completely enveloping yourself in the roleplay aesthetics of the class, creating an optimized character who is unstoppable in combat, or anything in between.

So, get ready to access the power deep within yourself, and let’s dive into the 5e Sorcerer class.

Why Play a Sorcerer?

Sorcerers are an exciting character option for several reasons, and they’re all closely related to what a sorcerer is thematically. Whether we’re talking about the ability to augment spells, having renewable spell slots, or having some of the most robust subclasses there are, all of these benefits are thanks to the sorcerer’s magic coming from within them.

So, before I start selling you on everything I love about this class, I want to make it very clear what this class is. A sorcerer is someone who has had their powers thrust upon them. This is, to me, the main difference between a sorcerer and any other class in 5e.

Because of this, sorcerers end up as a class with an incredible amount of power. However, their journey is often finding out how to control this power as it manifests in new and exciting ways.

The Subclasses of Sorcerers Define Their Character

You could definitely say that this is true in one way or another for every class there is. My argument would be that most subclasses merely enhance the archetypal foundation set by the main class. Whether you’re a swashbuckler or a thief, you’re still a rogue — you’re just leaning more into certain pieces of the roguish character.

If subclasses didn’t exist, you could still play a character who was just a rogue or just a fighter. It’s a weird hypothetical, but the point is that most classes are fully defined archetypes in their own right. 

The definition of a sorcerer, on the other hand, is incredibly vague — a character who has magical abilities thrust upon them by some outside force or entity. That’s great, but you can’t really play a character that is just “a sorcerer” without explaining what that outside force is.

There’s a big reason sorcerers choose their sorcerous origins at 1st level. For starters, their origin is, quite literally, where their powers come from in the first place. Additionally, the subclasses give us so much information about what kind of character we’re playing, what playstyle goals are important to us, and how we intend to use the magic.

Class abilities are obviously still important to the sorcerer, but while there are technically multiple features, there’s really only one core concept the class itself gives you. Everything else that guides you in your character build comes from the subclasses.

All of this means that there is a lot packed into each subclass of sorcerer. Naturally, some are still better than others, but each offers enough different features and roleplay guidelines for you to know exactly what being a sorcerer means for your character.

Sorcerers Can Augment Their Spells

There aren’t any rules in 5e for creating your own spells. Often, people look to homebrew for methods of engaging with the creative side of what it means to be a spellcaster. I’m here to tell you that, before you jump into complex game design, you can start to feel like a master of the arcane by playing a sorcerer.

Metamagic is an incredible concept, and while I would love it to be as fleshed out and diverse as the warlock’s Eldritch Invocations feature, it still presents the most compelling method of customizing your spells that’s present in 5e.

Quite simply, the metamagic options that are available to sorcerers allow you to make some really incredible things happen whenever you burn a spell slot. 

Protect your allies from a Fireball, unleash a Blight upon multiple foes at the same time, or deal psychic damage with chain lightning to get around pesky resistances. Each metamagic serves a clear purpose, but how you choose to use them on different spells will have a huge impact on the kind of effects you’re able to produce.

Even wizards, who are meant to be the foremost researchers of arcane magic, haven’t figured out how to gain such control over the power they wield. 

Sorcerers Can Replenish Their Spell Slots

Sorcerers take the resource management of spellcasting to the next level. I know that to some, this is probably a reason to avoid this class, but to others, the amount of thought you’re able to put into each day of adventuring is the best selling point.

The point of sorcery points, the guiding feature of the sorcerer class, is that you can use them for metamagic. However, you can also convert them into spell slots and vice versa. 

Spellcasting always includes a bit of the resource management mini-game. Do you upcast a spell for stronger effects or conserve a higher-level spell slot for that powerful but niche spell you might need later on? Is a 2nd-level spell enough to kill this creature, or should I just dump my 3rd-level slot and finish this?

Well, a sorcerer takes this to the next level. To a sorcerer, a 4th-level spell slot is a 2nd-level spell slot with some metamagic spice thrown on top. A 1st-level slot is a quick way to make most metamagics that I could need. Instead of a couple of 2nd-level slots, I’ve got a couple of metamagic options ready to go. 

This ability to move around spell slots to be able to do precisely what you need in any situation is unlike anything available to other classes. 

Choosing the sorcerer is much less about the class itself. It really is a choice that should be made if you have a great interest in one of the subclass’s thematic and mechanical structures. Still, even before we get into subclass features, we still have an amazing spellcasting class capable of using magic in exactly the way they want and need to.

The Sorcerer’s Defining Features

If sorcerers are spellcasters with the ability to manipulate the magical energy within them, then the defining features of this class are spellcasting and font of magic. This class is able to become incredibly powerful through just the use of spell slots and sorcery points.

It’s not surprising that these features define them since there really aren’t any other features to be found. 

Spellcasting is obviously a core feature. Of the spellcasters in 5e, sorcerers get one of the most robust spell lists, second only to the wizard. This alone gives them an incredible template for customization and the ability to engage in just about any aspect of the game. 

Then, throughout the rest of the class’s progression, every feature relates back to the sorcery points you gain at 2nd level with Font of Magic.

Without Font of Magic and the introduction of sorcery points, we don’t get access to Metamagic, and it’s in this ability that I believe we see the most value for the sorcerer class. 

While you’ll only learn a maximum of four metamagic options through this class alone, you’ll be able to throw together a selection of options that allow you to lean heavily into the build you’ve created. Whether you want to consistently deal one type of damage, protect your allies from your sweeping AOE spells, or cast spells in the stealthiest way possible, you’ll have your chance to do what you need to do.

While there are technically a couple of optional features that have been introduced recently, the next main feature is your level-20 capstone, which just lets you replenish a few sorcery points on a short rest. 

Even the optional features let you mess around with sorcery points in one way or another. It all comes back to this unique resource that sorcerers have.

The Sorcerer’s Limitations

While I love the concept of sorcerers, they aren’t the best 5e class by a long shot. They certainly have a lot of things going for them, but they are overshadowed by other casters in many ways, and the concept of sorcery points is an unfortunately flawed design.

Sorcery Points Are Flawed

Let’s start by looking at the sorcery points. On the surface, it’s a really unique ability that allows sorcerers to be more flexible with their casting. I mean, there’s even a piece of the feature called Flexible Casting. The clear design intention was to let sorcerers feel like they are in complete control of their magical abilities.

However, when we look at some of the math, we see that we’re just being mucked around. 

Converting spells into sorcery points is fine enough. We’re getting back a reasonable amount of points to be able to play around with some solid metamagic options though we do have to remember that we’re losing spell slots, the core function of a spellcaster.

The flip side of this conversion is then grossly skewed. We can only make up to 5th-level spell slots with our sorcery points, and for each spell slot, it costs more than the sorcery points we’d get out of them. 

For a quick display, let’s start with a 5th-level spell slot. This is enough to get us 5 sorcery points, which is only enough to make a 3rd-level spell slot. Convert again, and we get 3 sorcery points, enough for a 1st-level spell slot and 1 sorcery point.

Two washes through the system turns a 5th-level spell slot into a slightly more powerful 1st-level spell. This is ridiculous but also obvious. Hopefully, no one is going to try to do anything more than one conversion between the two forms of resources. 

The problem is that what someone would do is transform a 5th-level spell slot into a 2nd-level spell slot with 2 sorcery points left over. In almost every scenario, it would just be better to upcast that 2nd-level spell into a 5th-level slot. 

At low levels, you don’t even have enough of either resource to be playing around. Unless you turn all your spell slots into metamagic for use on your cantrips, you’re not seeing any real value. Then, at higher levels, you’ll often be better off upcasting rather than converting for some metamagic. 

There’s no part of the sorcerer’s progression where flexible casting makes sense outside of niche scenarios, so why is it here? Well, we need sorcery points for metamagic, and it has to look like we can get back some spell slots when we need them in order to remotely stack up to the wizard.

If the conversion was one to one, this class would immediately see a huge improvement. Then, you really would be in charge of your magical potential. Instead of spell slots and sorcery points, you could just have a robust pile of sorcery points, which you’d then use for any of your magical abilities.

Sorcerers Don’t Stack Up to Other Spellcasters

The easy comparison is always going to be against the wizard, especially since other casters tend to have specific design goals beyond simply casting spells. To see just how sad the sorcerer is, let’s line them up against each other.

As of publishing this article, the sorcerer spell list has 211 spells on it while the wizard spell list has 352. In other words, sorcerers get access to less than two-thirds of the spells that wizards do.

Wizards prepare their spells from a long list of known spells that can be added to by simply encountering spells through adventuring. Sorcerers know a very limited number of spells per level, but they outpace wizards in knowing one more cantrip. Since sorcerers don’t prepare their spells, they are stuck with whatever they choose each time they gain a level.

Both classes have the same progression of spell slots. Wizards regain a number of spell slots with a combined value of half their level (rounded up) at the end of a short rest. Sorcerers can only “regain” spell slots by converting sorcery points at a poor exchange rate. 

Additionally, wizards gain access to this short-rest feature at 1st level, while sorcerers don’t get a short-rest ability until 20th level, one that nets them 4 sorcery points. If you convert this into a spell slot, you get a 2nd-level spell with some change. A wizard gets that on a short rest at 4th level. 

So, wizards get more spell slots per day, access to more spells, and can prepare themselves with the specific spells they need for different situations. Want more? Wizards also get access to ritual casting, have twice the subclasses to choose from, and can eventually cast spells for free.

A lot of these points could be made when comparing the wizard to many other classes. However, every other spellcasting class has other focuses to worry about, which puts them back on even ground. Sorcerer and wizard are the only two classes that are solely devoted to mastery of spellcasting, which means they should at the very least be an even match on one of these standards.

The Sorcerer’s Role Within the Party

There is no clear role for the sorcerer to play when we look at the class alone. As a caster, they have a decent variety of roles to pursue, mainly focusing on damage, support, control, or utility. 

While the “blank slate” nature of the sorcerer class is great for allowing subclasses to flourish, it does mean that this class, much like the wizard, can’t quite be pinned down.

I can, however, tell you which roles the sorcerer won’t be playing. While most casters can do anything from dabbling in martial combat to becoming spell-enhanced warriors, the sorcerer won’t be charging into any battles with weapons raised.

The sorcerer has the smallest hit die of any class at a meager d6. This, combined with no access to armor proficiencies, means that sorcerers are incredibly easy to kill at just about any level. They’ll have to avoid the frontlines of combat with everything they have, and even then, it’s still pretty guaranteed they’ll have a spell slot devoted to mage armor every single day that combat is a potential.

There is one place where sorcerers do clearly excel, and that is social interaction. As charisma-based spellcasters, they have the right modifiers, proficiencies, and even spells to become the face of the party. They are not alone in this though and might easily get outshined by a bard, warlock, or even paladin who focuses more on social skills.

How To Roleplay a Sorcerer

Again, we run into a situation where the roleplay is almost entirely dependent upon the subclass of sorcerer you choose to play. There definitely can be a common element of self-discovery and mastery over one’s powers, but the specifics will come into play with your sorcerous origin.

Since sorcerers have their power given to them by some outside force, their powers are either a completely new experience to them or something that has been slowly manifesting since they were born. 

Either way, the call to adventure for a sorcerer generally has a strong connection to these strange abilities. They’ll either seek to learn more about them or seek to learn more about where they’re from. 

Beyond that bit of general roleplaying advice, everything else boils down to the sorcerous origin and your own personal roleplaying design.

Black Citadel’s Ranking and Tier System

In our ongoing series of 5e class guides, we use the following color-rating scheme:

Red – C Tier. Red options can sometimes be situationally useful and might make for an interesting narrative choice, but they are largely less effective than other tiers.

Green – B Tier. A solid choice but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or it can be very good but only situationally.  

Blue – A Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective. 

Purple – S Tier. The best of the best. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way. No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are definitely worth considering when you create your characters. 

The Sorcerer Class Progression

The Basics

The very basics of any class are the hit dice, proficiencies, and equipment that they start off with. Before we jump into the actual features of the class, let’s take a brief look at what we’re working with here.

Hit Points

  • Hit Dice: 1d6 per sorcerer level
  • Hit Points at 1st Level: 6 + Con modifier
  • Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d6 (or 4) + Con modifier per sorcerer level after 1st

Sorcerers are among the “squishy” classes. A d6 hit dice is nothing to write home about and is, in fact, the lowest hit dice of any class. You’ll need a good con modifier to survive more than the lightest of hits. 

Proficiencies

Armor: None

Without armor proficiency, our AC is just 10 + our dexterity modifier. With this, we’re probably looking at an AC of just 12 or 13, which means it’s very easy to get hit. We’ll want to buff this in any way possible so that we don’t just die in the first round of combat.

For this reason, most sorcerers employ the 1st-level spell Mage Armor which lasts for 8 hours and turns your AC into 13 + your dexterity modifier, a much more reasonable protection from hits.

Weapons: Daggers, darts, slings, quarterstaffs, light crossbows

The weapons here can almost all be used with dexterity, excluding the quarterstaff. This means that you can get some reliable use out of them if you’re ever in a situation where your cantrips aren’t the best option for reliable damage.

Tools: None

Tools are not essential to being a good warlock, but if you want to dabble in some alchemy or herbal research, you can always pick something up through a background. 

Saving Throws: Constitution, Charisma

Adding our proficiency bonus to Constitution saving throws is huge, specifically because these are the same saving throws we make whenever we’re trying to maintain concentration on a spell. 

Beyond that, Constitution and Charisma saving throws are both just common saves forced by some nasty effects. Things like poison and paralysis are often linked to Constitution, while most forms of controlling and charming spells are linked to Charisma.

Skills: Choose two from Arcana, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Persuasion, and Religion.

While skills can be incredibly valuable, their importance varies from group to group. Still, the choices presented to the sorcerer class are generally useful and provide some great synergy with the rest of the build.

Equipment

You have the following options for starting equipment:

  • (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

Starting equipment is starting equipment. We shouldn’t be overanalyzing these. The biggest mechanical choice is between a light crossbow or a simple weapon, and typically a light crossbow is the better choice since you’ll want to stay away from your enemies in combat. 

The Features

Spellcasting

1st Level

Sorcerers use Charisma for their spellcasting. This means that they add their Charisma modifier and proficiency bonus to their Spell Attack rolls, and the DC for any saving throws their spells require is 8 + Cha modifier + proficiency bonus.

That might not make sense yet, so let’s go over how spells work as quickly as we can without missing anything.

There are essentially two types of spells that you’ll cast as a sorcerer.

Cantrips

Cantrips are 0th-level spells or free spells. These can be cast at any time as long as you meet their other conditions. You start off knowing four cantrips, learning a fifth at 4th level and a sixth at 10th level. 

Cantrips are incredibly reliable. Since you don’t have to expend resources to cast them, you can use them in much the same way that a martial combatant uses their weapon. The bonus here is that damage-dealing cantrips tend to scale with your sorcerer level. 

Additionally, there are plenty of non-combat-focused cantrips, allowing you to use your magical influence while exploring or engaging in a social encounter.

Spells of 1st level and higher

In order to cast a typical spell, you’ll have to expend spell slots. You have a certain amount of spell slots of various levels based on your level in this class, as is shown on the table. 

In order to cast a spell, you expend a spell slot of the appropriate level. You gain back all spell slots that you used whenever you finish a long rest.

I want to be very clear here: the levels of spells and their respective spell slots don’t directly translate to your character level. There are only nine spell levels, while you can gain 20 levels in this class, so the progression of spell levels is about half the pace of your actual class progression.

You can see the spell slots you get from each level of sorcerer in the table above. 

For example, as a level-five sorcerer, you will have access to four 1st-level spell slots, three 2nd-level spell slots, and two 3rd-level spell slots.

Next up, let’s make sure you understand the anatomy of a spell.

  • Level – The level of spell slot needed to cast this spell. Cantrip spells don’t require spell slots. Additionally, some spells can be upcast, allowing you to spend a higher-level spell slot for a more potent casting. This will be denoted by “At Higher Levels.” in the spell’s text.
  • Duration – The maximum length of a spell. Here are a few related terms you should also know.
    • Instantaneous spells happen as you cast them but do not last any longer than that.
    • Combat is assumed to last for 1 minute, meaning a spell with a duration of 1 minute is intended to last for the duration of a single combat encounter.
    • Concentration is a mechanic that requires your focus to keep a spell active. If you lose concentration, the spell ends. 

You can only focus on one concentration spell at a time, although you may cast other non-concentration spells with no penalty. If you try to cast a second concentration spell, either the first spell ends or you fail to cast the new one.

If you take damage, you will need to make a Constitution saving throw to hold concentration. The DC for this save is 10 or half the damage you took, whichever is greater. Remember that as a sorcerer, you add your proficiency bonus to these saves.

If you are incapacitated or killed, you lose concentration.

  • Casting Time – This is how long it takes to cast a spell. Most spells take an action, bonus action, or a reaction if they are intended for use in combat. Typically, this limits you to one spell per turn, but you can cast two spells on your turn if one is a bonus action and the other is a cantrip that takes an action to cast. 
  • School – This simply denotes the type of spell you’re casting.
  • Range/Area – How much of the battlefield is affected by the spell.
  • Attack/Save – Spells that affect others may require you to make an attack roll, or they may require the target(s) to make a saving throw. 
  • Components – Spells can require verbal, somatic (gestures), and/or material components. Material components that don’t have an indicated cost can be supplemented with your material pouch or arcane focus.
  • Damage/Effect – If you’re scrolling through DNDBeyond.com, you will see this helpful little guide that gives you the basics of the spell. Damaging spells often have their damage type included here, which is helpful if your subclass receives any bonuses based on the damage type dealt by a spell.
  • Spell Text – The actual text of the spell tells you everything you need to know about how it works. Some spells are complicated (and we’ve got plenty of guides to make them less so), but most are fairly straightforward once you understand the rest.

That’s how spells work! Now let’s talk about how a sorcerer uses spells. 

Sorcerers have it pretty easy. They don’t need to worry about the complexities of preparing spells. Instead, they simply have a list of known spells that they can cast. At most levels, you’ll learn a new spell and add it to your repertoire.

The spells you know have to be spells of levels that you have spell slots for. In other words, if you don’t have 5th-level spell slots, you can’t know a 5th-level spell. This makes sense since you can’t “downcast” a spell to make it weaker. 

Additionally, whenever a sorcerer gains a level in sorcerer, they can replace a spell they know with another one. This is a great way to cycle out lower-leveled spells in favor of more powerful ones or to simply try out new spells that might better fit your character.

Congratulations! You should now have a basic understanding of how to cast spells. I know it might still sound a bit confusing. There is a lot going on, but trust me, with a bit of practice and this guide as a reference, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. Plus, you’ll have your DM and any experienced players by your side at the table to lean on if you have any questions.

Font of Magic

2nd Level

Sorcerers gain a resource pool known as sorcery points. These are the core of a sorcerer’s abilities beyond simply casting spells. They are incredibly important and useful, and how they are used can make or break a sorcerer build.

You have a number of sorcery points according to your level. This starts at 2 and, quite simply, rises steadily alongside your sorcerer level. In other words, you have a number of sorcery points equal to your sorcerer level.

This feature states that you can never have more than the sorcery points dictated by your level. This is not technically true, so I’ll rephrase it. You can never have more sorcery points than your build’s features provide you. 

This needs to be specified in the first place because sorcerers can convert spell slots into sorcery points and vice versa. 

As a bonus action, you can convert a spell slot into a number of sorcery points equal to the level of the spell slot converted. 

Going back to our maximum amount of sorcery points, this means that a 2nd-level sorcerer can’t convert one of their 1st-level spell slots into sorcery points before they’ve at least expended one sorcery point. Otherwise, they would end up with 3 sorcery points in their pool, which is off-limits.

This is further complicated if a sorcerer gains sorcery points from another source (we’ll cover this in feats). Put simply, add these extraneous points to your maximum to create a new limit.

All expended sorcery points are replenished at the end of a long rest. 

If all this weren’t enough, a sorcerer can convert sorcery points into spell slots, although this process is a bit more complex than its converse. The table below shows how to apply this conversion, and yes, the highest spell slot you can create with sorcery points is 5th level.

Putting all of this together, we have a pool of points that can create spell slots or that can be created with spell slots. This might seem superfluous, but it matters later on when you’d rather cast several low-level spells in place of a higher-level spell or vice versa. For a sorcerer, designated spell slots are more of a suggestion than anything else.

Additionally, sorcery points appear in many abilities across the sorcerer main class and its subclasses. In fact, the very next feature we’re going to look at is probably the main use of most sorcery points.

Metamagic

3rd Level

Metamagic is a method of augmenting the spells that a sorcerer can cast. At 3rd level, sorcerers learn two of the metamagic options listed below. You gain a third at 10th level and a fourth at 17th level.

Each option below clearly states how many sorcery points need to be expended on it. Additionally, you can only use one metamagic option when you cast a spell 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.
  • 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, a spell must be incapable of targeting more than one creature at the spell’s current level. For example, Magic Missile and Scorching Ray aren’t eligible, but Ray of Frost and Chromatic Orb are.

These options all have an incredible amount of utility and can be the decisive factor for many builds. Naturally, we go more into each of these options in the subclasses where they can serve the most benefit. We also discuss these in their own dedicated article Metamagic in 5e.

Sorcerous Versatility (Optional)

Any level in this class that grants an ASI

Whenever you have the ability to take an ASI, you can also do one of the following:

  • Replace one of your metamagic options with another metamagic option available to you.
  • Replace a cantrip you’ve learned from this class’s spellcasting feature with another sorcerer cantrip.

These optional choices are great to customize your character as they develop. Certain cantrips or metamagic options might be more useful to you in the earlier levels, but you may want to replace them with stronger options later.

A good example of this is the Heightened Spell metamagic option, which costs a whopping 3 sorcery points. At lower levels, this just isn’t practical, but once you have a plethora of points and spell slots, you may be more inclined to use it, choosing to replace a cheaper option you already know.

Magical Guidance (Optional)

5th Level

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.

This is a great option if you really need to pass a skill check or something of that nature. Be careful not to over-rely on it though as you may find yourself quickly running out of sorcery points.

Sorcerous Restoration

20th Level

You regain 4 expended sorcery points whenever you finish a short rest.

When you consider that this is really just a fifth of your sorcery points or one-fourth level spell slot, this capstone pales in comparison to those offered by other classes. 

If it came earlier, it might be a bit more enticing, but the reality is that most 20th-level sorcerers won’t even notice this. Capstones should be something that indicates mastery over a character’s abilities, and this just isn’t that.

Creating a Sorcerer Step by Step

Now that you understand the ins and outs of the sorcerer class, we can start putting together the perfect build for you. In the sections below, I’ll be laying out all the choices you can make and highlighting options that work best for the sorcerer, whether that be thematically or mechanically.

A quick reminder: all the suggestions I’m about to make are just that — suggestions. I’m not claiming to outline the right way to build a sorcerer; I’m merely outlining some selections that I think fit best. At the end of the day, your decisions are up to you, and that’s how you end up with a unique character build just for you.

Ability Scores

Choosing ability scores is probably one of the most important things in a game of D&D. After all, in a game where rolling dice decides your fate, any way you can change those rolls is going to be a lifesaver.

So, for a sorcerer, we start by putting our highest score in Charisma, and then we’ll want to worry about Dexterity and Constitution next so that we don’t die the first time someone targets us with an attack. 

Beyond that, your Ability Score decisions really come down to roleplay preference, but we’ll discuss those impacts below.

  • Primary: Charisma
  • Tier II: Constitution, Dexterity
  • Tier III: Wisdom
  • Dump Tier: Strength, Intelligence

Strength: Unless you plan on making a strange sorcerer/barbarian multiclass, don’t drop points into Strength. This is your dump stat, and that’s okay.

Dexterity: While we won’t be using Dexterity for many attack rolls, its impact on our AC can’t be taken lightly. As a squishy class, it’s important to protect ourselves in any way possible.

Constitution: Having a high constitution means more hit points to buffer the short stretch of time between entering combat and getting knocked unconscious. It also gives us a better chance at holding concentration on our spells — something that should also prevent us from reaching the dreaded 0 HP.

Intelligence: Intelligence really isn’t necessary for a sorcerer. The best it will do is help you on rare INT saving throws you might need to make, which isn’t enough to muck up an entire build-over.

Wisdom: Wisdom falls into a similar boat as intelligence, but at the very least, it can impact your ability to make insight checks — something that is definitely valuable to the face of a party.

Charisma: Charisma is what fuels our spells, so naturally it should be the top focus when we’re choosing our Ability Scores. It will also help us in social interaction — something that you’ll quickly realize is a common occurrence for sorcerers.

Races

Choosing a race is all about picking up cool traits and abilities that make you better at what you want to do. For us, that means we’re looking to get any spells we can get our hands on. Additionally, we’ll want to make sure we pick a race that gives us boosts in the right Ability Scores.

Custom Lineages and 5.5e

It’s worth noting that, if you like the aesthetics and roleplaying elements of a particular race but their abilities don’t fit a fighter, you can recreate them using the custom lineage options available in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Also, the way that D&D 5e handles races and innate bonuses (or penalties) is set to change pretty dramatically over the next few years with the coming “Next Evolution of D&D” looking like it might do away with inherent Ability Score bonuses altogether, meaning you can play whichever race you want in whatever class and still have it be “optimal.” 

Half-Elf

Half-elves get the perfect sorcerer bonuses: a +2 to Charisma and a +1 in two other ability scores of our choice. We’ll definitely be choosing Dexterity and Constitution and then moving forward to see what other abilities we can muster.

Half-elves have advantage on saving throws against being charmed and can’t be put to sleep by magic. Charms are typically rather nasty, so protecting ourselves from those, especially as a squishy caster, means surviving longer.

We can receive two skill proficiencies from the Skill Versatility racial feature, or we can forgo that if we want to choose a half-elf variant. Variant half-elves receive a beneficial feature related to the specific type of elf parent they have.

The best variant for us is the Drow heritage to get our hands on Dancing Lights, Faerie Fire, and Darkness (all cast with Charisma).

Half-drow is excellent because they use Charisma as their spellcasting ability, and they give us access to Dancing Lights, Faerie Fire, and Darkness, with Dancing Lights being a cantrip and the other two being once-a-day spells.

Tiefling

Tieflings fit well into the concept of a sorcerer because they already have some form of bloodline-induced powers. Since there are a few tiefling bloodlines that get a +2 in Charisma and all of them get a set of racial spells cast with Charisma, this match goes beyond just design as you’re reinforcing the sorcerer’s class abilities.

These are the best tiefling bloodlines for a sorcerer (the ability bonus is in addition to the +2 in Charisma):

  • Dispater – +1 Dex. Thaumaturgy cantrip, Disguise Self and Detect Thoughts once a day.
  • Glasya – +1 Dex. Minor Illusion cantrip, Disguise Self and Invisibility once a day.
  • Levistus – 1 Con. Ray of Frost cantrip, Armor of Agathys and Darkness once a day.

Aasimar

Aasimar are on this list for the same reason as tieflings. They are a race born of dormant celestial influence, something bound to be the source of more than one type of power. The VGtM version gives us a +2 to Charisma and a +1 to another ability based on variant, while the MotM version provides us with the custom Ability Score increase, which is the wave of the future. 

In either version, you’ll get a choice from multiple types of unique Aasimar features that can be chosen based on your sorcerous origin’s design goals.

Skills and Languages

The importance of language is extremely varied and depends mostly on what kind of game your DM plans on running. In some situations, you may need to put some focus on which languages you acquire, but in most, languages just don’t matter. 

Skills are mostly similar to this, but there are some skill proficiencies, like perception and stealth, that are pretty ubiquitous. Still, the amount of usage most skills get is typically going to depend on your DM. There are some times when a player can ask to use a skill, but even then, it’s at the DM’s discretion.

I’m not saying any of this to discourage you. Rather, I’m including this huge disclaimer so you know to have a discussion with your DM before jumping into a game. Understanding the importance that will be placed on these proficiencies lets you know how much effort to expend into selecting the “right ones” for your character.

With that, let’s look at the skills offered by the sorcerer class and discuss which ones can be most often utilized. When you take this class, you choose two skill proficiencies from Arcana, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Persuasion, and Religion.

Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion all point to one very clear thing — the sorcerer is meant to be the face of the party. With the high Charisma you’ll need for spellcasting, it makes sense that you’d choose some Charisma-based skills, and these are all fine options. While you don’t need more than one, you can certainly double up on these social skills for added variety.

Insight is a less-clear social skill since it isn’t Charisma based. Still, understanding people’s motivations is incredibly useful, and this makes a great secondary skill to pair with one of the face skills above.

Lastly, Arcana and Religion are both skills that have to do with uncovering secrets with past knowledge. These essentially give you a better understanding of all things magical or divine and so can be incredibly useful in all sorts of exploration. If this is something you’re interested in, grab these skills up, but know that they don’t directly synergize with the rest of your character’s build.

Backgrounds 

Choosing a background is an interesting endeavor. While I could suggest a group of backgrounds with good class synergy, I have to be very clear that backgrounds are much more based in roleplay value. 

There are some mechanical benefits to choosing specific backgrounds. Skill proficiencies, tool proficiencies, and languages can all have a large influence on social and environmental encounters. Most of the time though, when we’re talking about optimization, we focus on combat.

Typically, you can get everything you need in the form of non-combat proficiencies through your class anyway, so whatever your background gives you is just a bonus.

That being said, backgrounds are an incredibly fun way to delve further into your roleplay. Since sorcerers are often born with their magical abilities, there aren’t really any guidelines provided either. It’s not like you’re a cleric who should have typically come from some sort of religious background.

To wrap up all of this, choose whatever background you want. When you do so, consider your roleplay goals for the character you’re building, and make sure they line up as best as possible.

Feats

In order to customize your sorcerer beyond simply what you can get out of using different metamagic on different spells, you can incorporate feats into your build. Feats are optional abilities that you can take in place of an ASI (Ability Score increase) at 4th level, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th levels.

Out of those five, you’ll want to take at least a couple as ASIs and use them to increase your Charisma, Constitution, or any other scores that you want to improve. 

Once you’ve decided which ability scores you need a boost in and when, you’re free to grab up some feats for a more balanced or optimized build. Below is a list of some of the best feats for the sorcerer class.

Metamagic Adept

Unfortunately, this is one of the best feats for a sorcerer. Meant as a way for other classes to get access to the sorcerer’s unique abilities, this feature gives a character 2 sorcery points and has them learn two metamagic options. 

For most classes, this is a nice bonus. For a sorcerer, this gives you access to 50% more metamagic options than you’d normally get by 17th level and a nice bonus of sorcery points on top of it.

In fact, the little bit of sorcery points, since you’ll probably take this as soon as possible, is going to net you far more sorcery points throughout a campaign than the dismal capstone ability ever would.

Spell Sniper

Spell sniper keeps in the spirit of the sorcerer, modifying ranged spells in some great ways. 

  • Double the range of ranged spells that require attack rolls. This stacks with distant spells nicely for a sorcerer who can stay far away from their enemies.
  • Ranged spell attacks ignore half and three-quarters cover — helpful for just about every attack spell there is.
  • Learn one attack roll cantrip from bard, sorcerer, or warlock (since they also use charisma). This is an excellent way to diversify your… Who am I kidding? This is a great way to grab Eldritch Blast and realize that you probably should’ve been playing a warlock this whole time.

Durable

This feature is almost necessary if we don’t want to be rerolling our character at higher levels. This lets us regain no less than twice our Con modifier whenever we roll hit dice. Since our hit dice is only a d6, we won’t have to roll. Our modifier should definitely be 3 by the time we pick this up, and we can guarantee ourselves a solid amount of HP.

Tough

This feature gives us two extra hit points when we take it and then an additional hit point every level from that point out. It makes it a compelling 4th-level feat if we aren’t already itching for more sorcery points. 

Multiclassing Sorcerers

Normally, this is where I mention how you can take a few levels of other classes to reinforce and better customize your build. While that’s definitely an option, the better choice is to focus your build on another class and use the sorcerer as a way to bolster their abilities.

For other Charisma casters, the sorcerer presents an easy way to get a few more spell slots or some modified magic. While it falls short as a full class, it makes a great feat in Metamagic Adept and can work well with a 2-3 level dip outside of another class.

Keep in mind that this is also going to provide you with the basic subclass abilities of a sorcerous origin. That means any Charisma caster can drop 3 levels into sorcerer for 4 cantrips, 3 sorcery points, 2 metamagic options, and 1 unique feature that may very well help their build.

Or, you could take 6 levels of sorcerer (using the 4th level ASI for Metamagic Adept) and get 5 cantrips, 8 sorcery points, 4 metamagic options, and 2 unique features. Since most subclasses see their capstone by 14th level, this is a very real option to consider that won’t see you missing out on the normal goals of your subclass.

Sorcerer Subclasses

Aberrant Mind

Psychic abilities and spells are the foundation of this character’s design. This allows for a focus on control, both on and off the battlefield, and for a tendency toward psychic damage — a not commonly resisted damage type.

This subclass introduces a feature that allows you to cast specific spells by spending a number of sorcery points equal to the spell’s level. Since this remedies the sorcerer’s biggest problem for some of your most important spells, this is a remarkable subclass.

Clockwork Soul

This sorcerer, who might as well be a cleric of Primus, is made to fill the support role. Its features allow you to ward creatures from damage, negate the effects of advantage and disadvantage, and more, all focused on keeping your allies safe and “restoring order.”

Draconic Bloodline

Draconic sorcerers are much more durable than their peers and are among the few sorcerers who won’t have to devote a known spell to Mage Armor. They also deal more damage according to their draconic ancestry, so transmuting spells can be incredibly useful.

While this is a great subclass, it does little to provide the sorcerer with a clear focus or goal. Normally, you’d expect the opposite of that to be doubling down on the main class’s abilities, but instead, we just get a few abilities that feel mechanically random, even if they share thematic elements.

Divine Soul

Would you like to play a cleric but don’t want all the features that support a cleric’s healing role in the party? Try out the divine soul, which allows you to play a cleric sorcerer with your choice of party role. 

This subclass gives sorcerers access to the entire cleric spell list, along with some features that tie the two class concepts together in an excellent way without making this feel like a forced multiclass.

Shadow Magic

My favorite subclass of sorcerer, the shadow sorcerer gives you an incredibly clear focus. Create darkness around you and hide within it, becoming the ultimate stealth caster. Shroud your enemies in the black of night, set your shadow hound on them, and unleash powerful spells.

All of the subclass features are amazing: see in magical darkness, teleport through areas of darkness, transform yourself into a semi-invulnerable shade, create the ultimate bloodhound, and even avoid death. This absolutely A+ subclass makes the sorcerer worth playing.

Storm Sorcery

If you want to focus solely on dishing out damage with a small bit of battlefield control, this is the subclass for you. Use lightning and thunder damage to decimate your opponents with AOE effects that range from dishing out some nice damage to sending creatures flying. Oh, and fly yourself around at an early level just for casting 1st-level spells.

Wild Magic

The wild magic sorcerer is a very strange case. It introduces some incredible fun into the sorcerer class since its entire concept is built around a d100 table and the ability for strange things to occur.

For some, this is motivation enough to play a sorcerer. The chaos is inviting, and players who think this way will have a blast. For others, this will make the sorcerer so incredibly confusing that it will turn you off from attempting any of the more clearly outlined subclasses.

Sorcerer Quickstart Guides

Typically, we would include a few quickstart guides here that outline some basic decisions like race, subclass, feats, and Ability Scores. However, since the sorcerer does not present a clear focus on its own design goals, I strongly suggest jumping to one of our subclass guides.

There, you’ll not only find more precise decision-making principles, but you’ll also find build guides that are clear in their purpose. If I were to drop those here, I worry you might skip out on one of those and jump blindly into a campaign with the character template I provide. 

Instead, I’ll use this space to remind you that while the sorcerer class itself is deeply flawed, there are subclasses that can give you a character well worth playing. While most classes provide about 70% of the direction for a build, the sorcerer only gives about 40%. The majority of what makes or breaks a sorcerer’s ability to be powerful and impactful in a campaign is the subclass.

Closing Remarks

The sorcerer class is an incredibly exciting concept that, unfortunately, didn’t seem to get the design attention it needs in order to stand up to the standard set by other 5e casters. While there is a lot of potential in a character who can bend magic to their whim, it doesn’t quite matter if we can’t keep up with our allies.

However, this doesn’t make the sorcerer a bad class. It may not be the most popular, but that’s likely because it’s easy to judge a class on class abilities alone. We’re taught by 5e to expect powerful main class features that are supported and modified by the subclass. 

Instead, the sorcerer flips the script, providing a lackluster main class that is actually meant to be a conduit for whatever the subclasses intend to do. This strange approach works to an extent. 

If a player enjoys the design of a subclass with strong features and internal synergy, then we see the sorcerer as an excellent class. If a player isn’t interested though, or if the subclass features aren’t enough to make the build’s goal clear, then we’re left with a disappointing experience.

So, at the end of the day, the sorcerer is an extremely variable class. It can’t be judged on its own, which means all I can really say is: “check out some of our subclass guides.” I’ll see you there, and as always, happy adventuring.