Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Wild Magic Sorcerer
In a world brimming with powerful magic, every living creature, every stone, and everything real or imagined has magical energy flowing through it in some way. Throughout the multiverse, most magic is tamed, but not all magic allows itself to be subdued. Sometimes, we end up with arcane energy too chaotic to fit our simplistic mortal view.
Long ago, a powerful goddess created the Weave, a flowing current to control all magic in the multiverse, but it is not foolproof. Areas of powerful magic can hold too much raw energy to be contained or reasoned with. When that energy escapes, truly anything can happen next.
This isn’t a story about learning to control the untamable though. No, this is a guide to a class that embraces the chaos that fuels all creation, a unique type of sorcerer gifted with the ability to tap into wild magic.
What Is a Wild Magic Sorcerer?
Wild magic sorcerers are beings infused with pure, raw arcane energy. It gives them their strength and allows them to conjure up mighty spells, but make no mistake, they do not control the wild magic. Instead, their connection to this unstable energy source can result in any number of extraordinary events occurring whenever they call upon it.
In this article, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at this subclass, reviewing how it functions and how to play the best wild magic sorcerer you can. Races, feats, spells, metamagic, feats, multiclass, and more. Everything you might consider when making a wild magic build is included here.
- Pure chaos
- Advantage on most of your rolls (maybe)
- … More chaos
Wild magic sorcerers are defined by their ability to tap into wild magic. At first level, they gain access to the Wild Magic Surge Table. Whenever you cast a roll, your DM can have you roll a d20. If you roll a 1, you have to roll a d100 on the table, causing one of 50 effects that range from awful to weird to amazing.
So yeah, the whole focus of this class is chaos. Before I can really talk about any other abilities of this class, I have to take a minute to talk about this table. So let’s jump right into the meat and potatoes of the wild magic sorcerer and peek at their most defining ability.
Wild Magic Surge
Hey! Good to see you again. I’m so sorry; I know that’s a big table. Trust me though, that’s really where the excitement lies. This d100 table has 50 results, and some of them are really cool, but whether that means they’re good or bad for you is a completely different story.
Of these effects, there are 21 good options, 18 are mundane or have varying effects, and the remaining 12 are generally pretty bad for you. This is a really good split, meaning you only have around a 20% chance of something bad actually happening.
Most often though, you’ll be ending up with a good or weird effect. I don’t know about you, but I really like those odds. Sure, it’s a gamble every time you roll a wild magic surge, but it’s a gamble where the cards, or dice, have really been stacked in your favor.
If you’re not new to the D&D community, you’ve probably heard the horror stories about a level-1 wild magic sorcerer completely wiping their entire party with a poorly timed random fireball (07-08).
This can happen, but the odds are so incredibly low. I mean, that’s 2% of the table on a 5% chance that you even have to roll the table. That’s a .1% chance, or 1 in 1,000 odds, of destroying your party with a ball of flames, and that’s dependent on them all being in the area of the spell.
Can this table give some horribly timed results? Yes. Can this table result in the perfect thing happening? Yes. Is it more likely that the result won’t have a large impact? Yes.
You know what? As far as I’m concerned, that’s exactly how this subclass is supposed to work. More than anything, when I rate a subclass, I consider delivery on the intent. If the intent is for a sorcerer with uncontrollable power that is supposed to result in weird events, this definitely is the perfect way to do it.
All that being said, this table isn’t “perfect.” Everybody is going to have their own taste, and that’s why I strongly encourage DMs or players, any enthusiasts really, to make their own tables that are as weird, tame, dangerous, or exhilarating as they want them to be.
You can check out our custom wild magic table in our dedicated wild magic article. Harry and I put some serious work into making surge effects that feel impactful and strange all at the same time. We also introduced level scaling, where the intensity of options is dependent on what level of spell you’re casting.
If you are enjoying the concept of wild magic sorcerers so far or wild magic in general, it’s an article that I think you’ll really dig. Hopefully, it can even inspire you to get into some game design yourself.
Class-Defining Abilities Continued
Now that you have a grasp on what wild magic does and how impactful it really is, let’s keep moving through the chaos and learn how good this class really can be.
The raw energy these sorcerers possess affects their abilities in more subtle ways as well. The other 1st-level ability you get is called Tides of Chaos, and it gives you advantage on one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. After you use it, you have to take a long rest before using it again. Or do you?
Actually, it’s a bit more nuanced than it seems at first. Your DM can force you to roll on the Wild Magic Surge table immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher, allowing you to regain the use of the feature for the cost of a random event.
This is huge, because you can essentially have advantage on every single roll you make, just as long as you and your DM are willing to let this class use its main feature, wild magic.
I hopefully don’t have to tell you how impactful advantage is. Rolling two d20 and taking the higher roll means success is, on average, about 30% more likely.
Beyond that, wild magic sorcerers get an ability called Bend Luck, which is… well, pretty much garbage. It lets you spend two sorcery points to add or subtract a d4 from another creature’s attack roll, ability check, or saving throw.
This is essentially a boosted version of the Guidance cantrip for two of your sorcery points, arguably the most valuable resource to sorcerers. On rare occasions, this can really make a difference, but it’s just so uncertain with such a small impact for such a high cost, that it’s essentially worthless.
The last thing to really happen for this class is super useful: the ability to control your wild magic surge, sort of. At 14th level, instead of getting a randomly rolled surge effect, you instead roll twice and take the option you prefer. This is similar to advantage, except there’s no guarantee that one of the options is going to actually be good.
Still, having any level of control over your wild magic is great, and if it means getting a beard of feathers instead of burning your allies to a crisp, you’ll be grateful you had a choice.
- Pure chaos… again
- Table opinions
- DM’s discretion
Unsurprisingly, this is a subclass that is limited by what it does best. I don’t mean that in a quirky “My worst trait is that I’m a perfectionist,” kind of way either. I mean that sometimes, chaos at the table just isn’t as fun as it sounds on paper.
I’ve run you through the odds, but odds are just an optimal way of looking at real events. In reality, I’ve seen people roll critical fails four times in a row when trying to take down the big bad. Rolling dice comes down to luck, and all the good odds in the world can’t save you from bad luck.
Also, the wild magic surge table is extremely chaotic and not in a way that’s necessarily good. There’s a reason that everyone and their cousin has made a wild magic surge table for their group. I mean, it’s basically a rite of passage when learning 5e at this point.
Some of the options are great and perfectly on brand. Unfortunately, there’s just such a lack of options that feel truly impactful. Hell, I’ll settle for just some weird options. I get it; flumphs showing up for a minute is supposed to be incredibly strange, but it ends up just being a throw-away gag.
The problem comes down to scaling. The good options range from okay to pretty good in the right scenario, the mundane options are often just silly, and the bad options are often pretty devastating. There’s nothing that’s weird and nothing that changes the game enough to feel like you’re tapping into a wellspring of untamable, unstable, and powerful magical energy.
This means that the community is pretty polarized on this subclass as a whole. Some people love it, some people hate it, and others, myself included, think it just needs some tweaking to become an absolute S-tier class.
That being said, all of these judgements really come from a place of interest in the optimization and effectiveness of 5e builds. What this doesn’t consider is how much fun this subclass can be. If the whole table embraces the chaos and enjoys the table you’re using, then you’re going to have a blast, and you’ll probably have some incredibly memorable events occur.
Of course, that brings us to our next limitation. With most characters, if someone doesn’t like how a certain subclass works, they just don’t have to play it themselves. When it comes to the wild magic sorcerer, it’s hard to be at the table with one if you hate how their abilities work.
Some people just hate the chaos, or they fear being blasted to smithereens by their ally because their friend wanted to play the “Random Dancing Sorcerer.” At an empathetic table, that means a conversation and some sort of compromising solution. At some tables, it can create a serious divide.
This is a conundrum, and it means that you should talk to your fellow players to gauge their interest before fully committing to this character. It may seem weird, and it is, but that’s the best way to make sure no one storms away from the table if their character accidentally goes boom in the heat of the moment.
The last limitation is the biggest, and it comes down to how most of this subclass’s features are worded. Both your regular wild magic surge and the recharge of your tides of chaos advantage are 100% tied to your DM’s decision-making.
I understand why this was done. In certain scenarios, it just isn’t appropriate or good storytelling to allow wild magic surges to go off. Sometimes you just need a cutscene that doesn’t have a possibility of ending with something insane.
However, this puts extra responsibility on the DM. It also means that DMs can exert a little too much control. I mean, a vengeful DM could literally make it so you never roll on the surge table once. Seriously, they could never make you roll after spells and never let you recharge your tides of chaos.
Do you know what that leaves this subclass with? A mediocre ability that costs two sorcery points to activate and advantage once a day. That’s not a subclass, that’s someone bumping the table when some dice get rolled.
I feel the need to address this next bit to DMs. If you don’t want your players to have wild magic, don’t let them take this subclass. It’s just that easy. Don’t let them take a subclass and then never, or even rarely, receive the rewards that it can bring them.
You know what else? You can totally change the ruling here for so many pieces of this subclass. Don’t believe me? Here are some options that don’t break the class or the game:
- Have the wild magic surge table go off when you roll equal to or below the spell slot used to cast a spell.
- Attach tides of chaos to the character’s proficiency modifier.
- Roll your own dice behind the screen to decide if they have a wild magic surge, and just don’t roll when it could really mess things up.
- Make a new table or find one online. (Seriously, check ours out.)
- Create a veto rule where every player at the table (yourself included) gets one chance per session to say, “No, they don’t roll a wild magic surge.”
It’s not hard to let your players have fun or to set boundaries and ban certain subclasses.
So yeah, this subclass has some limitations, but they all come down to your playgroup’s style and attitude on chaos. This is a perfect opportunity to have a real discussion in Session Zero and come up with a playstyle that works for everyone.
Black Citadel’s Ranking and Tier System
Color and Tier ranking is very helpful when you’re trying to digest a lot of information. 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. Solid but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or Green can be very good but only in very specific situations.
- Blue – A Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective.
- Purple – S Tier. The top of our rankings. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way. No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are worth strongly considering when you create your character.
Our goal here is to provide scannable but comprehensive guides for you as you develop your character.
While we might sometimes make reference to unofficial or homebrew content to illustrate a point (or just because it’s too cool not to talk about), every option we suggest is legal in the official rules for D&D 5e as published by Wizards of the Coast.
Choosing a class and subclass is fun, but deciding on your race is when your character really starts to come together. Culture, features, ability scores, and overall aesthetic are all tied to this crucial bit of the build process, so naturally, we’re going to help you find the right race for you.
However, I have to include a bit of a disclaimer now. Since the beginning of 5e, races have come with Ability Score bonuses that are so important to ending up with an optimized build. Most races were chosen on this little bit of stat increase since a +2 or +1 in the right areas can make all the difference.
Things have been changing recently though, and now every new race is coming with custom Ability Score bonuses. This means that you get to decide where you want the +2 and +1 (or three +1s), and the result is that just about any new race is a viable option for an optimized character.
Of course, there are still actual features to consider. A martial class doesn’t really need cantrips, and a caster doesn’t often need extra weapon proficiencies, and so on.
In this section, we’ll be focusing mainly on the traditional races with set ability bonuses, but we’ll also be looking at the features that synergize with the wild magic subclass. The options presented are our top choices overall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play other races for interesting builds or to create the story you want to tell.
+2 Charisma, +1 to two other ability scores of your choice. Sort of a precursor to custom ability bonuses, the half-elf has exactly what a charisma caster is looking for. You’ll likely want to put the +1s in dexterity and constitution to improve your AC and HP respectively, but you can go for other options if you want to shake things up or multiclass.
Additionally, you get Skill Versatility for an extra two proficiencies of your choice and Fey Ancestry, which gives you advantage on saving throws against being charmed and prevents magic from putting you to sleep.
The SCaG (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide) does offer up some variants with the dark elf heritage being the best choice. It offers you Dancing Lights (cantrip), Faerie Fire (1st-level spell, once per long rest), and Darkness (2nd-level spell, once per long rest), all of which are cast using Charisma.
+2 Charisma, +1 other ability score (bloodline dependent). There are a bunch of tiefling variants, so you don’t have to be stuck with the +1 intelligence that is given to you in the PHB. Each offers a unique list of spells, and most of these are going to be great for a sorcerer.
Specifically, Dispater, Glasya, and Levistus are the best, since they’ll give you a bonus in dexterity or constitution. As for the spells, wild magic sorcerers can really go in any direction, so pick whatever floats your boat.
The celestial offspring make a lot of sense as characters that might have wild magic running through their veins, and even their features, being quite volatile themselves, seem to back this up.
There are three variants with different bonuses, but all have a +2 charisma. Alternatively, you could go with the MotM version for custom ability scores and end up with basically the same thing.
My top choice is the scourge aasimar or radiant consumption if you’re looking at the MotM version. Their special ability is a burst of searing energy, perfectly themed for this subclass specifically.
We tend to choose these based on our highest stats, but choosing a different route based on how you want to roleplay totally works, especially since adding your proficiency bonus to an off-brand skill might compensate for a less-than-desirable ability modifier.
The sorcerer class is given the ability to choose two skills from Arcana, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Persuasion, and Religion.
- Arcana (INT) – Your intelligence shouldn’t be good enough for you to rely on this skill. Also, the basic premise of most wild magic sorcerers is a lack of understanding when it comes to the arcane.
- Deception (CHA) – Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion are all amazing for social interactions, and your impressive charisma modifier will only help to back this up. You could pick two of these or just one, but which ones you decide will depend on what kind of character you want to play.
- Insight (WIS) – Understanding someone’s intentions is always helpful and might be the perfect check to make before you use one of your charisma skills. This is definitely a scenario where we want the proficiency to counteract a less-than-great modifier.
- Intimidation (CHA) – See above.
- Persuasion (CHA) – See above.
- Religion (INT) – With bad intelligence and a character who probably isn’t focused on religion whatsoever, there’s no great point in taking proficiency for this seldom-used skill.
When we look for a background, we want to find some skills that synergize well with our ability scores, but that’s not all. We also want something that can tie our character’s actual story together.
When did they realize they could tap into wild magic? Were they born with these traits or did they gain them when exposed to some sort of powerful magic?
Beyond any of that, backgrounds ground our characters in the world around us. It gives our character’s a life outside of swinging swords and slinging spells.
With most subclasses, there are a few backgrounds that stick out as great options. For a wild magic sorcerer though? I really think that just about anything could do the trick. The pure chaos alive within this class means that you aren’t really beholden to any standards. I mean, the basis of the lore is that anyone could end up with these powers.
Wild Magic Sorcerer Progression
Features that you automatically obtain through the Sorcerer class will appear in Yellow and features that you gain through the Wild Magic subclass will appear in Gray.
Filling Out the Character Sheet (Level 0)
- 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
- Armor: None
- Weapons: Daggers, darts, slings, quarterstaffs, light crossbows
- Tools: None
- 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
Spellcasting is the main source of a sorcerer’s power. They use charisma as their spellcasting ability, so your Spell Save DC is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier, and your Spell Attack modifier is your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.
Sorcerers know a certain level of spells dependent on their level, which is shown in the table above. Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can choose one sorcerer spell you know and replace it with another, provided it is of a level for which you have spell slots.
You also know a number of cantrips dependent on your level, but you can only replace them when you would gain an ASI if you are using the Sorcerous Versatility optional feature.
Wild Magic Surge:
Once per turn, the DM can have you roll a d20 immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher. On a 1, you must then roll on the Wild Magic Surge table to create a magical effect.
Spells cast via wild magic surge cannot be influenced by metamagic. Additionally, if the spell would normally require concentration, it doesn’t, and it instead lasts the full duration.
Tides of Chaos:
You may gain advantage on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. Once you do, you must finish a long rest before using this feature again.
Alternatively, the DM can have you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher (disregarding the normal d20 roll) in order to regain the use of this feature early.
Font of Magic:
You gain access to sorcery points and have a maximum number of points equal to your level. You regain all sorcery points on a long rest.
Sorcery points can also be converted into spell slots and vice versa. Turning a spell slot into sorcery points is easy: you gain a number of points equal to the converted slots level. In order to convert sorcery points into spell slots, see the table below.
Sorcerers can use their sorcery points to augment their spells through the use of metamagic. You learn two metamagic options at 3rd level and another at 10th and 17th level. You may only use one metamagic option on a spell when you cast it unless otherwise noted.
- Careful Spell: Use 1 sorcery point to protect a number of creatures up to your Charisma modifier to automatically succeed on a saving throw from a spell you cast.
- Distant Spell: Use 1 sorcery point to double the range of a spell with a range of 5 feet or greater, or change range from touch to 30 feet.
- Empowered Spell: Use 1 sorcery point to reroll a number of damage die up to your Charisma modifier. This ability can stack on other metamagic abilities.
- Extended Spell: Use 1 sorcery point to double the time of a spell (starting spell length minimum 1 minute; maximum of 12 hours)
- Heightened Spell: Use 3 sorcery points to impose disadvantage on one target for a spell you cast that requires a saving throw.
- Quickened Spell: Use 2 sorcery points to reduce a spell’s casting time from action to bonus action.
- Seeking Spell: Use 2 sorcery points to reroll a missed spell attack roll.
- Subtle Spell: Use 1 sorcery point to cast a spell without somatic or verbal components.
- Transmuted Spell: Use 1 sorcery point to change the damage type of a spell to acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, or thunder.
- Twinned Spell: Use a number of sorcery points equal to a spell’s level to target a second creature. The spell must only be capable of targeting one creature that is not self at the level you are casting it.
Learn more about these options and their effectiveness in our metamagic article.
You can either increase one ability by 2 points or two abilities by 1. Alternatively, you can choose a feat to gain; if you already have great stats this is a great choice.
Sorcerous Versatility (Optional):
Whenever you would receive an ASI from the sorcerer class, you can choose to replace a metamagic option you know with another from the list or to replace a sorcerer cantrip you know with another from the sorcerer’s spell list.
Magical Guidance (Optional):
You can use 1 sorcery point to reroll a d20 when you fail an ability check.
As a reaction, you can spend 2 sorcery points to add or subtract a d4 from another creature’s attack roll, ability check, or saving throw.
Whenever you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table, you can roll twice and use either number.
When you roll damage for a spell and roll the highest number on any of the spell’s dice, choose one of the dice, roll it again, and add that to the total damage. You can only use this once per turn.
You regain 4 expended sorcery points whenever you finish a short rest.
Feats can be an excellent way to round out a build. Some use them to bolster their main features, and others use them to cover their build’s weaknesses. No matter how you use feats, they can be exciting and useful additions for sure.
Wild magic sorcerers are, at their core, chaotic spellcasters with a penchant for good luck. Adding some more dice manipulation can make them feel more in control, and of course, we can always pick up feats that bolster our spellcasting in general.
Metamagic Adept – This is normally meant to give other casters the abilities of a sorcerer, but it’s a great way to gain a couple of extra sorcery points and learn a couple more metamagic options.
Fey Touched – This feat can give you some teleportation that you don’t need wild magic surge to access, as well as a boost to your charisma and some divination or enchantment spells to add to your roster.
Lucky – Use luck points to reroll attack rolls, ability checks, or saving throws. You can also use them to influence another creature’s attack roll against you.
Wild Magic Sorcerer Builds
For the following example build, we’ve used the standard set of scores provided in the PHB (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) when deciding ability scores.
Typically, we would suggest spells, ASIs, and more options that compliment a character’s build goals. However, seeing as a wild magic sorcerer can lean into quite literally any build they want to, it doesn’t make sense to point out specific spells.
Sure, Magic Missile is a great cantrip all around, but if you’re trying to make close-range wild magic, that wouldn’t be the best offensive option. The same could be said for just about any spell, feat, or metamagic that I could recommend.
So instead, I’ve just dropped the basic character information, and then I’ll discuss some build options to explore rather than laying out one very specific build.
- Race: Half-Elf
- Background: Far Traveler
- Ability Scores: STR 8, DEX 14, CON 16, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 16
- Skill Proficiencies: Persuasion, Intimidation, Insight, Perception, Stealth, Deception
- Language Proficiencies: Elf, Common
- Tool Proficiencies: Musical Instrument
Equipment: One set of traveler’s clothes, any one musical instrument or gaming set you are proficient with, poorly wrought maps from your homeland that depict where you are in Faerûn, a small piece of jewelry worth 10gp in the style of your homeland’s craftsmanship, a pouch containing 5gp, a light crossbow with 20 bolts, an arcane focus, an explorer’s pack, and two daggers.
Since our features don’t favor any specific spell schools, ranges, or combat styles even, we get to become a sort of jack-of-all-trades. We can really let loose and grab up any spells that interest us, or we can pick up a variety of spells that are all incredibly effective in their own fields.
My personal pick is to make a wild magic sorcerer whose spells seem just as random and chaotic as the table they roll on. Choosing Friends, Magic Missile, Minor Illusion, and Mold Earth gives us a wide variety of ways to interact with the world around us before we ever have to burn a spell slot.
In that selection, we have social, combat, miscellaneous, and exploration. What we’re attempting to do here is cover all our bases while also giving no clear direction from the outside looking in.
We can do the same thing with spells, but we’re a bit more limited by how many spells we can actually know. Having damage-dealing spells is always good, and when it comes to 1st level, I suggest picking a good damage-dealer and then something that excites you.
Chaos Bolt is a great 1st-level spell for wild magic sorcerers since you never know what damage you’re going to end up dishing out. That can almost give us a bit of a theme if we want to see how many dice we can roll in a session. There are a lot of spells with tables inside of them, and we can certainly pick up as many of those as we would like.
For theming, we could even create tables in spells like Chromatic Orb that allow us to choose from a number of options. We have the opportunity to really make our sorcerer feel like someone at the will of their magic rather than the other way around.
Here are some of the various on-brand spells:
- Chaos Bolt 1st-level
- Chromatic Orb 1st-level: Use a d6 to turn the damage types into a table
- Enhanced Ability 2nd-level: Roll a d6 and give an ally an uncertain boost to an ability score (or use it as intended and actually be helpful).
- Enlarge/Reduce 2nd-level: Flip a coin!
- Major Image 3rd-level: Create a table of creatures, objects, and people to make illusions of.
- Confusion 4th-level: Already has a table.
- Polymorph 4th-level: Create a table of beasts to turn people into!
- And more! Just be a bit creative, and a lot of spells can have added chaos.
Embrace the chaos my friends, and as always, happy adventuring.
- About Author
- Latest Posts
As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.