Divination Wizard 5e Guide

Published on November 11, 2022, Last modified on November 22nd, 2022

Experts in seeing into the future, School of Divination Wizards use their abilities to manipulate the battlefield. In our Divination Wizard 5e build guide, we’ll be covering the pros and cons of each of their abilities, the best races that fit the build, which spells to choose, and everything else needed to build your Divination Wizard.

Arcane Eye may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn more.

What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the School of Divination Wizard subclass. For a full overview of the wizard class, check out our wizard 5e Guide.

For our full class guides, we use the following color rating scheme:

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange Situationally good, but a below-average option otherwise
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

For our subclass guides, we focus mainly on the Blue and Sky Blue options, because the other options are discussed in the parent guide or other subclass guides. We also discuss options that normally would be good for a typical build, but underperform when used in a subclass.

Did you know?

D&D Beyond can help create your characters by making choices using a step-by-step approach. Full customization and control of your character, none of the flipping through hundreds of pages to reference obscure rules.

What is the Divination Wizard in 5e?

The School of Divination focuses on seeing into the future, revealing the unseen, and viewing far off people and places. Divination wizards channel these abilities to manipulate fate and influence battles in their favor. While they may not have the raw fire power as an Evocation Wizard, a Divination Wizards subtle touch can be even more effective when it comes to dismantling opponents.

The School of Divination Wizard is presented alongside the other wizard subclasses that focus on the eight schools of magic in the Player’s Handbook.

Strengths

While it may not seem like it from the limited spells in the divination school, Divination Wizards are among the most powerful wizard subclasses. This is due in major part thanks to the Portent ability, which allows wizards to store the results of their “portent rolls” for later use when a ability check, saving throw, or attack is made by any creature they can see.

On top of this extremely powerful ability, Divination Wizards get the benefits of having an extremely strong base class in the wizard, and all the benefits that come along with it.

Weaknesses

Divination Wizards are some of the biggest glass cannons in the game. While other wizard subclasses, like Bladesingers, Evocation Wizards, and War Magic Wizards, may get some form of defensive capability, Divination Wizards are left high and dry apart from their two portent rolls.

Another downside of focusing on the School of Divination is the spell list is one of the smallest and weakest available. This can leave few choices for the Divination Wizard’s Expert Divination and Divination Savant, but luckily doesn’t impact their most potent ability, Portent.

Best Races for Divination Wizards 5e

As with most wizards, INT is the biggest priority. Beyond that, DEX can be useful to boost your AC and CON is useful for hit points and concentration checks.

In a race, you’re looking for synergistic ASIs (which can be mitigated if you’re using the Customize Your Origin optional rule from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything) and racial features that compliment the wizard playstyle. Because Divination wizards will likely have access to a ridiculous amount of spells as it, races that provide access to more spells are secondary, unless they provide access to strong spells otherwise unavailable to wizards.

While Divination Wizards get access to a free use of darkvision at 10th level, it’s not enough to exclude races that provide the ability. Going without Darkvision for the first half of the campaign just to save overlapping racial and subclass features isn’t worth it for something as important as Darkvision.

Below are some races we recommend for Divination wizards. Keep in mind that we exclude setting-exclusive races like the ones found in Eberron: Rising from the Last War.

Standard Races

Dragonborn:

  • Gem: A limited flight feature and some damage resistances are excellent abilities for a wizard. Being able to use your breath weapon prof. times per long rest helps clear out enemies if they come to close and bolster your options at lower levels.

Elf:

  • Eladrin: You get the benefits of being an elf (Darkvision, proficiency in Perception, and advantage against being charmed) but a free casting of misty step once a day, with a rider effect.

Gnome: The classic wizard race, especially if you're not using Tasha's rules for creating characters. The +2 to INT is an amazing starting place and both the Rock and Forest subraces provide small mechanical benefits. If you are playing with Tasha's character creation rules and can find a +2 INT bonus elsewhere, the gnomes racial features start begin to look weak compared to other options out there.

Halfling: Normally, halflings wouldn't make effective wizards. But, especially if you're using Tasha's character creation rules, having access to the Bountiful Luck trait is not only extremely powerful combined with Portent, but it's also very thematic.

Human:

  • Variant: With the addition of Fey Touched and Shadow Touched in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, wizards love a 1st-level choice of a feat.

Non-Standard Races

Aarakocra:

  • Aarakocra: Free, 1st-level flight is an amazing resource to stay out of enemy range while in combat.

Bugbear:

  • Updated: Bugbear wizards can now take INT, and the new Surprise Attack can be very effective with spell attacks that deliver multiple hits. You can get scorching ray at 2nd-level, which allows you to make three ranged spell attacks for 2d6 damage. With Surprise Attack, these now do 4d6 damage each bringing you up to 12d6 damage as early as level 2.

Fairy: Free, concentration-less flight, a couple interesting spells, and the fairy's Small size should hold no disadvantages for a spellcaster like the Divination Wizard. Because this race has implemented the new system of character creation, you can choose your preferred ASIs, likely +2 INT, +1 CON or DEX.

Genasi:

  • Fire: Darkvision and resistance to one of the most common damage types already make a good base for Divination wizards. Some of the spells you gain, however, aren't well suited. Produce flame is pretty useless when you have firebolt and flame blade is only for melee casters. Burning hands is an undoubtedly great pickup, however.

Tortle: Not particularly exciting, but a base AC of 17 is a solid choice to help with survivability.

Vedalken: 2 INT is just about all you need for your average wizard build. Vedalken Dispassion helps when fighting other spellcasters, and Tireless Protection offers you the chance to get some skill or tool proficiencies you may not normally have access to.

Yuan-ti Pureblood: A couple extra spells and +1 INT are nice , but the real reason you're choosing a yuan-ti is the Magic Resistance ability, which gives you advantage against all spell attacks. The resistance is poison damage isn't bad either, as it's quite a common damage type.

Best Backgrounds for Divination Wizard

As most backgrounds are setting specific, we’ll cover a couple setting-agnostic backgrounds that can provide some value to your Divination Wizard build.

Criminal/Spy: Great way to get Stealth and Deception, two important proficiencies you normally wouldn’t as a wizard.

Urchin: Great way to get Stealth and Sleight of Hand, two important proficiencies you normally wouldn’t as a wizard.

Sage: Probably the most thematic background, you also get 2 INT-based skill proficiencies that will go along nicely with your maxed INT.

NobleThe free proficiency in Persuasion can help offset your wizards dumped CHA.

Divination Wizard 5e Ability Scores

You receive Ability Score Increases at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.

The biggest priority is INT, as that’s what effects your spellcasting modifier and how many spells you can prepare. Next, you’ll want to pump CON to help mitigate your low hit die. Finally, DEX will boost your AC, help with Stealth, and improve your DEX saving throws.

STR: You want no part in STR.

DEX: Pump this after you’ve got your CON to a respectable level.

CON: Important for not only staying alive but also for maintaining concentration on our spells.

INT: Your first stat to pump. Get this as high as possible in character creation and use your ASIs to get this to 20 ASAP.

WIS: Beyond Perception, there’s nothing here for our Divination Wizard.

CHA: Dump, your wizard doesn’t need to be likeable.

Divination Wizard 5e Class Progression

1st Level

Hit Dice: d6 hit dice, which is the lowest one out there.

Saves: INT and WIS don’t come up often, especially at low levels.

Proficiencies: No armor proficiencies which hurts your dismal survivability. Fairly weak weapons proficiencies as well, but that won’t matter much.

Skills: All INT-based skills, which doesn’t allow for a well-rounded wizard. Try to pick up some social or DEX skills via your race or background.

Spellcasting: See our Wizard 5e Guide.

Arcane Recovery: See our Wizard 5e Guide.

Additional Wizard Spells: See our Wizard 5e Guide.

2nd Level

Arcane Tradition: School of Divination

Divination Savant: Unless your DM has a particular focus on allowing spells to be found and therefore copied, the school of magic’s Savant features rarely come up. Unfortunately, as divination spells are the least common school, this is even less likely to come up than other the other wizard’s subclass features.

Portent: Easily the most powerful wizard subclass feature and is in the running for the most powerful subclass feature across fifth edition. It’s hard to overstate just how powerful being able to decide automatically change the result of two rolls per day. Regardless if your Portent rolls are high are low, they’re extraordinarily useful. If you roll low, you can replace an enemy’s roll to guarantee and failure and if it’s high, replace an allies’.

This feature is so compelling that the Divination Wizard has become a regular dip for power gamers seeking an extremely powerful feature for such a low investment into the class.

3rd Level

Cantrip Formulas: See our Wizard 5e Guide.

6th Level

Expert Divination: This is an extremely efficient use of spell slots, but it is certainly limited due to the relative lack of divination spells and even moreso due to most divination spell’s situational nature. That said, at 9th level, before heading into a dungeon, you could cast telepathic bond so your party can communicate telepathically and get back a 4th-level spell slot. Then, cast arcane eye for scouting out ahead and get back a 2nd-level spell slot to cast borrowed knowledge for a proficiency in Stealth or Perception. Resulting in multiple potent buffs and an additional 1st-level spell slot for the cost of one 5th-level spell slot.

10th Level

The Third Eye: Darkvision, seeing into the ethereal plane, reading any language, and seeing invisible creatures are all situational abilities that can be recreated with the use of spells. But, when you can choose between any of them for the cost of an action, it’s essentially like getting a free casting of a see invisibility, darkvision, and comprehend languages rolled into one.

14th Level

Greater Portent: The only way to make Portent more busted is to get more uses. Now you can store 3 Portent rolls, allowing for even greater mastery over the outcome of rolls.

18th Level

Spell Mastery: Because Expert Divination only works when you cast a spell with a spell slot it’s likely not worth picking up a divination spell for the 2nd-level spell here. Stick to shield or silvery barbs as your 1st-level spell and misty step as your second level.

20th Level

Signature Spells: Same thing rings true as with Spell Mastery. Lucky for you, there aren’t that many worthwhile 3rd-level divination spells.

Best Spells for Divination Wizards 5e

We cover the best spells for wizards in our wizard guide so, in this section, we’ll discuss some spells that only apply specifically to Divination Wizards.

The most important things to remember when considering spells for Divination Wizards are:

  • Portent can be used on enemy saving throws and spell attacks, so single target, high power spells like finger of death and disintegrate become even more effective in a Divination Wizard’s arsenal.
  • Using Expert Divination to its fullest can provide tons of value if you use it effectively. Stocking utility, non-concentration divination spells can result in effective chaining of abilities and free spell slots.
  • The Third Eye provides free castings of see invisibility, darkvision, and comprehend languages, so you may not need to stock these spells after 10th level

Cantrip

  • True Strike: Your only divination option as a cantrip, but it's not effected by any of your subclass features and still isn't worth casting.

Cantrip

  • Silvery Barbs: Already an overpowered spell, silvery barbs in the hands of a Divination Wizard is just plain cruel while also being thematic. By "looking into the future," you can use this spell to make enemies roll with disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws, while also giving advantage to your party members. Then, if the enemy still succeeds or your party member still fails, you can Portent their result anyways. Also, with Expert Divination, you'll likely have an abundance of opportunity to generate 1st-level spell slots efficiently when you start running low.

2nd level

  • Borrowed Knowledge: As this can stack with Expert Divination and doesn't require concentration, it's an effective buff for any situation you may find yourself entering. Effective for stealthing, social, and investigative scenarios.
  • Detect Thoughts: Becomes slightly more effective when used with Expert Divination. Detect thoughts is a spell useful in a wide variety of situations, so getting a 1st-level spell slot back when you cast it makes it all the better.
  • Mind Spike: Your only damage option while staying within the divination school. This can be beneficial because it qualifies for Expert Divination. So, if you're starting to run out of spell slots and want to milk out efficient casting, you can use this to gain a 1st-level spell slot.
  • See Invisibility: You can see both invisible creatures and into the Ethereal Plane (albeit, not at the same time) with The Third Eye, so make sure to not bother preparing this spell past 10th level.

3rd level

  • Tongues: You can see read any language when you get The Third Eye at 10th level, so make sure get around preparing this spell if you're able to get whatever creature you're trying to understand to simply write down what they're hoping to communicate. This may not be useful in high tension scenarios, but it can likely reduce the need to stock the spell.

4th level

  • Arcane Eye: An effective scouting tool that's made even better by the fact you get a 3rd-level spell back when you cast it thanks to Expert Divination.

5th level

  • Telepathic Bond: The efficiency of getting a 4th-level spell slot back after casting this makes it a lot more likely to be used in situations where you can't ritually cast it. Can be effective when entering a dungeon, before going into combat, or when in social situations.

9th level

  • Foresight: This is already an amazing buff, but getting a 5th-level spell slot back after casting thanks to Expert Divination makes it all the sweeter.

Best Feats for Divination Wizards 5e

  • Bountiful Luck: If you want to maximize your effect on your ally's rolls, Bountiful Luck can help your party reroll when they most need it. This feat is reserved for halflings, which aren't ideal candidates for Divination Wizards, but the theme of effecting other's luck by "seeing into the future" is something that's too cool not to mention.
  • Fey Touched: Misty step is always worth having and getting access to another 1st-level spell on top of an ASI to INT make this an ideal choice, especially if you've ended character creation with an odd INT modifier. If you're looking to grab a non-wizard spell to boost your already huge spell list, bless, dissonant whisperor hideous laughter are likely your best bets. Seeing as 1st-level spells aren't effected by any Divination Wizard abilities, there's no need to specifically choose from a divination spell, unless you want to be thematic.
  • Eldritch Adept: Great option to pick up Armor of Shadows for free mage armor or Mask of Many Faces of a free disguise self whenever you want it.
  • Lucky: Wizards may not make the best use of Lucky as they don't make nearly as many attacks as martials, but having Lucky on a Divination Wizard allows you to save your Portent rolls to effect enemies and ally's outcomes, rather than focusing on your own. Be warned, Divination Wizards that take Lucky are known to meet a horrible fate at the hands of their DMs.
  • Magic Initiate: If you want to lean hard into the divination theme, Magic Initiate allows you to pick up guidance, which can help you effect outcomes arm-in-arm with Portent.
  • Metamagic Adept: Wizards can benefit a lot from some Metamagic. Combining Extended Spell with Expert Divination can make some of your long-lasting divination spells even more efficient, Quickened Spell to cast a full action spell as a bonus action can help with action economy, and Subtle Spell can help you get around counterspell.
  • Shadow Touched: Invisibility is a great spell for casters that need to get out of dodge. Unfortunately, there aren't as many options for a 1st-level spell that's not already on the wizards spell list. The best option is inflict wounds, which is nearly unusable for wizards as it's a melee spell attack. Your best options here are probably cause feardisguise self, or false life.
  • War Caster: Wizards are glass cannon spellcasters that don’t have any CON bonuses. War Caster will help when your squishy wizard inevitably gets attacked but isn’t a necessity.

Divination Wizard 5e Build Example

For our Divination wizard, we’re going to lean extremely hard into the theme of a creature that can predict the future and shape the battlefield around their party. We’ll choose a stout halfling to get some survivability and adjust the racial ability scores to +2 our INT and +1 CON. This will give us the halfling’s Lucky trait off the bat and open up Bountiful Luck in the future.

From there, we’re keeping our eye out for  4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th levels to boost our INT and pick up some more fate-manipulating feats. By 12th level, we’ll have Portent, the halfling’s Lucky ability, the Lucky feat, Bountiful Luck, guidance, and bless. This means we can:

  • Predict the outcome of 2 rolls with Portent
  • Reroll 1’s with the halfling’s Lucky
  • Make allies within 30ft to reroll 1’s with Bountiful Luck
  • Reroll 3 attack rolls, ability checks, or saving throws, including attacks against you with the Lucky feat
  • Add a d4 to any ability check with guidance
  • Add a d4 to 3 of our allies attack rolls and saving throws with bless
  • Cause enemies who succeed on an ability check, saving throw, or attack roll to roll with disadvantage and give advantage to allies with silvery barbs.

I want to note that this build is meant as an exercise to show just how insane Divination Wizards can get. Most tables will be okay if you choose a couple options listed below, but choosing all of the options can make DMs extremely frustrated. I’d caution against playing this build as is unless you’re specifically playing a high-power campaign with other min-maxers and a DM that knows how to handle these types of builds.

 

1st level
  • Race: Stout Halfing
  • Background: Sage
  • Ability Scores (Point Buy): STR 8 (-1) DEX 13 (+1) CON 16 (+3) INT 17 (+3) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 10 (+0)
  • Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Insight, History, Perception
  • Equipment: dagger, component pouch, explorer's pack, spellbook, a bottle of black ink, a quill, a small knige, a set of common clothes, pouch with 10gp
  • Spellcasting
  • Arcane Recovery
2nd level
  • Arcane Tradition: School of Divination
  • Divination Savant
  • Portent
3rd level
  • Cantrip Formulas
4th level
  • Feat: Lucky
6th level
  • Expert Divination
8th level
  • Feat: Bountiful Luck
10th level
  • Expert Divination
12th level
  • Feat: Magic Initiate (cleric)
    • Add cantrips: guidance, resistance
    • Add spells: bless
14th level
  • Greater Portent
16th level
  • Feat: Fey Touched
    • +1 INT (INT 18)
    • Add spells: misty stepdissonant whispers
18th level
  • Spell Mastery: silvery barbs and misty step
19th level
  • Ability Score Increase: +2 INT (INT 20)
20th level
  • Signature Spells: fireball and hypnotic pattern

Other Wizard Subclass Guides

Sources Used in This Guide

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Use the buttons below to fine tune the content you see in our guides.