The DnD 5e Sorcerer Guide

Published on June 4, 2020, Last modified on October 4th, 2021

In this post, we will be examining the Sorcerer’s Class Features and how you can optimize your Sorcerer through choosing your Race, Ability Score, Spells, Feats, etc.

What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the DnD 5e Sorcerer. For a quick overview on the Sorcerer Class, see our breakdown of the DnD 5e Classes.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your Sorcerer. This color-coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange is an OK option
  • 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

So if you’re ready, thank your father for marrying a dragon and giving you crazy, magical powers.

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.

D&D 5e Sorcerer Overview

Level Proficiency Bonus Sorcery Points Features Cantrips Known Spells Known —Spell Slots per Spell Level—
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +2 Spellcasting, Sorcerous Origin 4 2 2
2nd +2 2 Font of Magic 4 3 3
3rd +2 3 Metamagic 4 4 4 2
4th +2 4 Ability Score Improvement 5 5 4 3
5th +3 5 5 6 4 3 2
6th +3 6 Sorcerous Origin feature 5 7 4 3 3
7th +3 7 5 8 4 3 3 1
8th +3 8 Ability Score Improvement 5 9 4 3 3 2
9th +4 9 5 10 4 3 3 3 1
10th +4 10 Metamagic 6 11 4 3 3 3 2
11th +4 11 6 12 4 3 3 3 2 1
12th +4 12 Ability Score Improvement 6 12 4 3 3 3 2 1
13th +5 13 6 13 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
14th +5 14 Sorcerous Origin feature 6 13 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
15th +5 15 6 14 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
16th +5 16 Ability Score Improvement 6 14 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
17th +6 17 Metamagic 6 15 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1
18th +6 18 Sorcerous Origin feature 6 15 4 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1
19th +6 19 Ability Score Improvement 6 15 4 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
20th +6 20 Sorcerous Restoration 6 15 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1

Playstyle

Sorcerers are different from Wizards in that their magic comes from innate magical talent passed down through their bloodline rather than studying the arcane arts.

Sorcerers have a relatively short spell list, fewer spells they can learn when leveling up, and fewer spell slots when compared to Wizards. This is made up for by their versatility in spellcasting using the Metamagic ability. This ability allows Sorcerers to do things like duplicate spells, weave spells around friendlies, or recover used spell slots.

If you can look at the Sorcerer spell list, find ten spells that you are happy casting all day, every day, and aren’t going to constantly regret not having a dozen other spells available, then the Sorcerer will be a great choice.

Strengths

Sorcerers are full casters and are constantly compared to Wizards because both classes are entirely focused on spellcasting. The way they differ from the Wizard is a somewhat restricted spell list, the Fonts of Magic/Metamagic class features, and differently formulated subclasses.

The Sorcerer’s main class feature revolves around unique resources called Sorcery Points. Sorcery Points allow them to manipulate their spellcasting in unique ways, making their already practical spellcasting even more effective.

Much like Wizards, Sorcerers have access to all of the best damage dealing spells. This, combined with the Sorcerer’s Metamagic, allows them to go “nova” and deal out massive amounts of damage in a single burst.

Weaknesses

As mentioned above, Sorcerers have a restricted spell list compared to Wizards. Much like Druids, they learn spells as they level up and cannot learn any more until the next level up. This means that Sorcerers won’t have the utility that some other casters do, but the decrease in variety is certainly made up for in the buff to sheer damage and utility Sorcerer Points can provide.

As with other full casters, Sorcerers are susceptible to melee damage as they have low AC and hit points. They also have to manage their resources more effectively than melee classes. If your party is having a particularly bad day with no time for a Long Rest, Sorcerers can run out of spell slots and Sorcery Points quite easily, meaning they will have to rely on weaker, non-limited spells called cantrips.

Before You Start

Standard Races

Sorcerers rely on a high CHA score to be at their maximum effectiveness. They also don’t get a huge pool of spells to learn, so any races that can provide additional spells will put Sorcerers at an automatic advantage.

Dragonborn: The STR boost will be wasted but the CHA is what you are looking for. Shame the CHA bonus is only +1 or else this class would be an amazing choice. A damage resistance and Breath Weapon is a good bonus.

Dwarf: No CHA is tough and the Sorcerer won’t be tanking any time soon. Additional hitpoints are always helpful.

  • Hill: A bonus to WIS can occasionally help with Wisdom saves, but additional hitpoints aren’t useful.
  • Mountain: STR on a Sorcerer? Get outta here. Medium Armor proficiency just isn’t worth it.

Elf: Elves get a DEX bonus which can somewhat help the miserable AC of a Sorcerer.

  • Drow ElfNice CHA bonus but sunlight sensitivity is not a fun time.
  • High Elf: High Elves get an INT boost and a free cantrip of your choice. Sorcerers get plenty of cantrips and the INT bonus isn’t useful.
  • Wood Elf: Again, a WIS bonus doesn’t help much and the increased walking speed is easily made irrelevant by spells.

Gnome: An Ability Score increase of 2 in INT isn’t going to help.

  • Forest: Nothing for a sorcerer
  • Rock: Nothing for a sorcerer

Half-Elf: The +2 CHA, ASI, and skill versatility make this is one of the better races for the Sorcerer class. 

Half-Orc: STR and CON bonuses, let’s move on.

Halfling: The DEX bonus again marginally helps with AC problems and the Lucky trait is always nice to have, though it won’t be as effective when you are forcing monsters to make saves.

  • Lightfoot: CHA is nice and Naturally Stealthy helps, but there are better options.
  • Stout: Let your beefy party members worry about CON. 

Human: Humans are always decent.

  • Vanilla: A middle of the road pick because they increase all their ability scores by 1.
  • Variant: Getting bonus CHA plus a proficiency and a feat at first level is typically really good. Feats aren’t great for Sorcerers which makes this choice a bit less appealing.

Tiefling: Tieflings get a boost to CHA, fire resistance,  a free cantrip, and free spells at higher levels. They are a great class for Sorcerers.

Non-Standard Races

Aarakocra: The only beneficial thing here is flight.
Aasimar: Any of the subraces will work for Sorcerers. Fallen and Protector are the best for sure.
Changelings: +2 CHA is the best stat boost for a pure CHA caster, and the free ability score increase can be used on either DEX or CON depending on your needs. Since they have access to so many spells, a Sorcerer could use Shapechanger in combination with a whole host of Illusion spells to make a pretty sly character.

Half-Elf

  • Mark of Storm: Certainly a tempting subrace because it offers a number of spells while keeping with a solid ability mod bonus.
Kalashtar: Because the Kalashtar’s racial traits are so good, having only +1 to CHA is acceptable.
Simic Hybrids: CHA is your only reasonable option for the flexible ability score. Carapace is a good choice for the squishier caster classes.
Tabaxi: DEX makes the class less squishy and CHA is the most important ability score for Sorcerers. The rest of the racial traits are very movement-focused, with some solid proficiencies thrown in.

Tiefling:

  • Bloodline of Asmodeus: Good spell list but the ASI to INT will likely go to waste.
  • Bloodline of Dispater: DEX is a good ASI to help AC, stealth, etc. and the spell list is alright.
  • Bloodline of Glasya: DEX ASI and some great spells.
  • Bloodline of Levistus: CON ASIs are always welcome as they mean more HP. The spells are solid as well.
Tritons: CON and CHA are really the only two ability scores that Sorcerers need to worry about outside of a little bit of DEX. Control Air and Water gives you a few more spells to play with.
Warforged: Most Sorcerers don’t want to be taking too many hits, but the increased durability will be nice to have on many occasions. They also only really care about CHA so the free ASI choice is obvious. You will need to do some mental gymnastics on making this work in terms of roleplay, though. The way Sorcerers gain their power is through bloodlines and references souls, so your Warforged may need to come to terms with existential dilemmas.
Yuan-ti Purebloods: Yuan-ti Purebloods have everything a Sorcerer could want: +2 to CHA, innate spells, and some fantastic defensive traits to keep you alive.

Ability Scores

Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.

Sorcerers need CHA. They have a miserable hit dice so CON is a good secondary pick.

STR: No use beefing out your Sorcerer.

DEX: Early AC can help survivability, but there are better options.

CON: More hitpoints and better CON saves make the Sorcerer less squishy and less likely to lose concentration on spells.

INT: Who needs INT when you’re naturally gifted?

WIS: Can help with WIS saves and Perception.

CHA: Your spellcasting modifier and great for face skills.

Sorcerer Class Progression

1st Level

Hit Points: Sorcerers have a measly d6 hit dice. You can somewhat mitigate this by increasing CON since you only need to worry about CHA as your main stat.

Saves: A proficiency in CON saving throws is awesome for casters because they are used for Concentration checks. CHA saves are much less common but can keep you from being banished at later levels.

Proficiencies: No armor proficiencies and the weapon choice is barely worth mentioning. But you weren’t really hoping to swing a greatsword with your Sorcerer, were you?

SkillsUnfortunately the Sorcerer only gets to pick two skills.

  • Arcana (INT): You will probably be the party member who is relied on for Arcana checks, and great flavor too.
  • Deception (CHA): Very solid social skill that meshes with your stacked CHA.
  • Insight (INT): Insight is a solid skill but it doesn’t do well with your dropped INT.
  • Intimidation (CHA): Usually the least useful social skill. Can be mitigated by your proficiency in either Deception or Persuasion.
  • Persuasion (CHA): Another great social skill. Depending on your build, you will likely either choose this or Deception.
  • Religion (INT): Not as crucial as Arcana for an INT based skill.

Spellcasting: If you want to cast spells you’ve come to the right place. Sorcerers are a full caster. Unfortunately, they don’t get to learn as many spells as most of the other caster classes.

Sorcerous Origins: At 1st-level Sorcerers get to choose their Sorcerous Origins. All of these options have their merits and playstyle.

Aberrant Mind

  • 1st Level
    • Psionic Spells: This spell list focuses on battlefield control, psychic damage, and telepathic communication. TCoE also allows you to switch any of these spells out for any divination or enchantment spells from the Warlock, Wizard, or Sorcerer class. The biggest thing to take away from this feature is that it gets your Sorcerer access to 10 more spells, which is a massive increase from the typical 15 spell limit of 20th-level Sorcerers.
      • Cantrips
        • Mind Sliver: INT saves aren’t common proficiencies and psychic damage isn’t a common resistance. Sure, the damage isn’t as appealing as something like firebolt, but the d4 reduction from the next saving throw is effective in lower tiers of play.
      • 1st
        • Arms of Hadar: Decent AoE with a short-range that will allow you to escape a group of enemies if they fail their save. This is a spell you don’t want to have to use.
        • Dissonant Whispers: One of the best 1st-level spells in the game. If you can cause an opportunity attack with this it becomes extremely powerful.
      • 3rd
        • Calm Emotions: The fact that this spell has two different use cases makes it decent, even if those events may not come up too often. Enemies often have effects that charm or frighten in an area of effect, so being able to suppress those effects also in an area of your choosing could save your whole party. When used on enemies, you can make them non-hostile for a whole minute, giving you enough time to escape. The main issue with this spell is the concentration and the relatively small radius.
        • Detect Thoughts: Useful spell for interrogations, or to determine if there are any hidden creatures near your location.
      • 5th
        • Hunger of Hadar: Decent crowd control option, solid damage if you can keep baddies in there or cast it at a choke point. It has been confirmed by Jeremy Crawford that the Devil’s Sight Invocation cannot see into the spell’s area.
        • Sending: Solid communication spell for at least one party member to have.
      • 7th
        • Evard’s Black Tentacles: Crowd control that grants the Restrained condition and continuous damage depending on if you can keep enemies in the area.
        • Summon Aberration: Great summon option with a good amount of versatility. The Beholderkin provides flight and ranged attacks, Slaad can tank and has decent melee damage, and Star Spawn provides psychic damage and AoE.
      • 9th
        • Rary’s Telepathic Bond: This can be helpful when the party gets into a tricky circumstance and needs to be able to discuss amongst themselves without “table talking”.
        • Telekinesis: This is a great spell to have perpetually stocked. Toss enemies around the battlefield or crush your enemies with a giant rock.
    • Telepathic Speech: Essentially free Sending as long as the creature is within 3oft. This will end up being helpful, but it won’t have a massive impact.
  • 6th Level
    • Psionic Sorcery: This will allow you to get a lot more mileage out of your sorcerery points than converting them to spell slots with Font of Magic. An added bonus is that it allows you to cast without verbal, somatic, and material components (as long as the components are expended) which is a better version of the Subtle Spell metamagic.
    • Psychic Defenses: Resistance to a relatively common damage type and advantage on saving throws against two common conditions.
  • 14th Level
    • Revelation in Flesh: This feature provides a ton of utility. Being able to see invisible creatures, fly, swim, breathe underwater, and get out of restraints for the equivalent of a 1st-level spell AND as a bonus action can get a lot of mileage.
  • 18th Level
    • Warping Implosion: 120ft teleportation with a 30ft AoE effect from the space you left may seem awesome, and it definitely can be, but the issue is that this could easily get shut down if you have party members within 30ft that you don’t want to target. If you can pull this off, it can easily set up massive AoE attacks with the Quickened Spell metamagic.

Clockwork Soul

  • 1st Level
    • Clockwork Magic: This spell list focuses on buff and healing spells. TCoE also allows you to switch any of these spells out for any abjuration or transmutation spells from the Warlock, Wizard, or Sorcerer class. The biggest thing to take away from this feature is that it gets your Sorcerer access to 10 more spells, which is a massive increase from the typical 15 spell limit of 20th-level Sorcerers.
      • 1st
        • Alarm: Situational, could be used when taking long rests or protecting a guarded area.
        • Protection from Evil and Good: You love to see this spell in any party, especially when you get it for free. The creature types this affects are very common so this spell will likely be useful in your campaign.
      • 3rd
        • Aid: Proactive healing rather than reactive healing and at a higher, guaranteed rate than Cure Wounds. 5 hit points can make a huge difference in keeping the party alive, and the spell doesn’t require concentration. Can be cast at higher levels.
        • Lesser Restoration: Diseases and conditions do come up from time to time, so you’ll be happy to have this when they do.
      • 5th
        • Dispel Magic: Just like Detect Magic, every party should have a character with this spell at their disposal.
        • Protection from Energy: This is typically outshined by Absorb Elements except in the specific circumstances when you are constantly being subjected to a type of damage.
      • 7th
        • Freedom of Movement: It’s nice to give extra movement options to allies, but there are better buff spells and this one is pretty situational.
        • Summon Construct: All of the options are fairly tanky but the Heated Body option is definitely the best feature.
      • 9th
        • Greater Restoration: Great spell to have that can get you or party members out of very tricky situations.
        • Wall of Force: You’re just making a wall. So what? You can split up opposing forces, hide behind an impenetrable wall, or make a dome over your party. It is immune to dispel magic but can be disintegrated.
    • Restore Balance: Being able to negate another creature’s advantage or disadvantage can help prevent massive swings in ability checks, saving throws, and attacks. This is a very versatile feature that can be used to buff party members and debuff enemies from range as a reaction.
  • 6th Level
    • Bastion of Law: Essentially variable temporary hitpoints. With an average of 4.5 damage reduction with each sorcery points spent, it puts it at slightly less effective than Aid (2nd-level spell costs 3 sorcery points). Bastion of Law could end up lasting longer if you cast it at the beginning of the day, but 5hp likely won’t last that long.
  • 14th Level
    • Trance of Order: This is an extremely strong feature that can cause a failed attack, ability check, or saving throw to easily succeed. Unfortunately, Sorcerers just aren’t the type of class to put themselves into positions that require these all that often. Most of their spells cause saving throws, they don’t get a lot of proficient abilities, and they are hopefully out of the fray enough to avoid saving throws. The same goes for negating attacks made with advantage.
  • 18th Level
    • Clockwork Cavalcade: This is essentially a Heal or Mass Cure wounds level spell combined with hyped-up Dispel Magic that can end any spell of 6th-level or lower without having to make a check against it. These effects will be huge when getting into those higher-tier boss fights when enemies are slinging around damage and conditions like they are going out of style. The repairing broken objects feature is cool but won’t have nearly the same level of effect as the previous two mentioned effects.

Divine Soul

  • 1st Level
    • Divine Magic: Getting access to an entirely new set of spells will provide a ton of utility, even more so because of how good the Cleric spell list is. The only downside is the lack of known spells for Sorcerers will make it hard to pick and choose.
      • Good: Cure Wounds – Access to healing is great for a class that usually has none
      • Evil: Inflict Wounds – Great single target damage spell that scales really well and can crit. Unfortunately, it is touch range and does necrotic damage which can become less useful at higher levels.
      • Law: Bless – Easily one of the best buffs in the game.
      • Chaos: Bane – Great debuff
      • Neutrality: Protection from Evil and Good – Great single target buff.
    • Favored by the Gods: Adding 2d4 to a missed attack or failed saving throw once per short rest is incredibly useful in defensive and offensive situations.
  • 6th Level
    • Empowered Healing: Solid ability that is limited by the 5ft range. 
  • 14th Level
    • Otherworldly Wings: Flight is one of the biggest advantages you can gain in a fight.
  • 18th Level
    • Unearthly Recovery: This is a lot of healing for a bonus action and no spell slot.

Draconic Bloodline

  • 1st Level
    • Dragon Ancestor: This great guide goes into detail on the number of spells and monsters that have resistances to certain type of damage. Note: this may not be completely up to date but provides a rough idea.
      • Acid: 17 Spells, 29 Resistant, 21 Immune – Middle of the pack spell, resistant and immunity count. You can also take Elemental Adept.
      • Cold: 24 Spells, 85 Resistant, 33 Immune – Definitely not a great pick if you look at the numbers.
      • Fire: 34 Spells, 74 Resistant, 32 Immune, 14 Vulnerable – The most spells but also the most resistances. Taking Elemental Adept is necessary for this build but makes it very powerful at the same time. 
      • Lightning: 19 Spells, 70 Resistant, 32 Immune – Much less spell choice than fire or cold and a similar amount of Resistances and Immunities.
      • Poison: 10 Spells, 17 Resistant, 173 Immune – Yikes. The least amount of spells and SO many immunities.
    • Draconic ResilienceThe HP is negligible but the unarmored AC is greatly needed.
  • 6th Level
    • Elemental Affinity: This can be huge damage when combined with AoE spells because you get to add your CHA multiple times. Gaining resistance for an hour for one sorcery point is also great economy.
  • 14th Level
    • Dragon Wings: Bonus action, non concentration flight is straight up gold. 
  • 18th Level
    • Draconic Presence: Sorcery points are a very needed resource but at this level you have 18 to throw around. This is essentially a 5th level spell slot for a 120ft radius Fear spell, which is very powerful crowd control and much more range than the 3rd level version.

Shadow Magic

  • 1st Level
    • Eyes of the Dark: 120ft Darkvision is good in itself. Being able to pay 2 sorcery points to be able to see in it will allow you to get advantage (and give everything else disadvantage). This is an extremely strong combo to have at 1st level and works well at higher levels.
    • Strength of the Grave: This will certainly be effective at early levels. At high levels, you could easily be hit for 30 damage, making this ability useless.
  • 6th Level
    • Hound of Ill Omen: Only being able to target one creature with this is somewhat limiting so it won’t be useful in fights with lots of smaller creatures. This can come in handy against a stronger opponent.
  • 14th Level
    • Shadow Walk: Unlimited teleportation as a bonus action is amazing. Not quite as good as flight because you have to be in darkness or dim light. Knowing the Darkness spell can certainly help with your escapes.
  • 18th Level
    • Umbral Form: At 18th level, force and radiant damage are common but this is still an absolutely amazing ability.

Storm Sorcery

  • 1st Level
    • Wind Speaker: Four free languages has a chance of being useful at some point in your campaign.
    • Tempestuous Magic: A nice “get out of jail free card” if you ever find yourself in melee combat.
  • 6th Level
    • Heart of the Storm: Extra damage within 10ft, combined with Tempestuous Magic, is actually a fairly good combo. The resistances are nice.
    • Storm Guide: This can make you look cool but that’s about it.
  •   14th Level
    • Storm’s Fury: Another useful ability if you find yourself in melee combat, which Sorcerers really don’t want to do.
  • 18th Level
    • Wind Soul: Immunity to a common type of and free flying speed, forever. You can also share this ability with friends. This is definitely the best capstone ability out of any of the Sorcerer Origins.

Wild Magic

  • 1st Level
    • Wild Magic Surge: This is a random effect that generates random results and is impossible to rate.
    • Tides of Chaos: Essentially a free, once-a-day Lucky.
  • 6th Level
    • Bend Luck: On reaction Bardic Inspiration/Cutting Words is great. Limiting to a d4 certainly hurts the abilities effectiveness but it will come in clutch very often. 
  • 14th Level
    • Controlled Chaos: Again, very random, but a bit more in your favor.
  • 18th Level
    • Spell Bombardment: This is at most 5.5 extra damage. This is quite a weak capstone ability.

2nd Level

Fonts of Magic: With Sorcerers, flexibility is the name of the game. You might not get access to as many utility spells, but your damage spells are going to be more applicable and more effective than other casting classes. Fonts of Magic provides flexibility to create more spell slots, or use sorcery points to manipulate your spells with Meta Magic. Keep in mind, you have to finish a long rest to get your sorcery points back.

3rd Level

Meta Magic: As mentioned before, Sorcerers are mainly focused on damage dealing and it shows in the Metamagic abilities. Most of the abilities allow you to hit enemies harder, faster, and more effectively than other casting classes. You gain access to 2 of these at 3rd Level

  • Careful Spell: For 1 sorcery point you can weave your big AoE blasts around your party members. This is something that takes an entire subclass dip for Wizards.
  • Distant Spell: Doubling the range of ranged spells and getting 30ft of range on touch spell can be useful in a pinch.
  • Empowered Spell: This can be nice in situations where you roll a 1 on something like Inflict Wounds. Rerolling a d10 can net way more damage.
  • Extended Spell: There just aren’t a lot of good uses for this since most buffs last long enough for combat and don’t have much use lasting longer.
  • Heightened Spell: Invoking disadvantage on saving throws is a great mechanism when you really want a spell to hit.
  • Quickened Spell: Casting your favorite spells as a bonus action is awesome for action economy. Keep in mind that you can only cast a cantrip for your main action spell if you cast a spell as a bonus action.
  • Seeking Spell: Seeing as this is for spells that use spell attacks vs saving throws it won’t come up quite as often or be used for less powerful spells.
  • Subtle Spell: The best use of this is certainly circumventing Counterspell, it’s a worthwhile pick if you are constantly going up against spellcasters that are interfering with you casting your spells. This can also be useful for casting spells while hidden or bound and gagged.
  • Transmuted Spell: Seeing as fire is a common resistance and is common in high damage spells, changing your spells damage type can be used to make your big damage spells hit for full damage.
  • Twinned Spell: Being able to twin a spell like Haste is a completely amazing ability. A useful option for buffing damage of cantrips on the cheap as well.

You gain another Metamagic option at 10th and 17th level.

4th Level

Sorcerous Versatility: Change out underperforming cantrips or metamagics at every level, which is something your DM would typically allow you to do anyway. This optional feature has been introduced to each class in some capacity in TCoE.

5th Level

Magical Guidance: Use sorcery points as a pseudo-Lucky feat for ability checks only. Sorcerers are sorely lacking ability proficiencies so this will help to offset them.

20th Level

Sorcerous Restoration: It’s not a particularly impressive capstone ability but it can be useful for a long adventuring day at 20th-level.

Best Sorcerer Feats

Many feats aren’t suited to the Sorcerer Class, but we will go over the ones that you may consider.

  • Alert: Being up higher in the initiative order can be very valuable for a Sorcerer.
  • Eldritch Adept: Great option to pick up Armor of Shadows for a free Mage Armor whenever you want it.
  • Elemental Adept: The bonus damage is negligible but if most of your damage comes from one element then go for it. This is a must-have for Draconic Bloodline (Fire) Sorcerers.
  • Fey Touched: Misty Step is a great spell and an extra 2nd-level spell goes a long way because of the Sorcerer’s reduced spell list. Plus, you get to increase your CHA. This is a go-to option if you end up with an odd CHA score after character creation.
  • Flames of Phlegethos: Tieflings make great Sorcerers and this feat provides a ton of value for Tiefling Sorcerers. Pump your CHA, get a bit extra fire damage, and create some protection against melee attacks.
  • Inspiring Leader: As a Sorcerer, you’ll have plenty of CHA to go around. Consider this after you’ve maxed your CHA for some extra party support.
  • Lucky: Lucky is a feat that is useful to any character, but is less good for spellcasters.
  • Metamagic Adept: Sorcerers only ever get 3 metamagic options, this provides Sorcerers with more versatility on top of a few extra sorcery points.
  • Resilient: A Sorcerer doesn’t need a proficiency in CON because they already have one.
  • Shadow Touched: Invisibility is a great spell and an extra 2nd-level spell goes a long way because of the Sorcerer’s reduced spell list. Plus, you get to increase your CHA. This is a go-to option if you end up with an odd CHA score after character creation.
  • Spell Sniper: Increased range can be covered with metamagic, and ignoring cover on spell attacks isn’t enough to pick this feat.
  • Telekinetic: The Mage Hand, even with the shove buff, isn’t as good as either Misty Step from Fey Touched or Invisibility from Shadow Touched. A very flavorful pickup for the Aberrant Mind Sorcerer.
  • Telepathic: The Detect Thoughts, even with the shove buff, isn’t as good as either Misty Step from Fey Touched or Invisibility from Shadow Touched. Don’t bother with this if you’ve gone with the Aberrant Mind Sorcerer.
  • War Caster: Advantage on CON saves won’t be as necessary with the Sorcerer’s proficiency in CON saves. Casting spells as opportunity attacks is a beneficial component of this feat but likely won’t get used much because Sorcerers prefer not to be in melee range.

Best Sorcerer Spells

Sorcerers have access to a lot of spells. Therefore, we think it would be the most beneficial to only talk about our favorite spells at each level, and which ones to avoid. Just remember that this doesn’t mean the ones we don’t mention are necessarily bad or don’t have a purpose. For your particular campaign, your mileage may vary.

For a full list of Sorcerer spells click here.

Cantrips

  • Acid Splash: Can target multiple creatures.
  • Booming Blade: Not effective for Sorcerers.
  • Green-Flame Blade: Not effective for Sorcerers.
  • Chill Touch: Great for trolls and vampires that regenerate health.
  • Create Bonfire: Good damage and battlefield control.
  • Fire Bolt: Pick this if you need a damage-dealing cantrip.
  • Lightning Lure: Sorcerers don’t want to be pulling creatures closer to them.
  • Mage Hand: Good utility.
  • Message: Often pointless due to unavoidable metagaming, but for roleplaying purposes it’s great.
  • Mind Sliver: INT saves aren’t common proficiencies and psychic damage isn’t a common resistance. Sure, the damage isn’t as appealing as something like firebolt, but the d4 reduction from the next saving throw is effective in lower tiers of play.
  • Minor Illusion: This cantrip can be the most flexible tool available to a Sorcerer if used creatively.
  • Poison Spray: A saving throw avoids all damage caused by this cantrip. Avoid.
  • Prestidigitation: Good utility.
  • Shocking Grasp: Advantage against metal armor and preventing reactions for a turn bundles damage and utility.
  • Sword Burst: Good AoE damage if you get surrounded.
  • Thunderclap: Good AoE damage but targets a common save and can’t be used while stealthing.
  • True Strike: Wasting a whole turn just to gain advantage on a single creature the next turn is not what you want to be doing.

1st Level Spells

  • Absorb Elements: Great for melee spellcasting builds but less good for Druids.
  • Beast Bond: Concentration AND line of sight to give your animal pals advantage on attacks. Sorry Druids but this isn’t worth it.
  • Burning Hands: One of the better AoE damage spells you can get at 1st-level but there are better direct damage spells and better mass effect spells. This is a filler spell that can be great if you catch a group of enemies close together.
  • Chaos Bolt: If you don’t have the money for Chromatic orb, or need a bit more range, this is a decent option.
  • Chromatic Orb: Your go-to damage spell. It has a high cost, though.
  • Detect Magic: Good to have in those situations where you need to find out if something funky is going on.
  • Ice Knife: Good damage spell but nothing special.
  • Illusory Script: Not sure what they were thinking with this one. It does basically nothing.
  • Jump: A very poor mobility spell. Hold off until you get Fly, Spider Climb, or Misty Step.
  • Mage Armor: Can solve some of the Sorcerer’s low AC issues early in a campaign, especially if you have some DEX.
  • Magic Missile: Your standard first-level damage dealer. This spell always hits which is nice.
  • Ray of Sickness: Damage isn’t great but Poisoned is a nasty condition. Unfortunately, the save targets CON which is a common proficient saving throw, and immunity to the Poisoned condition is also fairly common. Don’t try to cast this at Constructs, Fiends, or Undead at the very least.
  • Shield: Slightly stronger than Mage Armor, but only lasts for one round of combat. Very nice that it can get used as a reaction but if your AC is low enough it might not matter.
  • Sleep: Sleep is a spell that sometimes feels overpowered at the beginning of a campaign. With a good roll, you can basically end an encounter in one turn.
  • Tasha’s Caustic Brew: Spells that don’t do damage until the start of the creature’s turn can end up as a wasted spell if they are dealt with before their turn starts.

2nd Level Spells

  • Aganazzar’s Scorcher: Decent AoE spell but is only better than other damage options when you can line up a bunch of enemies.
  • Blur: Not super useful unless you have a decent AC.
  • Cloud of Daggers: If you can get this into a chokepoint you can do amazing damage.
  • Crown of Madness: This spell has a lot of crippling limitations because of its powerful effect at such a small level. Skip this until you can Dominate Monsters.
  • Dragon’s Breath: This spell can be quite effective with the proper setup and in a longer fight. First, you need an animal companion that has an action to use on its turn but no effective attack. The best option for this is a familiar conjured using the Find Familiar spell. Then, you can buff that creature to have a breath weapon that doesn’t use the “attack” action. As long as you maintain your concentration, this allows the familiar to dish out 3d6 damage each turn which is a solid use of a 2nd-level spell slot.
  • Dust Devil: situationally useful if you need to lock off a certain area of the battlefield.
  • Earthbind: If you need to lock down a flying creature and don’t have a way of making it fall prone this is a good option. Useful in very narrow circumstances.
  • Enhance Ability: This spell does it all. Use it when Guidance won’t quite do the trick.
  • Hold Person: This can be encounter-breaking against humanoids. Scales well with levels.
  • Invisibility: Your go-to infiltration spell.
  • Levitate: Can be used to get up high, or completely remove a melee attacker from combat. Levitate can be good at any level.
  • Misty Step: Who doesn’t want to teleport? And you can do so as a bonus action while avoiding opportunity attacks. This spell can save your butt since you won’t have many hit points as a Sorcerer.
  • Scorching Ray: A potential 6d6 focused damage at a 2nd-level spell slot, can target multiple opponents, and has crit potential.
  • Shadow Blade: Typical Sorcerers don’t want any part of melee combat, but if you are going for a Sorcadin this is an amazing option.
  • Suggestion: Never underestimate the power of suggesting a course of action to an NPC. Yes, Mr. Scary Guard, why don’t you give us the keys to your king’s treasure vault?
  • Tasha’s Mind Whip: Mediocre damage, but it can help you break away from an enemy that is pursuing while still doing damage.

3rd Level Spells

  • Clairvoyance: Not many situations will call for this spell but it can be useful for scouting.
  • CounterspellAlways get Counterspell. Even if you don’t want to pick it up as soon as it is available to you, come back and get it at a later level. It can literally save lives when facing a powerful spell caster. 
  • Enemies Abound: Enemies abound only works in fights with more than one enemy, if your allies are willing to ignore that enemy, and if the enemy isn’t immune to being frightened. Really only useful for causing a stir from a hidden position.
  • Erupting Earth: Bad damage compared to Fireball but causes difficult terrain. Situational.
  • FireballThe gold standard for damage spells in 5e.
  • Fly: More useful than Levitate in many situations, but concentration could make this end badly.
  • Hypnotic Pattern: Great crowd control.
  • Haste: Lovely buff for non-caster party members, just make sure you don’t immediately have your concentration broken and waste a 3rd level spell.
  • Intellect Fortress: Only useful in very specific circumstances. Say, for example, when wandering into a den of Mind Flayers.
  • Lightning Bolt: Just as powerful as Fireball but has a less effective AoE because it’s a line rather than a circle.
  • Melf’s Minute Meteors: Not as good as Flaming Sphere (which is a 2nd-level spell). Sorcerers don’t get access to Flaming Sphere so this is a good option for Sorcerers, especially if you are focusing on a Draconic Bloodline (Fire) Sorcerers.
  • Slow: Awesome debuff.
  • Stinking Cloud: Used in the right circumstances this can be effective, but it is a tough spell to nail.
  • Thunder Step: Great spell in case you are surrounded and need to retreat. You get to damage the enemies and carry a friend with you.
  • Tidal Wave: Mediocre damage but can impose the Prone condition. Useful in the right circumstances.
  • Vampiric Touch: If you’re close enough to an enemy to want to do this small amount of damage, you’re in big trouble.

4th Level Spells

  • Banishment: Get rid of creatures from another plane, or take out a big threat for most of the combat. They have to perform a saving throw, but CHA is often not a high stat for those enemies.
  • Charm Monster: Charm Person, just for any creature. Great for avoiding fights with potentially hostile monsters.
  • Dimension DoorTeleport, with a friend, over a much longer distance than Misty Step. Unfortunately, it’s a full action to cast.
  • Greater Invisibility: Being able to attack or cast spells while invisible is a huge upgrade from regular invisibility. Give it to a melee party member and watch them get advantage on every attack and disadvantage on attacks against them, bonus points if it’s a Paladin.
  • Ice Storm: You already have Fireball, and Ice Storm is weaker. The terrain control doesn’t make the weaker damage worth it.
  • Polymorph: Buff an ally or turn an enemy into a rat while you obliterate his friends!
  • Sickening Radiance: Giving creatures levels of exhaustion seems good on paper but you need at least two failures for this spell to really kick in. Radiance damage is great for getting around a resistance but this spell also targets CON (common save for monsters) and requires concentration.
  • Storm Sphere: Simply an amazing spell. 20ft radius that hits like a greatsword and a bonus action to deal 4d6 every turn.
  • Stoneskin: Effectively double your favorite melee fighter’s HP.
  • Vitriolic Sphere: worse damage than Fireball on a successful save and better any more damage on a failed save.
  • Watery Sphere: Restrain and move around up to four enemies. You can even send them over a cliff to remove them from combat, it won’t kill the creatures in the sphere because they descend at a slow rate.

5th Level Spells

  • Animate Objects: Turn your trash into treasure. Send an army of pebbles at your opponents for 1d4 + 4 damage with +8 attacks.
  • Cloudkill: Not great in an open field but if you can get the drop on an enemy or contain a group of enemies within the spell it can be very effective because it deals damage turn after turn, as long as the caster keeps concentration. It can also be effective to block off a vantage point used by ranged enemies.
  • Cone of Cold: It’s Fireball damage for a 5th Level spell slot, although it is easier to control and to reduce friendly fire than Fireball.
  • Creation: Allows you to make a rope or a rock. Yeah.
  • Enervation: What happens when you cross Witch Bolt with Vampric Touch and make them actually good? The upgraded range is a huge upgrade and being able to damage creatures while healing yourself is twice the value.
  • Far Step: Typically a single Misty Step will work best for Sorcerers who won’t be using this ability on each turn to teleport around the battlefield, using their movement to close in and attack creatures teleporting out of danger.
  • Insect Plague: A better version of Cloudkill in most circumstances due to the difficult terrain and light obscurity.
  • Immolation: Single target Fireball that can damage consistently. The issue comes from the need for concentration and the saving throws the creature gets every turn. If you want Fireball damage, cast Fireball. If you want consistent fire damage cast Heat Metal.
  • Seeming: Disguise your whole party. Not bad when trying to get somewhere you aren’t meant to be.
  • Telekinesis: Pretty versatile, allowing you to move a creature or object. Knock those pesky enemies of yours off a cliff.
  • Telepathic Bond: Allows your party to communicate when they normally wouldn’t be able to.
  • Wall of Stone: Great tool to manipulate the battlefield to your party’s advantage.
  • Wall of Light: Radiant is a great damage type, but 4d8 on a 5th level spell isn’t amazing. The Blinded condition is nice, but is only activated when the spell first appears and doesn’t discriminate between friend and foe. The lasers that you can shoot each following turn use your action and shrink the wall.
  • Synaptic Static: Fireball damage and a debuff rolled into one. Be careful using it on beasts as they are likely to have an INT 2 or less.

6th Level Spells

  • Arcane Gate: Like a badass Dimension Door.
  • Chain Lightning: Great damage and solid control over targets.
  • Circle of Death: Fireball type effect, but at 6th level, necrotic damage, and a CON save to boot. Boo!
  • Disintegrate: Live out your power fantasy as Thanos. The damage can be great, but a successful save negates ALL damage. Still, people love this spell so it needed to be addressed.
  • Investiture of Flame: Damage immunities and resistances are fine but the passive effect has terrible range and the AoE effect is mediocre damage. The biggest issue here is that, if you are using the fire immunity it’s very likely that your enemies are immune to fire damage. Also, requires concentration so you can cast the spell, and lose it before you’re able to use the AoE feature.
  • Investiture of Ice: Damage immunities and resistances are fine but the passive effect has terrible range and is even less effective than the IoF and the AoE effect is mediocre damage. The biggest issue here is that, if you are using the ice immunity it’s very likely that your enemies are immune to ice damage. Also, requires concentration so you can cast the spell, and lose it before you’re able to use the AoE feature.
  • Investiture of Stone: The resistance to bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing are pretty useless in Tier 3 because most creatures will have magical weapons. The passive effect allows you to move through the earth but ejects you if you end your turn there so you can’t travel far distances. The action effect is terrible, it doesn’t even do damage. Also, requires concentration so you can cast the spell, and lose it before you’re able to use any features.
  • Investiture of Wind: One of the better Investitures, but it’s really only effective as a defensive buff. The flight is a great movement buff, and ranged attacks have disadvantage. The action can’t even compete with cantrip damage at this point.  
  • Mass Suggestion: Better than regular Suggestion in many ways. No saving throws, target up to twelve creatures, and a duration of 24 hours.
  • Mental Prison: There are plenty of ways to take single creatures out of the fight, but this provides a way to do some damage while also locking down a creature. Nothing crazy for a 6th-level spell but it’s decent.
  • Globe of Invulnerability: Block all spells 5th level and lower in a 10-foot radius around your Sorcerer. This spell can get really helpful as you start to face more enemies casting spells.
  • Move Earth: Still trying to live out that Minecraft fantasy? Go for it.
  • Scatter: It has uses, but none that are particularly worth a 6th-level spell.
  • Sunbeam: Not a bad spell for those grindy fights. Blinding opponents, repositioning the beam on each turn, disadvantage for undead make this a solid choice.
  • Tasha’s Otherworldly Guise: Bonus action to gain +2 to AC, damage immunities, and flight make this a solid defensive spell. Even though the spell grants the ability to make attacks with CHA and allows you to attack twice, you will rarely use these features as a Sorcerer.
  • True Seeing: Gain the abilities of truesight, spotting secret doors, and seeing into the ethereal plane, all without concentration. This will be effective at some point but a 6th level spell is steep.

7th Level Spells

  • Crown of Stars: Great bonus action damage, long duration, no concentration. Up and down a great spell.
  • Dream of the Blue Veil: This spell has more campaign-derailing, shenanigan potential than just about any other spell short of Wish. Do your DM a favor and let them know your plans before casting this spell. Because this is more of a plot-based spell, it will not receive a rating.
  • Etherealness: This spell allows you to fly or move through solid objects, while not being affected or able to affect creatures not on the Ethereal Plane. You can only target yourself but there is no concentration. Pretty middle of the road all around.
  • Finger of Death: It’s a CON save, but they still take half damage on a success. If you want some single target damage, it’s not a bad pick.
  • Fire Storm: Depending on the size and position of the crowd you are fighting, this can either be insanely big damage or an easy to aim Fireball. Most of the time it will be the latter.
  • Plane Shift: Good utility to run away from a fight that has turned south, or force a CHA save to avoid getting banished.
  • Power Word Pain: You can likely do 100 damage with a 7th-level spell, really only useful if you want to Crucio someone outside of combat.
  • Prismatic Spray: Only 10d6 damage on a failed save, and the damage type is random. This spell just isn’t reliable enough to be worth it.
  • Reverse Gravity: A shenanigan spell if there ever was one. It is hard to position to create max damage but the effects are powerful (and fun) nonetheless.
  • Teleport: Instantly transport yourself and up to eight willing creatures. Of course, there is a chance of a mishap, but a full party teleport is nothing to scoff at.
  • Whirlwind: Great battlefield control, decent damage. 

8th Level Spells

  • Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting: Essentially just an upcast Fireball. Don’t bother unless you fight a lot of plants.
  • Dominate Monster: Extremely good option to help swing the tides of battle in your favor.
  • Earthquake: There is way too much left up to the DM’s discretion for this spell to be effective in combat. The only use I can see for this spell would be destroying a city.
  • Incendiary Cloud: One of the best options for a choke point. This is insane damage if you can get a crowd to run through it.
  • Power Word Stun: You can auto-stun a creature that has less than 150hp, but they get to make a save at the end of each of their turns.
  • Sunburst: Big damage and nice effect. Great AoE that is somewhat limited by forcing a CON save.

9th Level Spells

  • Blade of Disaster: This is a solid, bonus action, multiturn damage spell that can pay off big time with a couple of crits.
  • Meteor Swarm: Nuke your enemies with this one simple trick! 20d6 fire damage and 20d6 bludgeoning damage, or half on a successful DEX save.
  • Power Word Kill: Very mechanically interesting spell. Essentially, you can auto-kill a creature if they have less than 100hp. Now, as a player, we do not know how much HP a monster has, but an Investigation or Insight check might allow some clues as to whether or not they’re close. Still, Meteor Swarm can do, on average, 140 damage (70 on a save), and can hit multiple creatures so this might not be that worth it.
  • Psychic Scream: Great damage, targets an uncommon save (INT), and stuns on a failed save.
  • Time Stop: You can’t target other creatures during your 1d4 + 1 extra turns, but it’s a great opportunity to move into position and buff yourself.
  • Mass Polymorph: Take up to 10 creatures out of the fight or turn your entire party into T-rexes.
  • Wish: Wish is the best spell in Dnd 5e, hands down. Its regular use allows you to duplicate any other spell at 8th level or lower. However, it can also be used to regain all hitpoints for your whole party, change the outcome of a roll, or gain immunity to a spell. Some DMs may allow you to wish for basically anything, but at the risk of something going terribly wrong. This can make for some really cool deus ex machina moments.

Best Multiclass Options for Sorcerers

Multiclassing is always an opportunity cost, you have to determine if taking a level of another class is worth what you will lose from the original class. Many factors come into this decision, with the main factor being how long your campaign will run and, ultimately, what level you will be playing until. With Sorcerers and other full casters, you want to avoid taking more than 3 multiclass levels, or else you won’t be able to get access to 9th-level spells.

Another thing to take into consideration is the additional class’ primary ability scores. Sorcerers are CHA-based casters and you want to be able to use their high CHA to synergize with the additional class.

Paladin: The Sorcadin is considered one of, if not the most powerful multiclass options in D&D 5e. This build allows for an awesome cross between a tank and a caster and allows for insane nova damage. The most common Sorcadin build is Paladin 2 / Sorcerer 18 which allows you get to get access to armor/shield/weapon proficiencies, Lay on Hands, and smites. Only dipping two levels into Paladin restricts access to some nice Paladin features like Aura of Protection and extra attacks, but it gives access to high-level Sorcerer spell options, plenty of sorcery points, and the Sorcerer Origin capstone feature.

Bard: Three levels in Bard will get you Bardic Inspiration, Jack of All Trades, and the starting features of a College of your choice. The best Bard subclasses to choose would be Eloquence for better CHA-based ability checks and a buffed Bardic Inspiration, Lore for extra proficiencies and Cutting Words, and Valor for medium armor/shields and the ability to add Bardic Inspiration to weapon attack damage rolls.  The good news with the Bard multiclass is that your spell slot progression isn’t hindered in the least when you do this, and Bards have access to stellar early-level spells like Vicious Mockery and Dissonant Whispers.

Warlock: Warlocks get access to a ton of stuff at 1st-level. First off is the amazing damage cantrip Eldritch Blast, next up is the ability to restore Warlock spell slots on a short rest, and finally is the Pact feature. The Celestial Pact has some healing features, but by far the best choice would be the Hexblade for access to Hexblade’s Curse, proficiency in medium armor/shields, a great expanded spell list, and the ability to melee attack using your CHA modifier.


Hope you liked the guide! If you have any questions or feel like we missed something for the 5e Sorcerer, go ahead and post a comment below. If you like our content subscribe to Arcane Eye!

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.

12 thoughts on “The DnD 5e Sorcerer Guide

  1. Is Meteor Swarm really that good? Its fire and bludgeoning damage for a ninth level spell. I think if you are high enough level to cast that spell, you should expect your opponent to have at least resistance to both damage types.

    1. Meteor Swarm is probably the best spell in terms of AoE damage available. Certainly resistances can be an issue. But if you’re trying to cover a large area, or even take out a bunch of buildings, this spell does wonders!

  2. Perhaps it could be noted that Subtle Spell can be used to circumvent Counterspell, to cast spells while staying hidden, and to allow you to cast spells when bound and gagged. Specifically useful for those who want to play a more clandestine shadow sorcerer, a wild magic sorcerer with a penchant for trouble with the guards , or a sorcerer who wants tot test their might in a mages duel.

  3. Will you guys ever do guides based on different subclasses of Sorcerer? your guide was really helpful for my Eldritch knight and I was hoping to find something for Storm Sorcerers.

    1. Yes absolutely! We are currently working on revamping all of our class guides, and subclass guides will be a part of that 🙂

  4. I think you’ve underrated Dragon’s Breath. It’s a buff far better cast on a familiar or friendly summoned animal that has an ineffectual or non-existent attack. Giving the wizard’s owl or Warlock’s Imp a flamethrower seems better than your rating would suggest, at least in a longer fight. Properly used, it’s a buff to the party’s action economy with an AoE in a flexible damage type.

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