Wild Magic Sorcerer 5e Guide
Published on November 10, 2022, Last modified on February 20th, 2023
Channeling pure chaotic magic, Wild Magic sorcerers amplify their magic with random and explosive surges. In our Wild Magic sorcerer 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 Wild Magic sorcerer.
David Palumbo - Wizards of the Coast - Chaos Channeler
Wild Magic 5e Guide Rating Scheme
This guide is meant as a deep dive into the Wild Magic Sorcerer subclass. For a full overview of the Sorcerer class, check out our sorcerer 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.
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What is the Wild Magic Sorcerer in 5e?
Wild Magic sorcerers draw their power from the chaotic magics that created the universe. The Wild Magic sorcerer is one of the original fifth edition sorcerer subclasses, appearing the Player’s Handbook.
The Wild Magic sorcerer’s features revolve around unleashing surges of untamed magic when they cast spells. This is easily the most random subclass in the fifth edition, making play unpredictable (but hilariously fun.)
Beyond its Wild Magic Surge ability, the Wild Magic Sorcerer’s features work to manipulate your and other creature’s luck. You have features that can give you advantage and add or subtract bonuses from other creature’s rolls, which can be a clutch resource.
While it unfortunately comes up infrequently, the majority of the results on the Wild Magic Surge table are positive or at least neutral, making the randomness of the ability skewed in your favor.
Having unpredictable class features in a game that already features a decent amount of chance can cause uncertainty. Beyond this, the Wild Magic sorcerers features just aren’t all that powerful and don’t offer a distinct difference in play from the base sorcerer class.
There’s also a weird stipulation where the DM is the one to ask for rolls on the Wild Magic Surge table after spellcasting or to recharge the Tides of Chaos feature, which puts extra work on the DM if you don’t homebrew a way around it (which we suggest below). While Wild Magic sorcerers are anything but boring, they’re for the most part at the mercy of the sorcerer’s limited Metamagic, spellcasting, and sorcery points.
Best Races for Wild Magic Sorcerers 5e
As with most sorcerers, CHA is the biggest priority. Beyond that, DEX can be useful to boost your AC and CON is useful for hitpoints 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 sorcerer playstyle. Because Wild Magic sorcerers only learn a total of 15 spells, races that provide access to more spells that you can use with Wild Magic and Metamagic are beneficial.
Below are some races we recommend for Wild Magic sorcerers. Keep in mind that we exclude setting-exclusive races like the ones found in Eberron: Rising from the Last War.
- Gem: A limited flight feature and some damage resistances are excellent abilities for a sorcerer. Being able to use your breath weapon prof. times per long rest helps round out your offensive options so you can dedicate more spells and spell slots to help outside of combat.
- 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. The eladrin's origins from the chaotic Feywild make this a particularly apt choice.
- Variant: With the addition of Fey Touched and Shadow Touched in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, sorcerers love a 1st-level choice of a feat.
Tiefling: Darkvision and some decent spells make an great starting point. The tiefling subraces from Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes each provide a different array of spells that may fit your Wild Magic sorcerer better.
Aarakocra: Free, 1st-level flight is an amazing resource to stay out of enemy range while in combat.
- Protector: Darkvision, resistance to two common damage types, a healing ability, and concentration-less flight. An absolutely amazing choice.
Changeling: The Shapechanger ability can open the doors for a wide variety of exploration and roleplay opportunities
Fairy: Free, concentration-less flight, a couple interesting spells, and the fairy's Small size should hold no disadvantages for a spellcaster like the Wild Magic Sorcerer.
Firbolg: A couple extra spells are always nice, but the Monster of the Multiverse updated version is a much better option because of the buffs handed out to Hidden Step and Firbolg Magic.
- Water: Swimming speed, Darkvision, resistance to a decent damage type, able to breathe under water, and three moderately useful spells can add some solid utility to a Wild Magic sorcerer.
- Air: A slightly buffed walking speed, Darkvision, ability to hold your breath indefinitely, lightning resistance, and three awesome spells (shocking grasp, feather fall, levitate) make air genasi an ideal choice for Wild Magic sorcerers.
- Fire: Darkvision and resistance to one of the most common damage types already make a good base for Wild Magic sorcerers. 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.
- Earth: Darkvision is nice, but Earth Walk is by far the weakest genasi-specific ability across the four choices. The spells, however, are pretty solid. Being able to cast blade ward as a bonus action can help with survivability when you know you're in for a round of pain and pass without trace is an amazing party buff, normally restricted to druids and rangers.
Kalashtar: Advantage on WIS saves, and psychic damage resistance. This is a stellar pick for those who have defense on the mind for their Wild Magic sorcerer.
Satyr: Good social skill proficiencies, extra movement, and Magic Resistance make this an ideal class for the Wild Magic Sorcerer.
Tortle: Not particularly exciting, but a base AC of 17 is a solid choice to help with survivability.
Yuan-ti Pureblood: A couple extra spells 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 Wild Magic Sorcerer
As most backgrounds are setting specific, we’ll cover a couple setting-agnostic backgrounds that can provide some value to your Wild Magic sorcerer build.
Urchin: Great way to get Stealth and Sleight of Hand, two proficiencies you normally wouldn’t as a sorcerer.
Charlatan: A free social skill, Sleight of Hand, and useful tool proficiencies make this background a good start.
Noble: The free proficiency in Persuasion will go well with your sorcerers pumped CHA.
Wild Magic Sorcerer 5e Ability Scores
You receive Ability Score Increases at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.
The biggest priority is CHA, as that’s what effects your spellcasting modifier. 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: Dump. Wizards are the smart ones.
WIS: Beyond Perception, there’s nothing here for our Wild Magic Sorcerer.
CHA: Your first stat to pump. Get this as high as possible in character creation and use your ASIs to get this to 20 ASAP.
Wild Magic Sorcerer 5e Class Progression
Hit Dice: d6 hit dice, which is the lowest one out there.
Saves: CON saves are excellent because they can boost your concentration checks. CHA save don’t come up particularly often, but when they do they tend to be nasty.
Proficiencies: No armor proficiencies which hurts your dismal survivability. No weapons proficiencies either, but that won’t matter much.
Skills: A couple face skills which go well with your CHA. Don’t bother with the INT skills as that will be your dump stat.
Spellcasting: Sorcerers struggle by only getting 15 spells known of the course of their level ups, you’ll want to choose your race and feats accordingly to help mitigate this.
Wild Magic Surge: When you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher, you’re DM can tell you to roll a d20 and, on a 1, you roll on the Magic Surge table. Unfortunately, even if your DM agrees to let you roll after each spell you cast, you have a 1 in 20 change of using your class’ primary ability. Assuming each combat lasts 10 rounds and you have the ability to cast a leveled spell each round, you might be able to use the reason you choose this subclass every two encounters.
Issues with this ability aside, we’ve rated each of the outcomes on the Magic Surge table and 22 are positive, 20 are neutral, and 7 are negative. This suggests that rolling on the Wild Magic Surge table as much as possible will do more good than harm, but unfortunately, the dice are fickle with these kinds of things.
The biggest issue with this ability is, RAW, the DM is the one to call for a roll and even then you have to roll a 1 on the d20 to invoke a surge. This makes Wild Magic Surge happen much too infrequently for being a primary subclass feature.
We don’t normally do this in our guides, but having played a Wild Magic sorcerer, I’ve come up with a homebrew solution for invoking Wild Magic Surges that I quite liked and felt balanced. Instead of the DM asking for the roll, I rolled a d20 each time I cast a spell of 1st-level or higher. If a Wild Magic Surge wasn’t initiated, I would increase the number needed to roll a Wild Magic Surge (I tracked this on a M:TG life tracker d20.) This way, my primary class feature came up more often and the DM didn’t have to keep track of anything. It resulted in tons of hilarious and anxiety-ridden moments, as well.
Tides of Chaos: At first glance, this reads like an extremely useful ability. Unfortunately, RAW you can only decide to gain advantage on the roll before actually making it. While this is still good, it’s not nearly as good as the effect the Lucky feat provides or even the Seeking Spell Metamagic option.
One of the upsides is this has the ability to be recharged by rolling on the Magic Surge table, but again it’s the DM’s discretion when to roll on the table. If your DM is okay with it, we suggest letting the ability recharge automatically every time a Wild Magic Surge is activated, but this is a homebrew solution which we have not accounted for in the rating of this feature.
Fonts of Magic: Between your regular spellcasting and Bend Luck ability, you’re going to be strapped for sorcery points as they only recharge on a long rest.
Metamagic: Refer to our sorcerer guide for a full overview of the sorcerer’s Metamagic ability. Because none of the Wild Magic sorcerer’s abilities interact with Metamagic, especially because spells cast with Wild Magic Surge specifically can’t be manipulated with Metamagic, they hold the same rating at the base sorcerer class.
You gain another Metamagic option at 10th and 17th level.
Bend Luck: On reaction Bardic Inspiration/Cutting Words is great, though keep in mind it can only be used on other creatures. Spending 2 sorcery points for an average of +/-2 on a roll may seem steep, but when it’s the difference between a paladin hitting with a high-level smite or missing and doing no damage, the 2 sorcery points are definitely worth it.
It’s important to compare this feature to the Heightened Spell Metamagic option, as it’s one of the sorcerer’s most powerful options. Heightened Spell costs 3 sorcery points and is used before the saving throw is made, which makes it effective for those big moment when you need a spell to land. Bend Luck, on the other hand, only costs 2 sorcery points and can be used after you see the results. This allows you to save sorcery points for the perfect moment and more effectively gauge when to expend your precious resource.
Controlled Chaos: This gives you an even better chance of rolling a positive effect on your Wild Magic Surge table. While, RAW, you won’t be rolling often, there are some potent abilities that can swing encounters in your favor on the table. Getting to choose between two options will literally double your chances of a result that helps in your current situation.
Spell Bombardment: There’s no other way to say this, this is a disappointing capstone ability. Not only is the added damage a maximum of 5.5 (for the limited spells that have a d10 damage dice), but you need to have rolled max damage on one of your dice to even get to use this ability.
Sorcerous Restoration: While not that impressive, getting extra sorcery points is huge to make sure you have access to Metamagic every encounter. IMO this should be a 5th level ability, not a class capstone, but sorcerers unfortunately have to take what they are given.
Best Spells for Wild Magic Sorcerers 5e
We cover the best spells for sorcerers in our sorcerer guide so, in this section, we’ll discuss some spells that only apply specifically to Wild Magic sorcerers.
The most important things to remember when considering spells for Wild Magic sorcerers are:
- Bend Luck can turn a enemy’s save against your spell into a fail if they’re within 4 of your spell save DC. Reserve using this for when they only save by 1, so they’re guaranteed to fail, or for really potent debuffs.
- Spells that have attack rolls, like chromatic orb, can be given advantage with Tides of Chaos. Keep in mind, RAW this must be used before the roll.
- Fire Bolt: Your best damage dealing option. It's an attack roll, so you can gain advantage on the roll with Tides of Chaos and it's a d10 damage dice which makes it the best cantrip to use with Spell Bombardment.
- Absorb Elements: While this is normally a good defensive option, this is extremely important for Wild Magic sorcerers to stock because of the off chance they cast fireball centered on themselves with a Wild Magic Surge.
- Silvery Barbs: While normally an overpowered spell, silvery barbs is even better for Wild Magic sorcerers because they have access to Bend Luck, which can further hamper an enemy's ability to succeed on a saving throw or attack roll.
- Scorching Ray: While this is still a great spell for Wild Magic sorcerers, it's important to note that, when using Tides of Chaos with this spell, you only gain advantage on the first attack.
- Counterspell: While counterspell is normally a must-take for sorcerers, it's even more imperative to take this with Wild Magic sorcerers. There are quite a few spells that can be cast centered on yourself on the Wild Magic Surge table which can be devastating, fireball and polymorph specifically. Grabbing counterspell will give you a chance to avoid these consequences if they arise at in inopportune time.
- Dispel Magic: Always make sure at least one of your party members has this.
Best Feats for Wild Magic Sorcerers 5e
- Fey Touched: Free misty step, an ASI to CHA, and an extremely potent 1st-level spell. What's not to love? Due to their lack of known spells, sorcerers will doubly appreciate the additional spells gained by this feat. The best option would probably be silvery barbs, a ridiculously powerful reaction spell that sorcerers don't normally get access to.
- 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.
- Metamagic Adept: Naturally, sorcerers will benefit the most from this feat, giving them more than the measly 3 metamagic options they get with their class feature. While sorcerers can only use the added sorcery points for metamagic, it does allow them to have more than the cap of 20.
- Shadow Touched: Invisibility is a great spell for casters that need to get out of dodge. The free casting of invisibility and another 1st-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.
- War Caster: You already have proficiency in Constitution, which helps concentration checks, but if you want even better chances of maintaining concentration, getting advantage on your checks is a good way to do it.
Wild Magic Sorcerer 5e Build Example
For our Wild Magic sorcerer, we’re going to lean very heavily into a thematic, yet powerful, Feywild theme. Choosing the fairy race will give us access to a couple of potent spells, plus free flight that won’t be impeded because we don’t plan on wearing armor. With our first ASI, we’ll pick up Fey Touched for misty step and silvery barbs, two extremely potent spells.
Between these two options we’ll have access to 5 more spells than we normally would as a sorcerer, plus a number of free castings. Unfortunately, casting these spells for free using racial and feat abilities doesn’t trigger Wild Magic Surge, but we’re not going to worry too much about that.
We’ll be choosing the Hermit background mainly as flavor, but you can choose any that fit your Wild Magic Sorcerer.
Sources Used in This Guide
- BR: Basic Rules
- SotDQ: Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
- ERLW: Eberron: Rising from the Last War
- EEPC: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
- EGtW: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
- FToD: Fizban's Treasury of Dragon
- GGtR: Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica
- MotM: Monsters of the Multiverse
- MToF: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
- MOoT: Mythic Odyessys of Theros
- PHB: Player's Handbook
- SAiS: Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
- SCoC: Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
- SCAG: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
- TCoE: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
- TTP: The Tortle Package
- WBtW: The Wild Beyond The Witchlight
- VRGtR: Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft
- VGtM: Volo's Guide to Monsters
- XGtE: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything