How to Control the Storm Within: A Guide to the Sorcerer
So, I decided to try my hand at making some character optimization guides, this one being the third. I’ll mostly be focusing on optimization and not roleplay, so there’s always more room to add flavor to your character. Now, let’s cut right to the punch/knife/arrow.
This thread will be updated every so often. I won't have all of this ready right away, so I'll be adding to it in individual posts.
Throughout this guide, I'll be using colors to denote how useful a certain ability/race etc. is. Here's the scale:
Gold is a must have, at least in my opinion.
Green is a very good ability, but could maybe be replaced with something else.
Blue is a solid choice, but there are perhaps better ones.
Black is just average.
Red is most likely useless, or almost useless.
Gray is something that is rarely useful, but can be surprisingly good in some situations.
Sorcerer is a full spellcasting class that almost exclusively uses Charisma. They are very similar to wizards in many ways, but have a few key differences. Basically, wizards can cast a larger variety of spells and learn more spells to add to the overall pool of spells they can prepare, while sorcerers generally can manipulate their spells in different ways, and can cast them more often. Lore-wise, sorcerers are able to cast spells due to harnessing the powers of their bloodline, whereas wizards learn their spells from centuries of careful study.
Insane flexibility in spellcasting due solely to Metamagic. Metamagic is pretty much by far the most powerful trait that directly manipulates spellcasting of any class. You have several options you can choose from, including casting full action spells as bonus actions, making certain spells more powerful by upping the damage or making it harder to save successfully, or even using single target spells on two targets or excluding certain creatures from AoE effects.
A great variety of spells, both offensive and defensive. Really only rivaled by the wizard spell list, which definitely reigns supreme in sheer volume of spells.
Amazing multiclass options, with Sorcerer/Warlock and Sorcerer/Paladin being some of the best combinations possible out of all the classes.
More potential spell slots than any other class, due to sorcery points.
Less versatility in spells than wizards.
Poor defenses, with a d6 for hit dice and no armor proficiency. Draconic Ancestor is somewhat of an exception, with Natural Armor and a carbon copy of a Hill Dwarf's Dwarven Resilience.
As a sorcerer, you will almost exclusively be using Charisma. That being said, you can't just dump all the others.
Strength: Unless you plan on multiclassing into Pally, this is a dump stat for you. You really don't need anything for melee attacks.
Dexterity: While you don't need Dex for weapon fighting, you do want probably at least a +2 bonus to improve your otherwise horrible AC. Even with a +2 Dex, you'll only be able to reach an AC of 12 without mage armor or a Draconic Ancestor.
Constitution: While you desperately need hit points, you also want Con for concentration saves. Sorcerer is actually the only full spellcasting class that has proficiency in Con saving throws, so that will make your life a little easier on that end.
Intelligence: Sorcerers will almost never need Intelligence, unless you're the only person in your party who can have proficiency in Arcana.
Wisdom: Too many important saving throws ride on Wisdom to make this a dump stat. You still don't need it to be one of your highest.
Charisma: This is what you will use for literally everything.
As a sorcerer, you really want a race with Charisma, and hopefully either Dex or Con. Having a Spellcasting feature or other features that mesh nicely with sorcerer mechanics is also appreciated.
Dragonborn: Dragonborn is an interesting one. While Breath Weapon and a damage resistance is always nice, said resistance makes Draconic Ancestor's Elemental Affinity less useful. Strength also isn't the best thing to have a bonus to. Overall, a solid but not amazing choice.
Mountain Dwarf: While Con is nice, no charisma and strength is not. However, medium armor proficiency mildly makes up for this, making it not the worst choice.
Hill Dwarf: While hill dwarfs don't have Charisma either, they do have Dwarven Resilience instead of medium armor prof. Still not the best choice.
Dark Elf (Drow): Definitely not a bad choice. Some nice spells, as well as both Dex and Charisma make drow a very solid choice for a sorcerer. The only thing holding this back is Sunlight Sensitivity, but that can be worked around with relative ease.
High Elf: There is no reason to go high elf when you could be a drow and have Charisma.
Wood Elf: There is no reason to go wood elf when you could be a drow and have Charisma.
Forest Gnome: While gnome abilities are decent, no Charisma and Int are not.
Rock Gnome: Pretty much the same as forest gnome, but with Con instead of Dex.
Half-Elf: A very good choice for a sorcerer. +2 Charisma is great, and you can put the other two points in Dex and Con. You're probably better off with one of the variants, but normal half-elf certainly isn't a bad choice.
Lightfoot Halfling: Another good choice. Charisma and Dex are good, and Lucky is always nice.
Stout Halfling: Still not bad, but no charisma means there's basically no reason you should ever choose this over Lightfoot.
Half-Orc: Not bad for survivability, and becomes much better if you plan on going Sorcadin, but there are many better options otherwise.
Human: You don't need many different ability scores to be good, so Variant Human is probably the better choice (as always). Still not necessarily a bad choice.
Variant Human: Very good. It would be better, but you don't need as many feats as a sorcerer as some other builds might. You could still use something like Tough, Elemental Adept or maybe Spell Sniper even.
Tiefling: A very good choice. Tiefling spells mesh well with sorcerer, although +1 Int isn't great.
Aarakocra: While flight is great, no Charisma is not.
Air Genasi: While Con and Dex are good, no Charisma is not.
Earth Genasi: A bonus to Con and your dump stat. Nope.
Fire Genasi: Has probably the best spells out of all the genasi, but still isn't really worth it.
Water Genasi: Pretty much the same as the rest.
Deep Gnome: Basically the same as Forest Gnome, but slightly better abilities.
Goliath: You aren't a barbarian.
Fallen Aasimar: If you're planning on going Pally as well, not a bad choice. Otherwise, still not a bad choice.
Protector Aasimar: Definitely the worst of the Aasimar. Wisdom is decent, but you don't need a bonus to it.
Scourge Aasimar: Probably the best of the Aasimar. Constitution and Charisma are always good, as are Aasimar abilities in general.
Bugbear: Nope. No Charisma is almost never good, and this isn't an exception.
Firbolg: You are not a druid.
Goblin: Not too bad a choice, but still no Charisma.
Hobgoblin: Meh. Definitely not worth it.
Kenku: You aren't a rogue.
Kobold: You aren't a rogue. Not that you care about Strength, but you do care about Charisma. Still a decentish set of abilities.
Lizardfolk: You aren't a druid/cleric/someone who uses Wisdom.
Orc: While you may not care about Int, you care about Charisma. And you should probably be in the back lines, not the front.
Tabaxi: Actually pretty decent. Dex and Charisma is always nice, and Feline Agility is a nice movement buff if you need to get out fast.
Triton: Not bad. You don't care about Strength, but Con and Charisma are good, and fog cloud isn't bad. Not quite as good as Tabaxi.
Yuan-Ti: Very good, if your DM allows it. Magic Resistance is ludicrous, and poison immunity is situational but great. You don't care about Int, but the rest of the package is more than enough.
Aquatic Half-Elf: Charisma and two of your choice is great, swimming speed is too situational to be useful unless you're in an aquatic campaign.
Drow Half-Elf: A great choice. Good spells, good ASIs, and Fey Ancestry.
High Half-Elf: Meh. You don't need a cantrip based on Int, and you don't need weapons. Not bad by any means, just worse than any other half-elf.
Wood Half-Elf: More speed? Sure. Stealth? Meh . . . Not bad, but not as good as Drow Half-Elf.
Ghostwise Halfling: You want a halfling with no Charisma bonus and weird telepathy? Didn't think so.
Feral Tiefling: Normal tiefling is just straight up better.
Githyanki: You don't care about Strength, but you do care about Charisma. I s'pose medium armor isn't bad, but it's not necessary.
Githzerai: Still no Charisma and worse abilities for a sorcerer.
Baalzebul Tiefling: Normal tiefling with worse spells. There is no reason to ever choose this variant.
Dispater Tiefling: Meh. Normal tiefling has more damage oriented spells, but these spells aren't bad. Dex is nice, making this overall not a bad option.
Fierna Tiefling: You don't care about Wisdom, but these spells are nice if you're going a little more of the enemy control path (which is a somewhat odd choice for a sorcerer, but not necessarily a bad one). Suggestion is especially potent.
Glasya Tiefling: Better for rogues, but still not a bad option for a stealthier sorcerer. Dex is always nice.
Levistus Tiefling: Imo, the best tiefling for sorcerer. Con is always great (Levistus is the only tiefling that gives a bonus to Con) and all the spells are good. I could see this definitely being gold with a multiclass in Warlock (for Devil's Sight).
Mammon Tiefling: Completely useless spells and a bonus to Int. Much better options exist everywhere.
Mephistopheles Tiefling: Not a bad choice. Pretty good spells, although Int is meh. Probably not as good as the other blue tieflings.
Zariel Tiefling: Strength is almost always a dump stat, thereby making bonuses to it and smite spells pretty much useless.