[size=+3]U[/size]ntil now, there has been no guide for creating a sorcerer to be found here on Gleemax. Alastar started on one, but nothing has happened there for quite some time. Perhaps because there are already three really good handbooks for wizards, nobody cares. After all, most of it applies to sorcerers too. (You can check out Solo's guide @ Brilliant Gameologists, this old thing and this other sorcerer guide over at Giant's, but personally I didn't find much useful in the latter.)
ATT! There is a new and more exhaustive guide in collaborate making that you should most definitely check out!
So instead of simply parroting what others, both smarter and better informed, have said before me, I simply urge you to read through The Logic Ninjas,Dictum Mortuums and Treatmonklvl20's guides and walk back enlightened and inspired! I have taken the liberty of using Treatmonk's superb "guide to wizards: being a god” as my vade mecum, only tweaking the wizardry cleverness to better suit a sorcerer. Treatmonk himself states that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That makes me a sincere guy.
Not aiming to serve a complete PrC, spell and feat smorgasbord, I simply purport to wangle you a finest selection. My PrC section may appear shorter than Napoleon’s dick, but it’s actually intentional. If you like another PrC or build variety, of course you should go for it. I'm only pointing to the powerful ones, not the well designed, interesting, colourful or whatever alternatives. Focus here is on usability and power, even though personally I mostly like to bask in the sorcerer's flavor. It's not like we're into D&D for fun anyways, is it?
If any of the images seem to be missing, try to re-load the page.
[sub]Found this guide lacking info? Read the other guides![/sub]
[size=+1]Concerning passionate sorcerers and stiff wizards[/size]
[size=+3]G[/size]enerally, sorcerers are thought of as the prettier but less useful cousin of the wizard. But you know what that makes the hard working wizard right? The strikingly ugly, boring and forever studying cousin with a lousy love-life. And if a sorcerer dies, it will make for a beautiful corpse, not a pile of dusty books.
Alas, because the sorcerer learns fewer spells she’s easier to play as a newbie. Much of the power of the wizard comes from the sheer number of different spells. Versatility is power in the hands of an experienced player who knows how to deal with every situation with the right variety of a certain spell such as published in a certain splat book and so on. For us mere mortals, versatility is certainly nice but not ground shattering. Would your DM allow a 10 minute break in the midst of a battle for you to find that spiffy spell you remember having read about? You’ve probably heard that Polymorph (and similar) is broken. It’s because in the hands of a geeky enough player it means she always has an answer to any situation.
A straight up, non-tweaked sorcerer is typically rated 7/10 on the countless of "rate power level of each class" threads. But sorcerers have enjoyed somewhat of a CO board popularity upswing lately due to having more powerful min-maxing options available than the typical Power Classes, like the archivist, artificer, cleric, druid, psion and wizard; it's up to you if you make use of this or not. I’m going to (try) provide you with sorcerer build tips that make your character both easy to make and easy to play while still being a very powerful arcane caster.
The best thing is the "spontaneous casting" advantage. It makes it easier for new players to avoid any potholes and you don't have to be all that meticulous with your spell management. How many Dispel Magic the group will need is hard to predict but with a sorcerer this doesn't bother as much. So sorcerer advantages are:
Spontaneous casting. More spells per day than a standard wizard. Easier for the player. First-class cheese available. Looks. Like, really.
Why are sorcerers generally considered less powerful than wizards then?
Sorcerers don’t get any bonus feats. Sorcerers learn very few spells. Hits harder as you go up in levels. Few spells and feats also hampers the numeral of florid rules tricks or scintillating combos that can be jumped. Sorcerers can’t specialize in schools to gain substantially more spells per day. Sorcerers most importantly trail wizards one spell casting level.
[sub]...except for taking camera posing really seriously.[/sub]
[size=+1]Out of combat:[/size]
Prince Charming? The sorcerer can make for a decent party face, with her high charisma. Should you have a bard in the group she’s bound to have better social skills, but save a bard, you are likely to do most of the talking and most likely all the smiling. It might be worth it to learn some spells to compensate for the lack of skill points, but in this guide I’m not going to focus on this. It’s not part of my optimizing strategy but if you want the necessary spells there are some useful ones to be found if you look through the Players Handbook and Spell Compendium. I believe that if she wants to be useful outside of combat a sorcerer should focus on the social area and let the rogue handle the rest. You can get to decide things. You know, control the storyline.
Don’t even try to fill the role of the Utility Caster unless you are willing to become a Mage of the Arcane Order (which I believe you should). If not, tell them to buy items instead. Or get themselves a boring utility type wizard full of exciting spells like Teleport and Knock. (Attempt at irony.)
[sub]D&D wizards are known to smile up to the age of 16. There are no records of an adolescent wizard ever smiling, save evil variants who have been known to sort of snare as they laugh hollowly. (Gandalf's not D&D, folks.) The guy on the right, however, is clearly a sorcerer in spe.[/sub]
Just like the wizard, you are bound to make the biggest impact by buffing your friends, de-buffing you enemies and trying to control the battlefield. But if you find it exhilarating to blast stuff, by all means, blast.
The Blaster Sorcerer: As a sorcerer you can pig out the whole blowup scene just as good as any grotty battle wizard without losing out much on the other arenas in the process. If you already have some sort of cannon in the group, something like an arcane archer or a rangery guy with a big bow, you should learn a spell or two with area effects to complement them. Keep in mind that spells with direct damage only (e.g. Fire-ball) are generally not at all as good as spells with at least some other effect (e.g. Maw of Chaos). Even as a blaster sorcerer you don’t need more than a few different spells to pull off the violence. How you blow monsters up is not very important. Blast or no blast, be sure to pick good spells to help out in the other areas also. Otherwise, you are playing nothing but a cannon sans a big stack of ammo.
The more Optimized Sorcerer does more than blast stuff: A wizard is best suited to control the battlefield, buffing and de-buffing. I believe this is true also for a sorcerer, although not to the same degree, because fewer spells lend her less precision.
What does it mean to control the battlefield anyways? It means you control who, when and how the other guys attack each other. The king of control spells is Time Stop. But even lowly spells like Grease can let you control who takes part in a battle for a couple of rounds. Don’t stare at a spells damage potential in a one-on-one situation. Instead go for spells that makes your whole party deadlier and makes your enemies look stupid. Since we can never compete with a wizard’s versatility we have to choose our spells very carefully. A sorcerer doesn't have that single Gust of Wind prepared. Neither should she.
How do we control the battlefield then? Don’t choose specialized spells. Go for spells that almost always do the trick. Perhaps Glitterdust, Cloud spells, Great Thunderclap, Wall of X. Definitely Wings of Flurry. Nerveskitter is another perfect example of pure sorcerer win right there. Just keep on casting them and enjoy the win.
De-buffing: A wizard can have a de-buffing spell ready for any situation. When you play a sorcerer, learn only the most useful ones and use them a lot. Enervation with Arcane Thesis cheese is a typical way of achieving this. By that I mean you pile up on metamagic and use Enervation all the time, on everything that moves, or even twitches a little, because you can drain over 20 levels without even a save. But you don’t have to be that boring to get the job done. Preferably choose a couple of different de-buffing spells so you can target your enemy’s weakness. Ray of Stupidity for example is excellent against the right dumb monster but worthless against most BigBadEvilGuys, since they tend to come with a functioning neocortex.
Buffing: The sorcerer can really excel in the buffing business. She can litter the party with buffs, in fact even more so than a cleric (unless he stuffs his backpack with Nightsticks and goes Divine Metamagic on us). Buffing your Big Stupid Fighter is always worth it. If you don’t Haste your BSF it’s because he already has access to it to it through equipment or otherwise because you are doing something wrong. The most common example of why a spell dealing direct damage is inferior to a spell with more indirect effects is to compare Fire Ball with Haste. After a couple of rounds with your BSF on Haste crack he is likely to having dished out way more extra damage than your average Fireball ever could hope to do.
[size=+3]I[/size]t all depends on what books your DM allows. I’m going to assume everything WotC has published flies, including level adjustment buyoffs. (See Unearthed Arcana.) Without LA buyoff, you’re better off playing something with no level adjustments at all. Just like the wise guys say in the wizard guides above, effective caster levels are crucial to any arcane caster. ECL is not to be confused with the ordinary CL, caster level. CL is important, mostly because it determines the DC for your spells, but real ECL is the spellcasting level you have mastered, regardless of other class levels or ability adjustments; thus for example setting the limits for how high leveled spells you can cast.
Aasimar, lesser: (Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting + Races of Faerün + Players Guide to Faerün p.191) No LA, +2Wis, +2Cha, darkvision, extra resistance and some other minor benefits. Not outsiders, but susceptible to spells affecting both outsiders and humans. All in all a very good deal.
Bozak: (Dragon Magazine #315) Gish goodie. LA+3 and 4 monster (d12) HD - including good saves and 2 feats. +8NA, spell resistance 14 + class level, some typical draconic extras. The pudding here is the free +3 sorcerer ECL (Effective Casting Level), so if you can buy off the LA you are only one ECL from even-steven with a standard sorcerer.
[sub]High charisma can come by looking cool instead of gorgeous. E.g. beard, beer and a Harley. This Bozak painting is beautiful isn't it? [/sub]
Typical gish PrC's would be Spellsword, Abjurant Champion and Eldritch Knight. I will not focus on melee type sorcerers in this handbook but there are other guides on the subject. (A gish is an arcane fighter basically.)
Chaos Gnome: (Races of Stone) LA+1, +2 Dex, +2 Con, +2 Cha (the important abilities). Luck of Chaos means you can re-roll once per day. Sticking with 3.5E means you can play what you want. Hmm, doesn't an intelligent virus strike you as perfect sorcerer material? Be as it may with viruses; gnomes has one thing going for them that other races don't: they can become Shadowcraft Mages.
[sub]"4E suck!!! This lair thing isn't as cool as it seemed once the mold takes hold of your undergarments! Is this live? I have more to say!"[/sub]
Fey Touched: (Fiend Folio) LA+1, gives +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Con. Immune to mind affecting spells and can use Charm once per day. Not worth it but adds personality.
Hellbred: (Fiendish Codex II) No LA, able to focus on her spirit to swap -2Con for +2Cha, certainly not a bargain but worth it for most. Going infernal comes with some minor extras and lots of evil flavour. Perhaps not the most optimized race, but let me remind you Hell has snatched almost all the best rock musicians.
[sub]In D&D there are 13 a dozen men who never knew their father. No wonder there are so many wars going on.[/sub]
Human: Extra skill point and bonus feat covers up the sorcerer's weakest spots. Never a bad choice.
[sub]Your typical human, except this one has added some sort of weird template.[/sub]
Kobold, Venerable Dragonwrought Desert variant: (Races of the Dragon.) Hands down the prizewinning cheesy sorcerer race. No level adjustment; -4 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Con as kobold. But being an old fart means you get +3 Int, +3 Wis, +3 Cha, while having the Dragonwrought feat means you can ignore any negative effects from ageing except wrinkles. So total +9 abilities for the price of one feat. Wham bam thank you mam. I recommend the desert variant, swapping -2 Con for for -2 Wis instead. Being a kobold most importantly means you can take the Greater Draconic Rite of Passage (From the Web Enhancement). By sacrificing a measly 3+1 hp, taking one lousy feat (Draconic Reservoir) and spending 1100gp you get to bump your ECL by one. This alone lets us catch up with the wizards and is why the kobold sorcerer is so good. No LA means we can also afford to add a template with a sting. (Also, Loredrake springs to mind, for a total of +3 real effective sorcerer levels.)
[sub]Mixing two good things is the way to go! You all know these guys right? Now you can have it both ways![/sub]
Petal: (Monster Manual 3) Att: Listed as Cohort only. Ask your DM first! LA+2 gives absolutely insane abilities: -8 Str (use table in DMG p172), +10 Dex, +4 Con, +4 Int, +8 Cha. Damage reduction -5 (cold iron). A petal can fly (60ft) and is tiny, thus you get supreme survivability even through low levels and über-cuteness all-in-one. Beats me how WotC added this up to a mere LA+2.
With a petal, it's a kids game to qualify for whatever PrC you feel like entering (high Int) and still have supreme Dex & Con. You won't miss with your ray spells, that's for sure. (Would make a good rogue, wouldn't it?)
[sub]Petal pixies galore. Actually the left and center pic show pixies of fine size, because according to DMG tiny creatures weigh in between 0.45 to 0.9 kg which is way more than even the mouse steed there. But they are so cuuute I couldn't resist![/sub]
Spellscale: (RotD) No LA, -2 Con, +2 Cha, some extras, blood quickening meditations, gain dragonblood subtype. The meditations are useful e.g. let’s you use a metamagic feat up to three times that day. Decent race, but by RotD standards, nothing to get excited about unless you like the flavor.
[sub]A spellscale. Get used to this type of picture.[/sub]
Star Elf: (Unapproachable East) No LA, -2Dex, +2Cha, some extra magic resistance, extraplanar type and standard elfy traits like low light vision. OK I guess, but not optimized or anything.
[sub]Without Will Ferrell - no Star in Elf![/sub]
Other races: Anything with no LA goes and any bonus to Cha is good. Fancy a Strongheart Halfling? Sure, why not? You get a bonus feat and small size, which is an advantage for a caster.
Low Str is no worse than low heels, it only matters (male only) if your date is taller. Simply dump Str and forget about it. (Or as the artist formerly known as Prince would have you believe, it matters because all women are taller, so don't go cheap on the heels.) Wis doesn’t matter too much either. (Apparently it's likewise in the entertainment industry.)
[size=+3]D[/size]on’t be afraid to pile up with more than one template. As long as there’s no LA, feel free to freak out! This is D&D. It’s supposed to be weird.
Dragonborn of X: (RotD) No LA, -2 Dex, +2 Con, flight, some nifty extras, a breath weapon, gain dragonblood subtype = excellent template. Having the dragonblood subtype is a must these days.
[sub]Yep. At least one drop or you're a loser in this game![/sub]
White Dragonspawn: (Dragonlance Campaign Setting) LA+1 gives us +2 Dex, +2 Con, +7 NA, Flight and +1 Effective Caster Level – absurd but hey, I didn’t write the rules. Race ahead of the wizards while still casting spontaneously! Or make a gish with Fly-by attack? White Dragonspawn is THE sorcerer template!
Concerning the Loredrake combo: The dragonspawn template can be added to any corporeal or monstrous humanoid of small to large size. That does not include dragons, so you need to be inventive to combine it with Loredrake (see below). E.g. some feat or PrC that let's you count as both humanoid and dragon. Also, this would mix two different settings. Perhaps it's just not meant to be and frankly it's bordering Pun-Pun land.
The Dragonspawn was nerfed in Dragons of Krynn. I don't have this book, but reportedly it states that unless you stay dominated by the dragon who created you, level adjustment should be +2 (so better go green or black spawn then?). If you don't have Dragons of Krynn, you don't have Dragons of Krynn problems. For the love of Tiamat (in this case), don't buy Dragons of Krynn. In fact, stay clear of anything Dragons of Krynn. What's to like about Dragons of Krynn anyways?
[sub]Life IRL is not as weird. To most sane persons, this is a good thing.[/sub]
Half Fiend: (FF) LA+2, +2 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Wis, +4 Cha. Gain spell like abilities 1/day that scale from Glitterdust up to Otto's Irresistible Dance. Very appealing but not worth 2 levels really. But then again, if the rest of your build is LA+0 you can add something like this and buy it off. Anything totaling maximum LA+2 is easy enough to handle.
Loredrake: (Dragons of Eberron) This is not a template but it fits better to present it here than any other section. If you are a "true dragon" you can chose to become a loredrake. Increases effective sorcerer level by TWO, kid you not. Sacrifice is, quoting from the source: "In exchange, the dragon’s racial Hit Dice are reduced to d10s." (I.e. losing out on one hitpoint per level.) As you would expect, what constitutes a "true dragon" is debatable, but Read As Written, the feat Dragonwrought (see below) should suffice. As always, this is up to your DM. If a sappy kobold is considered a real dragon it could be argued they also (as dragons do) qualify for epic feats (see Draconomicon). The whole kobold=dragon thing is at least heating the CO forums up. Loredrake more or less single-handedly bumps the sorcerer ahead of wizards, psions and what have you on the power ladder.
(Read As Intended, I'd say only dragons with D12 hit dices are real enough for this unprecedented cheese (be sure to scroll down because the original post contains rules errors) of the smelliest kind. But this is the CO board so who am I to even consider something as futile as RAI?)
Necropolitan: (Libris Mortis) Lose a level, get d12 Hit Dices and a blank Con-score. Cool for a Gish. But it changes your type to undead so be aware you can't also be draconic at the same time. If you are planning to use this template you can pick a race with really lousy Con and cash in on the corresponding benefits. Lots of flavour.
[size=+3]D[/size]ont't spend on Wis and definitely dump Str. Str is absolutely pointless and your will save will be good anyways. I cannot present you with “the best way to distribute your ability scores” because it all depends on what prestige class you are planning to take. Not to mention that whatever I write here will be contested. I know people will cut me down saying I should put more into the key stat – Cha. But if I were to play a human sorcerer straight, without any PrC, I would use my scores something like this, because I'm a known coward and mostly aim to ameliorate survival:
Random roll Put the highest stat to Cha. If your third highest is at least 14, put the second highest to Dex, otherwise, put the second highest to Con.
Elite array Str 8 Wis 10 Int 12 Dex 13 Con 14 Cha 15
20 point buy Str & Int & Wis 8, Dex & Con 14, Cha 15
25 point buy Str & Wis 8, Int 11, Dex & Con 14, Cha 16
30 point buy Str & Wis 8, Int 12, Con 14, Dex 16, Cha 16
Note: Always check on the skill rank requirements of the PrC’s you wish to enter. You may need to boost your Int score to make the draft. This is often a truly problematic sorcerer tight spot. Note: You DO want to PrC. Check again.
Good substitution levels:[/size]
[size=+3]I[/size] haven't found that many good enough to recommend. Until I do, this has to suffice:
Dragonblood sorcerer: (RotD) Gain Draconic Heritage feat and +2 Knowledge Arcana insight bonus. No penalties. This means you get Dragonblood subtype which carries some spellcasting bonuses for no cost. Substitutes level 1, the level 4 & 7 follow-ups are crap.
Planar sorcerer: (Planar Handbook) When about to take your 5th, 9th and 13th level of sorcerer. That means only the first is feasible at all. We're not taking more than maximum 6 levels of sorcerer, remember. The level 5 substitution level grants the ability to switch out any special damage like acid, sonic or such, for pure energy on all spells one level lower than your maximum. Good against some foes. Lose one level 2 spell slot. The trade is advantageous only in special circumstances with the right spell(s) in mind.
Your head is so up the “dragonblood” ass thing. Why? Because it carries no drawbacks and raises your caster level on some spells. For Wings of Cover, it even makes the spell much more powerful. The whole sorcerer business is patented dragon magic stuff to begin with. Join them or risk being sued.
...and stay clear of the Battle Sorcerer pimp-up and anything else that hinders your spellcasting. No matter how fancy-pancy it may look you'll regret it, at least if you lose any crucial caster levels. Also don't play an ugly Dwarf sorcerer, please.
[sub]Nothing's too weird for D&D. Just as long as it carries a bite, go for it![/sub]
Nice alternative class features:[/size]
[size=+3]T[/size]here are not that many good ones. Stay away from anything messing with your spellcasting – stuff like Stalwart Sorcerer is taboo. I mention only three for now:
Divine Companion: (Complete Champion) Give up your familiar and gain your own little spirit (deity of choice). The spirit can hold spells to be casted later on. The stored spells can also be transformed into healing and shielding. Quite nice, but not very thrifty if you can get contingency by other means.
I thought I'd never say this, but Dictum Mortuum does not offer a guide on this subject. Where's the world coming to huh?
Domain Access: (CC) When hitting level 5, give up one level 1 and one level 2 spell slot. In return, gain access to one priestly domain. Preposterous unless you plan to devote yourself with Sacred Exorcist, in which case this ACF may be the holy grail of DMM access. I remain doubtful. (Please read about DMM and Sacred Exorcist, below, for more info on this.)
Metamagic specialist: (Players Handbook II) Again, sacrifice your familiar, gain the ability to 3+Int mod/day cast spells as with the Rapid Metamagic feat, free. I really like this, but be sure to read Dictum Mortuums guide to familiars before you choose to like it too. Great in combination with the Arcane Spellsurge cheese (see below).
[size=+3]F[/size]laws: If your DM allows flaws, take them. I suggest Non-combatant, Inattentive, Murky-eyed. It's almost like free feats! (Peek here and here.)
[sub]Wear even your flaws with pride! Feet shoes, anyone?[/sub]
[size=+3]F[/size]eats: (In alphabetic order.)
Accelerate Metamagic: (RotD) Available earlier than Rapid Metamagic and good for use with Arcane Spellsurge. In all other aspects utterly inferior to Rapid.
Arcane Thesis: (PHB2) This is a superb feat for some builds. If you plan to use a particular spell a lot, get AT for it.
The special AT build (e.g. on Scorching Ray): Take Eschew Materials (-1), Snowcasting (+0), Energy Substitution (-1), Energy Admixture (+3), for a total of +1 on the spell level and a respectful damage potential. Add more Energy Admixtures (and Split Ray of course) as you gain levels. No room for anything else makes this less tempting, but you could end up as the direct damage governator, german accent and all.
Craft Contingent Spell (CA) Extremely useful feat that lets you store spell(s) until a trigger sets it lose. Saving the day sooner or later, but be aware there are spells and items that also do the very same thing, so don't use up a feat if you can get access to contingency by other means.
Divine Metamagic: (Complete Divine) DMM is the s h i t. By giving up turning attempts you lower the metamagic spell level increases. Since the left hand of WoTC seldom knows what the right hand is up to, in classic fashion they missed that Nightsticks (Libris Mortis) is a ridiculously cheap and simple way to brake this. Apparently there is an errata stating DMM may only be used on divine spells. This complicates things for sorcerers who take the Sacred Exorcist PrC. If it takes too much effort to get the whole DMM thing going, well, at some point it makes more sense to play a cleric to begin with instead of a squishy sorcerer who sort of wants to become one. Read more about this in the PrC section below.
Draconic Heritage Feats: (RotD) Adds flavor to your character, but does little to augment your spellcasting or help you to qualify for a PrC. From an optimizers standpoint that makes them bad choices. Except for Dragonwrought and Draconic Reservoir:
Dragonwrought: (RotD p39 & 100) A must if you create an old kobold. Lets you ignore any detrimental aging effects and changes your type from humanoid to dragon. How far you go in exploiting the latter is up to you and your DM.
Feats to avoid: Don’t waste a feat on things you can achieve by other means. Even a normally good feat like Improved Initiative is wasteful since your initiative is going to rule anyways if you pick up the right gear and spells.
Metamagic feats in general: Metamagic feats are generally good, but be careful to plan how you are going to use them. Remember they add to casting time unless you use Accelerate Metamagic, Rapid Metamagic and or Metamagic Specialist.
Persistent Spell: (Complete Arcane) This is one major reason people rave about the Incantatrix / Incantatar. Extend Spell is a prerequisite but it’s a no-brainer if you take at least 3 levels of Incantatrix or, maybe, one level Sacred Exorcist. (Read about DMM above.) There are full threads about this, for example here and here ...and of course how to cheese it. As a sorcerer I guess you’d want to persist Draconic Might, Draconic Polymorph and of course Arcane Spellsurge. Depending on how you choose to interpret the “fixed range” description or use the Ocular Spell feat, go and persist spells like Freezing Glance too. 4 levels of Spellguard of the Silvery Moon (Player's guide to Faerün) could become interesting, while we're at it. Your local Monster’s Union may call for a strike of course; but you know about the omelet and the eggs right? Well, monsters are your eggs from now on.
Practical Metamagic: (RotD) If you can spare a feat, get it for something like Empower and use it all the time. Very good feat.
Rapid Metamagic: (CM) "When you apply a metamagic feat to a spontaneously cast spell, the spell takes only its normal casting time." Mother superior feat for a sorcerer with other good metamagic feats but without access to Persistent Spell. Sorcerers should always make use of metamagic. But, as noted, be warned that since it's not optional to apply it you may thwart your plans with Arcane Spellsurge.
Tailormade prestige classes
[size=+3]T[/size]aking the sorcerer straight is not an option. It plain sucks. There isn’t a single bonus to be found in any of the sucky sorcerer levels anywhere so jump off the bandwagon ASAP; which preferably means no more than 5 levels of sorcerer.
[sub]Judging by most pics, good multitasking abilities is an arcane must.[/sub]
Watch out for the skill requirements, which can become overwhelming with 2+Int skill points and a poor Int score. Remember we may, perchance, want skill points for Spellcraft and Knowledge Arcana also. Concentration is highly touted but it’s a typical all-or-nothing choice. Either you obtain a really good concentration check or you skip it and make sure you don’t need it in the first place. Casting defensively is, by and large, needed in a party with poor battle tactics. Play smart and you seldom need to roll a concentration check. (All the more so if you have Wings of Cover on your spell list.)
Another problem is the lack of bonus feats because many good PrC comes with otherwise useless feats as entry requirements. Using items that grant feats is rather risky. If they are dispelled or lost you lose everything the PrC depending on it gave you the moment you no longer meet the entry requirements.
One way to gain extra feats that actually stays is via locations, e.g. Otyugh’s Hole, granting Iron Will. Check out this page! Collecting the right feats is better than monthly retirement saving – you will benefit from it before your best career!
I like the same PrC’s as the wizard guides authors do. But there are some PrC’s that I feel I need to mention yet again, due to maneageble entry requirements and great benefits:
Anima Mage: (Tome of Magic) (Just to say a few words about it so we can move on.) Accompanying the binders are tons of options, rules and tricks. I'm not going to even try. Use the Precocious Apprentice feat to enter early on. Keep in mind the problems with DMM are not solved by the Vestige specialty. If you're curious about what a dip in this may do for you, by all means read through the Anima Mage handbook and if you have a weekend to spare, the Consolidated Binder Handbook. I wish you the best of luck.
[sub]Difference between Anima and Animé mage is subtle in text but sometimes a picture tells more th... Blah. Cute girl anyways.[/sub]
While on the subject of ambitious reading, there are a lot of arcane info to be found in the Artificer handbook. (Artificer is a base class though.)
Fatespinner: (CA) Basically demands 5 ranks in a rather useless skill: Profession Gambler. But you also need 10 ranks of (useful) Knowledge Arcana and being able to cast spells of level 4. So this is most likely not your first PrC.
Fatespinner gives the opportunity to re-roll with a vengeance once in a while. That's not too shabby. Never ever take more than 4 levels of Fatespinner or you lose caster levels. If you have a couple of levels left over, have a look at this PrC!
[sub]Supposedly a Fatespinner. Better check again because if she is, you may need to re-roll that Wis check right away.[/sub]
Fiendblooded: (Heroes of Horror) The entry requirements are steep: You must be fiend blooded humanoid. Must be non-good. 8 ranks in Knowledge Arcana, Knowlegde the Planes and Concentration. Feats: Blood to Blood (worthless) and Eschew Materials (may become useful).
Your familiar can gain the Fiendish Subtype. More importantly you get several ability boosts and even extra spellslots! All levels except the last are garnished with absolutely delicious free candy. Stay away from level 10 or you lose a caster level. Tasty.
[sub]Fiendblooded. Could've been related to Vlad Dracul as far as I can tell. More of the same, as usual.[/sub]
Incantatrix: (Players Guide to Faerün variant is best, Magic of Faerun is an earlier version anyways.) The skill requirements are ranks in Concentration, Knowledge Arcana and Spellcraft, all good stuff. Not your best bet if you started with a low point buy or picked a race with an Int penalty, considering you will want to max out your Spellcraft check. As an Incantatrix you need at least a decent Int score to benefit the most from all the extras.
But 4 levels pays back the feat you needed to enter the class and gives the very important “Metamagic Effect”, meaning you can persist stuff (like Arcane Spellsurge.) And if we take all 10 levels we can go sorcerer haywire with “Improved Metamagic”. Don't be fooled by the wizard guides advice to ban the evocation school. Those losers only say that because they can't cast the Wings of X spells. Ban enchantment or something instead. Lots of bonuses, ridiculously low entry req... Incantatrix rocks big time for any arcane caster, as simple as that.
There isn't a better PrC in any WoTC book anywhere. Power, power, power!
[sub]Well it said where I found this picture he's an Incantatar. But in all honesty he looks like any arcane spellcaster. They all look the same, don't they?[/sub]
Metamagic Effect lets the Incantatrix add any metamagic she knows to a spell after the spell has been cast, thus not increasing the spell level at all. To do this, she must make a Spellcraft check of 18 + 3 x spell level including any metamagic increase. Persistent spell is the the metamagic effect normally used for this. It's designed to add +6 to the spell level. The extra time of the procedure doesn't bother us and we can happily go and persist rather crazy stuff - even if the spell level would, in normal circumstances, shoot up to a mindbogging 15. Thus, to persist a level 9 spell like Shapeshift, the Spellcraft DC is 18 + 3 x (9+6) = 63.
Spellcraft check of 63 sounds high? Have a look at the bottom of my recommended items list! 63 take ten is a kid's game with the right stuff, tricks and friends.
A persisted spell lasts 24 hours instead of its normal duration. That means buffs like e.g. Arcane Spellsurge, whose intended drawbacks are their very short duration, become extremely powerful. Luckily the number of times an Incantatrix can do this is limited to 3 + Int mod numbers per day. Still, you can buff up just before making night, regain all spells come morning and still be buffed lunatic for the following day's monstrous cave. Have a look at the "Bite of" spells in SpC for a whiff of the boundless insanity awaiting.
Initiate of the Sevenfold Veils: (CA) Truly harsh sine qua non (just kidding: this is nothing but a snooty way of saying entry req's yet again and I wanted to sound refined by not repeating it) proscribe this PrC from being stand out sorcerer material. But I mention it because of the unbeatable defensive capabilities, monumental sapidity and formidable roleplaying merits. Those blessed with high int and some sort of feat sweepstake (like a petal with two flaws and a location feat) should consider these 7 jampacked PrC levels after which the TPK odds will shoot through the roof.
Mage of the Arcane Order: (Complete Arcane) Getting access to the spellpool brakes the cuffs of limited spell selection. It’s of no use in battle because of the extra round of concentration but it will give you every tool you need in between the stress situations. This makes MotAO one of the best sorcerer PrC out there. You need only take 1 level of it to gain a lot, but I’d suggest 2 so you can cash in on the bonus feat. Taking more than 4 levels may be good but is not as important because most of the utility spells are of lower levels. Well, not Teleport, but you get my point. I’m thinking spells like Detect Thoughts or Knock. With MotAO you have them ready at your disposal, exactly when you need it. Rather low entry requirements too: basically 3 feats of which only one is wasted - any metamagic feat (which you want anyways), Arcane Preparation (Complete Arcane) and Cooperative Spell (CA) - one of which you get back right away.
Another good thing is that you can jump MotAO from level 6 and use the central knowledge skills and especially the spell pool to help you move along into your next PrC further on. There are a lot of PrC's which demand "able to cast this and that spell", which you meet for free instead of losing out on a spell slot on a second hand spell.
[sub]If you make SAT you should educate yourself appropriately. A map for the apprentice MotAO.[/sub]
Sacred Exorcist: (CD) For those good-aligned sorcerers who secretly wish they were clerics, find a way to take 10 ranks in Knowledge the Planes and 7 ranks in Knowledge Religion; waste a spell slot on Dismissal (or use the classic trick: take 4 levels of MotAO first) and go fundamentalist in your local church. In return, get a long list of cleric extras: things like Chosen Foe (+vs that foe), constant aura of Consecrate and… tadaaa (drumroll): Turn Undead. This, as you may have guessed, opens up for Divine Metamagic. DMM, naturally, smells cheesier than an old Roquefort. But writing a handbook like this means I’m obligated to mention it or I'd risk my thick nerdy glasses. This way a sorcerer can participate in the most abused feat fest in the D&D business. Even if you don't, sacred exorcist has a lot to offer, should you find a decent way to obtain the skill ranks required.
NOTE: Errata limits Divine Metamagic to divine spells only. At least check with your DM. Be sure not to focus on the divine side of life because the arcane side is the only real advantage a sorcerer has over a real cleric. If you run into problems, there are work-arounds, worth it or not: *Play a Mulan Human and take the Southern Magician feat (Races of Faerün). *Take feat: Alternative Source Spell (Dungeon Magazine 325). In order for this to work you must also have Arcane Preparation, because you need to prepare the spells. Not a problem as you will only cast them buff spells the divine way (arcane buffs too!) when you do your persistent cheese routine in the morning. But it's feat intensive, so at least have the decency to take two levels of MotAO first and cash in on the Arcane Preparation twice. *Have a look at the Geomancer. Unfortunately, I don't have the Masters of the Wild book, so I can't help you out. *ACF Domain Access, see above. Protection domain probably. Very questionable from an optimizers standpoint.
[sub]A sacred exorcist. I know what you're thinking. But you can forget about gaining any armour proficiency. Get real.[/sub]
Sandshaper: (Sandstorm) This PrC is one of the overlooked sorcerer gems I'd like to bring to your attention. It's so-so for a wizard but jam packed with extra versatility and tricks when used for a sorcerer. Requirements: Any neutral alignment, 4 ranks Survival and Knowledge Nature (not sorcerer class skills), apart from being an arcane caster of minimum level 5. The first level of Sandshaper denies any caster level increase, so I never even bothered to read on. But let me cite from the text: "When casting arcane spells in any sort of waste terrain, your caster level is considered to be one level higher than your actual caster level. Even in nonwaste environments, as long as you carry 15 or more pounds of sand as part of your equipment, you gain the benefit of this class feature." So you need but drag around a sack of sand to immediately catch up on the lost caster level and continue to gain some really outstanding benefits:
First and foremost, as a Sandshaper, you receive a big load of spells known. No, a truckload. Actually, no, more like Darth Vader emptied his command ship on you. All in all 36 new spells from level 0 to 5 to cast whenever you feel like it. (Actually 45 spells level 0-9, but we don't want more than 5 levels of sandshaper or we continue to lose caster levels.) From the book again: "If you are a spontaneous caster (such as a sorcerer), these spells are available to you like any other spell you know." For a sorcerer, this is almost too good to be true. Most of the spells are a tad more useful in a sandy environment but there are some decent ones in there. Adding to the pleasure, from level 5 and while in wasteland you can 3/day use a metamagic effect without increasing the spell level slot or even having the feat. Say hello to free Twin Spell or perhaps 3 free Persisted buffs every morning without even having Extend Spell. (Synergizes with Arcane Spellsurge, see spell below.) On top of this you can transform yourself into sand, control sand and make new objects out of sand. Great PrC and if in a wasteland campaign it's Hard Rock! (Even considering the rocks are teeny tiny. Funny?)
[sub]Becoming a sandshaper may be a no-brainer in a desert campaing as long as you feel comfortable with your rather artifical new look.[/sub]
Shadowcraft Mage: (Races of the Stone) For gnomes only, this amazing PrC is the best reason you'll find for playing a gnome sorcerer! Need to be able to cast 4th level spells (minimum 3 illusion), Spell Focus illusion and 4 ranks of Bluff and Hide. The power of the Shadowcraft Mage kicks in from level 3, when the class offers "Shadow Illusion", effectively letting the mage mimick any evocation, conjuration (creation), or conjuration (summoning) spell. As you can imagine this does flexibility wonders for any spellcaster. Even more so for sorcerers! A single spell slot can do all kinds of things by using Shadow Illusion, even in the midst of battle. The workarounds for accomplishing this without the drawbacks originally intended by WoTC are a bit complicated for me to summarize here and since you can find a top notch easy-to-read handbook on the subject I'd rather point you towards the right thread instead. Sorcerer example here.
[size=+1]Bjorsa's complete list of swell spells:[/size]
Polysyllabic enough to hide. Everybody kept asking for a more complete list so here goes - a sorcery selection:Show
[sub]Easy to SPELL?[/sub]
Red = damage Purple = de-buff and save-or in general Blue = control Green = buff Yellow = utility outside of battle Brown = general survival or doesn't fit the above
Spells of different levels: Summon Monster X - Fits a sorcerer because it's versatile and repeatable. Use the summoned lackey to trigger traps, block corridors, create combat advantage etc. I'd say pick one Summon Monster X but don't waste two slots. Level 3 & 4 are stacked with good spells, so take Summon Monster @ some other level. Orb of X - Nice direct damage spells for the meta-magic blaster sorcerer. (As far as dd spells go.)
[size=+1]Level 1[/size] BenignTransposition - Able to switch places of your party's decrepit rogue (or yourself) and your calloused fighter. Charm Person - Also good for the roleplaying possibilities it opens up. Enlarge Person - Give him reach. Grease - Battlefield control early on. Magic Missile - Force damage gets the incorporeal suckers. Nerveskitter - Fantastic spell, gets even better as you level up and initiative becomes more important. Ray of Enfeeblement - On enemy spellcasters primarily. They are easily gimped. Silent Image - For the inventive player and reasonable DM this is a most useful spell, even in battle. True Strike - Gish Wall of Smoke - Blocks vision and can even nauseate.
Best in a Runestaff or once-per day item: Mage Armor - +4 AC for those who are weak and fly or otherwise could care less for donning armor. Protection From X - Blocks enemy enchantments, +2 AC and some save bonuses.
[size=+1]Level 2[/size] Alter Self - Lots of threads about this great spell, full with opportunities for roleplaying and quest solving. Celerity,lesser - Lifesaving get-away. Deflect - +1/2 CL to AC, single attack, immediate. Glitterdust - For blinding and also detecting invisible enemies. Invisibility - Speaks for itself (and good for quest solving). Ray of Stupidity - Can drop a Hydra with one shot. Rope Trick - Wonderful time-out trick. Scorching Ray - Direct damage king, especially with split ray and other meta. Web - Great battlefield control since most monsters will move at half speed. Wraithstrike - This spectacular gish spell lets you avoid armour of any kind.
Best for a Wand or Staff: Detect Thoughts - Quest solving and fun for the social sorcerer. Gust of Wind - To get rid of clouds and stinky ninja farts mostly. Especially if you are trapped in a car. Rarely used so good to buy on a scroll.
[size=+1]Level 3[/size] Battlemagic Perception - Immediate counterspelling! Ups survivability for the dispeller. Fly - Unless you prefer Phantom Steed. Great Thunderclap - Will save or stunned AND Ref or fall prone (...and Fort or deaf but who cares). Haste - Buff your fighters with +1 attack and have them run like a wind. Mighty Wallop, Greater - Super BSF buff. Ray of Dizziness - No save, target can only move OR attack. Sleet Storm - Long range, large blocking of vision and hampered movement too. Slow - Will save or only one action per round. Snakes Swiftness, Mass - Depending on you party, may be best level 3 spell. Stinking Cloud - Fort save or nauseated, which means they can only move. Unluck - Will save or must make two rolls for everything and apply the worst.
Best for a Wand, Staff, Runestaff or other Magic Item: Anyspell - If you go MotAO you already have Arcane Preparation, so consider to bump your Wis to 10 also IF you can sneak in a Domain slot. Then you can store any spell you temporarily read up on, up to level 2. Or cheat your DM to use the Anyspell from Forgotten Realms which is much better for sorcerers. Mage Armor, Greater - +6 AC Phantom Steed - Can get silly fast: 240 fpr. I read Usain Bolt uses one when he's in a REAL hurry. Primal Instinct - Super buff, 24h. +5 Initiative is the cream. Put in once-per-day item of some sort.
[size=+1]Level 4[/size] Assay Spell Resistance - Essential when adversaries start sporting SR almost as standard. Celerity - There are some nice spell combos involving Celerity, not to mention it trumps even a high initiative. Edward's Black Tentacles - No save, no SR for 1/2 move AND must grapple for damage. Enervation - This bugger drops over 40 levels in one shot. Invisibility, Greater - More than a rogue enhancement. Mirror Image, Greater - Immediate casting is key. Lots of images that keeps popping back up. Polymorph - Broken good. Ruin Delver's Fortune - Awesome survival save bonuses. Shadow Conjuration - 20% reality, up to level 3 spells. Here's versatility again but skip e.g. if you MotAO. Solid Fog - Blocking view and restricts movement to 5 feet per round. Wings of Flurry - Phenomenal blast spell with Ref save-or-lose. Never hurts allies, sculpting spell is included.
Best for a Runestaff or other (often best with a once-per-day) Magic Item: Heart of Earth - Free Stoneskin effect and some temporary hp. Synergizes with the other "heart of" spells.
[size=+1]Level 5[/size] Cloudkill - Kills small creatures, damages Con on large even if they make the Fort save. Draconic Might - Touch, 1min/lev. +5 Str, Con, Cha, +4 NA. Better in a Runestaff if you can persist it daily. Draconic Polymorph - Thought Polymorph was broken? This is +8 Str, +2 Con Polymorph. Versatility yet again. Shadow Evocation - 20% reality, up to level 3 spells. Not as good as Shadow Conjuration, but still worthwhile unless you go MotAO or otherwise deal with it through items. Wall of Force - Impervious wall of short duration. See-through means it can be used with Freezing Glance or Opalescent Glare for safe sadistic killing rivaling Rambo's when he takes on half the Soviet army. Wall of Stone - Not only control, also utility since the wall is permanent. E.g. bridge a gap.
Best for a Wand, Staff, Runestaff or other Magic Item: Mass Fly - Once-in-a-while spell that is very good to have. Overland Flight - Walking is boring anyways. Don't focus on in-battle spells only. Planar Binding, Lesser - I put it here instead of in the regular spells known list because if you spam it you will undoubtly attract your DM's attention. Prying Eyes - Scout and prepare! Best in scroll, wand or staff. Teleport - Best in scroll, wand or staff.
[size=+1]Level 6[/size] Antimagic Field - Life-saver. Anyspell, Greater - Up to level 5 spells. Must have Arcane Preparation, Wis 10+ and Domain spell slot. Dispel Magic, Greater - But adeptly, or just skip it. Freezing Fog - Like Solid Fog with added Grease effect. Freezing Glance - Will save or freeze up. Short range. (Persist this and wreak havoc.) Greater Heroism Howling Chain - Strafes enemies with trips, damage and leaves them shaken plus makes AoO in large area. Planar Binding - Got high CHA? OK, use it and negotiate an Efreeti to make a wish for you. Or not. Don't spam it. In fact, maybe this spell is best in a use-seldom-item?
Best for a Wand, Staff, Runestaff or other (often best with a once-per-day) Magic Item: Contingency - Stores a spell until a set trigger releases it. Or use Greater Shadow Evocation! Opalescent Glare - If you can't persist Freezing Glance then use this fixed range (60ft) spell instead. Not quite as deadly, but still a Will-or-flee and creatures of less than 5 hd plain dies. Resistance, Superior - Now here's a buff worth its name. Morning-routine-item please. TrueSeeing - Good ONLY as item or scroll. But a very handy scroll to have!
[size=+1]Level 7[/size] Arcane Spellsurge - ONLY if persisted, wondrous first-rate spell for the Incantatrix. Delayed Blast Fireball - Good ONLY for use together with Timestop, or use the piranha death trap with Vortex of teeth instead. Project Image - Enemy wastes attacks but the images won't go away. Shadow Conjuration, Greater - 60% reality and up to level 6 spells. Versatility again.
Best for a Wand, Staff, Runestaff or other (often best with a once-per-day) Magic Item: Elemental Body - Buff for the gish. Limited Wish - If you need it, you need it. Good emergency scroll. Plane Shift - At least for some campaigns. Simulacrum - Copy a monster. Copy your girlfriend. (Just don't copy anything Microsoft.) If it weren't for the XP cost it should be on your regular spell list.
[size=+1]Level 8[/size] Arcane Fusion, Greater - Crackbrained rushing of two lesser spells. Greater Prying Eyes Polymorph Any Object - Buff your allies, heck, do what you feel like. Otto's Irresistible Dance - SR but no save. Target, well, simply only dances for 1d4 rounds. Planar Binding, Greater - Don't spam it or your DM will find a way to punish you. But go ahead and bind your own blandish Pit-Fiend now and then. Shadow Evocation, Greater - 60% reality, up to level 6. Conjuration is better but this one can single-handedly replace Contingency which is nothing to sneeze at.
Best for a Wand, Staff, Runestaff or other (often best with a once-per-day) Magic Item: Mind Blank - Great buff for the BSF with a bad will save. 24h. Negates any mind-affecting evilness. Moment of Prescience - But if you are using it for skill checks (e.g. incantatrix spellcraft check) and have a cleric then he can out-class you with Guidance of the Avatar which is game-breaking at level 2 (e.g. diplomacy). Otherwise, best in a scroll, wand or staff since you will use it sparsely.
[size=+1]Level 9[/size] Shapechange - Battle WIN and great utility. Abusable ...and persistable... Time Stop - There are many neat tricks that make the most of this spell. Gate - Depending on your DM this spell can also be abused, but it's good either way. Gate in Sun Giants and have them polish your shoes with lilliputian silk hankies.
Best for a Wand, Staff or Scroll: Wish - Get out of jail and immediately move to start square. XP cost.
[size=+3]D[/size]one? OK, now that you know what makes a wizard’s hard in the pocket or wet in her … whatever, it’s not like wizards are humpable anyways: Most important is to select different spells. Yes, they are all different, but I mean spells which are used to obtain different goals. A wizard can prepare one Gaseous Cloud of this and one Gaseous Cloud of that. “Better have one of each than two of the same” is wizardry luxury. Sorcerers should learn one spell for each goal. Make sure not to take spells that overlap. Learn spells that complement each other. Try to strike a balance between control, buff, de-buff and damage; in other words, don't pick many of the red spells if you chose from my "complete list" above. Schools are of no importance unless you ban one via a PrC.
Generally spells with long duration, e.g. Greater Mage Armor, are preferably obtained through items like wands and such because you don't want to give up a whole slot for something you use only once per day. Superior Resistance and other buffs that can be cast on others than yourself does not necessarily fall in this category, it all depends on weather you are able to meta-chain it on everybody or not. But your "spells known" list ought to be comprised of frequently needed material.
If you carefully compose a bang-up spell list I dare state you can, from level 8 and up, more often than not use your spontaneous casting to better meet anything you are not prepared for than a wizard can.
Here are spells of particular interest for us gamey sorcerers. Spells that fit a sorcerer like the fish fits the glove, as it were:
......................Red = Damage ......................Purple = De-buff and save-or in general ......................Blue = Control ......................Green = Buff ......................Yellow = Utility outside of battle ......................Brown = General survival or doesn't fit the above
Nerveskitter (Spell Compendium) It’s been mentioned, but this is a typical example of a spell that really fits a sorcerer. Cast it again and again. It’s just so good. (The wording says it can only be used unless you are flat-footed. However, SpC errata cleared that one up, so you're good to go.)
[sub]Nowadays, people pay to get nerveskittered in other ways.[/sub]
Wings of Cover (RotD) Absolute cheese right here. Casted immediate, Wings of Cover lets you completely avoid a single attack of any form. This spell ups survivability like no other. Only available to sorcerers. My favorite spell for the buck. Don’t think, just get it!
[sub]Get it you too dagnabit![/sub]
Celerity, lesser (PHB2) Because the next Celerity comes at level 4 and you probably won’t have any level 4 slots free. Good life-saving spell. It suits wizards a tad better, I’m just mentioning it so you can avoid the level 4 alternative.
Deflect (PHB2) Immediate, gain ½ CL to AC against single attack. For whatever is left after Wings of Cover. Fits the consummate sorcerer bill by being versatile and repeatable. Lifesaving.
Greater Mighty Wallop (RotD) Great BSF buff. Adds considerably to damage by making any bludgeoning weapon count as one size larger for each four caster levels. Lasts all day.
Snakes Swiftness, Mass (SpC) All your allies can immediately make one melee or ranged attack. Since you are going to have a superb initiative, this can make sure that BBEG wizard never gets a single spell off. Great! Perhaps it’s better not to have both Snake’s Swiftness and Haste on your spell list since they have somewhat similar effects. Nevertheless, you can start the battle with this spell and Haste your Fighters afterwards, when your Cannon people have decapitated the enemy spellcaster.
Primal Instinct (Dragon Magic) Not really suited for a sorcerer but I wanted to mention it because of its absence in the spell guides I’m linking to. +5 survival checks, +5 initiative, 24h. Anything that raises initiative is welcome. Great to put in a 1/day item. Very solid spell.
Haste Haste is a fantastic BSF buff. A sorcerer should use it a lot, it’s always useful. Only exception to not using this spell all the time is if you use Snake’s Swiftness instead, since they stack somewhat poorly.
Ray of Dizziness (SpC) Can be used in almost any encounter, thus sorcerer material. No save and the target can only take a move OR a standard action. This is battlefield control the sorcerer way.
Girallon’s Blessing (SS) Touch, 10min/lev. Your BSF gains one extra pair of arms for every 4 CL. Savage Species gives us the rules for what happens if somebody holds a weapon with more than 2 arms. Each extra arm adds another 0.5 Str mod to damage. So at CL 12 we add 3 pairs to our BSF, giving him x3.5 Str mod extra to power attack with. (It’s too bad Wraithstrike is personal only. Have him buy a once-per-day item and persist it!)
EDIT: Some know-it-all wise-crack party-pooper wrote and said this spell was nerfed in SpC. He's right of course. Sadly that makes Girallon's Blessing a mediocre spell instead of a great one. Man, my life is tough enough without the rules lawyers stuffing my behind...
Having only 4 slots open means we must choose carefully. It so happens that there are some really amazing spells at level 4, so for me this level is full, complete and optimized with the following spells squeezed in.
Enervation Fantastic spell, already praised all over the forums. Useable in most encounters. Can get downright silly if used with Arcane Thesis, Split Ray and all kinds of metamagic piled up on it.
Ruin Delvers Fortune (Spell Compendium) Heeding the words of wisdom from the Bee Gees: Staying alive! Immediate casting, duration 1d4 rounds, gain luck bonus equal to Cha mod to any save, as follows: +Fort save and immunity to poison, or +Ref save and evasion ability, or +Will save and immunity to fear effects, or Gain temporary hit points 4d8+Cha mod A given on any sorcerer’s spell list, don’t you think?
[sub]You know you've ruined your Delver's fortune if you find a treasure like this.
Assay Spell Resistance (SpC) Almost a must from level 10 and up, when opponents often come with a hefty spell resistance. Swift, lasts 1rd/lev. +10 CL checks to overcome SR.
Wings of Flurry (RotD) Cheezus, what were they thinking when they made this spell level four? 1d6/CL uncapped damage within 30ft radius with reflex save for half. OK, maybe a bit on the wild side with the uncapped damage. But here’s the deal. You never hit allies and if the enemy fails the save they are dazed for one round. Dazed = skip a turn = lose the battle. The damage is Force meaning few monsters are immune to it, but rogues and others with Evasion may be hard to get to. This spell is about as good as Maw of Chaos, which in itself is a good level 9 spell. A prime candidate for Arcane Thesis. Wizards can't learn the cheesetastic "wings" spells and one could argue they are in their selves reason enough for going sorcerer instead. That good they are!
Mirror Image, Greater (PHB2) Immediate casting is the key to why it’s so good. You'd have to get stricken by some serious bad luck to ever get hit by any random shot. But I'd rather use Greater Mage Armor (SpC, level 3 spell) and the other protection spells above, because level 4 is competition packed. I don't blame you if you go chicken and dump Enervation instead, it's just that a sorcerer must strive to keep the most versatile de-buffs and ...blah blah; I apologize for boring you with a rant yet again. Anyways, this spell is a wonderful BSF buff if you can stuff it into an item.
[sub]Staring at the mirror again are we? Just kidding. It's my own greater mirror image.[/sub]
Celerity (PHB2) Good spell with entire threads dedicated to it. But in my opinion it has to go. Use the lesser and greater variants instead. Better for wizards anyways. Sorcerer yawn.
[sub]Celerity doesn't make you immune to Ray of Stupidity.
Draconic Might (RotD) Touch, 1min/lev. +5 Str, Con, Cha, +4 NA. Good buff for both you and your BSF. Persist it if you can.
Draconic Polymorph (Draconomicon) Polymorph except +8 Str, +2Con. Gets it out of the level 4 (Polymorph vanilla is level 4) slot and comes just in time for you to become a war troll. Even though, frankly, a wizard could benefit more from the upgrade in looks.
Superior Resistance (SpC) Good buff for the whole party. The whole party because you’re a sorcerer. Or the lucky owner of a Chaining Metarod.
Greater Dispel Magic Fits a sorcerer like a funny looking hat fits the Pope. Sorcerers make rather good dispellers since you never know how many you'll need. Take a look at thesethreads. Dispel Magic is not used very often so you can also get a wand or a staff in case of emergency, but then you need to make sure the CL is high (thus pricier) and you'll waste a free hand in the process. I find the level 3 Dispel Magic is seldom as necessary as the Greater Dispel because the evil wizards rarely cast those disastrous TPK spells until you have reached these levels.
Consider adding Battlemagic Perception.
Arcane Spellsurge (DrM) Casting time is reduced for all spells, duration is 1min/lev. If you persist it on a sorcerer she can kick ass. She can rule. Dominate the show. Especially if she’s a metamagic specialist since it means she can even easier control which spells are swift and which spells take a standard action. Another way is to pick a +0 metamagic feat like Snowcasting (Frostburn) or Invisible Spell (Cityscape). Effectively lets you cast two spells per round and still move. Tantalizing reason to take levels of Incantatrix, Sandshaper or, perhaps, Sacred Exorcist.
Arcane Fusion, Greater (Complete Mage) Let’s us cast one level 4 and one level 7 spell right away. Good only for some builds, like for example if you have focused on Wings of Flurry and piled up metamagic around it.
[size=+3]L[/size]et me give you an example of how you can blast with a level 20 sorcerer using Wings of Flurry while under the effect of persisted Arcane Spellsurge. She is a dragonblooded kobold, a metamagic specialist, has made use of the draconic rite of passage and uses the white dragon template on top of that. With Arcane Thesis that makes her caster level for Wings of Flurry 25. Let’s say she has charisma 32 (19 start, +5 levels, +5 draconic might, +3 item =). That makes her DC for a level 4 spell = 25. For this example to work she needs 5 very useful feats and only one specialized: Empower, Accelerate Metamagic Empower, Practical Metamagic Empower, Twin Spell and Arcane Thesis for Wings of Flurry. (Not counting Extend Spell and Persistent Spell. I'm such a cheat.)
First, as a swift action, she casts an empowered (+0) and twinned (+3) WoF, using accelerate metamagic & practical metamagic on empower and her metamagic specialist ACF on twin. This deals (25x1.5x3.5x2=) 262 damage and 2 reflex saves for half DC 25 or lose by daze.
Then in the same turn, as a standard action, she does the same again, except she refrains from using ACF metamagic specialist on twin (see spell description of arcane spellsurge), for yet another 262 damage and also another 2 tough reflex saves.
Now in this example I haven’t even used spells like Greater Arcane Fusion or activated the mandatory Belt of Battle. Had she done so, all the enemies in the room would have to deal with a total of 12 reflex save-or-lose DC 25 and up to 1575 direct damage each. (2 arcane fusion spells - using any +0 metamagic on the second AF to increase casting time on it. Each AF generates one empowered and one empowered + twinned WoF. Repeat with belt of battle in same round.) Don't stare at the damage potential. Rather, get busy gloating over the reflex saves, they are the ones winning the day.
Keep in mind you can throw this into the midst of battle without affecting your allies! Unlike most good spells, Wings of Flurry can be used when it's often too late (messy) to control the battle.
Arcane Spellsurge let's us cast standard action spells as a swift action. Spells that normally takes a full round to cast are casted as a standard action. Remember, we can only make use of one swift action. So what we want to do is to cast one normal and one full round spell, so we get both off in the same standard action.
In the example, our sorceress casts one standard Arcane Fusion (AF) and then one AF with any +0 metamagic on it, bumping the casting time one notch.
Each AF should contain one level 4 and one level 7 spell. Wings of Flurry (WoF) is level 4. She can add Empower on it without raising the spell level. That's because she has Arcane Thesis for WoF and Practical Metamagic for Empower, each dropping spell level increase with one. She also has Accelerate Metamagic for Empower, meaning there is no time added for using Empower metamagic.
Therefore, the level 4 spot is used for an Empowered WoF. The level 7 spot is used for an Empowered WoF with Twin Spell, which adds 3 levels. Totally 3 Empowered WoF for each AF. Two AF makes that 6 WoF. Belt of Battle repeats this for a total of 12 WoF.
Each WoF deals 1D6/CL damage and a standard reflex save.
What about her Caster Level then? She's level 20. Then we add +1 for her white dragonspawn template, +1 for greater draconic rite of passage, +2 for Arcane Thesis and finally +1 for having some dragon blood in her veins.
Damage for each WoF should be 25D6 x 1.5 = 131,25. 131,25 x 12 = 1.575
As a kobold, if she buys for 25 points, her Cha should be 16. Add 3 for being venerable, 5 for the level increases that follow, 5 for being buffed with Draconic Might and minimum 3 for an item. Grand total Cha 32, with a mod of +11. This makes the reflex save DC 10(base) + 4(spell level) + 11(Cha mod) = 25 25 x 12 = a lot of reflex saves!
[sub]Some spells are more useful than others.[/sub]
[size=+1]Sample spell list[/size]
[size=+3]T[/size]his spell list is lazily copy-pasted from a petal sorcerer I used to play. At level 13 he had 5 levels of sorcerer, 2 levels Mage of the Arcane Order and 6 levels Incantatar. I don’t go beyond level 13, you get the idea anyways.
I’m not saying this is the best spell list. I’m not saying you should use the same spell list every time. It’s just an example of a spell list that I believe makes for a useful party member with good versatility. In this example I’ve had the sorcerer focus on personal survivability and BSF buffs, but he can still de-buff a lot, control some aspects of the battlefield and inflict serious direct damage. You certainly do not have to prioritize the same to pass the Optimizer’s Test of Excellence in D&D Nerdiness.
Level 1: Mage of the Arcane Order spell slot (versatility) Ray of Enfeeblement (targets weak enemies) Magic Missile (handy, especially for incorporeal enemies) Nerveskitter (best level 1 spell) Benign Transposition (save the rogue with this)
Level 2: MotAO slot Wings of Cover (best level 2 spell) Celerity, lesser (survivability, instead of Greater Mirror Image, because level 4 is crowded) Ray of Stupidity (targets dumb creatures) Deflect (survivability again - our DM had infamous rep due to his sado-satanic killer instincts)
Level 3: MotAO slot Greater Mage Armor if I didn't store it in a Runestaff, so in my case Ray of Dizziness or Mass Snake's Swiftness. Greater Mighty Wallop (buff) Haste (buff)
Level 4: Enervation (de-buff anything - single target) Wings of Flurry (kill anything without Evasion and control the battle with Ref save - area effect) Assay Spell Resistance (kill anything with high CR too) Ruin Delver’s Fortune (survivability)
Level 5: Draconic Might (buff) Draconic Polymorph (anything really - but being petal meant my Con was outrageous so I could war troll) Wall of Stone (battlefield control)
Level 6: Greater Dispel Magic (you are going to need it at some point) Freezing Glance (from Frostburn, targets Will save) if persistable, otherwise: Superior Resistance (buff). (But in my case Incantatrix meant I banned enchantment, so this is deviating from my example sorcerer.)
[size=+3]A[/size]part from the items already mentioned in the other guides, take a look at these:
Runestaffs (MIC) A cheap way to increase the number of spells you have access to. Best suited for spells used one or two times per day of course, the runestaff is a terrific place to tuck away good all day buffs like Greater Mage Armor (SpC), Primal Instinct and the like. Once-in-a-while-spells (e.g. Teleport) are better suited for a wand or staff.
All the better if your DM lets you construct your own. E.g. “Runestaff of the Protected Heart” with: Heart of Air 2/day (Complete Mage) Heart of Water 2/day Heart of Earth 3/day (need more of these to activate the stoneskin effect) Heart of Fire 1/day (to keep price down) Greater Mage Armor 2/day
This staff is a better start than Kellogg’s. Get full fortification, +6 AC and a slew of other benefits to help you through your day. Following the guide in Magic Item Compendium our Runestaff should cost us 11.500gp. Quite the bargain for a sorcerer.
Staffs, Wands, Scrolls and such (DMG) Scrolls are too expensive so they are only for spells you need very seldom. Perhaps Teleport. Wands are great for spells you need seldom but more than one of. E.g. Detect Thoughts. Rings tend to be expensive. Magic items that can be used up to 3 times a day are often very good deals. (MIC are full of them.)
Knowstones (Dragon Magazine 333) A knowstone provide its bearer with knowledge of its inscribed spell. Price is spell level squared x1000 gp. Costly for high level spells but still cheaper than that crown in Explorer’s Handbook.
Healing belt (MIC) Worth parroting. I suspect they missed out on a “0” when they set the price at 750gp. Heals more than a Cure serious wounds potion does – every day.
Belt of Battle (MIC) Get extra actions every day for 12.000gp and +2 initiative continuously. A fan favorite so I take the liberty of bringing it up yet again.
[sub]Sporting the right Belt of Battle can make you the greatest.[/sub]
Memento Magica (RotD) Expensive way to recall a spell so you can cast it again. Too expensive in my opinion. Most often you can get an item with the same effect cheaper and then you don’t even have to learn the spell.
[sub]Now where did I put that spell again?[/sub]
Dispelling cord (MIC) Only 1000gp. 5/day +2 competence bonus to dispel checks.
Arcanist's Gloves (MIC) Spell caster level +2 for first level spells, 2/day. 500gp.
A light weapon with "warning" in it (MiC) Warning gives you +5 initiative. So it doesn't matter if you aren't proficient. Holding a dagger +1 warning is super even if cutting off a shoelace is edgy for you. Price according to DMG guidelines 8000gp plus base weapon. I might add "only". Remember where you read about this trick first, folks, because it's the brain child of my brother who is posting here under the name of Upho. (Add "Eager" enhancement too if the money burns in your pocket. Gives an extra +2 unnamed initiative.)
[sub]A warning sword saved Frodo's ass. Can save yours too.[/sub]
Ioun Stones (DMG) Especially the one that gives an extra caster level. But Ioun Stones are no bargains.
Ring of Spell Storing (DMG) Cheaper than the Vibrant Purple Ioun Stone (but takes up a slot of course). This way you can pick up spells you stumble upon, for future use.
Sandals of the Vagabond (CC) +2 luck bonus to initiative, 4000gp. (Get comfy socks to avoid cold and blisters.)
[sub]Everybody knows wearing socks looks silly in sandals. But "wizard feet" aren't made of win either.[/sub]
Blood Claw Choker (MiC) Part of the Instruments of the Blood Gift Collection. Recalls spells 2/day by spending some hp. Sweet in conjunction with spells giving temporary hit points. A cilice, useful even if you're not completely out of your mind... Rad!
Mithral Twilight Chainmail + Mithral Buckler (MiC) Typical wizard stuff, often used with magic bucklers with Ghost Ward and whatnot. But all my sorcerer builds had very low Str and flight, so adding weight was out of the question. Check the wizard guides for info.
Artificer's Monocle (MIC) Detect Magic turns into Identify. 750gp.
Amber Amulet of Vermin (MIC) Summons a Huge Monstrous Scorpion 1 min 1/day. 700 gp. This must be a typo.
Amulet of Second Chances (MIC) Undo a whole turn once per day. Talk about life-saving! 40k.
Bracers of the Entangling Blast (MIC) Magic Missiles does 1/2 damage and entangles foe for 3 rounds. 2000gp.
Rings of Wizardry (DMG) x2 spells per day, not counting ability bonus. Not cheap. But to double up on e.g. level 2 spells costs 20k and makes sure you never run out of Deflect and Wings of Cover.
Item boosting Spellcraft Check (DMG - for Incantatrix only) To meta-effect a level 9 spell you need Spellcraft check 63, take ten. Good items are those that give luck, Int boosts, bonuses from allies and such. But I'd like to remind you that an item that raises a single skill like Spellcraft only cost 100 x (bonus squared). That should solve any problems by the time you have reached the levels when this is of interest. Headband of Intellect +2, 4000 gp.
Constructing your own magic items (DMG p.285) Blessed with a comradely DM? OK, here are some quick tips of what you may want to invest in:
X (some clothing, like a mantle) of the Wererat: Continuous +6 Dex, +2 Con, +3NA. 12.000gp, negotiated and done. Glasses of Blindsight (True Seeing is one notch better) (30ft) 1/day, 2 minutes. 6000gp. Ring of Primal Instinct 1/day 3500gp. X of Shield +4 shield bonus continuous. 2000 gp. And finally, for your BSF, surprise him with a X of Wraithstrike, continuous, for the price of 12.000gp.
For your Incantatrix spellcraft check: Funny looking hat of Fox Cunning +4 Int 1/day. 2160 gp. X of Master's Touch +4 Insight bonus 1/day. 10.800gp. X of Mechanus Mind +2 Int checks 1/day. 2160gp.
CHEEZE WARNING: X of the Avatar's Guidance, 1 min, 1/day, +20 on single skill check (cleric spell). 2160gp. Or better yet: 10,800 for command word activated, anytime. Persist anything. (Forget Viagra!) Do anything. I mean, this ridiculous spell imbues you with the power for a single skill check of ANY kind. Speak any language, pick any lock, point out the finer details of ancient architecture. A continuous "Ring of the Savant" would cost 12,000 and would break the game before you can say "Diplomacy check!".
Human: Bonus feat and extra skill points, both things sorcerers are lacking
Strongheart Halfling (PGtF): Bonus feat and small size
Star Elf (Unapproachable East): Elf with +2 cha instead of +2 dex
Lesser Aasimar (Races of Faerun): LA +0 and +2 cha, you don't get the Outsider subtype though
Hellbred (Fiendish Codex II): +2 cha and -2 con when focusing on spirit and all the other devilish goodies
Fatespinner: Doesn't cost any feats and it really heps you land that save-or-die/screw/whatever
Sandshaper (Sandstorm): Lose a CL but gain a bunch of spells known. Pretty much a dip class only
Fiendblooded (Heroes of Horror): Getting the Knowledge (The planes) ranks will be a pain but you'll get extra spells known and some small stat boosts
Sacred Exoricst: Again getting the knowledge skills ranks will be pain and requiring you to know the dismissal spell sucks but you get full casting, d8 hit dice, 3/4 BAB, turn undead for divine feats, and a few other minor things. Good for sorcadin gish builds.
And to make a note, Mage of the Arcane Order actually requires 3 feats for a sorcerer to get into: Co-operative spell, another metamagic feat, and arcane preparation.