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D&D 5E 5E Sorlock Oddity -- Thoughts


So, I've been looking around the various Unearthed Arcana while debating alternative concepts for a coming 5E campaign. I wanted to consider something off the beaten path, particularly given just how melee-centric the intended six-person party will be (three melee-centered (barbarian or monk; paladin; rogue), a fourth that can be melee and ranged both (ranger), and a druid of some sort).

The first thing that caught my eye was something of the Sorcerer variety -- I know a lot of people say that the UA Phoenix Sorcery is perhaps a bit underpowered in many respects, but it interested me from a flavor perspective, so I began to consider options. Right off, I know that I want to multiclass, and Warlock is probably the best one to multi-class into, particularly given the whole Font of Magic/Flexible Casting/Sorcery Point deal and technically being able to use the Pact Magic spell slots for more Sorcery Points and all that.

The trick, though, is what sort of build do I make? With the UA options out there, it looks like there's three potential builds I could look at, which would make for an interesting character.... but all three have pros and cons. So:

1) Sorcerer (Phoenix Sorcery) 6 / Warlock (Celestial / Pact of the Tome) 14: Spellcasting-wise, this is rather weak: 4/3/3 spells per day (with 7 spells known and 4 cantrips) from Sorcerer, and three 5th-level slots from Warlock (7 cantrips (thanks to Pact of the Tome), 12 spells known, ranging from 1st- to 5th-level spells, with a single 6th- and 7th-level spell that I could cast one per long rest, and there aren't many options that scream "take me!" with the Mystic Arcanum choices). It would take all the way to 20th level to do it (with no guarantee that I'll reach that far, but I know I can get at least to 15th level or perhaps a bit further), but by the end of it, I'd have three different ways to cheat death on a long rest: Phoenix Spark from Sorcerer 6, Gift of the Protectors (a UA invocation from the recent Class Features UA) at Warlock 9, and then Searing Vengeance at Warlock 14. The problem, of course, is the super-limited spellcasting, and invocations won't completely fix that, nor will the spells known from Warlock. I would, however, be able to ritual-cast from any ritual spell list up to 5th level (at least, I'm assuming that's the case -- I don't recall offhand if there are ritual spells past 5th-level spells).

2) Sorcerer (Phoenix Sorcery) 14 / Warlock (Undying Light / Pact of the Tome) 6: This one could conceivably be more problematic in certain respects, seeing as how Undying Light was rewritten to be the Celestial in Xanathar's, but I do benefit in several respects over option 1. Warlock is more limited here (6 cantrips with Pact of the Tome, 7 spells known, two 3rd-level slots), but Sorcerer does get a lot more (6 cantrips, 13 spells known, 4/3/3/3/2/1/1 spells per day; three Metamagic selections, and the 14th-level Phoenix Sorcery ability, letting me heal spell slot level + Cha modifier for each fire spell I cast -- probably a good thing that it's limited, because healing at whim from random castings of fire bolt would be a bit overpowered). Here, I'd likely need to look at the Elemental Adept (Fire) feat to bypass fire resistance.

3) Sorcerer (Phoenix Sorcery 18) / Warlock (Hexblade) 2: This would be closest to the typical sorlock build: Sorcerer has pretty much everything spellcasting-wise (6 cantrips, 15 spells known, 4/3/3/3/3/1/1/1/1 spells per day; 4 Metamagic selections; full Phoenix Sorcery origin abilities); Warlock (Hexblade) will give us a bit more leeway to amp our damage (Hexblade's Curse), give us medium armor proficiency in addition to the light armor, and let us lean even more into Charisma for damage outside of regular spellcasting in those instances where I'm forced into melee; we also get 2 cantrips, 3 spells known (all 1st-level), as well as two invocations. I think Elemental Adept (Fire) will still be handy to have for taking care of fire-resistant foes.

Given all that, which of the three options would seem most viable? And how would I best optimize it? Starting stats are 12, 15, 16, 16, 16, 17 (I rolled pretty darned well).

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It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
Doubly-Fiendish Phoenix Sorlock Firebender:

Phoenix Sorcerer X/Fiend Tome Warlock 3

Base Tiefling, for the free Hellish Rebuke and Darkness, +2 CHA, and Tiefling feat access.

STR 12
DEX 16
CON 16
INT 15+1
WIS 16
CHA 17+2

Start Sorcerer and take it to Level 5 for 3rd level spells. Then take Fiend Tomelock 3 at levels 6/7/8 for a bunch cantrips, a few more 1st and 2nd level spells known, and 2nd level short rest spell slots for Spell Points. (Or go up to Warlock 4 if you don't feel you can wait until Level 11 for your second ASI.) Go with Devil's Sight (what Darkness?), and a second Invocation of your choice. I like Book of Ancient Secrets to load up on Rituals. Then straight Sorcerer from there. You'll want Quickened and Twinned metamagic.

Take Elemental Adept (Fire) and Flames of Phlegethos feats, so you avoid Fire Resistance, plus can reroll 1s on damage dice for fire spells and if any come up as 1s again on the reroll you count them as 2s. FoP also bumps your CHA to 20. Later ASIs go into DEX and/or perhaps Spell Sniper.

Get Eldritch Blast for a backup non-fire damage cantrip and for attacking multiple targets, but Fire Bolt (Twinned/Quickened as needed) will be your go-to damage cantrip, because you get a number of bonuses on Fire damage (+CHA, reroll 1s, etc.). Your other cantrips will be primarily utility cantrips. Load up on a bunch of fire spells to take advantage of FoP/EA feats and Phoenix abilities, but also take a few non-fire damage and control spells for times you run into Fire Immunity. Toss in a handful of choice buff spells not available to your Druid or Paladin (e.g. Haste, Fly, etc.) to have something to spend your Concentration on (and which can be Twinned for twice the fun), plus a few higher level utility spells, although much of your utility casting will be coming from creative use of your mass of utility cantrips and your Ritual Book.

Your party has plenty of melee. They won't need you to get anywhere near the fray. You'll be the party AoE and single target spell blaster, plus utility caster and sometimes-buffer.
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It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
Digging a bit deeper, let's look at spells. At 8th level, you'll be Sorcerer5/Warlock3 with 9 cantrips of your choice, plus additional free Thaumaturgy from your race. So probably Eldritch Blast, Firebolt, and 7x utility cantrips, or maybe 6x utility cantrips and Shocking Grasp for times when you're forced into melee. (Rare, but possible.)

You'll have 2x 2nd level Warlock spell slots and 4x Warlock spells known: 2x 1st and 2x 2nd. I'd do Hex, Hellish Rebuke, Invisibility, and Scorching Ray. You'll get one free 2nd Level Hellish Rebuke daily to boot, thanks to your racial ability.

You'll have 4x 1st level, 3x 2nd level, and 2x 3rd level Sorcerer slots with 6 Sorcerer spells known: up to 3x of which can be 3rd level. I'd do Fireball and Haste at 3rd, Misty Step and Levitate at 2nd, and Absorb Elements and Shield at 1st. You get one free Darkness per day from your race, which you can see through thanks to Devil's Sight. (Just remember that your party cannot, so use it wisely...)

The two 2nd level Warlock slots will primarily be used to fuel Twinned/Quickened spells, usually either Twinning Haste on two of your melee compatriots, or Twinning/Quickening Fire Bolt. And these 4 short rest Spell Points, supplemented by a 1st level Sorcerer slot, can also buy you a 5 point 3rd level slot for more Fireballs or Hastes throughout the day.

You'll also have a Ritual Book in which you can scribe any 1st or 2nd level Ritual spells you can find, from any class. You start with 2x rituals off the bat, so I'd be sure to grab Find Familiar and Detect Magic, and add to that list as your DM allows while adventuring.

Not a super optimized build, but still capable, and more of a "Jack of All Trades" utility/blaster caster than a straight purpose-built damage cannon. A good all-arounder for a party that is very heavy on melee and that has no other arcane caster.

This build with a fire-based Tiefling caster with FoP and EA also works as a straight classed Sorcerer, if you're not dead-set on multiclassing. You won't get to do the "short rest spell points" dance, but depending on your DM you may not get as many chances to abuse that as you might think. And you'd have fewer cantrips and no ritual book, so you'd be less of a Swiss Army Knife. But you'd have more and higher level Sorcerer spells and spell slots, so it'd be more capable in that regard.

You can also swap in Hexblade instead of Fiend as a patron. You won't get Scorching Ray from your Fiend patron, but you can pick that up from Sorcerer and take Shield with Warlock in exchange, so it's a wash. Plus Hexblades' Curse is certainly a better ability than Dark One's Blessing's 5 temp HP at a time, and +2 to AC from a shield is nice too. But you won't need the Medium Armor, Martial Weapons, or CHA to melee attacks. This is likely the more optimal choice, but it just doesn't go as well with the overall Fiendish Firepower theme. 😈
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