D&D 5E Low dex wizard

As a rule, most people when creating a wizard PC will put the highest stat into intelligence, and then the next highest into dex. Wizards don't have many hit points and so avoiding getting hit is a priority, obviously.

Has anyone had any experience with not doing this - with instead putting the second highest stat into constitution and planning to accept getting hit more often and just hope to soak it up? My gut feeling says that this would have real survivability troubles at low levels especially, but I'm interested in hearing if anyone's tried it on the table, or if anyone's got any ideas about the best ways to make it work.

I know I can go to various character optimisation pages and they'll all tell me to play a dwarf for the armour proficiencies, or a tortle abjurer who is continually casting Alarm as a ritual to cheesily max out his ward, but the concept I'm trying to make work here is a minotaur labyrinth wizard from Kobold Press's Southlands. So no special racial defensive abilities, and nothing from the subclass to help me avoid getting hit (although there's a nice short-ranged area confusion-like ability that would sometimes help).

Is mage armour worth it at low levels, or is the difference between getting hit all the time at AC 10 and getting hit almost all the time at AC13 not worth the expenditure of one of my very few spell slots? Is it practical to pick up the much-maligned Blade Ward and at low levels trying to rely on reaction spells like Hellish Rebuke? Are there any feats/backgrounds or more obscure spells that could help me out? Should i just bite the bullet and go fighter or barbarian at level 1 for the armour proficiencies, and then multiclass into wizard? The character history isn't entirely incompatible with that.

And to complicate the issue - the minotaur race's class features are heavily based around their horn attacks - and labyrinth magic has a bunch of horn-, charging-, and goring-related spells. Horn attacks are non-finessable natural weapons. So if i want to use any of this with any degree of effectiveness (and i do, for characterisation reasons) that pretty much means i have to at least gesture in the direction of a decent Strength score as well.

(On a more general note, this is one of my capital-I issues with sterotypically big brawny races in 5e. They tend to get melee-focused special abilities, which are very hard to use effectively or at all for any PC that's not melee-focused. So you get very little use out of a lot of your racial features unless you conform to the stereotype. And it's not like i'm playing against type TOO much here - Midgard minotaurs have all thie maze-based mysticism and religion, and all sorts of labyrinth-based specialty spells, and spells that want you to charge and gore people. This SHOULD be a concept that works ok. Oh, and the general uselessness of Strength in 5e unless you're a heavily-armed hitting-people person is something I have Opinions about as well...)

edit: Midgard minotaurs are +2 Ctr, +1 Con, darkvision, perfectly remembers paths taken through mazes etc, and a 1d6 natural attack that turns into 2d6 and a free shove if you move 10 ft in a straight line before attacking
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The High Aldwin
FWIW, my second highest Wizard score is typically CON, then the third is DEX or WIS depending on what I want to do with the build. I like having a high CON for concentration spells and often take Resilient (CON) for saves and another +1 bump to CON.

If you do go the mountain dwarf wizard route, then with some armor and more HP you can survive, but IME I like just trying to keep my wizards positioned to avoid direct attack. I usually take War Magic was my tradition, so Arcane Deflection's bump to AC is nice on occasion, and of course there is always the shield spell.

Mage Armor is pretty essential of course, just to have some AC, and the 8 hour duration makes it worth it IME. If you aren't tied to Wizard, specifically, going Sorcerer and using Extended Spell can make your Mage Armor last 24 hours per casting with a couple Sorcery Points.

The Gnome Fade Away racial feat is pretty nice if you do get into trouble and need to retreat to safer locations.

Going Wizard, you can also utilize Mage Armor and focus much of your other spells on Rituals, so you won't need to expend spell slots when you cast them. It focuses you on utility, but saves precious spell slots for other things IMO.

I can't really say much on the minotaur issue as I've never played them or even looked into it.

Finally, you can always strike a good balance between DEX and CON if you want. For instance, with point-buy you can have three 14's and three 10's. You can put 14's in INT, DEX, and CON, and then use your racial ASI +2 for INT to get a 16. If you lower one of the 10's to an 8 and don't mind the dump stat, your racial +1 ASI and changing a 14 to 15 will yield a second 16.

For example, a forest Gnome has INT +2 and DEX +1.

DEX 15+1=16
CON 14
INT 14+2=16
WIS 10
CHA 10

Or go rock gnome and reverse DEX 14 and CON 16.

At any rate, you can certainly make a CON-focused Wizard instead of DEX-focused and it will play perfectly fine IME.

Hope it all helps!

What's the point of character building if everyone is expected to follow all the prescribed formulas and best practices? Play what you want, even if its not what is best.
I don't want it to be 'the best'. I'm not really a character optimiser. I just want it to not be a drag on the party, and to have a reasonable chance of surviving for a few levels until it starts to get more robust.


5e provides very little way for your allies to protect you.

If your DM wants to stomp on the fragile wizard, they will.

AC and other defensive mechanics are about the only mechanical ways to compensate for the DM choosing to go after the wizard and make it less harsh.

You can accept that when the DM chooses to attack the wizard it will be harsh and not work to boost your defence. This being fun or not will depend on your DM and your tolerance for being threatened/taken out.

It could work fine.

You'll get a very different story, and it can be a fun one. It is a matter of taste and DM style.


I play in systems that use dice rolls for attributes, and if I'm feeling like effieicnecy will be important in that game due to the GM's style, and I only role one good stat - I make a wizard because you really only need to care about intelligence as the core of efficiency. They're a class that can be very effective with only one good attribute. Why? Because they can often go levels between taking damage, they're effective whether they go early or late in a round, and if their only skills are intelligence based, they're still providing unique contributions to the group.

Cruddles, my favorite deep gnome wizard, is in a party that is playing through an adventure path. Between levels 7 and 14 Cruddles was only damaged once unintentionally (I would sometimes step in to take a hit to draw it away from the front line because I had more hp than them and ending a session with full hp is a waste of resources). Usually, I stayed in the back, I used decent tactics, and I made use of abilities and spells (like shield, mirror image and blink) that reduced my jeopardy.

My dex was not that relevant. While it is nice to go early, I had spells that could be used before groups engaged (like fireball) or after (like hold monster).


The High Aldwin
I don't want it to be 'the best'. I'm not really a character optimiser. I just want it to not be a drag on the party, and to have a reasonable chance of surviving for a few levels until it starts to get more robust.
Nothing I said was about being "the best". You asked for other peoples' experiences with emphasizing CON, builds towards that, and such--which is what I provided.

As long as you play your character well, you should never be a drag on the party.

Surviving the first few levels (which pass quickly IME) has more to do with how you play your character than anything else.


He / Him
I played a Mountain Dwarf Wizard that had Con as their highest stat, then Intelligence, then Dex. It worked out well because I could wear armor!

I also find that DMs just tend to focus attacks on melee characters so it's usually easier to keep on the edges of combat. It would be a good idea to have Shield, Misty Step, or other emergency spells prepared.

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