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.
Dex is good for being attacked with melee and ranged weapons. I think con is more important so you can survive things that have no dodge. I think exactly what you want to do depends on the stats you have.
 

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Depends entirely on the DM's style and how they present encounters. In my anecdotal experience, you can often find places to hide and take cover while your concentration spells do their work. Just know that there will be a few times where someone comes up from behind and bops you. It happens. Having a good tool to reposition (like Misty Step or Thunder Step) is handy for such times.

Now, if you are standing in the open or (at best) just standing behind a friend or two you are probably going to take a lot more heat, figuratively and literally!
 

I think you've gotten tangled up in too many people's optimization theorycrafting. This will be a, in some ways, suboptimal character, and that's fine. It'll still be a 5e Wizard, and unless you dumpstat intelligence or just can't pick a spell to save your life, that will always be a powerful enough character to meaningfully contribute to the party. Personally I wouldn't advise being an unarmored Wizard without a 12 or 14 dex, but if you really can't spare the stat, do what you must.

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?

If you have no other armor Mage armor is probably worth it at low levels, even with crap dex. Lets say you run into a gaggle of Goblins. Some will target the wizard with their bows. They have +4 to hit. With a 10 AC they hit on a six or higher (75% chance). With a 13 AC they hit on a 9 or higher (60% chance). Still bad, but you can also use Shield, bringing it up to a respectable 18 for one round in an emergency. If you win initiative you'd be better off using that spell slot to hit the Goblins with Sleep, but if you lost initiative (more likely with crap dex) you've got to focus on surviving. At level 1 you're probably only good for a couple hits, so anything that even marginally lowers the chance of them landing is generally a better use of your level one spell slots than any of the anemic level 1 damage spells. That said, if you can drop a whole group of gobbos or kobolds with a Sleep spell, or avert the fight entirely through some sort of Disguise Self/Charm Person/Silent Image shenanigans those are more effective use of your spell slots. Tough calls.

But whether or not you can afford spell slots for Mage Armor or Shield (or Absorb Elements) at Wizard levels 1 or 2, you absolutely should pick up the spells during those levels. At level 3 and beyond level 1 slots become a lot less precious, and these low level defense spells increasingly become the primary use of those slots, and since the eight spells you pick at Wizard levels 1 and 2 have to be level 1 spells, you'll want to grab the defensive spells then. Whether you actually prep or use them yet will be something to play by ear.

Is it practical to pick up the much-maligned Blade Ward and at low levels trying to rely on reaction spells like Hellish Rebuke?

Blade Ward is an interesting idea for this build, as in not as terrible as it is for most, but I think the "accept you'll get hit, and give up your action to lessen the impact" strategy doesn't really make sense even for a high con, low dex Wizard. You don't want to invest one of your 3 known cantrips on something that is usually not a better option than taking the disengage, dash, or hide actions. I might consider it later in the game when you're learning your 5th or 6th cantrip. Hellish Rebuke is a Warlock spell, so you won't be using that.

Should i just bite the bullet and go fighter or barbarian at level 1 for the armour proficiencies, and then multiclass into wizard?
Both solid options. Keep in mind the only one of those that actually grants heavy armor is taking Fighter at level 1. Medium Armor is certainly also nothing to dismiss, even with crap dex, but if you are going to devote a whole level primarily to shoring up your AC, you might as well go for the best you can get. Fighter also gives a fighting style to increase your AC by yet one more and Second Wind for a little self healing when you do still get hit. If you take one level of Fighter then someday you can take a second, and Action Surge double spells.

Barbarian is definitely less optimized, but still very cool, gets the job done, and would make for a generally very survivable character. At low levels raging when you run out of spells makes a lot of sense. A second level someday would let you attack recklessly with those horns. Unfortunately as your wizardry eclipses the power of your melee attacks the benefits of a Barbarian dip start to diminish, so I really wouldn't advise the second level (unless your DM lets you use your horns with the Booming Blade cantrip, in which case those horns might get a lot of use, and being able to use them with advantage radically ups their viability).

For the character to make sense I would talk to the DM about letting you start already having your spell book, and just not being able to use it yet. Maybe you found or inherited it, or maybe you were a Wizard school dropout who focused too much on sports and never managed to cast any spells.
 

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
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 Dwarven Bladesinger went CON/INT/WIS/STR/DEX/CHA. He was a frontline tank, no armor, accepting the hits because he had LOTS of hit points and used False Life pretty regularly.
 

I have a 13th level wizard with 12 Con and Ac 12. I don’t even bother casting mage armour. So, yes, I put one of my better stats - a 14 - into dex but I almost never need it. When I get hit, I get hit hard. But then I run away and use battlefield control to keep myself safe or have something else up my sleeve to eradicate my enemy.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
It really depends on your group's style, including the DM. In my group, it's pretty uncommon for the wizard/sorcerer/warlock to get into melee, so survivability is higher at low levels. At medium levels, ranged attacks become more common, and they're almost always the target of those. In these types of games, having a low AC and/or Con isn't a big deal, but in the rare event you get into melee, you're going to be in a lot of trouble! I tend to favor Con slightly over Dex for this reason, as it also helps with Concentration.

I'm not a fan of Mage Armor, as I've found it to be too costly for the benefit. You only have 2 spell slots at level 1, so you're giving up 50% of your class ability to have a 15% chance of any given attack miss you. At level 2 wizard you get a total of 4 (including Arcane Recovery), so you're giving up 25%. Once you're out of spells, you become a really bad archer by using cantrips, so the sooner you make yourself fall back to this the worse off you are. Perhaps at level 3+ you might consider it worthwhile, as well as in any game where the DM is fond of targeting you.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I think this would be viable at my table, but it depends heavily on your DM and fellow players. If you have aggressive melee warriors in the party, and your DM has most monsters just wade in and start bashing the nearest enemy, you're fine. If your fellow PCs are cautious or evasive types, and the DM is fond of sneaky tricks and cunning tactical play, your AC will matter a lot more.

As a note, if you do decide to dip for armor, you may want to consider cleric. Many cleric domains grant heavy armor, you don't lose any spell slots, and you get access to a domain feature and first-level cleric spells to make up for your delayed access to wizard spells and features.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Ask the DM about the terrain and the scenery. Hiding behind some bushes (cover = better AC) or behind the corner of a building (breaks line-of-sight) is a viable defensive survival strategy.

I kept a Wizard with 1 HP (ambushes hurt, Ouch) alive through the rest of an extended-length encounter by thinking like a Sniper Archer Ranger.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
If you are using the Minotaur from Monsters of the Multiverse, you have some fun options. Are they optimal? Not at all, but I think they'd be fun:

(assuming Point buy) Start with a 16 Int, 14 Str, 14 Con, 10/10/12 or 8/12/12 as desired.

I'd specialize in Warmagic, Bladesinging, or Abjuration (depending on how you conceive your melee combat: I see you say "nothing from the subclass to help me avoid getting hit" -- that would point to abjuration)

The Minotaur has horns to attack, but something like Shocking Grasp or even Booming blade let you use Hammering Horns to push your opponent away from you (it requires an unspecified melee attack). With Booming Blade, that would not trigger the cantrip, but it would mean that the creature can't move towards you to attack, once you have pushed it away! (but with shocking grasp, you've already done scaled damage)

Fun!
 
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AC for a wizard is nice but not essential.
There are so many things that can damage you which is not targetring AC and good positioning can keep you out of trouble more often than not. At least if the DM is not too tactically exploiting weaknesses.
 

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