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D&D 5E Shadow Sorcerer + Warcaster + Polearm Master + Eye of Darkness = Is It insane?

Hohige

Explorer
The Shadow Sorcerer wielding a Lance... It's insane.

1631310435056.png




Warcaster:

You have practiced casting spells in the midst of combat, learning techniques that grant you the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on Constitution saving throws that you make to maintain your concentration on a spell when you take damage.
  • You can perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands.
  • When a hostile creature's movement provokes an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack. The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.


Polearm Master:

You gain the following benefits:

  • When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, quarterstaff, or spear, you can use a bonus action to make a melee attack with the opposite end of the weapon. This attack uses the same ability modifier as the primary attack. The weapon's damage die for this attack is a d4, and it deals bludgeoning damage.
  • While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff, or spear, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter the reach you have with that weapon.






I through about it...

Inside Darkness, the Sorcerer can see though his Darkness and It's immune to oportunity attack (because the creature must see you).

The Sorcerer is safe, blasting Firebolt, Fireball, Scorching Ray and other amazing spells and his spells can't be counterspelled.


When the creatures tries come close enough, It triggers the Polearm Master oportunity attack. The Sorcerer casts Empowered Scorching Ray / Chromatic Orb with advantage (Darkness).
On his turn, the casts Action to cast Booming Blade, trigger Dagger + Booming Blade extra damage and Quicken Scorching Ray/Fireball/Chromatic Orb/Sleep and move out the enemy range without trigger oportunity attack (Darkness effect).
On enemy turn, if the enemy moves again, It triggers Booming Blade damage and Polearm Master damage again.

It's....All with Advantage:
Empowered Scorching Ray 8d6 (Average 34 damage) as reaction
Empowered Booming Blade for (1d4 dagger+3d8 booming blade+3 = Average 22 damage) as action
Empowered Empowered Fireball/Scorching Ray for 34 damage.
Total of 90 damage with all attacks with Advantage.

Only Cantrips damage:


2d10 (Firebolt) as reaction
1d4 + 3 +3d8 per turn (Booming Blade) as action
= 30 average damage per turn without waste resources, all with Advantage.


The Hound of Ill Omem:


1631311485776.png

At level 6: The Hound of Ill Omem will attack, dealing a lot of damage and prone condition and also free oportunity attacks, everyturn. Also and better, apply disadvantage against the Sorcerer Spells.


  • Immunity to oportunity attack (Darkness). Check
  • Advantage all attacks. Check
  • Immunity to "you must see" spells. Check
  • Apply disadvantage on saving throw against your spells. Check
  • Metamagic. Check
  • Enemy's attack rolls with disadvantage. Check
  • When the enemy enter your reach, you cast a spell against him. Check.
  • Bonus action spells. Check.
  • Boost damage of your spells. Check.
  • Empowered Fireball. Check
  • The Hound to apply disadvantage + Fear or Hypnotic Pattern. Check
  • Advantage on concentration. Check
  • Proficiency on concentration. Check
  • Immunity to counterspell. Check.
  • Movement with impunity, dash action, move (for better position) and still cast a quicken spell in your turn. (Check)



It's insane.

How strong is It?
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I’ve done this build before (basically - I used a warlock with Devil’s Sight instead of a Shadow Sorcerer, but same idea) and it’s… ok. The problems I had with it were twofold: first, you only have one reaction per round, so while the PAM + Warcaster trick is cute, it doesn’t end up being nearly as powerful as it looks on paper. The second, much bigger issue, is that it’s very team-unfriendly. The idea of being a walking zone of area denial is cool, but when that zone also prevents your allies from seeing… it ends up hindering the party almost as much as it hinders the enemies.
 

Hohige

Explorer
I’ve done this build before (basically - I used a warlock with Devil’s Sight instead of a Shadow Sorcerer, but same idea) and it’s… ok. The problems I had with it were twofold: first, you only have one reaction per round, so while the PAM + Warcaster trick is cute, it doesn’t end up being nearly as powerful as it looks on paper. The second, much bigger issue, is that it’s very team-unfriendly. The idea of being a walking zone of area denial is cool, but when that zone also prevents your allies from seeing… it ends up hindering the party almost as much as it hinders the enemies.
Empower, Quicken spell and The Hound are too strong to avoid (It's better than 3 metamagic, simultaneously), I think about Warlock, but Shadow Sorcerer has better action economy.
But, think about. The Sorcerer can attack and move out (Hit and Run tatic). It's party friendly, because the Darkness moves with him.
 
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Needing two feats to set this up gives it a significant opportunity cost, so it's not really OP. Also, just a nitpick, according to JC you can't use Warcaster to cast a spell that COULD target multiple creatures, even if it doesn't (I don't agree).
 

Hohige

Explorer
Needing two feats to set this up gives it a significant opportunity cost, so it's not really OP. Also, just a nitpick, according to JC you can't use Warcaster to cast a spell that COULD target multiple creatures, even if it doesn't (I don't agree).
Warcaster is always a good pick, advantage on concentration check and spell oportunity attack is really good for casters. the second one is a "cost".
It's effectively 2 spells and a cantrip per turn, all with advantage and damage boost, also you have immunity against oportunity attack and apply disadvantage on enemy's attack roll and immunity against powerful spells (you must see spells)
Also, The Standard Shadow Sorcerer's The Hound + Spells applying disadvange on saving throw.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Empower, Quicken spell and The Hound are too strong to avoid (It's better than 3 metamagic, simultaneously), I think about Warlock, but Shadow Sorcerer has better action economy.
But, think about. The Sorcerer can attack and move out (Hit and Run tatic). It's party friendly, because the Darkness moves with him.
I mean, I think the most optimal version of this build would be to multiclass: a few levels of warlock for eldritch Blast, Agonizing Blast, Hexblade’s Curse, medium armor, etc. and the rest in Sorcerer. But regardless, however you build it I can assure you it is not party friendly. Yes the darkness moves with you, but it still takes up too much of the battlefield and blocks your allies line of sight. Trust me, it seems like it’s going to work fine, but as soon as you have other players at the table looking at the battlefield and exhasperatedly saying, “ok, so what all can I actually see?” or trying to work around you darkness bubble, it becomes clear why this isn’t a good strategy for group play.
 

Hohige

Explorer
I mean, I think the most optional build would multiclass, a few levels of warlock for eldritch Blast, Agonizing Blast, Hexblade’s Curse, medium armor, etc. and the rest in Sorcerer. But regardless, however you build it I can assure you it is not party friendly. Yes the darkness moves with you, but it still takes up too much of the battlefield and blocks your allies line of sight. Trust me, it seems like it’s going to work fine, but as soon as you have other players at the table looking at the battlefield and exhasperatedly saying, “ok, so what all can I actually see?” or trying to work around you darkness bubble, it becomes clear why this isn’t a good strategy for group play.
I personally prefer The Hound early than multiclass and DM's really dislike or try avoid multiclass Sorlock or Sorcadin for table healthy.
I love The Hound + Fear/Hipnotic Pattern.

It turns the Shadow Sorcerer into a f....ing powerful melee burst and full caster with standard spellcasting's metamagic and the hound.
 
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ECMO3

Adventurer
The Shadow Sorcerer wielding a Lance... It's insane.

View attachment 143615



Warcaster:

You have practiced casting spells in the midst of combat, learning techniques that grant you the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on Constitution saving throws that you make to maintain your concentration on a spell when you take damage.
  • You can perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands.
  • When a hostile creature's movement provokes an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack. The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.


Polearm Master:

You gain the following benefits:

  • When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, quarterstaff, or spear, you can use a bonus action to make a melee attack with the opposite end of the weapon. This attack uses the same ability modifier as the primary attack. The weapon's damage die for this attack is a d4, and it deals bludgeoning damage.
  • While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff, or spear, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter the reach you have with that weapon.






I through about it...

Inside Darkness, the Sorcerer can see though his Darkness and It's immune to oportunity attack (because the creature must see you).

The Sorcerer is safe, blasting Firebolt, Fireball, Scorching Ray and other amazing spells and his spells can't be counterspelled.


When the creatures tries come close enough, It triggers the Polearm Master oportunity attack. The Sorcerer casts Empowered Scorching Ray / Chromatic Orb with advantage (Darkness).
On his turn, the casts Action to cast Booming Blade, trigger Dagger + Booming Blade extra damage and Quicken Scorching Ray/Fireball/Chromatic Orb/Sleep and move out the enemy range without trigger oportunity attack (Darkness effect).
On enemy turn, if the enemy moves again, It triggers Booming Blade damage and Polearm Master damage again.

It's....All with Advantage:
Empowered Scorching Ray 8d6 (Average 34 damage) as reaction
Empowered Booming Blade for (1d4 dagger+3d8 booming blade+3 = Average 22 damage) as action
Empowered Empowered Fireball/Scorching Ray for 34 damage.
Total of 90 damage with all attacks with Advantage.

Only Cantrips damage:


2d10 (Firebolt) as reaction
1d4 + 3 +3d8 per turn (Booming Blade) as action
= 30 average damage per turn without waste resources, all with Advantage.


The Hound of Ill Omem:


View attachment 143617
At level 6: The Hound of Ill Omem will attack, dealing a lot of damage and prone condition and also free oportunity attacks, everyturn. Also and better, apply disadvantage against the Sorcerer Spells.



It's insane.

How strong is It?
It is really good. There are some negatives though. Darkness is a problem for your allies. The AOO uses your reaction so it only works against 1 enemy per round, after the 1st enemy the rest will walk up and attack you unmolested (albeit with disadvantage). And because it uses your reaction you won't be able to use shield. Finally the hound can not see through the darkness either, so it does not see your enemies (assuming they are in the darkness) and does not have advantage on attacks. Like your enemies it does not get an attack of opportunity on an enemy that moves away from it to attack you. Finally if the hound knocks an enemy down you no longer have advantage to attack the enemy if it is more than 5 feet away (prone gives the attacks from outside 5' disadvantage which cancels the unseen advantage).

Another thing, the sorcerer is not really "safe" because he is not hidden. The enemy can't see him, but they know exactly where he is and they can target him directly with attacks (usually with disadvantage) or AOEs. They can also use the help action to eliminate the disadvantage on the attacks, and in that case you will likely be getting hit hard unless you have a very high AC (since you already used your reaction). Finally they can also grapple you. All of these things involve wasted turns for the enemy, so it is not ideal for them, but they will try to counter your power base.

Now this is an interesting build, but I think best use of the darkness is from well behind the party while you lob in ranged cantrips or spells while giving any archers or casters disadvantage to hit you and being untargetable for most save spells directed at you (most of them say "a creature you can see")
 
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Hohige

Explorer
It is really good. There are some negatives though. Darkness is a problem for your allies. The AOO uses your reaction so it only works against 1 enemy per round, after the 1st enemy the rest will walk up and attack you unmolested (albeit with disadvantage). And because it uses your reaction you won't be able to use shield. Finally the hound can not see through the darkness either, so it does not see your enemies (assuming they are in the darkness) and does not have advantage on attacks. Like your enemies it does not get an attack of opportunity on an enemy that moves away from it to attack you. Finally if the hound knocks an enemy down you no longer have advantage to attack the enemy if it is more than 5 feet away (prone gives the attacks from outside 5' disadvantage which cancels the unseen advantage).
Thanks.
The Sorcerer just hit and run. The Darkness moves with him, the hound (with advantage) and allies can attack normally without disadvantage. It's not 100%, but It just move out and your friends will do their job normally.
If the enemy is prone because your hound does, just cast a saving throw spell (applying disadvantage). It's so flexible.

If the enemy doesn't come close enough, just cast firebolt or empowered fireball like a standard sorcerer does, but with advantage on attack rolls and applying disadvantage against your spells.
The idea here is, if the threatining enemy tries come close enough, It's dead.

"Finally they can also grapple you and then move you out of the darkness. All of these things involve wasted turns for the enemy, so it is not ideal for them, but they will try to counter your power base."

It doesnt work, because the darkness moves with the weapon. Also, Sorcerer's Magical Guidance helps him on skills checks. It isn't a good idea.
The Sorcerer can dash, move to a better position or just "bye" and still cast quicken empowered fireball.
It isn't unkillable, but It isn't easy to defeat.
 
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Lances don't work with Polearm master. The build works basically the same with any reach polearm though so that shouldn't be a problem. If possible you might as well grab a racial weapon proficiency so you could actually be proficient in the weapon.

The rest of it is pretty cool if your table allows Polearm Master Warcaster synergy which I guess both Crawford and Mearls have tweeted doesn't work, but if they didn't want it to work like a normal attack of opportunity than they should have just called the polearm master attack "a melee attack using your reaction" or some such rather than specifically naming it an "attack of opportunity".

How powerful is it? Probably not ultimately as powerful as spending those ASIs on boosting charisma and/or getting metamagic adept, but it might be more satisfying to play, particularly if you get polearm master as a level 1 feat and are able to spend the first tier of play making more attacks than the martial characters while you're waiting for that quadratic magic progression to happen.
 

Hohige

Explorer
Lances don't work with Polearm master. The build works basically the same with any reach polearm though so that shouldn't be a problem. If possible you might as well grab a racial weapon proficiency so you could actually be proficient in the weapon.

The rest of it is pretty cool if your table allows Polearm Master Warcaster synergy which I guess both Crawford and Mearls have tweeted doesn't work, but if they didn't want it to work like a normal attack of opportunity than they should have just called the polearm master attack "a melee attack using your reaction" or some such rather than specifically naming it an "attack of opportunity".

How powerful is it? Probably not ultimately as powerful as spending those ASIs on boosting charisma and/or getting metamagic adept, but it might be more satisfying to play, particularly if you get polearm master as a level 1 feat and are able to spend the first tier of play making more attacks than the martial characters while you're waiting for that quadratic magic progression to happen.
Lance is a skin of table. (It's a glaive weapon).
PAM and Warcaster works by RAW and RAI.

I already play with Metamagic Adept and Boosting Cha.
But, Quicken and Empower is enough to a shadow sorcerer, It has already the hound that is an improved heighten spell.
It's effectively Quicken, Empower and Improved Heightein Spell that all works together. It's enough. yes you can combo all of them on same spell.
You can cast a spell as bonus action, your damage is boosted and apply disadvantage against your spell. o_O

Disadvantage on saving throw and advantage on attack rolls is already enough to defeat enemies with almost 100% of chance.

This Sorcerer with PAM and Warcaster is too impactful and his melee burst does a lot of damage (Really really) and better on concentration spells. (It's really useful).
The enemy though... "Take care, It isn't a fragile mage. It's a Shadow Sorcerer with a Glaive that can explode your head instantly" It's really fun to play.
 


Hohige

Explorer
Not to nitpick too much, but when the lead designers have said they didn't intend for something to work, it is clearly, almost by definition, not RAI (Rules As Intended).
The only official rulling is Jeremy that allows booming blade and other spells working including Eldritch Blast at level 5.
 
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ad_hoc

Hero
The only official rulling is Jeremy that allows booming blade and other spells working including Eldritch Blast at level 5.

The intention is that the OA is to be done with the polearm that enables it through the feat.

I would give serious side eye to a player who tried this and wouldn't allow it.
 

Hohige

Explorer
The intention is that the OA is to be done with the polearm that enables it through the feat.

I would give serious side eye to a player who tried this and wouldn't allow it.
It's clearly RAW, RAI I don't know. Whatever, the DM allows it as RAW.
 

The only official rulling is Jeremy that allows booming blade and other spells working.
I'm not debating official rulings, I'm saying that RAI has a particular meaning of "what the designers were intending for the rules to do". It's not just a tag to throw on things to emphasize that they are super-extra rules legal. This seems fine by RAW, I think many people would allow it at their tables, I'd allow it at mine. But the idea of the PAM feat is pretty clearly that the reach of the pole-weapon (whether it has more than 5 foot reach or not) makes it easy to offend approaching enemies with the weapon, not that it somehow increases your general ability to make opportunity attacks in other ways. And we have the statement:


Which indicates that at least one major designer's understanding of the intent of the rules was not that this should work.

Once again, I think its fine (probably) at most tables and I'd argue that the designers should not have used the phrase "attack of opportunity" in polearm master if they didn't want to connect it to all other uses of the phrase in the rules, which it seems they evidently didn't. My objection was only that you proclaimed it "RAI", when it seems to be anything but.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
Lance is a skin of table. (It's a glaive weapon).
PAM and Warcaster works by RAW and RAI.

I already play with Metamagic Adept and Boosting Cha.
If you have warcaster, polearm master and metamagic adept you can't boost charisma until 16th level, or 12th if you are a variant human or custom. At this point you are playing against many enemies with true sight or devils sight, both of which mean they will see as good as you in the magical darkness.
 

Hohige

Explorer
I'm not debating official rulings, I'm saying that RAI has a particular meaning of "what the designers were intending for the rules to do". It's not just a tag to throw on things to emphasize that they are super-extra rules legal. This seems fine by RAW, I think many people would allow it at their tables, I'd allow it at mine. But the idea of the PAM feat is pretty clearly that the reach of the pole-weapon (whether it has more than 5 foot reach or not) makes it easy to offend approaching enemies with the weapon, not that it somehow increases your general ability to make opportunity attacks in other ways. And we have the statement:


Which indicates that at least one major designer's understanding of the intent of the rules was not that this should work.

Once again, I think its fine (probably) at most tables and I'd argue that the designers should not have used the phrase "attack of opportunity" in polearm master if they didn't want to connect it to all other uses of the phrase in the rules, which it seems they evidently didn't. My objection was only that you proclaimed it "RAI", when it seems to be anything but.
I couldn't agree more. the RAW about it is clear. Most tables will allows It as RAW.
If you have warcaster, polearm master and metamagic adept you can't boost charisma until 16th level, or 12th if you are a variant human or custom. At this point you are playing against many enemies with true sight or devils sight, both of which mean they will see as good as you in the magical darkness.
Metamagic adept and boost was another Character.
The PAM and Warcaster Shadow Sorcerer is level 7.
 

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