Sorcerer "Swiss Army Knife" Spell selection

Ungruush

First Post
I'm beginning a new campaign, and I've decided to try an arcane caster (my first one). Having never played an any arcane caster, I chose to run with a sorcerer for the ability to sling a ton of spells around at lower levels, but now I am at a dilemma...


...what spells do i choose?...

i am the only arcane caster in the group (myself, a druid, a cleric, a fighter, a ranger, and a rogue..and i will be doubling as an archer role, but I'm an elf with an 18 dex, so not a huge deal...)and I am trying to find the most versatile spell selection up to about 10th level. I have decided on going into the Mage of the Arcane Order to further increase my flexibility, but the trouble is not only what to do until i reach 6th level (when i plan on accessing the PrC), but what i should choose further on.

so, i have decided to access the greatest assembly of D&D minds on the planet (or anywhere else) and ask for some assistance.

many thanks in advance
 

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Blackrat

He Who Lurks Beyond The Veil
Spells that have "normal" and "greater" versions, wait the couple levels to pick the greater. Don't bother with the normal because you really waste a known spell. Example, wait for greater teleport instead of getting teleport when you could.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Before you continue, you need to ask yourself some questions:

1) Do you want a list of the most "powerful"/"popular" spells in that range? If so, Thanee has an excellent list floating around somewhere. As I recall, Sleep, Magic Missile, Grease and the like are prominently featured.

2) Do you have a strong character concept/heavy RP considerations that might shape spell selection? If so, please let us in on that info.

3) How much do you plan to play up the archer aspect? If you're serious, you might want to consider a few Ftr or Rgr levels to boost your number of relevant "archery" feats like Point Blank Shot, etc. You might even want to use the Unearthed Arcana variant Battle Sorcerer or the Warmage instead of the PHB Sorcerer if you're serious about archery but don't want to multiclass.

Given all of that, you probably also want to emphasize Orb/Ray type spells that get a benefit from those archery feats.

4) What books do you have access to? DCv1, for instance, has "Bloodline" feats that are similar to Cleric Domains, adding to your spell list of spontaneous arcane casters of all kinds, among other things. In addition, there are all kinds of feats spread out over all kinds of books (both WotC & 3rd party publishers) that do things like add DCs to certain spells, give alternative class features, etc.
 

Ungruush

First Post
Dannyalcatraz said:
1) Do you want a list of the most "powerful"/"popular" spells in that range? If so, Thanee has an excellent list floating around somewhere. As I recall, Sleep, Magic Missile, Grease and the like are prominently featured.

I guess i should have emphasized that along with versatility, i am looking for pure firepower as an artillery role.

Dannyalcatraz said:
2) Do you have a strong character concept/heavy RP considerations that might shape spell selection? If so, please let us in on that info.

Yes, i do have a strong character concept, but the only spells it should affect will be low level spells (has a gambling problem, and can't help himself but to give use an "advantage" through a bit of magic)

Dannyalcatraz said:
3) How much do you plan to play up the archer aspect? If you're serious, you might want to consider a few Ftr or Rgr levels to boost your number of relevant "archery" feats like Point Blank Shot, etc. You might even want to use the Unearthed Arcana variant Battle Sorcerer or the Warmage instead of the PHB Sorcerer if you're serious about archery but don't want to multiclass.

The archer aspect is just for backup...not really planning on putting many feats/character levels into it.

Dannyalcatraz said:
4) What books do you have access to? DCv1, for instance, has "Bloodline" feats that are similar to Cleric Domains, adding to your spell list of spontaneous arcane casters of all kinds, among other things. In addition, there are all kinds of feats spread out over all kinds of books (both WotC & 3rd party publishers) that do things like add DCs to certain spells, give alternative class features, etc.

as far as books go, i only have access to WotC 3.5 books...but anything outside of that realm can be up for consideration..but seeing as how i have none of those books in my possession, i'll have to rely on any person posting said info to give me details about any ability/feat to run by my DM
 

Angel Tarragon

Dawn Dragon
The following spells are suggested from Complete Mage for Blaster Archetypes:

1st Lvl: Hail of Stone (from Spell Compendium)
2nd Lvl: Snowball Storm (from Spell Compendium)
3rd Lvl: Fireball
4th Lvl: Greater Invisibility
5th Lvl: Firebrand (from Spell Compendium)
6th Lvl: Chain Lightning
7th Lvl: Radiant Assault (from Spell Compendium)
8th Lvl: Horrid Wilting (from Spell Compendium)
9th Lvl: Meteor Swarm

The three spells to avoid for this archetype:
Acid Fog, Mass Suggestion, Stinking Cloud.
 

Victim

First Post
Abilities that work for archery at low levels can often convert into abilities that work for ranged touch attack spells at mid-high levels. Throwing Orbs or Enervations can be much easier with Precise Shot.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
For firepower, you're going to want to stick close to Evocation, Conjuration, and Transmutation spells.

For a spellcaster PC with a gambling habit- especially one who cheats- Still Spell & Silent Spell seem to be obvious choices. You don't want to get caught after all.


Besides the possibility of using the DCv1, your most likely main supplementary resources would be CompArcane, CompMage, Unearthed Arcana, PHB2 and the Spell Compendium of course. Paizo's DCv1 is one of those 3rd party books that seems to be popular with a lot of people since it & WotC were so closely linked- Dragon was "100% Official" after all. A lot of people use it, a lot don't- ask your DM. Most relevant for your PC would be something like "Anarchic Bloodline"- meaning your PC decended from some chaotic aligned Outsider, and would add 9 spells to your spells known list (1 each per level 1-9, like a Domain), and qualify you for a few other DCv1 Bloodline feats like "Kin Mastery" (turn creatures with similar "bloodlines") or "Power in the Blood" (cast an additional Bloodline spell).
 

Victim

First Post
Reveille said:
The three spells to avoid for this archetype:
Acid Fog, Mass Suggestion, Stinking Cloud.

Yeah, there's no real reason to avoid those spells. First of all, Acid Fog can be used to pin enemies in place so they can't escape area spells. And having non damaging spells is good for many fights. While they're not especially in theme, they are really useful. Well, Confusion is often going to be more economical than Mass Suggestion.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
If you go for energy themed spells for your main damage dealing, take Energy Substitution at least once- it will improve your flexibility- crucial if you wind up facing a foe who shrugs off your fire spells or whatever.
 

Zelc

First Post
For Sorcerers, you probably don't want more than a few damage-dealing spells over the entire lifetime. Direct Damage is usually a suboptimal strategy in the first place (battlefield control effects like Black Tentacles and Solid Fog and save-or-suck/die effects like Glitterdust usually trump direct damage effects), and you don't want to waste multiple spells known for different ways of getting the same effect: dealing level/d6 damage.

Threads on the CharOp forums for Sorcerer Spell Selection:
General Guidelines for Sorcerer Spell Selection
Sorcerer vs. Warmage (Warning: Thread title contains offensive language! Thread is flamey-ish in general)

Here's a spell list from the last thread:

Spell Level: spells
1: Mage Armor, Ray of Enfeeblement, Grease, Familiar Pocket, Enlarge Person (or something)
2: Glitterdust, Scorching Ray, Wings of Cover, Heroics, Alter Self
3: Stinking Cloud, Fly, Ray of Dizziness, Haste
4: Wings of Flurry, Solid Fog, Orb of Cold, Greater Mirror Image
5: Greater Blink, Moonbow, Feeblemind or Baleful Polymorph (or Overland Flight, replace Fly with Phantasmal Steed, if you'll be getting a Runestaff at some point)
6: Greater Dispel Magic, Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability
Next level you snag Arcane Spellsurge and the fun really starts.


Also, you probably want a high Cha more than a high Dex, but the higher Dex could help you hit with touch spells which is always nice.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
If you have access to a copy of PHB2, it has an appendix meant to quickly create npcs. It contains lists of recommended spells, kin dof the all-time favorites, i.e. spells that have proven to be useful in a majority of situations.
 

MrWildman

Explorer
Random thoughts:

Sorcerers really stand or fall based on their theme, their schtick, that thing they do (or at least how they do it). I try to find a simple phrase, two or three words, to describe their personality. That helps in the choosing of spells. The guy who's into "kinetic property damage" will obviously differ from "sneaky acid charmer", certainly. But knowing who your sorc is points to what he does, or does best.

As a gambler (who cheats) it seems likely he would know one utterly surprising, out-of-the-blue spell. Something totally out of character, kept as an Ace in the Hole.

End random thoughts. Peace.
 

DarkJester

First Post
If you want a bit of reading material as to good spells in general take a look at this:Clicky Clicky

It's meant for wizards, but some of the stuff can be applied more generally to arcane casters as a whole. You just have to be more choosey about what you get.

The "artillery" role for the party isn't really to hard to fill. At low level you'll be just as effective, or more effective (with an 18 dex), using your bow than with your spells. A 1d4+1 magic missile just doesn't do much at level 1. You'll have to find a balance between getting the newest shiniest attack spells are getting spells that are otherwise effective.

I find that damaging spells are not really where it is at. Battlefield control and strong buffing spells are a whole lot more helpful in my experience. In that line, Grease, glitterdust, haste, mass fly, wall of stone/force, solid fog/freezing fog, Evard's Black Tentacles, Howling Chain, and others. A main prospect when choosing spells for a sorcerer is how much you can get out of them. It's nice to have spells that can serve multiple roles.

When I do go for damaging spells, I try to avoid those that require a save if at all possible. Yes, you will need something like fireball for area of effect reflex save damage, but in general I find it much easier to use something like scorching ray or orb of cold than to have an opponent fail a reflex save. Saves start to outpace even the most devoted evoker's saving throw DC after a while. I'd be loathe to toss a fireball if my group had as many melee guy's as yours will. Haste's average damage output would far exceed the puny 6d6 you'd get out of a fireball.

My favorite damaging spell are:
Scorching Ray
Defenstrating Sphere (Complete Arcane)
Fireball / Scintillating Sphere
Firebrand (SC)
Ball Lightning (SC)
Orb of ____ (SC)
Many Jaws (SC)




There is a fun spell called "Unluck" that might suite your concept of a gambler; you might want to check it out (Spell Compendium).

As a sorcerer you are feat starved, especially going into a prestige class that requires 3 feats for a sorcerer. You'll need to pick a metamagic feat as a part of that requirement, I'd recommend sculpt spell, and then pick up empower spell later when you have more feat slots to use it.
 
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Folly

First Post
A few things that haven't been mentioned. Dimension Door is a must have in my opinion. Simply because it increases your survivability and utility of your spell list more than any one other spell.

For Mage of the Arcane Order, remember that due to the requirement of preparing spells that you have to burn an additional feat to qualify for the class. Further this makes for need to carefully read how the interaction of a spontaneous caster with the PrC work. You will probably want to discuss it with your DM and come to an understanding before you go down that road since there is some contention in the implementation of that build.
 

Nail

First Post
Really: Avoid the "blaster" role. It doesn't do nearly as well as you think.

Instead, try for "battlefield control" (or the new 4e phrase "controller"). Spells that limit enemy options are excellent...and often don't require a save. (In fact, spells that require a save are usually pathetic, as most enemies will have high saves.)

At 1st level, try Grease, Mage Armor, and Ray of Enfeeblement. Enlarge Person for the party Ftr, if you have room.
 

Zelc

First Post
If you want true versatility as a Sorcerer, you could go with the Shadowcraft Gnome build (I'm not a huge fan of the Mage of the Arcane Order, as it is feat intensive and you don't get access to high level spells through the Spellpool; something like Incantrix is far better :) ). But this probably isn't well-suited for someone without a good knowledge of arcane casting, and is on the overpowered side ;).
 

roguerouge

First Post
A gambler/blaster theme, eh? Well, let's see what I can recommend from the srd:

0:
Ghost Sound: For the distractions necessary to cheat at cards and dice
Mage Hand: 5-pound telekinesis for when you want to see the other guy's hole card.
Prestidigitation: 'Cause you gots to have your drinks chilled.
Acid Splash: Your "out of blaster spells" blaster spell.
Detect Magic: Detects extremely valuable treasure.
Message: good for cheating with a partner

1:
Charm Person: The charmer's fireball spell.
Magic Missile: It's too good not to take.
Grease: Battlefield control, but maybe you drop it later.

Options:
Ray of Enfeeblement: No save and you'll be good at it with your Dex
Obscuring Mist: The escape spell.
Minor Image: change the suit of your cards, but drop it once you get major image.

2:
Web: best battlefield control spell of this level
Scorching Ray: best blaster spell of this level, especially with your dex. (You've now got fire, acid, and force damage at your disposal.)
Alter Self: You get: Disguise +10, natural size, mundane movement capabilities, natural armor bonus, natural weapons, racial skill bonuses, and racial bonus feats.

Options:
Invisibility: maybe get it now and drop it once you get the greater version.
Eagle's Splendor: Aside from the ego boost, it's a +2 to your save DCs
Touch of Idiocy: whoo-ee! lotsa ability damage; downside is that pesky touching thing.
Glitterdust: save or stink, plus defends against invisible creatures.
Acid arrow: if acid splash just isn't good enough.

3:
Lightning Bolt: Scorching Ray's your fire spell. Now you're only missing cold damage.
Major Image: Now, your illusionary cards still have the lingering heat of your hands for extra realism. Plus, it's the one illusion spell this character concept will ever need.
Fly: For when you would rather not be in melee
Summon Monster III: it's three spells for the price of one!

Options:
Dispel Magic: great, but probably worth letting the cleric deal with those issues.
Protection from Energy: see above
Slow: an under-rated save or stink spell.

4:
Ice Storm: now you just need sonic
Black Tentacles: Oh, sweet jeebus!
Invisibility, Greater: Combine with silent spell and fly for the ultimate in safety.
Polymorph: Get this, drop Alter Self and replace it with Acid Arrow.

Options:
Solid Fog: A valid choice if you don't want Black Tentacles to earn you your DM's wrath.
Shout: Probably best to just buy a wand or some scrolls of something that deals sonic damage.
 

MithrasRahl

First Post
It's sorta already been touched on, but if you're going to be moonlighting as an archer, a lot of the stuff (Dex items, Point Blank Shot, etc) will also help your Ray spells, or anything with a ranged touch attack.
 

Pyrex

First Post
I got a lot of mileage out of Telekinesis with my Sorcerer.

You can grapple an opponent to set them up for Sneak Attacks (or subsequently Pin them to keep them from casting), disarm them, Bull Rush them off a cliff, or the ever-popular throw a cartload of javelins at them.
 


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