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5E Utility Spellcaster Build

JD029

First Post
Edit: Clarification of context: This character is a Swiss-Army-Knife approach to utility, having tools to handle a plethora of fringe scenarios that specialized characters won't be equipped to resolve. As a secondary aspect of the character, this build is designed to also be able to "understudy" for party members who can't make it to a session, so the story can keep moving forward.
The personality of the character is fairly light-hearted, using Cantrips and low-level spells for entertaining effects.
Ex: Pouring water from a flask, using Shape water to turn it into an ice goblet, pouring more liquid water into the ice-goblet, and using Prestidigitation to make the liquid water look and taste like wine.
This character is not built to out-perform anyone at their specialized role. This character is built to handle the situations that other characters aren't built for, so we can get through as efficiently as possible.
This character is not built to be a buffer/debuffer. I acnowledge the usefulness of that role, and the following suggestions of using a Bard would definitely be good for a character filling that role, but that isn't the role I'm interested in playing.

A second option I'm building that would have one primary ability score for all of the casting, would be a Gnome, Sage Background, Artificer (L1), Wizard (L2+). I'm curious what people would think of that... similar to this one, but it would have more spell options, but not some of the fun stuff Sorcerers have like Metamagic.

This build:
Race: Half-Elf (Player's Handbook, pg38)
Background: Urchin (Player's Handbook, pg141)
Class (L1): Knowledge Domain Cleric (Player's Handbook, pg56, 59)
Class (L2+): Divine Soul Sorcerer (Player's Handbook, pg99), (Xanathar's Guide to Everything, pg50)
Metamagic Choices: Subtle, Extended, Quickened, Empowered.
Feats: Shield Master, Lucky, Resilient, Prodigy, Tough... (If I roll sub-par stats, I can replace the latter three feats with ability improvements)
I have a sheet with the character built at level one, with every decision made through level 20, so I could throw this character into any level game without needing to decide or roll anything but Ability Scores and Hit Points.

Final Spell list upon reaching Level 20:
0: Sacred Flame (Dex Sv, Radiant)
0: Toll the Dead (Wis Sv, Necrotic)
0: Fire Bolt (To-Hit roll, Fire)
0: Guidance
0: Mending
0: Mold Earth
0: Shape Water
0: Prestidigitation
0: Mage Hand
1: Identify (Ritual) (from the Cleric level, so I can actually cast it as a ritual)
1: Detect Magic (Ritual) (from the Cleric level, so I can actually cast it as a ritual)
1: (an additional first-level Cleric Spell prepared daily)
1: Command (locked in for Knowledge Domain, otherwise I'd switch it out)
1: Cure Wounds
1: Shield
1: Mage Armor
2: Misty Step
2: Invisibility
3: Tongues
3: Fireball
3: Remove Curse
4: Greater Invisibility
4: Dimension Door
5: Wall of Stone
6: Heal
6: Disintegrate
7: Plane Shift
7: Firestorm
9: Wish
*I want to fit Knock into the list, but I haven't yet figured out what to replace, as there is so much I can do with each of the selections.

This character can:

-cast spells when silenced and/or bound
-fly with wings than can be manifest and dismissed at will
-spontaneously regain 1/2 of total hit points once per day
-3/day roll an extra d20 on a save or attack and use the better roll
-1/short rest roll an additional 2d4 and add it to a failed save or attack, potentially changing the outcome.
-wield a shield without penalty, taking no damage on a successful Dex save that would normally halve damage, and gaining the Shield's bonus on Dex Saves that target only this character.

-serve as a healer in the absence of an actual Cleric
-serve as a blaster in the absence of a Wizard
-open locks, disable traps and scout in the absence of an actual Rogue
-AC Tank in the absence of an actual Fighter (Mage Armor (13) + physical Shield (+2+enhancements) + Shield Spell (+5) + Dex
 
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JD029

First Post
Wait, are you playing a 20th level character?
This is an updated build for a character that I did take from L1 to 20, in which the character at different times had to fill the roles of Thief, Tank, Blaster, and Healer.

The character is build at L1, with all of the decisions up to L20 planned out, for the next time I get to be a player in a game, rather than DM.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
Ok, I guess it just seems strange to me planning out a utility build since IME you never know what role you will need to play at any point and have to make adjustments any way.

Maybe add a level of rogue for expertise and a bonus skill proficiency?

Also, why go sorcerer instead of wizard? Wizard has more spell selection, and at the highest level gets Invulnerability, which is practically the "we win" spell.
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
5 feats, no ASIs? Minimum 13s in Wis and Cha for MC-ing. Seems like a lot of strain on the stats. Wondering if you could accomplish something similar with just a straight classed bard (or bard sorc combo).
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
5 feats, no ASIs? Minimum 13s in Wis and Cha for MC-ing. Seems like a lot of strain on the stats. Wondering if you could accomplish something similar with just a straight classed bard (or bard sorc combo).
LOL I thought of that for a moment (but changed my mind because of my insane dislike for bards ;) ), which is why I recommended a level of rogue for expertise.
 

TheDelphian

Explorer
You didn't grab Guidance as a cleric cantrip. That silently muttered prayer you can get this lock open or perform some other utility skill.

Surprising.
 

JD029

First Post
You didn't grab Guidance as a cleric cantrip. That silently muttered prayer you can get this lock open or perform some other utility skill.

Surprising.
Good point. My Cantrip selection is packed for utility, but I'll see if I can fit it in. And I just caught a mistake. I don't have the Light Cantrip, that was from a previous version of the character that was a Light Bearer Aasimar.

Ok, I guess it just seems strange to me planning out a utility build since IME you never know what role you will need to play at any point and have to make adjustments any way.

Maybe add a level of rogue for expertise and a bonus skill proficiency?

Also, why go sorcerer instead of wizard? Wizard has more spell selection, and at the highest level gets Invulnerability, which is practically the "we win" spell.
Good points. My thought was if I get to join a game that's not L1, I can just draw a line on my notes at the appropriate level, and my character is built for that level, having all of the abilities above the line. Also, while the character is planned to L20, if something else emerges as more useful than what I have, I'm not opposed to switching something.

The Divine Soul Sorcerer has access to the Cleric spell list, and to Metamagic, both of which Wizards don't have access to as far as I've seen. I get unlimited flight without using a spell slot, and a free +2d4 to turn a failed save into a success that I can use once between each short rest. One level of Cleric gives me several more cantrips and a few more L1 spells, as well as armor and shield proficiency, and best of all, the Divine Soul Sorcerer basically gets everything by L19, so I don't really lose anything. I have been eyeing other class dips, but, for the upper-level spells I want, I can afford more than the one level.

Ex: Since Sorcerers can swap out a spell at each level, at one point I'll have Etherealness and Plane Shift at the same time. I'll create the forked metal rods needed to Plane Shift to the Ethereal Plane and Material Plane, after which I won't need the Etherealness Spell to spend as much time in the Ethereal Plane as I need.
When I get Wish, I'll use it to create a Demiplane, which I'll go to, create a forked metal rod attuned to it, and thereafter be able to go to my Demiplane whenever I want (with a 7th level spell slot) without leaving a portal behind to be followed.

I've also considered playing a Wizard with one level of Artificer to accomplish a similar outcome, largely because of the spells on the Wizard's spell list that Sorcerers don't get (though some like Demiplane I can make a work-around to get as stated above). I'm still looking into it. (A big reason for the one-level dip in both cases is Shield Proficiency, to go with the Shield Master Feat, so I don't take damage on a successful save from spells like Fireball, sort of like a Rogue's Evasion.

5 feats, no ASIs? Minimum 13s in Wis and Cha for MC-ing. Seems like a lot of strain on the stats. Wondering if you could accomplish something similar with just a straight classed bard (or bard sorc combo).
Two of the Feats give me +1 Dex in addition to some other stuff. And for the last Feat I figured the additional 40 HP would do more for the character than an additional +1 to an attribute modifier. Wile I appreciate the utility of a well played Bard, it's not a class I'm fond of, partially because they have to have audible components to their spells.
 
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Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
You didn't grab Guidance as a cleric cantrip. That silently muttered prayer you can get this lock open or perform some other utility skill.

Surprising.
That was my thought as well.

Guidance has to be in the Top 10 most generally useful abilities in the game. Whereas I am guessing you aren't going to use Shape Water 5 times in the course of a career.
 

JD029

First Post
That was my thought as well.

Guidance has to be in the Top 10 most generally useful abilities in the game. Whereas I am guessing you aren't going to use Shape Water 5 times in the course of a career.
Guidance certainly makes you a little better at things you can already do, but with a little creativity, Shape Water can let you do things you couldn't do at all otherwise... especially if you get your hands on a Decanter of Endless Water or an Alchemy Jug.
ex1: Shape water into a lock and then make it freeze for an hour, disabling it, or possibly breaking it.
Ex2: Make a boat out of ice and propel it forward.
Ex3: Turn murky-water clear to see lurking threats
Ex4: Cover a pit trap with a thin layer of ice, and cover it with dirt, so an enemy will fall in.
Ex5: Cover a pit trap with a thick layer of ice so you can walk across it.
Ex6: Create cover by freezing cubes of ice and moving them between yourself and an enemy.
Ex7: Shape and hold the water around an immobile enemy's head to drown it.

I wouldn't want to give up Shape Water unless I had to. I'll replace Ray of Frost with Guidance though.

I want to work Knock into the list somewhere, but I don't know what to trade for it.
 
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Gammadoodler

Explorer
Ultimately, it seems like this character is planned more around survival and cc resistance than on general effectiveness (at least in the higher tiers of play). Specifically, a lot of the build seems devoted to countering or taking advantage of corner case scenarios. As such, your satisfaction is likely going to depend on the frequencies where the corner cases are relevant (how often are you silenced, or do you need an iceboat and have a particular magic item).
 

Wile I appreciate the utility of a well played Bard, it's not a class I'm fond of, partially because they have to have audible components to their spells.
So do the spells all non-Sorcerers cast, unless you use Silent Spell metamagic.

The big issue with your entire build is really that a Lore Bard would basically be better at a lot of this. All you really have going for you is a lot of cantrips, which is nice, but...

Those shape water examples are a little unrealistic, and support the "5 times in a career" point, even though you may think otherwise. It's not a useless spell, but it really is one you're going to use very rarely. Example 7 is particularly ludicrous - if the DM allows that, the DM would surely allow you to insta-kill the same unconscious monster by stabbing it with a sword or whatever. If you actually follow the suffocating rules (PHB p.183), what would actually happen is that the creature would start choking, which means it can survive a number of rounds equal to it's CON mod (min 1), in which time it has to be able to breath again, or will drop to 0HP. So any creature which was merely unconscious is immediately going to either wake up (due to massive adrenaline surge etc. - as people do when they can't breathe), or start at the very least, rolling around, which will give it a chance to breathe. If it's so out-of-it that that can't happen, it's undoubtedly easier and faster to murder it another way. So that just doesn't really work.

I'd also ask a question:

Is this character really designed for utility, or is it designed for spotlight-stealing?

I ask because it kind of looks like the latter. You're trying to take all the most useful cantrips and all the most show-off-y ones, you initially ignored guidance (which is THE most useful cantrip, but helps others more than you), trying to get a decent bonus to loads of skills, and trying to have all the most useful skills. You'll have a fairly high CHA and likely be the party face. And you have taken powerful and reliable combat spells instead of spells which support the rest of the party in being good at what they do.
 

JD029

First Post
My apologies if my responses weren't as receptive or composed as they should be. Seeking to refine a character build designed to fit around whatever else the party has to shine in the fringe scenarios, I didn't respond as well as I could have to the (build an entirely different type of character) comments.

A buffer/debuffer/battlefield control build would certainly be a powerful addition to a party, being a force multiplier... but it is a very specific build for a role that was not the one I asked for help refining. The role I was seeking advise on refining was a Swiss Army Knife approach to encounters, not having the specialization of the rest of the party, but covering the bases so the party will never have zero-ability to overcome a situation.

Advise on how to improve the character is still welcome.
I'd appreciate if anyone else comments, to please make it an improvement on the role this character is designed to fill, not an unrelated build.
Ex1: Having Guidance was good, because the character had a lot of redundancy in damaging cantrips, and Guidance is useful.
Ex2: Suggesting that "flashy", "powerful and reliable spells" were somehow a wrong choice and that the character should be a designated buffer/debuffer... was not a useful suggestion.
 
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