Which class/build is best for an electrical character?

Gavin O.

I've been wanting to build a character who specialized in lightning/thunder damage. There are several different builds that seems to be focused on this, and I'm having difficulty picking from them:

Lightning soul dragon sorcerer

Storm soul sorcerer

Tempest cleric

Circle of the land druid (?)

The biggest problem I see with lightning characters is the lack of reliable ranged damage. There are two electrical cantrips, Thunderclap and Shocking Grasp, both of which are melee range. The strongest first-level thunder spell is also melee range. But playing a melee-ranged character with 1d6 hit dice seems dangerous. Tempest cleric seems strong with 1d8 hit dice and heavy armor, but their best damage boost is Destructive Wrath, which they don't really have a good spell to use with (no lightning bolt/chain lightning). Is it worth going Cleric/Sorcerer for access to both features at the cost of setting your spell progression back 6 levels?

Ogre Mage

Of the choices, the tempest cleric is regarded as the strongest from an optimization standpoint due to the maximizing of lightning and thunder damage through its channel divinity. I have never played a tempest cleric, however (though I've played many clerics) so am theory crafting. It is NOT worth setting back your spell progression 6 levels. Call lightning can be powerful, although you mostly have to use it outside.

If you have your heart set on access to lightning bolt and chain lightning, I think the lightning dragon sorcerer is the safest choice due to the natural armor.

The storm sorcerer is meh in my view.

Note that the Circle of the Land (mountain) druid has access to lightning bolt, although it does not seem very specialized in electrical damage.
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Mountain Dwarf Favored Soul, low CHA max STR, you can utilize Booming Blade this way and self buffs. Take Heavy Armor feat at lvl 4.
Be any caster that can take lightning bolt at level 5. After reaching level 5 take 2 levels into tempest cleric. If you aren't running out of spells in the adventuring day then take 2 levels of fight after that. If you are get a few more levels in whatever primary caster you chose.

A few good choices:
Divination Wizard - (forcing a failed save on a max damage lightning bolt is delightful)
Evoker Wizard - (not hitting your allies and getting additional damage on lightning bolt is nice)
Mountain (land) Druid - Only caster that gets both call lightning and lightning bolt
Dragon Sorcerer - gets extra lightning damage, gets to increase damage rolls etc

The goal is to maximize damage on your lightning bolt and double cast lightning bolts or cast lightning bolt and call lightning on the same turn.


Tempest Cleric if you want to be really tough and not worry about being in melee.

Draconic Lightning Sorcerer if you prefer to stay back at range and blast away.

If you roll for stats and get good rolls, combine the two. I wouldn't attempt using point buy or standard array though.