5E Wizard Brainstorm

Vitor Bastos

Explorer
Whats up guys!

For the last few days I've been wondering/asking you guys about which Class I should roll for a new campaign (Probably Descent into Avernus, no spoilers btw XD).
I've been all over the place, considering rolling Rogue, Warlock, Sorcerer... and I finally decided to roll Wizard. Cause thats a Class that I've always been interested about, but I thought I didnt have experience enough to play (played 5 unfinished campaigns, somewhere around 40 sessions)... but screw it, Im going for it! haha

Now that I made up my mind, I'd like your opinion about Subclasses, Races, Backgrounds and General Tips that you think its important.
So far from what I read about, I liked Divination and Evocation for Subclasses. The Races probably High Elf, Half-elf and Variant Human. Backgrounds couldnt settle on these.

So what do you guys recommend and what tips can you give to a first time Wizard?
 

Dausuul

Legend
The big one is to load up on rituals. You can cast any ritual in your spellbook without having to prepare it, which is a thing no other class can do. And wizards get a lot of good rituals! Just at 1st level, there's alarm, comprehend languages, detect magic, find familiar, identify, illusory script, Tenser's floating disc, and unseen servant. Pretty much every wizard should take detect magic and find familiar. (Owl familiars are highly recommended due to their Perception bonuses and flyby, which allows them to deliver touch spells while evading retaliation.) Pick other rituals to suit your taste and your DM.

If you want to deal damage, I'd go with evocation over divination. Divination is at its strongest when you're casting single-target debuffs and can use Portent to force a failed save. It's less valuable when lobbing fireballs. Meanwhile, Sculpt Spells allows you to fireball your party members with impunity, which is... liberating. :)

For your cantrip selection, if you have access to Xanathar material, my recommendations are fire bolt, toll the dead, and mage hand. Fire bolt and toll the dead offer the best damage output of all cantrips, and it's generally wise to have two options for damage types in case the enemy is immune to one of them. They synergize well with your subclass abilities too--toll the dead benefits from Potent Cantrip at 6th and fire bolt from Empowered Evocation at 10th. Mage hand is just incredible utility.

You will want at least one AC-boosting spell: Either mage armor or shield. There are proponents of each, and ultimately you should plan to get them both, but at low levels you will have to settle for one or the other--you need your 1st-level slots for blasting. Shield is nifty because you don't pay for it if you don't use it. Mage armor stays up throughout an adventuring day.

Burning hands and magic missile are the 1st-level damage spells of choice. Magic missile is great at precision strikes and taking down high-AC bosses. Burning hands is good to incinerate a bunch of melee foes.

Race-wise, any of the ones you listed would work; I like variant human and either Resilient (Constitution) or War Caster. Concentration saves are the bane of your existence, anything that helps you make 'em is good... though an evoker might not care as much. High elf gets you an extra cantrip, which is very nice. I'm not as sold on half-elf, but it does give you a Charisma boost and a great array of skills, if you want to broaden your horizons beyond spellslinging.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
My favorite wizard was one I loaded up on spells that I fought would have a chance of saving the party in a dire situation - kind of like a safety net.

That wizard died fairly early on but saved the party from a full TPK in the process.

So I’d recommend divination because my goal wouldn’t be to do damage - but I would make sure to have something like magic missile just Incase I needed to.

After that I focus on spells that enable me turn the tides in hard battles. For low level spells silent image and fog cloud are good options for this. Sleep is amazing here as well.

After I feel like I have spells that give me a chance to turn a hard combat I then take rituals. Find familiar is incredibly good. Identify and detect magic can both be great. Unseen servant can sometimes be used to trigger traps.

In short - I’d focus on being the safety net and finding useful out of combat stuff to do.

Of course there’s many ways to play a wizard but I think you are looking for inspiration.

To make the wizard more well rounded I really like variant human + healer feat (which also furthers my goal of preventing a tpk/ pc death)
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
If you're going to play it in Descent, I would recommend Diviner for their portent ability so you can probably force your enemies to fail their saves.

Diviner has some fo the best abilities, especially Portant and Expert Divination. Getting spell slots back for free is nice.

I'd recommend checking out Treantmonk's guide to the diviner just for the spell selection recommendations if nothing else. He starts out with 1 level of Knowledge cleric which isn't required but he goes spell level by spell level and explains his reasoning on the spells which is pretty cool. You can find the level 1-4 build here

@Dausuul has recommended some great feats. Partly depends on your stats and how you're doing those. If you roll and get an odd Con score, then Resilient is a great choice. Warcaster if you have an even Con score, it's not the best use of Warcaster, but advantage on Concentration saves from damage is always great. At lower levels its probably better than being proficient from a statistical stand point.

I like Human, it's really hard to say no to a bonus feat. I also love doubling down on my casters with Magic Initiate. For Wizard that would let you start with 5 cantrips and have another ritual spell know for your book and get one free casting of it per day. I'd recommend Detect Magic. You can then cast it once per long rest as a standard action without burning a spell slot, and it's in your spellbook so if you need it again later you can ritual cast it.

Magic initiate would also put you 1 cantrip ahead of the High Elf as well at the cost of some weapon proficiencies (you should not be in combat as a Diviner anyway) and a +1 to dex.

EDIT: the other feat I meant to mention is Lucky which is always great for a Diviner because it works with/in addition to Portent. You can make more people fail saves more often.
 
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Shiroiken

Adventurer
Subclasses
From the PHB, I'd say diviner is probably the overall best, but it depends on what you want to focus on. Evoker can be good for a blaster, but IIRC one of their abilities is weak (damage on a failed cantrip save, but there's only a few). Necromancer is also pretty fun. If you can access other books, the War Mage (Xanthars?) is really good, with lots of combat potential and defense.

Races
Except for some weird advanced options, I'd stick with High Elf, Variant Human, or Gnome. High elf gives an Int bonus and an extra cantrip, plus shortsword proficiency (it's rare you'll use it, but nice to have when you do). Variant Human can be good if you combo it with a good feat, such as Lucky, Observant, or Resilient: Con (for Concentration saves), but other good ones depending on your theme are Lightly armored (saves a spell from Mage Armor), Elemental Adept (for focusing on a damage type), Spell Sniper (for super ranged attacks), Prodegy (for expertiese) and possibly War Caster (iffy). Gnome just gets a big Int boost, but you should focus on that if you're using save or suck effects, because many do nothing on a save.

Backgrounds
This is tricky, and should really represent your character's place in the world. Knowing nothing about your character concept or campaign setting, I've got nothing. I know that many wizards take Sage as a default background since both are Int based, but it's up to you.

General Tips
You get only so many spells to put in your spellbook, unless your DM gives you access to scrolls and other spellbooks. Choose carefully, because each level should probably have an offensive, defensive, and utility spell. Rituals are amazing; you don't have to prepare them, so you should pick up quite a few when you can.

Concentration is a big thing to remember. You should never take or prepare two concentration spells that you would want for the same thing (offense, defense, or similar utility) since you can't ever do them both at the same time. Once you have a few levels, you might pickup some from different levels, so that you can spread out your spell slots. If you think you might be regularly in danger and plan to regularly use concentration spells, I strongly encourage you to consider the Resilient Feat for Constitution Save Proficiency.

Area of Effects can be tricky, so don't overload yourself with them. Don't be afraid to hit your allies, but only do it if you can get 2+ extra enemies per ally and it is not likely to incapacitate your allies. If you can improve your initiative, it's most useful to cast these before your allies engage in melee.

Try to have a variety of saving throw types, so you can pick and choose what works best on each target. For example, Dex saves are awesome against giants, but bad against fast creatures.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Ripping the band-aid off eh?

Lucky enough for you, the wizard has one of the most comprehensive guides available:

Also available in a slightly less detailed text format here:

Good races are anything with an INT bonus.
Though particularly attractive races are Hobgoblins and Githyanki, because they get free armor proficiency. And the winged Feral Tiefling, just because it can fly.

As for tips.
Get yourself a Familar.

The Catapult spell is far more useful at low levels than it looks on math tables. On the surface it seems like just a mediocre damage spell, but this is neglecting the fact it can toss objects around the battlefield. The object takes damage when it is tossed, but that can be used to your advantage. Smashing someone with a vial of acid can cause extra damage. Making a bag of caltrops rip apart or a flask of oil break on their square can make it very hard for enemies to get around.

Wizards aren't exactly DPR kings. If you spend a turn or two not killing something but doing something else useful, it's not a big deal, and often desirable. Look for other things you could be doing, such as: Breaking a support beam to cause a cave-in. Flipping over a table to create some cover. Tipping a keg to douse the area in liqueur, and then trying to setting the area on fire.

That said, it's your job to deal with the horde of mooks that show up in fights. Fighters don't have enough sword swings in a turn to deal with all the trash in a timely manner. Either incapacitate them or blow them away with a Fireball.
 

Todd Roybark

Villager
Diviner....with proper shepherding of your spell slots, you can real stretch out your adventuring day. It is satisfying to hit a creature with a Mind Spike or Detect Thoughts and get a 1st level slot back. The Third Eye is also extremely useful if you are a Human for a bonus Darkvision or See Ethereal effect.

Choosing Human as a race gives you a feat at 1st level. I would recommend the Observant Feat, for the +1 to Intelligence, and for the incredible +5 to Passive Perception and Investigation checks. A baseline 15 to Passive Perception, before ability mods and Proficiency bonus
( and You Do Most Definitely want be be proficient in both), is going to let you spot many a variety of things in most official D&D Modules. A 16 Passive Perception will let you spot most things, and 21 and over is almost all things most hidden and Invisible.
This is booth useful and fun to play.

Also, everything previously said about Ritual Spells is true, use them and collect them all.

I would also recommend talking with the DM about magic item distribution....outside Dungeon of the Mad Mage, Scrolls and enemy spellbooks are hard to come by in most official modules, and there are almost never staffs. That at least is my experience.
 

Vitor Bastos

Explorer
Thats a whole bunch of great info! thanks a lot! Im leaning towards Divination indeed, seems very fun!

(Owl familiars are highly recommended due to their Perception bonuses and flyby, which allows them to deliver touch spells while evading retaliation.)
Like Dausuul said, Owls appears to be the "best" familiar so far.. anyone got any other experiences about familiars?
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Thats a whole bunch of great info! thanks a lot! Im leaning towards Divination indeed, seems very fun!



Like Dausuul said, Owls appears to be the "best" familiar so far.. anyone got any other experiences about familiars?
Owls are great because dark vision and flyby attack.

Depends on your style and such. For my sailor, they have an Osprey (hawk). Not the best mechanically. but it fits them. For my shadow sorcerer with the magic initiate find familiar spell, he prefers spiders because of their climb, blind sense and general unobtrusiveness

If you talk your DM into letting you get and advanced familiar because you’re in hell in this game, definitely go for an Imp. I wouldn’t trust it or that it’s bound to you, but could be fun RP either way.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
May want to consider Fire Genasi as your race. +1 Int, +2 Con and fire resistance

I just started Avernus last week with a Fire Genasi Divine Wizard, and very happy with the choice so far!
 

BlivetWidget

Explorer
I also love doubling down on my casters with Magic Initiate. For Wizard that would let you start with 5 cantrips and have another ritual spell know for your book and get one free casting of it per day. I'd recommend Detect Magic. You can then cast it once per long rest as a standard action without burning a spell slot, and it's in your spellbook so if you need it again later you can ritual cast it.
I like to do the same thing, but I feel like Mage Armor is the better choice. A wizard is going to be casting Mage Armor once per adventuring day anyway as a spell tax no matter what their level. So having a free 1/day Mage Armor is effectively +1 level 1 spell slots. Then you can save your slots for the situational spells like Shield, Absorb Elements, Feather Fall, etc. And depending on the group's definition of adventuring day, it can also effectively be +1 spells prepared.

Since Detect Magic is a ritual, you can already cast it without using a spell slot, so there's not much benefit to being able to cast it as an action. A lot of people think there's an imaginary rule that you have to stand still to perform a ritual, but there's no rule about that; you just have to spend your action and concentrate. And just look at the long list of things you still can do while still spending your movement and action on other things: PHB | Combat | Other Activity on Your Turn. So the party wizard can literally have their Detect Magic going uninterrupted while exploring.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
I haven't completely read through Descent into Avernus yet but if I had to take a wild guess at some point you will be fighting devils which means magic resistance. I played through Out of the Abyss which similarly featured a lot of encounters featuring magic resistance enemies and I found that it's always useful to have a strong buff spell to fall back on when you can't get anything else to stick. Haste is great and I wish I had picked it up at some point. Instead I had to settle on dealing half damage with Polymorph (since the beast's attacks aren't magical). But it turns out that half of t-rex damage is still pretty good damage...
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Whats up guys!

For the last few days I've been wondering/asking you guys about which Class I should roll for a new campaign (Probably Descent into Avernus, no spoilers btw XD).
I've been all over the place, considering rolling Rogue, Warlock, Sorcerer... and I finally decided to roll Wizard. Cause thats a Class that I've always been interested about, but I thought I didnt have experience enough to play (played 5 unfinished campaigns, somewhere around 40 sessions)... but screw it, Im going for it! haha

Now that I made up my mind, I'd like your opinion about Subclasses, Races, Backgrounds and General Tips that you think its important.
So far from what I read about, I liked Divination and Evocation for Subclasses. The Races probably High Elf, Half-elf and Variant Human. Backgrounds couldnt settle on these.

So what do you guys recommend and what tips can you give to a first time Wizard?
For a setting like Avernus, I would go for conjurer. Its ability for gear on demand, easy reuse porting and such seems to me a good fit for a somewhat post-apoc setting.

After that, I would avoid evoker, diviner is great. Transmute might be good for its stone at 6th which is very very adaptable.

In order, I would rec conjure, trans, diviner for that setting.

For race, any of the int bonuses are fine. If tiefling variants are allowed and one of those is + int that's great.

But for an odd approach - you can go conjure and avoid spells that need spell attacks or saves and be very very effective. That can reduce need for high int almost completely. So, then you open up lots of options for races and scores.

I think there was a youtube on a mountain dwarf variation like that. Armor, weapons, lotaa of hp and spells to boot.
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
My recommendation playing a wizard is to be a wizard. None of that namby pamby focus on one or two tricks so you can blow up the world and trip titans easier nonsense.

What you need, first and foremost, is prestidigitation. No self-respecting wizard should be without it. What you need next is every spell ever created. You have never met a spell you don't want to know. It doesn't matter if you are LG and the spell summons Orcus. You need it in one of your many spellbooks, because some day you're going to need to know some obscure information contained within it, or use that spellbook to lure an Orcus cultist to their doom, or some such.

Ask your DM what his thoughts are about enemy wizards having spellbooks. If he insists that NPC "mages" that use the wizard spell list do not in fact have spellbooks that can be plundered, play a chaotic stupid kender/gnome hybrid vengeance paladin sorlock instead, and kill every single "mage" you come across before he/she/it has the chance to even cast a single spell.

Assuming your DM is neutral or good and allows you to plunder spellbooks, make sure you have plenty of money for copying spells. Remember, you may only be able to afford to copy the best spells now, but that book is now yours and will be forever, and ever, and ever. One day you will master all of its secrets, and then you will place it in your steadily expanding library.

At some point you will learn to create your own scrolls. Regardless of which magic item creation system your DM chooses to let you use, this is only worth doing with low level spells. And do this you must. Not every low-level spell can be cast as a ritual, and you must have backups for those that can't, since you cannot prepare all of them every day.

Remember this important proverb: "You did not fail because of the challenge you faced. You failed because of the spell you did not know."
 
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