Welcome, friends, to Wildemount! As part of the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, players now have access to the magic of Dunamancy, and therefore control over the powers that hold the universe together. One such iteration of this new magic is the Chronurgy Wizard. (The other, Graviturgy Wizards, has also been covered extensively on our site!) Wizards have always had some level of control over time, but this new arcane tradition lets Chronurgists take it to the next level! Through intense training, some knowledge of time, and a bit of luck, you too can manipulate the pace of the world to your liking. Let’s see what that may look like with our Chronurgy Wizard 5E Guide.
Flip the Hourglass: Chronurgy Wizard 5E
The Chronurgy wizard is somewhat unique, though it does take some ideas from previous Arcane traditions. Its main use is as a support, using its abilities to alter time for your allies; it specializes in preventing damage, but it does have interesting utility options later on. It’s a critical subclass for parties where the party is made up of squishy characters with no real frontline. Even in parties where there is a frontline, everyone will love your ability to just mess up enemy plans without spending spell slots.
VERY interesting stuff. And some of it is very powerful. There are some excellent support options like Gift of Alacrity, that boosts a willing party member’s initiative rolls. (This would be great to help the Draconblood Dragonborn swashbuckler build we came up with!)
Chronurgy Wizards are great in combat, too. Temporal Shunt allows you to make an attacking enemy vanish into another point in time briefly, only to return unaware you cast the spell.
Tether Essence might have the most interesting options, however. It binds two characters together, and each receives the same damage and hit point boosts as the other.
Looking for something truly nasty? Time Ravage is it. This spell devastates the target through rapid aging. If the target fails a throw, it takes 10d12 necrotic damage. It takes half that much damage if the saving throw is succesful. If the save fails, the spell ages the target instantly so that they are 30 days from death from old age. They become physically frail and have disadvantage for all saving throws and ability checks. The target dies within 30 days without the help of the spells wish or greater restoration.
The first ability offered to the Chronurgy Wizard is a reaction reroll effect, within 30 ft of the mage. This can be for enemies or allies on attack rolls, ability checks, or saving throws. You get to make it after the roll succeeds or fails, they have to take the second roll, and you can only use it twice per rest.
So, let’s make the obvious connection; this ability is very similar to Portent, the Divination Wizard ability. It is much more flexible than Portent, since you get to choose after the roll is a success or failure, but you don’t know the result of the reroll. Realistically, there are pros and cons to taking one or the other. Portent is probably just a bit better, since the range is… sight, there’s no reaction required to use it, and you know the roll.
Don’t get me wrong, though; this ability is bonkers. This lets you turn an enemy’s crit into – hopefully – not a crit. You can also use it to save an ally from a bad saving throw, or turn the Paladin’s smite roll into a great success and deal a lot of extra damage. Out of combat, this ability can turn a Face’s Persuasion roll from an “everybody hates you” into a “beloved by all.” The usefulness cannot be understated.
The “have to take the second roll” clause is interesting amongst reroll effects. This means that, even if the second roll is worse for you, they take it. This ability is then only useful in the most desperate of times; you wouldn’t want to turn an enemy’s glancing blow into a critical hit by mistake, for example. This is a risky effect, so use it wisely… This could definitely “butterfly effect” out of control.
A boost to initiative is always nice. A boost to your initiative equal to your Intelligence modifier is a game-changer.
As a magic user, your initiative is highly influential over how a fight could end up going. It was one of the main reasons a Wizard would consider taking Dexterity. With a boost equal to your main casting stat, you can now invest in Constitution much more flippantly. Or, you could get really good in both stats, take the Alert feat, and always go first. This bonus is kinda crazy, and really flavorful!
As a caster, going first is actually crucial. You’ll be able to take enemies out of fights instantly, rather than after they’ve had a turn to attack, or buff. You could also buff yourself or prepare an action to Counterspell, if there are enemy mages on the field. With a spellbook full of options, you can really prevent so many problems right off the bat, so your high initiative will really, really help.
Speaking of preventing problems, how about a one-round Hold Monster? With a Constitution save, you can force something – Large or Smaller – within 60 ft to become incapacitated with a speed of 0 until it takes damage or your next turn ends. And you get to do this a number of times equal to your Intelligence mod until you rest.
First of all, the flavor is absolutely astounding here. You can literally freeze people in time at level 6! That’s both hilarious and concerning. It seems like they can still see and sense things outside of their temporal casing, and talk, but they can’t move their bodies… Yeesh.
Mechanically, this is not exactly going to win you an encounter by itself, but it is oh-so useful. Rather than the Wisdom save of the traditional Hold spells, this ability targets Constitution. That means it’ll be more useful against magic users and creatures that traditionally have good Wisdom scores. It also seems like it is in no way mind-affecting, so monsters like Mind Flayers will be easier to effect. Preventing a Wizard from casting spells until your allies are in range to prevent it sounds quite good.
However, it is much weaker than a “Hold” spell. Paralyzed is Incapacitated, with penalties against saves and attack rolls… This ability won’t give you free critical hits for melee allies. It’s also a little bit shorter ranged, and can only affect things of a specific size. Damage also cancels it out, meaning an overeager ally can prevent this ability from reaching its full potential quite quickly.
Despite these downsides, it’s a great ability which makes good use of your high initiative to push back problems until you’re ready to deal with them. Use it often and well.
Somewhat breaking from the themes set up by Temporal Awareness and Momentary Stasis is a preparatory ability. At level 10, you can make a mote whenever you cast a 4th level or lower spell slot. It’s a gray bead that lasts an hour. If it’s destroyed – it has 1 hit point and 15 AC – or if you don’t use it within an hour, the spell is lost. A creature can use their action to “cast” the spell, using your DCs. This can be used once per short or long rest.
This is, for all intents and purposes, a better scroll. It’s a little bit easier to target and destroy, but much easier for a non-caster to use. Most enemies won’t have a reason to target a bead, since it’s not like all enemies have seen a Chronurgy Mage.
1 hour is a long time, so you can prepare some generically good spells for your allies to cast on their turn. 4th level spells can be rather strong. They include Dimension Door, Phantasmal Killer, Polymorph, Stone Shape, and Greater Invisibility; and that’s just 4th level spells, raw. An ally can also cast a 4th level version of your Fireball, or Fly, so that you can focus on casting reactive spells on your turn. That’s pretty fantastic, and maybe the Rogue will stop pestering you to cast Greater Invisibility on them if you just give them a bead of it.
The downsides are pretty minimal. You can only make one bead per short rest, so only one ally can benefit. Plan accordingly, since the spell can be a huge boon for a quick ally or one that isn’t useful in these kinds of situations normally; maybe before you enter a bug-infested mine, you give the Fighter Fireball. Or before you enter the Elemental Plane of Air, you give the Barbarian Fly. The spell level restriction is kind of a problem, but like I said… 4th level spells are really good. You don’t really need this ability to be any higher. Prepare a bead of a good spell whenever you can, and reap the benefits of helping your allies without even spending an action.
The last tradition-based ability for the Chronurgy Wizard takes the upsides of Portent and scales it… In a weird direction.
At 14th level, you can spend your reaction to cause a roll that can be affected by Chronal Shift within 60 ft of you to instantly fail or succeed. This “fail or success” is either the minimum value to succeed, or one less than the DC. If you use this, you become exhausted by one level, which can only be removed with a long rest.
Okay, so… Not amazing. This is a slightly better Chronal Shift that lets you choose the rewards; you basically have 3 Chronal Shifts now. That’s good, and it’s a really, really good upgrade of both Chronal Shift and the Divination School’s Portent. You can literally choose the fate of someone else.
But, the downsides are myriad. Not only do you get to use this only once per rest, but you’re penalized for using it at all. Exhausted 1 is penalties on ability checks, which is actually only a small penalty in combat; Saving Throws are not Ability Checks, after all. As your exhaustion increases, however, the penalties stack up REALLY fast. Do be careful about using this ability in hot or cold environments, because at Exhaustion 6, you actually die. This ability could literally kill you. Once again, comparing this to Portent, and the downsides are somewhat abrupt. Portent usually just gives you such better options – with some abilities, you can guarantee crits or crit failures – that this ability could be seen as just a sidegrade, rather than an upgrade.
However, because you know whether or not the roll you’re canceling out would have succeeded or failed, you do get extra flexibility in saving lives. Use this if the roll you’re ally is making is, quite literally, life or death. Or if you’re out of Chronal Shifts.
Best Race for Chronurgy Wizards
Like many Wizards, Intelligence is crucial to understanding space and time the best you can. Afterwards, the paths diverge a bit. Dexterity is no longer necessary, per say, since Temporal Awareness grants you a massive boost in Initiative. The Constitution becomes a little more important, unless you want to go as fast as possible.
The high boost to Intelligence and the bonus to Constitution makes the short and quirky Gnome a wonderful option. While they are slow, Gnome Cunning is a rather incredible boon that will let you easily cast magic when you’d otherwise be incapacitated. Tinker is a rather specific ability, but is cute and can lead to a lot of adorable roleplay opportunities within the party. Artificer’s Lore is rather specific, but you’ll destroy any and all Intelligence (History) checks for artifacts and tech, so that’s a plus.
For those who would rather get some height, the High Elf has never been a bad choice for Wizards. An extra skill, with doubled proficiency modifier, means that you’re the best at one thing in your party. A bonus cantrip on the Wizard spell list is somewhat overkill, but rather potent, since Wizards have so many good cantrips. The flavor of an elf controlling space and time is also not lost on me; now you can literally become the center of the universe.
A Draconblood Dragonborn becomes an excellent option given the +2 to intelligence. While there is no bonus to constitution, there is no reason not to make that the second-highest skill behind intelligence. The +1 in charisma might not be that useful, but it is a small price to place. Plus, you breathe fire. That’s cool.
Race Notes: Everyone Has Time
While boosting Intelligence should be the goal of any and all Wizards, starting with 15 is not horrible. Be whatever race you’d like to be. Flavorwise, a Goliath might have some connection to ancient history. A Tortle who controls time is thematically hilarious, bringing everyone to his speed – and they at least have some extra Constitution! Hobgoblins are another wonderful race to choose, if you don’t mind wearing some armor. Consider a race that has a bonus to Intelligence, but remember that all races can get to 20 Intelligence eventually… At some cost.
Conclusion – Our Chronurgy Wizard 5E Hot Take
That wraps up our Chronurgy Wizard 5E Guide. Verdict: a really interesting subclass. While I may consider the Chronal Shift and Convergent Future abilities to be slightly weak, that’s most likely an overreaction. Any reactionary reroll effects can, quite literally, save lives. And this class will be just in time to make your DM groan as they freeze important enemies and always go first. This is a really potent subclass, and I highly recommend making one… Just be quick about it. You can also learn more about what this release offers in our review of the new Wildemount Subclasses.