Have you ever seen a dragon in an encounter and just… Wanted to be like that? Just once? Well, we haven’t gotten a legitimate full-blooded Dragon race yet, but we’ve got something pretty close! The Player’s Handbook allowed the Sorcerer to get a representation of dragonkind through the Draconic Origin. When you’re imbued with this power, it implies your ancestors either consumed dragons, made a pact with dragons, or might have just been dragonborn. You might be the first of this origin, implying that your parents either did arcane rituals to connect with dragons… Or one of them might have been one! Let’s see what this lizard blood might represent with our Draconic Sorcerer 5E Guide!
Hear Your Roar: Draconic Sorcerer 5E
Unsurprisingly, having been injected by the blood of one of the most impressive creatures in Dungeons & Dragons history gives you some great strength. This archetype’s abilities are quite impressive for the early game, focusing on a single element and making all their spells more effective. You also get some great versatility through your late-game abilities. It’s one of the best generic Origins, if you want to be good at a little bit of everything… But especially murder.
At the 1st level, you get to choose what flavor of dragon you belong to! There are 10 dragons on the list, with 5 possible options for the damage type you affiliate with. While the color of the dragon is important for roleplay reasons… You really only care about damage types – You can choose from Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, or Poison. Your character also gains one other benefit;
You can speak, read, and write Draconic. Additionally, whenever you make a Charisma check when interacting with dragons, your proficiency bonus is doubled if it applies to the check.
Okay, this is quite a bit!
The Damage Type you get only affects your Elemental Affinity ability. This boosts your damage when you hit with that element, and allows you to gain resistance to it. Since the resistance element costs a resource, we’re going to focus on the damage aspect.
Acid is a pretty great element. According to the Monster Manual, Acid is the least resisted of the elements, and the damage is dealt by a good number of creatures. You won’t find it hard to make use of both the damage increase, nor the resistance of Elemental Affinity. However, your spell selection is exceedingly small, so you won’t have many ways to deal damage in big areas of effect. There are a few decent spells to choose from – especially for Single Target effects – but… Consider avoiding Acid if you’re going to be the group’s Area of Effect blaster.
Cold? Now we’re getting somewhere! With giant areas of effect like Cone of Cold in the late game, Ice Storm in the midgame, and a competent cantrip in Frostbite, you’ll get good mileage out of this. Cold damage is resisted much, much more than Acid – and there’s precious few frosty creatures, so you’ll be wasting the resistance! – so that’s a bit of a downside. Consider getting Elemental Adept with this.
Fire… What to say about fire… You might know the spell Fireball, one of the most popular spells of all time? Well, Fireball is one of many. Fire has a massive, massive spell selection at every level that completely outdoes any other element. You can get line attacks, single-target effects, massive radiuses, damage over time… Things that Acid only wishes it could do! The main problem is that Fire is resisted the second-most out of the options on this list… And it also is second-place on immunities! Definitely take Elemental Adept for this!
Lightning is actually pretty great. Lightning Bolt is pretty similar to fireball, Chain Lightning is a really efficient multi-target attack, and they got a cantrip in Lightning Lure – a decent attack that has a pull-in effect! Great options, but unlike Cold, it’s completely incomparable to Fire. At least this has the least immunities in our list, making it a pretty consistent option, if not great for versatility.
Poison… Wow. Not only is this the shortest spell list of the group, it is also the most likely to be completely negated by immunities. If that wasn’t enough, it can’t even be used with Elemental Adept without GM aid. This is just… Incorrect. You can’t take this and be effective.
If you know you’re going to be fighting a specific enemy type – for example, an anti-Celestial campaign – then build your archetype accordingly. In most cases, however, Fire is just too good.
On the other half of this ability, the language and Charisma check buffs are fun. Draconic is one of the more useful languages in 5e, so you’ll get more hints to puzzles and get secret information for free. Fun, but overall insubstantial.
The doubled proficiency bonus gives you an eventual +12 to Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion. Not bad! Considering you’re a sorcerer, you’re probably gonna be tossing dice at dragons with +19 or more to talk them out of killing you. I like your odds! Consider picking up at least one social skill when you take this origin.
As magic flows through your body, it causes physical traits of your dragon ancestors to emerge. At 1st level, your hit point maximum increases by 1 and increases by 1 again whenever you gain a level in this class.
Additionally, parts of your skin are covered by a thin sheen of dragon-like scales. When you aren’t wearing armor, your AC equals 13 + your Dexterity modifier.
Precious! You can almost pretend to be near the frontline without dying to a breeze!
But seriously, this does not mean you have to go on the frontlines. At all. Instead, you should consider the fact that you basically gained +2 Constitution. At level 1. That’s really good! It offsets your d6 hit dice significantly; every sorcerer level is closer to a d8 now! 20 HP at level 20 might not seem like much, but that’s 20 HP farther from dying. Early on, 1 health might seem insubstantial… But trust me, every hitpoint in the early game is essential. This prevents higher damage rolls from being a death sentence, which means you have more time to deal damage – your new favorite hobby!
13 AC by base is fantastic. You don’t need natural armor, Light Armor proficiency, or Mage Armor. That’s huge for saving spell slots early on, since Mage Armor is usually a fairly worthwhile spell to cast. It’s such a great resource saver, since AC is really, really important for your otherwise pitiful survivability.
Both of these are great for survival, and support a melee build… Though don’t worry about enforcing that! AC and health is great for any role.
This is the only effect used with your Dragon Ancestry. It’s incredibly sad that that’s the case, but… Hey, at least this ability is stupid strong!
Starting at 6th level, when you cast a spell that deals damage of the type associated with your draconic ancestry, add your Charisma modifier to that damage. At the same time, you can spend 1 sorcery point to gain resistance to that damage type for 1 hour.
Okay, stupid strong might have been stretching things.
Any sorcerer wants to get to 20 Charisma as soon as possible, so we’ll pretend you have it already. +5 damage to all of your spells. That might sound small; Fireball – a level 3 spell – deals 28 damage by average, so this would boost that to 33. Relatively small bump, right? Well, when you add that damage to the effect of every target, that’s a pretty massive increase. And since Cantrips are technically spells, you’ll add your Charisma to cantrips. That’s a bit larger boost to the damage of your average cantrip, and gives you more consistency with them. It also turns low-level spells like Burning Hands or Ice Storm into competent damage dealers. Really cool!
The second benefit is a resistance boost. Spending a sorcery point to cast Resistance from Energy without concentration is worthwhile. The problem is… You don’t get to choose the element. It’s the element that your ancestor granted you. Once again, Fire is the most common damage type dealt by enemies (other than the Physical types), so you should find your sorcery points well-used there. Your points are pretty important, though, so make sure you use them wisely. If you’re about to fight a Red Dragon, or a Fire Elemental… It’s probably worthwhile.
You gain quite a useful ability at this point… Although this is more like another spell slot save than a significant ability.
At 14th level, you gain the ability to sprout a pair of dragon wings from your back, gaining a flying speed equal to your current speed. You can create these wings as a bonus action on your turn. They last until you dismiss them as a bonus action on your turn.
You can’t manifest your wings while wearing armor unless the armor is made to accommodate them, and clothing not made to accommodate your wings might be destroyed when you manifest them.
This is both cool looking, and really useful! I wish more non-magic users got something like this.
This gives you (usually) half the flight speed of the Fly spell. That’s probably enough to stop knowing Fly – a spell Sorcerers have access to – because 30 ft is usually enough to do what you want. This is a permanent effect; increasing your flight speed by 30 with Fly isn’t worth it. It also doesn’t use your Concentration, which is a nice upside. If your melee allies haven’t gotten a fly speed item yet, then your Concentration can be spent on them just fine.
Flight is a cornerstone of late-game 5e combat. Staying high above the battlefield is super useful for offense and defense; Offensively, you get better angles for your spells and better ability to chase enemies down, since you ignore most obstacles. Defensively, Flight’s great for making your party less prone to area of effect, let’s you ignore melee-only enemies, and can prevent a few spells from even working. As you practice Flight, you’ll understand when it’s useful, and when it makes you get targeted by all the bows on the battlefield.
The armor and clothes effect is a fun touch. Most of the time, all it would take are two little slits in your robes, or have your Paladin drill holes in your leather. Because you don’t wear armor, this likely won’t come up often… Unless you’re wearing a tuxedo at a social event. That might be a weird way to burst out of your shirt!
Beginning at 18th level, you can channel the dread presence of your dragon ancestor, causing those around you to become awestruck or frightened. As an action, you can spend 5 sorcery points to draw on this power and exude an aura of awe or fear (your choice) to a distance of 60 feet. For 1 minute or until you lose your concentration (as if you were casting a concentration spell), each hostile creature that starts its turn in this aura must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be charmed (if you chose awe) or frightened (if you chose fear) until the aura ends. A creature that succeeds on this saving throw is immune to your aura for 24 hours.
An amazing, flavorful ability! But wow is this expensive! This is a massive Charm or Frighten effect that can really mess up a battlefield; 60 ft radius on you, especially while you fly, can be easily positioned to make an encounter problematic for your foes. Frighten is really good against melee encounters, or against ranged foes. If you have no chance of talking with the enemies, you should probably use that. Charm is a bit better for any sort of social encounter where you think you might have a chance to talk things out… Or, if your enemies only want to kill you, Charm can keep you safe. If you’re low on health, then you can make sure you won’t get hit by a lucky roll with awe.
The problem with this ability is quite simple; You’ve got a lot of spells. So many spells. And you only get 20 Sorcery points. Some of the spells you could learn, such as Charm Monster or Fear, solves a similar problem that this does without spending your Metamagic resource.
The only, sole reason this ability is mediocre is the Point cost. It’s just too expensive to be worth losing all that metamagic opportunity.
Best Race for Draconic Sorcerers
As expected for a class focusing on casting, you want your Charisma to be as high as possible. Not only does it increase the effectiveness of your spells – it also boosts the damage of spells of your element! After that, you’ll want some Dexterity and Constitution to let you survive a bit easier; while Draconic Resilience does that job well, being harder to kill has never hurt you.
This may not be the strictly best choice for Draconic Sorcerers, but… C’mon. This is just too thematic. Our Dragonborn gains +2 Strength, +1 Charisma. The Charisma boost is more important than Strength here, but we can still boost our Dexterity and Constitution through points. By taking a different Draconic Ancestry than our Draconic Ancestor, we can have good options for our Breath Weapon, and a different source of damage resistance. Your party composition usually decides whether a line or cone is more useful.
If your DM lets you use the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemont, you can try this with the Draconblood. Intelligence is about as useful as Strength, but you gain Darkvision and the useful Forceful Presence ability, solidifying yourself as the party’s face.
Surprise, surprise. Humans are ridiculously strong in any class you take. In this class, Humans become completely busted. You should be a Variant Human if your DM allows the Feat optional rule… Which they should really consider using. Your +1s should be in Charisma, and then either Dexterity or Constitution; those two should be about equal. Your feat is probably gonna be Elemental Adept for your new role as a single-element blaster. Getting Elemental Adept early on means you’re gonna be really ready for level 6, where your entire existence is using that single element.
Realistically, Human is significantly stronger than Dragonborn for this class, but… Dragon dragon.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Draconic Sorcerer 5E
Not many Sorcerer Origins are bad, but the Draconic Sorcerer has a bit of everything. It increases survivability, damage, utility, and combat control… And none of them are bad or underpowered! This is an essential addition to the sorcerer class. If you want to try a really effective generalist Sorcerer build, this is the one for you!