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PHB Page 102, Sorcerer, Sorcerous Origins, Draconic Bloodline, Elemental Affinity:

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.

  1. The Sorcerer is eligible for Protection from Energy as a 3rd-level spell, requiring 5 Sorcerer class levels to learn as opposed to Elemental Affinity's 6 Sorcerer class levels.
  2. The only damage type not covered by Protection from Energy but offered by Elemental Affinity is poison damage, and only if Green Dragon ancestry is chosen at the 1st level of Sorcerer.
  3. A 3rd-level spell slot is worth 5 Sorcery points to recover.
  4. Metamagic costs Sorcery points, and provides big benefits. Perhaps more benefit than damage resistance, and at an earlier level.

Given the description of Elemental Affinity and the four points above, I have a few intricately related questions:

  1. Assume that due to resource constraints a character has the choice between using Empowered Spell and Protection from Energy, or Elemental Affinity. How useful is the bonus to elemental spell damage compared to re-rolling the damage dice using Empowered Spell if the only direct-damage elemental spell you have that matches your ancestry is a cantrip? Ex: Fire Bolt, Ray of Frost, Acid Splash, Shocking Grasp, etc.
  2. Assume that due to resource constraints a character has the choice between using Empowered Spell and Protection from Energy, or Elemental Affinity. How useful is the bonus to elemental spell damage compared to re-rolling the damage dice using Empowered Spell if all of your direct-damage elemental spells match your ancestry? Ex: Red Dragon specializing in Fire spells, Blue Dragon specializing in Lightning spells, etc.
  3. Assuming you specialize in spells that deal damage matching your ancestry, is it more resource efficient to choose your ancestry based on the bonus spell damage or the benefits of the damage resistance? Use average bonus damage versus average mitigated damage as the criteria for comparison.
  4. If you choose your ancestry based on the benefits of the damage resistance, is Green Dragon flat-out the best choice because it provides resistance to poison damage? Assume that the campaign environment is organized Adventurer's League play which will use the published adventures. Examples of possible enemies that deal poison damage include Assassins, Basilisks, Ettercaps, Flying Snakes, Giant Centipedes, Giant Poisonous Snakes, Giant Scorpions, Giant Spiders, Giant Toads, Giant Wasps, Giant Wolf Spiders, Green Dragons, Medusas, Nezznar the Black Spider, Phase Spiders, Poisonous Snakes, Scorpions, Spiders, Swarm of Poisonous Snakes, Wyverns, Yuan-Ti Malisons, and Yuan-Ti Purebloods.
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The questions don't make sense to me. Best choice is based on character concept. You can not narrow down what is the best choice until you specify what the concept of the character is. If the concept is maximum damage and destruction then you have a parameter to use as a basis of assessment. A negotiator would choose defensive and so on. Currently without editing the question is not useful. –  Honorlord Aug 21 at 5:01
    
@Dyndrilliac: You are adding the parameters to the questions in part with your response, by specifying the focus on damage and mitigation. While these are aspects of every sorcerer they are not the focus of all sorcerers. Character development for most players I know goes beyond the rock'em sock'em robots, although I know a few who play all their characters on that basis. –  Honorlord Aug 22 at 5:40

1 Answer 1

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1. How useful is the bonus to elemental spell damage compared to re-rolling the damage dice using Empowered Spell if the only direct-damage elemental spell you have that matches your ancestry is a cantrip?

Assuming a Charisma bonus of 3 or greater, the bonus to elemental spell damage at level 6, is about the same as empowering. However, at level 11 it's going to depend on your stat bonus and at level 17, the empower spell will be better.
Depending on the cantrip used, d6, d8 or 10, you will get a bonus of 1.25, 1.5, or 1.75 per die from using the empowered spell.

  • level 6 you'll get a bonus of either 2.5, 3, or 3.5
  • level 11 you'll get a bonus of 3.75, 4.5, or 5.25
  • level 17 you'll get a bonus of 5, 6, or 7

2. How useful is the bonus to elemental spell damage compared to re-rolling the damage dice using Empowered Spell if all of your direct-damage elemental spells match your ancestry? Ex: Red Dragon specializing in Fire spells, Blue Dragon specializing in Lightning spells, etc.

It's the same as with a cantrip, except the benefit comes sooner. As long as you have as many dice to roll as your charisma modifier, and your charisma modifier bonus is 3 or above, your empower metamagic will be more beneficial than your elemental affinity. However, it does cost you a spell point. Ofcourse, nothing stops you from using both.

3. Assuming you specialize in spells that deal damage matching your ancestry, should you choose your ancestry based on the bonus spell damage or the benefits of the damage resistance?

Resistance gives you a defensive bonus of half damage. Half damage resistance can be saving you anywhere from 2-30+ damage per attack at level 6 depending on what you are fighting. Your spell affinity gives you somewhere between ~3-10 points of extra damage. If you are concerned that you are dying too quickly, the damage resistance is better, however it's limited by spell point usage. Your extra damage based on elemental affinity is "always on". The bonuses are nice perks but nothing game changing from what I can see. It's really up to you, amount of damage you mitigate vs the amount of extra damage you do over the course of the adventure is almost impossible to calculate without a specific adventure in mind.

4. If you choose your ancestry based on the benefits of the damage resistance, is Green Dragon flat-out the best choice because it provides resistance to poison damage?

This is going to depend entirely on which type of creatures are in your campaign. If you are playing a game in which there are few poison damage sources, then Green Dragon would be the worst choice. Pick your ancestry based on the campaign you will be playing and which monsters and types of damage you expect to see the most of.

Elemental affinity gives you a nice bonus to resistances, you get the cost of a 5 spell point ability for 1 spell point. However it's main draw is in the added damage you will be doing, where if you combine that with empower spell, gives you a bonus of ~6-12 damage rather than a bonus of 3-5 damage per spell target. However, the right resistance at the right time, can stop your from dying or dropping out of the fight.

Even in published adventures, such as Hoard of the Dragon Queen, it's very rare for monsters to be doing elemental or energy damage, and when they do it's generally only an extra 1d6-2d8 of damage. Of course, sometimes such as with dragons, you are looking at over 60 damage from rechargeable attacks such as dragon breath weapons. But these are much more rare, and you are better off trying to avoid a situation in which you are hit by a dragon-breath completely.

I'd say it's a tossup. If, for example, the adventure writers puts in a bunch of firebomb wielding bugbears, or bugbears with poison tipped weapons is going to determine which resistance is better.

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