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My Gold Dragonborn Sorcerer is level 3, 18 CHA, +4 modifier.

I'm trying to build Pyro from Team Fortress 2 in D&D 5e, and I'm optimizing for high fire damage.

Should I take the ASI to get a +7 attack bonus on my spells(+8 by level 5, +5 fire damage bonus by level 6) or should I take Elemental Adept to bypass resistances and guarantee 2+'s on my fire damage rolls(+7 attack bonus by level 5, +4 fire damage bonus by level 6)?

My current repertoire of fire spells is Fire Bolt, Burning Hands, and Scorching Ray. At level 5, Fireball would be greatly improved by the bigger numbers from ASI, but with the amount of fire resisting monsters being above average, Elemental Adept early on seems incredible for Fireball's continued effectiveness. If I take the ASI at level 4, I will definitely grab Elemental Adept by level 8.

All the answer I need is a good argument for ASI or Elemental Adept at level 4.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you give us an idea of what you want to optimize for? Obviously each choice will have pros and cons, so it would help if we had a sense of what you were trying to do, so we could tell you which feature accomplishes that better. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2022 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm trying to optimize for high fire damage, the sorcerer is an attempt to build Pyro from Team Fortress 2 in D&D 5e. I'll edit the question to specify \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2022 at 18:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you playing in a published campaign? That can help us know the numbers of fire resistant enemies if so. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Nov 4, 2022 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I'm actually playing in a campaign run by, for lack of a better term, a grassroots DM. We just entered this higher part of a town where they use gp as toilet paper and everyone wears adamantine plate. I plan on robbing the bank, and my DM insists that he will not let me do it alive. I plan to prove him wrong, but I doubt he'll go down easy. I doubt there is a single non-fire-resistant creature guarding the hoard. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2022 at 18:43

4 Answers 4

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Take the ASI, unless the campaign is overrun by resistant enemies

It all will come down to how often you face fire resistant opponents. If it is really a lot then maybe Elemental Adept (EA) might be worth it. Without fire resistance running rampant, i.e. for just the occasional enemy with it, EA is not worth it vs an ASI.

Fire damage spells

EA's plain improvemement on the damage from fireball is 0.17 per each d6 (as treating a 1 like a 2 will improve the average damage from 3.5 to 3.67). That means, absent fire resistance, you gain a total of 1.3 extra damage from a 8d6 fireball.

The ASI increases the chance that the opponents do not save against fireball by 5%. With an expected average damage of 28 for a failed save vs. 14 for a made save, this improves your expected fireball damage by 0.7 points.

So its 0.6 damage in favor of EA per fireball. That is not relevant.

On Fire bolt, the improvement is 0.1 points for EA, vs 0.275 from ASI, so a without resistance, the ASI outperforms EA when it comes to damage, but also not so much that it matters.

On Burning Hands the pattern is the same as for fireball, just scaled down. On Scorching Ray, EA gives you 1 point of extra damage, just like the ASI does by increasing your hit chance.

Once you get to add your ability bonus to damage on level 6, the ASI outperforms the fire damage increase for EA on all these spells.

Other benefits of ASI

An ASI improvment will also increase all your Charisma based skills, and your Charisma save, and your spell DC for all your other spells, not just the fire-based ones.

I do not know how your build otherwise looks like, it seems quite focused on dealing fire damage. Typically it can be useful to mix the different kinds of offensive spells and also include ones that remove a single strong opponent from combat.

In any case, the versatilty of the ASI is more useful unless you are swarmed by fire resistant opponents.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I completely agree with this statement. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2022 at 23:02
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Take Elemental Adept

Although your question uses the optimization tag, you've also indicated a desire to be the TF2 Pyro and as a whole, that game is all about giving something up for the sake of getting better at something else.

So if you're playing Pyro, then the goal is to either be a direct damage dealer or provide notable support. But you're not being the engy buddy version of Pyro that's got his Homewrecker and Degreaser, staying close to protect against spies and using control mechanics; you're all about jacking up your fire damage as much as possible, you've got a Backburner (BB) and Axtinguisher and are fully geared to negotiate via damage.

Now back in my day, the BB dealt 10% more damage and guaranteed crits from the rear. It appears my day has passed probably due to how frickin' amazing puff'n'sting was but I digress.

Regardless, we've got fire damage to deal and every little bit helps. Burning hands, on average, deals 10.5 damage per casting without the Elemental Adept feat. However, if we factor that feat's effect in, we increase the damage to about 11 damage per casting, which is just shy of a 5% increase. This works nicely with pretty much anything that rolls a d6 for damage, so you're covered for Scorching Ray and Fireball as well. Alas, Fire Bolt will lag behind (it's like only a 2% increase). Thus, we've achieved the happy medium of BB from yesteryear and the present iteration.

Furthermore, when you encounter enemies with fire resistance, you will note that they take critical hits from the rear, which ends up negating the benefits of their resistance thus they take normal damage!

So for optimal style points, Elemental Adept is the way to demonstrate that you've played long enough to get a freebie BB. Is it ideal for all situations, no, but it is a little better for some of them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Absolutely amazing contribution, my friend. In any case, how would you do a “notable support” build of TF2 Pyro in D&D 5e? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2022 at 12:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorcerers have access to plenty of control and buff type spells. Coupled with metamagic, they can be significant enablers for their teammates. For example, Charm Person, Enlarge/Reduce, Hold Person, Web, Fear, Haste, Slow, etc. Were you going with this route, then the ASI becomes more important because it will often be more important that the opposition doesn't beat your save otherwise you get nothing. Personally, I've played this type of sorcerer and nothing makes an encounter quite so trivial as when you twin Haste the Fighter and Barbarian then duck behind cover. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2022 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Excellent addition, my man. Now I wish I could accept two answers, since you and Groody both provide excellent arguments for either side. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2022 at 14:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @wheatleycrab Groody's answer is the correct one if you're looking for an optimal build within 5th edition DnD. My answer strictly considers how you can best mimic the Pyro's style within 5th edition, which I feel comfortable providing since I used to main Pyro for like a decade before having kids. You should place the checkmark on whichever answer is most correct for you. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2022 at 15:26
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Take Elemental Adept.

The ASI is worth a very small amount of damage from people failing saves they'd otherwise have succeeded. Elemental Adept however lets you do your thing when confronted by a fire resistant enemy, which is what you want to do - your thing. ASI is superior if you're planning to switch to save-or-lose spells when confronted by fire resistant enemies but you aren't. You are planning to burn them regardless. Therefore take Elemental Adept.

And remember, "Murr hurr mphuphurrur, hurr mph phrr."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you believe in magic, in a young girl's heart? \$\endgroup\$
    – From
    Nov 9, 2022 at 0:16
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Pyro? Have you considered Dragon Fear, instead? +1 Cha, and a nice secondary utility on your Breath.

"I fear no man. But that thing...it scares me."

Then you can get Second Chance or Telekinetic at level 8 to max out your Charisma.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Question, I have never heard of “Dragon Fear”. Is in one of the “Unearthed Arcana” or the “errata’d PHB” I keep hearing about? My only source of 5e information is in this PHB i found on anyflip… \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2022 at 12:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @wheatleycrab It's a feat from Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Here it is on wikidot: dnd5e.wikidot.com/feat:dragon-fear \$\endgroup\$
    – From
    Nov 10, 2022 at 15:07

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