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The player's handbook came out, and a friend and I were looking at the various classes. We noticed the sorcerer made a comeback and comes in two flavors. A Dragon Magic Sorcerer and then a Wild Magic Sorcerer. The Wild Magic Sorcerer comes with a very large table, and they seem to cast random effects as they cast their normal spells.

These random effects varied wildly, hence the "Wild" part of its name. This could lead to situations where a simple cast of a spell could result in a (potentially life-threatening) fireball spell centered on the caster. Another cast of a spell could result in beneficial effects, like being able to see all invisible creatures which you have line of sight to.

I noticed the table results in certain classes of effects. While other categorizations of them are possible, they seem to be: harmless-to-caster-only effects, harmless-to-everyone effects, harmful-to-caster-only effects, and harmful-to-everyone effects.

So, I was wondering; given that table and the rough categories outlined above, what are the odds of each category occurring? Also, to what ends can a Wild Magic Sorcerer reliably be used?

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ A couple things: Prestidigitation can't cause a surge, only level 1 or higher spells can do that. Also, surges don't happen with every spell; the DM determines if the player should even roll, and even then, the player needs to get a 1 on a d20 to trigger a surge. It will be startlingly rare for more than one surge to happen in a single combat. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Aug 10 '14 at 0:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl unless they've used their power that lets them get advantage, then the DM can make them roll on the table regardless (but they get the power back). \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Aug 10 '14 at 2:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, it's a 5% chance per lvl 1 or higher spell, or when the DM decides after the use of the advantage granting ability. Not nearly as bad as it was in AD&D 2nd ed, iirc. It's not that bad, really, and most of the effects are positive. \$\endgroup\$ – Aviose Aug 11 '14 at 15:47
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I went through the Wild Magic Table and came up with five possible results.

  • Positive, gives a clear benefit (48%)
  • Neutral, mostly flavor effect (12%)
  • Negative, causes a clear complication (22%)
  • Monster, causes a creature to appear that could be helpful or harmful depending on the roleplaying. (6%)
  • Potential, could be harmful, could be helpful it depends. For example aging younger or older (10%)

Finally there is a 2% of having to roll 10 more times (60 seconds). In which case the neutral results goes up 2% to 14%.

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TL;DR, You have a 70% change of getting something helpful or irrelevent, and an 80% chance of avoiding anything (even potentially) bad.

Using your categories:

Harmless to Caster only 22%

These hurt other characters or only help the caster: 11

Harmless to Everyone 58%

These don't hurt anyone, or help everyone. Flavor effects are in here: 29

Harmful to Caster only 6%

These only hurt the caster: 3

  • Potted plant (41-42)
  • Polymorph (77-78)
  • Frightened of nearest creature (67-68)

Harmful to Everyone 8%

These disadvantage or hurt everyone equally: 4

An outlier here is (69-70): Give everyone around you (but not you) invisibility. This means you might get attacked, but your allies will also get the advantage. It doesn't really fit into any of these categories (it is neutral in my system).

Using my categories

I chose to categorize the results in the much simpler: Good, Bad, Flavor, Neutral

Good 46%

Something that benefits you or hurts targets you choose: 23

Bad 10%

Something that hurts you or puts you at an inconvenience: 5

  • Fireball on yourself
  • Confusion on yourself
  • Turn into a potted plant (vulnerability to all damage): a minor inconvenience, unless you are on the front line for some reason
  • Become frightened of the nearest creature until the end of your next turn: Basically just disadvantage on attack rolls for 1 turn.
  • Polymorph yourself: If you fail the save you are stuck for 1 hour (or until someone hits you).

Flavor: 24%

Something that doesn't affect anything mechanically: 12

Neutral 18%

Something that could be good or bad or neither: 9

This includes summoning non-hostile monsters, casting utility spells on yourself, and either helping or hindering a random target.

Note that in both categorization systems, 01-02 was excluded, because it just means more rolling for more effects.

Conclusion

You have a 10% chance to hurt yourself, but only a 6% chance to hurt yourself more than anyone around you and those 3 outcomes are all very minor, either only lasting 1 turn or easily reversed.

What can a Wild Magic Sorcerer could reliably be used for?

The same things any other Sorcerer would be used for. The Origin doesn't lose any of its spellcasting ability, which means you'll have lots of opportunity to blast things apart or shut them down. Sorcerers in general have less utility than Wizards, but there is still some there. Wild Magic Origins have a few extra sources of advantage and damage than others, with the cost that you occasionally (how often depends on the DM) get surges. Given that the vast majority of Wild Magic effects are either Helpful, or irrelevant, (70%) you don't need to worry about blowing yourself up, really.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ One has to take his luck into account. I've played WM Sorc two times and ended up dying because of self-centered fireball in both of these cases. \$\endgroup\$ – AntiDrondert Sep 6 '18 at 8:53

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