The rules for Wild Magic Surge are:

Immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher, the DM can have you roll a d20. If you roll a 1, roll on the Wild Magic Surge table to create a random magical effect.

And the rules for Tides of Chaos are:

Starting at 1st level, you can manipulate the forces of chance and chaos to gain advantage on one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. Once you do so you must finish a long rest before you use this feature again.

Any time before you regain the use of this feature, the DM can have you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher. You then regain the use of this feature.

How do these features interact with each other? I see two options:

  1. They are the same roll. If the player has used their Tides of Chaos, any roll on the surge table will reset it.

  2. They are different rolls. So only a roll specified as resetting Tides of Chaos would do so, and any other surge would not. By extension of this the DM could have the player get 2 surges on one spell, 1 for Wild Magic Surge and 1 to reset Tides of Chaos.

Our play group is not sure which is the correct option to use.


3 Answers 3


There is nothing to prevent you from being made to roll twice on the table.

They are two separate class features, if you've used Tides of Chaos, the DM is well within his rights to make you roll the d20 to check to see if you need to roll (for casting a spell), and making you roll on the table to get Tides of Chaos back.

That's not to say he should, however there might be a few situations where he would. The way I envision this working is that he asks for a d20 roll to check to see if you go to the table, and you pass it. Then he might also mandate that you roll on the table to get back your used Tides of Chaos advantage.

These class features appear to be mutually exclusive and as such are invokable together on any spell cast. Your second interpretation is correct.


They are not mutually exclusive.

They're essentially trying to achieve the same effect in the game: something crazy happens because you're playing with forces you don't completely understand!

  • If Wild surge is saying: "Hmmm lemme seeee... I think this'll work."

  • Tide of Chaos is saying: "Hahah! I totally got the hang of thi--OMG WTF NOOOOOOOO!!!!"

To answer your question: do not roll both of them at the same time. Tides of chaos is more of an addendum to the Wild Surge. The rules state that if you've already used the Tides of Chaos feature to gain advantage on a roll, skip the d20 Wild Magic Surge roll when appropriate, and go right to the d100 Wild Magic Surge table.

  • If there's a moment when the DM would normally make you roll for a Wild Surge instead: YOU HAVE A WILD SURGE!

  • To clarify even further: using the Tides of Chaos ability gives the DM permission to blatantly toy with your fate, potentially during the most inopportune time.

Now a little unsolicited for advice for running the Wild Mage in your campaign:

The Wild Mage is a fun class, but as a DM I don't like that the rules imply it's up to me to tell the mage when to roll for a Wild Surge. We played that way during the first 2 sessions, but it was annoying for me, and not very flavorful or fun since it never went off. 1 in 20 just isn't enough if it only goes off occasionally, and even then it hardly ever does. (Agreed?)

  • We have the wild mage roll every time she casts a newly acquired spell during the level in which she acquired it. She also rolls whenever she casts a lower level spell in her highest spell slot. In addition, The DM can opt to trigger the roll on any spell when he feels the moment may be right.

  • We came up with the terms "practiced" and "unpracticed" for this.

  • Using this method adds more flavor to the game by making the player assume the risk of toying with magical forces he/she doesn't completely understand.

  • As the player levels up he/she feels more confident with the achievement of casting "practiced" spells.

  • Takes some of the burden of fun off the DM's shoulders while still giving him enough control to enhance the game in key moments.

If you're using the Tides of Chaos rules in the manner I explained above, this really changes how people use their "unpracticed" spells. If they've manipulated the Tides of Chaos to gain advantage in combat, it leaves their connection in a state of unpredictable turbulence! They've essentially guaranteed the wild surge the next time they cast an unpracticed spell before a rest.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome! Just to let you know, the edit was to make the answer flow better visually/formatting. If I lost your intended meaning during the edit, please edit out whatever error I made. (And my apologies). I removed the "I think" because if it looks like an opinion (in the first half) it does not meet the site's format. Please take the tour and once again, welcome! :-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 17:32

Neither option is correct. The DM either asks you to roll for Magic Surge, or asks you to roll for Tides of Chaos, but never both.

To clarify, there are 3 possible options:

  1. DM demands you roll a d20 for possible wild surge, and you roll a 1, rules then demands you roll a d100
  2. DM demands you roll a d20 for a possible wild surge, and you roll > 1, DM then demands you roll a d100 anyways since you have used Tides of Chaos.
  3. DM demands you roll a d100 for the wild surge table since you have used Tides of Chaos.

In case 1: You do not regain Tides of Chaos
In case 2: This scenario is not allowed
In case 3: You do regain tides of Chaos.

The reason for this is because both class abilities state "immediately after you cast a level 1 spell". Only one thing can happen "immediately after". Thus, you can't have two things which both trigger on "immediately". The DM has "lost their opportunity" to demand a roll once they have picked on option over the other. So option 2, can't be the correct interpretation. Granted the word immediate is not a key term defined in the rules, however it used in a consistent way within the rules to always preclude some other option. It's my argument that the consistent usage of the word, and lack of use of the word , informs us of the intent of the rules.

Note here that the word "immedately" is not being applied to the game fiction, but rather to what the DM is able to do. The DM gets to choose immediately. Unless there are multiple DMs each choosing their own action at the same time, there is no way to have the word "immediately" mean anything other than an exclusion to the other option.

If the intent of the rule was just to say that after the spell is cast the DM may then ask for a roll on the surge table, there would be no need for the word immediately to be included. For example in the rules for Making a basic attack it says:

You make the attack roll. On a hit, you roll damage.

There is no loss of meaning if the rule was stated:

Any time before you regain the use of this feature, the DM can have you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher. You then regain the use of this feature.

The word immediately is used a few times in the rules, also to imply that nothing else can happen between the two events, but never to casually link two dice rolls together. For example, in the spell Delayed Fireball Blast it reads:

On a failed save, the spell ends immediately, causing the bead to erupt in flame.

The contingency spell reads:

The contingent spell takes effect immediately after the circumstance is met for the first time, whether or not you w ant it to. and then contingency ends.

The High Jump and long jump ability says:

feet equal to 3 + your Strength modifier if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump.

Similar language is used for the Charger feet. But it is never used for casual causality. (One might argue that this is the only time it does, but that seems like stretch to me.) Immediately is always used to exclude some other action from happening. The only counter argument I can hear to this is that it's to prevent the player from moving before the wild surge die gets rolled, but like in the case with all abilities, you can't move between the attack and damage rolls, so that would be unnecessary here as well.

Just think of the narrative of what is happening here. You cast a spell. That spell casting has a chance of having a wild effect, either the effect has a small chance of happening, or it has a definite chance of happening because of your earlier actions in affecting fate. Suggesting that it does both, based on the same event doesn't fit the narrative, nor the literal meaning of the rules.

This is why there appears to be no other instructions as to when the DM should decide when to ask for a roll. It's the DM's choice which one to choose, but one is always chosen. I can foresee the argument that it does not say "instead of" in either rule, but I believe that is to allow for the possibility for never rolling at all. This allows each table to have the level of chaos that they desire.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ No more arguing in comments please. Several commenters think this isn't a very good usage/definition of "immediate" but clearly @GMNoob thinks it is and intends to stick to it, so vote your consciences and move on. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 20:34

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