A pair of follow-up questions spawned from this question, on making a 1 Rogue / 19 Sorcerer viable in melee.

'Viable' means that he has decent-enough AC to survive in the front-lines. Ideally, the build would be nimble (increase AC by wearing the least armor possible, and/or use spells or other non-armor equipment to boost survivability). The most important question is bolded below, under the section "The Questions."


  • Class: 1 Rogue, 19 Sorcerer
  • Sorcerous Origin: Draconic Bloodline (Bronze-Lightning)
  • Race: Half-Elf (thanks to Dyndrilliac's pointer)


  • Str 8
  • Dex 16 (15 Starting, +1 Half-elf, +1 from ability increase)
  • Con 14 (13 Starting, +1 Half-elf)
  • Int 10
  • Wis 12
  • Cha 20 (15 Starting, +2 Half-elf, +3 from ability increases)


  • Elemental Adept (or Defensive Duelist, see specific question below)
  • Sentinel (or Defensive Duelist)
  • War Caster


  • The gist is that Draconic Bloodline grants +19 HP and 13+Dex Mod AC (16 AC at L1, better than a Chain Shirt), so, the char should be fine for AC in the low levels (and will hopefully find some light armor for the late game--ideally something that doesn't interfere with Dragon Wings).
  • Offensively, Rapier with Sneak Attack will take care of the first 2-3 levels, until Shocking Grasp (for example, gets +Cha mod damage) has scaled, and higher-level spells when needed.
  • Presumably, Sentinel and War Caster will allow me to cast two spells per round (2x Shocking Grasps, worst-case scenario), and I'm hoping this damage is decent enough (with the +Cha Mods), while exercising some control over the battlefield.

So, at this point, the AC problem is obvious--while 16 AC is fine in early levels, I'll need more than that to make it to L20 (and survive there). After reading Highest AC possible for Sorcerer?, it seems like Defensive Duelist is a 'must.'

The Questions

  1. If I have to give up one of Elemental Adept or Sentinel (to pick up Defensive Duelist), which should it be? Sentinel can allow 1 extra casting per round (together with War Caster) or 1 Rapier attack (with Sneak Attack bonus), while Elemental Adept will increase the damage of all my Lightning spells. Sentinel is obviously more situational and bursty, while Elemental Adept more dependable and modest.
  2. What are non-AC ways to stay safe in melee (spells like Mirror Image, Blur, etc., are the most obvious that come to mind)? One higher-level idea is Arcane Gate, together with L14 Wings: have one portal close to baddies on the ground, and the other as high as possible in midair. Unless they can fly, they can't follow me through the gate, while I can fly in, attack, fly out (I think!).
  3. (Bonus question): What's the AC equivalence of the method described in 1 (if any)? For example, Mirror Image gives you an added 75% chance to avoid the next attack (so, roughly +15 AC, IIRC?), then 65% (+13 AC) for the next, and 55% (+11 AC) for the last. Again, just a bonus, to try to compare different options more cleanly, but definitely not needed.

Originally, I thought that Defensive Duelist and Sentinel + War Caster would not go well, given that they both use my reaction. However, they use my reaction in mutually-exclusive situations (so, with only one target, I would never "need" both: either the target attacks me, in which case I can Defensive Duelist, or it attacks someone else or tries to move away, in which case I can Sentinel/War Caster. This way, I always get to use my reaction. I think this hints at an answer to my question, but would love to hear other thoughts).

Help with spell selection also welcome, primarily if there are any patently bad choices (i.e., not useful often, not comparable to other spells of the same level, or not much more powerful than lower spells cast at that level).


Acid Splash

Chill Touch

Mage Hand


Shocking Grasp

True Strike


Witch Bolt

Magic Missile



Misty Step







Greater Invisibility


Dominate Person




Reverse Gravity




Meteor Swarm


  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This seems more like a "Plz help me max my character" petition, rather than a question with a definitive answer, yeah? \$\endgroup\$ – thomax Aug 31 '14 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thomax, agreed. I'm VERY curious to know whether CharOpt questions are legit for this site. \$\endgroup\$ – cr0m Aug 31 '14 at 23:02
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Not an answer, but I'm not sure if it's worth getting Elemental Adept with your current spell selection. I would try to focus on a single element if I was going for Elemental Adept. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Sep 1 '14 at 4:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Please break your three questions up into... questions. Practical optimisation is certainly on topic, but it's worth noting that we need Very specific requirements of what that topic is. If you find yourself including "bonus question" in a question, that's a clue that the question is too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Sep 1 '14 at 7:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've refunded your bounty and closed the question barring breaking up into more accessible chunks. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Sep 1 '14 at 7:23