I’m looking to make a character whose focus is on the use of spellcasting in close quarters. This might take the form of damage waves that are centered on his location, auras that buff nearby allies, melee-range attack spells, or the creation of terrain hazards in his immediate vicinity, but it is not my goal to have or use significant weapon skills. Of these options, I like battlefield control best, and direct-damage blasting least, but most significantly I just want a mage who has good reason to get into close quarters, without being a fighter-mage hybrid.
For the purposes of this question, I’m defining “close quarters” as within 30 ft. of enemy combatants, i.e. close enough that a typical opponent can in one turn move up to me and attack me in melee.
For example, I’m considering a dwarf wizard, picking up the Heavily Armored and Shield Master feats, and not using a weapon so that I can cast spells without War Caster (though the advantage on Constitution saving throws made to avoid losing concentration on a spell may make the feat too valuable to miss out on even if I don’t necessarily care to have a weapon).
Is this wizard my best bet? Which school is most appropriate – in a quick scan of the benefits, abjurer seemed to be choice, though transmuter definitely seemed to putting in some solid food for thought. The evoker’s ability to sculpt spells also seems very valuable, particularly if there are good close-range evocations to use (I would prefer battlefield control, buffing, or debuffing over direct damage, however).
Alternatively, in previous editions, both cleric and druid (especially 4e’s druid) would have arguably been better picks for this, but in those editions and 5e (as far as I can tell) those classes do tend to focus a lot on their melee physical attacks – to what degree can I ignore those without ignoring significant aspects of my class package?
Or are there, perhaps, archetypes for classes more typically comfortable in melee that would give me good reason to use spellcasting even when enemies are around, rather than simply magically enhancing my weapon-fighting skills? I’m not staunchly opposed to having weapon skills, I just don’t plan on using them, ideally.