Heart of the Storm, from an Unearthed Arcana:

Whenever you cast a spell other than a cantrip that deals lightning or thunder damage, a stormy aura surrounds you. In addition to the spell’s effects, creatures of your choice within 10 feet of you take lightning or thunder damage (choose each time this ability activates) equal to half your sorcerer level.

The concept behind the build is to have a sorcerer that's dangerous te be around: handling so much arcane energy, enemies get hurt merely by being close to him.

How would I get the most out of this bonus damage, with the following constraints:

  1. The build has to include a way to boost AC/HP, in order to stay in the front lines (against 'standard' enemies/medium difficulty encounters, definitely no need to melee a Tarrasque).
  2. If multiclassing, no more than 2 levels can be taken outside of Sorcerer.
  3. Must take the Warcaster and Sentinel feats (unless there's a more reliable way of boosting AC, casting in melee, passing concentration checks, and casting spells as Opportunity Attacks). Sentinel + War Caster seems to be the only way to cast more than one ≥L1 spell per round (to trigger Heart of the Storm).
  4. 20 Cha by L20
  5. Must be Elf or Half-elf (unless this is what prevents an optimized build).
  6. Encumbrance rules apply, so, Heavy armour might not be possible.

Here's what I have so far (feel free to deviate if you see any clearly non-optimal choices):

Stats (after Half-elf racial modifiers)

  • Str 12
  • Dex 14
  • Con 12
  • Int 10
  • Wis 14 (to MC Cleric, for Medium armour/shield prof)
  • Cha 16 --> 20

Level progression

  • L1 Sorc
  • L2 Cleric (Knowledge, for flavour)
  • L3 Warlock (Fiend, for Command, Dark One's Blessing, Eldritch Blast, and Hex 1/short rest)
  • (Remaining levels are sorcerer, choices added for completeness' sake)
  • L6 War Caster
  • L12 Heightened Spell (Metamagic)
  • L10 Sentinel
  • L14 +2 Cha
  • L18 +2 Cha
  • L19 Extend Spell (Metamagic)

Spell selection

  1. Cantrips: Sorcerer (Lightning Lure, Shocking Grasp, Fire Bolt, Ray of Frost, Acid Splash, Mage Hand); Cleric (Spare the dying, Sacred Flame, Guidance); Warlock (Eldritch Blast, Chill Touch)
  2. L1: Warlock (Command, Hex); Cleric (Protection from Evil and Good, Bless, Shield of Faith)
  3. L2: Blindness/Deafness
  4. L3: Lightning Bolt (couldn't find a lower-level Lightning/Thunder spell worthwhile, hoping to be proven wrong in this respect. I worry about Thunder spells attracting attention from enemies)
  5. L4: Banishment, Dimension Door, Greater Invisibility, Storm Sphere* (comment further below)
  6. L5: Dominate Person, Hold Monster
  7. L6: Disintegrate, Investiture of Flame (Fire immunity/cold resistance; auto 1d10 if creatures end turn adjacent to you, helping trigger Sentinel and reinforcing the build concept, and the action replaces cantrips for the duration as more reliable damage, given multi-target and half damage on a save), Sunbeam.
  8. L7: Reverse Gravity
  9. L9: Meteor Swarm, Wish (mostly flavour choices, since you only get one per day, and can't cast at higher level slots).

*Storm Sphere: While an AoE/control spell that fits the theme, I'm not sure if it's an optimal choice—the damage is unimpressive, and I've yet to find a way to use it, trigger Heart of the Storm, AND keep enemies in the area for more than 1 turn (without casting it on top of myself and getting caught in the initial Str saving throw).

Any insights welcome!

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ There appears to be only one spell chosen that can trigger Heart of the Storm; is that intentional? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Two, if you count Storm Sphere. Maybe I'm misreading the lower-level spells, but I found them underwhelming, given Sorcerer's limited spell choices (not to mention that the Thunder spells could have repercussions, if your GM decides they attract additional enemies). I would love to have more, that's for sure. \$\endgroup\$
    – Khashir
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ War Caster lets me cast comfortably with a Shield in hand, while giving me advantage on Concentration checks. War Caster + Sentinel allow me to cast a spell as an Opportunity Attack, provoked by any movement. \$\endgroup\$
    – Khashir
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 21:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair point—not sure how often we'll see it; any suggestions in its place? Tough/Lucky/Elemental Adept (Lightning)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Khashir
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 21:57
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Just realized that this is slowly evolving from asking for clarification to answering in comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 22:00

3 Answers 3


The thing your build is most obviously missing is a bread-and-butter spell - something low-level that is usable with both Heart of the Storm and War Caster. You've ruled out thunderwave and shatter due to the noise, and while you didn't mention witch bolt I assume you've ruled it out on account of it being crap.

What you need is chromatic orb. It's 1st-level, on the sorcerer spell list, can deal lightning or thunder damage (handy for resistances or immunities), and works with War Caster.

After that, everything else is fairly minor. Since you only get 1/3 of the benefits of Sentinel, I'd recommend a different feat. Elemental Adept is a possibility, but if you're planning to be in melee, Crossbow Expert would prevent disadvantage on your eldritch blast and chromatic orb.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Re: Sentinel, what about when taking into account the Synergy between (Quickened) Command and War Caster (triggering an Opportunity Attack)? With Sentinel, a hit with an OA would set their speed to 0, forcing them to stay adjacent. In theory, if you Quicken Command (and cast a Cantrip with your action), you would trade your bonus action for their Action and Movement (and with Sentinel, you would deny them their movement as well). Not to mention that allies would also get OAs... Worth it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Khashir
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, which spell would you recommend taking out for Chromatic Orb? \$\endgroup\$
    – Khashir
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:10
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ An opportunity attack is a melee weapon attack. Your War Caster replaces an opportunity attack with a spell - it no longer counts as an OA and will not set speed to 0. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're right, I misread the Feats. \$\endgroup\$
    – Khashir
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Khashir A level 18 sorc knows 15 spells, and you've only listed 14, so...problem solved? \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:18

You should be a tempest cleric, you get wrath of the storm (reaction to hit an attacker with thunder or lightning) and destructive wrath (max damage on any thunder or lightning damage roll). And you'll pick up heavy armor and thunder wave (without costing a choice on the sorcer list) even though you don't want either.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I looked into that possibility, but I don't want to lose the L18 feature, so I opted for the Warlock dip (to get Eldritch Blast and Hex 1/short rest), instead of taking another level of cleric. But yes, Destructive Wrath is really amazing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Khashir
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 20:41

Fighter 2 gets you Action Surge, which you can use to cast 2x full spells in a turn (provided you don't cast a bonus action spell).

Starting with Ftr also gets you melee survival with armor, HP, defensive style, second wind. If you only need Medium armor, then you can pick the Ftr levels up later.

Also, you definitely want Chromatic Orb as base spell for 1st level (and scalable) lightning OR thunder damage, triggering both Tempestuous Magic (position) and Heart of the Storm. It also works with both Twinned and Empowered.

(Normally Chromatic Orb isn't the best, but for a storm sorcerer it gives you a basic spell to trigger abilities.


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