Pathfinder - The Sorcerer Handbook
I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.
The Sorcerer is the spontaneous caster equivalent of the Wizard. Much like the Cleric and the Oracle, the classes fill the same roles with a distinctly different feel. Because they are spontaneous caster, Sorcerers have a limited number of spells available to them. This can be supplemented with Pages of Spell Knowledge, but no Sorcerer can match the versatility of a Wizard. Sorcerers also receive new spell levels one level behind other full casters. Sorcerers make up for these shortcomings by being able to cast considerably more spells in a day.
Sorcerer Class Features
Hit Points: d6 hit points is a huge problem, especially with no armor.
Base Attack Bonus: 1/2 BAB and nothing to help it, but fortunately very few spells require attack rolls and the ones which do are almost exclusively touch attacks.
Saves: Good Will saves, but no dependency on any ability which improves saves.
Proficiencies: No armor or shields, and simple weapons.
Skills: 2+ skill ranks and a very sparse skill list.
Spells: The Sorcerer's spells are their best asset. With access to the best spell list in the game and tons of spells per day, the Sorcerer can do a lot of things and do them frequently.
Bloodline: Sorcerer bloodlines offer bonus spells, bonus feats, and cool abilities which supplement the Sorcerer's spells nicely. For help with Sorcerer Bloodlines, see my Sorcerer Bloodlines Breakdown.
Cantrips: Fantastic and versatile.
Eschew Materials: The flavor makes sense, but it's easy to replace Eschew Materials with a 15 gp item.
As a full caster, the Sorcerer's casting ability is key.
Str: Dump to 7 unless you plan to Polymorph.
Dex: AC, saves, and touch attacks.
Con: Essential to supplement that d6 hit die, and for the Sorcerer's poor Will saves.
Int: Only needed for skill ranks.
Wis: Good for Will saves. Even though Sorcerers have good Will saves, it's still important to have a bit of Wisdom.
Cha: Sorcerers are all about Charisma.
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Charisma bonuses are essential, and small size is nice because it helps the Sorcerer's garbage AC and attacks.
Dwarf: Charisma penalty.
Elf: Despite some nice abilities which help spellcasters, the Elf's abilities don't work for the Sorcerer. The Elf favored class bonus offers additional uses of first-level bloodline powers, but first-level powers taper off very quickly.
Gnome: Small and bonuses to Charisma and Constitution. The Gnome's affinity for illusions works for illusion-heavy Sorcerers. The Gnome favored class bonus offers additional uses of first-level bloodline powers, but first-level powers taper off very quickly.
Half-Elf: Flexible ability bonus, but the Half-Elf's racial traits don't offer anything useful for the Sorcerer. The Half-Elf favored class bonus offers additional uses of first-level bloodline powers, but first-level powers taper off very quickly. Instead, take the Human favored class bonus to learn extra spells.
Half-Orc: Flexible ability bonus, but the Half-Orc's racial traits don't offer anything useful for the Sorcerer. The Half-Orc favored class bonus adds additional fire damage to fire spells, which can be nice for blaster builds, but will take a long time to add up to anything significant. Half-Orcs can also take the Human favored class bonus to learn additional spells.
Halfling: Small and bonuses to Charisma and Dexterity. The Halfling's affinity for stealth can be helpful for sneak Sorcerer builds. The Halfling favored class bonus offers additional uses of first-level bloodline powers, but first-level powers taper off very quickly.
Human: Flexible ability bonus and a bonus feat. The Human favored class bonus allows you to learn additional spells, hugely expanding the Sorcerer's versatility.
- Appraise (Int): Too situational.
- Bluff (Cha): Important for any face, but you will need to spend a trait to pick up Diplomacy if you want to be a Face.
- Fly (Dex): 1 rank will be plenty.
- Intimidate (Cha): Important for any face, but you will need to spend a trait to pick up Diplomacy if you want to be a Face.
- Knowledge (arcana) (Int): One of the most important Knowledge skills.
- Spellcraft (Int): Helpful for identifying spells and magic items.
- Use Magic Device (Cha): Sorcerers already get the best spell list in the game, but UMD can let you use things like Wands of Cure Light Wounds.
This section does not cover metamagic feats or bloodline-specific feats. For help with metamagic feats, see my Practical Guide to Metamagic.
Eldritch Heritage: It's unlikely that you will
see a lot of benefit from additional low-level Sorcerer abilities.
Improved Eldritch Heritage: The better
Bloodline powers offer better options, but three feats is a lot for
one Sorcerer power.
- Greater Eldritch Heritage: The best Bloodline powers are often very tempting, but by this level you can often replace them with spells.
- Improved Eldritch Heritage: The better Bloodline powers offer better options, but three feats is a lot for one Sorcerer power.
- Sorcerous Bloodstrike: Some high level Sorcerer powers have very limited uses per day, and an extra use is tempting. However, you should generally be able to do better with spells.
- Light Crossbow: A decent backup weapon at low levels when you run low on spells, but you will be more reliable with cantrips because your attack rolls will be so low.
Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order.
- Haramaki: +1 AC, no arcane spell failure, and at 5 gp you can afford it at first level.
- Mithral Buckler: +1 AC, no arcane spell failure, and cheap to enhance.
- Silken Ceremonial: +1 AC, 4 pounds, no ACP or spell failure. Plus, it's a sweet ceremonial robe. Haramaki is strictly better, but it's not a super bool robe.
- Cloak of Resistance: Too crucial to forego.
- Mnemonic Vestment: Allows you to cast one spell which you don't already know from a written source, such as a spellbook. Conveniently, you share a spell list with wizards, who tend to enjoy spellbooks. This item, combined with a spellbook, massively improves your versatility. All of those spells that you almost never need and never need more than once a day can go into a spellbook which a friendly wizard writes for you, and you can cast spells out of it as needed.
- Robe of Arcane Heritage: Many high-level Sorcerer bloodline powers are excellent, and getting them 4 levels early offers a huge power boost..
- Sorcerer's Robe: Unless your 1st-level bloodline power is truly amazing, this just isn't good enough to justify the cost with only three uses per day.