As anyone who has ever played a sorcerer knows, the key is picking a few great spells that can be cleverly augmented with your sorcery points and Metamagic options. Since sorcerers typically have access to fewer spells than most of the other full casters, they need to rely on their Font of Magic for additional spell slots and Metamagic to twist those few critical spells into their arcane arsenal.
The following spells are excellent options for the repertoire of any sorcerer, able to be enhanced by Metamagic to massively amplify their power. Based on their effects, each spell will be noted as utility, social, or battle. Utility spells are primarily intended to get you (and your party) out of an environmental encounter. These spells might help you detect and avoid traps or surpass environmental obstacles. Social spells are most useful in espionage or dialogue-heavy encounters but are much less so inside of a dungeon. Battle spells are primarily focused on dealing damage or otherwise incapacitating enemies.
Detect Thoughts (Social/Utility)
This is a complex spell that is more than worth breaking down. Essentially, it gives your character temporary telepathy. As long as you can hold your concentration up to a minute, you can delve into the minds of the people around you. There are plenty of interesting effects within the spell itself, and there is no upfront saving throw to protect your victims’ thoughts from being spied upon. Furthermore, sorcerers can cast it as a subtle spell with their Metamagic, meaning you can secretly cast it so that the target(s) have no idea their minds are being spied upon.
The initial usage is simple: for the duration, you can read the surface thoughts of a particular creature. When you act on each turn until the spell ends, you can focus your telepathy on a different creature you can see. The surface thoughts might refer to a creature’s current thoughts towards you or their internal reaction to a particular question. If you’re conversing with (or interrogating) the creature, the conversation will naturally be reflected in those thoughts. A sorcerers naturally high charisma makes them excellent inquirers or extractors of information using this spell.
You can also choose to probe deeper into your target’s mind. This requires them to make a Wisdom saving throw, and if failed you gain access to their mood, way of reasoning, or perhaps a buried secret. However, the target now knows you’re probing its mind even if you cast the spell subtly.
Finally, this spell can be used for scouting and combat purposes. Invisible or hidden enemies can be a severe issue, but this spell allows you to ping your thoughts out like a sonar and see if any receptive minds answer. Any thinking target within the spell’s range will have their presence revealed.
Fireball is an often-discussed spell, and rightly so. It solves a myriad of problems quickly and succinctly. Do you need to get through this forest but are tired of slogging through the underbrush? See a horde of goblins rushing at your party? Light ‘em up!
Despite that, there are some significant downsides if you have melee fighters in your party. Barbarians may be able to take the heat, but fighters, monks, rogues, and even paladins can struggle. Fireball deals a lot of damage, covers a large area, and requires a Dexterity saving throw for everyone affected. Considering that casters often forgo Dexterity and are usually at the bottom of Initiative, you can’t rely on going first to cast fireball before your allies rush into the fray. Sorcerers, however, have a unique ability to utilize fireball even in situations where they aren’t first.
The Metamagic option careful spell notes that when you cast a spell that causes other creatures to make a saving throw, you can protect some of those creatures from the spell’s full force. By spending a sorcery point, you can ensure that most (if not all) of your allies will automatically succeed on the saving throw. For rogues and monks, this is incredibly potent since their Evasion ability allows them to take no damage if they succeed on a Dexterity saving throw.
Dispel Magic (Utility/Battle)
Although often thought of in conjunction with counterspell, dispel magic offers you the ability to cancel magical effects after they’ve been cast. True, counterspell can generate some fantastic moments in the heat of battle, but it also runs the risk of not being worth it. You have to decide to cast counterspell before knowing what the enemy is doing and choose the level to release it. Which totally sucks if you end up countering a cantrip.
With dispel magic, you can’t stop a creature from casting in their tracks, but you can completely erase what they cast as soon as your turn comes around. It’s also interesting to note that, unlike counterspell, dispel magic affects a creature, object, or magical effect. If a foe has a buff applied, like haste or even mage armor, you can use this spell to end those. Similarly, you can also end that effect if an ally is under a spell that hinders them (or turned them against you!). With quickened spell, ending magical effects doesn’t even need to take your entire turn, allowing you to rebuke the enemy caster with a cantrip or dash to relative safety.
While any caster can enjoy the effects of casting haste on a party member capable of landing attacks with massive amounts of damage (think paladin, barbarian, or rogue), the sorcerer can double their fun by casting with the Metamagic option, twinned spell. It’s two for the price of one (plus some sorcery points)!
It’s also worth noting that the target of the haste spell doesn’t just gain an extra action on their turn. Their speed is increased, their AC is improved, and they have advantage on Dexterity saving throws. That advantage might not mean much to a rogue or barbarian, but any paladin or other heavy hitter would certainly enjoy it.
Additionally, though haste is traditionally bestowed upon weapon users, it doesn’t have to be. The extra action can’t be used to cast a spell, but it can let you Hide, Dash, or Disengage to keep yourself or another caster away from harm. You can also Use an Object, like drinking a potion. There is somewhat of a disagreement about whether the Use an Object action can activate an object that mimics a spell (but not cast one) though, so talk to your GM ahead of time.
Have you ever been confronted with a situation where you needed something? Just one item to pull out of your magic bag of tricks, and you could be the hero your party needs? Well, step right up and check out creation! It’s no fabricate, but it’ll get the job done as long as ‘the job’ is temporary.
It’s true that your creations only last for a certain amount of time, based on what the materials are, but most of them last for long enough to serve a specific purpose. That said, a sorcerer can use the Metamagic option extended spell to make their magical objects last twice as long. Want to generate some extra income for that sweet wand you saw in the shop? Fortunately, you have twice the amount of time to shop around and then escape the town before the gold will vanish! I don’t condone ripping off small business owners but sometimes needs must.
A word of caution: you can’t use anything generated by this spell as components for a second spell. So you can’t use creation to conveniently sidestep the expensive or obscure requirements of other powerful spells.
Your creations also need to fit inside a 5-foot cube. Typically, this is a decent size, but if you want to make something a bit larger, you can cast this spell at a higher level. With each level increase, your cube grows by another 5 feet in all dimensions. For example, if you wanted to make a wooden boat, you’d probably want to cast this as a 7th or 8th level spell (15-foot or 20-foot cubes, respectively).
Also, just because the official wording of the spell mentions a particular realm by name, doesn’t mean this spell’s magic can’t be drawn from other worlds and realms. Just talk to your GM about where you are pulling the wisps of creation from to add some extra flavor to the spell, which can also match thematically with your sorcerous origins.
Sunbeam can be a bit tricky, especially considering it’s a single 5-foot-wide and 60-foot-long line emanating from your hand. The damage isn’t spectacular, but if the enemy fails its Constitution saving throw, it is blinded for the round. It’s not usually a recommended spell for casters since many other spells can do similar damage, but sorcerers have an advantage that others don’t with the Metamagic option, quickened spell.
Once you’ve cast sunbeam, it’ll continue as long as you maintain concentration, and you can send a burst for your action on every turn. Typically, this would hamper a spellcaster, but you can cast a spell as your bonus action each turn with quickened spell. Additionally, since you aren’t using your action to cast a new spell, you can use your bonus action to cast a levelled spell and not just a cantrip.
It’s hard to say anything about wish that hasn’t already been said. It is easily the most potent spell in the entire game, which is why it’s the only spell to come with such a high cost to the caster. Some of the downsides in casting wish is the inability to cast anything afterwards without taking damage, and the 33% possibility that you might never be able to cast wish again.
In a situation where you are truly desperate, or you’ve accepted the downsides, this spell is definitely a doozy. But the beauty is that you can technically wish for anything. The description recommends some possible uses like restoring your party to full hit points, creating something that costs up to 25,000 GP, or giving everyone immunity to one specific spell.
Your GM can rule however they like, so I don’t recommend asking for anything too outrageous lest they willfully misinterpret your words in an unfortunate way.
However, wish doesn’t necessarily have to be such a game-changer. One of the best uses for wish neatly allows you to circumvent the drawbacks: casting another spell. Sure, it isn’t fancy, and the description only briefly notes it, but by using wish as a way to gain access to any other spell (under 9th-level), you don’t risk losing wish or suffering any of the other downsides. Plus, your Metamagic options in addition to having access to virtually every spell in the game allows you to get incredibly creative with the effect you’re going to unleash in the midst of your campaign!
The spells listed here won’t be the most optimal choices for every situation. But they highlight what makes the sorcerer unique when compared to other spellcaster classes. By cleverly considering how your Metamagic options can enhance a spell’s effect, you can create arcane combinations that are far more powerful than the sum of their parts. A sorcerer may know less spells than a wizard stores in their spellbook, and they require more than a warlock’s short rest to regain the use of their magic. But sorcerers are masters of the arcane arts, exemplifying how a little ingenuity and creativity can conjure a whole lot of fun!