Constitution Spell Casting Makes the 5e Sorcerer Better in Every Way
By Riley Rath
"CON Sorcerer’s" Are Unique, Fun, and Don’t Break D&D’s Balance
It's a shame that something so cool could be so sucky…
The general consensus among DND players is that the Sorcerer class kinda sucks. It is usually mentioned along with Rangers and Monks in the “worst player character class” conversation.
5e Sorcerer’s are boring… and fragile… and underpowered.
But what’s always been confusing is that there is a really simple way to improve everything about the DND 5e Sorcerer and help it stand out among the other classes:
Make them a Constitution spell caster... Make a “CON Sorcerer.”
I know it’s a bit controversial, and surely the game designers did not do this for a good reason. But I think with a few changes, and a little homebrewing here and there, the CON Sorcerer becomes a unique and fun spell caster that is actually more balanced than before!
Table of Contents
Summary of the 5e Sorcerer Problem
First of all, what is a Sorcerer? The Sorcerer is magic-filled spell-casting class, one of many D&D classes players can choose to create their characters. They have low hit-dice (health) and can use “Meta-Magic” to augment their small list of known spells.
And while all of that is definitely cool… the other spell casting classes are a lot cooler:
Wizards have more versatility and tools
Clerics are more helpful
Druids are can survive a lot longer
Bards and Warlocks are more interesting/effective “faces” (social experts) for the party
And ALL of them can blast bad guys with big spells
Everything Sorcerer’s do, the other classes do better, and meta-magic isn’t good enough to compensate for these shortcomings.
Players agree the 5e Sorcerer sucks because it is boring and weak compared to the other spell casting classes.
It’s as though the conversation for building the sorcerer went something like this:
Person 1: “What if a Wizard was ALSO really cool, charming, and not a book- worm?”
Person 2: “Yeah! And what if that wizard had like 1/8th the spells they normally know?”
Person 1: “Wait… why would we do that?”
Person 3: “Oh! And and and… and what if they could bend those spells to do a little bit, but only a few times, and only in very few ways?
Person 1: …
Person 2 and 3: (enthusiastic high five)
Person 1: I don’t think that would be a very good idea…
Person 2: Just sent in the final draft.
There are all sorts of adjustments to the Sorcerer class… giving them more spells… more sorcery points… more meta-magic options.
But I think switching the spell casting ability from Charisma to Constitution is the simplest and easiest way. No complex rules…no new math… no relying on overpowered subclasses.
The Benefits of a CON Sorcerer
In general, I could think of four ways Sorcerers would improve just by making Constitution their spell-casting ability:
1. Sorcerers Would Become Unique
As the only Constitution caster, a CON Sorcerer would stand out. No more stepping on the toes of other classes or failing to measure up: the Sorcerer would be in a league of its own.
Currently the Sorcerer’s spell-casting ability is Charisma (CHA… more on that later…) but there are already a toooooon of Charisma based casters; nearly a third of the classes in the game! And it not only makes way more sense that a Bard or Warlock would use Charisma, but Charisma is more fun and intuitive with those classes.
The Charisma table is overcrowded… the Sorcerer needs to get up and eat its lunch somewhere else.
2. Players Could Use Fun Mechanics
With CON as a spell casting modifier, the Sorcerer takes on a totally new flavor and opens the door to homebrew rules that can make it more fun to play.
Since their spell casting is tied to their health, maybe a Nat 1 spell attack takes a toll on their body or they take damage? Maybe they absorb certain damage types, like the Absorb Elements spell? Or maybe they can expend health rather than sorcery points to gain more spell slots, losing more and more each time?
When the spell-caster is fighting to control the magic raging within them and relying on their Constitution to do so, any and all of these are exciting possibilities!
The CON Sorcerer is a little more unique, a little more fun, and a little more powerful.
3. Role-Playing Would Be More Creative
Take away Charisma as the default high stat and, suddenly, the Sorcerer became a much more interesting class to role-play, with a lot more options than just “magic-prodigy cool person.”
Rather than being forced to be the social butterfly, players can choose how their sorcerer came to grips with their magical powers. Did they isolate themselves as a kid to prevent hurting people? Have they grown tired of trying to control it and now live with reckless abandon? Did they dive deep into discipline or meditation to try to always be sensitive to the magic within them?
By not demanding high Charisma, there is more freedom for players to creatively role play.
4. Sorcerer’s Would Become More Powerful
Usually a caster’s biggest problem is just staying alive. For the CON Sorcerer, this suddenly becomes a much smaller problem.
Now don’t worry, their hit die is still a D6, the lowest in the game, meaning they will remain a glass cannon. But now, with a +4 or +5 to their health every time they level up, they can take a hit or two before needing a medic.
Also… Constitution helps them concentrate when they take damage! This presents a more alluring trade off for players when considering playing a Sorcerer or a Wizard: the Wizard has more spell options, but with the Sorcerer there is a lower chance you drop the concentration, meaning you’ll get even more out of the spells you cast.
It's just better!
In short, making Sorcerers a Constitution caster, or at least offering that option to your players, is a simple adjustment that makes the Sorcerer class a little more unique, a little more fun, and a little more powerful than before.
But apart from gameplay, there is another good reason to allow a CON Sorcerer: it makes a lot more sense!
CON Casting in Dungeons and Dragons
Before anyone starts freaking out about how CRaaaaAAAAaaaZY a Constitution caster would be… know that there is already a precedent for Constitution casters in DND!
But 5e has OFFICIAL examples of constitution casting: the Dragonborn Breath Weapon, Genasi, and the Aberrant Dragonmark Feat. The reason given for using CON rather than some other ability is due to the racial origin of magic; the magic is bound to their being, sort of a part of their fantasy DNA.
Many sorcerer’s also inherit their magic through their ancestors. The Draconic sorcerer subclass states how the Draconic magic is “mingled into the blood line” and “flows through your body (PHB, 102).
But not all Sorcerers get magic through their genes. Some are bound to magic via a celestial/fey blessing, demonic curse, monster/magical blood infusion, wizard experiment, exposure to raw magic or planar forces, etc. (PHB, 99-102).
Even if the magic touched a sorcerer’s soul rather than the bloodstream, it is still woven into who they are.
But focusing on their specific source of origin misses the point.
Regardless of the origin, a Sorcerers magic is bound to their very existence. Just like Genasi and Dragonborn, the sorcerer’s magic is with them for life… it was there at birth and it will be there at death.
Still don’t believe me? Take a second look at the Aberrant Dragonmark… guess which spell list players can pick from? That’s right… THE SORCERER!
Why? Because just like the sorcerer, the magic of the Aberrant Dragonmark comes from the very being.
Whether by blood, curse, blessing, or cataclysm… Sorcerers are infused with magic. It is blended with their whole being and requires their whole being to control it and wield it.
Sorcerers and “Willpower”
In the Player’s Handbook, the decision to make a Sorcerer a Charisma based caster is because “the power of your magic is based on your ability to exert your will on the world” (PHB, 101).
This definition could roughly apply to the other Charisma based spell-casting classes. A Bard’s magic comes from the “heart and soul” for their music, a Paladin’s from “the strength of their convictions,” and Warlocks through a deal with a higher power.
Rather than religious practice (Cleric), understanding (Druid), or learning (Wizard)... Bards, Warlocks, and Paladins exert their “will”: their conviction/belief/passion… to harness and cast magic.
It is kind of like the superhero Green Lantern: Sorcerers have access to a power that is distinct from them and through their will they are able to wield that power.
One tiny problem…
Sorcerers do not fit the standard “willpower” definition for other CHA casters!
Look at the descriptions of the Sorcerer’s source of magic, all found in the Players Hand Book:
“A spellcaster who draws in inherent magic from a gift or bloodline” (45).
“Magic is a part of every sorcerer, suffusing body, mind, and spirit with a latent power that waits to be tapped” (99).
“... an ancient bloodline infused with magic… (99).
“Others carry a raw, uncontrolled magic within them… ” (99).
“By learning to harness and channel their own inborn magic…” (99).
“People with magical power seething in their veins…” (99).
“... a wave of magic surges up in him, through him, and out of him…” (99).
For a D&D Sorcerer, magic is inborn… infused… inherent… latent… innate… within… suffused…
“... the magic force that infuses them…” (100).
“...the magic power coursing through you…” (100).
“An event in your past, or in the life of a parent or ancestor, left an indelible mark on you, infusing you with arcane magic” (101).
“...which describes the source or your innate magical power…” (101).
“...deep wellspring of magic within yourself” (101).
“... claim different sources for their innate magic” (102).
“Your innate magic comes from the forces of chaos that underlie the order of creation” (103).
No spell books, prayers, or instruments needed. No patrons to bargain with or deities to worship. No music to play or passion to muster.
But Sorcerers are united to their magic… it is an indivisible part of who they are. If it was only infused in the body, then Strength might be a good stat… If it was in just their mind, then Intelligence…
But magic is a part of their whole being… WHICH IS REPRESENTED BY CONSTITUTION!!!
"A Sorcerer’s magical power is embedded with their very being… requiring the entirety of their being to wield."
CON is the “whole being” stat… it’s how you withstand great difficulty being exerted upon you. It doesn’t matter what attacked you or what type of damage you took… when you are fighting to keep yourself alive… you make a CON save.
And when you are fighting to control the powerful magic that has been infused into your very being, magic that wants to be used, you have to be a hearty, resilient, durable person… not a charismatic personality.
To summarize, here is the argument for CON over CHA:
For sorcerers, the magic is immersed in their whole being
The stat for living and dying is Constitution
Therefore, constitution should be the “whole being” stat
Therefore, Sorcerer’s should be constitution casters
The Objections (and Rebuttals)
Like I said, the “CON Sorcerer” is a controversial idea, and it is not without its problems. Here are some of the most common objections to a constitution caster and some responses.
Objection 1: “This presents virtually no downside for a melee Fighter to multiclass into Sorcerer.”
Response: That’s game breaking… so don’t allow it.
Martial classes have opposite needs of the spell-casting classes. Trying to have the best of both worlds forces you to divide your ability score improvements, likely resulting in a bad character or one that is unoptimized.
But with a CON sorcerer, you could multiclass into a melee fighter without having to invest in an additional stat ability. This is the same reason Paladins are CHA rather than Cleric’s even though they (mostly) draw their power from the same source: it would be an overpowered multiclassing option.
The solution? NO MULTICLASSING WITH A CON SORCERER.
Just make the CON Sorcerer an option players can take, but one that cannot multi-class.
Boom. Problem solved.
Objection: “Meta-Magic is enough of a boost to balance them with other spell-casters.”
Response: Meta-Magic is not to make Sorcerer’s unique and fun.
A 20th level Sorcerer only has a measly 4 meta-magic options, and at low levels Sorcerers have so few sorcery points they can only use them sparingly, for emergencies, rather than as a core mechanic to the class that players can enjoy.
Objection: “It would be unfair, because every class benefits from CON.”
Response: Every class also benefits from Dexterity.
Because DEX is tied to initiative and a common spell save, every single class benefits from a high DEX ability score. Wisdom is also very helpful, as the Perception Skill is used to notice nearly everything in an imaginative game. Despite this, no one complains about Rogues, Druids, or Monk’s being OP.
Objection: “Other than Bard, you could make a case that every CHA caster should be something other than CHA… you would be making CHA a silly joke-stat all over again.”
Response: Role- playing is too important in D&D for CHA to be neglected.
True, the past Charisma was treated as a joke. But that was back when Dungeons and Dragons was more akin to wargaming and had less emphasis on role playing. In 5th edition, not having a high CHA character is WORSE than not having a healer!
Objection: “Powerful spell casters are supposed to be balanced by their fragility. Having sorcerers max out CON will make them too hard to kill.”
Response: (silently points to the text that says “hit dice: 1D6”).
Yes, having +5 to CON will help them fight… but it’s not like they’ll suddenly turn into a Spirit Totem Barbarian! When rolling for their HP, they still use a D6, which will still result in a very fragile, very vulnerable, very “oh geez I hope they don’t have power word kill…” character. Any Cleric character is still way harder to kill.
Objection: “The rules as written sorcerer assigns points on 1) CHA, then 2) CON or DEX. There usually are not enough stat points to max out all three, so like all classes they have to prioritize some over others. This choice between three abilities is essential to keeping classes balanced in DnD 5e. If you only need 2 stats (in the “CON Sorcerer’s” case, CON and DEX for AC) it would be way overpowered!”
Response: Require another ability.
Fair point! Imagine if the Barbarian’s abilities only required STR and CON! They would be unstoppable! Though the Circle of the Moon Druid really only needs WIS and I don’t hear anyone complaining…
But, admittedly, certain players require restrictions, so responding to this objection means tinkering with ability scores/the rules. We want the Sorcerer to be stronger, but not too much stronger. One solution us to use a different ability for some of the minor mechanics. Here are some ideas:
Add the Draconic Sorcerer’s “elemental affinity” 6th level ability to all Sorcerers, but use a different ability modifier instead of CON.
Use one ability to hit/DC and another ability for damage.
Have their sorcery points be based on a different stat… maybe a base amount plus the modifier… or 2x the ability modifier + their sorcerer level.
Have their spell casting modifier be the average of their CON and an additional ability.
Thematically, you could reason that Sorcerer’s use Constitution to “keep a lid” on the magic, but another ability to wield it effectively. Also, as long as the player could justify it, basically ANY ability could be used, resulting in unique and interesting characters!
Objection: “A CON Sorcerer promotes the wrong races as good spell-casters.”
Response: Really… THAT is your objection???
Mechanically, dwarves are the best suited Constitution casters in the game. But this conflicts with the original lore that describes dwarves as religious stoics who are wary of magic. And for fans of classic fantasy, something feels right about having half-orc barbarians, firbolg druids, tiefling warlocks, and dragonborn sorcerers…
BUT… I think this objection hints at problems with how DND 5e does races rather than this Con Sorcerer idea. And with Tasha’s “customized lineage”, where you can assign +2/+1 to any stats regardless of race, this whole objection becomes irrelevant.
Objection: “CHA is the will power stat, not CON.”
Response: Yes… but the text on Charisma is dumb and unclear.
Mature of me, I know, but this is a subject for an entirely other blog post. So, briefly, here is my response:
The definition and use for Charisma in 5e is both too broad and unclear.
Charisma is about personality and character, not energy or determination.
Charisma is inherently relational, requiring an object to be socially influenced or acted upon.
In short, every class and player character has a will that they use to act on the world, so relegating will to the Sorcerer is inappropriate.
Making 5e Sorcerers Constitution casters is a no-brainer. It makes thematic sense, balances out the underpowered class, and is more fun to play.
Disagree? Comment and let us know.
But if you love this idea… we encourage you to play it! And if you need any Sorcerer dice, we would be happy to help you out.
I currently use the Con Sorcerer rules for a PC in my campaign: a half-orc storm Sorcerer named “Sinead.” And not only is she more powerful and extremely fun to play… she still goes down in combat ALL THE TIME!
Based out of San Diego, Riley is a freelance copywriter that combines his love of reading, writing, and people into something useful! He is thankful to be applying his passion for imaginative role-playing to help D&D related businesses communicate their value in the best way possible. He's kinda like a bard giving inspiration, except without the annoying pop covers!