Shadow Sorcerer 5E | Shadow Magic Origin Guide

shadow sorcerer 5e

Are you afraid of the dark? Good; Now you can weaponize it! Xanathar’s Guide to Everything came up with a way to use shadows for your own benefit with the Shadow Magic Sorcerer. You – or an ancestor – are related to the beings of Shadowfell. Dark energies within are struggling against your spark of life, threatening to snuff out what little humanity you have left. The question then becomes; why do you wish to curse your character with this horrific, dark secret, threatening to tear them apart from the inside..? It’s for the cool stuff. Yeah, I get it. Let’s learn all about these dark options with our Shadow Sorcerer 5E Guide. 

Sneak in Darkness: Shadow Sorcerer 5E

The Shadow Magic Sorcerer is one of the most potent defensive sorcerer subclasses. You gain some basic utility features, anti-death measures, a summon, and fantastic mobility. While most Sorcerers could gain access to these through the spell list, your options to spend sorcery points on them instead gives you pretty solid versatility. Creative use of this subclass can cause the battlefield to swing into your favor quite quickly. And you’ll always be in the right place, at the right time.

There’s another roleplay benefit. All Shadow Sorcerers choose from a variety of quirks. None of these have any real mechanical penalties, though a lot of them might mess with Medicine checks. It could lead to some fun moments, if you and your GM want that to be the case.

Eyes of the Dark

This is one of the few Sorcerer subclasses that gains a benefit at level 3. To be fair, that’s because this benefit scales.

From 1st level, you have darkvision with a range of 120 feet.

When you reach 3rd level in this class, you learn the Darkness spell, which doesn’t count against your number of sorcerer spells known. In addition, you can cast it by spending 2 sorcery points or by expending a spell slot. If you cast it with sorcery points, you can see through the darkness created by the spell.

How spooky of you!

120 feet of darkvision gives you an actually gigantic range of sight in dungeons. Because of this benefit, you’ll probably want to not play as a race with natural darkvision. This is just such a huge range, and it doesn’t stack with any previously held sources.

120 feet is 24 squares. Most combats will never reach that size, though some extend past the 60 ft Darkvision typically has. Obviously, this works best in night combats or in dungeons with large rooms, but you’ll find this benefit helpful in most scenarios.

Level 3 is when this ability gets really cool. Darkness is a pretty bad spell, other than for niche scenarios – running away or obscuring the enemy’s archer line is all it’s amazing at. At least it has the benefit of being super flavorful and has good synergy with the rest of your abilities.

Thankfully, you don’t only get Darkness. By spending 2 spell points – the equivalent of a 2nd level spell – you get to see through it. So few creatures get the chance to see through magical darkness – usually only demons and Warlocks with a specific invocation. You’ll get the drop on enemies, since you’ll be the only one looking in! Spending your spell slot on it is still nice, but you lose the niche of seeing through darkness. It’s a worthy sacrifice, trust me!

You might want to do a combo with a Warlock in your party, who’s willing to take the Devil’s Sight invocation. You could actually make a full party comp around shadows, but that Warlock’s gonna also benefit a lot from the combat control.

Strength of the Grave

There’s some upsides to being dead inside! You can succeed at this saving throw once per day.

Starting at 1st level, your existence in a twilight state between life and death makes you difficult to defeat. When damage reduces you to 0 hit points, you can make a Charisma saving throw (DC 5 + the damage taken). On a success, you instead drop to 1 hit point. You can’t use this feature if you are reduced to 0 hit points by radiant damage or by a critical hit.

This is one of the worst death-prevention methods in the game, but it’s still death-prevention.

Let’s look at the upsides. You get this at level 1, where you have probably about 7 HP. That means that you can probably use this right away to prevent a decent hit from, say, an Orc. That keeps you conscious for a really long time, and then you can keep slinging spells.

The benefits of anti-death are myriad. You don’t need to risk Death Saving throws, your allies don’t need to waste actions and spell slots to pick you up, and your turn rolls around with you on your feet, ready to bust some heads. Landing this saving throw is crucial to any encounter!

Now, there’s quite a few problems with this feature. Unlike the Half-Orc’s Relentless Endurance, you can fail this. A Charisma Saving Throw of 5 + Damage isn’t too hard to land early on. And most physical attackers will leave you with a large, but passable, DC in the late game.

But some physical attackers won’t give you the option. And spellcasters… Hoo boy. Your Charisma saves will probably be around +11, meaning the highest damage you can tank with this ability is 25 (unless you crit!). That’s not too hard to beat; Fireball does an average of 28, for example.

And just in case that wasn’t bad enough, you can’t do this if a Cleric is beating you with radiant spells, or if you got crit. Just your luck… The Radiant damage clause is fine, but crits are some of the most likely things to drop your low-health body to the floor. You’d really want to desperately attempt to critically succeed there, but you can’t.

Overall, anti-death effects are super good, and you should always remember you have this. But, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t end up saving you too often, especially in the mid-to-late game.

Hound of Ill Omen

Your level 6 ability is one of the coolest ones on any of the Sorcerer class subclasses. For 3 sorcery points, you can bonus action to summon a Good Dog. Just kidding; he’s the baddest dog around, a shadow Dire Wolf. You sick him (or her) on one creature. It has a few differences from a typical Dire Wolf:

  • The hound is size Medium, not Large, and it counts as a monstrosity, not a beast.
  • It appears with a number of temporary hit points equal to half your sorcerer level.
  • It can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. The hound takes 5 force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.
  • At the start of its turn, the hound automatically knows its target’s location. If the target was hidden, it is no longer hidden from the hound.

Spookiest boy! It appears within 30 ft of the target, goes in a straight line towards the enemy, attacks only the enemy, can only opportunity attack against the enemy, and lasts for 5 minutes or until it or the target is gone. Oh, and while it’s next to the enemy, they have disadvantage on saves against your spells.

Bit of a mouthful! Don’t worry, after you cast it the first time, you’ll get used to it.

Okay, early on? This is an insane effect. Dire Wolves have above-average to hit, and pretty alright health. It also gains advantage on attacks if an ally is nearby, and could cause tripping if you force this effect against a caster. This is a really effective summon for chasing people down!

Unfortunately, this hound doesn’t scale too well. It only gains additional health equal to half your level, so it maxes out at 47 HP. That +5 to attack, even with Pack Tactics, probably won’t scale too well either. In that case, is 3 sorcery points worthwhile?

I’d say so.

Even with those downsides, the Hound is a fantastically effective tracker. Since it always knows the target’s location, it can find invisible, recently teleported, or ethereal opponents. That’s great anti-invisibility, and it can put you on the right trail to find an enemy! The Dire Wolf has 50 ft of movement speed and lasts for 5 minutes, putting you almost one full mile closer to your enemy after a teleport. And while 47 health isn’t exactly impressive later on, it might still take more than one or two hits to put down.

All of that, and I didn’t even talk about the disadvantage effect. Giving an enemy disadvantage on a saving throw would be pretty amazing metamagic by itself. That’s because it is; Heightened Spell. That also costs 3 sorcery points, and gives you exactly 1 saving throw with disadvantage. On one spell. This effect could theoretically give you 5 minutes of disadvantage-imposing magic in a dog-shaped form.

Insanely cool, insanely powerful… You know what, I take it back. This is a good dog!

Shadow Walk

This ability is used on a few darkness-based archetypes, and it never ceases to impress!

At 14th level, you gain the ability to step from one shadow into another. When you are in dim light or darkness, as a bonus action, you can teleport up to 120 feet to an unoccupied space you can see that is also in dim light or darkness.

Unlike other Sorcerer subclasses, this doesn’t grant you flight. Also unlike other Sorcerer subclasses, this is freakin’ awesome!

A bonus action to move 120 feet is, unsurprisingly, quite great. The Sorcerer doesn’t have too many bonus action effects (other than Flexible Casting or Quickened Spell), so this gives you combat mobility without too much downside. Of course, you’ll need some shadows… But, you can find shadows pretty easily, or make them using Darkness.

You do still need some Fly speed from another source to keep up with late-game fights. But theoretically, once you get that Fly speed, you could teleport into dark spots of the sky to rain havoc without spending your Move action. Or, you could get a Climb speed and teleport onto a dark part of a wall.

Great versatility! You should use this whenever you can to get those sweet angles in the fight.

Umbral Form

The final ability of this archetype combines defense and mobility together… Since you needed more of that, apparently.

Starting at 18th level, you can spend 6 sorcery points as a bonus action to transform yourself into a shadowy form. In this form, you have resistance to all damage except force and radiant damage, and you can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. You take 5 force damage if you end your turn inside an object.

You remain in this form for 1 minute. It ends early if you are incapacitated, if you die, or if you dismiss it as a bonus action.

6 sorcery points might sound like a lot, but the only effect even close to this is Etherealness… Which you can’t even get with Sorcery Points! If you need the utility of wall walking, this is much more useful.

Wall walking is somewhat niche, but it lets you escape Area of Effects and other dangerous situations easily; 5 force damage is a lot less than taking melee damage from angry dragons! It also lets you chase after enemies who can quickly turn around corners. Great defense, great mobility. Awesome! 

The damage resistance is nice… Although, hopefully you’re invisible or Hiding enough to keep yourself safe! This form does make it much easier to use Strength of the Grave, since the Resistance lowers the DC you need to reach to survive. It also essentially doubles your average HP, which, considering you have d6 hit dice… You might be a bit happy to have this form.

6 points is expensive, though! Try to only use this if you desperately need to survive. Or if you wanna walk through walls. Try to resist the urge to walk through walls all the time.

Best Race for Shadow Magic Sorcerers

Shadow Magic sorcerers actually get no intrinsic benefits from their Charisma modifier, other than Strength of the Grave. However, you’re still a sorcerer. Get that Charisma as high as you can! Dexterity and Constitution are pretty important, too; they are two really important saving throws, and great to either let you avoid hits or take them better.


The Verdan race from Acquisitions Incorporated is actually really cool! They’re created Goblin-like people whose innocence is an essential part of their lives. Usually they’re an optimistic, innocent race… But that just means you can break a stereotype! Verdans gain a great +2 Charisma, +1 Constitution – Perfect! They also get Persuasion for free, which goes well with your Telepathy, requiring you to speak less languages. Black Blood Healing will help you stay alive between combats, and Telepathic Insight is crazy strong for a caster. Your new life of traveling the world will be one that the Bards will sing about!


Eberron: Rising from the Last War was a super experimental guide. One experiment was the Changeling, a race with a +2 to Charisma and a +1 to any stat, allowing you to get +3 to Charisma. That’s insanely powerful, allowing you to get 20 Charisma by level 4, the earliest possible +5. In addition, Shapechanger seems just as shady as the rest of your archetype, and bonus skills lets you become a more effective out-of-combat character. Their hearts are kinda already prone to darkness (i.e. the Doppelganger enemy), so you’ve got flavor on your side, too! The Changeling is one of the best sorcerer races around, so feel free to experiment with them anywhere.

Best Feats for Shadow Sorcerer

Like many sorcerers before it, the Shadow Sorcerer shares the few weakpoints that the class has. A close selection of spell slots, a huge gap in durability, and not consistent bonus action.

Fey Touched

The Fey Touched feat and its sister feat both make this list. This feat provides a +1 to Charsima and gives two spells known for the Sorcerer, who is hungry for that kind of extra flexibility on a spell list. You also get a 1st and 2nd level spell slot, only used for these feat’s spells. 

The spells it teaches are Misty Step and one more, restricted to a few different schools of magic. Misty Step is, obviously, one of the most fantastic options that a Sorcerer can ask for, as mobility is hard to come by. However, the Shadow Sorcerer has slightly less need of it. The extra mobility is nice, but is basically as strong as Shadow Walk – even though the ability is late game, it totally replaces Misty Step in 90% of situations. Instead, that 1st level spell comes in handy, as Silvery Barbs is one of the better options for a 1st level spell that you can ask for. Dishing out disadvantage like its nothing is something a Sorcerer should be glad to do with a 1st level slot!

Inspiring Leader

Inspiring Leader makes the short rest extremely powerful for a budding Sorcerer. After a short rest, you may apply a temporary HP shield of your level plus your Charisma modifier to a whole party of characters. At level 20, this is a minimum of 25 HP per person affected, which is an average of 100 health. That’s quite strong. It allows the Sorcerer to really look forward to a short rest, which isn’t something the class is used to doing – without Coffeelock, of course.

Metamagic Adept

The Shadow Sorcerer is one of the most sorcery point hungry builds in the entire game. Hound of Ill Omen is crazy. So, if you want to cast with Metamagic, you’ll want to consider Metamagic Adept. This gives 2 sorcery points that must be used on metamagic abilities, and you get two more for free. There are quite a few strong metamagic spells for this weird debuffing build, and many of them are great. This is a good time to try Subtle Spell, for instance. We just recommend not taking Heighten Spell, since the Hound is basically a better version of it.

Shadow Touched

This feat works very much like Fey Touched. +1 Charisma, you learn two spells, and you get a 1st and 2nd level spell slot that you must use this feat’s spells for.

The spells you learn are generally a bit weaker than Fey Touched. Invisibility is an okay spell, but it spends your action and requires some setup. Still, guaranteed advantage on attacks and great scouting is not bad to have always at the ready. The 1st level spell is much weaker than Silvery Barbs (or even other options like Hex), but it can still make waves! We recommend Cause Fear, False Life, Ray of Sickness, or Silent Image. These are a mix of solid debuffs and okay defense, though not exactly spells you expect to spam at level 1.


Telekinetic is a really fun feat from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. You get +1 Charisma, a stronger version of Mage Hand, and you can shove people around as a bonus action. Considering you have strong debuffs and the Hound, moving people by five feet can come very much in handy. This minor interruption of the battlefield can be the difference between someone being stuck in your eternal darkness and not!

Telepathic is similarly fun, but offers ways to communicate quietly and learn Detect Thoughts. While far from weak, it doesn’t interact with fights as often, and doesn’t solve as many problems as you might think.

Best Multiclass Options for Shadow Sorcerer

While the Sorcerer can often get away with avoiding multiclassing and simply taking the strong endgame spells, it behooves them to get a level or two in another class.


Just two levels in a Fighter does loads for the Sorcerer. At the small cost of some endgame spell slots, you get significant armor proficiencies, shield proficiency, fighting style, second wind… And Action Surge. Sorcerers with Action Surge are terrifying, and the Shadow Sorcerer is no exception. Using Shadow Walk to approach quickly, the sorcerer can Action Surge to decimate a fight before escaping easily. It’s a great investment and well worth the feat loss.

We recommend starting Fighter for Heavy Armor proficiency where possible, but that is not a hard-and-fast rule.


Similar to a Fighter, a Paladin dip gives the Sorcerer extra armor proficiency and minor healing ability. An extra level unlocks spell slots, the Divine Smite ability, and the Defense fighting style. So, while the Fighter offers a fairly significant burst round, the Paladin has solid damage and loses fewer spell slots on a two-level dip. Talk about a hard choice…


There is no other Sorcerer multiclass so desperate for sorcery points as this one. The Hound of Ill Omen and Darkness aren’t for free, you know. So, investing 1-3 levels in Warlock can fix your issues, providing a large amount of damage in Eldritch Blast and utility in invocations. Hexblade can provide solid armor proficiency, but something like Fiend can give the temporary HP you need to survive. Consider your options.

Best Backgrounds for Shadow Sorcerer

Backgrounds in 5E have two major goals. The first is to provide fantastic skill and tool proficiencies that benefit the user. The second is to provide a high-power feature that gives the character legitimate power over some aspects of the campaign.


Criminal (or spy, for those who prefer a more heroic background) gives the Sorcerer great skills and a solid feature. The skills, Deception and Stealth, are solid choices that aren’t easy for a Sorcerer to invest in. Gaming sets aren’t incredible, but thieves’ tools are, so proficiency in both is a net positive. Your equipment is good fun, but the real power of the Criminal is that feature.

The Criminal or Spy contact guarantee you a strong NPC companion that will be in touch throughout the campaign. Sure, they can be threatened or scared off, but you can usually rely on them for information and to watch your back. One of the best features from the Player’s Handbook, and one you should be sure to use.


The Investigator, from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, offers a Sorcerer quite a few strong options. The first are the skills, in which you get some choices. We recommend Insight and Perception – Insight since you’ll talk with people often, Perception because you will roll it all of the time. Your tool proficiencies, in both disguise and thieves’ tools, are both stellar. 

Your equipment and feature are both mediocre, with the feature being at times negative. Still, with how strong your proficiencies are, we can’t complain.

Urban Bounty Hunter

The Urban Bounty Hunter, from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, provides quite a lot of choice for the character. You get your choice amongst four different skills and two different tools. We suggest Deception and Stealth for your Sorcerer, as a Charisma skill and Stealth access is actually quite handy. Then, we recommend proficiency in a musical instrument and thieves’ tools, for no exclusive reason. Musical instruments and gaming sets offer about the same utility as one another. Then, your equipment is also quite bland.

Your feature comes in handy often enough, since you get info in every city. Legitimately strong all-around.

FAQ for the Shadow Sorcerer

What is the Role of the Shadow Sorcerer?

The Shadow Sorcerer serves a strong role as an aggressive debuffer with some surprising durability. It offers little in the realm of direct damage over the basic Sorcerer, but makes up for it with a stronger version of Darkness, the ability to survive a hit, and a solid summon. It can also traverse the map quite effectively with Shadow Walk and briefly tank a doorway with Umbral Form.

What book is the Shadow Sorcerous Origin in?

The Shadow Sorcerous Origin is in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything on page 50. It is just before Storm Sorcery.

How long does the Hound of Ill Omen last?

By default, the Hound of Ill Omen lasts until it dies, its target dies, or five minutes have past. Those last five minutes are a hard deadline. If the target can teleport or run from the Hound for five minutes (300 rounds), then it disappears on its own.

Example Shadow Sorcerer Build

For our example build, we need to set up some rules. Not all DMs are the same, and some are more traditional than others. In our case, our DM likes racial ability scores, meaning we are going to have to follow them closely. However, they will let us use any book, opening up some possibilities. We are asked to use Standard Array for our ability score selection, as well as standard equipment. That’s a bit of a shame, since we’d like to start with thieves’ tools. But, should be fine.

Our party is a Paladin, Cleric, and Rogue. We’re the party’s room clearer and major face.

We’ll play with a Verdan from Acquisitions Incorporated, using that telepathy and free Persuasion to our advantage. Our focus is going to be Charisma, since we’d like the odd number to get a feat in the future. That means we’ll probably be a bit awkward early on in terms of durability, but that’s not a huge deal. 

Verdans do get a bonus language, which should be based on whatever campaign you are in. Our DM suggested Elven, so Elven we shall take.

Our background will be Investigator. The Verdan gets the extra Charisma skill, so we don’t really need the Deception from either other suggested background. We can’t start with thieves’ tools with how our DM is starting us, but that’s okay. It shouldn’t be overly difficult to find lockpicks by the end of level 1 or early level 2 in 90% of campaigns.

5E Shadow Sorcerer Build
Race: VerdanAbility Scores: STR 8, DEX 14, CON 14 (13 + 1), INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 17 (15 + 2)Proficiencies: Persuasion, Deception, Intimidation, Insight, Perception, Disguise Kit, Thieves’ ToolsStarting Equipment: Light Crossbow, 20 Bolts, Component Pouch, Dungeoneer’s Pack, Two Daggers, Magnifying Glass, Bottle of Invisible Ink, Set of Common Clothes, 10 gpLanguages: Common, Goblin, Elven

Cantrips. Fire Bolt, Prestidigitation, Mage Hand, Message, Mending

Spells. Shield, Silvery Barbs, Ray of Sickness, Darkness, Invisibility, Scorching Ray, Fireball, Haste, Fly, Wall of Fire, Polymorph, Hold Monster, Immolation, Synaptic Static, Chain Lightning, Draconic Transformation, Power Word Stun, Wish

LevelClass BenefitsChoices
1-1st Level Spells-Eyes of the Dark-Strength of the GraveWe’re not quite done with choices yet. Thanks Sorcerer.Cantrips. Cantrip options are somewhat limited. Since we didn’t invest too hard into Dexterity, I feel comfortable taking Fire Bolt for our constant damage option. Then, we can grab Prestidigitation, Mage Hand, and Message for out-of-combat utility. These spells can solve major problems by themselves, so make them count.
Spells. The Sorcerer spell list is heavily limited, but modular. We want to grab strong spells for the level and try to adapt to the specific situations our DM throws at us. Scrolls can be used for situational spells like Protection from Good and Evil, but we might still want to learn it if we need to cast it every day. For now, our DM is running a generic bandit hunting campaign. Let’s grab Sleep to end fights early and Ice Knife for early area-of-effect damage without sacrificing range.
2-Font of MagicThis is the point you get Metamagic. Use it immediately to gain an extra level 1 spell slot! For our spell, we’re going to be keeping Sleep for a while. However, let’s pick up Mage Armor. We don’t have many other ways to defend ourselves, so spending that 1st level spell slot for a +3 to AC is well-worth it.
3-2nd Level Spells-MetamagicWe have a few things to keep in mind at this level.Spells. We get 2nd level spells now, and we get a better version of Darkness for free. But there’re still plenty of options! We’re gonna take Hold Person to be exceptionally annoying to these bandits.
Metamagic. Distant Spell is good for keeping us safe and turning Invisibility into a ranged option, and Twinned Spell will be useful later on but, for now, getting double Hold Person isn’t a bad idea.
4-Ability Score ImprovementsWe’ll take Shadow Touched at this point. That +1 to Charisma rounds out our casting stat, Invisibility is nice to have and… Well, we’ll take Ray of Sickness. Poisoned is a good debuff. The other level 1 options just fall off a bit more as you level up, or require you to be far too close to your enemies than I’d be comfortable with, even with Darkness or Invisibility.For our spell, we are in a good spot for debuffs so let’s get a touch of damage. Scorching Ray from Darkness can allow us to deal a lot of damage and even crit-fish a bit.
Cantrip. Let’s grab Mending. Our rogue is breaking lockpicks like it’s their job.
5-3rd Level Spells3rd level is here! You know what that means? In a party like this, Fireball is slightly too useful to miss out on. 8d6 is enough damage to floor us on a good roll, with 28 as our average.It’s also time to start taking a good look at our spell list and seeing what we can tag out. Sleep is no longer a strong, combat-ending option now that health pools are getting larger. Let’s get Silvery Barbs instead, so we can get a strong reaction in most fights.
6-Hound of Ill OmenWe get our good boy this level, but we aren’t gonna use him on level 3 spells. We’re taking Haste at this level. Our Paladin has the potential to quite literally murder someone in one round with a lucky rotation of Smites. Giving them one more shot at a Smite per round will be useful.Ice Knife is on thin ice by this point, but we can safely wait one more level. The damage is still nice and we don’t have quite the number of higher level spell slots that we need.
7-4th Level SpellsSince our other characters have good utility options, I feel comfortable taking Wall of Fire for this level. Clearing a room is hard work, and this does the job of clearing the room and potentially dealing 10d8 damage over the course of two turns to unfortunate recipients. Great for keeping yourself safe or burning the countryside.Ice Knife is going bye-bye. It served us super well! Let’s take Fly to give our 3rd level repertoire some attention.
8-Ability Score ImprovementAt level 8, we’re gonna be nice and boring. +2 to Charisma. Lock in that 20 so we have the max spell DC and attack roll.We’ll take Polymorph at this level to let our Twinned Spell metamagic flex its muscles. We’re also probably starting to run into some enemies that can’t be Hold Person’d to death. Let’s take a look at our current spell list.
Cantrips. Fire Bolt, Prestidigitation, Mage Hand, Message, MendingSpells. Silvery Barbs, Mage Armor, Ray of Sickness, Darkness, Hold Person, Invisibility, Scorching Ray, Fireball, Haste, Fly, Wall of Fire, Polymorph
I don’t hate anything here quite yet. Hold Person sometimes outgrows its usefulness, and Mage Armor might be nearing the end of its rope. But, so far so good. Mage Armor is specifically bad the moment you get magical clothing with AC, such as the Robe of the Archmagi. For the purpose of this build, we will get that Robe at level 15. So, we’ll keep Mage Armor until that point.
9-5th Level Spells5th level is here, and we have a few great choices going for us. For the sake of our build, I’m most interested in Hold Monster. Since we can Twinned Spell it, we can incapacitate two creatures at once. And Hold Monster works so well with the Hound!Our spell list remains strong, though depending on your campaign, Hold Person might be running out of usefulness. Let’s assume our campaign has reached the point where Hold Person no longer benefits us. We’ll trade Hold Person for Shield to improve our survivability when our frontline gets overwhelmed. Scorching Ray is a great spell to spam, so we’ve got good options in the 2nd level slot still.
10-New MetamagicWe get so much this level.Cantrip. We have most of our bases covered in terms of cantrip utility and aggression. We’ll add another damage spell to our repertoire in Chill Touch, since monsters that heal are more likely in the midgame.Spells. Immolation with Hound of Ill Omen is a devastating combo. Let’s do it! Our single target will be much improved. We don’t have many spells to swap at this point, as they are all generically very useful.
Metamagic. Let’s get Quickened Spell. We have decent bonus actions, but none that I’d consider strong. Chill Touch quickened Immolation is going to absolutely decimate bosses that would otherwise heal through the pain.
11-6th Level SpellsThis is a hard level to decide on your spell. You don’t get many opportunities to learn spells at this level as a Sorcerer, and not many spell slots to prepare them on.For our character, we just need more damage. The area of effect spells offered at level 6 are fine improvements to Fireball with significant range and slight damage upgrades. Because of that, we’ll take Chain Lightning. We aren’t that much stronger than a fireball, but the extra range and small amount of utility is very nice.If your party has terrible anti-magic, then you might have to consider taking Counterspell instead. We don’t need that much extra damage, since a Level 6 Fireball is only a few damage points off from Chain Lightning (38.5 vs 45 average damage). Having Counterspell might be more useful if you have to play defensive. Thankfully, our Cleric and Rogue have good answers, so we can just blow people up.
12-Ability Score ImprovementThis is the first time we’ll take a feat. Inspiring Leader provides a 17 temp HP overshield after a short rest. That’s really significant for our rather melee-friendly party.We don’t get a spell by default at this level, and I don’t think we need to replace any spell here. We’re fairly set up for the endgame, other than maybe Mage Armor.
13-7th Level SpellsI’m not a huge fan of the 7th level damage spells outside of Draconic Transformation. Force damage every turn, Blindsight, and good flight? All really strong. I could see us using this consistently.We’re still not quite at the point where I’d drop Mage Armor, unless our DM is very nice with magic items.
14-Shadow WalkNo spell by default this level. Shadow Walk is a wonderful way to spend your Bonus Action. It’s like flight, but better, and it doesn’t even spend your resources.We’re just one level away from our Robe of the Archmagi. Our DM promised it!
15-8th Level SpellsLevel 8. We’re in a good spot in general, so we can take a fun option here. Power Word Stun provides high CC and great synergy with our Hound. Disadvantage on the constitution save to shake off a guaranteed starting stun? That’s pretty absurd. And we can Twin it!We got our robe this level, thanks to our benevolent DM. Let’s toss out Mage Armor and grab Synaptic Static. Another way to spend a 5th level slot that also debuffs the room, instead of just dealing damage.
16-Ability Score ImprovementI think this is a fairly good level for a Metamagic Adept. We’ll get Transmuted Spell and Extended Spell. Transmuted is good for dodging immunities which are now very common, while Extended Spell lets us keep buffs online for slightly longer.Our spell list looks great! Let’s keep everything for right now.
17-9th Level Spells-New MetamagicWish is too good to pass up. Any spell in the game without material components is pretty godly for a class otherwise so locked down.Our Metamagic choice will be Subtle Spell. Being able to cast without moving your lips or hands gets around most forms of anti-casting.Let’s look at our spell list one last time.
Cantrips. Fire Bolt, Prestidigitation, Mage Hand, Message, MendingSpells. Shield, Silvery Barbs, Ray of Sickness, Darkness, Invisibility, Scorching Ray, Fireball, Haste, Fly, Wall of Fire, Polymorph, Hold Monster, Immolation, Synaptic Static, Chain Lightning, Draconic Transformation, Power Word Stun, Wish
Like we mentioned at level 11, Counterspell might be the only thing missing from our spell list. We can comfortably swap Chain Lightning for Counterspell here. We don’t need that tiny damage boost at this point. We have plenty of other spells that do the same thing, or better!
18-Umbral FormUmbral form is fine, though at a cost of 6 sorcery points… It’s a bit of an emergency button. Good enough for us! Taking less damage and having an excellent escape strategy is not a bad thing for a sorcerer to keep around. Just remember to only save it for emergencies. You have much better options to spend sorcery points on.
19-Ability Score ImprovementWe’ll take War Caster here. It’s basically just for advantage on Concentration checks, but that’s good enough for me. We’re likely starting to take gigantic amounts of damage, so Tough isn’t a bad option either. But, War Caster lets us keep those devastating debuffs online that we really want.
Side note. Now is a great time to multiclass, if you’d prefer to do that. Fighter or Paladin might offer more than a feat and the level 20 ability, if you prefer that path.
20-Sorcerous RestorationGood job! You’ve made it to endgame.

Conclusion – Our Take on the Shadow Magic Sorcerer

The Shadow sorcerer is great. You can use your Sorcery points on extremely effective abilities that are much stronger than your standard metamagic or magic options. You get mobility options that seldom few other classes get, let alone casters. You’ll be giggling with your Devil’s Sight Warlock buddy as the enemies on the battlefield get super confused as to how you’re so accurate with your spell slots. Then you’ll disappear into the night, like nothing ever happened. This Sorcerer makes a Shadow Party work well, but if you’re even just looking for a backline Sorcerer that’ll probably stay alive for a long, long, time, this’ll work well for you.

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