Wild Magic Surges are good and fun

When I ran that Plane Shift Ixalan adventure this weekend, one of my players commented how he’d never played a Wild Magic Sorcerer before:

Do The Thing

Some of that is the way I treat the Wild Magic Surge and Tides of Chaos features when I run games, which boils down to All The Surges. Looking at the relevant parts of how they work:

Once per turn, the DM can have you roll a d20 immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher. If you roll a 1, roll on the Wild Magic Surge table to create a magical effect.

My players have to roll that d20 every time they cast a qualifying spell. And then when they want to use Tides of Chaos:

You can manipulate the forces of chance and chaos to gain advantage on one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw… Any time before you regain the use of this feature, the DM can have you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher. You then regain the use of this feature.

You can guess how I handle that as a DM: they have the equivalent of perma-inspiration, but they have to roll on that table as soon as they cast that spell. Basically, if the text says “the DM can have you” do the thing, this DM does have you do the thing.

The Thing is Good and Fun

That Wild Magic Surge table is a doozy. It includes fifty different possible surge results, and folks tend to fixate on the bad ones, like “You cast fireball as a 3rd-level spell centered on yourself” and “You cast confusion centered on yourself.”

A Scene of Sorcery - an illustration from "Japan and the Japanese Illustrated" page 352

But most aren’t like that! If we categorize the results from the perspective of the caster as “Good,” “Bad,” or “Fun” (no particular immediate mechanical advantage), we get:

  • Good: 20
  • Bad: 11
  • Fun: 19

Your counts might be slightly different, but even if you quibble slightly on some of the results, the vast majority of effects are positive for the group (because Fun is also Good!)

I mean, sure, there’s some risk. Fireball does an average of 28 damage to anyone who fails the Dexterity save. That could TPK some level 1 or 2 groups if everyone’s clustered up. So respect the personal space of that mage and go have fun!

One thought on “Wild Magic Surges are good and fun

  1. This is great. I’ve also had a wild magic sorcerer character in my head, but I’ve never taken it further, partly because of how they’re often perceived as a danger to the party.

    Like

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