Matt Mercer is playing a Mountain Dwarf Divine Soul Sorcerer in Exandria Unlimited, the latest series from the folks at Critical Role. Having ceded the DM’s chair to Aabria Iyengar for this series, Matt finds himself in the player’s seat with a very clever mechanical build.
The key tech to this build is the Mountain Dwarf. Matt is not shy about his feelings on Dwarf PCs:
Why Mountain Dwarf?
With the feature-swapping rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Mountain Dwarf took the lead as the best race for spellcasting classes.
Specifically, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything released rules that allowed players to swap out a number of racial features. You can change ability score increases to a new score, and you can swap skill, armor, weapon, tool, and language proficiencies (with some limitations):
Dwarves always had a solid base, only improved by the rules adjustments. Their kit includes +2 CON, darkvision, advantage vs. poison, stonecunning, and a handful of weapon, tool, and language proficiencies.
CON is a great stat for spellcasters, who are typically saddled with a frailer hit die and rely on Constitution to maintain concentration on spells. The ribbon features are some of the best roleplaying prompts among all 5e mechanics. The ability to swap their numerous weapon/tool proficiencies and languages offers a wide variety of customizability.
But, the secret sauce is in the subrace.
+2/+2 ASIs. Unlike any other race, only the Mountain Dwarf gets +2 to two different ability scores at character creation. While +2 STR is not likely to be useful to a spellcaster, Tasha’s ASI-swapping means you can easily move that boost over to your spellcasting stat.
To accomplish Dariax’s ability score spread, Matt did a point buy of 14/14/13/8/9/14, accepting +2 CON and swapping +2 STR for +2 CHA.
Armor Proficiency. Mountain Dwarf also shores up the weakest defensive shortcoming of Wizards and Sorcerers by giving them light and medium armor proficiency. With a higher armor class, a spellcaster’s few hit points can be stretched a lot farther. Typically, a sorcerer or wizard with no armor proficiencies can only increase their Armor Class by pumping Dexterity–a tertiary ability score for casters.
By mixing a Chain Shirt with 14 Dexterity, Mercer is able to achieve 15 Armor Class with his level 2 Sorcerer. And, there’s little purpose to investing more Dexterity, since the Chain Shirt already caps the benefit at +2 DEX. Instead, raising your Armor Class costs a much less precious resource than ASIs: gold (to purchase Half Plate, Breastplate, or Scale Mail).
For more character creation tips, check out the ThinkDM Patreon. If you’re playing a spellcaster, you should know whether to take War Caster or Resilient (CON) or perhaps consider the benefits of the Gunner feat.