A Group of Sorcerers is Called a Cabal

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Salutations, nerds! Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons sorcerers are on the menu today and as opposed to wizards, who are constantly gathering up in big towers and working together, sorcerers don’t tend to really travel in groups all too often. Regardless, we’re going to push forward and see what we can discover together about sorcerers in groups. Wizards will get their own turn, but where they have this tendency to group together in order to share their studies and research, in 5E D&D sorcerers just get their power from a variety of sources and don’t really have to share anything in order to use their magic. But there are plenty of other reasons for sorcerers to group up, including self preservation.

D&D sorcerer
The sorcerer as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]

What makes sorcerers so eclectic

I once got into an argument with a meat space friend about sorcerers. This person claimed it was always a better choice on every level to play a wizard because they were not only better mechanically but he insisted one couldn’t possibly roleplay a sorcerer. I came to find out later on this particular friend has a tendency of making big sweeping generalized claims just for the sake of rattling the other people around us, but at the time I was successfully incensed.

Listen. Sorcerers are fragging cool. They don’t need to spend hours pouring over tomes for their magic, nor do they need some kind of sugar daddy to give them their powers. They simply are beings of magic.

And the word sorcerer just sounds cool, doesn’t it? The word comes from the Latin sortiarius which means “teller of fortunes,” but of course sorcerers as we know it do much more than mere divination. But it feels much more primal. Sorcerer. One who draws from the source. One who is the source.

If a wizard is a scientist, a sorcerer is drawing power from within and generating a lot of energy by sheer force of will, and in a lot of ways this is much cooler. And there are a ton of roleplaying opportunities in just having this power you’re trying to figure out how to use and where it came from in the first place, as opposed to having been educated and knowing exactly how to use it and what to do with it because you were trained in the arcane arts.

Maybe as a sorcerer you have some innate understanding of what you’re doing, but this isn’t the same as training and there’s going to be some room for doubt and margin for error there as you’re figuring out the details. It’s hard to play a reluctant hero in a 5E D&D setting because no Dungeon Master is going to want to convince you to go on the adventure. But if you’re playing a sorcerer you have your own reasons to go and still plenty of reasons to be iffy about the whole process. Sorcerers make good reluctant heroes because like it or not, they still have this magic and they still have to figure out how to use it before they and everyone around them get hurt.

Necessity of the cabal

Maybe 5E D&D sorcerers ultimately learn together too, except for them it’s less of a “how to” and more of a “how do we control it?” Less Hogwarts and more Xavier’s Institute. The magic is already in them and already powerful and destructive and it makes complete sense to group up and share notes.

This also makes the cabal a very exclusive thing. In order to make use of it you must have this innate magic to begin with and it isn’t something they can teach you. Letting the sorcerers come to them might not be as useful as going out to find them with intent to train them.

A sorcerous faction wants to make it a point to use members with divination magic to find other sorcerers and they might even want to have a standing deal with their local Bard College, because that’s how news travels. The story about how somebody lost control of their powers and burned down a village is going to be pretty interesting to the cabal, after all. They’ll want to hear about it before some other adventuring party wants to take down the evil caster who caused so much heartache.

The cabal on the other hand is going to understand a lot better that this person probably didn’t know what they were doing and could use training. And after all, all of that power is going to look very tempting.

Which brings me to…

What the cabal can do for your players

There are so many quests this faction can give out! Think of anything a sorcerer could accidentally do with their magic and you’ve got the potential for a quest hook from these guys. And I do mean both sending the party out to bring the young sorcerer back alive, as well as showing up on the scene of a disaster when your adventurers are about to dispense with justice to try and stop them and explain the situation. (However, make sure your party is okay with moral dilemma if you’re going to go with that last one. It doesn’t go over great with every single group.)

A cabal of sorcerers wanting to build more power could also serve as an excellent villainous faction or at least an antagonistic one. They have many reasons to want things — power sources, magical artifacts — that adventurers also want, and any time there’s something that can’t be easily shared you have a good crux for a conflict.

Of course they can also be there to help with spells the party might not have on lock. Any time you need portal monkeys or someone to cast identify, the cabal might make for an interesting alternative to your friendly local wizard.

And that’s sorcerers in 5E D&D. Personally I still think they’re pretty up there in terms of roleplaying opportunities. And per usual, I’m interested in hearing your sorcerer stories if you’ve got them — particularly interesting sorcerer NPCs. It might just be me but it feels like most of the time you hear about NPC wizards and very rarely about sorcerers. So let me know in the comments below, and of course, stay nerdy!

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Follow Megan R. Miller:
Speculative fiction writer and part-time Dungeon Master Megan R. Miller lives in southern Ohio where she keeps mostly nocturnal hours and enjoys life’s quiet moments. She has a deep love for occult things, antiques, herbalism, big floppy hats and the wonders of the small world (such as insects and arachnids), and she is happy to be owned by the beloved ghost of a black cat. Her fiction, such as The Chronicles of Drasule and the Nimbus Mysteries, can be found on Amazon.

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