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The Bugbear Nova Blaster | D&D 5e Build Guide

Original Video:



*This article is an edited version of the script for this video


Race:

Bugbear, Surprise Attack is an incredible feature and the main reason we’re picking Bugbear. As long as we go before at least one of our enemies this will greatly increase our damage output on our first turn.


Ability Scores(point buy):

Str: 8

Dex: 15

Con: 15(+1)

Int: 8

Wis: 8

Cha: 15(+2)


Ability Score Priorities(if rolling):

1: Cha

2: Con

3: Dex


Ideal Equipment:

-Arcane Focus

-Half Plate and a Shield(Once we take Moderately Armored)


Levels 1-2: Warlock 1-2

-Otherworldly Patron: Genie

—Genie’s Wrath: This will give us extra damage when we hit once per turn equal to our proficiency bonus. In this build we wont be going for any synergies with the damage type so you can pick whichever you’d like though magical bludgeoning or thunder are likely going to be the most reliable

—Bottled Respite: This allows us to spend a number of hours equal to twice our proficiency bonus inside our genie’s vessel. This can be quite useful if you need to hide for an extended period of time or if you need a safe place to take a rest.

You could instead go with Hexblade for armor and Hexblade’s Curse. I do think that Genie is better in the long run since we end up getting medium armor and shields with a feat. If your campaign is going to end before level 10 then Hexblade is likely the better choice but Genie would still work well.

-Spells:

—Eldritch Blast: This will be our main damage dealer. As long as we go before the enemy we are attacking on the first round this will benefit from our Surprise Attack feature from Bugbear and each blast will deal an additional 2d6 damage. In the future we’ll have ways to get a lot more attacks and possibly advantage on those attacks so this will start to add up really fast.

-Eldritch Invocations:

—Agonizing Blast: Lets us add our Cha to each of our Eldritch Blasts

—Devil’s Sight or Repelling Blast: Repelling Blast would be good for controlling enemies by keeping them away from us. Devil’s Sight lets us see in darkness even if it’s magical darkness. This can be used in combination with the Darkness spell in the future to get us advantage. This combo can be quite disruptive to the other characters in your party so just make sure you communicate and be willing to change your strategy if you’re going for something like Darkness + Devil’s Sight


Levels 3-5: Sorcerer 1-3

-Spells

—Shield and Absorb Elements: Two of the strongest defensive spells in the game. Shield for raising our AC so we’re harder to hit for a round and Absorb Elements will help us avoid elemental damage.

—Scorching Ray: Another spell like Eldritch Blast that gives us a lot of attacks and will combine well with our Surprise Attack feature. The main thing this has over Eldritch Blast is that we can upcast it to get one additional ray per spell level.

—Darkness or Silvery Barbs: You can pick up Darkness if you want to go for the combo with Devil’s Sight we talked about earlier. If not I’d recommend going with Silvery Barbs to finish off the trifecta of 1st level reaction spells with Shield and Absorb Elements

-Font of Magic and Metamagic

—Quickened Spell: This is the main metamagic option we’ll be using. We can use it in combination with either Eldritch Blast or Scorching Ray to get at least twice as many attacks on our first turn. This in combination with a high level Scorching Ray will how we get our biggest nova rounds but I think I would lean more towards using it with Eldritch Blast. It’s fairly cheap when you use it with Eldritch Blast since it’s a cantrip so you likely won’t run out of resources and you’ll potentially be able to go nova in every combat, which isn’t something most nova builds can do.

—Seeking Spell is another metamagic to consider since it can increase your nova damage but I think it’s just a bit too expensive, especially since one of this builds strengths is that its nova round can be really cheap. If your GM lets you use the revised version that only costs 1 Sorcery Point or you’re watching this in the future and that’s the version you’re using then I think this would be a decent option.

-Sorcerous Origin: Any subclass will work here, personally I would go with Clockwork Soul mainly because of it’s expanded spell list getting access to some good spells from the wizard spell list that the sorcerer doesn’t usually get.


After this there are a lot of different ways you could go with this build and we’ll be going over all of them in a moment and I’ll discuss their various strengths and weaknesses. But, regardless of which way you go the feats you’ll definitely want to pick up are Resilient: Con or War Caster for concentration checks, Moderately Armored to sure up your defenses, and Alert is another good option to boost your initiative but after those three you’ll probably just want to boost your Cha and hopefully get it to 20. Now we’ll go over the various ways you could go with this build from levels 6-20.


Option 1:

First, the simplest way and probably the way I would go in a long term campaign is just to continue on with sorcerer all the way to level 20. Every version of the build will take some more sorcerer levels but this way you’ll eventually get 9th level spells and your sorcerer subclass capstone ability. Going this way is probably the weakest in terms of nova damage but is probably the most well rounded and versatile version of the build.


Option 2:

Another way you could consider going is taking two levels of fighter to get Action Surge. This would let you cast 3 spells in a turn that all make attacks greatly increasing your nova potential. You could quicken Scorching Ray as your bonus action and cast Eldritch Blast twice with your actions or you could use something like Hexblade’s Curse or Spirit Shroud as your bonus action and then do either cast Scorching Ray twice or Eldritch Blast twice as your action. Just remember if you cast a leveled spell with your bonus action your actions will have to be Eldritch Blasts since your locked into cantrips. You’ll definitely want to take two levels of fighter if you’re prioritizing nova damage.


Option 3:

The next one you could consider is 3 levels of Assassin Rogue. The main reason you would want to do this is the Assassinate feature. This will give us advantage on all of our attacks on our first turn if we go before our enemy. Also, if we surprise the enemy all of our attacks our automatic critical hits. If you go this way you’ll definitely want to take stealth proficiency but either way this will boost our nova damage a ton. 3 levels is a big investment and you’ll be sacrificing a lot of spellcasting potential but if your main focus is nova damage this is a good option.


Option 4:

The last option I wanted to mention was 7 levels of Oath of the Watchers Paladin. This is almost a completely different build if you’re taking 7 levels of another class but if you really want to make sure you win initiative every time this can be a very good option thanks to the Aura of the Sentinel feature that boosts the initiative of you and everyone in 10 feet of you by your proficiency bonus. With this and Aura of Protection the rest of your party will definitely appreciate you if you go this way


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