D&D 5e: School of Enchantment Wizard Guide
Role in the Party
The School of Enchantment is one of the most underrated subclasses for wizard, and it’s one of the more powerful ones as well. Your features will help you beguile and obliterate your foes, and they bring powerful mechanical strategies with them.
You can expect to do normal wizard spellcasting, but with a greater number of enchantment spells thrown into the mix; you’ll even pick some unusual spells that you might not normally pick on any other wizard, and depending on your playstyle, you might run into melee almost as often as the fighter to deliver your powerful Hypnotic Gaze.
School of Enchantment Features
Beginning when you select this school at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy an Enchantment spell into your spellbook is halved.
Standard ribbon feature for spell school-based wizards. Not powerful, but not load-bearing either.
Starting at 2nd level when you choose this school, your soft words and enchanting gaze can magically enthrall another creature. As an action, choose one creature that you can see within 5 feet of you. If the target can see or hear you, it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your wizard spell save DC or be charmed by you until the end of your next turn. The charmed creature’s speed drops to 0, and the creature is incapacitated and visibly dazed.
On subsequent turns, you can use your action to maintain this effect, extending its duration until the end of your next turn. However, the effect ends if you move more than 5 feet away from the creature, if the creature can neither see nor hear you, or if the creature takes damage.
Once the effect ends, or if the creature succeeds on its initial saving throw against this effect, you can’t use this feature on that creature again until you finish a long rest.
This single feature dramatically alters how you want to play your character in combat, especially at low levels. Normally, if you see two big ogres as a low level wizard you will want to run away: but the Enchantment Wizard, if they can accept the consequences of the ogre passing their save, might want to run towards one of the ogres to try to hit it with a wisdom save effect that doesn’t require concentration and which will make it useless for as long as the wizard wants while the party takes out the second ogre.
This is vastly better than a cantrip, and it doesn’t have limited uses like spells or some similar features. It’s ambiguously written, but it seems that the conditions in the second paragraph for ending it early only apply if you use your action to extend the effect: this means that you can use your action to charm someone, and then run away, and then the fighter hits them, and the enemy is still charmed until the end of your next turn. Talk to your dungeon master about this though, because there is ambiguity that needs to be ruled on.
It’s also useful out of combat: I once used this feature to hold an NPC in place while my party members searched them and their house, and we learned a ton from our search.
Do not use this feature if you’re not confident you can survive being in melee with an enemy. They may succeed on their saving throw and then kill you. Still, it’s an absolutely amazing feature.
Beginning at 6th level, when a creature you can see within 30 feet of you makes an attack roll against you, you can use your reaction to divert the attack, provided that another creature is within the attack’s range. The attacker must make a Wisdom saving throw against your wizard spell save DC. On a failed save, the attacker must target the creature that is closest to it, not including you or itself. If multiple creatures are closest, the attacker chooses which one to target.
On a successful save, you can’t use this feature on the attacker again until you finish a long rest.
You must choose to use this feature before knowing whether the attack hits or misses. Creatures that can’t be charmed are immune to this effect.
When an enemy is about to attack you, you can use your reaction to make them possibly target their ally instead. Excellent!
You need favorable enemy positioning to make it work, and it’s possible that they’ll succeed on their save, and this only works on one attack, unlike Shield, which this is mutually exclusive with since they both use a reaction. Still, there are solid opportunities out there to use this ability, it’s infinite use and only limited to once per enemy, and it’s especially useful on you since you’ll be going into melee range of enemies to use your level 2 feature.
Starting at 10th level, when you cast an enchantment spell of 1st level or higher that targets only one creature, you can have it target a second creature.
I don’t think Hold Monster is usually worth a 5th level spell slot since there’s a large risk of it not working, in which case we just used a high-level slot and an action to do nothing and we’re in trouble. But if you get a free twinned metamagic on it… sure, why not? Might as well take it on this wizard. Same with Otto’s Irresistible Dance and Dominate Monster. We’re targeting two creatures, so it’s bound to work on at least one of them. And your solid spells like Suggestion and Tasha’s Hideous Laughter and Tasha’s Mind Whip will become twice as powerful. Great feature!
At 14th level, you gain the ability to make a creature unaware of your magical influence on it. When you cast an enchantment spell to charm one or more creatures, you can alter one creature’s understanding so that it remains unaware of being charmed.
Additionally, once before the spell expires, you can use your action to try to make the chosen creature forget some of the time it spent charmed. The creature must succeed on an Intelligence saving throw against your wizard spell save DC or lose a number of hours of its memories equal to 1 + your Charisma modifier (minimum 1). You can make the creature forget less time, and the amount of time can’t exceed the duration of your enchantment spell.
This out of combat utility feature is somewhat underwhelming since it gives the target an intelligence saving throw to resist the effects, and the people who you want to use this on are usually intelligent humanoids. However, the worst part is that the spell Modify Memory already exists, you probably already took that spell if you’re in a campaign where it’s useful, and it erases and alters memories far more effectively. Still, Modify Memory is a high-level spell, and a weaker free version does have its uses.
Starting at level 2, you have a powerful combat option that doesn’t cost spell slots or deal underwhelming cantrip damage. When other wizards run out of slots, they’re stuck with a 1d10 Fire Bolt; you have the ability to incapacitate most creatures. At higher levels, your enchantment spells gain free bonuses, and you might make enemies attack each other.
You have a 1d6 hit die and no armor proficiency. Although it is extremely fun to take big risks and run into melee as a wizard, a poorly planned attempt to use Hypnotic Gaze can result in your outright death. Your Shield spell and your level 6 reaction may not be enough to save you. Additionally, if you try to use enchantment magic on someone who’s much more powerful than you, they might get angry and utterly annihilate you. A lot of powerful non-humanoid creatures are also immune to the charmed condition, so don’t use Hypnotic Gaze on Tiamat.
Best Race Options
The Volo’s Guide to Monsters Yuan-Ti Pureblood is a solid choice due to their mechanical strength highly engaging lore. Yuan-Ti Purebloods appear human, but they’re secretly members of the Yuan-Ti race of snake people. Purebloods are the most human-like individuals and are used for espionage and to carry out evil conspiracies, often with the use of enchantment magic. There are a thousand things you can do with a character that’s a genuine Yuan-Ti spy; be evil and plot the downfall of human society or go native and embrace human culture and rebel against your former Yuan-Ti masters. Either way, the Volo’s version is the most powerful form of the race since they have advantage on saves against magic and poison immunity. The Monsters of the Multiverse version is weaker but still a decent pick.
The Monsters of the Multiverse Earth Genasi is exceptionally synergistic with the tools you have as an enchantment wizard. Pass Without Trace is stellar for anyone that wants to get up to shady business, and you want to get up to shady business as an Enchantment Wizard. Also, the bonus action Blade Ward can give you a powerful layer of protection in case you fail your Hypnotic Gaze attempt, and you can use it after knowing the enemy passed their save.
The Fairy race makes thematic sense; fairies are well known for spooky enchantment magic in both D&D and other media. Also, flight helps you stay out of danger if your Hypnotic Gaze attempt fails.
Choosing the Right Skills
Your skills will be radically different from other wizards, and you will be straining to take all the proficiencies you want, since you want social skills in addition to the usual skills.
Arcana proficiency is almost mandatory for any wizard; people expect you to have it, and it’s useful. Perception is another almost mandatory proficiency; it’s good on any character.
You may not want either Athletics or Acrobatics since you have teleportation spells and can use Hypnotic Gaze to escape grapples. Physical activity still comes up, so you can specialize in Acrobatics or avoid a negative Athletics bonus.
Unlike the other wizards who spend all their time alone reading, you might want to be a much more social form of wizard: Persuasion and Deception will both be important skills for you. You have enchantment magic, but you can’t use that all the time, and you also need these skills to get out of trouble if people catch you using enchantment magic. Intimidation may also be useful if you need to keep someone quiet, but it should be your second to last resort (your last resort being combat). Insight is useful for any character who plans on getting into a lot of social situations: even an NPC affected by Charm Person might lie, since they might have secrets that they don’t want even their closest friends to know.
Your high intelligence makes you suited for a lot of History, Nature, and Religion, as well as Investigation, but you probably won’t be able to take all of them, and you might not want some of these skills in some campaigns. Nature is probably useless in a one-shot that takes place on a space station.
If you want to use enchantment magic in secret, you need Metamagic Adept as soon as possible. This gives you two sorcery points for Subtle Spell metamagic (which removes verbal and somatic components of spells, making it almost undetectable and unable to be counterspelled) and one other metamagic of your choice: Your best options are Twinned Spell (even though there’s some redundancy after level 10, you can use it on non-enchantment spells too), Quickened Spell (For fireballing the same round as you use a Hypnotic Gaze), Careful Spell (For protecting allies from your Hypnotic Pattern or other effect), and Extended Spell (For squeezing extra time out of effects like Charm Person or Fly or even high level spells like Foresight and Shapechange). You could take something else instead of Subtle Spell, but why would you?
The Lucky feat will help you avoid failing an important concentration saving throw and can serve as a good substitute for Resilient (Constitution) and War Caster, but Lucky will also help you succeed on important social ability checks. You do not want to fail the deception check to convince the king and his 89 guards that you were just using Prestidigitation and not Charm Person.
Telepathic is a half feat that lets you boost your intelligence, and it also comes with a free use of Detect Thoughts and free one-way telepathy. Use it to communicate with allies during a social situation where they need to know things that you can’t say in front of the NPCs.
Charlatan is an excellent background for anyone dabbling in using enchantment magic for personal gain. The False Identity feature is especially useful for avoiding the consequences of failing to land an enchantment spell against an important person; you can simply run away and switch identities.
The Courtier background gives you the tools and knowledge you need to maneuver around and manipulate noble courts, governments, and powerful organizations. Excellent in any social campaign.
The most mechanically powerful background for you is Silverquill Student. You gain two cantrips that no other wizard can take without multiclassing, and you can use Intelligence for Vicious Mockery and Sacred Flame. You also add several useful and thematic spells to your spell list, like Compulsion and Calm Emotions, and you can take a free 1st level spell from either the bard or cleric spell list that comes with a free use.
You will be going into melee range, so you want armor proficiencies. One level of Cleric will give you proficiency in most or all armor, turning your biggest weakness into a powerful strength. Peace Cleric is the strongest mechanical option, but Arcana makes more sense for a wizard.
A level of Rogue gives you Expertise and light armor proficiency, and two gives you the useful Cunning Action. Follow this dip up with the Moderately Armored feat for a great armor class.
If your first level is in Artificer, you can gain medium armor and shield proficiency, some non-wizard spells that work with intelligence, a few other minor features, and then multiclass into Wizard. Unlike Ranger and Paladin, you maintain full caster spell slot progression from a one level dip.
Would I recommend playing an Enchantment Wizard?
I played an Enchantment Wizard once; they were a lawful evil pacifist character who was just doing it to gain favor with a particular peace goddess. Despite having no damaging spells, they played mostly like a normal wizard since Hypnotic Gaze was just so useful. If you want to make a pacifist character, this is one of the best options. If you want to make a non-pacifist character, this is still one of your best options since you can always murder people if you can’t hypnotize them. You will be a valuable contribution to any party, even one that already has another wizard.