Wild Magic in D&D 5e: How to Make Your Game More Interesting

how to use wild magic in D&D

Wild magic in D&D 5e is often underutilized and is at best an afterthought. Wild Magic Sorcerers can spice things up a bit, but even then there is only a 5% chance for a wild magic surge to happen. Instead of fearing wild magic, why not use it to make your game even better?

Wild magic in D&D 5e can be extremely entertaining and provide new scenarios that no one expects. Most of the time these scenarios benefit the players, or at least make things more interesting. Making wild magic surges more common in your game, or putting your players into an area of wild magic, can create an amazing amount of fun for everyone involved.

We will go over why people fear wild magic, how to minimize damage, and how to implement wild magic into your game to enhance what you already have.

How to Use Wild Magic to Make Your Game More Interesting

When players get into combat they know what to expect. Try to get the fighter/frontliner to tank, with the rest of the party maneuvering around and hitting the enemies till they fall. There are many ways to shake up this formula and we even go over a few ways in our article about making combat more engaging. Wild magic in D&D 5e is another way to add an interesting variable to the fight.

Wild magic can add just about anything that the players (and even the DM) aren’t prepared for. This causes everyone to take a step back and figure out the implications of these new events. Colors sprouting from a person’s head might seem like an insignificant effect, but players can be creative and use this to their advantage. They might make those colors obscure the target’s vision for ranged attacks, giving them half cover. Perhaps a wild magic effect of extra grass is so luscious that the area is now difficult terrain.

Almost anything can be done with wild magic to create an unusual effect. The DM can turn the wild magic into an interesting event. These changes will keep your players on their toes and give a memorable combat experience.

This applies to negative effects as well. If a negative effect doesn’t outright kill a player, it certainly still makes combat more interesting. Now everyone has to deal with being confused or being vulnerable to a specific damage type. Your players have a new variable that is added into the fight that they must focus on. It changes the fight and makes it more memorable. Even better, the DM can’t be blamed for all the chaos since it is all based on the wild magic table!

This is why I would recommend making wild magic occur a little more often. Personally, I have had a campaign with a Sorcerer reaching level 9 and not triggering wild magic even once. It was lackluster, so I came up with a few ideas. I could increase the wild magic chance by making wild magic occur if the sorcerer rolled a 1, 2, or 3. Instead, I just forced some wild magic events to occur naturally since this Sorcerer was bottling up their wild magic for months on end. Using this for the purposes of the story made things interesting, and was a lot of fun our game!

Low Risk, High Reward

The biggest problem with wild magic in D&D 5e is that everyone is afraid of it. The magic is wild, and is completely unpredictable! What would happen if a player cast a Fireball at their feet when the whole party is around them? What if another player turned into a plant? These concerns keep people from using wild magic, but you don’t need to fear it.

There is a magic item that brought about this fear of the unpredictable. This item is known as the Deck Of Many Things. The deck is a campaign killer and looks a lot like wild magic on the surface. DMs don’t use this deck because they don’t want their campaign to end, and the same fear is attributed to wild magic surges. This is why some games have wild magic sorcerers not trigger a wild magic surge even if they have reached level 9.

The problems with wild magic are far less likely to occur than the problems with the Deck of Many Things. Take the Fireball issue, for example. If a player is going to create a fireball centered on themselves, this is what the math looks like:

  1. There is a 5% chance to trigger a wild magic effect. There are ways to increase this, but 5% is your base chance.
  2. After you trigger a wild magic effect, you need to trigger the fireball spell. There is only a 2% of this happening on the wild magic table.
  3. This creates the formula: .05 x .02 = .001. Expect one out of every thousand non-cantrip spells to result in a fireball at your center.

As you can see, the odds of this happening are incredibly low, so you don’t need to fear using a wild magic table.

Now that we have established how low-risk wild magic is, we need to establish the potential reward of wild magic. The benefits are numerous, but they are broken down into these categories:

  • They change up the pace of battle.
  • A new enviornmental mechanic can cause enjoyment.
  • Gaining a new unforseen benefit is always a boon to gameplay.

These high rewards will be the focus of our discussion, but if you still want to minimize risk we will have a section further on discussing how to make nothing horrible happen to your players. Or at least, not completely destroy your campaign.

Mitigating Risk Even Further

Wild magic n D&D 5e is awesome! It creates unusual situations that no one was prepared for, and can make almost any fight memorable. The new elements can shake up combat, and even if you have negative effects they still make things interesting. With that said, what about the incredibly low chance for a TPK to be caused by a wild magic effect? Luckily, you have a few options to mitigate this risk.

Your first option is to customize and modify the wild magic table. You can do this by just re-rolling the dice when it lands on a deadly wild magic effect. However, many DMs do not like re-rolling effects. Instead, you can pre-emptively change the effects on the wild magic table. Make sure the effects are true to in their original categories of negative, neutral, or positive for the player, but modify them to be less punishing or more interesting.

The second option is to make your own wild magic table. If you are doing the preemptive method of changing the wild magic table before the player rolls on it, you are already doing this to a minor extent. The problem is creating a brand new wild magic table. Will it be balanced? Are the effects diverse enough? More importantly, how much time will it take? This is why I don’t recommend this second option. I have made a wild magic table and it is definitely a lot of work.

This brings us to the third option. Find a different wild magic table. The wild magic table I created has six different tiers of effects to bring your game to life. It adjusts based on Sorcerer level and includes a diverse array of scenarios. There are other wild magic tables out there on the internet, but I enjoy using this one because of the sheer number of options it gives.


Wild magic in D&D 5e is an awesome option to shake up combat. It provides interesting scenarios even if you roll a negative effect. The chance of that negative effect killing you or your party outright is extremely low, but if you are still trepidations, there are ways to mitigate risk even further.

Once you are comfortable with your wild magic table, use it. And don’t just use the effects as written, but try to make them even more interesting. Give tall grass a purpose, or be open to your players trying to use wild magic to their advantage. This just means that they are invested players, and are getting even better at thinking creatively.

I hope that wild magic seems a bit less scary now.

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