Tomes of spells lay before you. Countless choices and variations are possible, and it’s daunting to figure out which are the best choices. What do some of these spells even do?
We’re here to give you some quick insight to what we think are ideal spells to choose. These are based on our experiences and will definitely vary from game to game, so we’re going to assume that you’re playing in the traditional D&D high fantasy setting with a mix of role play and combat.
Fire Bolt / Frost Bite – The essential attack spells. Fire bolt relies on your spell attack ability whereas frostbite relies on the enemy failing a saving throw against you.
Minor Illusion – Basic illusory spell which can offer all sorts of creative uses. See Clever Cantrip Uses: Minor Illusion.
Prestidigitation – Multi-purpose utility spell that resembles street magic. This spell can add all sorts of flavor and role-play: See Clever Cantrip Uses: Prestidigitation.
Shape Water/Mold Earth/Control Flames/Gust – Four cantrips to control the elements, some more useful than others depending on your campaign or character goal.
Burning Hands – Shooting flames in a 15ft cone, this spell can affect a large area of targets, doing 3d6 fire damage to them all if they fail a dexterity save.
Chromatic Orb / Chaos Bolt – Both of these focus on an elemental attack. Chromatic orb creates an orb with an element of your choice, which is used to make a ranged attack dealing 3d8 damage. If you like things to be a bit unpredictable, make a ranged attack with the Chaos Bolt and deal 2d8 of a type of damage from the spells tables. If you roll two 8s, your bolt hits another target!
Shield – One of the few reaction spells, the sorcerer can add +5 to AC until their turn comes around, and you can trigger this upon being attacked.
Mage Armor – Having limited choices for armor, spellcasters often rely on mage armor as a go-to necessity for protection. It will last for 8 hours and give you an AC of 13 + your dexterity modifier.
Invisibility – Suddenly vanishing, invisibility has a lot of practical uses and lasts up to an hour.
Misty Step – Disappear and reappear up to 30ft away. What makes this a top choice is that it’s one of the few bonus action spells, allowing for a lot of creative uses and positioning for other actions.
Hold Person – Concentrate on a target and magically paralyze them for up to a minute. The target continues to save only on their turn, so you can still attack them!
Mirror Image – Create 3 illusory duplicates of yourself which can take attacks in your place. Considering this spell is not concentration and the duplicates last until destroyed, this is a very useful protection spell.
Scorching Ray – Create three rays of fire which you can direct at three targets, or all at one, doing 2d6 fire damage each. Level 2 does not offer the best choices for damage spells, but if you have to pick one, the versatility of attack choices from this are a great pick.
Counterspell / Dispel Magic – These game changing spells can stop or remove significant magic. Counterspell allows you to react to someone else’s casting and attempt to stop it (immediately stopping any of level 3 or under, otherwise a spell check is needed). Similarly, dispel magic can stop any spell on a creature, object, or magical effect. The difference between the two being that counterspell is better for combat focus while dispel has more application outside of combat.
Fireball / Lightning Bolt – The famous fireball spell does a massive 8d6 fire damage to a 20ft radius, whereas lightning bolt does 8d6 lightning damage to a 100ft long line. These a very similar spells and you may prefer one over the other because of the element or the shape of the attack (circular vs linear)
Haste – Induce an adrenaline rush which grants a +2 AC, advantage to dexterity saving throws, and an additional action which can be used for a weapon attack, dash, disengage, hide, or use an object. This is a top pick for a concentration spell and has many applications with the metamagic (eg. twin haste spell!)
Polymorph – Transform yourself or a target into a creature whose challenge rating is equal to their level. A utility concentration spell, this one will make your fellow druid frustrated as you can also turn into animals when needed, and you could also turn your enemies into a chicken!
Dimension Door – Teleport yourself and one willing creature to a location within a 500ft range. While not as incredible as teleport, this spell does allow you to go anywhere within 500ft range, emphasizing that it doesn’t have to be within line of sight. Locked doors are no problem.
Banishment – Temporarily send another creature into another plane of existence for 1 minute. One of the most argued over spells that some do not even allow because of the debates. Effectively removing anyone for a while, it also permanently moves creatures who are home to another plane of existence.
Cone of Cold – Send a blizzard barrage in a 60 ft cone doing 8d8 cold damage to those that fail constitution saving throws. Anyone who falls to 0 hp is frozen solid.
Animate Objects – You choose up to 10 non magical objects to suddenly come to life. This is effectively summoning various allies to help you attack, whose stats will vary depending on the objects you choose. Just be sure you know what they are and what they roll before the game, because as useful and amazing as this spell is, it can also be very time consuming to roll so much!
Telekinesis – Concentrate on a creature or object which can weight up to 1000 lbs and – for 1 minute – you can move them around 30ft/action. Creatures must make strength saving throws. Many creative uses for being able to move or attack!
Chain Lightning – Create a bolt of lightning that, when it hits the first target, arcs out to hit another three within 30ft. Doing 10d8 lightning damage if the targets fail their dexterity saving throws, this spell can end encounters by itself.
Disintegrate – Shoot a thin grey line towards a creature, object, or magical force. On hitting the target, this deals a massive 40 + 10d6 force damage and completely disintegrates the target if it goes to 0 hp. If this targets a large object, it will disintegrate a 10ft cube of it!
Investiture of Flame/Ice/Stone/Wind – Become the embodiment of an element and – so long as you maintain concentration – you’ll have access to a magical attack, an area of affect, varying movement abilities, and resistance to the element.
Teleport – Instantly transport yourself and up to eight willing creatures to another location of your choice. The accuracy of your transportation relies on your familiarity with the location; you roll 1d100 to determine the accuracy of your spell, where failures can result in being slightly off target to as dangerous as taking 3d10 force damage from teleporting into objects.
Plane Shift – Similar to teleport except you and eight creatures can transport to another plane of existence. This spell can also be used as a melee attack on a target, where they must succeed a charisma saving throw or be shifted to the other plane (note that there is no duration – they must find their own way back).
Reverse Gravity – Reverse gravity in a 50 foot radius, 100 ft high cylinder. Creatures must make a dexterity saving throw or fall in the inverted direction. It is important to note here that falling damage is often 1d6/10ft of fall, to a maximum of 20d6 bludgeoning damage.
Dominate Monster – Induce a wisdom saving throw on the target, or you can control them for up to an hour. Any damage done to them allows them to roll the save again. Otherwise, their actions are determined by you and has no other chance to roll a save.
Power Word Stun – Target a creature within 150ft and, if they have less than 150 hit points, they are immediately stunned. There is no save. From now on, they make a constitution saving throw for their turn or continue to be stunned. Emphasize the fact that damage does not grant a saving throw and this spell can easily mark a target for death.
Wish – While any level 9 spell is a good choice, the wish spell can arguably be any spell. No one will argue against this being the strongest spell in the game; it’s more likely an argument that it be allowed in the game. In the hands of a PC, this spell will most likely translate to allowing you to cast any other spell, but the DM may allow all sorts of wishes.