Gaming My Way

30 Nov

Best Dungeons and Dragons Spells Ever

This is all about the best D&D 3.5 spells ever. A few quick ground rules. First, I’m only using spells from the SRD. In fact, I’m using The Hypertext d20 SRD to be specific. If it’s not in there, you won’t see it here. Also, no epic magic. Epic magic can do anything assuming you can get your spellcraft high enough. I’ll be picking one spell from each spell level. That’s ten amazing spells total. If your favorite isn’t on the list, don’t sweat it, it could still very well be an awesome spell… unless it’s evocation or has a HD cap anyway. Then we might have to get into specifics. Finally, I’m not going for min-maxing on this one… I’m going for fun, possibilities for creative use, or the simple justification of I like using it a lot.

0th Level – Create Water
This one barely beats out Prestidigitation, another awesome spell, and certainly more versatile. However, create water also has its uses. For instance, free water in the desert, which is not only vital to survival, it’s also a great business once the local oasis dries up. It can also make difficult terrain if your DM is feeling generous and you’re on some form of dirt; this won’t work on rock unless it’s also cold enough for the water to freeze in the time you need it to. Finally, you can use it to pin point invisible foes if you’re high enough level. Just drop 10 gallons of water spread out in as thin a sheet as the rules allow on the battlefield, and watch for where the water breaks on it’s way to the ground. My personal favorite use when I’m playing the game with an unsuspecting DM.

1st Level – Detect Evil
The plot destroyer. Put this one up, start concentrating, and as soon as something suspicious happens, you know who to look for in order to get your answers. Seriously, when there are only two evil people in town, and someone has just gone missing, it’s not too hard to figure out who did it. Admittedly, this only works in areas where most people are good or neutral, and you aren’t dealing with complex plots in which good people are also villains sometimes. However, in many D&D games, this will tell you exactly who’s behind it, and what you should do about it. Here’s a hint: if it’s evil, you should kill it if you want to be hero, and team up with it if you want to take over the world. If you go the route of taking over the world, consider using detect good in place of detect evil.

2nd Level – Mirror Image
There are no words to describe how awesome this spell is. Well, okay, there are, it’s just going to take some effort. You get a bunch of illusory duplicates of yourself, all acting exactly like you, for the purpose of misdirecting enemy attacks. You always get at least two images, on a poor roll at low levels, and can have as many as eight on a good roll and at high levels. This translates into a miss chance of 66% at worst and 88% at best. Way better than the tepid stuff greater invisibility can do for you in terms of miss chance (though it has other uses that are quite nice). Of course, every time an opponent misses you due to the spell, the miss chance lowers a bit as that image is destroyed, but even with only one image left, it’s still just as good as full concealment at 50%. Not to mention, imagine how cool it looks to have five of you on the battlefield at once, even if only one is real.

3rd Level – Glibness
Like to lie? Then you’ll love +30 to bluff whenever you try to convince someone you’re telling the truth. You’ll also love that even if a spell compels you to tell the truth, or would reveal that you’re lying, there’s a chance the spell trying to expose your mischevous ways could fail to work on you.

Now, +30 to bluff will put you about on par with a low epic level rogue who maxes bluff. Assuming you don’t even have any training in bluff. If you do, you’ll find yourself convincing people of extrordinary things, and they’ll believe everything you tell them, hook, line, and sinker. Think of all the cons you could pull. One thing is certain: with this much persuasive power, you’ll be living the good life in no time flat.

4th Level – Polymorph
So many options. So much power. So many creative uses. So many ways to completely abuse this spell. Sure, you don’t get the supernatural and magical power of whatever you turn into. You do still get its extraordinary abilities. You can also still squeeze through small spaces, fly, and lay the beatdown on those lesser creatures who can’t turn into mean, lean, wrecking machines. Besides which, spying is a breeze as no one will ever suspect the bird eating from the bird feeder as listening in on an important conversation. Unless they brought along a wizard or a cleric anyway. And this is just scratching the surface.

5th Level – Control Winds
This was a tough pick, as 5th level has a lot of awesome spells, including awaken and nightmare. However, control winds wins out simply due to its raw power. You can cause the wind to go from calm to tornado force in six seconds flat assuming a high enough caster level. You can control the way the wind blows in a number of ways as well. My personal favorite is to have a calm spot where my allies and I are standing, then have it blow away from us in all directions, causing all enemies to go flying away from us. It’s quite fun. Very useful when there’s a convenient cliff or pool of lava nearby, I must say. Also great for wrecking structures, and even known to knock powerful dragons out of the sky for easier pickings.

6th Level – Irresistable Dance
This is the ultimate lesson in humiliation. The spell allows no save, and the hapless fool struck by it can do nothing but dance with gusto while the spell lasts. It makes the victim unable to effectively defend himself, and also look like a fool in the process. Quite possibly the ultimate save or lose spell. Certainly reason enough all on its own to invest in mind blank or similar effects.

7th Level – Reverse Gravity
Exactly like you’d expect from the name, everything falls up. Without something to hold onto, or the ability to fly, you’ll find yourself crashing into the ceiling or floating in the air unable to move. And it will be hilarious to watch for those lucky enough to be unaffected. It’s equally fun when the spell wears off and everyone falls back to the ground, only to have the cheeky wizard cast the spell again.

8th Level – Binding
If you don’t know what this spell does, read the entire entry. It’s that good. Ever wanted to trap a creature in a jar? Perhaps imprison it in a gemstone or a labrynth? Condemn it to eternal slumber? This is the spell for you then. Not only can it do these awesome things, among others, but you can even have assistants to help you make the spell more powerful so it can last longer or possibly deny the target creature a saving throw. No save imprisonment sounds like a win-win. Not only is this spell effective, it also has some of the best flavor of the spells in D&D.

9th Level – Astral Projection
This one barely beats out shapechange and time stop. Travel the planes, and if you happen to die in your travels, then you get to return to your body rather than actually dying. This allows for lots of exploration and risk taking, and a lot of fun. When you can’t die, you can do lots of things you wouldn’t ordinarily try after all. Just make sure your physical body is well-protected. Perhaps if you’re the paranoid type you should put up a wall of stone and prismatic sphere in a well-hidden location before projecting. Either way, it’s one of the ultimate exploration spells, and you should have no trouble finding new things to do, or surviving doing those things. You just might have to try them a few times to be successful. Not a problem when you can just keep going back for more though.


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35 Responses to “Best Dungeons and Dragons Spells Ever”

  1. 1
    Yokihani Says:

    Actually, the 3.0 version of Alter Self was probably the most (ab)useful spell EVER. Who needs polymorph???

  2. 2
    kyote_ael Says:

    My fave was 2nd ed weighty chest – nothing i liked better than casting that on a warriors helmet, my dm would not let me cast it on arrows though :(

  3. 3
    Hey, mago? Stai ancora pensando a quali possono essere i migliori incantesimi? « The ClearValley Dungeon Says:

    [...] http://gamingmyway.com/2008/11/30/best-dungeons-and-dragons-spells-ever/ [...]

  4. 4
    Silvast Says:

    Great list you got there! I’m definitely bookmarking your site.

    I’d love to play D&D once again (I haven’t played in what? Six years!?) but it’s so hard to find people these days…

  5. 5
    Eclipse Says:

    Yokihani – You’re absolutely right that alter self is crazy abusable in 3.x. I did say that I was limiting myself to the SRD though, which is actually why I didn’t choose this spell for the 2nd level spot. While it’s still an amazing spell, a lot of the abuses available to alter self come into play once you leave the core rulebooks/SRD. I still almost chose it anyway though, as it is a lot of fun. Definitely would have been my pick this level if not for mirror image.

    kyote_ael – I can’t say I remember that one. I was much more of a put up defenses on myself then blast away kind of mage in 2nd edition, which I didn’t have a chance to play for very long. Sounds like it could cause lots of problems for anyone who uses gear though… and therefore be lots of fun to use.

    Silvast – Glad you enjoyed it! Do you have any gaming shops in the area? A lot of times you can find people there who will want to play. Either way, good luck getting another group together, it’s definitely worth it once the campaign is rolling.

  6. 6
    william Says:

    tensers floating disk+flamables+flaming sphere or burning hands=slightly lower level fireball.

  7. 7
    bora Says:

    “Here’s a hint: if it’s evil, you should kill it if you want to be hero”

    Only GMs who are as stupid as this will make cities be populated by good/neutral people…most evil in the world is actually done by good/neutral people. Check the area of effect and range on that spell, btw.

  8. 8
    bora Says:

    “Not to mention, imagine how cool it looks to have five of you on the battlefield at once, even if only one is real.”

    Mirror Image can’t really be used in combat. If you want to demonstrate how asinine it is, imagine a row of 4 images facing the same way, 3 of which are fighting thin air.

    These are not dopplegangers

  9. 9
    bora Says:

    “Besides which, spying is a breeze as no one will ever suspect the bird eating from the bird feeder as listening in on an important conversation”

    They might if it’s a polymorphed character who doesn’t know the behaviour of the bird all too well, and thus acts strangely/unpredictably for such a creature.

  10. 10
    Eclipse Says:

    William – That is quite fun. I usually don’t bother with the floating disk though, seems like an unnecessary step. For added meanness, make sure there’s jars of alchemists fire mixed in with the explosives… the jar part is important, since you want the explosives to stay put until hit with your favorite flamey spell.

    Bora – You’re right that most good GMs don’t make plots this simple. However, using detect evil with GMs who do is just way too much fun until they realize they need to add some complexity to what’s going on.

    As for mirror image, if you read the spell description, you will see that combat is exactly what this spell was made for. You’re supposed to use it in order to make sure your enemies don’t know who to target, and that’s exactly what it does.

    For polymorph, I didn’t think to take that into account, but you’re right, there are a few other ways to notice. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a small group of people who will notice the difference though.

    Also, it’s quite all right to leave one long comment instead of multiple short ones if you want to talk about multiple items from the post. Not saying you have to, just seems like it might be easier and leave less clutter.

  11. 11
    ikkonoishi Says:

    Another possible use for binding could be to make some really good leader figure effectively immortal. They are still aware and can talk so they could still provide good advice and instructions for their underlings.

  12. 12
    Krodar Says:

    Another use for Create Water.

    Another hero being swarmed by creatures, don’t want to risk firing into melee; then fear not just wash them right out. Cast the spell over their head, making sure to specify that it is a small area effect to give maximum force to the water.

    Had this one when a party member was being swarmed by a leech creature, there was options of flamestrike, fireball, etc. That would mean hitting our hero, so I decided to use Create Water to drown them instead.

  13. 13
    Eclipse Says:

    Hey Krodar,

    Very cool use, but I don’t think you can hold the water in place like that or control where it flows once it has been conjured. Either way, it worked for your game though, so that’s what counts for the session, and I imagine it was still lots of fun.

  14. 14
    Anonymous Says:

    For level 0 wouldn’t prestidigitation be better, because you can use that to make water, too.

  15. 15
    Eclipse Says:

    Nope, prestidigitation wouldn’t be better for the reason you state, though you could make some pretty good arguments in other areas for it being the better spell. However, prestidigitation causes minor effects. Dumping 2 gallons of water per level on the battlefield (or appropriately sized containers) is not a minor effect. Plus, prestidigitation’s spell description specifically states that “a prestidigitation lacks the power to duplicate any other spell effects.”

  16. 16
    The Mad Linguist Says:

    Lesser Planar Binding is so much better than control winds. Use it to bind a Nightmare. Nightmares have Astral Projection *at will*. Plus, kill it and bring it back as a skeleton so you can ride around on a burning flying skeletal horse.

    This is only one of the myriad ways you can abuse the spell.

  17. 17
    Aevum Says:

    I agree with the all the other spells but wouldn’t Wish be a much better choice then astral projection? its one of the most versatile spells in dungeons and dragons and thats what i always try to go for so as to cut down on your weaknesses

  18. 18
    Eclipse Says:

    Mad Linguist, definitely a cool use of Lesser Planar Binding there. While the spell definitely could have been a candidate, I wasn’t basing this solely on how abusable and versatile a spell is, but also simply on the fun I have using particular spells. The truth is, while Lesser Planar Binding is fun to use, the xp hit means it’s not something to use often, and when you do use it, it always needs to count.

    Aevum, it’s very true that Wish (alongside Miracle) is the most versatile spell in the game. However, if I were going to choose a spell simply for versatility, I’d choose Miracle instead of Wish. The reason is simple: the way the xp cost is written for each. Wish always has an xp cost of at least 5000. Miracle only has an xp cost if the spell mimicked has an xp cost or for one of the bigger effects. Makes it much easier to use without feeling like you’re losing a bunch of progress.

    In any case, I chose Astral Projection for the unique fun provided by it’s effect, something you can’t get from Wish. Wishes, by and large, have effects you can get elsewhere, it’s just that with a Wish you can get said effect more easily, but also at a higher price.

  19. 19
    Darkhart Says:

    Charm person should be a side one to this. So much can be done with this spell its not funny. One game I remember that I used it.
    I was a rogue with 2nd lvl spell caster. Multiclass is fun. I was taken into a room by the town guards and sat with the captain in this room. During a listen check I heard I was to be killed. I asked the captain for a glass of water and when I went to take it I laid my finger on his finger and casted charm person. When the guard came into kill me the captain killed him for me. I then hid and walked out of the town. Only to return and assassinate everyone there.

  20. 20
    Anon Says:

    I have but one thing to contradict the choice for ninth level spell… The GITH! Keep far away… for their mighty silver swords will make you quite impotent.

  21. 21
    excellentspellor Says:

    Rope Trick: use shrink item to shrink a bunch of boulders and stuff them in the pocket dimension 30′ above the entrance to a monster’s lair. Lure the monster to the entrance, then dismiss the rope trick = instant avalanche. Or, put several vipers in the rope trick, and leave the rope dangling for a guard to investigate.

    I love using Web with Summon Swarm (spiders). The spiders can move freely, and do Strength damage, making it harder for the web victims to escape.

    Shrink Item can be pretty nasty if you have time to prepare. Get a spiked shield, cast shrink item to make it the size of a sesame seed. Pretidigitation to make it the same color and taste as a seed. Use unseen servant to put the ‘seed’ on the target’s bread. After the bread has been eaten, speak the command word to bring the spiked shield back to its original size. For added flair, use the unseen servant to deliver a strip of paper with the command words “open sesame.” The target is likely to read it aloud, wondering what it means, triggering his own death.

  22. 22
    an0id Says:

    (former 2nd ed player)
    Dnd is full of cruel and questionable logic and halarious creativity. Opening a portal underneath someone and placing the opening just high enough to cause traumatic impact damage is halarious. For added distance, keep the floor portal open for a bit this way your exit only has to be 1m above the ground. Watch your victim fall for a few minutes in the same place before closing the bottom. (worst psionic trick, ever)

    Extension spells are dramatically under used. Compounding spells with multimages or constructing 1 time use items bring out the lols when you need to flood an entire dungeon with water rather than walking down. Need to battle a horde of orcs? how about a 300ft wall of dirt? Ive even gone as far as digging around dungeons and going right for the gold!

  23. 23
    jewel Says:

    hi i play dnd with my dad all of the time its really fun im 11 and im a elf,wizard

  24. 24
    Eclipse Says:

    Hey Jewel, glad to hear you enjoy the game. I like to play casters too, though I like sorcerers and clerics myself.

  25. 25
    austin Says:

    buzzing bee…
    its level 1, and if you are ever fighting human players they will hate you for life. (DM might also hate you either way)

  26. 26
    nostalgia Says:

    nostalgia…

    [...]Best Dungeons and Dragons Spells Ever | Gaming My Way[...]…

  27. 27
    Kevin Says:

    I’m trying to find out some info on a spell called Storm Shell. Not sure what it does. Can you help me?

  28. 28
    Bryn Says:

    Hmmm. I like the way you all think of using the spells. As a strict DM I already look for ways to break the spells wide open, have found an almost unbelivable way to smash them, but I always have a few tricks myself. For example, usllay I have a caster who owns the dungeoun, normaly not there but scrying objects set at intervals, with rune traps that change. One key word spoken by animated statues can change a Rune of Fire into a rune of dispel. Or even more easily anti magic rooms. But yes, the most broken spell, and most difficult to accomodate is either the wish or miracle spells. foiling players is fun, but being outsmarted by them is simply amazing. If they are more clever than me, they deserve to win hands down :)

  29. 29
    Mike Says:

    My favored class is a cleric, and hands down my favorite spell that is completely overlooked by just about every other player is command word. With it, you can command a combatant to surrender, you can command a character to fight, kill, run, yield, etc. With this spell, I have defeated countless dragons and other tough challenges without breaking a sweat.

    Light is also has an amazing effect effect on a lot of subterranean creatures, and when cast on say a rock, it can be hurled and clear out or illuminate a remote area.

    Also, I highly recommend getting a decanter of endless water, and immediately cast Bless Water on it to possess a Decanter of Endless Holy Water! Guaranteed to defeat any vampire.

  30. 30
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  31. 31
    Jeremiah gothwall Says:

    I think people are overlooking the most amazing spells,
    “contingency ” cast on anything and make every action an insideous death bomb. For example you intercept a merchants goods caravan on its way to give some rare items to people you want deadhave the other members distract people while you cast contingency and any attack spell coming from lets say a piece of jewellery and you make it attack the next member of royal blood the person wearing the ring encounters. Two birds with one stone and no im not used to playing good adventures… Evil lets you see how far your players will go.

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