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D&D 5E [GUIDE] Arrive on Time - A General Guide to Wizardry

TheBigHouse

Explorer
Arrive on Time - A General Guide to Wizardry
Wizard Guide

Updated 1/7/2021 for Tasha's Cauldron of Everything

I have removed the guide from this post as it is woefully out of date and I don't feel like updating everything twice. Please use the google doc link. I will still reply to any comments left here.
 
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Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I think i will be able to post links soon, so I will repost this under my account so I can keep it updated.

Naw, the way to do it is have the thread I started changed to be under your handle, per instructions in the lifeboat forum. Otherwise we have to change both indexes to the guides.

Please do not post duplicate threads if you can help it.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Let me know which you wish to do, [MENTION=6801320]TheBigHouse[/MENTION]. I can either transfer this one to you, or remove this one. I think this is going to happen from time to time; we'll muddle through!
 


Strill

First Post
Is Frostbite really blue? Sure the damage and disadvantage is a great effect for a cantrip, but at the same time it targets CON, which is generally the worst save to target. It also only applies to one attack, so as you level up and enemies get more attacks, it'll make less of a difference.

In a void it's a great spell, since it trades a small amount of damage in exchange for protecting your party, but it seems to me that that CON save really kills it. I can't help but think that it will become more and more irrelevant later on when you start fighting enemies that are literally impossible to affect with it.
 
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TheBigHouse

Explorer
Is Frostbite really blue? Sure the damage and disadvantage is a great effect for a cantrip, but at the same time it targets CON, which is generally the worst save to target. It also only applies to one attack, so as you level up and enemies get more attacks, it'll make less of a difference.

In a void it's a great spell, since it trades a small amount of damage in exchange for protecting your party, but it seems to me that that CON save really kills it. I can't help but think that it will become more and more irrelevant later on when you start fighting enemies that are literally impossible to affect with it.

you are correct, as you level frostbite is a lot less impressive, but the same goes for all of your damage cantrips. There's no eldritch blast here; pretty much all of your damage cantrips are garbage =). I've rated most the damage cantrips blue because you should probably have 1 or 2 of them, but they are all pretty much equally unimpressive.

The fact that frostbite is a con save isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of low con monsters at higher levels, and even most monsters with high con scores don't have save proficiency.

Take a hydra for example, CR8, 20 con but no proficiency, 15AC. By level 8 you should have a DC of like 16 and an attack bonus of around +8. That means the hydra has to roll 15+ on vs your con save and you have to roll a 7+ to hit with an attack. so despite the hydra's very high con, its still easier to hit CON than AC. What's more, if you have potent cantrip, your expected damage goes up a little bit too.

But, yeah, in general you don't want to be relying on something like frostbite. It, along with your other damage cantrips, are pretty poor spells. They are just there if you can't/don't want to use better spells for some reason. If you are facing a purple worm and relying on cantrips, you are going to have a bad time.

The only exception I would make to this is chill touch, which, when facing enemies with healing and regeneration, is really solid.
 
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Strill

First Post
Take a hydra for example, CR8, 20 con but no proficiency, 15AC. By level 8 you should have a DC of like 16 and an attack bonus of around +8. That means the hydra has to roll 15+ on vs your con save and you have to roll a 7+ to hit with an attack. so despite the hydra's very high con, its still easier to hit CON than AC. What's more, if you have potent cantrip, your expected damage goes up a little bit too.

It's actually not easier to hit. 14 AC is as easy to hit as a +0 save. 15 AC corresponds to a +1 save, but the hydra has +5. That means it's 4 points easier to hit the hydra's AC than its CON save, or more if you have a Wand of the War Mage.

This is kind of my point. CON saves are harder to make than AC.

Chance to hit = (20 - AC + 1 + proficiency + casting mod) / 20
Chance to FAIL a save = (DC - 1 - save proficiency - save mod) / 20

With your example of DC16, +8 to hit, and +5 to save, that comes out to:

Chance to hit AC15: (20 - 15 + 1 + proficiency + casting mod) / 20 = 70%
Chance to fail +5 CON save: (16 - 1 - save proficiency - save mod) / 20 = 50%
 
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TheBigHouse

Explorer
It's actually not easier to hit. 14 AC is as easy to hit as a +0 save. 15 AC corresponds to a +1 save, but the hydra has +5. That means it's 4 points easier to hit the hydra's AC than its CON save, or more if you have a Wand of the War Mage.

This is kind of my point. CON saves are harder to make than AC.

Ah you are right. I totally forgot to add the CON mod into my math, which defeats the whole purpose haha.

But, yea for high CON monsters, you are right. It is easier to hit with an attack, and if you have to use a cantrip vs a hydra, i wouldn't use frostbite. As you said, disadvantage on one attack out of its multi attack is pretty useless anyway.

Part of my ratings assume that you use the right attack at the right time. Hold Person is useless vs the hydra too, but its still a great spell. I agree that frostbite is probably not as good as some of your other cantrip choices in many situations, but it could be helpful vs things like rogues that rely on one big attack rather than a multi attack and creatures with high AC and low con.

I'm reconsidering how I rate these cantrips in general, though thanks to you bringing this up. I might end up lowering frostbite and moving some other things around based on being too situational.

As a side note, I don't think wand of the warmage is worth an attune slot unless you don't have any other options. It only really affects some cantrips and scorching ray.
 
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jgsugden

Legend
On the Save / To Hit discussion above: Also consider critical hits in the equation. The average expected damage by spells with to hit rolls is higher than a save spell, even if the % change of inflicting the spell on an enemy is the same.
 



1.) Grim Touch is really better than some people think. The key observation: it gives you HP healing once per turn, not once per round. If you cast Evard's Black Tentacles for example, each creature affected takes 3d6 damage at the start of its turn, which means that if six orcs die in one round, you get 8 HP per orc = 48 HP total that round.

Can be abused with cagefuls of chickens (2 cp each) and Fire Shield to heal relatively large amounts of damage for cheap, even during combat. (Use your bonus action each turn to roll it over to another cageful of chickens.) Fighter 1/Necromancer X is surprisingly tanky already even without abusing Grim Touch--adding in cheap healing would make it even tankier.

2.) Necromancer's Command Undead: if nothing else, you can Command one of your own ghouls created via Create Undead. Armor it up in plate armor and a shield and you'll have a nifty little minion with AC 20, 36+ HP (even more if you went the Inspired Leader route), and a paralyzing attack. Even better, Command a Wight that you created, and now you get not only your own up-armored Wight for free but also all of the zombies that it creates (which you can also armor). If you happen to luck into a Zombie Beholder (Int 3, one random paralyzing/fear/enervation/disintegration ray per turn) or a Mummy Lord (Int 11, essentially unkillable, spellcaster, high damage per turn and legendary actions that can damage, stun, blind, or prevent healing) you may have a tough decision to make about what to keep.

3.) Geas for Necromancers: when you create undead, normally you need to expend spell slots to keep control over them. Only, you don't necessarily need to do so. Geas V will charm a creature for 30 days (more at higher levels; permanently at 9th level) and force damage it for 5d10 once per day when it disobeys your instructions, which can be anything non-obviously suicidal. It's probably worth keeping most of your skeletons and zombies under your control just so you can command them telepathically with your bonus action, but for more expensive undead like Wights (which like skeletons are not immune to charm) it might be worth Geasing them to "follow my Wight Baldrick here and do whatever he does without harming anyone he does not attempt to harm". The wights can shrug off your Geas for 5d10 damage, but at least you know they can't harm you (because they're Charmed), and depending on how much Geas "hurts" to disobey they may be inclined to follow the Geas.

4.) Miscellaneous comment on Geas: it combos well with Dream. Geas will do 5d10 damage every day, Dream will (often) prevent that damage from healing. Net result: within several days, you have a dead target (traitor).

5.) Animate Objects and Darkness: if you have a party member who likes to use Darkness, like a Shadow Monk or a Warlock with Devil's Sight, it's worth bearing in mind that animated objects have Blindsight 30'. Within a darkened area they are even more murderously good than usual. Earth Elementals also have Tremorsense, which is basically the same thing.

6.) Planar Binding: even when you first get it at 5th level, Planar Binding is notable for removing the concentration requirement on spells. So at 9th level you could, for example, conjure an Earth Elemental, Planar Bind it for 24 hours (cost: 1000 gold), and then in combat use your concentration on Stinking Cloud to both obscure the elemental from its enemies (advantage on everything) and poison enemies (elemental is immune). At 9th level that's pretty pricey, and therefore niche, for something that only lasts 24 hours, but it scales rapidly. Totally worth considering even if you only want a couple of elementals.

7.) Mage armor doesn't require concentration and has a long duration. Consider putting it on anyone with a good Dex who is likely to take hits: a 2nd level Moon Druid in Giant Hyena Shape (AC 12 => 15); an air elemental (AC 15 => 18); an animated ghast (AC 13 => 16).
 
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TheBigHouse

Explorer
1.) Grim Touch is really better than some people think. The key observation: it gives you HP healing once per turn, not once per round. If you cast Evard's Black Tentacles for example, each creature affected takes 3d6 damage at the start of its turn, which means that if six orcs die in one round, you get 8 HP per orc = 48 HP total that round.

Can be abused with cagefuls of chickens (2 cp each) and Fire Shield to heal relatively large amounts of damage for cheap, even during combat. (Use your bonus action each turn to roll it over to another cageful of chickens.) Fighter 1/Necromancer X is surprisingly tanky already even without abusing Grim Touch--adding in cheap healing would make it even tankier.

Haha, okay, first point is well taken and I didn't even consider it, so that's nice. The cage of chickens thing is asking for your DM to troll you. I mean, it kinda fits the necromancer flavor which I like, but I'm guessing you won't be able to get away with it for long before you get smacked.
2.) Necromancer's Command Undead: if nothing else, you can Command one of your own ghouls created via Create Undead. Armor it up in plate armor and a shield and you'll have a nifty little minion with AC 20, 36+ HP (even more if you went the Inspired Leader route), and a paralyzing attack. Even better, Command a Wight that you created, and now you get not only your own up-armored Wight for free but also all of the zombies that it creates (which you can also armor). If you happen to luck into a Zombie Beholder (Int 3, one random paralyzing/fear/enervation/disintegration ray per turn) or a Mummy Lord (Int 11, essentially unkillable, spellcaster, high damage per turn and legendary actions that can damage, stun, blind, or prevent healing) you may have a tough decision to make about what to keep.
Good Point.
3.) Geas for Necromancers: when you create undead, normally you need to expend spell slots to keep control over them. Only, you don't necessarily need to do so. Geas V will charm a creature for 30 days (more at higher levels; permanently at 9th level) and force damage it for 5d10 once per day when it disobeys your instructions, which can be anything non-obviously suicidal. It's probably worth keeping most of your skeletons and zombies under your control just so you can command them telepathically with your bonus action, but for more expensive undead like Wights (which like skeletons are not immune to charm) it might be worth Geasing them to "follow my Wight Baldrick here and do whatever he does without harming anyone he does not attempt to harm". The wights can shrug off your Geas for 5d10 damage, but at least you know they can't harm you (because they're Charmed), and depending on how much Geas "hurts" to disobey they may be inclined to follow the Geas.

Yea. I'm not sure how my DM will play out Geas, so it kinda depends on that. That said, there are probably better uses for Geas.

4.) Miscellaneous comment on Geas: it combos well with Dream. Geas will do 5d10 damage every day, Dream will (often) prevent that damage from healing. Net result: within several days, you have a dead target (traitor).

A lot of investment for a wight, but yea not a bad use of Dream. I will add a note.

5.) Animate Objects and Darkness: if you have a party member who likes to use Darkness, like a Shadow Monk or a Warlock with Devil's Sight, it's worth bearing in mind that animated objects have Blindsight 30'. Within a darkened area they are even more murderously good than usual. Earth Elementals also have Tremorsense, which is basically the same thing.

As if animate objects wasn't OP enough. Yea, this is really good.

6.) Planar Binding: even when you first get it at 5th level, Planar Binding is notable for removing the concentration requirement on spells. So at 9th level you could, for example, conjure an Earth Elemental, Planar Bind it for 24 hours (cost: 1000 gold), and then in combat use your concentration on Stinking Cloud to both obscure the elemental from its enemies (advantage on everything) and poison enemies (elemental is immune). At 9th level that's pretty pricey, and therefore niche, for something that only lasts 24 hours, but it scales rapidly. Totally worth considering even if you only want a couple of elementals.

Nice observation. Will add a note.

7.) Mage armor doesn't require concentration and has a long duration. Consider putting it on anyone with a good Dex who is likely to take hits: a 2nd level Moon Druid in Giant Hyena Shape (AC 12 => 15); an air elemental (AC 15 => 18); an animated ghast (AC 13 => 16).

True, I didn't even consider putting it on your summons. Makes an already great spell even better.
 



Are you going to add other things to the equipment section? Also at lv 17 when you get your level 9 consider that your spell save is 8+6+5 at least (standard 8 plus top tier prof plus int mod) which is 19 where the average monster has +4 to 5 for dex saves meaning the monster saves 30% of the time meaning 70% will face average 140, 30% average 70 still has a higher average than you say. But again using the power of teamwork it should not matter if your allies can stun them or something
 


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