D&D 5E Guide to cruddy spells (v1.01)


The worst spell thread (here) recently got brought up with some necroposting that led to a few pages of discussion largely distracted by rehashing of earlier mentioned spells. Given that it was ten pages long & dated back to 2017 I decided to compile it into something that could be discussed & add a bit...
  • Animate dead & Create Undead as 3rd & 6th level spellscr 1/4 skeletons & cr1 ghouls are hardly useful with AC/HP likely to result in collapse if a baddie looks at them funny & attack bonuses/damage dice that are certain to have difficulty inflicting any meaningful contribution on the odd chance they actually manage to hit.
  • True strike Use an action now on this round to roll 1d20+mods with advantage rather than just rolling 1d20+mods each round. Mathematically you don't even need to crunch the numbers to see why this is a terrible waste of an action. Don't forget that it doesn't kick in until your next turn & only works on your first attack so even somehow casting this as a bonus action or extending how long it lasts won't help fix this trash. Oh and because it wasn't bad enough to begin with this is concentration too
  • Blade Ward The only way this self only cantrip makes sense as written is if you've never played d&d or any similar game including many not so similar computer games. Use one of your limited known/prepared cantrip slots to know/prepare it then use an action this turn to gain resistance to an attack that may or may not come before the end of your next turn that may or may not even be slashing damage
  • Witch Bolt, even at level 1 a caster is rarely going to find this a good idea. with a ten round/one minute duration the spell starts out looking impressive but like many "lets add concentration" spells, things go downhill from there. 1d12 even for a first level spell is really bad given that there are cantrips that do 1d12 damage levels 1-4. After you use a spell slot & an action to make an attack roll you get to do 1d12 lightning damage & maintain concentration so you can use an action in order to deal another 1d12 for the next ten rounds like you couldn't be expected to have any other actions ready or actual useful spells to concentrate on. You might think this spell could be saved by upcasting for some multiple of D12's with no save each round for 10 rounds, but the spell avoids that too by ensuring that only the initial damage is increased. Put in perspective just how bad upcasting this spell is, you can use a 5th evel slot for 6d12 Witch Bolt (39 damage, roll to hit) is still worse than Chain Lightning (45 damage, save for half) even before you account for Chain Lightning's extra targets,
  • Mordenkainen's Sword As a level 7 spell a caster gets their first level 7 spell slot at level 13 when a cantrip will have been doing 3d12/3d10/3d8 etc since level 11 without using a spell slot. This 7th level spell with a 1 minute/ten round concentration spell allows the caster to use a bonus action to make a spell attack that deals 3d10 force damage. There aren't a lot of ways for casters to use their bonus action so that & the damage itself isn't the end of this spell, but a level 13 caster has a ton of ways to use concentration for meaningful results. For a comparison, upcasting the 2nd level spell spiritual weapon to 4th or 5th level is the point where a no concentration 1 minute spell with very similar mechanics will begin outpacing the 7th level morden's feeble sword without needing a 250gp component as spiritual weapon adds your caster mod each attack. If your dead set on concentration spells Flaming sphere will outpace it pretty quick as well & there are a lot of reasons flaming sphere is listed elsewhere on this list but I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. It doesn't even do things you can't replicate with other better spells as @fearsomepirate said here "Bigby's Hand upcast to 7th level does the same thing, but does 8d8 force damage instead of 3d10, has range 120' instead of 60', moves 60' instead of 20', and has some extra fun 'n' fancy options. It is about 2x as powerful across the board. With AC 20 and your hit points, the Hand isn't likely to go down in the first round if the monster attacks it, either, so you'll get at least the 2 rounds you need to do as much damage as the Sword does in 4. M's Sword can't even upscale! The Sword would have to be 8d10 to even start to be theoretically worth it."
  • Drawmij's Instant Summons A one time thousand gp sapphire & a 6th level slot to make it so an item of yours can be teleported to you across the planes & anything seems like an ok idea even if it probably comes too late to be useful in a game. Of course if you lost your important item it raises the question of how you managed to hang onto the sapphire you need to crush to call it back. Even if you still have the sapphire in a kundarak vault or something you run into a bigger problem... "If another creature is holding or carrying the item, crushing the sapphire doesn’t transport the item to you, but instead you learn who the creature possessing the object is and roughly where that creature is located at that moment." As in the literal eleminster gets drunk & forgets his spellbook at the bar for the goblin goohge to take home there is no save needed for the napping goohge to keep what is literally eleminster's spellbook in that threadbare crude flea infested sack but eleminster helpfully learns that someone named goohge has eleminster's spellbook.
  • "Almost all damage spells cast at a higher level than their default level. Scaling is horrible."
    I'm inclined to agree. In past editions spells would scale free based on caster level & you could only use a higher spell slot by applying metamagic or something but both of those changed in 5e. A spell no longer scales based on caster level & a caster can now toss any spell in a higher level spell slot to gain what is often the same level/dice scaling but at a cost so the result is typically worse than using a higher level spell & 5e has few good damage+effect spells with a nice enough effect to justify the awful scaling
  • Friends As a 1 minute concentration cantrip a caster needs to expend one of their known/prepared cantrip slots just to have it. While having advantage against charisma checks from someone might seem useful, it needs to be someone who is not hostile to you making the charisma check advantage value rather questionable, but the poor showing doesn't stop there because the target realizes that you used magic to influence their mood & becomes hostile to you when the spell ends. This is like a therapist playing soothing muzak that causes their patients to attack the staff when the track ends.
  • Mending Use up one of your known/prepared cantrip slots so you can fix mildly broken & mildly damaged items... as long as it's not a magic object you might really care about repairing... provided your gm created some rules for damaging equipment or created nonmagical items that were damaged to give out as treasure. Other interpretation continue to dive deeper into the never ending circular loops like repairing corpses for raise/animate dad gets into neither spell saying the corpse needs to be in tact so such a use would only be needed if the gm put hurdles in front of those already listed bad spells to make this awful cantrip useful for something other than the machguffin listing a need to cast mending on it to make mending useful
  • Horrid wilting Use an 8th level spell slot to deal 12d8 necrotic damage(avg54) save for half in a 30ft cube putting it about 10 damage ahead of fireball upcast into an 8th level slot. It also destroys nonmagical plants in the area, but for an 8th level spell slot this is simply pathetic compared to many other spells of that level. For comparison on the damage alone an 8th level spell slot becomes available at level 15 when sneak attack jumps to 8d6 (avg 38/round with a +1 short sword) so on both damage & secondary effect this spell is quite bad
  • Divine Word. As a mass banishment spell of elemental fey fiend & celestials with some minor debuffs for creatures with some amount of hp below 50 it looks like there is a case to be made for it's value & under a vancian casting system where preparing it in a 7th level slot over 5e's preparing it in a prep/known slot normally needed for more go to spells the value is questionable due to the need to know it will be needed ahead of time to keep it from really shining in a pinch when something unexpected happens because under 50hp monsters just aren't much concern at level 13+ when one 7th level slot becomes available. As a 7th level spell it has some serious competition from spells like Regenerate, Symbol, Conjure Celestial, and MAYBE even Fire Storm as 7th level spells more likely to be regularly useful
  • Heal A flat 70 hp heal that cures blind deaf & disease. At first glance that certainly sounds powerful but
    On top of anything shy of death by massive damage simply going away after a level 1 healing word there are also spells like Heal that recover 4d8+15 (avg38) then 1hp round for one hour using the same spell slot to fully abuse that incredible absorb shield built into the system in the spoiler.
    [*] Heal Yes the one that got praised, but the 1 minute cast time ensures that it needs to be used proactively before a fight starts & there is no guarantee that the target of the regenerate spell will drop to zero let alone even get attacked in the fight(s) you have 1 min or more to prep for. /being a 7th level spell means that this needs to be completely amazing when instead it's jut deceptively enticing until you look closer to find the couldabeen good gotcha strings. You could say that regenerate is bad at healing hp vrs abusing a bad mechanic & that would be true, but after it powers the tank through a fight with a god or something you could always cast a 3rd level catnap to give that tank a long rest in 10 min or any number of other things like the ritual improved forcecage bunker known as tiny hut
  • Barkskin 2nd level concentration spell with a 1 hr duration that grants the caster the lofty AC of 75gp chainmail with any dex score or 50gp scale mail with 14 or better dex provided you don't want concentration for anything else & don't lose concentration as a result of being hit even with that stratospheric starting gear level AC.
  • Ray of Enfeeblement con save or target deals half damage with weapon attacks made using strength. As if concentration were not enough, this 1 min duration spell has the double problem flags where creatures with great strength based attacks are likely to have a good con save along with the fact that the target automatically gets a new con save every round to nullify your concentration spell it initially failed on.
  • Phantasmal Killer in the past this spell was the stuff of nightmare when it was save twice for damage or fail twice for death. Now in 5e this 1 minute single target concentration spell is save to avoid frightened then save each round to avoid 4d10. While this is certainly better than witchbolt, that's not a very high bar for a concentration spell that ends if the target makes one of the saves it gets to make free over the 1 min this spell lasts.
    [*]Feign death This has always been a bit questionable in use, but 5e raised it from a 2nd level spell to a 3rd level spell & there's the whole increased cost of eat a prep/known spell rather than a single vancian spell slot.
  • Weird same exact effect as PK, but AoE with a 9th level spell. After casting this 1 minute concentration spell that only affects the targets ho failed the initial save they still get to make a save every round to nullify the effect while you are using your concentration to keep it active. Obviously a 17th level caster doesn't have anything better to concentrate on than yet another save every round to end spell.
  • Magic Mouth In the past this could react to conditions with 90 feet making it good as an alarm if placed on a few stones or something around the party's camp. With that reduction down to 30ft you need far more stones or something silly like a long rope. There are no doubt other ways of using it like putting theft alarms on your equipment & packs, but the reduction in range is significant to cut back on uses like are described here. Someone listed it so I included it
  • Time Stop Spend a 9th level slot to gain 1d4+1 actions but thespell ends if one of the actions you use during this period, or any effects that you create during this period, affects a creature other than you or an object being worn or carried by someone other than you. In addition, the spell ends if you move to a place more than 1,000 feet from the location where you cast it.... it used to be that it could layer up buffs & delayed blast fireballs but with concentration that'd a nogo. I gave this to a level 1 hypermunchkin player who started with an aberrant dragonmark in a game that lasted till 15 or 16 & don't think he ever found a use other than chasing fleeing npcs so feel inclined to agree on the inclusion.
  • Spare the dying a 3 pound healer's kit with ten charges can be had for 5 gp. Alternately you could expend on of your known/prepared cantrip slots to achieve the exact same touch range effect. Also don't forget that unlike healing word that refreshes the target's absorb shield & allows them to take actions this leaves the target at 0 hp unable to do anything.
  • Crown of madness Yet another 1min concentration spell with a save every round after the first fail. It's even done up extra stringy by limiting the affected target to making a melee attack against a target of your choice rather than acting as an ally as past editions had when this kind of spell may have been too powerful, either change may have been good but both is a bit much given how overused concentration is everywhere else.
  • Searing Smite Conceptually the idea is sound, burn a spell slot & smite the target with a 1 minute concentration spell that deals 1d6 fire each round until the target takes an action to remove them. The idea was that it pushes the target to eat an action to remove the flames, but the damage is so low that the only things better off removing it than just attacking you are things you probably didn't need to consider smiting. That better off isn't some deep statistical number crunching, just basic eyeball he fact that 1d6 fire is rarely a huge concern. Oh yea, the target gets a free save every round too so it doesn't need to use an action removing it or take the damage
  • Create Food & Water This third level spell with no components can create 45 pounds of food & 30 gallons of water. @turnip_farmer said it best here" It's like the designers thought 'hmmm, we've done all we can to trivialize resource management and ensure that the rules mitigate against the possibility of starving to death or dying of thirst being a challenge, but a crafty GM could still engineer a scenario where it mattered. Let's ensure the players have a way to nip that right on the bud.'" Adding some perspective 35 pounds of meat adds up to about 150$ of grade Q lean hamburger meat from walmart. The most lucrative career in d&d might be ""I cast create food... a lot"
  • Find Traps This second level spell will tell you if there is a trap in the area if it was intended as a trap naturally frayed rope on a rope ridge no trap, deliberately frayed rope a trap is present. This spell cries out for the ritual tag to an unblievable degree given that a wand that casts this spell is considered awful.
  • Flame arrow This one hour concentration spell makes ammunition drawn from a quiver deal an extra 1d6 fire damage. It might be pretty ok if it ended there but "the spell ends when twelve pieces of ammunition have been drawn from the quiver" so you can concentrate on giving one ally a small buff to their ranged attacks but probably not more than a couple fights & you probably can't buff anyone else even if they want the same buff
  • Cordon of Arrows Set up an area with 4 arrows/bolts/etc that force a creature other than you to make a dex save for coming within 30ft. With no concentration requirements on a spell with n 8 hour duration it sounds great at first... the area is a 5 foot square and your allies are typically each considered to be a "creature" unless as a corpse they are an object but not triggering your defensive spell is likely low on their list of concerns at that point.
  • Melf's Acid Arrow Use a second level spell to make a ranged spell attack that deals 4d4 acid now then an extra 2d4 acid next round if it didn't miss. With scorching ray dealing 3x 2d6 this isn't even doing well for damage. In the past this dealing low damage was because the long term acid DoT was enough to stop regeneration on many creatures that needed fire or acid to stop regenerating, but in 5e cantrips typically meet the condition for making nearly all regenerating monsters not regenerate by accident.
  • Bestow Curse Woweee with the remove curse spell a thing this couldn't possibly be a 1 minute concentration spell right?... The effect isn't bad, but like flame arrow & others the combination concentration+short duration ensures that building your character towards the goal of making the game play different with buffs or debuffs won't really feel all that different.
  • Vampiric Touch Burn a 3rd level spell slot to deal 3d6 necrotic damage & recover half as healing this used to be a pretty impressive batch of temporary hp in the past, but the critical problem for the 5e version is that half of 3d6 isn't much & more importantly the system is setup to make a mockery of in combat healing by making all damage beyond zero just go away when you get healed 1hp. If it was a reaction to getting knocked to zero that you could cast while incapacitated it would be great, a stupid admission of a stupid design choice but an awesome spell. That's not how it works & the damage below zero going away is a thing
  • Blight I'm not sure & it's not expanded upon
  • Grasping Vine This 1 minute concentration spell lets you create a vine at a point which you can not move. From there it can reach out 30ft to drg creatures 20 ft closer as a bonus action. This would be great to pair with spells like wall of thorns(Concentration), web(Concentration), cloudkill(concentration), or even to keep dragging baddies back towards the best crunchy type ally trying to be a tank.... except the whole no way to move it & you can't concentrate on two spells that both require concentration.
  • Immolation This one minute 5th level concentration spell allows you to do 8d6 fire dex for half to a target then while concentrating you can deal an extra 4d6 dex save to end your spell. For comparison sake, firebolt & create bonfire deal 3d10 & 3d8 at level 11 when you can cast this spell twice & a greatsword wielding fighter will be doing 2(2d6+STR+mods) every round. At level 9 when you can cast this spell one tie per long rest for the first time a rogue's sneak attack is weapon+weapon mods+attribute mod+5d6 sneak damage every round with the d10 HD heavy armor fighter getting their third attack , this absolute powerhouse obviously needed concentration with save every round to end or the whole game would be trivialized I'm sure :rolleyes:
  • Negative Energy Flood 5th level spell deals 5d12 necrotic save for half & in the unlikely event this spell kills something it comes back as a cr1/4 zombie next round. Note, the zombie is not under your control it "pursues whatever creature it can see that is closest to it" which is probably on of your buds.. I guess they didn't have the heart to give this winner of a spell a concentration tag too
  • The investiture spells All four of these are ten minute concentration spells. Most of them have an effect not at all fitting a 6h level spell & some have damage that is frankly pathetic for a 6th level spell. I'm not going to detail he reasons each fit on this list because going into detail on why Investiture of wind, investiture of stone, investiture of ice, & investiture of flame individually deserve to be on this list would be giving this terrible collection of fail by design spells more effort than they deserve.
  • Flesh to stone This pretty much instantly kills something so the inclusion might seem strange?... this 1 minute concentration spell gives a save every round & if the target fails three saves they turn to stone & are petrified "for the duration".... That's right turn someone into a statue & the statue goes back to normal ready to resume killing you in a few rounds.... but wait there's more! Even though this is a 1 minute concentration spell you can't move it to a second target if the first fails the first three chances right out of the gate... That's not all though folks! If the target makes their first save you just wasted a sixth level spell slot but can keep concentrating to maintain the spell on a creature that won't be affected while you are unable to move it to another creature that might be.
  • Create homunculous Have you ever asked yourself why a caster couldn't give half their HP to a cr zero creature like a familiar with no meaningful abilities?... This is the sixth level spell for that feebleminded individual who said yes.
  • Power Word Pain This is a lot like the first level spell charm person or the 4th level spell charm monster but instead of concentration you get to use a seventh level spell slot to charm a mook with less than 100hp & impose disadvantage on saves other than con saves. That exception is good for your henchman's henchman's assistant too since they will be extra unpredictable real soon now from making a con save every turn until they end this "power" word pain spell.
  • Dispel evil & good This 5th level concentration spell with a 1 minute duration can do a bunch of things, most of which can be done by the ten minute concentration first level spell PfG&E or the 4th level spell banishment
  • Demiplane This 8th level spell lets you create a 30ft cube shaped room that.. well... exists... that's it. Things inside after the door is closed are pretty much trapped unless you cast the 8th level spell again to let them out to where you are now. Of course if a caster level 15 or higher neeeds a portable prison it's probably for something that can spring itself out & using it as a vault when anyone like NPCs likely to do or hire someone to do that sorts of things like could scry & teleport in or something is probably not the bet idea. I'm not sure the point of demiplane & gave it to that same level 1 aberrant marked munchkin I mentioned with timestop, he too was unable to find a use through that entire campaign. The 3.5 version genesis was a level higher but quite a bit larger & something you could keep growing to do neat things like carry around a village or something likely equally cool but still pointless. With the presence of the wealth by level tables no longer present in 5e a character capable of casting the spell had enough gold to make that costly component needed to expand it into pocket change

One of the things that kept coming up in the original thread was how a few total loser spells like truestrike witchbolt & mord's sword drew too much focus when there were tons of spells that ere just never used & ignored due to their bad by design state. Since I too feel like there are a ton of well deserving spells completely left out though so I started with buffs. but to narrow it down into types of awful buffs I'm going to split it into © concentration & nonconcentration buffs. Spells that are covered above are generally not duplicated here.
  • Aid There's no concentration & you get to give 3 people +5 current/max hp with an extra +5 each slot above 2nd... The old version included some useful bonuses that would maybe have saved this spell from inclusion, but the big problem with aid as written is that 5 HP isn't much & any damage beyond zero is erased if the target is healed for as little as 1 point with Lay on hands or 2 with 1d4+1 first level 60ft range bonus action healing word & let be honest in admitting that 5hp is not much to note even for a caster just now getting 2nd level spells. This spell can bring three allies back to standing along the lines of a multitarget healing word but in my experience it's incredibly rare for a bunch of players to go down once they pass the "ackpffteek fireball?! I'm down" hp range & it doesn't do anything if you don't have it consuming a prep slot
  • False Life This first level spell gives the caster 1d4+4 temp hp. This may have been saved with at least some theoretical use case if you could toss it on an ally in need but Wotc was sure to avoid that by keeping it self. On top of being a pathetically small number of temphp it runs into the same problem as many other spells with the fact that damage beyond zero goes away if you are healed even one hit point
  • Feign death Its not really good for much of anything, but at least it's ritual. Unfortunately by the time the caster has access to third level spells there are probably better & more reliable ways of handling problems other than pretending Bob is dead
  • Fire Shield As one of the few nonconcentration buff spells this could have been fairly useful if you could cast it on others, but as a self only spell it runs into the problem that the person most likely to really shine with a damage shield is almost certainly not the caster.One could say "but armorsmith & battlesmith might", except as a half caster they wouldn't get their first 4th level slot to cast this spell till level 13. In either case the duration is much too short.
  • Hallow This spell does a bunch of nifty stuff to an area with a 60ft radius, but there are a rediculous number of problems with it. First of all it's not a ritual spell but that could maybe have been forgivable if not for the fact that it consumes 1000gp worth of components and takes 24 hours to cast. With WotC choosing to abdicate any guidance over gp input to players whatsoever in the form of a wealth by level table that player facing 1000gp may as well say bleen gp. Having to spend 24hours casting it ensures this niche spell is mostly avoided even if the 1000gp is no big expense for a caster in a party with buckets of gold to spare & it's not like wotc isn't keen on suggesting magic item costs by rarity to give those noncasters ways to spend their buckets of gold on in such a campaign
  • Power Word Heal There are certainly cases where a complete heal will be useful, but thanks to wotc choosing to make damage beyond zero simply go away & any healing to recover the target back to 1hp even if they took one point less than their max hp to drop them from 1/9999hp to 0/9999hp the value is diminished to questionable levels even if this nineth level spell includes a status purge
  • Protection from Poison a first level spell that clears one poison & gives resistance to poion for an hour isn't bad, but poison is not particularly common & particularly worrisome poison even more unusual. As a nonritual spell using this is likely to require a long rest to prepare it but debuff type things that don't clear on a long rest are even more unusual
  • Shillelagh The idea of letting you attack with a quarterstaff using your spellcasting modifier is sound, but casters are unlikely to have extra attacks & this doesn't scale. Noncasters might have multiple attacks, but a d8 club or quarterstaff is hardly something to be excited about making it poor for both casters & noncasters
  • Warding Bond +1 to ac & resistance to all damage on a target seems great, except this loser spell has two problems. First is that the caster takes the same amount meaning that the resistance is really just the caster taking half the damage directed at the target. Things get worse from there though because the second problem comes in the form of the fact that any damage beyond zero is still zero & there is no need to heal it back to recover the target to 1hp so you could very well be spending a 2nd level spell slot to create a need to use Lay on hands or cast healing word on two downed PC rather than just 1 of them for a real epic win of a spell.

  • Aura of Purity This protects you & a bunch of your allies also within range of a fireball or so with you against a number of status effects but it'sthe only concentration spell you are maintaining & a 4th level spell slot is needed. With the shift from vancian to spontaneous prepared spells you are probably not going to be able to cast this spell if you need it because you are displacing some other daily driver spell rather than "well I might need it maybe I'll devote one slot to it & be ready in case". The spell does not support the higher opportunity cost it carries. It could have been decent, but there were too many safeguards built into the spell to ensure a buffing focused caster doesn't really change the way the game plays to a meaningful degree for the party
  • Barkskin: see the original thread compilation section above
  • Beacon of Hope On the surface this spell looks very impressive giving advantage on wisdom & death saves & making healing give max hp for the spell, except max of Healing word's 1d4+5 bonus action heal is still almost certain to be less than one hit & the duration on this concentration spell is only one minute. This could have been some flavor of decent ranking spell if one or more of those issues were different in a meaningful ways... but the this is 5e
  • Beast Bond You can telepathically communicate with a beast with 3 or less intelligence & give this beast advantage on attacks against opponents within 5 feet of you for ten minutes, and it's concentration. Detect thoughts is a 2nd level spell & there is more than one race plus a feat that grants telepathy, on top of that the short duration & limited conditions where it grants intelligence pretty much just serves to make sure you can't use it on an awakened beast or one of the more intelligent beasts
  • Bless The effect is pretty decent as one of the rare multitarget buffs, but as a 1 minute concentration spell the short duration alongside concentration leaves the effect somewhat lacking as both are things that should raise the payload of a buff. Arguments could & have been made for it being pretty good, but they generally require knowing what is coming up in the near immediate future & not having the opponents react to the party or the VSM buff. Simply being frequently ranked as a good first level spell does not change the fact that 5e has monster AC tuned to almost certain hits making the actual impact of this spell very small under most conditions
  • Dragon's Breath Concentration spell with a 1 minute duration where an ally needs to use their action? 3d6(avg10.5) is a point less than attacking once with a great sword & +4 strength, or a point less than sneak+rapier with +4 dex from a rogue. Sure it's AoE so you could butbutbut to compare as number of attacks & sneak attack dice/feats/magic weapons/etc grow, but the scaling on this is atrocious with an extra 1d6 for each slot level above second & the weight of extra attacks/magic weapons/feats/extra sneak attack dice/etc all tend to grow faster than +1d6 per slot level. To add insult to an already meh buff energy resisists energy immunes & magic resists all apply to this while "resistant to nonmagical bludgeoning piercing or slashing" is completely ignored by any magical weapon. Even if this slightly pulls ahead because your party is in a zombie apocalypse or something with wall to wall baddies the need to concentrate on it & short duration prevents the caster from concentrating on something else & offers atrocious spell slot efficiency for that slight pulling ahead under a contrived situation. In AL games when I see players cast this spell it goes unused shockingly often. The spell gets a little better if paired with a familiar, but not every class with dragons breath also has find familiar & it's still a 1 minute concentration spell so you can't concentrate on anything else & it's probably only going to last one fight if nothing looks at your familiar funny sooner
  • Enhance Ability This second level concentration spell used to be six spells that gave +4 to an attribute like this one & because of some system differences with extra attacks the end result was even better than that sounds in some cases when it was the buff people lusted after. The 5e version is one nonritual spell that grants advantage to ability checks of a given attribute They increased the duration quite a bit from 1mn/caster level to 1 hour concentration. As a nonritual spell this can only be cast if prepared ahead of time & frankly advantage on ability checks related to one attribute is a pretty terrible buff that you probably won't need after the initial do or die check you prepared this for. Even if you do it's still single target so you aren't using it for that check everyone in the group needs to make. It would be difficult to make this spell any worse or improve an area more irrelevant than going from 1 min/caster level to 1hour while nerfing the actual effect the caster cares about & adding that concentration cherry to make sure a caster who somehow found a good use for this as a buffer/force multiplier won't be casting any other concentration spells while this massive bonus is going. Even if the benefit of this spell was somehow a desired thing,

    Let alone a second level slot
  • Enlarge/Reduce This is kinda like elemental weapon above at a slot level lower & worse in many ways. Instead of elemental weapon's elemental damage this just adds 1d4 extra damage & the same +1 but instead of a 1hr single target concentration spell it's a 1 minute single target concentration spell & has what is generally going to be a drawback o making your bud have trouble fitting into hallways & rooms so get used to remembering or looking up phb192 squeezing rules while your bud is able to be surrounded by 8 baddies rather than just the usual 4. In the past enlarge did a bunch of things & unlike in 5e enlarge person mass version existed to do to to a bunch of people.
  • Flame Arrows: see the original thread compilation section above
  • Friends: see the original thread compilation section above
  • Magic Weapon This 1hr concentration spell makes one nonmagic weapon into a +1 version. If you need it, you probably need it for everyone & doing it to a single target is a bit meh given that you need to maintain concentration on it. The old version was pretty similar. The potential for this to be great in "games where magic weapons aren't available" doesn't exclude this spell either because there is not a spell that also meets the needs of games where they are & with 5e's shortsighted design decision to do away with bonus types this spell excludes itself from counting by being a magic bonus rather than an arcane bonus or something if the party already has +1 weapons.

    The 5e developers inherited a game swimming in magic items & in some areas made serious efforts to change that without even telling the people writing other parts of the system. 5e is a game where magic weapons are fairly common & any spells that fail to account for that are problematic. Multiple books support their commonality as dmg213 uncommon weapon xge126 &dmg 135 list as 1d6x100gp & 101-501gp in cost. There is also this line on xge 146 "Having no magic makes it extremely difficult for a party to overcome monsters that have resistances or immunity to nonmagical damage. In such a game, you’ll want to be generous with magic weapons or else avoid using such monsters." The spell is designed for some game other than the one wotc put together & is not worth licking the shoes of most spells that are merely bad. If that 100-600gp +1 weapon being very difficult to obtain despite all of that is the game wotc designed wizards with spell scribe costs & every caster with spell component costs deserve several pounds of flesh from some of the people at wotc
  • Resistance 1 minute concentration cantrip that grants +1d4 to one target's save of their choice before it expires. The cantrip isn't bad, but the opportunity cost of not taking some other cantrip is huge given how limited known/prepared cantrip slots are. There are a lot of ways this could be improved to make it worth the opportunity cost, but "cast it on the rogue while they handle a trap in the next room" is pretty terrible cost/benefit
  • Skill Empowerment Grant someone expertise for 1 hour with a fifth level concentration spell? This might be iffy if it were a first level ritual but as a nonritual 5th level spell it's absurd as it's almost never that someone might need it for one hour & most of the cases where they might are going to be things like crafting where the concentration is silly.
  • Tenser's Transformation This sixth level concentration spell lasts for ten minutes, which is good since that's how long it takes to don the heavy armor it makes you proficient in just as a bunch of laughably minor effects wear off for you to maybe suffer a level of exhaustion. The argument that abunch of low power effects like 50 temhp & getting a second attack but not third if you already have a second attack "works reasonably well for certain gishes as a pebuff" doesn't save this high level spell slot concentration spell with a duration greater than the time needed to swapping certain kinds of armor even if you want to believe the remaining effects are going to leave that gish going gangbusters because there is a dc15 co save for exhaustion at the end as a tie to when it was deserved by a crazy spell in older editions.

A ton of what would otherwise be reasonable & maybe even good debuffs are hamstrung by concentration, the inability to move a long duration concentration spell like hex can, silly target limits, too high a slot cost, being too niche to eat a prep/known slot, so on & so forth. Much like the deliberate efforts put into combating LFQW at every turn that wotc can try to combat it adds up to inverting it with an avalanche of petty "wow this could have been interesting but". If a group has no crunchy type characters or crunchy types wh avoid their cunchiness in favor of developing in other directions it would feel markedly different at the table than if they do & that's perfectly ok; yet WotC seems hell bent on making sure a group with a character focusing their build on buffing/debuffing feels much the same as a group without... that's not ok.

My not including debuffs & damage spells with awful scaling doesn't mean those spells are good, This is getting quite long & I need to shift focus for a bit. I'm certain I've seen some leveled spells that scale worse than cantrips!)

  • Arcane Lock & Knock These are genuinely not bad spells & barely qualifiy as "cruddy" if not for one inexcusable flaw in both that not taken into account during the move from Vancian to 5e's prepared style. Back in versions with a Vancian style of magic there was a very low opportunity cost in devoting one second level slot to it because it might maybe potentially come in useful in a pinch. However in 5e the cost to prepare such niche spells is identical to the cost of preparing a "intentionally overtuned" spell like fireball. Like quite a few "utility" spells, this gets them listed as a poorly made "cruddy" spell.
  • What!?!
    yes... Clone is included for a few reasons related to how other choices wotc made in 5e collide here. First you have the 1000gp component cost, as with hallow that may as wellbe bleen gp as long as wotc persists in not providing anything even distantly resembling a wealth by level type chart. The second strike is that this takes 120days to be mature similar to the old version that needed 2d4 months. 2d4 months works out to ~60-240 days if you assume 30 day months, but in those old versions of the spell it was not uncommon for natural recovery of HP & attribute damage to take several days if not longer while in 5e WotC made every attempt to do away with those reasons to sit around & flash forward on the timeline so it literally amounts to a rather extreme 120 long rests on an 8th level spell in a system where damage beyond zero up to death by massive damage just goes away & someone can use 300gp with a third level . The two combined qualify an otherwise great spell to quickly bring back bob from death.
  • Create homunculus is a"utility" spell that was detailed up above in the original thread section.
  • Dancing lights© lets the caster make some floating balls of light they can move around "as a bonus action". That alone might have been ok even with 5e's "you get darkvision & you get darkvision & all of you get darkvision too", but what qualifies this cantrip as a cruddy spell is that it's both a short duration 1 minute spell and concentration. All three combined on this spell deserves some kind of award for the level of "we just assumed you would ignore the rules we wrote here so didn't do much sanity checking" exhibited by this spell
  • demiplane was covered above in the original thread spells
  • Feather Fall100% deserves to be listed as a cruddy spell no matter how many pit traps your GM likes to use. The reason is simple & stems entirely from the increased opportunity cost of adding it as a prepared spell over tossing it on a spare 1st level slot "just in case because why not". That increased opportunity cost means that every nonritual spell & most ritual spells need to deliver far more than this offers.
  • Legend Lore. Cast time of ten minutes & 300gp worth of components consumed no matter the outcome on a 5th level spell that could nab you some useful but maybe vague information about something you name could maybe be forgivable if not for the fact that it's also nonritual so you are practically guaranteed not to have it prepared if you encounter something you want to learn about. This spell goes the extra mile though by declaring that even getting the vague & potentially imprecise information it provides after consuming the components is entirely dependent on "If the thing you named isn't of legendary importance, you gain no information". There are just too many layers of strings & hurdles attached to this spell for it not to be listed here.
  • I had trouble deciding what tag of spells to blast next & was going through the lists one by one till this mountain of lemons made me realize just how deserving that "utility" spells were. Secret Chest is a 4th level spell meaning it can't be cast till at least level 8 & that's right around the time the campaign is wrapping up or ending. To add insult to an already massively overleveled spell takes 5050 bleen worth of material components in a system where wotc has provided zero guidance towards wealth by level and it includes a cumulative 5% chance per day that you lose the contents of the ludicrously expensive5000 bleen chest that you securely hid away on the ethereal plane.
  • Magnificent Mansion should be an incredible nonritual seventh level spell. A prep slot needs to be devoted In order to cast it & given the rarity of 7th level spell slots that pretty much amounts to taking a long rest to cast it, After you cast it the spell lasts for 24 hours and well... is slightly better than the third level ritual spell called tiny hut you probably used to prepare this seventh level spell. Not to be misrated though it's worth pointing out that this will provide protection from burrowing & incorporeal creatures that could have gone under the ritual improved forcecage dome the group used to prepare this spell last night... at only 5gp & not consumed it's barely a cost but the fact that this requires one while tiny hut does not is the pile of wax flavored jimmies on this particular ice cream of a spell.
  • Mending was already covered in the original thread spells above
  • Prestidigitation does some fun fluff type things & one or two that barely qualify as being maybe potentially useful on a mechanical level. The problem comes in the fact that known/prepared cantrip slots are extremely limited for casters in 5e so taking it provides a rather serious opportunity cost just to gain a fun cantrip that adds a little fluff. If you get it from your race or class for free it's even worse because that inclusion probably came at the cost your race or class not gaining something else.
  • Purify Food & drink One odf 5e's design goals behind some of the spell l changes was to make it so that a spell f a given level is good for that level without considering what other spells the class gets & I've so far avoided making spells good or bad based entirely on what classes get them. This spell is an exception for the pants on head level of thoughtless design it shows on so many levels though. The effect is useful, but the spell is included because as a ritual spell it's only available that can only cast a ritual spell if they have it prepared plus one that doesn't even have ritual casting while the wizard who could cast it from their spellbook if scribed without needing to prepare it. It's almost as if they decided that the old versionof 8 gallons &60 pounds was probably the entire banquet & was too good for some story idea they had involving the cleric going around to ritually cast it on the food & drink at every table in the banquet without considering the opportunity cost of preparing it in order to ritually cast it but didn't want to make it a high level spell that could solve a problem or expand who has it to a class that could just cast it any time a possible need came up. By just barely managing to miss the mark with a gold star in such a wide variety of ways this spell just barely manages to justify inclusion as a cruddy spell.
  • Skill Empowerment was covered above in concentration buffs & won't be duplicated but is listed as utility & is still cruddy
  • Wrist Pocket This almost great version of secret chest sheds nearly all of the problems that put secret chest on this list by largely duplicating the glove of storing from prior editions and then reclaims the damaged gold star by being a concentration spell with a 1 hour duration to needlessly double dip on the safeguards.

  • Bane This is a legitimately good -14 to attacks & saves spell that still manages to qualify due to a combo of a few things. First it's a 1 minute concentration spell & either of those would have worked alone. It does good by letting you target 3 targets of your choice, but then it requires concentration to be maintained while the caster is left with no hex-like way of moving the debuff to some other target if one is killed during the 1 minute of concentration. There are a lot of ways this could have been a great debuff & all of them would have had some flavor of safeguard (duration, concentration, etc) but all of them were applied so it qualifies as cruddy
  • Bestow Curse is included in the original thread section & not getting repeated but still very much qualifies
  • As a concentration spell Elemental Bane demands more, but frankly it falls short in so many ways. First of all it's a single target concentration spell with a 1 minute duration & no way to swap targets while concentration is maintained. As a concentration spell it can't be combined with elemental weapon & that is critical because your using a 4th level save for no effect concentration spell to add 2d6 of one element when the target takes damage from the same element. If your party is so monty haul that it's running around with a bunch of flametongues or something, they don't need it. If the intent is to give a hex type bump to a cantrip, you can't move it & as the dagger+shield/greataxe+gwm matched to d12 cantrips show it's probably not even going to bridge the gap on this one monster. It could have been 5e's "holy crap I just realized you can cast bull's strength now man awesome!" with a better duration/ability to move it & either the ability to combine with elemental weapon or even better make the triggering effect bludgeoning piercing or slashing to dial up reciprocity... but instead it comes off as a solution in search of a problem even if negating one energy resistance on a failed con save on one monster for one minute while concentration is maintained is useful to some degree.
  • Eyebite gives the caster an array of nifty gaze type abilities to impose various debuffed states at the cost of an action. As a sixth level spell slot this is listed because a 1 minute concentration effect is woefully insufficient & the save every round on the sickened option is just petty given the fact that creatures gain immunity once they break free of an effect. A longer duration or the same duration with no concentration might have worked
  • Flesh to stone is detailed above in the original thread section & still very much belongs in a list of cruddy spells
  • Ray of enfeeblement This is a great effect that could have been a debiuff deserving top honors... Unfortunately instead it's a single target spell that lasts one minute with no way to move it while concentrating like hex & grants the target a free no action con save every round after italready failed at having an AC high enough to be missed by the initial all or nothing spell attack. This is a spell built for a version of d&d where casters did dramatically more damage, that version is not 5e where this cruddy version of the spell exists
  • Slow The spell does great stuff as a debuff to up to six targets. Unfortunately it has no way of being moved, has a one minute duration and concentration and then tops it all off by giving the target a free save every turn to negate the spelk eing concentrated on after it failed the initial save. When they ticked every box at the ferrari dealership in ferris beuler's day off it was amusing, when someone at wotc ticked every box for red tape hurdles & strings on this cruddy spell the effect is not so amusing given that this is the same level as this "intentionally overtuned" spell. Very few monsters have a bonus action & monsters with extra attacks will often also have magic resistance or legendary resist. In addition the -2 ac is not generally going to be a notable difference because of 5e's generally low monster ACs & wotc pushing gms to be quote "generous with magic weapons" to further inflate the hitrate of the top damage dealers. The -2 to dex saves can be more useful, but probably only if you are in a party with amther caster likely to target dex saves because you've already cast one third level spell that wasn't fireball at this point & the continually slowing spell slot gain progression (see spoiler) ensures you won't.
  • Divine word is listed above in the original thread section & still very much deserves to be here but won't be repeated
  • Strangely feign death is listed with both a buff and a debuff so is already listed as a nonconcentration buff while still cruddy given the "willing creature" limitation it is probably much much worse as a debuff.
  • Frostbite Given the huge at will disparity between weapon users & cantrip casters the debuff attached to this cantrip applies disadvantage to the next weapon attack roll it makes. It barely qualifies as cruddy because it drops to a d6 damage die and only applies to the next attack before the end of its turn.... There is an awful lot of number crunching around page 3 & I recommend checking it out if that seems confusing.
  • Hallow is already listed in nonconcentration buffs & there is no reason to repeat all of the many reasons it's both a cruddy debuff & a cruddy buff
  • Power Word Pain is already listed in the original thread spells where the reasons for it being a cruddy debuff still apply so there's no reason to duplicate it.
  • Sunburst This 8th level spell has a nice initial effect. I'm including it as a cruddy spell because a level 20 full caster will have 1 (yes one) level 8 spell slot & this grants both an initial con save to ignore as well as free no action cost con save to negate at the end of each turn those who failed the initial save already saved. Either the spell is massively overleveled or there are far far too many saves granted
  • Symbol This spell offers a bunch of legitimately nifty short lived effects gets the first strike for needing 1000 bleen worth of components in a system wotc has abandoned even pretending to give GMs a rough estimate for how many gp players should be awarded at a given level with some form of wealth by level table or similar. That alone may have been forgivable if not for the fact that this 7th level spell includes the words " If you choose an object, that object must remain in its place; if the object is moved more than 10 feet from where you cast this spell, the glyph is broken, and the spell ends without being triggered." Symbol of death may sound extremely worrisome sure, but the death option on this stationary 1000gp spell only deals 10d10* save for half & the nondamage effects tend to be equally weaksauce for a spell of this level & cost
    * That's low even for the dmg283 "spell damage dice" table
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I'm going to disagree on your assessment on some of these.

Aid: Any buff that can be cast well before combat is valuable. The most constrained resource in combat is your action. Being able to make use of a spell slot for a significant advantage up to 8 hours before combat is huge. +5 hp at 2nd level is not outstanding, but as you use higher level spell slots, the impact does become more significant. When I play a cleric, I do not prepare this at 3rd level. However, by 7th level, this starts to see play and it becomes rare that I do not use it. It only makes a difference if a PC would go down but for the aid, and for my clerics, for the game I was playing, that did occur often.

Further, I do not think you're considering the other main benefit of the spell: Multitarget battlefield healing. If a few allies go down in the same round, this is the lowest level spell that can get them all back up in one action. Compare it to mass healing word. You give up your action rather than a bonus action, but it is 1 spell level lower and can achieve similar benefits.

Bless: This will depend upon your party, but for many parties, this is often "THE" concentration spell for the first several levels for the cleric or paladin. It impacts 1 in 8 attack rolls or saving throws on average (2.5 out of 20). I often see it ending up impacting 2, 3 or even 4 times per casting. That can keep a PC on their feet, or turn misses into hits that give a lot of damage. It is sometimes entirely a waste - but when that happens, it usually means that you were successful without it, so you have success in the end anyways. The added reliability is significant, even though+d4 doesn't sound that big at first blush.

Yeah ... Bless should be as far away from any cruddy spells list as humanly possible. Most of the complaints I see about it is that it's OP. (I don't think it's OP, but it's definitely not weak and is well worth your concentration.)

And Aid is also a staple that I happen to think is good at a full caster's highest available spell slot at any given level up to around 10th.

I did not follow the previous thread,
but some spells surely didn’t fit in a worst spell thread

bless, enlarge, enhance ability, aid, are nice spells often used.
neutralized poison can be given the whole party without concentration. To be honest resist energy should be in your list before neutralize poison.
magic weapon is a must in a world where magic weapons are not an auto filled by level 5.


bless & aid got updated :D
I did not follow the previous thread,
but some spells surely didn’t fit in a worst spell thread

bless, enlarge, enhance ability, aid, are nice spells often used.
neutralized poison can be given the whole party without concentration. To be honest resist energy should be in your list before neutralize poison.
magic weapon is a must in a world where magic weapons are not an auto filled by level 5.
Protection from poison? It's in nonconcentration buffs, if not that what spell? I agree that PfE is pretty meh, but with a 1hr duration & elementals other than stone IME almost always being at least semiexpected I held back as something that can be added later. If it's bad, unload on it & I'll add it :D

@fearsomepirate I don't mind buffs that aren't likely to last much more than one encounter, but the benefit needs to be high enough to justify the spell slot & if concentration it needs to be even better, the effect needs to be even bigger if it's concentration. An awful lot of spells in 5e just fall short on that & become cruddy spells even if they can be good sometimes if the GM is willing to tell you that you need it.


Shillelagh is a very solid melee cantrip for nature clerics. It is also quite beneficial for any monk who can find a way to get it, since it removes much of the monk's MAD issues.

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