D&D 5E Guide to cruddy spells (v1.01)


How did you get that from what I wrote? I know that you can only have one concentration spell active at a time. My point is that both concentration and spell slots are limited resources. Spirit Guardians IS a more powerful spell than Bless - that's why it is 3rd level and Bless is 1st. But it's not a simple choice between one or the other. For the expenditure of a 1st level slot, a 3rd level slot, and Concentration, I can get Spirit Guardians and maybe Command, or Sanctuary. Alternatively I can also get Bless, and maybe something like Counterspell, or Revivify, or even Fireball if i'm a Light cleric. In addition, concentration spells can be interrupted early by damage and failed concentration checks. It;s less painful to lose a first-level spell prematurely after one round when you haven't gotten much benefit out of it, than it is to lose a 3rd level spell in the same circumstances.

Also, it's worth noting that most of the powerful concentration spells listed above aren't routinely available to PCs who can cast Bless, unless via domain spells. So in some cases, the choice is no choice at all.
Easy. What you wrote only works out if spells scale by caster level rather than slot level. This is an example of a 5e spell still pegged to scale by caster level using concentration and short duration to keep it from being too good when it does. The system used in 5e however is to scale by slot level. The upcast carries additional cost that the spell does not compensate for.

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Ok a few comments on these spells. All these are based on play.

Awesome spells:
Aid - The 5hps you get from aid is trivial as mentioned, however this is the 2nd best spell for bringing people back from being down (behind healing word) and the best spell for bringing 2 people back from being down. It is also pretty awsome to bring back one person while giving a minor buff to two more and you can do it from range and you can upcast it for more hps. Consider this - you can use a 6th level slot on heal to bring back one guy and give him 70 hps or you can use aid on the downed guy and give him 25 and give the two guys standing next to him each 25 as well. Action economy is huge- if your Rogue, Paladin and Barbarian are all down do you cast healing word on the Paladin or Barbarian? Aid all of them and that is 3 actions this turn getting back in the fight.

Mending: Fix anything that is broken and small enough. Depending on the DM, fix anything at all with multiple castings.

Shillaleagh: Use your casting stat to attack, make your weapon magical and it works with PAM? How did this ever get rated low?

Slow: Massive debuff with no friendly fire on up to 6 enemies. This is the most versatile 3rd level control spell in the game. Fear can be better if you win initiative and don't mind moving to the front and Hypnotic Pattern can be better if you win initiative and your DM fights on easy mode, but Slow is almost always effective. Lose initiate and have the party surrounded by 6 bad guys and you can nerf them all with a failed save.

Bless: There are plenty of misses especially at low level when you get it and still later with feats like sharpshooter, GWM or with disadvantage. Second the saving throw buff is the big benefit here. Upcasts well too.

Dragon's Breath: Fire Breathing Owl/Bat/Raven/Hawk. This one of the most OP spells for a 3rd level Wizard, essentially doubling his action economy (until the enemy kills it)

Situationaly Awesome Spells:
Spare the Dying: Not a great spell, but great when a party member has failed 2 death saves and you don't have any healing available

False Life: This is a huge hp buff when upcast and with the hour duration can usually be precast. If you want to build a Bladesinger or Sword Bard Melee tank this spell is a must have to do it right. Without this spell you are pretty much relegated to hit and run skirmishing type attacks, ok in a pinch, but not "the guy" who is going to run up and block a doorway against a horde. People can argue that something like Forcecage is generally way more powerful than a 7th level False Life and they would be right, but if you cast Forcecage and then wade into melee on Wizard hit points at 13th level you will die rather quickly. Walk in with 37 temp hps and you have more than a Fighter and nearly as much as a Barbarian .... add another 28 on contingency once those run out and you are in really good shape to tank. It also "stacks" very well with a very high AC-shield combo, absorb elements and Arcane Ward or Song of Defense.

Create Food and Water: If there are food and water to be brought or found this spellsucks, but when there is not it is awesome. It is also awesome to feed a bunch of refugees traveling with you.

Enlarge/Reduce: Damage is not the reason to cast this. If you enlarge someone it is generally to allow them to grapple someone 2 sizes bigger than the PC. If you reduce someone it is either to make them plummet from the sky (reduce the dragonnel and he can not support his rider) or to make a PC smaller so they can be carried by another character. IF you have a small Paladin or Barbarian in the party this is generally an extremely useful spell.

Feather Fall: Mandatory if you take fly. Else your party is risking plummeting to death if your Wizard fails concentration.

Prestidigitation: Heat or cool clothing repeatedly eliminating need for cold weather clothing or overheating. Go out in icewind dale in a simple nightshirt and just heat it using Presti. Also pretty useful for cleaning yourself off after you sneak into the castle through the sewers.

Magic Weeapon: We recently played the new Dragonlance campaign all the way to 11th level and we never found a magic finesse weapon. I was playing a Paladin and I was "swimming" in magic weapons with a Dragonlance, a longsword of dancing and a +1 Longsword. Our Rogue on the other hand had nothing at all he could sneak attack with. Magic Weapon, cast on the Rogue's Rapier by me, is what enabled the Rogue to sneak attack enemies in the last several sessions of the game. Now if you are playing the kind of game where you can ask the DM to give you a perfectly suited magic weapon this is not as useful.
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Easy. What you wrote only works out if spells scale by caster level rather than slot level. This is an example of a 5e spell still pegged to scale by caster level using concentration and short duration to keep it from being too good when it does. The system used in 5e however is to scale by slot level. The upcast carries additional cost that the spell does not compensate for.
I have no idea what you are talking about. Nobody has mentioned spells scaling by casting level until you said it right here out of left field.

Spells not scaling by caster level is not relevant to what I am saying, nor is it relevant to what humble minion is saying.

I understand that concentration is a resource. When I compare Bless against other concentration spells, there is no 1st level concentration spell that competes with it. Even a 3rd level concentration spells that many people consider good - haste - has a similar damage impact that bless has!

Bless is a 1st level slot. If you don't have higher level slots to spare, Bless is a great use of your concentration slot. It both gives a good offensive boost and a good defensive one.

I have explicitly described what the offensive boost is. I haven't relied on "this doesn't feel like it is powerful" or "this feels like this powerful". I noted that so long as you miss on a 1 2 3 or 4, then 1 in 8 attack attempts are turned from a miss into a hit.

If you cast bless on yourself and 2 friends and keep it up for 3 rounds, you'll get 8 player-turns worth of actions.

So you'll do damage as if a player made an attack and had a 100% hit rate 0% crit rate on average, over 3 rounds. It costs you your action.

Thus, so long as you aren't a significantly better damage dealer than your allies, or your concentration doesn't drop immediately, then Bless will give you a damage boost over even a 3 round combat. If your allies do more damage per action, then Bless is even better.

It is true that Bless scales better the lower your accuracy is. But even if you and your allies hit on a 5+, Bless over 3 rounds is better than attacking by almost a 33% margin. If you hit on a 12+ it becomes 100% better than using your action to make attacks (assuming you are about average in terms of attack oomph), as you give up (1 round of 45% chance to hit 5% chance to crit) for (a full PCs worth of attacks that all hit), which is more than twice as much damage.

And all of this is before we take into account the +1d4 to Saves.

I'm not assuming low accuracy. I'm not assuming spells scale with level. I'm not assuming anything I'm not mentioning. Please don't start putting words into my mouth and saying "this is only if spells scale with level" or "this would only be good if your accuracy wasn't high". The spell is good if you have 80% accuracy, and becomes even better if your accuracy drops lower. But at 80% accuracy (hit on an 5+) it is worth casting! At higher accuracy, it may still be decent -- but honestly, situations where you hit on lower than a 5 aren't that common.

Bless is a good buff. It isn't the best most powerful concentration spell in the game. But it is also a 1st level slot; so if you don't intend on burning a 3rd 4th or 5th level slot on a concentration spell right now, burning a 1st level slot on an efficient buff is a decent plan.

Bless is a good buff. If your allies exploit the accuracy boost by using abilities like GWM or SS, it becomes even better. This is because Bless boosts effectiveness (as a percentage of unblessed) larger the less accurate you are. GWM/SS can switch from being marginal to great, or if great can already become better, if you have Bless up.

This is something I have checked in actual play. I have experienced Bless on a PC at both low and high levels. What more, I had a high level PC that got ahold of a pile of Potions of Heroism, and boy was that broken good (concentration free bless!)

In 5 minute adventuring days, by high levels Bless falls off in utility, simply because every fight you can afford to drop multiple high level slots on concentration spells. My bard would sometimes cast polymorph for less than a single round just for the purpose of tanking, then drop it before the cleric's turn so the beat up target could get healed. But bless was still a go-to buff even in the low teens, when 3rd level slots still had a price.

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