D&D 5E Guide to cruddy spells (v1.01)


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Shiroiken

Legend
While some of these are spot on, part of the problem with spells (just like Feats) is the opportunity cost. Fireball makes a lot of other spells look like crap in comparison, not because the spells are bad, but because fireball is written to be stronger than it should be (by their own rules, IIRC, it should only be 6d6 for that AoE). Some of your choices, however, are really... odd.

Aid - a 2nd level spell slot to "heal" 15 damage, which is about equal to 2d8+6 or 3d8+1. This puts it slightly ahead of Cure Wounds as a 2nd level slot, and it can be cast preemptively, saving the action in combat. Yes you lose the "extra healing" from a downed character and it has to be spread out, putting this spell about on par with Cure wounds for this level. It gets much better if upcast, since it becomes +15 per level, rather than the +1d8 from CW.

Power Word: Heal - very costly at 9th level, and weaker than Wish (which can get 20 creatures plus Greater Restoration), but Wish has issues when used in this regard. Comparatively, this is the strongest healing of a living creature in the game (other than Wish).

Protection from Poison - isn't as bad as you claim, and poison is a fairly common damage type (also the most resisted/immune to). The issue of this spell is both the duration and the existence of Anti-toxin (which does something similar for only 50 gp instead of a slot).

Shillelagh - being an at-will attack that adds your spellcasting modifier, this is better than most cantrips until level 5, and stays on par until level 11 (where the extra die then tends to fade it out). Not to mention that Ranger can now pick it up and use it with Extra Attack.

Bless - stop smoking crack. Seriously. This is the most efficient buff spell in the game. Period. Unless your cleric is built to focus on another concentration spell, they should be using this a lot. My current cleric is focused on using spirit guardians, but every combat I deem not worth a 3+ level spell gets a bless. I've used paladins casting it (losing out on smites) and it was still worth it.

Dragon's Breath - this is an amazing spell that requires a LOT of group effort to work. You don't cast it on the high DPR characters, you cast it on the bard or cleric when they don't want to spend a slot every round to be useful. I can't imagine trying to use it in AL, since you don't know the group dynamic going in. Using it with flying familiar is also very solid, but risks the death of the familiar.

Enhance Ability - while not as amazing as the old 3E CODzilla versions, this is still a good spell. Primary use is to cast on the party's Face right before beginning an RP heavy scene. I've also seen it used on the party's weakling during a climbing challenge (series of athletics checks), and on Intelligence right before entering a library to do research. Like Dragon's Breath it requires work to use and it's not an all the time spell. Sadly, the ability to use Help and Working Together is very DM dependent, and this spell is a method of getting around these issue.

Friends - not especially terrible, depending on the PC. I've considered it for my upcoming warlock, but limited cantrip availability makes it less exciting. Basically you cast it to get information from people, since you have advantage on the Cha check. Once you have the information, they can't take it away from you, no matter how pissed off they are. I completely admit that the "automatically know they were charmed" thing is BS, keeping it from being a good spell, and have an Int/Arcana check be used afterwards instead.

Magic Weapon - this is a stable spell, and necessary in campaigns with little/no magic items. Like many low level damage spells, it does get phased out (once you actually have a magic weapon).

Skill Empowerment - this would be a great spell... if they weren't smoking crack and made it 5th level. This would be have perfectly fine as a 3rd level spell, but I've seen it grudgingly used as a 5th level spell.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Yeah got to disagree on a few here.

Bless - The spell is practically OP, I have seen 18th level paladins decide that this is what they wanted to use their concentration slot on....and they weren't disappointed.

Aid - Aid is not a great spell when you first get 2nd level spells, but its a wonderful spell later in the game as a passive buff. Give me a 4th level +15 HP for 8 hours with no concentration, that is extremely solid.

Prot from Poison: Its a niche spell. If you know your fighting poisonous creatures, its wonderful. I would never have it on a sorc but its a solid wizard utility spell.

Hallow - As a PC spell I agree its garbage, but its one of my go to evil boss lair spells. Its one of the few effects in the game that can impose vulnerability on players, which completely changes the fight.

Enhance Ability - My players love this spell. Its not the spell you use on combat days, its on downtime RP days. For that you get a long duration spell that just makes you flat out better in all the things you want to be good at, rock solid.

Investiture of Fire - I want to make a case for this spell. Yes the attack is stupidly garbage, but not only does it grant IMMUNITY to fire (which very few things in the game give you), but it throws in resistance to cold on top. If you are fighting big daddy Red dragon or if your having combats in a volcano, this spell might save your bacon.
 
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Enhance ability is my most used spell.
Sneaking in: cat's grace. (it also nets you advantage to initiative in case of emergency...)
Wanting to be really aware of your surrounding: owl's wisdom.

After combat started, you can safely cast a different buff.

But it excels at avoiding combat and for a class that does not prepare spells but has limited spells known, you can do much worse.

Same goes for other spells.
Sometimes a swiss army knife is better than a specialized tool.
I
 

Magic Weapon - this is a stable spell, and necessary in campaigns with little/no magic items. Like many low level damage spells, it does get phased out (once you actually have a magic weapon).

There are published campaigns where there either is no magic bow, or it's easy to miss. This is a favorite of my party's Arcane Trickster for that region.

Spells like Hallow I don't really consider "bad," as they're more for world-construction than combat. A player might get a little utility out of them, but a DM can get a lot.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Hallow - As a PC spell I agree its garbage, but its one of my go to evil boss lair spells. Its one of the few effects in the game that can impose vulnerability on players, which completely changes the fight.
I wouldn't even say it's garbage for PCs. It's just extremely specialized. If you know who the BBEG is, and you can find a way to force them into combat on your chosen ground, hallow is devastating.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I wouldn't even say it's garbage for PCs. It's just extremely specialized. If you know who the BBEG is, and you can find a way to force them into combat on your chosen ground, hallow is devastating.
Also, if you are building a base, an "until dispelled" spell is nice.

Not all campaigns will have base building as part of it. Those who do, the fact that Hallow and Teleportation Circle and the like exist with mechanics to augment your base is nice.
 


Democratus

Adventurer
5e has no assumption that the party will own magic items. I've run multi-year campaigns where the number of magic weapons found could be counted on one hand.

Magic Weapon bridges that gap and allows a party to have "magic weapons" to combat whatever nasty requires it.
 

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