D&D 5E How many spells does a wizard *need*

Gardens & Goblins

First Post
Your player has stated they need 10-12?

Great! Then you give them 3-4 and have them hungry and hunting for the rest. Just don't be stingy and be sure to reward them if they put the effort in. You want them hungry and then sated, not hungry, starving and then frustrated.

And if the player really goes for it? Make sure that you reinforce how 'Joe Average Wizard' is scraping by with 3-4 spells while your player's wizard is sitting pretty on a hard won, might stash, of arcane awesome.

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Make it a plot hook, maybe. Include a spellbook in with some of the colonization supplies, only no one remembers it and it's not on any manifests, and there's something a bit off about it...


Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I'm not really worried about that. I've pitched the idea to them and they liked it.
Also, for most of them, it's their first real campaign - besides The Lost Mines of Phandelver, which I used to introduce them to DnD.
Except, of course, the Gnome Wizard's player, who is a 3.5e veteran. He likes the general concept and is really excited to begin, but he started complaining when he discovered he couldn't get every spell he wants.

I try to keep 3.5 style powergaming on a very short leash, to maintain the balance between the noobs and the vet. I was just concerned I was too harsh on him. Seems like the general consensus thus far says I'm not.

I don't know, you are more than generous. If this was my player I would have limited him to two spells at first and 1 every other level and tell him he was lucky...

Or you know, you could make him catch magic creatures to try to study. Catch a blinking dog, study it, chance to learn blink! flesh to stone? a medusa! Dispell? vivisect a sorcerer who knows the spell...


Wizards get all the spells they "need" as-written in the rules - it's a ribbon, not a balance-setting feature, that they aren't strictly limited to just that number of spells.

And in a practical sense, knowing more spells doesn't actually change the potency of the character because they still have the same preparation limit, since well chosen spells (the first 4 or so of each spell level that a player chooses) means not frequently changing your prepared spells - only a few extra rituals (which there aren't enough of to justify cranking-up spells learned per level) would have a direct practical effect.

That said, be as generous as you want to - and if your player reacts to you giving them a bonus by insisting the bonus isn't large enough, sounds to me like you gave the bonus to the wrong person.


First Post
I think everyone has answered the question. What the Wizard needs is what's in the PHB -- no extra required. What the Wizard wants is every spell known so they can pick and choose what to have prepared on any given day.

Most campaigns don't come across spellbooks that often, so learning new spells from spellbooks is rare. My suggestion is to give out extra spells as DM awards: "After defeating that young dragon, you have had an insight into the way magical creatures fly. You believe that with a day or two of effort, you'll be able to come up with a new fly spell"

In other words, all you're doing is altering the mechanics of how the Wizard gets the extra spells. The game effect is the same as the the standard rules.

The Wizard can suggest extra spells he'd like to learn and you can introduce them as rewards at appropriate times if you deem them appropriate. Otherwise, he picks what he wants when he goes up levels, as per the PHB.


First Post
The wizard has to make the same decisions about which spells to learn (put in his spellbook) each level, just like other arcane spellcasters. The wizard already gets more than any other arcane caster. I don't think he needs even more spells.


First Post
The wizard has to make the same decisions about which spells to learn (put in his spellbook) each level, just like other arcane spellcasters. The wizard already gets more than any other arcane caster. I don't think he needs even more spells.
While technically true and I think a wizard gets by fine with base spells that's a bit misleading IMO. Known spell classes retrain out of spells. So a lot of spells that a wizard will probably never prep also are being counted as his larger known list while the bard retrains out so spells that lost their effectiveness for whatever reason no longer count against his.


Remember. Even finding spells isn't always helpful. Spell books tend to have the same spells you already have, and also have spells you would never want.

Being able to pick the exact spells you want, is very powerful. If he wants more, then make it random.

Normally he gets to pick 2. So give him a choice, either he can pick 3, or he can pick 2 and random roll for 2 more.


First Post
My Wizard gets by just fine with what the PHB gives him. As for what he actually needs? Well that is considerably less than that. The spells that aren't ritual, or prepared, just sit on my list acting as a waste if ink - they haven't been prepared since I got myself a better option and they will never be prepared again.
So I'd say you need around 10+wizardlevel spells. That is 1 for every spell that can be prepared with 5 rituals extra. It is more than enough.

I'd also caution you from overrating the value of being able to scribe spells in addition to those gained from leveling. My Wizard has managed to get his hands on someone else's spellbook, but it hasn't been of any use. Scribing additional spells simply costs too much to be worth the limited value you would gain in return. Giving him extra spells for free seems a little unbalancing - if you are going to do that, find ways of getting the other characters extra cash to compensate (so the equivalent of him paying for them can be maintained); or give them suitable buffs too.
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In 3.5 wizard did need more spells. They had a lot of specific use cases. In 5e each spell is more generalized and wizards have pseudo spontaneous casting, so you need less to cover the same situations. Finding spells isn't as necessary.

As for being different from the sorcerer, wizards still get more spells and more slots to cast them. Sorcerers end up with fewer but bigger spells.

On the flip side, even if he knew every spell he wouldn't be overpowered. Probably about as much as a +1 or +2 sword would be for a fighter.
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