D&D 5E Perfect spell designs

Asisreo

Patron Badass
Inflict Wounds is the perfect damage spell. Simple to adjudicate, strong but not overwhelming, scales just the right amount.
Oh, yes I agree. At early levels, it has that "wow" factor of rolling more damage dice than almost anything else at that level, but it's expensive and dangerous enough at that level that you need to exercise caution.
 

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I'm a big fan of the summon spells.
  • They come with the stat block in the spell so no need to look it up in other resources.
  • One creature only so no dealing with 8 wolves, 4 bears, etc.
  • No adjudication needed by the DM to determine what is actually summoned. That's a pain no one wanted.
  • Summoned creatures can be designed to avoid cheesy stuff like pixies.
  • Monster manuals can include monsters without worrying about letting PCs use them.
  • Each one has variations so you can tailor it to the current situation and don't have to summon the same thing every time.
  • Each level you upcast has good benefits though even levels are better.
  • They are very simple so they don't slow things down much.
  • They are effective but not OP.
  • 1 hour concentration is fantastic for conserving slots and pre-battle setup.
  • Out of combat you can summon an extra pair of hands with decent attributes when you need it.
Many of those points are made in comparison to the conjure line of spells. But even without the conjure spells I think I would still like the design of summon spells.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I don’t know much about spell design. But I can’t agree with your choice. In my opinion canteips should not cause damage. So I can’t get behind vicious mockery
Why should cantrips not cause damage? In prior editions, when a wizard ran out of spells, they ended up using ranged weapons. It was kind of boring and not evocative of the class concept. The damage the cantrips deal is less than what the front line fighters deal in a round on average - so why is it a problem? Is it just that you think that a wizard spamming a fire bolt doesn't match how you see the class?
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Is it just that you think that a wizard spamming a fire bolt doesn't match how you see the class?
That is my issue with it, personally. It makes magic less magical when you can cast spells all the time.

No full caster really even needs a weapon now, which is sort of boring IMO.

So, we've restricted damage causing cantrips to be a recharge (5-6) feature. This allows casters to always have one when combat begins, but they can't just use it round after round after round (unless they get some lucky rolls LOL!).
 

I think there are a few spells in the PHB that are absolutely perfectly designed, in my opinion. I'm curious if there are others some would like to share and elaborate why they're so great. The spells don't have to be the most powerful, in fact, broken spells are often thought of as poorly designed.

One spell I think is one of the best is a simple cantrip: Vicious Mockery.

It is one of the few psychic damage effects allowed to players and it immediately sets apart a bard from any other caster. It isn't so powerful that a bard should spam it even at level 1, but it's effects are good enough that even a high level bard might consider casting it in high-level combat.

Finally, it leaves a huge "ad-lib" fill-in-the-blank that never disappoints on the roleplay aspect. If your player says a truly insulting injury, it feels like the actual player did the damage rather than their character. If your player says a bad joke, the creature can be measurably damaged from the pure second-hand embarrassment. And it's always entertaining to see a creature die just by saying something so hurtful that it collapses in shock.

Even if bard isn't your favorite class, you have to admit that it's unique spell is very well-designed and fun to use.

Impose disadvantage on the save if the PC Bard says something truly witty.
 


Polymorph is perfect in my opinion. It's totally worth the (level 4) spell slot. It's often fun and generates laughs at the table. It can buff your party or nerf the opponents and it can be used in and out of combat. 10/10.

Resistance is an underused cantrip that gives someone (self or ally) just that little extra. A single d4 is small enough that it is alright that it's just a cantrip. But it's valuable enough that it really helps. It doesn't feel overpowered and cannot be spammed, so it's a nice addition next to the main cantrip that PCs (or NPCs) use for damage.

p.s. Really disagree that cantrips shouldn't do damage. How else should an exhausted party of spellcasters get through a dungeon?
 

Why should cantrips not cause damage? In prior editions, when a wizard ran out of spells, they ended up using ranged weapons. It was kind of boring and not evocative of the class concept. The damage the cantrips deal is less than what the front line fighters deal in a round on average - so why is it a problem? Is it just that you think that a wizard spamming a fire bolt doesn't match how you see the class?
The are more issues for our style of play, but yes that is my basic issue.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I have conclusively answered this question: Tiny Servant

 

I don’t know much about spell design. But I can’t agree with your choice. In my opinion canteips should not cause damage. So I can’t get behind vicious mockery
A particularly sick burn is practically character assassination! How can plot armor protect you when you're a laughing stock? :D
 

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