Level Up (A5E) Spells: Winners and Losers

Stalker0

Legend
Continuing our series, lets look at spells. Which ones made the grade?

This is right now a pure read analysis, playtime may change my experience, but lets see how the items "feel" upon initial read.

Also note, not all items are listed here. I am only highlighting things that I think are especially good or notably bad. Items that are just solid are not noted.

I am adding an (R) clause if I'm going to talk about a rare version of the spell.

Unsure
Meteor Swarm (Tentative) - It still the best area damage in the game but it got nerfed a LOT. I wonder if its still 9th level worthy now....though there is the fact that we have Instant Death numbers and such now so maybe that is a factor.

Protection from Energy - This one is interesting. The duration has been nerfed heavily, but the spell is one level lower, and there is a cool new upcast ability. I'm not sure, losing the 1 hour duration is a big deal. Perhaps LU wanted to highlight the racial resistances more strongly, not sure.

Tiny Hut - On the one hand, this got a very expensive material component, and no longer bars creatures and arrows (big nerf). On the other, it does provide a haven, which apparantely is a big deal in LU, so not sure.


Winners
Alarm - Now with some nice upcast options to really round out the utility of the spell, a solid upgrade.

Alter Self - Already a decent spell but its been given better upcast options that I do think round off the spell very nicely.

Animate Objects - The spell now better balances the damage of Huge vs Tiny objects (no more ridiculous damage from tiny daggers), while at the same time providing a solid niche differentiation (Huge = more damage, Small = more durability). This was a very nice spell fix.

Arcane Muscles - This is just a fun cantrip that I think a lot of players will love.

Bestow Curse (R) - Now THAT is a real curse. The regular spell is a loser to me, but the rare one is rock solid.

Blood-Writ Bargain - A ritual spell that could literally be a cornerstone of certain settings, a very cool and flavorful spell.

Calculated Retribution - This is a fun little battle spell, a max of both defense and offense. But what I really like about is its a good handling of concentration battle spells (either ending the spell to get the bonus before you lose it to concentration, or getting advantage on concentration). This spell might even compete with bless!.....ok probably not for a group of creatures (god bless is just stupidly good) but for a single character this spell could be neat to use.

Circle of Death (R) - while the base spell got put in the loser's bracket for me, the Rare version is pretty cool, and may become my default version. That is a fun rider that gives the spell a solid niche and purpose.

Circular Breathing - So a bard can now have quasi permanent water breathing....well that's just damn cool.

Comprehend Languages - The spell was nerfed but in a way that is more engaging for the players, I think this was a very good choice that also has a lot of setting impact for some campaigns.

Conjure Animals - The designers reigned in some of the multi-animal abuses, its still a good spell without some of the slowdown headaches it could cause.

Detect Poison and Disease - Now requires a skill check, which I think puts it more in line with a ritual spell that is so easily spammed. This has a lot of setting connotations, no longer can a 1st level cleric just guarantee detection of disease and poison.

Enrage Architecture - What a fun spell! Used in the right circumstances this could be a tremendous control spell, and the large area of damage is actually worthy of a 7th level spell (pay attention Arcane Sword, this is how you do it!)

Flame Strike (R) - The rare version here is very flavorful as a "test of truth", I really like the flavor implications of it.

Friends - Wow they replaced the "Enemies" spell and replaced it with this new spell called "Friends"....outrageous! I do like how there is still a hostile risk but on the whole, it now does what its supposed to do.

Grapevine - What a cool messaging cantrip! Completely changes the ballgame of how groups of druid could communicate with each other.

Heart of Dis - Probably one of my favorite new spells. Its an amazing buff spell actually worthy of an 8th level slot, but with a badass restriction that prevents use needlessly.

Inescapable Malady - Very cool spell, you could argue this is a "true geas" type spell. I also like the duration extension mechanic, that's a nice touch.

Lightning Bolt - With fireball's nerf, and a neat little new barrier destroying ability, lightning bolt might actually be on equal footing with fireball for once!!!

Mass Heal - Its very subtle, but this spell got a major major buff. Truly a 9th level spell now!

Power Word Kill (R) - The spell got a very nice buff, but also its rare version is super cool!

Project Image - A subtle change to the spell means that you can only get rid of it by basically dispelling it, so its now a walking talking spy sensor that also communicate with others. Its a solid upgrade to a spell that is generally more niched.

Rage of the Meek - A lower level Tenser's Transformation, and one that actually looks worth the level. I could actually see a wizard use this, so great job!

Raise Hell - Ok now that is a fun 9th level spell! What I like about this one is that none of the effects are particularly great, but when you take it all together you get a solid battlefield control spell.



Losers
Acid Arrow - Poor spell, just eclipsed by Magic Missile. While it scales a bit with level, there are just better damaging spells out there. I think the rare versions are decent though and make the spell competent.

Air Wave - I cannot figure out why this isn't a cantrip....I appreciate the flavor, but what is the appeal to using a spell slot for this?

**Arcane Sword - I am frankly a little annoyed this spell is wasting pages in my pdf considering there has been so much attention over the years to how bad it is. And.....its still just horrific. The rare version even has the audacity to lower the damage (though the secondary effect is at least workable). Bottom of the pile for sure.

Banishment - This spell has considered OP by some people but it got the nerf bat in LU. I could understand a nerf, but this feels too much.

Circle of Death - It got a slightly damage buff in LU, but ultimately fireball can get the same damage and is a lot more flexible ( and dex is generally a better save than con). The area is just not worth it the majority of the time to me.

Eldritch Cube - While a cool flavor, its terrible damage for this spell, and the fact you can't move the cube into a person's area just cripples its usefulness. I mean flaming sphere is superior in a lot of ways.

Forcecage - This is another example of a spell that I think needed a nerf, but this was an overnerf. The cage now has a saving throw, can be destroyed, and you can no longer attack people in the cage. The material component should have been greatly reduced, heck maybe even removed with this version.

Forest Army - This is a very cool flavor spell, and the mechanics are perfect.....for maybe an 8th level spell. As an 8th level I'm on board, but for a 9th level one....as cool as this summon is, its no replacement for having a 17th level druid up and running in the fight.

Imprisonment - The spell unfortunately is still just a narrative device, there is no one who would actually use this thing. To me there should be no save, it should just require the target to be in range the whole time. The point of the spell is to stop creatures you can't defeat normally, which a saving throw basically nullifies.

Instant Summons - A bad spell that got no love.

Irresistible Dance - Sorry LU, you don't get to add a save to a spell that literally has "Irresistible" in its name..... that's the entire point of the spell. This spell is terrible now.

Secret Chest - Still a bad bad spell.

Spirit Guardians - Often the cornerstone of many clerical builds, the spell received a minor damage nerf, but the big nerf was the area. This is major because before you could prevent a creature from getting into melee with you with just a little adjustment, that is now much harder. Though the spell is nerfed as a DM I feel like a winner....I feel like clerics have been using this spell as a crutch for too long and its made them very stale.

Sporesight - Its a neat spell, but at 7th its needs to pack more punch. If this effected the party it would be amazing, but as a single target its just not that great.

Weird - I don't know if this is a good spell at 7th level let alone 8th.
 
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Thanks for kicking this off!

I feel like you should have included fireball in this list though - I gather it was already nerfed in the playtest, but lots of us here now weren't part of that.

Counterspell (now only auto-stops up to 2nd level spells) and Goodberry (no longer provides food; 2d4 vs 10 berries) also got nerfed (edit: in ways I think improve gameplay, so under you categorisation, perhaps they are winners?).

Irresistible Dance - Sorry LU, you don't get to add a save to a spell that literally has "Irresistible" in its name..... that's the entire point of the spell. This spell is terrible now.
Woah - it's now a 6th level spell that's basically a one-person entangle spell that targets Wis instead of Str. At least in the original you potentially got a full round (if initiative lined up right) to wail on them before they could escape.

Banishment - This spell has considered OP by some people but it got the nerf bat in LU. I could understand a nerf, but this feels too much.
I like this nerf, although my o5e house rule had been to restore it to only working on interplanar creatures. What don't you like about it?

Tiny Hut - On the one hand, this got a very expensive material component, and no longer bars creatures and arrows (big nerf). On the other, it does provide a haven, which apparantely is a big deal in LU, so not sure.
This is IMHO clearly a massive nerf. It's most effective use now is arcane defence, not a wilderness survival tool. 200gp to stop ranged spellcasting monsters in the wild and recovering a point of fatigue/strife is ... situational at best?! o5e Tiny Hut was broken IMHO, so I'm glad they nerfed it. Mostly not sure about the cost. Would love to hear why that was added and how it playtests.

The fact that friends has a “seen” component though (since a is no longer somatic) means everybody be knowing you be doin magic
Yeah that sounds wrong? (the rule, not your comment)
 

ojacid

Villager
Tiny Hut - On the one hand, this got a very expensive material component, and no longer bars creatures and arrows (big nerf). On the other, it does provide a haven, which apparantely is a big deal in LU, so not sure.
Other discussions seem to indicate Tiny Hut does not count as a haven, since monsters and other unfriendlies can walk in at any time.

Very nice work pulling this together, though. Gives me a heads up on things to take a look at. Thanks!
 


phluxos

Villager
Agree on Arcane Sword. Casting Spiritual Weapon at 6th level will likely yield higher average damage due to the ability modifier. A fix would be to simply add the spellcaster ability--just like Spiritual Weapon--which is how I will house-rule it going forward.

3d10 + spellcasting ability modifier for a 7th level spell seems a bit more in line with damage from a 6th level Spiritual weapon 3d8 + spellcasting mod.

But in general, I like the nerfs.
 

ojacid

Villager
It does, under the 'specific beats general' rule.

EDIT: I think the issue is a lot of us are wondering why it does, beyond 'because it says it does', given what you noted.
Yeah, I was actually planning on dropping the material component requirement by an order of magnitude rather than call it a Haven when you still need a watch to keep from being ambushed in your sleep.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Sporesight confused the hell out of me too. The flavor is great & it seems cool, but true seeing is 6th level 1hr no concentration 120ft vision to a willing creature vrs sporesight's 10 min concentration 7th level 60ft area.

Also not listed is that a lot of low level QoL & fluff spells like magic mouth drop the petty gold costing component that only matters at low levels when the spell could be really useful magic mouth is the only one that comes to mind now though
 

Legendweaver

Explorer
What are your thoughts about Time Stop? I feel like the new language is more ambiguous than in O5E - e.g., are delayed blast fireballs now allowed? If so, it seems OP. More broadly, I'd have liked explanation about what narratively during a time stop. Do objects freeze or keep falling? etc.

I was personally hoping LU would adopt a common house for timestop: augment the O5E description by just changing the casting time to reaction, and if cast in reaction to an effect with a save, everyone auto succeeds the save.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I feel like you should have included fireball in this list though - I gather it was already nerfed in the playtest, but lots of us here now weren't part of that.
So I did not include all buffs and nerfs in the list, only when I felt it pushed the spell one way or the other (though I think I was a bit generous with garbage spells that did get nice buffs, even if the spell is just solid now). Fireball is certainly weaker than before, but I still think its a solid spell that people will use. Its not a winner, but not a loser either, so its not mentioned.

Counterspell to me was broken before, now its just reasonable, so again I didn't list it.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I like this nerf, although my o5e house rule had been to restore it to only working on interplanar creatures. What don't you like about it?
So Banishment received the following nerfs:

1) Duration: Spell went from 1 minute to 1d4 + 2 rounds.
2) The spell now grants a save every round, instead of 1 save for the duration.
3) Upcast only provides 1 round of duration, instead of another target.

I think that's all too much. I don't mind the duration as much, but I don't like the save every round. I personally don't like spells that have concentration AND saves every round. To me, the point of concentration is that the other monsters are supposed to beat on teh caster to make them drop the spell....that's the implicit balance. The idea that the caster has to concentrate and the monster just breaks out of the spell with another save....it nerfs spells too heavily imo.

Then the upcast was heavily nerfed. This used to be a solid spell to upcast into higher level slots, not its pretty worthless to do so. 1 round duration is "nice", but I'm not blowing a 5th level slot on it.

So ultimately one of these I could have respected, but all of them is just too much imo. Banishment was a strong spell but it wasn't THAT strong.
 

fair points, thanks! Agree re concentration and every round saves - I'm nowhere near as detail-oriented as you clearly are, but from memory that is not a normal thing in o5e, right?
 


CapnZapp

Legend
I feel like you should have included fireball in this list though - I gather it was already nerfed in the playtest, but lots of us here now weren't part of that.
Yeah, comparisons should definitely be made between the official WotC PHB and Adventurer's Guide; not presuming any knowledge about any intermediate playtests.
 

Any thoughts on Polymorph? In o5e it was a go to spell in my groups, and I'm a bit surprised it did not receive a tweak. Turning into Giant Apes and T-Rexes is fun, but rather strong when you get it at 7th-8th level. Or am I missing something?
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
So Banishment received the following nerfs:

1) Duration: Spell went from 1 minute to 1d4 + 2 rounds.
2) The spell now grants a save every round, instead of 1 save for the duration.
3) Upcast only provides 1 round of duration, instead of another target.

I think that's all too much. I don't mind the duration as much, but I don't like the save every round. I personally don't like spells that have concentration AND saves every round. To me, the point of concentration is that the other monsters are supposed to beat on teh caster to make them drop the spell....that's the implicit balance. The idea that the caster has to concentrate and the monster just breaks out of the spell with another save....it nerfs spells too heavily imo.

Then the upcast was heavily nerfed. This used to be a solid spell to upcast into higher level slots, not its pretty worthless to do so. 1 round duration is "nice", but I'm not blowing a 5th level slot on it.

So ultimately one of these I could have respected, but all of them is just too much imo. Banishment was a strong spell but it wasn't THAT strong.
Going to second that concentrate and save every round is too much in nearly all cases but it's more than just concentrate with lots of save to end chances. In nearly all cases those spells are :
*use an action and a spell slot to cast a spell that
* in most cases these are save to end spells so if the initial target saves during the cast the spell will end immediately (often with zero effect) if the target saves
*continue concentrating while the target thst previously failed a save takes their full turn then gets a save with no action cost to end the spell.
*repeat

It's like the old confirm critical rolls but dialed up a notch to have the first failed confirm turn the attack into a miss rather than normal hit & a successful confirm eating an attack or something in the next round that hasn't even happened on the justification that the critical was too good to not limit next round. Even worse the target gets another wack at reversing the vorpal effect or whatever next round after taking a turn
 

phluxos

Villager
Any thoughts on Polymorph? In o5e it was a go to spell in my groups, and I'm a bit surprised it did not receive a tweak. Turning into Giant Apes and T-Rexes is fun, but rather strong when you get it at 7th-8th level. Or am I missing something?
I thought it should have received some type of nerf. I mean, banishment and polymorph aren't that different in function when cast on an enemy, and banishment was heavily nerfed. I think an unwilling creature should get a save at the end of each of its turns.
 

Stalker0

Legend
@Stalker0 Please consider switching to the by far most used grading system for D&D:

Red Purple Green Blue Gold (with red being the worst and gold being the best)

It would make your efforts much much faster to read and digest :)

Cheers
Hehe I’m not ready for that level of differentiation yet! This is a simple “I think the spell is pretty good” vs “I think the spell is bad”.

it’s a straight list, nothing fancy, so colors wouldn’t really help
 

Stalker0

Legend
Any thoughts on Polymorph? In o5e it was a go to spell in my groups, and I'm a bit surprised it did not receive a tweak. Turning into Giant Apes and T-Rexes is fun, but rather strong when you get it at 7th-8th level. Or am I missing something?
So my notes here:

1) monsters themselves are different, and I haven’t dug in to the managerie yet.

2) martials wouldn’t get combat maneuvers in polymorph, which is a big source of their power now. So my gut thinks the spell is a bit weaker as a buff spell automatically.

3) as a screw you spell…yeah it does still seem really strong.
 

ArcaneOverride

Villager
The fact that friends has a “seen” component though (since a is no longer somatic) means everybody be knowing you be doin magic
1 decide that your character's seen components are some manner of special effect not gestures
2 get familiar or pet
3 cast friends on it every round for several minutes before trying to use friends on the target
4 claim that the special effects are harmless and involuntary and are occurring due to some magical disorder and that its basically like magical hiccups and will go away after a while on its own
5 cast friends on the target
6 do your charisma check
7 continue casting friends on your pet so the special effects don't stop when talking to them
8 keep casting friends on the pet for several more minutes slowly tapering off letting more and more rounds pass before casting again until you finally stop
 

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