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5E What are some cool/neat standard PHB wizard spells?

werecorpse

Adventurer
I run a game and the player of the wizard has a tendency to find a thing that works pretty well and specialise in it then get bored. He doesn’t try other stuff because of the opportunity cost vs casting his specialisation. He is an evocation wizard who had taken elemental adept fire and he tends to use fireball or firebolt 9/10 combat actions. He also tends to use his concentration 4th level spell on greater invisibility (or enhanced fireball)

Now there’s not a big problem with this except I can see that he is getting bored but can’t overcome his inner efficiency optimiser.

So I’d like to give him access to a bunch of other neat wizard spells via scrolls or wands to cast in combat that do other things to give him a taste and am looking for suggestions. He is 8th level so up to about 5th level spells would be relevant. They don’t have to be “better“ Just not weak as I just want to encourage him to try some different stuff and if he does and they suck he will return to his fireball position- I have web, slow, cloudkill, Maybe polymorph (I’m aware of the dangers) any other suggestions?
 

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tsodge

Villager
All of 'em. Make it rain spells. Give them so many option they feels silly casting fireball.

Maybe have other mages mock them. Call them 'the learned' ironically because he only knows how to start fires.

Have a recurring fire Res/immune villian.
 

DemoMonkey

Explorer
"Have a recurring fire Res/immune villian. "

An excellent idea. Though they would have to be immune, Elemental Adept would bypass resistance.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
When I played a wizard I liked to lean into the control spells. Web, Hypnotic Patter, Evard's Black Tentacles are all nice options that really slow down opponents. Wall of Fire is a nice hazard that's even an evocation spell so it can be sculpted to avoid hurting allies on the initial cast (they'll still have to get out of the way after that though). If you really want to encourage these, then have an encounter where enemies have to charge through a choke point when you first reward them. In those situations these spells really punch above their weight class.

For out of combat Fly is always great for exploration.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon

Undrave

Hero
Do they ever use Rituals? They don't need to expend spell slots and would give them more stuff to do. Reward them with a Ritual Book at some point so they don't have to hunt for them and maybe some ink and stuff so they can copy into their own spell book.
 


Hmmh. Fireball is actually a great spell, especially for an evoker with elemental adept.
Haste is quite good, if you have the right person to cast it on. Slow is a good control spell incertain situations. Sleet storm is actually one of the best spells you could wish for. Enemies lose concetration quite easily. You obscure vision and slow enemies by a large amount. The area is huge and placed well, you can divide the battelfield into parts. In another thread hypnotic pattern was deemed borderline broken.
I did the math for flaming sphere when I compared alchemist on level 5 with other artificer archetypes and found it not bad at all. Grease is not terrible as it is a control spell without concentration. Mirror image gives protection without using concentration. Black tentacles proved to be one of the most useful control spells my NPCs used against the PCs. Levitate is also a very powerful single target control spell and a good utility spell. Misty step and dimension door allow for instant travel to a ver advantageous position on the battlefield.
Dispell magic and counterspell can save lifes. Longstrider and expeditious retreat are continual mobility spells that have quite a high duration and make melee enemies' life hell. Melfs acid arrow though not doing a lot of damage or better vitriolic sphere negate regeneration and disturb concentration for 2 turns without using your own concentration. Phantasmal force and tiny hut annoyed me quite a few times as did rope trick.
Aborb elements is very helpful if it is needed...
Ok. I think that is enough for now. Note that I did even note some niche applications of overall rather bad spells.
 

BlivetWidget

Explorer
If he has 4th level spell slots and isn't using Polymorph, it's only because he doesn't know about it, didn't read it carefully, or he played with a jerk DM sometime in the past who nerfed the magic beans out of it. Let him turn a friend into a giant ape or t-rex and he'll discover the best buff spell in the game (for its level). Most of the really great wizard spells at your requested level aren't blast spells anyway. Polymorph, Animate Objects, Wall of Force, etc. Each one of them is a complete game changer.

I would say to just give him any spells you want him to try. A wizard with infinite spells doesn't break anything, they're still limited by spell preparations and slots. The whole wizard thing is about learning new spells, it's built right into the class. If you're not letting him grow his spellbook anyway, you should be.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
Why don’t you show not tell.

Demonstrate some good spells on the party and its sure to get his attention. Particularly if after he’s seen them in action they’re found in a scroll or spellbook.
 

aco175

Hero
I always liked burning hands and thunderwave. They are close range and get multiple bad guys. Most wizards do not like to be that close, but they come in handy.
 

Mort

Hero
Supporter
Funny there's a whole other thread with this very problem except the spell in question is hypnotic pattern.

There are LOTS of 4th level and lower spells that are extremely effective - many of which have already been named.

I've seen hypnotic pattern used - it's very effective.

Haste is good - though it's even better from a sorcerer using twin spell.

As stated, polymorph is excellent for offense, defense and scouting - though too many people forget that the mental stats are affected too.

Lots of options.
 


Spell you should show your player:

Catapult - use acid, alchemist fire, or even just oil (followed by the player's preferred fire spells) to kick an extra bit of damage on a 1st level spell.

Cause Fear - I know it's concentration, but giving a creature with multi-attack disadvantage is huge for your allies.

Grease - requires some work, but in a narrow passage, it can keep enemies from closing, or allowing your front line to pound on prone opponents. Everyone needs ranged attacks though, because smart enemies will simply withdraw behind it.

Levitate - concentration, but this can also be a great offensive spell against an enemy lacking ranged attacks. You put them up about 60 ft until the end of combat, then either pelt them with ranged attacks until they surrender/die, or let them drop from 60 ft for 6d6 damage, then have your melee buddies pound as a reaction on the now prone enemy.

Web - concentration, but useful for holding some enemies out of the combat, then he can fireball them afterwards, dealing extra damage

Counterspell - no wizard should forsake this. While it's not an action, it will suck away those fireball slots

Hypnotic Pattern - you'll kick yourself for doing this, because this is probably the most amazing control spell in the game.

Melf Minute Meteors - your player might really enjoy it, as it can potentially deal more damage than fireball. It'll also allow him to use his bonus action.

Slow - probably a better choice for you as the DM than Hypnotic Pattern, but does the same type of control (just not as bad)

Banishment - not only great for getting rid of pesky outsiders, but taking a target out for the entire combat, then pounding on them when you bring them back is pretty awesome.

Evards Black Tentacles - basically Web with damage

Polymorph - offensive or defensive, this spell is amazing. Make an ally into a killing machine or make a powerful enemy into a shark while on land to take it out while dealing with the rest.

Wall of Fire - the most evil use of this spell (which you're player will love) is using the 10 ft radius Ring configuration on a paralyzed/restrained target(s), with the damage pointed inward. Even when not using it this way, it still works into his theme.

Animate Objects - a bandoleer of daggers becomes a quezenart that shreds one monster at a time.

I always liked burning hands and thunderwave. They are close range and get multiple bad guys. Most wizards do not like to be that close, but they come in handy.
Burning Hands may be good, but I detest Thunderwave. I refer to it as "ringing the dinnerbell" :rolleyes:
 

hbarsquared

Quantum Chronomancer
Telegraph + Spells!

Here's the thing: just because you provide the spells does not mean the player will take the time to copy them or memorize them.

So, one thing you can do (by no means the only!), is telegraph encounters where a particular spell (or two or three) may prove useful.

Wilderness sneaking encounter coming up? Fog Cloud! Espionage information garhering? Clairvoyance! Rogue has a weapon the villain is weak to? Haste!
 

BlivetWidget

Explorer
As stated, polymorph is excellent for offense, defense and scouting - though too many people forget that the mental stats are affected too.
People forget about it because it doesn't matter unless you're trying to, I don't know, pick locks or scribe spell scrolls while in the form of a giant ape. Stats only apply to ability checks, and the sorts of ability checks your friends might make while in combat are usually the ones that are boosted, rather than hurt, by being an enormous tower of muscle.
 

People forget about it because it doesn't matter unless you're trying to, I don't know, pick locks or scribe spell scrolls while in the form of a giant ape. Stats only apply to ability checks, and the sorts of ability checks your friends might make while in combat are usually the ones that are boosted, rather than hurt, by being an enormous tower of muscle.
I'd probably don't give you every detail if you use polymorph for scouting as an animal with int 1. I'd say, you saw a few orcs or a large number, but I won't give you exact numbers.
 

BlivetWidget

Explorer
I'd probably don't give you every detail if you use polymorph for scouting as an animal with int 1. I'd say, you saw a few orcs or a large number, but I won't give you exact numbers.
That's your prerogative as DM, but let me remind you that the Intelligence stat is not a measure of what we call intelligence in common English. In 5e, the Intelligence stat refers to learned knowledge - history, religion, etc. Every PHB description of an Intelligence skill is either recalling lore (by vast majority) or making logical deductions based on knowledge. Intelligence is "book smarts."

Wisdom, in comparison, is "street smarts." What you're describing falls somewhere in the Perception and Survival zone, both Wisdom.

This is why most Beasts in 5e have low Intelligence and high Wisdom. They are not book-learned, but they are smart. As a concrete example, real world studies have shown crows to have one of the highest IQs in the animal kingdom (behind humans and on par with primates). Crows can absolutely count, solve puzzles, play tricks on others, etc. Their Int score is low, but their Wisdom score is good. Higher than a commoner, in fact!

So it would make more sense to say that the Beast forms with low Int would not recognize magic symbols for what they are, couldn't read, etc. But simply noticing how many things there are is definitely Wis.
 

That's your prerogative as DM, but let me remind you that the Intelligence stat is not a measure of what we call intelligence in common English. In 5e, the Intelligence stat refers to learned knowledge - history, religion, etc. Every PHB description of an Intelligence skill is either recalling lore (by vast majority) or making logical deductions based on knowledge. Intelligence is "book smarts."

Wisdom, in comparison, is "street smarts." What you're describing falls somewhere in the Perception and Survival zone, both Wisdom.

This is why most Beasts in 5e have low Intelligence and high Wisdom. They are not book-learned, but they are smart. As a concrete example, real world studies have shown crows to have one of the highest IQs in the animal kingdom (behind humans and on par with primates). Crows can absolutely count, solve puzzles, play tricks on others, etc. Their Int score is low, but their Wisdom score is good. Higher than a commoner, in fact!

So it would make more sense to say that the Beast forms with low Int would not recognize magic symbols for what they are, couldn't read, etc. But simply noticing how many things there are is definitely Wis.
That is intersting. I know that much of that is wisdom. On the other hand investigation, making deductions based on logic is intelligence. So exact counting (for numbers above 10 or so) would fall under INT in my book. Also I would make you illiterate and probably not understanding conversations... I mean nothing in the stat block indicates that you understand common.
On the other hand, as a raven you can use mimicry and possibly retell what you heard. And of course, after transforming back, I'd probably let you try to recall what you have heard, probably with an Int check.

But those are only rulings and you could easily do it your way.
Only objection: if ravens have more wisdom than a commoner, but lower IQ in realiy, maybe IQ is the average of WIS and INT.
 

BlivetWidget

Explorer
maybe IQ is the average of WIS and INT.
I think it definitely is. The goal of measuring real world intelligence is to remove all "book smarts" from the equation and only measure an idealized, innate problem-solving ability. In reality, such tests measure both factors.

Anyway, the DnD terms are definitely in bizarro land sometimes. You can make an incredibly powerful wizard with low Wisdom... when the term "wizard" literally derives from "wise." The stats probably should have been called Knowledge and Intuition.
 

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