D&D 5E What are THE wizard spells?

jgsugden

Legend
To me, it comes down to one spell. There are a lot of spells that are iconic to the arcane spellcaster, but they straddle the sorcerer over the last several editions as well most of the time. However, there is one spell in the spell list that strikes me (despite being on other spell lists) as being the pinnacle of wizardly achievement - and something almost all wizards aspire to cast. Because it is such a long term goal, it is iconic to the wizard experience. WISH.

I prefer to play wizards in campaigns with the goal of reaching at least 17th level because most, if not all, of my intellectual wizards desire to reach the place where their knowledge can literally reshape the world. It is almost always a goal of my wizard PCs - whether it is to pull a Caleb and fix something, to improve their lot in life, or to just achieve the ultimate mastery of magic.

Yes, it is on the Sorcerer list - but a sorcerer has things fall in their lap. While you may be looking foarward to it as a player, the sorcerer doesn't have that feel of building upon their achievements so much as they have a feel of being granted greater gifts. It hits different. What makes WISH the uniquely wizard spell is that it is what they work towards their entire career. It is the 9th level iconic spell they seek to master. It is the journey to Wish as the target that gives it that special role.
 

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
To me, the ones that set Wizards apart are the ones that don't seem like they'd easily arise from just playing around with magic - that they would take work.

Fireball seems straightforward elemental, charm person straightforward psychic, speak with animal straightforward nature thing, tiny hut is just an easy shape for a wall of force-ish thing.

But who put rope trick together? Magnificent Mansion isn't just a big Tiny Hut. And where did the powers in Prismatic Spray come from and why?

One of the 3pp books from the early 80s had some I think are definitely wizardry - my favorite being "Hey Bartender":

 
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Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
I'm gonna peeve a lot of people with this I know, but not only do I not think of Fireball as a particularly "wizardly" spell, I don't think it's a particularly "magical" spell to boot. It's just a firebomb. Same with the modern Lighting Bolt (though back in 2e, Lighting Bolt qualified as both for me due to the ricochet effect)

For me, a wizardly spell is one that is greatly enhanced or practically requires lateral thinking. For example, Catapult. Sure it's a longish range damage spell, but it also can be used to fling objects across the battlefield. You could augment it by throwing a vial of acid for some extra damage, or use it to get that disarmed sword far far away from the knight.

Even useful spells like Counterspell and Shield feel more like generic mage spells than Wizard spells.
 

aco175

Legend
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Even celebrities like Fireball.

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Maybe not the last one.
 

I like to think of D&D's wizard basically keeping almost everything they were since they were the only arcane casters, the magic-users. The arcane casters that came later (sorcerer, bard, warlock) are more specialized. Those trade versatility for more focused special features to go with their magic. I like the idea of giving wizards some unique tricks in 5e, but essentially, their identity is that they are the arcanist, so almost every arcane spell should be a wizard spell. To focus it directly on the OP's question, I understand your question, but from my way of seeing wizards, it isn't a meaningful question because it presupposes a completely different view of what a wizard in D&D is.

I think this is a major difference of opinion with the other position that appears to be that the mage concept that once encompassed all arcane magic has (or should be) split 4 (5 if you include artificer) ways, with wizard only keeping 1/4 of what the magic-user had.

Now that this thread has helped me identify that divide, I can see how it's one (of many) unspoken preferences and perspectives that that strongly influences discussions without being recognized.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
When I play Wizard, I always go with School of Abjuration: being able to get temporary hit points every time I cast an Abjuration spell is just too good to pass up. My go-to spells are Mage Armor (start the morning with a fully-charged stack of temporary HP), Shield (allows me to boost my AC and recover temp HP as a reaction), and Counterspell (shut down enemy casters and recover temp HP as an action). There are lots of other goodies like Banishment, Intellect Fortress, and Globe of Invulnerability, which I try to keep on hand as scrolls.

Non-abjuration spells that I can't pass up are Misty Step, Magic Missile, and any spell with the [Ritual] tag.
 

Voadam

Legend
if you had to distil their massive arcane spell list into The Most Fundamentals Thematically 'Wizard' Spell List There Ever Was, what would be on it? and i'm not just talking about picking spells for 'the wizard class' or that have always been on the wizard's spell list for a long time/many editions, i'm talking about the core idea of the intelectual who masters their control of the arcane through study, careful experimentation and research.
Mostly for me that all fits together as classic Magic-User spells because of how I picture wizardly magic being learned from older breakthroughs of specific forumla that create specific magical effects. So of course magic users over time have a core of key ones they learn and teach that are based on both history and usefulness.

Magic missile and Fireball. Teleport. Fly. Invisibility. Light. Tried and true classic wizard spells.

For magic users as distinct from other D&D casters you have to really go for the idiosyncratic named spells and niche function ones, Tenser's floating disc, Bigy's X Hand, Drawmij's Instant Summons.

For the Sword and Sorcery archetype wizard Summonings and mersmerism types, so Charm Person, Suggestion, Dominate Person, etc.

For the Doctor Strange type comic book wizard you want an at will blasting cantrip but also neato effects like knock or fly and illusions and prestidigitation, things that are very visual that demonstrate magic is being done.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
when i was going through all the wizard spells i found one particular one: Galder's tower, it's a 3rd level spell same as tiny hut, cast at it's lowest level it creates for 24 hours a 2 floored tower of 100 square ft and each floor is fully furnished for one of 7 uses (bedroom/study/kitchen/lounge/washroom/observatory/empty room), and i thought to myself, a spell that does that is so much more wizardly than the forcefield bubble of tiny hut, because wizards to me are these masters of intricate spellcasting, and honestly a little bit used to a bit of convenience, what wizard chooses to rest on the ground when they can conjour a soft bed and hot running water in just 10 minutes?

maybe those thoughts will help people to understand the wizard as i see a little more.
 
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When I play Wizard, I always go with School of Abjuration: being able to get temporary hit points every time I cast an Abjuration spell is just too good to pass up. My go-to spells are Mage Armor (start the morning with a fully-charged stack of temporary HP), Shield (allows me to boost my AC and recover temp HP as a reaction), and Counterspell (shut down enemy casters and recover temp HP as an action). There are lots of other goodies like Banishment, Intellect Fortress, and Globe of Invulnerability, which I try to keep on hand as scrolls.

Non-abjuration spells that I can't pass up are Misty Step, Magic Missile, and any spell with the [Ritual] tag.

The Abjuration ability is even better than you describe. It’s not temp HP that is granted, it’s a rechargeable arcane ward that can be used in addition to and beyond temp HP.
 

The problem is the PRG Wizard is and always has been an artillery and utility character: they fireball monsters and open locked doors.

But if you remove the "RPG" you just get the Storybook Wizard....and that is just whatever "magic" an author or two could think up of at the time.
 


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