Best cantrips for sorcerer 5e

Best cantrips for sorcerer 5e DEFAULT

Best Sorcerer Spells (DnD 5e)

Tomes of spells lay before you. Countless choices and variations are possible, and it’s daunting to figure out which are the best choices. What do some of these spells even do? 

We’re here to give you some quick insight to what we think are ideal spells to choose. These are based on our experiences and will definitely vary from game to game, so we’re going to assume that you’re playing in the traditional D&D high fantasy setting with a mix of role play and combat.


Fire Bolt / Frost Bite– The essential attack spells. Fire bolt relies on your spell attack ability whereas frostbite relies on the enemy failing a saving throw against you. 

Minor Illusion – Basic illusory spell which can offer all sorts of creative uses. See Clever Cantrip Uses: Minor Illusion.

Prestidigitation – Multi-purpose utility spell that resembles street magic. This spell can add all sorts of flavor and role-play: See Clever Cantrip Uses: Prestidigitation.

Shape Water/Mold Earth/Control Flames/Gust – Four cantrips to control the elements, some more useful than others depending on your campaign or character goal. 

1st Level

Burning Hands – Shooting flames in a 15ft cone, this spell can affect a large area of targets, doing 3d6 fire damage to them all if they fail a dexterity save. 

Chromatic Orb / Chaos Bolt –  Both of these focus on an elemental attack. Chromatic orb creates an orb with an element of your choice, which is used to make a ranged attack dealing 3d8 damage. If you like things to be a bit unpredictable, make a ranged attack with the Chaos Bolt and deal 2d8 of a type of damage from the spells tables. If you roll two 8s, your bolt hits another target!

Shield – One of the few reaction spells, the sorcerer can add +5 to AC until their turn comes around, and you can trigger this upon being attacked. 

Mage Armor – Having limited choices for armor, spellcasters often rely on mage armor as a go-to necessity for protection. It will last for 8 hours and give you an AC of 13 + your dexterity modifier. 

2nd Level

Invisibility – Suddenly vanishing, invisibility has a lot of practical uses and lasts up to an hour. 

Misty Step – Disappear and reappear up to 30ft away. What makes this a top choice is that it’s one of the few bonus action spells, allowing for a lot of creative uses and positioning for other actions.

Hold Person – Concentrate on a target and magically paralyze them for up to a minute. The target continues to save only on their turn, so you can still attack them!

Mirror Image – Create 3 illusory duplicates of yourself which can take attacks in your place. Considering this spell is not concentration and the duplicates last until destroyed, this is a very useful protection spell. 

Scorching Ray – Create three rays of fire which you can direct at three targets, or all at one, doing 2d6 fire damage each. Level 2 does not offer the best choices for damage spells, but if you have to pick one, the versatility of attack choices from this are a great pick. 

3rd Level

Counterspell / Dispel Magic – These game changing spells can stop or remove significant magic. Counterspell allows you to react to someone else’s casting and attempt to stop it (immediately stopping any of level 3 or under, otherwise a spell check is needed). Similarly, dispel magic can stop any spell on a creature, object, or magical effect. The difference between the two being that counterspell is better for combat focus while dispel has more application outside of combat. 

Fireball / Lightning Bolt – The famous fireball spell does a massive 8d6 fire damage to a 20ft radius, whereas lightning bolt does 8d6 lightning damage to a 100ft long line. These a very similar spells and you may prefer one over the other because of the element or the shape of the attack (circular vs linear) 

Haste – Induce an adrenaline rush which grants a +2 AC, advantage to dexterity saving throws, and an additional action which can be used for a weapon attack, dash, disengage, hide, or use an object. This is a top pick for a concentration spell and has many applications with the metamagic (eg. twin haste spell!) 

4th Level

Polymorph – Transform yourself or a target into a creature whose challenge rating is equal to their level. A utility concentration spell, this one will make your fellow druid frustrated as you can also turn into animals when needed, and you could also turn your enemies into a chicken! 

Dimension Door – Teleport yourself and one willing creature to a location within a 500ft range. While not as incredible as teleport, this spell does allow you to go anywhere within 500ft range, emphasizing that it doesn’t have to be within line of sight. Locked doors are no problem.

Banishment – Temporarily send another creature into another plane of existence for 1 minute. One of the most argued over spells that some do not even allow because of the debates. Effectively removing anyone for a while, it also permanently moves creatures who are home to another plane of existence. 

5th Level

Cone of Cold – Send a blizzard barrage in a 60 ft cone doing 8d8 cold damage to those that fail constitution saving throws. Anyone who falls to 0 hp is frozen solid.

Animate Objects – You choose up to 10 non magical objects to suddenly come to life. This is effectively summoning various allies to help you attack, whose stats will vary depending on the objects you choose. Just be sure you know what they are and what they roll before the game, because as useful and amazing as this spell is, it can also be very time consuming to roll so much!

Telekinesis – Concentrate on a creature or object which can weight up to 1000 lbs and – for 1 minute – you can move them around 30ft/action. Creatures must make strength saving throws. Many creative uses for being able to move or attack!

6th Level

Chain Lightning – Create a bolt of lightning that, when it hits the first target, arcs out to hit another three within 30ft. Doing 10d8 lightning damage if the targets fail their dexterity saving throws, this spell can end encounters by itself. 

Disintegrate – Shoot a thin grey line towards a creature, object, or magical force. On hitting the target, this deals a massive 40 + 10d6 force damage and completely disintegrates the target if it goes to 0 hp. If this targets a large object, it will disintegrate a 10ft cube of it!

Investiture of Flame/Ice/Stone/Wind – Become the embodiment of an element and – so long as you maintain concentration – you’ll have access to a magical attack, an area of affect, varying movement abilities, and resistance to the element. 

7th Level

Teleport – Instantly transport yourself and up to eight willing creatures to another location of your choice. The accuracy of your transportation relies on your familiarity with the location; you roll 1d100 to determine the accuracy of your spell, where failures can result in being slightly off target to as dangerous as taking 3d10 force damage from teleporting into objects.

Plane Shift – Similar to teleport except you and eight creatures can transport to another plane of existence. This spell can also be used as a melee attack on a target, where they must succeed a charisma saving throw or be shifted to the other plane (note that there is no duration – they must find their own way back).

Reverse Gravity – Reverse gravity in a 50 foot radius, 100 ft high cylinder. Creatures must make a dexterity saving throw or fall in the inverted direction. It is important to note here that falling damage is often 1d6/10ft of fall, to a maximum of 20d6 bludgeoning damage. 

8th Level

Dominate Monster – Induce a wisdom saving throw on the target, or you can control them for up to an hour. Any damage done to them allows them to roll the save again. Otherwise, their actions are determined by you and has no other chance to roll a save. 

Power Word Stun – Target a creature within 150ft and, if they have less than 150 hit points, they are immediately stunned. There is no save. From now on, they make a constitution saving throw for their turn or continue to be stunned. Emphasize the fact that damage does not grant a saving throw and this spell can easily mark a target for death. 

9th Level

Wish – While any level 9 spell is a good choice, the wish spell can arguably be any spell. No one will argue against this being the strongest spell in the game; it’s more likely an argument that it be allowed in the game. In the hands of a PC, this spell will most likely translate to allowing you to cast any other spell, but the DM may allow all sorts of wishes.

What’s the historical difference between Wizards, Witches, Warlocks, and Sorcerers?

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Top 20 Best Sorcerer Spells For D&D 5e (Ranked)

Sorcerers are born with powers within them. Some inherit their power from an ancient bloodline, while others possess powerful chaotic magic that can manifest in surprising ways.

Sorcerers are a challenging class.

They aren’t as versatile as Wizards, yet share the same capabilities and spells. What makes Sorcerers stick out in Dungeons and Dragons 5e is that having a small spell pool forces them to specialize and excel with Meta Magic, and amplify that even more with their Sorcerous Origin.

A Sorcerer’s preferred Meta Magic and Sorcerous Origin will weigh into their choice of spells.

Spells and Meta Magic have to synergize to allow Sorcerers to shine. Considering the limited amount of spells available to a Sorcerer, understanding what sort of role they play in the party is vital.

It’s good to have some contingency, but overall, specialization would be much better.

Note: I did not include the Cleric Spells available to a Sorcerer if they have the Divine Soul Sorcerous Origin.


20. Minor Illusion

Source: Player’s Handbook

Minor Illusion is a cantrip that can be potent when used creatively.

This Cantrip allows you to make a sound or image within 30 feet. If you make the image of an object, its size must be no larger than a 5-foot cube.

An example of Minor Illusion’s utility is by creating a rabbit to distract a pack of wolves, or making a bush to hide behind.

Just be sure enemies don’t see you make the illusion, or else there’s no point to it!


19. Fire Bolt

Source: Player’s Handbook

As a Cantrip, you can’t really go wrong with Fire Bolt.

It’s got a good range of 120 feet and does 1d10 fire damage.

As you progress through your Sorcerer levels, Fire Bolt’s damage will also scale with you.

Unfortunately as the spell name says, it’s a fire spell. There are a lot of creatures in the game that resist fire. So you might want to pick up another Cantrip of a different damage type to make up for Fire Bolt, just to have some balance.


18. Fly

Source: Player’s Handbook

Fly is a very useful 3rd level spell. But I wouldn’t get this spell before getting Counterspell, Haste, and Fireball.

It starts to fall off a little for personal use if you opted for Draconic Bloodline or Divine Soul as your Sorcerous Origin, since you’ll be getting wings. But it’ll still be very useful for your allies.

Fly’s speed of 60ft per round is also unaffected by objects that slow down your base speed, making it a great spell for a quick get a way or to pursue a fleeing enemy.


17. Phantasmal Force

Source: Player’s Handbook

Phantasmal Force is not on here for its damage but its possibilities.

This 2nd level spell is potentially game breaking, and usually overlooked by DMs.

Phantasmal Force creates an illusion in the mind of a creature.

You could make your target believe that the avatar of their god has descended to protect your party, which could totally shut off an encounter.

If your DM is for it, you could do other similarly powerful ideas to implant into your victim’s minds… but most DMs will usually catch on quick if it’s abused. And then possibly limit Phantasmal Force’s potency.

Still, it is a great spell to at least force an enemy to make an Intelligence check.


16. Sleep

Source: Player’s Handbook

This 1st level spell can turn seemingly difficult low-level encounters into a slight inconvenience.

It doesn’t require concentration either, and has the added benefit of having no saving throws.

You most probably won’t be using this on full health targets. But you could bring down their health before incapacitating them with sleep to finish them off.

While very powerful, it falls off at later levels. So consider replacing Sleep once you start encountering monsters with bigger health pools on a regular basis.

A possible replacement for this one is Hypnotic Pattern.


15. Web

Source: Player’s Handbook

Web is a very handy utility spell allowing you to restrain your enemies.

Web is an often overlooked 2nd level spell that’s also often underestimated.

As mentioned, Web restrains targets dropping their movement to nothing. Since melee enemies won’t be able to get close if they’re restrained, you not only protect yourself, but other ranged allies too.

Your party will thank you for restraining them, because they’ll have an advantage on attack rolls while enemies will have a disadvantage on their attack rolls.

This means you’ve given enemy archers a handicap when firing at you, on top of restraining the melee attackers.

Once you get access to level 5 spells you might want to switch this out, as by that point a round of you concentrating on Web could be put to better use.


14. Invisibility/Greater Invisibility

Source: Player’s Handbook

Invisibility is incredibly good in D&D 5e.

Being able to move around for an entire minute without being targeted is just fantastic.

Greater Invisibility excels even more when it’s used along with Twinned Spell and Extended Spell, as you could cast it on two allies or extend its duration.

Using invisibility to guarantee a sneak attack for your rogue, sneak by enemies, or even play a prank on a lord are a few examples on how to use this line of spells.


13. Fireball

Source: Player’s Handbook

Fireball will always be in most lists of must-have Sorcerer spells.

This 3rd level spell causes 8d6 fire damage with a 20 foot radius explosion and can be cast from 150 feet away.

Its simple point, shoot, and explosion mechanic makes it a very reliable damage source for a Sorcerer. You’ll constantly find yourself comparing all your other damage spells to Fireball because it’s just that good.


12. Shield

Source: Player’s Handbook

Being able to get +5 AC that can be cast as a reaction on a 1st level spell is insane.

It scales well into the mid to high level play and you can use sorcery points to keep replenishing Shield if absolutely needed.

Simply being able to cast Shield after knowing the results of an attack roll means you can constantly turn a potential devastating hit into a miss.

This also synergizes well with Mirror Image and Mage Armor.


11. Levitate

Source: Player’s Handbook

Another overlooked spell that has a lot of uses, Levitate could potentially imitate other higher level spells.

I don’t mean this in the literal sense, but if used creatively, Levitate will be able to do a lot despite it only being a 2nd level spell.

You could use Levitate on an ally to make a safe landing similar to feather fall. Or help yourself or an ally get up a difficult wall if your Strength checks can’t make the DC.

You could also imitate Telekinesis in a way, but Levitate has a weight limit of 500lbs unlike Telekinesis’ 1000lb limit.

Of course, it won’t work exactly like the original spell you’re imitating. But considering you want to maximize your available spells, Levitate lets you use those precious spells on spell slinging.


10. Banishment

Source: Player’s Handbook

Banishment will probably be your first delete spell as a Sorcerer.

This 4th level spell sends a target to another plane of existence for 1 minute if they fail a Charisma saving throw. Banishment can be a little bit of a gamble considering it either works, or doesn’t.

But when it works, it’s terrific.

Also, it’s not often your opponents will have high Charisma scores.

A lot of powerful enemies you’ll come across are extraplanar. Which is great for Banishment because using it on extraplanar beings will return them to their home plane.

Another thing to be cautious of: if your concentration is interrupted during the 1 minute, the extraplanar entity will return.

Banishment has amazing synergy with Twinned Spell or even Heightened Spell if you want to get rid of two enemies, or try to banish an enemy that could have a high Charisma score.


9. Mirror Image

Source: Player’s Handbook

One of the few 2nd level spells you’ll be using throughout your Sorcerer’s life.

Mirror Image creates 3 copies of you in the same space.

Each time you’re attacked, roll a d20 to see if one of the copies is attacked instead of you. Not to mention, each copy has AC that needs to be bypassed as well.

Mirror Image is a Sorcerer’s best friend when it comes to defensive spells. Though it has no effect on opponents that don’t use sight to perceive the world.

This is best used against enemies with low amounts of attacks per round that hit hard.


8. Haste

Source: Player’s Handbook

Haste is an amazing spell packed with offensive, defensive, and utility capabilities.

Haste is an excellent 3rd level spell because it increases your target’s AC, gives them an advantage for Dexterity saving throws, and grants them an extra weapon attack or movement.

It can also be used with Twinned Spell which means almost certain death to anything within weapon range of your party’s fighter.

Just be careful not to break concentration, as it’s a requirement.

A definite main stay if you have martial characters in your party.


7. Counterspell

Source: Player’s Handbook

An essential spell in any party, Counterspell interrupts a target’s spell, but only if you use it within 60 feet of the caster you want to interrupt.

Counterspell is your go-to option to shut down enemy spell casters, and can save your party from being wiped out if used correctly.

This is brought to another level on a Sorcerer because your Counterspell can’t be Counterspelled if you use the Meta Magic Subtle Spell. Subtle Spell lets will let you bypass the verbal and somatic components of it. Very handy.


6. Hold Person/Hold Monster

Source: Player’s Handbook

This line of spells causes paralysis which guarantees critical hits on a target.

This lets your ally Rogue or Paladin make quick work of priority targets. Being able to Twinned Spell Hold Person can be encounter-defining.

Act quick though, as targets make a saving throw at the end of their turns.

Now couple that with taking Shadow Origin that gives access to Shadow of Ill Omen, and you can almost guarantee you’re going to keep a few enemies incapacitated during a fight. It’s also good considering you can quicken it, then follow with Fire bolt.


5. Disintegrate

Source: Player’s Handbook

Disintegrate is among the highest damage, single-target spells in 5e.

This 6th level spell packs a walloping 10d6 + 40 force damage when it’s first available to you, making it perfect for taking down low Dexterity enemies with a large health pool.

Although Disintegrate can be rather underwhelming against creatures with legendary resistances, it’s still worth getting especially when you start using it at higher spell slots or with Twinned Spell.

Disintegrate tears down Wall of Force, and you could use it to demolish structures.

It can also become useful if your party is caved in a deep labyrinth with no teleportation spells and need to escape.


4. Polymorph

Source: Player’s Handbook

Polymorph is my favorite 4th level spell.

It will always be on my spell list, as its versatility is unmatched. It allows an opponent to be taken out of the fight entirely. Or keeps an ally from dying by giving them a ton of HP and a new beast form.

This 4th level spell can incapacitate enemies, transform your allies into powerful beasts, or turn your allies into animals that you might deem useful for a situation.

Polymorph can also be used with Twinned Spell, amplifying its usefulness

And in case your DM says “You don’t know what a T-Rex is!”, just buy a book about dinosaurs early to get it over with.


3. Sun Burst

Source: Player’s Handbook

If you like Fireball, you’ll like Sun Burst.

Sun Burst has 3x the radius of Fireball, and blinds the target if they fail a Constitution saving throw.

The target gets to roll another Constitution saving throw every turn. But if used on the proper targets like a high Dexterity, low Constitution archer, then you could essentially keep them from picking off your allies.

Sun Burst is amazing because it packs both control and damage into a spell, which is excellent for a Sorcerer’s limited spell options.


2. Meteor Swarm

Source: Player’s Handbook

Arguably the most powerful Area of Effect damage spell.

At 40d6, you’ll be able to level entire buildings with a 40 feet radius from a mile away.

Getting Meteor Swarm is like getting nuclear launch codes. You could destroy entire cities, though I can’t guarantee your party would deem that an option unless you’re playing an evil campaign of course.

You call down flaming rocks upon creatures and objects, easily destroying them. While this spell is excellent for raw damage output, it still pales in comparison to Wish.


1. Wish

Source: Player’s Handbook

While Wish is a complicated spell, it’s easily the best spell in for any sorcerer.

It’s the ultimate 9th level spell that can come with and without risks.

If you’re using it simply to cast a spell that’s 8th level or below, create nonmagical objects, or buff your allies, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Those are clear in the spell’s parameters.

Problems start to come up when you exercise the option to wish for anything else.

Because Wish manipulates reality in favor of the caster, which is already a potential Pandora’s Box.

I would suggest keeping to the parameters of the Wish, but if you’re willing to gamble, word your wish very carefully for your DM.

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15 Best Cantrips In Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

In Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, cantrips are 0-level spells that don’t require spell slots to cast.

Full spellcasters (Bards, Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards) have cantrips on their class spell lists. And characters of these classes know a handful, learning more as they gain levels.

Some of these cantrips serve as offensive combat options akin to martial characters attacking with their weapons.

In other scenarios, cantrips provide casters with extra utility to address obstacles.

Considering the many available options, you might carefully consider what goes into your limited cantrip repertoire.

Well I’ve played my fair share of spellcasters so I have a sense of what spells prove most useful for an adventurer. If you’re looking to make the most of your caster’s choices then here’s my picks of all the best cantrips in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition.

15. Light

Source: Player’s Handbook

Simple in concept, this cantrip turns an object into a light source for an hour. Though you can only cast this spell on a single item at a time.

Your comrades who lack the darkvision feature will appreciate you having light.

Plus an illuminated object can create distractions or help in scouting out dark or distant places.


14. Mold Earth

Source: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion

A spell that lets you manipulate dirt or stone, mold earth allows for a handful of effects: move loose earth like you have a magic shovel, or create messages and symbols in stone.

You can even alter dirt or stone on the ground into difficult terrain.

Overall mold earth gives you options for manipulating your surroundings, given the right environment at least. Valuable when used well.


13. Shocking Grasp

Source: Player’s Handbook

This offensive spell gives casters a close combat option for those times they get cornered.

After successfully hitting with a melee spell attack, you deal lightning damage to shocking grasp’s target.

As with most damaging cantrips in the game, shocking grasp damage at levels 5, 11, and 17.

Secondly this cantrip also removes a target’s reactions on a hit; this effect makes it particularly useful for distancing yourself from an enemy while avoiding opportunity attacks and dealing some damage along the way.


12. Mending

Source: Player’s Handbook

When characters adventure, they’re bound to break a thing or two—whether in a fight or smashing through a window for a heist.

Luckily mending provides an easy and often quick means to fixing damaged objects.

This cantrip repairs a break or tear in an object without leaving any trace of the damage, even going so far as to adhere two broken halves back together.

All it takes is some imagination to put this cantrip to good use.

For example, hide important documents (such as a treasure map) by dividing them into pieces and using mending to make them whole again.

Simple, yet effective.


11. Message

Source: Player’s Handbook

This sometimes-underrated spell allows you to briefly contact a creature within 120 feet.

Only the target hears the message, and the recipient can give a reply perceived only by you.

Barring some specific obstacles, the spell reaches the target unerringly.

Though not the flashiest cantrip, message can easily keep characters in touch with one another.


10. Spare the Dying

Source: Player’s Handbook

This Cleric-exclusive cantrip stop creatures from bleeding out by stabilizing them at 0 hit points.

Spare the dying won’t have any effect on undead creatures or constructs. But they’re not typical targets anyways.

This cantrip’s a literal lifesaver in the face of debuffs that prevent characters from healing or if you’re out of healing options.


9. Ray of Frost

Source: Player’s Handbook

An offensive cantrip, ray of frost deals cold damage that increases as your character gains more levels.

While it doesn’t have the biggest damage die, this cantrip provides utility since the target’s speed also gets reduced by 10 feet until the start of your next turn.

The speed reduction might prove useful in deterring enemies from reaching your allies or escaping.


8. Booming Blade

Source: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

This melee-focused cantrip gives casters the spell sword experience.

Booming blade allows you to attempt a weapon attack laced with additional magical effects.

On a hit, you add thunder damage to the strike, and the creature triggers additional damage should it willingly move before the start of your next turn.

Both instances of damage also gain additional damage dice at levels 5, 11, and 17.

Another spell from the same sourcebook, green-flame blade, works similarly. Albeit with fire damage that hops onto another target.

Booming blade ekes it out by a tad since the secondary effect discourages movement by threatening a significant amount of thunder damage, should a struck creature choose to move.


7. Vicious Mockery

Source: Player’s Handbook

Characters who use this cantrip unleash insults that legitimately hurt their targets—and not just emotionally.

Granted, the spell doesn’t deal too much damage even as it scales with your character’s level. Though few creatures have resistance or immunity to psychic damage.

What this option lacks in offensive power it makes up for in utility: vicious mockery also causes the target to have disadvantage on its next attack roll before its next turn ends.

Note: this cantrip is exclusive to the Bard’s spell list.

If you’re good with snappy comebacks and witty one-liners that you can throw out mid-battle, then vicious has another layer of narrative fun to it, too!


6. Mage Hand

Source: Player’s Handbook

For arcane casters, mage hand serves as an early form of telekinesis.

This spell creates a small, spectral hand that floats around and manipulates things for you.

The hand itself can’t attack, use magic items, or lift anything more than 10 pounds; otherwise, it operates as the caster commands.

Mage hand enables some long-distance shenanigans, from retrieving distant items to opening doors and more.

And this cantrip has a lot of potential use and really benefits from player creativity.


5. Toll the Dead

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

For Clerics, Warlocks, and Wizards, toll the dead is a great offensive cantrip.

Along with having decent range, this spell deals 1d8 necrotic damage (which most creatures lack resistance or immunity to) when the targeted creature fails the Wisdom save against it.

When the target’s already wounded, the damage die goes up to 1d12. And as with other cantrips, the number of damage die increases at levels 5, 11, and 17.

Overall, toll the dead boasts notably high base damage potential among the ranged cantrips.


4. Minor Illusion

Source: Player’s Handbook

This cantrip creates a sound or an image of an object no larger than a 5-foot cube that can last for up to a minute.

Though it requires some playing along from the Dungeon Master, minor illusion shines in the hands of a creative player.

It can set up distractions with a distant sound; maybe you want to create the semblance of obstacles with a boulder blocking a pathway.

Conjuring some cover, like a wall or a closed door, could also help characters hide and escape from their foes.


3. Eldritch Blast

Source: Player’s Handbook

Since this edition’s release, eldritch blast has widely been considered the best damage cantrip.

Level 1 characters start off with one beam that deals 1d10 force damage, and they get an additional beam at levels 5, 11, and 17 (for an eventual total of four attacks)—so you’re increasingly likely to deal damage when you use this spell.

No enemies have resistance to eldritch blast’s force damage. And only one creature has immunity to the damage type, which makes the cantrip great in almost every fight.

The Warlock class spell list has exclusive access to eldritch blast, and the Warlock can choose features to really make it shine with additional damage options and crowd control effects.

Non-Warlock characters might have to rely on optional feats or multi-classing to gain access to it, though that investment can be worth it for a worthy damaging cantrip.


2. Prestidigitation

Source: Player’s Handbook

For arcane casters prestidigitation functions as a catch-all cantrip for parlor tricks and other minor magical feats.

For example, having this spell shores up concerns regarding lighting or snuffing light sources (like torches), cleaning dirty adventuring gear, and even flavoring food.

To limited extents, prestidigitation also creates harmless sensory effects, temporary trinkets and illusions, and small marks or symbols.

This cantrip’s general usefulness will vary based on how the DM addresses certain minutiae. Though players might find innovative ways to apply prestidigitation’s conjuring abilities.

The druidcraft and thaumaturgy cantrips also boast similarly flavorful effects, though more nature- and paranormal-themed respectively.


1. Guidance

Source: Player’s Handbook

Arguably the most useful cantrip in the game, guidance gives a character a flat d4 bonus to their next ability check (which includes skill checks and initiative rolls), after which the spell ends.

So long as your concentration isn’t occupied by another spell, you can repeatedly cast it.

A typical adventuring party will make multiple skill checks each gaming session, so guidance is a pretty valuable buff that will absolutely see repeated use.

With this cantrip’s general usefulness, any spellcaster—typically Clerics and Druids—that has access to guidance should nab it.

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Ianara Natividad

Ianara Natividad is a writer and editor who loves gaming, creative writing, content creation, and history. Since early 2018 she has contributed extensively to Worldbuilding Magazine, a digital publication dedicated to worldbuilders. Ianara enjoys working with other content creators and relishes every opportunity to write something new and exciting.

Best Sorcerer Cantrips in Dungeons \u0026 Dragons 5E

Dungeons & Dragons: 10 Best Cantrips In 5e

Spellcasters such as the Wizard in Dungeons & Dragonsrely on their wealth of Spells to aid them inside and outside of combat. Moreover, these spells grow in intensity and magnitude as these Spellcasters grow in power as well. Technically, D&D Spellcasters who rely on higher-level Spells expend more Spell Slots to pull off these incredible magical feats.

RELATED: Ways The Elder Scrolls Could Be A Dungeons & Dragons 5e Campaign Setting

However, spellcasters new and old will almost always rely on a handful of Cantrips to get the job done. After all, these spells don't cost Spell Slots, and spellcasters can cast them whenever they wish. But, just which Cantrips prove more useful than others?

Updated 2 July 2021, by Rhenn Taguiam: Spellcasters in Dungeons & Dragons can rely on powerful AOE spells to devastate the battlefield with fireballs, hurricanes, and otherworldly energies. But magic users don’t always have to burn through their spell slots to deal damage. Thankfully, Cantrips can accomplish a wide variety of effects to turn the tide of combat in their favor – without losing any Spell Slots. Given the many available Cantrips in D&D 5e, it’s easy to lose track of the best ones. Some rise above to the rest in terms of their efficiency and potential. 

10 Fire Bolt

A fiery bolt of arcane energy, Fire Bolt (Evocation) is easily one of the best ranged attacks a Spellcaster could get in their repertoire. When cast, this spell can hit a creature within 120ft with 1d10 Fire Damage. As an offensive Cantrip, this Spell also scales its damage, increasing at 5th Level (2d10), 11th Level (3d10), and 17th Level (4d10). It requires Verbal and Somatic components.

Fire Bolt is one of the best Cantrips a spellcaster can get if they’re in need of any offensive attacks. While Toll the Dead boasts more damage, Fire Bolt outclasses it through range. However, Fire Bolt loses its luster beyond 5th Level. A 14 Dexterity character with a Light Crossbow can do more damage than Fire Bolt. 

9 Light

One of the most straightforward Spells out there, Light (Evocation) simply imbues an object not larger than 10 square feet with a magical light. For an hour, this Spell releases light around the object (20ft  bright, 20ft dim). On the off-chance that the object is something a hostile creature wears, they need to succeed a Dexterity Save to avoid the Spell. Its components are Verbal, and Material(phosphorescent moss or firefly).

Light always serves as one of 5e’s best Cantrips for its instant lighting option. Granted, this does take up space as a Prepared Spell. However, in situations where combat isn’t expected, Light can easily replace burdensome torches. 

8 Message

Due to the lack of internet in a fantasy world, Message (Transmutation) becomes the next best thing for instant messaging. When cast, this spell allows users to state a message that only their target can hear. This works within a range of 120ft, and can bypass certain obstacles before reaching the target. To cast, it requires the following components: Verbal, Somatic, and Material (a copper wire).

Message is at best a situational Spell. However, in case of emergencies, even vaguely whispering a message solely for a single recipient can do wonders when party members can’t visibly interact in an area. Message works as a handy tool in espionage missions or when party members have to stay undercover.

7 Chill Touch

Chill Touch (Necromancy) allows another person to feel the cold release of death. With this Cantrip (requiring Verbal and Somatic components), a player conjures a skeletal hand that makes a ranged spell attack. If hit, the target not only receives 1d8 Necrotic Damage, but also can't receive healing until they start their next turn. When it hits an Undead, the target has Disadvantage on attacks against the caster. Its base damage increases at 5th Level (2d8), 11th Level (3d8) and 17th Level (4d8). 

RELATED: The Most Useful D&D 5e Spells Players Should Have

Despite the reduced damage compared to Fire Bolt, Chill Touch and its healing-disabling effect can work great against enemies with healers. Moreover, the attack disadvantages against the Undead can make Chill Touch a handy tool when fighting such enemies in the early game.

6 Toll the Dead

Sometimes, the dead themselves make the living pay a price for existing. With Toll the Dead (Necromancy), a spellcaster projecst the sounds of dolorous bells to a creature within 60ft. When cast, this Cantrip forces the target to roll a Wisdom Save. On a failure, they take 1d8 Necrotic Damage, or 1d12 if they’re missing any HP. On top of it all, Toll the Dead scales in damage at 5th Level (2d8/2d12), 11th Level (3d8/3d12), and 17th Level (4d8/4d12). It requires only Verbal and Somatic components.

Even with Toll the Dead's short range, it’s very likely that enemies will get within 60ft to fight the players anyway. Moreover, due to its Necrotic Damage, it’s also very likely that not a lot of enemies can resist this attack.

5 Guidance

Even the tiniest bit of divine providence can turn ordinary people into geniuses. Thanks to Guidance (Divination), Spellcasters can give that necessary "push" to motivate their companions to excel in an activity. Essentially, Guidance (Verbal, Somatic) bestows 1d4 to a willing creature the player can touch. They can then roll the Guidance die before or after they make an Ability check of the caster's choosing.

The 1d4 boost can make the difference between life and death, especially when it comes to traps. As such, spellcasters should use Guidance as much as possible, especially on allies such as the versatile Ranger or the stealthy Rogue that frequently have to make skill checks outside battle.

4 Minor Illusion

Minor Illusion (Illusion) can serve as a spellcaster's handy distraction in times of need. This Cantrip (Somatic, Material) enables Spellcasters to create an image or a sound within a 30ft range that can last for up until a minute. Sounds with Minor Illusion can range from anything within the user's imagination. Images should fit a 5-foot cube and can create non-physical sensory effects. Touching the object or succeeding an Intelligence (Investigation) check against the object reveals the illusion.

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Creative Spellcasters can do wonders with a 5-foot square. As such, Minor Illusion can pave way for hiding spaces or even helpful distractions against opponents. Spellcasters among any Class should consider getting this Cantrip for handy illusions.

3 Mind Sliver

The slightest disorientation can put anyone out of focus – sometimes with lethal consequences. This Enchantment Cantrip (requiring Verbal components) enables casters to disorient the mind of a creature within 60ft, forcing them to make an Intelligence Saving Throw. If the creature fails the Save, they not only get 1d6 Psychic damage, but also gets a -1d4 penalty on their next Saving Throw before the end of the caster's next turn.

Mild Sliver can easily become a powerful Cantrip in any Spellcaster's repertoire. Immunity and resistance to Psychic damage is considered rare, and Intelligence is usually the dump stat of a lot of creatures. Moreover, the Save penalty can lead to more devastating effects caused by other members of the party.

2 Mage Hand

Spellcasters who need helping hands can use their arcane magic to summon a Mage Hand (Conjuration). This Cantrip (Verbal, Somatic) summons a spectral hand that floats at a point within 30ft. With an action, the caster can manipulate an object up to 30ft away. However, casters can't use Mage Hand to activate magical items, make attacks, or carry a weight of more than 10 pounds.

In most instances, Mage Hand becomes a godsend for players who want to do tasks that hold a considerable amount of risk. These include trying to steal relics from powerful NPCs, picking locks, or simply doing things from a distance without being noticed.

1 Shape Water

With Shape Water (Transmutation), casters can do a lot with just an area of water within 30ft that fits a 5-foot cube. For instance, this Cantrip (which uses Somatic components) lets casters change the flow or even move the target water up to 5ft in any direction. Moreover, such water can create shapes and become frozen or animated within an hour.

Shape Water serves as perhaps the most practical Spell out of the element-moving Cantrips. For instance, Shape Water can move boiling water, redirect water, or create visual cues for communication. Shape Water can also reduce opacity to search in muddy water or vice versa to hide objects. Lastly, freezing water can create bridges or block paths in tricky situations.

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Cantrips 5e best for sorcerer

D&D Best Cantrips for Every Class

Cantrips for every caster, only the best of the best

Cantrips are spells that are immediately usable at level 1. While some overlap classes, specific classes are able to cast certain cantrips. They’re free magic; they don’t require or use up any spell slots, and you can use learned cantrips multiple times, usually whenever you want.

Not every class can cast spells, including cantrips. Spellcaster classes can use cantrips right away, while only two other classes can use spells at all, and they can’t even do that until later levels. Even then, they canonly use spells if they follow specific paths. The Eldritch Knight for Fighters and the Arcane Trickster for Rogues are the only ways non-Spellcasters can use cantrips or other leveled spells.

1. Artificer 

A construct crafting build, Artificers are masters at finding magic anywhere, even in ordinary objects. They excel in decoding and controlling magic, including plenty of cantrips to fill an adventure with fun.

Their cantrips are: Acid Splash, Create Bonfire, Dancing Lights, Fire Bolt, Frostbite, Guidance, Light, Mage Hand, Magic Stone, Mending, Message, Poison Spray, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Resistance, Shocking Grasp, Spare the Dying, Thorn Whip, and Thunderclap.

Best Cantrip: Thunderclap

Why Thunderclap Is The Best:

  • Can be heard a great distance
  • Decent Damage that increases with level 
  • Plenty of non-standard uses, for example it could be used to cause avalanches or collapse caves with its soundwaves 

2. Bard

A musically inclined class, the Bard is a natural performer and effective combatant. Whether using song or playing an instrument, they can buff a party or decimate an enemy in the most beautiful of ways. 

Their cantrips are: Blade Ward, Dancing Lights, Friends, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Minor Illusion, Prestidigitation, Thunderclap, True Strike, and Vicious Mockery.

Best Cantrip: Blade Ward

Why Blade Ward Is The Best:

  • Lasts only 1 round but can be recast every round for endless warding
  • Resists bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage dealt by weapon attacks

3. Cleric

Typically the healers and support of a party, Clerics have a bucket full of goodies to pick from. They work with their Deities to cast spells, drawing on a holy power to give support and deal damage.

Their cantrips are: Guidance, Word of Radiance, Light, Mending, Resistance, Sacred Flame, Spare the Dying, Thaumaturgy, Toll the Dead, and Virtue

Best Cantrip: Spare the Dying

Why Spare the Dying Is The Best:

  • Stabilized any living creature with 0 HP, excluding undead or constructs 
  • Effects on touch

4. Druid

Using aspects straight from nature, Druids can manipulate elemental forces or take animal forms. They don't claim to own or be masters of nature, but rather see themselves as one with nature, an extension and element of natural power. 

Their cantrips are: Control Flames, Create Bonfire, Druidcraf, Frostbite, Guidance, Gust, Infestation, Magic Stone, Mending, Mold Earth, Poison Spray, Primal Savagery, Produce Flame, Resistance, Shape Water, Shillelagh, Thorn Whip, and Thunderclap.

Best Cantrip: Primal Savagery

Why Primal Savagery Is The Best:

  • Makes teeth or nails sharpen and grow corrosive for the duration 
  • Deals 1d10 acid damage, which grows up to 4d10 by level 17

5. Eldritch Knight (Fighter*)

A path available to Fighters, an Eldritch Knight learns how to use magic, specifically more wizard themed magic use. While only able to learn a small number of spells, the knights memorize them rather than having to use a spellbook.

Their cantrips are: Acid Splash, Blade Ward, Booming Blade, Chill Touch, Control Flames, Create Bonfire, Dancing Lights, Fire Bolt, Friends, Frostbite, Green Flame Blade, Gust, Infestation, Light, Lightning Lure, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Minor Illusion, Mold Earth, Poison Spray, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Shape Water, Shocking Grasp, Sword Burst, Thunderclap, Toll the Dead, and True Strike.

Best Cantrip: Poison Spray

Why Poison Spray Is The Best:

  • Sends a cloud of noxious gas that, on a failed Con saving throw, does 1d12 poison damage 
  • Damage increases to 4d12 by level 17

6. Arcane Trickster (Rogue*)

As with the Fighter’s Eldritch Knight, the Rogue can choose the path of Arcane Trickster and gain spellcasting abilities. It likewise uses the Wizard’s set of spells, and can use its magical abilities to help with combat, assist with stealthy activities, or just for silly shenanigans. 

Their cantrips are: Acid Splash, Blade Ward, Booming Blade, Chill Touch, Control Flames, Create Bonfire, Dancing Lights, Fire Bolt, Friends, Frostbite, Green Flame Blade, Gust, Infestation, Light, Lightning Lure, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Minor Illusion, Mold Earth, Poison Spray, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Shape Water, Shocking Grasp, Sword Burst, Thunderclap, Toll the Dead, and True Strike.

Best Cantrip: Mage Hand

Why Mage Hand Is The Best:

  • Can move up to 30 feet from the caster 
  • Can perform simple tasks other than activating magical items, attaking, or carrying more than 10 pounds
  • As part of the Arcane Trickster path, Mage Hand can also: Move items in and out of containers as well as pockets even if a creature is actively wearing what the pocket is attached to, use thieves' tools to pick locks and disarm traps from a distance, and can perform tasks without a creature noticing if the caster succeeds on a Dex check versus the creature's Wis check.

7. Sorcerer 

A spell-slinging, arcane expert; Sorcerers are one of, if not the, best casters of the classes. What they lack in quantity, as they have less spell slots than most classes, they make up for in speed and ability.

Their cantrips are: Acid Splash, Blade Ward, Booming Blade, Chill Touch, Control Flames, Create Bonfire, Dancing Lights, Fire Bolt, Friends, Frostbite, Green Flame Blade, Gust, Infestation, Light, Lightning Lure, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Mind Sliver, Minor Illusion, Mold Earth, Poison Spray, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Shape Water, Shocking Grasp, Sword Burst, Thunderclap, and True Strike.

Best Cantrip: Chill Touch

Why Chill Touch Is The Best:

  • On a hit ranged spell attack, target creature takes 1d8 necrotic damage, damage reaches 4d8 by level 17 
  • Target can't regain HP until start of your next turn 
  • If target is undead, it also has disadvantage on attack rolls against you until the end of your next turn

8. Warlock

Seekers of knowledge, Warlocks work with mysterious and often dark supernatural powers to unlock as many magical abilities as they can get their hands on.

Their cantrips are: Blade Ward, Booming Blade, Chill Touch, Create Bonfire, Eldritch Blast, Friends, Frostbite, Green Flame Blade, Infestation, Lightning Lure, Mage Hand, Mind Sliver, Magic Stone, Minor Illusion, Poison Spray, Prestidigitation, Sword Burst, Thunderclap, Toll the Dead, and True Strike.

Best Cantrip: Eldritch Blast

Why Eldritch Blast Is The Best:

  • Makes a ranged attack beam of 1d10 force damage 
  • Can gain up to 4 separate beams by level 17 which can go to one target or different ones

9. Wizard

Often thought of as the supreme magic-user of the classes, Wizards have a knack for spells and keep a hardy book full to the brim of different ones.

Their cantrips are: Acid Splash, Blade Ward, Booming Blade, Chill Touch, Control Flames, Create Bonfire, Dancing Lights, Encode Thoughts, Fire Bolt, Friends, Frostbite, Green Flame Blade, Gust, Infestation, Light, Lightning Lure, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Mind Sliver, Minor Illusion, Mold Earth, Poison Spray, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Sapping Sting, Shape Water, Shocking Grasp, Sword Burst, Thunderclap, Toll the Dead, and True Strike

Best Cantrip: Toll the Dead

Why Toll the Dead Is The Best:

  • Plays a melody of bells before the target must succeed on a Wis saving throw, otherwise they take 1d8 necrotic damage, damage reaches 4d8 by level 17
  • If the target has any HP missing they take 1d12 damage instead, 4d12 by level 17

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(D\u0026D 5e) A Guide to Sorcerer Cantrips
sorcerer cantrips 5e

We have officially ranked all of the cantrips available to a new Sorcerer in the fifth edition of Dungeon and Dragons! A cantrip is a spell that can be cast at will, does not take up an available spell slot, and it does not need to be prepared in advance. This is a spell that your character has perfected over time, which is why its performance sounds so simple – it is like you are doing it from muscle memory.  Like with the cleric or bard class, cantrips can offer your sorcerer a lot of utility throughout the game, so it is important to pick the right cantrips for your character. That is exactly why we completed our sorcerer cantrips 5e rankings!

Our Sorcerer Cantrips 5E Rankings

But first, how many cantrips can a Sorcerer learn? At level one, your Sorcerer will have four cantrips. Your character will learn another cantrip at level four, and your final cantrip will be learned at level ten. The Sorcerer will have a total of six cantrips throughout the duration of the campaign, and because of that, the Sorcerer has a larger array of cantrips to pick from. Fourteen to be exact. So you will need to be extra diligent, as the last thing you want to do is to waste a free spell slot on an ability that you will never use.

So without further ado, here is our Official Ranking of all of the Sorcerer’s Cantrips in Dungeon and Dragon’s fifth edition.

14. Prestidigitation

  • School: Transmutation
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: Ten feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: Up to one hour

At number fourteen of our Sorcerer’s Cantrip list is Prestidigitation – the parlor trick of spells in the Dungeon and Dragon’s universe. This is one of the first spells a novice spellcaster learns so they can practice their craft without causing any long-term damage. When you are casting this minor magical trick, you will create one of the following effects:

  • Create an instantaneous, harmless sensory effect such as a spark, a low gust of wind, a faint musical note, or an odd but not terribly off-putting odor.
  • Instantly light or put out a candle, torch, or a small campfire.
  • Instantly clean or dirty up an object that is at most 1 cubic foot.
  • Chill, warm-up, or flavor up a nonliving piece of material that is up to one cubic foot long for an hour.
  • Make a small mark or a symbol appears on an object’s surface for one hour.
  • You create a non-magical trinket or an illusion that fits in the palm of your hand until the start of your next turn.

You can have four effects going at once. While it would be cool to see all of these effects going on at the same time, I personally cannot see a reason to cast Prestidigitation, even if you wanted to use this spell as a source of income. You can use multiple other spells that have a practical use to create all of these similar effects. For example, you can use Minor Illusion to create the same illusion in your hand, while also being able to create an illusion up to thirty feet away from you. Any small fire spell can be used to light a candle or start a campfire. With enough creativity, you can use any lower-level spell as if it were Prestidigitation.

13. Mending

  • School: Transmutation
  • Casting Time: One Minute
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (two lodestones)
  • Duration: Instantaneous

At number thirteen is Mending. This cantrip will let you fix a single object with your touch as long as the break is a single tear that is at most one foot long; leaving no trace that the object was ever damaged. The item that you fix can be a magical item, but any magic that has been removed from the item will not be restored. While it seems very useful, there is a very good chance that someone else in your party will be able to fix items as well. This is an ability that you do not need to double-dip in.

12. True Strike

  • School: Divination
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: Thirty feet
  • Components: Somatic
  • Duration: Concentration, up to one round

With the point of a finger, the True Strike spell will allow you to see the weakness of one enemy. On your next round of combat, you will have an advantage over that enemy as long as this spell is still active. Having an advantage means that you get to roll two dice when you are attacking instead of just one. After the roll, you select the higher of the two and that will be the roll you make for the attack.

Several wise men have said that knowledge is power, but this spell will put you in a precarious situation just to try to obtain a small semblance of an advantage. Firstly, this spell requires concentration. That means all any enemy has to do is interrupt your train of thought and the spell will end. Secondly, you could be spending this turn doing something more productive… like attacking. You have to use a whole turn during heated combat to use True Strike; using two turns to land one attack. True Strike can be cast from thirty feet away, but it will not stop an enemy from coming in and bashing your face if all of your other comrades are busy smashing the other foes. And because there is no parrying ability outside of a skill, you are better off just swinging for the fences and taking two attacks.

11. Acid Splash

  • School: Conjuration
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: Sixty feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Acid Splash deal 1d6 of Acid Damage that can be dodged with a successful dexterity saving throw (1d20 plus the target’s dexterity bonus). This damage increase to 2d6 at level five, 3d6 at level eleven, and 4d6 at level seventeen. You can hit one target up to sixty feet away, or two targets that are five feet away. With a spell like Poison Spray that can potentially deal more damage with the same chance to be dodged, I will respectfully pass on splashing some acid.

10. Dancing Light

  • School: Evocation
  • Casting Time: One action
  • Range: 120 feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (phosphorus, wychwood, or a glowworm)
  • Duration: Concentration, up to one minute

You create four small torch lights, or you create one medium-sized humanoid form, both of which will shed a light across a ten-foot radius. You can move the light, but any piece that you move cannot be more than twenty-feet away from the rest of the pieces. If you take it too far, the spell will flicker out. Much to the same fate as Acid Splash, there is a MUCH better spell on this list that is available for the Sorcerer, and it will last longer. This will be one dance that this Sorcerer will not attend.

9. Ray of Frost

  • School: Evocation
  • Casting Time: One action
  • Range: Sixty feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: Instantaneous

A frigid blue-white beam of light strikes towards your opponent to deal 1d8 of ranged cold damage. That damage increases to 2d8 at level five, 3d8 at level eleven, and 4d8 at level seventeen. On a hit, the spell will also decrease your enemies’ speed by ten feet until the start of your next turn. It is a solid attack that I might invest in later because I am running into a bunch of enemies that are weaker to cold damage.

8. Poison Spray

  • School: Conjuration
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: Ten Feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Poison Spray allows your character to shoot a puff of noxious gas from the palm of their hand and in the direction of an enemy. The enemy will need to make a successful Constitution throw, or they will take 1d12 of poison damage. The amount of damage you deal will increase at fifth level (2d12), eleventh (3d12), and seventeenth (4d12). To make a Constitution throw, your opponent has to beat your DC, which is eight plus your proficiency modifier plus the appropriate ability modifier, with 1d20 plus their Constitution modifier.

Poison Spray has the highest damage ceiling out of all of the cantrips on this list. Unlike the rest of the cantrips on this list, Poison Spray can be negated with a saving throw. Your opponent can only make a saving throw if the spell specifically says they can in the manual. Unfortunately for Poison Spray, your opponent can prevent the damage. I still rank it higher than the previous cantrips because it has the potential to deal a lot of damage. Twelve damage at level one for a magic casting class is nothing to sneeze at, as this is something most magic castors cannot do. You just need to be okay with missing once in a while.

7. Fire Bolt

  • School: Evocation
  • Casting Time: One Minute
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Your character hurls fire at an opponent to deal 1d10 of fire damage. That damage increases to 2d10 at level five, 3d10 at level eleven, and 4d10 at level seventeen. This is very close to the top of my list because it does not require a saving throw if your attack misses.

6. Minor Illusion

  • School: Illusion
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: Thirty Feet
  • Components: Somatic, Material (small amount of fleece)
  • Duration: One Minute

While most of my focus in this article has been on dealing damage, Minor Illusion has an effect on a different aspect of Dungeon and Dragons – role -playing! And in the realm of role-playing, you can do almost anything with Minor Illusion. As written, this spell will let you create a sound or an imaginary object that is at least thirty feet away from you. You cannot do both at the same time though.

If you create a sound, you can alter its volume to be as loud or as soft as you need it to be. The sound will go on continuously for the duration of the spell’s effect. If you create an image, the item must not be longer than a five-foot cube. Beyond being an item, the image will not affect any of the other senses. Any physical interaction with the image will reveal that the item is an illusion.

If someone goes to examine the sound or image, they will need to make a successful Intelligence check against your Spell Save DC. If they are successful, the illusion becomes faint to the character that made the successful check.

I know there are a lot of rules to follow with Minor Illusion, but an experienced or a highly imaginative player will be able to use this cantrip to get out of several situations.

See Also: The Best Sorcerer Spells in 5E

5. Shocking Grasp

  • School: Evocation
  • Casting Time: One action
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Lightning springs from your fingertips as you touch your enemy, sending a jolt down their body. On a successful melee spell attack, you deal 1d8 lightning damage, and the target cannot take reactions until the start of their next turn. A reaction is the equivalent to an attack of opportunity. That damage increases to 2d8 at level five, 3d8 at level eleven, and 4d8 at level seventeen. You have an advantage on that enemy if they are wearing metal armor. Taking away an opponent’s attack of opportunity is a huge effect to inflict, but it is only the second-highest damage dealing cantrip on this list because Chill Touch can do a little bit more.

4. Chill Touch

  • School: Necromancy
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: 120 feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: One round

An excellent entry on our sorcerer cantrips 5e list, Chill Touch releases a ghostly skeletal hand that reaches out to touch your target. If the hand is successful, you deal 1d8 necrotic damage, AND the target cannot regain hit points until the start of your next turn. The amount of damage you deal will increase at fifth level (2d8), eleventh (3d8), and seventeenth (4d8). While the damage is low, the main reason you would cast Chill Touch is to prevent your target from healing. Every heal activation you prevent will make it easier for your team to defeat your enemies. That means you will need to use fewer items and spells to heal yourself after the battle, you will not have to rest as much to recover strength… The list of benefits is massive.

3. Light

  • School: Evocation
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: One hour

You touch an object that is at most ten foot long. That item will brighten up a twenty-foot radius, and dim an additional twenty foot beyond the first twenty feet. The spell ends if you cast it again, and the light will be blocked if you completely cover it with something opaque. Oh, and the  light can be any color that you want! Just imagine your enemy running away from battle with a bright pink chest plate… that is, if the enemy fails their dexterity check. In order to light up an item on an enemy, they will have a chance to make a dexterity save (they roll 1d20 and add their dexterity modifier).

Light is an incredible flexible spell. The most obvious use is to light up an area that you would normally light up with a torch; ignoring the fact that the weather or the condition of the torch could affect your ability to create the fire that you need. You could light up an item and either toss it or leave it behind; distracting whoever might be pursuing your group on the trail. You could find a way to light up an enemy, making it easier to either hit them or using it to distract other enemies in the middle of battle. The amount of utility you can get from this cantrip is endless!

2. Mage Hand

  • School: Conjuration
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: Thirty Feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: One Minute

Much like Minor Illusion, Mage Hand’s primary function has nothing to do with combat. But unlike Minor Illusion, Mage Hand can physically affect your surroundings. When you cast Mage Hand, you create a spectral, floating hand that can do the following actions:

  • Manipulate an object
  • Open an unlocked door or container
  • Store or retrieve an item from an open container
  • Pour the contents out of a vial

The hand can only interact with items that are within thirty feet of your physical character. The hand’s carrying capacity is less than ten pounds, and it cannot activate magical items. And because I feel that this is important to stress; you cannot use Mage Hand to perform an attack.

Despite these restrictions, I can see Mage Hand being a very important spell to get your team out of a precarious situation like being imprisoned, tied up, or needing to sneak something into your possession. Just wait until all attention is focused somewhere else, cast Mage Hand, and then you will be on your way to accomplishing whatever task you will need to complete.

1. Message

  • School: Transmutation
  • Casting Time: One action
  • Range: 120 feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (short piece of copper wire)
  • Duration: One round

And number one on our Sorcerer cantrip list is Message. This cantrip is not just our favorite of the class, but our top cantrip on our List of Best 5E Cantrips. You point your finger at your target that is in range, and you can whisper a message to that person. This is one of the strongest abilities in the game, as it will let you get information to your party without having to be right next to them. It could save your team a whole lot of time, especially if you are in a situation where you both need to remain silent.

Nerds and Scoundrels

And that concludes our Sorcerer Cantrips 5e Rankings. Did we get them all right in your eyes? Let us know in the comment section below. Need more DnD content? Try our Best Warlock Cantrips Rankings.




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DnD 5e – Sorcerer Spell List Breakdown

Last Updated: October 9, 2021


The Sorcerer shares a lot with the Wizard, including the vast majority of their spells. However, the Sorcerer gets a strictly limited number of spells known and can’t cast rituals, so sorcerers are forced to learn to rely on a smaller number of spells and adjust them using metamagic to make the tools available work in any given situation.

In addition to mastering metamagic, good sorcerer needs to know how and when to cast spells using a higher-level spell slot. Using higher-level slots to get more out of a low-level spell can be just as effective as learning a new high-level spell, all while working within your limited number of spells known. Staples like Fireball remain useful well past the first level that they become available, making them great options when you only get to know 15 spells at the absolute most.

Table of Contents


RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Sorcerer Spells

Optional spells are marked below with (Optional) following the spell’s name. These spells are considered optional rules, as described in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Consult your DM before deciding to use these spells.


  • Acid SplashPHB: Low damage for a cantrip, but it’s one of very few cantrips which can affect more than one target. If you can hit two targets, the total damage will beat any other cantrip (Eldritch Blast doesn’t count), and since it’s on Dexterity saves many bulky melee enemies will reliably fail. However, it’s hard to count on two enemies being adjacent, and generally when they are you want to use leveled spells to take advantage of the situation.
  • Blade WardPHB: Similar in function to taking the Dodge action, but since your AC may be terrible this may be more reliable. That doesn’t make is necessary, but it’s an option.
  • Booming BladeSCAG / TCoE (Optional): Melee cantrips are an extremely difficult prospect for a class with d6 hit dice, and relying on a weapon attack rather than a spell attack just makes that issue worse.

    Note that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything published an updated version of Booming Blade. According to Jeremy Crawford on the official Dragon Talk Podcast, the updated version can’t be twinned with Twin Spell.

  • Chill TouchPHB: The same range as Fire Bolt, but less damage. In exchange, you get a better damage type and the target can’t regain hit points for a turn which can be a big help against enemies with regeneration or enemy clerics. This also imposes Disadvantage on the next attack if the target is undead, but many undead also have resistance to necrotic damage so Chill Touch isn’t always a good option against undead. Still, if you need a staple, go-to damage cantrip that isn’t Fire Bolt, Chill Touch is a great option.
  • Control FlamesEEPC / XGtE: Notably omitted from the function of Control Flames is the ability to create or extinguish them. Druidcraft and Prestidigitation both grant the ability to light or snuff out small flames. Control Flames will let you spread flames, extinguish them, change their color, etc., but if you want to light a torch you need to use flint and tinder like a commoner. You can use this to dramatically improve the effectiveness of torches, or to snuff out enemy light sources at a distance, but those are situational uses that you can address with better light sources like the Daylight spell or by using water. Neither function is frequent or useful enough to justify a cantrip with so little functionality.
  • Create BonfireEEPC: A low-budget area control spell. It does as much initial damage as most cantrips, but the ongoing damage only applies when a creature enters the area or ends their turn there, so you can only get extra damage if you can force an enemy into the space or if you cast it on them and they remain in their space. If you have an ally who likes to grapple enemies, or if you need to block a narrow space like a hall or doorway, this is extremely useful if you’re not already commiting Concentration to something else.

    However, Create Bonfire’s reliance on Concentration can become a problem as you gain levels because Concentration is such a precious resource, and many of the best spells require Concentration. If your game doesn’t include an option to retrain cantrips, I would skip Create Bonfire entirely. If you have a way to retrain cantrips, consider taking Create Bonfire at low levels, but be prepared to replace it if you find that you’re not using it consistently.

  • Dancing LightsPHB: An amusing distraction, but you can usually accomplish the same thing using Mage Hand and a candle or torch.
  • Fire BoltPHB: Great range and solid damage. A good go-to option when all you need is damage.
  • FriendsPHB: This is hard to use. 1 minute is not a lot of time, and you generally need to put distance between yourself and the subject of the spell before they turn hostile. You could use this to intimidate a creature into fleeing, but in most cases you’ll probably be using this quickly talk your way past a creature blocking your way like a guard at a gate. You generally won’t need this; between high Charisma and other spells, you can find plenty of options which work better like Charm Person.
  • FrostbiteEEPC / XGtE: Low damage for a cantrip (d6-based), but the big appeal is Disadvantage on the target’s next weapon attack. Unfortunately, it works on Constitution saving throws, and those tend to be relatively high compared to other saving throws.
  • Green-FlameSCAG / TCoE (Optional): Melee cantrips are an extremely difficult prospect for a class with d6 hit dice, and relying on a weapon attack rather than a spell attack just makes that issue worse.

    Note that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything published an updated version of Green-Flame Blade. According to Jeremy Crawford on the official Dragon Talk Podcast, the updated version can’t be twinned with Twin Spell and can only be used with War Caster if you choose not to affect a second target.

  • GustEEPC / XGtE: If this scaled somehow I would be interested. If it had more options, I would be interested. If had better range, I would be interested. But as it stands this spell is almost totally useless.
  • InfestationXGtE: Constitution saves tend to be high, which is this spell’s biggest problem. The damage is low but tolerable, and the forced movement is enough to make it useful by forcing enemies to move around in dangerous places or move out of a grapple despite your lack of control over the direction.
  • LightPHB: Disposable magic light is fantastic, but if you don’t have room for the cantrip you’ll do fine with torches.
  • Lightning LureSCAG / TCoE (Optional): Despite the 15-foot range, this can be a great option for melee builds. Against enemies with poor Strength (like many enemy spellcasters), you can use this to drag them into melee with you and force them to teleport or Disengage in order to get away from you unharmed. If you’re flying, you may even be able to pull enemies into the air to cause a small amount of falling damage. The save is Strength, so try to reserve this for physically weak foes like other spellcasters.
  • Mage HandPHB: The ability to move objects at a safe distance is profoundly useful. Use it to pull levers, open doors, sort your laundry, and all manner of other important but potentially hazardous tasks where you wouldn’t want to risk your own hands.
  • MendingPHB: Too situational. Short of Rust Monsters, nearly nothing in 5e deals damage to your equipment.
  • MessagePHB: Situational. Use this to send messages without revealing your position. Of course, the spell requires Verbal components and it’s not clear how loud verbal components are intended to be, so take precautions if possible.
  • Mind SliverTCoE: Psychic damage on an Intelligence save is spectacular on its own. Intelligence saves are consistently among the lowest, and psychic damage resistance/immunity is rare (though it does exist, especially on mindless enemies like zombies). That alone makes Mind Sliver arguably the most reliable cantrip damage in 5e, but it gets better from there. With only Verbal components, Mind Sliver works while you’re tied up or have your hands full, making it a great option for War Caster. It also imposes a -1d4 penalty on the target’s next saving throw making them an easier target for save-or-suck spells, or you can just repeatedly hit them with Mind Sliver and watch enemies try to beat your spell save DC with a +0 save bonus and the -1d4 penalty from your previous hit.
  • Minor Illusion:PHB: Room for plenty of creative, deceptive uses. The 5-foot cube is easily enough to create something to hide behind, provided that your enemies don’t see you create the illusion.
  • Mold EarthEEPC / XGtE: You know what else can do this? A shovel. Sure, shoveling will take a long time, but you get a limited number of cantrips, and if you can replace a cantrip with a mundane item it’s probably a bad cantrip. The only important function is to create difficult terrain, but you’re limited to two ongoing effects, which means you only get two 5-foot squares. And, again, you could do that with a shovel. You’re about as likely to use this in combat as you are to use a shovel, too.
  • Poison SprayPHB: Good damage compared to most cantrips, but poison damage is commonly resisted, the range is essentially melee, and it’s a Constitution save.
  • PrestidigitationPHB: Whenever you want to do something small and magical that’s not covered by another spell, it’s usually covered by prestidigitation. This spell is exceptionally versatile. For suggestions on how to use Prestidigitation to its fullest, see my Practical Guide to Prestidigitation.
  • Ray of FrostPHB: You have a limited number of cantrips, Frostbite is much better, and the need diversifying the damage types you can deal is too important to take two cold damage cantrips.
  • Shape WaterEEPC / XGtE: This is as abusable and versatile as Prestidigitation. Freeze a solid 5 foot cube of water and drop it on someone. Pour water into a lock, freeze it, and allow the ice expansion to break the lock. Put a dome of ice over something you’re protecting. Build a small bridge in 5-foot segments. Block a hallway. Freeze a door in place. The uses are numerous and fantastic. If you have a barrel of water and this cantrip, you have a solution to most problems. Honestly the fact that this spell is so much better than its other elemental equivalents (Control Flames, Gust, and Mold Earth) is a good indication of just how awful those spells are. See my Practical Guide to Shape Water for more on how great Shape Water is.
  • Shocking GraspPHB: The damage is worse than Fire Bolt and it’s touch range. Advantage against enemies in metal armor is nowhere near enough to make this appealing. If you hit the target can’t take Reactions like Opportunity Attacks or casting Counterspell, but I still don’t think that’s enough to justify rushing into melee.
  • Sword BurstSCAG / TCoE (Optional): If you are in a position where it makes sense to use this, you should probably be running away.
  • ThunderclapEEPC: Thunder damage is worse than Sword Burst’s force damage, and Thunderclap uses Constitution saves, which tend to be high.
  • True StrikePHB: Typically you’ll get better results from attacking twice rather than using this then attacking once. Note that you don’t get the benefits of the spell until your next turn, so even if you Quicken this it’s still bad.

1st-Level Spells

  • Absorb ElementsEEPC / XGtE: A fantastic defensive option at any level, this will save your life when you encounter an unpredictable source of elemental damage like as a trap or a spell. The bonus damage on your next attack is largely useless, but it still feels cool when you use it.
  • Burning HandsPHB: The cone is just 15 feet, so it’s unlikely that you’ll hit more than two targets. The 3d6 damage is fine, but it’s not enough to justify rushing into melee unless you have enough movement to retreat to safety after doing so.
  • CatapultEEPC: Equivalent damage to Chromatic Orb, but Chromatic Orb is more versatile and has better range. Where Catapult shines is its reliability: If a target passes their saving throw, the object continues moving until it hits something or runs out of range. If you can line up two or more targets, you odds of hitting and dealing damage improve considerably. If your DM allows it, you might be able to Catapult items like Acid or Alchemist’s Fire to add additional damage.
  • Chaos BoltXGtE: Great single-target damage for a 1st-level spell with decent range, and since the damage type is variable you can reliably pick a damage type that the target doesn’t resist. Rolling doubles on 2d8 occurs just 12.5% of the time (1/8), so it’s not a certainty but if you consider this a go-to option in combat you’ll definitely see it happen a few times. It’s also exclusive to the Sorcerer, which is fun.
  • Charm PersonPHB: If you can cast this on a target outside of combat without them noticing, this can be a great way to defuse a potentially hostile situation. However, the spell has some complications. Charm Person has no visual effect like a ball of fire, so there’s no visual indication that the spell succeeded or failed. The target doesn’t know that they’ve been targeted by the spell if they succeed on the saving throw, but you don’t know if they succeeded or failed unless your DM decides to tell you (and they are under no obligation to do so). So generally your best bet is to cast this once or twice and hope for the best before presenting yourself to your target.
  • Chromatic OrbPHB: More predictable and reliable than Chaos Bolt, but not enough extra damage for it to make a difference, less range, and no chance to get a second attack. I think Chromatic Orb is a better, safer option, but Chaos Bolt is much more fun.
  • Color sprayPHB: The effect is not powerful enough and the duration is not long enough to justify the spell slot.
  • Comprehend languagesPHB: A great way to handle language barriers, but you can’t communicate back so you may need to cast this on the creature on the other side of the conversation, too. If you can, leave this for ritual casters.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Essential, but hopefully you can leave this for someone in the party who can cast Rituals.
  • Disguise SelfPHB: Learning a single spell is cheaper than proficiency in a Disguise Kit.
  • Distort ValueAI: If your DM allows you to trade magic items, this might be incredibly useful. However, your DM might also find this incredibly annoying and punish you for using it by having angry traders track you down after an unfair trade. Discuss this spell with your DM before you consider learning it.
  • Earth TremorEEPC / XGtE: Not nearly enough damage, and being prone isn’t enough of a problem in 5e. The difficult terrain effect is the real draw. It only works on “loose earth or stone”, but that covers nearly anything you’ll stand on except wood, so it’s an easy way to create difficult terrain. Unfortunately, it also effects you so be careful not to trap yourself among enemies.
  • Expeditious RetreatPHB: Situational and poorly named. Expiditious Retreat is great for chases and for running long distances, but those situations aren’t common enough to justify preparing this unless you know it’s going to happen. The duration is good and Dash as a bonus action offers a lot of extra speed, but since this requires Concentration you’ll almost always want a different buff instead.
  • False LifePHB: A great use for your low-level spell slots when they stop being effective in combat. 1d4+4 hit points is as much as most sorcerers get from an extra hit die, which can make a huge difference for a class that’s typiclaly very frail. However, with so few known spells you may have better results with options like Shield.
  • Feather FallPHB: Someone in the party needs to have this at all times, and you’re someone. Falling damage is a silly, embarassing way to die.
  • Fog CloudPHB: An excellent way to cover your escape, but you can’t see through the fog any better than anyone else, so don’t expect to fight in this without some other advantage most of the time. Fog Cloud can be a way to negate Advantage if your enemies have the upper hand, so if you’re facing enemies who are invisible, hidden, or have some other source of Advantage, Fog Cloud can take that away, effectively leveling the playing field so that no one can see each other. Such situations are rare, but it’s nice to know that there’s a countermeasure when those situations do arise.
  • GreasePHB (Optional): Even if creatures fall prone, that only eats half of their movement, and with a radius of just 10 feet most creatures can walk out unimpeded once they’re no longer prone.
  • Ice KnifeEEPC / XGtE: The closest you’ll get to Fireball at this level. Allowing both an attack and a save seems weird, and while it makes it likely that foes will avoid partial damage, they’ll also likely take at least part of the damage. The only problem is that the splash damage radius is so mall that Acid Splash can usually fill the same situation with similar rang euntil better spells come online.
  • JumpPHB: Too situational.
  • Mage ArmorPHB: A great source of AC, but it provides a perpetual tax on your spell slots and 13+Dex will stop being effective as enemies’ attack bonuses scale while your Dexterity remains static so that you can focus on Charisma.

    Mage Armor’s usefulness improves if you have other lightly-armored characters in the party. Learning Mage Armor just for yourself can feel like a waste, but when you’re casting it on bards, druids, fighters, rangers, rogues, and warlocks, suddenly learning one low-level spell becomes a staple defensive option for your whole party.

  • Magic MissilePHB: A great option with long range and reliable damage of what is probably the best damage type in the game. 3d4+3 (avg. 10.5) damage is slightly less than the 3d8 (avg. 13.5) dealt by Chromatic Orb, but the Attack vs. AC progression shows that players maximizing their primary ability score will hit with attacks 65% of the time, so your expected damage with Chromatic Orb is just 8.775. Plus, Magic Missile can be split between targets, allowing you to deal with pests like familiars or enemies just barely clinging to life while still dealing damage to other threats.
  • Ray of SicknessPHB: Less damage than other spells of the same level, but poisoning a target for a turn means Disadvantage on attacks and ability checks for the full turn. Unfortunately, the big martial monsters that you typically want to use this on are also typically good at Constitution saving throws.
  • ShieldPHB: The fact that you can cast this after hearing the result of the attack roll means that you can frequently turn a hit into a miss. On top of Mage Armor, you can effectively have an AC of 17+Dex so long as you have 1st-level spell slots to spend.
  • Silent ImagePHB: While not nearly so powerful as Major Image, if you just want an object or a visual effect, Silent Image does the job just as well. Throw up a fake wall, door, or portcullis to slow pursuers. Create a piece of furniture, then hide inside it and stab people when they try to open it. Illusions are limited more by your creativity (and your DM’s willingness to play along) than by the spell’s text.
  • SleepPHB: At an average of 22.5 hp worth of creatures, you won’t be able to affect many creatures while they’re at full hit points, but you can wait to wear down their hit points before finishing them off with Sleep. Sleep notably doesn’t require a saving throw, making it a powerful and reliable way to incapacitate enemies with relatively few hit points even at high levels. However, it may be difficult to continue relying on this past low levels because the scaling is poor, so you should strongly consider replacing it.
  • Tasha’s Caustic BrewTCoE (Optional): This is a challenging spell; if you just want damage, cast Burning Hands. With a 1-minute duration and 2d4 damage each round, you can deal a total of 20d4 damage to each target (average 50) which is enough to kill many creatures up to CR 2 or 3 (ignore the table in the “creating a monster” rules in the DMG; real monster stats tend to have high “offensive CR” and low “defensive CR” so very few of them have hit points which line up with those rules).

    However, you’re almost certainly not going to get the full damage, and that’s probably fine. If you spend an Action and a spell slot to cast this and a target spends their Action to remove the effect, you have traded your Action for theirs and probably also did a bunch of damage. In encounters where your party outnumbers your enemies, that’s a winning trade for you. In encounters where your enemies outnumber your party, you’re in a target-rich environment and may be able to hit 3 or more targets, in which case trading your own Action for one Action from several enemies is a great way to offset your enemies’ numerical advantage.

    Lines are a difficult AOE because it’s often difficult to catch more than two enemies in a straight 5-foot wide line. It’s also all-or-nothing, so creatures which pass the save are totally unharmed. This requires Concentration, so if you don’t affect multiple targets you may need to weigh the benefits of whatever ongoing damage you’re getting against the ability to spend your Concentration on a different spell instead.

  • ThunderwavePHB: With the exception of Gust, this is one of your very few options for pushing enemies away from you. It’s especially appealing if you can push an enemy into an area control effect, but otherwise it’s not a good go-to option for damage output in combat.
  • Witch BoltPHB: Spending the same spell slot on Magic Missile is dramatically more reliable and does more damage on average. Even if you hit with the initial attack for Witch Bolt, it takes three additional turns for the average damage from Witch Bolt to catch up to the average damage dealt by Magic Missile, then following with Fire Bolt on later turns. The primary use case for Witch Bolt is when you’re facing large single foes where combat with last more five rounds or more, which is a rarity since most combats last around 3 rounds.

2nd-Level Spells

  • Aganazzar’s ScorcherEEPC: Lines are frequently hard to aim, so you’re likely to only hit 2 creatures in most cases. With that same assumption, compare the 3d8 damage of Aganazzar’s Scorcher to the 3d6 damage of Burning Hands which will also likely only hit two targets. The difference in average damage is just 3 damage, so it’s not enough to justify the higher-level spell slot.
  • Alter SelfPHB: Two situational effects and a combat buff that you can’t risk using. Until you get something more powerful like Polymorph, Alter Self allows you to handle breathing underwater and can replace the benefits of Disguise Self. Considering that the Sorcerer has such a limited number of spells known, getting multiple uses out of a single spell is crucial.
  • Blindness/DeafnessPHB: Blindness is crippling, especially for enemies who fight at range like archers and spellcasters. It’s also helpful against melee enemies, but Constitution saves tend to be high, so it’s often best to use this on enemies which are more physically frail.
  • BlurPHB: A great defensive option, but with a short duration and it requires Concentration. If you’re considering Blur, also consider Warding Wind because they have similar effects.
  • Cloud of DaggersPHB: Create Bonfire can fill the same function, though Cloud of Daggers deals damage when a creature starts its turn in the effect while Create Bonfire takes effect when creatures end their turn in effect, making it much easier to guarantee damage with Cloud of Daggers.
  • Crown of MadnessPHB: “The charmed target must use its action before moving on each of its turns to make a melee attack”. Unless your enemies are dumb enough to stand next to their ally while they’re clearly under the effects of a harmful spell, you’re going to get maybe one attack out of this.
  • DarknessPHB: Situational. Typically you can solve the same challenges with Fog Cloud, and you don’t need to worry about the possibility of enemies being able to see through the effect using magic or by being devils or something. Fog Cloud also has 6 times the duration and a radius 5 feet larger and can be expanded using higher-level spell slots. Darkness’s one unique advantage over Fog Cloud is that it’s portable: you can cast Darkness on a rock and toss it into a room or stick into your pocket to produce in the middle of combat by using your item interaction to take it out of your pocket rather than spending an Action to cast a spell.
  • DarkvisionPHB: Fantastic at any level. 8-hour duration, no Concentration. If you can afford the spell slots, cast this on everyone in the party who doesn’t get it from their race. You might even use Twinned Spell to save spell slots, or you might use Extend Spell to cast this before resting, then enjoy the 16-hour duration without cutting into your spell slots for the next day.
  • Detect ThoughtsPHB: Situational, but a clever player can use this to gather crucial information from enemies unwilling to share it. However, the checks to continue focusing on a single creature’s throughts are Intelligence checks and sorcerers rarely have enough Intelligence to succeed reliably at opposed Intelligence checks. If you can, have an ally cast buffs like Guidance or Enhance Ability (Intelligence) on you to give yourself an edge.
  • Dragon’s BreathXGtE: Great if you have a familiar or some other obedient, portable creature to cast this on, but otherwise not worth the spell slot. Tragically, sorcerers don’t have Find Familiar on their spell list, so you’ll need to multiclass or something.
  • Dust DevilEEPC: Creatures can walk past or even through the effect unhindered.
  • EarthbindEEPC: While it doesn’t force flying enemies to fall, it does force them to the ground which is often enough if you can’t cause your entire party to fly. This remains a useful option at any level, especially since you can maintain the spell for its full 1-minute duration and keep the target on the ground long enough to kill them.
  • Enhance AbilityPHB: Fantastic and versatile. Eagle’s Splendor on your party’s Face make social interactions much easier, and Bull’s Strength provides a huge edge while grappling. Enhance your spellcasting ability (or that of an ally) to get Advantage on the ability checks to counter spells and to dispel magic.
  • Enlarge/ReducePHB: A great option both as a buff for melee allies and as a utility option, though I would rarely try using this to shrink enemies. You can use this on a small ally to make them small enough to smuggle in a pocket, or you can use this on and ally to give them an edge against enemies that rely on grappling. The bonus damage for being enlarged is nice, but not really worth the spell slot unless the target is making a huge number of weapon attacks like a high-level fighter.
  • Flame BladePHB (Optional): This spell is awful. If it worked like Shadow Blade it would at least be usable, but as it’s written it’s immediately worse then Produce Flame or any other attack cantrip. 3d6 damage (avg. 10.5) barely exceeds 2d8 (avg. 9), and cantrips will scale without costing higher-level spell slots.
  • Flaming SpherePHB (Optional): An interesting but sometimes difficult option, Flaming Sphere combines area control and regular damage output, but monopolizes both your bonus action and your Concentration for the 1-minute duration. In small areas where enemies can’t easily get away from the sphere, it can be a reliable source of ongoing damage while also helping control a small area. However, the sphere only applies damage when it rams a creature or when a creature ends its turn; in the intervening time creatures can run past or even directly through the sphere unharmed.
  • Gust of WindPHB: Potentially a great way to shove enemies around, but at 15 ft. per round enemies will frequently be able to walk back the distance they were pushed without issue. Your best bet is to push enemies into area control effects, but since Gust of Wind requires your Concentration you may have trouble creating effects to use.
  • Hold PersonPHB: On/off button for humanoids. Things that you’ll obviously think of as humanoids (goblins, humans, etc.) stop being common threats at low levels, and at high levels generally the only humanoid threads will be powerful NPCs. Humanoids are a tiny portion of the monster manual, so this spell is situational by design.

    In encounters with multiple foes, you can up-cast Hold Person to paralyze multiple targets, so when AOE damage spells aren’t a good idea for whatever reason this can still handle groups of enemies. Paralysis is a serious status condition, granting Advantage on attacks against the targets and guaranteeing Critical Hits for attacks made within 5 feet of the target. Send anyone with a weapon into melee to finish off the targets before they manage to succeed on a save.

    However, remember that targets get an additional save at the end of each round, so you can’t predict how long this will stay in effect. If you up-cast this to affect multiple targets, you may reach a point where so few of them are still paralyzed that maintain Concentration may not be worthwhile.

  • InvisibilityPHB: An essential scouting and infiltration tool, and as you get higher-level spell slots you can affect more of your party.
  • KnockPHB: The primary reason to have proficiency with Thieves’ Tools is to handle locks. Knock doesn’t require a check. However, if anyone in your party can already handle locks you should skip this and learn a different spell instead.
  • LevitatePHB: A low-level substitute for both telekinesis and flight, but somehow also a save-or-suck spell.

    Getting 20 feet off the ground doesn’t feel safe, but it’s high enough that you can’t be reached by most creatures which rely solely on melee attacks, a surprising number of creatures. If you’re happy fighting at range, you can comfortably snipe at your foes from relative safety.

    You can also use this to lift heavy objects, allowing you to bypass some obstacles by moving them out of the way temporarily. If your party is light enough, you could levitate a suitable object such as a table and have your allies sit or stand upon it like an elevator. You can also use to rescue allies from things like pit traps, pools of acid, or other unpleasant things which can’t fly.

    Used offensively, this allows you to raise foes off the ground, making melee-only creatures essentially harmless so long as the spell persists. They’re basically piñatas at that point.

    The 10-minute duration means that you can easily use this to ascend cliffs or tall walls, or raise targets high enough into the air that you might not be able to see them. In 10 minutes you can raise the target 2,000 feet.

    Levitate’s big challenges are its Action economy, Concentration, and that it allows a Constitution save. In combat, spending an Action to raise the target an additional 20 feet into the air is rarely worth the Action cost, though enemies using ranged weapons might be forced to suffer Disadvantage on their attacks if you can put them at long range. Concentration is manageable, and even if your Concentration breaks the target still falls and takes damage. Constitution saves are more of a problem since Constitution saves are frequently high, and enemies with relatively poor Constitutution save bonuses tend to be spellcasters or other creatures well-equipped to fight at range.

  • Magic WeaponPHB (Optional): Access to magic weapons is basically requires once enemies start having resitance to weapon damage from nonmagical attacks. Unfortunately, Magic Weapon monopolizes your Concentration for an hour at a time, so you don’t want to have this running constantly just for the attack/damage bonus in most cases.
  • Maximilian’s Earthen GraspEEPC: At 2nd spell level, this may as well be Hold Monster. The initial Strength save is fine, but after the initial save the target makes a Strength check to escape. Short of huge, strong creatures that you should never target with this spell anyway, targets are a massive disadvatnage when attempting to escape. Spellcasters, Dexterity-based martial enemies, and most humanoids (including many strong ones) can’t easily escape this, and bring Restrained makes them extremely vulnerable to attack. It’s not as lethal as Hold Person, but it doesn’t have a creature type limitation and it’s much harder to escape. You can use an Action on later turns to try to damage the target again, but since they’re restrained you get Advantage on attacks against them, and if you have an attack cantrip that may be more reliable than forcing another saving throw.
  • Mind SpikeXGtE (Optional): Extremely situational, and only as much damage as a 1st-level spell. If you can see the target to target them with Mind Spike, you should look for a way debilitate or incapacitate them rather than just mitigating invisibility.
  • Mirror ImagePHB: A great defensive option, and it doesn’t require Concentration so you can easily use it alongside other great options like Fly. It’s easy to compare this to Blur since they’re the same level and fill the same niche. Blur applies Disadvantage, but Disadvantage is only useful if your AC is high enough that attackers have a reasonable chance to miss their attacks. When enemies’ attack bonuses have long outstripped the AC provided by Mage Armor and Shield, Mirror Image remains useful. However, since its usefulness diminishes quickly it works best against enemies making small numbers of attacks with high damage. Also, the 1-minute duration can be challenging when it’s an Action to cast. You could consider Extended Spell, but if you’re being attacked the images will be destroyed gradually so it may be a better use of those resources to cast the spell again.
  • Misty StepPHB: Useful in a all manner of problematic situations, and cast as a bonus action with only Verbal components.
  • Phantasmal ForcePHB: Don’t cast this spell for the damage (though 10d6 single-target damage is really good for a 2nd-level spell); cast this to incapacitate the target somehow. For example: Create an illusion of the floor beaneath the target sprouting teeth, rising up around the creature, and eating it like a venus fly trap. The creature “treats the phantasm as if it were real”, and unless they know to use Intelligence (Investigation) to disbelieve the illusion they’ll spend 10 rounds struggling against a non-existent trap which is slowly killing them. An ally might try to convince them that something is amiss, but that’s time that your enemies are trying to get their act together while you’re hitting them with other spells. The save is Intelligence, and Intelligence saves tend to be relatively low, especially at low levels where beasts are still a threat.
  • PyrotechnicsEEPC / XGtE: Only situationally useful, slightly annoying to set up, and when it does work the effects aren’t good enough. The flame doesn’t need to be especially large, so a torch or even a candle will suffice. Drop a torch on the ground, run out of range, and cast the spell. The blinding effect isn’t spectacular because it only lasts on round and it’s on a Constitutuion save, and the smoke cloud option is objectively worse than similar options like Fog Cloud or Darkness.
  • Scorching RayPHB: Good damage split across three attacks. If you have Advantage on all of the attacks or have some other attack buss like Bless the expected damage increases considerably, so when those opportunities arise be sure to tak them. Making numerous attacks means that you’re likely to hit with at least some of them, but you’re also likely to miss with some of them and therefore deal only partial damage. The best way to think about stuff like this is to rely on averages: if you’re sticking to the Attack vs. AC progression, you’re expected to hit around 65% of the time, so you can expect an average of 65% of the damage from any effect which relies on an attack. Scorching Ray deals a total of 6d6 damage (avg. 21), and 65% of that is 13.65 expected damage (disregarding critical hits, which are more common because you’re making multiple attacks).
  • See InvisibilityPHB: Easy, reliable counter to invisibility. No Concentration, no aiming an AOE like Faerie Fire, and if you cast this ahead of time no spending an Action in combat. The 1-hour duration is great, but expect to refresh this after short rests if you expect invisibility to be a frequent problem.
  • Shadow BladeXGtE: This is an objectively great spell that you should probably never use. Melee is a terrifying place for the Sorcerer to be. You could throw this every round and use a bonus action to retrieve it, but there’s a very narrow level range where that will deal more damage than a cantrip (levels 3 and 4 before cantrips improve at 5th level).
  • ShatterPHB: The poor man’s fireball. 3d8 damage in a 10-foot radius is enough to hit several targets and deal decent damage. However, the save is Consitution so many creatures will be able to resist easily. Disadvantage for creatures made of inorganic materials is really neat, but how often do you fight a group of animated armors or iron golems?
  • Snilloc’s Snowball SwarmEEPC / XGtE: Compared to Shatter, this is less damage, a smaller area of effect, and a worse damage type. It does have 50% more range and a better save, but I don’t think that’s nearly enough to make this on par with Shatter.
  • Spider ClimbPHB: Even when flight becomes an option, Spider Climb remains an inexpensive and reliable way to get off the ground, to sneak into places, and to manage many other problematic obstacles.
  • SuggestionPHB: Extremely versatile. You can use this to accomplish a lot of things. This is more effective, reliable, and immediate than Geas. However, the 8-hour duration requires Concentration, so if you want to use this while adventuring you’re comitting a significant resource for a full day to get the full duration of the spell. This spell benefits greatly from your own creativity, so the more thought you put into its use the more effective it will be.

    You may also need a patient, permissive DM, so try not to abuse this too much or your DM may grow tired of your shenanigans and instill some sort of consequences. Strangely, the spell doesn’t state that the target knows that they were charmed, so much like a “Jedi Mind Trick”, the target will carry out the specified action as though it made sense to do so even if they’ll regret it later.

  • Tasha’s Mind WhipTCoE (Optional): A complex spell, and definitely not a go-to offensive option, but it has several fantastic tactical uses. The most obvious is preventing Opportunity Attacks, which allows you and your allies to move away from the target(s) safely at the same spell slot cost of Misty Step. Misty Step will, of course, get you further and do more than just avoid on Opportunity Attacks, but Tasha’s Mind Whip’s benefits don’t stop there. Limiting the target’s actions on their turn to one thing from their choice of movement, Action, and Bonus Action means that enemies who can’t attack at range basically spend their whole turn walking. Enemies stuck in melee who don’t want to be there may be stuck there. Enemy spellcasters or creatures with lots of special abilities will lose big chunks of their turn.

    On top of all of that, Tasha’s Mind Whip targets Intelligence saves, which are consistently one of the lowest saves across the full level range. In 5e, Intelligence doesn’t do a lot, so unsurprisingly most adventurers and most monsters are idiots. Capitalize on that.

  • Warding WindEEPC: Being deafened is annoying but usually not impactful. The big draw here is the difficult terrain to deter melee enemies and Disadvantage to deter ranged attackers. This competes conceptually with Blur since both options impose Disadvantage, but there are some trade-offs. Blur only lasts 1 minute, but the Disadvantage applies to all attacks rather than just ranged attacks. Warding Wind lasts 10 minutes and makes it hard for enemies to move near you, potentially keeping them from reaching you in melee. I’m not sure which spell is better, but given that Warding Wind lasts longer and can handle effects that normally require Gust of Wind, I think Warding Wind may be slightly better.
  • WebPHB: Fantastic crowd control, but with some complications. This competes for space with Hold Person and Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp. Compared to Earthen Grasp, Web can affect more than one creature and has a much better dureation, but Web may be easier to escape. Web requires an initialy Dexterity saving throw, then creatures can make Strength checks to escape on later turns. Strength checks are going to be hard compared to your Spell Save DC since Strength checks will never add a Proficiency Bonus, but many creatures will be good at either Strength or Dexterity, so your ideal targets are creatures which are bad at both like many spellcasters. The webs can also be burned away, so any creature that can deal fire damage, or which is carrying something like flint and steel or a lit torch can easily escape without struggling through a series of Strength checks. Being Restrained doesn’t prevent creatures from taking such actions. Given all of the comparisons, I think Web is a better option for handling groups of foes, but Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp is better against single foes.

3rd-Level Spells

  • BlinkPHB: 1-minute duration, cast an Action, it only has a 50% chance to work on any one turn, and you find out the results at the end of your turn when you no longe rhave the ability to do anything about it. I would prefer Blur or something similar over Blink, though admittedly Blink doesn’t require Concentration.
  • CatnapXGtE: All the benefits of a Short Rest in 10 minutes rather than an hour. This is nice if you’re short on time, but it only affects four creatures so in larger parties it’s difficult to use. It’s also hard to commit a spell known when you might need this every once in a while. Leave this for spellcasters who can more easily change their spell selection like wizards.
  • ClairvoyancePHB: With a 1-mile range and the ability to place the sensor in place you can’t see, this is a fantastic way to safely scout dangerous places. If you have enough time to sit around and cast the spell repeatedly you can scout whole structures from the outside by gradually learning about more interior locations through previous castings.
  • CounterspellPHB: Essential in any party. Counterspell is notably limited to a 60-foot range, so moving that far away from enemy spellcasters can often make Counterspell a non-issue. With the Distant Spell metamagic, you can increase this range to surprise and confound enemy spellcasters.
  • DaylightPHB: A Continual Flame, Light, or even a torch is typically sufficient, but sometimes you need to light up larger areas like dark battlefiends or massive caverns. This also dispels magical darkness of 3rd level or lower, which is great if you’re fighting enemies like drow which can produce magical darkness. Tragically, you can’t cast Daylight at a higher level to dispel magical darkness of higher levels.
  • Dispel MagicPHB: Every party needs someone who can cast Dispel Magic. It’s simply too important to forgo.
  • Enemies AboundXGtE: Astoundingly few enemies have good Intelligence saves, especially big scary melee monsters. Throw this on something tanky and horrifying that’s there to protect squishy enemies from you and your friends, and watch it freak out and kill its buddies for you. The duration is only a minute, and obviously this only works in an encounter with multiple enemies, but that doesn’t make the spell less awesome.
  • Erupting EarthEEPC / XGtE: 2/3 as much damage as fireball and has a quarter the surface area, so it’s clearly for a different purpose: You’re using this spell for the difficult terrain. The damage is enough that you won’t regret casting it instead of a cantrip, and even at higher levels it’s a great way to place some difficult terrain. The difficult terrain effect is nearly permanent, so if you have time you can use this to set up ambushes and choke points which can define encounters against anything that can’t fly.
  • FearPHB: A great way to disable groups of opponents, but it fear immunity is common.
  • FireballPHB: 8d6 damage in a 20-foot radius with 150-foot range. Simple, effective, and reliable. Fireball is a good baseline for measuring other AOE damage spells because it’s so simple and so effective, and in many cases when you’re selecting a spell to cast you’ll want to ask yourself “Is this spell better than Fireball?”
  • Flame ArrowsEEPC / XGtE: This is a waste of a spell slot. It amounts to at most 12d6 damage, which is a tragic waste of a 3rd-level spell slot. If you somehow manage to hit one target with all 12 arrows, you’ll do more damage than Fireball. But you have to somehow hit with a bunch of arrows or pass them off to someone who will, and following the typical attack vs. AC progression means that a player will hit something like 65% of the time, which means you’re getting 65% of the maximum damage, so something like 7d6. At that point, Erupting Earth is better.
  • FlyPHB: It’s hard to overstate how powerful flight is. The only major drawback is that Fly requires Concentration.
  • Gaseous FormPHB: Situational, but a fantastic way to safely infiltrate or scout an area.
  • HastePHB: An excellent buff for nearly any martial character, and one of the best use cases for Twinned Spell.
  • Hypnotic PatternPHB: I often say that spellcaster’s spells early in a fight should dictate the outcome of the fight, and Hypnotic Pattern is a great example of such a spell. Take a group of creatures out of a fight for a full minute on only one save. Targets don’t get another save, and the effect doesn’t end until the spell does or someone breaks targets out of the effect. This means that you can focus on enemies which pass the initial save, then gradually eliminate the remaining targets one at a time. This doesn’t scale with spell level, but it really doesn’t need to. A 30-foot cube is enough to hit several creatures, and so long as your Spell Save DC is decent you’ll do fine. Even if enemies spend an Action to break their allies out of the spell, you’ve spent one Action to incapacitate them and they’re spending more than that just to fix it without actually harming you or your allies.
  • Incite GreedAI: This is a gamble. If targets fail their saves you can draw them into melee range with you and keep them there for up to a minute. You then need to find a way to capitalize on their position. You could walk your full speed away (affected targets can do nothing but move toward you, so they can’t take Reactions to perform an Opportunity Attack), drop Concentration, then hit them with a Fireball.
  • Intellect FortressTCoE (Optional): Technically situational, but an absolutely spectacular defense against enemies which rely on spells or common effects like charm and fear effects. Unlike racial traits like the Gnome’s Cunning or the Satyr and Yuan-Ti Pureblood’s Magic Resistance, this applies to all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws, providing broad and effective protection against many of the most dangeorus save-or-suck effects in the game. You also get resistance to psychic damage, which is nice if you’re fighting mind flayers, aboleths, or bards who enjoy Vicious Mockery. With a 1-hour duration, the Concentration requirement can be problematic, but it also means that you can carry this through multiple encounters at low cost, so in situations where you need this it’s not going to eat all of your spell slots.
  • Lightning BoltPHB: Regardless of its length, it is very hard to target more than two targets with a line like Lightning Bolt. That makes this Fireball but with worse range and fewer targets per spell.
  • Major ImagePHB: Fantastically versatile, and creatures don’t make a saving throw. Instead, they need to know to touch the illusion or make an Intelligence (Investigation) check, or they need to physically interact with the illusion. Even then, you can buy yourself a great deal of time while the target tries to figure out your illusion.
  • Melf’s Minute MeteorsEEPC / XGtE: This spell is difficult to assess. You get 2 meteors per spell level (6 at the default 3rd level), and you can generally only spend two per turn, though turn on which you cast the spell you could spend two meteors when the spell is cast then spend your Bonus Action to fire two more. Each meteor deals 2d6 damage, so at 6 meteors you can deal a total of 12d6 damage, beating Fireball by half. However, the 5-foot radius on the meteors is tiny so you’re lucky if you can hit just two creatures. Fortunately, you have 10 minutes to find good targets if you don’t mind dedicating Concentration to keeping this running as your pool of meteors gradually depletes. Probably your best bet is to cast this before going into a fight, then fire meteors as a Bonus Action between casting other spells.
  • Protection from EnergyPHB: A fantastic buff, especially if you can set it up ahead of time, but it’s single-target and requires Concentration.
  • Sleet StormPHB: This spells is challenging. The area of effect is excellent, and combining difficult terrain, possibly falling Prone, and making the area heavily obscured make it difficult for creatures to act effectively while in the area and if they’re near the center it’s difficult for them to escape. On top of that, spellcasters will have trouble maintain Concentration while making repeated checks against high DC every turn.

    However, beyond inconveniencing creatures within the area, this doesn’t get you much. You can’t see into the area to target creatures within the are with others spells since spells typically require line of sight, and Heavily Obscured blocks line of sight (though some spells, like fireball, don’t require you to be able to see), so unless you have an ally who dropped an ongoing damage effect within the area the best you can do is wait or run away. At that point, Fog Cloud may be just as effective.

  • SlowPHB: Slow is a great debuff, but it has to compete with other Wisdom save options at the same spell level. Compared to Hypnotic Pattern, Slow severely handicaps targets, but they can still fight back. Hypnotic Pattern’s targets can’t act at all until they’re released from the effect, but it’s also a Charm effect which some creatures are immune or resistant to.
  • Spirit ShroudTCoE: Without a built-in way to make multiple attacks and with very little reason to build around using weapons in melee, I don’t see a way for this to be effective. Cast Fireball and you’ll get more damage out of the same spell slot and it won’t require a minute of weapon attacks to justify.
  • Stinking CloudPHB: While this can rob targets of their Action if they fail the save, the area is small and easy to escape. Given the choice between the two, I would go for Sleet Storm first.
  • Thunder StepPHB: Amusing, but it takes an Action to cast, the AOE isn’t especially large, and the damage is poor for the spell level. Use Misty Step instead.
  • Tidal WaveEEPC / XGtE: Being knocked prone typically isn’t a problem in 5e because standing costs so little. However, being knocked prone while flying causes you to fall, potentially taking a bunch of damage. This spell notably doesn’t require that it be cast on the ground or on top of a body of water. You could cast this in mid-air, or even wholly underwater. Using it mid-air seems like a good way to counter multiple flying enemies. However, hitting more than two enemies with a line effect (even one that’s wide like Tidal Wave) can be very difficult, so it’s rare that you’ll hit more than two targets with this.
  • TonguesPHB: You are almost certainly your party’s Face, and language can present a serious barrier. You may not want to pick this up when you first get access to 3rd-level spells, but consider picking it up later when using a 3rd-level spell on a utility option is less daunting.
  • Vampiric TouchPHB: Migrants from previous editions should note that this spell is no longer a single attack: The spell lasts a minute and you can repeat the attack every turn.
  • Wall of WaterEEPC / XGtE: Warding Wind also causes Disadvantage for ranged attacks and it’s both a level lower and it follows you.
  • Water BreathingPHB: Situational. Leave this for someone who can cast rituals if you can.
  • Water WalkPHB: Usually flight is a better option than walking across a liquid. The spell notably doesn’t allow a saving throw, so you can use this on hostile creatures underwater to force them to surface.

4th-Level Spells

  • BanishmentPHB: Among the most powerful save-or-suck spells in the game for several reasons. First, it’s a Charisma saving throw and very few creatures are good at those. Second, many powerful enemies like fiends are exptraplanar, so you can easily remove them with a single spell (though many of them can cast Plane Shift to come right back, so watch out for that). Finally, casting the spell at a higher level allows you to target additional creatures so you can remove big parts of an encounter for up to a minute, deal with anything that passes the initial round of banishment, then prep yourself for everything else to drop back in while your party stands around with readied actions.
  • BlightPHB: Not enough damage for a spell slot this level, and Constitution saves tend to be high.
  • Charm MonsterXGtE: A great nonlethal way to deal with enemies. It doesn’t require that the target be able to understand you, but otherwise has the same complications which Charm Person does: the target is only friendly toward you, and when the spell ends they know that they were charmed.
  • ConfusionPHB: I’ve hated Confusion since 3rd edition. It’s unpredictable, unreliable, and makes combat take twice as long as it would normally. It’s great that it’s an AOE, and you might be able to make creatures attack their allies, but there are too many points of failure for it to be a reliable option.
  • Dimension DoorPHB: Misty step usually suffices, and Misty Step is cast as a Bonus Action.
  • Dominate BeastPHB: Beasts tend to have poor Wisdom saves, and there is rarely a better way to handle a potentially hostile creature than by dominating it. This spell can trivialize an entire creature type, which is impressive for a spell at this level, and the scaling is good enough that using a higher-level spell slot is appealing if you encounter a sufficiently powerful beast that you could reasonably drag it through a few encounters. Even if the spell ends prematurely, beasts aren’t especially smart and they might view the creatures which you were forcing them to fight as enemies and continue fighting them, or they might simply flee if they are injured. Beasts rarely fight to their last hit point unless they’re defending their young or something. They’re animals, not zealots. However, sorcerers have very little space to learn spells, and devoting a known spell to a signle creature type with a max CR barely above 10 is a risky choice.
  • Fire ShieldPHB (Optional): You do not want to need this spell. Your best bet is to cast this before polymorphing or something.
  • Greater InvisibilityPHB: Invisibility in 5e is really good, and running around for a full minute being almost impossible to target is a huge advantage. If you have it, this is a great candidate for Extended Spell.
  • Ice StormPHB: This spell is terrible. Two types of dice for no readily apparent reason. Two types of damage, which makes sense but is still annoying. Compare thisis to Erupting Earth: ice Storm’s AOE is much bigger (20 ft. cube vs. 20 ft. radius cylindar), but it does an average of just 3 more damage, and the difficult terrain only lasts until the end of your next turn so it’s nearly pointless. This simply isn’t good enough to justify being a spell level higher than Erupting Earth.
  • PolymorphPHB: Fantastic and versatile, but also very complicated. See my Practical Guide to Polymorph for detailed advice on how to get the most out of Polymorph.
  • Sickening RadianceXGtE: This spell is very easy to overlook. The effects are complicated, and the 4d10 damage looks underwhelming, but don’t let that deter you. This is a great spell to cast into a room then shut the door, but even if that’s not an option it’s a fantastic way to handle crowds. With a 30-foot radius you can hit a huge number of targets, and with a 10-minute duration you can easily kill anything stuck in the area for an extended period. The 4d10 damage is fine, and negating invisibility is great, but the real appeal is the levels of Exhaustion. One level makes targets less able to resist grappling or other crowd control spells like Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp or Web which your allies could cast to keep enemies in the area. Two levels halves targets’ speed, making it harder for them to move out of the area. Three levels imposes Disadvantage on saves so their condition will deteriorate even faster. If targets somehow survive until 5 levels of exhaustion (they’ll have taken 20d10 radiant damage by now, which is a lot), their speed drops to 0 so you no longer need to do anything to prevent escape. Just wait for them to hit 6 levels of Exhaustion, which results in death if a total of 24d10 radiant damage somehow hasn’t killed them. Just be warned: this spell affects allies, too, and if the spell ends the levels of Exhaustion are removed instantly.
  • StoneskinPHB: A decent buff, but at this level magic attacks are common.
  • Storm SphereEEPC: Sickening Radiance is considerably better. Bigger AOE, better damage, longer duration, and a better secondary effect. Even against a single target, the damage of Sickening Radiance (4d10, average 22) is better than the damage of Storm Cloud to a single target (6d6, average 21, including both the area damage and the lightning bolt).
  • Vitriolic SphereEEPC: Fireball, but a higher level and a different damage type. The same range, the same AOE, the same save, the same school. But Vitriolic Sphere deals acid damage, and instead of dealing the damage all up front, some of it is applied at the end of targets’ next turns. The initial damage exceeds Fireball’s initial damage by a few points, but on it’s own not by enough to justify the spell level difference. The big addition is that you get half of the initial damage at the end of targets’ next turns. That’s a huge damage boost, but it only applies if the targets fail their saves, and obviously it only matters if they’re still alive. This is a great spell early in a fight, especially if you know that you’re not going to kill the targets in one shot, but that’s also the time when you should be dropping spells like Sickening Radiance or Wall of Fire, so maybe use this as your second spell in an encounter.
  • Wall of FirePHB: An absolutely fantastic area control option.
  • Watery SphereEEPC: Similar to Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp, but you can move it around and it can affect multiple targets. While those are fantastic improvements, targets get to make additional saves at the end of each turn without spending an Action like they must with Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp or Web. Given the choice, I would use Web before I considered Watery Sphere.

5th-Level Spells

  • Animate ObjectsPHB: This spell is complicated, but when it works it can be profoundly effective, but you need to carefully choose the objects which you animate to get the most out of the spell and you don’t always have the luxury of abundant options. First, avoid any object with feet or legs like tables and chairs; choosing objects which are forced to fly makes them much more useful. From there, you need to weigh the benefits of various size objects. Larger objects can take up more space and deal more damage per attack, but having numerous small attacks may deal more damage. Larger objects have considerably more hit points but considerably worse AC. Medium creatures have the worst attack bonus, and attack bonuses improve as you move away from Medium in either direction, altering the amount of damage which you can expect from each attack.

    Looking at all of the various factors, in most cases your best option is 10 tiny objects. Enemies still can’t move into their space, and with a total of 10 attacks they’ll easily deal more damage than any other combination of objects. Over 10 rounds, 10 attacks per round, 100 total attacks, totalling 100d4+400 damage, avg. 650. Expect attacks to hit roughly 50% of the time, but even then against a single target that’s an average of up to 325 damage if the target doesn’t do something about.

    If you select objects which will fly, they can easily encircle an enemy, keeping them in place either in the air or on the ground. Granted, with just 20 hit points they’re vulnerable to AOE damage, but it’s easy to look for other spells whenever that’s a problem. And, if you can’t find adequate targets you can carry around a sack full of daggers or loaves of bread or something else light and portable.

  • Bigby’s HandPHB (Optional): Versatile and effective against a variety of enemies. The damage from both Clenched Fist and Grasping Hand is great, and scales well with spell level. By this level you have plenty of ways to handle single targets, but generally once the target passes a save they’re free of the effect. Bigby’s Hand sticks around for the spell’s duration, allowing you to repeatedly harrass the target and move on to a new target once the previous one falls. Since this spell can do a lot of things with one spell, it’s a great example of spells that work within the Sorcerer’s limited number of spells known.
  • CloudkillPHB: Designed to be rolled through armies, this spell is hard to use in the small, tactical fights between a party of adventurers and a handful of monsters. The simple fact that the effect moves away from you makes the spell difficult to keep in place, and RAW it’s unclear if the effect stops if it hits a solid barrier or if it’s happy to roll straight through solid objects like castle walls. RAW, the spell moves away from you rather than from your original position when casting the spell, so you may be able to pilot the effect by running around it, but with a 20-foot radius you may need more than the typical 25/30 ft. speed most humanoid races have if you want to make more than slight adjustments to the cloud’s direction every round. If you want run fully around to the opposite side of the cloud, you need to move upwards of 60 feet (half the circumference of a circle with 40-foot diamater is roughly 62.5 feet, but that doesn’t account for poisitioning on a grid).
  • Cone of ColdPHB: Despite the larger total area of effect, I think this is worse than Fireball. Even with a 60-foot cone you have much less flexibility than a 20-foot-radius sphere with 150-foot range. Cone of Cold’s 8d8 damage on slightly exceeds Fireballs 8d8 damage (just 8 points more damage on average), and if you cast Fireball as a 5th-level spell Cone of Cold does just 1 point more damage on average.
  • Control WindsEEPC: Inconvenience creatures relying on ranged weapon attacks, and slow enemies attempting to move in one particular direction. If you’re worried about ranged attacks, cast Warding Wind. If you’re worried about enemies moving around, consider something that creates difficult terrain like Eruptin Earth. If you’re worried about flying enemies, cast Earthbind or something. My point is that there are lower-level spells which solve the same problems that Control Winds solves, and they usually do a better job.
  • CreationPHB: This spell is limited by its maximum volume and by your creativity. It takes a full minute to cast so it’s not going to be useful in combat, but it’s an amazing utility option. A 5-foot cube may not sound like a lot, but that’s enough to get up to all sorts of mischief. Need to block a hallway? How about a 5-foot cube of wood or stone? Need a quick trap? 5-foot sphere of something heavy, roll it down a hill. Short on ammunition? Enough arrows to fill a 5-foot cube. Food? 5-foot cube of non-living vegetable matter sounds a lot like food to me. Fancy clothes for a party? The finest cotton. Need to bribe someone you hate? Gems only last 10 minutes, so make it fast.
  • Dominate PersonPHB: Humanoids stop being common enemies after low levels because high-CR humanoids are typically NPCs with names and backstories and things like that. Still, there’s no better off-switch for a humanoid that Dominate Person. Upcasting the spell increases the duration, allowing you to drag the target through a bunch of fights. However, the creature taking damage allows additional saves so be sure to keep it out of harms way until you can conveniently do away with them at minimal risk to yourself and your allies.
  • EnervationPHB: Remember Witch Bolt from all the way back at level 1? Enervation is the same idea: you hit once, then you spend every Action for a while dealing automatic damage. It’s a fine concept, but at just 4d8 damage it’s going to take a profoundly long time to to kill any single target worthy of a 5th-level spell slot.
  • Far StepXGtE: The teleportation is really nice, but you can teleport with Misty Step which is 3 spell levels lower. Sure, Far Step lets you go twice as far and you couldn’t teleport 10 times in a row with Misty Step without spending a huge number of spell slots, but situations where you need to teleport once every round should probably be addressed by things like flying or invisibility.
  • Hold MonsterPHB: A great example of a “save or suck” spell. With the exception of undead, this works on any creature type, and paralysis takes a creature out of a fight almost as much as killing them. If you have an ally who fights in melee, send them to follow up with melee attacks. Automatic critical hits are too hard to pass up many melee allies. Keep in mind that targets get another save at the end of each of their turns, so you need to act quickly while targets are still affected.
  • ImmolationEEPC: Against a single target with a ton of hit points and terrible reflex saves, this is a passable use of a spell slot. But it’s also a slow way to kill the sort of high-CR creature which you typically want to use this on, and for the same spell slot you could cast Fireball and deal 10d6 damage to everything in an AOE rather than 8d6 to one target and maybe more damage the next round.
  • Insect PlaguePHB: Combining both ongoing damage and difficult terrain, Insect Plague is a good area control option, further improved because you can place it in the air or underwater, rather than on the ground. However, the radius isn’t big enough to prevent a creature from escaping if its willing to spend its Action to Dash, so look for other ways to force the creature to stay inside the sphere like shoving, tripping, or casting Wall of Stone.
  • SeemingPHB: Very situational. Most campaigns won’t make this useful often enough for you to commit one of your limited spells known to this.
  • Skill EmpowermentXGtE: Conceptually, this is a great spell. By the time you can cast it, proficiency bonuses will be at least +4, mathematically exceedin the average increase of roughly 3.5 from Advantage which the target might recieve from Empower Ability. Skill Empowerment pulls ahead of Empower Ability as proficiency bonuses increase, but that doesn’t necessarily allow to replace Enhance Ability. Enhance Ability is 3 spell levels lower, has the same duration, and applies to all ability checks for one ability score rather than just a single skill. In cast like sending your party’s Face to negotiate, you may want broader coverage than one skill so that the target can use different skills rather than forcing them to rely on the one you picked for Skill Empowerment. Skill Empowerment also won’t stack with existing Expertise, which both bards and rogues recieve, so in many parties your most-likely recipient won’t benefit. Skill Empowerment is by no means a bad spell, it just only works better than Enhance Ability in certain circumstances on certain characters, and since sorcerers get so few spells known you really need to get as much as possible out of each spell you know.
  • Synaptic StaticXGtE: Start with fireball. Shave 30 feet off the range, change the damage type to psychic, and change the saving throw to Intelligence. Very few creatures are good at intelligence saves, so expect most creatures to fail the save. The 8d6 damage feels underwhelming at this spell level, but subtracting a d6 from from attack rolls and ability checks for a full minute is a significant debuff. This is a good option to start a fight with a large number of martial enemies because they’ll be impacted most by debuff and most martial enemies have poor Intelligence saves.
  • TelekinesisPHB: Fantastically versatile. The utility capabilities alone are well worth the spell, and with 10 minutes to enjoy it per casting you can solve all manner of problems. Open doors, safely handle traps, move obstacles, retrieve items from under courches, aid in construction, or solve any number of problems which might require a crane in real life. Against enemies, lifting them into the air and making them Restrained can easily be a death sentence if you have other allies who can follow up with ranged attacks or who can reach the target via flight or some other means. Because the target must remain within the spell’s range, be careful about holding the target directly above your own head to get them to the maximum height. It’s perfectly fine to hold them 30 feet off the ground roughly 30 feet away from you horizontally. The target falls prone if they take damage from the fall, which should slow most creatures enough that they can’t get into melee with you without dashing. Then you can attempt to pick them up again on your next turn because the spell lasts 10 minutes and you can use it every turn without limit.
  • Teleportation CirclePHB: Situational, but generally one of the safest long-distance teleportion options, especially since it doesn’t have a cap on the number or size of creatures affected. However, how useful it is depends on the availability of convenient teleportation circles in your campaign. If your DM isn’t going to make such teleportation circles available and useful, look elsewhere.
  • Wall of LightXGtE: The damage is awful, but that’s not what this spell is for. The real benefit is blinding stuff. Creatures are only blinded if they’re in the wall when you create it, and creatures can move through the wall totally unaffected. The save is Consitution-based and Constitution saves tend to be high, and since creatures get another save every round you can’t count on the blidness to last more than a round or two. Even the ability to short rays from the wall is disappointing, dealing the same 4d8 damage and not re-applying blindness.
  • Wall of StonePHB: While it certainly isn’t glamorous, it’s difficult to overstate how effective a solid stone barrier can be at solving problems. Walling off some of the enemies an encounter can take one challenging counter and make it two very easy back-to-back encounters. You do need to maintain Concentration, but that also means that when you’re ready to deal with whatever you decided to wall off temporarily you can just drop Concentration rather than breaking down your own wall. Outside of a life of adventure, this spell is powerful enough that you could make a decent living in construction based on this spell alone. If you ever decide to settle down, find somewhere with enough stone to anchor the spell and build yourself a nice stone house.

6th-Level Spells

  • Arcane GatePHB: Far too situational to consider. Cast Fly and have your party fly the 500 ft. distance instead.
  • Chain LightningPHB: Fine damage at good range. You’ll be able to get more total damage from a normal AOE damage spell because you’ll likely be able to hit more targets, but thhat misses the primary appeal of Chain Lightning. Chain Lightning is good because you can cast into a crowded are which might include your own allies without any risk of friendly fire. The spell level scaling adds additional targets rather than additional damage, so you can easily cast this at a level that hits exactly as mant targets as you feel the need to hit.
  • Circle of DeathPHB: 8d6 damage matches Fireball, which is three spell levels lower. The big improvements are Circle of Death’s damage type and it’s absolutley massive 60-foot radius area of effect. With such a large area and a target-rich environment you could easily deal more total damage than with Fireball. The scaling is also unusually nice, adding 2 dice per spell level rahter than 1 like most spells do.
  • DisintegratePHB: Among the most damaging single-target damage spells in the game, Disintegrate’s single-target damage is roughly equivalent to 21d6 (total average of 75). On a Dexterity save it’s tempting to use this against big, bulky foes who tend to have a lot of hit points to burn though. Ideally you can save-or-suck those sorts of creatures, but sometimes things like legendary resistances make that hard. You can also use disintegrate to remove problematic things like walls of force (or of anything else), allowing you to do things like toppling structures or bursting through walls to surprise enemies on the other side.
  • EyebitePHB: If you cast this, don’t expect to do anything else for the duration of the encounter. A save-or-suck to put targets to sleep every turn is hard to beat, and the fact that you can do it every turn is spectacular. Sure, targets only remain asleep until the spell ends, but that’s plenty of time for someone else in your party to walk over and deliver a guaranteed critical hit. When the target wakes from taking damage they’ll still be prone, and on your next turn you’re free to put them to sleep again.
  • Flesh to StonePHB: Single-target save-or suck, but they get multiple saves and Constitution saves tend to be high so you can’t count on this to work reliably. Even if the target does succumb to the spell, it takes at least three rounds. You may be able to make this work by combining things like Mind Spike to inhibit the targets save and Twinned Spell so that you can affect multiple targets.
  • Globe of InvulnerabilityPHB: You’ll only rarely need this, but against enemy spellcaster it’s irreplaceable. Once this is up, enemies can’t even cast Counterspell because it targets you and you’re inside the sphere. They could cast Counterspell at a spell level high enough to get through your globe, but they need to guess what spell level to use and they need to spend very high-level spell slots to do so. Even in fights with spellcasters who can cast 9th-level spell slots, you can cast this as a 9th-level spell and use Counterspell against any 9th-level spells which they cast (though you’ll need to roll an ability check and hope for the best). This spell also uniquely cripples warlocks, since their spell slots cap at 5th level and they’re heavily reliant on cantrips. They can still use their Mystic Arcanum unless you upcast Globe of Invulnerability, but they only get 4 of those at most, and you’ve got plenty of spell slots for Counterspell. Despite all these strengths, you still need to be cautious: 1 minute is not a long time, and enemies can still move into the globe unimpeded and attack you at point-blank range. Keep your allies inside the sphere both to protect themselves and to protect you, and beware non-spell attacks like breath weapons and pointy sticks.
  • Investiture of FlameEEPC: You should never remain close enough to enemies for long enough that this is a good choice.
  • Investiture of IceEEPC: You should never remain close enough to enemies for long enough that this is a good choice.
  • Investiture of StoneEEPC: You should never remain close enough to enemies for long enough that this is a good choice.
  • Investiture of WindEEPC: Combine the most important parts of Fly and Warding Wind, and you get an option to shove creatures around at range which you might use once or twice. Probably not good enough for the spell level, but potentially interesting.
  • Mass SuggestionPHB: Situational, but potentially very effective. Unlike Suggestion you don’t need to maintain Concentration, and the base duration for Mass Suggestion is triple Suggestion’s duration with the option to extend it with higher-level spell slots. If you’ve had good results with Suggestion, consider replacing it with Mass Suggestion.
  • Mental PrisonXGtE: The damage is good, and taking a creature out of combat for up to a minute is fantastic, but it’s hard to predict if creatures will remain in the effect or choose to take the damage. Creatures can’t see or hear through the effect, so their allies can’t convince it to leave. Another creature could push or pull the target, forcing them to take the damage, but I don’t know if another creature would know to do that unless they knew what spell you had cast. There are a lot of variables that are almost entirely out of your control, and that makes me nervous, but the spell is really cool and potentially very effective.
  • Move EarthPHB: Outside of adventuring, this spell would be profoundly useful, especially when combined with Stone Shape. But for an adventurer this has very limited usefulness.
  • Otiluke’s Freezing SpherePHB: At 10d6 damage, Freezing Sphere exceeds Fireball by just 2 dice (which is sad because Fireball is three levels lower), but it has twice the range and a massive 60-foot radius. Since the function of the spell is primarily to be an instantaneous burst of AOE damage, it’s really hard to justify taking both this and Fireball, and Fireball is a better deal unless you really want to share frozen spheres for your allies to throw.
  • ScatterXGtE: Teleport your melee allies into melee combat and your ranged allies out of it. If you have remaining targets, use it to teleport enemies somewhere unpleasant like into an ongoing area effect.
  • SunbeamPHB: Constitution saves tend to be high, and lines are hard to aim so that you’ll hit more than one target. There are numerous better spells which could consume your Concentration for Sunbeam’s 1-minute duration.

    Despite this limitation, the Sorcerer has a unique synergy with sunbeam: Thanks you Quickened Spell, you can get around the limitation on one leveled spell per turn and deal a bunch of damage in a hurry. On turn 1, cast Sunbeam (Optionally, you can quicken it to activate it twice in one turn), then on successive turns you can cast a leveled spell as your Bonus Action thanks to Quickened Spell, then still use your Action to activate Sunbeam. If you can line up two or more foes on successive turns, you can deal a huge amount of damage this way.

  • Tasha’s Otherworldly GuiseTCoE (Optional): A number of useful buffs, including flight and a bonus to AC among other more situational benefits. You also get the equivalent of Extra Attack. That’s a weird benefit since most sorcerers have little business using weapons. So the biggest benefit of the spell is flight and defensive buffs on a Bonus Action casting time.
  • True SeeingPHB: You don’t always want this running, but you always want this available. For 1 hour you can see through illusions and invisibility, effectively negating them, and you can see into the Ethereal plane so creatures using options like Blink or which around on the ethereal plane on their own like Phased Spiders. However, you can only see 120 feet away, so you’re not totally protected. Invisible creatures can maintain a safe distance while observing and even attacking you if there is sufficient space to do so.

7th-Level Spells

  • Crown of StarsXGtE: Similar in many ways to Melf’s Minute Meteors. Crown of Stars does considerably more damage per charge (2d6 vs. 4d12), but Crown of Stars only affects one target as opposed to a negligibly small AOE. Upcasting Minute Meteors gets you a total of 14 meteors for a total of 28d6 damage (assuming that nothing passes the save, of course). Crown of Stars will deal a total of 28d12 at the same spell level, and it’s delivered much faster over considerably fewer projectiles. If we ignore the possibility of critical hits from Crown of Stars, you would still need to hit two targets per meteor with Melf’s Minute Meteors to exceed Crown of Stars’ average damage, and considering you need to do it 14 times in the span of 10 minutes that seems incredibly unlikely. If you’ve been relying on minute meterors, it’s time to upgrade. Crown of Stars doesn’t require Concentration, and with a 1-hour duration you get six times as long spend half as many projectiles. This may not be a go-to option for every spellcaster, but if you can set it up before you walk into a fight and if you don’t normally have many uses for your Bonus Action, it’s a great boost to your damage output.
  • Delayed Blast FireballPHB: Situational and potentially very hard to use to its full effect, but if you can make it work the maximum of 22d6 damage (avg. 77) is hard to beat. The hardest part of getting this to work is charging it for a minute without enemies doing anything to stop you, either by breaking your Concentration or by meddling with the fireball. In some cases you may find that the fight is over or the combatants have all relocated before you can trigger the effect. Possibly your best option is for an ally who is exceptionally good at Dexterity saving throws (especially if they can get Advantage and/or some other buff like Resistance or Bless) to grab the fireball and throw it the maximum of 40 feet to trigger it somewhere more effective just before the spell’s 1-minute duration expires. If you can pull this off at the start of a fight, 22d6 damage is a great way to introduce yourself.
  • Dream of the Blue VeilTCoE (Optional): This is more a plot point than a spell. Don’t learn this unless your DM tells you to.
  • EtherealnessPHB: A profoundly effective scouting/escape option. Unless you’re fighting ethereal enemies, you’re untouchable. You can see and hear into the material plane (albeit at limited distance), allowing you to spy on other creatures in person without their knowledge. The spell lasts 8 hours, which is sufficient to do a lot of things potentially including a Long Rest.
  • Finger of DeathPHB: This does less damage than Disintegrate (which is a spell level lower), and has a saving throw which enemies are more likely to resist. The only reason to cast this over Disintegrate is the free zombie if you kill the target, and if you just want zombies this is a slow way to build an army, even if the targets are permanently under your control.
  • Fire StormPHB: Fireball cast at the same level does slightly more damage (12d6, avg. 42 vs. 7d10, avg. 35). The primary appeal of Fire Storm over Fireball is that you can sculpt the AOE to avoid hitting your allies. But even then, Chain Lightning deals more damage (10d8, avg. 45) and hits four targets, so in many encounters that’s a better option. Fire Storm really shines against big crowds where the 10 10-foot cubes can catch a big number of enemies without affecting your allies. But those situations are rare, and in many cases lower-level options like Circle of Death can be really effective and may be able to hit more targets if you’re not worried about hitting your allies.
  • Plane ShiftPHB: Not quite as easy to use as Teleport, but it has some specific advantages. First and most obvious, Teleport can’t take you to other planes. Second, Teleport can’t be used offensively. Unfortunately, Plane Shift is very hard to use in combat because other creatures need to be holding hands in a circle. You also can’t go directly to locations on the same plane, so you may need to find a convenient place to stop on the way. Pick somewhere hospitable, safe, and ideally either unpopulated or populated by creatures you know and which are friendly to you.
  • Power Word PainPHB: It’s hard to rely on this unless you have an ally who can follow up with a save-or-suck before the target’s next turn. But at that point, you might have better results leading with the save-or-suck unless the target has Legendary Resistances.
  • Prismatic SprayPHB: Unpredictable. The AOE is great, and effects 6, 7, and 8 are all great (any two rays would be spectacular), but the spell is unpredictable and I’m always reluctant to recommend unpredictable spells because unpredictable often means unreliable. If you’ve historically enjoyed Cone of Cold and want an upgrade I could see an opportunity here.
  • Reverse GravityPHB: Fantastic because it’s so hard to resist. Even if targets grab onto something, they still need to hang onto it for the duration of the spell. Targets which can’t grab onto something will be mostly helpless unless they can fly, and while flight is common at this level it’s not universal by any means. The Tarrasque, for example, is largely helpless against this spell.
  • TeleportPHB: With a 10-foot range and up to 8 targets you can easily teleport your entire party, and without the need to hold hands and form a circle you can often rescue the whole party in the midst of combat without too much trouble. However, Teleport has a complicated mechanic related to how familiar you are with the target destination and there’s often a possibility of mishap. Be sure to borrow a souvenire from new places so that you can easily return if necessary without the risk of a mishap.
  • WhirlwindEEPC: If you want damage, look literally anywhere else. If you want to lift enemies off the floor, cast Reverse Gravity because it’s much more effective and reliable.

8th-Level Spells

  • Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid WiltingEEPC: For such a fancy name, this spell is surprisingly simple. With the exception of the way it interacts with some creature types, it’s basically fireball with a different AOE and better damage. Sunburst does roughly the same damage and blinds targets in an AOE with double the radius, so I think it’s a much better option.
  • DemiplanePHB: A really cool spell, but probably not useful enough to learn permanently.
  • Dominate MonsterPHB: Arguably the best save-or-suck spell in the game. You can do a lot with perfect control over a creature for such a long period of time. Using the target as a thrall in combat is obviously tempting, but the target gets to repeat their saving throw every time that they take damage, so be very cautious if you choose to do so.
  • EarthquakePHB: A powerful area control spell, but you don’t want to be within the 100 ft. radius, and because you don’t get the control the appearance of fissures you also can’t risk placing it with enemies near the edges. You also can’t don’t want to risk using it inside or in an area where a nearby structure will fall on your. So you need to center the effect on your targets as much as possible, you need to be at a safe distance from the center point, and you may need some extra space to avoid falling structures. If you can manage those parameters and still manage to put the spell where you want (consider flying), this can level a city with an Action. Concentrating on the spell doesn’t do anything except maintain the difficult terrain, which means that you get almost all of the spell’s effects in one turn, so feel free to drop Concentration and siwtch to something else.
  • Incendiary CloudPHB: Basically Cloudkill with a bunch of improvements. The damage is fully doubled, the damage type is improved (though fire is still one of the most commonly resisted damage types), and Dexterity saves are more effective than Consitution saves. The damage roughly matches a Fireball cast at the same level (avg. 45 vs. avg. 45.5 for Fireball), and the damage applies every round for the full 1-minute duration. However, it still retains some of Cloudkills biggest issues. First, the damage applies when the spell is cast but only re-applies to creatures inside the effect when they end their turn inside the cloud. With a 20-foot radius, most creatures can easily walk out of the cloud. The spell is also forced to move 10 feet every round, and the text explaining how that works is absolutely nonsensical. RAW you get to choose the direction, but you only get to choose that it moves directly away from you. Fortunately, Jeremy Crawford clarified that you choose its heading, so you’re free to make the cloud slowly roll back and forth in the same small area if you choose to do so.
  • Power Word StunPHB: Gambling on a creature’s current hit point total is hard, especially since you get so few spell slots at this level, but if you can time this to hit a wounded enemy (or an enemy with a low hit point maximum like many spellcasters) it can take them out of the encounter long enough for you to win largely unopposed.
  • SunburstPHB: Imagine fireball with three times the radius and it blinds the targets. The targets get a Constitution save every turn to remove the blindness so you can’t expect it to stay in effect for long, but the save is at the end of their turns so they’ll spend at least one turn blinded if they fail the initial save, and that may be enough to determine the outcome of the encounter.

9th-Level Spells

  • Blade of DisasterID:RotF / TCoE (Optional): In almost every situation Meteor Swarm or Psychic Scream is a better damage option, but in long fights against powerful single foes, the total damage output from Blade of Disaster will be more effective. It also has the added benefit of not killing your party in small quarters.
  • GatePHB: There are several ways to use this spell, two of which were intended when the spell was designed.
    • Travel to another plane: The simplest option, you open a door and you walk through to another plane, leaving the gate open for up to a minute for whoever else to walk through in either direction.
    • Summon a creature: If you know the name of a creature on another plane, you can drag them (potentially against their will and without a save) to your location. This is easy to abuse by going to plane where you know they aren’t (pocket dimensions work great for this, but there are so many planes that it’s hard to accidently be on the same one), then forcibly summon them. You could summon your biggest antagonist after spending a bunch of time setting up traps, buffs, and readied actions, then have your party stomp them into the dirt. If you’re extra clever, you can use Astral Projection to fight whatever you’re summoning whiel projected so if something goes wrong you won’t actually die and you could try again later. I think the intent of this function was to summon an ally to help you in a fight, but I think my idea is more useful.
    • One-way cover: You can only enter the portal from the front, but it’s unclear what the back looks like or how it functions. It’s not described as solid, so it’s entirely possibly that you can fire projectiles through it from the rear, while projectiles from the front pass into the portal. I can’t imagine that you can see through the portal, so this may be hard to do, but it may be possible. Check with your DM.
    • Magical drain: About to drown? About to hit by a flow of magma or falling rocks? Open a gate to literally anywhere else and let the offending substance enjoy eternity floating in limbo or anywhere else that isn’t a problem for you. The multiverse is your dumping ground.
  • Mass PolymorphXGtE: You sacrifice the absolute power of True Polymorph for the ability to affect up to 10 creatures. The rules for handling creatures with no CR (your party) are written to make this really unappealing compared to True Polymorph. Compared to turning one ally into a CR 17+ dragon, turning up to 10 of your allies into Tyranosauruses (Tyranosaurs? Tyranosauri?) simply isn’t as effective, even if the phrase “I turn us and our horses into tyranosauruses” is one of the coolect things I can think to say during a game. Tragically, the targets assume the beast’s mental statistics, so turning your party of adventurers into toothy lizards may actually make them weaker.

    You can use the spell offensively and the targets don’t get saving throws beyond the first, so turn your enemies into slugs or something and pitch them into the plane of fire or somewhere equally unpleasant.

  • Meteor SwarmPHB: The ultimate AOE damage spell, 40d6 is enough to level most buildings, and with a 40-foot radius and a staggering range of 1 mile you can lay seige to cities a safe distance. The spell states that it only damages creatures, but according to Jeremy Crawford, Meteor Swarm damage objects. The spell’s biggest problem is that all it does is damage. While damage is fantastic and it certainly does plenty of it, if you don’t outright kill your targets you’ll still need to deal with them the next round. Also, keep in mind that targets can only be affected once, so don’t both making the spheres overlap.
  • Power Word KillPHB: Outright kill the target, and their only way to resist is to have more than 100 hp (or Counterspell or something). Unfortunately, without a ton of metagaming it’s very difficult to know if the target has less than 100 hit points. And, even if they do, Power Word Kill isn’t necessarily your best option. Meteor Swarm deals an average of 140 damage, so if the target is at less than 100 hit points they’re in trouble anyway. Granted, you can’t Meteor Swarm someone across a dinner table, but I think Meteor Swarm will be more reliable in most situations where you need to end a life in the space of a few seconds.
  • Psychic ScreamXGtE: Up to 10 creatures within 90 feet of you in any direction. Intelligence saves tend to be low, even for high-CR monsters, so in many cases you can Stun enemies and keep them stunned for an incredibly long time. The damage is fine, buut that’s absolutely an after-thought compared to the stun effect.
  • Time StopPHB: 1d4+1 turns in a row lets you do a lot to trivialize an encounter. If you want to be extra mean about it, you could drop a Delayed Blast Fireball, wall off the area with something like Stone Shape, then teleport away.
  • WishPHB: The best spell in the game, but also the most complicated. It’s literally so good that I won’t rate anything else 9th-level as Blue because nothing else can compete.

    For more help with Wish, see my Practical Guide to Wish.


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