There are spells from Dungeons and Dragons’ rich lore that are so iconic and memorable that it can be difficult to imagine playing without them. While the adrenaline-fueled appeal of lobbing a Fireball into a group of goblins or orcs or buffing the player with Multiattack with Haste is hard to deny, it is possible that these spells run the risk of being cliché and overplayed, particularly if they become the basic fallback situation for every encounter.
This article will look at some spells that do not get the recognition they deserve, but still pack enough punch to be contenders for those coveted readied spell slots. Read on to get a brief overview of 5 spells you may not have given a lot of consideration to before. As always, Six Sides of Gaming encourages you to play the game in a way that you find engaging and fun, and we hope that you find the following suggestions interesting and enlightening.
Hypnotic Pattern, Lv 3 Illusion
When people hit 5th level, there is a strong field of spells to choose from in the context of damage-dealing potential. It is easy to overlook a spell that does no direct damage in the presence of longtime and well-known staples such as Fireball and Lightning Bolt, but for crowd control concerns, Hypnotic Pattern is unparalleled and relatively undiscussed.
Hypnotic Pattern is an AOE spell targeting a typically low WIS save for pack-type attackers which renders them Incapacitated with 0’ movement. This provides more bang for the concentration slot than Slow considering the damage input available to frontline melee attackers with no chance of further mitigation from saving throws.
Cloud of Daggers, Lv 2 Conjuration
One could consider the entire lv 2 catalogue for wizards and sorcerers as an underrated category because many of the spells seem to be focused more on functionality or necessity for bypassing mechanics than the offerings at other levels. This makes most second level spells feel like an obligation or end up being forgettable altogether.
Cloud of Daggers stands out in the sense that it is flashy and provides high damage over time capabilities without giving opponents who enter the area a save to mitigate damage. If placed in tight quarters or on a restrained foe, that is the equivalent of a Magic Missile spell every round without burning further slots or actions (providing, of course, that concentration can be maintained.)
Unfortunately, once a location is designated there is no further option to move it to adapt to a dynamic combat situation. Cloud of Daggers really demonstrates its power when used strategically on a bottleneck or in conjunction with difficult terrain (such as is provided by the Darkness, Web, or Entangle spells or items such as Caltrops or Tanglefoot Bags). Be creative and the results can be very respectable for such a low-level spell slot investment.
Eyebite, Lv 6 Necromancy
There is a lot of competition for interesting capabilities provided by 6th level spells. With Disintegrate, Chain Lightning and Globe of Invulnerability being very well-known and having powerful effects for both combat and exploration purposes, Eyebite is easy to overlook because of the less destructive nature of the spell. Used creatively, however, Eyebite can be an excellent asset for a defensive or control-oriented approach to a difficult combat, political or social encounter.
Eyebite’s functionality is derived from its subtlety of use (no material components required), so a wizard or sorcerer can pull it out in tough or stealthy situations, and the diversity of the effects you can apply are varied enough to keep the DM on their toes. Eyebite acts as a gaze attack within 60’ with the interesting caveat that it doesn’t require the target to make eye contact with the caster. The caster may simply choose any visible target within 60’ as an action and force them to make a WIS save or be put to Sleep, become Frightened (forced to move away from target at full speed until they get 60’ away, at which point the effect ends), or become Sickened (Disadvantage to all attacks, skill checks and saves). Once this effect is placed on a target, it remains in place for the remainder of the duration of the spell and the caster is free to select another target. That accounts for up to 10 potential heavily debilitating effects on up to 10 different targets for up to 10 rounds (dependent on maintaining concentration). That adds up to a lot of potential for chaos for a single spell slot.
Magic Weapon, Lv 2 Transmutation
While this spell’s utility is limited almost entirely to combat, the potential for this spell to be a game-changer in situations where the party is having trouble overcoming damage resistances – particularly at lower levels – is huge. While Magic Weapon requires concentration, the wizard or sorcerer casting the spell can place it on a frontline melee fighter and still stay out of range. It scales slightly differently from other spells, providing additional attack and damage bonuses when cast using a 4th (+2) or 6th (+3) level slot. It should also be noted that it can apply to improvised weapons and is a rare Bonus Action spell. If you find yourself in combat frequently, Magic Weapon can be used to great effect.
Animate Objects, Lv 5 Transmutation
This spell has a lot of potential in a wide array of situations. Animate Objects permits the caster to turn any objects within the 120’ radius into a near-instant army under the control of the caster. The caster can issue a blanket order to all affected objects or micromanage each ensorcelled object individually. The objects animated by the spell can move at the caster’s command and their mode of movement is versatile; if the objects have no structure to facilitate walking or running, they are given a fly speed instead. The number of objects affected when the spell is cast is determined by the size of the objects targeted, which permits even greater variety. Each object possesses individual hit point pools and limited stats that allow them to attack a foe or fortify a location.
Do you agree with our list? Is there something you think we missed? We want to hear your feedback!
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