Monday, January 20, 2014

The Six Most Underrated Spells in D&D

So last week we took a hard look at some very under-appreciated weapons in the D&D armory. This week we are going to look at some equally snubbed spells in our tomes and why they might deserve a second look. Also, to keep things simple and accessible, all of these spells can be found between the tiers of cantrip and third level. They are also in alphabetical order. Let’s get started:

1) Blur (2nd Level Illusion)
                Your image becomes blurred to all that see you and all foes have disadvantage to hit you.
Disadvantage to hit anyone is a big deal. In D&D Next, disadvantage means you must roll your attack twice and take the lower of the two rolls. This can really take the wind out a nasty beast trying to stomp you into jelly. A natural twenty suddenly becomes a fourteen and a “just hit” sixteen becomes a dismal three. You get the picture. This spell far outweighs any suit of armor and should be a cloth-wearing spell caster’s best friend.

2) Dispel Magic (3rd Level Abjuration)
                End a spell on any object, creature, or magical effect. Although the roll to dispel the higher level spells can be intimidating, when it is successful the rewards can be huge. And many players don’t realize just how versatile this spell can be. Most use it for the aspect of ending a spell on an object such as a weapon, door, or chest. However, there are two more very effective uses:  Firstly, it can be directed to do harm on a magically created creature such as a Golem or Elemental (personally, I let it deal out damage at a rate of 1d6 per level of the caster, but you can do as you like). Secondly, and even less known, is the use of Dispel as a counter-spell! That’s right, if you are facing off against a wizard and you hold your action until he/she starts spouting the words of a spell, you can fire up your Dispel Magic and shut em’ down (assuming you pass the roll). This is particularly effective in the higher levels when you can use up your third level spell to cancel out a meteor swarm or some other nasty thing.

3) Goodberry (1st Level Transmutation)
                Up to ten berries in your hand are infused with healing magic and you can eat each one for 1 hit point of healing and they each provide the same nourishment as a full meal. As far as first level healing spells go, this is hands-down the best. Each of these berries are good for a 24 hour period, so memorize this spell multiple times before bed, cast up a storm of thirty or forty berries, have a long-rest, and go into battle the next day will full spell slots and thirty to forty points of healing ready to go. Even better, you can pass them out to anyone in the party and make them the back-up medic(s) for when you are too busy.

4) Heat Metal (2nd Level Transmutation)
                Cause a manufactured metal object to glow red-hot until the start of your next turn. Very few 2nd level spells can deal out the potential damage of this spell. First off it hands out 3d6 points of damage to the target wielding or wearing the metal. The target must then either drop the item or suffer disadvantage to all attack and saving rolls for its next turn. Secondly, the metal object remains hot until the end of the caster’s next turn, so it can then be used to even greater effect. For instance, imagine another PC pushing another foe onto the item after it is dropped, or even into the original target. There’s another 3d6! Repeat this action two or three times and you get an amazing amount of punishment out of such a low level spell.

5) Mage Hand (Conjuration Cantrip)
                Now we come to the most useful cantrip of them all. Mage Hand creates a spectral hand that you can float/fly around up to 25 feet away to open doors, pull levers, press buttons, turn pages, or do almost anything a normal hand could do. If this spell doesn't prevent a trap from going off in your face at least once a dungeon, you are doing it wrong. Combine this spell with a light spell to have a portable torch, or use it as a battle companion (it can pass you or others weapons, potions, items, or even be used as a distraction to foes). Any Wizard that has used this cantrip to its full effect will tell you that a well utilized Mage Hand is worth much more than any fireball.   

6) Rope Trick (2nd Level Transmutation)    
                To fully appreciate and understand the concentrated awesomeness of this spell I offer up the complete description of the spell from the D&D Next Playtest:

“Duration: 1 hour. You touch a length of rope that is up to 50 feet long. One end of the rope then rises into the air until the whole rope hangs perpendicular to the ground. At the upper end of the rope, an invisible entrance opens to an extra-dimensional space that lasts until the spell ends.
The extra-dimensional space can be reached by climbing to the top of the rope. The space holds as many as eight Medium or smaller creatures. The rope can be pulled into the space, making the rope disappear from view outside the space. Creatures in the extra-dimensional space are on another plane of existence. Attacks and spells cannot cross through the entrance into the space, but those in the space can see out of it as if through a 3-foot by 5-foot window centered on the rope. Anything inside the extra-dimensional space drops out when the spell ends.”

After reading that, read it again. It’s okay, I’ll wait…
Welcome back! Isn't that an awesome spell?
If your character ever needs to utter those famous words: “RETREAT!”, this spell will save your butt 99% of the time. Enjoy!

Do you have a spell to add to the list? Make a comment below! 

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