Bard Spells 5e: Guide to the Best Bard Spells – RPGBOT (2024)

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Bard 5e: DnD 5th Edition Class Guide – RPGBOT

T.E. "RPGBOT" KamstraNovember 24, 2023

Introduction

Bard spells borrow a lot from the Wizard and a few options from the Cleric, but with a distinct focus on support spells, illusions, and enchantments. While the Bard does get some healing options like Cure Wounds and Healing Word, they don’t get the full range of non-hp healing options required to fully replace a cleric. Still, their unique mix of spells offer a lot of very powerful options.

You may also enjoy our Practical Guide to Magical Secrets.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Disclaimer
  • Bard Spells
    • Cantrips
    • 1st-Level Spells
    • 2nd-Level Spells
    • 3rd-Level Spells
    • 4th-Level Spells
    • 5th-Level Spells
    • 6th-Level Spells
    • 7th-Level Spells
    • 8th-Level Spells
    • 9th-Level Spells

Disclaimer

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 whichare extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful optionsthat only apply in rare circ*mstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essentialto the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we 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 the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.

Bard Spells

Optionalspellsaremarkedbelowwith(Optional)followingthespell’sname.Thesespellsareconsideredoptionalrules,asdescribedinTasha’sCauldronofEverything.ConsultyourDMbeforedecidingtousethesespells.

Cantrips

  • Blade WardPHB: The Dodge action makes this redundant.
  • Dancing LightsPHB: An amusing distraction, but you can usually accomplish the same thingusing Mage Hand and a candle or torch.
  • FriendsPHB: This is hard to use. 1 minute is not a lot of time, and you generallyneed to put distance between yourself and the subject of the spell beforethey 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 acreature blocking your way like a guard at a gate. You generally won’t needthis; between high Charisma and a long list of skill proficiencies it’s easyto cover all of the Face skills.
  • LightPHB: Disposable magic light is fantastic, but if you don’t have room for thecantrip you’ll do fine with torches.
  • Mage HandPHB: The ability to move objects at a safe distance is profoundly useful. Useit to pull levers, open doors, sort your laundry, and all manner of otherimportant but potentially hazardous tasks where you wouldn’t want to riskyour own hands.
  • MendingPHB: Too situational. Short of Rust Monsters and a few oozes, nearly nothing in 5e deals damage to your equipment.If you’re playing Spelljammer this is essential, but otherwise you can skip it.
  • MessagePHB: Bards built for stealth can do a lot of sneaking around, which frequentlyinvolves being separated from your party. Use this to send messages withoutrevealing your position. Of course, the spell requires Verbal components andit’s not clear how loud verbal components are intended to be, so takeprecautions if possible.
  • Minor Illusion:PHB: Room for plenty of creative, deceptive uses. The 5-foot cube is easilyenough to create something to hide behind, provided that your enemies don’tsee you create the illusion.
  • PrestidigitationPHB: Whenever you want to do something small and magical that’s not covered byanother spell, it’s usually covered by prestidigitation. This spell isexceptionally versatile. For suggestions on how to use Prestidigitation toits fullest, see ourPractical Guide to Prestidigitation.
  • ThunderclapEEPC / XGtE: Damaging every creature within 5 feet of you is great if you’re in meleefacing numerous enemies. Even with Extra Attack you will deal more damagewith this against three or more foes than you could with a weapon. See ourarticle onMelee Cantrips vs. Extra Attackfor a breakdown of the math comparing melee cantrip spells to normal martialattacks.
  • True StrikePHB: Typically you’ll get better results from attacking twice rather thanusing this then attacking once.
  • Vicious MockeryPHB: Easily the most iconic bard spell, Vicious Mockery is unique, flavorful,and mechanically fantastic. The damage is relatively small, but the debuffis absolutely worth the poor damage.

1st-Level Spells

  • Animal FriendshipPHB: Arguably easier than proficiency in Animal Handling, but it will becomeobsolete once beasts disappear around CR 10.
  • BanePHB: I would only use this in encounters where you’re vastly outnumbered, andeven then it’s typically better to use area damage or control spell spellsto eliminate enemies rather than debuffing them.
  • 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 aball of fire, so there’s no visual indication that the spell succeeded orfailed. The target doesn’t know that they’ve been targeted by the spell ifthey succeed on the saving throw, but you don’t know if they succeeded orfailed unless your DM decides to tell you (and they are under no obligationto do so). So generally your best bet is to cast this once or twice and hopefor the best before presenting yourself to your target. Remember:charmed is notmind control/
  • Color sprayPHB (Optional): The effect isnot powerful enough and the duration is not long enough to justify the spellslot.
  • CommandPHB (Optional): Enougheffects to be useful in some situations, but it’s a single-target spell soat low levels you can’t afford to spend a spell slot on this. Considerpicking this up a few levels into your career.
  • Comprehend LanguagesPHB: You can’t learn every language in 5e. It’s simply not possible.Eventually you will want to replace this with Tongues, but ComprehendLanguages does fine until then.
  • Cure WoundsPHB: More healing than Healing Word, but the action economy is considerablyworse. Save this for when you need hit points and you’re either out of hitdice or don’t have time to rest.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Someone needs to have it in every party.
  • Disguise SelfPHB: Learning a single spell is cheaper than proficiency in a DisguiseKit.
  • Distort ValueAI: If your DM allows you to trade magic items, this might be incrediblyuseful. However, your DM might also find this incredibly annoying and punishyou for using it by having angry traders track you down after an unfairtrade. Discuss this spell with your DM before you consider learning it.
  • Dissonant WhispersPHB: Surprisingly good crowd control. This only requires verbal components, soyou can use it while grappled to force the creature grappling you to runaway. The damage isn’t spectacular, but honestly you don’t need it tobe.
  • Earth TremorEEPC / XGtE: Not nearly enough damage, and being prone isn’t enough of a problem in5e. The difficult terrain effect is the real draw. It only works on “looseearth or stone”, but that covers nearly anything you’ll stand on exceptwood, so it’s an easy way to create difficult terrain. Unfortunately, italso effects you so be careful not to trap yourself among enemies.
  • Faerie FirePHB: The lowest-level option to deal with invisible creatures, and Advantageon attacks against creatures which fail their save means that this remains apowerful support option well into high levels, especially against big bulkyenemies with high AC but poor Dexterity saves. Hopefully you won’t run intoany invisible creatures at 1st level, but but it’s important to have someway to deal with invisibility just in case.
  • Feather FallPHB: You don’t need to get this at 1st level, but eventually you’ll want it.You may only use it a couple times in your character’s whole career, butwhen you do it will save someone’s life.
  • Healing WordPHB: More important than Cure Wounds, especially at low levels. As a bonusaction you can heal an unconscious ally enough to get them back into thefight, and you still have your action for Vicious Mockery.
  • HeroismPHB: At low levels where your tank might only have 12 hp and enemies are onlydoing something like 5 damage per turn, this is a big enough buff to win afight for you. At higher levels it will be less appealing due to theConcentration requirement, but it will always remain a solid use of a1st-level spell.

    Compare Heroism to Cure Wounds: Cure Wounds will heal at most 11 hp(1d8+Cha with a +3 Charisma modifier). If you have 16 Charisma and cankeep Heroism running for four rounds you can prevent up to 12 damage(remember that temporary hp doesn’t stack, but the hit points refreshevery round) and still have 6 rounds to enjoy the spell. When you usehigher-level spell slots, Heroism continues to outpace Cure Wounds. At2nd-level, Cure Wounds heals 2d8+Cha (maximum 19 with 16 Charisma), whileHeroism can prevent 18 hit points of damage in just three rounds,

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. All that you need tomake Heroism more effective than Cure Wounds is to know who is going totake damage for the next several rounds. Considering that most partieshave one or two characters drawing the vast majority of attacks, that’susually easy to figure out.

  • IdentifyPHB: Too situational to justify on a class with a limited number of spellsknown.
  • Illusory ScriptPHB: Too situational to justify on a class with a limited number of spellsknown.
  • LongstriderPHB: Even with a hour-long duration, this isn’t especially appealing. Movementin 5e is really easy, and you can use other options to get away from enemiesor to get enemies away from you.
  • Silent ImagePHB: While not nearly so powerful as Major Image, if you just want an objector a visual effect, Silent Image does the job just as well. Throw up a fakewall, door, or portcullis to slow pursuers. Create a piece of furniture likea box or a chest, then hide inside it and stab people when they try to openit like a pointy jack in the box. Illusions are limited more by yourcreativity (and your DM’s willingness to play along) than by the spell’stext.
  • Silvery BarbsSCoC:Extremely powerful, but also very complicated. See ourblog post on Silvery Barbsfor details on the numerous abuse cases which the spell allows.
  • SleepPHB: At an average of 22.5 hp worth of creatures, you won’t be able to affectmany creatures while they’re at full hit points, but you can wait to weardown their hit points before finishing them off with Sleep. Sleep notablydoesn’t require a saving throw, making it a powerful and reliable way toincapacitate enemies with relatively few hit points even at high levels.
  • Speak with AnimalsPHB: Situational, but sometimes the only witnesses are wild animals and youjust need a clue from your local family of squirrels.
  • Tasha’s Hideous LaughterPHB: Single-target save-or-suck. It won’t work on unintelligent creatures, butotherwise you can easily compare this to Hold Monster. Both have the sameduration, require Concentration, and allow Wisdom saving throws both toresist the initial effect and to end the effect at the end of the target’sturn. Paralysis is a more lethal effect, but if you just need a creature tosit out of combat for a while they’re functionally interchangeable. The onlyproblems are that it can’t be cast on unintelligent creatures and it can’tbe up-cast to affect multiple targets.
  • ThunderwavePHB: 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 controleffect, but otherwise it’s not a good go-to option for damage output incombat.
  • Unseen ServantPHB: This has very limited utility in combat or in dangerous situations, butthat doesn’t mean that it has none. With a 1-hour duration you can get a lotdone with a single casting. Interacting with items can mean opening doorsand chests, carrying items, using potions on allies, and other things whichyou might not have time or patience to do. 2 Strength isn’t enough to carryanything heavy or to break down a door, but it’s often enough to triggertraps.

2nd-Level Spells

  • AidPHB (Optional): With an8-hour duration and three targets, this is a staple buff that’s worthcasting literally every day. Keep in mind that this actually increases thetargets’ hit point maximum, so temporary hit points can be added, too.

    Aid’s casting time allows it to be used in combat, which is unusual butoffers an interesting option. With three targets and a 30-foot range, youcan cast it to both buff and heal your allies during combat. Targetscurrent hit points and hit point maximum both increase, so allies at 0 hitpoints are healed in addition to having their hit point maximum raised,thereby allowing Aid to serve a similar function to Mass Healing Word.

    However, since spells don’t stack with themselves, it’s hard to repeatthis trick. You’ll need to cast Aid again using higher-level spell slots,which can get expensive quickly, so Mass Healing Word is probably betterif Aid is already running and if Mass Healing Word is an option for yourparty.

  • Animal MessengerPHB: Too situational to justify on a class with a limited number of spellsknown.
  • Blindness/DeafnessPHB: Blind is a great debuff, and a 1-minute duration is usually longer than an encounter. Targeting bigmelee enemies seems like an obvious use, but the best targets for this areactually enemies who rely on spellcasting. Many spells simply don’t functionif the caster can’t see the target, and the Constitution save is moreeffective against relatively frail enemies like spellcasters.
  • Borrowed KnowledgeSCoC: Jack of All Trades makes this only half as effective as it is for other characters, and withmore skills than most classes and Expertise, there’s little benefit to taking Borrowed Knowledgewith your limited number of spells known. Cast Enhance Ability instead.
  • Calm EmotionsPHB: Two situational but frequently useful effects. First, you can use this totemporarily suppress effects which charm or frighten your allies. Botheffects are common, and many enemies can apply them to your whole party.Charm effects often include mind control effects, and suppressing them for aminute on a willing ally can easily buy you enough time to deal withwhatever is trying to mind control your friends. Fear effects are often areaeffects, such as a dragon’s Frightful Presence, so suppressing them for aminute can bring whichever portions of your party failed their saves backinto the fray.

    Second, you can use this to make enemies not be hostile toward you andyour allies for one minute. That will at least pause most encounters forthe spell’s duration, which is enough time to either heal and buff theparty or escape. I wouldn’t try to negotiate a truce in one minute,especially since the targets can go right back to hostile the moment thatthe spell ends. Note that this effect intentionally uses the“Hostile/Indifferent/Friendly” scale referenced in theSocial Interactionrules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

  • Cloud of DaggersPHB: It’s hard to guarantee that this will deal damage unless you have a goodway to keep an enemy in the area of effect. An ally who likes to grapplewill work, but that’s hard to guarantee, and it’s an extra point of failure.The damage will roll reliably because it’s spread over multiple small dice,but even then the damage won’t be great unless you can hold a single targetin the area for several rounds. If you want single-target damage, go forsomething with more damage up front. If you want area control, go forsomething with a bigger area.
  • Crown of MadnessPHB: This spell is borderline unusable. The creature must attack before itmoves, so you may be able to make it attack an ally once immediately afterthe spell is cast, but it retains control over its movement so it’s free towalk away from its allies. On top of that, you need to spend your own actionto maintain the spell rather than simply concentrating, so you’re eatingyour own turns for the remote chance that the target will wander up toanother of its allies.
  • Detect ThoughtsPHB: Situational, but a clever player can use this to gather crucialinformation from enemies unwilling to share it. However, the checks tocontinue focusing on a single creature’s thoughts are Intelligence checksand bards rarely have enough Intelligence to succeed reliably at opposedIntelligence checks. If you can, have an ally cast buffs like Guidance orEnhance Ability (Intelligence) on you to give yourself an edge.
  • Enhance AbilityPHB: Fantastic and versatile. Eagle’s Splendor on your party’s Face makesocial interactions much easier, and Bull’s Strength provides a huge edgewhile grappling. Enhance your spellcasting ability (or that of an ally) toget Advantage on the ability checks to counter spells and to dispelmagic.
  • Enlarge/ReducePHB (Optional): A greatoption both as a buff for melee allies and as a utility option, though Iwould rarely try using this to shrink enemies. You can use this on a smallally to make them small enough to smuggle in a pocket, or you can use thison and ally to give them an edge against enemies that rely on grappling. Thebonus damage for being enlarged is nice, but not really worth the spell slotunless the target is making a huge number of weapon attacks like ahigh-level fighter.
  • EnthrallPHB: Too situational, too limited, and the duration is too short. The bestusage I can think of for this is to distract a bunch of creatures while yourallies move past them or move into place to ambush them. But in most caseswhere you’re resorting to violence you’ll have better results with adifferent spell like Calm Emotions. In situations where you need to movepast people, cast Invisibility.
  • Gift of GabAI: Another hilarious entry from Acquisitions Incorporated with dubious usein a typical game. The intent of having mechanics in place for socialinteractions is to detach your real-world social skills from yourcharacter’s social skills. If you say something foolish in real life, yourDM should generally be kind enough to filter that through your characterinto something that would make sense for them to say. But if they don’t,this is a perfectly fine way to clean up a mistake. Keep in mind that itonly resets six seconds of conversation, so a short sentence is all that youcan cover. You can’t spend an hour berating someone than say “Gift of Gab”and have everything forgotten.
  • Heat MetalPHB: Situational by design, but against nearly any humanoid in metal armor,this spell is a death sentence. The damage will be slow, but disadvantage onattack rolls and ability checks makes martial characters (the ones typicallyin metal armor) basically useless. Upcasting the spell is surprisinglyefficient since the additional damage applies every round, so if you’refortunate enough to encounter a suitable enemy, use this to its fullest.Unfortunately, since the Bard learns spells permanently, it may be hard tojustify selecting this unless you know that your campaign will featureabundant suitable targets. It also monopolizes your Bonus Action, which canbe hard for the Bard since you need your Bonus Action for BardicInspiration.
  • Hold PersonPHB: You can get most of the same benefits from Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, andTasha’s Hideous Laughter isn’t limited to humanoids. But Tasha’s HideousLaughter can’t be up-cast to affect multiple targets.
  • InvisibilityPHB: An essential scouting and infiltration tool, and as you get higher-levelspell slots you can affect more of your party.
  • Kinetic JauntSCoC: Bards don’t get Misty Step, and Kinetic Jaunt is a great way to remove yourself from melee. However,it requires Concentration and doesn’t remove you from grapples, so it’s not a universally effectivesolution, especially with the Bard’s limited number of spells known. It may be more effective touse offensive spells like to inhibit whatever is grappling you or to use Invisibility to avoidOpportunity Attacks.
  • KnockPHB: The primary reason to have proficiency with Thieves’ Tools is to handlelocks. Knock doesn’t require a check. It just works. Make aggressive eyecontact with your party’s rogue while you cast this just to rub it in.
  • Lesser RestorationPHB: Situational, but a situation that comes up often. If you don’t have acleric in the party you may be the only one with access to this spell, soyou’ll want to take it at some point.
  • Locate Animals or PlantsPHB: Too situational to justify on a class with a limited number of spellsknown.
  • Locate ObjectPHB: Too situational, and too easy to counter. Anyone with any knowledge ofmagic that’s trying to hide something will wrap it in lead.
  • Magic MouthPHB: Find a way to cast Thaumaturgy to raise your voice’s volume, then castthis spell on a piece of paper and scream into it for as long as you arephysically capable. Set the trigger to “when the paper is unfolded”. Leavethe paper for someone to find, or use mage hand to open it at a distance.Instant distraction. The material component is inexpensive by the time youcan cast this, and the duration is “until dispelled”, so you can carry abouta big stack of pre-cast Magic Mouth spells for all sorts of shenanigans.
  • Mirror ImagePHB (Optional): A greatdefensive option, and it doesn’t require Concentration so you can easily useit alongside other great options like Fly. However, since its usefulnessdiminishes quickly it works best against enemies making small numbers ofattacks with high damage. Also, the 1-minute duration can be challengingwhen it’s an Action to cast.
  • Nathair’s MischiefFToD: Amusing, but unpredictable and unreliable. Since the effect and the savechange every round, you can’t choose the targets’ weak saves, and even iftargets do fail their save they might still be able to fight unhindered.Targets do need to save every round (unless your roll the molasses option),but the effects simply aren’t powerful enough.
  • Phantasmal ForcePHB: Adventuring tends to involve running into a lot of things that aren’tvery smart. Beasts, ogres, etc. all have terrible Intelligence saves. Thisspell is a great counter to those creatures, and its flexible nature givesyou a lot of room to really mess with the target. Unfortunately, it alsorequires that your DM be creative enough to simulate how a creature wouldrespond to whatever nonsense you come up with. If your DM has trouble withillusions, this spell may not work out well for you.
  • PyrotechnicsPHB: Only situationally useful, slightly annoying to set up, and when it doeswork the effects aren’t good enough. The flame doesn’t need to be especiallylarge, 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 spectacularbecause it only lasts on round and it’s on a Constitution save. Thesmoke cloud option is objectively worse than similar options like Fog Cloudor Darkness, but it doesn’t require Concentration which allows you to moreeasily combine Pyrotechnics with other powerful spells.
  • See InvisibilityPHB: With a 1-hour duration and no concentration requirement, See Invisibilityis a great way to handle invisible creatures.
  • ShatterPHB: The poor man’s fireball. 3d8 damage in a 10-foot radius is enough to hitseveral targets and deal decent damage. However, the save is Constitution somany creatures will be able to resist easily. Disadvantage for creaturesmade of inorganic materials is really neat, but how often do you fight agroup of animated armors or iron golems?
  • SilencePHB: Verbal components are extremely common in spells, including many thatspellcasters frequently use to escape dangerous situations. If you can trapan enemy spellcaster in place (such as by having an ally grapple them) anddrop Silence around them, they’re usually trapped with no hope ofescape.
  • SkywriteEEPC: Too situational to justify on a class with a limited number of spellsknown.
  • Spray of CardsBoMT:Poor damage (though doing force damage is really nice), short range, and the blindness doesn’t last long enough that you can benefit in any way except moving out of melee. This could be useful if you get dragged into melee against you will, but Misty Step handles that situation much better.
  • SuggestionPHB: Extremely versatile. You can use this to accomplish a lot of things. Thisis more effective, reliable, and immediate than Geas. However, the 8-hourduration requires Concentration, so if you want to use this whileadventuring you’re committing a significant resource for a full day to getthe full duration of the spell. This spell benefits greatly from your owncreativity, so the more thought you put into its use the more effective itwill be.

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

  • Warding WindEEPC / XGtE: A decent buff for melee bards. Making the area around you difficultterrain makes it hard for enemies to move toward or away from you, anddisadvantage on ranged weapon attacks keeps enemies with ranged weapons frompicking you off from afar while you’re closing the distance.
  • Zone of TruthPHB: Too situational to justify on a class with a limited number of spellsknown.

3rd-Level Spells

  • Bestow CursePHB: The effects are versatile enough that you can easily bring this into playin a variety of situations, and the scaling mechanism works well enough thatthis remains a viable option for higher-level spell slots. Use the thirdoption against big tanky enemies with poor Wisdom, or use the first optionagainst enemies that like to grapple. If you’re ever uncertain, use thethird option. Robbing a creature of their turn on a failed saving throw isdebilitating, and can take creatures almost completely out of a fight.
  • CatnapXGtE: A Short Rest is typically one hour. In most campaigns, that will be finemost of the time unless the DM is deliberately creating a time crunch whichprevents resting or otherwise sitting about wasting time. In those cases youmight be able to squeeze in a Catnap, but more than likely the 10 minuteduration will still be problematic.
  • ClairvoyancePHB: With a 1-mile range and the ability to place the sensor in place youcan’t see, this is a fantastic way to safely scout dangerous places. If youhave enough time to sit around and cast the spell repeatedly you can scoutwhole structures from the outside by gradually learning about more interiorlocations through previous castings.
  • Dispel MagicPHB: Essential. Someone in every party should always have this handy.Dispelling spells of a higher level than Dispel Magic requires an abilitycheck, so you can cast Dispel Magic at a higher spell level if you absolutelyneed to end a spell effect, but you can also use Enhance Ability to boostyour spellcasting ability to make the ability check more reliable.
  • Enemies AboundXGtE: Astoundingly few enemies have good Intelligence saves, especially bigscary melee monsters. Throw this on something tanky and horrifying that’sthere to protect squishy enemies from you and your friends, and watch itfreak out and kill its buddies for you. The duration is only a minute, andobviously this only works in an encounter with multiple enemies, but thatdoesn’t make the spell less awesome.
  • Fast FriendsAI: A fantastic non-lethal option for handling single targets, but it hassome limitations. The target needs to be able to understand you, so youlikely need to share a language. The spell requires Concentration, so youdon’t want to maintain this during combat if you can avoid it. And ofcourse, you don’t want to try casting this during combat. Still, if you canisolate a single enemy outside of combat you may be able to ply them forinformation or send them on errands which will save you trouble later.Tragically, the spell only lasts an hour so just as you’re getting reallyattached to your new best friend the effects end, and the targets knows thatyou charmed them. You may be able to cast this repeatedly or you may be ableto negotiate the situation peacefully even after the spell ends, but manypeople don’t take kindly to being charmed.
  • FearPHB: A great way to disable groups of opponents, but it fear immunity iscommon.
  • Feign DeathPHB: Too situational to justify on a class with a limited number of spellsknown.
  • Glyph of WardingPHB: Depending on how your DM handles it, this is either a situationally useful defensive measure or a reality-bending way to break the game from the comfort of your own home. See our Practical Guide to Glyph of Warding.
  • Hypnotic PatternPHB: AOE save or suck.
  • Intellect FortressTCoE (Optional): Technicallysituational, but an absolutely spectacular defense against enemies whichrely on spells or common effects like charm and fear effects. Unlike racialtraits like the Gnome’s Cunning or the Satyr and Yuan-Ti Pureblood’s MagicResistance, this applies to all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charismasaving throws, providing broad and effective protection against many of themost dangerous save-or-suck effects in the game. You also get resistance topsychic damage, which is nice if you’re fighting mind flayers, aboleths, orbards who enjoy Vicious Mockery. With a 1-hour duration, the Concentrationrequirement can be problematic, but it also means that you can carry thisthrough multiple encounters at low cost, so in situations where you needthis it’s not going to eat all of your spell slots.
  • Leomund’s Tiny HutPHB: With an 8-hour duration and the ability to cast it as a ritual, Leomund’sTiny Hut is useful both as an option for resting, and as a surprisingutility and combat option. The hemisphere (the effect is a hemisphere, but the flavortext confusingly describes it as a done) which it creatures is impenetrable andimpassable like a wall of force, except for creatures which are inside thesphere when you cast the spell (your party, usually). Since it’s opaque,most low-level teleport effects like Misty step can’t be used to get insideit. Your allies can use it for cover, then dart in and out to attack or castspells. You as the caster arestuck inside the hut since the spell ends if you leave, butthat doesn’t stop you from summoning something to go fight on yourbehalf.
  • Major ImagePHB: If you don’t like to use illusions frequently, consider picking this uplater when you can cast 6th-level spells so that you can create permanentillusions.
  • Mass Healing WordPHB (Optional): You neverwant to need this. It heals exactly as much as standard Healing Word at amuch higher cost, but the ability to heal multiple targets means that youcan bring multiple allies back into the fight and you still have your Actionthat turn.
  • Motivational SpeechAI: This makes the Inspiring Leader somewhat obsolete. Inspiring Leader willprovide considerably more temporary hit points, but this doesn’t require afeat and takes one tenth the time.
  • NondetectionPHB: Good, but not totally essential. Divination spells include things likeSee Invisibility, so if you or your party relies on invisibility of any kindthis protects from several magical countermeasures to both stealth andinvisibility. However, most enemies aren’t spellcasters and won’t haveaccess to those divination options, so you can’t justify casting this everyday. The spell also has an expensive material component specifically todeter you from casting this all the time. Still, with an 8-hour duration, ifyou need this spell it’s going to do exactly what you need it to do.
  • Plant GrowthPHB: Situational. Outside of normal adventuring activities, the ability toenrich land to double crop yields is very useful. But DnD is a gameprimarily about adventuring, and the option to make an area of plantsovergrown is the more important option for most adventurers. In most cases,Entangle will work fine if you just need to slow your enemies down, butPlant Growth doesn’t expire, so those plants remain difficult to walkthrough until someone clears the plants (which may requires hours ofchopping and/or burning). The spell also doesn’t specify that the plantsgrow along the ground or surfaces, so RAW it can create a sphere of plants,creating super-difficult terrain extending 100 feet into the air,potentially engulfing flying enemies.

    The math on Plant Growth’s speed reduction is impressive. Since mostcreatures have a speed of around 30 feet, moving at 1/4 speed means thatthey can move one 5-foot square and be left with 10 feet of movement thatwon’t get them anywhere (unless they dash or something). Jeremy Crawfordhas clarified that Plant Growthdoesn’t create difficult terrain, so it’s possible that difficult terrain would stack with Plant Growth,but I personally think that’s not how it’s intended to work. Plant Growthspecifies that “a creature moving through the area must spend 4 feet ofmovement for every 1 foot” while the difficult terrain rule specifies that“moving 1 foot in difficult terrain costs 2 feet of speed”, and sincethose two statements conflict I think you’re intended to use whichevereffect is greater rather than stacking them or multiplying them orsomething.

    While it’s not discussed in the text of the spell, it seems likely thatPlant Growth would also impede vision. If you turn a nicely-tended hedgeinto a 100-foot-radius hemisphere of super-difficult terrain, there’sclearly enough stuff in the way that seeing through it is difficult. Thiswould necessarily mean that creatures inside the area would likely beconcealed to some degree, so don’t expect to drop Plant Growth on andenemy and then spend the next several turns spraying them with cantripsuntil they fall down.

    Plant Growth’s problematic limitation is that it requires plants to be inthe area. However, there doesn’t seem to be any restriction on how many orhow large these plants must be (just that they must be “normal”, whateverthat means), and where there’s lack of clarity there’s room forshenanigans. For example: you might carry around a potted plant and throwit into the area to provide the necessary plant life to support the spell.Plants like mint or clover can fit into a small pot, and when you makethem grow you get a pretty and pleasant-smelling field of super-difficultterrain. If your DM scoffs at the idea of 100-foot-tall clover patches,consider carrying a bonsai tree or some other plant which would normallybe very tall (though a bonsai might not qualify as “normal” since we don’tknow what that word means here).

  • SendingPHB: Not especially glamorous, but messaging over massive distances has anumber of uses. Also, due to the wording of the spell, you can use it oncreatures that don’t understand your speech and they’ll still understandyour meaning, allowing you to use Sending in place of Tongues if you onlyneed to convey brief messages.
  • SlowPHB (Optional): Slow is agreat debuff, but it has to compete with other Wisdom save options at thesame spell level. Compared to Hypnotic Pattern, Slow severely handicapstargets, but they can still fight back. Hypnotic Pattern’s targets can’t actat all until they’re released from the effect, but it’s also a Charm effectwhich some creatures are immune or resistant to.
  • Speak with DeadPHB: Too situational to justify on a class with a limited number of spellsknown. This is a spell of last resort. It is extremely limited, and if thedead creature didn’t like you while it’s alive it’s unlikely to be helpfulafter you’ve killed it. Your best bet is to use this on an ally withinformation that you can’t get otherwise. Cast Gentle Repose on the corose tokeep it intact so that you can hit it with Speak with Dead again 10 dayslater.
  • Speak with PlantsPHB: Situational. If you encounter plant creatures, this may allow you tohandle them nonviolently, but I don’t think this is useful enough to learnpermanently on a class with a limited number of spells known.
  • Stinking CloudPHB: Constitution-based save or suck in an AOE. Hypnotic Pattern may be morereliable, but you can still attack the targets of Stinking Cloud withoutbreaking the effect.
  • TonguesPHB: You are almost certainly your party’s Face, and language can present aserious barrier. You may not want to pick this up when you first get accessto 3rd-level spells, but consider picking it up later when using a 3rd-levelspell on a utility option is less daunting.

4th-Level Spells

  • Charm MonsterXGtE: A great nonlethal way to deal with enemies. It doesn’t require that thetarget be able to understand you, but otherwise has the same complicationswhich Charm Person does: the target is only friendly toward you, and whenthe spell ends they know that they were charmed.
  • CompulsionPHB: This is technically situational, but if you can get a group of enemies toall run one direction and bunch up against a wall or something, they’re veryeasy to hit with a big AOE. You can’t run them into something like a Wall ofFire, unfortunately.
  • 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 thatit’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 isn’t on the Bard’s spell list for whatever reason, and havinga way to teleport out of a terrible situation (like ropes or a grapple) isextremely useful.
  • Freedom of MovementPHB: Nice, but situational. If you need to get yourself out of restraints or agrapple, cast Dimension Door.
  • Greater InvisibilityPHB: Invisibility in 5e is really good, and running around for a fullminute being almost impossible to target is a huge advantage.
  • Hallucinatory TerrainPHB: Situational. Unless you specifically need the 24-hour duration and themassive area of effect, Major Image will suffice.
  • Locate CreaturePHB: More effective than mundane tracking, but the 1,000-foot range can be aproblem if the target is actively fleeing from you. If you’re going to usethis, be sure that you’re moving faster than your target.
  • Phantasmal KillerPHB (Optional): Despite howslowly it kills the target, this is a great single-target spell and thespell level scaling is absolutely spectacular. Against big burly foes whichoften have poor mental stats, the save will be hard to pass and Frightenedwill make their attacks and ability checks much less effective. How theFrightened condition works is somewhat confusing because there’s noindication where the “illusory manifestation” appears, if it has a locationat all. I think that the intent is that the target is Frightened, but theirmovement isn’t hampered like it would normally be by the Frightenedcondition. Because casting Phantasmal Killer increases the damage by a d10every time (rather than just the on the first damage roll like many spells),this remains an effective option well beyond its spell level.
  • PolymorphPHB: Fantastic and versatile, but also very complicated. See ourPractical Guide to Polymorphfor detailed advice on how to get the most out of Polymorph.
  • Raulothim’s Psychic LanceFToD: Situational by design. The damage is low for a spell of this level,especially for one that’s single-target, but the damage alone isn’t whyyou’re here. The save is Intelligence, and those tend to be among the lowestsaves, even at very high levels, and the target is Incapacitated on a failedsave, robbing them of a turn, so despite it being single-target withlackluster damage it’s a powerful tool against single foes. Even better, ifyou know the target’s name (often easy for named antagonists), you can castthis without line of sight, allowing you to hide behind walls, in areas ofmagical darkness, or somewhere else safe.

5th-Level Spells

  • Animate ObjectsPHB: Provided that there is sufficient fodder for the spell, this can work ina variety of encounters. Tiny and Huge are notably the most lethal options,so generally you’ll be animating one big thing or a bunch of tiny things.Suitable objects should be easy to find: even random debris should suffice.However, the duration is short is the animated objects are frail and don’tget stronger as you gain levels, so you may want to retrain this afterenjoying it for a few levels.
  • AwakenPHB: Neat, but extremely situational.
  • Dominate PersonPHB: If you don’t face many humanoid enemies, this may not be worthwhile. Butif you do, dominating an enemy and turning it into a temporary ally is veryeffective.
  • DreamPHB: While this spell on its own can be very powerful, it’s only usableoutside of combat, and there are a lot of limitations on its usage. If itwere easier for the Bard to change their spells known this would be fine,but you get an extremely limited number of spells known and you want thoseoptions to be consistently useful. If you really want this, make sure thatyou have plenty of other spells known that can cover your needs incombat.
  • GeasPHB: This is too situational to spend a spell known. It’s great forspellcasters like Clerics and Wizards, but it’s usable too rarely to wastescant resources learning it in hopes that it will be useful someday.
  • Greater RestorationPHB: If you don’t have a Cleric in the party, you need this.
  • 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 afight almost as much as killing them. If you have an ally who fights inmelee, send them to follow up with melee attacks. Automatic critical hitsare too hard to pass up many melee allies. Keep in mind that targets getanother save at the end of each of their turns, so you need to act quicklywhile targets are still affected.
  • Legend LorePHB: Too situational to justify on a class with a limited number of spellsknown.
  • Mass Cure WoundsPHB: You shouldn’t need this. It doesn’t do enough healing to justify thespell slot, so the best use case is to cast it when you have more than oneally at 0 hit points. If you reach that point, things have gone veryseriously wrong. Healing Word is a much more efficient way to get peopleconscious, and considering how little healing you’re getting out of MassCure Wounds your allies will probably go down again anyway if anything looksat them funny.
  • MisleadPHB: Situational. Not a great option in combat, but out of combat thisprovides a passably safe way to scout an area or to trick othercreatures.
  • Modify MemoryPHB: The actual intent of the spell is very situational, but this spell isaccidentally a really effective save-or-suck spell. Compare it to HoldMonster against a single target, which is the same level. Hold Monsterallows additional saves every round, though admittedly Paralyzed is morelethal than Incapacitated. The target is unaware of its surroundings, so youcan reasonably get Advantage on attack rolls against it, but as long as itisn’t damage you could also fully restrain the target before the spell’sduration expires. However, the target gets Advantage on their save if you’refighting it, so you need to hit them with this before fighting starts. Thattypically means before Initiative is rolled, but your DM may let you do itif the creature is Surprised.

    If you need to incapacitate a creature in an encounter with multipleenemies, your enemies likely won’t know how to break the effect (except bykilling you), and once you’ve defeated everything else you can use ModifyMemory to convince the target that the other creatures attacked them andyou came to their rescue. Then you’ve won a fight, and earned the realtreasure: the friends that you made along the way, and whatever theirprevious friends had in their pockets.

  • Planar BindingPHB: Extremely situational and very expensive. If you learn this, wait untilyou’re high level, can easily afford the 1,000gp material cost, and can casta spell of sufficiently high level to summon something extremely powerful.

    For more help, see ourPractical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Raise DeadPHB: This is an odd thing to find on the Bard spell list. Death is part of thegame, so eventually you’ll need this, but it’s no fun to spend one of yourlimited spells known on a spell you might cast once or twice ever.
  • Rary’s Telepathic bondPHB (Optional): If you havetime to cast this, you should always have this running while you’resomewhere dangerous. Speaking aloud is a great way to alert enemies to yourpresence and to give away clever plans. The fact that this has no rangelimit once it’s in effect means that you can use it to communicate withallies while they scout around, potentially including beasts, familiars, andsummoned creatures.
  • ScryingPHB: Technically situational, but it’s a situation that comes up frequently.Any time that you want to know what the BBEG is up to, cast Scrying and takea look. The spell gets easier the more you know the target, and after oneface-to-face encounter you could easily make off with something tying you tothe target to penalize their saving throw.
  • SeemingPHB: Very situational. Most campaigns won’t make this useful often enough foryou to commit one of your limited spells known to this.
  • Skill EmpowermentXGtE: Expertise for everyone! You won’t be throwing this on the Fighter forthem to shove or grapple everything they meet (you have better combatbuffs), but you can put this on a character before sneaking, before animportant social situation, before investigating something important, orbasically any other time that there’s an important skill check to be madeand you have time to buff yourselves beforehand.
  • Synaptic StaticXGtE: Start with fireball. Shave 30 feet off the range, change the damage typeto psychic, and change the saving throw to Intelligence. Very few creaturesare good at intelligence saves, so expect most creatures to fail the save.The 8d6 damage feels underwhelming at this spell level, but subtracting a d6from from attack rolls and ability checks for a full minute is a significantdebuff. This is a good option to start a fight with a large number ofmartial enemies because they’ll be impacted most by debuff and most martialenemies have poor Intelligence saves.
  • Teleportation CirclePHB: Situational, but generally one of the safest long-distance teleportationoptions, especially since it doesn’t have a cap on the number or size ofcreatures affected. However, how useful it is depends on the availability ofconvenient teleportation circles in your campaign. If your DM isn’t going tomake such teleportation circles available and useful, look elsewhere.

6th-Level Spells

  • EyebitePHB: A fantastic use of a spell slot: spend one spell slot, and every roundfor a minute you get to pick a creature and put it to sleep.
  • Find the PathPHB: Situational, and often difficult to use, but still very interesting. Thehardest part of using the spell is finding an object from the place you wantto go. Once you’ve solved that problem, Find the Path merely gives youdirections. It doesn’t avoid hazards and it doesn’t point out traps, so bewary of traps and ambushes along the way.
  • Guards and WardsPHB: Too situational to justify on a class with a limited number of spellsknown.
  • Heroes’ FeastPHB (Optional): An absolutelyamazing spell, but with a 1,000gp cost to cast it, it’s not worthpermanently learning.
  • Mass SuggestionPHB: Tell a potential fight to go take a pleasant stroll somewhere faraway.
  • Otto’s Irresistible DancePHB: The primary appeal of Otto’s Irresistible Dance is that the targetsuffers the effects immediately, and doesn’t get to make a save until theyhave spent an Action to make the save, and since they must spend all oftheir movement dancing, they effectively lose at least one turn afterbeing targeted (they still get a Bonus Action). This is a great way tosneak past Legendary Resistances, and if you’re positioned well in theinitiative order your allies might get to spend their turns attacking thetarget with Advantage.

    In many situations, Hold Monster will be just as effective, if not moreso. Hold Monster can target multiple foes, and doesn’t care if thetarget is immune to being charmed. Save Otto’s Irresistible Dance forpowerful single foes who might otherwise be difficult to target withsave-or-suck spells.

  • Programmed IllusionPHB: Situational, but really abusable. It’s permanent and resets on its own,so you can do all sorts of hilarious things with it to mess with othercreatures. The 25gp material component is nothing by this level, so you canthrow up programmed illusions all over the place for a pittance. As far as Ican tell, you can cast the spell with overlapping areas, so you could castit three times to make the illusions trigger each other and have a perpetualillusion running. Unfortunately, the spell’s language restricts what you candepict to “an object, a creature, or some other visible phenomenon”, so youprobably couldn’t create a room of illusory guards. Still, you could have apermanent illusory bard playing a 15-minute loop of songs.
  • True SeeingPHB: Situational, but largely unbeatable in situations where it applies.

7th-Level Spells

  • Dream of the Blue VeilTCoE (Optional): This is morea 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 fightingethereal enemies, you’re untouchable. You can see and hear into the materialplane (albeit at limited distance), allowing you to spy on other creaturesin person without their knowledge. The spell lasts 8 hours, which issufficient to do a lot of things potentially including a Long Rest.
  • ForcecagePHB: An absolutely amazing way to isolate either your party or your enemies.The duration is long enough to take a short rest, and there’s no save forenemies to resist it. Have an ally drop an AOE damage over time spell likeHunger of Hadar, then drop a Force Cage on top of it and you’re playing amagical game of “Will it Blend?”.
  • Mirage ArcanePHB: This is a difficult spell. The affectable area is huge, the distance isSight (go climb a mountain on a clear day), and the effects of the illusionare tangible enough that you can physically interact with them, includingpicking up sticks or stones. But it’s unclear how far that goes: Can youburn the illusory wood to keep yourself warm? Can you smooth over difficultterrain in the same way that you can make smooth terrain difficult? Couldyou place stairs in the side of a clear cliff face? How far up and down doesthe effect stretch? The closest we have is thesetwotweetswhich indicate that you have a lot of leeway, and that the effects are realenough that a creature could drown in illusory water, burn in illusory lava,and climb illusory trees. Your DM will be the arbiter of exactly what you canget away with, but the spell itself is a wildly versatile toolbox.
  • Mordenkainen’s Magnificent MansionPHB: In the real world, learning to cast this spell would mean that you couldcomfortably retire. Each day you would walk out of the mansion, cast thespell again to recreate the house for 24 hours, then you would return toyour invisible extraplanar abode to enjoy another 24 hours of abundantfood, comfort, and nearly-invisible servants. The size of the mansionamounts to 5000 square feet, which is plenty to accommodate a party ofadventurers and a sizeable retinue. The suggested 100 banquet guests wouldeach have 50 square feet (a 5×10 area) of space to themselves, but acleverly laid out mansion could easily turn that space into a large commonarea for feasting and a collection of small rooms with bunk beds forsleeping off a magical 9-course meal. However, in purely mechanical termsthis is a spell that the Bard can’t afford to learn. There are many lesscostly options for solving the same problems, and you’re strictly limited inthe number of spells which you can learn.
  • Mordenkainen’s SwordPHB: This is an objectively bad spell. Compare it to Bigby’s Hand, and it’spretty clear. Bigby’s Hand isn’t on the Bard spell list unfortunately, butthat’s what Magical Secrets is for.
  • Prismatic SprayPHB (Optional):Unpredictable. The AOE is great, and effects 6, 7, and 8 are all great (anytwo rays would be spectacular), but the spell is unpredictable and I’malways reluctant to recommend unpredictable spells because unpredictableoften means unreliable.
  • Project ImagePHB: Mislead with a longer duration and better range. The language used todescribe the copy’s capabilities is nearly identical. The extra range makesit a bit more versatile, but it’s still fairly situational.
  • RegeneratePHB: Too situational to select as a spellcaster with a limited number ofspells known. DnD doesn’t have injury rules which lead to limb removalexcept in very specific circ*mstances, so it’s not like characters arelosing fingers and toes despite spending potentially years being sliced anddiced by all manner of opponents.
  • ResurrectionPHB: If you learned Raise Dead you might replace it with Resurrection, but Idon’t think Resurrection is a meaningful improvement over Raise Dead.
  • SymbolPHB: While many of the effects are wonderful, the inability to move the symboland the high casting cost are prohibitive.
  • TeleportPHB: With a 10-foot range and up to 8 targets you can easily teleport yourentire party, and without the need to hold hands and form a circle you canoften rescue the whole party in the midst of combat without too muchtrouble. However, Teleport has a complicated mechanic related to howfamiliar you are with the target destination and there’s often a possibilityof mishap. Be sure to borrow a souvenir from new places so that you caneasily return if necessary without the risk of a mishap.

8th-Level Spells

  • Antipathy/SympathyPHB (Optional): Difficult touse because it targets a single type of creature, but if you’re facing ahom*ogenous group of enemies you can greatly hinder them with either option.Even against single creatures, using Sympathy to force an enemy to approachone of your party members (sympathy on a paladin to attract a lich) canforce enemies into a situation which will end in their death. Still, it’s asituational spell that you can’t guarantee will be useful, so it’s hard torecommend for a class that permanently learns their spells.
  • Dominate MonsterPHB: Arguably the best save-or-suck spell in the game. You can do a lot withperfect control over a creature for such a long period of time. Using thetarget as a thrall in combat is obviously tempting, but the target gets torepeat their saving throw every time that they take damage, so be verycautious if you choose to do so.
  • FeeblemindPHB: Casters are extremely vulnerable toFeeblemind. Even creatures who cast spells as a supplement to their otherabilities can be seriously inhibited by suddenly being less intelligent thanmany animals.

    Beyond losing the ability to cast spells, I’ve always found this spell difficult tomanage for other enemies. 1 Intelligence and 1 Charisma is obviously verypoor, but what is the victim capable of? Could a character use class featuresother than spellcasting? What are they smart enough to do in combat? There’s alot of room for the DM to interpret how this works and which abilitiescreatures can still use. While that could be fun and very effective, italso makes the spell’s effect totally dependent on the DM and theirinterpretation of what an affected creature is mentally capable ofdoing.

  • GlibnessPHB: Charisma checks include skills like Persuasion, but they also includething like the ability checks for Counterspell and Dispel Magic. Throw thisup before going into a fight with an enemy spellcaster and enjoy counteringeverything that they cast with minimal effort.
  • Mind BlankPHB: Situational, but hilarious if you have a Berserker Barbarian in theparty.
  • Power Word StunPHB: Gambling on a creature’s current hit point total is hard, especiallysince you get so few spell slots at this level, but if you can time this tohit a wounded enemy (or an enemy with a low hit point maximum like manyspellcasters) it can take them out of the encounter long enough for you towin largely unopposed.

9th-Level Spells

  • ForesightPHB: This is, without a doubt, the best buff in the game. With an 8-hourduration you can throw it on the lucky recipient and watch them laugh theirway through nearly any challenge for a full day worth of adventuring.
  • Mass PolymorphXGtE: You sacrifice the absolute power of True Polymorph for the ability toaffect up to 10 creatures. The rules for handling creatures with no CR (yourparty) are written to make this really unappealing compared to TruePolymorph. Compared to turning one ally into a CR 17+ dragon, turning up to10 of your allies into Tyrannosauruses (Tyrannosaurs? Tyrannosauri?) simplyisn’t as effective, even if the phrase “I turn us and our horses intotyrannosauruses” is one of the coolest things I can think to say during agame. Tragically, the targets assume the beast’s mental statistics, soturning your party of adventurers into toothy lizards may actually make themweaker.

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

  • Power Word HealPHB: Full healing and removing a bunch of status conditions in one spell isreally tempting, but preventing all of that damage and all of thoseconditions with Foresight will work much better.
  • Power Word KillPHB: 100 hit points is a very low cap, but it’s hard to argue with howeffective it is to outright slay a creature with no rolls involved. As anexample, a 20th-level wizard with 12 Constitution will have 102 hit points(6+19*4+20), so basically nothing which is scary at this level will beimmediately vulnerable, but if your allies can deal a bunch of damagequickly you may be able to use this in round 1 of a fight.
  • Prismatic WallPHB (Optional): The ultimatearea control spell. 10-minute duration, you and your allies can pass throughit unharmed, and if enemies move through it they can take up to 50d6 damage,be turned to stone, and be sent to another plane. The wall can be destroyed,but the process to do so is so laughably obnoxious that I doubt anyone wouldactually try it (it’s a relic of early editions of DnD).
  • Psychic ScreamXGtE:Up to 10 creatures within 90 feet of you in any direction. Intelligencesaves are the weakest save on average, even for high-CR monsters, so in many cases you canStun enemies and keep them stunned for an incredibly long time. There’s no duration on the stun effect, so enemies with poor Intelligence may be permanently stunned. The damageis fine, but that’s absolutely an after-thought compared to the stuneffect.
  • True PolymorphPHB: Powerful, versatile, and it lasts an hour. This is a spell that reallyrewards thorough knowledge of 5e’s monsters, so go sit down with the MonsterManual etc. and do some reading. You’ll want a go-to combat form at CR 17,18, 19, and 20 for when you need to turn yourself or an ally into a monster,but you should also look for a good CR 9 in case you need to polymorph anobject into a pet.

    Remember that the spell becomes permanent if you keep it running for anhour, so you can also use this to permanently turn yourself or someoneelse into a monster or a dragon or something. You’ll lose all of yourclass stuff because you assume the creature’s statistics, but honestly aCR 20 dragon is much more powerful anyway.

    The spell’s final option allows you to turn a creature into an object(which allows a Wisdom save). Turn them into a flower pot, then eitherdrop them from high enough to deal maximum fall damage (the extra damagecarries over to their regular hit points when they revert), throw theminto a demiplane, plane shift them somewhere unpleasant, or dispose ofthem in some other permanent and irrevocable fashion like a bag ofdevouring.

    For more, see our Practical Guide to True Polymorph and Shapechange.

About The Author

Bard Spells 5e: Guide to the Best Bard Spells – RPGBOT (1)

T.E. "RPGBOT" Kamstra

Tyler "RPGBOT" Kamstra has been the author of RPGBOT.net since 2013. Tyler began playing tabletop RPGs with 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons over 20 years ago. Tyler has a long-standing love for building characters and for game mechanics, and brings that enthusiasm to everything he creates.

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