How Do Spells Work in DnD?

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dnd 5e spells

When playing DnD, there are certain class types and even race types that can use spells. Now, these spells can be great fun when you know how they work, and we’re here to teach you so that you can enjoy your game!

The basics of DnD Spells

DnD Spells and especially DnD 5E spells work in a peculiar way. If your character is a spell caster, you have a list of spells that you can draw from. Here’s a useful PDF that gathers DnD 5e spells in one document.

Each different class type has a different spell list. For example, a wizard spell list would be much longer than a Druid spell list. And sometimes even certain races like a Tiefling, also have one or two spells even if your class type is something like a fighter, where no spells are needed. More powerful characters can cast more powerful leveled spells.

What do different spell levels do?

DnD spells have different levels that they are attributed to, and different levels have different characteristics and power. Cantrips, Or level ‘0’, is the first type of spell, and the most commonly used spell, as you can use it as much as you want within the game with no cost or consequence.

A first-level spell is the next level up, and this is where spell slots come in. You can only use leveled spells a certain amount of time between long rests. When you cast a spell that isn’t a cantrip, you tick off a spell slot. And when you’ve used all of them up, you can no longer cast spells at that level.

However, there is a way around this, as you can cast all leveled spells as rituals instead, and not expend the spell slot, but it will take you longer and require more concentration. The level of spells goes all the way up to level nine, and the power of the spell increases the higher the level. For example, a Wizard’s first level ‘Burning hands’ spell will have a lesser effect than a ninth level ‘power word kill’ spell.

So what kinds of spells are there?

There are many differences between dnd spells. One of the more noticeable differences is the spells that come from different class types. When you look at the DnD spell card, there is a bunch of information at the top that is important to the uniqueness of the spell.

The first thing it will say is the name of the spell, and under that, it will say what type of spell it is. For example, the spell ‘Thunderclap’, has ‘Evocation cantrip’ written underneath. You’ll notice it lists the level, but what is this ‘evocation’ thing? Well, all dnd spells can be linked to a certain spell type. There are eight types:

  • Conjuration – this deals with the conjuring of objects or making them disappear;
  • Necromancy – dealing with life energy, think of raising the dead, or draining someone of life;
  • Evocation – this releases a pure form of energy, think of a bolt of lightning or a fireball;
  • Abjuration – This type of spell is more of a protection spell, used by often religious characters;
  • Transmutation – Transmutation turns something from one thing to another, like the practice of transfiguration in Harry Potter;
  • Divination – This type of spell is associated with telling the future and seeing what isn’t visible;
  • Enchantment – this is used to manipulate the mind similar to hypnotism, it can be good or bad;
  • Illusion – finally, this dnd spell type creates a vision that isn’t there or even other senses such as sound or smell.

What are the other properties of DnD spells?

The next thing you’ll need to know is the casting time of different spells. The most common is ‘One action’ which means the spell happens instantaneously during the heat of battle – you throw forward your hands and BAM lighting strikes the enemy. There is no effort really required to cast this spell.

dnd 5e spells

But there are also spells that take time to cast, especially if you are casting the said spell as a ritual. For example, ‘True Resurrection’ Is a level nine Necromancy spell, and it takes one whole hour to cast and requires a lot of concentration.

Secondly, there’s the range of your spell. Certain spells can be thrust upon the enemy while other spells require contact with the target first. A common range for a spell to have is 150ft, which means you can only target creatures and objects within 150ft of your character.

Underneath Range and action time, you have the components, which come in the form of letters. There are six different letters that can appear to describe the components needed to cast the spell:

There’s ‘V’ which stands for ‘Verbal’ meaning some incantation is needed and if you cannot speak, you cannot cast the spell.

There’s ‘S’ That stands for ‘Somatic’ which means a hand movement is required.

‘M’ Stands for ‘Material’ meaning a material component is needed to cast said spell, and this is often found in druid spells. It means you might require a feather or a shard of glass to cast the spell.

‘F’ stands for ‘focus’ meaning the spell requires an arcane focus, something you can channel your energy through like a staff or a wand.

‘DF’ stands for ‘Divine focus’ and is very similar to a regular focus, but for the more religious folk, instead of a wand or staff, you might have a prayer book or a cross of some sort.

Lastly, there’s ‘XP’ meaning ‘experience points’ this is rarely seen but required by higher-level spells and will take the experience away from you to cast the spell.

Sometimes these letters are next to each other for example ‘VSM’. This means you can use any of these different methods to cast the spell.

The last property found at the top of a Dungeons and Dragons spell card is ‘Duration’ – meaning how long the spell lasts. ‘Instantaneous’ means it happens instantly then disperses. ‘Until dispelled’ means it continues to be cast until the caster chooses to end the spell. But some others have different times that the spells last, and after the time is up, the spell ends.

So now you know the basics of how does dnd 5e spells work, and we hope you can enjoy your spell casting and handle it with ease. It takes a little practice, but once you’ve got the hang of it, your character can be as powerful as ever!

Want to make your game more authentic? Follow the step-by-step process of Dungeons and Dragons Character Creation and learn all you need to know about DnD characters!