In this article:
- There are nine different classes in Dungeons and Dragons that can cast spells, each with their own pool of spells to choose from.
- Choosing which ones to give your character can be tough, especially for players who are newere to playing a spellcasting class.
- This list of 10 Dungeons and Dragons spells and cantrips that are great for new players can help you decide.
So your world-building obsessed DM has finally agreed to run another Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Whether you’re playing a one-shot adventure or a full module like Strixhaven, you’re going to need a character.
Character creation is one of the most fun parts of playing any TTRPG. You get to choose a name, become a different race, and craft your very own tragic background. But somewhere between filling in your character sheet and sketching your character art, you stop.
What class are you playing again?
Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition has a wide range of class options, but the hardest to play are always the spellcasting classes. Spellcasting classes don’t just demand an understanding of combat mechanics, they also require you to learn spells which makes them challenging for new players.
A 101 on Dungeons and Dragons’ Spellcasting Classes
Being a spellcaster in an adventuring party is hard, but someone has to do it. If you like the idea of altering the fabric of reality, don’t be intimidated by the learning curve. Dungeons and Dragons is meant to be fun so feel free to pick a class you like!
As of 2022, D&D 5e has 9 different classes that let players cast spells. You have Bard, Cleric, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, Druid, Artificer, Warlock, and Wizard.
We’ll focus on the full-caster classes: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Wizard, and Warlock. The Warlock part is disputed, but for most intents and purposes, you may as well count Warlocks as one.
Each of these classes has a different pool of spells to choose from that they can add to their adventuring toolkit as they progress in the game. However, not all classes are made the same.
Wizards have the most versatile spell list in D&D 5e. As a prepared spellcaster class, a group that includes Clerics and Druids, Wizards get insanely powerful as they gain levels.
That said, they’re more restricted by spell slots, which determine how many spells you can cast, and their general squishiness. Wizards are also restricted to using spells they know and list in their spellbooks. Meanwhile, Clerics and Druids have access to their whole class’ spell list.
Bards, though much less powerful, are jacks of all trades that can provide buffs to the entire party. Clerics are similar to Bards in that sense, but they get stronger low-level spells. Druids have fewer ways of dealing damage, they have a ton of utility spells. Sorcerers give up the Wizard’s versatility in exchange for Metamagic, which lets them break the usual rules of magic in ways other spellcasters can’t.
As for Warlocks, they’re the most combat-ready of the spellcasting classes. Warlocks are the spellcaster equivalent of the Fighter class. Though they get drastically fewer spell slots compared to other casters, Warlocks make up for it with access to a powerful list of cantrips.
That’s why the Warlock’s signature cantrip is the first on this list of the 10 handiest Dungeons and Dragons spells and cantrips.
10 Easy to Use, Powerful Dungeons and Dragons Spells and Cantrips
1. Eldritch Blast
First up, we have Eldritch Blast, a Warlock cantrip that’s so strongly associated with the class that many players will tell you Warlock characters just spam it in combat.
It’s true and for good reason: there’s no other cantrip or Dungeons and Dragons spell that lets you deal damage as easily, quickly, and effectively as Eldritch Blast can.
Casting Eldritch Blast lets your Warlock draw power from their patron. This lets them produce a beam of crackling energy that can reach up to 120 feet away. All of this happens with only vocal and somatic components which means you don’t even have to remember to buy supplies when your party stops at a town.
With this D&D cantrip, you deal 1d10 of force damage per blast. You get additional Eldritch Blasts as your Warlock gains experience. Reaching 5th level, 11th level, and 17th level adds one additional blast to each casting of Eldritch Blast so, by the time you’re at 17th level, you can deal up to 40 damage without using a single spell slot.
Prestidigitation is one of those Dungeons and Dragons spells and cantrips that look underwhelming until you learn to read the fine print and grasp how to fight creatively.
Prestidigitation is a transmutation cantrip available to Bards, Sorcerers, Wizards, and Warlocks that lets players create a magical effect within 10 feet using only vocal and somatic components. Basically, you just have to speak and move your hands/magical conduit of choice.
Now, look up the cantrip’s effects and pay attention to the way they’re phrased. This cantrip lets you “clean” an object no larger than 1 cubic foot. Depending on how far your DM is willing to let you stretch the definition of that, Prestidigitation can function as a substitute for Purify Food and Drink.
Want to bargain with a political leader who can’t be reasoned with? Make their food taste like a known poison and pretend to offer a cure in exchange for what you want. Greedy local officials? Bribe them with stones made to look like gold coins.
The possibilities are endless with this cantrip.
Check out this thread on the most game-breaking creative uses for Prestidigitation to get a better idea of what this cantrip can do.
3. Healing Word
Unless you want to get TPK’d (Total Party Kill) before your 5th session, your party is going to need a character that can cast this Dungeons and Dragons spell.
Healing Word is a 1st level spell accessible to Bards, Clerics, and Druids. Though casting it consumes a spell slot, you don’t have to spend an entire action to cast Healing Word. You can cast it as a Bonus Action so you can attack your enemy and heal a party member within 60 feet in one turn.
Casting Healing Word allows a party member to regenerate health equal to 1d4 + your spellcasting ability modifier. The best part is that you only have to say your healing word and your party member can get back to helping you slay a dragon.
It’s also one of the most efficient healing spells in D&D 5e. Not only can you start casting this spell right out of the gate, but it has far fewer restrictions than similar healing spells at its level. Cure Wounds, for example, requires that you touch your target and use up an entire action.
That means you’re practically losing a full turn to heal a party member.
Fireball is the Wizard’s version of Eldritch Blast. This Dungeons and Dragons spell is a cracked 3rd level damage dealer that can be used by Sorcerers and Wizards. It lets your character summon an explosion of flames that set everything within a 150 feet area on fire.
Fireball has a leg up on Eldritch Blast in terms of raw damage because the spell can deal up to 8d6 of fire damage on a failed target save or half that on a successful one. That said, you only get this spell at 3rd level, it takes a full action to cast, it consumes a spell slot, and you need materials to cast the spell.
If you plan on making Fireball your go-to combat spell, make sure you don’t run out of bat guano and sulfur.
5. Spare the Dying
Clerics, take one for the team and remember how to cast Spare the Dying because this Dungeons and Dragons cantrip can mean the difference between a TPK and taking a long rest.
Spare the Dying is a Necromancy cantrip exclusive to Clerics and Artificers, though the latter is played less. The cantrip requires you to touch a target at 0 hit points to stabilize them. Stabilizing a party member gives you or another player the chance to heal that character on their turn. Stabilizing party members prevents them from being killed (by your DM) in the event of a failed death saving throw.
6. Purify Food and Drink
Do you really want your party to die from food poisoning and/or cholera before you get to the end of the campaign? Imagine spending hours creating and getting attached to a character only for them to die from diarrhea.
That’s why you need to remember to cast Purify Food and Drink before you chow down. This 1st level Dungeons and Dragons spell consumes a spell slot, but it’s worth the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re not ingesting poison or disease-ridden items.
7. Minor Illusion
Minor Illusion is a fun cantrip that can be used by Bards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards. Like Prestidigitation, Minor Illusion has a wide range of illusory effects that can be used to distract and fool enemy NPCs or even a fellow player character, if you’re in the mood to pull a prank.
Unlike Prestidigitation, however, Minor Illusion is more limited. Though both cantrips take an action to cast and have a short-range, Minor Illusion’s effects only last for a minute and you can only have one Minor Illusion active at the same time.
Minor Illusion lets you create any sound or illusion of an object no larger than a 5-foot cube of your choosing. However, if the creature that sees your illusion succeeds in an Investigation check against your spell save DC, they’ll be able to tell that it’s an illusion.
It takes a creative player to make use of Minor Illusion so check out this thread for inspiration!
8. Mage Hand
Mage Hand isn’t as subtle as the other Dungeons and Dragons spells and cantrips on this list, but a bit of creativity goes a long way in getting the most out of it.
This cantrip can be cast by Bards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, Wizards, and Artificers. The cantrip consumes an action and lasts for a minute during which you can use it to interact with any object within 30 feet of you.
After casting Mage Hand, a spectral floating hand will appear before you. You can use this to carry or touch anything no heavier than 10 pounds. As you can imagine, an Arcane Trickster Rogue that has Mage Hand would be hilarious for you to play and annoying for your DM to deal with.
9. Shape Water
POV: You are a water bender. That’s the basic idea behind this Dungeons and Dragons cantrip.
Shape Water gives your player character the power to manipulate water up to a 5-foot cube in volume. Manipulation here means changing the flow of water, changing the color and clarity of water, creating what are effectively water constructs, and freezing the water for up to an hour. The cantrip allows your Druid, Sorcerer, or Wizard to have two different Shape Water effects active at the same time.
If you’ve seen Avatar: The Last Airbender, you don’t need a guide on what you can do with that kind of power.
Coax your enemies into a deep slumber with Sleep, a 1st Level Dungeons and Dragons spell that can affect anyone within 20 feet of a point in space that you choose.
The spell has a Sandman gimmick to it, hence the need for a pinch of fine sand or rose petals or cricket to cast the spell. Once cast, it lasts for a minute, giving you ample time to sneak past guards, escape cultists, or kill beasts in their sleep.
Be warned: Certain creatures, such as Elves, are completely immune to the effects of spells and charms that inflict sleep.
Let us know how you plan to use these Dungeons and Dragons spells and cantrips!