Magical energy flows unseen throughout the multiverse, unimpeded by dungeon walls or planar boundaries. Spells are formulae for manipulating this impalpable force to achieve observable effects: bursts of flame, deceptive illusions, or the restoration of life and limb.
Most spellcasters learn traditional sequences of words or gestures which channel magical energy or the power of divine beings. A few spellcasters can intuitively modify or invent simple spells. No spellcaster fully understands the workings of magic; its fundamental laws, if ever known, were long ago forgotten.
The full list of spells and their details can be found here.
Knowing and Preparing Spells
Before it may be cast, a spell must be known (learned and conceptually understood) and prepared (memorized in detail in a ready-to-cast form). Each spellcasting class has a different approach to learning and preparing spells.
Some character classes, such as clerics, druids, and heralds, know most spells which are available to their class, and choose a subset of those spells to prepare at any given time.
Other classes, such as bards and sorcerers, choose a small set of spells which they know, each of which is always prepared. They can only know a fixed number of spells at any level.
Wizards maintain a large and ever-growing collection of known spells, of which they have a certain number prepared at any time. Wizards can learn any number of new spells without giving up old ones; the only limit is the scarcity of magical scrolls and spellbooks to copy.
Many spellcasters leave their mark on the world by individualizing their spells. Some of these unique spells have been lost to antiquity, but a few are preserved in ancient scrolls.
Some spell descriptions include one or more rare versions of the spell. A rare spell is a little-known variant of an existing spell which offers a change or improvement to the spell’s functionality. It’s usually named after its creator. For instance, a rare version of fire bolt, Katrina’s hellfire bolt, ignores fire resistance . The GM determines which, if any, rare spells are available to discover or research.
A rare spell can’t be chosen when selecting new spells at character creation or when gaining a level—it is obtained on a specially-scribed scroll or learned through costly research. When a character acquires a scroll bearing a rare version of a spell, they may spend a long rest to learn it if it is on their spell list. Doing so destroys the scroll. Alternatively, with the GM’s assistance, a player can use the Research downtime activity to invent or reinvent rare spells (see Downtime in Chapter 7: Adventuring). For classes which only know a limited number of spells, a rare spell does not count against their number of spells known. For classes which prepare a limited number of spells, this spell must be prepared separately.
As spellcasters advance in character level, they gain the ability to prepare and cast more powerful spells.
A spell’s level determines the amount of mental energy the spellcaster must expend to cast the spell. Spells are ranked in complexity and power from level 0 to 9. Level 0 spells, also called cantrips, can be cast effortlessly. Other spells require an investment of energy, and can only be cast a limited number of times between rests. The most complex and powerful spells, 9th-level spells, can only be employed by the mightiest spellcasters, and generally only once per long rest.
Most spellcasting classes’ reserves of magical energy are represented by a number of spell slots, each of which has a spell level. More and higher-level spell slots become available as a character gains experience in a spellcasting class. A spell slot is expended when a character casts a spell at that spell level. When all the slots of a given spell level have been used, the character can no longer cast spells at that spell level. Taking a long rest restores all spell slots.
Casting Spells With a Higher Slot
A spell can be cast as a higher-level spell if there is a higher-level spell slot available to spend. For instance, the 1st-level cure wounds spell can be transformed into a 2nd-level spell by casting it using a 2nd-level spell slot.
Some spells have more powerful effects when cast using a higher-level spell slot. For instance, cure wounds restores more hit points when cast as a 2nd-level spell. Such benefits apply to both the normal version of a spell and any rare variant.
When casting a spell using a higher-level spell slot that the spell provides no benefits for, you gain the benefits for casting at the highest-level spell slot that qualifies. For example, casting detect thoughts with a 6th-level spell slot grants the additional benefits from using a 5th-level spell slot, increasing its range to 1 mile (instead of only the normal effects for a casting at 2nd- or 3rd-level).
Casting Spells Without Slots
Some magic items allow characters to cast certain spells without expending spell slots. For instance, a magical necklace of prayer beads allows its owner to cast spells such as bless once per day.
A magical spell scroll allows a character to cast a single spell, if the spell is on the character’s spell list. After the spell is cast, the scroll loses its magic. A character who uses a magical scroll can cast it at a higher level, or even cast a spell of a higher level than the character can normally cast, by making an ability check, using their spellcasting ability against a DC of 10 + the level at which they cast the spell. On a failure, the scroll loses its magic. A character may increase the spell’s casting time by 12 hours in a magical stronghold appropriate to their class, such as a wizard’s tower or a cleric’s temple. If they do so, they gain a bonus to their spellcasting ability check equal to the grade of the stronghold.
Character abilities granted by class or heritage may also grant the innate ability to cast spells without using spell slots. For instance, a 3rd-level shadow elf can cast faerie fire once per long rest. Some monsters also have the innate ability to cast spells in this way.
Level 0 spells (cantrips) don’t require spell slots to cast, and can be cast any number of times per day. Cantrips don’t need to be prepared. A spellcasting class’ description indicates how many cantrips a character knows at any given level.
Certain spells can be cast as a ritual. Such spells have a special category, Ritual, listed on the same line as the spell’s level.
If a character has a Ritual Spellcasting feature, they can choose to cast such a spell either normally or as a ritual. If they choose to cast it as a ritual, they do so without expending a spell slot. Casting the spell in this way takes an extra 10 minutes to cast. A spell cast as a ritual can’t be cast as a higher-level spell.
Most characters must have a spell prepared in order to cast it as a ritual, though wizards can cast any known spell as a ritual.
Casting Spells in Armor
A spellcaster can’t cast spells while wearing armor in which they’re not proficient.
The spells in Level Up each begin with a block of rules information specifying the spell’s name, spell school, tags, casting time, range, components, and duration. Some spells may also include an entry for target, area, and saving throw. A description of the spell follows the spell block.
Classical Spell Schools
Every spell belongs to one or more schools of magic. These schools include 8 classical schools of magic, as defined by mages long past and handed down in formal tradition. Each classical school represents a different type of magical energy being channeled, and a spell can only belong to one classical school. A magical effect’s school is usually detectable by effects such as detect magic.
- Abjuration spells involve the forces of protection and warding. Shield is an abjuration spell.
- Conjuration spells cause objects to be teleported or summoned. Find familiar is a Conjuration spell.
- Divination spells provide information and uncover secrets. Detect magic is a Divination spell.
- Enchantment spells twist the mind. Charm person is an Enchantment spell.
- Evocation spells call forth magical energy. Cure wounds and magic missile are evocation spells.
- Illusion spells create false sensory impressions. Silent image is an illusion spell.
- Necromancy spells deal with the power of death. Inflict wounds is a necromancy spell.
- Transmutation spells transform or change their subjects, or grant a creature new abilities. Jump is a transmutation spell.
Other Spell Schools
The formal, classical spell schools are not the only way magic-users throughout the ages have labeled spells. In the multiverse there is a near-infinite array of spell schools; some are based on elemental sources (like beasts, fire, plants, shadow, water, and so on), while others are based on effects (compulsion, healing, and more). While a spell can belong to only one classical spell school, it can belong to any number of other spell schools. These spell schools have no rules of their own, but may be referred to by other game rules. For instance, a monster’s description might state that it can cast any spell in the fire school.
This book contains spells using the following schools: acid, affliction, air, arcane, attack, beasts, chaos, cold, communication, compulsion, divine, earth, enhancement, evil, fear, fire, force, good, healing, knowledge, law, lightning, movement, nature, necrotic, negation, obscurement, planar, plants, poison, prismatic, protection, psychic, radiant, scrying, senses, shadow, shapechanging, sound, storm, summoning, technological, teleportation, terrain, thunder, transformation, utility, water, weaponry, weather.
Most spells take one action to cast.
Some spells are cast with a bonus action. A spellcaster can’t cast a spell as a bonus action on the same turn that they cast another spell, unless the second spell is a cantrip with a casting time of one action.
Other spells use a reaction. This type of spell will describe the trigger that allows the spell to be cast. For instance, a wizard may cast shield when hit by an attack or targeted by a magic missile.
A few spells (and spells cast as rituals) have a longer casting time. A spellcaster must use their action every turn to maintain such a spell. Furthermore, they must concentrate on the spell (see below). Otherwise, the spell fails, and the spellcaster doesn’t expend a spell slot or any material components the spell requires.
Conjuration spells that summon powerful or extraplanar creatures take longer to enact, but by choosing to forge a more tenuous connection it’s possible to cast these more quickly than normal.
When casting conjure celestial , conjure elemental , conjure fey , conjure minor elementals , or any other spell that conjures creatures and has a casting time of 1 minute, a spellcaster can choose to reduce the spell’s casting time to 1d4+1 actions and the spell’s duration to 1 minute. The spellcaster must maintain concentration on the casting each round, using an action on each of their turns until the casting is complete. At any time on their turn after the casting begins, the spellcaster may choose to abandon the rapid summoning to cast a different spell that has a casting time of 1 action and uses a spell slot of the same level or less.
A spell’s range is the maximum distance to its target or targets at the moment that the spell is cast. For some spells, the target is a creature or object. For other spells, the target is a point in space.
Some spells have a range of Self, meaning that they only affect the spellcaster, or (for a spell that affects an area) that the point of origin of the spell is the spellcaster. Other spells have a range of Touch, meaning that they affect either the spellcaster or a target that they touch.
Still other spells can only affect targets within a certain number of feet. Common distances include short range (30 feet or less), medium range (60 feet or less), or long range (120 feet or less). Some spells have much longer ranges, such as a mile or more, or are not limited by distance.
Some, but not all, spells have a target listed in the spell block. This type of spell operates on the specified type of creatures or objects within range. For instance, the target of a charm person spell is a “humanoid creature.” Unless the spell indicates otherwise, the spellcaster is a valid target of a spell which acts on a creature or creatures.
Unless otherwise specified by the spell, there must be a clear path (no total cover) between the spellcaster and part of the target. If the target is an unwilling creature, the spellcaster must also be able to see it or otherwise know its precise location.
Some, but not all, spells have an area listed in the stat block. Anything within this area can be affected by the spell. For instance, the area of a fireball spell is a “20-foot radius sphere”, and anyone inside may take fire damage.
Every area has a point of origin from which its effects radiate. The point of origin is determined by the spell’s range. If the spell’s range is Self, the point of origin is the spellcaster. If the point of origin is given as a distance, the point of origin can be anywhere within that distance. If there is no clear path between the spellcaster and the intended point of origin of the spell, the spell’s point of origin is on the near side of the obstruction blocking the path.
For most spells, if there is no clear path between the point of origin and a location within the spell’s area, that location is not affected by the spell. Some spells specify that their effect travels around corners. In that case, a location is affected if a non-straight line from the location connects to the point of origin without leaving the spell’s area.
Spell areas usually take one of five shapes: a cone, cube, cylinder, line, or sphere.
A cone extends from its point of origin in a direction of the spellcaster’s choice, and need not include the origin. A cone’s maximum width is equal to its length.
A cube’s point of origin can be anywhere on any face of the cube, and need not include the origin. A cube’s length is also its width and height.
A cylinder’s point of origin is the center of the circle at the top or bottom of the cylinder. The bottom of the cylinder rests on the ground. A cylinder includes its point of origin.
A line extends straight from its point of origin, and need not include its point of origin.
A sphere’s point of origin is its center, and is included in its area. The sphere’s radius is the distance from its point of origin to any edge.
Some spells have no target or area, but create or summon an object, creature, or effect within the spell’s range. Unless otherwise specified in the spell description, the spellcaster does not need to see the space where the object, creature, or effect will appear but there must be a clear path to the space; if there is no clear path, the spell will affect the space on the near side of the obstruction blocking the path.
The process of casting a spell requires the use of specific actions or objects, called components. These components may allow observers to recognize that a spell is being cast. A spell may include any of the following types of components:
- Vocalized (V): A spell with a vocalized component is apparent to creatures that can hear. Different spellcasters may cast the same spell in vastly different ways, whether speaking in magical syllables or singing an enchanted melody, harmonizing an instrument with the fabric of reality, or giving voice to the screams of the damned as they tap into the realm beyond to call forth magic. A character under the effect of a silence spell or otherwise unable to make noise can’t cast a spell with a vocalized component.
- Seen (S): A spell with a seen component is apparent to creatures that can see. Different spellcasting traditions may cast the same spell with varying visual manifestations, including intricate hand gestures, coruscations of kaleidoscopic magical forces, or ghosts conjured from the aether. A spell cast with a seen component can’t be cast by an incapacitated creature or a creature that has its hands full with weapons (or a shield) that are not being used as a spell focus.
- Material (M): A spell with a material component lists a specific physical object which the spellcaster must provide. If no cost is specified for the object and it does not require part of the target (such as some of the target’s hair), a character may substitute a component pouch or spellcasting focus (see Chapter 4: Equipment ). Some spells note that their material component is consumed as part of the casting. A spell cast with a material component requires that the caster hold the material component during the casting of the spell.
Even if a creature witnesses a spell being cast, the effect or even the target of the spell may not be obvious. For instance, the target of a reasonable-sounding suggestion spell might never realize that their behavior was magically influenced.
Duration, Combination, and Concentration
A spell’s duration is how long it lasts. Many spells have an Instantaneous duration, meaning that their magic ends as the spell is cast, leaving the world changed in a way that can’t be undone with dispel magic or a similar effect.
Other spells have durations of one round or longer. A creature, object, or area might be under the effect of two or more such spells at the same time. In most cases, the effects of both spells combine. However, multiple castings of the same spell don’t combine. When two versions of the same spells overlap, the most powerful effect applies. For instance, if a creature begins its turn in the area of two cloudkill spells, one cast at 5th-level and one cast at 6th-level, it only takes damage from the higher-level version of the spell.
Some spells have a duration which includes concentration. Such a spell requires some level of focus and attention, although the spellcaster can perform most activities while concentrating on a spell. If this concentration ends, the spell ends prematurely.
A spellcaster’s concentration can be ended by any of the following:
- The spellcaster chooses to end concentration at any time.
- The spellcaster is incapacitated or killed.
- The spellcaster successfully casts another spell that requires concentration.
- The GM may rule that a sudden interruption, such as a push, may force the spellcaster to make a DC 10 Constitution check. On a failure, the spell ends.
- If the spellcaster takes damage while concentrating on a spell, they must make a Constitution saving throw ; on a failure, the spell ends. The DC is 10 or half the damage taken, whichever is higher.
If a spell allows an affected creature to make a saving throw , the saving throw ability score will be specified in the spell block. A creature may voluntarily fail a saving throw. Unless noted otherwise, objects always fail saving throws.
Some spells deal half damage to a creature who succeeds on its saving throw. These spells have the word “halves” listed after the ability score used. For instance, “Dexterity halves” means an affected creature takes half damage on a successful Dexterity saving throw.
Other spells that aren’t as direct about their effects on a creature are marked as “special”. For instance, the flesh to stone spell is marked as “Constitution (special)” because it requires more than one saving throw that has staged effects for failed saves.
The DC to resist a spell is 8 + the spellcaster’s spellcasting ability modifier + the spellcaster’s proficiency bonus.
Some spells require a successful attack roll to affect their target. This is specified in the spell’s description. Ranged and melee spell attacks follow all the rules for ranged and melee attacks in Chapter 8: Combat.
The attack bonus for a spell attack is the spellcaster’s spellcasting ability modifier + the spellcaster’s proficiency bonus.