With more than 500 official spells in D&D 5th Edition, they can’t all be winners–but these five spells are just the worst. Are they in your spell book?
Magic plays a critical role in Dungeons & Dragons. Wizards locked away in sagely towers toil away, casting powerful spells. Clerics conjure up the power and grace of their deity to work miracles. And these days it seems like everyone has at least a little magic. Tieflings and Elves get their innate spells. Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters both draw on magic to improve their martial might.
And with more than 500 spells in the game (plus whatever homebrew concoctions you can serve up), there’s a lot of magic in the game, including some of the most iconic, powerful spells from D&D’s history… and there’s these ones too. Here are five of the worst spells in D&D.
Find traps was once a spell that existed to help certain clerics pretend like they were rogues and granted them the abilities to find traps as though they knew what they were doing. Not so any more. Find Traps is now a 2nd level spell that can’t even be cast ritually, so it always takes a spell slot to tell you that somewhere within a cone extanding outward from you up to 120 ft. is a trap. It doesn’t tell you there the traps are, just that they’re somewhere nearby. And it only lasts the turn you cast it on.
So if you happen to cast this spell somewhere where there aren’t traps, congratulations, you just wasted at least 1 spell slot.
True Strike was once the go-to spell for folks that wanted to be fighters and spellcasters in the same package. It is a shadow of what it once was–now instead of offering up a free hit, it grants the caster Advantage on their next attack roll until the end of you next turn. So you give up one attack/spell/action in addition to casting the spell, just to strike with an advantage.
In almost every circumstance, it’s mathematically better to just make another attack or take a different action.
Witch Bolt is such a cool spell at first glance. You shoot someone with lightning, and every round after that you can pour another d12’s worth of lightning onto the encounter like you’re a celebratory Palpatine.
And yet, when you read it, you learn that you must use your action each turn to deal this 1d12 damage, and that if you miss you don’t even get to do it again–you wasted your spell. Sure you can maybe get a little more mileage out of it at early levels, but it does so little damage, it doesn’t scale, and it takes up your valuable action each turn. And if you don’t keep it going, it fades.
There are just better ways to do the same thing.
Crown of Madness
Another of those spells that sounds very good, but when you read it it’s just so much work. This spell lets you charm someone and while they’re charmed, they must waste their action to attack a creature (other than itself) that you choose.
But. It takes your action to cast the spell, and it takes your action to maintain control over your target, and if you don’t, the spell ends. So casting it wastes your actions as well as that of whatever foe you’re fighting.
Mordenkainen’s Sword is a 7th level spell that’s objectively worse than if you had cast something like Flaming Sphere or Spiritual Weapons. Even Spirit Guardians is a better option, if you can get your hands on it.
There are so many easier ways to do what Mordenkainen’s Sword does, and you can usually pull them off at lower levels without having to waste your precious 7th level spell slot.
What are your five worst spells in D&D? Let us know in the comments!