Third level spells are special for players that choose to run a wizard in Dungeons & Dragons. These spells let players know their wizard has arrived – they can finally step out of the shadow of the party’s fighters and stand on their own. For divine spellcasters this is the spell level where they finally have control over life and death. There are so many great 3rd level spells that it can be difficult deciding which ones a character should memorize. This list will hopefully make things a little easier for players who can’t decide what 3rd level spells will be the most useful.
Haste is one of those spells that was much better in previous editions of D&D, but even this watered down version is one of the more useful 3rd level spells. Haste, as the name suggests, make a character move with supernatural speed and quickness. The recipient’s speed is doubled, but this isn’t the only benefit; a hastened character also receives a +2 to their armor class. Lastly, haste gives the recipient an extra action on their turn. This extra turn can only be used for a weapon attack, dash, disengage, hide or to use an item/object. The only drawback is a hastened player becomes fatigued when the spell expires.
9 Dispel Magic
Dispel magic is one of those spells that players might not use that often, but when it’s needed the party will be thankful the party’s arcane spellcaster didn’t just memorize another fireball. Dispel magic automatically dispels a 3rd level spell or less on a person, place, or object. It can dispel a spell effect higher than 3rd, but this requires a DC check of 10 + the spell’s level. This is a fantastic utility spell that could be used to remove a negative spell effect from a party member, temporarily render a magic item nonmagical, remove a magical trap (like a glyph of warding), and cancel an area of effect spell hindering/hurting the party.
A lot of spells that affected a group of people in previous editions of D&D have been changed so they only target one being in 5th edition – haste is a good example of this. Slow was thankfully not changed, and still affects a group. Up to six targets within 40’ of the spell’s focus point can be slowed using this spell. Targets that fail a wisdom saving throw have their movement halved and suffer an armor class penalty of -2. Additionally, slowed beings cannot make more than one attack on their turn. Spells may still be cast by slowed targets, but if the casting time is one action there is a 50% chance that the spell will be delayed until the following turn – forcing the use of that turn’s action as well.
There are many DMs that wish this had been a higher level spell, as the power of flight can be a game-changer. To make matters worse for DMs the 5th edition version of fly allows the caster to imbue an additional person with flight for every spell slot used to memorize it above 3rd. The recipient of fly can move through the air at a speed of 60. The spell does not mention concentration being required to maintain the effect so the caster is free to rain down spells from above. The spell also does not mention anything in regards to maneuverability, so it is assumed that a character under the effects of this spell can hover in one spot if desired.
6 Tenser’s Deadly Strike
Tenser’s Deadly Strike is a spell from 2nd edition D&D, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used in 5th edition. Spells are one of the easiest aspects of D&D to convert between the various editions. However, that doesn’t mean a DM should make them immediately available – give the party’s arcane caster spells like this one when the party is being paid or rewarded. This powerful spell causes every successful attack by the wizard to deal maximum damage. The duration is 3 turns + 1d6 turns, and only melee or hurled attacks are affected. The usefulness of this spell is greatly increased if the caster is a multiclass fighter/wizard or a bard. This spell is detailed in the Wizard’s Spell Compendium and the World of Greyhawk books.
5 Invisibility 10’ Radius
This is another spell from earlier editions of D&D; one that should have been included in 5th edition. This spell makes every person within 10’ of the caster invisible. The invisibility field moves with the caster, and anyone made invisible who moves outside this 10’ radius area becomes visible. If a person rendered invisible makes an attack or casts a spell they become visible, but this does not end the spell for the other recipients unless the action was taken by the caster. This spell allows the entire party to surprise an opponent, and in D&D a tough fight becomes much easier if the enemy can be caught flat-footed.
4 Crusader’s Mantle
Crusader’s mantle creates a 30’radius aura about the caster that causes all successful attacks by those friendly to the caster to deal an extra 1d4 points of damage. An extra 1d4 doesn’t seem like much, but over the course of the spell’s duration of one minute this could add up to a significant amount of damage. Especially tough opponents can be brought down much faster if the party concentrates all their attacks on them while under the effects of crusader’s mantle. This spell does require concentration on the part of the caster, so he/she will be limited to bonus actions until it expires.
Fireball is one of those spells that causes players to run a wizard due to its reputation for causing destruction. Fireball allows the caster to direct a ball of fire to any spot within the 120’ range, at which point it explodes and deals significant damage to everyone in a 20’ radius. The damage is 8d6, but the damage is halved with a successful dexterity saving throw. This spell is also scalable; adding a 1d6 for every spell slot it occupies above 3rd. In previous editions of D&D the damage of a fireball was capped at 10d6, but in 5th edition this cap has been removed.
2 Call Lightning
Like fireball, this spell has been greatly improved over previous versions. Call lightning allows the caster to summon a storm cloud – so the area must be able to contain this cloud. Every turn the caster can target an area with a lightning strike from the cloud. All people within 5’ of the lightning strike must make a dexterity save or suffer 3d10 points of damage (a passed save reduces the damage by half). This spell last for ten minutes – meaning that the caster can ultimately deliver a whopping 300d10 over the course of the spell’s duration. This spell is also scalable; adding a 1d10 for every spell slot above 3rd used. Also, this spell does an extra 1d10 if used during a storm.
In previous editions of D&D, the ability to revive the dead was an ability that only high-level clerics could access. In 5th edition this ability becomes available at 5th level; so a low-level party is no longer forced to spend all their gold reviving a fallen companion. The caster must be able to touch the target, and revivify must be cast within one minute of target's death. This spell cannot be used to bring back someone who died of old age, and does not regenerate missing limbs or cure ailments like poison or disease. The recipient of this spell is revived with one hit point, so healing will need to be administered before they can rejoin a fight – but at least the player isn’t forced to create a replacement character.