Dungeons & Dragons: The 10 Most Useful 5th Level Spells, Ranked

Anyone who makes it to the 5th level of Dungeons & Dragons is probably already an expert, but here are the 10 most useful 5th level spells, ranked.

At 5th level is when spells start becoming powerful enough that a wizard or cleric has a chance of dispatching an entire group of enemies in one round. In 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons there are plenty of great spells to choose from - particularly for divine spellcasters.

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There are, however, many notable spells from previous editions that were omitted; a prime example is lower resistance. With the exception of one spell, this list will contain 5th edition spells. The one exception (entry #2) will contain the books where the spell can be found and a conversion of its effects to 5th edition rules. These are the 10 most useful D&D 5th level spells, ranked.

10 Teleportation Circle

Teleportation circle allows the caster to draw a 10’ diameter circle on the ground and open a portal to an already prepared circle at another location. By the time the party’s arcane spellcaster is able to cast this spell it is very likely the party will have a permanent base of some sort. One room in that base should be dedicated to this spell.

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This will allow the party to quickly flee from an overwhelming force. This spell can also create a permanent teleportation circle if the spell is cast every day for a year. This would allow the caster to permanently link two bases, which might be separated by thousands of miles.

9 Flame Strike

Clerics don’t get many potent offensive spells, so flame strike is one the party’s cleric might want to keep memorized. Flame strike calls down a column of magical flame 40’ tall and with a 10’ radius. Anyone caught in the flame suffers 4d6 fire damage and 4d6 radiant damage; a successful dexterity saving throw reduces the total damage by half.

This spell is scalable; adding a 1d6 to either the fire or radiant damage (caster’s choice). This spell would be higher on this list, but fire and radiant resistances are two of the more common resistances players will have to contend with.

8 Mislead

What’s better than being able to turn invisible? Being able to turn invisible and create an illusionary double is a great start. The invisibility is unfortunately of the 2nd level variety; this means attacking or casting a spell will end the invisibility, but the illusionary double remains until the duration ends.

Previous editions of D&D made the invisibility effect for mislead the 4th level variety (greater invisibility), but that version of mislead was a 6th level spell. DMs might want to offer this better version when wizards are able to cast 6th level spells, or make the 5th edition version scalable to change the invisibility to greater invisibility. This spell allows the caster to see and hear as though she/he was in the duplicate's location. This can be incredibly useful for safely scouting-out an unexplored area.

7 Cone Of Cold

To say the damage of the cone of cold spell in earlier editions of D&D was too weak for a 5th level spell is an understatement. Fortunately this has been remedied in 5th edition, and cone of cold now does enough damage that even challenging foes will have their hit points significantly reduced.

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Cone of cold inflicts 8d8 points of cold damage, but a successful constitution saving throw reduces the damage by half. The area of effect is a cone that extends 60’ away from the caster. It would have been more useful if beings caught within the cone were temporary slowed or suffered a disadvantage in battle.

6 Wall Of Force

When it comes to conjuring a barrier to separate the party from the enemy, the only choice better than wall of force is prismatic wall. Wall of force creates an invisible wall of magical energy that is impervious to physical and magical damage – with the exception of the disintegrate spell.

This spell also extends into the Ethereal Plane and prevent beings that can travel though that plane, like phase spiders, from passing through the wall. If the caster wishes, the wall can be shaped into a hemispherical dome or any other shape that can be formed out of ten 10’ X 10’ adjoining wall sections.

5 Animate Objects

This allows the caster to make up to ten allies from inanimate objects in the area. The number of objects animated is determined by their size; small and tiny objects count as one object, medium sized objects count as two, large objects count as four, and huge objects count as eight.

If the object has legs or appendages, like a table or chair, it moves about using those, otherwise the objects fly through the air. Larger objects have more hit points and deal more damage, but have a lower armor class. The caster gives the objects commands in battle (such as which targets to attack), and require no concentration from the caster after they have been animated.

4 Greater Restoration

This is an extremely useful cleric spell that can be used to remove several status ailments. With this spell, the caster can remove a charm or petrify status affecting the target, or one level of exhaustion. This spell can also be used to remove a curse – including an attuned cursed magic item.

Additionally, this spell can restore lost ability scores or restore the target’s maximum hit point total. The ability to remove the charm or petrify status from a party member might be the difference between life or death for the party. If a divine caster has two 5th level spell slots available it is recommended that one of those spells be greater restoration.

3 Mass Cure Wounds

Mass cure wounds allows the caster to heal up to six beings within 30’ of the spell’s focus point 3d8 + the caster’s spellcasting ability modifier. The ability to heal the entire party from a distance is beyond useful. The amount healed could have been slightly higher, but at least the spell is scalable; adding a 1d8 for every spell slot used above 5th.

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The only real problem with this spell is that at 7th level healing 3d8 + the caster’s spell modifier is usually not enough to keep the party alive against an overwhelming force – at most it will buy the party an extra round of battle. This spell would also be a lot more useful if it could be used to harm a group of undead creatures, but this feature of healing spells was removed for 5th edition.

2 Mordenkainen’s Faithful Phantom Defenders

This is a spell from 2nd edition that is one of the more useful 5th level spells from that edition. This spell summons several phantom defenders that only those hostile to the caster can see; to everyone else these defenders are invisible and insubstantial. These defenders are not only capable combatants but offensive spells (like a fireball) cast by the wizard does not harm them.

The caster has a choice of summoning three humanoid soldiers, two centaur soldiers, eight phantom bats, or five phantom sharks. Each group has their own strengths and weaknesses. The humanoid soldiers’ stats converted to 5th edition are; MV: 22, HP: 36, +5 to hit, AC: 18, #AT: 1, Dmg: 1d8 +2. The attacks are considered to be delivered with a magical weapon. This spell can be found in the Wizard’s Spell Compendium and the 2nd edition World of Greyhawk guidebook.

1 Hallow

This is one of the most useful spells in 5th edition available to divine spellcasters. Hallow affects an area of up to 60’ radius and prevents planar beings, like fiends and undead, from entering the area. Hallow also prevents these creatures from possessing, charming, or frightening allies of the caster who are within the area of effect.

Additionally, the caster can choose one secondary effect for the hallowed area. These secondary effects are useful, and allow the player to tailor the spell for maximum effect. Examples of secondary effects are; granting allies damage resistance to one damage type, preventing teleportation into or out of the area, and causing hostile beings to be vulnerable to a particular damage type. The latter effect is one of the few spell effects that allow for the neutralization of an opponent’s damage resistance.

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