Content of the article: "Cleric Spell Level 0 to 3 Analysis Continued (Level 3)"
This is a continuation of another post containing a Ranking/Preparation Guide guide of all the Cleric spells from level 0 to level 3 as well as analysis for the spells level 0, 1, and 2. To view the first half of the post click here: https://www.reddit.com/r/dndnext/comments/kurccw/ranking_analysis_and_preparation_guide_to_all/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3
- 3rd level
Animate Dead is a spell that sits in a weird place for me. It can be quite powerful allowing you to raise many undead and absolutely destroy the action economy, but it also comes with some restrictions both in the text of the spell but also outside of it. With the way the spell works, it requires you to both use many third level spells and multiple days of casting the spell inefficiently to create and maintain your undead army, meaning you need to really commit to being a summoning necromancer. (as using a single spell slot to reassert control over 4 undead is much more efficient then creating only a single new undead) Additionally with necromancy as a whole a corpse is required to preform it at all, so it can be much harder logistically to make sure you always have bodies on or around you. Also, there are many RP effects that make necromancy somewhat undesirable in most settings. The least of these being that your character needs some what to justify preforming necromancy, which for a majority of PC (which are usually good or at least neutral aligned) can be difficult. Even if your character can justify doing necromancy, most settings will be some level of anti-necromancy, so if you choose this route be prepared to disguise your summons or be without most of your 3rd level spells when in a settlement, as you are forced to leave them behind. However, the biggest issue I have with Animate Dead is the same issue I have with many of the summoning spells in D&D, especially those that allow for summoning multiple creatures. Summons tend to bog down combat(Especially those that summon full creatures like Animate Dead). So, unless you are a very experienced player who feels comfortable managing multiple creatures, any you get express permission from your DM I would recommend avoiding Animate Dead despite its fairly high rating. ( I am personally a fan of summoning in fantasy in general, especially video games, but in my experience, it is more trouble than it is worth in D&D)
One final thought is for DMs, if you have a player who wants to play a necromancer, I would think carefully whether to allow it, because of all the reasons above in addition to the fact that Animate Dead is very strong at its full potential with the ability to trivialize all but the most difficult or prepared combat encounters.
Beacon of Hope
Beacon of Hope is an amalgamation of decent effects that together make the spell ok. Firstly, the advantage on Wisdom saves isn’t always useful, but when it is it is very good because effects with wisdom saving throws tend to be really nasty. Also, advantage on death saving throws is always appreciated, so effected characters don’t die making it easier for you to pop them back up with healing and so you don’t need to spend resources (a slot and the material cost) to revive them.(or not being able to and them dying outright) Next, the maximum hit point gain from healing is not a good as it seems because you could roll the max value anyways, and because most lower level healing spells don’t have that much variance. (the first level spells only have a single die, prayer of healing doesn’t work, and mass healing word is the same as regular healing word, except for being multi target) Therefore you need to cast multiple healing spells or a massive spell such as Mass cure wounds for this to be extremely impactful. However, the combination of all these effects as well as effecting your entire party assuming they are in range make Beacon of Hope Good. Would recommend taking if you expect to fight an enemy that uses wisdom saving throws and is also very difficult so the healing and death save boosts come into play, or at higher level when this can combo with healing sources like mass cure wounds or other spells (like regular cure wounds) upcasted without using all of your higher-level slots. Most of the time, however, I would recommend skipping because for a third level spell, I don’t think it does enough.
With bestow Curse, most of the effects that can be chosen from are just not good enough to warrant using. The disadvantage on attack rolls is only against you, making it mostly useless, as most of the time you (and hopefully your party) are doing your best not to be attacked often. Similarly, the extra damage doesn’t do enough damage, and won’t proc too often because you are a cleric who shouldn’t be doing damage too often. Disadvantage on a single ability score’s checks and saving throws ban be useful especially if you have another party member with strong save or suck spells or spells that deal lots of damage on a single saving throw. Finally, the best option in my opinion, a wisdom throw on each turn to waste the turn doing nothing. This can be good as the spell itself has no saving throw, so forcing the spell to block an average of maybe 5 actions (assuming it is active for the full minute and the target fails half of their saves) is pretty good. However, these effects aren’t good enough to warrant a third level slot, getting within touch range with an enemy, or taking up your concentration. The last thing to talk about is the upcasting possibility. As a player upcasting bestow curse is usually a waste because the enemy will most likely be dead before the longer duration matters. And while not having concentration if using a 5th level slot or above, that is a lot of resources to use for a simple bestow curse without concentration.
Clairvoyance is a simple scrying spell. If used well it allows you to find out information or lore that can be extremely valuable in a more roleplaying focused campaign. Great spell to have in your back pocket to use when you know when and where certain NPCs will be. Can be countered fairly easily if the target(s) are being careful, but a great spell for when you have free spell slots, or information gathering is especially important.
Create Food and Water
This spell can be almost useless in a campaign where food and water are somewhat handwaved away by the DM, but in a survival-based campaign, or at least one where starvation is a possibility create food and water can be invaluable. (However, if a druid with good berry is in the party, that spell is way better because it only first level and does almost the same thing as this one)
In most situations Daylight is fairly useless, as making light can be done using the Light cantrip or a torch to similar effect. However, the spell can be used to counter magical some darkness which seems like it could be worth taking. This would be true, if not for dispel magic, which can also be used to dispel the same magical darkness as Daylight, but also higher level magical darkness and other magic that is not magical darkness. Therefore, this spell is almost never worth taking.
Dispel Magic has a multitude of uses both in and out of combat. In combat it can be used to counter any persistent spell from buffs to debuff to damage spells like spiritual weapon (my top second level spell). Also, in a combat encounter involving some sort of gimmick like giving you the ability to for example dispel a magic portal or remove an enchantment that the enemy is using to control a creature that otherwise wouldn’t fight for them. Dispel Magic is also great out of combat to break pretty much any magical effect. This spell is most limited by the amount of magic in the world (less useful in a low magic setting for obvious setting) and by what the DM rules is and is not dispel-able. For all these reasons, I would recommend always having this spell ready, as being able to Dispel and Magic at any time can be the difference between an encounter having a good outcome and a bad one.
Fast Friends is a spell that is so bogged down with rules that it is fairly unusable most of the time. The best way to explain why this spell is bad is with an example. Let’s take the simple example of getting someone to give you a piece of information they don’t want to. First, the creature makes a save to resist the spell. Then it makes another save when you ask for the information because it conflicts with its “normal activities and desires”.(this is the worst part of the spell because pretty much anything you ask a creature to do will conflict with this because otherwise you wouldn’t need to cast a spell to make them do it) Therefore for this spell to do anything the target needs to fail 2 saving throws. Additionally, if you change the task the creature gets another save. The spell is near useless in combat because every save has advantage during a fight (and if you are for some reason able to cast a spell before the start of a fight, and you want some sort of debuff just cast hold person/command both of which can even be upcast to third level to leave fast friends even further in the dust). Finally, if at any time the creature saves against the spell (including the initial one by my interpretation) or the spell ends normally, they will know they were charmed by you and immediately become hostile, which makes the only real use of placing it on an NPC neutral towards you not usually worth it because you then have a new enemy that will most likely immediately try to undo any help towards you the spell caused. Overall, almost unusable.
Feign death is a super cool spell. Most of the time it is not useful, but when it is useful it can enable some of the most entertaining and unexpected planes. With this you could save an assassination target, fake someone’s death, or make any other plan work that involves making someone seemingly dead (or even cast this when pretending to cast a helpful spell so a target who normally wouldn’t allow this to happen would, although whether this would work is up to DM interpretation). Also being ritual is very nice with this spell. Some major drawbacks include the short 1-hour duration, and not being able to easily break the effect early. I would recommend that no-one prepare this spell normal, but always keep this spell in the back of your mind, so if a situation in the near future (at least one day away) arises where Feign Death can be used you can then prepare it and execute the plan. (Also, can be used to great effect by a DM to make the players thing a character is dead)
Glyph of Warding
As a player Glyph of Warding can be very difficult to use mostly because of the line “If the surface or object is moved more than 10 feet from where you cast this spell, the glyph is broken, and the spell ends without being triggered.” This makes the spell almost exclusively used as a trap. When used as a trap in the few instances where that can be done(compounded by the fact that it takes an hour to set up) the spell requires way too many resources to be worth it most of the time. (third level slot + 200 gp + an hour) With all these restrictions, the effects of the spell feel fairly gimped in comparison. At third level Explosive runes does an average of 22.5 damage in an area, which is not terrible, but falls short of the level needed to justify the cost. Spell Glyph is a bit better especially if upcast, but again, you are paying 200 gp and taking an hour to remotely cast a spell you would be able to cast normally anyways. The saving graces of the spell is the ability to stack effects and the fact that concentration spells last their full duration unless dispelled. Because of this, with enough time to prepare and gold, you can effectively make a trap the deals infinite damage (by staking explosive runes) or have multiple spells all go off at once which could do all sorts of things. In conclusion, this spell is ridiculously situational and far too expensive for the price unless you are using it to kind of break the game, so I don’t recommend taking the spell. (Although as a DM this spell is your best friend for all kinds of interesting encounters and traps)
Incite Greed is an ok spell with the ability to cause a multiple target crowd control. It can be used similarly to turn undead to effectively take a portion of the enemies out of the combat so the party can only have to deal with a few of the enemies at a time. However, there are a few issues with Incite Greed. First, it shares the “Ending the effect if you or your companions do anything harmful to it” property with turn undead. Additionally, unlike turn undead the effected creature can also attempt to break the effect using a wisdom save at the end of each turn and instead of running from you they come toward you, which makes it so when the spell ends, you will most likely be in a much worse position and are likely to get killed quickly. (Especially painful because you are the healer and the one who can cast Revivify) It is for these reasons that I recommend you avoid Incite Greed and go for Command, Hold person or Spirit Guardians instead depending on the situation.
Life Transference is a spell I look at in the same way that I look at Warding Bond. This one is slightly better, but not by much. Instead of simply giving the target +1 to ac and saving throws, you give them 36 health on average. However, in doing so you need to take 18 unreducible damage on average. While being able to heal a net of 18 health (which can be better then simply healing 18 because healing actually healing double that to the target that needs it while reducing from one who doesn’t can be worthwhile) is better then any other single target healing spell you have access to so far, price is far too high because it is you, the Cleric, who needs to take the damage. If you were able to syphon the health from another party member who is not as important in combat the spell may be more worth it. But, as I said in the description for Warding Bond, the healer is the most important member of the party and the one most important to take down first because you have the ability to continuously ensure the rest of the party is alive and healthy. Therefore, reducing your health willingly for anything short of an ensured victory or a despite measure is not recommended. This spell is by no means unusable, as I said both the pure healing and even net healing are unrivaled at this level, but the risk is far to high for me to in good conscious recommend this for any but the most confident players or most thematically built characters.
Magic Circle is a spell that falls both under the “Situational based on enemy” and the “Difficult to set up” umbrellas because it only works on specific creature types which have to be picked when cast and because of the minute-long casting time, respectively. However, the power of the spell makes up for this. The main uses of this spell are to trap creature(s) of one of the listed types or to defend against an attack using either the normal or reverse setup, respectively. You will need to plan in order to keep the creature(s) in or out of the area for the casting time, but once done they will at least have difficulty to physically being unable to cross the border, and in the ensuing fight, you will be at a heavy advantage because their movement is limited, their attacks are all at disadvantage, and they can’t use their often-powerful charm, frighten, or possess abilities/spells. Because of this, I don’t recommend taking this spell all the time, but keep it in the back of your mind looking for a situation where it can be used to great effect after your next chance to prepare it.
Mass Healing Word
Mass Healing Word seems quite good having a theoretical average healing potential of 39 points (<2.5 average die role +4 assumed spellcasting mod> *6 targets) with a max of 48, these values are somewhat misleading for a few reasons. First is the amount of healing per person. Even on a max roll with mac spellcasting ability mod each creature only gets 9 points of healing. Compounding this, healing usually needs to go to one or two places. For example, in an average party size of 5, usually only 1 to three of the members will need to be healed at any one time, with some may not even needing the full amount, therefore the average healing as calculated above drops to more like 20 ish. (for reference a third level cure wounds does 17.5 on average but all to one target which is more ideal) Another reason why this spell is not great is because of the circumstances when it should be used. Because the amount of healing is so low (similar to regular healing word) is should mainly be used to pick up unconscious allies. In that case, it is almost always better to instead rely on a regular healing word because it also has good range cast speed, and more healing per slot to the downed target. Therefore, mass healing word is only maybe worth casting in combat when multiple allies are down simultaneously but not dead, which very rarely happens. Finally, in the out of combat situation, you have time, so it is better to cast prayer of healing or even better take a short rest. Because being out of combat negates the main benefits of either healing word (bonus action speed and longer range) casting one in this situation is sub-optimal.
Meld into Stone
Meld into Stone seems like it may be useful with its ability to allow you to enter a stone wall, having an 8-hour duration, and being a ritual, but despite all this, its effect is just too weak to be worth taking. With this spell, all you can do with this spell is enter a wall and then proceed to sit there doing nothing. You cant pass through to the other side (need to exit exactly where you entered), you can’t really cast spells (cant see out of the stone and can only cast spells on yourself), you cant hide the entire party in the wall because of the wording of the spell, and it is not a great tanking strategy because the enemy could either kill the rest of the party, or just destroy the stone dealing a bunch of damage to you. Really the only uses I can think of for this spell is to use it to hide in the specific case of having a solo adventure, being alone, or other party members having their own individual may to hide. Another possible use could be as a setup for an ambush, although to make this work another party member would need to use a spell like message in order to tell you when to pop out. Overall, this spell isn’t completely useless, and I can think of a few instances where using it could be helpful (if not worth a third level slot) so only prepare it if you have a plan for it in your play style (like solo or having party support for it) or if you have a specific plan that makes use of it well.
Overall Motivational Speech is too expensive and has too long of a cast time to be very useful. 5 temporary hit points, advantage on one wisdom save maybe, and advantage on one maybe 2 attacks to up to 5 creatures just does not give enough value to require setting up before a fight and giving up on one of your other stronger spells. (both in preparation and in spell slot) Pass on this and pickup one of the stronger buff spells like Aid, Bless, or Protection from Evil and Good (Especially Aid).
Protection from Energy
Protection from energy is a straightforward that for the most part is too weak to be worth casting. However, in the situation where you know you will be fighting a creature that makes use of a specific elemental damage type (like elementals or Dragons) this may be worth taking to plop on your tank. I would recommend taking this if you know you will be fighting a creature that this somewhat counters, or if you have extra preparation slots, have all the better less situational spells, and have a party composition where you think this might worth casting (specifically one based around having a single main tank that isn’t a path of the totem warrior barbarian that took bear totem spirit at level 3)
Another simple spell that does what it says on the tin. It is almost never worth preparing this spell on a normal adventuring day since curses rarely escalate within a single day. Therefore, if an ally gets cursed, either physically or via an item, prepare this for the next day and remove their curse the next morning. Then the next night simply unprepared the spell again.
What do I need to say to convince you that every cleric should take Revivify as soon as you can? (as long as you have access to 300 gp worth of diamond which is well worth reviving a character) This spell straight up allows you to revive a dead party member. You should always have this prepared to make your party so much more resilient, and to keep the other characters in the game alive when they otherwise would die.
Sending is a great spell that allows you to communicate with anyone pretty much anywhere. The 25 word restriction makes the communication somewhat imperfect, but that is a small price to pay for infinite range communication. In addition, the spell also allows communication with any creature with at least 1 Intelligence (which is just about every creature), therefore this spell can also be used as a universal translator. (through the 25 word limit is even more steep in this context) I recommend almost always taking this spell, except when in a campaign with less emphasis on role playing where long-range communication is less useful or on a day when you are fairly sure you won’t need it and you need the preparation for something else. (like before a big fight)
Speak with Dead
Speak with Dead is a quite useful spell allowing you to speak with a corpse that died at any time. Also being able to ask 5 question with no restrictions other then the person answering as if they were alive (not being forced to be particularly helpful) and not being able to learn or speculate is incredibly strong. This is a simple but good spell that I would recommend strongly considering when preparing spells. It is not always useful, but when it is it can provide information and or lore you would have no other way of learning.
Spirit Guardians is another spell that is not only one the best in its spell tier, but in the game. Like Spiritual Weapon, this is another exception to my “Clerics should avoid damage spells” rule. Dealing 3d8 to multiple creatures every turn for up to 10 minutes is ridiculous. Theoretically, if the spell deals 13.5 damage on average per round for 100 rounds (10 minutes) it could deal 1350 damage per enemy in the 15 ft radius range(assuming all affected creatures fail their saving throws. While this amount of damage will almost never actually happen, the damage can stack up very fast. Another more realistic example is having say 3 creatures on average taking the 13.5 damage each round for 3 rounds, making the spell deal a still ridiculous 121.5 damage as a cleric casting a single level 3 spell (again assuming all affected creatures fail their saving throws). Other upsides include the aforementioned 10 minute duration which allows it to be active in multiple concurrent combats assuming you don’t lose concentration, being able to choose which creatures are affected by the spell, making it able to protect your allies without damage them, the awesome damage types of either radiant or necrotic, the spell dealing half damage on successful saving throws and scaling pretty well as each additional level adds an extra d8 adding 4.5 damage per effected creature per round dealing damage. As if this wasn’t enough, the spell also halves the speed of effected creatures both making it difficult for melee enemies to approach you to break your concentration, or for enemies to retreat from you to get out of the radius(especially since the damage happens at the start of their turn, to if they use their turn to leave the area, you can simply move closer to them, so they are in it again and take the damage. The main downsides of Spirit Guardians are the fact that it is simply a damage tool which Clerics should often avoid,(although as stated previously this is negated by how good the spell is) the fact the spell requires concentration, (though this is one of the main spells to save concentration for) and lastly the fact that the targets need to be within 15 ft of you to be affected which as a somewhat squishy support character can be problematic. I recommend taking this on all clerics as up to and including third level spells it is really your only good spell that is good at dealing with many (3+) enemies, especially when they are close to and or surround you other then maybe word of Radiance. A final though is that Spirit guardians seems to fill a similar slot as Spiritual Weapon, I would argue it is worth keeping both because spiritual weapon does a better job against a single heavy hitting enemy because it allows you to deal your chip damage to the enemy while remaining hopefully outside their big damage range. Additionally, they fill slightly different slots in your action economy because Spiritual Weapon doesn’t require concentration but takes up your bonus action every turn while Spirit Guardians is concentration but only requires maybe your movement every turn to keep enemies in your radius. (This also has the added benefit of being able to combo the spells together giving you the ability to have both effects up at once, and still having your action free to do whatever else you want to) I still rank this spell lower then Revivify because while Spirit Guardians is a great spell, revivify both has no drawbacks while Spirit Guardians does and because Revivify better falls inside clerics role of being a support caster.
This spell is a worse Spirit Guardians in just about every way. The Bonus action speed, more flexible damage options, and heal blocking are nice, but it falls short is so many other ways. It does less damage and requires hitting with an attack while within 10 ft of the enemy (not ideal as a cleric). The damage and heal block can only be applied to a single target per attack. (not AOE) The speed debuff is less potent, and only can be applied to a single target per round rather than inherently helping to ensure enemies continue taking the damage from the spell like Spirit Guardians. With all that said, I am comparing the spell to arguably the best cleric spell in the game, so this spell is not as bad as the above makes it seem. Additionally, if playing an attack based cleric(most likely using a combination of weapons and spells like guiding bolt as all the cleric cantrips are saving throws), in a combat encounter where you are fighting only one or two enemies, and you also have spiritual weapon up (as the spells combo pretty well) Spirit Shroud may actually be worth casting instead of Spirit Guardians as the damage is comparable, the heal blocking may come into play, and allowing for a crit to give a large spike in damage, as the shroud damage is doubled by it. Also, in the situation of being able to attack 2+ times a turn using the attack/ cast action combined with spiritual weapon where and fighting enemies with high wisdom saves that reduced Spirit Guardian’s effectiveness I would go as far as to say Sprit Shroud may be better. In conclusion, I would not recommend taking this spell as it requires a very specific attack-oriented build to pull of that is almost certainly a subpar way to play a cleric in order to even having a chance of competing with the other better cleric spell options.
Tongues is another member of the simple spell that is extremely useful. Having the ability to easily speak to any creature is extremely useful, as it allows you to role play in this role-playing game. It can unlock encounter resolutions that would otherwise be impossible/ lead to a fight. Overall a great spell that lets you speak any language. The one wrinkle is that the spell somewhat competes with Sending. I would recommend you take sending first and if you are not out of prepared spells then go for Tongues, as Sending can somewhat do the same thing in a pinch. Ideally take both because they shine in different way with sending havening its infinite communication range, and Tongues allowing a full hour of speech as opposed to sending’s 25 words, but if necessary to only take one, take Sending over Tongues.
Despite the name, Water Walk’s strength comes not from walking on water, but being able to walk on any liquid. While occasionally, walking on the surface of water can be good (especially if there is something dangerous in the water, or the water is especially hot or cold) most of the time all this does is avoids the difficult terrain movement debuff. However, being able to simply walk across any liquid including things like acid and quicksand (as given by the spell) and to a lesser extend lava(as you still take heat damage) give you the ability to completely bypass some encounters and hazards. This combined with being able to cast this as a ritual, having a respectable hour duration, and being able to target up to 10 creatures makes this spell a good pickup both with a use in mind, and even just in case.
- I’ve refined my homebrew conjuration spell, what do you think? Any feedback is welcome!
- What’s your thought on this homebrew conjuration spell? (I need help balancing it, your comments are greatly appreciated!)
- Is Summon Shadowspawn the new best 3rd level Wizard / Warlock spell?
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