20 Best 3rd-Level Spells in D&D 5e (Ranked)

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Congratulations are in order here, as you’ve made it to a big milestone!

Maybe you’re a Rogue who just got the ability to twist yourself out of harm’s way with Uncanny Dodge, or a Barbarian who just got their second attack action. Or perhaps you’re a spellcaster, looking to try and figure out what shiny new 3rd level spells you want to take.

Well then you’ve come to the right place!

Here we’ll be covering the best 3rd level spells that you have access to, ranging across all classes.

 

20. Motivational Speech

Source: Acquisitions Incorporated
Casting Time: 1 Minute
Range: 60ft
Components: Verbal
Duration: 1 Hour

This is one of the more…gag spells that show up from the Acquisition Incorporated book.

This allows the caster to grant up to 5 other creatures 5 Temporary Hit Points, and advantage on Wisdom saves. Which isn’t that bad.

But it requires a minute to cast, so it’s not that viable to do in the middle of combat, unfortunately.

It does have another effect, which lets anyone hit while under the spell take advantage on their next attack they make. Which is certainly handy, though one has to have the foresight to go and cast the spell before combat.

 

19. Catnap

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30ft
Components: Somatic Material
Duration: 10 Minutes

Catnap, as the name may suggest, allows the caster to target up to three willing creatures, and make them take a nap.

If said targets manage to stay asleep for the whole 10 minute duration, they wake up and get the effects of a Short Rest, which normally takes an hour to complete.

Very useful if you have the spell slots and don’t want to save them for anything more pressing in the future.

 

18. Tongues

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Touch
Components: Verbal, Material
Duration: 1 Hour

Starting off with Tongues, it’s a divination school spell that allows the caster(or anyone the caster touches and casts the spell on) to understand any spoken language they hear.

As well as allowing any creature that hears the spell being cast on them, to also understand what they’re saying, so long as they understand at least one language.

It’s a useful spell if your party lacks in languages.

But could end up falling to the wayside a bit at later levels.

 

17. Speak With Plants

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Self
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 10 Minutes

This one’s pretty self-explanatory:

It allows the caster to speak with plants in a manner that’s similar to that of the spell Speak With Animals, but…well, with Plants.

It’s useful in some rare situations. Especially for a Druid.

But it’s just not quite as handy to have as its counterpart.

Though in the rare instance where you need it, great to have on hand!

 

16. Nondetection

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Touch
Components: Verbal, Somatic Material
Duration: 8 Hours

Nondetection is another spell belonging to the school of Divination, one that allows the caster or anyone they touch to be protected from any and all attempts at scrying.

While it is useful, it’s a rather niche spell, as scrying isn’t that common of an occurrence at lower levels when you’d get access to this one.

At higher levels though, when it’s more likely to encounter that sort of thing, it’d be a lot more useful.

 

15. Stinking Cloud

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 90ft, 20ft Radius
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 1 Minute (Concentration)

Stinking Cloud is a spell that casts a…well, stinking cloud, about 20ft around in size, that both manages to heavily obscure vision as well as potentially waste the turn of anyone stuck inside of it.

Being heavily obscured essentially makes one blind, and treats them as having the Blinded condition.

Blinded means that they fail any checks relying on sight, and attack rolls against them have advantage, as well as any attacks they make suffer from disadvantage.

But the real effect of the spell is just as bad, if not worse.

Anyone in the cloud has to make a Constitution check, or else they end up spending their turn becoming violently ill as their action.

Which is great.

Though it’s unfortunately negated if anyone inside is immune to Poison, or doesn’t need to breathe. And sadly, Poison is one of the most common effects that monsters are Immune to, else this spell would rank higher in my list.

 

14. Slow

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 120ft, 40ft cube area of effect
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 1 Minute (Concentration)

Now this one is really useful to have in a pinch.

Slow allows you to cast an area covering 40ft with time slowing magic, catching up to six creatures in the area. Each creature has to succeed a Wisdom save, or suffer from halved speed, -2 to their AC as well as to any Dexterity saves that they have to make, and they’re not allowed to take reactions.

On top of all that, they’re also only allowed to use a single action on their turn. And if they cast a spell, they have to roll a d20.

If they get an 11 or higher, their spell doesn’t take effect until the next turn, and they have to waste an action casting it.

If they get a 10 or lower, the spell just doesn’t work at all.

Provided they keep failing their Wisdom checks at their turns, there’s not a whole lot they can do while kept under your sway.

 

13. Speak With Dead

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 10ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 10 Minutes

Much in line with Speak with Animals and Speak with Plants, Speak with Dead allows the caster to speak with the dead.

So long as somebody hasn’t cast the spell on a particular corpse within the last 10 days, it allows one to ask any five questions of the cadaver.

They’re able to answer anything they knew in life, but are unable to learn new information.

Useful, right? Well, here’s the caveat.

The corpse is under no compulsion to speak truthfully to the caster, especially if they recognize them as any enemy. Or just decide to be mean.

But if you need to find answers to a long lost question, it’s the perfect spell to ask any wayward skulls you may find on your travels!

 

12. Protection from Energy

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Touch
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 1 Hour (Concentration)

This one’s another sort of niche spell.

It allows anyone that the caster touches to gain resistance to any of the basic damage types: Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, or Thunder. It’s good, if you know what sort of enemy you’d be going up against.

For example, a Red Dragon.

Want to avoid becoming a piece of charcoal? Just cast this, and anyone in the line of fire (pun intended) only takes half damage!

The only downside is that it’s a concentration spell.

If you take a bad hit while holding onto the spell, there’s a chance that it’ll drop and you’ll be left without all that wonderful resistance.

 

11. Tiny Servant

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Casting Time: 1 Minute
Range: Touch
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 8 Hours

Tiny Servant is just a fun spell in general. It allows the caster to animate any one object that they’re holding and turn it into a magical servitor for a time.

The animated object sprouts cute little arms and legs, and can scurry around to do your bidding.

With a bonus action you can even command the creature telepathically, so long as they’re within 120ft, telling it to do whatever you wish. And they’ll do it to the best of their ability!

They can even attack, though don’t expect too much of them in that regard.

Even better, if you cast the spell at higher levels you can animate two extra objects per level above 3rd level!

So if you ever dreamed of having an army of animated shoes to do your bidding, this is the way to go.

 

10. Water Walk

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action (Ritual)
Range: 30ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 1 Hour

Now if you find yourself around water quite a bit, then I have just the spell.

Water walk allows you to do just that, walk on water.

For the hour after casting the spell you can walk on water, as well as any other liquid like surface. Acid, Mud, Snow, Quicksand, or even Lava.

The surface is treated as completely harmless for the duration of the spell. Though walking on Lava is still not recommended, as you’ll still take damage from the sheer heat of it.

Another effect is that if you’re submerged in a liquid, casting Water Walk will rocket you to the surface at a speed of 60ft per round.

Handy for if you find yourself drowning and don’t have the next spell on the list in your repertoire.

 

9. Water Breathing

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action (Ritual)
Range: 30ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 24 Hours

A must-have spell for any campaigns involving traveling the high seas, Water Breathing does exactly what it says on the box.

For 24 hours after casting, up to 10 willing creatures are able to breathe both in the air, and underwater, as if it’s completely normal.

Very, very useful to have if you ever intend to go on a ship.Or if you happen to need to explore some ruins that are stuck at the bottom of a lake or some such.

 

8. Thunder Step

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 90ft
Components: Verbal
Duration: Instantaneous

Have you ever found yourself surrounded by enemies with no easy way to run away?

Well, this spell may be of some use. Thunder Step allows the caster to teleport to an unoccupied space within 90ft.

Any creature that was within 10ft of you after teleporting is then forced to make a Constitution save, or else end up taking 3d10 worth of Thunder Damage on a failed save.

You’re also able to take objects, as well as one other willing creature with you when you teleport. So long as there’s room for them on the other side.

 

7. Animate Dead

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Minute
Range: 10ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: Instantaneous

This one’s for all you Necromancers out there.

Animate Dead allows the caster to point at either a pile of bones, or a corpse, and raise them back to unlife as a servant for you.

You’re able to create either a Zombie or a Skeleton with this spell, depending on your preference.

And you can command them with a bonus action to do your will. Once given an order, the Undead will carry out that order until it’s complete, to save some time micromanaging them.

And if you don’t command them, they simply do their best to defend themselves.

A great thing about this spell is that your Undead of choice is held under your sway for 24 hours after casting, and can be rebound to you afterward with another charge of the spell.

You can either raise another Undead, or use it to reassert your control on up to 4 Skeletons or Zombies that you have created previously.

 

6. Create Food and Water

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30ft
Components: Verbal, Somati
Duration: Instantaneous

If you’re ever stuck out in the wild with no food or water available, then this spell is a real lifesaver.

It allows the caster to create 45lbs of food and 30 gallons of water for consumption, enough to sustain up to 15 people (or five steeds) for 24 hours.

It might not taste great, but it’ll keep you alive when you need it the most.

The food, if left uneaten, goes bad immediately after the 24 hours has passed. But the water stays good forever, at least!

 

5. Beacon of Hope

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 1 Minute (Concentration)

A spell that’s exclusive to the Cleric class, or Paladins that happen to take the Oath of Devotion, Beacon of Hope is a (literal) godsend in battle.

Any number of creatures within 30ft of the caster are given Advantage on Wisdom saves, Death Saves, and they all receive the maximum possible healing from any source.

For example, if you cast Cure Wounds at first level, you wouldn’t have to roll the usual 1d8.

Instead you would just get 8hp, plus whatever the caster’s modifier is.

So it’s really, really good to have in the middle of a big fight!

 

4. Call Lightning

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 120ft, 60ft Cylinder
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 10 Minutes (Concentration)

Call Lightning is one of my personal favorite spells.

It allows the caster, usually a Druid, to conjure up a magical Storm anywhere within 120ft. So long as there’s an open space in the sky, it allows you to rain down bolts of lightning on your enemies, dealing 3d10 Lightning damage to anyone who fails a Dexterity save. And hitting anyone within 5ft of the point that you choose to have the lightning hit.

Best part?

For the entire 10 minutes it lasts, you can use your action to keep calling the wrath of nature down on anyone in range of the storm.

And if you cast it during a storm, the damage goes up by another 1d10!

At higher levels the damage goes up by another 1d10 as well.

 

3. Counter Spell

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Reaction
Range: 60ft
Components: Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous

Have you ever been bothered by enemy spellcasters? Well then Counterspell might be the solution you’re looking for!

Any spellcasters that decide to try and cast anything within 60ft of you can be interrupted by the use of Counterspell.

For a reaction, you can nullify the effects of any spell of 3rd level or lower instantly.

Or for any spells 4th level or higher, you can roll a d20 plus your Spellcasting modifier.

With a DC of 10+ the spell’s level, you can successfully nullify any spell if you manage to succeed the check. Otherwise, Counterspell has no effect.

But, thankfully, if you upcast the spell then the floor to instantly counter is raised by the level of spell slot that you choose to use.

 

2. Dispel Magic

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 120ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous

Much like Counterspell, Dispel Magic is able to nullify any magical effects that are of 3rd level or lower. Or if you manage to make the same check as with Counterspell for anything higher than 3rd level.

And, same as with Counterspell again, if you upcast it then you can instantly negate any effects equal or lower than the level of spell slot used.

While Counterspell is good as a kneejerk reaction to a spell that you don’t want to go off, Dispel Magic is good for any effects that were already in effect.

For example, if a Wizard is flying around and throwing balls of fire around, you can simply point at them (if they’re within 120ft) and they’ll just…drop like a stone.

Provided they don’t have Feather Fall. But it’s still good to get rid of an annoying effect that may prove troublesome if left alone.

 

1. Fireball

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 150ft, 20ft Radius
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: Instantaneous

Of course, no list of 3rd level spells could be complete without the quintessential Fireball.

A spell that’s the hallmark of D&D, and has been readily admitted to be intentionally overpowered by the creators of the game.

Fireball is hands down the best 3rd level spell in my humble opinion.

With a range of 150ft and a blast radius of 20ft, it’s the perfect spell to take care of any enemies that made the mistake of bunching up.

Delivering 8d6 worth of Fire damage on a failed Dexterity Save, and half as much on a successful save, it’s a must have spell for any Wizard’s collection.

When choosing to Upcast it, the spell’s damage increases by 1d6 per spell slots of 4th level or higher.

And did I mention that it sets anything flammable on fire that’s not being worn or carried?

There’s so many problems that can be solved with a well-placed Fireball. Which is why it has earned its number one position on the list!

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