D&D 5e: The Best 5th-Level Spells (Across All Classes)

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Being able to cast 5th level spells is a small jump in power from 4th level spells, but is a crucial step for spellcasters who need more utility (or just flat-out damage) in their kits.

All spellcasting classes gain the ability to cast 5th level spells at the 9th level, except for Paladins who gain that ability at 17th level. Yeah.

Well below I’ve ranked some of the best 5th level spells in D&D, in my own opinion. I value flexibility over damage any day, and that includes neat ways to alter your game to your liking.

Without further ado, here we go!


15. Conjure Volley

Source: Player’s Handbook p.226
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 150 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (one piece of ammunition or a thrown weapon)
Duration: Instantaneous

Starting off our list, we have one of the most entertaining spells that only Rangers have access to.

You fire a piece of nonmagical ammunition (or you chuck an axe/knife I guess) into the air, and rain down hundreds of copies that deal 8d8 damage (of the same type as what was used), or half on a successful Dexterity saving throw.

Not only does this deal a pretty good amount of damage, but it also hits in a pretty decently sized cylinder, covering a lot of ground as well as air coverage too.

You’re also able to copy whatever ammunition you used. This can lead to interesting battles where you can rain down flaming or poison arrows, wreaking havoc amongst the battlefield.

It doesn’t have any non-combat practical usage, unfortunately.


14. Control Winds

Source: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 300 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Concentration, up to an hour

A fantastic spell that gives the caster a ton of flexibility, Control Winds lets you pick from three options, using an action to switch between any of these three in the spells 100ft cube area.

You get to pick from these three:

Gusts is probably the most combat-centric, letting you pick a horizontal direction and how intense the wind is, and causes disadvantage for anyone with ranged weapon attacks. It also halves movement for anyone trying to pass through it.

Updraft is probably the handiest option, allowing creatures to only take half damage from falling. It also adds 10 feet to their vertical jump, making them able to travel higher up if needed, but a great NBA player too!

Downdraft is the weakest of the three options, blasting winds downward and knocking flying enemies prone as well as the disadvantage on ranged weapon attacks from before.

Not all spells are winners. But the potential of this spell leaves it at the bottom of our list, but not completely ruled out.


13. Danse Macabre

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.153
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Concentration, up to an hour

One of my favorite Necromancy spells! Danse Macabre offers not flexibility, but bodies.

Actual bodies.

You get to target up to five corpses and raise them as zombies or skeletons, giving them bonuses to their attacks.

If you don’t need them in combat, you can always use them as fodder to check for traps or throw themselves into danger, keeping your party safe.

This spell oozes with flavor for Necromancers, and easily turns the tide in a fight if you need an extra five meat puppets. Plus, who doesn’t like being a zombie overlord?

While you might not always have all five targets available, this spell is really powerful at its maximum targets. But can fall short if you cast it too late in a fight.


12. Destructive Wave

Source: Player’s Handbook p.231
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30ft radius around yourself
Components: Verbal
Duration: Instantaneous

Now this spell is powerful, but the fact that Paladins won’t have access to this spell until 17th level hinders the potential behind it.

You not only get to deal 5d6 thunder and an additional 5d6 radiant/necrotic damage, but you also get to knock them prone as well!

Destructive Wave offers a 30ft radius around you, giving you a good area of effect ability on the frontlines to keep your allies safe, and your enemies in danger at all times.

Being able to wade into combat and casting this makes Paladin’s true masters of might and magic – and it’s essential if you need to crack open a can of whoop-ass.


11. Dominate Person

Source: Player’s Handbook p.235
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Concentration, up to a minute

Talk about a powerful spell.

You force a humanoid to make a Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by you.

This isn’t a normal charm, either. You form a telepathic link that lets you command them to perform tasks like other charming spells, but it also brings along another feature:

You can use an action to take total control of your target, having them only take the actions you choose (including reactions).

Being able to take total control over a target for a full minute gives you access to all sorts of hijinks. Especially if you end up controlling someone powerful (politically or otherwise) you can throw entire kingdoms into chaos!


10. Enervation

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.155
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Concentration, up to a minute

Another spell that I adore from the Necromancy School, Enervation offers consistent damage as well as a small heal as well, provided they fail a Dexterity saving throw.

Not only do you hit your target for 4d8, but you also get to use your action instead of another spell slot to continue dealing damage to them every turn until the spell ends.

Because some casters have so few spell slots at higher levels, Enervation allows you to keep damaging beefier targets without needing to expend any.

Additionally, you’re always healing for half the damage this spell deals, regardless if they succeed in the saving throw.


9. Far Step

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.155
Casting Time: 1 Bonus Action
Range: Self
Components: Verbal
Duration: Concentration, up to a minute

Far Step offers one of the best ways to keep squishy casters alive, as well as putting them in the best position for spell-slinging.

For the duration of the spell, you can teleport anywhere in a 60ft range to an unoccupied space as a bonus action.

Outside of combat applications, this spell just lets you cover a huge distance.

Assuming you teleport once every six seconds, aka ten times in the full minute duration, you can cover 600 feet in just a minute. Almost doubling Usain Bolt’s world record of the fastest human.

And that’s not counting taking the Dash action before you Far Step.


8. Flame Strike

Source: Player’s Handbook p.242
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (a pinch of sulfur)
Duration: Instantaneous

One of the few high-damage spells that Clerics gets to add to their arsenal, Flame Strike lets them deal some huge damage.

You summon a brilliant pillar of flame, and force enemies nearby to make a Dexterity save or take 4d6 fire damage plus another 4d6 radiant damage!

Because clerics don’t usually get a lot of damaging spells or area of effect spells, Flame Strike lets them have both with no real downsides.


7. Geas

Source: Player’s Handbook p.245
Casting Time: 1 Minute
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal
Duration: 30 days

An incredibly powerful Enchantment spell, Geas lasts the longest for any spell up to this point and potentially deals some damage as well.

You command a creature for up to a month to carry out whatever random task (or preventing them from doing a task), as long as you aren’t sending them to their untimely demise.

This means you can send a random NPC on any sort of task, like robbing a bank or bribing guards.

Geas opens up a lot of new ways for social interactions, like trying to infiltrate a faction with one of their own. Or maybe causing a huge distraction while you perform some dastardly deeds elsewhere in town.


6. Immolation

Source: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion p.19
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 90 feet
Components: Verbal
Duration: Concentration, up to a minute

Honestly, Immolation is a bit gruesome.

Instead of the flexibility of other spells on our list, Immolation only offers one thing:


Whoever you choose becomes wreathed in magical flames like they’re a bunch of male models at a gas station having a gasoline fight to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”.

If they fail the Dexterity saving throw, they take 8d6 fire damage, as well as an additional 4d6 every turn if they keep failing the throw.

The spell doesn’t offer anything extra — no fancy after-effects or neat modal options to suit the situation. You just set someone on fire, and it does a lot of damage.

Oh, and they also shed bright light in a 30-foot radius. In case you needed to brighten up a room.


5. Infernal Calling

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.158
Casting Time: 1 Minute
Range: 90 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (a ruby worth at least 999 gp)
Duration: Concentration, up to an hour

Who doesn’t like to make new friends from Hell?

You get to summon a devil of your choosing (up to a limited challenge rating), but he isn’t exactly an ideal pet.

See, the devil is actually controlled by your Dungeon Master. And it will follow its own whims, not yours.

It’ll do what it pleases, including trying to kill you and your friends if it thinks it can.

You can still issue a command to it, but it might contest you for it. If it wins, it breaks the spell and does whatever it wants, only following your commands if it chooses (and it probably won’t, let’s be honest here folks).

If you happen to have a PhD in Demonology and know a specific demon you want to summon, knowing their true name or owning their talisman makes this spell a lot more manageable. You can work with your DM to learn this, and maybe set off on a little side quest to figure it out!


4. Negative Energy Flood

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.163
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal, Material (a broken bone and a square of black silk)
Duration: Instantaneous

A great damage spell, Negative Energy Flood offers a lot of damage, but can potentially get out of hand if you aren’t careful.

You shoot out dark energy that deal 5d12 necrotic damage to an enemy, and if they die as a result of this spell you get to reanimate their corpse with only one downside:

You don’t control the zombie. They pursue any creature closest to it that they can see, including you and your friends.

Wanna wreck a town? Done.

Wanna send a loose zombie out into the world, and follow it like a David Attenborough documentary? You can!

Want to kill one weakened target that’s surrounded by his friends, turning him into a vicious animal that will try to murder anyone near him? Why not!


3. Seeming

Source: Player’s Handbook p. 274
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 8 hours

One of the neater Illusion spells on our list, Seeming does a lot for a single spell.

You get to cast an illusion over any number of creatures within range, willing or unwilling.

A spell-like this will allow you to do a lot.

Create a ton of identical copies of one poor sap and give him an anxiety attack, or make everyone look like the biggest, meanest looking ruffians possible.

Or you can use it for infiltration, and disguise your party as a bunch of Priests as you infiltrate a cult.

The spell disguises physical appearances as well as any worn items. Anyone you disguise can look a little more different than usual, but you can’t change them entirely.


2. Steel Wind Strike

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.166
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 feet
Components: Somatic, Material (a melee weapon worth at least 1 sp)
Duration: Instantaneous

A really neat spell for Rangers (and kind of a weird spell for Wizards), you vanish and strike up to five creatures with a melee spell attack, dealing 6d10 to each target you hit.

After that, you can teleport to an unoccupied space within 5 feet of a target.

I don’t think Wizards would typically use this spell. But Rangers can get a lot of mileage out of it with some pretty great damage, as well as mobility in combat.


1. Synaptic Static

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.167
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 120 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous

Our final spell topping this list, Synaptic Static is like a psychic Fireball with some bonus effects.

You choose a point within range and it explodes with psychic energy, forcing any creatures with an intelligence above 2 to make an Intelligence saving throw or take 8d6 psychic damage (or half on a successful save).

For those that failed the saving throw, they also have muddled thoughts for 1 minute. They roll a d6 and subtract that from all attack rolls and ability checks, including maintaining concentration.

This is a powerful effect. Not only for the damage, but because Intelligence is one of the lowest scores on average for monsters, you’ll frequently get a massive advantage out of it.

And keep your allies safe while keeping your enemies in a stupor.

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Jeff Nabors

Jeff Nabors is a long-time writer, Dungeon Master, Podcaster and necromancer. He’s been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 3.5 Edition, and continues to play to this day in his own actual-play podcast.