20 Best Ritual Spells For D&D 5e (Ranked)

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Many players easily overlook how ritual spells can impact adventures, battles, and exploration.

Ritual spell casting is an incredibly versatile asset in 5e. They’re not as flashy as Fireball. But with some thought, preparation, and time, ritual spells can be game changing.

There are not a lot of higher-level spells that can be cast as rituals, but that doesn’t dampen its usefulness. All ritual spells are available pretty early into the game too, as these spells are only 6th level spells or lower.

And casting ritual spells are available to Bards, Druids, Clerics, and Wizards at the start, but other classes can cast them with the Ritual Caster feat. Some subclasses gain access to rituals later into their levels too.

When casting a spell as a ritual, a caster does not need to expend a spell slot at the cost of extending its cast time by 10 minutes. So a spell normally needing only 1 minute to cast, would now need 11 minutes to cast. This can be rough, but again there are huge benefits too.

Out of the 37 total ritual spells (as of this writing), I’ve compiled a list of the 20 absolute best ones & ranked them according to utility and importance in any game. Have fun!

 

20. Speak With Animals

Source: Player’s Handbook

Talking and understanding animals may sound quite boring. But this could be useful if one needs information about a certain area, or if an animal saw anything run by recently.

The more inconspicuous animals would also be the best to talk to.

For the outdoors, birds cover the largest distance so they could be considered as faux scouts. Dungeons would have a good amount of rats scurrying around to gather some intelligence for a party.

 

19. Water Breathing

Source: Player’s Handbook

Most campaigns, at some point, will involve having to communicate with underwater civilizations.

If not, you could actively seek them out and open up large areas of the world. What’s not to love?

If traversing the oceans doesn’t sound enticing, using the Control Water spell’s Flood feature could make an excellent combination with Water Breathing here. Just to easily destroy a difficult encounter at lower levels.

 

18. Tenser’s Floating Disc

Source: Player’s Handbook

Tenser’s Floating Disc creates a platform that can lift up to 500lbs.

This platform can be useful for carrying a treasure chest that the party wants to open later, maybe because of a particularly difficult trap that requires time to solve.

This ritual is also useful for when there’s a need to carry a hostage or ally out of a dungeon, or to keep them out of reach of enemies, but you can’t dedicate the party’s efforts to drag them out of the dungeon entirely.

Just keep in mind that that Tenser’s Floating Disc won’t fly over any deep ravines or anything deeper than 10 feet.

 

17. Alarm

Source: Player’s Handbook

Alarm is a very simple spell that can save a party’s life.

It gets cast in an area, and the caster can choose which creatures don’t set off the alarm.

If a creature passes the area of effect, the caster is alerted through a sound or a mental ping.

Most parties find themselves looking for a way to prevent ambushes when setting up camp, and this spell is one of those ways.

 

16. Augury

Source: Player’s Handbook

Augury is an excellent divination spell that could be a stand-in for later (and more powerful) Divination spells.

The caster is shown a sign indicating the general outcome of a plan. This outcome is shown through trinkets like cards or marked leaves.

The outcome will be revealed if the plan will be performed within the next 30 minutes. There are four possible outcomes: “Good, Bad, Good and Bad, and Nothing”.

This prediction ignores additional actions left out of the original plan. These additional actions might include people not accounted for, different items, or even other spells.

Now this may be quaint compared to higher leveled Divination spells. But if a party needs some sort of assurance about an immediate risk, then this could weigh in on a party’s actions better.

Subsequent castings of Augury increases the risk of providing wrong answers. But the first reading is guaranteed to be accurate, so take advantage of it.

 

15. Commune with Nature

Source: Player’s Handbook

Commune with Nature may not sound powerful. But if a campaign requires a lot of outdoor survival, this is the spell to have.

This spell lets one track down bodies of water, natural resources, powerful extraplanar beings, or even specific buildings.

Keep in mind works only when there’s an abundance of nature, so it won’t help or even work in dungeons or cities.

Finding water in a searing hot desert can be invaluable when the party is lost. Commune with Nature is also perfect for tracking down remote towns, villages, or tribes that have set up in natural areas.

A party of dwarves obsessed with mining could use Commune with Nature to track down precious metals or gems. Lots going on with this ritual!

 

14. Forbiddance

Source: Player’s Handbook

Forbiddance prevents anyone from using any means of arcanic travel, or using other planes as backdoors into an area of the caster’s choosing.

The area of effect is huge at 40,000 square feet. But the component cost is very expensive.

This 40k square foot block can also hurt extra planar entities in the area of effect, but they can avoid this damage if they’re given a password by the caster. Also, casting Forbiddance in an area daily for a month will make the spell’s effect permanent until it’s dismissed or dispelled.

 

13. Water Walk

Source: Player’s Handbook

Water Walk may sound underwhelming, but could be very tactical in combat by letting the whole party walk on any liquid surface for an hour.

This is the spell anyone should seriously consider while traversing areas with difficult liquid terrain. Like areas found in a swamp or a snowy mountain that could impede movement, or force a party to take a risky detour.

Water Walk is great for quickly rising to the surface too, if a party happens to be submerged in liquid and wants to avoid drowning. It will let the affected creatures cross lakes or island hop, and if combined with a mount, allows one to cover vast distances over rivers and totally skip those dangerous jungle areas.

And get this: if combined with Control Water, then Water Walk could be used to surf created waves.

One strategy with this combination involves flooding an area with Control Water to force enemies to swim, but keep allies high and dry. From then on, the encounter should be as simple as a few bops over the head.

 

12. Comprehend Languages

Source: Player’s Handbook

This spell allows the caster to understand any language that’s heard for an hour. Most parties use this to read unfamiliar languages when they find a note or a scroll, but overlook the part that they must be touching the medium which the language is written on.

Comprehend Languages doesn’t only apply to well-established languages like Elvish, Celestial, or Abyssal, but also applies to odd languages like those used by Gnolls.

Of course, non-verbal languages can’t be deciphered with Comprehend Languages, as the spell clearly states the language has to be either written or heard to be understood.

Unfortunately, Comprehend Languages only lets the caster understand a language, not speak it. So they may have to resort to universal and simple body language to communicate fully.

 

11. Silence

Source: Player’s Handbook

Silence is a commonly overlooked spell, and often forgotten to be a ritual spell.

The ability to let no sound enter or be made in an area has plenty of uses. Any creature within the spell’s effects is immune to thunder damage, is deaf, and will be unable to cast any spell that needs a verbal component.

Most casters use Silence to shut down all spell casting. But many forget that not all spells require a verbal component.

While there’s only a few spells that don’t have a verbal component, Counterspell and Demiplane are still powerful and could turn the tide of an encounter.

The ability to stop all sound in an area can be utilized better when breaking into a building where lock picking a door is not a viable option.

The loud boom of an explosion can also be cancelled if the party needs to resort to silently performing demolition. Silence can also be valuable to shut up your torture victim (lord knows why you’re torturing them, none of my business though!)

Casting Silence as a ritual lets players use the spell proactively and plan out a strategy.

It’s odd that not all major spell casting classes gain access to Silence, though.. Only Bards, Clerics, and Rangers have this spell on their spell lists.

 

10. Unseen Servant

Source: Player’s Handbook

Unseen Servant is a great alternative to Mage Hand that allows the caster to do more intricate actions remotely. This invisible humanoid has two hands, has its own stats, and can last up to an hour.

With a Strength score of 2, the Unseen Servant can only lift an object that weighs up to 30lbs (which is three times the carrying capacity of Mage Hand) and can be used to carry light objects between party members.

All spell casters who have access to Unseen Servant have access to Mage Hand. Neither of these spells requires concentration either, so a caster could have both spells at the ready in case three hands are needed.

While Unseen Servant can’t attack, it still has some combat use.

If a fighter knocks a weapon out of an enemy’s hand, an Unseen Servant can drag that weapon away. If a lever can close a door, the Unseen Servant can pull the lever to separate an enemy.

I think Unseen Servant is a better trap finding spell than the actual Find Traps spell.

It’s the perfect crony to open a chest or trigger dangerous-looking objects. Not to mention, using Unseen Servant as a ritual will save a lot of trouble and money having to resummon a Familiar.

 

9. Phantom Steed

Source: Player’s Handbook

Phantom Steed creates a magical, horse-like creature under the caster’s command.

This one’s a convenient spell to make overland travel a breeze. This horse-like creature is summoned with its own bridle and saddle, which disappears with the creature.

The Phantom Steed also disappears as soon as it takes damage. But unlike a real horse, it has no stamina and can be rushed, allowing it to reach 13 miles an hour without tiring. Wowza.

Casting Phantom Steed as a ritual spell allows an entire party to be equipped with one steed each, since this spell requires no concentration. Imagine all the uses here. Example: when you need to send an emergency messenger to warn a town of an incoming attack.

 

8. Identify

Source: Player’s Handbook

Identify is a spell available to Bards, Wizards, and Clerics when they reach level 3.

But it’s not something a player would be able to usually use right out of character creation, since it costs 100gp to cast. Regardless, this is a very useful spell.

Yet Identify is made obsolete from a short rest. A short rest allows a character to do the same thing as Identify where they can determine a magical item’s properties.

Still, a lot of tables don’t allow this kind of identification to make the Identify spell viable and a must have. With that said, Identify will make the identification process much faster, rather than waiting for a short rest for each item whenever a treasure trove of magical items is found. Identify could also point out whether an item is cursed or if a person is under the influence of a certain spell.

Best to check with the DM, though.

 

7. Leomund’s Tiny Hut

Source: Player’s Handbook

Leomund’s Tiny Hut’s extreme versatility gives it a spot on this list.

Most of the time, people cast this spell outside of combat. So casting it as a ritual spell will save precious spell slots.

This basically allows a party to take rests in a very safe spot.

The caster determines how the dome looks from the outside, so it can be strategically colored to blend into the environment.

Leomund’s Tiny Hut works like a two-way mirror so people outside can’t see into the dome, but people inside can see out.

Magical spells and physical objects can’t penetrate the dome from the outside either, so it has combat potential if the party has the chance to prepare the battlefield in advance.

Nothing in the rules mentions arrows can’t be shot out of the dome, so it could even be used as a mini fortress.

 

6. Rary’s Telepathic Bond

Source: Player’s Handbook

This one is one of my personal favorite ritual spells, but it’s not often I get a Wizard to a level high enough to access it.

Rary’s Telepathic Bond allows a group to communicate at the speed of thought over vast distances, as long as they’re in the same plane of existence.

It requires no concentration and lasts an hour, making it an excellent candidate as a must-try ritual.

With Rary’s Telepathic Bond, a party now has an in-game justification for all that banter they do while making plans, or negotiating with an important NPC without breaking character.

Another reason to use Rary’s Telepathic Bond is for those scenarios where radio communication would be a huge benefit (without the radios). Heists, large scale battles, espionage, all are great scenarios where quick communication is vital.

And since communication with Rary’s Telepathic Bond is silent, regular encounters would benefit greatly too. Since parties won’t need to be shouting at a Rogue to do a sneak attack.

The biggest downside is that I very rarely get to play a Wizard at that gets access to this spell. But when I can, it’s good fun.

 

5. Contact Other Plane

Source: Player’s Handbook

Now with this spell, the caster contacts an entity from another plane to ask it questions.

While this functions very similar to Commune, instead here they get to ask five questions to an extraplanar entity at the risk of temporary insanity.

An Intelligence check will allow the caster to keep their sanity, or in the case of failing the DC 15, sanity can be restored with the spell Greater Restoration, or a long rest.

The entity will most probably answer with a simple yes, no, or unknown. But if the entity feels answering in that manner would be misleading, they may answer in a short phrase.

 

4. Divination

Source: Player’s Handbook

Divination is a spell that lets the caster communicate with their god or one of their underlings.

The god will answer one question regarding any event that will happen within a week. The answer won’t necessarily be clear, but it will be the truth.

It’s important to note that gods are not omnipotent or omniscient in Dungeons and Dragons. So they could simply say they don’t know the answer.

Divination ranks slightly higher than Contact Other Plane, because there is no real downside to casting this.

 

3. Commune

Source: Player’s Handbook

This is a spell that, for an unprepared DM, can completely break the game.

And the fact that it’s a ritual spell makes it that much crazier.

The caster calls upon their deity to ask three questions. All questions must be asked and answered within a minute. Casting Commune as a ritual would allow the party to think of what to ask thoroughly.

Typically, Clerics and Paladins have access to this spell.

Like Divination and Contact Other Plane, the caster’s deity won’t know all the answers.

A DM probably won’t give the answer to the riddle at the core of campaign, but a player could ask where powerful magical items or useful allies could be. This way, Commune can be used as a tool for both players and DMs to make adventure hooks.

 

2. Detect Magic

Source: Player’s Handbook

Detect Magic is almost more useful than Identify, because the object has to be determined to be magical before being able to identify its properties.

Detect Magic lets the caster see magical auras of visible creatures or objects, and determine what spell school it comes from. A door that’s determined to have Illusion magic is very different from a door that has Evocation magic on it, and each has to be dealt with differently as well.

Invisible creatures don’t reveal a magical aura. And these magical auras can’t be seen through walls, unfortunately.

But auras can also be manipulated by Nytul’s Magic Aura to hide or alter an aura, possibly tricking the party.

Since Detect Magic is in pretty much every spell caster’s spell list, I think every spell caster should get it. It’s incredibly useful in 5e because of all the magic involved in almost all campaigns.

Some DMs might allow someone to use an Arcana check, but a lot of the time I think magic items are beyond the realm of knowledge of most spellcasters.

 

1. Find Familiar

Source: Player’s Handbook

Find Familiar has so many versatile uses. There’s really no reason to not take it if given the chance.

Familiars are not real creatures, but creations of magic. This makes Find Familiar’s creations immune to dominate monster or animal friendship.

Most games make Familiars act on the same turn as their owners, even though it’s clear they should have their own initiative. But if a Familiar is about to die from a spell or is found by an enemy, an action can be used by the owner to dissipate the familiar and have it reappear near the caster.

It’s not necessary that the familiar be recalled to a space the caster can see, so the Familiar can appear on the other side of a wall or inside(or outside) a jail cell.

A tactical way to use a Familiar is by having them use the “help” action to give an ally advantage on their next attack roll against a creature.

If a familiar takes the shape of an owl, it has the ability “Flyby” to go in, use a help action, and then fly away out of reach to avoid attacks of opportunity.

I would highly recommend Arcane Tricksters use this spell. It’s loved for good reason.

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