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DnD 5e - Spellcasting Feats Breakdown

Last Updated: March 14th, 2021

TEMPORARY NOTE: RPGBOT is undergoing a massive update for DnD 5e content to accommodate rules changes and new content introduced by Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. Please be patient while these changes are made. I maintain this site as a hobby, and I got access to the book on the same day as everyone else and I am rushing to catch up as quickly as I can. Please check "Last Updated" date below the title of each page. If it was updated before November 17th, it has not been updated to include the new content. To see what I still need to complete to catch up with Tasha's, see my To-Do List. To watch for ongoing updates, please follow me on Twitter.

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances.
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

Introduction

"Spellcasting Feats" is not an official term. I'm using the term to loosely group a set of feats which allow characters to learn and cast spells beyond what their racial traits and class features provide. These feats often work in place of multiclassing, allowing you to add powerful magical capabilities to your character without sacrificing class progression.

But these feats are complicated. Choosing the right feat the right spells can be a hugely impactful decision for your character, and it's difficult to consider the broad range of options available, especially as Wizards of the Coast publishes more and more rules supplements with a gradually growing mountain of spells to choose from.

When selecting spells, consider how it fits into the rest of your build. Martial characters with little or no spellcasting often do well with Concentration spells because their Concentration generally isn't in use. Those same characters also probably want spells with long-term effects, so long durations are good. By comparison, characters who already have spellcasting will benefit most from spells from outside of their own spell list which are good enough to justify spending a spell slot to cast them, especially if upcasting them is helpful.

For help with the Elritch Adept feat (which doesn't quite qualify as a "spellcasting feat" for the purposes of this article), see my Warlock Invocations Breakdown. Ritual Caster is also not covered in this article.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use my spell slots to cast spells gained from a spellcasting feat?

Generally yes, though Magic Initiate is an exception. Most spell feats specify that you "learn" the leveled spell(s) which it grants. Just as if you learned the spell from another source, such as from your class, you can spend spell slots to cast the spell. In addition, spell feats allow you to cast the spell at its lowest level without spending a spell slot.

The Sage Advice compendium addresses Magic Initiate: You can only use spell slots to cast the leveled spell if the class which you selected with Magic Initiate is a class in which you have levels.

Which ability modifier do I use to cast spells gained from a spellcasting feat?

The answer varies. Aberrant Dragonmark uses Constitution. Artificer Initiate is always Intelligence (because you're using artificer spellcasting). Magic Initiate uses the same ability modifier as the class you choose. Fey Touched and Shadow Touched use whatever ability score you increase when you take the feat.

This is an important thing to understand. Choosing an ability score which you're bad with can make your spellcasting feat much less useful, but if you're aware of the issue you can choose spells which avoid relying on your ability modifier so it's not a problem.

Spellcasting Feats

Aberrant Dragonmark

Aberrant Dragonmark is an unusual and often-overlooked feat option. Buried at the end of the chapter of Eberron: Rising from the Last War which details dragonmarks (essentially subraces), it's easy to overlook the feat both because it's a tiny block of text in a long chapter and because the benefits of the feat are easy to overlook.

For martial characters (basically anyone that's not a full caster), Aberrant Dragonmark is arguably the best spellcasting feat. While it provides less spellcasting than Magic Initiate, it provides a Constitution increase (reducing the opportunity cost of taking a feat), and Constitution is the casting ability for the spells gained from the feat. This is helpful for martial classes who might otherwise need to weigh increasing a spellcasting ability score like Intelligence over increasing their Constitution.

Martial Classes also have higher hit dice than full casters, so Aberrant Dragonmark's third benefit is more slightly impactful. Getting 1d10 temporary hp or dealing 1d10 damage is a bit better than 1d6 for a wizard or something.

However, those benefits come at a cost. You get one less cantrip than Magic Initiate, and you're limited to the Sorcerer's spell list. While that does rule out a lot of great leveled spells, the Sorcerer still gets numerous reliable 1st-level options that work on any character.

Cantrip Options

The spell assessments here are adjusted for characters likely to use the Aberrant Dragonmark feat. For a full list of available cantrip options and spell descriptions, see DnDBeyond. For assessments of the Sorcerer's full spell list, see my Sorcerer Spell List Breakdown.

  • Acid SplashPHB: Acid Splash's ability to target two adjacent creatures isn't useful often enough to justify selecting it.
  • Blade WardPHB: Dodge instead.
  • Booming BladeSCAG / TCoE: The go-to cantrip for martial builds. It notably doesn't care about your spellcasting ability modifier, so there's no need to raise your spellcasting ability to 20 to keep it reliable.

    Note that Tasha's Cauldron of Everything published an updated version of Booming Blade. According to Jeremy Crawford on the official Dragon Talk Podcast, the updated version can't be twinned with Twin Spell.

  • Chill TouchPHB: The benefits over Fire Bolt or Mind Spike are too situational. If you're only going to have one cantrip, you want it to be consistently useful.
  • Control FlamesEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Create BonfireEEPC: A low-budget area control spell. It does as much initial damage as most cantrips, but the ongoing damage only applies when a creature enters the area or ends their turn there, so you can only get extra damage if you can force an enemy into the space or if you cast it on them and they remain in their space. It does require Concentration, which is a problem for most spellcasters, but for martial classes with little reliance on Concentration that's probably not a problem. If you like to grapple enemies, this is an interesting way to capitalize on immobilizing a target.
  • Dancing LightsPHB: Get a torch.
  • Fire BoltPHB: If all you want is ranged damage, grab a javelin or a bow.
  • FriendsPHB: If you need to solve social situations, take the Skill Expert feat with Persuasion. It will be more reliable, and target sof your new-found charms won't hate you one minute later.
  • FrostbiteEEPC / XGtE: Low damage for a cantrip (d6-based), but the big appeal is Disadvantage on the target's next weapon attack. Unfortunately, it works on Constitution saving throws, and those tend to be relatively high compared to other saving throws.
  • Green-Flame BladeSCAG: Perpetually second-best to Booming Blade, Green-Flame Blade is harder to use both due to the position requirement to hit multiple targets and due to your spellcasting modifier being used for part of the damage bonus. This makes it difficult for anyone except artificers and bladesingers to use to maximum effect.
  • GustEEPC / XGtE: Too situational and too weak. If you just want something to force enemies to move take the Telekinetic feat.
  • InfestationXGtE: Too unpredictable, and too unreliable since Constitution saves tend to be high and because poison resistance is so common. If you just want something to force enemies to move, take the Telekinetic feat. If you want damage, look elsewhere.
  • LightPHB: Buy a torch.
  • Lightning LureSCAG / TCoE: Despite the 15-foot range, this can be a great option for melee builds. Against enemies with poor Strength (like many enemy spellcasters), you can use this to drag them into melee with you and force them to teleport or Disengage in order to get away from you unharmed. If you're flying, you may even be able to pull enemies into the air to cause a small amount of falling damage. The save is Strength, so try to reserve this for physically weak foes like other spellcasters.
  • Mage HandPHB: Take the Telekinetic feat instead.
  • MendingPHB: Too situational. Short of Rust Monsters, nearly nothing in 5e deals damage to your equipment.
  • MessagePHB: Too situational.
  • Mind SliverTCoE: Intelligence saves tend to be low, so this is easy, reliable damage at range. It also only requires verbal components so you don't need to juggle items to cast it.
  • Minor Illusion:PHB If you want this enough to get it from a feat you should consider playing a Forest Gnome or a Glasya Tiefling.
  • Mold EarthEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Poison SprayPHB: Good damage compared to most cantrips, but poison damage is commonly resisted, the range is essentially melee, and it's a Constitution save so enemies will frequently pass the save.
  • PrestidigitationPHB: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it's worth a feat.
  • Ray of FrostPHB: Decent single-target ranged damage, but if all you want is damage you should grab a bow. The speed penalty is nice, but it won't win you any fights.
  • Shape WaterEEPC / XGtE: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it's worth a feat.
  • Shocking GraspPHB: If you're going to be in melee, you're almost certainly using a weapon. If you're using a weapon, you're going to be better served by Booming Blade. Even before Booming Blade existed, sticking to weapon attacks was probably still a better idea.
  • Sword BurstSCAG / TCoE: Bad at handling crowds? Not anymore. The damage is excellent, and as you add targets it will rapidly outpace your damage output with weapon attacks. It won't totally replace your weapon, especially against single targets, but if you can throw yourself into the middle of a crowd you can deal a ton of damage in a hurry.
  • ThunderclapEEPC: Thunder damage is worse than Sword Burst's force damage, and Thunderclap uses Constitution saves, which tend to be high.
  • True StrikePHB: Very situational. Typically you'll get better results from attacking twice rather than using this then attacking once.

Leveled Spell Options

The spell assessments here are adjusted for characters likely to use the Aberrant Dragonmark feat. For a full list of available spell options and spell descriptions, see DnDBeyond. For assessments of the Sorcerer's full spell list, see my Sorcerer Spell List Breakdown.

  • Absorb ElementsEEPC / XGtE: A fantastic defensive option at any level, this will save your life when you encounter an unpredictable source of elemental damage like as a trap or a spell. The bonus damage on your next attack may be useful for martial characters, too. But remember that it has Somatic components and no material component, so most characters need an empty hand to cast it.
  • Burning HandsPHB: AOE damage is tempting for martial characters who often struggle to handle crowds, but the damage will feel unimpressive at high levels.
  • CatapultEEPC: The damage won't stay relevant as you level.
  • Chaos BoltXGtE: Get a bow or a javelin.
  • Charm PersonPHB: Given the choice, I would take Skill Expert with Persuasion before I spent a feat to get Charm Person.
  • Chromatic OrbPHB: Get a bow or a javelin.
  • Color sprayPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.
  • Comprehend languagesPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Disguise SelfPHB: Consider playing a changeling or a race which can cast Disguise Self as an innate spell, or get proficiency in disguise kits.
  • Distort ValueAI: An amusing but situational novelty.
  • Earth TremorEEPC / XGtE: The difficult terrain effect could be useful, but the area is small and the damage won't matter beyond very low levels.
  • False LifePHB: A good way to improve your durability, but if this is the reason you're here you might be better served by the Tough feat. You'll also mitigate more total damage as you level with Absorb Elements or Shield since False Life won't scale, but the damage that you take will.
  • Feather FallPHB: Important in any party, but you shouldn't need it often enough to justify this being your one leveled spell that you can cast every day.
  • Fog CloudPHB: Situational, but a decent escape mechanism.
  • Ice KnifePHB: Already not a great spell, and it won't stay relevant as you gain levels.
  • JumpPHB: Too situational.
  • Mage ArmorPHB: A +1 AC increase over light armor, but since you're not going to cast this during combat you're going to miss out on the cool hit die effect of Aberrant Dragonmark.
  • Magic MissilePHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level. There is an interesting interaction with damage boosts like Arcane Firearm and Hexblade's Curse which makes Magic Missile an interesting choice for some builds. Becuase of the "Damage Rolls" rule, each missile hits at the same time and it's considered one damage roll. This means that Arcane Firearm and similar damage boosts apply to every target, allowing you to do an unusually large amount of damage very reliably. Even better, Aberrant Dragonmark allows you to cast your leveled spell using spell slots without multiclassing (unlike Magic Initiate), and since Magic Missile doesn't care about your spellcasting modifier it's an easy combination without investing heavily in Constitution.
  • Ray of Sickness: Generally just not a great spell. Little damage, short duration, a commonly-resisted status condition, and it's all on a Constitution save.
  • ShieldPHB: A reliable and consistent improvement to your AC, but remember that it has Somatic components and no material component, so most characters need an empty hand to cast it.
  • Silent ImagePHB: A fantastic and versatile utility.
  • SleepPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.
  • Tasha's Caustic BrewTCoE: I really like this spell, and if you can hit multiple targets and maintain Concentration it can deal a decent amount of damage across the full level range. However, beyond its damage it's not super impactful.
  • ThunderwavePHB: Situations where Thunderwave is a great tactical option are rare.
  • Witch BoltPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.

Artificer Initiate

Magic Initiate doesn't support Artificer as a choice. Instead, we have Artificer Initiate. In many ways it's just Magic Initiate for the Artificer, but you give up one cantrip for a tool proficiency and the ability to use that tool as a spellcasting focus for Intelligence-based spellcasting.

Unfortunately, the only other Intelligence-based spellcasters are the Arcane Trickster Rogue, the Eldritch Knight Fighter, and the Wizard. Even for those classes, the benefits of a tool proficiency and using a tool as a spellcasting are very minor. You might get a magical tool that provides a bonus to your spell attacks and save DCs, but there are plenty of focuses which do that already and don't require a feat.

The real benefit of Artificer Initiate is buried in the Artificer's spell list. You get many cantrips available to the sorcerer or the wizard, including staple options like Booming Blade, but the Artificer has access to spells which the wizard doesn't like Cure Wounds, Faerie Fire, and Sanctuary. Essentially, Artificer Initiate lets you get Intelligence-based spellcasting with access to spells which historically were only available to the bard, the cleric, and the druid. Unfortunately, the the classes which benefit are all Intelligence-based spellcasters who use the Wizard's spell list.

Cantrip Options

The spell assessments here are adjusted for characters likely to use the Artificer Initiate feat, and spell options are trimmed down to spells which are on the Artificer's spell list but not the Wizard's. For advice on cantrips that are on both the Artificer's and the Wizard's spell list, see Magic Initiate Cantrip Options, below. For a full list of available spell options and spell descriptions, see DnDBeyond. For assessments of the Artificer's full spell list, see my Artificer Spell List Breakdown.

  • GuidancePHB: Fantastic and versatile. You should probably cast this at every opportunity outside of combat.
  • Magic StoneEEPC / XGtE: Wizards using Magic Stone will do more damage than those using Fire Bolt until 5th level when cantrip damage increases. But at level 5 wizards also get 3rd-level spells including Tiny Servant. Unlike a familiar, your tiny servant can attack. If you keep your servant within arms reach, you can cast Magic Stone, hand them the stones, and command them to attack with them. If you don't mind spending every Bonus Action to do so, you might even upcast Tiny Servant to 4th level to get three servants and have each of them throw one stone per turn. This can get complicated if you move around in combat since your servants act on their own initiative and would need to follow you, but it may be worth the effort.
  • ResistancePHB: Considerably more difficult to use than Guidance. Your best bet is to throw this on an ally before going into combat, but if you have that luxury you should be casting a better Concentration spell.
  • Spare the DyingPHB: Buy a Healer's Kit instead. You don't need proficiency to use it to stabilize a creature and it takes the same Action.
  • Thorn WhipPHB: Similar in many ways to Lightning Lure, but since it doesn't rely on a Strength saving throw it's easier to use on big, strong enemies. The range is also considerably better.
  • ThunderclapEEPC: Sword Burst but worse.

Spell Options

The spell assessments here are adjusted for characters likely to use the Artificer Initiate feat, and spell options are trimmed down to spells which are on the Artificer's spell list but not the Wizard's. For advice on cantrips that are on both the Artificer's and the Wizard's spell list, see Magic Initiate Spell Options, below. For a full list of available spell options and spell descriptions, see DnDBeyond. For assessments of the Artificer's full spell list, see my Artificer Spell List Breakdown.

  • Cure WoundsPHB: Healing Word would be better, but it's only available to the Alchemist and not to the core Artificer. If you're desperate for a healing option better than a Potion of Healing this will suffice.
  • Faerie FirePHB: A spectacularly effective offensive option at any level.
  • False LifePHB: A good way to improve your durability, but if this is the reason you're here you might be better served by the Tough feat. You'll also mitigate more total damage as you level with Absorb Elements or Shield since False Life won't scale, but the damage that you take will.
  • Purify Food and DrinkPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • SanctuaryPHB: Potentially forcing enemies to give up an attack is great, and this doesn't prevent you from attacking. Sanctuary also has a Bonus Action casting time, so you can attack or cast a cantrip in the same turn. However, since Sanctuary allows the attack to retarget their attack, Sanctuary isn't as effective against ranged attacks.
  • SnareXGtE: Too situational.

Fey Touched

A +1 increase to any mental ability score makes this an easy choice for any spellcasting class. Misty Step is a 2nd-level spell, and is easily among the most tactically-impactful spells in the game. On top of those benefits, you get the daunting task of selecting a 1st-level Divination or Enchantment spell to learn and cast for free once per day.

Despite how powerful it is, Fey Touched is not necessarily the best way for your character to get access to these spells. If you primarily want misty step, both varieties of eladrin can reproduce it on a Short Rest cooldown, the Shadar-Kai gets long rest teleportation, and the Githyanki can cast Misty Step once per day. Unless you plan to use both spells frequently and put additional spell slots into casting both of them more than once per day, consider other options.

Spell Options

For a full list of available spell options and spell descriptions, see DnDBeyond.

  • Animal FriendshipPHB: Too situational.
  • BanePHB: A decent debuff, but it's more reliable to buff your own allies with Bless.
  • Beast BondEEPC / XGtE: Too situational. Most classes have little reason to invest the resources to make an animal friendly enough to be the subject of Beast Bond.
  • BlessPHB: Among the best low-level buffs in the game, Bless remains effective across the level range even if you cast it as a level 1 spell.
  • Charm PersonPHB: Given the choice, I would take Skill Expert with Persuasion before I spent a feat to get Charm Person.
  • CommandPHB: Decent crowd control, and upcasting it works reasonably well. Against enemies which rely on weapons, you can command them to drop what they're holding then rush over and collect it before they can.
  • Compelled DuelPHB: Excellent for tanky spellcasters like artificers, clerics, and bladesinger wizards. This doesn't force enemies into melee with you, but it forces enemies close enough that they're easily within your movement speed.
  • Comprehend languagesPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Detect Evil and GoodPHB: Too situational.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Detect Poison and DiseasePHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Dissonant WhispersPHB: A good way to break a grapple, to force enemies to move away from you or an ally, or to force enemies to provoke Opportunity Attacks. But it's not much damage so unless you want the crowd control effect skip this.
  • Gift of AlacrityEGtW: A good buff at any level, but unless you plan to also cast it on allies you may do better to with the Alert feat.
  • HeroismPHB: A good combat buff, Heroism is perfect on any front-line martial character. The replenishing temporary hit points can mitigate a ton of damage, significantly reducing your party's reliance on healing at a very low spell slot cost.
  • HexPHB: Great on almost any character that relies on multiple attacks to deal damage. With a Bonus Action casting time it's easy to cast before spending your Action to attack. You can also use it to give targets Disadvantage on Strength or Dexterity checks to make them more susceptible to things like Grapple and Shove. On top of that, the 1-hour duration and the ability to move to a new target means that you get a lot of mileage out of a single spell slot. This is a go-to option for fighters and paladins.
  • Hunter's MarkPHB: Similar to Hex, but the benefits beyond damage are more situational and harder to abuse.
  • IdentifyPHB: Borderline useless.
  • SleepPHB: The 1st-level casting won't scale, so unless you're spending spell slots to cast it this is totally useless.
  • Speak with AnimalsPHB: Too situational.
  • Tasha's Hideous LaughterPHB: A good single-target save-or-suck option, but the valid targets are intentionally limited and you don't get anything for upcasting it.

Magic Initiate

The original spellcasting feat, Magic Initiate remains a staple option for many builds looking to borrow some spellcasting from other classes. You get two cantrips and a leveled spell, so in many cases it's sufficient to remove the need for multiclassing.

Unlike other spellcasting feats, you can't use spell slots to cast your leveled spell unless you have levels in the class which you selected. This means that your leveled spell will generally only function once per day.

Because it allows you to choose from six classes, in some ways it's six feats in one. Your choice of spellcasting class is hugely impactful, as it sets both the spells available to you and your spellcasting ability. When selecting a spellcasting class to borrow spells from, remember that you use that class's spellcasting ability, so unless you choose spells which don't care about your spellcasting ability modifier you want to pick a class which uses an ability score that makes sense for your character. For example: a paladin with low Intelligence may not do well with wizard spells, but would do great with sorcerer or warlock spells because paladins typically have high Charisma.

Each of Magic Initiate's six spellcasting classes is presented below.

Bard

The Bard appeals most to other Charisma-based spellcasters, including the Paladin, the Sorcerer, and the Warlock. The Bard has access to a number of spells not available to those classes, including cantrips like Vicious Mockery and leveled spells like Healing Word. However, while these spells can diversify your options, there are few that significantly change the way your character plays.

Cantrip Options
  • Blade WardPHB: Dodge instead.
  • Dancing LightsPHB: Get a torch.
  • FriendsPHB: If you need to solve social situations, take the Skill Expert feat with Persuasion. It will be more reliable, and target sof your new-found charms won't hate you one minute later.
  • LightPHB: Buy a torch.
  • Mage HandPHB: Take the Telekinetic feat instead.
  • MendingPHB: Too situational. Short of Rust Monsters, nearly nothing in 5e deals damage to your equipment.
  • MessagePHB: Too situational.
  • Minor Illusion:PHB If you want this enough to get it from a feat you should consider playing a Forest Gnome or a Glasya Tiefling.
  • PrestidigitationPHB: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it's worth a feat.
  • ThunderclapEEPC: Sword Burst but worse. If you need an AOE cantrip like this, try to get Sword Burst or Word of Radiance instead.
  • True StrikePHB: Very situational. Typically you'll get better results from attacking twice rather than using this then attacking once.
  • Vicious MockeryPHB: Easily the most iconic bard spell, Vicious Mockery is unique, flavorful, and mechanically fantastic. The damage is relatively small, but the debuff is absolutely worth the poor damage.
Spell Options
  • Animal FriendshipPHB: Too situational.
  • BanePHB: A decent debuff, but it's more reliable to buff your own allies with Bless.
  • Charm PersonPHB: Given the choice, I would take Skill Expert with Persuasion before I spent a feat to get Charm Person.
  • Comprehend languagesPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Cure WoundsPHB: Take Healing Word instead.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Disguise SelfPHB: Consider playing a changeling or a race which can cast Disguise Self as an innate spell, or get proficiency in disguise kits.
  • Distort ValueAI: An amusing but situational novelty.
  • Dissonant WhispersPHB: A good way to break a grapple, to force enemies to move away from you or an ally, or to force enemies to provoke Opportunity Attacks. But it's not much damage so unless you want the crowd control effect skip this.
  • Earth TremorEEPC / XGtE: The difficult terrain effect could be useful, but the area is small and the damage won't matter beyond very low levels.
  • Faerie FirePHB: A spectacularly effective offensive option at any level.
  • Feather FallPHB: Important in any party, but you shouldn't need it often enough to justify this being your one leveled spell that you can cast every day.
  • Healing WordPHB: Essential in-combat healing.
  • HeroismPHB: A good combat buff, Heroism is perfect on any front-line martial character. The replenishing temporary hit points can mitigate a ton of damage, significantly reducing your party's reliance on healing at a very low spell slot cost.
  • IdentifyPHB: Borderline useless.
  • Illusory ScriptPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • LongstriderPHB: A solid buff, especially for melee builds, but it's likely not going to have a significant tactical impact.
  • Silent ImagePHB: A fantastic and versatile utility.
  • SleepPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.
  • Speak with AnimalsPHB: Too situational.
  • Tasha's Hideous LaughterPHB: A good single-target save-or-suck option, but the valid targets are intentionally limited and you don't get anything for upcasting it.
  • ThunderwavePHB: Situations where Thunderwave is a great tactical option are rare.
  • Unseen ServantPHB: An amusing novelty, but not useful enough to justify the cost.

Cleric

The Cleric's spellcasting is excellent, combining a broad range of defensive, offensive, healing, and utility options. Few of the spells work regardless of your spellcasting modifier, but many are good enough that even middling Wisdom is enough to make the spells useful. Despite all of this, the availability of similarly useful options from other classes means that the Cleric's appeal is generally limited to Wisdom casters, which means the Druid and the Ranger are the most likely characters to borrow cleric spells.

Cantrip Options
  • GuidancePHB: Fantastic and versatile. You should probably cast this at every opportunity outside of combat.
  • LightPHB: Buy a torch.
  • MendingPHB: Too situational. Short of Rust Monsters, nearly nothing in 5e deals damage to your equipment.
  • ResistancePHB: Considerably more difficult to use than Guidance. Your best bet is to throw this on an ally before going into combat, but if you have that luxury you should be casting a better Concentration spell.
  • Sacred FlamePHB: Simple and effective ranged damage.
  • Spare the DyingPHB: Buy a Healer's Kit instead. You don't need proficiency to use it to stabilize a creature and it takes the same Action.
  • ThaumaturgyPHB: Too situational.
  • Toll the DeadXGtE: Solid damage at range and a type that's rarely resisted. One of the best damage cantrips in the game.
  • Word of RadianceXGtE: Great for handling crowds at melee range.
Spell Options
  • BanePHB: A decent debuff, but it's more reliable to buff your own allies with Bless.
  • BlessPHB: Among the best low-level buffs in the game, Bless remains effective across the level range even if you cast it as a level 1 spell.
  • CeremonyXGtE: The Dedication and Wedding options are very powerful, but the cost of casting them can add up quickly at low levels so be cautious about selecting this early in your character's career.
  • CommandPHB: Decent single-target crowd control, but without the ability to upcast it the spell loses a lot of its appeal.
  • Create or Destroy WaterEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Cure WoundsPHB: Take Healing Word instead.
  • Detect Evil and GoodPHB: Too situational.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Detect Poison and DiseasePHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Guiding BoltPHB: Among the best damage for single-target spells at this level, but as you gain levels the Advantage mechanic will become the most important part of the spell. But at one use per day, it's going to make very little tactical impact. If you're desperate for a way to provide Advantage, consider True Strike.
  • Healing WordPHB: Essential in-combat healing.
  • Inflict WoundsPHB: It won't stay relevant as you level.
  • Protection from Evil and GoodPHB: Situational by design, but when it works it works very well. Unfortunately, in most campaigns you can't count on this being useful on a daily basis.
  • Purify Food and DrinkPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • SanctuaryPHB: Potentially forcing enemies to give up an attack is great, and this doesn't prevent you from attacking. Sanctuary also has a Bonus Action casting time, so you can attack or cast a cantrip in the same turn. However, since Sanctuary allows the attack to retarget their attack, Sanctuary isn't as effective against ranged attacks.
  • Shield of FaithPHB: A solid and reliable defensive buff at any level, and it doesn't care about your spellcasting ability. The duration will only last through one fight, but that may be enough.

Druid

Druids have few tempting spell options which don't depend on your spellcasting ability, so unless you're a cleric or a ranger it's difficult to justify choosing druid spells over other available options. Even if you are a Wisdom-based spellcaster, there aren't many great options here and most of the good ones are also available from other spell lists.

Cantrip Options
  • Control FlamesEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Create BonfireEEPC: A low-budget area control spell. It does as much initial damage as most cantrips, but the ongoing damage only applies when a creature enters the area or ends their turn there, so you can only get extra damage if you can force an enemy into the space or if you cast it on them and they remain in their space. It does require Concentration, which is a problem for most spellcasters, but for martial classes with little reliance on Concentration that's probably not a problem. If you like to grapple enemies, this is an interesting way to capitalize on immobilizing a target.
  • DruidcraftPHB: Too situational.
  • FrostbiteEEPC / XGtE: Low damage for a cantrip (d6-based), but the big appeal is Disadvantage on the target's next weapon attack. Unfortunately, it works on Constitution saving throws, and those tend to be relatively high compared to other saving throws.
  • GuidancePHB: Fantastic and versatile. You should probably cast this at every opportunity outside of combat.
  • GustEEPC / XGtE: Too situational and too weak.
  • InfestationXGtE: Too unpredictable, and too unreliable since Constitution saves tend to be high and because poison resistance is so common. If you just want something to force enemies to move, take the Telekinetic feat. If you want damage, look elsewhere.
  • Magic StoneEEPC / XGtE: Tempting as a ranged attack option, but it has several pain points which are hard to spot and make the spell difficult for many characters to use. First, you make spell attacks so it depends on your spellcasting ability, but otherwise it works like a weapon attack so you need to take the Attack action to use it. Classes with Extra Attack might think that's reasonable, but Magic Stone doesn't solve the issue of drawing ammunition, so it's no better than throwing javelins. Since the pebbles aren't weapons, you can't use two-weapon fighting and you can't use Fighting Style (Thrown Weapon).
  • MendingPHB: Too situational. Short of Rust Monsters, nearly nothing in 5e deals damage to your equipment.
  • Mold EarthEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Poison SprayPHB: Good damage compared to most cantrips, but poison damage is commonly resisted, the range is essentially melee, and it's a Constitution save so enemies will frequently pass the save.
  • Primal SavageryXGtE: This will deal more damage than un-modified weapon attacks with one-handed weapons starting at level 11. But by level 11 everyone except the Druid will have something that modifies their weapon attacks so that they'll deal more damage. This isn't a great choice for the Druid, but it's outright bad for everyone else.
  • Produce FlamePHB: Decent ranged damage, but nothing fancy.
  • ResistancePHB: Considerably more difficult to use than Guidance. Your best bet is to throw this on an ally before going into combat, but if you have that luxury you should be casting a better Concentration spell.
  • Shape WaterEEPC / XGtE: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it's worth a feat.
  • ShillelaghPHB: Magically turn your quarterstaff into a Wisdom-based attack. For Wisdom-based casters looking to jump into melee, this can be a huge asset. It's a staple for weapon-using druids and Druidic Warrior ranger builds, and it's very tempting for clerics who absolutely insist on swinging a weapon instead of casting cantrips.
  • Thorn WhipPHB: Similar in many ways to Lightning Lure, but since it doesn't rely on a Strength saving throw it's easier to use on big, strong enemies. The range is also considerably better.
  • ThunderclapEEPC: Sword Burst but worse. If you need an AOE cantrip like this, try to get Sword Burst or Word of Radiance instead.
Spell Options
  • Absorb ElementsEEPC / XGtE: A fantastic defensive option at any level, this will save your life when you encounter an unpredictable source of elemental damage like as a trap or a spell. The bonus damage on your next attack may be useful for martial characters, too. But remember that it has Somatic components and no material component, so most characters need an empty hand to cast it.
  • Animal FriendshipPHB: Too situational.
  • Beast BondEEPC / XGtE: Too situational. Most classes have little reason to invest the resources to make an animal friendly enough to be the subject of Beast Bond.
  • Charm PersonPHB: Given the choice, I would take Skill Expert with Persuasion before I spent a feat to get Charm Person.
  • Create or Destroy WaterEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Cure WoundsPHB: Take Healing Word instead.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Detect Poison and DiseasePHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Earth TremorEEPC / XGtE: The difficult terrain effect could be useful, but the area is small and the damage won't matter beyond very low levels.
  • EntanglePHB: Excellent area control provided that your save DC is sufficiently high.
  • Faerie FirePHB: A spectacularly effective offensive option at any level.
  • Fog CloudPHB: Situational, but a decent escape mechanism.
  • GoodberryPHB: A good, easy source of cheap healing but the amount of healing won't scale as you gain levels and tactically this has no more impact than
  • Healing WordPHB: Essential in-combat healing.
  • Ice KnifePHB: Already not a great spell, and it won't stay relevant as you gain levels.
  • JumpPHB: Too situational.
  • LongstriderPHB: A solid buff, especially for melee builds, but it's likely not going to have a significant tactical impact.
  • Purify Food and DrinkPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • SnareXGtE: Too situational.
  • Speak with AnimalsPHB: Too situational.
  • ThunderwavePHB: Situations where Thunderwave is a great tactical option are rare.

Sorcerer

The Sorcerer appeals most to other Charisma-based spellcasters, including the Bard, Paladin, and the Warlock. The Sorcerer's spell list includes numerous very effective offensive options as well as several utility options, but very few of these spells are exclusive to the Sorcerer, and the ones that are exclusive are typically attack spells which will lose relevance as you gain levels.

Because it also allows you to select sorcerer spells, strongly consider taking Aberrant Dragonmark (see above) instead if it's a better fit for your character than Magic Initiate.

Cantrip Options
  • Acid SplashPHB: Acid Splash's ability to target two adjacent creatures isn't always useful, so I would only select this as a second choice if you already have a reliable ranged damage cantrip.
  • Blade WardPHB: Dodge instead.
  • Booming BladeSCAG / TCoE: The go-to cantrip for martial builds. It notably doesn't care about your spellcasting ability modifier, so there's no need to raise your spellcasting ability to 20 to keep it reliable.

    Note that Tasha's Cauldron of Everything published an updated version of Booming Blade. According to Jeremy Crawford on the official Dragon Talk Podcast, the updated version can't be twinned with Twin Spell.

  • Chill TouchPHB: The benefits over Fire Bolt or Mind Spike are too situational. If you're only going to have one cantrip, you want it to be consistently useful.
  • Control FlamesEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Create BonfireEEPC: A low-budget area control spell. It does as much initial damage as most cantrips, but the ongoing damage only applies when a creature enters the area or ends their turn there, so you can only get extra damage if you can force an enemy into the space or if you cast it on them and they remain in their space. It does require Concentration, which is a problem for most spellcasters, but for martial classes with little reliance on Concentration that's probably not a problem. If you like to grapple enemies, this is an interesting way to capitalize on immobilizing a target.
  • Dancing LightsPHB: Get a torch.
  • Fire BoltPHB: If all you want is ranged damage, grab a weapon.
  • FriendsPHB: If you need to solve social situations, take the Skill Expert feat with Persuasion. It will be more reliable, and target sof your new-found charms won't hate you one minute later.
  • FrostbiteEEPC / XGtE: Low damage for a cantrip (d6-based), but the big appeal is Disadvantage on the target's next weapon attack. Unfortunately, it works on Constitution saving throws, and those tend to be relatively high compared to other saving throws. If it's an option, consider going for bard to get Vicious Mockery instead.
  • Green-Flame BladeSCAG: Perpetually second-best to Booming Blade, Green-Flame Blade is harder to use both due to the position requirement to hit multiple targets and due to your spellcasting modifier being used for part of the damage bonus. This makes it difficult for anyone except artificers and bladesingers to use to maximum effect.
  • GustEEPC / XGtE: Too situational and too weak.
  • InfestationXGtE: Too unpredictable, and too unreliable since Constitution saves tend to be high and because poison resistance is so common. If you just want something to force enemies to move, take the Telekinetic feat. If you want damage, look elsewhere.
  • LightPHB: Buy a torch.
  • Lightning LureSCAG / TCoE: Despite the 15-foot range, this can be a great option for melee builds. Against enemies with poor Strength (like many enemy spellcasters), you can use this to drag them into melee with you and force them to teleport or Disengage in order to get away from you unharmed. If you're flying, you may even be able to pull enemies into the air to cause a small amount of falling damage. The save is Strength, so try to reserve this for physically weak foes like other spellcasters.
  • Mage HandPHB: Take the Telekinetic feat instead.
  • MendingPHB: Too situational. Short of Rust Monsters, nearly nothing in 5e deals damage to your equipment.
  • MessagePHB: Too situational.
  • Mind SliverTCoE: Intelligence saves tend to be low, so this is easy, reliable damage at range. It also only requires verbal components so you don't need to juggle items to cast it.
  • Minor Illusion:PHB If you want this enough to get it from a feat you should consider playing a Forest Gnome or a Glasya Tiefling.
  • Mold EarthEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Poison SprayPHB: Good damage compared to most cantrips, but poison damage is commonly resisted, the range is essentially melee, and it's a Constitution save so enemies will frequently pass the save.
  • PrestidigitationPHB: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it's worth a feat.
  • Ray of FrostPHB: Decent single-target ranged damage, but if all you want is damage you should grab a bow. The speed penalty is nice, but it won't win you any fights.
  • Shape WaterEEPC / XGtE: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it's worth a feat.
  • Shocking GraspPHB: If you're going to be in melee, you're almost certainly using a weapon. If you're using a weapon, you're going to be better served by Booming Blade. Even before Booming Blade existed, sticking to weapon attacks was probably still a better idea.
  • Sword BurstSCAG / TCoE: Great for handling crowds, but it allows a save so it's only reliable if you're already a Charisma-based spellcaster.
  • ThunderclapEEPC: Sword Burst but worse.
  • True StrikePHB: Very situational. Typically you'll get better results from attacking twice rather than using this then attacking once.
Spell Options
  • Absorb ElementsEEPC / XGtE: A fantastic defensive option at any level, this will save your life when you encounter an unpredictable source of elemental damage like as a trap or a spell. The bonus damage on your next attack may be useful for martial characters, too. But remember that it has Somatic components and no material component, so most characters need an empty hand to cast it.
  • Burning HandsPHB: AOE damage is tempting for martial characters who often struggle to handle crowds, but the damage will feel unimpressive at high levels.
  • CatapultEEPC: The damage won't stay relevant as you level.
  • Chaos BoltXGtE: Get a weapon.
  • Charm PersonPHB: Given the choice, I would take Skill Expert with Persuasion before I spent a feat to get Charm Person.
  • Chromatic OrbPHB: Get a weapon.
  • Color sprayPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.
  • Comprehend languagesPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Disguise SelfPHB: Consider playing a changeling or a race which can cast Disguise Self as an innate spell, or get proficiency in disguise kits.
  • Distort ValueAI: An amusing but situational novelty.
  • Earth TremorEEPC / XGtE: The difficult terrain effect could be useful, but the area is small and the damage won't matter beyond very low levels.
  • False LifePHB: A good way to improve your durability, but if this is the reason you're here you might be better served by the Tough feat. You'll also mitigate more total damage as you level with Absorb Elements or Shield since False Life won't scale, but the damage that you take will.
  • Feather FallPHB: Important in any party, but you shouldn't need it often enough to justify this being your one leveled spell that you can cast every day.
  • Fog CloudPHB: Situational, but a decent escape mechanism.
  • Ice KnifePHB: Already not a great spell, and it won't stay relevant as you gain levels.
  • JumpPHB: Too situational.
  • Mage ArmorPHB: A +1 AC increase of light armor. If permanent magic armor isn't a possiblity or if you're just not proficient in armor, this is a safe and reliable choice that you can cast every day without changing your tactics in combat.
  • Magic MissilePHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level. There's an amusing interaction with effects like Arcane Firearm and Hexblade's Curse which makes Magic Missile a reliable delivery vehicle for damage boosts, but unless you multiclass you won't be able to cast Magic Missile more than oncer per day with Magic Initiate so the novelty really isn't worth the effort.
  • Ray of Sickness: Generally just not a great spell. Little damage, short duration, a commonly-resisted status condition, and it's all on a Constitution save.
  • ShieldPHB: A reliable and consistent improvement to your AC, but remember that it has Somatic components and no material component, so most characters need an empty hand to cast it.
  • Silent ImagePHB: A fantastic and versatile utility.
  • SleepPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.
  • Tasha's Caustic BrewTCoE: I really like this spell, and if you can hit multiple targets and maintain Concentration it can deal a decent amount of damage across the full level range. However, beyond its damage it's not super impactful.
  • ThunderwavePHB: Situations where Thunderwave is a great tactical option are rare.
  • Witch BoltPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.

Warlock

The Warlock is an excellent choice both for charisma-based spellcasters like the Bard and Sorcerer and for martial classes looking to use cantrips like Booming Blade.

Cantrip Options
  • Blade WardPHB: Dodge instead.
  • Booming BladeSCAG / TCoE: The go-to cantrip for martial builds. It notably doesn't care about your spellcasting ability modifier, so there's no need to raise your spellcasting ability to 20 to keep it reliable.

    Note that Tasha's Cauldron of Everything published an updated version of Booming Blade. According to Jeremy Crawford on the official Dragon Talk Podcast, the updated version can't be twinned with Twin Spell.

  • Chill TouchPHB: The benefits over Fire Bolt or Mind Spike are too situational. If you're only going to have one cantrip, you want it to be consistently useful.
  • Create BonfireEEPC: A low-budget area control spell. It does as much initial damage as most cantrips, but the ongoing damage only applies when a creature enters the area or ends their turn there, so you can only get extra damage if you can force an enemy into the space or if you cast it on them and they remain in their space. It does require Concentration, which is a problem for most spellcasters, but for martial classes with little reliance on Concentration that's probably not a problem. If you like to grapple enemies, this is an interesting way to capitalize on immobilizing a target.
  • Eldritch BlastPHB: While you likely can't get Agonizing Blast, Eldritch Blast is still one of the best damage cantrips in the game. Splitting the damage across multiple attacks means that you're more likely to deal at least some damage rather than the hit-or-miss of other cantrips, force damage is the best damage type, and you can combine Eldritch Blast with on-hit damage bonuses like Hex just as easily as a real warlock can.
  • FriendsPHB: If you need to solve social situations, take the Skill Expert feat with Persuasion. It will be more reliable, and target sof your new-found charms won't hate you one minute later.
  • FrostbiteEEPC / XGtE: Low damage for a cantrip (d6-based), but the big appeal is Disadvantage on the target's next weapon attack. Unfortunately, it works on Constitution saving throws, and those tend to be relatively high compared to other saving throws.
  • Green-Flame BladeSCAG: Perpetually second-best to Booming Blade, Green-Flame Blade is harder to use both due to the position requirement to hit multiple targets and due to your spellcasting modifier being used for part of the damage bonus. This makes it difficult for anyone except artificers and bladesingers to use to maximum effect.
  • InfestationXGtE: Too unpredictable, and too unreliable since Constitution saves tend to be high and because poison resistance is so common. If you just want something to force enemies to move, take the Telekinetic feat. If you want damage, look elsewhere.
  • Lightning LureSCAG / TCoE: Despite the 15-foot range, this can be a great option for melee builds. Against enemies with poor Strength (like many enemy spellcasters), you can use this to drag them into melee with you and force them to teleport or Disengage in order to get away from you unharmed. If you're flying, you may even be able to pull enemies into the air to cause a small amount of falling damage. The save is Strength, so try to reserve this for physically weak foes like other spellcasters.
  • Mage HandPHB: Take the Telekinetic feat instead.
  • Magic StoneEEPC / XGtE: Tempting as a ranged attack option, but it has several pain points which are hard to spot and make the spell difficult for many characters to use. First, you make spell attacks so it depends on your spellcasting ability, but otherwise it works like a weapon attack so you need to take the Attack action to use it. Classes with Extra Attack might think that's reasonable, but Magic Stone doesn't solve the issue of drawing ammunition, so it's no better than throwing javelins. Since the pebbles aren't weapons, you can't use two-weapon fighting and you can't use Fighting Style (Thrown Weapon).
  • Mind SliverTCoE: Intelligence saves tend to be low, so this is easy, reliable damage at range. It also only requires verbal components so you don't need to juggle items to cast it.
  • Poison SprayPHB: Good damage compared to most cantrips, but poison damage is commonly resisted, the range is essentially melee, and it's a Constitution save so enemies will frequently pass the save.
  • PrestidigitationPHB: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it's worth a feat.
  • Sword BurstSCAG / TCoE: Great for handling crowds, but it allows a save so it's only reliable if you're already a Charisma-based spellcaster.
  • ThunderclapEEPC: Sword Burst but worse.
  • Toll the DeadXGtE: Solid damage at range and a type that's rarely resisted. One of the best damage cantrips in the game.
  • True StrikePHB: Very situational. Typically you'll get better results from attacking twice rather than using this then attacking once.
Spell Options
  • Armor of AgathysPHB: 5 temporary hp won't stay relevant as you level.
  • Arms of HadarPHB: Too situational. Use Disengage or something.
  • Cause FearXGtE: Frightened is a good debuff at any level, but you can find better uses for your Concentration and immunity to fear is common.
  • Charm PersonPHB: Given the choice, I would take Skill Expert with Persuasion before I spent a feat to get Charm Person.
  • Comprehend languagesPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Distort ValueAI: An amusing but situational novelty.
  • Expeditious RetreatPHB: Too situational.
  • Hellish RebukePHB: A little bit of easy damage. Not super impactful, but it feels nice and it won't cut into the important parts of your action economy on most characters.
  • HexPHB: A damage bonus for martial characters and people who use Eldritch Blast, a debuff if you like to Grapple or Shove, and with a one-hour duration and the ability to move to new targets you get tons of benefit out of one casting.
  • Illusory ScriptPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Protection from Evil and GoodPHB: Situational by design, but when it works it works very well. Unfortunately, in most campaigns you can't count on this being useful on a daily basis.
  • Unseen ServantPHB: An amusing novelty, but not useful enough to justify the cost.
  • Witch BoltPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.

Wizard

The Wizard is generally your go-to choice for Magic Initiate. Wizard spells are powerful and diverse, and include numerous options which work well even for characters with low Intelligence. Booming Blade and Shield are among the most popular choices for Magic Initiate, and they serve as great examples of why the Wizard is such an easy choice.

Cantrip Options
  • Acid SplashPHB: Acid Splash's ability to target two adjacent creatures isn't always useful, so I would only select this as a second choice if you already have a reliable ranged damage cantrip.
  • Blade WardPHB: Dodge instead.
  • Booming BladeSCAG / TCoE: The go-to cantrip for martial builds. It notably doesn't care about your spellcasting ability modifier, so there's no need to raise your spellcasting ability to 20 to keep it reliable.

    Note that Tasha's Cauldron of Everything published an updated version of Booming Blade. According to Jeremy Crawford on the official Dragon Talk Podcast, the updated version can't be twinned with Twin Spell.

  • Chill TouchPHB: The benefits over Fire Bolt or Mind Spike are too situational. If you're only going to have one cantrip, you want it to be consistently useful.
  • Control FlamesEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Create BonfireEEPC: A low-budget area control spell. It does as much initial damage as most cantrips, but the ongoing damage only applies when a creature enters the area or ends their turn there, so you can only get extra damage if you can force an enemy into the space or if you cast it on them and they remain in their space. It does require Concentration, which is a problem for most spellcasters, but for martial classes with little reliance on Concentration that's probably not a problem. If you like to grapple enemies, this is an interesting way to capitalize on immobilizing a target.
  • Dancing LightsPHB: Get a torch.
  • Encode ThoughtsGGtR: Too situational.
  • Fire BoltPHB: If all you want is ranged damage, grab a weapon.
  • FriendsPHB: If you need to solve social situations, take the Skill Expert feat with Persuasion. It will be more reliable, and target sof your new-found charms won't hate you one minute later.
  • FrostbiteEEPC / XGtE: Low damage for a cantrip (d6-based), but the big appeal is Disadvantage on the target's next weapon attack. Unfortunately, it works on Constitution saving throws, and those tend to be relatively high compared to other saving throws.
  • Green-Flame BladeSCAG: Perpetually second-best to Booming Blade, Green-Flame Blade is harder to use both due to the position requirement to hit multiple targets and due to your spellcasting modifier being used for part of the damage bonus. This makes it difficult for anyone except artificers and bladesingers to use to maximum effect.
  • GustEEPC / XGtE: Too situational and too weak.
  • InfestationXGtE: Too unpredictable, and too unreliable since Constitution saves tend to be high and because poison resistance is so common. If you just want something to force enemies to move, take the Telekinetic feat. If you want damage, look elsewhere.
  • LightPHB: Buy a torch.
  • Lightning LureSCAG / TCoE: Despite the 15-foot range, this can be a great option for melee builds. Against enemies with poor Strength (like many enemy spellcasters), you can use this to drag them into melee with you and force them to teleport or Disengage in order to get away from you unharmed. If you're flying, you may even be able to pull enemies into the air to cause a small amount of falling damage. The save is Strength, so try to reserve this for physically weak foes like other spellcasters.
  • Mage HandPHB: Take the Telekinetic feat instead.
  • MendingPHB: Too situational. Short of Rust Monsters, nearly nothing in 5e deals damage to your equipment.
  • MessagePHB: Too situational.
  • Mind SliverTCoE: Intelligence saves tend to be low, so this is easy, reliable damage at range. It also only requires verbal components so you don't need to juggle items to cast it.
  • Minor Illusion:PHB If you want this enough to get it from a feat you should consider playing a Forest Gnome or a Glasya Tiefling.
  • Mold EarthEEPC / XGtE: Too situational.
  • Poison SprayPHB: Good damage compared to most cantrips, but poison damage is commonly resisted, the range is essentially melee, and it's a Constitution save so enemies will frequently pass the save.
  • PrestidigitationPHB: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it's worth a feat.
  • Ray of FrostPHB: Decent single-target ranged damage, but if all you want is damage you should grab a bow. The speed penalty is nice, but it won't win you any fights.
  • Shape WaterEEPC / XGtE: Really cool, but not impactful enough to your build that it's worth a feat.
  • Shocking GraspPHB: If you're going to be in melee, you're almost certainly using a weapon. If you're using a weapon, you're going to be better served by Booming Blade. Even before Booming Blade existed, sticking to weapon attacks was probably still a better idea.
  • Sword BurstSCAG / TCoE: Great for handling crowds, but it allows a save so it's only reliable if you're already an Intelligence-based spellcaster.
  • ThunderclapEEPC: Thunder damage is worse than Sword Burst's force damage, and Thunderclap uses Constitution saves, which tend to be high.
  • Toll the DeadXGtE: Solid damage at range and a type that's rarely resisted. One of the best damage cantrips in the game.
  • True StrikePHB: Very situational. Typically you'll get better results from attacking twice rather than using this then attacking once.
Spell Options
  • Absorb ElementsEEPC / XGtE: A fantastic defensive option at any level, this will save your life when you encounter an unpredictable source of elemental damage like as a trap or a spell. The bonus damage on your next attack may be useful for martial characters, too. But remember that it has Somatic components and no material component, so most characters need an empty hand to cast it.
  • AlarmPHB: Too situational.
  • Burning HandsPHB: AOE damage is tempting for martial characters who often struggle to handle crowds, but the damage will feel unimpressive at high levels.
  • CatapultEEPC: The damage won't stay relevant as you level.
  • Cause FearXGtE: Frightened is a good debuff at any level, but you can find better uses for your Concentration and immunity to fear is common.
  • Charm PersonPHB: Given the choice, I would take Skill Expert with Persuasion before I spent a feat to get Charm Person.
  • Chromatic OrbPHB: Get a weapon.
  • Color sprayPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.
  • Comprehend languagesPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Disguise SelfPHB: Consider playing a changeling or a race which can cast Disguise Self as an innate spell, or get proficiency in disguise kits.
  • Earth TremorEEPC / XGtE: The difficult terrain effect could be useful, but the area is small and the damage won't matter beyond very low levels.
  • Expeditious RetreatPHB: Too situational.
  • False LifePHB: A good way to improve your durability, but if this is the reason you're here you might be better served by the Tough feat. You'll also mitigate more total damage as you level with Absorb Elements or Shield since False Life won't scale, but the damage that you take will.
  • Feather FallPHB: Important in any party, but you shouldn't need it often enough to justify this being your one leveled spell that you can cast every day.
  • Find FamiliarPHB: Tempting for rogues and probably no one else. It's a hard choice for your one leveled spell per day because you're going to try very hard to avoid casting it once you have a familiar. If you really want a familiar and don't need cantrips, strongly consider taking Ritual Caster instead of Magic Initiate.
  • Fog CloudPHB: Situational, but a decent escape mechanism.
  • Frost FingersID:RotF: Burning hands but worse.
  • GreasePHB: Even if creatures fall prone, that only eats half of their movement, and with a radius of just 10 feet most creatures can walk out unimpeded once they're no longer prone
  • Ice KnifePHB: Already not a great spell, and it won't stay relevant as you gain levels.
  • IdentifyPHB: Borderline useless.
  • Illusory ScriptPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Jim's Magic MissileAI: Lots of risk for little reward.
  • JumpPHB: Too situational.
  • LongstriderPHB: A solid buff, especially for melee builds, but it's likely not going to have a significant tactical impact.
  • Mage ArmorPHB: A +1 AC increase of light armor. If permanent magic armor isn't a possiblity or if you're just not proficient in armor, this is a safe and reliable choice that you can cast every day without changing your tactics in combat.
  • Magic MissilePHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level. There's an amusing interaction with effects like Arcane Firearm and Hexblade's Curse which makes Magic Missile a reliable delivery vehicle for damage boosts, but unless you multiclass you won't be able to cast Magic Missile more than oncer per day with Magic Initiate so the novelty really isn't worth the effort.
  • Protection from Evil and GoodPHB: Situational by design, but when it works it works very well. Unfortunately, in most campaigns you can't count on this being useful on a daily basis.
  • Ray of Sickness: Generally just not a great spell. Little damage, short duration, a commonly-resisted status condition, and it's all on a Constitution save.
  • ShieldPHB: A reliable and consistent improvement to your AC, but remember that it has Somatic components and no material component, so most characters need an empty hand to cast it.
  • Silent ImagePHB: A fantastic and versatile utility.
  • SleepPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.
  • SnareXGtE: Too situational.
  • Tasha's Caustic BrewTCoE: I really like this spell, and if you can hit multiple targets and maintain Concentration it can deal a decent amount of damage across the full level range. However, beyond its damage it's not super impactful.
  • Tasha's Hideous LaughterPHB: A good single-target save-or-suck option, but the valid targets are intentionally limited and you don't get anything for upcasting it.
  • Tenser's Floating DiskPHB: Too situational.
  • ThunderwavePHB: Situations where Thunderwave is a great tactical option are rare.
  • Unseen ServantPHB: An amusing novelty, but not useful enough to justify the cost.
  • Witch BoltPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.

Shadow Touched

A +1 increase to any mental ability score makes this an easy choice for any spellcasting class, but the spellcasting options simply aren't as universally appealing as Fey Touched. First, Invisibility is a powerful but not universally useful spell. While any adventurer can use Misty Step to great effect, Invisibility isn't always helpful if you're stomping around in full plate. Similarly, the 1st-level spell options number less than half as many as the options for Fey Touched, and there are few that are truly appealing.

If you are eyeing Shadow Touched, first ask yourself: How is taking this feat better than playing a Glasya Tiefling or a Pallid Elf? If you don't have a good answer to that question, skip the feat and consider changing races.

Spell Options

For a full list of available spell options and spell descriptions, see DnDBeyond.

  • Cause FearXGtE: Frightened is a good debuff at any level, but you can find better uses for your Concentration and immunity to fear is common.
  • Color sprayPHB: Doesn't stay relevant as you level.
  • Disguise SelfPHB: Consider playing a changeling or a race which can cast Disguise Self as an innate spell, or get proficiency in disguise kits.
  • Distort ValueAI: An amusing but situational novelty.
  • False LifePHB: A good way to improve your durability, but if this is the reason you're here you might be better served by the Tough feat. You'll also mitigate more total damage as you level with Absorb Elements or Shield since False Life won't scale, but the damage that you take will.
  • Illusory ScriptPHB: Take Ritual Caster instead.
  • Inflict WoundsPHB: The damage scales reasonably well with spell level, so if you have spell slots to spend to cast this again it may be worthwhile.
  • Ray of SicknessPHB: Generally just not a great spell. Little damage, short duration, a commonly-resisted status condition, and it's all on a Constitution save.
  • Silent ImagePHB: Illusions are a ton of fun, but unless you really want Invisibility from Shadow Touched I would consider Magic Initiate first so that you can also learn Minor Illusion.

Spell Sniper

Easily overlooked as a spellcasting feat, Spell Sniper qualifies since it allows you to select a spell beyond your class features. The primary appeal is to add a good ranged spell attack option for classes that don't have them, and remove the nuisance of cover for classes like the Warlock which rely heavily on spell attacks.

Because you're limited to cantrips which make spell attacks, your choices are very limited, and very few of the spell options are worth selecting. And, since you use the spellcasting ability of the class which take the spell from, spellcasters are typically locked into classes which share a spellcasting ability, severely limiting Spell Sniper's usefulness. Even worse, several spellcasting classes have no qualifying cantrips.

The incredibly narrow function of the feat, the sparse cantrip options, and the situational nature of the feat's other benefits mean that there is an extremely narrow set of characters who benefit from Spell Sniper in any meaningful way. Warlocks who are heavily reliant on Eldritch Blast will find the cover benefit helpful, and bards and sorcerers will enjoy eldritch blast as a go-to damage cantrip, but that's basically the extend of Spell Sniper's useful benefits. Any other characters will be better served by Magic Initiate, and even those classes which do benefit from Spell Sniper are probably still better off with Magic Initiate.

Bard Cantrip Options

Bards have no cantrips which qualify for Spell Sniper.

Cleric Cantrip Options

Clerics have no cantrips which qualify for Spell Sniper.

Druid Cantrip Options

The Druid's spells are potential options for clerics and for rangers who take Fighting Style (Druidic Warrior). For the Cleric, Thorn Whip is basically the only option worth having. For the Ranger, you can already get all of these spells and the ability to ignore partial cover with them is so situational that there is basically no reason to consider it a benefit.

  • Magic Stone: I honestly have no idea if this qualifies, but I think that it would because it doesn't actually do anything interesting unless an attack is made. Even if it does, it's not a good choice.
  • Primal SavageryXGtE: If you can add damage to your weapon attacks from basically any source beyond your ability modifier (Divine Strike, Hunter's Mark, etc.) your weapon attacks will probably outpace Primal Savagery until high levels.
  • Produce FlamePHB: Sacred Flame is considerably better, and if Sacred Flame is available to you I wouldn't both with Produce Flame.
  • Thorn WhipPHB: The pull effect is nice.

Sorcerer Cantrip Options

The Sorcerer gets access to Fire Bolt and Ray of Frost, neither of which are available to the Bard or the Warlock, but otherwise the Sorcerer's options overlap with the Warlock.

  • Booming BladeSCAG / TCoE: Why would you take Spell Sniper to take a melee cantrip?
  • Chill TouchPHB: Too situational to justify taking this over a more reliable high-damage cantrip.
  • Fire BoltPHB: Simple, reliable damage at range. The only problem is that fire resistance is common. But since the Bard is the only one who might reasonably take this and Eldritch Blast is an option, this appeals to literally no one.
  • Green-Flame BladeSCAG / TCoE: Why would you take Spell Sniper to take a melee cantrip?
  • Ray of Frost: Fine dmaage and a passable debuff.
  • Shocking Grasp: Why would you take Spell Sniper to take a melee cantrip?

Warlock Cantrip Options

Eldritch Blast. I could go further, but honestly that's all that there is to say. Put Eldritch Blast on your bard or sorcerer.

  • Booming BladeSCAG / TCoE: Why would you take Spell Sniper to take a melee cantrip?
  • Chill TouchPHB: Too situational to justify taking this over a more reliable high-damage cantrip.
  • Eldritch BlastPHB: The definitive reason to take Spell Sniper. Good range, good damage, multiple attacks, and basically nothing resists Force Damage.
  • Green-Flame BladeSCAG / TCoE: Why would you take Spell Sniper to take a melee cantrip?
  • Magic Stone: I honestly have no idea if this qualifies, but I think that it would because it doesn't actually do anything interesting unless an attack is made. Even if it does, it's not a good choice.

Wizard Cantrip Options

The only spellcaster that this appeals to is the Artificer, and the Artificer gets nearly all of these spells.

  • Booming BladeSCAG / TCoE: Already on the Artificer's spell list.
  • Chill TouchPHB: Too situational to justify taking this over a more reliable high-damage cantrip.
  • Fire BoltPHB: Already on the Artificer's spell list.
  • Green-Flame BladeSCAG / TCoE: Already on the Artificer's spell list.
  • Ray of Frost: Already on the Artificer's spell list.
  • Shocking Grasp: Already on the Artificer's spell list.