From Worst to Best

Help sort out the most powerful spells. The following list ranks spells from worst above to best below. If two spells are the only two spell options, you would prefer to have the spell below. If you see any spell that you feel is out of order, mention it and recommend which two spells it should go between.



UNIVERSAL SPELL LIST
From worst (less desirable) above ... to best (more desirable) below



≈ Spell Level 0

Water Breathing (L3)
Detect Undead (L1)
Remove Curse (L3)
Create Food and Water (L3)
Create Water (L0)
Feather Fall (L1)
Guidance (L0)
Resistance (L0)

Cure Minor Wounds (L0)

Shocking Grasp (L0: 8.5)

Mage Armor (L0)
Shield of Faith (L1)
Shield (L1)

Lance of Faith (L0: 8.5)
Ray of Frost (L0: 6.5)
Burning Hands (L0: 3.5x)


 
≈ Spell Level 1

Read Magic (L0)
Bless (L1)
Divine Favor (L1)
Inflict Light Wounds (L1: 13.5)

Knock (L2)
Light (L0)
Daylight (L3)
Prestidigitation (L0)
Disguise Self (L0)
Command (L1)
Rope Trick (L2)
 
Spiritual Weapon (L2: 4.5+)
Divine Power (L4: 4+*)
Sleep (L1)
Protection from Evil (L1)
Thunderwave (L1: 7x)

Melf’s Acid Arrow (L2: 18+)
Cure Light Wounds (L1: 9.5)
Aid (L2: 5)

Magic Missile (L1: E10)



≈ Spell Level 2

Darkness (L2)
Silence (L2)
Mirror Image (L2)
Color Spray (L1)
Lesser Restoration (L2)

Inflict Moderate Wounds (L2: 22.5)
  
Sanctuary (L1)
Mage Hand (L0)
Detect Magic (L0)
Identify (L1)
Web (L2)
Spider Climb (L2)
Levitate (L2)

Cure Moderate Wounds (L2: 13)
 
Stoneskin (L4)

Scorching Ray (L2: E20)
Magic Missile (L2: E20)



≈ Spell Level 3

Haste (L3)

Charm Person (L1)
Minor Illusion (L0)

Phantasmal Force (L2)
Invisibility (L2)
Blink (L3)

Cone of Cold (L5: 14x)
Ice Storm (L4: 17.5x)
Fireball (L3: 17.5x)
Lightning Bolt (L3: 21x)

Cure Wounds, Mass (L5: 8.5x)
Cure Serious (L3: 17.5)
Inflict Serious Wounds (L3: 36)

Magic Missile (L3: E30)



≈ Spell Level 4

Telekinesis (L5)
Dimension Door (L4)
Dispel Magic (L3)
 
Stinking Cloud (L3: 11+x)
Wall of Fire (L4: 9+x)
Cure Critical Wounds (L4: 22)
Inflict Critical Wounds (L4: 45)

Cloudkill (L5: 16.5+x)

Death Ward (L4)

Flame Strike (L5: 28x)

Hold Person (L2)
Hold Monster (L5)

Magic Missile (L4: E40)



≈ Spell Level 5

True Seeing (L5)
Magic Missile (L5: E50)
Dominate Person (L5)
Polymorph (L4)
Fly (L3)
Raise Dead (L5)




 
[sblock COMBAT SPELLS]
“Combat spells” are any spells that utilize the mechanics of:

hit points, damage, healing, extra standard action, extra attack, advantage or bonus to attack, defense, save, or difficulty.



From worst above ... to best below

Resistance (L0)
Cure Minor Wounds (L0)

Shocking Grasp (L0: 8.5)

Mage Armor (L0)
Shield of Faith (L1)
Shield (L1)

Lance of Faith (L0: 8.5)
Ray of Frost (L0: 6.5)
Burning Hands (L0: 3.5x)

Bless (L1)
Divine Favor (L1)
Inflict Light Wounds (L1: 13.5)

Spiritual Weapon (L2: 4.5+)
Divine Power (L4: 4+*)
Melf’s Acid Arrow (L2: 18+)
Thunderwave (L1: 7x)

Cure Light Wounds (L1: 9.5)
Aid (L2: 5)

Magic Missile (L1: E10)

Inflict Moderate Wounds (L2: 22.5)

Cure Moderate Wounds (L2: 13)

Stoneskin (L4)

Scorching Ray (L2: E20)

Haste (L3)

Cone of Cold (L5: 14x)
Ice Storm (L4: 17.5x)
Fireball (L3: 17.5x)
Lightning Bolt (L3: 21x)

Cure Wounds, Mass (L5: 8.5x)
Cure Serious (L3: 17.5)
Inflict Serious Wounds (L3: 36) 

Stinking Cloud (L3: 11+x)
Wall of Fire (L4: 9+x)
 
Cure Critical Wounds (L4: 22)
Inflict Critical Wounds (L4: 45)

Cloudkill (L5: 16.5+x)

Death Ward (L4)

Flame Strike (L5: 28x)

Hold Person (L2)
Hold Monster (L5)

Dominate Person (L5)
Raise Dead (L5)



Notes

The parentheses lists the given spell level (L) according to the Playtest document. Sometimes the spell level doesnt correspond to how powerful a spell actually is, compared to other spells.

If the parentheses include a colon (: ), the minimalist notation lists the average damage, then an “E” for “Effect” (E) if the damage automatically hits, a plus (+) if the damage is somehow ongoing, or a multiplication (x) if able to damage to multiple targets.

An astrix (*) means the spell is known to be much more powerful in combination with certain spells or items.

The notation doesnt note distances, but these and other factors can be relevant when comparing combat spells with similar effects.

[/sblock]

[sblock UTILITY SPELLS]
“Utility spells” are spells that involve:

mobility, visibility, or influence.

Utility spells tend to be dual use, useful for both combat encounters and noncombat encounters.


  
From worst above ... to best below

Water Breathing (L3)
Detect Undead (L1)
Remove Curse (L3)
Create Food and Water (L3)
Create Water (L0)
Feather Fall (L1)
Guidance (L0)
 
Read Magic (L0)
Knock (L2)
Light (L0)
Daylight (L3)
Prestidigitation (L0)
Disguise Self (L0)
Command (L1)
Rope Trick (L2)
Sleep (L1)
Protection from Evil (L1)

Darkness (L2)
Silence (L2)
Mirror Image (L2)
Color Spray (L1)
Lesser Restoration (L2)

Sanctuary (L1)
Mage Hand (L0)
Detect Magic (L0)
Identify (L1)
Web (L2)

Spider Climb (L2)
Levitate (L2)

Charm Person (L1)
Minor Illusion (L0)
Phantasmal Force (L2)
Invisibility (L2)
Blink (L3)

Telekinesis (L5)
Dimension Door (L4)
Dispel Magic (L3)

True Seeing (L5)
Polymorph (L4)
Fly (L3)

[/sblock]

[sblock SPOILER SPELLS]
Spoiler spells involve gaining more information about the story narritive. In this sense they involve:

plot hooks, setting lore, encounter building, and easter eggs.

The difficulty with such spells is the DM either needs the players to know the information, thus will convey the information whether or not the players choose such spells. Or for the sake of mystery, the DM needs the players to remain unaware of the information. In all cases, wasting spell slots or spell points seems problematic. The DM will have to either give the players the necessary information in some way any way, or punish players for not wasting spell slots or spell points, or giving minor “easter egg” rewards for wasting their spell slots or spell points.

A reasonable use for spoiler spells is for reconnaissance to preplan combat tactics for an upcoming encounter.



From worst above ... to best below

Zone of Truth (2)
Comprehend Languages (1)
Speak with Dead (3)
Augury (2)
Prayer (3)
Commune (5)
Divination (4)

[/sblock]


Wizards, shave and a haircut

(Reserved)
(Reserved)
COMBAT SPELLS

Initial Considerations


The original post is a first pass at assessing the Spells document in Playtest 102912. We can continue to scrutinize and update the list.

“Combat spells” are any spells that utilize the mechanics of: hit points, damage, healing, attack, defense, save, andor difficulty.



Classes and Spell Levels

The Cleric spell list includes a sloppy mix of surprisingly good spells and surprisingly bad spells. This list seeks to rank the Cleric spells according to which spells are actually worthwhile and more desirable and which ones are a waste of ink and less desirable.

Later it is possible to reassign spell levels so more powerful spells are higher spell levels and less powerful spells are lower level. Or, developers may decide to tweak the spell description to make it more or less powerful.

It is also important to compare how Cleric spells measure up against Wizard spells and viceversa.

Thus, the list effectively ignores class and even ignores spell level. The only issue is, which spell is worse and which spell is better.



Notes on specific spells

At higher levels, the Wizard damage spells seem to lack improvement beyond Fireball. Ice Storm seems comparable to Fireball. Cone of Cold seems surprisingly worse, dealing less damage and versus a Con save which most monsters will have high.

Lightning Bolt and Fireball seem comparable, and are difficult to assess which is better than the other. The Fireball is able to hit more targets - albeit also able to hit more friends. Meanwhile Lightning Bolt deals a bit more damage, can better avoid friends, and significantly can hit a target at a safer distance away, as well as occasionally hitting a secondary hostile.

The Inflict Wound spells require attention. At higher levels, the spell does extraordinarily high damage, outclassing all other damage spells.

Notice, using a higher spell level slot for Magic Missile is perhaps slightly better than Scorching Ray, but comparable, and these two are a reasonable example of tight balance.

The Divine Power spell grants +4 to Str attacks, as well as to damage. Thus the spell can be extremely powerful if used in combination with an extremely powerful magic weapon.

The value of level zero cantrips is tricky. If they are a single one-off spell, they are negligible compared to mundane weapons. However, if they are atwill, these combat cantrips are highly effective. For now, treat cantrips with the assumption they are not atwill.



Damage v Heal

In the list of combat spells, the heal spells rank among the damage spells. This adds a level of complexity assessing different schools of thought that compare the value of healing to the value of eliminating hostiles.

Notice, the “Mass” Cure Wounds heals substantially less, thus seems less desirable than the single-target Cure Wounds. The single-target version is more effective for troubleshooting a combat encounter.
Cure light wounds is quite powerful as an at-will word of power.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Cure light wounds is quite powerful as an at-will word of power.

I agree. The Cure spell as a word seems comparable in power to certain level 2 spells.

I also like the flavorful contrast between healing word (Cure) versus the necrotic touch (Inflict). It makes the necrotic mages scarier if they get too close. It reminds me of the evil cultist in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Polymorph is easily the most powerful spell in the playtest packet. Turn yourself into a basilisk, toss out AoE Save-or-Dies every round for a minute, without even using your action.
this(polymorph to basilisk) is just the start. with the advent of spell levels like this, the times when i could play a fighter and have any value to the party will again be over like in 3rd ed.

i am wary of this playtest process. everyone seems to get the playtest brackett and "play to their best intentions", and that is why major problems will come out. that is NOT playtesting, guys. that is mere "playing".playtesting means "we gather the worst bunch of powergamers we know, we come together and try to build characters as broken as possible that nobody would accept on their gaming tables.

we try to build freakin' pun pun, the 12th-lvl kobold Egoist of 3rd edition that could destroy the world(yes, there was such a build, for those that dont know it). then we report these characters so that WoTC fixes whats broken/overpowered about them". 

so far, faer4 has made the only true playtest comment i can think of in these threads, the others just throw random ideas around, mainly about rogues and two weapon fighting. they dont try to "break the game" and find imbalances for the imbalances to be fixed. that is why, as a fan of classes that traditionaly suck unbelievably hard(fighters, monks, rangers) i am petrified of this edition. i dont think i'll ever play it, spent enough time in 3rd ed playing wizard or sorcerer when my attempts to build a competitive fighting build failed.
You guys are right about Polymorph. When the I read its spell description as requiring the new form to be a natural “beast”, I thought that was a good solution, to prevent broken magical effects, while still preserving the flavor of the spell. Heroes can turn into elephants for Strength or turn hostiles into frogs. But a Basilisk? Surely the Basilisk counts as an unnatural “monstrosity” as an offspring of snake and bird with a magical petrifying gaze. So Polymorph should be unable to become a Basilisk. Similarly, the Displacer is a monstrosity.

Polymorph is very powerful, and polymorphing into a basilisk is broken...

...But the basilisk gaze crosses planes. That means you can use it with a maximized Blink.
I agree Polymorph is very powerful, but their are a few mitigating factors. Such as the concentration requirement so if a wizard takes damage they must save or the spell ends. Also, the Basilisk combo might not be as broken as we thought. Under the Basilisk's petrification description it says:

 "A living creature that starts its turn within line of sight of the basilisk must either avert its eyes or make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw against petrification"

So any enemies can automatically choose to avert their eyes and avoid the petrification save. The penalty for averting your eyes?

 "A target that averts its eyes attacks the basilisk with disadvantage until the end of its turn"

So the enemy averts it's eyes and just focuses on attacking the other party memebers until the polymorph wears off or the battle is over. This leaves the wizard with the bite attack +3 to-hit, 2d8+1 damage. Not as gamebreaking as we might have thought
Don't worry about damage. Maximized Blink prevents it.

For a creature to avert its eyes, it must recognize the danger of the basilisk's gaze. Intelligent creatures would have heard of basilisks, but non-intelligent living creatures would fall for it. It's an I-win button in certain common situations. For intelligent creatures, maybe the wizard could bluff? Or better yet, cast Basilisk on a rogue with Skill Mastery and a couple of feats. The rogue bluffs like a demigod (DC 25), convinces intelligent creatures that it's actually a beautiful man/woman/whatever, and they lock eyes raptureously.
Don't worry about damage. Maximized Blink prevents it.

For a creature to avert its eyes, it must recognize the danger of the basilisk's gaze. Intelligent creatures would have heard of basilisks, but non-intelligent living creatures would fall for it. It's an I-win button in certain common situations. For intelligent creatures, maybe the wizard could bluff? Or better yet, cast Basilisk on a rogue with Skill Mastery and a couple of feats. The rogue bluffs like a demigod (DC 25), convinces intelligent creatures that it's actually a beautiful man/woman/whatever, and they lock eyes raptureously.



What non-intelligent creature is dangerous enough to warrant a level 5 spell, and has eyes to be petrified with (I say this do to oozes and plants obviously being immune to gaze attacks)

Secondly... Basilisk's can't talk anyone turned into a basilisk is stuck with those abilities. Rogues would lose all skills, expertise dice, even the ability to talk meaning they can stare lovingly all they want and people will still know they're a basilisk.

Finally, Basilisk gaze goes through all coexistant planes of existence, like the ethereal plane (what the heck allows for this I got no idea) so blink does you no good


What non-intelligent creature is dangerous enough to warrant a level 5 spell, and has eyes to be petrified with (I say this do to oozes and plants obviously being immune to gaze attacks)

Secondly... Basilisk's can't talk anyone turned into a basilisk is stuck with those abilities. Rogues would lose all skills, expertise dice, even the ability to talk meaning they can stare lovingly all they want and people will still know they're a basilisk.

Finally, Basilisk gaze goes through all coexistant planes of existence, like the ethereal plane (what the heck allows for this I got no idea) so blink does you no good


Blink helps by making the polymorphed wizard immune to most attacks. You're right, though - there aren't too many nonsentient creatures with eyes that would be worthy of a level 4 spell.

In the polymorphed rogue case, the Polymorph spell removes the abilities of the original form. Class abilities like expertise dice aren't based on race, so they're still available. Polymorphing a human rogue into a basilisk creates a basilisk rogue. Likewise, skills are (mostly) based on background and feats, which are also independent of race. When a character is polymorphed, they keep all their memories and skills, even if they lose the body parts necessary to use those skills.

Finally, you don't need to talk to use Bluff. The skill description explicitly permits bluffing with your actions. A rogue using body language and pantomime to pretend she isn't really a deadly lizard would qualify. Though in this case, the Disguise skill would be more appropriate.

Put that together, and high level wizard and a high level specialized rogue working together can orchestrate about two minutes of glory per day. It's not godhood, but it's a step in the right direction.


What non-intelligent creature is dangerous enough to warrant a level 5 spell, and has eyes to be petrified with (I say this do to oozes and plants obviously being immune to gaze attacks)

Secondly... Basilisk's can't talk anyone turned into a basilisk is stuck with those abilities. Rogues would lose all skills, expertise dice, even the ability to talk meaning they can stare lovingly all they want and people will still know they're a basilisk.

Finally, Basilisk gaze goes through all coexistant planes of existence, like the ethereal plane (what the heck allows for this I got no idea) so blink does you no good


Blink helps by making the polymorphed wizard immune to most attacks. You're right, though - there aren't too many nonsentient creatures with eyes that would be worthy of a level 4 spell.

In the polymorphed rogue case, the Polymorph spell removes the abilities of the original form. Class abilities like expertise dice aren't based on race, so they're still available. Polymorphing a human rogue into a basilisk creates a basilisk rogue. Likewise, skills are (mostly) based on background and feats, which are also independent of race. When a character is polymorphed, they keep all their memories and skills, even if they lose the body parts necessary to use those skills.

Finally, you don't need to talk to use Bluff. The skill description explicitly permits bluffing with your actions. A rogue using body language and pantomime to pretend she isn't really a deadly lizard would qualify. Though in this case, the Disguise skill would be more appropriate.

Put that together, and high level wizard and a high level specialized rogue working together can orchestrate about two minutes of glory per day. It's not godhood, but it's a step in the right direction.



It says you lose all abilities and limitations of one form and gain all the abilities and limitations of the second. I'd say that since a beast cannot take a class (a dinosaur that's a fighter? makes no sense. A Horse Cleric? not happening) that you would lose all class abilites and bonuses. Even if you did not, your DM would have to be very lax to allow the rogue to just act like he isn't a basilisk and convince the enemy. I would rule it like hiding in plain sight, it just isn't possible since the rogue, after being transformed, has no ability to change their appearance. You can roll like god, but you can't bend reality that much without a rather loose interpretation of the rules.
It's a char-op thread. The DM is always lax.
UTILITY SPELLS

Initial Considerations

The Original Post now includes a first pass at assessing the Utility Spells.

“Utility spells” involve mobility, visibility, and influence. Utility spells interrelate, such as Invisibility or Charm thereby allowing freedom of movement.

However, while the “Hold” spells immobilize a target, denying the hostile a standard action equates to giving each friend a free attack. Thus granting or denying a move counts as a utility spell, but granting or denying an action counts as a combat spell.

Utility spells tend to be dual use, useful for both combat encounters and noncombat encounters.

The fact Utility Spells are dual use, adds a level of complexity assessing schools of thought concerning the value of combat effectiveness versus noncombat effectiveness.



Notes on Specific Spells

The Charm spell can end a combat encounter, easily prevents a combat encounter, and proves useful for many noncombat encounters. Charm is a powerful spell.

Similar to Hold spells, the Domination spell denies action, thus functions moreso to grant each friend an extra standard action. Personally, Im unsure how to evaluate the difference between targeting a “Person” versus a “Monster”. In my campaign, at least half of the hostiles are humanoid, so expanding the spell to included nonhumanoid is less useful than it might be for other campaigns. Have an other look at the Combat Spells list to see how Hold Person, Hold Monster, and Dominate Monster rank among the other combat spells.

Illusion spells are highly effective in the hands of a creative player - which is precisely what makes Illusion spells fun. Regarding Minor Illusion - if it is possible to use both options simultaneously it is easily equivalent to Phantasmal Force. Phantasmal Force can manifest virtually any phenomenon - including touch, smell, and so on - except only one target can experience the manifestation. Minor Illusion creates an objective manifestation, and altho only an intangeable hologram, can be witnessed by all targets. Limiting the “Minor” Illusion  to either sight or sound is an interesting limitation, and perhaps significantly less powerful than both sight and sound, but is still highly effective in the hands of a creative player.

Regarding nomenclature, possibly restrict the word “illusion” to refer to objective manifestations, thus a form of conjuration, while restricting the word “phantasm” to refer to subjective hallucenations, thus a form of telepathy.

By itself, Remove Curse seems so situational as to be rarely useful. Probably it is best to merge it into the Lesser Restoration spell, which albeit passive, seems somewhat useful because of the option to Neutralize Poison in addition to the other options.

Personally, I want Telekinesis to be a single spell, preferably a cantrip similar to Mage Hand, but that scales when using higher level spell slots or spell points. That said, Mage Hand is very powerful - especially in noncombat encounters, where mobility or even stealth have high value. The coolness factor of the telekinesis-like Mage Hand reflects its general effectiveness.

Generally, it seems to me, the Fly spell deserves to be a level 5 spell. Fly is very powerful, and highly desirable, both for combat and noncombat, but it isnt crazy powerful, and relative to other spells, Fly seems a solid level 5.

Similarly Invisibility seems worth level 3.
Why is Fly rated so highly? It's potent, but it won't end an encounter, not the way other spells do.
Fly can end an encounter - just fly away. Fly around to bypass an encounter, Fly thru a window to bypass an encounter and for stealth. Fly to bypass pits and traps. Also “kite” gaining free attacks by attacking from out of reach of hostile targets, beyond melee and close range.


Finally, you don't need to talk to use Bluff. The skill description explicitly permits bluffing with your actions. A rogue using body language and pantomime to pretend she isn't really a deadly lizard would qualify. Though in this case, the Disguise skill would be more appropriate.


Are you seriously suggesting that you would allow a six-legged lizard - however skilled and trained - to Bluff someone into thinking that it is actually a beautiful woman? In that case what the heck does the rogue need the polymorph for in the first place. Hen can just Bluff people into thinking they have been turned to stone or flown to the moon.
That's what I thought you were going for, but Fly only works for one person. The rest of the party has to deal with the problem. In a four-person party, Fly ends 1/4 of an encounter.

There are creative ways around that limitation, but there are creative encounter-ending uses for any spell.
That's what I thought you were going for, but Fly only works for one person. The rest of the party has to deal with the problem. In a four-person party, Fly ends 1/4 of an encounter.

There are creative ways around that limitation, but there are creative encounter-ending uses for any spell.



Fly is more desirable than Polymorph, because you can fly and spellcast at the same time. And more desirable than True Seeing. And more desirable than Dominate Person, because of usefulness in noncombat. Fly compares to the best spells in the Playtest document. For a mage, especially a Wizard, even being the only one flying - in order to avoid being attacked - is highly valuable.
Polymorph: Pegasus can give the wizard flight, and also make the wizard into a flying mount for other characters (ideally, those with ranged weapons). That doubles or triples its defensive value, and could allow a small party to evade combat completely. Polymorph is also far more versatile out of combat, granting flight, water breathing, tiny size, fire breath, and many other powers as needed.
Polymorph: Pegasus can give the wizard flight, and also make the wizard into a flying mount for other characters (ideally, those with ranged weapons). That doubles or triples its defensive value, and could allow a small party to evade combat completely. Polymorph is also far more versatile out of combat, granting flight, water breathing, tiny size, fire breath, and many other powers as needed.



Out of curiosity, which spells would you would rather have instead of the Fly spell, assuming the character cannot access Fly in any other way?
Polymorph, of course. Non-flying effects of polymorph include:


  • Invisibility - cockroach.

  • Water breathing - fish or lizard.

  • Spider climb - giant spider or monkey.

  • Terror - housecat.

  • Pass through walls - any tiny creature, if you can find a single crack in the wall.

  • Expeditious retreat - horse, and you can take someone with you.

  • Finger of death - surprise attack as a basilisk.

  • Acid spray - ankheg.

  • Light - fire beetle.

  • Knock - ankylosaurus.

  • Combat debuff - turn a hostile target into a beluga whale.


For every one of these effects (save the last!) there is a spell that does it better, but Polymorph is the second best spell for everything, and its range of options increases with every monster manual published. No other spell does that.

Otherwise, Fly is pretty high up there. Your list should note that spells are niche; a wizard with Charm Person can travel with a wizard with Fly and never feel a power gap, even though there's a ten spot difference between the two spells. 

Fly is not quite as good as it was in past editions thanks to concentration. They can't cast other spells and maintain flight, which really does make it a lot less omniuseful. 
My two copper.
Fly is not quite as good as it was in past editions thanks to concentration. They can't cast other spells and maintain flight, which really does make it a lot less omniuseful. 


Not so, concentration rules only prevent casting a second spell that also requires concentration. As long as the second spell doesn't require concentration, it's fair game. The wizard can be an airplane and still make pewpew noises.
Dropping Beads of Fireball doesn't need concentration, either.  So happy bomber runs.
Universal Spell List

Alright now for the hard part, the Original Post now ranks both combat spells and utility spells together in a comprehensive Universal Spell List.

Spells that seem roughly equivalent cluster together. Within each cluster certain spells may seem slightly more useful than other spells.

Across the ranks from less desirable above to more desirable below, the clusters themselves seem to cluster into spell levels, ranking from level 0 spells above to level 5 spells below. It seems no spell is significantly more powerful than level 5.

Spell combinations that potentially become broken remain possible, and more vigilance is necessary.

Including both combat and utility spells in a single list is tricky because the relative values of combat mechanics are not yet fully clear. Meanwhile the relative value of combat versus utility varies from player group to player group. Despite the uncertainty about narrow precision, the ranking feels like it enjoys broad accuracy, with the overall desirability moving from less desirable above to more desirable below. The general stability of the Universal Spell List seems mainly due to the fact, the Utility Spells that are useful in noncombat are also generally useful in combat, thus can compare reasonably well to combat spells.



Nomenclature

It would be nice to have an alternative nomenclature for “spell levels”, because it awkward and sometimes confusing whether “level” refers to “spell level” or “character level”. 

Instead of referring to spell “levels”, referring to orders, ranks, echelons, degrees, circles, elevations, points, or so on would make it easier to describe and explain spells and spellcasting.


 
Notes on specific spells

It seems the consensus has Fly slightly more desirable than Polymorph, but this same consensus also has these two spells as roughly equal in desirability thus in the same cluster.

The Universal Spell List omits the Spoiler Spells that are difficult to quantify. Spoiler spells seem to be equally useful (or equally problematic) at any level, because they involve the narrative unknowns, not the level of power. As such, the Spoilers may work better as a skill, being a kind of Lore Skill, called “Divination”, “ESP”, “Oracle”, or so on. Then Spoiler abilities can function well regardless of level, and share the same difficulties that the other informative Lore Skills do anyway.

The “Resistance” spell bothers me, because its name is a technical gaming mechanical term (half damage from a specific damage type), while the spell (bonus to saving throw) disresembles the technical meaning. It is confusing, and I continually need to look up the Resistance spell because I forget what it does do when it doesnt do what it should do.

The Magic Missile spell requires attention. For example, using a spell level 5 slot for Magic Missile deals an automatic 50 damage. This is either too powerful, or needs to serve as a standard - specifically the ceiling - for how much single-target automatic damage each spell level can deal.




In the Original Post, the Universal Spell List represents a first pass at assessing the relative desirability of spells from less desirable above to more desirable below. For any two spells on that list the lower spell should feel more powerful, more useful, and more desirable. Also consider the clusters of spells. It may be necessary to split up certain clusters if a spell feels notably better than the spell above it. Or oppositely may be necessary to merge a certain spell into a cluster of spells that feel roughly equivalent in value.


Since Magic Missile scales, how about treating it as five separate spells and comparing the relative values of each?
Since Magic Missile scales, how about treating it as five separate spells and comparing the relative values of each?



Thats probably worth doing, just for the sake of gauging the other damage spells.
According to Playtest 10 29 12, the following formula seems to approximate the current damage spells. As you can see, the autohit damage that works 100% of the time, seems much better than the savable damage that works, say, 50% of the time.



AVERAGE DAMAGE





























































Spell
Level



Single-
Target
Autohit
Magic Missile
(L×10)



Single-
Target
Inflict
Wounds

(L×10 +3)



Single-Target
Cantrip
Atwill



Multi-
Target
Attack
(L×5 +3)



Single-
Target
Cure
Wounds

(L×5 +3)



L0



 



 



  5 +3



  0 +3



  0 +3 *



L1



10



10 +3



 



  5 +3



  5 +3 *



L2



20



20 +3



 



10 +3



10 +3



L3



30



30 +3 *



 



15 +3



15 +3



L4



40



40 +3 *



 



20 +3



20 +3



L5



50



50 +3



 



25 +3



25 +3




* Actual spell is slightly off by 1 or 2 points.
With the new Playtest Packet 12 17 2012, the damage spells now include a Special entry, that allows the use of higher spell slots to increase damage.

Looks cool. 

On closer inspection, Magic Missile seems more comparable to other spells. For example, roughly speaking, the 8.5 points per spell level versus a single target by Magic Missile, is comparable to the 5 points per spell level versus multiple targets by Cone of Cold. Except Magic Missile always hits, but Cone of Cold can partially miss if the targets save against it.



The Ritual entry looks awesome. Some time, such as 10 minutes, plus some prop, such as incense to physicalize the intention. No gp cost, just pure flavor. Nice.
The Ritual entry looks awesome. Some time, such as 10 minutes, plus some prop, such as incense to physicalize the intention. No gp cost, just pure flavor. Nice.

I disagree with this quite a bit, actually.  Some components, like diamond dust, are cash-equivalent and should have a GP value.  (And what's with having to give someone a full-body oil-and-diamond-dust massage?  That's a little too... risque... for this sort of game.)

Other components, like a troll heart and purple worm gall, you'll need to specifically look for or have a DM specifically give you, which significantly limits the usefulness of the spell.  It's one thing if you need those things for something you prepare for, like Move Earth, but for Regeneration, when you need it, you need it now.  "Sorry, we may have hit the troll camp last week, but it's been 3 months since the last purple worm.  You'll just have to wait until tomorrow to get your arm back."

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
The Core Coliseum: test out your 4e builds and fight to the death.

Personally, I see any gp cost to be precisely the problem.

The availability of gp depends entirely on the campaign setting. Some settings are poor, even post-apocalyptic. Other settings are rich, noble-born with unlimited bank accounts.

Therefore gp can never be a reliable way to regulate the gaming balance of magic.

The availability of infinite gp seems inevitable, when players create new characters who are the children of previous retired or semi-retired characters. The Level-1 characters can spend the money of their Level-20 characters.

Currently the rituals seem perfect. They refer to flavor, such as the use of a “red gem”, but ignore cost. This could be a priceless ruby or alternatively worthless artificial glass. Acquiring such an item can be fun in any setting.

The main balancing factor derive from the casting time preventing effective use during combat.
Sign In to post comments