[FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Treantmonk's Guide to Wizard Spells: God's Tools - Part 5: Conjuration[/FONT]
In this thread I will break down conjuration spells spell by spell - which are underrated, which are overrated (All IMO - this isn't Gospel - only the Gospel according to Treantmonk)
There is already a guide to conjurers- that breaks down the school by spells (as well as feats, skills, Prc's etc.) It is a good guide worthy of your attention - but the repetition here is largely to satisfy my format for school breakdown. Hey - and a bit of repetition is good right? (never mind a second opinion)
More threads will come - detailing spells from the various schools of magic. However, there is no timeline (nor will I likely continue once 4E hits the shelves). At this time I still plan an illusion and enchantment guide (transmuation and divination having been completed by other board members). Expect each of those guides to be reasonably small (which I will explain)
To the readers: If there's a spell you think I should look at - post it and I'll include it in my guide - though be pre-warned - I do not guarantee I will hold the same opinion as you.
Sources: I use PHB, PHB II, Complete Series, and SpC (these are both the books I own, as well as those allowed in the campaigns in which I play) - so all the spells listed are from those sources. (these guides are not completely unselfish - I reference them periodically with my own characters)
There are lots of gems in various other sources - but I've found there are lots of good spells to round out your spellbook in the sources used. By all means, if you would like to highlight a spell from another source - post it in a reply (along with the source and the specs) for the readers to reference.
Kinds of Spells: This is how I break down the types of spells... Summoning:This is a new category of spells that is more prevalent for conjuration. A “Summoning” could refer to a spell with the “Summoning” subtype or the “Calling” subtype – but in either case will call a creature to do your bidding. Summoned creatures can be used for attack (blast), grapple (debuff), Blocking the enemy (BC), aiding another (Buff), or for SLA or skills (Utility). However, they often require a full round action to summon, and with that versatility comes reduced effectiveness at each of those tasks. I like summoning because versatility is power – however, consider carefully, because a summons not up to the task you give them is a wasted spell.
BC: Battlefield Control. This is the spells that involve impeding movement of your opponents - aiding movement of your allies, or in any other way treating the world as your own personal chessboard.
Debuff: Debuffing is anything you cast on an enemy to impede his ability mechanically. Lowering of attributes, Blinding, Sickening, or scaring the living crap out of. Debuffing - as the name would indicate - also includes removing any buffs your enemy might have.
Buff: Buffing is improving the abilities of your allies mechanically. Whether it be through giving them extra attacks, better AC, or merely providing them a flanker. The nice thing about buffs is they likely won't involve saving throws.
Blast: A Blast is a spell that does HP damage to your opponent. Blasts are a pretty basic part of any Wizard's toolbelt - but IMO make a poor central focus to any Wizard. My suggestion is to cast Blast spells when you have nothing really useful to do.
Utility: These are those spells that have uses that aren't necessarily related to combat. Often utility spells can be useful in combat - but more circumstantially.
Save or Die: These spells give you a saving throw - or you're dead (or effectively dead). Personally, I don't like these spells - since they tend to target Fort - and are higher level then spells which can give you the win without avoiding the fun. You are usually better with a debuff if you like this style of spell.
Multiple Threat: A spell that covers more than one of the above at a time is a multiple threat spell. For example - a spell that does damage as well as impede the enemies movement would be a double threat (BC + Blast), while a spell that does damage, impedes the movement of the enemy, gives them mechanical penalties, and gives your allies bonuses would be a Quadruple threat (BC + Blast + Debuff + Buff). By the way - if you know of a Quadruple threat spell - let me know!!!
[b]Rating the spells:[/b]
After breaking down the spells, I will self-righteously give them either the Treantmonk stamp of approval - or the stamp of the foot, oversimplifying the use of each.
: This spell's a Turkey. Not worth having in your spellbook at all.
:thumbsdow : Not all bad, but not good enough for me to recommend
* : Run of the mill. It's OK, but nothing special
: The spell is solid. I recommend it
: This spell is highly recommended
:evillaugh : YES!!!!!
[FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Part 5: Conjuration[/FONT]
Conjuration is one of the two schools they say: "Never drop", but why? Well, there are 2 answers. First reason is Battlefield control. Conjuration is your best school for this wizard pursuit. Second reason is the pure quantity of spells. Only Transmutation boasts more spells overall.
Is Conjuration the best school?
This is a tough question to answer but an easy one to simplify. The simple question is this: Which is better, Transmutation or Conjuration? Once you’ve answered that question – you know what the most powerful school is.
My conclusion is this: it depends. Yes, I realize that is a wishy-washy answer – so let me qualify it with some more provocative answers for which I’m better known.
From spell levels 1-3, Conjuration is the best. Transmuation comes in a strong second – but from those levels Conjuration sees an unparalleled strength in Battlefield control and debuffs (with a couple more minor buffs and utility thrown in). Transmutation just doesn’t measure up IMO.
Spell level 4 is more complicated. Conjuration has some very good spells, but Transmutation has the ever-broken polymorph. However, being that I don’t condone the use of the spell that WotC gave up trying to fix – once you take polymorph out of the equation – I’m still putting conjuration on top.
Spell levels 5 and 6 are tough. Both schools are very strong in these levels – and I would consider it a toss up.
Spell levels 7 and 8 I believe Conjuration is still a good school – but now takes a back seat to Transmutation, that is really coming into its own. The big thing here is that Battlefield Controls are starting to become obsolete. Enemies more and more often have multiple movements, teleportation, and freedom of movement options. This severely weakens the conjuration school that relies on these spells for the majority of its strength.
Spell level 9 is a total wipeout. Transmutation sees its apex of power, while conjuration is at its all time low. I would not even rank conjuration 2nd best at this level (though not the worst by any means).
So it depends. For me, most of the campaigns I play in begin at low level – and will end anywhere between mid level to high level. Therefore, more often than not I’m playing a character between levels 1 and 15. For me, that means Conjuration is the best choice. However, if you find yourself playing more high level games (or epic play), then you should consider transmutation as your best choice.
So with no further ado – these are: Conjuration Spells you should consider for your wizard, and those you should pretend don't exist:
Grease (PHB): (BC)::evillaugh Close range opponents in a 10’ square make Ref saves or fall prone. Furthermore, they must make Balance checks to get up, or to move (even if Ref is made).
Benign Transposition (SpC): (BC)::evillaugh Close range spell that teleports 2 allies switching their position. This spell does not have the “Must be on the ground” restriction of baleful transposition – so you can cast this on the ally about to be swallowed whole and the summoned dire rat. Heh heh. It also can be used to get you out of a sticky situation, replacing you with the big stupid fighter. (check with DM on legality - IMO it is OK by RAW but there may be different view on their part)
Wall of Smoke (SpC): (BC)::evillaugh Do not be deceived by the name. This “wall” is 10’ thick and you can place it over your enemies. It is your “fog” spell of choice for 1st level spells since the wall also includes a Fort save or be nauseated for a round as an added bonus. Resinous Tar (CM): (BC): This spell is the “anti-grease” spell – creating a similar area of “stickiness”. Overall, at low levels, grease is better because of the chance to fall prone. However, Resinous tar doubles movement rates through it with no save which is nice. Also, casting this on a creatures clothing makes them more vulnerable to grapple attempts (-5 to resist or escape grapple or -5 to escape pin)
Mage Armor (PHB): (Buff): One hour/level +4 armor bonus. This spell makes Braciers of Armor completely obsolete. The +4 can be improved with PrC dips (Paragnostic apostle is the easiest for a +6).
Mount (PHB): (Utility): Summoning spell that is a standard action and 1 hr/level. The obvious use of this spell is for travel, however, it is also useful as a quick getaway, or even to throw 4 squares of meat between you and BBEG (The horse won’t fight – but it does take up space).
Blockade (CS): (BC): Swift action spell that puts a 5’x5’x5’ block of wood in close range for 3 rounds. The effect isn’t that impressive – but can block charges, prevent flanking, block line of effect and other small controls. For a swift casting, it has its uses.
Hail of Stone (SpC): (Blast): 5’ radius blast that does 1d4 dam/level (max 5d4). The downside is that it is a full round casting and that it is 5gp per casting. The good point is that it grants no save. Area blasts with no save are pretty good for first level.
Summon Monster I (PHB): (Summoning): The combat applications for this spell are extremely limited. 1 round/level duration and full round casting limit this spell for combat, beyond that you can get a small monstrous spider to entangle one medium sized opponent per round on a ranged touch – and that’s pretty much it (unless you are aquatic – celestial dolphins are very tough for the level). However, for utility this is a great spell. Use celestial monkeys to trigger possible traps, use Dolphins for 100’ blindsight, use spiders for tremorsense.
Unseen Servant (PHB): (Utility):* 1 hour/level telekinisis. Use it to carry your stuff and hand it to you at need. Can completely replace Tenser’s floating disk.
Web (PHB): (BC)::evillaugh This spell’s only downside is the requiring of opposite anchor points – otherwise it rocks. There is a Ref saving throw, but succeeding that saving throw does you almost no good at all. You remain entangled – facing concealment all around, and severely hindered movement. This spell remains near-broken even at mid levels. Yes – I even like web more than glitterdust.
Glitterdust (PHB): (Debuff)::evillaugh You’ve all heard how great this spell is. 10’ spread that blinds all within, outlines invisible creatures and creates a -40 penalty to hide checks. A successful will save negates the blindness. Yes – this is awesome.
Create Magic Tattoo (SpC): (Buff): This creates a 24 hour buff on a creature touched. The buffs available are level dependant. Most are pretty minor, and likely eclipsed by your magic items (small resistance bonuses to saves, enhancement bonuses to attributes, deflection bonuses to AC). The superstar here is the +1 CL buff (available at CL 13). Also note that there is no reason you can’t buff some secondary attributes that you might not normally buy items for. Note that you must have a relevant craft skill to use this spell, with a DC check based on the level of buff used, also note that you can have a maximum of 3 magic tattoos at a time. However, despite that, this is an excellent buff – that levels well. However, there is a 100 gp material cost - I recommend for the one time splurge of an eternal wand to pay up front. Otherwise - make sure to use your lesser extend rod!
Fog Cloud (PHB): (BC): 20’ burst that grants concealment, totally messes up enemy archers (no save no SR). The range is decent (Med), as is the duration (10 min/level). There are going to be countless “Fog” spells available – but the original has a beautiful simplicity.
Cloud of Bewilderment (SpC): (Debuff/BC): 10’ spread nauseates those within (on failed fort save) until they leave the cloud at which point they are still nauseated for 1d4+1 rounds afterwards. The cloud also offers concealment. This is basically stinking cloud, mini. Decent spell – but the area is small (yes it can be shaped though).
Dimension Hop (PHB II): (BC): Teleport the subject of the spell up to 5’ per 2 CL’s. Will negates, so this is best used on an ally as a short range dimension door. The caster can also teleport themselves a short distance with this spell as well. Range is touch.
Baleful Transposition (SpC): (BC):* Have 2 subjects switch place. The subjects can be friendly or unfriendly (or you). There are some downsides of this spell compared to benign transposition though. The subjects must both be connected (via the ground usually) and a will save by any of the subjects negates this spell. Overall, I’m less impressed with this spell than benign transposition – but it still has value to bring squishy bad guy up close, while sending a Big Stupid Fighter into the midst of the enemy.
Summon Monster II (PHB): (Summoning)::thumbsdow Not impressive for combat, and no better for utility than SM I. For most wizards, I suggest skipping this inferior summons.
Melf’s Acid Arrow (PHB): (Blast): I do not like this spell, no it doesn’t give a save or SR, but it is a single threat blast that does unimpressive damage extended out over rounds. Even a 5 acid resistance makes this spell completely worthless.
Sleet Storm (PHB): (BC)::evillaugh This spell has a 1 round/level duration – but has many improvements over Fog Cloud as a BC spell. First, vision is completely blocked within (instead of 5’. Secondly, the range is long. Thirdly, it’s HUGE (40’ radius). Fourthly, it hinders movement. Finally – it can’t be dispersed with a gust of wind. Very solid BC.
Dimension Step (PHBII): (BC)::evillaugh Do you enjoy chess? If so you will love this spell – rearrange your pieces to create the best battlefield possible. Give multiple allies a short range teleport to flank foes – evade enemy battlefield controls – escape grapples – whatever.
Stinking Cloud (PHB): (Debuff/BC)::evillaugh As cloud of Bewilderment but 20’ radius spread. That is a vastly improved area making this a very solid spell. The Fort save negation means that unless you can target multiple weaker opponents with this – you shouldn’t bother.
Summon Monster III (PHB): [/b](Summon)::evillaugh One of the best combat-based summoning. You want to summon either the Celestial Bison or the Fiendish Ape. These two summons are very solid for the level of spell – good HP, decent To Hit, Nice damage. If mixing with Haste – the Bison is the better summons, otherwise I lean towards the ape for the extra attacks. Note that the Fiendish Dire Bat is large enough to carry a rider – which can give a short duration flight.
Phantom Steed (PHB): (Summoning)::evillaugh 1 hour/level summons that carries you at 20’/CL with 240’ maximum (yes – you read correctly – it is FAST). As your CL increases, so does the movement options of the steed – right up to unlimited flight at CL 14. Yes – that’s 240’ flight for 1 hour/level. The only downside is that the Phantom Steed is rather squishy, and you best have a feather fall ready should it get blasted while you are up high.
Mage armor, Greater (SpC): (Buff): Like mage armor except the base armor bonus is +6. This means that it can be easily made +8 with a one level Paragnostic Apostle dip (which you should do). That’s a pretty good 1 hour/level armor bonus for a wizard I must say. Good enough to make the party Monk approach not sucking.
[b]Melf’s Unicorn Arrow (PHBII): (Blast/BC): A decent dual threat – this spell does 1d8+8 damage and bull rushes the target with a DC 21 to resist. You get additional arrows for every 3 levels over 5th (up to 5 arrows). Decent dual threat – very evocation in its flavour (dual threat damage – push backwards)
Caustic Smoke (CM): (BC/Debuff/Blast): Barely a blast (1d6 damage), this simulates a Fog Cloud, but those within make a Fort save or suffer a -5 spot/search and to hit rolls (we don’t really care about the spot and search – but -5 to hit is a fantastic debuff). This lasts for 2 rounds after they leave the smoke. Furthermore – anyone who takes acid damage from any other effect (acid breath?) while in the cloud makes a Fort save or is blinded for a round. Solid multi-threat spell for the level. The 5 round duration is sufficient.
Grasping wall (CS): (Debuff): A wall adjacent to your enemies sprouts hands that entangle them unless they make a Ref save. In most ways this spell is inferior to Web – which entangles even those who make their Ref save, however a couple of advantages here: 1) You do not need the anchor points that web needs, 2) Your allies are not hindered by this spell. These advantages make this a not bad spell (entanglement is a decent debuff)
Bands of Steel (SpC): (BC): Opponent makes a Ref save or they are immobilized. I’m not big on single target spells that are negated with a successful save, but the Ref being targeted makes this spell decent. Note that if a target becomes immobilized, they can use a Full Round Action to attempt to break free (which still gets them out of your hair for a full round at least – not bad). Edit: Please note that creatures over medium size are not affected by this spell.
Scattering Trap (PHBII): (BC): A very interesting spell – trap 1 5’ square per 2 CL’s with a “teleportation trap” If anyone enters the square – they make a Ref save or are teleported 1d6 squares in a random direction. This can totally mess up enemy tactics – and the multiple spell effects is a nice feature.
Corpse Candle (SpC): (Utility):* Why this spell is not a divination is beyond me. 1 min/level “candle” that illuminates hidden/ethereal/and invisible beings and items in a 5’ radius. The small radius is limiting for combat purposes – but given time to search a room – the candle should find everything.
Acid Breath (SpC): (Blast):* A conjurer’s answer to fireball. 15’ foot cone that does 1d6 acid damage per level (Max 10d6) with a Ref save for half. Acid damage is less commonly resisted than fire, but the range and AOE are significantly worse than fireball (which is an average spell at best). However – for a conjuration spell – it’s not a terrible blast.
Servant horde (SpC): (Utility):* Mass Unseen Servant. Unless there is a flavour reason for this spell, I would suggest that a regular unseen servant probably fits your needs. One possible use is the making of multiple items quickly available to you or your companions at need.
Regal Procession (SpC): (Utility):* Basically this is the Mount spell on a mass enhancement. By this time, mount is probably not your best/only fast retreat – but your party may benefit from this spell if a quick retreat is called for. Otherwise, this is base utility – providing the characters with faster movement during travelling.
Mage armor, Mass (SpC): (Buff):* Mage armor to multiple targets. This is actually pretty circumstantial, since usually most of your party does not benefit from this spell. Perhaps combined with summoning this could be handy – but generally, I would think your mage armor needs more easily and effectively taken care of with the base version of this spell, or the greater version.
Luminous Assasin, Lesser (PHBII): (Summoning): Inferior to Summon Monster in almost every way – please notice the “almost”. This spell is a standard action summoning – and the first attack the luminous assassin makes treats the foe as flat footed. Otherwise – summon monster is comprehensively superior to this spell. With 7 hp – this summon will perish with one hit, reducing the amount of times it can attack and miss your foe, failing to do the lousy damage it does.
Evard’s Black Tentacles (PHB): (BC): :evillaugh Creates a 20’ radius spread of tentacles that grapple those within. The grapple check is your CL +8 which isn’t bad and allows it to improve as you level (though note that at high levels not much will be grappled by this spell). There is no saving throw (other than your grapple check) or SR. Creatures not successfully grappled still have impeded movement. Technically, the tentacles do damage to grappled creatures on subsequent rounds, but the damage is lousy (1d6+4). Nice BC.
Dimension Door (PHB): (Utility): :evillaugh Teleport a short distance with verbal component only. Very solid short range teleport. The big advantages of this spell over lower level teleportations are: You can take others with you, it’s core.
Solid Fog (PHB): (BC): :evillaugh No save fog spell that restricts movement within to 5’ round. That effect is huge, but note that this spell is dispersed easily with wind, and freedom of movement of course will ruin your day as well. However, at those mid levels (before Freedom of Movement is often seen) – this spell can be invaluable for separating enemies.
Wall of Sand (SpC): (BC): Your first semi-solid wall spell. Please note this spell is a significant step down from Wall of Stone, it can be moved through (though movement is impeded), must be straight and only lasts Concentration + 1 round/level – however, it still blocks line of sight, line of effect, missile attacks – etc. Considering this is a level 4 wall spell – it is not at all bad.
Summon Monster IV (PHB): (Summon): For straight combat – SM III is probably better for the level – but I’ve found Fiendish Dire Wolves to be fantastic trippers. Combined with the fact they are your best combat summons in other respects for this spell as well – this adds a bit more BC on the spell.
Orb of Fire (SpC): (Blast/Debuff): My favourite orb spell. First, lets get this over with – Orbs hit only one target (and require a to-hit roll to hit even the main target) and therefore have disadvantages when compared to many other blasts. The damage is decent but not immense – but this Orb includes a save-or-be-stunned for a round that targets Fort. They will probably save – but its an added effect that can screw them if they don’t save – and if they do – they still take the damage. Not amazing – but the addition of the dual threat makes it decent.
Wall of Water (SpC): (BC): * The advantages of this spell over Wall of Sand are an improved duration and range (as well as some minor circumstantial stuff). The disadvantages are pretty severe. The wall is pretty easily moved through, doesn’t block line of sight, and is much easier to move through.
Translocation Trick (SpC): (BC): * You and one other creature switch places and appearances (as disguise self spells on each). If the other creature makes a Will save the spell is negated. The obvious use is to switch places with opposing BBEG and let their minions kill them while you laugh. I don’t recommend that option since the single Will save can make this a wasted cast. Instead consider switches with your own party members. Let the BBEG attempt to avoid you so they can get at the Big Stupid Fighter for a change. Beware though that this spell puts you out of position (and a good position that is) and should only really be used if your defences are about to get breached. Verbal component only.
Bloodstar (SpC): (Debuff): :thumbsdow Cast this spell and the “bloodstar” hovers above your foe, and each time they take damage in combat, they make a Fort save or lose a Con point (damage). Everything (except for the Fort save) about this spell screams to me that I should like it. However, I’ve had opportunity to use this spell multiple times and find the way it works makes it exceedingly circumstantial. The combat needs to last several rounds, and need to fail at least a few Fort saves for this to work. This means they need to be struck several times. Of course a creature that can survive several attacks probably has a wicked Fort save. It’s hard to explain mechanically why this spell isn’t all that effective, only explain that in my experience it just isn’t.
Leomund’s Secure Shelter (PHB): (Utility): :thumbsdow Creates a 2 hour/level shelter for you to rest in. Generally speaking – I find Rope Trick to be even more secure than this spell and it’s only 2nd level. However, this spell could have use for housing larger groups (but why not multiple rope tricks then?). Ultimately, it comes down to not that this spell is bad – but rope trick is so good it makes this spell largely obsolete.
Planar Binding, Lesser (PHB): (Summoning): :evillaugh The Planar Binding spells are cast in conjunction with Magic Circle spells to bring an extraplanar being into this plane and then bargaining with it to serve you. SR applies, and there is an opposed CHA check involved – but since the task can be up to 1 day/level, the spell can be cast in downtime. DM’s beware – allowing template creatures to be called with this spell is a big mistake. It is very tough anyways. The DM should attempt to find loopholes in the bargain or have allies of the extraplanar creature consider revenge or something or this spell (and its more powerful incarnations at higher levels) can get out of control. Consider a Planar Bound Nightmare gives you effectively “Astral Spell” (9th level spell) as well as a really cool mount, there needs to be a real downside to this or your wizards will have a legion of bearded devils as their personal bodyguard.
Teleport (PHB): (Utility): :evillaugh Travel 100 miles/CL and bring friends. The ultimate travel spell. Teleporting places you are not all that familiar with can put you slightly off the mark (and potentially even cause damage), but assure your comrades that’s “precisely where I intended for us to appear – for reasons your intellect couldn’t possibly absorb.” This spell is fantastic – and makes certain adventure types completely obsolete to your party as your spells reach phenomenal cosmic power.
Wall of Stone (PHB): (BC): :evillaugh So here’s real BC for you. Make a wall of stone anywhere you like in combat and shape it anyway you like. It’s stone – blocking movement, sight, spells, attacks etc. It can be broken – but not easily. It’s also permanent giving it a very real utility use as well (insta-bridge, insta repair-wall etc.) Attempting to trap creatures within a stone dome gives them a Ref save to avoid the effect. The limitation of this spell is that it must be connected to existing stone – for dungeons though – this means it can be used basically anywhere.
Viscid Glob (SpC): (Debuff): Very similar to Bands of Steel, viscid glob requires you make a ranged touch attack and the opponent makes a Ref save or is stuck in place. As with Bands of Steel they can use a full round action to attempt to break free. Unlike bands of steel – other enemies who come in contact with the spell effect get stuck themselves. Large (or larger) creatures can be prevented from moving with this spell but can otherwise act normally. The Ref targeting is a weak save to target at this level – though I try to avoid single target “save negates” spells by this point.
Dimension Jumper (CM): (BC): Teleport yourself up to 30’ once per round as a move action. This spell is a swift action to cast which is nice, and can be used to teleport back and forth past your own BC’s which can provide you an effective defence without requiring a standard action.
Evacuation Rune (CS): (Utility): A bit like Gemjump of the next level – Evacuation rune is a preselected teleportation location precast. There are some notable differences though. Evacuation rune is a 24 hour cast – so although it can be cast at the beginning of the day (or the end if you save an open slot), it must be repeatedly cast. It also teleports only you. There are 2 very nice attributes of this spell that are rather unique though. First, it is a swift action to activate – and second – the preselected location can be moved (so the rogue could take it with him while he scouts ahead for example) meaning there are more uses for this than just retreating.
Dimension Shuffle (PHB II): (BC): Pretty much the ultimate “rearrange the battlefield” spell as you teleport enemies and allies alike. The enemies can make Will saves to avoid the effect – but in the end – you will get a pretty conclusive rearrangement of the battlefield to your liking.
Cloudkill (PHB): (Debuff/BC): The next type of “fog” spell. This is unlike the others in that it moves 10’ per round away from you (this is a severely limiting factor). Creatures within the cloud suffer effects based on their HD and Fort save. The big deal here is a high HD creature that makes its save STILL takes Con damage (1d4/2) every round they are within the cloud. This spell does pretty good when you first get it, but does not scale well with level. Also – you need to mix it with Solid Fog or Evard’s to get maximum effect, otherwise the Con loss is just too small.
Summon Monster V (PHB): (Summoning) an average SM spell. Note that the Fiendish Giant Crocodile is Huge and has Improved Grab with a +21 grapple score. That is probably a higher grapple than Evard’s when you first get this spell – and it does and takes damage as well. However, you are still using a full round to summon, and targeting only one opponent with it. Situationally it is your best grappling spell from 9th to 10th level.
Phantasmal Thief (SpC): (Debuff): * This unseen servant-like apparition can steal from your opponents and bring the booty to you. The problem is that you can’t steal anything they are wearing or holding (otherwise I would suggest stealing spell component pouches!) – and it can only steal one item at a time (or I would suggest stealing the contents of a spell component pouch). It can attempt to disarm a held item, but the disarm check is equal to your CL (which isn’t very good for a disarm). There are still some nice uses for this spell – and it essentially gives you a free debuff every round – but the limitations are severe.
Call Zelekhut (SpC): (Summons): * Call a Zelekhut to perform a task for you that cannot last longer than 1 hour. Zelekhut’s are pretty tough for this level of spell – but you need to spend 100 xp to cast this spell (readers of my guides know how I love Material and XP costs to spells). Lesser Planar Binding provides a more versatile selection of creatures without the xp cost.
Leomund’s Secret Chest (PHB): (Utility): * Send a 5,000 gp chest (up to 1 cubic foot/CL) to the ethereal plane for up to 60 days, and retrieve at any time. The utility “RAI” would make this spell a fairly expensive, but reliable way to store your spellbook away from dangerous conditions – to be retrieved to rememorize and then sent out again. However, there is an abusive use to this spell – I will only bring up to point out you shouldn’t do it. Many opponents will fit in the chest – and using a baleful transposition or similar spell you could get them in that chest (or with a translocation trick – in the chest and nobody would know) – then send the chest away and the opponent is gone with no save for 60 days (or forever if you don’t mind losing the 5,000gp chest.) Its a “trick” and you are better than that.
Greater Dimension Door (SpC) : (BC): :thumbsdow Like dimension door except that you can’t go as far (close range), but you can repeat the process every round for 1 round/2 levels as a move action. Situationally useful, but usually wasteful. The spell is still a standard action to cast.
Vitriolic Sphere (SpC): (Blast): Beefed up Melf’s Acid Arrow. In the end the damage just isn’t all that impressive, and if the save is made the damage is horrible. There is no dual threat here.
Luminous Assassin (PHBII): (Summoning): This faces the same advantages/disadvantages as the rest of the Luminous assassin line. The standard action summoning is nice – but the 3rd level assassin this summons is simply nothing compared to what you could summon with a SM V. For that matter – it is nothing compared to a Fiendish Dire Wolf summoned with a rapid summon monster IV...
Planar binding (PHB): (Utility): :evillaugh :evillaugh :evillaugh Potentially broken for the same reason as Lesser Planar Binding but worse because for a mere one level advancement in spell level you can call a creature with double the HD. Theoretically you can bind an Efreeti and get 1 wish/round for 1 day/level. Theoretically the DM could never invite you to play in his group again as well (or merely severely misinterpret every wish you make – “Raze your intelligence? Of course master...”. This spell is easily abused – so play nice and you won’t force your DM to figure out ways to make his campaign playable again.
Freezing Fog (SpC): (Triple threat BC/Blast/Debuff): :evillaugh Basically this is solid fog with a quickened/heightened/widened grease spell added on. There’s some inconsequential cold damage merely for flavour. Mixing two good spells like Solid Fog and Grease (that are naturally synergetic) makes this a very good spell. This remains my favorite conjuration spell for the strong triple threat and synergy of the BC/Debuff aspects.
Gemjump (SpC): (Utility): :evillaugh Greater Teleport – only the location must be predetermined at the casting of the spell. The best part is that this is cast earlier – and lasts indefinitely (until you need it) meaning that in some ways, it’s even superior to greater teleport. Very solid spell.
Tunnel Swallow (SpC): (BC/Blast): This is a circumstantial spell in that it only works in tunnels (including worked tunnels/natural tunnels/corridors), but the effect is great. 1 d6/CL damage and move the opponents up to 50’ in either direction. Ref save for half damage – and get this – half movement (most spells would have the save negate the movement portion of the spell). A decent blast – a decent BC, mixed into a nice dual threat.
Summon Monster VI (PHB): (Summoning): * Bralani Eladrin have a number of interesting abilities including a cure serious wounds 2/day. As a secondary emergency heal – this could be useful to you. For combat – this is one of the weaker SM spells.
Tactical Teleportation (CM): (BC): :thumbsdow Like Dimension Step except they decided to make it level 6 instead of level 3. Yes, there is a small increase to distance your allies can reposition themselves – but nothing that would make this spell worth even 2 levels higher.
Choking cobwebs (CM): (BC/Debuff): With a single casting, you basically get web with a chance to sicken those inside (with a failed fort save). A second casting of the same spell however is pretty severe. Movement becomes much more hindered – and those within make Fort save every round or are nauseated and take 1d4 Con damage (unlike cloudkill – no immunity to poison immune to the effect). Naturally, you want to keep throwing up movement inhibitors after this – summoning/evard’s whatever will keep them there until their con drains to 0. With a 1 min/level duration – you have time.
Greater Teleport (PHB): (Utility): Like Teleport except there is no requirement to study the location you are teleporting to, and range is no longer a factor – period. Teleport a million miles if you like.
Summon Monster VII (PHB): (Summons): The Avoral has a huge variety of utlity abilities including true seeing, every knowledge in existence at +12, and others. Huge elementals make pretty good combatants at this level (including some useful combat feats).
Stun Ray (SpC): (Debuff): Hit the opponent with this Ray and they make a Fort save. If they fail, they are stunned for 1d4 + 1 rounds, if they succeed – they are stunned for 1 round. So this spell means automatic stun – end of story. However, keep in mind it is a single target, and duration isn’t impressive. The spell is a solid debuff – but not game breaking.
Plane Shift (PHB): (Utility) * You and your companions travel planes. Purely utility, and usually campaign dependant. However, can be an invaluable resource in those campaigns.
Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion (PHB): (Utility): :thumbsdow Now this is like Rope Trick except the inside is huge, fancy, and filled with unseen servants. The only reason to use this rather than the former is pride – but you’re a wizard, is a little pride so undeserved? Mechanically however, I can’t recommend it.
Call Kolyarut (SpC): (Summoning): :thumbsdow Summon a Kolyarut. Like Zelekhut but tougher. Now the XP cost is 250 – that’s significant. It’s not like you dont’ have other options either (many creatures Planar Bound at this point will even be tougher than a Kolyarut) I should point out however that Kolyarut gets enervation at will. I can’t justify the xp cost – but make your own mind up.
Dragon Ally (SpC): (Summoning): Makes the call inevitable spells seem cheap. I include only this one spell (though they line up with the call inevitable spells exactly). The XP costs are the same – but now you can give them all your gold as well (minimum 50gp per HD of dragon). This is basically the wizard’s answer to the Planar Ally spells. However, the wizard didn’t NEED an answer to those spells. Not recommended for prohibitive costs.
Planar Binding Greater (PHB): (Utility): :evillaugh Potentially bind a Pit Fiend, or a Formian Queen, or a Planetar. Once again – play nice – this spell is easily breakable.
Maze (PHB): (BC): Pick an opponent – remove them from combat with no save. They can return (depending on their Int score for duration), but you get that time to clean up their allies and put a forcecage in their square (or worse).
Summon Monster VIII (PHB): (Summoning): * The Colossal Fiendish Monstrous Centipede actually is a pretty decent BC. Basically an immense wall of HP that moves on your command. However, we’re talking 8th level spells here – this one is average for the level at best.
Greater Plane Shift (PHB): (Utility): * Like Plane Shift except you appear exactly where you want. Again, this spell is purely utility and campaign dependant.
Deadly Lahar (CM): (Blast/Debuff): :thumbsdow Large cone does so-so damage and slows creatures who fail their Ref save. A slow effect that targets Ref is nice – as is the large area of the spell – but for an 8th level spell – the effect isn’t strong enough.
Fierce Pride of the Beastlands (SpC): (Summoning): Summon 2d4 celestial lions and 1d4 celestial dire lions to attack and miss your foes an incomprehensible amount of times. These creatures are far too weak for the level.
Summon Elemental Monolith (SpC): (Summoning): Summon an Elemental Monolith for concentration (up to 1 round/level). The drawbacks are that concentration is required and you still have the 1 round casting time – but Elemental Monoliths are quite tough and have a plethora of feats. For a 9th level spell it’s not earthshattering (though an earth elemental monolith can literally do that I suppose) – but a fairly solid summoning for the level.
Towering Thunderhead (CM): (BC): Create a 40’ spread mass of dark clouds (concealment as fog cloud) that provide a wind wall and hinder movement. Your movement is not hindered, and any sonic or electricity spell of 7th level or lower cast within is empowered for free. This spell is only going to be useful to you if you have some decent electricity or sonic spells to cast (or your allies do). That will likely require you casting spells out of school (probably evocation).
Teleportation Circle (PHB): (Utility): * Teleport theoretically near infinite targets theoretically infinite distance. Circumstantial – but impressive nonetheless (teleport an entire army with this). Most of the time – Greater Teleport will serve you and your immediate group just as well as this spell.
Obedient Avalanche (SpC): (Triple threat Blast/BC/Debuff): * Huge area spell that does so-so damage, but can bury creatures in 20’ radius spread who fail their Ref save (good save to target, but teleport/freedom of movement is common by this level). Creatures outside the 20’ radius spread, but inside the 40’ radius spread take less damage and are bull-rushed outwards. Not bad, but not “9th level impressive” type spell.
Gate (PHB): (Summoning): :thumbsdow Call in a creature way tougher than you or your opponent and have it lay waste. Threads on these boards would suggest you should cast this every combat – but the 1000xp cost makes me disagree. It is a huge effect with a huge cost. Personally, I would consider having it in reserve for emergencies – but no way I would use it repeatedly. There you go Gate-maniacs – I don’t recommend this spell – flame away!
Summon Monster IX (PHB): (Summoning): The worst SM for its level. Few options, and nothing really impressive for this level. An Elemental Monolith would lay waste to anything you can summon here – and the versatility factor isn’t that impressive since the SLA’s and the like tend towards the weak side.
Abyssal Army (SpC): (Summoning): Cast this spell and summon 2d4 dretches (useless), 1d4 babau demons (basically useless) and 1 vrock demon (marginally useful at best). They get maximum HP per HD, which for all but the Vrock – isn’t much. Maybe the babau demons and dretches can “aid another” or something – but this spell just doesn’t cut 9th level.
Sphere of Ultimate Destruction (SpC): (Blast): Very similar to black Blade of Disaster except you don’t need to concentrate – but you can only move it at 30’ round (and the range is longer). It suffers for the same reason.
Black Blade of Disaster (SpC): (Blast): Get a disintegrate 1/round for 1 round/CL as long as you maintain concentration within close range. If the target saves –(Fort save) they take 5d6 damage. This last part kills this spell in my eyes.
Heavenly Host (SpC): (Summoning): Like Abyssal Army except you get 2d4 lantern archons and 1d4 hound archons – and none of the summons is even halfway good. Maximum HP lantern archons and Hound Archons aren’t very good at this level.
Greater Dimension jumper (CM): (Utility): Like Dimension jumper except the range is now 60’ feet (instead of 30’, and it requires a swift action (rather than a move action) and it’s 9th level rather than 5th. Did you see 4 levels worth of improvements? Me neither.
Final Thoughts: Yep - there you go, notice lots of :evillaugh early on and lots of later? However - as a whole - the school rocks.
My suggestion for those who travel the conjuration school to high level is to prepare. Summon Elemental Monolith is a decent spell - but you can make it more effective through Rapid Spell/Metamagic school (conjuration) as well as Augment Summoning. A ring of Mighty Summons is also recommended.
After learning my lesson with Necromancy - I've decided that just because Enchantment and Illusion are smaller schools - I won't include all the spells - but merely highlight those I feel are worthy of a second look. Smaller schools mean less great spells - that's just reality, but those schools still have gems for us to find.
(I know there is an enchantment school breakdown already. However, not one with my current format - so a bit of repetition is likely - just like this guide and Echodork's Conjurer's Guide)