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Cover is great when you can get it. The +2 bonus to AC/saves for ½ cover and +5 bonus to AC/saves with ¾ cover can be godsends with bounded accuracy when fighting against spellcasters and archers. Heavily wooded forests and dense metropolises provide plenty of opportunities to take advantage of this if you have a generous DM. In environments such as deserts or open fields, cover is scarce to non-existent.

I am trying to figure out a way for the wizard of our group to create cover for us when a lot of ranged enemies appear. I imagine he would cast a spell at the start of combat to create cover (no long cast spells or rituals).

What Wizard spells are capable of providing ½, ¾, or full cover for one or more PCs, without preventing them from moving or returning fire?

The Wizard is level 13 so has access to 7th-level spells. Feel free to include 8th or 9th level if you want, but it’s outside of the scope.

An example of what I mean by something that would provide protection and cover but prevent movement or return fire is Tiny Hut (which doesn't fit my demands because it is a ritual). The attackers wouldn’t be able to attack you, but you also wouldn’t be able to hurt them. I am not looking to avoid confrontation by making an impenetrable hut, going to another plane, etc. I want to create cover and attack after they do.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What exactly do you mean by " without preventing them from moving"? Also, is this cover against a grounded enemy or can they fly (it could change the answer)? For example, if this is related to your question about the dragon, it is going to be much harder to find effective cover against that (and I would add that info into your question). \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 5 '19 at 15:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ An example of something that would provide cover and protection, but prevent movement is Tiny Hut (which doesn’t work as well because it’s a ritual). The attackers wouldn’t be able to hurt you, but you also wouldn’t be able to hurt them. Unrelated to the dragon question. I figured it would be hoping for too much to be safe from flying dragons with cover, a wall, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – ObeseMonkey Jun 5 '19 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have time to write an answer at the moment, but I seem to remember another 5e question on RPG.SE about using illusions to create cover? I wonder if someone could track that down and link it to this one as related? \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jun 5 '19 at 16:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Tiny Hut doesn't prevent movement. > "Creatures and objects within the dome when you cast this spell can move through it freely." As such, assuming you cast it with your party inside, you can freely duck into and out of invincible cover. But as you say, it's a 1 minute (10 rounds) cast time, or 11 minutes (110 rounds) as a ritual. \$\endgroup\$ – SoulMuncherr Jun 5 '19 at 16:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note: Tiny Hut fails because it has a long casting time, not because it's a ritual. Ritual spells do not inherently take longer to cast than other spells. Rather, they provide the option of a longer casting time. \$\endgroup\$ – Pink Sweetener Jun 5 '19 at 18:49
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Wall of Stone

If you're looking to create a temporary fortification from which you can attack from a degree of safety, wall of stone (PHB, 287) is a great choice.

It is created in a single action and can be shaped to provide crude cover:

You can crudely shape the wall to create crenellations, battlements, and so on.

Whether you can create arrow slits or similar things is somewhat questionnable, but seems probable given that battlements are permitted. Your DM mileage may vary.

The wall itself is pretty sturdy, too:

The wall is 6 inches thick and is composed of ten 10-foot- by-10-foot panels. Each panel must be contiguous with at least one other panel. Alternatively, you can create 10-foot-by-20-foot panels that are only 3 inches thick...

Each panel has AC 15 and 30 hit points per inch of thickness. Reducing a panel to 0 hit points destroys it and might cause connected panels to collapse at the GM's discretion.

It's an instant fighting platform!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I think Wall of Stone is definitely the gold standard in instant cover spells. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Jun 5 '19 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ OP asked for "spells", plural. \$\endgroup\$ – Pink Sweetener Jun 6 '19 at 4:02
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List of spells I can think of:

Cantrips:

Mold Earth

If you target an area of loose earth, you can instantaneously excavate it, move it along the ground, and deposit it up to 5 feet away.

This would provide a hole for people to sit in and shoot out of, and if you went prone in it you would be out of sight. It also creates a 5-foot high pile of soil to hide behind for cover as well. As most characters are near this height, it should be easy enough to create 2 cover placements with one action and no spell slots.

You can also do it multiple times. n actions, no spell slots and n*2 cover areas.

3rd-level

Wall of Sand

You can make the wall up to 30 feet long, 10 feet high, and 10 feet thick, and it vanishes when the spell ends. It blocks line of sight but not movement.

Because of the words "up to" you can make a wall the perfect height to hide behind. You can also hide at the 2 edges, or pop in and out of it at any point.

It blocks line of sight but not movement. A creature is blinded while in the wall's space and must spend 3 feet of movement for every 1 foot it moves there.

5th-level

Wall of Stone

You can create crude crenellations or battlements, and place it at an angle so people can see over it. Other answers have provided the snippets.

Wall of Force

See the explanation above for Wall of Stone.

Passwall

A passage appears at a point of your choice that you can see on a wooden, plaster, or stone surface (such as a wall, a ceiling, or a floor) within range, and lasts for the duration. You choose the opening's dimensions: up to 5 feet wide, 8 feet tall, and 20 feet deep. The passage creates no instability in a structure surrounding it.

This ones a maybe. It allows you to create a passage in a stone surface, but doesn't say it has to actually connect to another place. As such you could possibly make a small trench.

6th-level

Wall of Ice

Similar to Wall of Stone, you can create panels 10ft x 10ft that are contiguous, and hide behind the edges.


Re: Tiny Hut

Tiny Hut doesn't prevent movement.

Creatures and objects within the dome when you cast this spell can move through it freely.

As such, assuming you cast it with your party inside, you can freely duck into and out of invincible cover. But as you say, it's a 1-minute (10 rounds) casting time, or 11 minutes (110 rounds) as a ritual.

Illusions

Illusions can provide obscurement but not cover. For more explanation, see this thread: Can an illusion give a player partial cover?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you need to go into detail more here on many of these - but especially the illusion spells and how they may/may not work(and it'd help if you provided book or dndbeyond citations for them.) Looking like cover and actually having that cover may be two different things in terms of getting the cover AC boost. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 5 '19 at 17:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd also suggest removing your Tiny hut comment and adding that here. Comments may be removed and it's a really good point. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 5 '19 at 17:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch How's this, made like a bajillion edits :p \$\endgroup\$ – SoulMuncherr Jun 5 '19 at 17:50
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The "Wall of ..." spells

Wall of Force creates wall panels that are transparent but cannot be penetrated by any physical attack.

Wall of Stone is literally an instant stone fort and the description even mentions that you can create battlements and crenelations in the panels. If you leave the wall panels at their default 6 inch thickness then each panel is AC15 with 180 hit points.

Wall of Ice provides cover but the 10 foot panels only have 30 HP so it is easily destroyed. It is vulnerable to fire damage so a fireball spell would wipe it out in one shot.

Each of these spells create ten 10x10 panels, representing 100 feet of wall. The Wall of Stone can be cast with walls half as thick (reducing HP to 90 per panel) to double the number of panels which means 200 feet of wall. The wall can be in any shape the caster chooses, so 100 feet of wall can be a 20x30 box that provides protection from all sides, can be a large half circle that provides cover from one general direction, a long wall that allows the characters to have cover while moving closer to a specific enemy, or any other shape that fits the specific situation. So while the walls themselves do not move after the spell is cast, the characters have plenty of opportunity to move and counterattack while benefiting from the cover provided by the wall.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You can hide behind the side of a wall, just like a corner. How far you hide makes it 1/2 or 3/4 cover. Also, as you choose the shape, you can make the panels low by angling them, or possibly sink them into the ground. \$\endgroup\$ – SoulMuncherr Jun 5 '19 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SoulMuncherr Each wall spell has different requirements on how it can be shaped...and none provide the ability to sink into ground as far as i know. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 5 '19 at 16:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I'm writing a full answer now for the walls, but as for the 3/4 1/2 question, that's exactly what cover is. If I stand behind a wall so that half of my body is visible round the corner, and the other half isn't, that is half cover. And then the same for 3/4. Unless I'm wrong, but it's how I imagine it. \$\endgroup\$ – SoulMuncherr Jun 5 '19 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SoulMuncherr It may be the difference between grid use and Theatre of the Mind :) But you are right that there is a case for keeping yourself covered by just extending beyond the wall horizontally. I look forward to your answer! \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 5 '19 at 17:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ It would be helpful to add citations and quotes to support the wall spells you mention (to help OP in finding them and validate your statements.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 5 '19 at 17:23
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List of Spells that Provide Cover

You can find the full description of these spells in their respective sourcebooks. There are too many to describe in full here, so I'm only including notes where there is a special consideration.

Cantrip

  • Shape Water (PHB): can be used to freeze water. If you have another creature in charge of positioning water in a wall shape, perhaps by throwing a bucket of it in the air, this could be used to create a barrier.
  • Mold Earth (EEPC)

Level 1 - Floating Disk (PHB): if you place a large enough object on top of the disk, you can have mobile cover for 1 hour.

Level 2

  • Maximilian's Earthen Grasp: edge case. Hand is described as "Medium", which is a "creature" size. PHB describes rules for seeking cover behind creatures.

Level 3

  • Erupting Earth (EEPC)

  • Wall of Sand (EEPC)

  • Wall of Water (EEPC): freezes solid with cold damage

  • Wind Wall (PHB): does not create cover, but provides some of the benefits of cover.

Level 4

  • Stone Shape (PHB)

Level 5

  • Bigby's Hand (PHB)

  • Wall of Stone (PHB)

  • Passwall (PHB): cast on the ground.

  • Wall of Force (PHB)

6th Level

  • Bones of the Earth (EEPC)
  • Blade Barrier (PHB)
  • Wall of Ice (PHB)

9th Level

  • Prismatic Wall (PHB)

  • Wish (PHB)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I laughed at the wish spell. \$\endgroup\$ – findusl Jun 6 '19 at 8:49

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