Contingency used to be powerful in older editions, and has been limited in 5e with tighter conditions on what can be put into it:

Choose a spell of 5th level or lower that you can cast, that has a casting time of 1 action, and that can target you. (...) The contingent spell takes effect only on you, even if it can normally target others.

No more Teleport to a safe location where you have help waiting.

Anything with long casting times, Bonus Action or Reaction casting times is out, as are spells that cannot target you. For what is left, there are typically two uses, either with an intentional trigger (snapping your fingers, blinking etc.) to store and release a spell, or, as a "safety valve" with an external trigger, to get you out of trouble when things go south. My question is about that second use.

In this case, you are in an emergency situation, possibly being hurt, controlled, or downed. You want to free yourself, get away, heal or protect yourself. I am looking for spells that can do this reliably, with the following criteria:

  1. I do not want Concentration spells, because they can cancel whatever the wizard may already concentrate on. If that happens to be wall of force to keep a nasty monster under wraps, I just made it worse.

  2. I do not want spells that require you to choose circumstantial parameters when you cast them (before you know the actual circumsances). For example, dimension door may be dangerous and end up putting you in a wall or above a pit of lava.

  3. Spells that, while they can technically target you, you really don't want them to, are out. For example, lightning bolt or fireball, they only harm you (unless you have something very unusual going on), without even affecting anyone around you.

  4. Lastly, there are spells where the benefit to your immediate survival is questionable, like gentle repose, that only works once you are dead, or comprehend languages, tongues, Nystul's magic aura, or nondetection that might be helpful in an unusual situation, but generally won't make any difference. To restrict this from being subjective, I want spells that can: help with mobility, improve AC, negate attacks, provide hit points, grant immunity or resistance, transfer damage, allow you to see enemies or see through illusions, call help, stabilize you from dying, or remove or prevent harmful conditions, exhaustion and suffocation.

A spell that does not violate one of these four criteria I consider reliable. This results in a deploringly small number of such reliable selections in the PHB:

  • Level 1: false life, jump, longstrider, mage armor
  • Level 2: darkvision, see invisibility, mirror image
  • Level 3: blink, dispel magic, remove curse, water breathing
  • Level 4: fire shield
  • Level 5: -

What wizard spells are there in other published sources (Xanathar, Tasha, Fizban) that can reliably be used with contingency in a dangerous situation?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Downvoted because I don't agree with the implicit assumption that it's not good to store concentration spells in Contingency. I understand your objection, but the non-concentration options are awful, and many of the concentration options are quite good. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanB Thanks for the explanation, I appreciate it. That is certainly a valid perspective too. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


I think you've got them all

There's not that many spells outside of the PHB, and filtering down to non-concentration, 1st to 5th level wizard spells from the non-PHB sourcebooks that contain spells gives 27 results. The vast majority of those are damage or other offensive spells, and the rest aren't much to save you. Of the non-offensive spells which can be contingent, you could catnap yourself or give yourself borrowed knowledge, but falling asleep or getting a skill proficiency aren't exactly what you're going for.

There's an honorable mention of wither and bloom from Strixhaven which would let you spend one of your hit dice immediately, though as written you'd also have subject yourself to the necrotic damage part of the spell as well.

And I can't find any PHB spells you've missed either, unless we're counting self-illusion spells (disguise self, seeming) as avoid-combat-altogether prevention of harm.

I'm pretty sure concentration is the big thing which limits your options here. Beyond a lot of spells having concentration, a lot of the buff (etc.) spells make particular use. Setting contingency triggers such that they (probably) won't trigger in combat/when other concentration spells are in use, or when the released spell is gonna be more important (ie. directly lifesaving) might be something to consider (if the found options are underwhelming).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, thank you, that was certainly an unexpected result. I’m not that routinely using these other books, and thought there would be a number of additional options. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 3:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could also specify in the trigger "if I'm not concentrating on a spell already". \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 19:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .