What is the highest level spell ever published by TSR or WotC for any edition of D&D, and what source might it be found in?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd assume this is just for idle curiosity, but did you have any particular intended use for this information? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Aug 3, 2022 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


This is most likely going to be the 12th level spell, Karsus's Avatar, published as part of the Netheril: Empire of Magic box set for 2e, and detailed in Powers and Pantheons, page 36.

Karsus's Avatar

(Wiz 12; Invocation/Evocation, Enchantment/Charm, Alteration)
Field: Mentalism
Range: Unknown, probably 0
Components: Unknown, probably V/M
Duration: Unknown, limited
Casting time: Unknown
Area of Effect: The caster
Saving Throw: Unknown

The only 12th level spell ever created, this incantation enabled Karsus to steal the power of a deity. All notes and information developed by Karsus regarding the casting of this spell were destroyed by Mystra, successor of Mystryl. Even if they were recovered, this spell could never again be cast since Mystra has changed the way magic works, making 11th and 12th level incantations impossible.

This spell required countless unique and currently impossible to acquire material components. For example, Karsus had to dip a gold dragons gizzard in a brew of tarrasque blood and bile from a 12 headed hydra just to enchant one of the many material components required to cast the spell.

Note: 3e had a feature known as the Epic Spellcasting feat, included in the Epic Level Handbook, where 21st level wizards could take the feat and create their own Epic level spells. These always counted as 10th-level spells, no matter how powerful, but a few were cataclysmic in nature.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Dipping a gold dragon's gizzard in a brew of tarrasque blood and blie from a 12 headed hydra. And that's just to enchant one of the material components; that's not even the component itself. I guess casting a 12th level spell really meant you had everything. But to ask a clarifying question, didn't Mystra ban 10th, 11th, and 12th level spells? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3, 2022 at 16:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GuidingOlive - Mystra did yes, after Karsus cast the spell and changed places with Mystryl. He couldn't hold the Weave, and Mystryl basically sacrificed herself and was reincarnated as Mystra, who enacted the ban. Epic level magic wasn't affected, so some Epic level spells may or may not surpass this spell, but swapping with a god is pretty epic. :D \$\endgroup\$
    – JohnP
    Aug 3, 2022 at 16:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JohnP How Mystra's Ban interacts with Epic Magic is....shall we say...fuzzy? Some sources classify Tolodin's Killing Wind as an Epic Magic spell that bypasses the ban, but others list it as an ancient "above 9th level" spell from Netheril that can no longer be cast. My explanation is that the whole idea of the Epic Level Handbook is about creating characters that have exceeded normal limits. In light of that, it kinda fits that Epic Spellcasting represents your character finding a way to wiggle around the ban, allowing you to do stuff Mystra doesn't want you to be able to do. [cont.] \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3, 2022 at 16:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ The description actually in the Epic Level Handbook is this: "Through application of formidable intellect, vast wisdom, or sheer force of personality, a spellcaster can manipulate cosmic and personal energy directly. Such a spellcaster is released from the shackles imposed by level dependent spell casting." (Page 71). Basically...you're not using the spellcasting interface that Mystryl created and Mystra runs--you're engineering spells from raw power, from the ground up. Mystra can't stop it, because you're not using her system. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3, 2022 at 16:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ 3e-style epic spells always count as 10th-level, regardless of how powerful it gets. Epic Level Handbook also included Improved Spell Capacity, which gives you spell slots of ever-increasing level, and Improved Heighten Spell, which could make a spell count as those higher levels, including above 12th, but no actual statted 10th level or higher spells were found in that edition. The explanation of how Mystra’s ban works into all of this is in Lost Empires of Faerûn: it never applied to metamagic or Epic Spellcasting (previously known as elven high magic), only to statted 10th+ spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 3, 2022 at 16:51

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