Being a newcomer to DnD (5e), I got invited to a campaign with some friends. It is my first time playing tabletop DnD. Video games like Neverwinter Nights was my only experience with DnD.

I now play an Wizard Aasimar (spiritual Aasimar).
My school is Conjuration, background is Sage.

We all started at 5th level. I did research and created my character. Two sessions later I find myself being useless in the party except from some really occasional healing. I have already been unconscious from a one shot AoE spell. (No, luck wasn't on my side when rolling for max hp either). I rarely get to use spells other than some cantrips.

The DM for this campaign is DMing for the first time which probably doesn't help either.

I picked a lot of utility and conjuration spells. I am obviously missing out on firepower, and the utility spells that I have never seem to fit our situation.

How do I recover from this?

I tried checking out the shops for scrolls that I could scribe in my spellbook. But they were really expensive and not so useful. The best choice I had was clairvoyance for 50gp. Our raid on the goblin camp failed, horribly, as in jump in the middle and get ripped to shreds because there appeared more than we accounted for. I am down to the 15 gp I began with.

I am really stuck with my character and don't know what to do. The spells in my spell book don't seem to be much help in our adventures. What now?

Here are my spells:

  • Cantrips:

    • Acid Splash
    • Light

      A fellow party member obtained the robe of eyes, so I should be careful when casting this.

    • Fire Bolt

    • Poison Spray
    • Mage Hand

      Other party member has a better version of Mage hand that can carry more, do damage and more.

  • 1st level:

    • Find Familiar
    • Fog Cloud

      When does this come in handy? The only situation I can think of is escaping.

    • Identify

    • Grease
    • Magic Missile
    • Tenser's Floating Disk

      This sounded okay in my head when I picked it but I don't see any situation I might be using it, also we now have a newer party member who is too heavy for this spell.

    • Unseen Servant

      I really need to find out what one can do with this.

    • Feather Fall

      Other party member has the same spell.

  • 2nd level:

    • Suggestion

      It sounds powerful but I don't know how and when to use it.

    • Flaming Sphere

    • Misty Step

      As a caster I should stay at the back of the party to prevent getting hit, where would I even want to go to and become an easier target?

    • Web

  • 3rd level:

    • Fly
    • Stinking Cloud

      Great, now that they might be puking, how do I and others even see them? (Magic Missile :p )

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not the place for answers or "tips." WarButter, asking about the utility of specific spells is best left for other questions, this question should focus on your options to swap spells (and answers should too); we do "one question per question" in our format. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 12, 2016 at 23:00
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ WarButter, I've rolled back your edit because we don't really do conclusions or thanks in a question. Edits are meant to be used to add important information, clarity, or otherwise generally improve the post. If you wish to say thanks, upvote answers that were helpful, accept the answer that was most helpful, or (and this isn't what comments are meant to be used for either) leave a comment below someone's post. If you want to post a "here's what I've decided to do", consider posting your own answer that culminates the ideas of others into one post, but remember to still answer the question. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14, 2016 at 2:11
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Old question, but there's at least one bit of data that points to some house ruling going on here... There is no RAW version of Mage Hand as the original poster describes. The Arcane Trickster's version is slightly better, but it can't carry any more or deal damage. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    May 23, 2018 at 12:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. Maybe OP's thinking of Bigby's Hand? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    May 23, 2018 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I suppose it's an edge possibility, but there's no substantial evidence to support that. The querent indicates understanding of the difference between cantrips and other spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    May 23, 2018 at 15:10

7 Answers 7


Change how you play your wizard so those are the right spells

With the spells you've listed you can play an effective wizard but it will likely require changing up your play style. Let's look at some tactics that suit your spells.

Blast 'em

This isn't going to be your strong suit but there are plenty of opportunities to contribute with some straight up blasting. You have a variety of damage spells that target different enemy weaknesses.

  • Lumbering, low dex save enemy?
    • Acid splash, flaming sphere
  • Heavily armored tank?
    • Magic missile
  • Wispy, fey thing?
    • Poison Spray
  • Average joe?
    • Fire bolt

Remember that you can cast the Magic Missile and Flaming Sphere as higher level spells to maximize their damage when it counts.


For the rest of the party to do damage they need to stay alive. The best way to keep them alive is to keep the enemy from being able to attack them. You excel in this area.

  • A bunch of archers with cover

    • Fog Cloud is incredible here. It's 120ft range means you may be able to cast it without getting into the archer's effective range, and once it's on top of them the rest of your team can close safely. Dropping it on top of the enemy cover can also force them to expose themselves to the ranged members of your team. Alternatively you can use Fog Cloud as temporary cover for your team allowing thieves to hide, other casters to buff, or just forcing the enemy to close with you.
  • Party is out numbered or flanked

    • Grease/Web/Stinking Cloud are so good. You pick some part of the battle and say, "That part sucks now". Web/Stinking Cloud can lock groups enemies out of the fight functionally turning one Deadly encounter into two Easy ones. Pick the best spell depending on what saves you think the enemies will fail.
  • Enemy is really hard to hit

    • We already talked about Web but it's worth talking about again. Enemies caught in a Web end up restrained which gives your allies advantage on their attacks. Against high AC enemies this can be crucial. You can also follow up with your Fire Bolt for an interesting combo.

Your remaining spells have solid general utility as well.

  • Enemy is hard to get to? Make the Fighter fly.
  • Enemy rushing you to try and break your concentration? Misty step to safety, and since it's a bonus action follow up with something.
  • You captured a Kobold but he doesn't want to tell you about all the traps upahead? Suggest he talks to save his skin.

Overall you have a wide range of spells and should be able to find a use for them in most situations.

  • 29
    \$\begingroup\$ This. There's no need to "recover", other than learning to use the spells you have! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 13, 2016 at 13:46
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is great. But do continue to look for new spells. Your DM should notice how badly you are looking. Buy them, loot them, quest for them. Make sure to find your familiar. Don't be too afraid to lose them, as the cost to resummon is not terrible. Also, if you DM isn't giving you much money, maybe in character you should go looking for money over other plot hooks. If your DM wants you to take on those quests, he might need to sweeten the pot with some gold (as you might expect in character anyway). One of the main benefits of being a Wizard is collecting spells, especially rituals. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Nov 29, 2017 at 15:11

Talk to your DM.

It's your first time playing. Ask the DM if you can change some of your spell choices now that you have a better understanding of how the spells work. Suggest that they could give all of the other players the chance to make similar changes to their characters. This isn't at all uncommon among groups with new players (or new DMs).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I already talked to the DM about this problem and he said he will try to help me a little with it but still keeping it fair against the other players, I will ask him about repicking spells (maybe only the spells i have never casted before?) \$\endgroup\$
    –  WarButter
    Feb 12, 2016 at 21:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just for context, in my current campaign, one of the players started off with an Enchantment school wizard, but after a few sessions (and having reached 2nd or 3rd level), he asked if he could change his school to Evocation (and significantly change his spells). I was fine with it and so were the other players. He later multiclassed into sorcerer, but now has realized that was kind of pointless, so he might retroactively change that to be something else. As the DM, I'm fine with changes like this as long as the basic character stays the same and the changes aren't too frequent. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Feb 12, 2016 at 21:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Be clear that you know this is a special request, but it's also a special circumstance. Get the other players' support. And don't tweak your character at the table. As a novice player, you can't be expected to know which spells are ringers and which are duds. You certainly can't be expected to know which spells will mesh with the party you just joined. After all, what kind of story does your party want to tell: One where you kick ass and sing songs about it, or one where you struggle and are glad just to be able to rest? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2016 at 23:04

You have a number of options here.

DM Generosity

Ask the DM to let you swap out spells. That's the only possible answer to your question as you've posed it, but what you have here is what we call an XY Problem on Stack Exchange - you aren't asking about your real problem, you're asking about one solution you've seized on. Read on to find out the real solutions to your problem.

Learn Your Spells You Already Done Learned

There's nothing wrong with your spell selection, it looks like a pretty optimal selection to me. A suboptimal selection would be all comprehend languages and tenser's floating disk. (Back in 1e times you got random starting spells, and low-level spell lists of total garbage were common.) But you're new and you don't understand how to use them. You can focus on direct damage until you get the hang of things and realize that "crowd control" is usually considered the most optimal form of wizarding. (You have a damage spell for every level, just prepare and cast them more.) A full spell use tutorial is out of scope of this answer but when you look at spells like stinking cloud and web, ask yourself "Hey, would all the fighters in the party rather fight 8 goblins all at once, or would they rather have two encounters of four goblins each? Which is easier?" Feel free and ask them the answer to that question, they'll have a strong opinion.

So you don't need more or different spells, but it's fine to want them. This is D&D, and the intended answer to your problem by the game system is murder.


  • By murder, you will get money to buy scrolls or new spells learned. Putting these in your book only costs 2 hours and 50 gp each, though they'll cost whatever your GM dictates.

  • By murder, you will get XP to get more levels to add in more spells (you get 2 new spells per level).

  • By murder, you will find scrolls in peoples' pocketses. These vary in how common they are, but L1 spells scrolls are common, 2-3 uncommon, and on from there. Then it's just the 2 hour/50 gp cost to scribe them.

  • By murder, you will liberate entire spell books full of a dozen spells from deceased wizardly enemies (cf. "Your Spellbook" sidebar on p.114). These are huge "jackpots" that can beef up your spell selection in swathes at a time.

Essentially, you are worrying about this too early. Do you not have the perfect dozen spells at game start? Yeah, you're not really supposed to. You are supposed to go out and murder (or, if you are of Good alignment, you might use the euphemism "adventure") until you do. The fighter doesn't have all the cool magic weapons he wants yet either - solution: murder. You tried and didn't succeed. Well, the game doesn't reward failure, it rewards success, so you're going to have to go out and try again. You'll have more spells than you know what to do with eventually.

See also How does a wizard or bard learn new spells?

And as one last related aside, that's what Tenser's floating disk is for - not carting party members (unless they're dead I guess), it's for carrying the 500 lbs. of treasure and gear from your murder victims. (Note you have to walk, floating disk isn't a "the party levitates through the dungeon" spell, you can't ride it personally. And it's hard to fit more than one other person on a 3' diameter space unless they are really, really friendly with each other.) The last neat benefit of Tenser's floating disk is that it can be cast as a ritual without burning a spell slot.

  • 13
    \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes theft sans murder can be a working method too, though that's fancier footwork. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 13, 2016 at 3:36
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Wait, I can learn slain wizard's spells from their spellbooks? That is amazing! \$\endgroup\$
    –  WarButter
    Feb 13, 2016 at 14:25
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie That's weak 2e hipster influence speaking! But yes, in fact in the Pathfinder Rise of the Runelords AP I stole a really high level wizard's spell book. I got what I wanted out of it and ended up returning it via messenger, out of professional courtesy (the rest of my party thought I was crazy). \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 13, 2016 at 15:40
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @WarButter yes, I've added some further information there and a related link that could be helpful. This is why I'm not sad for you, wizards have a different loot pattern than e.g. fighters - you get scrolls over time like other PCs get stuff over time, but when you get a spellbook it's like winning the lottery. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 13, 2016 at 15:41

When you gain a level, you can pick two new spells. One of those spells could be Fireball. If all you're hurting for is one good damage spell, that will solve your problem.

If you're not close to gaining a level but you really need to fix your character now, consider asking your DM to let you retire your character and bring in a new one. Your new character will probably start as a brand-new fifth-level character (without the experience your party got in the past two sessions) but this will let you get new spells.

I don't have enough 5e experience to tell you if the specific spells you chose are good, but it looks like you have some pretty solid ones. Web and Stinking Cloud are useful for stopping half the monsters from attacking while your friends kill the other half. Flaming Sphere is damage. Fly is only useful if they haven't got ranged attacks, but it's really super useful then. Consider playing the game out for a bit and see if you can find better ways to use your existing spells, at least until you reach level six and get that Fireball.


My best advice is to get creative with the spells you have, for example:

  1. Unseen Servant (an extremely useful spell).

    You could have had the Unseen Servant carry a burning oily rag into the goblin camp and drop it on a tent or a pile of bedrolls or sacks of provisions - anything you can see. You just have to keep the instructions simple and not directly attack anything. The servant has no physical form, so the goblins would just see flaming object float into their midst, which would immediately freak them out. Then they would have to deal with the resulting fire. Say you reconnoiter the goblins clustered around a map. You could cast Acid Spray into an acid-proof bowl (glass or ceramic) and have Unseen Servant carry it in and drop it on the map. Or drop a flask of oil on their cookfire. Or just go around their camp in circles with a flaming branch. The goblins will focus on the disturbance, creating a diversion so the party can steal the enemy's mounts, free their slaves or prisoners, etc. At the very least you can distract sentries to give the party a surprise attack opportunity.

  2. Find Familiar

    You didn't mention if you had a familiar yet. If not, get one. Some familiars are pretty useless, but they generally enhance your abilities in some way and increase your HP. I recommend doing this right away.

  3. Misty Step

    As a caster I should stay at the back of the party to prevent getting hit, where would I even want to go to and become an easier target?

    • Through the bars of a cell, or a window too small to climb through
    • Past a guard or checkpoint
    • To the roof of a building, bottom of a well with slippery sides, or anywhere else hard to climb to
    • When unexpected danger appears at the back of the party near you, move somewhere else.
    • Behind an enemy, opening up various possibilities: backstabbing, shoving them off a wall or out of a guard tower, etc. A guard tower can be a very safe position once there's no guard in it.
  4. Fog Cloud + Fly

    you want to steal an object or rescue a prisoner from the middle of a band of creatures in their camp. At night use Fly to examine the camp from above, carefully observing where they keep whatever you are after. Cast Fog Cloud centered on that spot and fly directly down there while the rest of the party makes noise or shoots a volley of arrows into the camp. Hopefully the enemies will be busy trying to find their way out of the cloud. Having made the effort to observe the area, you should be able to feel around and find whatever you're looking for pretty quickly. Then fly up out of the cloud as fast as you can and rendezvous with the rest of the party in a prearranged place. Use Tenser's Disk if you need extra lifting power. If there is a breeze you could stay in the upper fringes of the cloud and use it as cover, drifting away with it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That sounds so awesome! (too bad the mounts were worgs, which were so hungry that when they got released from their cage, one of them ate the nearest goblin haha) \$\endgroup\$
    –  WarButter
    Feb 14, 2016 at 0:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unseen Servant comes in very handy with cages! Although it can't manipulate keys in locks, it can do something as simple as lifting a latch on a cage. It can also wiggle a purse or other object carried by an NPC, making him think his comrade is trying to pick his pocket. Unseen Servant is a cheap way to unleash mayhem! \$\endgroup\$
    – Doug Leary
    Feb 14, 2016 at 0:36
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ A wizard's best technique, for any collection of spells learned, is always get creative. \$\endgroup\$ May 23, 2018 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Minor nit: Since this question is about D&D 5e, Fog Cloud + Fly doesn't work, since both of those spells require concentration. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim C
    Nov 22, 2018 at 20:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Suggestion could also get a mention. You can suggest to an enemy that a fight isn't worth the risk. The sorcerer in my current party did that to a Green Hag, breaking up a hag coven and making what could otherwise have been a very nasty fight trivial. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim C
    Nov 22, 2018 at 20:47

There's no need to "recover", just "adjust" should be enough. As to how to do that, make a point to use some the more interesting spells in your list once per game day, or at least once per session.

Use Grease or Fog Cloud or Stinking Cloud when ever you have dispersed enemies, to delay some of them. Actively use Unseen Servant and Mage Hand and Floating Disk for any task you can, by thinking "how could I do this with a spell". Fly! Misty Step into houses with windows, doors are for mundies. Feather Fall any ladders etc. When ever you have a chance, Suggest an NPC to do something harmless or inconspicuous so you don't get into trouble for it (Suggesting someone in a bar to have another drink, actually a bottle of some strong stuff, is often fun, if you can't come up with anything else). And so on.

If you have unspent spells when you go to sleep, consider it a player failure!

Remain in this mode for a few sessions, and be mentally prepared to ignore any "now that was useless" comments from other players (which are totally uncalled for, about same as you commenting the same when they miss with a sword). You are doing this to develop yourself as a player, and it should help you to get into a mindset of a wizard. You live and breathe magic, magic has value of its own, casting a spell is its own reward!

Until you as player can reach the wizard mindset, keep forcing yourself to use the spells, even if it seems pointless. Do not try to optimize or save them, when you have no idea what exactly you are saving them for. Once you get the hang of it, finding real use of these "useless" spells becomes natural to you as a player.

  • A single mission can get you a few hundred gold at level 5. You may not be able to afford a scroll now, but if you're regularly seeing them in shops, you will be able to buy them in the future.

  • If you talk to your DM, they might let you either repick your spells or offer more scrolls as loot drops that you can transcribe into you spellbook.

  • Levelling up lets you add 2 more spells, but you can only prepare 1 more spell. If you stick with it you will eventually (especially combined with finding scrolls) have so many spells that you don't have to choose those 'bad' ones to prepare.

  • It may just be that you don't know how to use the spells, although if you have 0 combat spells, then you're going to be casting cantrips a lot.

  • Explain to the party that you should pool resources to expand your spellbook. Imagine if clairvoyance had detected those extra goblins.


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