How To Create Unique Homebrew Spells in DnD 5e (Full Guide)

Last Updated on June 5, 2023

What Is a Homebrew Spell?

D&D 5e is full of spells, but that doesn’t mean everything you want to do is accessible. Homebrew spells are spells created by you and by the community at large. In general, homebrew materials allow you to really make this game your own.

Some people think of homebrewing as “modding their games.” In reality, D&D isn’t something that is really owned by anyone; it’s a cultural tradition that is expanded on by the community, which keeps it alive. Essentially, your homebrew items are really just playtesting for this game. Many of the things we know and love about D&D today were ideas people came up with at their tables.

No matter how you look at it, homebrew spells are an exciting way to add more to your games. If you’re interested in getting the most out of D&D, check out our guide below to start making your own, or take the five that we’ve already built, and jump in!

How To Make Your Own Homebrew Spell in D&D 5e

Making homebrew spells and homebrew mechanics in general is a process that is going to be unique to you. Once you have an idea of what you want to do with a spell, you get to decide how powerful you want it to be, how much you want to use 5e’s balancing and rules as a basis, and how flexible it is.

Here are the basic steps we’ve come up with for creating your own unique homebrew spell:

  1. Come up with an idea.
  2. Find a similar 5e spell for a basis.
  3. Create a spell description.
  4. Decide on spell level and other stats.
  5. Playtest your spell.

Creating Homebrew Spell Ideas

Coming up with fresh ideas can be an intimidating process, but try to remember that nothing we do in D&D needs to be unique. Everything takes inspiration from something else. A homebrew spell is still fresh and special even if it just changes the damage type of an existing 5e spell.

You can pull ideas from video games you play (League of Legends, Skyrim, Elden Ring), from fantasy IPs (Marvel/DC, Star Wars, Harry Potter), books (Wheel of Time, Discworld, Name of the Wind), or really anything that gives you inspiration.

We’re going to take a spell concept through this process to let you see it work in real time. Together, we’re going to create a spell that allows you to temporarily enchant a weapon to deal a specific damage type and create an additional effect.

Using Existing 5e Spells

There are over 500 spells currently in D&D 5e. Naturally, this means there is a lot of ground already covered. This shouldn’t discourage you from creating homebrew though. Instead, you can use these spells as a basis on which to build your own spells.

For our enchantment spell, we can use Magic Weapon, Elemental Weapon, and even Holy Weapon as a basis. We’re basically making a beefed-up version of Elemental Weapon since we want an effect on top of our damage, something that we sort of see in Holy Weapon’s spell description.

Our magnetism spell is kind of unique, but it has elements of Heat Metal and some sort of area-control spell like Entangle. We’ll want to lean on the language that focuses on metal while also considering how a spell interacts with the environment.

Lastly, our cardinal direction spell is an interesting one. It’s a very simple concept, and while it isn’t accounted for in any spells, we do see it in the feat Keen Mind. We’ll want to consider this when we decide how powerful the spell is.

Creating a Homebrew Spell Description

Homebrew spells still mostly use the same language and balancing as 5e spells. Sure, we could make a 2nd-level spell that says “Deal 4d6 fire damage to any target you can see.” However, that wouldn’t really fit into the way 5e currently works, and we’d likely end up adapting other pieces of our game to make this fit.

Most of the time, we’ll try to use as much 5e language as we can, so it’s important to have a working knowledge of mechanics. Conditions, advantage, how damage is dealt, and how saves work — all of these things and more can come into play when we craft a spell.

We have some basis for how similar spells work, so we can use them to start building. 

Elemental Weapon gives spells a +1 bonus to attack rolls and lets it deal 1d4 damage of the chosen type. At 5th or 6th level, that damage goes up to 2d4, and the bonus goes up to +2, and at 7th level and beyond, we deal 3d4 damage with a +3 bonus to attack rolls.

Part of the benefit of Elemental Weapon is that it can use one of several damage types. Since we’re choosing just one damage to focus on, we reduce the impactfulness of the spell a bit, but that gives us the opportunity to add an additional effect.

A frost blade would be awesome, and we can add slowing effects to it to align with some similar cold-damage spells. As for the damage, we can either keep it the same or increase it to a d6. If we do this, we might want to take out the bonus to attack rolls for added balancing.

Taking all of this into account, we get the following spell description:

Freezing Weapon

4th Level

A nonmagical weapon you touch becomes a magic weapon. For the duration, it deals an extra 1d6 cold damage when it hits. Additionally, when it hits, the target must make a Constitution save. On a failed save, the target cannot make reactions and must move as if they are in difficult terrain until the start of your next turn.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th or 7th level, the extra damage increases to 2d6. When you use a spell slot of 8th level or higher, the extra damage increases to 3d6.

Our spell has the desired effects, and it feels official because we’re using not only the same wording but also the same balancing that’s used in 5e

Deciding on a Homebrew Spell’s Level and Stats

Now, in this example, we included the spell level choice in the description step. However, that’s really only because we need something to base the “at higher levels” section on. We can still go back and change the level if necessary. The important thing is that we have the wording locked in; numbers can change as needed.

We opted for a 4th-level spell because this is clearly a bit more powerful than your ordinary Elemental Weapon, but if we were to sacrifice even just a bit of what this spell is able to do, it becomes a competitive option to oppose Elemental Weapon at 3rd level.

As for the rest of the stats, we don’t have to change much from Elemental Weapon. We might change the material components a bit, but everything else feels perfect the way it is. Other spells might not be so simple, but we can always use existing spells to find some sort of guidance.

We’ve included a clean copy of our spell template so you can create your own spells that can easily be printed out and pasted on index cards for you and your friends to use.

Playtesting Your Homebrew Spells

This step is easy because it basically just means you should use your spells and have fun. That being said, you’ll want to remember that 5e spells go through a lot of playtesting before they’re released. 

If you run into an issue where your spells feel too powerful, take some things away or raise the spell level. It doesn’t have to be a process where you start again from scratch. All you have to do is remain conscious of the fact that we rarely get things right the first time.

Final Thoughts

Creating homebrew content can be a lot of fun. It’s a process that allows us to bring the things we really want into a game that we know and love. It’s not just fun though; it’s also an important process that allows the community to grow and allows the game to become something even greater. You’re not just making content for you and your friends; you’re making history.

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