D&D’s setting of the Forgotten Realms is a world of magic and mysticism. Characters, creatures, deities and items can contain and use these magical energies.

Casting spells and using these energies follow certain rules. That is what this section will cover.

What is a Spell?

According to the Players Handbook, a spell is a “discrete magical effect, a single shaping of the magical energies that suffuse the multiverse into a specific, limited expression.”

In practice, it is an action you take to get a magical result. It can be offensive, like a fireball, or defensive, like a spell of mage armor.

Spells can be a lot of fun in the game, and I personally like to find a way to get at least a bit of magic ability in my characters. I typically play fighter types, but you can build your character to use spells even with that play style.

Lets cover the structure of the types of Spells first.

Spell Level

A spell level ranges from 0 to 9. It is a basic indication of it’s power and intricacy. This is not to say that lower level spells are not extremely important and powerful in their own right.

A level 0 spell is known as a Cantrip. They are simple spells that casters can use almost anytime.

Spell level is not one for one with your character level. They go up slowly as you level. You’ll have to be level 17 before you can use the highest level spells.

Known and Prepared Spells

Most casters need to prepare the spells they can use, meaning they pick from all the spells they know, and prepare a few for use.

Other casters have a smaller list of known spells, but they have no need of preparing them.

Spell Slots

Regardless of how many spells you know or prepare, each caster has a set number of spell slots.

As an example, a level 3 Wizard has 4 level 1 slots and 2 level 2 slots. Each time she casts a spell, she uses up one slot.

Casting a Spell at a Higher Level

You can cast a spell at a higher level. For example cast a level 1 magic missile using a level 2 slot. If she does this, the magic missile is 2nd level and does more damage.


As mentioned above, a cantrip is simply a level 0 spell. It requires no spell slots and has no restrictions on being prepared. You can use cantrips over and over.


Certain spells have a special tag: ritual. Such a spell can be cast following the normal rules for spellcasting, or the spell can be cast as a ritual. The ritual version of a spell takes 10 minutes longer to cast than normal. It also doesn’t expend a spell slot, which means the ritual version of a spell can’t be cast at a higher level.

To cast a spell as a ritual, a spellcaster must have a feature that grants the ability to do so. The cleric and the druid, for example, have such a feature. The caster must also have the spell prepared or on his or her list of spells known, unless the character’s ritual feature specifies otherwise, as the wizard’s does.
– Players Handbook

We have a great guide on Ritual Spells for more information.

Casting a Spell

The spells attributes are typically laid out in a logical structure of information called a Spell Block.

A spell block will give you details like casting time, range, components, duration, targets, damage (if any) and saving throws (if any).

I’ll explain these for you but just understand that the spell block details what the spell will do.

Our Spell Blocks give you the information, and then below it we try to give the benefit of our experience with that spell. Is it good, under what circumstances, can it do this or that, answering common questions and misconceptions and more.

Casting Time

Typically casting a spell requires an Action. Similar to swinging a sword at an enemy, you use your action to cast a spell.

There are exceptions:

Bonus Action

This is an extra quick cast that uses your bonus action rather than a full action.


Some spells, like counterspell, are cast as a reaction to something. These are also excellent since it uses a separate resource other than your action.

Longer Casting Times

There are some spells that take a long time to cast. They are noted in the spell description.

The Schools of Magic

There are 8 Schools of Magic in D&D. They are:

Abjuration – Protection, shields, barriers.
Conjuration – Summoning and creating things, also teleporting
Divination – Knowledge, communicating, seeing
Enchantment – Mind control, charm, sleep
Evocation – Energy control, Magic Missile, Healing, Telepathy
Illusion – Deception, Invisibility, Simulacrum
Necromancy – Control Dead, Chill Touch, Resurrection
Transmutation – Changing matter, Mending, Polymorph, Time Stop

We have a full guide on the Schools of Magic for you to check out for more details.