Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Welcome to our guide to bard Magical Secrets.
In this guide, we’ll be going through the best non-bard spell choices to add to your bard character at 6th, 10th, 14th, and 18th levels.
What Is Magical Secrets?
You have plundered magical knowledge from a wide spectrum of disciplines (presumably reading the party wizard’s spellbook while they were asleep).
Magical Secrets lets you choose two spells from any classes, including the bard. A spell you choose must be of a level you can cast, as shown on the Bard table, or a cantrip.
The chosen spells count as bard spells for you and are included in the number in the Spells Known column of the Bard table.
College of Lore bards may choose two spells at 6th level. All bards may choose two spells at 10th level and two additional spells at 14th and 18th levels.
Because Magical Secrets lets you choose from any class’s spell list, this feature brings an incredible range of options to the bard, whether you want to do something as simple as up your damage output with a Fireball or even turn yourself into the party’s main healer.
Let’s take a look at some of the best options at every level.
Magical Secrets (for Lore Bards): 6th Level
Bards belonging to the College of Lore are the only ones who get access to Magical Secrets a full four levels early.
Being able to dip into the “high level” spells from classes that usually don’t get access to them until they’re level 14-17, like the Paladin, is incredibly powerful.
At 6th level, Bards can cast 3rd-level spells, so let’s take a look at some of those options.
When a creature within 60 feet of you casts a spell, you use your reaction to attempt to counter it. If the spell you attempt to counter is of 3rd level or lower, it fails automatically.
If the spell is of 4th level or higher, make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level. On a success, the creature’s spell fails and has no effect.
At Higher Levels
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the interrupted spell has no effect if its level is less than or equal to the level of the spell slot you used.
This is an amazing way to frustrate your enemies’ plans, whether they’re evil mages or just one of the many creatures in 5e with innate spellcasting – as long as the spell still has Verbal or Somatic components of course.
You shoot a spark of light at a point within 120 feet, which blossoms into a 20-foot sphere of magical fire.
Any creature caught within the fireball must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking 8d6 fire damage on a failed save and half as much on a successful one.
At Higher Levels
Fireball’s damage increases by 1d6 for each level cast above 3rd.
The benchmark by which all other damage-dealing spells are measured.
If you feel like you (and by extension your party) are a little light on raw damage output, then picking up Fireball is a great way to turn hordes of low-level foes into a pile of scorched bones and ash.
You touch a willing creature granting it a flying speed of 60 feet for 10 minutes or until your concentration is broken. When the spell ends, the affected creature falls if it is still aloft, unless it can stop the fall.
At Higher Levels
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 3rd.
A great mixture of mobility, escape, and general coolness. Who says wizards get to have all the fun?
Melf’s Minute Meteors
You create six tiny meteors that orbit you closely for the duration of the spell (10 minutes or until your concentration is broken).
When you cast the spell — and as a bonus action on each of your turns thereafter — you can expend one or two of the meteors, sending them streaking toward a point or points you choose within 120 feet of you.
Once a meteor reaches its destination or impacts against a solid surface, the meteor explodes. Each creature within 5 feet of the point where the meteor explodes must make a Dexterity saving throw.
A creature takes 2d6 fire damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one.
At Higher Levels
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the number of meteors created increases by two for each slot level above 3rd.
A hugely underrated spell from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Granted, this wizard and sorcerer spell is harder to pull off effectively than just chucking Fireball into a room and waiting until the screaming stops.
However, if you can make it work (and make sure your concentration isn’t broken), you stand to dish out an impressive amount of damage (4d6 per turn for three turns isn’t too shabby, assuming you’re only targeting one enemy at a time) in a more controlled way.
Concentration and the use of a bonus action every turn is a steep price to pay for a bard. This class already has a lot of concentration spells to juggle and usually has something to do with its bonus action each turn.
If you just want to do a chunk of damage and get on with your day, Fireball might be a better choice.
Magically seal any door against everything but the Knock spell. Perfect for escapes or safeguarding your fortress. It’s definitely more situational than the other options here, but I love it.
A great way to keep your party members alive (at least in the long term) as well as rescue key NPCs and, if you’re an evil son of a dire wolf, pull off some highly effective interrogation techniques.
If your party is lacking a cleric or other dedicated healer, picking this and Healing Word (which bards can cast anyway) basically puts you on the path to being a full-time healer.
A mixture between Thunderwave (with the damage boosted nicely) and Misty Step, this spell from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything lets you teleport up to 90 feet and deal 3d10 thunder damage to all creatures within 10 feet of the point where you appear.
You can even bring a friend with you. Thunderwave is a classic bard spell and Tunderstep is a great way to beef it up while adding some utility.
Magical Secrets: 10th Level
This is the level where all bards get access to Magical Secrets.
Some of the spells we covered for the 6th-level Lore Bard are still going to be viable options here, but we also get to choose from 4th and 5th level spells – especially powerful when chosen from half-caster spell lists, as classes like the Ranger and Paladin aren’t supposed to get these spells until they’re around 17th or 18th level.
Your weapon crackles with arcane force. The next creature you hit with a weapon attack takes an additional 5d10 force damage.
If the target has 50 hit points or fewer, you banish it. If the target is native to a different plane of existence than the one you’re on, the target disappears, returning to its home plane.
If the target is native to the plane you’re on, the creature vanishes into a harmless demiplane. While there, the target is incapacitated. It remains there for one minute (unless your concentration is broken or the spell ends).
This is an insanely powerful weapon for taking troublesome enemies out of the fight for long enough to set up a powerful counterattack.
My personal favorite is opening a portal to the nine hells underneath where the target reappears – or just having the fighter and barbarian ready ALL their attacks for the moment when the BBEG reappears.
You create a Large hand of shimmering, translucent force with AC 20, hit points equal to your hit point maximum, a Strength of 26 (+8), and a Dexterity of 10 (+0) in an unoccupied space that you can see within range.
The hand lasts for the spell’s duration, and it moves at your command, mimicking the movements of your own hand.
When you cast the spell and as a bonus action on your subsequent turns, you can move the hand up to 60 feet and then cause one of the following effects with it.
The hand strikes one creature or object within 5 feet of it. Make a melee spell attack for the hand using your game statistics. On a hit, the target takes 4d8 force damage.
The hand attempts to push a creature within 5 feet of it in a direction you choose. Make a check with the hand’s Strength contested by the Strength (Athletics) check of the target.
If the target is Medium or smaller, you have advantage on the check.
If you succeed, the hand pushes the target up to 5 feet plus a number of feet equal to five times your spellcasting ability modifier. The hand moves with the target to remain within 5 feet of it.
The hand attempts to grapple a Huge or smaller creature within 5 feet of it. You use the hand’s Strength score to resolve the grapple. If the target is Medium or smaller, you have advantage on the check.
While the hand is grappling the target, you can use a bonus action to have the hand crush it. When you do so, the target takes bludgeoning damage equal to 2d6 + your spellcasting ability modifier.
The hand interposes itself between you and a creature you choose until you give the hand a different command. The hand moves to stay between you and the target, providing you with half cover against the target.
The target can’t move through the hand’s space if its Strength score is less than or equal to the hand’s Strength score.
If its Strength score is higher than the hand’s Strength score, the target can move toward you through the hand’s space, but that space is difficult terrain for the target.
At Higher Levels
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, the damage from the clenched fist option increases by 2d8, and the damage from the grasping hand increases by 2d6 for each slot level above 5th.
While yet another spell that demands both your bonus action and concentration is a steep price, Bigby’s Hand is one of the most underrated combat utility spells in the game.
Effectively, this spell makes you into a Battlemaster Fighter with a host of cool maneuvers to beat the crap out of or control your opponents.
Even though this is a 3rd level spell picked at 10th level, Counterspell is worth it. You can upcast it to stop all sorts of nasty effects and generally ruin any evil wizard’s day.
Find Greater Steed
You summon a spirit that takes the form of either a griffon, a pegasus, a peryton (giant evil bird with the head of a stag – who knew?), a dire wolf, a rhinoceros, or a saber-toothed tiger.
You can communicate with your steed telepathically as long as it is within one mile of you. You control the mount in combat.
While the mount is within 1 mile of you, you can communicate with it telepathically. While mounted on it, you can make any spell you cast that targets only you also target the mount.
Whether you want a powerful ally in combat or just the ability to soar on a griffon’s back over all the random encounters your DM had planned for this session, Find Greater Steed is an insanely powerful utility spell.
You transmute your quiver so it produces an endless supply of nonmagical ammunition, which seems to fire from your bow with a life of its own.
On each of your turns until the spell ends, you can use a bonus action to make two attacks with a weapon that uses ammunition from the quiver.
Each time you make such a ranged attack, your quiver magically replaces the piece of ammunition you used with a similar piece of nonmagical ammunition.
Any pieces of ammunition created by this spell disintegrate when the spell ends. If the quiver leaves your possession, the spell ends.
This is, hands down, one of the most under-appreciated spells in the game. You’re effectively trading your concentration and bonus action for two ranged attacks, which is a good deal.
This spell basically turns a mid-level bard into a high-level fighter.
Magical Secrets: 14th Level
By 14th level, bards can cast some seriously powerful spells using 6th and 7th level slots. This gives us access to some seriously powerful abilities from the wizard and sorcerer lists.
A creature you can see within 60 feet regains 70 hit points. This spell also ends blindness, deafness, and any diseases affecting the target but does not affect constructs or undead.
At Higher Levels
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 7th level or higher, the amount of healing increases by 10 for each slot level above 6th.
If you want to continue down the road of playing a cleric-lite, Heal is an amazing way to keep you and your allies in the fight when things get really nasty – especially as late-game monsters are more likely to be capable of inflicting debilitating conditions.
Finger of Death
You shoot a bolt of necrotic energy at a creature you can see within 60 feet. The target must make a Constitution saving throw, taking 7d8 + 30 necrotic damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one.
A humanoid killed by this spell rises at the start of your next turn as a zombie that is permanently under your command, following your verbal orders to the best of its ability.
Channel a bit of that necromancer energy, dish out a ton of damage, and maybe even get yourself a small mob of zombie servants to help you pitch camp, do your laundry, and venture into town for supplies.
By 14th level, however, these shambling servants aren’t going to be much use in a dungeon for more than triggering traps and maybe traumatizing the occasional guard.
You hide away a willing creature or object, making it impervious to scrying spells or divination magic until you choose to end the spell. When you cast the spell and touch the target, it also becomes invisible.
If the target is a creature, it falls into a state of suspended animation. Time ceases to flow for it, and it doesn’t grow older.
This is definitely a situationally useful spell, but deploying it correctly can have huge consequences for the plot of a campaign.
This 7th-level illusion spell creates a perfect duplicate of the caster or one beast or humanoid that is within range for the entire casting time of the spell.
The duplicate is a construct and has only half the original creature’s hit point maximum. Otherwise, the illusion uses all the statistics of the creature it duplicates, except that it is a construct.
For some of the wilder and wackier wizard plots, having a perfect duplicate of you that can cast all your spells once per day is a huge bonus.
In the hands of a bard, a simulacrum is the perfect assistant for any madcap, Parent Trap-style caper you have in mind.
Word of Recall
You teleport yourself and up to five willing creatures to a pre-arranged location tied to your deity, such as a temple.
This is an amazing get-out-of-jail-free card for you and your allies.
I’m not sure how a bard who has no affiliation with a deity changes the way this spell works; maybe you’re transported to a tavern or Faerun’s version of Madison Square Garden.
Magical Secrets: 18th Level
Finally, a bard’s 18th-level Magical Secrets feature gives them access to literally every spell in the game.
Take your pick from just about anything, but there are some near-godlike spells from the wizard list that you can produce apocalyptic results.
You conjure a portal linking an unoccupied space you can see within range to a precise location on a different plane of existence.
When you cast this spell, you can speak the name of a specific creature.
If that creature is on a plane other than the one you are on, the portal opens in the named creature’s immediate vicinity and draws the creature through it.
Also, if the deity or entity that rules the plane you are trying to open a portal to wishes, the spell fails.
Congratulations, this is now a Planescape campaign.
Being able to book a ticket to virtually anywhere in the multiverse on a daily basis is a hugely powerful ability, especially since the bard can probably convince whoever’s on the other side to help them with whatever quest they happen to be on at the moment.
You are immune to all damage until the spell ends (10 minutes).
Simple as that.
Also, even though this is a concentration spell, nothing can hurt you in order to break your concentration, so you’re virtually guaranteed a full duration of usage every time (barring any mind control weirdness).
Hugely powerful spell, and finally it’s not being wasted on stupid wizards.
You restore up to 700 hit points, divided as you choose among any number of creatures that you can see within range.
The souped-up version of Heal, this is the definitive way to turn a desperate defeat into a heroic victory. Hands down essential if your party has made it all the way to ultra high-level play without a dedicated healer.
Blazing orbs of fire plummet to the ground at four different points you can see within range.
Each creature in a 40-foot-radius sphere centered on each point you choose must make a Dexterity saving throw to avoid taking 20d6 fire damage and 20d6 bludgeoning damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one.
Whether you need to take out a city, invading army, or a demigod, the biggest, baddest damage-dealing spell in D&D is going to get the job done. If your party doesn’t have a wizard to hand, it’s time to step up.
The mightiest spell a mortal creature can cast, allowing you to alter the very foundations of reality in accord with your desires.
You can either duplicate any other spell of 8th level or lower without material components.
Alternatively, you can create one of the following effects of your choice:
- You create one object of up to 25,000 gp in value that isn’t a magic item. The object can be no more than 300 feet in any dimension, and it appears in an unoccupied space you can see on the ground.
- You allow up to 20 creatures that you can see to regain all hit points, and you end all effects on them described in the greater restoration spell.
- You grant up to 10 creatures that you can see resistance to a damage type you choose.
- You grant up to 10 creatures you can see immunity to a single spell or other magical effect for 8 hours. For instance, you could make yourself and all your companions immune to a lich’s life-drain attack.
- You undo a single recent event by forcing a reroll of any roll made within the last round (including your last turn). Reality reshapes itself to accommodate the new result. For example, a wish spell could undo an opponent’s successful save, a foe’s critical hit, or a friend’s failed save. You can force the reroll to be made with advantage or disadvantage, and you can choose whether to use the reroll or the original roll.
Need I say more? It’s the most powerful spell in the game and now some dude with a lute can cast it. Insanity.
That’s all our recommendations for spells to choose whenever your bard gains a level of Magical Secrets.
We hope they help you set your spell-slinging storyteller or musician on the road to becoming one of the most powerful mages in the multiverse.
After all, every gigging musician needs a day job.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.