- Casting Time: 1 bonus action
- Range: Self
- Duration: Concentration up to 1 minute
- School: Transmutation
- Class: Ranger
- Level: 1st level
- Damage Effect: Force
- Attack/Save: –
- Components: V
You move like the wind. For the duration, your movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks.
Once before the spell ends, you can give yourself advantage on one weapon attack roll on your turn. That attack deals an extra 1d8 force damage on a hit.
Whether you hit or miss, your walking speed increases by 30 feet until the end of that turn.
What Is the Zephyr Strike Spell?
Zephyr Strike is what we can call a ranger signature spell since it is only available to this class.
The spell allows a ranger to gain advantage on a weapon attack, deal extra damage if that attack hits, and gain 30 feet of walking speed until the end of the turn.
It’s a lot packed into a 1st-level spell, so let’s unpack it real quick.
The first thing we need to talk about is when you cast it. It’s a bonus-action spell, which means you can cast it at any point on your turn without compromising your action.
This is great because more often than not, the attack we give ourselves advantage on will be in the same turn.
Of course, that isn’t always the case. Unlike most spells that would say something along the lines of “… the next time you make a weapon attack…” this is a concentration spell.
So long as we hold our concentration, we can cast this spell in the beginning of combat so it’s ready to go, and then use it on the attack that we really need to hit.
Once we have this spell cast, we hold our concentration until we’re ready to use it. Most of the benefits are passive though; we have to make an attack and decide to trigger the effects.
This is very similar to preparing a spell with the Ready action, when you “cast” the spell but hold concentration until you’re ready to release it.
The only real benefit that we get for the full duration of the spell is that we don’t trigger opportunity attacks.
These are easy enough to avoid, and most rangers are either going to be honing in on a single target or using long-range weapons anyway. We don’t need to concern ourselves with turning our ranger into a monk.
In this instance, the effects all trigger on a weapon attack that we make. In real life, you’d say something along the lines of “I’m going to attack X creature and roll with advantage thanks to my Zephyr Strike.”
Then, we follow through with the spell.
We make our weapon-attack roll with advantage (roll two d20s and take the higher result). If we hit, we roll damage as normal and then roll an extra d8 that we’ll deal as force damage.
Finally, and this is regardless of whether or not we hit, we get an extra 30 feet of movement speed. Even if we’ve already used up our movement speed for the turn, we get a whole extra 30 to quickly dart to a new position.
How Good Is Zephyr Strike?
This spell has a lot of good things going for it, but it’s certainly not the best spell that a ranger has in their repertoire.
While you may get many exciting effects, it comes at the cost of your concentration, a valuable resource that can be used on much more powerful abilities.
Rangers are only half-casters. Since they have far fewer spell slots available to them than a full caster would, they really have to be wise with how they cast their spells.
A basic rule of thumb is that you’re better off casting as few spells as possible.
This explains then, why Zephyr Strike is just packed full of utility. Advantage, extra damage, and extra movement speed all in one spell slot is a pretty dynamic choice.
In a vacuum, this would be an amazing spell. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the ranger does have other spells available to them.
One such spell is Hunter’s Mark, another 1st-level concentration spell virtually exclusive to the ranger class.
Hunter’s Mark doesn’t offer up advantage on attack rolls or extra movement speed, but it does allow you to pick a target and deal an extra d6 damage to them every time you hit while you hold concentration.
It also lasts for an hour and lets you use a bonus action to change targets whenever your current target drops to 0 hp.
Let’s do some quick comparison here.
At the cost of one 1st-level spell slot, Zephyr strike gives you a better chance of hitting your target, deals an extra 1d10 damage if you do hit, and lets you run a bit further.
Also at the cost of one 1st-level spell slot, Hunter’s Mark lets you deal an extra 1d6 damage every turn (more once you have extra attack at 5th level) along with several other benefits.
If you only had one average-length combat in the hour and only hit 50% of the time, that’s still an extra 8d6 damage you get to deal.
So which is better, 1d10 or at least 8d6? Let me put it this way, 2d6 is a better profit margin than 1d10 is.
The problem here isn’t that Hunter’s Mark is better than Zephyr’s Strike on the damage output. The problem is that Hunter’s Mark (or the similar ability Favored Foe) is another concentration spell.
Since you can’t have two of these running at the same time, you’d have to choose which one is more beneficial.
Since Hunter’s Mark is such an iconic ability, it’s hard to justify any spell that steps on its toes.
Even Hail of Thorns, which is an amazingly themed AOE ranger spell, can get pushed to the sidelines because of the reliability of a spell like Hunter’s Mark.
Now, all that being said, we’re starting to look like we might have a situational spell on our hands here.
If you want to move fast, Zephyr Strike is the way to go.
An extra 30 feet movement speed is basically the Dash action for most characters, so you’re already getting an action’s worth of ability out of a 1st-level spell slot and a bonus action.
I’d say that’s a fair trade, and then you add all of the potential attack bonuses onto it, and you’re golden.
Additionally, with the introduction of Favored Foe (a variant 1st-level feature that basically functions like Hunter’s Mark), most rangers are looking for a good spell to fill that first-level slot.
This can certainly be a good option, especially since situational spells fit perfectly into a class that only has a few spell slots each day.
Making a Better Zephyr Strike
Normally, I’m not a fan of modifying spells. I’d rather homebrew something new if I’m going to go through the effort.
Still, I think Zephyr Strike is an interesting spell, and I’d love for it to be more useful without causing too much conflict with other abilities a ranger would want to use.
The first way I’d go about this is to very simply remove the concentration from this spell.
Instead of a concentration duration, you cast the spell as a bonus action, and it triggers on the next attack you make this turn. It’s very straightforward, and it’s what most people will be doing anyway.
The second option is to give it the treatment that most 1st-level spells already receive: add something in as a reward for upcasting it.
“If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you can use it on an additional weapon attack for each slot level above 1st.”
This gives some credence to the concentration portion of the spell and adds a substantial amount of value to having it in your list of known spells.
“If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d10 for each slot level above 1st (to a maximum of 5d10) and the movement increases by 10 feet for each slot level above 1st (to a maximum of 70 feet).”
This one is a little more far-fetched, and really, it would likely be that just one of these bonuses was a reward for upcasting. Still, I think it would be a compelling reason to cast this spell, especially at higher levels.
The last option would be to rework the spell entirely, but keep the same basic premise. That might sound drastic, but it’s been done for ranger subclasses, so why can’t it be done for a spell?
“You move like the wind. For the duration, your movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks, and you have a +3 bonus to hit with weapon attacks.
Whenever you hit a target with a weapon attack during the duration, you deal an extra d4 of force damage and gain an extra 20 feet of movement speed until the end of your turn.
This spell ends early if you miss an attack.
At Higher Levels: If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the bonus increases by +1 for each slot level above 1st and the extra damage increases by 1d4 for each slot level above 1st.”
This is a different spell, but it keeps many of the same elements and keeps the same overall focus.
Zephyr Strike is meant to make you move like the wind and strike like, well, anything other than a Zephyr (which is a soft, gentle breeze).
In my 2.0 version of it, you get to see a similar sort of benefit to that of Hunter’s Mark, making it more of a sister spell than a rival.
Of course, with all this power has to come some caveats. If you’re receiving all of these benefits, then you should be able to hit your mark. Therefore, the spell ends when you fumble.
You may see as much extra damage as you would from hunter’s mark, you may see more, or you may see less. That’s not really the point anymore.
What matters is that we have an interesting and exciting spell that opens up the options for rangers beyond just really good targeting.
I hope you’ve found this guide insightful. If you did, be sure to check out some of our other spell guides to learn more about the spells you’ll find in 5e.
As always, happy adventuring.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.