Last Updated on November 13, 2023
The school of transmutation is theoretically a collection of spells that all change the form, composition, or properties of something.
The Player’s Handbook describes transmutation as “spells that modify energy and matter” (page 119). That might already sound vague, but there are also transmutation spells that fall outside that description, for example, Goodberry.
The Best Transmutation Spells
Shillelagh is an absolutely essential cantrip for melee-focused druids at lower levels before you gain access to wild shape.
Not only does it provide increased damage, but your weapon also becomes magical. This allows you to deal damage to creatures that have immunity to nonmagical weapons – something that not all classes can do at low levels.
Goodberry is another fantastic druid spell. It creates 10 berries that last 24 hours. Each berry restores 1 hp.
This means you can give one or two berries to each member of your party, giving your whole party the ability to raise downed allies by feeding a berry to them.
Catapult is really fun. You get to fling objects around and interact with the environment while dealing reasonable damage.
Plus, if a creature successfully dodges one of your projectiles, then the object keeps moving and could hit a creature behind it.
Feather Fall has niche usage, but there are situations where you’ll be really glad of it. If you find yourself falling from a great height, this is one of your best low-level options.
Plus, knowing that you have access to Feather Fall turns every window into a potential emergency exit.
Enlarge/Reduce is a fun option to help you cheese boss fights. You can enlarge your party’s tank, changing their size to Large and giving them advantage on strength checks.
This means they can grapple Huge creatures like giants, and they gain advantage on their skill checks to do that.
They also get a nice damage-bonus from being enlarged, but this alone wouldn’t be worth casting a spell that costs an action plus concentration.
Heat Metal deals mediocre up-front damage for a second-level spell, but it has several benefits that make it worthwhile to cast.
Heat Metal’s damage is guaranteed and doesn’t require an attack roll or a save.
It also has a chance to disarm enemies holding metal weapons, and in situations where you can’t be easily attacked and your concentration can’t be easily broken, the spell’s damage can reoccur every turn without costing your action.
This spell is the bane of newer DMs who might not think to attack you and break your concentration.
If you’re consistently trivializing encounters with this spell, then you should highlight its weaknesses to your DM so they can build encounters around it.
Blink is a very strong, if unreliable, defensive spell. At the end of each of your turns for a minute, you have a 50% chance of being transported to the ethereal plane until your next turn.
If this happens, you’re not physically present for all the enemies’ turns, so you’re unlikely to be targeted by any of them.
There are disadvantages to not being physically present. Casters are often relied on to cast Counterspell during enemy turns, and if you’re not there, then you can’t do that.
You also can’t benefit from any advantageous effects that your party-mates might try to grant you.
Blink is still a powerful defensive option though. Notably, it doesn’t require concentration, so you don’t have to sacrifice your concentration slot to use it.
Polymorph transforms a target creature into another creature of your choice. This is a fantastic way of removing dangerous high-hp enemies from a fight. It can also be used on willing allies for a huge range of applications.
Animate Objects is extremely powerful. You can animate objects of varying size and number that can each attack and take any actions that they’re anatomically (for want of a better word) capable of.
For example, a statue with arms could be ordered to grapple an enemy, but a cello could not. The spell lasts for a minute, subject to concentration, so your animated minions may be able to make several attacks with one spell cast.
This spell can dish out huge amounts of damage and also has a ton of utility. Animating 10 tiny objects is your best option damage-wise, although these have lower hp and can potentially be wiped out by a well-placed AoE.
You will probably always have tiny objects available to animate, whether that’s a pouch of ball bearings, a handful of coins, or a pile of silverware.
Prestidigitation, Thaumaturgy, and Druidcraft
These three cantrips each allow you to perform a set of minor magical tricks. What makes these spells great is that usage is sufficiently vaguely defined to leave them open to endless possible uses.
Wizard: School of Transmutation
Any wizard can cast transmutation spells, but if you’re hoping to specialize in transmutation spells, then you might be considering the School of Transmutation subclass.
There are several major benefits to the School of Transmutation if you’re intending to focus on these spells.
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Rich is an avid D&D player and DM. He has been playing since the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd editions. He has run campaigns of various editions with family and friends for over 20 years. Playing DnD 5th Edition in person at local game stores and online with VTT’s over the past 10 years has provided a consistent connection to how the game has grown. He strongly believes in understanding the source material, but catering the games to your individual players. Feel free to ask anything in the comments or drop him an email: [email protected].