Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What 2nd Level Magic-User Spells are "Must Have"?

For the most part, 2nd level spells for magic-users in D&D and AD&D are pretty much a wasteland. Sure, Knock and Rope Trick have their uses, but the main excitement of hitting third level as a magic-user isn't the access to 2nd level spells, but watching your first level Magic Missile spell get a 2nd missile (at least in AD&D).

What are your "go to" 2nd level spells for magic-users? Which spells of 2nd level do you feel are undervalued by most players?


  1. Web and Mirror Image always get a lot of love from the players in our games, but Web also has the benefit of pissing off the DM at the same time. Alter Self is underrated, if highly dependent on circumstances.

    1. I never get pissed off when my players screw monsters over. There's nothing I enjoy more than seeing my dungeons looted from top to bottom and everything in them put to the sword.

  2. Invisibility is incredibly powerful and useful. Stinking Cloud is also handy. Too many players can't get past the lack of high damage offensive spells at 2nd level, but you can cause some creative chaos with a number of 2nd level spells.

  3. Web is immensely powerful if used in the right way. I think the main issue with 2nd level spells is that they require a lot of tactical agility; none of the simple fire-and-forget Magic Missile or cataclysmic Fireball.

  4. I love me those 2nd level spells! (Classic D&D...I know the lists are a bit different in AD&D). Phantasmal Force, Mirror Image, Invisibility, and Web are all really useful spells. Phantasmal Force is hands down one of the most versatile spells in the game...if you are creative enough to use it right. It can help you win or avoid just about any encounter.

    But as others said above, PF requires thought and creativity, not just blasting stuff like Sleep, Magic Missile, Fireball and Lightning Bolt.

  5. Not sure about the premise of this question. It seems to me there are a lot of great spells on the second level list.

  6. Looking at the list from the 1e AD&D PHB, I see:
    Darkness, 15; Radius
    Detect Invisibility
    Mirror Image
    Ray of Enfeeblement
    Rope Trick
    Stinking Cloud
    Wizard Lock

    Your definition of a wasteland must be different than mine.

    1. Good list. Knock is probably one of the most overall useful spells from the first three or four levels.

  7. The ability of Stinking Cloud to control space in a cramped indoor environment makes it an important tactical tool well beyond level 10. Sleep seems more powerful at low levels, but after level 5, it stops mattering.

  8. The pre-Greyhawk ones alone seem pretty useful to me. Locate Object in particular sounds great for an exploration-based game like D&D, and Continual Light can force some interesting decisions on the players. On the one hand, you've got an indefinite source of light, but on the other it's bound to attract monsters and putting it out to avoid them means you've just wasted one of a precious few slots. Note, too, the theme in duration at this level. That's something to think about should a magic-user wish to research any original spells

  9. ESP, Phantasmal Forces, and Invisibility, probably in that order.

  10. Web a bunch of times over. It is very versatile and effective.

  11. Yeah, I'm in the "what bad 2nd level spells" camp, mostly. Invisibility, Web, Rope Trick, and Stinking cloud! And that's even if you don't allow Thor to be killed by being pushed off a high wall with a Knock spell. :)

  12. Our wizards invent their own spells, all are "must have" or they wouldn't have bothered.

  13. For a social adventure: ESP, Comprehend Languages, Invisibility, Knock, Wizard Lock.

    For a dungeon crawl: Web, Comprehend Languages, Invisibility, Knock, Wizard Lock.

  14. Invisibility is the best second level spell, so good it would be a fine 3rd or 4th level spell as it changes the reality of the world around it by so much when it is employed.

  15. In my 3.5/PF games, my wizard always stocks up on:
    Web - slow down the enemy long enough to burn them in it
    Fog Cloud - Hard to hit me if you can't see me.
    Glitterdust - Potential blindness, and uncover invisible enemies.
    Shatter - If the enemy's sword is broken, it'll be difficult to stick me with it.

    Anything beyond that is gravy.

  16. Its from UA, but 'Grease' and a well thrown flask of burning oil or naptha came in pretty handy.

  17. I remember playing one of the old gold box SSI D&D games. My party was fighting a dragon. The Magic User cast stinking cloud, nauseating the dragon, fighter steps up and one-shots the helpless opponent. Seemed an utterly ridiculous outcome.

    But I'm fond of Tasha's Hideous Laughter. I make my character tell a bad joke whenever he uses it.


Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition