The Forgotten Realms, of course, has spells up to 12th level in previous setting material – but then again, Faerun is a place where you hire the neighbor kid to shovel the Rods of Wonder out of your driveway every morning (h/t my college friend Courtney). There is plenty of history of spells above the usual limit of 9th level in other settings as well, but it’s always fun to pick on Fogotten Realms. Fun for me at least.
I’ve been thinking about 10th level spells, though, and I think I have an interesting and not too overpowered way to handle them in a D&D game. What I have in mind is a set of design principles for coming up with 10th level spells that I think will balance them out but still make them interesting and valuable as something other than power-creep.
- 10th level spells affect the setting in some ongoing way – they are a way for powerful casters to affect the world around them
- 10th level spells must be found, or researched, as part of a quest
- A 10th level spell can be cast only once, and then it is lost. The capacity is burned out of the caster, or the gods withhold the power, or however you’d like to account for it in game
- 10th level spells are the way you account for magical effects in the world that aren’t otherwise accounted for in the rules.
- Examples: the flying citadels in Krynn used during the War of the Lance; casters who create their own demi-planes or shard realms; special, more-powerful animal companions or familiars; the wish spell, without having to worry as much about limitations because it can only ever be cast once by a particular caster; and so on.
I think these principles for 10th level spells will work well, and solve a lot of problems, including what to do with the wish spell. They also provide an explanation for magical effects that aren’t otherwise accounted for in the rules – not because everything needs a rule, but rather so that players can accomplish the things they see in the world if they become powerful enough.
What are your thoughts on 10th level spells? Is there a better way to address these questions left open in D&D 5E’s design?