10th Level Spells in D&D 5E

Five D&D Magic Items Every Adventurer Should Own

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.

  1. 10th level spells affect the setting in some ongoing way – they are a way for powerful casters to affect the world around them
  2. 10th level spells must be found, or researched, as part of a quest
  3. 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
  4. 10th level spells are the way you account for magical effects in the world that aren’t otherwise accounted for in the rules.
    1. 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?

5 thoughts on “10th Level Spells in D&D 5E

  1. I’ve always been fascinated by 10th level and beyond(!), but i can find little information anywhere about what these spells actually are/could be! I saw a few on the wiki but thars not enough! I wanna play god!!

    Like

  2. Due to the Netherese destroying the weave during Karsus’ Folly, Mystra has limited the ability of any spell slinger to obtain or use magic beyond 9th. However, there are instances (in the books) that have provided some indication of “High Magic,” possibly making a comeback or, at least, some willing to make the sacrifice can find and wield a 10th level spell or higher.
    I like your idea, but would suggest you make the cost of the spell more than components and time. There should be some personal trouble/cost that may harm or frustrate the character for some amount of time.
    As an example, a level 10 scrying type magic would cost the mage his/her site for 1d4 days, or maybe cause massive migraines that require a con save (15) daily for 1d6 days; failed save forces all actions for the duration of the migraine to be at disadvantage, etc… I’m sure there are much better ideas, but I wouldn’t pass out high magic without a cost.
    The 2e Netheril; Empire of Magic source book has good info on some of the higher than 9th level spells.

    Like

    • Those are all good ideas to add to this one and expand on it. For me, I like the limiting factor being that the spell can only be case once, and then it is gone, or at least no longer accessible to that spellcaster. So there is any material cost to the spell, the cost of researching and adventuring to find it in the first place, and then you have to use it at just the right moment. I played in a non-D&D campaign that had once-per-campaign powers, and they were awesome.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s