There are a lot of spells in Dungeons & Dragons, some of which are very powerful, and some have the potential to actually break the game. Some spells listed in d&d sourcebooks have very clear wording on using them, while others are a little more open-ended. Most of what could be considered game-breaking comes from how the players interpret and use the spells at their disposal.
Game breaking is a subjective term in d&d as what one player or DM might consider game breaking another might have no problem with. Some d&d spells offer up a lot of possibilities to end encounters immediately or temporarily derail campaigns. Certain spells can even break in-game economies; for instance, the ninth level transmutation spell true polymorph you have made many DMs cry as players simply create gold for themselves.
Higher-level spells are designed to have a big impact on gameplay, so for this reason, no ninth-level spells will be included here. Using the spells here could break a d&d game without cheating but would perhaps cause a touch of chaos. None of these d&d spells are particularly overpowered; what makes them game-breaking is the potential mayhem they can unleash in the hands of a very imaginative player.
D&D: Get Illusionary Help With Phantasmal Force Spell
ghost force is a second-level illusion spell available to Bards, Wizards, and Sorcerers. The target must make an Intelligence saving throw; on a fail, the target will believe whatever illusion the player has invented. The target will see this illusion and be the only one who can, as the spell takes root in the target’s mind. The affected target would rationalize any inconsistencies between reality and the illusion. To end the d&d spell, the target must use their action to make an Intelligence check.
magical d&d example given in the Player’s Handbook is that of a bridge. The players make the target believe there is a bridge spanning a chasm, and the target would attempt to walk across it and fail. This is a good use of this spell; however, ghost force can have more creative uses, such as putting a pool of lava between the party and attackers. The party could make a guard believe their fellow guard has come to highlight them and leave their post. An enemy chasing the party through a castle could believe there is a wall blocking them from the players. The game-breaking element comes from how the players could use this simple spell, and the only limit is their imagination.
Suggestion Is D&D’s Jedi Mind Trick
suggestion is a second-level enchantment available to Bards, Warlocks, Wizards, Sorcerers, and d&d Clerics of the knowledge domain. With this spell, the player can suggest something to a target, who must make a Wisdom saving throw; on a fail, the target must carry out the suggestion. The suggestion cannot get the target to do something against their nature or harm themselves, but if it sounds reasonable, they will follow that order to the best of their ability.
suggestion is a concentration spell that can last for a whopping eight hours, which opens up some interesting and game-breaking options for players. Players could use suggestion in combat to suggest an enemy pick a random direction and walk away. For the next eight hours, that enemy would just keep walking, thus ending combat. Another suggestion could be to get an enemy to sit or stand below a cliff where a creative d&d player party could drop a boulder on them.
suggestion gets potentially game-breaking if used in social situations. If cast on a prisoner, suggestion makes an incredibly effective interrogation tool, and if combined with zone of truth, the players could get everything they wanted from a suspect. Something to keep in mind is that the suggestion itself is not the spell’s verbal component, so others around the target would see the player cast the spell. However, if a Sorcerer uses the meta magic ability subtle spellthey could cast it without the verbal component.
Using Slight Meta Gaming With Banishment In D&D Can Break A Game
banishment is a fourth-level abjuration spell that can end a campaign if players know different enemy types and what d&d material plane they are from. This does require some metagaming from players, so whether or not their characters would know to use banishment would be up to the DM. However, players could still use banishment to good effect without metagaming.
banishment sends the target to another plane of existence upon a failed Charisma saving throw. If the target is from a different plane of existence than the one the players are on, they are returned to their home plane. If the target is native to the same plane the players are on, they are sent to a harmless demiplane for one minute. A lot of planning could occur in that minute; the party could ready actions, reposition themselves, or even flee from a powerful enemy.
Arcane Eye Is A Powerful D&D Spell For Scouting
Available for Wizards, Artificers, and Clerics from the Knowledge or Arcana domain, arcane eye is to d&d fourth-level divination spell. The spell creates a tiny, invisible eye with darkvision, which can move in any direction for 30 feet each turn. the arcane eye functions in a similar way to a Wizard’s familiar; however, unlike the familiar, there is no limit on how far away the eye can travel.
The eye is an excellent scout as it’s invisible, and the eye can travel safely through most areas unseen by enemies. The eye cannot open doors or pass through solid objects but can pass through gaps as small as an inch. So with enough patience, players can wait for guards or other enemies to open doors and then get a good map and guard patterns. Players can map out an entire dungeon this way, changing how a party and DM approach an encounter and potentially breaking a d&d game.
Polymorph Is A Classic D&D Game Breaker
Polymorph is a fourth-level transmutation spell in d&d available for Bards, Druids, Wizards, Sorcerers, and Clerics from the Trickery domain. With such a wide range of classes having polymorph, there is a chance someone in an adventuring party has access to this highly accessible spell. With polymorph, creatures can be turned into another form on a failed Wisdom save. The beast the target becomes must have the same challenge rating (CR) or lower as their original form or level in the case of player characters. So an eighth-level character could be polymorphed into a creature with a CR of eight or lower.
Polymorph is a highly versatile spell and can be used in or out of combat. Unlike a Druid’s wild-shapea polymorphed target’s d&d stats like Dexterity are completely replaced by the new form’s statistics, including the mental scores. The target’s personality stays the same, and they remain aware of who their enemies and allies are. So an enemy lich will stay an enemy even if they become a fluffy bunny. Polymorph can be an excellent way to nullify an enemy for an hour so long as the spellcaster maintains concentration.
Conjur Woodland Beings Means Fun With Fey Creatures In D&D
Conjur Woodland Beings is a fourth-level conjuration spell for Druids and Rangers where the player can summon a bunch of fey creatures. The player chooses the CR and chooses one fey creature CR 2 or lower, two fey creatures CR 1 or lower, four fey creatures CR 1/2 or lower, or eight fey creatures CR 1/4 or lower. The spell text does not clarify whether the d&d player or the DM chooses the forms; however, Wizards of the Coast clarified in the Sage Advice Compendium that the DM decides what is conjured.
These summoned creatures will stick around for one hour and aid the party in battle if necessary. Example creatures are blink dogs, dryads, and sea hags, all of which have some great abilities. However, it is entirely possible to have eight pixies summon, and when that happens, things can get crazy really quickly. Pixies have both fly and polymorphwhich can turn a party into a team of flying giant apes, one of the most game-breaking examples here.
No Initial Save Against Power Word Stun
Power word stun is to d&d eighth-level enchantment spell with no saving throw to resist the effects when the spell is initially cast. The spell’s effect is that a target with 150 hit points or lower is immediately stunned, although they can make a Constitution saving throw at the end of their turn to end the effect. Bards, Sorcerers, Wizards, and Warlocks can cast power word stun along with any subclass who can choose from those spell lists.
Power word stun has the potential to be game-breaking as the target has no initial save against this spell’s effects. So long as they have fewer than 150 hit points, they are stunned. So, for example, if a powerful d&d spellcaster used this on the enemy immediately after that enemies turn in combat, then that enemy would be stunned for the entirety of the combat round. Every player would get advantage on their attacks as the target is stunned, there would be no attacks of opportunity on players were to move out of melee, and the target would have no reactions. It would be straightforward to take down a powerful enemy by strategically using power word stun.
Game breaking doesn’t mean they should be removed from the game or banned. It really means that when used creatively, these spells can derail a Dungeons & Dragons game for a little while. A good DM will always find a way to work with and around their player’s shenanigans.
Next: Dungeons & Dragons: How DMs Can Make Intelligence Matter
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