Ritual Spells 5e
Table of Contents:
Ritual Spells 5e
Take a Quick Ritual Break
Not all magic is fireballs and magic missiles, sometimes you’ve got time to breathe and perform a few magical rituals. Ritual casting is an alternate form of spellcasting for many spellcasters that essentially lets them casually cast a few spells during downtime and between encounters where the action economy isn’t so important. But how does it work in 5th edition? Do you need a full moon? Who can do it? Put down a circle of salt and get to chanting the magic words as we go through everything you need to know.
The Basics of Ritual Casting
You might have noticed “ritual casting” in your spellcasting class features but in the actual class itself they tend to just say “you can cast rituals” without explaining any of their ancient secrets. That’s because the ritual magic rules are tucked into the main spellcasting section of the player’s guide which we’ve repeated here:
Certain spells have a special tag: ritual. Such a spell can be cast following the normal rules for spellcasting, or the spell can be cast as a ritual. The ritual version of a spell takes 10 minutes longer to cast than normal. It also doesn't expend a spell slot, which means the ritual version of a spell can't be cast at a higher level.
To cast a spell as a ritual, a spellcaster must have a feature that grants the ability to do so. The cleric and the druid, for example, have such a feature. The caster must also have the spell prepared or on his or her list of spells known, unless the character's ritual feature specifies otherwise, as the wizard's does.”
Let’s go over this slowly and make sure you don’t miss a few key pieces here.
No Spell Slot
This is the big important part that makes you consider casting a ritual in the first place. If you cast it as a ritual, you don’t use up a spell slot. This means you can cast as many ritual spells as you want in a day, it won’t affect your combat effectiveness, and all it costs you is time.
The reason that infinite ritual spells aren't game breaking is this 10-minute casting time. 10 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but it not only guarantees you won’t be doing it in combat (rounds are each 6 seconds meaning ritual casting mid-combat would take 100 rounds) but it also means you typically have to be in a place of reasonable safety to do so. You can’t just duck behind a corner in the middle of a dungeon to cast a ritual without at least the threat of something coming along and interrupting you.
When casting spells as rituals, you always cast it using the lowest possible spell level. Most ritual spells are utility spells that don't do anything extra with spell slot increases anyway but still.
You Need the Spell Prepared or Known
If you’ve got a set list of spells you know like a bard or a sorcerer, you have to know the spell to cast it as a ritual. If you’re a prepared spellcaster like a cleric or a druid, you need to have the spell prepared for the day if you want to cast it as a ritual.
Wizards are Special
That rule about needing the spell prepared? Ignore it if you’re a wizard! Wizards are special little lads with a special little exception to the rule that lets them cast rituals so long as the ritual is in their spellbook.
No Extra Costs
So, while you might want to flavor your ritual spells with mantras and magic circles, ritual casting doesn’t actually add any material costs or really modify the spell. It still uses the same components, uses the same spellcasting focus, and functions identically to the normal spell other than the casting time. Flavor to your taste, but no worries on spell components.
Who Can Cast Rituals?
The short answer is that the Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid, and Wizard classes all have access to ritual spells as a base part of their spellcasting features.
The long answer is that anybody can be a ritual caster if you’re willing to spend a feat on it, even if you don't get it as a class feature.
Prerequisite: Intelligence or Wisdom of 13 or higher
You have learned a number of spells that you can cast as rituals. These spells are written in a ritual book, which you must have in hand while casting one of them.
When you choose this feat, you acquire a ritual book holding two 1st-level spells of your choice. Choose one of the following classes: bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard. You must choose your spells from that class's spell list, and the spells you choose must have the ritual tag. The class you choose also must have the ritual tag. The class you choose also determines your spellcasting ability for these spells: Charisma for bard, sorcerer, or warlock; Wisdom for cleric or druid; or Intelligence for wizard.
If you come across a spell in written form, such as a magical spell scroll or a wizard's spellbook, you might be able to add it to your ritual book. The spell must be on the spell list for the class you chose, the spell's level can be no higher than half your level (rounded up), and it must have the ritual tag. The process of copying the spell into your ritual book takes 2 hours per level of the spell, and costs 50 gp per level. The cost represents the material components you expend as you experiment with the spell to master it, as well as the fine inks you need to record it.”
So, to start with that Intelligence or Wisdom requirement means you should probably only consider the feat if you’re already making use of one of those ability scores, but if you really want to ritual cast 13 isn’t too bad of a dip.
Next, ritual caster gives us a couple of ritual spells to actually use our new ritual casting feature for. But what’s really interesting is the “ritual book” that functions like a wizard’s spellbook. If you have this feat and manage to find new ritual spells from your chosen class, you can potentially use this feat to gain any or all of them for a single feat.
Is this feat an automatic pick? No, not at all. But if you’re finding that your party is missing some important utility spells, this is a handy way to fill a need in your adventuring group.
How do I Know Which Spells are Rituals?
If you’re looking at online sources like D&D beyond, ritual spells are often marked with a big “R” symbol. For the actual books, you can find the ritual tag right after the spell school and spell level at the top of the spell. It’ll look like “1st level abjuration (ritual)”.
What are All the Ritual Spells?
We could always get more ritual spells as books are released and there’s plenty of homebrew magic out there. You may also be surprised due to Baldur’s Gate and their habit of swapping around what spells are rituals. But this is the list of ritual spells currently on the books divided by level:
1st Level Spells
- Comprehend Languages
- Detect Magic
- Detect Poison and Disease
- Find Familiar
- Floating Disk
- Illusory Script
- Purify Food and Drink
- Speak with Animals
- Unseen Servant
2nd Level Spells
- Animal Messenger
- Beast Sense
- Gentle Repose
- Locate Animals or Plants
- Magic Mouth
3rd Level Spells
- Feign Death
- Tiny Hut
- Meld into Stone
- Phantom Steed
- Water Breathing
- Water Walk
4th Level Spells
5th Level Spells
- Commune with Nature
- Contact Other Plane
- Telepathic Bond
6th Level Spells
- Instant Summons
What Happens if a Ritual Spell is Interrupted?
10 minutes means 10 minutes, and if you get stopped by something in the middle you’ve got to start all over again. You weren’t using a spell slot in the first place, so it’s not like you wasted anything. This is really the big “cost” of a ritual, in that you need a reasonable expectation that you won’t get interrupted for a decent chunk of time.
Do Ritual Spells have Material, Somatic, or Verbal Components?
Casting a spell as a ritual doesn’t modify the components used in the normal casting. This means that if the spell normally has a type of spell component, the ritual version will as well. The wording isn’t entirely clear on if those components are involved for the whole casting, but generally you can assume they’re involved. This normally doesn’t matter much, but in cases where you’re trying to cast a ritual stealthily there’s a good chance that your DM will determine that a ritual with verbal components will involve some sort of non-stealthy chant for the duration.
What About Components with Gold Costs?
Casting as a ritual doesn’t cost a spell slot, but it’ll still cost you any pricy ingredients that the spell may have. This shouldn’t come up very often, since practically no ritual spells have components with gold costs. But at much later levels you’ll run into a few like forbiddance and instant summons.
What Does “Utility Spell” Mean?
D&D isn’t just combat, or at least it shouldn’t be. Even a classical dungeon crawling adventure will have numerous situations where you’ll have to solve a puzzle, figure out an item, or generally accomplish something other than beating up a monster. Almost every ritual spell can be considered a utility spell, which should make sense considering how long they would take to cast in combat.
When Should I Be Casting Rituals?
Rituals are useful for essentially saving your spell slots for combat, while still being able to use your utility spells. Whenever you are both reasonably safe and time isn’t a major factor, you should probably save yourself the spell slot by taking 10 minutes to cast the spell as a ritual. This doesn’t mean you should always cast it as a ritual though. If the party is somewhere dangerous with monsters roaming about, it might be prudent to just snap the spell off using a slot, get what you need, and bounce.
What are the Best Ritual Spells?
It’s hard to rate utility spells in general since we’re dealing with situational effects rather than just damage dealing spells and other combat magic. Every utility and ritual spell has a time and place they can be effective, but some rituals tend to be more effective or effective more often. The following ritual spells should probably be early picks on your spell list, or at least considered.
The go-to utility spell of utility spells, depending on your DM it will range from a mildly helpful tool for spotting loot with magical auras to a straight up “detective vision” for important items. This is a powerful classic wizard spell even when cast with the spell slot, but as a ritual you’ll always be able to pick out the important items in a pile, the relevant bits of a puzzle, or just see who’s got the good loot on them. If you take a single spell for utility, it should be this one.
This is the twin brother to detect magic and if you have the opportunity, you should take the pair together. Once you spot an item as magic using detect magic, identify lets you know what the magic item actually is and does. Some DMs will tell you general facts about the item, but many will just hand you the item’s full description. Together, and with 20 minutes for both rituals, you should be able to reliably find and figure out any magical baubles your DM throws your way. Be aware though that identify has a 100-gp pearl component that more strict DMs will require you to have. The pearl isn’t used up by the spell, so you only need the one, but still.
This one is more dependent on the type of game you’re playing, but alarm as a ritual lets you prevent (hopefully) any sneak attacks while you’re resting. You ward a small area for the next 8 hours (conveniently the length of a long rest) with a mental or audible alarm that triggers whenever a creature enters the area, other than the creatures you designate. If your DM isn’t the type to interrupt rests with surprise attacks anyway it’s significantly less useful, but still a strong utility spell to have on a ritual.
The spell that earns you a fuzzy friend is also a ritual. We can and have spent an entire article talking about the many applications of this spell which you can find here. For here just know it’s a sneakily powerful spell, and since it’s a ritual all classes have access to it through the ritual caster feat, even if it isn't on your class spell list and without taking magic initiate.
I see a lot of newer players get confused on how to actually use this one, but the old vets know how useful it can be. You can’t ride it like a magic carpet since you can’t direct it as such, but it follows you, and can carry quite a bit of weight. Think of it like an emergency cart you have in your pocket, that floats. Injured party members? Treasure? Normally that sort of thing could be a hurdle, but a floating disk can whisk it along with you with ease.
Last updated: January 27, 2019
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