Bards tend to fill a lot of roles in their party, and they’ve got a varied spell list to match that. There are many great Bard spells in D&D 5e, but which ones should you pick for your character?
In this article, we’re discussing the best Bard spells by level and explaining why they’re such valuable picks for any player who wants to harness the power of the Bard class.
Keep in mind that these are just my own opinions, at the end of the day. There are other great spells that might suit your specific character vision or work great in certain situations.
But, nevertheless, I think that every spell on this list is dependable and virtually guaranteed to bring a ton of value to your party. They’re certainly worth your consideration!
So, shall we start the show?
These are the best Bard spells by level in D&D 5e!
Best Bard Cantrips
The list of the best cantrips for Bards starts off with the humble but ever-so-useful Mage Hand.
Whether you need to grab something that’s just out of reach, want to put some distance between yourself and a potentially trapped treasure chest, or are just planning some hijinks, Mage Hand is great!
Who knows? Maybe you can even give it a drum or tambourine to add some extra percussion to your next performance!
This one is more personal preference, but Message is one of those cantrips that I can never pass up.
You never know when you’ll need to discretely relay a message. Whether it’s scouting in a dungeon or giving some stage direction at a show, it’s a useful cantrip to have!
But with some signature Bardic creativity, Minor Illusion is a reliable crowd favorite.
A quick sound or simple illusion can do wonders whether you need to wow an audience or cause a distraction. This is one of those spells where its use is most determined by your own creativity.
But no Bard spell list is complete without the fun, useful, and class-exclusive classic: Vicious Mockery. If you’ve ever wanted to insult something to death, this is exactly how you do it!
But even beyond your Vicious Mockery’s psychic damage, inflicting disadvantage on the target’s next attack roll is an excellent debuff. As your words ring in the enemy’s head, they’ll have a much harder time hitting you and your allies!
Best Level 1 Bard Spells
The level 1 spells on the Bard’s spell list are excellent and even narrowing the list of the best spells here seems impossible. You’ve got TONS of great options available to you!
Someone in your party should always have Detect Magic. If you don’t have a Wizard or other caster with this in your party, you’ll want to pick it up.
Dissonant Whispers is a very fun bit of enchantment magic to add to your arsenal.
3d6 psychic damage is decent but forcing a high-priority enemy to burn their reaction and run away for a round is a ton of value in its own right!
Though regular readers of this blog will likely be aware of my love for the next must-pick spell: Faerie Fire.
First things first, it’s an excellent option for dealing with invisible enemies. Especially at lower levels, that can be a real pain.
But even beyond that is the fact that you and your allies are getting advantage on attacks against enemies who fail their save against this. Even as you move into the higher levels, that’s a huge impact from a level 1 spell!
Of course, when it comes to those “just in case” type spells, Feather Fall is one of the best. Keeping this in your back pocket can help you avoid otherwise intense falling damage if you find yourself testing gravity.
But what about being able to pick up your allies if things start looking bad?
Healing Word may as well be a mandatory choice. Even if you’re not the party’s “healer”, being able to restore hit points as a bonus action is an efficient and excellent way to support your party.
Finally, we have the Sleep spell. This is especially useful in the earlier levels when enemies don’t typically have many hit points. However, it still provides some handy utility as you move to the mid and higher levels.
Best Level 2 Bard Spells
So now let’s move on to the Bard’s best level 2 spells.
Kicking things off, Aid was added to the Bard’s spell list in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
With a duration of 8 hours and increasing the hit points and hit point maximum of three targets, its effect goes a long way!
Seriously: this is an incredibly potent buff that perfectly fits the Bard’s focus of supporting and bolstering their allies. Besides, I don’t think many adventurers have ever said “I wish I had less hit points”!
Invisibility is also an option that I find it hard to pass up. Especially if you find yourself doing a lot of scouting, sneaking, and spying, this is a fantastic option to have.
Though sometimes you might want to add a little bit of magical “oomph” to your words.
Sure, Bards are known for being wonderfully persuasive. But when you really want someone to see things your way, there’s always the Suggestion spell!
Like many spells on the Bard’s list, your own creativity is a huge factor in how useful this is.
Suggestion can be useful for getting through a quick situation (“these are not the droids you are looking for”) or it can be used creatively in combat.
You might cast this on the enemy’s healer and suggest that they save themselves by running away. With the enemy healer out of the picture, your party should have no trouble mopping up the rest of the bad guys!
There are tons of possibilities and I plan on writing a guide to using the Suggestion spell. If that’s something you would find helpful, let me know in the comments!
But I have one honorable mention for this level…
Heat Metal is a situational pick. But if you’re regularly facing armored enemies, it’s an effective way to make sure that they have a VERY BAD TIME.
Best Level 3 Bard Spells
Much like with the level one spells, the Bard spell list has SO MANY amazing options at level 3. Once again, it’s incredibly hard to choose the best of the best here.
First up is Dispel Magic. Once again, someone in every party should have this. Depending on your party’s composition, that may or may not be you.
One of the most exciting spells at this level, however, is Enemies Abound.
You’re not likely to encounter many enemies with good intelligence saves and especially not when it comes to your ideal targets for this spell.
It’s not uncommon for enemies to gather around a particularly big “bruiser” type ally. By enchanting the “bruiser” and making it start swinging at its own allies, you can cause absolute chaos in the enemy ranks!
Though I also have a major weak spot for Hypnotic Pattern.
On both sides of the DM screen, I’ve seen entire encounters be resolved with a single casting of this spell. It’s a classic “save or suck” type spell with a very steep cost for those in the AoE that fail their Wisdom save!
Leomund’s Tiny Hut is an excellent utility spell to know. After all, you want to make sure that you and your party are able to rest safely!
Whether or not you pick up Major Image really depends on how fond you are of illusion magic.
As with most illusion spells, the real key here is how creative you are though Major Image does greatly expand on what you’re able to do with those illusions.
It’s a wonderful option if that’s your Bard’s playstyle but I wouldn’t make it much of a priority otherwise. Nevertheless, it definitely deserves to be mentioned!
Finally, make sure to grab Tongues if you are working as the party’s Face.
Not only will this let you understand any spoken language you hear, but you’ll also be understood by any creature that hears you and knows at least one language!
Best Level 4 Bard Spells
You’re almost certainly going to run into situations where you need to make either a quick exit or entrance. When those moments arrive, you’ll be glad you’ve got Dimension Door.
Even better, you’re also able to bring one willing creature with you as you teleport up to 500ft away!
Of course, it would be a crime not to put Greater Invisibility on this list.
You get all the perks that come with being invisible except now you don’t break invisibility when you attack or cast a spell.
You’ll be relatively safe from danger (unless enemies have a way of still seeing you or you get caught in an AoE attack) and will have advantage on your attacks since enemies can’t see you! (Just make sure you don’t lose concentration!)
But we can’t forget Polymorph!
Need to deal with a rampaging Hill Giant but want to mop up its weaker allies first? Turn the giant into a harmless turtle or rat and buy yourself some time!
Want to cause a boatload of damage as fast as possible? Transform yourself or an ally into a Giant Ape or a Tyrannosaurus Rex and go full kaiju on your foes!
Best Level 5 Bard Spells
The Bard spell list has another TON of excellent options at level 5. Once again, it’s incredibly difficult to choose just a few standouts so here’s a rapid-fire of some reliable favorites!
Dominate Person is excellent if you are regularly going up against humanoid enemies. If that’s not the case, you’re better off picking something else. However, it’s excellent for gaining a temporary ally in combat if you are commonly fighting against other humanoids!
While most Clerics or Druids will pick up Greater Restoration, that’s not always the case. If you don’t have someone with this spell in your party, make sure to pick it up. The situations where it applies tend to be very dire!
Hold Monster is a simply exceptional option. A monster that fails its Wisdom save will be paralyzed for up to a minute unless it makes a save at the end of each of its turns.
This is a great way to lock them down and let your melee allies rush in to take advantage of those automatic critical hits.
If your party moves quickly and the enemy can’t make their saves, you’ll make mincemeat out of the monster in no time!
Tasha’s Cauldron also expanded Bard’s spell lists to include Rary’s Telepathic Bond. It’s a simple effect of allowing those affected to communicate telepathically for the next hour. However, it can be essential when silence and discretion are key!
Finally, Synaptic Static may not put out as much damage as some might like, but its secondary debuff effect makes up for that.
Most enemies aren’t particularly good at Intelligence saves which means this will take effect more often than not. Subtracting a d6 from affected creatures’ attack rolls, ability checks, and concentration checks is a quick way to ruin their day!
Best Level 6 Bard Spells
There has been plenty of powerful spells up to this point, but level 6 is where things start getting crazy!
A personal favorite at this level is Eyebite.
It’s one spell with three different effects that you can throw on multiple enemies (one target per round) for the duration. You can choose to either put enemies to sleep, fill them with fear, or make them sick!
Putting enemies to sleep is generally the best option if you know they won’t take damage or their allies won’t wake them back up.
However, the other two options from Eyebite are certainly useful as the situation demands!
Next up is Mass Suggestion. It’s got all the applications of Suggestion but now we’re enchanting at scale!
This can immediately end a combat as the enemies all take your advice to go feed pigeons in the park for the next 24 hours.
Upcasting it, you can cause all kinds of craziness with remarkably long durations. I still want to experience casting this as a level 9 spell to make a group of enemies do the Cha-Cha Slide for the next year and a day…
Which reminds me…
We can’t forget Otto’s Irresistible Dance, can we?!
Even beyond the hilarious visual of making your enemies start shuffling like Party Rock is in the house tonight, there’s a ton of mechanical/strategic value to this spell.
You’ll notice the enemy doesn’t save to resist the effect when you cast it, so they’re going to have to spend at least one action to make a Wisdom saving throw.
While they’re dancing, they’re burning all their movement and staying in place while also getting disadvantage on their Dexterity saving throws and attack rolls. Meanwhile, attack rolls against the creature are made at advantage.
“Every day I’m shuffling…”
Best Level 7 Bard Spells
Whether you need it for scouting or as a reliable escape plan, Etherealness is fantastic. It’s effectively 8 hours of letting you more-or-less do whatever you want.
You can’t be perceived or interacted with by any creature that isn’t on the Ethereal Plane unless some kind of special effect allows them to do otherwise.
Additionally, you can freely pass through objects and can move in any direction (though moving up or down does require extra movement).
When used cleverly, this is an incredible amount of utility that you’ll be glad to have!
But if you prefer a spell that lets you have more control, Force Cage has you covered. Depending on what you need, this can be used offensively or defensively.
Since it’s a cube of magical force that can’t be dispelled, it can offer some great protection to you and your party. It can also be a nifty way of trapping an enemy for the next hour while you figure out what to do with them.
Of course, if you’re feeling particularly nasty you can have one of your friends drop an AoE spell that does damage each round and trap the enemy in the effect. Bust out the popcorn and watch the show!
And, of course, we can’t forget the classic Teleport spell.
It’s a quick and reliable to get you and your party somewhere else. Especially if the party doesn’t have the time or resources to get to a teleportation circle.
Just be aware that how familiar you are with the destination determines if you get there safely or if there are complications.
If you collect little trinkets and regional tchotchkes on your travels (and let’s be honest, you almost certainly do…) you’ll have no trouble safely getting back to places you’re reasonably familiar with.
Best Level 8 Bard Spells
As you near the pinnacle of Bardic magical power, you’ve got some equally impressive choices available to you!
If mind-controlling your foes is your jam, look no further than Dominate Monster.
Taking general control of an enemy can give you a helping hand, but where this spell really shines is that it allows you to take total control using your action.
Taking control of a particularly strong enemy for the next hour opens a ton of options for you to have them fight for you in combat.
Just be aware that they will get to repeat their Wisdom saving throw against this spell every time they take damage.
Up next, we’re once again exploiting enemy Intelligence saves with Feeblemind.
The 4d6 psychic damage from this spell isn’t why you’re taking it. You’re taking it because it reduces the target’s Intelligence and Charisma scores down to 1 for the next 30 days. If they fail their save, they have to wait yet another 30 days to try again.
While under this spell’s effect, that creature can’t cast spells, activate magic items, understand languages, or communicate in any intelligible way. You’ve completely shattered their intellect and personality!
This definitely rains on spellcasters’ parades, but it’s safe to say that any creature who fails its save against this spell won’t be bothering you for quite a while.
Finally, there’s Glibness. A spell with a simple effect that is just purely awesome.
For the next hour, you can’t roll less than a 15 on a Charisma check. Additionally, any kind of magic that would detect lies would indicate that you’re being truthful.
This is certainly useful for things like Persuasion and Deception, but Bards get extra use out of this spell.
When you’re using Dispel Magic or Counterspell, you’re making a Charisma check since that’s what powers your spellcasting.
Yup, this applies to those rolls too!
As your sheer force of personality counters everything an enemy spellcaster throws at you with virtually no effort, you just might make them start to cry!
Best Level 9 Bard Spells
At last, we come to the most powerful Bard spells imaginable.
While there are certainly several great options available to you here, there are two that just stand head and shoulders above the rest!
My top pick is the best buff in all of D&D 5e: Foresight.
Seriously, whoever you cast this on gets 8 hours of the following buffs:
- They can’t be surprised
- They get advantage on all attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws
- Enemies have disadvantage on attacks against them
This easily lasts long enough to cover an entire day of adventuring, especially because of how quickly the target will be disposing of enemies.
But maybe you want something… louder…
Psychic Scream lets you blast the minds of up to 10 creatures of your choice within 90 feet of you.
14d6 damage is respectable (and comes with the added benefit of exploding heads), but those who survive the damage are now stunned.
While those enemies make Intelligence saves at the end of each of their turns, they’re left virtually helpless. They can’t move, can barely speak, they automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saves… Oh yeah, and attacks against them are made at advantage.
Clean up on aisle… well… cleanup on all the aisles…
Oh, and, as a fun side note: they’re stunned until they make a save. A particularly unlucky/unintelligent enemy could be there for hours, days, or longer!
Conclusion – The Best Spells For Bards in D&D 5e
I absolutely love the Bard spell list and there are so many great options. I hope you’ve found this article helpful as you pick your Bard’s spells!
Are there any Bard spells that you think are “must-pick” options that should have made this list? Let’s chat in the comments!
I’ve been offering my top picks from the Bard spell list for this list. However, thanks to the Bard’s Magical Secrets feature, there are even amazing spells that your Bard can learn!
I’d recommend checking out my guide to the Bard’s Magical Secrets feature here! (It also has recommendations of spells that you should especially consider learning with that feature!)
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