The Full Guide To Ritual Spells 5e
5e Ritual spells are a great resource, that really allows utility spells to shine and be of value. Basically, any spell with a ritual tag has the option to be cast without consuming a spell slot, as long as you have an extra 10 minutes to cast it.
This makes non-combat utility spells like Identify and Find Familiar not have to compete with a spellcaster's ability to contribute to combat. The tradeoff though is it limits many of these spells to be thought of as only usable in non-urgent situations. With that said, let’s go over the basics so you know the general guidelines before we begin breaking them down further.
What Are 5e Ritual Spells
Well much like mentioned above, The Players Handbook states that Ritual Spells are:
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.
When looking into this reading further, we can see what guidelines are set for all ritual spells on what can be done and what can’t be done. Which translates into 5 restrictions to remember for casting ritual spells.
Ritual Spells 5e Restrictions
There are 5 limitations for ritual casting in 5e. The first limitation is that ritual spells in 5e are cast following the normal rules for spellcasting. This means for classes like clerics that know all their spells but can only prepare a few for the day. They can only cast ritual spells that they have that are prepared for the day. However, for cases like the bard that have all spells known prepared. They can cast any of their spells with a ritual tag as a ritual. But if they do not know the spell they cannot cast the spell.
Moreover, only certain classes can cast ritual spells and even then, they have different stipulations on what can be cast and can’t be cast as rituals. An example of this would be the warlock. The warlock cannot ritual cast, but a wizard can ritual cast.
The second restriction is also part of normal rules for spellcasting. That is, they must have the material components for spellcasting. An example of this would be the spell illusory script. It is a ritual spell that uses up 10 gold pieces of lead ink when casting the spell. Therefore, if you do not have 10 gold pieces of lead ink when casting, you are unable to cast illusory script as a ritual spell.
Another limitation is that you must concentrate for the entire time casting the ritual spells for 5e. Thus, if you are concentrating on a spell like suggestion which can last 8 hours. You would lose concentration on the suggestion spell when casting a ritual spell like illusory script.
Time And Level Restrictions
So, we have gone over the requirement for casting the spell itself, which is prepared, components, and concentration. Now let’s take a look at the other restrictions.
The fourth restriction for ritual spells in 5e, is it takes an additional ten minutes to cast. This completely makes a ritual casting unworthy of being used in combat since most combats are over in 18-24 seconds. That said, it really allows utility spells to shine since those spells are used in scenarios where ten minutes won’t kill you. Additionally, many people are hesitant to use spells out of combat, and for good reasons. After all, a spellcasters combat ability is through their spells. Which means using up spells out of combat deplete their combat use.
This allows people to use ritual spells without consuming the spell slot. Therefore, in exchange for these restrictions, you allow 5e ritual spells to garnish great use for utility. Letting a spellcaster keep both utility usefulness and combat usefulness.
Now we come to the last restriction. Which is ritual spells can only be cast at their base level. So, if you wanted to upcast animal messenger, you must do so with a spell slot and not ritual cast it. This can limit some of the utility spells have.
For example, let’s go back to animal messenger. This can be upcast to deliver a message farther away. That said, by ritual casting it, you limit yourself to one day worth of travel. So, if your person you are trying to communicate to is over 50 miles away, then the message would fail to deliver unless you cast it as a higher level.
While a few restrictions are there though, the payoff of not using a spell slot is well worth the restrictions in my opinion.
Who can cast 5e Ritual Spells
The first of many things to know is what classes can cast ritual spells and what 5e ritual spells they have access to. There are four classes that can cast ritual spells Bards, Cleric, Druids, and the most famous, Wizards. Each of them comes with their own degree of ritual casting and variations on what can and can’t be done in rituals.
This can make it quite confusing for many (including myself at one point) and as such is why in the following parts I will go over in detail what can and can’t be done for each of the classes and how strong their ritual casting is in comparison to the other classes that can do this.
Ritual Spells 5e For Bards
The Bard, a class that was considered terrible before 5e. Now though, well everyone knows it, and you can’t deny the shenanigans they can get in to. Now bards have an interesting spellcasting rule. They know all the spells that they have. This means all spells you know via bard are always prepared. This is important for ritual casting as The Players Handbook states, “You can cast any bard spell you know as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag.”
This means you always have the same number of ritual spells you have. But it also means that what they know is what they have. Bards do not know every spell on the Bardic list and as such if they do not choose to know a certain ritual spell, then they cannot cast it at all, ritual or otherwise.
To help you in your decisions, I have compiled a list of ritual spells from the player's handbook so you know exactly which ones you can choose from. I do not go into huge detail as doing so would turn this article into a book that’s over 40 pages. And frankly, call me lazy for not wanting to do that right now haha.
Speak with animals.
Locate animals or plants.
Leomund's tiny hut.
Ritual Spells 5e For Clerics
Clerics are a different breed than bards. Not only because they are usually more pious than their bardic friends, but because they know every spell known in their list. This means at level 1; you know every level 1 spell in the cleric's list. The difference is though, they can only prepare so many spells a day. As such, their ritual descriptions states, “You can cast a cleric/druid spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell prepared.”
What this translates to, is simply, you must have the spell prepared for the day and it has the ritual tag. Which is great for utility, as while the bard is stuck with his choices, a cleric just needs to do a long rest and then change his ritual spells to meet what he needs for the day.
For clerics, their list is actually quite extensive and goes all the way to level 6. Not too shabby of a list to choose from considering you know all of them.
Detect poison and disease.
Identify. Only accessible if you are in the Forge or Knowledge domain but still is a good ritual
Purify food and drink.
Speak with animals
Meld into stone.
Ritual Spells 5e For Druids
Meanwhile, the druid’s 5e ritual spell list is also quite extensive and unique. Going all the way to level 5 and having some spells that are only available for druids that can be ritual cast. Their list includes,
Detect poison and disease.
Purify food and drink.
Speak with animals.
Locate animals or plants.
Meld into stone.
Divination. Only available for Forest and Grassland circle of the land subclasses, but still a pretty good ritual
Commune with nature.
I also want to mention, I know spells known, prepared, and expended can be quite the confusing subject. As such, I really recommend The Dungeons and Dragons Spellcasting Cards. They have all the information such as cost, level, what they do, and ritual tag on them making it easy to keep track of. As well as making it sort of like a card game for all you strategy card gamers out there. Well enough of that helpful tidbit. Let’s go into the class with the most ritual spells for 5e, the Wizard
Ritual Spells 5e for Wizards
Now comes for the class with the most ritual spells as well as the ones with the strongest ritual casting ability. These are in a league of their own in comparison to others. The reason being, The Players Handbook states, “You can cast a wizard spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell in your spellbook. You don’t need to have the spell prepared.”
This is extremely strong for two reasons. One, because a wizard can learn every spell available to wizards, 199 to be exact. Therefore, unlike the cleric and druid that are limited by the ones prepared, they just need to know the spell and cast it as a ritual. This means you can effectively never prepare a spell with a ritual tag, but always be able to cast it. Greatly increasing your utility.
Additionally, Wizards have the largest number of ritual spells they can know with 17 ritual spells, have the most unique to them. The list goes as follows.
Tenser's floating disk.
Leomund's tiny hut.
Contact other planes.
Rary's telepathic bond.
Drawmij's instant summons.
I should also mention why I am not going into detail on all these 5e ritual spells, I have gone over extensively why I love the ritual spells unseen servant and illusory script. So if you are interested in the why between those check out my article called “Best Wizard Spells 5e That We Don’t Think About.”
Additional Ways To Get Ritual Spells in 5e
Now there are multiple other ways to get ritual spells in 5e. For example, Barbarians can gain the ritual spells beast sense, speak with animals, and commune with nature. That said, it depends on the subclass you choose and the same goes with many other ways to get it. As such, there are two popular ways to gain rituals as the rest are limited at best. The two ways we will talk about is through the feat “Ritual Caster” and the warlock pact invocation “Book of Ancient Secrets”. Both are very popular choices and provide lots of flexibility for choosing your 5e ritual spells.
Ritual Caster Feat
The Ritual Caster Feat is by far the most popular way to gain feats in classes that do not have them, or for those that want to add more ritual spells to their list. The feat states
Prerequisite: Intelligence, or Wisdom 13
You have learned a number of spells you can cast as rituals. These spells are written in a ritual book, which you must have on hand when casting one of them. When you gain this feat, choose one of the following classes: bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard. You acquire a ritual book holding two 1st level spells with the ritual tag, which must be on the list of the chosen class. Your casting ability for these rituals are the same as the chosen class (Charisma for bard, sorcerer, or warlock; Wisdom for cleric or druid; Intelligence for wizard).
If you come across a spell in written form, such as a magical 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 must not be higher than half your level (rounded up), and it must have the ritual tag. The process of copying the spell into your ritual books takes 2 hours per level of the spells and costs 50 gp per level of the spell. This cost represents material components spent on practicing the spell, as well as the fine inks you must use to record it.
Ritual Caster Analysis
Now if you are wondering why I am stating the entire feat, know that it is a very important part, as I will need to break it down to explain it.
The first part to take a look at is the prerequisite. Now notice the prerequisite states that you must have a 13 in either Intelligence or Wisdom. It does not state that you need to have the stat match your chosen ritual class. This means you could choose to have a bardic ritual casting book when you only have an 8 in charisma but a 13 in intelligence. Useful and makes it very easy to qualify for this feat.
The second part to take a look at is that you choose a class. It also does not limit yourself to only those classes able to choose ritual spells. So, you could choose a Sorcerer for your ritual casting subclass. Therefore, take a look at what ritual spells each class has before declaring that to be your class.
The next part to take a look at for choosing the basics for your ritual caster book is the number of spells you learn. You only start out with two ritual 1st level spells for that class. While you can have more, these will be the easiest to obtain so choose your first two 5e ritual spells wisely.
Finally, the last thing to note about the feat is that you gain access to the entire classes list. You just need to have the gold and time to write them down. Thus, making them on par with the wizards ritual casting as you do not need to prepare them just know them. Making this, a powerful and high utility feat for those seeking ritual spells.
Book Of Ancient Secrets
The final and most powerful way to gain ritual spells in 5e is to go three classes into Warlock to gain the Pact, Pact of the Tome. Then choose the invocation Book of Ancient Secrets. Now, this is costly as it goes into multiclassing requirements and a minimum of three levels is a hefty cost for any character. That said, the price can be definitely worth it. It states that:
You can now inscribe magical rituals in your Book of Shadows. Choose two 1st-level spells that have the ritual tag from any class’s spell list. The spells appear in the book and don't count against the number of spells you know. With your Book of Shadows in hand, you can cast the chosen spells as rituals. You can't cast the spells except as rituals unless you've learned them by some other means. You can also cast a warlock spell you know as a ritual if it has the ritual tag.
On your adventures, you can add other ritual spells to your Book of Shadows. When you find such a spell, you can add it to the book if the spell's level is equal to or less than half your warlock level (rounded up) and if you can spare the time to transcribe the spell. For each level of the spell, the transcription process takes 2 hours and costs 50 gp for the rare inks needed to inscribe it.
As you can see, it functions almost identically to The Ritual Caster feat, except there is one additional comment. You can choose from “any class’s spell list. This is huge as you now can know every ritual spell in the game giving you ultimate utility over everyone, even wizards.
Ritual Spells 5e Summary
Ritual Spells in 5e are a staple mechanic that greatly changes the way the game is played. With the ability to make any utility spell useful for situations without using a spell slot, only allowing certain classes to be able to cast rituals, and feats and abilities that change the number of rituals you know. This is incredibly potent and somewhat complicated. As such, hopefully, this article explained everything clearly to you. If so leave a comment on what you liked the most. If you did not, then let me know why as I am constantly working to make sure my articles are only filled with great content.
And if you enjoyed this one then I highly suggest checking out my article I mentioned above “Best Wizard Spells 5e That We Don’t Think Of.” It is the most popular article on my website and is filled with great content that can get your creative juices flowing. Have a fantastic day!
P.S. If you want to check out my other articles and let me know what you think check them out at wizardofthetavern.com