A Beginner's Guide to Mastering The Wizard 5E in Dungeons & Dragons

Written by: Mysterydicegoblin.com Staff



Time to read 14 min

Are you ready to wield the power of magic and cast spells that can shape the very fabric of reality? Then look no further than the wizard 5E. Whether you're a seasoned adventurer or a complete beginner, this beginner's guide will walk you through the essentials of mastering the wizard class in the world's most iconic tabletop role-playing game. In this guide, we'll delve into the intricacies of creating a wizard character, exploring the various schools of magic, and developing a spellbook filled with powerful incantations. We'll also provide tips on managing your spell slots, preparing spells for each day's adventure, and strategizing your spell selection to overcome any challenge. Join us as we unlock the secrets of arcane power and discover the joys and complexities of playing a wizard in Dungeons & Dragons. With a little practice and a touch of magic, you'll soon be ruling the battlefield with devastating spells and becoming an indispensable asset to any adventuring party. Get ready to embark on an epic magical journey like no other!

Understanding the key attributes and abilities of a Wizard 5e

The wizard class is known for its mastery of arcane magic and intellectual prowess. To effectively play a wizard, it's crucial to understand the key attributes and abilities that define this class.

Intelligence: Intelligence is the primary attribute for a wizard. It determines the potency of your spells and the number of spells you can prepare each day. A high intelligence score is essential for a powerful wizard.

Spellcasting: Wizards are the quintessential spellcasters in Dungeons & Dragons. They have access to an extensive spell list and can cast a wide variety of spells. As a wizard, you'll need to carefully manage your spell slots and prepare spells for each day's adventure.

Arcane Recovery: One of the unique abilities of a wizard is Arcane Recovery. This feature allows you to regain expended spell slots during a short rest, providing you with additional spellcasting resources.

Choosing a Wizard subclass and its impact on gameplay

In 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons (D&D 5e), Wizards choose an Arcane Tradition at 2nd level, which represents their specialized field of magical study. Each Arcane Tradition is associated with one of the eight schools of magic, offering unique abilities and enhancing the wizard's spells and capabilities within that school. Here are the eight schools of magic and a brief overview of each:

1. Abjuration

The School of Abjuration emphasizes protective magic. Wizards specializing in this school can create powerful magical barriers, negate harmful effects, and banish creatures. They are excellent at defending themselves and their allies.

2. Conjuration

Conjuration wizards focus on summoning creatures, objects, and energies from elsewhere. This school allows them to bring forth allies, teleport, and create objects or phenomena out of thin air, making them highly versatile.

3. Divination

Specialists in Divination magic can gain insights into the future, uncover hidden information, and perceive events occurring far away. This school is invaluable for gathering intelligence and avoiding danger.

Cartoon wizard 5e

4. Enchantment

Enchantment wizards excel at influencing the minds of others. They can charm, frighten, or manipulate creatures through magical means, making them effective in social situations and combat alike.

5. Evocation

Evocation focuses on the creation and manipulation of energy, particularly for offensive purposes. Wizards of this school can unleash powerful spells like fireballs and lightning bolts, making them formidable damage dealers.

6. Illusion

Illusionists specialize in creating sensory illusions that can trick the senses or minds of others. This school is excellent for deception, stealth, and creating advantageous situations through misdirection.

7. Necromancy

Necromancy involves magic dealing with life, death, and undeath. Necromancers can drain life, reanimate the dead, and manipulate the forces of vitality and mortality.

8. Transmutation

Transmuters focus on changing the properties of matter and energy. This includes transforming objects, altering physical and magical properties, and even changing the laws of physics temporarily.

Each Arcane Tradition provides unique benefits and shapes the way a wizard approaches magic and adventure. The choice of school significantly impacts a wizard's role in the party and their approach to solving problems, making it one of the most critical decisions for wizard characters in D&D 5e.


  1. Versatile Spellcasting: wizards 5e have access to a broad spell list, enabling them to fulfill many roles, such as damage dealers, controllers, utility casters, and supporters.
  2. Ritual Casting: They can cast spells as rituals if the spell has the ritual tag, which doesn't expend a spell slot, offering flexibility and utility without depleting their resources.
  3. Arcane Recovery: This feature allows them to regain some of their expended spell slots during a short rest once per day, enhancing their endurance in adventuring days.
  4. Specialization: Wizards choose an Arcane Tradition (school of magic) at 2nd level, which provides specialized abilities and enhances their effectiveness with spells from their chosen school.
  5. Spellbook: Their ability to learn and prepare a wide variety of spells from their spellbook each day offers unparalleled adaptability, allowing them to tailor their spell selection based on anticipated challenges.


  1. Low Hit Points: Wizards have a d6 hit die, which makes them one of the physically weakest classes in terms of hit points and survivability in direct combat.
  2. Limited Weapon Proficiencies: They are proficient with very few weapons, relying almost exclusively on their spells for offense and defense.
  3. Dependency on Components: Many spells require material components, which can be a vulnerability if the wizard is deprived of their component pouch or arcane focus.
  4. Preparation Required: Wizards must anticipate and prepare the spells they think will be most useful ahead of time. Poor spell selection can leave them with ineffective options in unforeseen situations.
  5. Vulnerability to Antimagic: In environments or against enemies that negate or disrupt magic (like antimagic fields or counterspell users), wizards can find themselves significantly weakened or even powerless.

Building a successful Wizard character

Creating a successful wizard character involves making strategic choices during character creation and understanding how to optimize your abilities.

Race: When choosing a race for your wizard 5e, consider racial bonuses that enhance your intelligence or provide other useful abilities. High elves, for example, receive a bonus to their intelligence score, making them natural wizard 5e.

Background: Selecting a suitable background for your wizard can add depth to your character and provide additional skills and proficiencies. Consider backgrounds that enhance your spellcasting abilities or provide useful knowledge for your adventures.

Skills: wizards in 5e have a limited number of skill proficiencies, so choose skills that complement your playstyle. Skills like Arcana, History, and Investigation can be especially useful for a wizard.

Hit Points

Hit Dice:   1d6  per wizard level
Hit Points at 1st Level:  6 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels:   1d6  (or 4) + your Constitution modifier per wizard level after 1st


Armor: None
Weapons:  Daggers, darts, slings, quarterstaffs, light crossbows
Tools:  None
Saving Throws:  Intelligence, Wisdom
Skills:  Choose two from Arcana , History , Insight , Investigation , Medicine , and Religion

Level Proficiency Bonus Features Cantrips Known —Spell Slots per Spell Level—
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +2 Spellcasting, Arcane Recovery 3 2
2nd +2 Arcane Tradition 3 3
3rd +2 3 4 2
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 3
5th +3 4 4 3 2
6th +3 Arcane Tradition feature 4 4 3 3
7th +3 4 4 3 3 1
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 3 3 2
9th +4 4 4 3 3 3 1
10th +4 Arcane Tradition feature 5 4 3 3 3 2
11th +4 5 4 3 3 3 2 1
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 2 1
13th +5 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
14th +5 Arcane Tradition feature 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
15th +5 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
17th +6 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1
18th +6 Spell Mastery 5 4 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
20th +6 Signature Spell 5 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1

Tips & Tricks for a Wizard 5e

Mastering spellcasting as a Wizard 5e

Spellcasting is the bread and butter of a wizard 5e, and understanding how to effectively use your spells is crucial for success.

Preparing Spells: Unlike other spellcasting classes, wizard 5e must prepare spells from their spellbook each day. Carefully consider the spells you'll need for the day's adventures and choose a balanced mix of offensive, defensive, and utility spells.

Spellbook Management: Your spellbook is your most valuable possession as a wizard 5e. Keep it safe and organized, and regularly update it with new spells you acquire. Consider copying spells from other spellbooks or scrolls to expand your repertoire.

Ritual Casting: wizard in 5e have the unique ability to cast certain spells as rituals. Ritual spells don't consume spell slots, allowing you to cast them without expending valuable resources. Take advantage of ritual spells whenever possible to conserve your spell slots.

5e Wizard in Dungeons & Dragons

Essential spells for Wizards at different levels

As you progress in levels, your spellcasting abilities become more potent, and you gain access to a wider range of spells. Here are some essential spells that wizard 5e should consider at different levels:

1st Level: Mage Armor provides a boost to your armor class, Magic Missile is a reliable damage-dealing spell, and Shield grants a temporary increase to your AC.

3rd Level: Fireball is a classic area-of-effect spell that deals massive damage, Counterspell allows you to block enemy spells, and Fly provides mobility and tactical advantage.

5th Level: Teleportation Circle allows for long-distance travel, Wall of Force creates an impenetrable barrier, and Cone of Cold deals devastating cold damage.

Strategies and tactics for combat as a Wizard in 5e

Combat as a wizard 5e requires careful planning and strategic thinking. Here are some tips to help you excel in battle:

Positioning: Position yourself strategically to maximize the effectiveness of your spells. Stay at a safe distance from enemies and take advantage of cover whenever possible.

Crowd Control: Use spells like Sleep, Hold Person, or Web to incapacitate enemies or hinder their movements. Crowd control spells can turn the tide of battle in your favor.

Combination Spells: Experiment with combining spells to create powerful synergies. For example, casting Grease and then igniting it with Burning Hands can create a fiery hazard that damages and hinders enemies.

Roleplaying tips for playing a Wizard 5e character

Playing a wizard 5e is not just about casting spells; it's also about embodying the intellectual and arcane nature of the class. Here are some roleplaying tips to enhance your wizard character:

Research and Study: Emphasize your character's dedication to knowledge and spend time studying spells, ancient texts, and magical artifacts. This can lead to interesting plot hooks and opportunities for character development.

Mysterious and Enigmatic: wizard 5e are often seen as mysterious figures. Embrace this aspect of your character by being enigmatic, speaking in riddles, and keeping your true intentions hidden.

Quirks and Mannerisms: Develop unique quirks and mannerisms that make your wizard memorable. Whether it's a penchant for wearing unusual hats or a fascination with collecting odd trinkets, these details can add depth to your character.

Advancing your Wizard 5e character through leveling up

As you gain experience and level up, your wizard 5e character will become even more powerful. Here are some considerations when advancing your wizard:

Ability Score Improvement: Use your ability score improvements wisely to increase your intelligence or other attributes that enhance your spellcasting abilities.

New Spells: Each time you level up, you'll gain access to new spells. Choose spells that complement your playstyle and fill gaps in your spell repertoire.

Higher-level Spell Slots: As you progress, you'll unlock higher-level spell slots. These slots allow you to cast more potent spells, increasing your versatility in combat and other situations.

Wizard 5e casting fireball

Conclusion and final thoughts on playing a Wizard in Dungeons & Dragons 5e

Playing a wizard 5e in Dungeons & Dragons offers a unique and rewarding experience. From harnessing the power of arcane magic to unraveling ancient mysteries, the wizard class allows you to shape the world around you. With the tips and knowledge shared in this guide, you're well-equipped to embark on an epic magical journey like no other. So gather your spellbook, ready your components, and let the magic begin!

How many spells does a wizard know 5e?

In 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, the number of spells a wizard knows isn't fixed like it is for some other spellcasting classes; instead, it's determined by the spells they've recorded in their spellbook. A wizard's spellbook starts with six 1st-level wizard spells of the player's choice. Here's how it expands:

  1. Each Level Up: When a wizard gains a level, they can add two wizard spells of their choice to their spellbook for free. The spells must be of a level for which they have spell slots, based on their wizard level.
  2. Finding Spells: Beyond these guaranteed spells, wizards can also add spells to their spellbook that they find during their adventures, such as those inscribed in other wizards' spellbooks or on spell scrolls. This process requires time and money to represent the materials and effort to transcribe the spell, and it must be a spell of a level for which they have spell slots. The cost and time depend on the spell's level.

Therefore, the minimum number of spells a wizard knows (not counting finding and transcribing spells from other sources) can be calculated as follows:

  • At 1st level: 6 spells (all 1st level)
  • Each subsequent level: +2 spells, chosen from the levels of spells they have slots for

This formula means that by the time a wizard reaches 20th level, without adding any spells found during their adventures, they would know a minimum of 44 spells (6 from 1st level, plus 38 from leveling up).

The actual number of spells a wizard can know is potentially limitless, as they can continue to add spells to their spellbook by finding spells during their adventures and transcribing them, as long as they have the spell slots to cast them and can afford the time and resources to transcribe them.

Can wizards use shields 5e?

The class's default proficiencies include some weapons and no armor or shields. However, there are a few ways a wizard can gain the ability to effectively use a shield:

  1. Multiclassing: By taking a level in another class that grants shield proficiency (like cleric or fighter), a wizard can gain the ability to use shields. However, this comes with the trade-off of delayed spell progression and other wizard class features.

  2. Feats: The "Moderately Armored" feat grants proficiency with medium armor and shields. However, to qualify for this feat, a character must first have proficiency in light armor, which wizards do not have by default. This means a wizard would first need to gain light armor proficiency through another means (like multiclassing or the "Lightly Armored" feat) before they could take "Moderately Armored" to gain shield proficiency.

How do wizards learn spells 5e?

The process is a bit more involved and flexible compared to other spellcasting classes, emphasizing the wizard's role as a scholar and researcher of the arcane. Here’s how wizards learn spells:

Starting Spellbook

  • At 1st level, a wizard starts with a spellbook containing six 1st-level wizard spells of their choice. This represents their initial study and mastery of basic arcane principles.

Leveling Up

  • Each time a wizard gains a level, they can add two wizard spells of their choice to their spellbook. The spells must be of a level for which they have spell slots. This represents the wizard's ongoing study and experimentation with magic as they grow in power.

Copying Spells into the Spellbook

Wizards can also learn spells by copying them into their spellbook. This process represents the wizard decoding and practicing a new spell until they understand it well enough to cast it regularly. 

How many spells does a level 1 wizard know 5e?

A level 1 wizard in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons starts with a spellbook containing six 1st-level spells of their choice from the wizard spell list. This initial selection represents the spells they have learned through their studies and training before embarking on their adventuring career.

In addition to the spells in their spellbook, a level 1 wizard can prepare a number of spells each day equal to their Intelligence modifier plus their wizard level (a minimum of one spell). The prepared spells can be chosen from the spellbook and are the spells the wizard has ready to cast for that day, barring any spell slots required to cast them.

It's important to note that the six spells in the spellbook are just the starting point. Wizards can add more spells to their spellbook by finding spells during their adventures and spending time and resources to copy them, as well as adding two spells to their spellbook for free each time they level up in the wizard class.

Can wizards heal 5e?

In 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, wizards do not naturally have access to traditional healing spells, like "Cure Wounds" or "Healing Word," which are typically found on the spell lists of clerics, druids, bards, and paladins. The wizard's spell list is more focused on arcane magic, which includes a variety of utility, damage, and control spells, rather than divine or nature-based magic that often encompasses healing abilities.

What are Wizards in D&D 5e?

Wizards are spellcasters who learn and cast spells through extensive study and practice. They are known for their vast and versatile spell list, allowing them to fill a variety of roles in an adventuring party, from damage dealers to controllers to utility casters.

Can Wizards use armor?

By default, Wizards are not proficient with any type of armor. Wearing armor in which you are not proficient can interfere with spellcasting. Wizards can gain armor proficiency through multiclassing, feats, or specific magical items.

How do Wizards cast spells?

Wizards prepare a list of spells from their spellbook each day. The number of spells they can prepare is equal to their Intelligence modifier + their wizard level. To cast a spell, a wizard must have it prepared and must expend a spell slot of the spell's level or higher.

What is Arcane Recovery?

Arcane Recovery is a feature that allows Wizards to regain some expended spell slots during a short rest once per day. The number of spell slots they can recover is limited to half their wizard level (rounded up).

What happens if a Wizard loses their spellbook?

If a wizard loses their spellbook, they can still prepare any spells they currently have prepared, but they cannot prepare any new spells until they replace their spellbook. A wizard can copy their prepared spells into a new spellbook, effectively rebuilding their spellbook over time as they regain access to spells.