Part 5: Choose Spells
Welcome all you Artificers, Bards, Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, Warlocks and Wizards! It's time to choose which tricks you'll have up your sleeve as you set out on your first adventure! You might want a separate sheet to keep a track of your spells and cantrips - there is a specially designed addition for your character sheet that will help you do this - the Spellcasting Sheet. You can download it for free from the Wizards of the Coast site here - click on Fifth Edition Character Sheets to download a zip file that contains a bundle of pdfs.
First of all, you get a set number of Cantrips depending on your class – the table at the beginning of your class rules will tell you how many. The set of rules you're using (the one you picked your character class from) will contain a list of spells available to that class - you can find them in Chapter 11 in the Basic Rules and Player's Handbook, and page 105 in the System Reference Document. Xanathar's Guide to Everything and the Elemental Evil Player's Companion have expanded spell lists for most classes too - for free in the case of the EEPC.
Have a look through the list of cantrips available to you, and then read their description in the next section of the chapter (the spells are organised alphabetically, after the spell lists - this is because some spells are available to more than one class). Once you have decided which cantrips you would like, make a note of them on your spellcasting sheet. These will always be available to you and you can cast them without having to worry about them running out.
It's worth mentioning at this point that it's always worth taking a cantrip that can deal damage - that way, if your other spells run out, you won't find yourself feeling useless in combat. Some classes cope with this well (such as Clerics, who can often get by in hand to hand combat if they need to). Others struggle once they've run out of spells (such as Wizards), but if they have a damage-dealing cantrip they can stay in the fight til the sun goes down!
Choose 1st Level Spells
The table at the beginning of your class rules will also tell you how many spells you get to choose or prepare – this gets tricky depending on which class you have chosen.
Bards, Sorcerers and Warlocks have an easy life – they just choose a number of spells as indicated by the number on the table at the beginning of their class rules (Spells Known). These are selected from the list of 1st level spells available to their class.
Clerics and Druids are more complicated (in the long run but not at 1st level – phew!) - for now, you will need to choose a number of spells from your class spell list equal to 1 + your Wisdom modifier. (e.g. if your Wisdom score is 14, your Wisdom modifier will be +2. You will therefore choose 1+2 = 3 spells.)
Wizards are complicated from the get-go. First of all, you'll make a shortlist of six 1st level spells. Then, you'll choose a number of spells from your shortlist equal to 1 + your Intelligence modifier. (e.g. if your Intelligence score is 14, your Intelligence modifier will be +2. You will therefore choose 1+2 = 3 spells.) These spells will then be available to you when your first game starts - the ones you didn't choose from your shortlist will be available in later games.
For specific information on Artificers, you'll need to refer to Eberron: Rising from the Last War. As the information is not part of what's available to players for free it can't be added here, but what can be said is that they are not too dissimilar to Clerics and Druids in the way that you will choose the spells for your first game.
Repeat the process that you used to choose your cantrips - take a look through the 1st level spells available to your class and then give them a read. Bear in mind as you make your decision that you will have the opportunity to cast two 1st level spells before you run out of juice. You'll get these slots back once you've had a chance to take a long rest (8 hours or more), so you may not be able to cast them all. The idea is to take a variety so that you can be prepared for a number of different situations - you never know what you will be facing! Warlocks are a little different - you will only be able to cast one spell before you run out of juice and have to rely on cantrips, but the good news is that you recharge after a short rest (1 hour or more) rather than a long rest.
Once you've made your choices, make a note of them on your character sheet.