November 28, 2023


  • Save or suck spells in Dungeons & Dragons have effects that depend on a target passing or failing a saving throw.
  • Banishment and Plane Shift are powerful spells that can transport enemies to other planes of existence.
  • Spells like Confusion, Contagion, Fear, Slow, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, Hold Person, Polymorph, and Feeblemind can greatly hinder enemies in combat if they fail their saving throws.

Regardless of your class, there’s a whole plethora of spells you can cast in Dungeons & Dragons. Silly spells, gross spells, and spells that warp the world to your wishes. Of those spells, none are looked at with as much of a dichotomy as save or suck spells.

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As the name implies, the effects of these spells all depend on the target passing or failing a saving throw. If they fail, hilarious and terrible things will happen. If they pass, nothing happens at all. These spells are varied in their results, but some of them are definitely still worth investing a spell slot in.

10 Banishment

D&D artwork of two adventurers approaching the Ostorian Spindle in the middle of a chamber
Ostorian Spindle By Olly Lawson

Why deal with a monster when you can just banish them to a whole other plane of existence? That is, of course, if they fail their charisma save.

Banishment is a good spell to keep around for those moments when someone really is just annoying your party, and you don’t want them anywhere near you. Bandits, beholders, tax collectors; it works for all of them. It only lasts for a minute, though, so make sure to plan for when they suddenly reappear.

9 Plane Shift

Windshaper Planetar by Ben Hill
Windshaper Planetar by Ben Hill

Plane Shift is rather similar to Banishment but with a few key differences that make this spell the more powerful one.

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On willing creatures, Plane Shift is a great spell to travel long distances across material planes in seconds. But, the real key is when targeting non-willing creatures. If they fail their charisma saving throw, you get to choose a plane of existence that they must be transported to. Then it’s up to them to try and return. Just make sure they fail that save; otherwise, you’re in trouble.

8 Confusion

D&D two characters playing a magic chess like game
Tasha’s Cauldron Of Everything via Wizards Of The Coast

There’s no confusion about how good this spell is. There’s nothing like making your enemies too disoriented to even attack.

This is a special kind of save or suck spell, as it has an element of randomness to it. If a creature fails their wisdom saving throw, they must roll a d10 at the beginning of their turns for up to a minute. The result of the die tells them what they must do for their turn, dependent on the chart the spell comes with. It can take them out of a fight unless they roll high enough on the save or the d10.

7 Contagion

Dungeons & Dragons: The Iconic Undead Mob
A Humanoid Zombie via 5e Monster Manuel

A gruesome spell, this is one of the more fearsome spells that show up in the spell list of both druids and clerics.

Contagion is a touch-based spell that instantly causes disease in whomever you make contact with. That depends on the results of their wisdom saving throw, but they’d better hope it’s a high roll. If not, they are wracked with a terrible disease that hampers their health. You get to pick the disease, but they’re all pretty horrible.

6 Fear

D&D artwork of an adventurer being dragged towards an amber crypt by shadows
The Amber Tomb By Sam Keiser

What’s better in combat than completely removing an enemy’s bravery? Who knows what they’re afraid of, but the fear spell will find out.

If they fail their wisdom saving throw, anyone within a radius of 30 feet (or immediately entering it) receives the frightened condition. This means they stop what they’re doing, have to dash away from you every turn of theirs, and drop whatever they’re holding, too. This renders them all but useless in any combat scenario, which is great news for you.

5 Slow

D&D artwork of an adventurer and kobolds fleeing in the night
Fleeing Escapees In The Night By Brian Valeza

Slow is a pretty good spell to have in your repertoire, regardless of class. It may not seem too useful, but that’s where it’s deceiving.

Like so many save or suck spells, Slow hopes the target(s) fail a Wisdom saving throw. If they do, a handful of things happen. Their speed is reduced by half, their AC is reduced by two, as is any dexterity saves, and they lose the ability to perform reactions. It limits them quite severely for just one spell, which is great when you’re in a boss fight.

4 Tasha’s Hideous Laughter

Tasha, the Witch Queen by Martina Fačková
Tasha, The Witch Queen by Martina Fačková

Tasha has a pretty weird sense of humor, or at least that’s what this named spell of hers implies anyway.

Dependent on a Wisdom saving throw, the creature you target with this spell falls to the ground uncontrollably laughing and, therefore, can’t make any actions on their turn. It’s a spell that is good for rendering any enemy combatant useless for some time. As long as it works anyway, if it doesn’t, that’s a wasted spell slot.

3 Hold Person

D&D Human Monk with glowing hands
Human Monk via Wizards of the Coast

Hold Person is a classic D&D spell, and it’s easy to see why for all the good it can do during combat situations.

Like so many other spells, this one requires the target to make a wisdom-saving throw. If they fail, they are unable to move for the duration of the spell or until they make the proper save. Once they roll high enough, they break free. Immobilizing someone for up to a full minute is a great boon in combat. If you can pull it off, that is.

2 Polymorph

D&D Owlbear
Owlbear via Wizards Of The Coast

This is a great spell to have when a creature is low-wisdom and is hampering your adventuring party. They’re not as deadly when they’re a bunny rabbit.

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Polymorph has a lot of use to it. Willing creatures are obviously transformed instantly; it’s unwilling creatures that the save or such mechanic comes in. This spell can completely turn the tide of a fight if the wisdom save fails. Plus, turning a devastating enemy into a bug or similar animal never gets old.

1 Feeblemind

From Tasha's Cauldron Of Everything, an Orc Monk Of the Four Elements unleashes a Ki-Fueled Attack in DND Dungeons and Dragons D&D by Sam Keiser
An Orc Monk Of the Four Elements Unleashes A Ki-Fueled Attack By Sam Keiser

Feeblemind is an incredibly powerful spell in D&D, if the opponent fails its intelligence, save that is. Otherwise, it doesn’t do anything.

Feeblemind is one of the more cruel spells in D&D, and it’s an absolute nightmare to have someone cast this at you. The 4d6 psychic damage is pretty solid, but reducing a creature’s charisma and intelligence to one each is game-changing. It may not last forever, but far long enough for the character to not pose a threat for some time.

Next: D&D: Best Classes For Beginning Players, Ranked

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