I recently started aggregating some data I’ve gathered about spells from 5e Dungeons & Dragons. Primarily, this has been for fun and to see if I’d find anything surprising or interesting. Additionally, I wanted to get some numbers to help me assess additional spells or subclasses for my home game. So I hope you’ll find this fun and interesting yourself and I would love to hear any observations you have.
These are the result of analyzing 477 spells across the Players Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Tasha’s Caldron of Everything.
5e Spell Saves by Class
I found a few of these results surprising and overall the implied intention behind the design of spells saves by class can help with subclass design. For instance, the Bard being so heavily invested in Wisdom saves emphasises their focus on enchantment and the mind. Likewise, the Druid’s Strength save focus is a defacto statement of their magic interacting with the physical world. Additionally, the relative even distribution of Wizards saves speaks to their flexibility. Lastly, drives home the point of common observations like the over loading of Dexterity.
Overall my read here is that the type of saves given to a spell is intentionally significant. So, when vetting a new spell from a supplement, UA, or created by a player, this seems important to keep in mind.
5e Spell Conditions & Damage
Again a bit of a data dump here, but this is a tally of the number of spells that inflict a condition or particular damage type by class. As with saves above, I think it’s fair to say there is an implied intentional design here. For instance, the lack of condition inflicting spells for Artificers and Paladin’s clearly indicate their intention as a damage dealing class. The opposite is true for Bard, which clearly seems designed to inflict conditions. While, Wizards and other classes maintain their flexibility.
Spells by Damage Type per Class
Spells by Condition Inflicted per Class
Overall, this is just an intellectual exercise I found to be a bit of fun. There’s nothing earth shattering in these numbers, but I did find a few surprises. For me, it fixes firmly the intentional design of spell effects that help me vet or design new spells and subclasses. Additionally, it helps me understand where the gaps are either as a player or when designing scenarios as a DM. Particularly, with adventure design I think it’s important to know what the distribution of options are as you need to design broadly.
The only real conclusion I have is with subclasses like the College of Scribe Wizard from Tasha’s. I excluded that from my own games because I thought the ability to change damage type was too powerful and went against the class concepts. This confirms that assessment for me, but obviously my take is in the minority if reaction online is any gauge.
Regardless, I hope you found these numbers interesting and a bit of fun as well. Now get out there and run some great games.