Like the tabletop Dungeons & Dragons game it’s based on, Baldur’s Gate 3 offers an overwhelming amount of options for building your character, which can make character creation a daunting process. Picking your starting spells is one of the trickier aspects of this process. If you choose a class that can’t change their spells on the fly, like bard, sorcerer, or warlock, you have the added pressure of being stuck with these spells until you level up. So, what are the best level 1 spells to pick up at the start of the game?
BG3 Starting Spells Ranked Good to Best
There are dozens of starting spells in Baldur’s Gate 3. These are the cream of the crop. We’ll go through them from our lowest ranked to our highest.
#10 Feather Fall
This is one of the more situational spells on our list, and it may feel like a waste of a spot in your spellbook – until you come across an open chasm just begging to be jumped into. You’ll be glad to have someone in your party with this spell when the opportunity to use it arises. It can open up paths that you might not be able to access otherwise. It’s also a ritual spell, so it won’t cost you a spell slot to cast it as long as you’re out of combat. But if not knowing what’s at the bottom of that hole is something you’re okay with, then you may want to pass on this one.
Feather Fall is available to the following classes during character creation:
#9 Find Familiar
Find Familiar is a fantastic starting spell due to its cost effectiveness. It’s a ritual spell, so you can cast it out of combat without spending a spell slot. That’s a huge plus as a level 1 character, when you only have two spell slots to spend. Even later on when you have more, its cost effectiveness makes it so you never have to think twice about using it. The familiar also lasts until it dies or you take a Long Rest, so you don’t have to worry about it wearing off. You can choose the familiar’s form, and each form has unique advantages, giving the spell a lot of flexibility. One of the most useful forms is the cat, which can attract the attention of anyone nearby with its meow – a very effective distraction. Familiars can also help you out in combat, but they’re unlikely to survive more than one hit.
Find Familiar is available to the following classes early in the game:
- Ranger (through the Beast Tamer option for Natural Explorer, or at level 2)
Thunderwave is an excellent damaging spell to take early on. It has two components: damage and pushback. The damage component does 2d8 thunder damage to everyone within a 5 meter cone in front of your character. If a target succeeds their saving throw, they still take half damage, so the spell slot is never wasted. On a failed save, the target is also flung backward, which can itself cause some damage or even kill them outright, depending where they land. It’s a fun spell, and powerful if used well. It can also help your squishy casters to get away if they find themselves cornered in melee.
Thunderwave is available to the following classes during character creation:
- Cleric (Tempest Domain subclass only)
It’s easy to underestimate the value of buffs like Bless because it isn’t always obvious when you’ve benefited from them. With Bless, your party members will simply succeed more of their attack rolls and saving throws and you probably won’t really notice the difference, but it will be there. It’s a very efficient use of your limited spell slots, since it affects up to three targets. The biggest downside, especially at low levels, is that it requires concentration, so be careful about your positioning after you cast it so you reduce the likelihood of wasting it. But unlike debuffs that are cast on enemies, like Bane, buffs like Bless are guaranteed to work, so you won’t be wasting a spell slot because of a lucky saving throw.
Bless is available to the following classes early in the game:
- Paladin (at level 2)
#6 Hex / Hunter’s Mark
We’ve put these two spells together since they’re very similar. Both are bonus action spells that require concentration and deal 1d6 damage (necrotic for Hex, slashing for Hunter’s Mark). Both can be moved to another creature when the target dies without spending another spell slot. They’re very efficient spells for a battlemage character who will spend most of their actions doing weapon damage. Hex conveys disadvantage to the target’s ability checks and Hunter’s Mark allows you to do extra damage to the target with weapon attacks, both very useful debuffs. (Hunter’s Mark doesn’t become available until level 2, but we thought it made sense to mention it alongside Hex).
Hex is available to the following classes during character creation:
Hunter’s Mark is available to the following classes early in the game:
- Ranger (at level 2)
#5 Create or Destroy Water / Grease
We’ve again combined two similar spells that serve the same general purpose. Both of these spells leave a puddle on the ground that makes anyone inside vulnerable in some way. Neither spell requires concentration and neither can fail to “hit” when cast, so they’re a great use of limited spell slots.
Create or Destroy Water makes anyone inside its radius vulnerable to cold and lightning damage, so combine it with spells of those types for maximum effectiveness. You can hit the pool of water with a lightning spell to shock enemies inside, robbing them of a reaction and potentially stunning them, or you can use a cold spell to create an icy patch that costs extra movement to cross.
Grease slows anyone in its radius and can also cause them to fall prone if they fail a saving throw, leaving them more vulnerable to attacks. You can also throw a fire spell at the area to set it ablaze, dealing damage to everyone inside.
Create or Destroy Water is available to the following classes during character creation:
Grease is available to the following classes during character creation:
- Sorcerer (Draconic Bloodline subclass only)
#4 Speak with Animals
There are a few spells in the game that exist purely to open new dialogue options, and this is the first one that’s available to you. You won’t gain any combat benefit from this spell, and it won’t help you succeed on any skill checks. But having this spell will allow you to experience parts of the game that you otherwise wouldn’t, so it’s essential for any completionist’s spellbook. It’s a ritual spell, so it won’t cost you any spell slots, and once it’s active it lasts until you take a Long Rest. There’s no reason not to cast this at the start of every day just to be sure you don’t miss any potential quests. Most animals you talk to won’t have much to say, but there are a few that offer special insight or even quests of their own. And many of them are just plan funny.
Speak with Animals is available to the following classes and races early in the game:
- Cleric (Nature Domain subclass only)
- Ranger (at level 2)
- Warlock (through the Beast Speech option for Eldritch Invocations at level 2)
- Forest Gnome (Gnome subrace)
#3 Magic Missile
If you want to use your spell slots to deal direct damage, Magic Missile is one of the best early game options for this. It has a few advantages over other damaging spells, the main one being that it always hits. There’s no attack roll, no saving throw – just a damage roll for each missile. It also deals force damage, which is one of the least commonly resisted damage types. Basically, it’s guaranteed to hurt its target, so you know you won’t be wasting one of your limited spell slots when you cast it. But wait, there’s more! You can choose the target for each missile separately, so you can hit more than one enemy in a single turn. This spell is especially useful for picking off multiple enemies whose health is already low.
Magic Missile is available to the following classes during character creation:
#2 Healing Word
At first glance, you might think Healing Word is underwhelming – a less effective version of Cure Wounds. But it’s probably the most useful healing spell in the game. Although the amount it heals for is pretty low, its efficiency is where it shines. First, it’s a bonus action, meaning you don’t have to waste your main action getting your party members healed up – you can still attack or cast another spell. Second, unlike Cure Wounds, it has a long range, so you don’t have to charge into harm’s way to use it. It’s also perfectly good for reviving downed party members. Just throw out a bonus action heal to get them up and keep going like it never happened.
Healing Word is available to the following classes during character creation:
The Sleep spell is our top pick for the best starting spell in BG3. One of the things that makes the Sleep spell so good, especially at early levels, is that you can target multiple enemies with it. At level 1, you can put up to 24 hit points worth of creatures to sleep. At times you will be able to hit three or four enemies with this spell at once, robbing them of up to 2 rounds of actions, movement, and reactions. It’s also guaranteed to work – there are no attack rolls and no saving throws. It only breaks if someone jostles the target. It gets better, though: attacks are guaranteed to crit on a target who is asleep, so not only are your targets out of the fight for a turn or two, but you can take the opportunity to deal some major damage as well.
Sleep is available to the following classes during character creation:
- Warlock (Archfey subclass only)
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Thanks for reading! We hope this guide has helped you pick out the best starting spells for your character in Baldur’s Gate 3. If you have any questions, leave a comment below, and be sure to subscribe to High Ground for more useful guides!