Dungeons & Dragons B/X Magic-User/Elf to Wizard Spells in 5th Edition (part 1).

As a long time fan of Basic/Expert (B/X) Dungeons & Dragons, I’ve always admired the 12 spells per level of the Magic-User and Elf in the Expert Book. There’s something unnaturally natural about it–as if the organized assembly of spells were made just moments before you turned the page, daring you to cast them. The two types of magic (Clerical and Magic-User/Elf) along with only 5 or 6 spell levels gives you a list that new players aren’t intimidated to thumb through, but isn’t too few that it loses the sense of wonder a spell list should have. So why not recreate that? Especially when Wizards of the Coast themselves have stated that most players only play levels 1 through 10, making the Player’s Handbook much larger than it needs to be. Let’s create our B/X take of the spell list for new players of 5th Edition (5E)!

Taking inventory of B/X Magic-User and Elf spells in 5th Edition.

My first pass to this process is taking inventory of the B/X spells that we know and love. From there, I crossed out the spells that no longer exist, mentioned the spells that have changed either by name or level or class, and lastly limited the selections only to System Reference Document (SRD)-available spells. Why? I’m not really sure, but I felt like it and since it ended up affecting only two spells–why not?

B/X First Level Spells

  1. Charm Person
  2. Detect Magic
  3. Floating Disc (now Floating Disk)
  4. Hold Portal
  5. Light (downgraded to a Cantrip)
  6. Magic Missile
  7. Protection from Evil (now Protection from Evil and Good)
  8. Read Languages (now Comprehend Languages)
  9. Read Magic (now effectively Identify since the split must have seemed redundant)
  10. Shield
  11. Sleep
  12. Ventriloquism

B/X Second Level Spells

  1. Continual Light (now Continual Flame)
  2. Detect Evil (no longer with Wizards)
  3. Detect Invisible (now See Invisibility)
  4. ESP (now Detect Thoughts)
  5. Invisibility
  6. Knock
  7. Levitate
  8. Locate Object
  9. Mirror Image
  10. Phantasmal Force (in the PHB, but not SRD)
  11. Web
  12. Wizard Lock (now Arcane Lock)

B/X Third Level Spells

  1. Clairvoyance
  2. Dispel Magic
  3. Fire Ball (now Fireball)
  4. Fly
  5. Haste
  6. Hold Person (downgraded to Level 2)
  7. Infravision (now Darkvision, downgraded to Level 2)
  8. Invisibility 10′ radius (folded into Invisibility)
  9. Lightning Bolt
  10. Protection/Evil 10′ radius (folded into Protection from Evil and Good)
  11. Protection/Normal Missiles
  12. Water Breathing

B/X Fourth Level Spells

  1. Charm Monster
  2. Confusion
  3. Dimension Door
  4. Growth of Plants (now Plant Growth, but no longer with Wizards)
  5. Hallucinatory Terrain
  6. Massmorph
  7. Polymorph Others (folded into Polymorph)
  8. Polymorph Self (folded into Polymorph)
  9. Remove Curse (downgraded to Level 3)
  10. Wall of Fire
  11. Wall of Ice (upgraded to Level 6)
  12. Wizard Eye (now Arcane Eye)

B/X Fifth Level Spells

  1. Animate Dead (downgraded to Level 3)
  2. Cloudkill
  3. Conjure Elemental
  4. Contact Higher Plane
  5. Feeblemind (upgraded to Level 8)
  6. Hold Monster
  7. Magic Jar (upgraded to Level 6)
  8. Pass-Wall (now Passwall)
  9. Telekinesis
  10. Teleport (upgraded to level 7, but Teleportation Circle is level 5)
  11. Transmute Rock to Mud (in Elemental Evil, but not SRD)
  12. Wall of Stone

B/X Sixth Level Spells

  1. Anti-Magic Shell (now Antimagic Field, upgraded to level 8)
  2. Control Weather (upgraded to Level 8)
  3. Death Spell (now Circle of Death)
  4. Disintegrate
  5. Geas (downgraded to Level 5)
  6. Invisible Stalker
  7. Lower Water
  8. Move Earth
  9. Part Water (now Control Water, downgraded to level 4)
  10. Projected Image (upgraded to level 7)
  11. Reincarnation
  12. Stone to Flesh (now Flesh to Stone)

Lets see the progress we’ve made on the spell list now that we’ve made changes.

I’ve removed all spells not present in the SRD, renamed the spells to their 5E counterparts, and finally moved them to their 5E spell levels. The list we have now is more filled out than I had anticipated with many of our B/X spells still available in one form or another. The exception is the Light spell since I’m making the assumption that we don’t want to support a Cantrips-tier of spells.

B/X First Level Spells

  1. Charm Person
  2. Comprehend Languages
  3. Detect Magic
  4. Floating Disk
  5. Identify
  6. Light (kept at Level 1 instead of a Cantrip)
  7. Magic Missile
  8. Protection from Evil and Good
  9. Shield
  10. Sleep

B/X Second Level Spells

  1. Arcane Lock
  2. Continual Flame
  3. Darkvision
  4. Detect Thoughts
  5. Hold Person
  6. Invisibility
  7. Knock
  8. Levitate
  9. Locate Object
  10. Mirror Image
  11. See Invisibility
  12. Web

B/X Third Level Spells

  1. Animate Dead
  2. Clairvoyance
  3. Dispel Magic
  4. Fireball
  5. Fly
  6. Haste
  7. Lightning Bolt
  8. Remove Curse
  9. Water Breathing

B/X Fourth Level Spells

  1. Arcane Eye
  2. Confusion
  3. Control Water
  4. Dimension Door
  5. Hallucinatory Terrain
  6. Polymorph
  7. Wall of Fire

B/X Fifth Level Spells

  1. Cloudkill
  2. Conjure Elemental
  3. Contact Higher Plane
  4. Geas
  5. Hold Monster
  6. Passwall
  7. Telekinesis
  8. Teleportation Circle
  9. Wall of Stone

B/X Sixth Level Spells

  1. Circle of Death
  2. Disintegrate
  3. Flesh to Stone
  4. Magic Jar
  5. Move Earth
  6. Wall of Ice

So I wanted to conclude with the definitive list and something clever to say, but this took a lot more work to do than I thought and it’s not even done. Our next step is supplementing all of the spell levels back up to 12 spells again from the SRD by picking the most iconic in each level as well as filling any obvious gaps that are expected from 5th edition players today. I’ll try to pick this up again soon, but if you have any questions or see anything mistakes with what I did, please let me know!

Continue reading in Part 2.

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