5th Edition Spells – Magic Missile

Magic Missile

Sorcerer, Wizard - 1 Level Spell

School: Evocation
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 120 ft
Components: Verbal and Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous
Attack/Save: None

You create three glowing darts of magical force. Each dart hits a creature of your choice that you can see within range. A dart deals 1d4 + 1 force damage to its target. The darts all strike simultaneously, and you can direct them to hit one creature or several.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the spell creates one more dart for each slot level above 1st.

My Comments: Ah, the iconic Magic Missile. Especially made famous by the Dead Alewives in their parody of a D&D game, Magic Missile has been the top-ranking Wizard’s spell for entering combat. The results are simple: cast the spell, automatically hit one or more critters, and move on. There isn’t much to review, right? Well, let’s be clear about what makes (and breaks) Magic Missile

  • The missiles you create with this spell automatically hits creatures within range (and a delightfully long range, at that). That means you have to be able to see your target, however – you can’t just know where they are. That gives up some of your cover and makes you a potential target, but the benefits of this spell outweighs that potentiality. It’s up to your DM to let you be able to use mirrors or spells like Clairvoyance to see indirect targets, but in my game, we always ruled that these missiles don’t curve.
  • All missiles strike simultaneously. That means you have to allot them to each target before rolling damage. Since you likely don’t know how badly off a creature is before you target it, this might mean multiple missiles are a waste or not enough. This is where the intelligence of a Wizard will really come in – inarguably the greatest asset to a spellcaster – to see how well they have been tracking combat to determine where their missiles do the most damage.
  • Magic Missile causes force damage, which means that it is an excellent spell to use against almost all targets. There are incredibly few creatures that are resistant to force damage, and it even effects incorporeal targets like ghosts.
  • Shield is a good spell for Wizards who want to be able to counterspell Magic Missile; that simple defensive spell nullifies any Magic Missile striking it. Magic Missile is so ubiquitous, it only takes being hit by these darts a few times before you want to keep Shield memorized for when you’re going up against arcane spellcasters. Considering you can cast Shield as a reaction, you don’t even have to more planning than your usual morning spell preparation.

Cat casting magic missile spellMagic Missile is a good spell to always keep memorized, even as you go up in level. You can effectively target 2+spell slot level creatures with Magic Missile, so it’s good for winnowing down either one tough opponent with an automatic strike, or several minor creatures. Granted, damage is only 1d4+1 per missile, but if you expend, say, a sixth level slot that results in 16-40 points of damage to a single target, with 24 points as the median. And since they automatically strike, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Everyone seems to have a story about Magic Missile. What’s yours? Tell us down below in the comments.

And don’t forget the Mountain Dew.


Terra Katherine McKeown

Terra Katherine McKeown is a non-binary writer, farmer and bodyworker living in the Southwest. Ze has been playing role-playing games since ze was eight years old. Zir first novel, Chasing Dawn, is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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