Combat Rituals: Free 1-Action Spells for Your Scribe Wizard

With the new Wizard subclass, Order of the Scribe, you gain a few interesting abilities. We talk through these in our episode, New UA Subclasses: Souls for Beers, Teenage Bedrooms Inside Magic Lamps, and Tiny Cowboys Riding Your Wizard's Familiar.

But one that begs for further examination is this: "When you cast a wizard spell as a ritual, you can use the spell’s normal casting time, rather than adding 10 minutes to it. Once you use this benefit, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest."
So this would allow, if you picked a ritual with the casting time of 1-action, to cast a free spell as a ritual in combat. Neat! But let's have a look at which spells would be available and if any of these would be useful in a combat situation. There are only 9 wizard spells that fall into this niche category:
ritual casting

1. Comprehend Languages: Maybe.

No damage, no defense -- but information is powerful. You understand the literal meaning of any spoken language that you hear. Could be used to find out what the enemies are saying to each other.

2. Detect Magic: Unlikely.

No damage, no defense. You sense the presence of magic within 30 feet of you. Let's you know that your opponents sword is magical, just in time for it to cut through you.

3. Feign Death: Maybe

No damage, but a bit of defense. You touch a willing creature and put it into a cataleptic state that is indistinguishable from death. Playing possum is a risky strategy, but maybe against the right sort of dumb creature, maybe they will think you are dead too and leave your corpse for the buzzards. The good news is you'll be resistant to any damage you take while playing dead -- and that poison in your veins is no longer killing you. Bad news is that, well, you can't really defend yourself, or help your friends.

4. Floating Disk: Unlikely.

No damage, no defense. Pure creativity. This spell creates a circular, horizontal plane of force, 3 feet in diameter and 1 inch thick, that floats 3 feet above the ground in an unoccupied space of your choice that you can see within range. The disk remains for the duration, and can hold up to 500 pounds. Perhaps if the room was flooding and you needed to stay above the water. It has built in limitations that prevent you from treating it like a hoverboard. But as this is a first level spell, if you really needed it, you could probably afford just to cast it.

5. Gentle Repose: Unlikely.

No damage, and only a very particular defense. You touch a corpse or other remains. For the next 10 days, the target is protected from decay and can't become undead. Are you fighting a creature that can raise dead? If so, this is a good spell to be able to cast for free, especially if one of your party members goes down.

6. Telepathic Bond: Hell Yes.

No damage, no defense -- but infomation is powerful. You forge a telepathic link with 8 willing creatures. This is a pretty high-level spell (5th Level), so it's great that you can cast it without burning one of those precious slots. This is a great spell to get up in the first round of the fight so everyone in the party shares a private comlink. Silent information sharing and coordination of action is a powerful advantage.

7. Skywrite: Unlikely.

No damage, no defense -- but power to signal others. 10 words form in the sky. This is really only great if you have a bunch of re-enforcements waiting for your signal, and you don't want to waste a 2nd level slot to call them into the fight.

8. Unseen Servant: Maybe.

No damage, very little defense, but empowers your bonus actions. This spell creates an invisible, mindless, shapeless, Medium force that performs simple tasks at your command until the spell ends. The servant springs into existence in an unoccupied space on the ground within range. It has AC 10, 1 hit point, and a Strength of 2, and it can't attack. If it drops to 0 hit points, the spell ends. So you could put it between you and a bad guy and slow it down, just a little. Or you could be more creative: Once on each of your turns as a bonus action, you can mentally command the servant to move up to 15 feet and interact with an object. The servant can perform simple tasks that a human servant could do, such as fetching things, cleaning, mending, folding clothes, lighting fires, serving food, and pouring wine. Once you give the command, the servant performs the task to the best of its ability until it completes the task, then waits for your next command. Handy. For example, if you were trying to fight guards,_ and_ free prisoners, you could use your bonus action to have the servant get the keys, and the start unlocking cells. Anything that lets you do more on your bonus action -- for free -- isn't a bad thing to cast in combat.

9. Water Breathing: Maybe.

No damage, protection from drowning. This spell grants up to ten willing creatures you can see within range the ability to breathe underwater until the spell ends. This is certainly very situational, as not every combat involves the threat of drowning. But when water is involved -- this is a great spell to be able to get out for free without burning a 3rd level slot.

So if you are building an Order of Scribe wizard, when you hit 9th level, consider pickup Telepathic Bond -- it's the best 1-action bang for your ritual buck.

(Credits: Header image by Mateusz Mizak, concept artist and illustrator on Art Station. Article image by Marcel Mercado.)