How to deal with the wish spell in D&D


Many people have an issue figuring out what to do when a wish in D&D is used and I am here to help you. A wish spell has many limitations, but there are a few things that we need to consider before we start.

  • 99% of wishes made cannot be made again in the same campaign.
  • A wish can be simple, complex, or catastrophic.
  • Most wish spells should give interesting conflict, not kill the player.
  • A wish has conditions, and while being limitless in scope breaks down when wishes become too big.
  • Wishes depend on what is granting the wish.

Wishes cannot be made infinite. A wish has many factors. A wish in D&D should not be used to kill a player as punishment.

Wishes won’t be replicated

Why will most wish spells never be replicated? The wish spell is powerful and extremely useful, but there is one main reason why players will not have multiple wishes. Most players never reach level 17 as a pure caster, and do not have access to wish as a 9th level spell.

You may be wondering how players are then able to use wish in D&D and the answer is items. There are many different types of items that can grant wishes. Sometimes the dungeon master has the players find a dijin or something and gain a wish from a creature, but this is a much rarer instance.

The good news here is that if a wish is used on something, the players most likely will never be able to do so again. This stops the potential for abuse a lot. Imagine, I save my wish spell for when the party is tired and almost out of health. I wish that our party will gain the benefits of a long rest next round. Extremely powerful, but rarely an issue since you cannot change this with other wish spells.

But what about the severity of wishes? A wish spell can be used for anything, but how do you as a dungeon master properly adapt? There are three levels of severity that you will need to know about.

Simple wishes

These wishes are when a player asks for something simple. A wish spell used to do any of the predetermined actions in the wish spell description is a good example. One more unorthodox example would be if a player ‘wasted’ a wish.

How would a player waste a wish in D&D? They ask for 10,000 gp, and you know that a wish spell can give up to 25,000 gp. A player asks for a feast for three people. This spell can be replicated as ‘heroes feast’ but is instead asked to do something weaker. These are some examples of a wasted wish.

If your player wants to waste a wish, let them go ahead and do so with no penalty. The wish spell is not exceeding the power of a 9th level spell and therefore is not that big of a deal. Give your player something.


These are the most common types of wishes. A player doesn’t want to waste a wish or be conventional with it. Instead, they want to make the wish in D&D worthwhile but are not stupid enough to make an outlandish wish. When a player makes these types of wishes a dungeon master should never kill the player but instead screw them over somehow. Taking a character out of the campaign is considered character death as well. here are some examples of complex wishes.

When dealing with these wishes, you need to make sure that the player is screwed over in some way. This can come from misinterpreting the spell but it can also come from unforeseen consequences.

Here are some examples of complex wishes.

“I wish to rule a kingdom.” Make the player become the lord of a kingdom that recently went through a coue. They are either just lord in name or are running a terrible country. The country could have a rebellion, be in financial ruin, have too many enemies, whatever. Make sure that the player does not get exactly what they want and you can make a campaign out of it.

“I want to be able to cast every spell.” You can make it that the player may only cast the wish spell and it takes all their spell slots. This is somewhat nice, but you could instead make it so that a player has 1 spell slot per level all the way to 9th, level or they do not know any spells. You can choose the severity of the consequence, but this should have some negative effect since they are trying to break the game. Blatant abuse should not be encouraged.

“I wish I was level 20.” This is a common one and easily stopped. Whenever a player talks about mechanics the player knows these mechanics but the world they play in does not. Misinterpret these results and make the player be on ‘level 20’ of a building. If you have made levels common place in your world make the player who is a level 5 wizard be a 5wizard/2rogue/2fighter/2monk/2ranger/2paladin/2warlock/2cleric/1bard/2barbarian. They didn’t specify what levels they wanted….

All of these wishes should be used to teach the player a lesson and be careful what you wish for. Most of these examples didn’t make the character debatably unplayable, but they taught the player to not abuse this immense gift that you gave them.

A Catastrophic wish

The only time a player makes a wish in D&D like this is when that player is exceptionally unwise. A wish of this nature can go something like this.

“I wish for the big bad guy to die.” Or “I wish that there was no evil in the world.”

There is one thing you need to know when sorting out these wishes. The thing that a player wished for will happen, but that wish will happen in the easiest possible manner.

Did you want the big bad guys to die? No problem, they are now all vampires, liches, or died for one minute and miraculously came back to life.

No Evil in the world? What is easier? Erasing all forms of evil or erasing every sentient being’s ability to perceive evil? Evil is only a concept after all. A concept is much easier to wipe out than a whole world, or even 1/3rd of a world.

When a player uses a wish spell like this, these wishes are meant to not only backfire but completely change the campaign. 90% of the time the campaign should be changed to make it harder for the characters or make them feel really dumb.

If you can, always mess with the player. Try to avoid taking them out of the game, but make sure that they will know about their mistake. It is much easier to learn from something that you have done, and easier to deflect when you have a new character that didn’t make the stupid wish.

What powers a wish?

What is giving the player the power to make a wish in D&D? If it is a grateful dijin that has recently been freed you can possibly lighten the negative effects of a wish. If that dijin has been enslaved and forced to give you a wish that wish should be made perverse by some means. The same thing happens with an effret or other granters of wishes. If the source means well the wishes will turn out better and the opposite is also true. This may not be common knowledge and you don’t need to tell your players about this.

If your source is something that has no disposition like an item, view how reality would take to this wish. Are they breaking the space-time continuum? Are they re-shaping the world in a drastic way? If so, create backlash.

A wish spell, in my opinion, has gained its power from reality. That is why it only has the power of a 9th level spell but sometimes can do far greater things. If the spell’s energy goes beyond what is normally a 9th level spell’s power it has to get that energy from somewhere else. That somewhere is reality itself and that is why it has this extreme backlash.

That is my personal theory but when reality is changed for the worse your players can feel unjustly screwed over if they are not properly warned.

Player etiquette

When a player makes a wish in D&D for the first time and finds unsatisfactory results the player gets mad. This is understandable since they were toying with things that they didn’t understand but there are a few ways to avoid this.

Warn players “If you try to break the game, that wish might not go the way you envisioned” This avoids players feeling cheated and makes everything afterward their fault. They cannot blame you for not telling them, warping things, or making the game worse for them if you tell them this.

If you don’t want to warn your players because their characters wouldn’t know this information that is fine but you will have angry players since they are not their characters. Your players are more than just characters and feel like they should be treated as such.

That is why you should at least give them a brief reminder either before they make a wish or after they have made a crazy wish. If you give a reminder after the wish and ask “do you still want that to be your wish?” Many players will say yes if the wish is a decent one. If the player is trying to pull one over on you they will decide to redo their wish. This generally only weeds out those who are trying to abuse the wish spell and whine about it later.

Read the spell

Many dungeon masters do not read the spell at all and don’t know the capabilities of wish. Yes, you can do anything with the spell but look at the spell’s description. It has its own drawbacks and answers to quite a few of your questions. In addition, the spell has a steep cost for any spellcaster. That last paragraph alone will limit the potential abuse by a 17th level caster.


If you read the last paragraph of the wish spell you find out the cost for a caster using the wish spell. But what about items? How can they have a cost?

We talked about how things can go wrong above, but go read the article on consequences. It is okay, I will wait because the cost of a wish spell directly relates to this topic.

Now that you have read the consequences article you understand how to apply consequences.

Consequences are cost.

Did you player want to cure a village? Great, the consequence is that all those illnesses were transferred somewhere else instead of cured. Make that group hunt the players and desire to get revenge.

Want to revive your dead mother? Great, but you lose half of your body. Forgive the reference if you get it, but these are some examples of how to apply ‘cost’ into your wish spells.

You can settle for good old fashioned backlash, misinterpretation, or something going wrong, but cost is a useful tool if your players are trying to do something beyond their power or just need to be taught a lesson.


One other fun cost is that the universe or plane that your players are in was made by someone. Perhaps a few beings, and these beings made the plane/universe that specific way for a reason. Would you like someone trying to mess with your creation? Probably not, and neither would these beings.

If wishes truly become an issue, have galactic authorities come in. Make the players have to deal with these authorities, or make amends for their crime. A whole campaign can be gained out of using galactic authorities.


The wish spell is a hard thing to deal with for many dungeon masters, and I hope that I have given a good template to help you deal with a wish spell.

Always remember, we want to make the players deal with consequences rather than killing a character. This way the player will be more likely to learn, grow, and make a better campaign.

What did you think of wishes? Did you find the extra ideas on authority, cost, and wish protocol useful? If so, tell me what was the most useful piece of advice.

This has been Wizo and keep rolling!

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