If a creature with the ability to swallow other creatures is banished what happens to a still living swallowed creature (i.e. PC)?

The banishment spell has the following key points:

  • "You attempt to send one creature that you can see"
  • "While there, the target is Incapacitated"
  • "The target remains there until the spell ends"

The thing is, you only targeted one creature. So what creature(s) are affected in this situation and how? You can't see the swallowed creature, so how is it affected? I can see several possible scenarios:

  1. The swallowed creature is left behind. Could be a useful way to save someone swallowed.

  2. The swallowed creature is also banished. It is treated the same as the banished creature and is also incapacitated. It may or may not take ongoing damage during this time (for instance the acid damage from the stomach).

  3. The swallowed creature is also banished. It isn't affected by the incapacitation and could fight its way out of the creature that did the swallowing. If it gets out, it is just in the demiplane alongside the banished creature. It may or may not stay behind in the demiplane since it wasn't the target and the spell fails to pull it back.

Background: Our party is about to face a Kraken (party member stole from the temple of the God of Sea and Treachery despite the cleric vehemently warning against taking anything). This thing seriously outclasses us (level 10 party members) if it is the full version of the Kraken.

We've faced a baby version of this before. If this is the full CR23 version, the only thing I can see that can get us out is the cleric's Divine Intervention, running away while it is banished, or an exploit like being able to banish the creature with someone(s) inside who can then escape and attack it without being attacked in response.

  • \$\begingroup\$ While I'd go with 3, this is a very good question on how the rules for Banishment work. Looking forward to answers. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 3:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Imagine if the contents of a creature's bowels and or stomach were emptied each time it was teleported or banished. Across the land there would be examples of the wealthy paying for a 5 ft teleport as a treatment for obesity or constipation. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 6:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShaneWalden Ah, Bulimia Nervosa through abjuration and conjuration, nice. Magical first world problems. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Jan 26, 2018 at 14:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth Could be an alternative way to "dispel" Heroe's Feast! \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 19:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DanielB Parasites and microscopic organisms aren't explicitly creatures in 5e, while a creature which is swallowed is one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fie
    Jul 23, 2022 at 18:38

3 Answers 3


Your DM decides

Of course, it’s not just Banishment - teleportation magic and some plane shifting magic do the same thing.

Personally, I like no 1 - if the two creatures were grappling this is how it would work and I see the situation as similar.

That leaves the question of what happens to the half-digested sperm whale the kraken ate or, for that matter, it’s own intestinal flora which is genetically not kraken. For the former, this is an object (an invalid target) and the latter is either part of the kraken or more objects. Food can stay or go depending on how much you enjoy grossing out your players with suddenly exposed intestinal contents. Flora should probably go since the spell is not fatal and death is the usual outcome of losing your gastric ecosystem.

If you are going to banish them both then I agree that since the swallowed creature was not the target (just a side effect) it shouldn’t be incapacitated and is still being digested (incapacitated doesn’t stop life processes like petrifaction does).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Adding to your list, it's not even just teleportation and plane shifting magic. It's single target targeted magic (rather than area effect). What if you were to Bless the creature that did the swallowing? Or Bestow Curse or Contagion it? If you were to use option 2 then these should also effect both creatures. Option 3 I guess leaves it open to a spell by spell interpretation on the effects. Option 1 keeps them separate. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ It really gets messy if you consider a swallowed creature could cast banishment on the creature that swallowed it, under the right circumstances, such as being immune to being blinded. \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Dec 13, 2018 at 3:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @wakkowarner321 What about "Shove"? It targets a (single) creature, which, on a success, is moved 5 ft away. Should the swallowed creature be similarly unaffected by shove as you think it should by unaffected by spells since shove only targets one creature? I think movement is special in that (mundane) effects which move the swallowing creature should clearly move the swallowed creature as well, even if they normally can only affect a single target. I would preserve this for movement spells as well, although I haven't thought much about other spells. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 6, 2019 at 14:18

The PC swallowed by the Kraken is food. Food in a creature's stomach travels with it when it gets summoned, teleported, or banished. The rules never state that a creature's stomach and or bowels are emptied after experiencing such magical travel. Does a swallowed dolphin get banished with the Kraken? Of course. The real question is: should PCs be granted an exception? The rules are silent on the issue.

One Option
Leave it up to the dice. Tell your players that the rules don't present a reason why the swallowed PC wouldn't be banished along with the Kraken. Then, since you are a beneficent DM, let the swallowed PC's player make the same save to resist the banishment that the Kraken got.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that would depend on whether the "food" was still a living creature or not. PC or not isn't the issue, but whether a swallowed creature goes along. Since the spell affects one creature that you can see, the rules do indeed present a reason why the swallowed PC wouldn't be banished with the Kraken -- he is a second creature, and is not within sight. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 8:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ So a swallowed dolphin would or would not be carried along with the Kraken depending on if its heart was still beating? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 9:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "The PC swallowed by the Kraken is food". I see no other useful way of looking at this unless you are specifically trying to find reasons that it would not go, in which case you can use DM Fiat. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jan 26, 2018 at 10:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShaneWalden, yes, exactly. Is it still a creature, or is it now an object? That's the dividing line for spells or effects that affect creatures. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 17:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Spells affect creatures indirectly all the time. If a PC was standing on a wounded giant's shoulder and that giant was disintegrated, the PC would fall and take falling damage. The PC wasn't the target but they are indirectly affected. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2018 at 9:55

In a word, No to all your situations

An effect can only end if it ends in the manner the effect allows. A creature swallowed by a Kraken will remain swallowed (and hence blinded and restrained regardless of where the Kraken is moved or where the character is moved (even if for example, the character teleports out). If the Kraken is banished, the swallowed character remains in the old position of the Kraken still swallowed until he deals 50 damage to the Kraken and the Kraken fails the Constitution save or the Kraken dies. He takes acid damage and remains restrained and blind even though everyone can see him now as he digests in the open air.

That's ridiculous

Yes, it is. This is why DM authority is very important in 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. There are much less rules governing edge cases like this so DM fiat is the only way for it to make sense. I don t know why there isn't a rule that swallows end when a character is moved far enough away (like there is with grapples) but there isn't.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, so for further clarification on what you said, what if the swallowed character has Freedom of Movement active on them? They can just spend 5 feet of movement to "escape" and no longer take the acid damage? Can they have Freedom of Movement cast on them while taking the acid damage? If they have a restoration on them can they then Misty Step their way "out"? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 5:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed, that's ridiculous. There's no need to be ridiculous. An effect ends if the cause of the effect is ended. A character that is no longer swallowed is no longer blinded and restrained, whether he teleports out, or climbs out, or gets tossed out, or gets left behind during a Banishment. That's just basic sense. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 5:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ If we need to have rules to define basic sense, there's a problem. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 17:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @wakkowarner I see your point now. My intent is to observe the explicit inclusion of words. Plain english says that escape would end swallowing. So could teleport in the case of misty step (teleporting is also not defined in 5e) in some interpretations (technically teleporting doesn't end a grapple either). Escaping should be explicit if an action allows it. Teleporting and the removal of the vice are implicit not explicit (i.e. not in the plain English) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 17:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good. Basic sense is a part of the rules, by specifically allowing the DM to make rulings. You "don't know why there isn't a rule that swallows end when a character is moved far enough away (like there is with grapples) but there isn't" -- this is because the rules cannot possibly cover every possibility, and the DM is assumed to have some basic sense, to do things like totally arbitrarily decide that if your manacles disappear, you are no longer restrained by them. Or that if you are no longer inside the creature, the conditions imposed by being inside the creature no longer apply. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2018 at 23:05

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