The only real solution to surviving the hard vacuum of space for four years is being polymorphed into a lich-like form. I've worked out the entire rest of the sequence for star travel but it depends utterly on casting 5th level wizard spells that have verbal components in a vacuum, which I can't solve.

Unremovable constraints on the problem: undead form, constant sunlight exposure, cannot be blind, cannot require so much as a box as a spaceship, cannot do anything that would provide a frame of reference for a wall of force to snap to. In addition, anything that requires an initial casting with a verbal component has to have the effect teleport with the caster.

I've tried a bunch of paths that all end the same way. A magical solution that provides the ability to speak doesn't work for the form that needs it or the solution has an initial verbal component and burns too many spell slots to recast it continuously.

How can I cast wizard spells with verbal components in a vacuum given that a vacuum seems to preclude the ability to speak verbal components?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ So, is your question specifically about casting spells in a vacuum, or is it really about interstellar travel in 5e? \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Oct 11 '18 at 1:29
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Can spells with a verbal component be cast underwater if the caster can't breathe underwater? (TL;DR: this is very contentious) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Oct 11 '18 at 1:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Anyway, I’m voting to close this, as there simply are no rules about this, and the only way to answer is with personal speculation about the laws of magical physics hinted at by the game’s rules, which is hopelessly opinion-based. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 11 '18 at 1:40
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan That doesn't make the question opinion based. That would make the answer "there are no rules for this" which is a valid answer \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Oct 11 '18 at 1:47
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron This question is inevitably going to invite wild speculation and noise, which is the primary motivation for closing questions in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 11 '18 at 1:53

Sit inside an Air Elemental.

Air elementals are made of air (MM 123):

An air elemental is a funneling cloud of whirling air with a vague semblance of a face.

They have the ability to persistently occupy another creature's space (MM 124):

Air Form. The elemental can enter a hostile creature's space and stop there.

If you want to be particularly strict about the "hostile" wording, breaking your own concentration on the summoning spell turns the air elemental hostile. Therefore, if you can get an air elemental to occupy your space in space, then you have a mass of air that you can use to speak, and therefore cast spells.

You can get this air elemental using the Censer of Controlling Air Elementals or the Conjure Elemental spell. Of course, this solution assumes that your setup for space travel can accommodate more than one creature, and that you can accommodate the extra magic items or spells that you need.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't the Air elemental dissipate on vacuum? \$\endgroup\$ – Ender Look Oct 11 '18 at 1:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ A Druid that is Circle of the Moon can wild shape into an air elemental. At 20th level a druid can maintain wild shape indefinitely and so could be an air elemental for as long as they need. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Oct 11 '18 at 7:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EnderLook Probably not--a water elemental doesn't dissipate in air, despite not having a container, and if it dissipates in vacuum we'd expect it to dissipate in normal air too. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Oct 11 '18 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ So I'll have to make that air elemental by true polymorph for endurance reason, but level 17 is better than not at all so ... \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Oct 12 '18 at 2:52

I assume that due to the description of verbal components:

Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. The words themselves aren’t the source o f the spell’s power; rather, the particular combination of sounds, with specific pitch and resonance, sets the threads of magic in motion. Thus, a character w ho is gagged or in an area of silence, such as one created by the silence spell, can’t cast a spell with a verbal component.

That we will need some way to make sound. This in turn requires an atmosphere/medium through which the sound can travel as it strums the weave.

Mirage Arcane

Mirage Arcane could potentially give the effect of an atmosphere and states:

You make terrain in an area up to 1 mile square look, sound, smell, and even feel like some other sort of terrain.

i.e. make space look, sound, smell, and even feel like air


The illusion includes audible, visual, tactile, and olfactory elements, so it can turn clear ground into difficult terrain (or vice versa) or otherwise impede movement through the area.

meaning that the stuff the illusion is made out of is at least partially there?

while the creature is aware of the illusion’s presence, the creature can still physically interact with the illusion

therefor even if a creature knows that the illusion is present they can still breath in the knowledge that the air isn't real.

I assume the illusion is in some way connected to the ship and moves with it even after the ship had left orbit since otherwise there would be issues of magical space relativity and would get complicated fast. Therefore if the spell were cast while standing on the ship before the ship leaves orbit then the mirage arcane would follow it out of orbit using the deck of the ship as the ground.

I posted this question about casting a spell twice and find that if the second and future castings were cast before the end of the previous castings 10 day duration then the duration would be reset to 10 days.


Another option is to use the physics from SpellJammer (from D&D 2e) whereby as a SpellJammer left orbit it just took a certain amount of air with it and that air would run out eventually. An alright port to 5E was made here but please note it does come with its own system for moving ships and powering ships etc


In order to solve this, you need to think and resolve what is a verbal component in magic, what does it actually do and why is it there? Does it help the caster concentrate and manipulate energies or rather does it instruct some spirits to do something that caster is not aware of existing.

With either case, you can then follow up on how to solve them. For example, in spirits case, you could build an amulet that makes everyone hear you regardless if you're silenced.

In concentration case, you can still hear yourself, because, if we took example from actual biology, sound vibrations travel faster through solid materials like bones and in turn, our own voices are filtered out by the hearing mechanism to prevent double hearing. This also explains why our voices sound different when you hear its recording.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any RAW evidence for your answer? It seems fairly unspecific. \$\endgroup\$ – rpgstar Oct 12 '18 at 5:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @rpgster: I believe you quoted it. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Oct 12 '18 at 13:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @rpgstar It's unspecific because 5e is prone to breaking when you try to modify it even a little bit. When you're trying to modify anything in it, you essentially have to homebrew it and then think of all the scenarios when it will break the system apart. \$\endgroup\$ – Dragas Oct 16 '18 at 7:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Joshua yes but Dragas should still refer to the quotes in the phb \$\endgroup\$ – rpgstar Oct 16 '18 at 7:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dragas there are quotes that can be used such as the quote I used at the beginning of my answer about what a verbal component is. \$\endgroup\$ – rpgstar Oct 16 '18 at 7:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.