I feel as though necromancers have little undeath-related spells below 3rd level. Only necrotic damage. I wanted to change that.

While it is relatively simple to extrapolate up and down in spell levels for spells like fireball and burning hands, both because of the "at higher levels" section of the spell and because you can compare to existing spells when determining damage, it is not simple with spells like speak with dead.

Speak with dead does not provide options for higher and lower levels, and I believe this to be because the ability to ask open-ended questions is inherently strong enough that, even with only 1 or 2 questions, it would be a gimme at lower levels. That being said, I think I've thought up a way to mitigate some of that:

Spiritual Inquiry

1st-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 10 feet

Components: V, S, M (burning incense)

Duration: 1 minute

You reach to the spirit of a corpse within range, allowing it to answer a single yes or no question. The corpse must still have a mouth and can't be undead. The spell fails if the corpse was the target of this spell or speak with dead within the last 10 days.

Until the spell ends, you may ask the corpse one question that it may only answer with a "yes", "no", or "I don't know". The corpse knows only what it knew in life, including the languages it knew. The corpse is under no compulsion to give you a truthful answer if you are hostile or it recognizes you as an enemy. This spell doesn't return the creature's soul to its body, only its animating spirit. Thus, the corpse can't learn new information, doesn't comprehend anything that has happened since it died, and can't speculate about future events.

Is 1st level appropriate for this spell? If not, what makes it too strong or weak?


1 Answer 1


This is probably fine, but needs to come with a warning

The notable thing this spell does, is move an ability normally restricted to Tier II (5th to 10th levels) down to first. A notable case of something similar is with flying speed, which first occurs with fly (a 3rd level spell = Tier II) which when given as a racial feature (Aarakocra and Tiefling variants) saw those races barred from Adventure League play. This as they can break Tier I adventures. (having a permanent flying speed is arguably limited to 14th level characters, but that's a different debate) Similarly allowing a speak with dead effect could break a Tier I adventures, most probably a murder mystery/investigation type adventure/element. This is an important check to make before allowing this (or any other homebrew material in your campaign).

For the spell itself; Axing from five questions to one under the same 10-day restriction is probably fine as it powers down the spell by more than a fifth when taking away the ability to make follow up questions, which is major part of speak with dead. The information from this spell, it being a single yes/no/null answer is unlikely to do more than give the adventurers a direction to go in, thus driving the plot forwards (which is a good thing), unless the drama in the adventure hinges on a singular piece of information (such as "did X murder this corpse" etc.).

As a side note: speak with dead should also be barred from working on a corpse that has been targeted by this spell within 10-days or at higher levels that get to ask 6 questions at very little cost, but that is maybe obvious.


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