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Goal

I'm looking for a way that a cleric in 5E D&D can hide a living body (make it unseen), i.e., with a magic spell.

Restrictions:

  • Spells up to 5th-level are considered
  • Only rules from the Player's Handbook may be used.
  • The cleric may be of any domain.
  • Unconscious PCs count as creatures in this game.
  • I am specifically looking for ways to make the body unseen.

Example Use Case

When an ally is fallen and we'd like to make sure that monsters don't hit-to-kill the fallen party member, or drag them off mid-combat to hold as captives or finish them off.

Question

I've scoured the cleric PHB listings and basically come up empty.

What can a cleric do in this case to render a living body unseen?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your question title mentions hide, does that reference to the hide action in DnD where you try to obscure your location? Because even if you make a body invisible with invisibility it may be unseen, but it is not hidden (in the sense of the hide action), as everyone knows where it is. The enemies would only have disadvantage to attack it. See here: reddit.com/r/dndnext/comments/hvek8b/… \$\endgroup\$ – findusl Jul 29 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @findusl: The question in the body is the technical question: "I am specifically looking for ways to make the body unseen." The example use case is just that; one example. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel R. Collins Jul 29 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanielR.Collins there is a simple solution to make a body unseen without any spells — just cover it with a blanket. Does that solve the problem? if not, why? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Jul 31 at 13:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor: All I can say, is "maybe". :-D \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel R. Collins Jul 31 at 21:05
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The Light Domain offers a way to make the ally unseen or unseeable

Since you allow spells of up to 5th level, the Light Domain has as a domain spell wall of fire. If you create a wall of fire around your ally - make sure the fire damage is on the outside and your ally is on the inside of a circle or a wall- here is what happens:

a. Anyone who tries to pass through it takes 5d8 fire damage (dex save for half)
b. Nobody can see your ally. Why? The wall is opaque.

It is 4th level spell, and meets your other criteria of lasting for one combat:
DURATION : Concentration 1 Minute

You create ...{snip} a ringed wall up to 20 feet in diameter, 20 feet high, and 1 foot thick. The wall is opaque and lasts for the duration. > {snip} One side of the wall, selected by you when you cast this spell, deals 5d8 fire damage to each creature that ends its turn within 10 feet of that side or inside the wall. A creature takes the same damage when it enters the wall for the first time on a turn or ends its turn there. The other side of the wall deals no damage.

The challenge for the cleric-spellcaster is to position that "ring of fire" around your ally such that your ally is not in the burning part of the wall of fire. Tactically, I'll suggest at least a 5' space between the ally and the wall's inner face. They are inside of it, no damage done ally, and anyone within 10' of the other side, or "in/on" the other side, takes fire damage.
And, they can't see your ally since it is opaque.
Plus, the visual effect is neat: the ally falls and up springs a wall of fire around them! If your ally is named Brunhilde, so much the better! 👍

Another spell option is banishment (also a 4th level spell) which displaces the ally to some other plane of existence for the duration of the combat(one minute). I generally use it to take enemies out of a fight, but you can also take your ally out of the fight. The enemy can't see your ally who is now on another plane. You and the rest of your party is the enemy' immediate problem ... but if your ally makes their Charisma saving throw, this one blows up in your face with a 4th level spell slot burned.

Caveat

Either of the above is a concentration spell, so if you take damage this may fail if your concentration save is not passed when you roll it. Roll well, Grasshopper. The invisibility spell has a similar limitation, since it too is a concentration spell.

Minor Illusion ...

... may work, if you have it from a race or a feat. If you are a Gnome cleric or a High Elf cleric, and you have the minor illusion cantrip, you may be able to cast an illusion between the enemy and your ally such that it blocks their line of sight. This one is very situational in its effectiveness, since you have not provided a battle map / battlefield for me to assess. In some cases this will create a visual obstruction (pile of bones 5' high, a wall 5' high, pile of logs 5' high, etc). In other cases that will not work so well. The caveat on this cantrip is - if the enemy takes An Action to investigate this illusion, or tries to physically interact with it, the illusion will not fool them. This is a lower odds bet in Vegas, but it might work.

Your two best bets are wall of fire (light domain cleric) and banishment (any cleric).

Trickery Domain and using your duplicate to stand in front of the fallen ally.

This one's also tactically situational.
At second level, if you are a Trickery Cleric, you can create a perfect duplicate of yourself. It stands where you want it to stand. Having it stand between your ally and the enemy will be more effective if there is only one enemy, and it offers at least partial cover - but it's probably less effective if there's a small horde involved. Situationally effective, in some tactical situations, and maybe the kind of misdirection that you are looking for. If one is on a spell level budget, this may be the best option, but I'll take Wall of Fire if I can get it.

How many enemies are there? Blindness is an option.

You can blind up to 4 enemies if using a level 5 casting of blindness. (At level 2 you get 1, at level 3 you get 2, at level 4 you get 3). While it does not make your ally hidden, the enemy can't see you ally because they are blinded. But, the enemy gets a saving throw, so this may simply fail. That's a similar risk to the risk of using banishment.
Please note @Kirt's answer for some other good options (his suggestion on Stone Shape is innovative if there is stone available ... ).

Now, if you have a ring of spell storing ...

... and you have pre-loaded an invisibility spell, then you (or anyone else in the party who is attuned) can make your ally invisible. This is an edge case since magic items of this quality cannot be assumed.

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Make sure your cleric is a drow or tiefling. Racial ability; at 5th level you can cast darkness (2nd level spell) once per day. As long as the body can fit in a 15 foot radius sphere it will remain unseen.

Blindness/Deafness (2nd). Cast with a 5th level slot, it can make the body unseen by up to four enemies.

Stone Shape (4th) May be cast to make a shallow chamber, hiding the body unseen under a layer of stone floor. Can have a door with two hinges if you would like to later recover the body.

Hallow (5th). Choose the secondary effect of darkness. Downside: 24 hour casting time.

Plant Growth (3rd). Available to Nature Domain clerics at 3rd level. Does not explicitly produce obscurement or cover, but does make "all normal plants in a 100-foot radius centered on that point become thick and overgrown. A creature moving through the area must spend 4 feet of movement for every 1 foot it moves." Cast outside, it is likely your DM would rule that this renders a body unseen.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Nice catch on Blindness/Deafness! Any cleric can do that. +1. Also, arrgh, I forgot to check for darkness, good call there! And Stone Shape: brilliant! \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 29 at 13:59
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RAW, a "living body" is an unconscious creature

Therefore, in order to affect someone's body you need a spell that affects creatures. The only difference from being unconscious is that an unconscious creature can not give consent (thus, is not "willing").

When an ally is fallen and we'd like to make sure that monsters don't hit-to-kill the fallen party member, or drag them off mid-combat to hold as captives or finish them off.

I've scoured the cleric PHB listings and basically come up empty. What can we do in this case to render a living body unseen?

You're correct, there is no Cleric spell in the PHB that makes a creature unseen. But the thing is, making a creature unseen does not make it hidden. Enemies can still attack an invisible creature with disadvantage, or cast an aoe upon them.

Instead, I suggest delving into a variety of protective clerical spells:

  • Sanctuary denies enemies from attacking a fallen ally.
  • Warding bond gives resistance from all damage and helps with death saving throws.
  • Banishment can send a target to "a harmless demiplane", effectively saving it from threats. This is the closest thing to "hiding", I suppose. Unfortunately, a banished creature continues making death saving throws, so this is probably not a best option.
  • Death Ward can be cast proactively and helps not to fall unconscious at 0 hp.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sanctuary is actually really good for this. Basically just throwing a sign out that says "don't bother swinging at them, come at ME, bro!" \$\endgroup\$ – RevenantBacon Jul 28 at 20:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sanctuary is actually a very good option for an unconscious creature specifically, because it says "If the warded creature makes an attack, casts a spell that affects an enemy, or deals damage to another creature, this spell ends." This usually makes the spell kinda bothersome if you (the warded creature) also want to attack, but the unconscious creature won't be attacking anyone, so they are the perfect candidate for this spell! \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 28 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, this won't be the selected answer. I'll need an answer that very literally responds to the "hidden" part of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel R. Collins Jul 28 at 20:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Daniel then you won't be able to accept any answer, unless you will lift the "PHB only" limit. And probably even then \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Jul 28 at 21:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ One major downside of Banishment is that unless I'm mistaken, a banished creature continues making death saving throws while banished. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Jul 29 at 3:36
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I'm adding some other possible stretch options that haven't been mentioned in other answers yet, mostly from PHB domains that I hadn't considered previously, and dependent on DM adjudications.

  • Fog Cloud (Tempest domain, 1st level). The "area is heavily obscured".
  • Sleet Storm (Tempest domain, 3rd level). "The area is heavily obscured".
  • Plant Growth (Nature domain, 3rd level). If there are plants nearby, they "become thick and overgrown". This may serve to hide a body.
  • Guardian of Faith (Cleric, 4th level). The large spectral guardian has a "gleaming sword and shield". Possibly the DM may rule that this blocks sight.
  • Spirit Guardians (Cleric 3rd level). Likewise, the spirits are "spectral" but it's not explicit that they're transparent. Possibly the DM may rule that they block sight.
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    \$\begingroup\$ My lord, how did I forget fog cloud, my favorite level 1 spell? Doh, I'm off my feed! I was focusing on 'creature' and did not ponder "area around creature" very well. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 29 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast: You and me both. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel R. Collins Jul 29 at 18:34

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