Awaken only works on beasts with 4 INT or lower. Feeble lowers INT to 1 for 30 days. Could I use this to broaden the range of animals I could awaken?

I want to introduce a talking Ape as a sidekick into a game RAW for the party lawyers.


Yes, it is possible.

The problem is Feeblemind killing the target beast, but it is easily overcome.

Simple way would be to cast Death Ward on target animal. It's a non-concentration 4th level Cleric/Paladin spell, with duration of 8 hours, so it should be easy enough to arrange at the point you have Feeblemind and Awaken available. That will make it drop to 1 hit point when any damage would drop it to 0 hit points, so casting Feeblemind is now not deadly.

If you can't arrange Death Ward, a more messy alternative is to give temporary hitpoints, for which Enhance Ability for Bear's Endurance, max 12 temp hit points (2d6, but it's a 2nd level spell so you can easily try several times) might be best as it is free to cast yet can give enough HP to make survival likely. But better prepare to lose a few beast specimens before one survives, if you go this route.

Once the target survives the Feeblemind, direct reading of Awaken says it is a valid target:

The target must have either no Intelligence score or an Intelligence of 3 or less.

vs Feeblemind instant effect:

  • On a failed save, the creature's Intelligence and Charisma scores become 1

Then there is the remaining issue of Feeblemind staying in effect. Feeblemind is a reversible state, which is probably not overriden by Awaken. But this is irrelevant, Feeblemind effect needs to be removed anyway. Now the question is, what is the beast's INT after this? If an originally INT 3 beast is awakened, feebleminded and dispelled, its INT would clearly be 10. If order is Feeblemind, Awaken, dispel, there isn't any reason I could find for the order to matter, final INT would still be 10. So, same would apply if the original INT was >3.

Feeblemind should of course be removed before its next saving throw (every 30 days) to avoid the need to even consider what would happen, if that save fails. I'll asume this is not a a challenge for characters able to cast Awaken and Feeblemind.

The only caveat really is, that Feeblemind is reversible, so the original INT score must still be in existence, and a DM would be within their right to rule that this original score (in the creature's stat block) is what Awaken looks at. But this is going beyond what is actually written in the rules, and would be very strange, since everywhere else "ability score" means "current ability score" without needing to be explicit about it being "current".

  • \$\begingroup\$ Another option that would work is Heroes' Feast which increases the baboon's max hp by 2d10. It would be costly but it is non-concentration and if the baboon were to roll death saves it would help prevent instant death from massive damage. \$\endgroup\$ – Odo Jan 19 at 6:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ RAW I don't think the INT would have to stay below 4 for awaken to stay in effect - it's a reasonable way to interpret the rules, but it's not a concrete limitation of the spell. Opens up the possibility of a rather terrible fate - having your intelligence brought so low that your body can be 'taken over' by the sentience the spell creates. \$\endgroup\$ – Lovell Jan 19 at 10:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lovell In fact, I'd argue that INT going higher than 4 is okay or else the spell would never work. One of the main effects of Awaken is to give the target an INT of 10 (which is clearly higher than 4), so if gaining INT cancelled Awaken then Awaken would cancel itself as soon as it was cast. \$\endgroup\$ – Pilchard123 Jan 19 at 13:31


Feeblemind will kill the monkey.

A baboon has 3hp, and Feeblemind does 4d6 damage, minimum of 4.

The rest is clearly shenanigans so up to you, but if you have good rules lawyers in the game I can highly advise not introducing shenanigans or your game will fall apart.

Credit to @notovny; If this monkey is narratively important the DM may rule it has death saves. Any damage beyond 6 will kill the monkey instantly, so there is about a 0.39% chance of only doing 4-5 points of damage which gives the monkey a small chance of not dying. Even if it does die the cost of revivify is small compared to the overall expenditure of the plan.

Personal note: The existence of animal souls, and where they might go after death is unclear, but if you walk up and murder a monkey it is unlikely to want to come back to life when raised by either the killer or their friends.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It will probably kill the monkey. There's about a 0.39% chance that the spell only does 4 or 5 points of damage, putting the (narratively-important) monkey in the "I'm making Death Saves" region, where he can be stabilized. That said, this plan already is burning an 8th-level spell slot, and a 5th-level spell slot and a 1000 gp agate. Throw a third-level spell slot and a 300gp diamond on the barbie for a Revivify. \$\endgroup\$ – notovny Jan 10 at 11:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @notovny after walking up to a random monkey and killing it I am not sure (assuming it has a soul which is in dispute elsewhere on this site) I am not entirely sure it will be willing to be resurrected by the killer or their associates. But I appreciate the comment about chance of successful death saves! I will update my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jan 10 at 18:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would like to point out that Revivify actually ignores the Monkey's willingness to come back to life (and the possible non-existence of its soul) because Revivify does not require a willing soul, or a soul at all, so the final point is a non-issue. That said, the revived monkey is still liable to be unwilling to cooperate with its murderer, so the same basic problem still stands. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcosa Jan 11 at 4:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is all assuming you use a baboon specifically. A Giant Ape has somewhere in the neighborhood of 150+ HP which gets us around the too few HP issue, and is Huge size, so is still a viable target for Awaken. And the trouble of getting it to not fight you for the 8 hours required to Awaken it can be overcome with Dominate Beast courtesy of the same druid casting Awaken. \$\endgroup\$ – RevenantBacon Jan 12 at 3:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @carcosa the thing about not wanting to come back is a general rule about all spells which revive the dead, DMG p.24 Bringing Back the Dead \$\endgroup\$ – Lovell Jan 18 at 23:36

Step 1: Feeblemind

Let's suppose you have a way to successfully stop the creature from being killed by Feeblemind's psychic damage, or that the creature has enough hit points to take the damage and not die, it will have Intelligence and Charisma set to 1, which can be rolled for save again every 30 days. Thus whenever the creature successfully resists, this part of the effect will be over and its Ability scores should return to the original values and whenever it fails, the scores are set to 1.

Step 2: Awaken

Awaken gives the target creature Intelligence 10, provided its stats are in the range for it to be affected, which is less than score 4 or to not have that score. The spell also gives the target 1 language, the ability to move and sense the world if they couldn't beforehand, all of these previous effects are implied to be permanent. Finally, target is also automatically charmed for 30 days.

Step 3: Combination of Magical Effects

As per the Player Handbook (Pg 205) we have:

The effects of different spells add together while the durations of those spells overlap. The effects of the same spell cast multiple times don't combine, however. Instead, the most potent effect such as the highest bonus from those castings applies while their durations overlap, or the most recent effect applies if the castings are equally potent and their durations overlap.

So the main idea is to exploit/avoid the restriction on Awaken possible targets, forcing our target to be inside Awaken's range of x < 4 through Feeblemind.

Step 4: Analysis

I'll ignore the damage aspect for Feeblemind as there ways to prevent or mitigate this damage.

Both spells have Duration: Instantaneous, but part of both spells have semi-permanent and permanent effects, which are the actual effects that are clashing against each other, so they do interact (even though Awaken will finish its cast 8 hours later.

Given that both spells set an ability score to a value, i'd argue that they don't exactly give a bonus to an Ability Score, but you can take some insights from Pg 205 to go about interpreting the change in three ways:

  • Route 1: The most potent spell wins (Feeblemind wins, as it's a 8th level spell vs a 5th level spell)
  • Route 2: The order of casting determines the final value of that ability score (Awaken wins because it was casted after Feeblemind), since setting a score to a value is not exactly giving it a bonus or penalty.
  • Route 3: Do either Route 1 or 2, but after 30 days, if the target fails the save for Feeblemind, Intelligence and Charisma get set to 1 again.

If we follow route 1: Until Feeblemind is finally resisted or ended, the target will have Intelligence and Charisma scores of 1. But if somehow it was ended, then Awaken effect would kick in and make its Intelligence 10.

If we go route 2: It would work regardless of Feeblemind remaining active forever or not (Intelligence would be 10 after Awaken, but Charisma would remain 1 until the target resisted Feeblemind). I consider this to be the most probable route.

If we go route 3: To go around this Greater Restoration, Heal or Wish would be required, not only desiable like in route 1.

Final Considerations

Final answer is Yes, it's possible, better with someone that can remove that Feeblemind.

However, I think we are violating the spirit of the rules here (why create a restriction that needs to be bypassed like this?).

If as a GM you're not okay with the way these two spells can be combined, houserule that Awaken checks the original unmodified intelligence score on the creature's sheet, the stat not being modified by anything makes it not castable on targets affected by Feeblemind.


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