1
\$\begingroup\$

How balanced is the below spell I've created when compared to other divination or necromancy spells? Is it at the right spell level? Is it the right amount of damage/status effects?

When creating this spell, I was thinking of Contact Other Plane, Speak with Dead and Dream, and wanted to create an intersection between the three of them. The intention was to create a way to speak with long-dead, or missing, creatures, in an attempt to get information from them, with a high cost and a risk of getting hurt if you don't approach them in the right way.

The issues I've had with this spell is defining the summoned spirit in a satisfying way, as well as balancing the potential risks and damage you could get from this spell. Wording as a whole has been difficult for the spell.

A Dream of Endless Nights
6th level Necromancy (Ritual)
V/S/M (7 specially crafted black candles worth 50 gp each, which the spell consumes, and 7 humanoid skulls)
Casting time: 1 minute
Duration: 1 hour
Target: Self
Wizard/Warlock/Cleric

You call on dark powers to let you speak to those long gone. When you finish casting the spell, you may speak the name of a creature that is dead. If the soul of the named creature is not free, the spell fails.
For the duration, you fall into a trance, and create a dream like environment that you can freely shape. A spirit of the creature forms in this environment. While in the trance, you are aware of your surroundings, but can't take actions or move.
The spirit is under no compulsion to answer you or to be truthful, and depending on its demeanour may be actively hostile to you.
While this spell is active, every 10 minutes you must make a Constitution Saving throw of DC 15, or take 4d6 necrotic damage as the spell steals your life essence. If the spirit is hostile to you, it can choose to force you to make this save every minute. If you fail this save, your hit point maximum is reduced by the same amount, and you gain a level of exhaustion. The reduction to your hit point maximum goes away when you next finish a long rest, and if your maximum hit points are reduced to zero by this spell then you die.
You can end the trance and the spell by concentrating for 1 minute, after which the spell ends. Once a spirit has been summoned in this way, it cannot be targeted by this spell for a year and a day.

A good answer would compare this spell to existing divination or necromancy spells.

\$\endgroup\$
9
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ So... by my read, if the spirit hates you, they can harass you in the dream, and you can do nothing, and if they can keep breaking your concentration for long enough (a few minutes) then you die with no way to save yourself? Is this really what you had intended? \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jan 26 at 20:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ In theory they could, Ben, but all the more reason for whoever is using the spell to think about what the spirit would want for them to stop sucking out your life force. Also, balance of probability, you're likely to make at least one of those 6 saves, even if only by the skin of your teeth. \$\endgroup\$ – L0neGamer Jan 26 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @L0neGamer you mean 60 saves. 1 hour is 60 minutes, a hostile spirit can force a save every minute. 60 saves. \$\endgroup\$ – BaconyRevanant Jan 26 at 21:36
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @RevenantBacon, no.. 6 saves, since every failure is also a point of exhaustion and the 6th failure is Death \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Jan 26 at 21:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @L0neGamer I feel like this shouldn't need to be explained, but battlefields aren't the only place where there can be something that can interfere with your concentration. \$\endgroup\$ – BaconyRevanant Jan 26 at 21:55
7
\$\begingroup\$

Frame challenge: This spell is pointless

'Speak to power beyond you' spells all give you the ability to get answers to questions which progress the story. Basically it is just way for you to engage with the DM and get information, but the only information you get is the information the DM wants you to have.

This spell is simply changing the flavour of the existing spells, trying to go to the source of the information rather than contacting another being who might also happen to know it.

This might last an hour, as opposed to just being 5 questions, but you aren't going to get any more information out of this than contact other plane unless your DM wants you to have that information (especially with the others being rituals which you could cast every single day) - and if your DM wants you to have that information they will likely be providing means for you to gain it already, such as answering questions asked via contact other plane.

My reading of this is 'my DM doesn't give me enough information so I have had to homebrew a spell to get around it' and that sounds more like a player > DM conversation rather than a homebrew issue.

Suggestion

If I really wanted a spell of this 'contact the missing' flavour, I would just take contact other plane (or one of the similar spells) and just change the target of the spell.

\$\endgroup\$
3
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Not to mention that Contact Other Plane already specifically covers speaking with the long-dead, and the downsides are significantly less. \$\endgroup\$ – BaconyRevanant Jan 26 at 21:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Wow, what a hit to my ego! But yeah, I forgot the 1st rule of homebrew: ask yourself first, "Can I reflavour something else?". I'll mark this as the answer tomorrow, to give more time for other answers. \$\endgroup\$ – L0neGamer Jan 26 at 21:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @L0neGamer if you want another ego hit read the first line of the other answer. Oof! \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jan 26 at 21:38
3
\$\begingroup\$

To build off SeriousBri's answer:

What wizard in their right mind would take this?

This spell is not for talking to your Grandma Edith so most likely every spirit you reach out to is neutral at best and more likely hostile. Even if you consider the spirit a neutral party, the DM can easily turn the table and have the NPC "freak out" and blame the caster for their situation.

"I was in Valhalla drinking mead with the gods and you pulled me here?!"

This means the spirit will potentially force the caster to take 4d6 damage and a point of exhaustion every minute with no compulsion to even get a single answer in between. Even at 11th level (the minimum to cast) that's a big chunk of hp for a Wizard to absorb.

Furthermore, since it requires a minute of concentration to break out, the spirit can keep hitting the caster with damage, breaking that concentration, and keeping you around until death.

And on the third level of exhaustion, it gives disadvantage to Saving Throws so the chance of death skyrockets.

In an effort to add flavor, you've stacked the deck so hard against the caster that I don't think it would be used by anyone but the most desperate.

\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

This spell is pretty bad

Considering that Contact Other Plane already specifically covers speaking with the dead, this spell is a major downgrade at the cost of a higher level spell slot.

Let's go through it:

The spirit is under no compulsion to answer you or to be truthful, and depending on its demeanor may be actively hostile to you.

Here's where we get to the first real issue. The spirit is under no compulsion to answer you or be truthful, which defeats the entire purpose of the spell: getting information. In both Speak With Dead and Contact Other Plane, the target of the spell is forced to answer your questions, even though it's not required to do so truthfully (at least in Speak With Dead, Contact Other Plane is unspecified). With Dream, you at least have the option of attempting to deceive the target by appearing differently than yourself. This spell offers no such advantage.

While this spell is active, every 10 minutes you must make a Constitution Saving throw of DC 15, or take 4d6 necrotic damage as the spell steals your life essence. If the spirit is hostile to you, it can choose to force you to make this save every minute. If you fail this save, your hit point maximum is reduced by the same amount, and you gain a level of exhaustion. The reduction to your hit point maximum goes away when you next finish a long rest, and if your maximum hit points are reduced to zero by this spell then you die. You can end the trance and the spell by concentrating for 1 minute, after which the spell ends. Once a spirit has been summoned in this way, it cannot be targeted by this spell for a year and a day.

This next part, though, is a significant problem. If the target is hostile, then they get to try to just keep you locked in the spell until you die. No other spell in the game can just outright kill its caster, except for maybe Wish, if the wish is especially poorly worded and you have a mean DM.

I'm not sure why this is even here, is it a punishment for the players for "picking the wrong target"? Because if that's the case, I disagree entirely. Players should never be punished for expending their resources.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of this spell is supposed to be, since it covers much the same territory as Contact Other Plane, but with more risks involved, and has significantly less chance of an actual payoff for casting it, considering that even an indifferent spirit is unlikely to answer some random guy who just summoned them from the afterlife. Sure, the target can give full answers, but unless it's someone you already know or you have a really really good reason why they should help you, I don't see this actually providing any benefits when cast, only downsides.

\$\endgroup\$

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.