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I want to implement a spell that would give casters a bit more options (God knows they need them) and enable some potentially funny shenanigans. Is this spell balanced against the current roster:

Friend Blade

1st-level transmutation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: touch
Components: V,S
Duration: Instantaneous
Class: Wizard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Artificer

You touch a willing creature, transforming it into a melee weapon that has the light, finesse and thrown properties and has a 1d8 for a damage die. As part of the same action, you can make a melee or ranged attack against a creature within 30 ft. of you using the weapon, dealing damage normally on a hit. The damage is appropriate to the form of the weapon. Regardless of a hit or miss, the creature that was transformed into the weapon transforms back into the creature it was before within 5ft. of the target of the attack.

I am especially concerned about the wording as well as the level of the spell. I am afraid that the wording could be exploited somehow and that offering what is effectively a teleport to an ally (and some damage) is too powerful for level 1. But the spell does consume an action and the caster needs to attack using Str or Dex, which they probably don't have too much.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would this spell get any benefit from up casting using a higher spell slot? \$\endgroup\$
    – Anketam
    May 20 at 12:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Druid throws a dagger at enemy, enemy laughs as it barely hurts, then screams as it turns into his bear companion? \$\endgroup\$ May 20 at 19:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ So far, no benefit for upcasting. Maybe more damage, but would that affect balance? \$\endgroup\$ May 21 at 10:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Druids can't normally cast this, but if they can, then yes, instant bear surprise. Seems funny to me. \$\endgroup\$ May 21 at 10:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @curious_penguin I just visualized the spell being used with a higher level slot. With a high enough slot you could transform all allies in the vicinity and use Gates of Babylon. \$\endgroup\$ May 23 at 15:28

2 Answers 2

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The attack needs to be mandatory & immediate.

"As part of the same action, you can make a melee or ranged attack..."

So if I choose not to make that attack, the transformed "ally" remains a weapon? New plan: cast charm person on my enemy, convince them to help me fight someone, cast this spell on them, store the transformed weapon in a box, bury the box in the woods, and move on with my life.

Phrasing Suggestions

  1. Change "you can make a melee or ranged attack" to "you then make a melee or ranged attack". As mentioned above, the attack needs to happen immediately.
  2. Change "against a creature within 30 ft. of you" to "against a valid target". Let the existing rules for making weapon attacks handle determining range, etc. This means you then need to specify a range for the thrown property, though!
  3. Change "The damage is appropriate to the form of the weapon" to "You choose whether the damage is piercing, slashing, or bludgeoning when you cast this spell". It's better to specify this directly rather than try to inherit it from the shaped weapon, since you risk people trying to pull in additional weapon properties if those ever get added (whips in particular tend to end up with funky special rules in most editions of D&D).
  4. Change "within 5 ft of the target of the attack" into "in an unoccupied space as close as possible to the target of the transformed creature's choice". This resolves issues with the target already being surrounded by creatures, and gives your friend a little extra incentive to let you throw them around, since they'll get to choose where they end up.

It feels a little weak if used normally.

This spell has 2 core effects: it lets you make an attack for 1d8 damage with a stat that probably isn't your best one, and it teleports an adjacent ally to the target of your attack.

The teleport effect is potentially nice, but has enough limitations (ally has to be adjacent to you, range limit, not actually a teleport) that it doesn't pull its weight on its own as a level 1 spell.

The damage, in turn, is almost the bare minimum possible. Sure, it's not a d4 or a d6, but the use of Str or Dex rather than your casting stat means you're less likely to hit and get less static damage.

For comparison, consider the 1st level spell catapult from Xanathar's Guide to Everything. It launches an object of your choice (with weight limits) within 60 ft of you up to 90 ft at a target, who must make a Dex save or take 3d8 damage. Compared to that spell, the only thing friend blade has going for it is saving your ally a round of walking.

Remember, any round you cast this spell is a round you didn't cast fire bolt for 1d10 (or more, at higher levels) damage with a 120 ft range.

I would recommend either looking to make this spell more reliable, or make it more of a high-risk/high-reward option (with the ally-teleport as a consolation prize if you miss). You have three dials you can turn to adjust these: whether the attack is a spell attack (using the caster's spellcasting attribute) or a weapon attack (using the better of Str/Dex), how much damage it deals, and what the thrown range is.

For example, you could leave it as a weapon attack, up the damage, to 2d12 or so, and give the thrown modifier a range of (15/60). That means the caster can potentially move their ally a good distance, with the added bonus of a low-but-not-zero chance of doing some good damage.

Alternately, you might change it to a spell attack, bump the damage to 1d10 or 2d6, and give the thrown modifier a range of (45/45). That gets you fire bolt damage, trading a bit of range (which isn't needed in most encounters) for a useful effect of moving your ally farther than they could likely go in one round without Dashing.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Even taking the reasonable interpretation that the creature reverts even if the attack is not made, the spell then doesn't do anything, so having the option in there is pointless. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    May 19 at 14:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good catch, thank you! I did mean for it to be mandatory, not optional. Could you provide a sample wording that would work for this scenario? Also, if you have any insight about the level, I'd love to know. \$\endgroup\$ May 19 at 14:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just delete the word "can". "As part of the same action, you make a melee or ranged attack". \$\endgroup\$
    – Ton Day
    May 20 at 10:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @curious_penguin You could keep the voluntary aspect of making the attack, but include wording that causes the transformed creature to change back at the end of the action. Something like "As part of the same action, you can make a melee or ranged attack (...) The transformed creature then transforms back after the action concludes." Bit pointless to just transform your mate into a sword only to change him back, but yeah. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mox
    May 20 at 16:57
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Exploitable:

Let the thief climb over a chasm that is 25feet.

Let the dwarven fighter in platemail with 500 pound backpack be converted to a dagger.

Throw dagger at thief over chasm - miss. Easy way to quickly transfer clumsy party members over to the chasms.

Others:

  • throw dagger through portcullis at rat (you previously released) to circumvent the portcullis
  • let's throw the barbarian over the opposing rubble enemies forming a shield wall to protect the wizard mastermind:
        S S S S
        S     S
    B   S  W  S
    W   S     S
        S S S S

etc.

Several ways to exploit that. Would have to be balanced against f.e. Jump spell, Misty Step (which is 2nd level for ft. teleportation without attack/destroying concentration).

Beside balancing issues - fully transforming a living being into an inanimate object and then back - that is a lot to do for a level 1 spell - flavor wise.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Anybody feel free to edit in the links to the spells Jump/MistyStep :) thx \$\endgroup\$ May 20 at 10:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ While the comparison to misty step is reasonable, I think it's the wrong way to think about things. Misty step is generally for getting a caster out of serious trouble, while friend blade will generally just save your melee buddy a round of movement. As far as bypassing obstacles, it's mostly just letting allies avoid making an Athletics or Acrobatics check, and odds are the caster themself is the one most in need of that kind of help. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    May 20 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage I think Patrick has a point in general. I'm not up to date with the rules (last time I played was AD&D era), but the exploits are evident: target behind closed door (or gate, whatever) with grating or some aperture trough which a dagger (or a dart or whatever small weapon you can think of) can be shot. Transform a suitable party member and shoot him through the door. The target can be even a cockroach or a spider, and you can even miss it (who cares). Now you have a party member behind the obstacle in one round. Nice to kill a lone sleeping guard behind a locked door. \$\endgroup\$ May 22 at 9:58

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