The Summon Nature's Ally spell mentions:

This spell summons a natural creature. It appears where you designate and acts immediately, on your turn. It attacks your opponents to the best of its ability. If you can communicate with the creature, you can direct it not to attack, to attack particular enemies, or to perform other actions.

A summoned monster cannot summon or otherwise conjure another creature, nor can it use any teleportation or planar travel abilities. Creatures cannot be summoned into an environment that cannot support them. For instance, a porpoise may only be summoned in an aquatic environment.

The spell conjures one of the creatures from the 1st-level list on the accompanying Summon Nature’s Ally table. You choose which kind of creature to summon, and you can change that choice each time you cast the spell. All the creatures on the table are neutral unless otherwise noted.

As a 7th level druid you get access to "Summon Nature's Ally IV" which gives you access to creatures like the Unicorn. A Unicorn comes with interesting qualities such as:

Darkvision 60 ft., magic circle against evil, spell-like abilities, immunity to poison, charm, and compulsion, low-light vision, scent, wild empathy

And special attacks such as:

Turn undead 13/day, smite evil, spells

Does this mean a Unicorn that is summoned with Nature's Ally IV has access to these qualities and special attacks and the druid that summoned it can use its special attacks such as turn undead, smite evil and all the spells the unicorn can cast?


1 Answer 1


The creature has all its abilities, and you can use nearly all

When you summon a creature, you use its normal stat block, including its special attacks. A limitation on ability use is given under the Summoning rules in the introduction on Spells:

A summoned creature cannot use any innate summoning abilities it may have, and it refuses to cast any spells that would cost it XP, or to use any spell-like abilities that would cost XP if they were spells.

So, only if a spell-like ability would cost XP as a spell, or it is a spell that costs XP, or summons a creature itself, it cannot be used. In addition, the spell itself excludes teleportation or planar travel abilities. Everything else is possible.

The text about Conjuration spells also states that

Creatures you conjure usually, but not always, obey your commands.

Unless the spell in question says otherwise, if you can make yourself understood, the summoned creature -- including the unicorn -- will follow your requests to use its special abilities. For unicorns that should be easy, as they speak common.

P.S. Note that the "Unicorn" entry in the monster manual has two Unicorns, the plain unicorn at CR 3, and the Celestial Charger at CR 13, which has the powers of a 7th level cleric. As Summon Natures Ally IV only allows you to

summon one 4th-level creature, 1d3 3rd-level creatures of the same kind, or 1d4+1 lower-level creatures of the same kind.

you cannot summon the Celestial Charger variant with it. You can only summon a basic unicorn. It still has a lot of useful spell-like abilities, but does not have the turn undead ability.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Technically, effects that would cost XP if they were spells, but which are neither spells nor spell-like abilities, would be usable, so your “if the ability would cost XP as a spell” is not quite accurate. A supernatural (or even extraordinary) ability that mimics a spell that would cost XP is not impossible (though I don’t know of any examples). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 30, 2023 at 22:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Thanks for the fine-tuning advice. I updated the text to reflect it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 30, 2023 at 22:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @UniQuadrion A typical unicorn has an Intelligence score of 10—so the Handle Animal skill literally can't be used on it; it's too smart.—, and It speaks Common (see Abilities on Intelligence). So a druid can just tell the unicorn in Common, "Do the horn thing," or whatever, and the unicorn obeys. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2023 at 6:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan With 10 int, I think it can work out a "horn thing" that isn't healing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Jan 31, 2023 at 17:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @UniQuadrion I don't see why the Unicorn should not heal your or your allies. There is nothing that says it would not, so by default, it does what you want it to do. And it can understand what you want it to do, too. Is there a reason you think it would not? I'm not sure I understand your last sentence -- what's it about animal here? The spell does not mention animals or a DC 25 check. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2023 at 23:16

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