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In D&D 5e, the Ranger can get Conjure Animals as a 3th level spell, and Conjure Woodland Beings as a 4th level spell.

I'm unsure what they do differently, their descriptions seem to be largely identical; but if they really are identical, why are they both available for the Ranger?

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The differences are in the spells' descriptions.

Conjure Animals

You summon fey spirits that take the form of beasts and appear in unoccupied spaces that you can see within range. Choose one of the following options for what appears:

  • One beast of challenge rating 2 or lower
  • Two beasts of challenge rating 1 ar lower
  • Four beasts of challenge rating 1/2 or lower
  • Eight beasts of ehallenge rating 1/4 ar lower

Conjure Woodland Beings

You summon fey creatures that appear in unoccupied spaces that you can see within range. Choose one of the following options for what appears:

  • One fey creature of challenge rating 2 or lower
  • Two fey creatures of challenge rating 1 or lower
  • Four fey creatures of challenge rating 1/2 or lower
  • Eight fey creatures of challenge rating 1/4 or lower

Conjure Animals lets you summon beasts (well, spirits that take the form of beasts); Conjure Woodland Beings lets you summon the actual fey creatures.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I always imagined there was a clear distinction when they had to refer to the summoned creatures vaguely as "beings" and animals were not included. Do you think this may be relevant? \$\endgroup\$ – Javelin Mar 8 '17 at 10:01

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