Spell of the Day – Animal Friendship

Have you ever wanted to roleplay as a Disney Princess? With Animal Friendship it’s easy to get your troupe of woodland critters to play along, although you’ll need to burn through quite a few spell-slots if you want enough to perform a decently sized dance number.

At first glance it looks like this spell could be renamed Charm Stupid Beast. It allows you to convince a nearby critter that you mean it no harm and – on paper – it looks very attractive.

The charm lasts 24 hours and can be a very cheap way to magic your way out of an encounter. If you come across a pack of foes rather than a single target you can even burn higher-level spell slots to increase the amount of creatures it targets.

However, when it comes to actually using it at the table it runs into major problems. For a start it can only be used on beasts with an intelligence of three or less. This restricts you to a rather limited list, the most dangerous of which are wolves, bears, a handful of ‘giant’ creatures. Everything else wouldn’t be out of place in your woodland singalong, and by the time you hit third level or so you even the scarier beasts become more of a nuisance than an actual threat.

Actually, that’s not quite true. It’s debatable how likely you are to encounter one in a typical campaign, but all the dinosaurs listed in the Monster Manual count as beasts and some of them are definitely capable of munching through a mid- to -high-level party. If you’ve ever wanted to have your Ranger ride a tyrannosaurus rex as it rampages through a city, this is your chance to shine.

Beyond that, the rules around whether it would actually allow you to avoid a fight with a hostile beast are a little bit unclear, to say the least.

All that the charm actually does for sure is prevent the target from attacking you and give you advantage on social checks. Everything else depends entirely on how the DM wants to run it. If they’re being rather literal in their interpretation of the game then there’s nothing to stop the enraged cave bear from loping right past your outstretched hand of friendship and tearing the Wizard’s head off.

Does this mean that Animal Friendship is useless? Of course not – it’s just that it’s much better at problem solving and character-building than it is at charming your way out of encounters.

It’s a godsend for characters looking to cultivate an air of tranquility and act as a Guardian of Nature – the sort who would get down on their haunches with the guard dog rather than resort to flinging poisoned steaks over the fence. For everyone else, there are probably better choices out there.

Rating: D

Not a bad spell for low-level Rangers and Druids looking to lean into their ‘Guardian of Nature’ role, but has very limited mechanical benefits. Probably not actually as useful as Speak to Animals and a decent Animal Handling skill.

If you happen to be running a campaign that features dinosaurs then bump this up to at least a C rating, if only for the comedy factor that comes from taming 60ft. tall killing machines with a level one spell.

Animal Friendship

School: Enchantment
Level: 1
Casting time: 1 Action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (a morsel of food)
Duration: 24 hours

This spell lets you convince a beast that you mean it no harm.

Choose a beast that you can see within range. It must see and hear you. If the beast’s Intelligence is 4 or higher, the spell fails. Otherwise, the beast must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by you for the spell’s duration. If you or one of your companions harms the target, the spell ends.

At higher level

When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you can affect one additional beast for each slot level above 1st.

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