5 Living Spells for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: Living Magic Missile, Mage Armor, Sunburst, Dispel Magic, and Mage Hand

Flipping through third edition’s Monster Manual 3, I keep coming across cool, old monsters (old being, what? 10 years?) that make me nostalgic for 3rd. Mind you, I don’t miss the days of adding up a bajillion modifiers/penalties just to make an attack, but hey–there was some real creativity involved with some of those creations. Like, for instance, the living spells.

What is a living spell?

From the Monster Manual 3:

For reasons unknown, in the magical mayhem of the Last War spell effect occasionally took on sentience and refused to dissipate. These living spells still haunt places blasted by magic, apparently subsisting on ambient magical energy. They seem to kill only for pleasure, not out of any need to feed. A living spell appears similar to a normal spell effect, except that—even in the case of an instantaneous spell, such as fireball—the magical energy lingers, writhing and moving with definite purpose.

From there, the creature was a template applied to spells. Depending on the spell and caster, it’d get a whole host of abilities, attacks, and traits. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

So I thought; why not make some for the fifth edition? And here we are.

5 Living Spells for 5th Edition

I more or less kept the rules for living spell creation the same, just recalculating everything for the fifth edition.

Swarm of Missile Ghosts

Because of magic missiles’ prolific nature, the swarm of missile ghosts is probably the most common of all the living spells. They’re not really ghosts, of course, but the remnant of magic missiles that have taken on some cruel form of sentience. These tiny oozes fly across battlefields and in dungeons seeking to end all life it comes across.

Spectral Strangler

Mage hand is every arcane trickster’s best friend until, of course, it takes on a life of its own and tries to choke its creator. The spectral strangler is mage hand gone rogue (no pun intended). Tired of opening trapped doors and performing parlor tricks, this tiny, semi-intelligent ooze flies around causing chaos.

Magic-Eating Mist

Detect magic and dispel magic go hand-in-hand when it comes to dungeon delving. However, what most wizards don’t know is that when these two merge and become a living entity, a magic-eating mist, the two spells grow into a fearsome aberration on a quest to snuff out the existence of magic everywhere.

Living Sunburst

Powerful clerics aren’t immune to accidentally creating a living spell, either. The living sunburst is a deadly, radiant living spell that blinds those who witness it. In addition, it can quell magic darkness, and crush undead and other oozes.

Living Mage Armor

Many young mages die on their first or second outing as an adventurer. And while their deaths are tragic, certainly, the biggest tragedy is the years wasted on honing their spells and arcane knowledge. From this wasted knowledge emerges living mage armor, simple living spells armed with the same magical repertoire as a 1st-level wizard. Living mage armor lives to wreak havoc, lashing out against those it inherently sees as “unintelligent” or “brutish”, typically the same strong emotions its creator had when it died.

 

missile-ghosts

Swarm of Missile Ghosts

Medium swarm of Tiny oozes, neutral


Armor Class 10 (natural armor)

Hit Points  27 (6d8)

Speed 0 ft., fly 60 ft


Abilities Str 11 (+0), Dex 8 (-1), Con 11 (+0), Int 1 (-5), Wis 8 (-1), Cha 11 (+0)


Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, slashing

Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained, stunned

Senses blindsight 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 10

Languages understands the languages of its creator but can’t speak

Challenge 1 (200 XP)


Faultless Tracker. The swarm locks onto a living creature that it can see; this becomes its quarry. The swarm knows the direction and distance to its quarry as long as the two of them are on the same plane of existence.

Magic Resistance. The swarm has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Swarm. The swarm can occupy another creature’s space and vice versa, and the swarm can move through any opening that is 1 inch wide or larger. The swarm can’t regain hit points or gain temporary hit points.


Actions

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 0 ft., one target in the swarm’s space. Hit: 15 (6d4) bludgeoning damage, or 7 (3d4) if the swarm has half of its hit points or fewer.

 

mage-hand

Spectral Strangler

Tiny ooze, chaotic evil


Armor Class 8

Hit Points 2 (1d4)

Speed 0 ft., fly 20 ft.


Abilities Str 10 (+0), Dex 7 (-2), Con 10 (+0), Int 7 (-2), Wis 7 (-2), Cha 10 (+0)


Skills Sleight of Hand +2, Stealth +2

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, slashing from nonmagical attacks

Damage Immunities poison, psychic

Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, exhaustion, frightened, poisoned, prone

Senses blindsight 30 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 8

Languages understands the languages of its creator but can’t speak

Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)


Invisibility. The strangler is invisible.

Magic Resistance. The swarm has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Sneak Attack. Once per turn, the strangler deals an extra 7 (2d6) damage when it hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of the strangler that isn’t incapacitated and the strangler doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.


Actions

Fist. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage. If the strangler has advantage on the attack roll, the target is also grappled (escape DC 10). Until this grapple ends, the target can’t breathe, and the strangler has advantage on attack rolls against it.

 

magic-eating-mist

Magic-Eating Mist

Huge ooze, unaligned


Armor Class 22 (natural armor)

Hit Points 178 (17d12 + 68)

Speed 0 ft., fly 60 ft.


Abilities Str 19 (+4), Dex 16 (+3), Con 19 (+4), Int 1 (-5), Wis 16 (+3), Cha 19 (+4)


Damage Vulnerabilities fire, cold

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, slashing

Damage Immunities poison, psychic

Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained, stunned

Senses blindsight 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 8

Languages understands the languages of its creator but can’t speak

Challenge CR 13 (10,000 XP)


Magic Absorption. Whenever the mist is subjected to damage from spells, magical weapons, and other magical effects, it takes no damage and instead regains a number of hit points equal to the damage dealt.

Misty Form. The mist can enter a hostile creature’s space and vice versa. In addition, if air can pass through space, the mist can pass through without squeezing. Each foot of movement in water costs it 2 extra feet, rather than 1 extra foot. The mist can’t manipulate objects in any way that requires manual dexterity.

Sense Magic. The mist can magically sense the presence of spellcasters and magic items up to 5 miles away. The mist knows the direction that they are in but not their exact locations.


Actions

Spell Drain. Each spellcaster in the mist’s space with available 1st-level or higher spell slots must succeed on a DC 18 Intelligence saving throw or take 36 (8d8) psychic damage and loses one of its highest available spell slots as if they had cast a spell using that slot. The mist regains a number of hit points equal to 5 times the lost spell slot’s level.

 

living-sunburst

Living Sunburst

Huge ooze, unaligned


Armor Class 20 (natural armor)

Hit Points 157 (15d12 + 60)

Speed 0 ft., fly 60 ft.


Abilities Str 18 (+4), Dex 15 (+2), Con 18 (+4), Int 1 (-1), Wis 15 (+2), Cha 18 (+4)


Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire, necrotic, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks

Damage Immunities poison, radiant

Condition Immunities blinded, exhaustion, paralyzed, poisoned, prone, unconscious

Senses blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 12

Challenge 15 (13,000 XP)


Blinding Light. If a creature starts its turn within 60 feet of the sunburst and it can see the sunburst, the creature must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes 42 (12d6) radiant damage is blinded for 1 minute. On a successful save the creature takes half as much damage and isn’t blinded. Undead and oozes have disadvantage on this saving throw. A creature blinded by this effect can make another Constitution saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself with a success. A creature that isn’t surprised can avert its eyes to avoid the saving throw at the start of its turn. If it does so, it can’t see the sunburst until the start of its next turn, when it can avert its eyes again. If it looks at the sunburst in the meantime, it must immediately make the save.

Illumination. The sunburst sheds bright light in a 60-foot radius and dim light for an additional 60 feet. This light dispels any darkness in its area that was created by a spell.

Magic Resistance. The sunburst has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.


Action

Ray. The sunburst shoots one of the following magical rays at random, choosing one target it can see within 60 feet of it:

  1. Charm Ray. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the sunburst until the end of the target’s next turn or until the sunburst harms it. A target charmed in this way cannot avert its eyes from the sunburst’s Blinding Light. Undead and oozes have disadvantage on this saving throw.
  2. Fire Ray. The targeted creature must make a DC 18 Dexterity saving throw, taking 36 (8d8) radiant damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Undead and oozes have disadvantage on this saving throw.
  3. Sickness Ray. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 minute. Undead and oozes have disadvantage on this saving throw.
  4. Stunning Ray. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw or become stunned for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. Undead and oozes have disadvantage on this saving throw.

 

mage-armor-living

Living Mage Armor

Medium ooze, unaligned


Armor Class 13 (natural armor)

Hit Points 4 (1d8)

Speed 30 ft.


Abilities Str 11 (+0), Dex 8 (-1), Con 11 (+0), Int 14 (+2), Wis 8 (-1), Cha 11 (+0)


Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks

Damage Immunities poison

Condition Immunities grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained

Senses blindsight 30 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 9

Languages the languages of its creator

Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)


Incorporeal Movement. The mage armor can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. It takes 5 (1d10) force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.

Magic Resistance. The mage armor has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Spellcasting. The mage armor is a 1st-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 12, +4 to hit with spell attacks). It requires no material components to cast its spells. The mage armor has the following wizard spells prepared:

Cantrips (at will): firebolt, mage hand, minor illusion
1st level (3 slots): magic missile, shield, sleep


Actions

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage.

 

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