• Justin Handlin

D&D Monsters: Living Spells

Bigby's Hand became a living spell

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The Dungeons & Dragons settings are a world of magic and wonder. Since their creation, the worlds have been suffused with powerful and wild arcane torrents of energy. This power infuses the land, monsters, objects, and people with magical power. Magic most commonly takes the form of spells by powerful spellcasters. Wizards learn and pull the strands of the weave to do their bidding. Devout followers of divine entities channel that power through their faith. Warlocks make pacts with powerful entities offering services in exchange for power. Whatever the case may be, magic takes near infinite forms. One of my personal favorites is Living Spells.

What is a Living Spell?

Living spells are wild and chaotic forms of sentient magic. These monstrosities haunt the Mournlands cursing the once-great nation of Cyre. These deadly horrors are unnatural creatures and thus have no sense of self-preservation, no real needs, and don’t reproduce. These features make them terrible threats to any who encounter them. They can’t be commanded or reasoned with. They just simply exist to fulfill its arcane instinct to do what it is supposed to do.

living burning hands spell

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How do I Create a Living Spell?

Eberron: Rising of the Last War introduced our first Living spells to the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. According to the Eberron book, living spells come in a variety of sizes and shapes. But, they do give us three stat blocks to act as templates so we can create our own. They recommend choosing an evocation or conjuration spell from the wizard spell list of up to 5th level. Then provide a table to see which stat block to customize.

Now make the following changes to that stat block:

Damage Immunity. Replace the living spell's damage immunity with immunity to the type (or types) of damage dealt by the chosen spell.

Magical Strike. Replace the damage that Magical Strike deals with one type of damage dealt by the chosen spell.

Spell Mimicry. Replace the effect of Spell Mimicry with the effect of the chosen spell. If that spell requires a saving throw, use spell save DC from the replaced spell, and if the spell involves an attack roll, use the attack bonus from the living spell's Magical Strike.

The book only gives us three. So let’s build one from one of my favorite spellbooks Deep Magic from Kobold Press.

living spell living dimensional shove stat block

For this Living Spell, I choose the Dimensional Shove, a 3rd level forced teleportation spell. Now, unlike the other spells, Dimensional Shove doesn’t actually do any damage. Instead, it forces a target to teleport. So I decided to change up the mechanics a little bit from the template. I still believe that this monster is still a threat, even though it doesn’t do much damage by comparison to the lightning bolt template. But instead makes it dangerous for another reason…knocking player characters off of high ledges or into dangerous hazards.

Its magical strike now also pushes a target 10 feet on a failed save. Additionally, I’ve removed the multiattack and instead gave it a follow-up reaction that it can use after its dimensional shove is successful. Now its attack pushes the target after it's been teleported to a particular spot.

What are your thoughts on Living Spells? Do you use them? What is your favorite?

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