Bard, Druid, Ranger - 1 Level Spell
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, and Material
Duration: 24 Hours
Reference: PH 212
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 Levels, 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.
My Comments: I’ve seen this spell abused a few times. For example, I remember one bard using it to convince a hippogriff to become their mount. So many things wrong there.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but it does- this affects beasts in D&D 5e. Beasts are a category of creatures in D&D, not just any creature of low intelligence. A hippogriff, for example, is a monstrosity, not a beast. An elephant is a beast, and so is a T-Rex, but an undead elephant or T-rex isn’t and neither is a roc or a hippogriff.
Further, this spell doesn’t give you control over the beast, just charms them. Let’s look at the charmed condition:
- A charmed creature can’t attack the charmer or target the charmer with harmful abilities or magical effects.
- The charmer has advantage on any ability check to interact socially with the creature.
Let’s change the hippogriff out for something qualifies as a beast, like a Quetzalcoatlus from Volo’s Guide to Monsters. It’s a beast and has an intelligence of 2, so we should be good go, right? Hope on bard, take a ride!
Except, not. The Quetzalcoatlus isn’t your animal companion, it’s just not-unfriendly to you. It won’t obey your commands or just automatically let you ride it. You’ll still want some good Animal Handling checks to really get some value out of this spell.
Even better, you’re going to want Speak with Animals. Animal Friendship doesn’t give you the ability to speak with the target. You can make friends with a rat, sure. Ask it to spy for you, or tell you if a certain person has passed by? Not likely. You’ll need to get your request across somehow, and Speak with Animals will definitely help.
Even then, it’s important to remember that this spell works on beasts with Intelligence of less than 4. That means you have a lot of great options out there, especially if you’re in a jungle full of dinosaurs, but once you’ve made friends with and can talk to a creature of 2 intelligence, that doesn’t mean it will have a lot to say.
PC: My new rat friend! Tell me, did Lord Evilbadguy go by earlier? He’s a two-leg like me and was riding a 4 legged animal like that over there.
Rat: *Nods emphatically remembering that a two-legged peasant went by riding a 4-legged donkey*
However, all this does not mean the spell is useless, it’s just means you should remember it’s just a first level spell, so don’t expect miracles.
Want to get past a guard dog, great!
Want the giant spider to stop attacking, sure, I’d allow that.
Want to cast it on a trained horse so you can ride it? Well, it is definitely going to give you advantage on animal handling.
Want to cast it on a wild horse so you can ride it? This will be more difficult.
And yet, probably the most important modifier on this spell is Rule of Cool. Sometimes, you just let the PC do a thing because it makes the game more fun. Just be upfront about it so it doesn’t get out of hand later. Feature creep is a very real thing with players pushing to get more and more out of their abilities.
Let me know if I’m missing anything in the comments.
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