5th Edition Spells – Beast Sense

Beast Sense

Druid, Ranger - 2 Level Spell

School: Divination
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Touch
Components: Somatic
Duration: 1 Hour
Attack/Save: None
Reference: PHB 217
Concentration, Ritual

You touch a willing beast. For the duration of the spell, you can use your action to see through the beast’s eyes and hear what it hears, and continue to do so until you use your action to return to your normal senses. While perceiving through the beast’s senses, you gain the benefits of any special senses possessed by that creature, though you are blinded and deafened to your own surroundings.

My Comments: This spell gets passed over by a lot of players because Find Familiar accomplishes all the same perks with none of the awkwardness, and as a 1st-level spell. But seeing as Druids and Rangers can’t get Find Familiar without taking a feat or multiclassing, it does fill its niche quite well.

What niche is that? Mostly scouting with an animal that blends into the environment and taking advantage of beasts with special senses that rely on seeing or hearing more acutely than the player can. This is especially handy with flying creatures that can cover a lot of ground over the spell’s 1-hour duration. Even better if they have Keen Eyesight/Hearing.

Now, how do you actually pull this off? After all, you have no control over the beast you use this spell on; you just see and hear through it.

Well, that brings us to the spells that are basically necessary to pair with Beast Sense for it to be any good at all — Animal Friendship and Speak With Animals.

“The best part of all this is that Speak With Animals and Beast Sense are both ritual spells, so you can pull this off without expending any spell slots”

Animal Friendship lets you charm a beast, helping to get over the hump of a wild animal being scared of your adventuring party. Speak With Animals allows you to talk to beasts (Forest Gnomes can also talk to small beasts as a racial feature), so you can tell them exactly what you want them to do.

Beast Sense spell review image showing a ranger with a raven.The best part of all this is that Speak With Animals and Beast Sense are both ritual spells, so you can pull this off without expending any spell slots, provided you have 20 minutes to spare on ritual casting. Unless you’re a Ranger who lacks the ability to cast ritual spells (but I mean, c’mon, if you’re a Beast Master Ranger, this should just be an innate ability you have, especially given how few spells Rangers get, and 5e’s devs tend to agree with the benefit of hindsight).

With this combo, you can ask a crow to fly ahead of your party’s intended path and look out for the orcs that hope to ambush you, saving yourself from a nasty surprise round (or even allowing YOU to sneak up on THEM). Or you can have a spider crawl ahead around the dungeon to get a perfect map and enemy locations before delving in there yourself. You can even go the other way with this and leave a sentry behind your party at some entryway, so you can frequently check back in to make sure nobody is sneaking up behind you.

Maybe you can even spy on a secret meeting between the BBEG and their lieutenants to learn more about their master plan.

You might need to offer these animals something for their trouble (food should usually work fine) unless you’re expending a spell slot on Animal Friendship (no ritual spell there, boo).

But what about other tricks? Well, the Conjure Animals spell makes creatures that are automatically friends with you, so there’s no convincing necessary. They’re technically fey AND beasts, but I think most DMs will let this fly. And a Beast Master Ranger’s animal companion is always friendly and willing, so you can always use Beast Sense on them and tell them what to do.

Oh, and if your Druid buddy uses Wild Shape, then they’re considered a beast, so you can tag along (mentally) as they do their beast things — maybe you’ll notice something they don’t. Same goes for Polymorph.

Now for an application with a less clear-cut ruling: using your Beast Sense to get around being blinded or deafened. Now, no matter what, it takes an action to switch your senses from yours to your beast’s, but it might be worth it in certain situations where your character is blinded for several rounds of combat.

Say you have a bird on your shoulder; switch to its senses, and you’re basically seeing from the same POV as your character, and able to make attacks, cast spells that require sight, and everything else that requires sight to do.

What’s less clear is whether this works if the beast you’re sensing from isn’t basically the same as your POV. If it’s 50 feet away and on the ceiling while you’re on the ground, a DM can reasonably rule that you still have attack disadvantage from the awkwardness of trying to attack while you’re watching yourself (it does sound kind of hard to do!)

And even with this trick, most spells require a clear path to the target, so you can’t use Beast Sense to target an enemy behind total cover.

Overall, Beast Sense might seem like an underwhelming 2nd-level spell, but I find it has more applications than many players consider at first glance. I mean, with a few ritual spells, you can have a 1-hour scout that blends in perfectly with the environment, allowing you to map a dungeon before entering, spy on a noble, or act as a sentry to make sure you don’t get snuck up on.

Plus, if you’re roleplaying a character who focuses on communing with nature and working with animal companions, your spell sheet isn’t complete without Beast Sense.

Matt Zane

This guest post is from Matt Zane. Check out more of his D&D 5e spell guides, backstory generators, and rules tutorials at DnD Lounge.

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