Living Spells 5e: Here’s What Makes Them So Powerful

Last Updated on November 13, 2023

Today, we’re going to be discussing a subset of creatures that is beyond exciting: Living Spells.

We’ll talk about what they are, how they’re formed, and where you might encounter them. We’ll also discuss a bit of how you might homebrew up your own version.

What are Living Spells?

Living spells are a subset of creatures belonging to the creature type: construct. In areas that harbor incredible wells of magical power, these spells come into existence and become living beings. 

Living spells are typically sentient versions of conjuration or evocation spells.

As of right now, there are less than 10 of these creatures to speak of, and they’re pretty powerful creatures. 

Since their nature is entirely magical, and their power is tied to the fact that they are a spell, it’s not too surprising that they all pack a punch

Living Spell Examples

When living spells were introduced in Eberron: Rising from the Last War there were three spells. Living versions of Burning Hands, Lightning Bolt, and Cloudkill were presented as templates for CR 1, 5, and 7 constructs, respectively.

Now, there are seven living spells, but more are likely on the way.

  • Living Bigby’s Hand; CR 4
  • Living Blade of Disaster; CR 8 
  • Living Burning Hands; CR 1
  • Living Cloudkill; CR 7
  • Living Demiplane; CR 0
  • Living Lightning Bolt; CR 5
  • Living Unseen Servant; CR 0 

Spell vs. Living Spell

Below is the description for the spell Burning Hands along with the stat block for Living Burning Hands.

Burning Hands

1st-Level Evocation

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Self (15-foot cone)

Components: V S

Duration: Instantaneous

Classes: Sorcerer, Wizard

As you hold your hands with thumbs touching and fingers spread, a thin sheet of flames shoots forth from your outstretched fingertips. Each creature in a 15-foot cone must make a Dexterity saving throw.

A creature takes 3d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The fire ignites any flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 1st.

The living spell has damage immunity to the damage type of the origin spell, along with an attack called spell mimicry which mimics the wording of the spell itself.

Naturally, it comes with some cool abilities, like the Amorphous ability, since it has no solid structure and is made of purely magical energy.

Living Burning Hands is a great example of what a simple living spell can look like. Higher leveled living spells really just tend to gain Multiattack (the ability to make multiple attacks during their attack action) and more health. 

How To Make A Living Spell

To create a customized living spell to put in your worlds, follow the template set by the other living spells. Higher-level spells tend to be higher CR, and a spell’s damage type should match the living spell’s damage immunity. 

Then take the wording of the spell and work it into abilities, reactions, or actions for your new creature. 

Normally when I’m giving homebrew advice it’s based on practice and experience, a bit of trial and error. This time, we have homebrew advice straight out of the source material itself.

When Eberron introduced this category of creatures they realized that 3 was nowhere near enough variety, so they said that the 3 in existence were templates for other spells you might want to transform.

I’m going to roll up a few random spells and talk about what their sentient versions might be if one makes sense.

Antimagic Field

Antimagic field is an 8th level abjuration spell that creates an invisible sphere of antimagic energy with a 10ft radius. 

If this sphere were to gain sentience, it certainly wouldn’t be dealing damage, but it might try to suppress magic users or magical items. 

Since it cancels out magic, the only way to attack it might have to be through nonmagical methods. 

Where do we attack it?

Well, we end up with a Living Magic Field that probably has a relatively small AC, maybe just 10, and high HP. 

It gets a unique Antimagic ability, and maybe a con save related ability akin to a concentration saving throw to keep the antimagic field itself up and running whenever the core is hit.

Let’s say that if the field goes down the core can be attacked by magic.

Chain Lightning

A Living Chain Lightning would function extremely similarly to a Living Lightning Bolt. 

The main differences are that Chain Lightning is a higher level spell, dealing more damage and likely creating a higher CR creature, and the fact that Chain Lightning chooses one main target and three secondary targets. 

I would give the living spell the ability to attack twice on its turn, but give it a reaction that functions like a very wide opportunity attack.

If a creature comes within 30 feet of the living spell it can bolt to that creature’s location and deal some amount of damage that is slightly less than the normal lightning damage on an attack.

Animate Objects

Animate Objects is a spell that turns items into constructs. Now how on earth could this gain sentience? It’s just conceptual right? Wrong!

Here’s how I would do it. The Living Spell has two main abilities, Possess and Animate. One allows this sentient spell to take over an object and use it as a body, the other allows it to animate an object like with the spell. 

To make this balanced, the living spell would have to be dispatchable while it is in the possess form, and it would have to have a recharge on its ability to possess new objects.

You would also need its hit points to carry over. As for animation, we’d have to limit that, so it would only be able to animate one object every few turns, also on a recharge.

It would also be a good idea to connect the size of the object with the length of time it takes to recharge. 

A tiny construct might only cause 2 turns while a huge might take a whole combat.

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