Astral Projection Spell in DnD 5e

Astral Projection

  • Casting Time: 1 hour
  • Range: 10 feet
  • Duration: Special
  • School: Necromancy
  • Class: Cleric, Warlock, Wizard
  • Level: 9th level
  • Damage/Effect: Teleportation
  • Attack/Save: None
  • Components: V, S, M (for each creature you affect with this spell, you must provide one jacinth worth at least 1,000 gp and one ornately carved bar of silver worth at least 100 gp, all of which the spell consumes)

Spell Description

You and up to eight willing creatures within range project your astral bodies into the Astral Plane (the spell fails and the casting is wasted if you are already on that plane). The material body you leave behind is unconscious and in a state of suspended animation; it doesn’t need food or air and doesn’t age.

Your astral body resembles your mortal form in almost every way, replicating your game statistics and possessions. The principal difference is the addition of a silvery cord that extends from between your shoulder blades and trails behind you, fading to invisibility after 1 foot. 

This cord is your tether to your material body. As long as the tether remains intact, you can find your way home. If the cord is cut—something that can happen only when an effect specifically states that it does—your soul and body are separated, killing you instantly.

Your astral form can freely travel through the Astral Plane and can pass through portals there leading to any other plane. If you enter a new plane or return to the plane you were on when casting this spell, your body and possessions are transported along the silver cord, allowing you to re-enter your body as you enter the new plane. 

Your astral form is a separate incarnation. Any damage or other effects that apply to it have no effect on your physical body, nor do they persist when you return to it. The spell ends for you and your companions when you use your action to dismiss it. When the spell ends, the affected creature returns to its physical body, and it awakens.

The spell might also end early for you or one of your companions. A successful dispel magic spell used against an astral or physical body ends the spell for that creature. If a creature’s original body or its astral form drops to 0 hit points, the spell ends for that creature.

If the spell ends and the silver cord is intact, the cord pulls the creature’s astral form back to its body, ending its state of suspended animation. If you are returned to your body prematurely, your companions remain in their astral forms and must find their own way back to their bodies, usually by dropping to 0 hit points.

What Is Astral Projection in 5e?

Astral Projection is an incredibly useful spell that allows adventurers to travel through the Astral Plane. This high-level spell is not without its risks, but if pulled off correctly, it can allow you to reach destinations throughout the multiverse.

This spell isn’t just run-of-the-mill teleportation though. When using Astral Projection, it’s just the astral form of the caster (and their allies) that actually goes anywhere, at least for a while. As the spell states, this astral form is completely separate from the physical body of anyone involved with the spell.

You’ve likely seen something like this in a movie or TV show. Doctor Strange travels through astral projection, leaving his corporeal body behind to do all sorts of things. Aang, from Avatar the Last Airbender, also leaves his physical form behind to interact with the spirit world. 

This spell functions differently than either of those, but the basis of having an incorporeal spirit leaving your body remains. 

This has a few implications that really need to be considered in depth before casting this spell. While your astral form is separate from your body, your body can’t be harmed by anything that affects your projection; however, your body becomes inanimate, making it a potentially easy target for your enemies.

While you’re not occupying your body, it’s important to make sure someone you trust is watching over it. At the very least, find a good hiding spot, and ensure no one can get in. You’ll want to set up a few Glyph of Warding spells if you go with the second choice here.

Now, there is one other danger, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Otherwise, astral travel is fairly straightforward. Let’s start with the best-case scenario and work our way backward.

If everything goes well, a party using Astral Projection will leave their mortal coils behind and travel through the Astral Plane unbothered. When they reach their destination, another plane of existence, their physical forms will snap to them, and the spell ends.

This gives a party a method of traveling the multiverse without needing to use other, often more difficult to access, transportation spells. 

The Astral Plane

Quick time-out for anyone unfamiliar with the Astral Plane. In order to understand the actual ins and outs of this spell, you have to know at least cursory information about this plane of the multiverse. 

The Astral Plane, also called the Astral Sea at times, is a huge void-like expanse that stretches between the planes. Depending on which cosmology you are using at your table, this expanse connects either the material and outer planes to each other or just simply connects all planes to each other.

When you enter the Astral Plane, you’ll see a silvery pool of color, a disk that is essentially a portal to the plane from which you originated. Throughout the Astral Plane, there are other portals of differing colors that are portals to other planes. 

In the Astral Plane, the passage of time has no effect on travelers, so while time may still pass, it is essentially meaningless. By that means, travel through the Astral Plane is only eventful if the DM wants it to be. 

Without random or planned encounters with creatures such as astral dreadnoughts or gith, the Astral Plane is nothing more than a sea of nothingness. Not only does time have no meaning, but direction and distance are more subjective than anything else. Most things in this plane of existence are subject to a character’s perception, so even an adventurer’s speed isn’t set in stone.

So, the Astral Plane is useful as it provides a sturdy method of accessing other planes, but beyond that, it is essentially a void. If you want it to be more than a void, well, start with the astral dreadnought, and work your way from there.

If a party has gone into the Astral Plane for reasons other than interplanar travel, the spell can be ended by simply dismissing it. This kind of thing might come up if a party member is trapped in the Astral Plane by some rotten luck or if there’s some artifact floating in the Astral Sea that you need to find.

Dismissing the spell sends everyone back to their bodies on the plane from which you entered the Astral Plane. 

Individual creatures can also have the spell end early on them, and this is when we start to get into less-than-desirable territory. Dispel Magic can be used to end Astral Projection but only on a single target. 

If that target is the caster, everyone else is essentially stranded in the Astral Plane and will need to drop themselves to 0 hit points in order to return. This isn’t the end of the world since no damage or anything that affects your astral form affects your physical form.

In fact, there are only a handful of actual dangers that are presented to astral travelers beyond the fact that they are leaving their physical bodies behind.

The one concept I haven’t covered yet is that of the silver cord that tethers your astral and physical forms to each other. This cord is probably the only thing that will give you any sense of direction, and it’s what allows your body to be pulled to your astral form and vice versa.

However, it is also a source of incredible danger, since it is essentially the only thing connecting your soul and body to each other. If this cord is severed, you instantly die — no death saves, no last words. Luckily, there are few things that can actually sever a silver cord.

Astral dreadnoughts, a creature we’ve mentioned a few times in this article, are such a big threat because they are one of the few native inhabitants of the Astral Plane and because their claws can cut a traveler’s silver cord. These creatures aren’t incredibly intelligent or driven and seek only to consume anything floating in the Astral Sea.

The Githyanki, a race that lives in the Astral Plane, have also developed special silver swords that can slice through a silver cord with ease. Be sure not to get on their bad side while you traverse their realm, or you may end up in some serious trouble.

A psychic storm, a special weather phenomenon unique to the Astral Plane, is another thing that can damage a silver cord. While traveling the Astral Plane in your astral form, it’s wise to avoid psychic wind currents as you may cross one of these storms, a fleet of gith pirates, or a particularly clever astral dreadnought.

Stay clear of these dangers, and you should be fine. It’s a large expanse, so you should be able to keep yourself hidden for the most part. You’re probably most in danger when entering and exiting as the portals to planes are likely to hold the most traffic for astral creatures. 

Who Should Take Astral Projection?

As a 9th-level spell available to only three classes, this isn’t something to be picky about. Taking this spell is less of a concern of build optimization and more a concern of necessity. Basically, if you plan on traveling the Astral Plane, this is probably what you should be using.

Obviously, this is a spell for the highest tier of D&D play. Less obvious though, is that this is only for a specific type of higher-tier D&D. Not every 20th-level campaign is going to send its heroes careening across the multiverse. Some campaigns are actually quite grounded as far as a fantasy game can be grounded, that is.

We also have to remember that there are other ways to reach the many planes of D&D. As early as 9th level, casters can start using the 5th-level spell Teleportation Circle as a means to reach other planes. Plane Shift, a 7th-level spell, is accessible as a 13th-level caster and can get you similar results with a bit more leniency.

There’s even another 9th-level spell, Gate, that can allow you to create a portal to a specific location on another plane. This spell is also available to clerics and wizards, although it swaps out warlocks for sorcerers, so there is a slightly different pool of casters that can utilize it. 

There are all of these spells and more, and that doesn’t even include run-of-the-mill methods of teleportation, like actually tracking down teleportation circles and the like. So, why even bother with Astral Projection at all?

Well, taking this spell has much more to do with the journey than the destination. There may be certain things that exist only in the Astral Plane which you need to find and recover. Or, you may not want to use more conventional methods of teleportation, choosing instead to sneak up on your adversaries by floating through the astral sea.

Why you need to use Astral Projection will differ from campaign to campaign and from party to party, but I think it’s safe to say that you’ll know whether or not it’s important to you by the time you reach level 17. 

I hope this guide has given you everything you need to know about this unique spell. As always, happy adventuring, and be sure to keep that cord intact.