- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: 120 ft.
- Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
- School: Enchantment
- Class: Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
- Level: 3rd level
- Damage/Effect: Control
- Attack/Save: Intelligence Save
- Components: V, S
You reach into the mind of one creature you can see and force it to make an Intelligence saving throw. A creature automatically succeeds if it is immune to being frightened. On a failed save, the target loses the ability to distinguish friend from foe, regarding all creatures it can see as enemies until the spell ends. Each time the target takes damage, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Whenever the affected creature chooses another creature as a target, it must choose the target at random from among the creatures it can see within range of the attack, spell, or other ability it’s using. If an enemy provokes an opportunity attack from the affected creature, the creature must make that attack if it is able to.
What Is the Enemies Abound Spell in D&D 5e?
Enemies abound is an excellent 3rd-level enchantment spell that poisons the mind of your target, making them think everyone around them is their enemy, turning them into a loose cannon on the battlefield. So long as you manage to hold your concentration and the creature doesn’t save out of the spell, your party is basically gaining a new ally.
This spell is pretty straightforward, although that doesn’t mean it’s simple to cast successfully. It does take planning and solid execution in order to get the most benefit that you can out of a 3rd-level spell slot. We’ll get to the tactics in a bit, but for now, let’s look at the specifics of how this spell works.
For starters, it’s a 3rd-level concentration spell. If you were unaware, 3rd-level spells represent a huge spike in power for the full caster classes. It’s where we see spells like Fireball and Counterspell come into play. Basically, to be a 3rd-level spell worth grabbing, you have to be impactful and reliable.
Luckily, this is pretty reliable as far as 3rd-level spells go. Intelligence isn’t a favored ability score of many creatures, so the save involved in this spell isn’t going to be succeeded anywhere near as often as you might see something like a dex or con save be overcome.
The only other thing that could stop this spell from being effective is if a creature is immune to being frightened, which isn’t a very common condition immunity to have.
All this is to say that you have a good chance of this spell at least triggering and launching a creature into a fear-based rampage. I should note, this spell doesn’t actually give a creature the frightened condition; it’s just an effect based on fear.
Once the spell is online, your target chooses the targets of its attacks at random. Interestingly, this spell doesn’t force the creature to attack, but that’s fine. A strong enemy not attacking is still better than them directly targeting your allies.
They do, however, have to make an opportunity attack if one is triggered (and they haven’t already used their reaction in this round of combat). This can be hugely beneficial, especially if you put this online early enough in combat that your enemies are still tightly grouped together.
We then end up with a few turns of this until they’re able to snap out or until you lose your concentration. For that entire period, however long it lasts, the target of your spell is just an absolute loose cannon, a menace to anyone within range of their attacks, be they spell, ranged, or melee.
Aside from you losing concentration, there’s only one way that a creature can be snapped out of this, and that’s by taking damage. Specifically, when the creature takes damage, they get to repeat the save, which only means they have a chance of breaking free from the fearful prison you’ve trapped them in.
Fortunately, your allies won’t have to worry about attacking them. This means the only way they’ll take damage is by one of your enemies wasting an action to try snapping their buddy back to reality. This makes this one of the few concentration spells that you can be almost guaranteed will last a full minute.
Even if it doesn’t last until the end, that means that multiple of your enemies have wasted actions, and your spell was still successful.
How Useful Is Enemies Abound?
As with most spells, you’re going to get as much use out of this spell as tactics you put in. Luckily, the tactics to pull this spell off well aren’t hard to grasp, and you can still get value without them. All in all, this truly is a great spell.
If you want to get the most out of this spell, there are two key things to pay attention to. The first is your enemies’ proximity to each other. The second is finding the enemy with the best balance of low intelligence and high-damage output.
Since this spell causes your target to attack wildly but only forces it to make opportunity attacks, there’s no promise that it will be attacking every turn. The only guarantee is that it views every creature around it as an enemy. This might convince it to run away, or it might convince it to start laying into the closest creature.
The best-case scenario is that the target of this spell is surrounded by its allies. Once it thinks they are enemies, it will end up fighting them, and even if they try to avoid their now-turned friend, they’ll trigger an opportunity attack.
For this reason, you often get more value in the beginning of combat when the two sides of the battle are still grouped off into their own sections. That’s not always the case, but whenever your enemies are near each other is the time to press send. Realistically, the beginning of combat also makes sense since this spell could potentially last for an entire combat.
A side note of this is that you and your allies should be avoiding this creature for as long as they can. You don’t want to deal damage to it and risk having it snap back to reality, and you also want to avoid adding yourself to the list of potential targets it has. So it’s better to just leave it to carry on its rampage near its former allies.
Of course, we also want to make sure we’re choosing the best creature for this. How do we do this without knowing the enemies’ stats though? Well, most of it comes down to intuition.
In most combats, you aren’t going to be facing off against more than three types of creatures, at least in 1st- and 2nd-tier play. So you should be looking around at the creatures you have to choose from and making some snap judgments.
Typically, the bulkier a creature appears, the lower its intelligence is going to be. Beasts also make great targets, so if a group of enemies has some beast there fighting for them, that’s a pretty safe choice.
If you want to put a bit more work into it, you can try using a lower-leveled spell that also uses an intelligence save. Still use your intuition; you want to have to test it as little as you can before activating the real spell at work here.
Mind Sliver is a great choice here as it is a cantrip that requires an int save, so it’s basically free to cast. Plus, if your intuition was right and they fail the int save for Mind Sliver, you’re still dealing damage, and the creature will subtract 1d4 from the next saving throw it makes before the end of your next turn, just furthering your chance of successfully casting Enemies Abound.
Interestingly enough, that makes Mind Sliver an excellent way to continue dealing damage to this creature even when you technically should avoid hitting them. That’s because the damage is going to incur a repeat save, but you are basically guaranteeing that they fail it thanks to the d4 they’ll be subtracting.
So yeah, pick a strong, dumb enemy that’s near your other enemies and stay away from them so they can continue to focus on helping you against their will. What more can you ask for?
Who Should Take Enemies Abound?
Enemies abound is a great spell for anyone who can take it since it only requires a little bit of a tactical mind and a good Spell Save DC. Both of those should be part of your caster already, making this an easy choice.
Buildwise, it works best with a caster focused on controlling the battlefield. Since it is more random than other control spells like Charm Person or Hold Monster, it’s going to exist more as an alternative option than as a staple of the build.
Again, the best time to use this spell is when you have a strong enemy that you can force into taking down the rest of your enemies’ forces. You don’t want to use this spell in combat against one or two big threats because it will effectively make no difference in those scenarios.
Still, let’s look at the classes that can take this spell and talk about what they bring to the table as far as synergies are concerned.
Best Subclass(es): Eloquence, Words of Terror
Most bards pull off control well as is, and it’s easy to build a caster with nothing but control as its goal.
The Eloquence bard in particular is excellent when it comes to forcing saving throws since their Unsettling Words feature lets them subtract a roll of their bardic inspiration die from a creature’s saving throw. Pair this with Enemies Abound or any other saving throw control spell, and you’re off to the races.
The College of Whispers is more of a thematic option, but it still works incredibly well mechanically as well. This subclass is entirely focused on sowing paranoia, which is exactly what our spell inquisition aims to do.
Their 3rd-level feature, words of terror, frightens a creature for an hour and makes them paranoid. They can break free of this if they see their allies be attacked or take damage though, so what’s a good solution? Simply make them forget that they had any allies in the first place.
This is such a great combo that you actually can use it as a main focus, but it does require you to be in a campaign dealing with mostly humanoids.
Best Subclass(es): N/A
While there aren’t any specific subclasses of sorcerer that fit this spell well, you do have metamagic to affect it beautifully. Subtle spell is a fun option, eliminating the need for any components whatsoever on this spell and making it seem as if the creature went berserk for no reason. This should keep a target off your back since more intelligent enemies won’t be trying to break your concentration to save their friend.
Another great choice is Heightened spell, even if it does cost a whopping 3 sorcery points. Giving a creature disadvantage on this save can be huge, especially if you know you’re targeting something that normally might resist the effects due to its decent intelligence score.
You could even use a Twinned spell on this since it is a spell that targets only one creature and doesn’t have a range of self. The danger of this metamagic is that you might end up having two of your paranoid targets dealing damage to each other and snapping themselves out of your stupor.
Maybe reserve this last one for niche scenarios where you’re fighting huge groups of enemies and can ensure that your targets stay socially distanced.
Best Subclass(es): Archfey
Admittedly, there isn’t a lot of mechanical synergy with this subclass. Rather, there aren’t any abilities that can enhance it. There are, however, plenty of similar abilities and spells as the archfey is all about trickery and creating a charming or frightening presence.
Use their 1st-level Fey Presence to frighten as many creatures as you can, and then choose one that isn’t frightened as a target for Enemies Abound, throwing the entirety of your opposition into a complete frenzy.
Best Subclass(es): Divination, Enchantment
The better choice here is, ironically, Divination. They make excellent candidates for any sort of build centered on forcing saving throws since their portent ability allows them to use one of their predetermined rolls instead of allowing the creature to roll. This is so huge, and whether you’re casting Enemies Abound or any other control spell, you’ll be a happy camper.
The Enchantment school is still effective but to a lesser extent than divination. They at least spend less gold and time on copying down enchantment spells, so that’s definitely a good start. Beyond that, their Instinctive Charm provides an interesting way to avoid getting attacked while staying up close.
With Instinctive Charm, an Enchantment wizard can redirect the attack of a creature within 30 feet so long as the attacker fails a Wisdom saving throw. So, you can get right up in the mix with your enemies, use Enemies Abound on one of them, and then redirect any attacks you might take, essentially becoming the 5e equivalent of the “stop hitting yourself” bully from primary school.
Great Feats for Enemies Abound
Using feats to bolster a build is a great way to ensure you pull off your goals that much more often. Here are a few options that work great in any control build but specifically work great with Enemies Abound.
- War Caster – This feat gives you advantage on concentration saving throws, the main benefit we’ll be walking away with. Of course, it also lets us cast a spell with a casting time of one action as a reaction in place of a normal opportunity attack.
- Metamagic Adept – If you’re not a sorcerer and you want to cast this as a subtle spell, pick this up, and send your enemies into paranoia without anyone being the wiser.
This is really a great spell. While it does require a bit of tactic, it’s an excellent example of getting more payoff the more effort you put in. Use it wisely, and your enemies will be completely stymied. As always, happy adventuring.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.