Any Dungeons & Dragons 5e player who’s ever fought a demilich, a mind flayer mage, or even just your run-of-the-mill necromancer knows that fighting high-level spellcasters can be a nerve-wracking affair.
Sure, the minute your party’s fighter and barbarian manage to close the distance, most spell-slinging nerds aren’t going to be able to do much to stop the fantasy jocks from stuffing them inside the nearest gym locker- I mean Bag of Holding.
However, powerful magic users rarely let martial characters get that close, as they can do some pretty insane stuff.
Whether that means pelting the entire party with magic missiles, fireballs, and meteors or just polymorphing you all into sheep, I’ve been in enough wizard fights (for which the only acceptable soundtrack can be found here) to know that finding ways to counter incoming spells is pretty much the only way you’re going to come out of combat with the same number of limbs you started with.
For all but the most powerful spells, there’s one surefire way to completely neuter an enemy spellcaster for long enough for your rogue to put an arrow through their eyeball: Globe of Invulnerability.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at one of D&D 5e’s best Abjuration spells, how it works, who can (and should) cast it, and how to get the most out of this fantastic defensive tool.
Globe of Invulnerability
- Casting Time: 1 Action
- Range: Self (10-foot-radius sphere)
- Duration: 1 minute (Concentration)
- School: Abjuration
- Class: Sorcerer, Wizard
- Level: 6th level
- Damage/Effect: Negation, Warding
- Attack/Save: None
- Components: V, S, M (a glass or crystal bead that shatters when the spell ends)
As an action, you create an immobile, faintly shimmering magical barrier that forms a 10-foot radius sphere centered on yourself.
The barrier remains in place for the duration — one minute or until the caster’s concentration is broken, they choose to end the spell, or the effect is dispelled by some other effect, like Counterspell or a Beholder’s antimagic cone.
While the globe is active, any spell of 5th level or lower cast from outside the barrier can’t affect creatures or objects within it, even if the spell is cast using a higher-level spell slot.
Spells can still target creatures inside the barrier, but they have no effect. Also, area-of-effect spells like Fireball that would affect creatures inside the barrier have no effect.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 7th level or higher, the barrier blocks spells of one level higher for each slot level above 6th.
How Does Globe of Invulnerability Work in DnD 5e?
In terms of negating the effectiveness of enemy spellcasters and creating a defensive position, Globe of Invulnerability might be tied with Counterspell for the best piece of defensive magic in 5e.
The ability to protect both yourself and up to 11 allies within the spell’s radius is hugely powerful.
Unless your enemies are prepared to burn super-high-level spell slots to cast things like Disintegrate or Power Word: Kill, this spell effectively means you can ignore all incoming magical effects, meaning it’s an especially powerful way to counter multiple lower-level enemies with access to spellcasting.
According to Scott’s excellent article on Star Wars in 5e, blasters are cantrips.
The globe completely blocks all spell effects that originate outside it.
While this means that damaging spell attacks, like Firebolt or Eldritch Blast as well as area of effect damage spells like Fireball, are going to be turned away, you’re also going to be able to negate various control and debuff spells too.
Enemies that like to use disabling spells like Entangle or Mold Earth aren’t going to be able to affect anything inside the sphere (remember, it also extends for 10 feet underground and in the air above you), and enchantments like Hold Person and Sleep are also going to fizzle.
However, it’s worth noting that your allies outside of the globe also won’t be able to target anyone inside the globe with buffs or healing magic. The barrier doesn’t discriminate.
A Globe of Invisibility also means you’re going to be impervious to effects like banishment and long-range magical spying, although the relatively short duration definitely puts this spell’s usefulness squarely in the sphere of combat.
However, it could also be a useful way to prevent enemies from using mind-reading spells like Detect Thoughts against you in a tense negotiation or interrogation.
Just because spells cast outside the sphere can’t affect creatures inside it doesn’t mean that, much like the Gungan shields from The Phantom Menace, the barrier isn’t permeable.
First, creatures inside the globe can cast spells out of it, meaning that with the right vantage point, Globe of Invulnerability becomes the ultimate defensive position for a battle wizard.
Hole up inside it, and fire off spells at anything that comes into view.
Secondly, you might want to make sure you have a few allies with you inside the globe.
While this spell is an amazing way to block spellcasting, it can do absolutely nothing about physical projectiles or creatures trying to walk through it.
This is one of the reasons it’s a good idea to use the globe as a defensive position for the entire party, with martial characters using it as cover from which to take out enemy archers and fend off melee attackers.
Thirdly, while Globe of Invulnerability is possibly the ultimate counter to multiple lower-level spellcasters, higher-level spells are still going to be able to get through unless you upcast the globe.
Even then, 9th-level spells like Meteor Shower and Wish are still going to be able to penetrate it.
If you’re going up against a single, high-level caster with access to spells of 6th, 7th, or 8th level, you’re going to want to upcast this spell if possible; if even a single point of damage gets through and forces you to break concentration, the game is up.
As such, being able to get a read on just how powerful enemy spellcasters are is especially useful when figuring out the level of spell slot you should use to cast Globe of Invulnerability.
Lastly, it’s important to note that while the spell targets the caster, it doesn’t move with them.
You have to pick your spot and defend it and, given the fact this is the kind of spell you need to use your highest available slot for if possible, it’s the kind of ability you’re going to need to save for defending a chokepoint or a pitched battle, rather than casting and recasting it as you advance from one skirmish to another.
Monsters of the Multiverse
In the new Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse supplements, one of the changes made to monstrous spellcasting bodes very ill indeed for spells like Globe of Invisibility and Counterspell.
In the edition so far, when the designers wanted to give a monster cool magic abilities, they slapped some innate spellcasting on it and called it a day. Lazy? Yes. Hard to use for DMs? You bet. But, this made spells that directly countered other spells very powerful.
Now, Monsters of the Multiverse is replacing monsters’ spellcasiting with “spell-like abilities” (no, it’s a ball of fire, not a fireball, you fool) so if your DM starts using these new rules, just keep in mind that Globe of Invulnerability and Counterspell just became specifically for fighting wizards and spellcasters, not monsters with innate spellcasting.
Who Can Cast Globe of Invulnerability?
As a spell on the Wizard and Sorcerer spell list, Globe of Invulnerability becomes available to player characters at 11th level.
Also, at 14th level, bards can gain access to their spell thanks to their Magical Secrets class feature.
Is Globe of Invulnerability Good?
While a 6th-level spell slot is undeniably a high price to pay (even a 20th-level wizard only gets two 6th-level slots per day), the ability to set up an area that’s effectively impervious to magical attack can be a campaign-winner.
The fact that, even if a lower-level spell is upcast to a level higher than the globe, it can’t penetrate it is amazing.
While there are some amazing damage-dealing spells at higher levels, casters will have a much smaller pool of of them to prepare, and they therefore usually rely on upcasted versions of low-level spells like Fireball while saving their super-high-level spells for weird, esoteric nonsense like Geas or Dream.
Deciding whether or not to pick this spell should depend on the kind of campaign you’re playing, your party’s preferred fighting style, and the kinds of enemies with which you regularly tangle.
Obviously, if you’re playing in a campaign where you tend to fight big, nasty monsters that favor melee attacks or breath weapons (the game is called Dungeons & Dragons after all, and I try to hide at least one big scaly boy in every campaign I run), then this spell isn’t going to feel especially effective.
However, if it transpires that the big bad is a college of evil wizards, then having a Globe of Invulnerability on tap could be the difference between victory and a TPK.
Countering Globe of Invulnerability
Remember how I said high-level spellcasters were a nightmare to fight? (I’ve had a player descend into genuine, frothing, champing rage because an enemy wizard counterspelled him twice in a row.)
If your party brings some magical heavy hitters to a wizard fight, particularly if you’re going up against a high-level mage on their home turf, then you should be ready to counteract a Globe of Invulnerability if you find it used against you.
Thankfully, as I said above, getting past this magical barrier is actually pretty simple: get inside it with the wizard, and make them regret their life choices. Alternately, find a way to get the caster out of the globe.
(This is probably the only super-high-level spell I’ve ever seen countered by an angry halfling with a lasso.)
If your approach is being blocked, then mundane (or even magical – the globe blocks spells not magic, so enchanted arrows are totally on the table) missiles are going to be a great way to break the caster’s concentration.
Lastly, use the environment to either drop things on the caster or undermine the ground beneath the globe to either force the caster to relocate or once again break their concentration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Upcast Spells To Break a Globe of Invulnerability?
No. Only a spell that’s normally of higher level than the globe (5th if cast at 6th level, 6th if cast at 7th, and so on) can bypass the barrier.
A 3rd-level spell like Lightning Bolt upcast to 6th level would still be blocked by the globe.
Is the Globe of Invulnerability Invisible?
No, but you could make the case that the globe’s faint shimmer could be disguised by lightly obscuring it using fog, a bright light, or darkness.
A spellcaster outside the globe can still target creatures inside it with spells, meaning that unless they see the barrier itself, they wouldn’t be made aware of its presence until their spell rebounded off of it.
Can Globe of Invulnerability Be Dispelled?
Yes. Because Dispel Magic would affect the barrier itself, rather than something contained within the barrier, Globe of Invulnerability can be dispelled.
Can Globe of Invulnerability Be Counterspelled?
Yes. Because Counterspell is a reaction, it prevents the spell from taking effect and would therefore cause the globe to fizzle before it took effect and became immune to counterspelling.
Can a Spell Cast Inside a Globe of Invulnerability Be Counterspelled?
No. Because the Counterspell is trying to affect something inside the barrier (and as a 3rd-level spell, even an upcasted version of Counterspell is unable to penetrate the globe), a spell cast inside the Globe of Invulnerability cannot be counterspelled by someone outside of it.
If the Counterspell is cast within the globe, however, it still works.