- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: 60 feet
- Duration: 1 hour
- School: Divination
- Class: Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
- Level: 2nd level
- Damage/Effect: Psychic
- Attack/Save: Wis Save
- Components: S
You reach into the mind of one creature you can see within range. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw, taking 3d8 psychic damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one. On a failed save, you also always know the target’s location until the spell ends but only while the two of you are on the same plane of existence. While you have this knowledge, the target can’t become hidden from you, and if it’s invisible, it gains no benefit from that condition against you.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 2nd.
What Is Mind Spike?
Mind Spike is a 2nd-level damage-dealing spell that has some added divination abilities. If all goes well, this allows the caster to know their target’s whereabouts for an entire hour. The combination of damage and information make this spell sound great, although it really pales in comparison to other options.
A divination spell dealing damage is pretty uncommon, but this really isn’t an attack. Sure, at first glance, we see a few dice and a saving throw that read as an attack. It also doesn’t help that the only benefit of upcasting is more damage. Still, I want you to trust me when I say this is not an attack.
The reason that this is most definitely not an attack is simple. The concentration lasts for an hour. I’m going to say that one more time, the concentration lasts for an hour, and yet, we only deal damage when the spell is cast.
The real purpose of this spell is what comes if, and only if, the target fails the saving throw. Having knowledge of a creature’s whereabouts for an hour is definitely helpful in some scenarios, and that’s the big purpose of this spell.
This knowledge does come with some added benefits as well, such as ignoring a creature’s visibility and having a creature unable to hide from us.
We need to look at this spell as a whole before we can decide whether or not it’s worth having in our roster of spells. So let’s make this very simple. In bulleted form, here are the pieces of the spell:
- On a successful save:
- Deal half of 3d8 psychic damage once
- On a failed save:
- Deal 3d8 psychic damage once
- Learn target’s whereabouts for 1 hour
- Ignore target’s invisibility for 1 hour
- Target can not hide from you for 1 hour
Okay, now that we’re on the same page, let’s talk about what really matters.
How Good Is Mind Spike?
Mind Spike is just not a good spell. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but a 2nd-level spell slot just isn’t worth the meager amount of damage this deals. Even the additional benefits aren’t enough to save this spell from being a waste of space on almost every character’s spell list.
Low Damage Output
I want to start by talking about the easiest thing to wrap our minds around: damage. We can always compare the damage output of spells pretty directly, so we should do that to see how this stacks up. Specifically, I want to look at spells that deal their damage once since this is obviously going to pale in comparison to extended damage spells.
Rime’s Binding Ice is a perfect 2nd-level spell to show us the problem with Mind Spike. Here, we have an instantaneous spell that deals 3d8 damage on a failed saving throw; however, it affects a 30-foot cone, likely meaning a lot more than one target.
You might think, okay, well Mind Spike offers more than just damage. Well, so does Binding Ice, except Binding Ice does something that’s actually useful for the full duration.
Agnazzar’s Scorcher is another 3d8 spell, but again, we’re dealing AoE damage. This time it’s a 30-foot line with a 5 foot width, so a slightly smaller impact than Binding Ice and with no lasting effects. But you know what? That’s still better than Mind Spike.
For some salt on the wound, I just want to add that you could do this spell’s damage in two turns with a couple of cantrips. This might sound silly because time is always of the essence, but it makes sense when we consider the next common gripe with Mind Spike.
Concentration Is Valuable
When we concentrate on a spell, we want to make sure we’re seeing value every turn. Summoning spells, all the various walls, persistent AoE damage spells, and more all agree on one thing: if you’re concentrating on a spell, something is happening each and every turn. Mind Spike doesn’t deliver on this promise, and that makes it a hard sell.
Sure, there are bound to be some exceptions. There are spells that you have to concentrate on to maintain a powerful ability, like any of the dominate or hold spells. We have to ask ourselves: Is Mind Spike one of these rare exceptions, or should it not require our concentration?
It shouldn’t. Knowing a target’s whereabouts is a niche ability, helpful if you’re trying to uncover the secret base of some minions you just fought. The magical benefits of this spell are basically just a workaround to tracking, and there’s no guarantee that your target goes where you were hoping them to.
Then, the invisibility and hiding pieces of this spell could be solved with any number of easier-to-cast or more beneficial spells. I mean, Faerie Fire is only a 1st-level concentration spell, and yet it can illuminate several creatures, preventing them from the benefits of invisibility. Likely, if you’re dealing with invisibility, it’s not just one creature that you have to worry about.
All together, this is a weak spell with little to no use outside of some very specific scenarios. You’d be hard pressed to find a situation where this is the spell you absolutely need, and even then, there will be other, better ways to achieve your goals.
Mind Spike and Divination Wizards
Now, there is a common argument for Mind Spike when we talk about divination wizards. I’ll start by saying that it’s typically still not worth it. However, you should at least hear both sides of the argument.
The divination wizard gets an ability at 6th level called Expert Divination. This feature states:
“When you cast a divination spell of 2nd level or higher using a spell slot, you regain one expended spell slot. The slot you regain must be of a level lower than the spell you cast and can’t be higher than 5th level.”
This leads people to think Mind Spike gains some serious value. You cast it and get a 1st-level spell slot back or upcast it to get something else back. That way, you’re dealing damage to get access to a spell slot you need for another important spell.
Even divination wizards are treating this as little more than a way to deal damage, completely ignoring the spell’s other effects, but that’s not the point. The point is really a question.
Is it worth it to deal negligible damage as a trade for a lower-leveled spell slot? The answer: maybe, but probably not. Let’s look at an example.
You’ve run out of 1st-level spell slots, but you really want to cast Cure Wounds to save your ally. Instead of upcasting Cure Wounds, you choose to cast Mind Spike, dish out 3d8 damage, and then save your ally on the next turn.
Maybe this will deal the finishing blow on an enemy. Essentially, for a 2nd-level spell slot, you’re dealing 3d8 damage and healing 1d8, instead of healing 2d8. In a pure numbers game, this is pretty valuable.
Essentially, expert divination turns Mind Spike into itself plus whatever you can chain off of it.
In an interesting way, you can actually turn Mind Spike into a very good spell by starting off with it upcast at 6th level. Each turn after that, you cast it with a lower spell slot (breaking concentration each turn, but that’s fine as we’re in it for dps).
With this method, you get 25d8 for a 6th-level spell slot. Even with my distaste for Mind Spike, I can’t argue that that’s a bad deal. I will say, just for clarity, that it’s going to take five turns to actually deal that damage, but that’s basically par for the course with a non AoE spell. (A fireball cast at 6th level deals 11d6 to each target, meaning three targets is all you need to well outpace this, and you’re dealing the damage in a single turn.)
The draw of an expert divination Mind Spike is that you’re dealing some damage before casting something else that you want to cast. In some scenarios, this is definitely beneficial. In others, you’re wasting time when you could just be upcasting the spell you actually want to cast.
Really, the thing I need to make very clear is this: Mind Spike is the only damage-dealing divination spell. It’s not a fantastic option for this expert divination tango, but it’s the only one you have if you want to mess around with trickle-down spell slots while still dealing damage.
Throw in that to do any of this, you have to throw concentration to the wind, and the power of this is extremely diminished. You’re likely better off using a powerful concentration spell and then using cantrips and better spells to deal damage. Just because you’re a divination wizard doesn’t mean every spell you cast has to be of the divination school.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Target of Mind Spike Know What’s Happened?
The target will definitely know that they’ve taken damage, but there’s no guarantee whether or not they are aware of the other effects. Initially, no, there isn’t any part of the spell that explicitly makes the creature aware of the effects put upon them.
However, a creature with some arcane knowledge might be able to deduce what spell has been cast on them. Your average goblin or kobold minion will probably be none the wiser, but it wouldn’t take much for a lich to figure out what’s going on.
At the end of the day, this is up to the DM to decide if a creature would be able to learn the effects of Mind Spike, much like any other spell or magic item.
Can I Cast Mind Spike Without Breaking Concentration?
While many spellcasters may want to simply deal the damage of Mind Spike and ignore its other effects outside of specific scenarios, the spell is still a concentration spell and follows the normal concentration rules. If you want to cast it while concentrating on another spell, you’ll have to break the first spell’s concentration.
Sure, Mind Spike is the only damage-dealing divination spell we’ve seen in 5e so far, but that doesn’t make it special by any means. It’s a second-rate spell that could be easily replaced, and probably should be, by a number of better options. I hope this has cleared up any confusion on this spell, and 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.