Planar Ally in DnD 5e

Planar Ally

  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: 60 feet
  • Duration: Instantaneous
  • School: Conjuration
  • Class: Cleric
  • Level: 6th level
  • Damage/Effect: Summoning
  • Attack/Save: None
  • Components: V, S

Spell Description

You beseech an otherworldly entity for aid. The being must be known to you: a god, a primordial, a demon prince, or some other being of cosmic power. That entity sends a celestial, an elemental, or a fiend loyal to it to aid you, making the creature appear in an unoccupied space within range. If you know a specific creature’s name, you can speak that name when you cast this spell to request that creature, though you might get a different creature anyway (DM’s choice).

When the creature appears, it is under no compulsion to behave in any particular way. You can ask the creature to perform a service in exchange for payment, but it isn’t obliged to do so. The requested task could range from simple (fly us across the chasm, or help us fight a battle) to complex (spy on our enemies, or protect us during our foray into the dungeon). You must be able to communicate with the creature to bargain for its services.

Payment can take a variety of forms. A celestial might require a sizable donation of gold or magic items to an allied temple, while a fiend might demand a living sacrifice or a gift of treasure. Some creatures might exchange their service for a quest undertaken by you.

As a rule of thumb, a task that can be measured in minutes requires a payment worth 100 gp per minute. A task measured in hours requires 1,000 gp per hour. A task measured in days (up to 10 days) requires 10,000 gp per day. The DM can adjust these payments based on the circumstances under which you cast the spell. If the task is aligned with the creature’s ethos, the payment might be halved or even waived. Nonhazardous tasks typically require only half the suggested payment, while especially dangerous tasks might require a greater gift. Creatures rarely accept tasks that seem suicidal.

After the creature completes the task or when the agreed-upon duration of service expires, the creature returns to its home plane after reporting back to you if appropriate to the task and if possible. If you are unable to agree on a price for the creature’s service, the creature immediately returns to its home plane.

A creature enlisted to join your group counts as a member of it, receiving a full share of experience points awarded.

What Is the Planar Ally Spell in 5e?

Planar ally is a cleric spell that allows you to enlist the services of a creature from another plane. Typically, this is done in the form of a prayer to the cleric’s deity, and their god sends them someone or something to assist them in their endeavors. It’s certainly a powerful spell, but it’s not without its complexities and risks.

This spell is a lot different from other summoning spells and even its sister spell, Planar Binding. You see, not only do you get no control (okay, extremely limited control) over what creature comes to your aid but you also don’t have any guarantees that the creature will actually help.

You can name a specific creature in the casting of the spell, but that requires you to know the name of some fiend, celestial, or elemental that is in service to the being you’re reaching out to. I should add, the being to whom you reach out doesn’t have to be the deity you worship. That’s more of a suggestion to help improve the chances of the summoned creature helping you.

So how does this spell really work? Well, when you cast it, a creature appears. The only limiting factors of this creature are that it is a celestial, elemental, or fiend loyal to the entity you reached out to in the casting. The summoned creature can be of any CR, and this is really where the DM gets to have an influence. 

For example, you could reach out to some archdevil (if you happen to be tight with one of those) and be hoping for a pit fiend, only to end up with an imp. Sure, the imp might still be helpful in some way, but it’s certainly not worth a 6th-level spell slot. 

This spell requires trust in your DM not to screw you over, but this is definitely one of those times where trust goes both ways. Most DMs won’t pull a cheap shot with the creature you summon unless you build up an overreliance on this spell and try using it to completely break the game. 

In reality, all of the pieces of this spell that make it uncertain for players are just safeguards for the DM to utilize as necessary. More often than not, this spell will be incredibly helpful.

That brings us to the next safeguard of this spell though, the actual “ally” portion. You see, the summoned creature has no impetus to act in any specific way. It’s unlikely that you’ll end up with a hostile creature since you shouldn’t be seeking the help of a hostile entity in the first place, but I’d say there’s at least a slim chance depending on your party’s dynamic.

If the creature does agree to help, there is a cost. What that cost is, well, that’s again up to your DM, although it should be directly related to the creature and the size of the task you’re asking of it. This might seem crazy, but it’s essentially taking the place of what an ordinary material component would be. With this method, you might end up spending less than 1,000 gp, which is the cost of the similar spell Planar Binding.

Of course, this spell does give us a rough guide to the cost within its actual text. The basic suggestion is 100 gp per minute, 1,000 gp per hour, or 10,000 gp per day with modifiers depending on the complexity and danger level of the task. I like that this suggestion follows the basic principles of buying in bulk, but it can certainly run a bit on the high side.

Sure, in 5e it’s much easier to get your hands on ridiculous sums of money than it was back in the day, but 20,000 gp for a couple of days of assistance is absolutely wild. Fortunately, those modifiers really mitigate things. If you propose a task that is aligned with the creature’s basic goals, they’ll end up reducing the cost in some way.

There are also other ways to pay that don’t involve you taking out a 300-year loan. There’s a good chance the creature may just give you some task to take care of them, allowing you to exchange services for services. 

This is where it can get exciting. A celestial might have you perform some act of devotion to their god or restore a shrine. A fiend may require you to kill someone, or it might ask for your soul. An elemental, I’m picturing a djinni most likely, will probably seek some payment but might seek their freedom.

Your DM will be the one making decisions here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t barter with the creature you summoned. Try talking them down and risk the creature leaving, or double down on their request in hopes that they do the same.

All that’s left is to figure out what to ask of the creature you’ve summoned. If you don’t want to spend a whole lot, combat is probably the best way to go since it’s not going to run you much longer than a minute. 

Of course, you can definitely ask for more unique things that are situationally dependent. Just remember, you’re summoning a creature from another plane; don’t have them do something that you could easily do yourself.

There is one final piece to this spell that I find incredibly interesting. You can ask the creature to join your party. The spell specifically brings this up and tells us that the creature counts as a full member of the party, receiving an equal share of the experience gained by the party. 

The reason this is interesting is that this implies you might be able to just cut them in for a share of your rewards as well. I’m sure this would require the creature to be 100% aligned with the goals of the party, but if it works, you end up with a powerful ally that’s way better than any retainer you might hire at a local tavern.

When you look at this spell as a whole, it’s absolutely amazing. Of course, it has just so many variables that it could feel horrible. I mean, if you don’t agree on a price, the creature returns to its home plane, and you’re out a 6th-level spell slot. 

This is a spell that takes some consideration on the parts of the player and the DM. At the end of the day, everybody wants to have fun. Summoning a ridiculously overpowered creature and destroying weeks of prep work in a single blow is just as obnoxious as only allowing your players to summon creatures that are CR 4 or lower. 

Hopefully, your table ends up somewhere in between these two extremes and the result is an exciting hail Mary spell here and there that allows your party to receive some sudden aid from another plane.

Running Planar Ally as a DM

Running this spell isn’t easy. Well, it can be, but it takes a bit of prep and some basic concepts of how you’ll react when your cleric eventually casts it someday. Perhaps the hardest part of all is allowing your player to feel like they’ve made a huge difference by summoning this creature without turning the session into an unbalanced mess.

First things first — deciding what creature to let them summon. This will be largely influenced by whom they reach out to. Choosing the type is easy as you’re just going with the direct association (Good-aligned god [or near-god] – celestial, primordial – elemental, Bad-aligned god [or near-god] – fiend).

After that, you’ll need to determine what CR is acceptable for the situation at hand. Too high and you’ve killed the balance, too low and your players will be disappointed. Since this spell can only be cast at 6th level and doesn’t have any upcasting bonuses, you’ll want to base the CR of the creature on the level of your party.

As a basis, I’d say stay within three levels of the party, or cleric rather, and you’re probably doing well. Also, I’d say never go past 20. After that, we start to get avatars, archdemons, and that whole lot, which is pretty much insane, even if you have a 20th-level party.

This means that an 11th-level cleric could summon anything from a Reigar to a Pari, but something like a Deva is probably going to be relevant most of the time. 

Introducing the summoned creature by name is a nice touch. It sets them up as an actual character and makes them feel different than a situation like Conjure Celestial. This way, you’re interacting with someone real. Additionally, your players might grow to like this specific character and ask for them by name when they cast the spell in the future, saving you a ton of decision-making.

Still, there’s the concern of how high or low of a CR to summon, even within a range. And, how much should it really cost? I’ve got the solution for you, even if it still takes a bit of thought on your part.

The way to make this spell work seamlessly and add some nice roleplay opportunities into the mix is to have a conversation with the beseeched otherworldly entity. Roleplay the deity (or near-deity) appearing before the cleric, maybe even doing a bit of time dilation, and have the cleric go through the process of making their request. 

Much like you would create a DC for some skill check on the fly, create a DC for this task. If you didn’t know this already, there are six stages to the DC of a given task, and they go as follows:

We aren’t going to be making them roll for anything; the DC is just a template. We’re even going to add in a lowest stage, which would be 0, and we’re going to call it Laughable. These will be things that the party could do on their own with ease or things that take 0 effort from a summoned creature (like giving them directions or something; you know, laughable).

The difficulty is going to affect the CR of the creature we summon for our cleric, but it’s also going to determine the modifiers we apply to the basic cost layout of tasks. The table below will give you everything you need to quickly summon a creature and lay out the price of the requested task. All you have to do is determine the difficulty.

We also want to modify the cost by the creature’s alignment with your goals. We don’t need a whole extra table for this, but here are the basics.

  • A creature can either be neutral to your goals, aligned with your goals, or opposed to the goals. 
  • Neutral has no effect on cost modifier, aligned moves you up 1 on the table (or divides it by 10), and opposed moves it down one (or multiplies it by 10). 

This uses the same basic layout of price (100 gp per minute, 1,000 gp per hour, 10,000 gp per day) but gives us very clear definitions of how to price it, and we basically know exactly what kind of creature is going to be summoned. It also makes sense that a higher CR creature would be more costly but would be sent out for more dangerous matters. 

If your players try to change the cost by a whole level of this table, have them roll a persuasion check against the DC associated with the difficulty of their task. On a fail, the creature returns to their plane unless they’re feeling generous enough to continue the bargaining process. Just remember to increase the DC of the check each time your players try to wiggle their way out of a fair cost.

In the table, you’ll also notice that I’ve included when to waive the fee and when to create a quest. By no means should this part be a hard-and-fast rule. You can certainly introduce a task of equivalent value for any cost on any type of task. On the same token, you can waive any cost if the creature would want to perform the task without prompting. 

Using Planar Ally for the Enemies

Your players aren’t the only ones that can become clerics. Your party might face off against a tribe with some powerful shamans or some insidious cults, or they just might find themselves at odds with one of the prolific churches of the setting. In any case, this spell is just as powerful for the enemies as it is for our “heroes.”

In fact, it might just be more powerful since you’re essentially bargaining with yourself. I would suggest keeping to the tables above for the sake of balance, but even then, you don’t have to worry about the price so much unless these characters are going to be sticking around for a while.

The other bonus is that you get to prepare for the casting well in advance. Instead of being pressured to decide on an extraplanar creature in the heat of the moment, you’ll probably just end up prepping it into the combat ahead of time. 

You can really just think of planar ally as a way to justify a creature that is far more powerful than expected. 

So there you have it, everything you need to successfully utilize and rule the 6th-level spell Planar Ally. I hope you enjoyed this guide, and as always, happy adventuring.