- Casting Time: 1 hour
- Range: 60 feet
- Duration: 24 hours
- School: Abjuration
- Class: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Ranger, Warlock, Wizard
- Level: 5th level
- Damage/Effect: Control
- Attack/Save: Charisma Save
- Components: V, S, M (a jewel worth at least 1,000 gp, which the spell consumes)
With this spell, you attempt to bind a celestial, an elemental, a fey, or a fiend to your service. The creature must be within range for the entire casting of the spell. (Typically, the creature is first summoned into the center of an inverted Magic Circle in order to keep it trapped while this spell is cast.) At the completion of the casting, the target must make a Charisma saving throw. On a failed save, it is bound to serve you for the duration. If the creature was summoned or created by another spell, that spell’s duration is extended to match the duration of this spell.
A bound creature must follow your instructions to the best of its ability. You might command the creature to accompany you on an adventure, to guard a location, or to deliver a message. The creature obeys the letter of your instructions, but if the creature is hostile to you, it strives to twist your words to achieve its own objectives. If the creature carries out your instructions completely before the spell ends, it travels to you to report this fact if you are on the same plane of existence. If you are on a different plane of existence, it returns to the place where you bound it and remains there until the spell ends.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of a higher level, the duration increases to 10 days with a 6th-level slot, 30 days with a 7th-level slot, 180 days with an 8th-level slot, or 1 year and 1 day with a 9th-level spell slot.
What Is Planar Binding?
Planar Binding is a spell that allows you to bind a celestial, elemental, fey, or fiend creature to your service. While it is a tough spell to actually pull off, having such a creature following your instructions for any length of time can allow a party to achieve goals they might have otherwise thought impossible.
As a 5th-level spell, you won’t be getting access to this until at least level nine, which means it’s really only a spell for higher-tier play. Of course, that makes sense since we’re literally enslaving powerful creatures to do our bidding.
So, there are two major pieces to how this spell actually works. First, you have to be able to cast it, which is no easy feat. Then, you have to decide how to best utilize your newly recruited creature.
Casting this spell isn’t cheap in any sense of the word. First off, you have to have a gem worth 1,000 gp, which will be consumed by the spell. Tracking such a gem down will probably take an entire side quest unless you happen to have one of them just burning a hole in your pocket.
Next, it takes an hour to cast. This might seem fine, but the creature has to be within range (60 feet) for the entire duration of the casting. This is one of the few spells that gives you a suggestion on how to make it work best right in the rules text, and I greatly appreciate that it does. It tells us to summon the creature within an inverted magic circle in order to trap it while we cast our spell.
So let’s break this down a bit further into the things we actually need in order to pull this off.
- A creature to bind to our service. This is typically going to be done through some form of summoning spell. Since those spells require concentration, we’ll need someone else to summon the creature while we cast Planar Binding. Of course, we could also find and bind a creature that we encounter naturally. We might go to another plane, lure one to us, or simply wait until the circumstances arise.
- A way to trap the creature for an hour. If we have an ally using a summoning spell, the creature will already be “trapped” so to speak since a summoned creature follows the summoner’s commands. Otherwise, we can use Magic Circle inverted to hold the creature in one spot. This will cost us another 100 gp worth of components, but that’s much better than wasting 1,000 if the creature moves out of range.
- Methods of sabotaging the creature’s charisma save. If the creature successfully saves, we’re out of at least 1,000 gp and an hour of our time. Not wasting that means putting in some effort to almost guarantee our success.
There are a lot of ways we can achieve this goal, and I’ll get to them in a bit.
This spell isn’t easy to pull off, and in most situations, it requires a few spellcasters working together. In a party with a few casters, this isn’t hard to do, but less magical parties may need to recruit an ally just to achieve their binding goals.
Fortunately, the payoff is absolutely worth it. Many of the creatures you’ll be binding to your service are going to be high CP creatures with useful abilities and attacks. Some may even be able to infiltrate behind enemy lines and help further your party’s larger goals, depending on what kind of campaign you’re in.
The best part of this spell by far comes when you get to upcast it. Sure, at 5th level it’s a great spell to have because control over a creature for a day has so many uses. But being able to control that creature for a month at 7th level or a year at 9th level? That is game-breaking levels of power and basically gives you another member of your party for an extended period of time.
Of course, there are dangers that we need to consider. The creature we bind to our service is hostile to us, so they will be trying to sabotage us whenever possible. Specifically, this means that we need to be very careful with how we choose to command them. Otherwise, they may end up twisting our words.
With all the basics out of the way, I’m going to dive a bit further into the pieces of this spell that are really important.
Casting Planar Binding
You know the basics of casting this spell, but let’s talk about how to do it in the most efficient way possible. Sure, having four casters (Summon, Magic Circle, Planar Binding, and someone to affect the saving throw) is all good and well if you happen to have four casters in your party. That’s not the typical party dynamic though, so let’s work out something better.
The problem lies in most of the spells you’d want to cast being concentration or lasting for a single hour. Even if you could concentrate on multiple spells at once, they wouldn’t all be cast at the exact same time, so some would end early.
Now, Jeremy Crawford did say that he would rule it as okay — multiple hour-long spells cast near each other can end together. I dig that, and it makes it less complicated, but it doesn’t get rid of the necessity to cast multiple concentration spells at the same time.
For that, we’ll need someone, or something, else to concentrate on the spells. Again, the most obvious route here is to have one party member summon and one party member planar bind with the option of a third reducing the creature’s chance of successfully saving against charisma.
If that isn’t possible, we do have a few options:
- Cast the summon spell in a Glyph of Warding. A glyph can store a spell to be triggered at a later time. You could easily set the trigger to go off when you start casting planar binding, allowing you to only concentrate on one spell.
- A ring of spell storing would allow you to give the summoning spell to a noncaster or even a familiar so that someone else could concentrate on it while you cast Planar Binding.
- The Chronurgy Wizard’s 10th-level feature, Arcane Abeyance, allows you to create a small mote of magic that stores a spell of 4th level or lower. This works very similarly to a ring of spell storing, and an ally could use it to summon the creature.
- Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum allows you to avoid focusing on the summoning spell entirely. You would simply need to summon the creature inside of a magic circle and then activate the private sanctum, which prevents a creature from teleporting or accessing planar travel.
A magic circle is useful for keeping a creature inside of a small range, but they can still make Charisma saving throws to exit via interplanar travel or teleportation. By adding Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum on top, we completely bar the creature from magical and nonmagical means of escape.
Additionally, a summoned creature would normally return to its plane of origin when the summoning spell ends. With a private sanctum, it’s barred from that escape, meaning we can end the summoning spell as soon as the sanctum is up.
Using concentration workarounds is still a great option though as they lighten the load of a single spellcaster. They do require you to happen to be a chronurgy wizard or to have a ring of spell storing, but at the very least, you can ask your DM for a quest to find such a magical item.
The next step of successfully casting this spell is reducing the creature’s chance of successfully saving so that we don’t waste over 1,000 gp worth of material components.
Having a high Spell Save DC should be the first thing you ensure, but after that, we still have plenty of options. Really, there are a lot of abilities out there that can affect a creature’s saving throw rolls. Spells, subclass abilities, and even conditions can aid you in your work. I won’t go through every possible option, but I will list a few good choices so you at least get an idea of how to do this successfully.
- Divination Wizards – These wizards can use their 2nd-level feature Portent to record d20 rolls at the beginning of the day. They can force a creature to automatically fail by using their portent roll.
- Chronurgy Wizards – These wizards can use their 2nd-level feature Chronal Shift to reroll a creature’s saving throw. At 14th level, they can use Convergent Future to force a failed save and ignore the roll completely.
- Eloquence Bards – The 3rd-level feature unsettling words allows you to subtract bardic inspiration die from a creature’s saving throw.
- Features – There are a lot more, but it would be nonsensical to build a party around this. If a member of your party can reduce a creature’s roll or give them disadvantage, this is the time to take advantage of such a feature.
- Spells –
- Contagion – If the creature can be diseased, they will have disadvantage on charisma saves.
- Feeblemind – This can reduce a creature’s charisma score significantly.
- Sickening Radiance – This can be used to give a creature a level of exhaustion. Three levels of exhaustion give a creature disadvantage on all saving throws.
- Bestow Curse – This spell gives creatures disadvantage on charisma saving throws.
With all of these pieces put together, you should have no problem successfully casting this spell. Remember though, as you upcast, everything will have a much higher reward and be overall more effective. Getting an interplanar servant for a whole year is insanely helpful and will bring your party to incredible new heights.
With an understanding of how the spell works and a surefire method for successful casting, it’s time to talk about which creatures are the best options to summon and bind to your service. There are a couple of ways to go about this, and we’ll be considering all aspects.
Another way of approaching this is to ask yourself what you plan on using the creature for. Are you looking for an extra member of your party for all sorts of engagements? Are you looking for some added muscle in combat? Do you need a servant to go on various fetch quests? Or, are you looking for a creature to spy on enemy forces for you?
No matter what you’re looking for, there are great options for you. Below, I’ve listed a few of the best summoning spells to cast along with the best creatures from each spell and how to use them effectively.
Keep in mind, this is by no means a comprehensive list of summonable creatures, nor is it a full guide to each creature we’ve highlighted. These are just a few options to get you thinking or give you a quick route to an effective planar binding.
Summon Fey, 3rd Level
Summons a fey spirit with a set stat block. Upcasting can greatly improve the stats. A useful ally in combat due to abilities like fey step, teleportation, and magical darkness.
Summon Elemental, 4th Level
Same concept as summon fey but with an elemental.
Summon Greater Demon, 4th Level
Summon a demon with a CR less than or equal to 1 plus the level the spell was cast at. Great for upcasting but still useful at native level. Additionally, it comes with a built-in magic circle, sort of.
- Barlgura CR 5 – Excellent combat option with a poor CHA score, so it’s easy to bind.
- Chasme CR 6 – Its drone ability is excellent for sending ahead to incapacitate a group of enemies.
- Dybbuk CR 4 – The at-will dimension door spell is amazing for traversal needs, allowing you to teleport essentially anywhere you could wish to go.
Conjure Elemental, 5th Level
Summon an elemental with a CR less than or equal to the level the spell was cast at.
- Any of the air, earth, fire, or water elementals are great CR 5 options.
- Invisible Stalker CR 6 – A perpetually invisible creature with the ability to constantly know the location of its quarry, the mission you have given it as its summoner. This is insanely useful and was built for a spell like Planar Binding.
Infernal Calling, 5th Level
Summon a devil with a CR less than or equal to 1 plus the level the spell was cast at.
- Barbed Devil CR 5 – Great combat option.
- Chain Devil CR 5 – Great combat option.
Summon Celestial, 5th Level
- Same concept as summon fey but with a celestial.
Conjure Fey, 6th Level
Can be used to conjure a fey or a fey spirit taking the form of a beast that is a challenge rating less than or equal to the level the spell was cast at. In general, larger beasts are great combat options while many regular fey have excellent magic capabilities useful in a wide range of scenarios.
- Mammoth CR 6 – This huge beast is an amazing meat shield and a great combat or even siege option.
- Tyrannosaurus Rex CR 8 – You could have a T-Rex as your servant for a year. Are you kidding me??
- Korred CR 7 – Great for combat, but it also has amazing spellcasting abilities, such as the ability to summon elementals or cast stone shape at will.
- Dusk Hag CR 6 – An excellent divination utility ally for the party. Great for getting one step ahead of your enemies.
Summon Fiend, 6th Level
Same concept as summon fey but with a fiend.
Conjure Celestial, 7th Level
Conjure a celestial of CR 4 or lower or if upcast to 9th level, CR 5 or lower. There aren’t many options, but celestials are powerful in just about any aspect of the game, regardless of CR.
- Couatl CR 4 – Great in combat and access to some incredibly useful spells like detect magic, greater restoration, and sanctuary. Can also change shapes into any humanoid or beast of CR equal to or less than its own.
- Unicorn CR 5 – Teleportation, great spell casting, healing, and legendary actions make this an amazing ally on and off the battlefield.
I hope this guide has given you everything you need to summon an amazing new ally to serve you in your quest, whatever that may be. As always, happy adventuring.
- About Author
- Latest Posts
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.