- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: Touch
- Duration: Instantaneous
- School: Conjuration
- Class: Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
- Level: 7th level
- Damage/Effect: Teleportation
- Attack/Save: N/A or Charisma save
- Components: V, S, M (a forked metal rod worth at least 250 gp attuned to a particular plane of existence.)
You and up to eight willing creatures who link hands in a circle are transported to a different plane of existence. You can specify a target destination in general terms, such as the City of Brass on the Elemental Plane of Fire or the palace of Dispater on the second level of the Nine Hells, and you appear in or near that destination. If you are trying to reach the City of Brass, for example, you might arrive in its Street of Steel, before its Gate of Ashes, or looking at the city from across the Sea of Fire, at the DM’s discretion.
Alternatively, if you know the sigil sequence of a teleportation circle on another plane of existence, this spell can take you to that circle. If the teleportation circle is too small to hold all the creatures you transported, they appear in the closest unoccupied spaces next to the circle.
You can use this spell to banish an unwilling creature to another plane. Choose a creature within your reach and make a melee spell attack against it. On a hit, the creature must make a Charisma saving throw. If the creature fails the save, it is transported to a random location on the plane of existence you specify. A creature so transported must find its own way back to your current plane of existence.
What Is the Plane Shift Spell?
Plane Shift is a spell that allows the caster and up to eight creatures who link arms to travel through the multiverse to specific planes of existence. While it is a relatively straightforward and extremely powerful utility spell, it isn’t the easiest to pull off and can have some unforeseen side effects.
Traveling the multiverse is something that ends up becoming a part of most campaigns once you reach higher levels of play. At the very least, it’s a mainstay of high-magic campaigns where the biggest threats are often powerful beings from other planes of existence.
There are a few ways to access planar travel, but Plane Shift is definitely one of the safest and most easily accessed.
First off, it doesn’t take much to cast. A 7th-level spell, accessible for most casters once you reach level 13 in your class, a single action, and a tuning fork are all you need to move your party and allies across the multiverse.
Of those, the tuning fork is probably the hardest to get your hands on. We’ll cover this more in the DM’s guide below, but I’ll at least clarify what exactly this is.
Each plane has its own frequency, and as a material component, this fork allows you to tune your spell to get you where you need to be. You can think of it as GPS or as a tether pulling you toward the destination plane, whatever works for you.
While the spell says “attuned to a particular plane of existence,” it’s generally interpreted that the fork must be attuned to the destination plane, not just any old plane of existence. This means that when you cast this spell, you’ll want at least two tuning forks: one for the destination and one to return to the material plane.
Obtaining or creating a tuning fork is a bit more in-depth and is entirely dependent on how your DM decides to treat them. In a high-magic setting, planar tuning forks might be commonplace, while they might require whole quest lines in a lower-magic setting. As this is DM dependent, keep reading to get more information on this bit of the spell.
Once you have everything you need, you teleport to the plane of your desires. Of course, magic this powerful is hard to tame with absolute certainty. Even having a tuning fork isn’t enough to guarantee you land exactly where you intended.
The wording of this spell puts even more agency into the hands of the DM because it says you land on the plane at a location near your specified destination. You might end up exactly where you specify (e.g., the throne room of Asmodius in Nessus), or you might end up a decent distance away while still being on the same plane (e.g., on the shore of Styx in Cania, the eight layer of hell).
The only thing guaranteed with this spell is that you end up on the correct plane since “near” is open to interpretation. Teleporting straight to the chambers of a specific demonlord or lesser deity is a bit presumptuous and wouldn’t be necessarily helpful as far as storytelling goes. Otherwise, this spell would just remove any and all obstacles in a party’s path.
Now, as with any good spell, there is a way to make it less dangerous, although it may require just as much adventure. If you know the sigil sequence for a teleportation circle, you can use it to have this spell take you directly to that teleportation circle.
Sigil sequences are like passwords to specific teleportation circles, like the chevrons in Stargate, if you’re old enough to understand that reference. Finding these is probably about as hard as finding a tuning fork as they are both completely dependent on your DM and the commonness of magic in your campaign setting.
Fortunately though, these will let you get exactly where you need to go, and you can even make your own teleportation circles for plane shifting exactly where you need to go. Of course, creating your own teleportation circle does take casting the eponymous spell everyday on the same location for a year — definitely easier on the material plane or whatever your “home” plane is.
Beyond wild and tamed planar travel, this spell does have one more thing that it can be used for. This really is the gift that doesn’t stop giving. You can, in fact, use this spell to banish a creature unwillingly to another plane.
This version of the spell does require a creature to make a charisma save, so it’s not a guaranteed success, which can be less than desirable when you’re using a 7th-level spell. I would suggest using an ability like Portent or a spell like Feeblemind to ensure your success before the banishment.
Again, as this is still the same spell, it will require you to have a tuning fork. You also only get to specify the plane when using plane shift offensively, which isn’t super important; it just means that you can’t place them in or near your planar allies on some other plane.
Whether you’re using this offensively or as a utility spell, Plane Shift is incredibly effective, even if it takes some work. If this is a spell in your arsenal, you’ll want to start seeking out tuning forks long before you reach the level to cast it. That way, you’re ready to teleport as soon as you need to.
Who Should Take a Plane Shift?
Who should take this spell is a lot less dependent on class abilities and build styles and more dependent on the style of campaign you’re playing. In a high-level campaign where planar travel is commonplace, this should be a strong consideration for just about any caster that can use it.
Realistically, you only really need one party member who can cast this. That way, you can reliably travel to new planes as necessary.
However, even if another party member is already using this spell, you might want to consider at least learning it. There are countless ways that an adventurer could end up stranded on a foreign plane, and at least being able to return to the material plane is beyond helpful.
This can be solved if you at least have some line of communication, such as Sending Stones, so that the caster with Plane Shift can rescue the ally as soon as possible. If you’re playing in a campaign where planar travel is likely, any caster should have some sort of survival spell sitting in their arsenal as well, such as Instant Fortress. That way, they can hold their own until help arrives.
Plane Shift is typically going to be used for teleporting the group, but if you want to use it offensively as well, you’ll want some feature or spells in your build that make your enemies worse at saving throws.
The divination wizard is an excellent choice since their Portent feature could let them replace a creature’s save roll with a lower one. Any sorcerer using the heightened spell metamagic option can also force disadvantage on the saving throw.
At the end of the day though, the decision of whether or not you should take Plane Shift should come down to a conversation between you and your DM. They will be able to tell you how frequent planar travel may occur, and whether or not you’ll even be able to get your hands on tuning forks in your current campaign setting.
DM’s Guide to Planar Shift
Giving your players the opportunity to go anywhere in the multiverse is incredible, but it can mean a lot of work on your part. Luckily, this spell is filled with safety clauses that keep you, the DM, in control of the situation at all times.
The first thing that saves this from being a campaign-breaking spell is the physical component of the tuning fork. This one roadblock can keep your players from ever voluntarily traveling to other planes with this spell, but if that’s the case, be upfront, and don’t let your players waste a space in their known spells for this.
Before we get into the distribution of these forks, we should talk about what they actually are. They are, quite literally, tuning forks. When struck, they make a chord that is used in the casting of the spell. However, it’s not quite as simple as that.
Each plane has a specific set of requirements for its tuning fork. The fork must be made of a specific metal, and it must be tuned to the specific frequency, or pitch, of the plane.
As a quick side note, this is a really nice homage to the “music of the spheres” hypothesis formed by the legendary mathematician and philosopher, Pythagoras. I just love when spell components are based on real-world concepts.
So, in order to get a tuning fork, you would need to know what to make it out of and what pitch to tune it to. The ease with which your players can gather this knowledge is completely up to you and should be related to your campaign. If planar travel is a component of it, you’ll want to at least make the common planes of the setting accessible without an insane amount of work.
Of course, your players can use divination magic to gain this knowledge if they’re clever. If you really want to kabash planar travel and they figure out this loophole, you can certainly just create a bit of lore that states the material must be found on the plane itself so that the fork functions as more of a tether to the plane.
If you do want your players to craft tuning forks, you then get to decide how easy that process is going to be. This will likely vary from plane to plane, but it should be considered for all planes in your setting.
Really, it comes down to how much you yourself are prepared for. If you only have information ready to go about Baator, Celestia, and the Material Plane, you shouldn’t make a store that sells tuning forks to all the inner and outer planes of the multiverse, and you definitely shouldn’t start mentioning other crystal spheres.
The likely situation is that forks tuned to the material plane are the easiest to track down. They could very well be sold in some magical hub city as a way to ensure safe return when traveling the cosmos. Or, they could require tracking down an ancient recipe from the days of the Time of Troubles when the gods were stripped of their status and roamed the planes as mortals.
This is your baseline, and you can make it as easy as finding random loot in a dungeon, or you can make it into a quest that will span several sessions of gameplay. From there, you can build up how hard the forks of the other planes will be to acquire.
As soon as you set your players on the path to creating a tuning fork, you should be prepping for that plane. You don’t need to know everything there is to know about it or even have a bunch of maps ready to go, but you should have the basics covered in case your players decide that it would be a good idea to go there.
That brings us to the next peace of mind we get. The spell doesn’t teleport the caster and their allies to the specific location named in the casting. Well, it can, but it certainly doesn’t have to. All that’s guaranteed is that it will bring you to the desired plane.
This means that your players can’t just up and teleport to the exact location of an artifact they’re trying to obtain without you allowing them to do so.
If your players cast this spell, you can put them somewhere close enough to let them do what they want but far enough away that they’ll still be having an actual adventure. This allows you to build up a story without having to worry about it breaking because of one simple spell.
If you want to have some fun with this, you can create a small table whenever your players go to cast this spell. You don’t need much more than four options, but if you’re ambitious, you certainly can go as crazy as you want.
The basis of the table is distance from the specified location. A one may be a mile away, while a four may put your players several days of travel from their goal.
The other option here is to create a table with a number of locations on each plane your players have tuning forks for (I would suggest between a d8 and d20). With this option, you’re ready to go whenever your players cast this spell, and you don’t even have to do any decision making. Sure, if you know where you should put your players, you can do that, but making the spell as random as it feels in game is never a bad option.
There is one workaround to this spell’s uncertainty though: teleportation circles. Luckily, you’re also in complete control of how easy or hard it is to learn new sigil sequences.
While this spell is incredibly powerful for players to get their hands on, the secret is that it is only as powerful as you allow it to be. Luckily, that doesn’t need to be a well-kept secret since the reward for planar travel is going to be directly related to just how hard it was to accomplish in the first place. I hope this guide has given you everything you need to know about the Planar Shift spell in 5e. For more information, check out our guide on the multiverse.
Safe travels, 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.