Phantasmal Force: D&D 5e Spell Guide, Uses & Build Ideas

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Similar to its older brother Phantasmal Killer, Phantasmal Force can be a powerful illusion spell.

But it proves to be much more versatile.

Phantasmal Force Spell Details

Type: 2nd-Level Illusion
Casting time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a bit of fleece)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

Phantasmal Force allows you to cast an illusion that takes root in the mind of one creature you can see. It has to make an intelligence saving throw or it perceives the illusion as real.

The illusion can cause 1d6 damage per turn, with damage being dependent on the kind of illusion you decide upon, which will be explained more in the utility section.

It can also inflict certain conditions upon the creature depending on the illusion.

The creature, on its turn, can make an investigation check versus your spell save DC, to try and figure out it is an illusion.

Who Gets It?

Bards, Sorcerers, and Wizards all gain this spell when they gain access to 2nd Level Spells.

This makes sense, as these are the classes that gain access to most illusion spells.


Phantasmal Force: Uses & Utility

The fun part of this illusion is its ability to inflict pseudo-status conditions and is great for crowd control.

However, the save or suck nature of this spell and as with most illusion spells, rulings will vary a lot from dungeon master to dungeon master.

For example, you could create a pit of lava around or near the creature. If the creature spent its turn in the lava, it would take 1d6 fire damage. You could stack it with a frightened condition to force the creature through the lava to take damage.

You could create a basket or blindfold around the creature’s eyes and until it realizes that the illusion isn’t real (i.e. It goes to remove the basket and its hands go right through it)

You can do similar with a swarm of bees or such. Other options include believing it is submerged in a cube of water, in a brushfire, and so on and so forth.

Like most illusions, the DM has to decide how creatures react.

But this spell allows a creature to act realistically.

If you try and “bind” a creature with illusionary rope, it will try and break out and realize that the rope is an illusion when their arms go right through it.

To be honest, this spell has its niche. And it can do rather well.

But it’s very much a wild card due to its reliance on DM interpretation. There are other spells that can do more, and minor illusion is probably a better illusion spell when considering versatility, utility, and spell slot economy.


Build Ideas

College of Whispers Bard

As the College of Whispers Bard is all about gaining knowledge and then levering this knowledge, an illusion spell can really fit thematically and optimally.

Phantasmal Force can be used to try and torture information out of a creature. It fits into the manipulation of this subclass rather well.

For example, make the creature believe there is a pit of lava next to it while you have it tied up in a chair, and threaten to throw it in if it doesn’t cooperate. The same could be done with a pool full of piranhas, acid… you get the picture.

Channel your inner bond villain and let your imagination run wild.

Phantasmal Force is a fine illusion spell, but others may be better fitting to this class’s goal.


Illusion Wizard

As wizards have subclasses based around each spell type, the illusion wizard is best suited to illusion magic.

It doesn’t really gain anything besides malleable illusions, which will allow you to manipulate the illusion during the spell.

Thematically it fits the best for sure.

But optimally, there are better options. Phantasmal Force lends itself to creativity, but so do all illusion spells in their own way.

But since wizards can change spells in and out from time to time, it can’t hurt to pick this up at lower levels. Then if it doesn’t work, feel free to change it out.

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