Today, we are going to take a deep dive into probably one of the least picked cantrips in Dungeons and Dragons History. Encode Thoughts 5e and other editions are some of those spells that you just don’t see. Personally, I have maybe seen two players out of the hundreds that I have DM’d pick this at the start.
That is why I love the Encode Thoughts spell in DnD. Nobody uses it, so no player or Dungeon Master is ever going to expect you to use it. Well, admittedly there aren’t a lot of uses, so it is a very niche cantrip that you aren’t going to use in every single combat situation.
This guide is mainly aimed at beginners and people who love to read about the less known things in Dungeons and Dragons, but I am sure almost everyone will learn something new in this article.
What is Encode Thoughts 5e
Let’s take a look at the enchantment cantrip here. The D&D book where you can find more information on Encode Thoughts 5e is Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. Here I am going to discuss all the components and requirements of the spell a bit more. This is for people who are total beginners to DnD or just need a refresher, so feel free to scroll down to the summary!
Type: This is a cantrip. That means you do not need to have an open spell slot. If you are the appropriate class (wizard) you can pick this at the very start of the campaign.
Casting time: If you want to use Encode Thoughts you need to use 1 action. So you won’t be able to do any other regular attacks. You will still be able to do a movement action.
Range: This enchantment cantrip doesn’t really have a range, since you use it on your own mind.
Components: This is one of those spells that only uses one component. You do not need a verbal component or a material component. You only need a somatic one. That means you need to be able to move your hands and arms freely.
Duration: This spell lasts up to 8 hours. You can also cut the spell short yourself. It is also possible that the spell ends by being dispelled by magic.
What happens when you cast the spell
This is about what happens when you use Encode Thoughts 5e, not another edition like 3.5 or 4! So keep this in mind, there might be slight differences.
When you cast the cantrip, you pull an idea, a thought or a memory from your mind. This ‘information’ is then transformed into a string you can touch. This is called a thought strand. This thought strand lasts for up to 8 hours or until you dispel Encode Thoughts.
The strand appears in a space that has no other objects or monsters in it within 5 feet of you. The weight, feel and size are similar to that of a regular ribbon. If you are not pulling it, it remains stationary in the place where you have put the thought strand.
You can combine this cantrip with other spells, such as Modify Memory and Detect Thoughts. If you do this, you can change the memories and thoughts of some when other than you into a thought strand. While the description says nothing about range, I am going to assume you will need to touch the target to use Encode Thoughts.
By using this enchantment cantrip you can get the memory, idea, message, thought, etc that the thought strand contains, and you can receive this instantly.
Best encode thoughts 5e uses in D&D
Yes, this cantrip is as good as useless in 99% of the scenarios you come across in a DnD campaign. I have had to think really long and delve into my years of experience as a DM to find these uses. I hope you enjoy them. If you have a better use, feel free to leave a comment.
1. Transfer information effectively
Let’s say you want to give someone a ton of information in a subtle way that does not require you to give a lengthy explanation or write a letter that can be read. Then you can use Encode Though to do this more effectively. It is also a great way for teachers and scholars to formulate their ideas and share them with others.
2. Make money
Information is power. The things you have seen and done on your adventures can be sold for a pretty penny in some instances. You never know that that monster you saw is rare and has materials that are pretty expensive. Maybe you have seen a secret base or read a scroll that you shouldn’t have seen. Ask your Dungeon Master if someone might be interested in the memories you have.
3. Verify if you or someone else is speaking the truth
As far as I know, you can not change the thoughts that have been encoded with this cantrip. So that means you can verify you are speaking the truth by letting your interrogator or the person you want to convince read your thought string. I think it is also possible that you use this to verify if someone else is speaking the truth to you.
4. Taking bets and remembering details
Guess what number I am thinking of for 60 Gold Pieces! With thought string Encode Thoughts 5e creates, you have a verifiable reference that your thought was exactly what you said it was. This can be useful when taking bets.
If you have seen something, like a secret code, and you don’t have a paper to write it down to help you remember, you can use the Encode Thought cantrip in 5e as a little post-it for 8 hours or until you have access to pen and paper.
Conclusion: Not often used for a reason
As you can see from the description and the best uses for the spell Encode Thoughts 5e DnD, there is a reason why this enchantment cantrip isn’t very popular. There are just so few real uses for it, that almost nobody (rightfully so) in my opinion uses it.
I have thought long and hard and went through all my experiences as a Dungeon Master to find these uses, and also asked a couple of friends who also love niche DnD cantrips. That is all we could come up with!
If you have a great idea on how to use it effectively, or if you have had a player that completely surprised you by using this cantrip, I would love to hear it. Feel free to share your story in the comment here.
Does Encode Thoughts 5e make you remove or lose a memory?
No, if we look at the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and other information we can find about Encode Thoughts in 5e, we can only conclude that it does not remove a memory or thought. So your target – or yourself – won’t lose the thought or idea you have transformed into a string.
That is a logical conclusion, as the cantrip is used as a kind of secret communication channel most of the time. It would not make a lot of sense to forget the memory you encoded. In this way, the spell is very similar to the Thieves’ can’t spell.
If you want to Homebrew the spell for some reason to give it more utility, ask your Dungeon Master if you can add memory loss to the effect of Encode Thoughts 5e.
Do you enjoy reading about obscure magic in the D&D Universe? Then check out my article about Arcane Gate 5e! Here you will read everything you need to know and my favorite uses for this spell to surprise your Dungeon Master or players!