The Ethereal Plane; A plane of existence within Dungeons and Dragons responsible for a wide variety of dangerous creatures. From Ethereal Marauders to any type of Ghost that a party might encounter, these beings can cause a mess of trouble for a party if they are not prepared to deal with such a creature.
One such creature that can be rather devastating against any party is the Phase Spider; The subject of this article and a nasty piece of work if a party allows it to become one.
What are Phase spiders: attributes and description
- Challenge Rating: 3 (700 XP)
- Armor Class: 13 (Natural Armor)
- Average Hit Points: 32 (5d10+5)
- Movement Speed: 30 ft., 30 ft climb speed
- Skills: Stealth +6
- Senses: Darkvision 60ft., Passive Perception 10
- Languages: N/A
- Proficiency Bonus: +2
Phase Spider 5e description
A phase spider possesses the magical ability to phase in and out of the Ethereal Plane. It seems to appear out of nowhere and quickly vanishes after attacking. Its movement on the Ethereal Plane before coming back to the Material Plane makes it seem like it can teleport.
- Ethereal Jaunt. As a bonus action, the spider can magically shift from the Material Plane to the Ethereal, or vice versa.
- Spider Climb. The spider can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
- Web Walker. The spider ignores movement restrictions caused by webbing.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (1d10 + 2) piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw, taking 18 (4d8) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
If the poison damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the target is stable but poisoned for 1 hour, even after regaining hit points, and is paralyzed while poisoned in this way.
Advantages and drawbacks of using phase spider ecounters
Capable of “Ethereal Jaunts”
As a benefit of being one of many creatures originating from the Ethereal Plane of Existence, the Phase Spider can move between the Ethereal Plane and the Prime Material Plane.
Using a Bonus action, it can magically shift from the Material plane to the Ethereal one and vice versa in a pinch. This means that the Spider can not only use this ability to get away from a hostile party but also set up an ambush before a combat encounter starts, giving itself a sneak attack chance in the process.
The Spider could even do this during combat, moving from one spot to the other regardless of the movement speed it has. That way, it could close the gap between itself and members of the party to be able to make an attack, even on its very first turn in combat.
The abilities of any normal Spider
Since this creature is, by its very nature, a spider, the Phase Spider is capable of a few things that would make sense for something of its kind to be able to do. Firstly, the Phase Spider can climb difficult surfaces, walls, and ceilings without making any ability checks to do so.
Such a free range of movement options means that the Spider could get the jump on a party member before combat even begins, without having to utilize the Ethereal Jaunt feature. This can also limit the number of players that could quickly attack it, as classes such as Barbarians or Fighters wouldn’t have any easy way of reaching the creature if it was climbing on the ceiling or high on the walls.
As the second feature synonymous with Spiders, the creature can ignore the normal movement limitations caused by webbing. However, there aren’t many creatures outside the various types of spiders that can produce webbing like this. Having the movement limitations ignored by the creature means that it can trap someone in webbing while also being able to move freely about the same webs to attack them quicker.
A third similarity is shared between the Phase Spider and Spiders in the real world, but that will be discussed as a distinct advantage.
Attacks made by the Spider also deal Poison Damage and inflict status effects
To continue off of the second advantage available to the Phase Spider, the third and final similarity between this Spider and spiders within the real world is its Venom. Whenever it attacks a creature that successfully hits, the creature must roll a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 11.
If they fail the check, they take additional poison damage that stacks on top of the piercing damage the attack normally does, or half of it on a successful save. As a bonus, if the poison damage reduces the target to 0 Hit Points, they are poisoned for 1 hour, even if they regain hit points after the fact, along with being paralyzed.
Being both Poisoned and Paralyzed simultaneously means that the creature is unable to move or speak, incapacitated (unable to take actions or reactions), and has a disadvantage on attack rolls and ability rolls.
This combo of status effects also causes any attack that is made towards the creature and hits is considered a critical hit if they are within 5 feet of it, meaning the attacks they do afterward can deal even more damage than before, though whether this means the attacker rolls twice the dice or doubles the resulted damage roll is up to the Dungeon Master. Overall this is by far the worst and most dangerous part about the Phase Spider.
Incredibly low Health pool for its CR
Despite Phase Spider’s momentous advantages, its health pool is very weak. In comparison to other creatures within the same Challenge Rating, the Phase Spider has the lowest average Health than any other Monstrosity in DnD and has the 3rd lowest Health compared to all CR 3 Creatures.
In addition, the Phase Spider only has a slightly higher fortitude than the Vampiric Mist and the Dolphin Delighter, which have 30 and 27 Average Hit Points, respectively. Overall, this means that while the Phase Spider can deal a massive amount of pain to a Player Character, it could be considered a glass cannon due to its health-wise weak.
Terrible Ability Scores
Although some are to be expected from a Monstrosity such as the Phase Spider, the ability scores that the creature has are terrible for something such as it.
With the lowest modifier being a -2, these terrible scores make it very easy for a player to use certain spells, such as Dominate Monster, to be able to turn it against the hostiles that are attacking the players rather than the players themselves.
Best uses for Phase Spiders in a Campaign
1. As devastating finishers
When mixed in with a group of varying enemies, these spiders can easily be held back by the Dungeon Master until a player is close to being reduced to zero hit points. When this happens, the Dungeon Master could have one or more of these spiders (depending on how many are in the combat encounter) attack the player and try to reduce them to 0 hit points from the additional poison damage dealt to them.
That way, it can effectively remove a player from the encounter and thus making it even more difficult than it could have been previously.
2. An introduction to Condition Stacking
Since this Spider has the Poison attached to its attacks, along with the rulings for when the target is reduced to 0 HP by the poison damage itself, there are technically three different condition effects happening simultaneously.
This creature can be a great way for newer players with a tiny bit of experience to learn how conditions and their effects can stack against a player for devastating results.
For learning purposes, it’d be best for the Dungeon Master to limit the number of spiders being dealt with to a maximum of two as not to overwhelm the party members with spiders.
3. Lethal Distractions
In a similar light to the first use described, the Spiders can be thrown in with multiple enemies that can take more hits and dish out more damage than the spiders can.
However, suppose a miscellaneous creature and the Spider are attacking the same target. In that case, the chance of the poison damage doing its special ability could be more easily triggered thanks to it working together with other creatures.
However, this does bring the risk of a player deciding to Dominate the Spider and use it against the enemies for them to suffer from them, but High Risk grants a High Reward for some.
4. The Nest
Although the name for this use is rather confusing at first, it is easy to understand once it is explained further; Spiders…lots and lots of spiders. A Dungeon Master could technically mix the Phase Spiders with any mixture of the additional 13 Spider-like creatures that exist within published media (according to DnD Beyond).
As such, an encounter such as this could be better used against a more experienced, higher-level party than it would be against a low-level party unless the party is up to the challenge…or the Dungeon Master is perfectly fine with inflicting a TPK.
Advice and final thoughts
Throughout this Article, it has been stated how deadly the Phase Spider can be, and for a good reason. With its capability of seamless teleportation between Planes, its venomous bite capable of both poisoning and paralyzing a player character that succumbs to it and can keep itself out of reach from Melee-focused combatants, the Phase Spider can cause issues for anyone unprepared.
Just be ready, as a Dungeon Master, to handle whatever aftermath may come from using more than one or two of these creatures. Swarming players with the Phase Spiders could have the serious capabilities of causing a Player Character Death, if not an entire TPK situation, if the group is not careful with them.
Phase Spider 5e FAQ
Can the Phase Spider be tamed as a pet?
This solely depends on the Dungeon Master, as if a party comes across a Phase Spider, either with other creatures as backup or on its own, it would be safe to say that it is not looking to make friends. However, if the DM allows it, a Bard or Druid could use their spells to take control of and eventually tame the Phase Spider for future use.
Can the Phase Spider draw an attack of opportunity from plane shifting?
No, it does not because the Plane Shift acts very similarly to teleportation, which does not trigger an attack of opportunity to be made against it.
Can the Phase Spider attack a player character while in the Ethereal Plane?
No, it cannot. For the Spider to be able to attack any of the players taking part in the combat encounter, the Spider must return to the Material Plane first before it can do so. However, since the plane shifting is a bonus action, this still allows the Spider to attack directly after returning to the material plane.