I hope I am not alone in this, but I love the Planar Ally in the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Unfortunately, there isn’t much written about how to use this spell, so that I will write the ultimate guide on it! It’s kind of weird how unknown this spell is amongst beginners and even intermediaries since there is a magic card.
Planar Ally is a much more complex spell for a DM than you would think. The dungeon master has to think about quite a few variables. For example, what will you send to the caster, and what does the ally want and won’t do? Finally, you will also need to think about the cost of a charge. This guide is mainly aimed at dungeon masters; however, you have plenty of value in reading this as a player. First, it gives you more insight into this spell and how your DM might use it against you and your party.
I will try to answer as many questions as possible in this guide about this underrated 5e DnD spell. At the end of the article, I have included a few questions often asked, so make sure you check them out!
What is Planar Ally in 5e Dungeons and Dragons?
In essence, the spell allows you to call for the aid of an outsider who will be your ally in battle. Using the term ally is very loose with the word; being a hired sword is a more accurate description since the summed creature demands payment for his services. The spell is a level 6 spell from the school of conjuration. The spell is known to be pretty expensive.
The casting time of planar ally is 10 minutes, and the range is 60 feet. You will need to cast the spell verbally, and you need to have payment (gold) for the creature. The exciting thing about the spell is that it lasts as long as you have the gold pieces to pay for the ally. So you can use the creature for days. It also does not require you to concentrate. So these are two pretty lovely perks in my book.
Clerics mainly use the spell. They will request a being that they worship or know to send out one of its minions or aligned creatures. If the cleric knows an animal by name, he or she can request that particular monster to be sent. However, the DM does not have to abide by this.
Note; When you have a Planar Ally in your party, this creature counts as a group member of your adventuring party. This means that the monster will get his share of the experience points. So, if you have a party of 4, and you summon this creature, you now have 5 in the team. Therefore, the ally will take up 1/5th of the exp gained.
Planar alley: what happens when you cast it
When you cast Planar Ally, an entity from an otherworld will come to assist you in your battle or whatever reasonable task you have for it. Of course, the being whom you ask for help needs to be known to you. So, as a cleric, you will probably know a God or two that you worship. This God will send you a creature (like an elemental) to aid you in your battle.
The creature will appear wherever there is space. If this is your second time casting the spell, or you already know a creature by name, you can ask for that creature in question to be sent your way. However, it is not a guarantee that you will get these monsters. The God (well, the DM) ultimately decides what monster will be sending your way.
A Planar Ally has no obligation to follow your orders whatsoever. There is no bond or compulsion which forces the otherwordly being to obey your commands. Instead, you will need to offer the creature a contract that is beneficial to it. In other words, you can offer it pays to do your bidding. However, if the monster does not feel like fighting or doing the task you want it to do, it has no qualms about refusing your offer.
If you want to have an ally that does what you want, check out my animate dead guide!
The creature can do pretty much everything if it agrees to it. Of course, it needs to be physically possible for the monster to do the task. They can fight monsters, but they can also do surveillance or be part of an ambush. You can also ask them to guard something or something. You do not need to weigh every word you say; they can interpret the meaning behind words, so they won’t follow your order if it makes a lot of sense.
How can you pay your ally?
How you pay your mercenary from another world can differ quite a bit. The most common form of payment is by giving gold. However, the beings you summon all have their motivations and interests. So a celestial being might ask for a donation to a temple or give him a holy item you possess. A demonkind might ask for a living sacrifice or a favor in the future.
The price for a Planar Ally can be quite high. The pay per minute is around 100 GP if the tasks are short. The price should be about 1000 to 2000 GP per hour for longer tasks. If you want to have the creature around for a day or more, they will cost you about 10 000 to 15000 GP. Do keep in mind that not all of them ask for a payment in gold.
Another aspect you should not forget is that the payment might vary on the task. For example, if you ask the creature to hold a watch at a safe place, that won’t be as expensive as expecting it to be a frontline fighter on your next dungeon raid. Finally, the creature is most likely not to accept tasks that are too dangerous and might cost it its life even if you promise a handsome reward.
Remember to take into account how desperate the adventuring party is. If they are trapped in a dungeon and summoning this creature is their only chance at survival, the price should reflect that, even more so if you are invoking a creature with an alignment to evil.
Dungeon master tips for Planar Ally in 5e
- Take into account alignment
- The planar ally is an intelligent being
- As a Dungeon Master you are the boss
- Be prepared for your players using this spell
- Enemy clerics also have access to this potent magic
As a DM and as a player, you should take into account the alignment of the being you summon. If it has an alignment to good, it will most likely flat out refuse to do evil deeds that go against its nature. On the other hand, giving orders that align with the creature’s goals and motivation will likely be a bit cheaper.
The Planar Ally is intelligent. This means it can manipulate players to get what it wants or bargain with them to get a better deal. Keep in mind that gold is just a means to an end. If the creature has a specific goal in mind, like having a temple restored or vanquishing evil from a sacred place, it might ask the adventuring party to do this instead of just a payment.
As a DM, you always have the last word on what to send to your player’s aid. They can request the name of a certain creature if they know its name, but you are not obligated to send them this one.
If you suspect your players are planning on using Planar Ally, make sure you are prepared to find a creature quickly. There are quite many options to choose from, so that might make it a bit harder to pick a good one right away. A good idea to keep the randomness is making a shortlist of creatures and their motivations (about six or so) and throwing a die to determine which creature is going to turn up.
As a final tip, don’t forget that enemy clerics can also use this spell. The casting time is 10 minutes, so you can use a monster with a high armor class like helmed horrors to stall the adventurers and summon a monster like a bone devil in the meanwhile. If they are low level, this is going to give them a major incentive to stop the summoning ritual as soon as possible.
How strong is planar alley exactly?
There is quite some debate about how strong this spell is. To find out the power level, we can compare it to another level 6th spell. Conjure Fey is a level 6 spell that conjures a CR 6 fey. So that is the very least a Planar Ally is going to be able to bring to the table. However, summoning a Deva – a CR 10 monster – is going to be a bit too big of a task for this spell, in my opinion.
Another point is that Planar Ally comes with quite a cost, literally. You will need to fork up 100gp per minute of use to pay for the creature. However, conjure fey does not have that drawback. So that leads me to believe that Planar Ally should be the superior version of conjure fey.
In the end, it is up to you as a DM to balance the power of the planar ally summoning. Since you can choose which creature can be sent to aid your players, you can pick one that is just perfect for the situation they are in. However, you can also send a creature that has no interest at all in helping them.
If you want to read more about conjuration spells, I strongly suggest you check out my Conjure elemental guide!
What are some good allies to summon in 5e DnD?
One of your clerics has just hit level 11 and can now cast the spell. After a casting time of 10 minutes, a creature has to appear. As a DM, it is always hard to pick between the rich monsterarium of DnD. So here are some tips for cool creatures you can give your players to help complete their quests.
As a DM, it is up to you to decide what a good ally is and what is not. You need to keep two things in mind. First of all, make sure it is not too strong or too weak. This means you will have to look at the CR of the monster you are giving the summoner.
Second, you will also need to think about the alignment of the creature. It has little use to give your cleric a chaotic evil monster if he is praying to a good God. The creature will probably also refuse to do the bidding of the summoner.
Remember that you can not summon monsters like aberrations with Planar Ally. Instead, you will need to give your players either a celestial, a fiend, or elemental as a creature to make a deal with.
What are the disadvantages of using Planar Ally?
The cost of the spell
Casting this 5e DnD level 6 spell isn’t going to be cheap! You should count on a cost of at least 100 GP per minute or 1000 per hour. If you want the creature for a day or so, you should budget about 10 000 to 15 000 GP. The creatures do not always want gold. Sometimes they want a live sacrifice or a favor at a later point in time.
It is unpredictable
The creature you summon has its own thoughts and motivations. You can not just order them around, but you need to strike a deal with them. Sometimes you won’t be able to find a deal, and you have to spend 10 minutes of casting time for nothing.
The spell is very dependent on your DM
The creature you get might not be the one you need. Your DM does not have to give you the creature you request when casting this spell. So you will need to keep this in mind if you use the spell.
Final thoughts about using Planar Ally
If you are a creative DM, Planar Ally is one of the most fun and powerful spells in DnD 5e. It has the ability to turn the plans of your adventurers completely upside down, and you can make them regret summoning creatures without thinking of the consequences.
This is one of the strongest spells for conjuring monsters, so make sure the price of using it is high enough to discourage using the spell too often. Another great idea is to ask for an alternate payment when the spell has been cast. So, you don’t ask just gold, but you ask for a vague favor somewhere in a not too distant future.
The ally that is summoned isn’t stupid by any means. It is not going to go on a crazy mission where it could perish. Another aspect of this is that they can manipulate and take advantage of the summoner. If the creature sees that the party is in big trouble and they desperately need every help they can get, you can drive up the price by quite a lot!
Frequently asked questions about Planar Ally in dnd 5e
Question: Is there a Magic The Gathering Planar Ally card?
Answer: Yes, there is! The MTG set Adventures in the Forgotten Realms has a common card with the same name. The card has an angle creature type. However, in DnD, it can also be an elemental or fiend. The card isn’t as strong as you would think. It is only a 3/3 with the effect that you can venture into the dungeon every time it attacks.
Question: What is the difference between Planar Ally and planar binding?
Answer: When you use planar binding, you are not forming a contract, but you are binding a celestial, element, fiend of the fey to your service. This means you can give them commands that they might not like. They aren’t your ally or mercenary, but more like your servant.
Question: Is there a Planar Ally spell in pathfinder?
Yes, there is a spell of that name in pathfinder. It has the same workings as in 5e DnD, so you can use this guide too if you are playing pathfinder! There might be some little differences in the creatures you can summon, but the core mechanics and thoughts behind it are as good as the same.
Would you like to read more about underrated DnD spells like Planar Ally? Check out my guide on creating bonfire in 5e Dungeons and Dragons. This spell is a lot stronger than a beginning DM might suspect, so be prepared for your players using this crazy overpowered cantrip in your next campaign!