Time for another monster guide! Today, we are taking a closer look at the illustrious Specter in 5e dnd. There is much to be said about this creature and how to use it as a Dungeon Master in your campaign.
The Specter is fun but an underused creature in 5e DnD. They aren’t strong, but they are scary! From a narrative perspective, these monsters are fantastic to use. Not only can DMs use the specters, but players can also have one in their service!
Let’s take a deep dive into this monster!
Specter 5e stat block
- These monsters are medium undead and chaotic evil.
- AC 12
- Hit points 22 (5d8)
- Speed 0, 50 feet hover
|1 (-5)||14 (+2)||11 (+0)||10 (+0)||10 (+0)||11 (+0)|
The Specter has a pronounced weakness considering his stats. Their Strength, as expected, is pretty low. These monsters only have 1 STR and an ability modifier of -5. That means they will fail almost every roll. A monster with a similar STR is the Shadow Demon in 5e DnD, about which we recently wrote a guide.
Their Dex, their best stat, is OK. The Specter has a 14 (+2), which is OK but not too impressive for a CR 1 monster. Even more so when considering the other five average stats.
Their main Strength, in my opinion, comes from the number of damage resistances and immunities they have. These make them a pain to deal with for parties who don’t have access to solid magic yet.
Resistances, senses, and languages
- Damage Resistances: Specters have a ton of damage resistances you must consider. These resistances are Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Thunder, Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks. You can efficiently deal with these if you have a magical weapon like an elemental weapon.
- Damage Immunities: Specters have two damage immunities, Necrotic and Poison. So necromancy spells like Bestow Curse will be near useless here.
- Condition Immunities: The Specter in 5e doesn’t have a ton of damage immunities and resistances but also has a ton of status condition immunities. These immunities are charmed, Exhaustion, Grappled, Paralyzed, Petrified, Poisoned, Prone, Restrained, and Unconscious.
The monsters also have an excellent Darkvision of 60 ft. and a mediocre Passive Perception of 10.
Languages: The creature understands all languages it knows in life but can’t speak. If you look at their INT stat, they can understand commands and you pleading for your life. The Specter has a Challenge Rating of 1 (200 XP) and a proficiency bonus of +2.
Incorporeal Movement: The Specter can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. In other words, the monster can be inside you or any other item for a bit. They can also hide away very well by using their incorporeal movement. It takes 5 (1d10) force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.
Sunlight Sensitivity: The Specter is primarily found in dark places as they have Sunlight Sensitivity. While they are in the sunlight, the Specter has a disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
The Specter in 5e DnD has Life Drain. They have a melee Spell Attack with +4 to hit and a reach of 5 feet. They can hit one creature with the Life Drain attack.
On a Hit, the monster deals 10 (3d6) necrotic damage. The target must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw, or its hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken.
This reduction lasts until the creature finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0. This attack should not be underestimated if the target has a low CON. Spells like Heroism can save lives here thanks to the consistent extra HP per turn.
DM Specter encounters ideas
These creatures are undead and chaotic evil creatures, so there are many dangerous situations you can put your players in that don’t need a ton of narrative. Specters – generally – do not have motives or plans. They often attack sight and have no issue attacking sick and wounded.
An ambush on a small road near the town
Your party is walking towards a remote town. On a crossroad, you see rusty arrow tips and vegetation that has been trampled a while ago. You know the fainting tracks of a horse going towards the bushes.
If your players follow, they see the body of a slave (or slaves) who bandits abused to be the frontliner of their party while raids on traders and adventurers. Then, a vengeful specter ( or multiple) that attacks sight appears as an ambush.
Haunted mansion of horrors
A ton of lower-level undead is fitting to put in a mansion that has long been abandoned and cursed. Have your players remove the curses from items and bodies to save the town from the occasionally escaping undead Specter or creature.
A scary monster to add to the mansion would be the Attic Whisperer. This child-sized undead is not just creepy but also an original monster to use as an encounter.
Time for round 2!
Another fun way to use specters is by having monsters like Cult Fanatics come back from death right after a fight as a vengeful specters. Make sure you do not overestimate your party if they are still low level, as these creatures can deal some necrotic damage to players with a common CON.
Another thing you might do is Raise the Dead for the bodies and use the spirit to form a specter. That way, one slain enemy becomes two opponents.
Possible Specter Loot in 5e
Specters themselves usually do not drop any loot worth talking about. Being incorporeal beings that have no body or earthly possessions to speak of, they aren’t known for being wealthy.
However, you can place your specters close to their former body, which can have loot. You can also have them naturally attracted to a magical item they protect. To get the magical item, your players must defeat the specters. As an additional difficulty, you can also bestow the item with a curse that keeps attracting specters that will try to steal it. Another option is to give the wielder the magical power to control specters.
Besides the regular specters you might encounter on your adventures, there is the accursed Specter. These are available to Hex Warlocks from level 6 onwards.
“When you slay a humanoid, you can cause its spirit to rise from its corpse as a specter, the statistics for which are in the Monster Manual. When the Specter appears, it gains temporary hit points equal to half your warlock level. Roll initiative for the Specter, which has its turns. It obeys your verbal commands and gains a special bonus to its attack rolls equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of +0).”
You can use this accursed Specter until you take a long rest. After that point, it goes to the afterlife, and you will need to find a new one to take into service.
Nothing stops you from homebrewing the accursed Specter and giving your player one for a short while after a reward. For example, if they could remove the curse from an item or avenge the killer of the NPCs whose soul has been changed into a specter.
Accursed specter 5e stat block
- AC 12
- Hitpoints 22 (5d8)
- Speed 0, 50 feet hover
|1 (-5)||14 (+2)||11 (+0)||10 (+0)||10 (+0)||11 (+0)|
Accursed specters have 22 hit points or 5d8. However, you can also use your charisma modifier to determine the number of hit points. The latter is the official rule, but a ton of DMs just pick the first option.
Specter 5e takeaway
The Specter is fun but strong undead, which can give lower-level players some trouble. You would best not underestimate it despite being only a CR 1 monster. These chaotic, evil undead are unpredictable and have a ton of resistances and immunities that might cause your players trouble if they do not have the necessary tools to deal with them.
From a narrative perspective, the Specter in 5e is great to add a vibe of creepiness to your campaigns. They are vengeful, evil, and undead, so you have a lot to work with as a background. If you want, you can also give your players an accursed specter as a familiar.
Frequently asked questions about DnD Specters
What CR are specters in 5e?
The Specter has a CR (challenge rating) of 1. This rating is fair, but you should not underestimate the monster’s many immunities and resistances.
What are Dread Specters?
The Dread Specter is a much stronger version of the regular Specter. These monsters have a CR of 12, much higher stats, and a life drain that hits much higher.
What are greater specters?
The greater Specter is a superior version of the regular variant. However, they are a CR 7 monster, which makes them significantly weaker than the Dread Variant.