Invisibility 5e

Published on December 8, 2023, Last modified on December 19th, 2023

Explore the unseen world of invisibility in D&D 5e! We take a look at tactical uses, detecting the unseen, and mastering the various ways to become invisible.

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The Art of Vanishing

The best way to get the drop on your opponents is to be unseen. While you can do this by taking cover or being heavily obscured, if you’re more magically inclined, there’s nothing like a bit of invisibility. Let’s take a look at the namesake invisibility spell, the interesting invisible condition, and some other ways to become invisible in D&D 5e.

Invisibility 5e

This 2nd-level illusion spell is available to artificers, bards, sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards, and can also be gained through taking the Shadow Touched feat. It requires verbal, somatic, and material components, and when you cast the spell and touch your target (remember, you can always touch yourself), they turn invisible. If you’re wondering what exactly being “invisible” means, jump down to where we go through the unique invisible condition.

The invisibility spell in D&D 5e is a classic. At its core, it’s simple: cast the spell, and the target vanishes from sight. But, while it may seem simple enough, there are some important limitations to keep in mind to not be caught out in the open.

Invisibility Benefits

Becoming invisible means you can’t be seen without magical means. This enables you to avoid detection (as long as you’re quiet) for purposes of infiltration, surprise rounds, and retreating. What really makes this spell worthwhile is the 1-hour duration, which means you’ll have plenty of time to do what you need to before your invisibility runs out.

You can also upcast this spell, which is important because it requires concentration. If you need to bring along party members, you can spend a higher-level spell slot to make multiple allies invisible.

Invisibility Limitations

Invisibility requires concentration to maintain, which can be an issue if you take damage from another creature or environmental effect (remember, you’re invisible, not intangible). It can also limit your options if you’re already concentrating on a spell. Unfortunately, this means you can’t haste your barbarian, cast invisibility on yourself, and look on unseen as they murder your foes.

Another important limitation is that the spell (and therefore invisible condition) breaks if the invisible creature attacks or casts a spell. So, you’d be able to get off one attack off with advantage because you’re attacking from unseen, but don’t count on getting a second shot.

Invisibility 5e Overview

2nd level Illusion
Casting Time
1 Action
Range
Touch
Duration
Concentration, up to 1 hour
Components
V
S
M
Materials Required
An eyelash encased in gum arabic
Class
Bard
Sorcerer
Warlock
Wizard
Artificer

Spell Description

A creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends. Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target’s person. The spell ends for a target that attacks or casts a spell.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 2nd.

Is the Invisibility Spell Good?

Artificer, Bard, Wizards, Sorcerers: This spell is one of the best utility spells for this level and can be useful in a number of scenarios. Sneaking past guards, escaping battles that have gone sideways, and setting up ambushes are all very much worth a 2nd-level spell slot and concentration.

Warlock: Certainly a good spell but warlocks can only cast spells at the highest level spell slot they have. This means that once you hit 5th level, blowing a higher-level spell slot on situations where you don’t need to make more than one thing invisible isn’t great.

Arcane Trickster rogue: Better sneaking, a free Sneak Attack (and probably surprise round) is well worth the 2nd-level spell slot. The 1-hour duration allows it to be useful for extended stealth missions.

The Invisible Condition

According to the Basic Rules, the invisible condition has the following effects:

Invisible

  • An invisible creature is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a special sense. For the purpose of hiding, the creature is heavily obscured. The creature’s location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have disadvantage, and the creature’s attack rolls have advantage.

Appendix A: Conditions – Basic Rules

Most of this is straightforward. The invisible creature cannot be seen without magic or a special sense. Therefore, they can only be detected by any noise or tracks. Also, because the creature is unseen, they make attacks with advantage, and attacks against them have disadvantage.

The text, “For the purpose of hiding, the creature is heavily obscured,” is a bit of technical jargon that simply means you’re able to hide from creatures that are actively seeking your presence, as per the rules for hiding:

“You can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly, and you give away your position if you make noise, such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase. An invisible creature can always try to hide. Signs of its passage might still be noticed, and it does have to stay quiet.”

Chapter 7: Using Ability Score – Basic Rules

Detecting Invisible Creatures in 5e

Being invisible doesn’t mean you’re undetectable, it simply means you can’t be seen by nonmagical means. Here are some ways invisible creatures can still be detected:

Spells

Invisible enemies got you down? Hopefully, you’ve got a caster nearby with some of these anti-invisible staples:

  1. See Invisibility: This 2nd-level divination spell allows the caster to see invisible creatures and objects. You can also see into the Ethereal Plane.
  2. True Seeing: A more powerful ability at a 6th-level spell slot that lets you see things in their true form, including invisible entities.
  3. Faerie Fire: This spell outlines affected creatures, making them visible if they’re invisible and providing advantage on attacks against them.

Perception

Even if they can’t be seen, invisible creatures can be heard. They may still require Stealth checks for opening doors and sneaking within hearing distance of would-be observers.

Other Senses

Truesight, blindsight, tremorsense can see through invisibility, but these are primarily monster abilities, fighters, paladins, and rangers can pick up blindsight by taking the Blind Fighting Fighting Style.

Class-Specific Ways to See Through Invisibility

  • Rangers can get access to the optional ability Feral Senses at 18th level, which allows them to detect invisible creatures within 30 feet of them.
  • Rogues can get Blindsense at 14th level which makes them aware of invisible creatures within 10 feet of them.
  • When Aberrant Mind sorcerers get Revelation in Flesh at 14th level, they can spend a sorcery point to be able to see invisible creatures within 60 feet of them.
  • Wild Magic sorcerers can also gain the ability to see invisible creatures from their Wild Magic Surge.

Ways to Become Invisible

While the invisibility spell is the classic way to gain the invisible condition, but there are more means of achieving invisibility than simply its namesake spell:

Greater Invisibility Spell

This spell is like the big sibling of invisibility. The key difference? Your invisibility doesn’t break when you attack or cast a spell. But, this comes with the drawback of the duration only lasting 1 minute and it taking a 4th-level spell slot to cast.

Magic Items

  1. Potion of Invisibility: Handy for those without magical abilities, this potion can make you invisible for a short period. Unfortunately, it’s considered very rare.
  2. Ring of Invisibility: This legendary magical item that allows the wearer to become invisible as an action, but you will reappear if you attack or cast a spell. You also may or may not be set upon by ringwraiths.
  3. Cloak of Invisibility: Similar to the ring, this item offers invisibility. But instead of making you visible after attacking or casting a spell, it has a time limit of how long it can make you invisible before it needs to recharge.

Class Features

Bard:

  • College of Spirits – Tales from Beyond: If you roll an 8 and get Tale of the Phantom, you can turn a target (including yourself) invisible, among other effects.

Cleric:

  • Trickery Domain – Cloak of Shadows: At 6th level, Trickery clerics can spend their action to use Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows to turn invisible until the end of their next turn, they attack, or they cast a spell.

Monk:

  • Empty Body: Monks can access the Empty Body ability at 18th level, which allows them to become invisible for 1 minute by spending 4 ki points.
  • Way of Shadow – Cloak of Shadows: At 11th level, the Way of the Shadow monk can use their action to become invisible until they attack, cast a spell, or enter bright light.

Rogue:

  • Soulknife – Psychic Veil: At 13th level, these rogues can become invisible as an action for 1 hour or until they deal damage or force another creature to make a saving throw.

Sorcerer:

  • Lunar Sorcerery – Lunar Phenomenon: At 18th level, Lunar sorcerers can use their new moon phase to become invisible until their next turn, or until they make an attack or cast a spell.

Warlock:

  • One with Shadows Invocation: You can use your action to become invisible as long as you’re in dim light or darkness until you take an action or reaction.
  • The Archfey – Misty Escape: At 6th level, you can use Misty Escape to teleport up to 60 feet and become invisible until your next turn or until you attack or cast a spell.

Invisibility 5e FAQs

How does invisibility work in 5e?

Invisibility in 5e makes a creature unseen. It's great for stealth but requires concentration and breaks if the invisible creature attacks or casts a spell.

How to deal with invisibility in 5e?

Use spells like see invisibility or faerie fire, rely on Perception checks, or create situations where the invisible creature might reveal themselves.

Can invisible creatures be detected by noise?

Yes. Making noise is one of the common ways invisible creatures inadvertently reveal their presence.

Does invisibility provide total immunity from detection?

No, it doesn't. Invisible creatures can still be detected through sound, smell, or magical means.

Seeing the Unseen

Invisibility in D&D 5e is a powerful mechanic that can be used in a wide variety of offensive and defensive situations. Whether you’re using it to sneak past guards or are being stalked by an invisible enemy, it’s important to understand the nuances of invisibility so you’re not caught unawares by the array of mechanics surrounding this ability!

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. He is a Adamantine best-selling author of Strixhaven: A Syllabus of Sorcery on DMs Guild and is a contributing author at D&D Beyond. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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