D&D 5E Find the Path. What? Why is this a 6th level spell?

So, Find the Path.

In 3e, this was a fairly situational spell but, in the right situation, it was very powerful.

Take me to the barracks of the Fortress. Bring me to the Throne Room. Find the Centre of the Forest. You had to know a specific location and it brought you there, allowed you to bypass traps by giving you an innate knowledge of where they might be or allow you pass words for glyphs and such. It didn't tell you where monsters would be or obstacles that were passable(but deadly), like having to walk across narrow ravines, steep, slippery slopes. It was almost useless in a dungeon since you couldn't say, "Bring me to the BBs lair". But yeah, at times it could be frustratingly for the DM as you bypassed whole swaths of an adventure - but, sometimes, that's the nature of high level spells.

In 5e they toned it down considerably. It no longer gives you passwords and no longer lets you bypass traps. Fair enough. Here's the kicker: the material component must be something from the location to where you are travelling and the location must be familiar to you. So, now it only tells you how to get to a place you already know how to get to? So, it allows you to find your way home out of a dungeon if you're lost. And, because it can't key to a person, you can't even use it to locate someone's whereabouts (like if you had a personal affect of someone you knew). The spell used to indicate that it automatically found your way out of a Maze Spell...but now it no longer specifies this, so I assume it can no longer do that.

Here's the spell for your convenience. I highlighted the relevant nerfs

Find The Path​

6 divination
  • Casting Time: 1 minute
  • Range: Self
  • Components: V S M (A set of divinatory tools—such as bones, ivory sticks, cards, teeth, or carved runes—worth 100 gp and an object from the location you wish to find)
  • Duration: Up to 1 day
  • Classes: Bard, Cleric, Druid
  • This spell allows you to find the shortest, most direct physical route to a specific fixed location that you are familiar with on the same plane of existence. If you name a destination on another plane of existence, a destination that moves (such as a mobile fortress), or a destination that isn’t specific (such as “a green dragon’s lair”), the spell fails.
    For the duration, as long as you are on the same plane of existence as the destination, you know how far it is and in what direction it lies. While you are traveling there, whenever you are presented with a choice of paths along the way, you automatically determine which path is the shortest and most direct route (but not necessarily the safest route) to the destination.
Is there any other use that people have tried? I just don't get how this is a 6th level spell anymore. In 3rd, I used this spell a handful of times, in the decades I played the system because it required the right combination of being the right level and knowing exactly where you needed to go. In the 5 or 6 years I've played 5th, this is my first opportunity to use it and I just can't think of situation where I would use a spell slot on it anymore. Any ideas?
 
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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
So, Find the Path.

In 3e, this was a fairly situational spell but, in the right situation, it was very powerful.

Take me to the barracks of the Fortress. Bring me to the Throne Room. Find the Centre of the Forest. You had to know a specific location and it brought you there, allowed you to bypass traps by giving you an innate knowledge of where they might be or allow you pass words for glyphs and such. It didn't tell you where monsters would be or obstacles that were passable(but deadly), like having to walk across narrow ravines, steep, slippery slopes. It was almost useless in a dungeon since you couldn't say, "Bring me to the BBs lair". But yeah, at times it could be frustratingly for the DM as you bypassed whole swaths of an adventure - but, sometimes, that's the nature of high level spells.

In 5e they toned it down considerably. It no longer gives you passwords and no longer lets you bypass traps. Fair enough. Here's the kicker: the material component must be something from the location to where you are travelling. So, now it only tells you how to get to a place you already know how to get to? So, it allows you to find your way home out of a dungeon if you're lost. And, because it can't key to a person, you can't even use it to locate someone's whereabouts (like if you had a personal affect of someone you knew). The spell used to indicate that it automatically found your way out of a Maze Spell...but now it no longer specifies this, so I assume it can no longer do that.

Is there any other use that people have tried? I just don't get how this is a 6th level spell anymore. In 3rd, I used this spell a handful of times, in the decades I played the system because it required the right combination of being the right level and knowing exactly where you needed to go. In the 5 or 6 years I've played 5th, this is my first opportunity to use it and I just can't think of situation where I would use a spell slot on it anymore. Any ideas?
It's one of the many cruddy spells that fell victim to 5e's overcompensation against past wditions
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I’m with you on that one. It’s a pretty hard nerf. I can see a variation where having an object from the sought destination would allow you to back track it to a location you aren’t familiar with or know of, but otherwise it’s been pretty severely weakened.
 


In its current iteration, what level would you say this spell should be? 3rd? 2nd? The cantrip druidcraft lets you automatically know where North is. It seems to me that a combination of that and a good survival roll would allow you to find your way our of a dungeon. It could be useful for getting out of a place that has 'guards &wards' which I've never seen used in a single game I've ever been in.

Do you feel that leaving it as the 3e version but adding concentration would be enough of a debuff to keep it 6th? It means no concentration spells for 16 hours (I say 16 because you can't concentrate while sleeping so the 24 hour concentration is kind of stupid)
 

fba827

Adventurer
( response based on info presented here, haven’t looked at the book version as away from stuff right now)

If you encounter a henchman you could get something from him/her that leads you right to the lair of the big boss. So , for example, kill a kobold shaman and take his loin cloth or whatever to lead you to the cave where the big bad dragon directing the kobolds from afar has been hiding.

or pick pocket a coin from a pirate to lead you to the treasure chest where the coin came from.

so on par with divination spells that give oracle type information
 

( response based on info presented here, haven’t looked at the book version as away from stuff right now)

If you encounter a henchman you could get something from him/her that leads you right to the lair of the big boss. So , for example, kill a kobold shaman and take his loin cloth or whatever to lead you to the cave where the big bad dragon directing the kobolds from afar has been hiding.

or pick pocket a coin from a pirate to lead you to the treasure chest where the coin came from.

so on par with divination spells that give oracle type information
Sadly, you must be familiar with the location to find your way to it. I'll post the spell in the OP for people's convenience.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Is there any other use that people have tried? I just don't get how this is a 6th level spell anymore.
First off, spells like this was a story- and tension-killer in 3E. The rules took the decision what challenges the adventure should be about out of the hands of the DM. So the limitations are greatly appreciated.

As to your question, there are more considerations than power that can make a spell high level.

Some spells grant powers that are just inappropriate at low levels, because at low level the game's developers have determined you should not be able to bypass the challenge.

Find the path is not a high level spell because it's hugely powerful, but because it grants you an ability we associate with high level play. Or more specifically, an ability inappropriate for low level play.

Compare a castle wall. Once you have Fly, scaling that wall can no longer be a challenge. So we keep that spell out of the hands of low-level adventurers.

Same with Find the path.

(And Fly is definitely a powerful spell, so it's not about power)
 

First off, spells like this was a story- and tension-killer in 3E. The rules took the decision what challenges the adventure should be about out of the hands of the DM. So the limitations are greatly appreciated.

As to your question, there are more considerations than power that can make a spell high level.

Some spells grant powers that are just inappropriate at low levels, because at low level the game's developers have determined you should not be able to bypass the challenge.

Find the path is not a high level spell because it's hugely powerful, but because it grants you an ability we associate with high level play. Or more specifically, an ability inappropriate for low level play.

Compare a castle wall. Once you have Fly, scaling that wall can no longer be a challenge. So we keep that spell out of the hands of low-level adventurers.

Same with Find the path.

(And Fly is definitely a powerful spell, so it's not about power)
I get that but let's look at the Ranger's First Level ability:

Natural Explorer

You are particularly familiar with one type of natural Environment and are adept at traveling and surviving in such regions. Choose one type of Favored terrain: Arctic], coast, Desert Forest, Mountain, swamp, or The Underdark. When you make an Intelligence[ or Wisdom check related to your Favored terrain, your ]Proficiency Bonus[/URL] is doubled if you are using a skill that you're proficient in.

While traveling for an hour or more in your Favored terrain, you gain the following benefits:

  • Difficult Terrain[/URL] doesn't slow your group'sTravel
  • Your group can't become lost except by magical means.
  • Even when you are engaged in another Activity While Traveling(such as Foraging], navigating, or tracking), you remain alert to danger.
  • If you are traveling alone, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.
  • When you Forage, you find twice as much food as you normally would.
  • While Tracking other creatures, you also learn their exact number, their sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.
This ability lets you explore an area without getting lost. At first level. Granted, it has to be an Environment you're 'familiar' with but Find the Path is restricted to a LOCATION you are familiar with, which is much more limiting than Natural Explorer. So, a Ranger could easily find themselves, without getting lost, out of a forest and back to a town without even needing 'an item' from the town. They can even bypass any dangerous obstacles by finding the tracks of other creatures, know their numbers and how long ago they've passed through.

So, I wouldn't say Find the Path would be overly powerful or overly useful in Low Level play. Any first level ranger can do the same thing. Which has always been a problem with Rangers more than anything. But the point still stands, I think.
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I mean, it should be a 4th or 5th level spells, just so that the damn ranger gets to cast it! :p

I mean, a bard with expertise in survival, stealth and nature who stoles some of the ranger's spells would be a better ranger than the ranger with all the Locate X and Find the Path. Steal Pass Without Trace and Swift Quiver/Steel Wind Strike and you are golden!
 

@CapnZapp Sorry for the double post: to get to the heart of the purpose of the thread: what situations have you or your players used Find the Path in your games? When, in your games, has it really shone and been worth that 6th level slot?

Since I have a character who owns it now, I'm looking for ideas.
 


Reynard

Legend
I wonder if "familiar with" here means something more akin to its natural language meaning. "We took this dagger off the body of an assassin that tried to kill the King. We know that the assassins are said to headquarter in an old temple to Death. Let's use Find the Path to track the dagger back to the temple." In that case "familiarity" is knowing some stuff about the location,not "having been there."
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I wonder if "familiar with" here means something more akin to its natural language meaning. "We took this dagger off the body of an assassin that tried to kill the King. We know that the assassins are said to headquarter in an old temple to Death. Let's use Find the so Path to track the dagger back to the temple." In that case "familiarity" is knowing some stuff about the location,not "having been there."

It's pretty specific the material component includes "an object from the location you wish to find." So the caster doesn't have to be at all familiar with the location but the material component limits the spell.

A dagger from the temple may work, assuming the owner actually lived there and the DM is inclined to be generous. A strict interpretation might mean you need something like a piece of dirt or masonry from the temple.

One class that can get much better use out of this spell : warlock with a genie patron - they can cast the spell without the material component (as their 14th level ability).
 
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MarkB

Legend
The "object from the place you wish to find" material component has no listed value, so by a strict reading of the rules it can be replaced with a spell focus.

That just leaves the "location you are familiar with" requirement. Using Scrying on a creature at the location you wish to find will allow you to observe the creature and its surroundings as though you were there, so that would make you familiar with the location.
 

Dausuul

Legend
You don't need the "object from the location" component. It has no required gold piece value, so you can ignore it as long as you have a spellcasting focus.

As for familiarity, nowhere does it say the location must be one you have physically been to. It's up to the DM to decide what "familiar" means in this context. Two possibilities would be viewing the location by magic (e.g., a scrying spell), or obtaining a detailed description from someone who's been there.

(Edit: Thread ninjas are automatically familiar with all locations.)

All that said, it's excessively and unnecessarily vague, and 6th level is too high for any reasonable interpretation. I'd make it 4th or 5th, and replace "familiar" with a list of options, one of which would be "you have a physical object taken from the location."
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
I can see nerfing or eliminating this spell because it's a potential tension-killer or story-breaker or otherwise just a headache for DM the way it used to work. But, yeah, seems like they then should have just cut the spell entirely or lowered its level to maybe 4.
 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Just pointing out that find the path already is a concentration spell, making the nerfing even worse. :-(

Edit: As a quick idea, maybe restore its earlier edition near-omniscience, but shorten the duration to maybe an hour? So it can get you around immediate obstacles, but not the entire journey (unless you're already close)?
 


robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
The "object from the place you wish to find" material component has no listed value, so by a strict reading of the rules it can be replaced with a spell focus.
I don’t understand the logic of this. The item is very valuable to the caster as it provides a connection to the location. Just because it doesn’t have a gp value doesn’t mean it is substitutable.

A focus can substitute for generic items, but not a unique item, surely?
 

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