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D&D 5E Locate Creature Question


Let’s say Locate Creature is used by the party to try to find a mind flayer.
The caster has seen one before and begins following the direction the spell directs toward a mind flayer within 1,00 feet.

Then it begins moving away from the caster as other mind flayers move into range, some closer than the original. Does the spell continue tracking first the individual mind flayer, even though a specific mind flayer wasn’t described or does the spell pick up a new closer mind flayer? If the first ones moves out of range, does the spell pick up another illithid that is in range?

“Describe/name a creature familiar to you. You sense direction to the creature's location, as long as that creature is within 1,000’ of you. If the creature is moving, you know the direction of its movement.

The spell can locate a specific creature known to you, or the nearest creature of a specific kind, so long as you have seen such a creature up close - within 30’ - at least once.”

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DM's choice, I think, the spell description really doesn't provide much guidance.

I think it could go either way - either you lock onto one creature at the time of casting and thereafter track it for the duration, or it keeps switching to the closest matching target.

The first option feels cleaner and less of a 'gotcha' to players, but it leaves the question of whether you can select a new matching target if the current one leaves your detection range.


I would have it be players choice on casting.

If they want a specific creature then they must be familiar with that particular one.

If they choose to cast it for the nearest creature of that type then that is how it works for that casting.

Agree it's up to the DM, but I would go with the closest one at the moment. So if you are in an area surrounded by them (etc) it would keep flipping direction. Which should make the party nervous!


It is ambiguous as to whether it is the nearest creature at the time of the casting in which case it follows the one creature, or whether it is the nearest creature at any time during the duration, which can change individuals as you go.

Either is fine but I would let the player know which version you are going with.

Same issue arises with locate object if you go with a general object that can be carried by multiple people like keys or pants.

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