D&D 5E Mythological Figures: Prospero

“My high charms work, and these, mine enemies, are all knit up in their distractions. They now are in my power.” If you’re thinking that I’m talking about the central character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, you know today’s entry in Mythological Figures is Prospero!

(And I’m still not at all bitter about losing a trivia show because of The Tempest. Really!)
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Prospero is the protagonist of The Tempest which I understand is the last of the plays William Shakespeare wrote entirely by himself. In it he’s the Duke of Milan but after being betrayed by his brother is exiled on a remote island for over a decade. Prospero is quite taken with magic and uses it to control others (including the beastman Caliban and a spirit named Ariel), create storms, and entertain. Gradually as the play progresses he becomes a more sympathetic and likable character, ultimately renouncing magic by the very end.

Design Notes: Try as I might (and I have tried, several times now) I just cannot ingest The Tempest. Tried reading it a few times, tried watching it a few times, and it just bores the enthusiasm right out of me. I did work through several synopses and character studies and so on though, and it looks to me like he’s an enchanter wizard of some considerable potency. For binding Aerial he’s got planar binding and to account for the storm summoning bit, a staff of lightning and thunder as well (plus his own lightning bolt spells). So let’s do the numbers! The DMG puts Prospero at 7.6 (8ac+1hp+11atk+10dam+8save=38/5) and the Blog of Holding rubric at 8.6666 (9ac+3hp+8atkk+12dam+10dc+10save=52/6), which squeaks in at 8.16666.

Medium humanoid (human), neutral wizard (enchantment) 11
Armor Class 16 (mage armor)
Hit Points 71 (11d6+33)
Speed 30 ft.
9 (–1)​
16 (+3)​
16 (+3)​
18 (+4)​
11 (+0)​
14 (+2)​
Saving Throws Int +8, Wis +4
Skills Arcana +8, History +8, Insight +4, Investigation +8, Nature +8, Perception +4
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages Celestial, Draconic, Italian
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)

Arcane Recovery. Once per day when Prospero finishes a short rest, he can choose expended spell slots to recover. The spell slots can have a combined level that is equal to or less than 5th-level.

Doubly Enchanting. When Prospero casts an enchantment spell that targets only one creature, he can target a second creature with the same spell. To be eligible for Doubly Enchanting, a spell must be incapable of targeting more than one creature at the spell’s current level.

Gazed Thrall. Prospero can use action and choose a creature within 5 feet that can see or hear him. The target makes a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or remains charmed by Prospero until the end of his next turn. While it is charmed by Prospero in this way, the creature is obviously mesmerized, its speed is reduced to 0, and it is incapacitated. On each of his turns as long as he remains within 5 feet of the charmed creature, Prospero can use his action to continue using this feature and extend the duration an additional round. The effect immediately ends when the creature takes damage, it can’t see or hear Prospero, or if he moves more than 5 feet from the creature. After a creature has been targeted by this feature or successfully saves against it, it is immune to Prospero’s Gazed Thrall until he finishes a long rest.

Spellcasting. Prospero is an 11th-level spellcaster that uses Intelligence as his spellcasting ability (spell save DC 16; +8 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following spells prepared from the wizard spell list:
Cantrips: light, minor illusion, prestidigitation, shocking grasp, true strike
1st-level (4 slots): charm person, find familiar, mage armor
2nd-level (3 slots): blindness/deafness, detect thoughts, misty step
3rd-level (3 slots): clairvoyance, fear, lightning bolt
4th-level (2 slots): conjure minor elementals, locate creature
5th-level (2 slots): planar binding, scrying
6th-level (1 slot): eyebite, programmed illusion

Staff of Thunder and Lightning. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+1) bludgeoning damage, or 5 (1d8+1) bludgeoning damage if wielded with two hands.
  • Lightning (1/day). On a successful hit Prospero can cause the target to take an extra 7 (2d6) lightning damage.
  • Thunder (1/day). On a successful hit Prospero can cause the staff to emit a crack of thunder, audible out to 300 feet. The target makes a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or is stunned until the end of Prospero’s next turn.
  • Lightning Strike (1/day). Prospero can use an action to cause a bolt of lightning to leap from the staff's tip in a line that is 5 feet wide and 120 feet long. Each creature in that line must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw, taking 31 (9d6) lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
  • Thunderclap (1/day). Prospero can use an action to cause the staff to issue a deafening thunderclap, audible out to 600 feet. Each creature within 60 feet of him (not including Prospero) must make a DC 17 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 7 (2d6) thunder damage and becomes deafened for 1 minute. On a successful save, a creature takes half damage and isn't deafened.
  • Thunder and Lightning (1/day). Prospero can use an action to use the Lightning Strike and Thunderclap properties at the same time. Doing so doesn't expend the daily use of those properties, only the use of this one.

Elusive Presence. Prospero can use his reaction to dodge an attack when a creature he can see within 30 feet makes an attack roll against him and there is another creature within the range or reach of the attacker. When he does so, the attacker must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or target the creature closest to it other than Prospero. When there is more than one possible target, the attacker chooses which creature is its new target. An attacker that makes its saving throw is immune to Prospero’s Elusive Presence until he finishes a long rest. In addition, a creature that can't be charmed is immune to this feature.

Also if you've ever thought "I'd love to have these things in a snazzy, accessible book I can show off to my friends or use as an improvised weapon to deter looters" we have some good news for you!
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler


The one exception to his kindness, of course, is Caliban. There's a hell of a lot that can be, and has been, written about the allegory in a European washing up on an island and promptly enslaving and dehumanizing the previous inhabitant.

Not really. This was standard practice across the whole world. Nothing special about Europeans doing it.

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Can you see how picking out of a fairly long post a brief acknowledgment of the elephant in the room that is historical slavery and responding with "Everybody was doing it!" might not be a good look for you?



Can you see how picking out of a fairly long post a brief acknowledgment of the elephant in the room that is historical slavery and responding with "Everybody was doing it!" might not be a good look for you?

No, because slavery is not an elephant in the room. It's a historical fact and to deny it simply displays ignorance.

I also heartily recommend Prospero's Books. The opening scene is one continuous cut and is completely mind-blowing.

Forbidden Planet is the softest entry to The Tempest. I think this movie changed my brain when I was a wee bairn.


He freed Ariel from the tree. Sycorax was the one who put Ariel in it. Although he would still need to be able to cast imprisonment to do that.

If you view that as a variation of Flesh to Stone with different SFX (i,e. Flesh to Plant) then Plant to Flesh would also do the job. Eminently feasible for an 11th level wizard.

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