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D&D 5E Planar Ally is it the most powerful conjuration spell in the game? How do you run it?

I think because they want to downplay the closeness of the relationship between the Warlock and their patron as opposed to the Cleric and their deity. The default flavor of the Warlock seems to be that although you got your powers by associating with fiends/lovecraftian horrors/fair folk, that you're still a somewhat heroic character and not a minion that's actually advancing those beings' agendas (with the other players as convenient pawns). Yes, you can certainly play a Warlock character like that, but I don't think they wanted to encourage it.

Compare this to Clerics, where they seem to have fewer issues with the idea that your character is furthering their deity's cause and as such can call on their deity to intervene and send them (somewhat) regular support. Keep in mind that while one could theoretically summon a fiend, that the deity's PCs have relationships with tend towards the Good/Neutral end of the spectrum.

That is a good thought. Planar Ally would definitely give the patron the power to punish a warlock: use a 6th level spell (the only one a warlock will cast that day) and get a dretch or a mephit is a pretty big hint that the "boss" is annoyed with you. Of course, if you were planning on playing a warlock who was on the outs with his/her patron, you probably wouldn't pick that spell.
 

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Alexemplar

First Post
...Of course, if you were planning on playing a warlock who was on the outs with his/her patron, you probably wouldn't pick that spell.

I think that currently being on the outs (or ambivilent) regarding your patron is implied the default way to play the Warlock so as to cut down on the amount of inter-party conflict that would come from having a player being on friendlier terms with fiends and lovecraftian horrors and summoning their servants.
 

I think that currently being on the outs (or ambivilent) regarding your patron is implied the default way to play the Warlock so as to cut down on the amount of inter-party conflict that would come from having a player being on friendlier terms with fiends and lovecraftian horrors and summoning their servants.

I suspect you are right that this is how it is most commonly played, and you might be right about it being by design, but the devs tend to talk about drawing from the most iconic inspirations in fiction, and it is hard to be more iconic a warlock than Faust. On top of that "my imp is invisible" tends to work better than "my imp is a celestial" when dealing with suspicious townsfolk.

As I said above, I think they had intended at some point for the warlock to be hanging out with their patron's servants, but it seems like they changed their minds. It may have been for playstyle reasons, or maybe eldritch blast + a powerful ally was too powerful.
 

Gwarok

Explorer
Well I for one am glad that they put in Planar Ally. The game needs a general summoning spell to you know, summon stuff. It's a critical part of the genre especially if you are going to have casters in your campaign, and who doesn't have casters in their campaign? Planar Ally is the only spell that really fits that bill short of Gate, which is the apex of this type of magic, and there needs to be a more ritualized version of it. Granted, it does seem they sorta threw it in there and left things pretty open ended which can require a fair amount of interpretation by the DM.

First problem is that it's called "Planar Ally" and only works for Clerics, and Bards at 14th and above. This seems to imply that good clerics can summon angels, bad ones summon fiends, and can be interpreted extremely tightly as never the twain shall meet. But it also says that you can summon by name, a staple of summoning cannon, and this would seem to open things up a bit. Also you can summon to a magic circle and do a planar binding as well, in the fashion more of mighty wizards doing their thing, which I like. This is sorta how I do it, and I would also make a wizard/warlock version of it as well, because otherwise the only real conjurers of demons have to be 17th or higher to pull it off, which seems a bit late in the game to allow players to have fun with that.

Since I am DM and can do whatever I like, I more or less eschew the GP based method of determining if they help you out unless it's just a simple no brainer. But really anything of consequence summoned is going to have a non financial agenda(unless it's a Pit Fiend of Mammon or something that embodies greed specifically) and you as DM will have another chance to get your players to jump through hoops to get what they want, which is my favorite pastime as a DM. Have them negotiate, have fun with it. What would a Pit Fiend want vs a Planetar? Or a Marilith vs an Arcanaloth? I have found actually expanding the remit of this spell to be a fun game mechanic and players seem to enjoy it as well. I even expand it to a ritual spell and let non casters with the feat have at it. A bunch of hedge witches getting together on a full moon to summon an evil spirit to do their bidding, as long as they have the sacrifice ready and perform the ritual properly and under the right, and very specific, conditions. That sort of thing.
 
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Gwarok

Explorer
This bugs me to no end, because it makes little sense. Presumably the only one a cleric should be contacting to request reinforcements is their deity (who might send fiends or celestials or whoever they want). Wizards are the ones who summon up whatever random being they wI disant to work with.

It seems like it's straight up on the wrong spell list.

I disagree a bit, mostly because I think a lot of folks fall into the monotheistic interpretation of religion that been dominant for the last few centuries in most of the world, particularly the West. But back in the day, when people worshiped pantheons instead of singular deities, the priests could perform rites on behalf of many of them, not just one. No doubt there were ancient nordic priest types who revered Thor the most, but they still supplicated Odin when needed and no doubt sought to stay on his good side. It really depended on what you were praying for who you prayed too. If it was protection in the afterlife it was Hel, if it was not to get sunk by a storm, Thor, and if it was for fertile and bountiful crops, whatever that god was. It was just a lot broader then. Still is in some parts of the world.
 

Greg K

Legend
But back in the day, when people worshiped pantheons instead of singular deities, the priests could perform rites on behalf of many of them, not just one.
That is not entirely true. There were cultures where priests of various deities had secret rites known only to priests of that deity. In those cultures, if you needed specific rites performed, you would call on priests of said deity to perform them.
 


Coroc

Hero
No constration needed, it can last just about forever if you have the gold income for it, no CR limit, it can summon any CR Celestial, Fiend, or Elemental. You can not only ask your deity for the Planar Ally, but also other cosmic beings like Primordials, Demon Princes, Archdevils, Celestial Paragons, Solars, Empyreal Titans, Archelementals, what ever super powered Succubi are called, Utraloths, Slaadi Lords, Primus, The Dark Powers of Ravenloft, Far Realmsian Old Ones, Elder Evils, powerful Primal Spirits, and the Cosmic being can't say no, but they can send you something weak I guess. Plus you can request a Planar Ally by name (this is the real value of the Arcana and Religion skills).

So how do you handle Planar Ally, what do you allow to be summoned?

And is it over powered compared to the conjure animals/fey/woodland creatures/minor elementals/Elementals/Celestials?

It seems swingy depending on ones DM I wish they'd given more guidance with it.

Also I find it funny that the Cleric/Favoured Soul can summon fiends like demons, succubi, devils, yugoloths, and so on, but the Conjurer Wizard can't, plus can summon elementals safer (conjure elemental is dangerous). Conjure Celestial is still valuable, it's cheaper.

Depending on the situation and context of the campaign almost anything might appear and it might be in almost any mood (Big evil DM grin) :)
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
Remember too, the very idea of having an institution of a ‘priesthood’ is alien to some cultures, including certain Nordic cultures.

Technically, a ‘priest’ is a professional caretaker of a ‘temple’, being a special house where divinity resides.

By contrast, in some cultures, to ask various nature spirits for help, or even to become ‘friends’ with one, was often a personal experience and celebrations to honor that friendship normally happened inside ones own home.
 

I disagree a bit, mostly because I think a lot of folks fall into the monotheistic interpretation of religion that been dominant for the last few centuries in most of the world, particularly the West. But back in the day, when people worshiped pantheons instead of singular deities, the priests could perform rites on behalf of many of them, not just one. No doubt there were ancient nordic priest types who revered Thor the most, but they still supplicated Odin when needed and no doubt sought to stay on his good side. It really depended on what you were praying for who you prayed too. If it was protection in the afterlife it was Hel, if it was not to get sunk by a storm, Thor, and if it was for fertile and bountiful crops, whatever that god was. It was just a lot broader then. Still is in some parts of the world.

I don't really disagree with that. Even in D&D there are plenty of supplements that talk about pantheon-honoring priests.

The issue here is that the spell allows a cleric of Lathander to ask Orcus to send something.

"You beseech an otherworldly entity for aid. The being must be known to you: a god, a primordial, a demon prince, or some other being of cosmic power. That entity sends a celestial, and elemental, or a fiend loyal to it to aid you..."

In 5e D&D clerics don't worship primordials, demon princes, or "other being of cosmic powers." While I'm a bit looser with my own interpretation, the default 5e assumption is that they get their powers from either gods, or forces and philosophies (DMG p. 13).

And lest we think it is assumed to be limited to beings with positive relationships with your deity--why the crap would you contact an angel to request them to send a lesser angel, when you could just contact the deity who the angel serves? Why a middleman? It doesn't make sense that way either.

So, as written, this spell allows your cleric to call up some sort of other being with potentially absolutely no connection to you, your pantheon, your alignment, etc. Whereas wizards, who are known for doing exactly that, or warlocks, who have relationships with those sorts of being, can't do that.

Huh?

How does that make sense? It's like giving the best healing spell in the game to wizards, with no explanation whatsoever.

What I'll probably do is rule that "known to you" means you have to be a worshiper of the being, or they have to be part of the pantheon you honor, etc. In other words, I'll interpret "known to" as "with which you have a sacred relationship".
 

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