At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you can affect one additional beast for each slot level above 1st.
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (a morsel of food)
Duration: 24 hours
School: 1st-level enchantment
Player’s Handbook, pg. 212
Animal Friendship 5e
Who couldn’t use a few more furry friends in their life? Well with Animal Friendship, the world is your oyster for charming beasts (including oysters) into liking you a bit better.
We’ll go over the spell’s rules and players’ favorite ways of using it.
Plus, we’ll also go into the way-back machine to take a look at how Animal Friendship worked in the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons as a way of guiding DMs through the murky waters of handling a player who’s interested in training a long-term pet.
Who Can Cast Animal Friendship in 5e?
The following classes have Animal Friendship on their spell list:
The following subclasses get Animal Friendship for free:
- Cleric (Nature Domain)
What Does Animal Friendship Do in 5e?
Animal Friendship forces a beast with an Intelligence of 3 or lower to make a Wisdom saving throw. If it fails, it is charmed by you for 24 hours and the beast is convinced that you (the caster) mean it no harm. If you or an ally harms the beast, the effect ends early.
The charmed condition prevents the beast from attacking the caster and gives the caster advantage on “any ability check to interact socially” with it (PHB 291).
Finally, Animal Friendship can be upcast to target +1 beast per spell slot level above the 1st.
What Are the Rules for Animal Friendship in 5e?
The rules for Animal Friendship in DnD 5e are as follows:
Animal Friendship doesn’t create instant allies. Developers have confirmed that the charm effect isn’t powerful enough to compel creatures to fight for you in combat.
Animal Friendship can be cast on any beast, regardless of challenge rating. This Sage Advice thread reminds us that you can use Animal Friendship on even the most dangerous beasts, provided their intelligence is sub-4.
Animal Friendship’s effects can be extended “through roleplaying and the use of skills.” That same Sage Advice thread makes it clear that you can use Animal Friendship as a foundation for a successful RP experience that can get you more than the explicit results of the spell itself.
A beast affected by Animal Friendship can still attack the caster’s allies. The charmed condition only protects the caster from being attacked, not their allies. However, with successful roleplaying and skill checks, a charmed beast might be convinced to stop attacking.
The differences and interactions between Animal Friendship, Animal Handling, and Persuasion explained. Jeremy Crawford’s tweet from above also makes note that, for roleplaying purposes, “Animal Handling is the most relevant skill.” So let’s look a bit more at how Animal Handling works, as well as other relevant skills, in the context of Animal Friendship:
Animal Handling. When there is any question whether you can calm down a domesticated animal, keep a mount from getting spooked, or intuit an animal’s intentions, the GM might call for a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check. You also make a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check to control your mount when you attempt a risky maneuver. (PHB 178)
Persuasion. When you attempt to influence someone or a group of people with tact, social graces, or good nature, the DM might ask you to make a Charisma (Persuasion) check. Typically, you use persuasion when acting in good faith, to foster friendships, make cordial requests, or exhibit proper etiquette. (PHB 179)
Nature. Your Intelligence (Nature) check measures your ability to recall lore about terrain, plants and animals, the weather, and natural cycles. (PHB 178)
So by strict adherence to each skill’s domain, Animal Handling can only be used to influence a domesticated animal’s behavior; not a wild animal. However, you can intuit any animal’s intentions, which can certainly help use the right tactics when communicating with it.
Persuasion, with its reference to fostering friendships and making requests, falls more into the category of what most players hope to achieve with Animal Friendship — convincing a beast to provide info, leave their friends alone, or become long-term buddies.
Nature is the least relevant here. But with more relevant knowledge about an animal, it can become easier to select the right strategy for befriending it more effectively.
Animal Friendship’s charmed condition gives the caster advantage on “any ability check to interact socially with the creature,” so it should help for both Animal Handling and Persuasion checks.
This is my opinion, not a rule: This is a great time to use the variant skill check option (PHB 175) for a Wisdom (Persuasion) or Charisma (Animal Handling) check in ways that make sense contextually and provide benefits to the player who cast Animal Friendship.
How Do I Use Animal Friendship in 5e?
Here are a few ways to use Animal Friendship in DnD 5e:
Ride new mounts. Having advantage on your checks to convince a horse (or other mount) that you mean it no harm, calm it down, and keep it from getting spooked will make it much easier to mount the appropriately-sized beasts of the world.
Remember: Animal Friendship doesn’t imbue a beast with new abilities, so if it isn’t already a domesticated and trained mount, it might still not be the most reliable thing to ride. All the same, you can certainly be better at directing an unreliable mount with Animal Friendship.
Get past guard dog(s). Just as Charm Person can be used to smooth talk your way past humanoids, Animal Friendship can be a good way of working your way past a guard dog or two (upcast permitting).
You can either try to persuade them to leave (food, other intruders on-site, etc.) or just convince them that your party isn’t on the “kill-on-sight” list.
Gain a short- or long-term ally (with roleplaying). As I (and Jeremy Crawford) mentioned above, the relationship that Animal Friendship helps foster doesn’t have to be limited to the spell’s duration or explicit effects in the spell’s description.
Like any other NPC, a beast can be influenced to behave in a way that aligns with its best interests. Good roleplaying and some good skill checks can definitely get you some small favors or limited information from a beast.
Great or continuous roleplaying can even lead to a long-term beast pal. Just don’t expect a straight-up combat ally — that’s the domain of the Beastmaster Ranger subclass.
Keep timid creatures from fleeing. If you need to approach a beast that’s skittish by nature (squirrels, deer, etc.), Animal Friendship can convince it that you’re not a threat and allow you to approach.
Talk your way out of fights (with roleplaying). While the charmed condition won’t protect your allies, most DMs will give you a chance to plead your case if you’ve spent a 1st-level spell slot on Animal Friendship.
However, you’ll still need to think of clever and appropriate roleplaying for the situation.
For example, you might convince a den mother bear that your friends have no interest in seeing her cubs or entering her lair, thus persuading her that attack is unnecessary. Or you could tell an alligator that you’ll feed it all the bandits you kill if she points you in their direction.
But for most of this to work, you’re going to need some help from another spell…
Pair with Speak With Animals. Casting Speak With Animals will help pave over a lot of the awkwardness of communicating via pantomime and sound effects. Plus, it can be ritually cast and lasts for 10 minutes without concentration, so it’s essentially free if you’ve got the time.
Two other ideas for the ability to permanently speak with animals, if you plan on employing this strategy often:
Pick up the Eldritch Invocation called Beast Speech (PHB 110) via the Eldritch Adept feat (TCoE 79)
Be a Cirlce of the Shepherd Druid for their 2nd-level feature, Speech of the Woods (XGtE 23)
Who Can I Target With Animal Friendship 5e?
You can target any beast with Animal Friendship, but it will automatically fail if the beast has an Intelligence of 4 or greater.
For example, hippogriffs and griffons have Intelligence scores of just 2, but both are monstrosities, not beasts. A Giant Octopus is a beast, but has an Intelligence of 4.
Animal Friendship will automatically fail if cast on the Giant Octopus, and cannot be targeted at a non-beast creature like a hippogriff.
Is Animal Friendship 5e a Good Spell?
No, Animal Friendship is not a good spell. More specifically, it’s not a good spell on its own. Without some good roleplaying skills and/or the ability to communicate verbally with the beast you cast this on, you’ll find it frustrating to get what you want.
That said, if you keep your expectations realistic and you have a DM that’s good at managing roleplaying encounters with non-verbal beasts, you can create a lot of satisfying moments with Animal Friendship.
It’s also worth mentioning that Animal Friendship’s power level is ultimately tied to your ability to roleplay and understand a beast’s underlying motivations and goals — basically like any other NPC.
So if you enjoy roleplaying conversations with beasts and are comfortable with the limited inherent power of the spell, Animal Friendship is worth picking up for anyone who likes meeting new furry friends.
How to Use Animal Friendship to Train Pets Using 1st Edition DnD Rules
In the first edition of DnD, Animal Friendship was a permanent effect. A beast could be taught a number of tricks equal to its (Intelligence X 3) and each trick took one week to learn.
A trick had to be as basic as a real-world dog or similar pet could learn, and the total training period for a beast couldn’t exceed 3 months. If the beast was left alone for 3+ days during this 3-month training period, it became wild again.
I personally love the idea of simple, non-combat pets who can stick around with a party and do neat tricks. And I love that this bond is developed over time, with each DnD session becoming a mini level-up as your party’s mascot learns a new trick.
These are great mechanics that I would encourage any DM to use if they have a player who’s interested in using Animal Friendship to get a pet.
As for which creatures are the best to tame (as well as some really wacky ones), I highly recommend this article on the perfect 5e player pets.
Animal Friendship 5e DM Tips
Enchantment spells are always tricky for DMs to run, and Animal Friendship is especially so. Here are a few Animal Friendship tips for DMs:
Always give players something. Using a spell like Animal Friendship can be really unsatisfying if it doesn’t work. For example, if your player casts Animal Friendship to prevent combat, you should at least hear them out rather than ignoring the spell and attacking their buddies.
Sure, that might be the more “realistic” course of action for a hungry predator who’s only been charmed by 1/5 of the tasty-looking prey. But it’s also not a fun experience for the player who prepared a spell for this very occasion.
Keep expectations realistic. On the other end of the spectrum, don’t give players too much with Animal Friendship. It’s not Animal Enslavement, so make sure they know that this isn’t some Pokeball-like spell that captures an instant, combat-ready buddy.
Use the variant rule for skills with different abilities (PHB 176). If a Persuasion check makes more sense for the situation, but the player has a higher Wisdom than Charisma (which a Druid or Ranger likely do), give them the better modifier.
Likewise, if a Bard has to make an Animal Handling check, give them the (likely) superior Charisma (Animal Handling) check. This is an easy way to increase player’s odds of success without fundamentally changing what skills do or how they work.
Use 1st edition rules for pet-taming with Animal Friendship. I think it’s a fun way to engage players who want a pet for their character. And it’s pretty straightforward, so you don’t have to worry about confusing homebrew pet mechanics.