A creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends. Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target’s person. The spell ends for a target that attacks or casts a spell.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 2nd.
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S, M (an eyelash encased in gum arabic)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour
School: 2nd-level illusion
Player’s Handbook, pg. 254
A staple of the fantasy genre and role-playing games in general, Invisibility is a classic DnD spell that does just what you’d expect. However, some confusing rules regarding the invisibility effect make this spell a little less straightforward than you’d imagine.
We’ll cover how both the Invisibilty spell and effect work in 5e, as well as go into details about the fun and optimal applications of the spell.
Who Can Cast Invisibility in 5e?
The following classes have Invisibility on their spell list:
The following subclasses get Invisibility for free:
Druid (Circle of the Land)
What Does Invisibility Do in 5e?
The spell Invisibility causes a creature you touch to become invisible. The invisibility condition means that the target is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a special sense and is considered heavily obscured. Attack rolls against the creature have disadvantage, and the invisible creature’s attacks have advantage.
Being heavily obscured means that other creatures “effectively suffer from the blinded condition” (PHB 183). The blinded condition, in turn, means that enemies trying to perceive the invisible creature automatically fail any ability check that requires sight.
Most importantly, the invisible creature has advantage when attacking and attackers have disadvantage when they try to attack the invisible creature.
Technically, being invisible does not help you succeed in taking the Hide action, because Hide requires a Dexterity (Stealth) check. However, you normally need cover to even attempt hiding. With Invisibility active, you can always attempt to Hide. But that will be your action for the turn, and you’ll need to make another check if you try to move again.
Note that an invisible creature’s presence can still be perceived through other normal senses, like sound or smell, and by any evidence of the creature’s passing, like muddy footprints.
All objects that the invisible creature is wearing or holding also become invisible. Invisibility ends when concentration is broken, the duration (1 hour) expires, or the invisible creature attacks or casts a spell.
What Are the Rules for Invisibility in 5e?
The rules for Invisibility in DnD 5e are as follows:
Invisibility breaks when you attack or cast a spell, regardless of whether it lands. The spell text does not specify that your attack or spell needs to do damage or cause any effect at all for Invisibility to break.
Taking damage does not break Invisibility. However, if you self-cast it, you will have to roll to maintain concentration, possibly ending the effect early.
Some special senses negate Invisibility. Special senses like Blindsight and Truesight allow for creatures to see invisible creatures, completely negating the spell’s effect on them.
Detect Magic does not reveal Invisible units. But it does allow you to sense that a magical effect is present within 30 feet. You cannot see the aura around the invisible creature, because the spell states that the faint aura is only seen around a “visible creature.”
Targeted spells can’t target invisible creatures, because they require sight. Area of effect spells, however, can still damage you (although the damage won’t end Invisibility’s effect). Interestingly, this can be a negative thing if you have an Evocation Wizard in your crew, as they require sight of the target to use their Sculpt Spell ability (PHB 117).
A target that is both Invisible and under the effects of Mind Blank will not be visible to a creature using True Seeing. Because it is a Divination spell, which Mind Blank blocks. However, a creature with natural Truesight will still see an invisible creature.
You cannot hide a body with Invisibility, as corpses are considered objects, not creatures. But you can hide an unconscious creature.
Light can still be emitted from an invisible creature. Jeremy Crawford confirmed this, although he didn’t directly answer the query of whether this negates disadvantage on attack rolls against the “unseen” target. It’s also unclear whether the light source that the creature would gain as an “unseen” attacker. DM discretion advised.
Invisibility ends after you attack or cast a spell. As Jeremy Crawford puts it, the spell “doesn’t predict what you’re about to do.”
You cannot Counterspell an Invisible spellcaster. Because A) Counterspell requires sight of a creature and B) the creature has to be casting a spell (as in in progress). By the time Invisibilty breaks, the spell is already cast and you were never visible while casting.
How Do I Use Invisibility in 5e?
We’ve all dreamt of gaining the ability to become invisible on command — all those dreams are true in DnD. That being said, the rules of the game make some uses of Invisibility more optimal than others:
Buffing martial classes. Granting a Rogue or Fighter the ability to get into the perfect position and strike with advantage is the most combat-focused application of Invisibility. Letting your Rogue start the fight with a big Sneak Attack can be just the thing to tip the scales in your favor, or even get past a lone sentinel without triggering an alarm.
Sending in a scout. Because Invisibility doesn’t affect multiple party members until it’s upcast at higher levels, it’s not usually available as a party-wide buff. But the ability to send in a scout who can report on what threats lie ahead can be invaluable for creating a smart plan.
Escaping a botched scouting mission. On the flip side, you can also try your best to scout things out without using Invisibility, and then cast it if you get caught snooping. It won’t put the enemies’ guard down completely, but at least you’ll be able to get back to your allies in one piece.
Kidnapping. Notice that Invisibility’s text doesn’t say anything about a “willing” creature. That means you can force this effect on somebody you’d like to move from point A to point B without too many questions being asked. Coupled with some tied up hands and a gagged mouth, and you’ve got yourself one easy kidnapping.
Un-Counterspellable casting. One niche benefit of Invisibility not breaking until after you’ve cast your spell is that an enemy cannot use their reaction to Counterspell you. If you want to guarantee that your big damage spell doesn’t get shut down, Invisibility is one surefire way to accomplish that.
Who Can I Target With Invisibility 5e?
You can target any creature with Invisibility, friend or foe, as long as you can touch them.
Sorcerers cannot use Distant Spell or Twinned Spell, as Invisibility does not meet the requirements for either (range of 5+ feet and no ability to be upcast to include a 2nd target).
Is Invisibility a Good Spell?
Yes, Invisibility is a good spell from the early game to the end game. It has plenty of applications, especially when you can upcast it on multiple party members simultaneously.
Beyond the attack advantages and defensive bonuses, Invisibilty allows for players to reposition or set up a fight in a way that provides tactical advantages as well. Plus, it’s just a fun spell to use with plenty of opportunities for flavorful role-playing (pantsing a Goblin, anyone?)
Invisibility 5e Compared to Greater Invisibility
Greater Invisibility is a 4th-level illusion spell that grants a shorter invisibility effect (only 1 minute) that does not break upon dealing damage or casting a spell.
Naturally, this opens up the door to much more combat potential (10 rounds of attack advantage for the target and attack disadvantage for anyone who tries to attack the target).
Both spells require concentration, meaning you’re vulnerable to taking damage and having the spell end early. But the one-minute maximum length of Greater Invisibility is far shorter than Invisibility’s one-hour duration.
Not to mention that Invisibility can be upcast to eventually cover your whole party, potentially skipping whole wings of dungeons.
Overall, Greater Invisibility doesn’t make Invisibility obsolete. They each have a unique function in a spell caster’s utility belt.
Invisibility 5e DM Tips
As a DM, it’s important to remind players from the outset that invisible does not mean undetectable. The greatest source of frustration for new players using Invisibility is getting caught because they were moving too confidently without considering the other senses that creatures possess.
Ultimately, the invisibility spell and condition are needlessly complex in 5e. From one spell, you’re diverted to one condition (invisible), which refers you to a second condition (blinded), which refers you to another set of rules (obscurity and cover). That’s four total flips of your Player’s Handbook just to get a cohesive ruling on a 40-word spell.
As a DM, you don’t have to get bogged down in all of that though. You’ve imagined the rules of invisibility your whole life — just apply sound and consistent logic to your games and it’ll work out just fine.
Simple Invisibility 5e Spell Text
Invisibility: (2nd-level, touch, concentration, up to 1 hour, V/S/M (an eyelash encased in gum arabic)) A creature and all it wears and carries become invisible. Effect ends if target attacks or casts a spell. | Can affect +1 creature per slot level above second