At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 2nd.
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour
School: 2nd-level divination
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, pg. 162
Mind Spike 5e
A spell for psychically damaging and tracking enemies, Mind Spike offers a unique and interesting — but ultimately niche — ability. We’ll cover the spell’s rules as well as its best applications.
Who Can Cast Mind Spike in 5e?
The following classes have Mind Spike on their spell list:
No subclasses get Mind Spike for free.
What Does Mind Spike Do in 5e?
Mind Spike forces a creature within 60 feet to make a Wisdom saving throw. It takes 3d8 (13.5 average) psychic damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success. If they fail, you also always know their location while you’re both on the same plane of existence.
With this knowledge:
The target can’t become hidden from you
The target gains no benefit from invisibility against you
These rider effects last for up to one hour, concentration permitting.
Finally, Mind Spike can be upcast, dealing +1d8 damage per spell slot level above 2nd.
What Are the Rules for Mind Spike in 5e?
The rules for Mind Spike in DnD 5e are as follows:
You lose concentration on another spell you’re casting the moment you cast Mind Spike. From the rules, “you lose concentration on a spell if you cast another spell that requires concentration” (PHB 203).
So even if you don’t want to use Mind Spike’s rider effects and just want to deal damage with it, you’ll still break your concentration on another spell if you cast Mind Spike at all.
Mind Spike’s rider effect doesn’t allow you to target creatures you don’t have a clear path to. From the rules, “to target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can’t be behind total cover (PHB 204).
Mind Spike doesn’t negate this general rule; it just makes it so that the creature can’t become hidden from you or benefit from invisibility against you. And so that the DM always has to tell you where they are, provided they’re on the same plane of existence..
Mind Spike’s rider effect remains on the target regardless of their distance from the caster. From the rules, “once a spell is cast, its effects aren’t limited by its range, unless the spell’s description says otherwise” (PHB 203).
Mind Spike’s effects are (probably) perceptible to the target. From the rules, “unless a spell has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a spell at all. An effect like crackling lightning is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature’s thoughts, typically goes unnoticed, unless a spell says otherwise” (PHB 204).
We can put this together with this Jeremy Crawford quote on Hex: “a target doesn’t know it’s under the effects of a spell…until it experiences the spell’s effects.” Since a target knows the moment it’s under the effect of a spell the moment it takes psychic damage, it probably also know that it’s being tracked.
A DM might allow for Sorcerer’s Subtle Spell metamagic to get around this.
Mind Spike works with Divination Wizard’s Expert Divination feature (PHB 116). Which allows them to regain an expended spell slot whenever they cast a divination spell of 2nd level or higher (PHB 116). The spell slot regained can only be lower-leveled than the spell slot used to cast the spell.
However, you can still upcast Mind Spike to regain higher-level spell slots — we have Sage Advice confirmation for that. Just remember — the spell slot you regain will always be one less than the spell slot you expended to cast Mind Spike.
How Do I Use Mind Spike in 5e?
Here are a few ways to use Mind Spike in DnD 5e:
Get it as a Divination Wizard. Their 6th-level feature, Expert Divination, allows them to regain an expended spell slot whenever they cast a divination spell of 2nd level or higher (PHB 116). Mind Spike is one of the best, most reliable ways to trigger this feature.
It’s not all that great, really — you’re always trading an X level spell slot for an X-1 level spell slot. But if you’re a Divination Wizard who has good reason to cast Mind Spike regardless, this is a neat perk that allows for slightly more efficient spellcasting.
Cast it on an enemy that’s likely to cast Invisibility. If you’re up against a magically-inclined foe who seems keen on escape rather than confrontation, Mind Spike is a good insurance policy to keep them in your sights.
It also pays to know the common creatures who have the option to go invisible, like duergar, drow mages, genies, githzerai, and spellcasting vampires, to name a few from the Monster Manual.
Cast it on an enemy that’s likely to flee. Another good time to cast Mind Spike is when you’re chasing someone down who’s really good at evading capture; maybe someone who’s escaped from you once in the past.
Once you know where they’re going, you and your party can make smarter plans about closing off their escape and ensuring you catch up to do…whatever you gotta do with this person.
Use it as a way to find secret lairs. This is a trick that’s very rewarding to use — making Mind Spike into a super tracker that Boba Fett would be proud of. Maybe you come across a scout as you check out an area. Or perhaps you’ve just entered a tricky, labyrinthine cave network.
Rather than poke around aimlessly, why not place a big ol’ Mind Spike in the target’s head and then let them flee once you’ve beaten them up badly enough. If they’re a scout, it’s their job to report back to the main hub, after all.
With this knowledge, you and your party can get straight to your destination, possibly avoiding several encounters.
Is Mind Spike 5e a Good Spell?
No, Mind Spike is not a good spell. The concentration requirement makes it basically unusable as an in-combat blasting spell once you’ve set up your more powerful battlefield control spells (Hypnotic Pattern, Hold Person, Web, etc.)
It’s kind of even a trap for Divination Wizards who think that the “regain spell slot” mechanic is somehow a magic bullet akin to a Coffee Lock build. It’s not — it’s almost always suboptimal to cast Mind Spike just to regain a lower-leveled spell slot.
All that being said, Mind Spike is right up there with a spell like Shatter, from a damage perspective. Plus, the half damage on a successful save and psychic damage are nice perks.
And if you legitimately need to track down an enemy or keep an eye on an invisible creature during a bout of combat, Mind Spike is literally the perfect spell for the job.
But beyond these niche uses, you’re likely better off using your action on something else.
Mind Spike 5e DM Tips
One semi-common question DMs get from players is whether the Subtle Spell metamagic can allow Mind Spike to go unnoticed. While the target certainly won’t know who cast the spell, I’m inclined to think that 3d8 psychic damage is noticeable and sudden enough for anyone in the DnD universe to suspect magic.
That said, if a player wants to pull off a trick like this with Mind Spike, I say let them on.
For example, maybe they want to tail a royal guard who attends cultist meetings. The party’s Sorcerer uses Subtle Spell to cast Mind Spike as he steps outside into the sun. Perhaps he mistakes the sudden psychic damage as a headache brought on by the sudden brightness and carries on with his day.
Since Mind Spike is so rarely applicable, I’m inclined to let a situation like this fly because it’s fun and offers a neat alternative to traditional tracking methods.