It’s just a safe move. As a Paladin, that’s all you need to do: play it carefully and be aware of who or what could be around you.
So, in a single, silent move, you turn on your Divine Sense. Around you for sixty feet, you become very aware of very powerful beings.
There isn’t a single ghost or angel, but there it is. Just to the left of you and your group, in front of you. A Fiend, a powerful one at that.
You can smell a wildfire, and it’s getting too hot to be comfortable. Your eyes accidentally move to where the Fiend is hiding as a poor beggar. No one in your group is ready to handle them right now.
So you carefully lead your group around them while keeping an eye on the Fiend from the corner of your eye.
You’re sure that they didn’t take their eyes off of you and your group. Tonight you sleep with one eye open. It’s better to know than to be surprised.
Welcome to a Divine Sense 5e Guide.
- What is Divine Sense 5e?
- What Qualifies as Total Cover?
- Is Divine Sense Useful?
- How it Doesn’t Work
- What does Divine Sense do in 5e?
- Using Divine Sense When You Aren’t A Paladin
- What is the difference between Detect Evil and Good and Divine Sense?
- Can Divine Sense detect invisible enemies?
- Getting Creative
What is Divine Sense 5e?
Divine Sense is a class ability for Paladins in DnD 5e. It lets them know where celestials, fiends, and undead are and what kind they are by taking an Action.
The beings in question can’t be completely hidden by an obstacle, which is what “total cover” means in D&D. Objects that have been consecrated or desecrated within 60 feet are also shown.
According to the Player’s Handbook, Divine Sense means that:
- Strong evil hits your senses like a foul smell, and strong good sounds like music from heaven when it’s around you.
- As an Action, you can open your mind to these forces so you can feel them. You know the location of any celestial, fiend, or undead creature within 60 feet of you that is not behind total cover until the end of your next turn.
- You can tell what kind of being is near you (heavenly, demonic, or dead), but not who it is (the Vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich, for instance).
- As with the Hallow spell, you can also find any place or thing that has been consecrated or desecrated within the same area.
- This ability can be used as many times as 1 + your Charisma modifier. When a Long Rest is over, you get all of your uses back.
With more charisma, you can use Divine Sense more times per Long Rest to try to find divine presences. Some DMs give adventurers a lot of Long Rests, while others give them less often.
If your campaign is the second type, you should only use Divine Sense when you have a strong feeling that something is wrong.
What Qualifies as Total Cover?
In Chapter 9 of the Player’s Handbook, the basic rules say that a creature with total cover can’t be directly hit by an attack or a spell.
However, some spells, like area-of-effect spells, can still reach it. They have full cover only if an obstacle completely hides them.
The word concealed here becomes problematic if you get into a niche situation of clear or transparent cover – such as glass or a wall of ice. To get to the goal, you would have to break through the physical block.
So, even though you might be able to see the target, Divine Sense wouldn’t work to find them if they are standing behind something.
Before this Paladin ability could be used, the physical barrier would have to be removed or broken through.
Is Divine Sense Useful?
Divine Sense can be very helpful if you think a character is lying about who they are. It can also add excitement to an adventure and give you important information.
Divine Sense is especially helpful in 5e games where undead, fiends, or celestials are hiding in plain sight, like in Curse of Strahd, a gothic horror game.
Some newer players take a “shot in the dark” and use Divine Sense in every room they have a vague suspicion about.
This rarely works out and is a waste of the feature. Pay attention to the DM’s hints and don’t use Divine Sense until you’re sure something is wrong.
How it Doesn’t Work
Even though Divine Sense lets a Paladin know where evil or good beings are, it doesn’t let them know who the divine being they are sensing is.
For instance, they might be able to tell there’s a vampire nearby, but they won’t be able to tell if it’s Dracula or Count Strahd.
Divine Sense is also only a way to find good and bad beings and figure out where they are. You can’t directly target or affect them with it.
Unlike the Hallow spell, which lets a Cleric keep Fiends, Celestials, Elementals, Fey, or Undead out of a certain area directly, this spell doesn’t do anything.
You won’t be able to find a tricky fey-like creature or another being that registers with Divine Sense if you try to keep track of them.
Unfortunately, a Paladin can’t track Fey or Elementals with Divine Sense. You can only use them if you are a Fiend, Celestial, or Undead. To get around this, a Paladin could theoretically take three levels in Ranger to gain Primeval Awareness.
This feature works differently from Divine Sense because you have to use a Ranger spell slot to focus on the area around you.
For one minute per level of the spell slot used, you can tell if any of the following creatures are within 1 mile of you or up to 6 miles if it is your Favored terrain: aberrations, celestials, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead.
This doesn’t give away where you are and goes beyond total cover. This doesn’t tell you who or how many creatures are in range, either.
What would be even better than Primeval Awareness is to use the spell Detect Evil and Good, which becomes available to Paladins at the first level.
What does Divine Sense do in 5e?
Most of the time, you can use Divine Sense to find out who a celestial, fiend, or undead non-player character (NPC) who is hiding their identity.
In D&D 5e, characters’ identities are often hidden for story reasons, like to trick the players into a trap or watch them. With Divine Sense, you can find out who they are and surprise them.
Divine Sense can detect:
- Where Celestial is exactly
- The exact place where a Fiend is
- The exact place where a zombie is
- The presence of places like cemeteries or catacombs that have been messed up
- The presence of sacred places, such as churches or altars,
- The presence of desecrated items like weapons that aren’t holy or parts of undead bodies
- The presence of holy things like amulets or bottles of holy water
Divine Sense can’t detect:
- Stuck-up things
- Different levels of characters
- Characters behind total cover: Any other type of character besides celestial, fiend, or undead
- Everything over 60 feet
If you can tell that a character is a celestial, fiend, or undead creature and decide to attack it, the DM should usually give you an Attack of Opportunity as a reward. You could even use Divine Smite on them if they try to trick you.
You can also use Divine Sense 5e to find places and things that have been consecrated or desecrated. Consecrated and desecrated objects might help you on your journey or give you more information about the area you’re going to.
Consecrated and desecrated places can give you an idea of what the area is like and how you should prepare.
Using Divine Sense When You Aren’t A Paladin
If you’re not a Paladin, you can’t fully copy Divine Sense. It might be easier to just take one level in Paladin to get Divine Sense than to try to find a way around it.
But if you don’t want to take a level in Paladin or it wouldn’t make sense for your character, there are a few ways you might be able to get around it.
As was said earlier in the article, the Ranger’s Primeval Awareness ability covers the “sensing” part of Divine Sense, but it doesn’t copy it exactly.
Primeval Awareness also doesn’t tell you where and how many of the things you find they are. But in some games I’ve played in the past, the house rule was that Primeval Awareness let Rangers know how many creatures were around and which way they were going, not just that they were somewhere on the radar.
For Clerics, there is a spell called “Detect Evil and Good” that they can use. This spell lets the caster know if there are any Aberrations, Celestials, Elementals, Feys, Fiends, or Undead creatures within thirty feet of them and where they are.
As with Divine Sense, they can tell if a place within thirty feet of them has been magically consecrated or desecrated.
Paladins can also use the skill Detect Evil and Good. Still, since it only has half the range and uses up a spell slot, this isn’t worth it unless they are specifically looking for an Aberration, Elemental, or Fey.
The Paladin barrier for Divine Sense can’t be gotten around in any other way.
What is the difference between Detect Evil and Good and Divine Sense?
Detect Evil and Good is a spell that lasts 10 minutes, while Divine Sense is a class feature that lasts one round. The range of Detect Evil and Good is 30 feet, while the range of Divine Sense is 60 feet.
Detect Evil and Good penetrates total cover, while Divine Sense doesn’t. Detect Evil and Good detects aberrations, elementals, and feys, while Divine Sense doesn’t.
One of the biggest differences between Detect Evil and Good and Divine Sense is that Detect Evil and Good is a spell, so it has both verbal and physical parts.
This means that you can’t easily cast Detect Evil and Good in front of characters you want to find without making them suspicious. Divine Sense, on the other hand, can be cast sneakily without anyone around you being the wiser.
Here is Detect Evil and Good’s description:
“For as long as the effect lasts, you know if an aberration, celestial, elemental, fey, fiend, or undead creature is within 30 feet of you and where it is.
In the same way, you can tell if a place or thing within 30 feet of you has been consecrated or desecrated with magic.
Most barriers can’t stop the spell, but 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt can.
Most players would say that Divine Sense is more stealthy and goes farther than Detect Evil and Good, while Detect Evil and Good is more obvious, stronger, and can find more types of enemies.
But both serve the same purpose: to find out if something strange is going on around you and where that strangeness is coming from.
Can Divine Sense detect invisible enemies?
With Divine Sense in 5e, you can see invisible enemies as long as they are celestials, fiends, or undead. However, this doesn’t make them visible.
When you use Divine Sense to find invisible enemies, you will know that they are near you and where they are right now.
Even if you use Divine Sense to find invisible enemies, that doesn’t mean you can attack them as if they were visible. You can’t hit it with Divine Sense as if you could see it.
The description of Invisibility says:
“Rolls to attack the creature have a disadvantage, and rolls to attack the creature have an advantage.”
You still have a disadvantage when attacking an invisible creature as long as it stays invisible. When you divine sense the location of an invisible creature, you can use spells like Dispel Magic to remove its invisibility.
Then you can attack it like you normally would.
This spell is pretty simple, but because it is descriptive and uses the senses, there is a lot of room for creativity in how you describe it.
As a Player
As a Player, it can be hard to make a creative spell out of Divine Sense. It can be used in any situation, but it is not a spell with more than one use. It has one job: to figure out what a creature is and what it wants.
You can be more creative with it, though, if you talk to your Dungeon Master and figure out if there are ways to tweak the spell or make it fit your character.
Even though the spell says that fiends will smell like sulphur and celestials will sound like music from heaven, you might want to switch and reverse it.
If you are a bad Paladin, a Fiend might smell a little like campfire smoke, reminding you of happy songs and dances, roasting marshmallows over the fire, and scary stories.
On the other hand, since Celestials would be your enemy in this case, perhaps their presence while using Divine Sense causes you to taste something sickly sweet, or the overpowering fragrance of perfume wafts across your nose. These smells should be nice, but they are too strong and make me feel bad.
Alternatively, if you are just your standard, good-hearted Paladin, you can sit down with your Game Master and work out what scents mean.
Make it fit your character, and give their usual “enemies” something that makes them feel bad, like a burning feeling on their skin or the taste of burnt food on their tongue, or something else.
You can combine sensory effects if you want; there is no limit to how many things your character can experience to detect when using Divine Sense.
On the other hand, maybe a Celestial is more pleasant and comforting to feel, while an Undead gives off an unearthly, hair-raising chill that can make your breath suddenly appear in front of your face.
As a Dungeon Master
As a Dungeon Master, you might want to give your player the above choice. Standard rules can be boring and make you feel disconnected, so don’t be afraid to change things to fit your table and players. The best part of Dungeons and Dragons is that you don’t have to stick to the rules.
You could make a house rule that lets Divine Sense find very specific beings if you needed to or wanted to.
Even though the standard spell says you can’t find out who is nearby, if your Paladin has been close to these NPCs and knows them well, there might be something different and unsettlingly familiar about them. You can make the world what you want it to be, so go crazy.
What blocks Divine Sense?
Total cover stops Divine Sense from working. “A target has total cover if an obstacle completely hides it,” says the definition. This means that any kind of cover, even something clear like glass, can stop Divine Sense from working.
Can Divine Sense see through walls?
Divine Sense can only see through a wall if a part of the target’s body is sticking out of the wall. “Total cover” means that an obstacle completely hides the target from Divine Sense. So, Divine Sense can’t see through a wall if the target is completely behind it. Divine Sense can find a target that is partly visible.
Does Divine Sense work on the ethereal plane?
No, in 5e Divine Sense doesn’t work on the ethereal plane. Jeremy Crawford, the designer of Dungeons and Dragons, said on Twitter: “If two people are on different levels of existence, they are inaccessible to each other on any level.” “Infinite feet” is a lot further away than the 60-foot range of Divine Sense. Some DMs might let you get away with Divine Sensing a character who is hiding in a different plane, about to attack, or moving in and out of planes. Just ask!
Does Divine Sense work on objects?
Yes, both consecrated and desecrated items can be used with Divine Sense in 5e. Objects that have been consecrated are “blessed by holy energy,” while those that have been desecrated are “tainted by unholy energy.” It may be up to your DM to decide if the things you are trying to Divine Sense are “consecrated” or “desecrated.”
Can Divine Sense detect cursed items?
With Divine Sense, you can find items that have been consecrated or desecrated, but not cursed items. Some items can be cursed and blessed or cursed at the same time.
Sometimes the item’s description says if it’s consecrated or desecrated, but most of the time it’s up to the DM. Items like holy water or blessed swords are usually consecrated, while evil goblets are usually desecrated.
Does Divine Sense detect alignment?
No, Divine Sense 5e does not detect alignment. In older versions of D&D, players could check a character’s alignment, but in the 5th edition, almost all of this was taken away. In D&D 5e, you can only find out someone’s alignment with a Glyph of Warding, which can be set to go off for certain alignments. In April 2018, Jeremy Crawford even confirmed this on Twitter: “Divine Sense doesn’t find alignment or curses. In the feature’s text, it says, “Fiends, undead, celestials, desecration, and consecration are examples of strong evil and good.
Can Divine Sense detect goblins?
No, Divine Sense cannot detect goblins in 5e. Goblins are either called “goblinoids” or “humanoids.” In 5e, Divine Sense can only find gods, demons, or the undead.
Does Divine Sense detect Aasimar?
Divine Sense cannot detect Aasimar, because Aasimar are classified as humanoid in DnD 5e. With Divine Sense, you can only find creatures that are of the celestial, fiend, or undead type.