Have you ever wished you could make your enemies’ nightmares come true?
Maybe scare them with their worst fears, which could do a lot of damage to their minds.
The answer is Phantasmal Killer.
Type: 4th-level illusion
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V S
Duration: Concentration, Up to 1 minute
You use a creature’s worst fears to create a trick that only they can see.
The target has to make a “wisdom save,” and if they fail, they will be scared for as long as the spell lasts.
Also, the target has to make an extra wisdom save every turn. And if they fail, they take a huge 4d10 psychic damage, which increases by 1d10 for every level above 4th that the spell is cast.
Who Gets Phantasmal Killer?
Wizards are the only ones who can cast Phantasmal Killer.
Most illusion spells can be used by wizards, and this is one of the best.
Phantasmal Killer Uses
It can be very good to do 4d10 psychic damage on a save or suck roll.
4d10 is a crazy amount of damage over ten turns, especially against enemies with low wisdom.
So every time you do damage, you do an average of 22 psychic damage per failure.
The saves are important for Phantasmal Killer. Again, though, if it’s used against the right enemy, it can do a lot of damage.
So, if it fails three times in a row, it does an average of 66 damage.
On five successive failures it’s 110 average damage.
And if Lady Luck lets you hit every time, you can do an average of 220 damage, which is a steady amount of damage against enemies who have disadvantage every time they roll.
It helps a lot that it gives the frightened condition, which makes all ability checks harder. Which, after the first one, will make this spell last.
Since it doesn’t say where the illusion is, it seems like you have to make the target always see the illusion, since that’s how it’s meant to work. However, it’s up to the DM to decide how to use it.
Psychic damage is one that most creatures can’t defend against, so it can hurt a lot.
From a thematic point of view, you can really scare a creature and get into its fears and other things.
Phantasmal Killer Build Idea
Wizards’ subclasses are strange.
But School of Illusion works well for this.
You can force enemies to reroll with Chronurgy Magic, so that could be a great way to use this spell.
War magic also helps a lot with saving throws, which lets you keep your focus for longer.
You can use War Magic because you learned to stay focused, which helps a lot with many illusion spells.
Chronurgy is a type of magic that lets you “mess with time.” This can be used to make people believe in your illusions.
So, from a thematic point of view, any character that can punish other characters with their worst fears and nightmares can work well here because it adds a lot of flavour.
Any creature that knows this spell can be used by a DM to add a lot of flavour. Especially if you know a lot about your characters’ pasts.
If a character lost someone important to them, a creature can make them suffer by making them remember finding the body.
Or if a character is terrified to death of owlbears, gelatinous cubes, heights, or something similar.
As with most illusion spells, Phantasmal Killer is a great spell in terms of how it makes you feel.
The better you do here, the more creative you are.