In espionage, an extra pair of eyes and ears can be incredibly handy. Imagine if you can see the insides of a well-guarded fortress or hear the whispers of a confidential conversation. In real life, spies use bugs (a.k.a. covert listening devices) to hear their target talking without them noticing. A surveillance camera assists in tracking movement and positions within an area. You do not even need to be near your target.
Various characters in video games and anime have these kinds of power. For example, Cypher in Valorant can put up a camera to see through it remotely. Robin from One Piece can bloom ears on walls to hear people talking. A D&D equivalent I could think of would be the Clairvoyance spell, a level three divination spell. With it, you can listen to conversations or see people as far as a mile away.
Many players use it the same way surveillance cameras and listening devices work, but a hundred times better. Most creatures cannot notice that someone is listening or looking at them unless they have Truesight ability.
It is not helpful during combat, but it is convenient in espionage or security. If you want to know if the Clairvoyance spell is the right spell for you, I would advise you to read this Clairvoyance 5e guide about it.
Bottom Line Up Front: What is Clairvoyance in D&D 5e?
Clairvoyance is a level three divination spell you can find in the Player’s Handbook on page 222. This spell is a divination spell similar to Comprehend Language and Message because you can learn secrets you usually would not know by casting it.
Below are the crucial details about the Clairvoyance spell in D&D 5e.
- Level three divination
- Casting Time: Ten minutes
- Range: One mile
- Components: V, S, M (either a jeweled horn to hear or a glass eye to see; both foci must be worth at least 100 GP)
- Duration: Concentration, up to ten minutes
How to use Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
Before you can see and hear across far distances and through walls and doors by using the Clairvoyance spell, you need to complete the requirements first to cast it. They are as follows:
- You must know the Clairvoyance spell or have it prepared: As I explained in my previous guides, some classes (like the Bard and Sorcerer) have their spells imprinted in their minds, while others (like the Wizard and Cleric) have theirs imprinted in their spell books.
- You must have at least a level three spell slot: Clairvoyance is a level three spell, so you need at least an available level three spell slot to cast it. Using a higher-level spell slot does not change the effects of Clairvoyance.
- You must spend ten minutes casting the Clairvoyance spell: In combat, ten minutes is equivalent to a hundred rounds.
- You must be able to talk to cast the Clairvoyance spell: It needs the verbal component, i.e., you need to utter words that other people can hear.
- You must be able to use your arms to cast the Clairvoyance spell: It needs the somatic component, i.e., you need to move your arms as you cast it.
- If you want to hear through the Clairvoyance spell, you need a jeweled horn worth 100 GP: The spell allows you to hear sounds in a particular location. To do so, you must use a jeweled horn, and it must be worth 100 GP. You cannot use your spellcasting focus to replace the jeweled horn.
- If you want to see through the Clairvoyance spell, you need a glass eye worth 100 GP: The spell allows you to see things in a particular location. To do so, you must use a glass eye, and it must be worth 100 GP. Like the previous material, you cannot use your spellcasting focus to replace the glass eye.
- You need to concentrate on the Clairvoyance spell: I have explained in great detail how concentration works in my previous guides, so I would recommend you to read my Pass Without Trace 5e guide as it contains a section about concentration. To simplify, below are the basic rules about its mechanics:
- You cannot cast two spells that require concentration at once.
- You must make a Constitution saving throw if you receive damage while concentrating on a spell. If you succeed, you retain the spell’s effects. If you fail, the spell dissipates.
- You instantly lose concentration when you are incapacitated or killed.
- Depending on the DM, the environment can force you to succeed on a Constitution saving throw or lose concentration.
Now that you understand what it takes to cast the Clairvoyance spell, below are the steps you must do once you cast it.
- Choose either a location you have visited or seen before or a place you know where even if it is unfamiliar. The former is easy to understand; you choose someplace familiar to put your sensor in. The latter refers to an obvious place even if you do not know what is in it. For example, you can choose what is behind a locked door near you since you know where it is even though you do not know what is inside it. You can put your sensor in a boat you can see in the distance.
- Choose either seeing or hearing through your sensor. You place a sensor in your chosen location, and you can choose between seeing or hearing through the sensor. You need a jeweled horn if you choose to hear. Likewise, you need a glass eye if you choose to see.
An invisible sensor appears in your chosen location, and it will last there for up to ten minutes as long as the caster concentrates on it for the whole duration. The next section details how the Clairvoyance spell works.
How does Clairvoyance work in D&D 5e?
As the sensor appears through the Clairvoyance spell, you have the power to see or hear through it. The following effects are active for as long as the caster’s concentration lasts.
- The sensor you placed is invisible and intangible: No one can attack or interact with it.
- Creatures under the effects of “See Invisibility” or have the Truesight ability can see the sensor: Upon looking at the sensor, they see a glowing yet intangible orb about the size of your fist.
- You see or hear through your sensor as if you are there: For example, you can see the contents of a locked room if you place the sensor in it.
- You can switch between seeing or hearing through your sensor: You would still need the focus for the sense you are switching to. If you switch senses while in combat, you need to use your action to do so.
Although the Clairvoyance spell has a short description in the Player’s Handbook, many players still find some things confusing.
Some of you, readers of this guide, might have some questions that I have not answered thoroughly in the previous sections.
Therefore, the next section is all about a detailed demonstration of a spellcaster using it in D&D 5e.
Example scenario for using Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
Welcome to Arthur’s Lab, where we see the evil and hear the evil through the Clairvoyance spell. Yes, we are doing a demonstration about this level three divination spell. This time, we will not be doing it in the lab or on the private islands. Instead, we will move to a house you have probably seen before, especially if you have been playing D&D for a long time; think of it as an easter egg.
Marshal the Half-Elf Wizard participates in this demonstration, and he has the Clairvoyance spell prepared. He also has a level three spell slot to use in casting the spell. Because of the nature of this orchestrated situation, Marshal does not know if there are other participants with him. Below is a visual representation of Marshal’s position in the house. The areas in black are unknown to Marshal.
Marshal casts Clairvoyance to see
Marshal uses a level three spell slot to cast the Clairvoyance spell. If he were to cast it during battle, it would take 100 rounds, which is not efficient. He could also use a higher-level spell slot, but the effects remain the same regardless. Marshal has a glass eye worth 100 GP; the materials this spell uses do not get consumed. The spell needs them, but they will not disappear after casting it.
Marshal chooses the area behind the left door (i.e., the door in front of him). Below is a visual representation of his chosen location for his Clairvoyance spell. The sensor is smaller than what the picture shows, but it is bigger here to showcase what it could look like. It is invisible and intangible to most creatures except for those who have the ability to see through invisibility or have Truesight.
After ten minutes, Marshal can see through the sensor he placed. Thus, he can see what is inside the room. He sees a table, two wooden cabinets, four wooden chairs, two red sofas near the fireplace, and a coffee table with various items on it. He does not see anyone in the room, so he thinks that the room is safe. Below is a visual representation of what Marshal sees.
Marshal goes inside and snoops around. He finds a jeweled horn worth 100 GP and a rusty key on the coffee table and takes them. He returns to the hallway and notices that the rusted key fits the locked door to the right. He ends the spell and casts it again in a different location since he cannot concentrate on two Clairvoyance spells at once.
Marshal casts Clairvoyance to hear
Marshal places his sensor, as shown in the picture below, and spends ten minutes casting the Clairvoyance spell. This time, he uses the jeweled horn worth 100 GP to hear what is inside the room and a level three spell slot once again. After ten minutes, he can hear what is inside the room. He notices a snoring sound near the windows, so he knows that someone is sleeping inside.
However, Marshal cannot see who or what is snoring since he can only hear through the sensor. He is unsure if he should enter the room as it could potentially be dangerous. Thankfully, he can switch to see through the sensor since he still has the glass eye with him.
Marshal switches from hearing to seeing through Clairvoyance
While the Clairvoyance spell is still active (read through the previous section if you haven’t to get more context), Marshal switches from hearing through the sensor created by the Clairvoyance spell to seeing.
So, he switches to the glass eye instead of the jeweled horn. If he were to switch senses during combat, it would cost Marshal his action during his turn. Below is a detailed image of what Marshal sees.
He can see a long dining table with eight chairs along with empty plates and dirty utensils. He also sees a woman sleeping near the windows; she is sleeping on the floor with only a thick cloth behind her, a pillow to comfort her head, and a blanket covering most of her body. Her weapon is next to her too.
He drops the key as he decides not to enter; nothing valuable is inside, only potential danger. Instead, Marshal ends the spell and casts it again to a far yet familiar location.
Marshal casts Clairvoyance to the lab within one mile
Coincidentally, the lab is not too far away from this house; it is within one mile from Marshal. Since he knows where the lab is, he can put the sensor created by the Clairvoyance spell in the lab. He is out of level three spell slots, but he still has a level four spell slot; thus, he uses it. He places the sensor in the lab (probably out of longing). He chooses to see through the sensor, so he uses the glass eye.
Marshal sees four bandits around a table playing cards (now we know what the bandits do in the lab when they are off-duty). Below is a representation of what Marshal sees in the lab.
Who can cast Clairvoyance in D&D 5e?
The following classes, subclasses, races, and backgrounds below can access the Clairvoyance spell.
- Aberrant Mind Sorcerer
- Ancestral Guardian Barbarian
- Arcane Trickster Rogue
- Divine Soul Sorcerer
- Eldritch Knight Fighter
- Great Old One Warlock
- Elf with the Mark of Shadow
- Half-Elf with the Mark of Detection
- Half-Orc with the Mark of Finding
- Human with the Mark of Finding
One background (Azorius Functionary)
Classes that can cast Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
Bards, Clerics, Sorcerers, and Wizards can make an invisible sensor they can see and hear through using the Clairvoyance spell. All these classes get two level three spell slots starting at level five. Below is a list containing the sources of these classes in case you want to read more about them.
- Bard: Player’s Handbook, page 51
- Cleric: Player’s Handbook, page 56
- Sorcerer: Player’s Handbook, page 99
- Wizard: Player’s Handbook, page 112
Subclasses that can cast Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
Six subclasses can access the Clairvoyance spell; if you want to read more about them, below is a table containing the sources of these subclasses, the subclass feature that grants them access, and more.
Subclasses that can cast Clairvoyance
|Originating Class||Subclass Feature for Clairvoyance||Subclass Source||
|Aberrant Mind||Sorcerer||Psionic Spells||Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, page 66||Player’s Handbook, page 99|
|Ancestral Guardian||Barbarian||Consult the Spirits||Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, page 9||Player’s Handbook, page 46|
|Arcane Trickster||Rogue||Spellcasting||Player’s Handbook, page 97||Player’s Handbook, page 94|
|Divine Soul||Sorcerer||Divine Magic||Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, page 50||Player’s Handbook, page 99|
|Eldritch Knight||Fighter||Spellcasting||Player’s Handbook, page 74||Player’s Handbook, page 70|
|The Great Old One||Warlock||Expanded Spell List||Player’s Handbook, page 109||Player’s Handbook, page 105|
Sorcerers with the Aberrant Mind sorcerous origin can obtain the Clairvoyance spell by using their Psionic Spells subclass feature. Normally, Sorcerers learn new spells every time they level up. With the Psionic Spells subclass feature, they can opt to learn a divination or enchantment spell from the Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard spell list instead; Clairvoyance is a divination spell belonging to these lists.
Barbarians shaped by the Path of the Ancestral Guardian is a bit of a weird one; usually, Barbarians do not have the power to cast spells. However, their path feature at level ten, namely the “Consult the Spirits” subclass feature, allows them to duplicate either the Clairvoyance spell’s effects or the Augury spell’s effects without using a spell slot or the material components.
When they use Clairvoyance through this method, they do not make an invisible sensor. Instead, they summon one of their ancestral spirits who the Barbarians can see or hear through. They can only use this feature once until they finish a long or short rest.
The Arcane Trickster Rogue and the Eldritch Knight Fighter gain spellcasting powers and can access the Wizard spell list. Since Clairvoyance is part of the Wizard spell list, they can get it. I have discussed before in my previous guides that these subclasses only have access to specific schools of magic.
To recap, the Arcane Trickster Rogue gets illusion or enchantment spells while the Eldritch Knight Fighter gets evocation or abjuration spells, but they can get spells from other schools of magic when they reach levels 3, 8, 14, and 20. Since the Clairvoyance spell is a divination spell, they are limited to choosing it in these levels.
Sorcerers with the Divine Soul sorcerous origin can access the Cleric spell list thanks to their Divine Magic subclass feature. Much like the Aberrant Mind Sorcerer, they can opt to choose Cleric spells instead of Sorcerer spells. Even though Clairvoyance belongs to both spell lists, these Sorcerers can have it as either a Sorcerer spell or a Cleric spell.
Normally, Warlocks cannot get the Clairvoyance spell because it is not a part of their spell list. However, Warlocks, whose patron is The Great Old One, can get it because of their Expanded Spell List subclass feature. It gives them a number of spells that instantly becomes Warlock spells for them; Clairvoyance is one of them, which they can get when they can cast level three levels (which is as early as level five).
If you allow Unearthed Arcana content in your game, you can also use the Seeker Warlock, which you can find in the Unearthed Arcana: The Faithful. It is part of their Expanded Spell List, similar to the Great Old One Warlocks.
Races that can cast Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
Four D&D races can get the Clairvoyance spell, although all of them come from Eberron: Rising from the Last War. Therefore, they only make sense if you are playing a campaign set in Eberron. If you want to play any of these races, but your campaign is not set in Eberron, you should ask your DM first. Below is a table containing crucial info about each race.
|Race Feature for Clairvoyance||
|Elf (Mark of Shadow)||Mark of Shadow Spells||Eberron: Rising from the Last War, page 49|
|Half-Elf (Mark of Detection)||Mark of Detection Spells||Eberron: Rising from the Last War, page 40|
|Half-Orc (Mark of Finding)||Mark of Finding Spells||Eberron: Rising from the Last War, page 41|
|Human (Mark of Finding)||Mark of Finding Spells||Eberron: Rising from the Last War, page 41|
All of them can access the Clairvoyance spells because it is part of their Mark Spells. Mark Spells act similar to the Expanded Spell List of Warlocks and Clerics; they become available to these races for selection. However, it only works if they belong to a class that can cast spells. For example, a Human with the Mark of Finding cannot cast Clairvoyance if they were an Assassin Rogue.
Backgrounds that can cast Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
Only one background gains access to the Clairvoyance spell: the Azorius Functionary. They are proud members of the Azorius guild, an association that enacts and enforces laws for a smooth and functional society. You can read more about them in Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica on page 33. Similar to the Eberron races, this background only makes sense if you are playing in a Ravnica set.
If your campaign is not set in Ravnica, but you want to play this background, ask your DM if they will allow it. Also, similar to the Eberron races, the Azorius Functionary gets the Clairvoyance spell through the Azorius Guild Spells background feature; you can only cast this spell if you know how to. Azorius Functionaries can choose the Clairvoyance spell even if their class does not have it on their spell list.
Creative and useful ways to use Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
As I explained in the introduction, Clairvoyance is incredibly beneficial for espionage reasons; you can get visual or auditory access to places that are normally off-limits using this spell. However, Clairvoyance is more than an espionage tool. It can steer you away from dangerous situations or give you knowledge about hidden passageways with the right applications. Below is a list of potential ways to use the spell.
- Avoiding dangerous rooms
- Knowing secrets
- Understanding floor layouts
- Monitoring an area
Avoiding dangerous rooms using Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
You and your team are faced with a difficult problem; you have to choose between two doors to advance through the dungeon. One door leads to a room with a large pit that leads to death, while the other is a room containing a flight of stairs to proceed to the next floor. Furthermore, you can only choose one door. How will you solve this problem if both doors are identical? The answer: Clairvoyance.
You can cast Clairvoyance and place the sensor behind one of the doors. Thus, you can see what is inside the room; if it is the dangerous one, you choose the other door. If it is the safe one, you proceed to that room instead. If you find yourself questioning if an area behind a door is dangerous or not, the best answer to avoid unnecessary harm is casting the Clairvoyance spell.
Knowing secrets using Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
The king and his council are having a meeting regarding an important matter. However, they did not invite you or your team. They think that their discussion is too confidential to share with you. Still, being the nosy person that you are, you want to find out what they are talking about. What is the best way to listen to confidential conversations without getting caught? The answer: Clairvoyance.
You can cast Clairvoyance and place the sensor within the meeting room. You can listen to what they are talking about, and as long as the people inside cannot see through invisibility or have Truesight ability, they will not notice your sensor. You can even choose to see through your sensor if they are opening a secret door or revealing a confidential item inside a secured chest. All of it is undetected!
Understanding floor layout using Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
Exploring a mysterious dungeon can be exciting and perplexing. Many surprises can await, from traps to hidden rooms. If you are curious enough, you might stumble into a hidden room filled with all kinds of treasures behind a wall. Perhaps the area you are looking for is directly above or below you. You can use the Clairvoyance spell to satiate your curious mind as to what the floor contains.
You can cast Clairvoyance and place the sensor somewhere you suspect a hidden area is. For example, you can try to put your sensor behind a seemingly solid cobblestone wall. You can also put it in a place that you know exists but do not know the insides. For example, you know the wall in front of you has music coming from it. To see what is causing the noise, you can see through the wall with Clairvoyance.
Monitoring an area using Clairvoyance in D&D 5e
When traveling somewhere far or being busy at work, do you sometimes wish that you could see what is going on inside your home at the moment? If you are a parent, you can probably relate to the feeling of knowing what is happening in your house from time to time. Pet owners also get this feeling; you start to wonder if your dog is causing a mess in the living room. Clairvoyance can fulfill your worrying mind.
You can cast Clairvoyance and place the sensor somewhere familiar to you. For example, you are out adventuring, but you want to know how your base is going. So, you place the Clairvoyance sensor in your base. If you are guarding a valuable item but you are not always available to guard it, you can cast Clairvoyance to look at it from time to time. This way, you can notice when things go missing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Which items can cast Clairvoyance in D&D 5e?
Answer: You can duplicate the effects of Clairvoyance by drinking the Potion of Clairvoyance, a rare potion. You can read more about this item in the Dungeon Master’s Guide on page 187. Using the spell this way has the same rules and duration as casting it.
You will also still need concentration. Another way to cast Clairvoyance in a more common manner is through scrolls, a.k.a. the Scroll of Clairvoyance. However, using scrolls require the user to have the spell in their spell list.
Question: Do you need both foci to cast Clairvoyance in D&D 5e?
Answer: No, you do not need both foci to cast Clairvoyance in D&D 5e if you only want to either hear or see through your sensor. However, if you need to switch between these senses, you need the focus related to the sense you are switching to.
For example, if you chose to see through your sensor by using the glass eye, then switching to the hearing would need a jeweled horn. Still, your DM can make exceptions since their word is law in your games. If they are forgiving, they can allow you to switch senses without the need for the other focus.
Question: Can you cast Clairvoyance as a ritual in D&D 5e?
Answer: No, you cannot cast Clairvoyance as a ritual in D&D 5e since it does not have the ritual tag. However, since it is a concentration spell, you need to focus on it. Losing focus will end the spell, and there are many ways to lose it, such as failing a Constitution saving throw after taking damage, environmental effects, etc.
Question: Is Clairvoyance a Sorcerer spell in D&D 5e?
Answer: Yes, Clairvoyance is a Sorcerer spell since it is part of the Sorcerer spell list in D&D 5e. Other classes that have Clairvoyance in their spell list include the Bard, Cleric, and Wizard.
Conclusion: Is Clairvoyance a good spell in D&D 5e?
If you are looking for utility spells, Clairvoyance is a good one to get in D&D 5e. It cannot harm your opponents in any way, but it can give you visual and audible access to things you normally cannot access. If I were to roleplay as a spy in a D&D game, and my character could cast spells, I would pick Clairvoyance as it is one of the perfect espionage tools. It is invisible and intangible to most people.
The spell has its flaws, though; firstly, creatures with Truesight ability or the ability to see through invisibility can detect the sensor as a small orb. This drawback makes sense, as the spell would be too overpowered if it did not have it. Nevertheless, it is still a drawback. Secondly, you always need the material components for the spell, and each item costs 100 GP. Some parties would consider it costly.
However, no one can touch or interact with your sensor, even if some creatures can see it. Therefore, it will remain there as long as you can concentrate on it. The fact that no one can mess with it is pushing the spell to the top ranks in my book. Plus, you can put your sensor as far as a mile! If you like putting surveillance cameras as far as a mile away, the Clairvoyance spell might be perfect for you.
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