Locate Object 5e Guide

Locate Object 5e Guide – The Underrated Object Retrieval Spell

You and your partner had too many drinks the night before. When you woke up, all but one of your coin purses had been snatched from your belt, the ties cut with a sharp and small blade. The only sober one, the Paladin, begrudgingly paid the tab built up before you left, though you all promised to pay him back. All you needed to do was find your coin purses.

Taking a deep breath, the Bard stepped forward and lifted a forked twig into the air, casting Locate Object. Their eyes lit up, and they gestured madly for all of you to follow, darting through the streets.

They jumped over carts and ducked through alleyways – it was almost difficult to keep up, but there were only ten minutes to find your money. You soon reached your destination – a thieves’ hideout. It seems like retrieving your gold will be a fight within itself. 

Welcome to a Locate Object 5e Guide.

Bottom Line

Locate object is a second-level Divination spell. It lasts ten minutes and requires concentration. It can help you find an object you are searching for within 1,000 feet, but if a sheet of lead is in the way, the spell will not be able to locate your desired object.

Even if you were to use a spell like Etherealness to get around the sheet of lead clause in Locate Object, it still wouldn’t work, and the spell would fall through.

In order for the caster to be able to use Locate Object, they need to be familiar with the item and have been within at least thirty feet of it to observe it at least once.

The Basics

Locate Object is a second-level Divination spell. It requires Verbal, Somatic, and Material components, with the Material component being a forked twig. Locate Object is a Concentration spell lasting up to ten minutes.

It takes a single action to cast. Locate Object can be found in the Player’s Handbook on page 256 for Dungeons and Dragons 5e.

What is the School of Divination?

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According to the player’s handbook, the School of Divination creates spells that “strive to part the veils of space, time, and consciousness so that you can see clearly.” They allow for the casters to utilize spells of “discernment, remote viewing, supernatural knowledge, and foresight.”

In the case of the Locate Object spell, it falls into the category of detection and discernment.

How it Functions

In order to activate Locate Object, you need to describe or name the object you’re searching for. It needs to be familiar to you in order for the spell to take hold. You will sense the direction of the object’s location so long as that object remains within 1,000 feet of you. If the object you’re searching for is in motion, you will know the direction it is moving in.

In order for an object to count as “familiar,” you need to have seen it up close, within thirty feet of it, at least once. The spell can also locate the nearest object of a particular kind, such as a specific type of clothing, jewelry, furniture, tool, or a weapon.

This spell cannot locate an object if any thickness of lead, even the thinnest of sheets, blocks the direct path between yourself and the object. However, if your object is made of lead, you can still locate it. It is not blocking the path to the object as it is the object.

So, in this one highly specific situation that you likely won’t find yourself running across, Locate Object would still work.

Does this mean that Locate Object could Theoretically Work if Traveling Through Planes?

Ethereal Plane
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Although Divination spells part through the veils of space, time, and consciousness, there is no direct path to an object that is not on your plane. It needs to be within 1,000 feet of you in order for the spell to work properly. However, if you were using the spell Etherealness, which places you on the border of your current Plane and the Ethereal Plane, things start to get tricky.

Etherealness states that you ignore all objects and effects that aren’t on the Ethereal Plane, which allows for you to move through objects without being impaired unless a special ability or magic gives them the capability to interact. However, considering this is a physical effect, we have to ask the question if Locate Object could theoretically still work.

I would rule that the two spells do work in tandem. Locate Object would fulfill the specific clause in Etherealness that requires the affected to have a special ability or magic to interact with objects on their current Plane of Existence. As such, Etherealness would allow for Locate Object to gain the most direct path to an object so it can be retrieved as quickly as possible.

The person affected by Etherealness could run through walls rather than having to clamber over buildings or weave through alleyways, giving them the most direct pathway possible.

How it Doesn’t Function

Although Etherealness may work with Locate Object, it still wouldn’t work if there was a sheet of lead in the way of you and the object. Unfortunately, the sheet of lead stops Locate Object. While Etherealness may ignore it, Locate Object doesn’t. So, Etherealness isn’t a solution to getting around the lead clause for this spell. Unfortunately, there are other ways that Locate Object doesn’t work as well.

With Locate Object, you do have to be somewhat familiar with it. The spell dictates that you must have been within 30 feet of it at least once, but let’s be honest – how many of us can get within thirty feet of a random object and know it well enough that we could recall enough details to find it again?

I can’t remember what the lanyard on my car keys looks like half the time. As such, I would rule that Locate Object requires that you have closely observed the object you’re looking for for at least one minute prior to casting the spell.

So Locate Object can’t work around different Planes of Existence… but what about Pocket Dimensions?

A Pocket Dimension would be something like the spell Wrist Pocket or a Bag of Holding. These make temporary “pocket” Dimensions that others cannot access, allowing you to store your materials safely. A Wrist Pocket would technically be safer than a Bag of Holding, considering that only you have access to that spell.

Anyone else can gain access to your Bag of Holding and turn it inside out, dumping everything out. However, considering that Pocket Dimension does not exist on your current plane of existence and is somewhere else, you could not Locate an Object if it were in a Bag of Holding or in someone’s Wrist Pocket.

The moment that they took it out, however, if you were to cast the spell at the right time, there is a chance that you could get a “blip” of where it is on your magical radar. From there, it would mostly be guesswork until they pulled it out again.

Who Can Use Locate Object

Locate Object
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Just about any magic casting class in the game will have access to the Locate Object spell at one point or another. Bards, Clerics, Druids, Paladins, Rangers, and Wizards all gain access to the locate object spell upon gaining their first second-level spell slot. Sorry Sorcerers and Warlocks, you should try not to lose anything because this spell just isn’t going to be in your repertoire.

Bards, Clerics, Druids, and Wizards all gain their first second-level spell slot when they reach level three. Paladins and Rangers gain their first second-level spell slot when they reach level five. However, considering how few spell slots these latter two classes usually have, conserving them in order to empower their attacks, it might not be for the best if a Paladin or Ranger were to expend their spell slots for Locate Object – especially if you have another one of the available classes with it.

Getting Creative With It

Let’s get nit-picky with the wording on the spell. With Locate Object in 5e, “the spell can locate the nearest object of a particular kind,” this means that you can theoretically locate magical objects. Magical objects are technically a “particular kind.”

So, if you’re dungeon delving and you’re worried that you’re not finding everything that you could – whether behind secret doors or on an enemy you just forgot to loot, Locate Object could theoretically help you find any magical objects.

However, you have to keep in mind that the spell only lasts for ten minutes, so perhaps when you’re backtracking through the Dungeon, it would be best to cast the spell; that way, you can pick up anything that was missed while on the way out.

Plus, if you do it while you’re backtracking, then there isn’t as much risk of running out of spell slots if you need to fight a boss at the end.

I would be careful when attempting to do this, however, because the spell may very well twist itself into detecting the magical object on your person as the nearest one. As a player character, it’s more than unlikely that once you start doing Dungeon Delves with high-level magic items in the mix, you don’t have magical items on your person.

So maybe dump them outside, more than a thousand feet from the entrance, and leave someone to guard them. In the end, though, this might end up proving to be more hassle than it is actually worth.


Question: Can you use Locate Object to find a person?

Answer: No, you can’t. People are not objects and thus cannot be located with this spell. However, the spell Locate Creature can be used to find a person who is on your current plane of existence.

Question: Is there a workaround to the lead barrier clause in Locate Object?

Answer: Destroy or move around the barrier, and suddenly Locate Object can work again. Other than that, no, there is no workaround. Lead Barriers stop most spells in dnd; unless they are damage or Area of Effect spells, you’re likely to have to work yourself around the barrier physically.

Question: Could you locate an object on the Ethereal Plane using Etheralness?

Answer: Yes… you technically could; however, considering that objects can really “exist” on the Ethereal Plane, which functions as a transition Plane, rather than an actual Material Plane, there wouldn’t be any objects to locate on it.


There are a lot of simple and straightforward spells in Dungeons and Dragons 5e, and Locate Object is one of those spells. There are niche situations that you can get into with it, and there are certainly ways to exploit it – namely with Etherealness.

Although when you start to explore the niche situations and get down into the nitty-gritty of the spell (such as locating a magical object in a dungeon), you also have to start wondering just how well a lot of this would work and if it’s worth the hassle to make it work. In the end, however, it is a spell with a lot of use.

If someone has stolen your coin purse, you can easily begin to locate it because chances are that if they’ve stolen your coin, they can’t just toss it into a pocket dimension. If you’re delving through a labyrinth or a dungeon looking for a specific object, say the stolen crown of an Arch Fey, you can use Locate Object to guide you in the right direction without becoming hopelessly lost.

It won’t give you the exact path you need to take, but it will point you in a direction and keep you on the right track. At the very least, with Locate Object, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about losing your coin purses again after a night at the tavern with a few too many drinks.

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