You and your party are peeking out the bushes and in front of you is a well-guarded fortress full of thugs blocking the gates. Apparently, this guild of thieves has been bullying and stealing from a nearby village, and the village has offered you a large sum of money if you successfully get rid of them. You collectively decide that the best way to get rid of all of them would be to get rid of their leader.
However, their leader is deep inside the fortress. Again, the fortress is well-guarded by swarms of bandits, thieves, and the likes. If you fight your way in against the bulky and sneaky bodyguards, you would no longer have any energy left to defeat their leader. The effective way to deal with this would be to sneak your way into the leader’s chambers without alarming the guards of your whereabouts. But how do you do this?
Well, D&D is a game about thinking outside the box and having creative solutions to complicated problems. Of course, there are plenty of ways to do this. Still, there is one D&D spell out there that is effective in infiltration without getting detected: the Pass without Trace spell. Even without a high Stealth score, you and your whole party can sneak by enemy ranks without leaving a track behind.
How does this work? And how does one use this convenient spell? Read on further into our Pass Without Trace 5e guide to decide whether or not you should have this in your spell list.
What is Pass Without Trace?
Pass without Trace is a 2nd-level abjuration spell found on page 264 in the Player’s Handbook. Since it is a 2nd-level spell, you would need an available level two spell slot or higher to cast it. However, casting it with a level three spell slot or higher does not offer any additional benefits. Abjuration spells are generally spells that offer safety and protection from harmful elements through the use of magic. Well-known abjuration spells include Mage Armor, Blade Ward, Lesser Restoration, and more.
It is a self-range spell and has a casting time of 1 action. This means that you can only target yourself with it, but the spell grants its caster the ability to protect other creatures of their choice (this will be explained in detail in further sections). Also, you can only cast this spell as an action, though you can ready it as well to use as a reaction after your turn.
It has the vocal, somatic, and material component requirements. The materials needed for this spell if the caster does not have an arcane focus would be ashes from a burned leaf of mistletoe and a sprig of spruce. The spell’s effects can last for up to one hour, but only if the caster has the concentration for it since Pass without Trace is a concentration spell. For brevity, all of these are listed down below.
- Pass without Trace
- 2nd-level abjuration
- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: Self
- Components: V, S, M (ashes from a burned leaf of mistletoe and a sprig of spruce)
- Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour
Pass Without Trace Concentration
Spells that require concentration need the caster to focus on keeping the spell’s effect to last for the duration. When the caster loses concentration, the spell automatically ends. The caster can also end their concentration at any time without requiring an action to do so. There are many ways to lose concentration, and these are listed down below.
- Casting another spell that requires concentration would end an existing one because you cannot concentrate on two spells at once.
- Taking damage while concentrating on a spell may make you lose that concentration, thus ending the spell instantly. To determine if you lose concentration upon taking damage, you must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain the concentration. The save must reach or surpass the required DC, which is 10 or half the damage you took, whichever is higher. If the damage comes from multiple sources, such as multiple arrows hitting you, you must make a separate saving throw for each source of damage.
- If you are incapacitated or killed, you instantly lose concentration on a spell.
- The environment you are in may disrupt your concentration, such as crashing waves while on a ship. This is entirely up to your DM. If so, you must succeed in a Constitution saving throw against a DC of 10 to maintain that concentration.
How to Use Pass Without Trace
If you have decided that you want to cast Pass without Trace on yourself, you must meet these requirements first:
- You must have this spell in your spell list. This is possible through many ways, such as a class’ spellcasting feature, a race feature, a background feature, etc.
- Pass without Trace is a level two spell. Therefore, you must have an available level two spell slot or higher that you can use to cast the spell. Keep in mind that casting it with a spell slot higher than level two does not offer or grant any additional benefits or effects.
- You must be able to speak freely in an audible voice since the spell requires the vocal component. It means that to cast this spell, you need to utter incantations, and this is not possible if your mouth is restricted from external, internal, magical, or other forces such as having your mouth tied up with a cloth or being under the influence of the Silence spell.
- You must be able to move your hands freely since the spell requires the somatic component. It means that to cast this spell, you need to make certain gestures, and this is not possible if your hands are restricted from external, internal, magical, or other forces such as having rope or handcuffs tied on your wrists or being under the influence of the paralyzed condition.
- You must have the materials needed for this spell to work since the spell requires the material component. Casting Pass without Trace needs ashes from a burned leaf of mistletoe and a sprig of spruce to make it work. If the caster has an arcane focus, though, then the material is not needed.
- You must be able to concentrate on the spell since Pass without Trace is a concentration spell.
- If you are in combat, you must cast this as an action on your turn.
When you have met these requirements, then you can cast Pass without Trace. When you do so, you can do the following:
- For the duration of the spell (which is how long the caster can concentrate on it and can be up to an hour long), choose any number of creatures within 30 ft. of you. You and these creatures will benefit from the effects of the spell (which will be explained in the next section).
How Does Pass Without Trace Work?
When you cast Pass without Trace, a “veil of shadows and silence” radiates from you, and this veil masks you and your companion’s presence from the detection of others. During the duration of the spell (again, this is dependent on how long you can concentrate on the spell, and it can be up to one hour long), you and all the creatures that you have chosen within your 30 ft. radius receive a massive +10 bonus to your/their Stealth checks.
Thus, if you are planning to sneak in a fortress and you and your party need to roll a Stealth check, this spell can help you immensely with its +10 to Stealth checks. Then, everyone affected by this spell cannot be tracked by magical means. Furthermore, everyone also cannot and will not leave behind tracks or other traces of its passage.
Who Can Cast Pass Without Trace?
Even though Pass without Trace is an immensely useful spell, only two classes have access to it: the Druid and the Ranger classes. So, it might be important to have one of these in your group if you plan on doing any stealth and infiltration missions. These two classes are listed down below, along with their source.
|Classes that can cast Pass without Trace||Source|
|Druid||Player’s Handbook, page 64|
|Ranger||Player’s Handbook, page 89|
Druids can use Pass without Trace because it is part of their druid spell list. Furthermore, they gain their spellcasting abilities at level one. Meanwhile, rangers gain their spellcasting abilities starting at level two. And since Pass without Trace needs at least a level two spell slot to cast it, druids can cast Pass without Trace much earlier than rangers because they gain level two spell slots at level three while rangers gain theirs at level five.
Also, druids prepare a list of spells that they would use, and this list can be changed after every long rest. When they do so, they must spend time in prayer and meditation, with at least one minute per spell level for each spell on their new list. They choose from their spellbook a number of spells equal to their Wisdom modifier + their druid level (with a minimum of one spell).
So, for example, a level 3 druid with a Wisdom modifier of +2 can prepare 5 spells in their list of spells since 2 (their Wisdom modifier) + 3 (their druid level) equals 5. The number of spells cannot go lower than one; thus, if the same druid has an Intelligence modifier of -3, they can still prepare at least one spell even though the sum of their Wisdom modifier and their druid level would be 0.
Rangers, on the other hand, have a predetermined number of spells known depending on their level, and this information can be found in the Player’s Handbook, page 89. An existing spell can be replaced by another one every time the ranger levels up.
Although the number of subclasses who have access to the Pass without Trace spell almost doubles from the number of classes, three is still a low number. These subclasses are listed down below, along with their source.
|Subclasses that can cast Scorching Ray||Originating Class||Subclass Source||Class Source|
|Circle of the Land (Grassland)||Druid||Player’s Handbook, page 68||Player’s Handbook, page 64|
|Way of Shadow||Monk||Player’s Handbook, page 80||Player’s Handbook, page 76|
|Trickery Domain||Cleric||Player’s Handbook, page 62||Player’s Handbook, page 56|
Druids in the Circle of the Land gain access to the Pass without Trace spell as part of their Circle spells if they choose the Grassland as their mystical connection. Monks following the Way of Shadow meanwhile gains access to this spell through their Shadow Arts subclass feature. Finally, clerics in the Trickery Domain gain access to this spell by level three as part of their Trickery Domain spells.
Certain races have the Pass without Trace spell inside their DNA. The spell is written in their bloodline, so they can cast this spell as a natural ability. These races are listed down below, along with their sources. Keep in mind that races from the Eberron: Rising from the Last War is only Adventurer’s League legal if the campaign setting is in Eberron. If you do not care about AL stuff, then disregard this warning and have some fun creating your character.
|Races that can cast Pass Without Trace||Racial feature allowing the ability||Source|
|Elf (Mark of Shadow)||Spells of the Mark (needs to have the Spellcasting or the Pact Magic class feature)||Eberron: Rising from the Last War, page 49|
|Genasi (Earth)||Merge with Stone||Elemental Evil Player’s Companion, page 9|
|Human (Mark of Passage)||Spells of the Mark (needs to have the Spellcasting or the Pact Magic class feature)||Eberron: Rising from the Last War, page 46|
There is only one existing background that can let a character gain access to the Pass without Trace spell, and that is the Dimir Operative. This background can be found on page 46 in the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, which means that it is only legal for Adventurer’s League if the campaign is set in Ravnica. Then again, if you do not care about the Adventurer’s League, then disregard this warning.
The Dimir Operative background gains access to the Pass without Trace spell as part of their Dimir Guild spells. Keep in mind that you would need to have a spellcasting or pact magic class feature already to cast this spell. When you do, you can add this spell as part of your spell list.
There are two magical items of varying rarities that can cast the Pass without Trace spell, and these items are listed down below along with their source. Note that the column with the “A.” header signifies if the item requires attunement to its user (spoiler alert: all of these items require attunement).
|Infiltrator’s Key||Legendary||Yes||Explorer’s Guide to Wildermount, page 272|
|Staff of the Woodlands||Rare||Yes||Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 204|
The first item in the list, Infiltrator’s Key, is classified as a legendary wondrous item while the second item, the Staff of the Woodlands, is classified as a rare simple melee weapon. Since each item has a long list of other effects, this section will tackle more on the Pass without Trace spell.
You can cast the spell using the Infiltrator’s Key as an action while holding it. The item must also have reached an awakened state. Other spells can be cast, too, such as Alter Self, Invisibility, and Knock. Once a spell has been cast through this feature, the item cannot be used to cast another spell again until the next dawn.
As for the Staff of the Woodlands, you can cast the Pass without Trace spell as an action using the staff without requiring any charges from it. That is incredibly useful as you can cast it any time you want to. However, both of these items still require you to concentrate on the spell.
Is Pass Without Trace Good?
At early levels, it is a really useful spell because of the +10 bonus to Stealth checks for everyone affected by this spell. This is especially convenient when sneaking or stealthily infiltrating in or past enemy ranks. It is also convenient for creatures with very low Stealth checks. For example, you and your party are trying to sneak into a fortress, but you have a clumsy barbarian with you with a -2 Stealth modifier.
When this spell is used, it adds a 10 to their Stealth checks; thus, they would have, at minimum, a 9 on their Stealth check roll. With the 1d20 having an average of 10 to 11, then on average, that barbarian would get about 18 to 19. That is a really high Stealth check for someone who has a -2 as their Stealth modifier.
Another good thing about Pass without Trace is that it can affect any number of creatures of your choice as long as they are within 30 ft. of you. Forget bringing your whole party with you in your infiltration mission; bring in along with you another party! In combat, 30 ft. would be about 6 squares, given that the standard measurement for each tile in a battle map is 5 ft.
It is important to note, however, that Pass without Trace does not make you invisible. It only grants a person a bonus to their Stealth checks. If you are trying to hide from someone, you would need to hide first, then roll for a Stealth check second. So if you are in an empty room with nowhere to hide and you have this spell’s effect activated, your enemies can absolutely see you immediately.
Question: What Level is Pass Without Trace?
Answer: Pass without Trace is a 2nd-level abjuration spell; therefore, it requires at least an available level two spell slot to cast it.
Question: Does Pass Without Trace Make You Invisible?
Answer: No, it does not. It only gives you a bonus to your Stealth checks. Normally, you need a hiding spot first before you can roll for a Stealth check. If there are no hiding spots available, then there is nothing stealthy about it at all, and even if you have this spell activated, it would not matter.
Question: Is Pass Without Trace an Aura?
Answer: It is, sort of. In the spell’s description, it states that the spell grants the caster a “veil of shadows and silence” radiating from them. Plus, only creatures that are within 30 ft. of the caster can benefit from the spell. Therefore, it could be considered as an aura.
Question: Can Pass Without Trace Stack?
Answer: No. According to the “Combining Magical Effects” section on page 205 in the Player’s Handbook, the effects of the same spell cast multiple times do not stack or combine. So, if two rangers cast Pass without Trace at the same time and a creature is near both of them, that creature can still only benefit from a +10 bonus to their Stealth check.
Question: How does Pass Without Trace End?
Answer: Since it is a concentration spell, the caster can simply end their concentration on the spell to immediately end its effects. If you want to end it by force, you can damage the person casting it, and they may lose concentration.