D&D 5e: Enchantment Under the Sea 3

As another piece of my work on Under the Seas of Vodari, I’m writing some new spells. We’ll see how it turns out, but my intention going in is to create things that work above the surface just as well as underwater.

No actual enchantments in this list yet, I’m afraid. The title just spoke to me for some reason. Ahem.

Like all of the posts in this blog, this was originally posted in my Patreon. If you want to support my writing, that’s one of the best places to do it. Everything here goes up on my Patreon three days earlier.

Encrust Creature

3rd-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S
Duration: 1 hour

When you cast this spell, a willing creature of your choice that you touch is rapidly encrusted with barnacles, covering any armor they wear and exposed flesh. The target’s senses and breathing aren’t impeded. They gain a +2 bonus to AC and resistance to piercing damage from nonmagical weapons, but their speed in all forms of movement is reduced by 5 feet for the spell’s duration. The target can choose to shed the barnacles and end the spell as an action.

Deep Rift

4th-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: 5 feet
Components: V, S, M (a red gemstone worth at least 150 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes

When you cast this spell, you open a one-way rift in the ground from the Elemental Plane of Fire, which occupies a five-foot square of your choice on the ground within range. While the rift remains open, creatures within 60 feet don’t gain resistance to fire damage by being submerged in water, and you can maintain concentration on one additional spell that deals fire damage. Fire elementals within 60 feet of the rift don’t take damage from contact with water.

When you or a creature you can see within 60 feet of the rift casts a spell that deals fire damage, you can use your reaction to cause the spell to deal additional damage equal to your spellcasting ability modifier + the spell level expended.


1st-level illusion (ritual)

Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Touch
Components: S, M (a gemstone worth at least 10 gp, and see below)
Duration: Permanent, or 1 hour (see below)

Writing, in the way that surface-dwellers practice it, is impractical for most underwater peoples, making wizardry and other magical practices difficult. This spell provides one solution: a permanent illusory inscription inside a gemstone, which can be projected in an enlarged form for reading. When you cast this spell, you can inscribe one spell of any level, or up to 1,000 words of ordinary text, inside a gemstone that you are holding. To inscribe a spell, the spell also consumes gemstones equal to the cost to inscribe that spell in a spellbook.

Through repeated castings of this spell, you can inscribe up to 25 spells, or up to 25,000 words, in a single gem. This version of the spell is permanent. A gemstone affected by this spell has strange, faintly luminous occlusions.

You can also use this spell not to add a spell or text to a gem, but to reveal all of the spells or text currently inscribed in the gem. The spell or text appears as a faintly glowing two-dimensional image in a space within 5 feet of the gem. This version of the spell has a 1-hour duration, giving you sufficient time to prepare any number of spells from it.


3nd-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: 12 hours

This spell grants up to eight willing creatures you can see within range the ability to breathe air until the spell ends. Affected creatures also retain their normal mode of respiration.

A fey or humanoid with a natural swimming speed that you target with this spell can choose to gain humanoid legs in place of their lower body, if they don’t normally have legs. They lose their natural swimming speed and gain a walking speed of 20 feet if they are Tiny, 25 feet if they are Small, 30 feet if they are Medium, and 40 feet if they are Large.

Moray Bite

Transmutation cantrip

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, M (a tooth of a moray eel)
Duration: 1 round

When you cast this spell, your mouth opens and widens, and a second set of jaws emerges from your mouth. Make a melee spell attack against a creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, the target takes 1d6 piercing damage, and you can immediately use your bonus action to attempt to grapple the target. If you do, you can use your spellcasting ability modifier instead of your Strength modifier. The grapple ends at the start of your next turn.

The spell’s damage increases by 1d6 when you reach 5th level (2d6), 11th level (3d6), and 17th level (4d6).

Stinging Jelly Lash

3rd-level conjuration

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self (30-foot cone)
Components: V, S, M (a preserved jellyfish tentacle)
Duration: Instantaneous

When you cast this spell, long jellyfish-like tentacles erupt from your chest to poison enemies. Up to three creatures of your choice within a 30-foot cone roll a Constitution saving throw, suffering 3d12 poison damage and becoming poisoned until the end of your next turn on a failure. On a success, they suffer half damage and are not poisoned.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, you deal an additional 1d12 damage and you can choose one additional creature within range. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 7th level or higher, you deal an additional 2d12 damage (a total of 5d12), and the spell affects all creatures of your choice in a 30-foot-radius sphere, centered on you.

Design Notes

I think there’s a better-than-average chance that I have lost my damn mind with some of these level benchmarks. I’m particularly concerned that encrust creature is too low, deep rift is too high, and stinging jelly lash has just nightmarishly bad At Higher Levels options. But what the heck, let’s try some weird stuff and see what other folks things. The fixes, at least, would be self-evident! (This version includes several tweaks from what I posted in my Patreon.)

Deep rift is a spell concept I’ve had on the back burner for a long time now, and I’m excited to hear what you think of the concept of it as a spellcasting buff. Admittedly, I wasn’t originally thinking of it for underwater use, and I’ve significantly retooled the idea to do that here.

Gemscribe comes out of a lot of conversations with Shawn Ellsworth about what parts of (sentient) marine life are just completely unrecognizable to surface-dwellers. Well, paper isn’t a thing, for starters.

Land-treading is here because we, like Ursula, have to solve The Ariel Problem. Just, you know, not quite the same way. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just air breathing, because that’s actually not enough help for some of the UtS peoples.

Stinging jelly lash comes from way, way, way too many jellyfish stings on beach vacations over the years. I’m just as happy that no one ever told me I should pee on my foot or whatever.

I’m hoping that I’ll have ideas for another 5-6 new spells over the next couple of weeks.

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3 thoughts on “D&D 5e: Enchantment Under the Sea

  • Craig W Cormier

    All of these are super fun. I especially like Gemscribe. I was going to ask how a wizard would cast it as a ritual without having access to their spellbook (because they can’t read it yet because they haven’t cast the spell), but then I went back and read the actual Ritual casting text in the Wizard class. Turns out that a wizard doesn’t need to read the spell out of their spellbook to cast a spell as a ritual, or even have their spellbook on them at all. I think I was remembering the Ritual Caster feat which specifies both things.

    Deep Rift is a cool idea. I like it as both a way to remove the debuff on the huge list of fire spells for casting underwater and as a buff for the same large list of fire spells. I think I’d be even more interested to see a similar spell that focused on buffing a damage type that is more at home in the water, like cold, lightning, or acid.

    Land-Treading is more or less fine. Though I question why it only grants a walking speed option to humanoids and fey when it can target all creature types. Is it unbalanced to extend that option to all the potential creatures you might cast this on? I’m especially considering things like an aquatic Beast Master’s shark companion or an aquatic Paladin’s celestial orca mount from Find Steed. Those merrow minions of the local sea hag would love to get some legs to go rampage through the fishing village.

    Moray Bite is visually disturbing with its second set of jaws. The one-turn grapple is a fun rider.

    Stinging Jelly Lash is suitably evocative. Also makes me want a Summon Jellyfish Swarm spell.

    • Brandes Stoddard Post author

      My answer on Land-Treading is pure aesthetics. Sharks with legs (that aren’t tiburons, a new PC race in Under the Seas of Vodari) come across to me as silly rather than cool. This may be because my 3yo really, REALLY likes Zig and Sharko (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zig_%26_Sharko) and I feel, uh, equally strongly about it in the other direction.

      Merrow being monstrosities is kind of an odd twist that I had forgotten about. There are a few too many competing considerations in D&D creature types. Humanoid really needs to be a secondary type describing physical shape, with a cosmic/spiritual type that reflects their free will (maybe “mortal”).

      • Craig W Cormier

        I can see there could be an aesthetic issue with some of the transformations. I was imagining something that looked like a mix of a wolf and a shark personally.

        I also agree that the 5e creature types leave something to be desired from purely mechanical stand-point. One of the things from the 3.5 era that I really think they should have kept is the more exhaustive list of creature classifications, if only so that effects could be more codified. I personally still default to a lot of those creature types when deciding how certain things interact when there is no clear cut answer.