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Phantasmal Killer 5e D&D Guide

Phantasmal Killer 5e D&D Guide

As you begin to weave the intricate incantation for the Phantasmal Killer spell, you can feel the hairs on your neck stand up in anticipation.

As the magical energy builds around you, a nightmare materializes before your eyes, its piercing gaze fixed on your target.

With a mere thought, you send the phantom hurtling toward your foe, eager to unleash its deadly embrace.

The Player’s Handbook says the following:

Phantasmal Killer 5e

4th-level Illusion

Casting Time: 1 Action

Range: 120 feet

Components: V, S

Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

When you are within range of a creature you can see, you can tap into its nightmares to express its worst fears in an illusory incarnation that is only visible to that creature.

The target is required to succeed on a Wisdom saving throw. The target is frightened for the duration if the save is unsuccessful.

The victim must make a successful Wisdom saving throw on each turn before the spell expires or suffer 4d10 psychic damage. The spell fades if the save is successful.

At Higher Levels: When you cast Phantasmal Killer using a 5th-level spell slot or higher, the damage will increase by 1d10 for each slot level you use above the 4th.

Spell Type – Damage/Control

Which Classes Can Pick Phantasmal Killer 5e?

Traditional classes like the Bard and Wizard can freely unlock Phantasmal Killer.

Both traditional classes can unlock and use Phantasmal Killer at level 7.

Subclasses like The Hexblade (Warlock) and The Genie (Warlock) can unlock and use Phantasmal killer at level 7.

Is Phantasmal Killer Good in 5e?

Phantasmal Killer is a controversial spell amongst the 5e community.

Some say it’s terrible, while others rank it as one of the best 4th-level spells in 5e. In most cases, it seems to be much better than people expect.

If players use it to deal damage and as a control spell, its usefulness skyrockets.

Even though it doesn’t have low damage, the most important factor players need to use is the frightened condition it gives affected creatures.

Advantages – Phantasmal Killer


Phantasmal Killer has a range of 120 feet. That is exceptionally far when compared to other spells.

Not only does this allow players to target creatures further away, but it also means they can keep a distance between them.

With Phantasmal Killer being a Concentration spell, this helps it stay active for longer.

No Material Component

You need to Material component to cast Phantasmal Killer. All you need is a Verbal and Somatic component.

Note: Keep a lookout for spellcasters who can potentially use Silence, and try not to have your hands restrained.

Damage Type

Phantasmal Killer uses Psychic damage. Psychic damage isn’t as potent as Radiant or Force damage, but it is definitely in the top 5.

Not many creatures have resistances or immunities to this damage type, so using it against most creatures will be very potent, primarily if you use it against the few that have vulnerabilities to it!

Disadvantages – Phantasmal Killer


Unfortunately, you’ll have to stay concentrated to keep Phantasmal Killer active.

That means you’ll have to avoid taking any damage, and you won’t be able to cast other Concentration based spells.

If you were to take damage or cast another Concentration spell, it would be canceled, and all the effects would cease. You will also burn a 4th-level spell slot.

Spells Similar to Phantasmal Killer 5e

Spells similar to Phantasmal Killer are Fear, Charm Person, Dominate Person, Power Word Stun, and Crown of Madness.

When or How Should You Use Phantasmal Killer?

Frighten Creatures

The most important factor of Phantasmal Killer is probably the fact that it can frighten enemies.

If the enemy fails their saving throw, you’ll give them a disadvantage in their ability checks and attack rolls.

Not only will they now deal less damage, but you can have them fail ability checks if you know their lowest stats. If you add the damage, you get more value from the spell!

Against Low WIS Enemies

When you cast Phantasmal Killer, the target must make one Wisdom saving throw and succeed or be frightened. At the end of its turn, it’ll have to make another, succeed, or take 4d10 Psychic damage.

However, if you target enemies with low Wisdom, they’ll have more difficulty rolling successful saving throws.

You’ll also be able to give that creature disadvantage from the fear, allowing you to land even more hits.

Target The Strongest Enemy

When casting Phantasmal Killer, remember that you can only target one creature with it at a time.

If you are facing a powerful enemy and wish to remove them from the battlefield, try using Phantasmal Killer. Not only will you damage them at the end of their turns, but you’ll frighten them.

It won’t be able to move closer to the source of fear and will receive a disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks. So in that time, try attacking consistently to destroy it before the spell wears off.

Frequently Asked Questions

Difference Between Phantasmal Force and Phantasmal Killer?

The main difference between the two spells is where their illusions come from and how potent they are to the target.

While Phantasmal Force lets the caster create an illusion that can use sound, temperature, and other stimuli to reach the target.

The illusion won’t necessarily be anything of weight to the target, though.

On the other hand, Phantasmal Killer tries to directly tap into the nightmares of your target.

Allowing you to create a more personal illusion. It also has the frightened condition, unlike Phantasmal Force.

Is Phantasmal Killer a Death Effect?

Phantasmal Killer isn’t described as a death effect. While it can kill an enemy, it doesn’t have a death descriptor telling us it can instantly kill the affected creature.

Final Thoughts

A spell like Phantasmal Killer has so much potential. It can be used in so many ways for so many different playstyles that players shouldn’t ignore it.

In fact, you should try to be creative, finding different ways to use the spell to fit your playstyle best.

Whether you want to deal damage or have control over the battlefield, Phantasmal Killer is great for both!

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