Speak With Animals is a 1st-level communication spell available on the Bard, Druid, and Ranger spell lists.
Animals are all around us, seeing, hearing – knowing. They withhold secrets, unrecoverable only if spoken to by those in touch with the wild itself.
The Player’s Handbook says the following:
Speak With Animals
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S
Duration: 10 minutes
You gain the ability to comprehend as well as verbally communicate with beasts for the duration.
Many beasts’ intelligence limits their knowledge and awareness. Still, at minimum, beasts can give you good information about nearby locations and monsters, which includes whatever they can or have perceived within the past day.
You might also be able to persuade a beast to perform a little favor for you at the DM’s discretion.
Which Classes Can Pick Speak With Animals?
Traditional classes like the Bard, Druid, and Ranger can use this spell.
The Bard and Druid can use this spell at level 1 since they unlock their 1st-level spell slot, while the Ranger can only use it at level 2.
Subclasses like the Nature Domain (Cleric), Oath of the Ancients (Paladin), and Path of the Totem Warrior (Barbarian) can freely unlock this spell.
The Nature Domain (Cleric) can unlock this spell at level 1, while the Oath of the Ancients (Paladin) and Path of the Totem Warrior (Barbarian) unlock it at level 3.
Note: The Circle of the Sherpard (Druid) subclass has a unique feature that allows them to communicate permanently with animals.
There is a subrace of Gnomes called the Forest Gnomes, which can communicate with small beasts.
It is similar to Speak with Animals, just not on such a large scale.
Is Speak With Animals Good in 5e?
When choosing Speak with Animals, you understand that you can provide much more to your party than just damage.
Where others assist your party with damage, you’ll be helping them with information that can be just as valuable as damage.
Advantages – Speak With Animals
Spells with the ritual tag are rare. They provide players with a more cost-effective casting method.
If you cast a spell as a ritual, you won’t be using the spell slot for that spell. You will be saving whichever spell slot you would’ve used and have it for another spell later on.
The main cost will be time, as ritual spells usually take a little longer to cast than regular spells.
No Material Component
Material components can make spells seem more arduous than they are.
Some materials turn out to be rare, tricky to find, expensive, and only available from merchants.
In most cases, if this is the case, you won’t be able to cast the spell when you’re out in the wilderness. You will have to wait until you find civilization or get extremely lucky.
Without materials, a spell becomes straightforward to cast.
Disadvantages – Speak With Animals
Limited to Beasts
Speak with Animals cannot be used to communicate with fey, fiends, or celestial creatures.
In the case of Find Familiar, the summons spawned all fall under one of these categories.
Spells Similar To Speak With Animals
Spells like Speak with Plants and Beast Bond resemble Speak with Animals.
Beast Bond is similar to Speak with Animals as it allows you to communicate with beasts.
The main difference is that all the information and messages communicated will be directed through telepathy. It is also a more combat-oriented spell rather than an information-driven one.
Speak with Plants
Speak with Plants is the plant version of Speak with Animals. It works similarly, just structured differently to suit a plant’s differences from a beast.
When or How Should I Use Speak With Animals?
Speak with Animals is a non-combat spell used primarily to obtain information from the surrounding wildlife.
In most cases, other NPCs won’t think much of animals and might even disclose secrets around them without knowing they can hear them.
Ask for a Favor
Players can overlook an important feature the Speak with Animals spell has. Asking for a favor doesn’t have to be something wild; it can be something your team isn’t skilled at doing.
An animal can do the trick if your team doesn’t have a Ranger or Rogue to scout for them. Asking a small critter, like a squirrel, rabbit, or spider, to scout ahead of you can save your team time.
If it turns out there was trouble, normal bandits wouldn’t expect an animal to be helping a small band of adventurers.
Animals wander throughout the world. They have no boundaries and travel because they have to, not because they want to.
That means animals will be reasonably knowledgeable about the surrounding areas. Requesting directions will result in them giving beneficial responses.
Recruit or Befriend a Beast
The rules for taming or befriending animals in D&D aren’t strict, meaning you could even tame an ordinary beast with just a little effort.
If you were to use Speak with Animals, you’d be surprised to learn that speaking with them will probably increase the likelihood of them becoming your companion.
If you have time, cast this spell as a ritual and try to befriend an animal companion. Something that can fly (like an owl, crow, or eagle) can be very beneficial!
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Speak With Animals Work on Familiars?
Since familiars are considered celestial, fey, or fiends (not a beast), players cannot use Speak with Animals to communicate.
Can Speak With Animals Be Used on Any Beast?
You can use Speak with Animals on any beast while the spell is still active.
However, before communicating with them, you should ensure they are considered a beast. You’ll only end up wasting a spell slot if they aren’t.
Speak with Animals isn’t a unique spell; however, its playstyle isn’t traditional. Players wanting to play a more supportive or utility build should gladly welcome Speak with Animals.
Be aware that some DMs might not take kindly to your character being unfit for rigorous combat. So make sure your other skills compensate for your lack of combat prowess!