The Unsung Hero of 5th Edition: A Telekinesis Guide

telekinesis 5e guide
Table of Contents

Magic permeates the world of Dungeons & Dragons, from humble cantrips to reality-altering wishes. Yet few spells capture our imagination quite like telekinesis – the power to move objects with your mind. Heroes like Jean Grey and Eleven have made telekinesis a mainstay of pop culture. In D&D 5th edition, telekinesis offers casters unique utility both in and out of combat. However, it often goes overlooked next to direct damage spells.

This article aims to give telekinesis its due credit by exploring its capabilities and uses in depth. While telekinesis has its limitations, proper execution can elevate it from a niche pick to an invaluable tool. We will analyze everything from the spell’s raw mechanics to unconventional tactics to class synergies. For DMs, we also suggest houserules that make telekinesis more dynamic without unbalancing gameplay.

Understanding the Mechanics of Telekinesis

The telekinesis spell balance sits at 5th level for sorcerers and wizards. Its verbal and somatic components mean subtle spellcasting is off the table. Telekinesis has a 60 foot range when cast, with a duration of concentration up to 10 minutes.

On each of the caster’s turns, telekinesis allows interacting with one creature or object within range. The caster chooses either the creature or object effect:

Creature Targeting

Telekinesis works on any creature of Huge size or smaller. The caster contests their spellcasting ability check against the target's Strength check. If successful, the caster moves the target up to 30 feet in any direction, even upwards. However, the caster cannot move the creature beyond the spell's 60 foot range.

The target remains suspended and restrained in midair until the start of the caster's next turn. At that point, the caster must use their action to maintain concentration and repeat the ability check contest to keep the creature restrained. This gives the target repeated chances to break free.

Object Targeting

For objects, the caster can target one item weighing up to 1,000 pounds. An unattended object automatically gets moved 30 feet, but cannot exceed the spell's range.

If the object is worn or carried by a creature, the caster makes an ability check contested by the creature’s Strength check. On success, the caster wrenches control of the object away and can move it up to 30 feet.

The caster also gains fine control over the target object. Examples include manipulating tools, opening containers, or pouring liquid from a vial. This allows for delicate work.

These mechanics establish telekinesis as ideal for non-damaging forced movement and remote manipulation. But clever casters can accomplish far more with cunning strategy. Let’s dive into techniques that turn telekinesis into a force multiplier.

Advanced Combat Tactics and Synergies

Battlefield control spells create advantages for the party indirectly. Telekinesis offers several methods to correct positioning and gain an edge. Concentration limits targets to one per round, so coordinate with allies and rotate targets judiciously.

Pushing Enemies into Hazards

Creating hazards then shoving enemies inside works well. Even without setup, push foes into ongoing spell effects. Candidates include Grease, Web, Spike Growth, Spirit Guardians and especially environmental dangers you lure monsters toward.

Have the barbarian grapple a foe first to auto-fail telekinesis saves. Such combos turn telekinesis into a “save or suck” effect. Bear in mind, forced movement never provokes opportunity attacks.

Dropping Heavy Objects

No damage guidelines exist, so collaborate with your DM here. Telekinesis hurling large rocks or statues as improvised weapons keeps you safely away from the fray. Environmental objects brought from afar can surprise monsters.

Disarming Enemies

Make an object ability check against worn or carried items. Success frees the object from the target's grasp, potentially disarming them. For example, cast heat metal on an enemy's armor, then strip it away with telekinesis to roast them alive!

Escaping Danger

Push a grappled ally to automatically end the grappled condition. Shove melee enemies away so spellcasters can escape safely. Pull distant allies from danger or into flanking positions. Clever repositioning wins tough fights.

Class Synergies

Some subclasses and features combine potently with telekinesis. Tempest clerics push foes into their maximized Shatter spells. A bard with Telekinetic can Valor Bard flourish then shove enemies in the same turn. War Magic wizards can cast telekinesis, make a bonus action melee attack, then shove as an object interaction.

Solving Problems with Creative Thinking

Battles are not the only troubles a D&D party faces. Telekinesis offers many creative solutions out of combat with some lateral thinking and DM lenience.

Solving Puzzles

Manipulate puzzle components from afar. Flip levers, move floor tiles, and insert keystones without risk. Scout ahead using a carried light or floating crystal. Cunning casters excel here.

Exploring Dangerous Areas

Levitate the party over pressure plates, traps and difficult terrain. Grant your rogue an aerial vantage to scout rooms. Lift heavy rubble blocking passages. Telekinesis opens new paths.

Interacting Behind Barriers

Manipulate objects beyond barriers like walls of force. Open containers and doors, access contents, pull hidden levers. Your powers penetrate where hands cannot.

Remote Operation of Tools

The fine manipulation of telekinesis allows remote operation of mechanisms. Disarm traps with a 10 foot pole, turn combination locks, even operate complex machinery.

As a general rule, if a task could reasonably be done with an invisible single hand, then telekinesis can likely accomplish it. Get creative!

Optimizing Telekinetic Characters

Not all classes excel equally with telekinesis. Their key abilities determine effectiveness. Certain subclasses also lend themselves to telekinetic synergy.

Natural Telekinetics

Bards, sorcerers, warlocks and wizards rely on Charisma or Intelligence. These abilities power telekinesis checks, so they excel. Bards and sorcerers also have early access to telekinesis for extra casts per day.

Eldritch Blast invocations like Repelling Blast combine perfectly with telekinesis to push and pull enemies around the battlefield. An alluring combo for a warlock!

Untapped Potential

With ability investment, clerics and druids can serve ably too. Both prepare spells, so telekinesis stays available without narrowing options. Wisdom powers their checks. Arcana clerics even learn telekinesis at level 5.

For clerics, combine telekinesis with Spirit Guardians to terrify enemies. Druids synergize well with hazards like Spike Growth. Subclass abilities may grant additional forced movement too.

Helpful Feats

Some feats assist telekinesis users. Telekinetic does it all: invisible mage hand, bonus action shoves and a Cha/Wis/Int boost. War Caster enables opportunity attack spells to shove enemies away. Metamagic Adept grants Quickened Spell to combo with Telekinetic.

Magic Items

Items granting at-will telekinesis or spell slot restoration unlock true potential. Staff of the Magi holds 7 telekinesis charges a day. Robe of the Archmagi restores one 5th level slot per short rest. Ring of Spell Storing is great for a dedicated telekinesis ring.

In short, the classes most keen on Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma have innate advantages with telekinesis. But the spell remains viable for anyone.

Expanding Limits with Rule Exploits

Savvy readers surely noticed telekinesis' gaps. at higher levels, enemies easily make Strength saves. The 60 foot range can prove limiting. Spell restrictions generate contention between players and DMs.

As an optional expansion, we propose a few house rules to bolster high level use without breaking telekinesis:

Increasing Range and Targets

Allow telekinesis to scale up at certain spell slot levels:

  • 7th Level Spell Slot – Range increased to 120 feet
  • 8th Level Spell Slot – Target 2 creatures or objects, still only 30 foot manipulation

This enhancement keeps telekinesis competitive but not overpowered. Lower slots retain normal limits for early game balance.

Environmental Damage

Grant 1d6 bludgeoning per 10 feet traveled when hurling creatures into walls and terrain. Standardize falling damage rules – perhaps 1d6 per 10 feet descended. Adds options without guaranteed damage.

Structures as Objects

Jeremy Crawford permits targeting structures. This broadens utility immensely. Collapse buildings on foes, dismantle barriers, etc. Consider limiting large structures to avoid abuse.

“House rules open up telekinesis in higher tiers of play without letting it dominate game balance. DMs should carefully consider if these fit their table.”

Telekinesis Drawbacks to Consider

Of course, no analysis is complete without weighing limitations. While telekinesis offers substantial utility, several drawbacks exist to consider:

Action Economy Limitations

Telekinesis requires an action each round to take effect. This prevents casting additional leveled spells except bonuses like Quicken Spell. Some class resources also rely on bonus actions, creating contention. Play intelligent action economy.

Situational Reliability

Targets receive repeated chances to contest telekinesis, especially creatures. High level foes often have imposing Strength and advantage from magic items. Strength saves heavily skew odds versus your caster level checks. Bear in mind shoves and moving will simply fail against stronger creatures rather than weaken the effect's potency. Adjust strategy accordingly.

Restricted Creature Size

The text specifies only Huge or smaller creatures can be targeted. This generally excludes the largest of foes like ancient dragons. Upcasting to increase size limits is an optional house rule to consider. Otherwise, use telekinesis creatively with lair terrain against gigantic bosses.

Line of Sight

You must see the target to affect it with telekinesis. Total cover blocks it completely. Clever casters exploit transparent barriers or move targets into their field of view. War Caster also enables telekinesis spells for opportunity attacks. Keep smart sight lines in crowded battles if repositioning.

Overall, the spell is not without its limitations. But in the hands of a clever caster who understands its constraints, telekinesis shines. Playing to its strengths while avoiding overextension lets it excel.


Telekinesis is one of D&D's quintessential space and mind powers brought to life. It epitomizes how magic subtly influences reality in combat, bypasses limitations, and enables impossible feats. While telekinesis has defined restrictions, creative thinking unlocks staggering potential.

This guide aimed to give telekinesis its proper due – to elevate it in players' minds from a situational utility into an inspiring tool for cunning casters. DMs now better understand its mechanics and possibilities in order to enrich their games. Manipulating friend and foe alike across the battlefield or using inconspicuous gestures to remotely disarm traps makes for captivating adventures.

What ingenious tricks will you unleash with telekinesis? How will you integrate telekinesis into your next character? The true limits exist only within imagination, where our inner hero slumbers, waiting to lift objects with but a thought. Telekinesis is our candle in the dark, to reveal the unsung power within us all. There is no spoon.


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