Clarifying Banishment (DnD 5e)

Banishment - 4th level abjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
60 ft
V, S, M (an item distasteful to the target)
Concentration, up to 1 minute
You attempt to send one creature that you can see within range to another plane of existence. The target must succeed on a Charisma saving throw or be banished.

If the target is native to the plane of existence you're on, you banish the target to a harmless demiplane. While there, the target is incapacitate. The target remains there until the spell ends, at which point the target reappears in the space it left or in the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied.

If the target is native to a different plane of existence than the one you're on, the target is banished with a faint popping noise, returning to its home plane. If the spell ends before 1 minute has passed, the target reappears in the space it left or in the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied. Otherwise, the target doesn't return.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level of higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 4th.

So what does it do?

In short: make a target disappear, and they’ll reappear in a minute. 

But it isn’t that simple, is it? Banishment is one of the most searched spells looking for clarification. There’s plenty of questions on how this spell works, and we’ve collected the common question we have found here. Leave a comment below if you have more to add.

Is Banishment permanent?

If native to the current plane: No. The target will return after the 1 minute duration or if the spellcasters concentration is broken, ending the spell.

If native to another plane: the target stays banished once the spells concentration duration has ended.

What is a plane of existence?

A realm of existence, such as material (common), elemental, shadow, light, celestial, fiend, etc.

Is Banishment good?

Of course! Although very situational, it can often be used to remove one major threat so that focus can be placed elsewhere until the spell ends.

Can you cast ‘Banishment’ on yourself?

Casting Banishment on yourself instantly ends the spell as it makes you incapacitated and is a concentration spell. If you’re doing this because you’re in a plane that you are not native to, and you fail the save, you would return to your plane at the DM’s discretion. 

Sage advice has a great collection of responses on this here

Can you choose to fail the saving throw? 

It’s important to note that there’s no explicit rule that allows you to choose to fail saving throws, but it’s something that the DM can permit. 

When a banished creature returns from being Banished, what is their initiative?

Banishment does not change initiative, so they retain their original initiative number.

Is Banishment overpowered?

Keep in mind two important things: it only lasts a minute and it is concentration. Targets that have been banished will return in a minute, and they may return sooner if the spellcasters concentration is broken.  If they are natural to another plane, the spellcaster still has to finish the minute of concentration.

Where does the Banished target reappear?

It’s entirely up to the DM. If you’re a DM trying to decide, it might feel right to reappear closest to the point where they were banished. 

How does Banishment affect momentum?

The spell does not explicitly state that if affects it, but it does stand to reason that the target ends up in another plane of existence where the momentum ends and would then return in a minute, where their momentum is long gone. Whether or not the target takes falling damage when being banished is up to the DM’s discretion.

Can you use Dispel Magic on Banishment?

You could only cast Dispel Magic on the target of the Banishment spell. Dispel Magic is cast on the target of a spell, not the caster. 

Why would the spell end before the 1 minute duration is up?

The spellcaster’s concentration is broken, whether by being incapacitated or damaged and failing the concentration check.

What happens to clothing or objects being held?

The spell’s description does say that you are targeting one creature, so it’s generally implied that any non-living materials on the targets person is banished with them. It doesn’t banish the creature, naked, and leave their belongings to be looted.

Do you need a distasteful item for any additional targets when cast at higher levels?

Firstly, bear in mind that spell components that cost money cannot be replaced by an Arcane Focus. The distasteful items are not indicated with a cost, so they can be replaced with an Arcane Focus.

What would be a distasteful item?

By design, this is up to the DM’s discretion.

Does polymorph or wild shape change the plane of existence you are native to?

No. Wild shape and polymorph only change the form or appearance.

Does the target return incapacitated?

No. The spell’s description only states that the target is incapacitated while in the demiplane.

Can DMs banish the Banishment spell from the game?

By design of the game’s world, any spell is subject to change, removal, or addition. It’s always advisable to validate your spell choices with the DM upon levelling up or seeking the spell.

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