Many spells in Dungeons and Dragons (DND) target a “willing creature.”
This ultimate guide is here to help you understand the basics of willing creatures in DND.
You’ll learn the rules of interaction with a DND willing creature, how to get them, and even tips and tricks for using them in your next adventure.
What Are Willing Creatures in DND?
Willing creatures are a unique and powerful component of the Dungeons and Dragons universe.
They are creatures that are in agreement or able to be persuaded or influenced by the players, and this can completely change the way a campaign is played.
Willing creatures can be any type of animal, beast, humanoid, or monster in DND.
But there are other nuances.
The official rules of DND don’t define willingness.
However, Jeremy Crawford, Lead rules designer of Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast, did say: “You can’t give consent when you’re unconscious.”
This implies that “willingness” involves active participation and agreement.
With willing creatures, the players can take on the role of adventurers or heroes, and make allies and foes out of them.
They can serve as guides and mentors, or even as combat-ready beasts.
These creatures can also bring unique abilities and powers to the table, making them invaluable assets to any party.
Willing creatures can also be used to create intricate and immersive storylines.
They can add depth and complexity to any game, creating an atmosphere of unpredictability and excitement.
With the help of a willing creature, a campaign can be taken to the next level, creating experiences that can’t be found in any other type of game.
Common Types of Willing Creatures
Willing creatures are a type of creature that can be influenced by a player or DM and can be used to help or hinder your party.
Most of the time, a willing creature is a recipient (or target) of magic.
They can range from dragons and giants to more mundane beasts like horses or wolves.
Here are some other common types of willing creatures:
- Enemies (in some circumstances)
Many times, a willing creature in DND will be a member of your own party.
For example, a Dwarven fighter begs a wizard to cast Barkskin on them for a battle with a powerful Troll.
In this case, the Dwarf agrees to the spell (and is, therefore, willing).
Even an enemy who needs help or rescue might become a willing participant in magic if it benefits them.
Rules of Interaction With Willing Creatures
There are a few important “rules” or guidelines when interacting with willing creatures.
We’ve already touched on a few of them.
Here are the general rules of interaction with willing creatures:
- The creature must give consent
- The creature must not go against themselves
- The creature must not be morally or ethically harmed
Consent is the biggie.
We’ll discuss implied consent in a moment but, for now, let’s focus on clear consent verbally and/or nonverbally communicated to the spellcaster.
The good news is that the Dungeon Master (DM) controls the willingness of all NPCs.
It’s also important to consider if the action to be taken will somehow be bad for the intended creature
Most creatures instinctively avoid any actions that go against their safety or desires.
Where To Find Willing Creatures in D&D
Here are some of the best places and ways to find these helpful and willing companions:
1. Your Party
Perhaps the most obvious place to look is within your own party.
With a mix of different character classes, races, and personalities, there’s bound to be someone who will gladly lend their services as a willing creature.
I suggest you look at those around you first and foremost.
Whether it’s a fellow wizard who knows the best spells for the situation or a barbarian’s strength that can defeat any foe, your party members are your go-to place for willing creatures.
2. Towns with NPCs
Each settlement in DND has its own set of Non-Player Characters (NPCs).
And they make wonderful willing creatures.
NPCs can provide essential services such as finding quest items or information about other locations.
They can also give you clues to puzzles or complete tasks that would otherwise take up valuable time during combat encounters.
3. Creatures in the Wilderness
You never know when an animal might come in handy while exploring outdoor terrain in Dungeons & Dragons.
Creatures like horses, birds, and even wild cats can all be used as scouts or even mounts while out on the field.
You may even stumble upon rarer creatures like dragons.
As you can probably imagine, dragons can be useful allies against powerful adversaries.
4. Create Your Own
If all else fails, why not create your own willing creature?
Certain spells can bring life back into an undead skeleton or construct them from raw materials such as clay and wood for an entirely new being altogether.
There are also other avenues of willing creature creation.
And that’s where we turn in the very next section…
How To Create Your Own Willing Creatures
Believe it or not, you can create willing creatures in several different ways.
The most useful ways:
- Charm and persuasion
- Magic spells
Charming & Persuading
The first method for creating willing creatures is through charm and persuasion.
This entails being able to appeal to creatures on an emotional level in order to convince them to follow your orders willingly.
To do this, it’s important to display a warm and welcoming demeanor.
Provide incentives such as rewards or privileges if they comply.
For example, your Bard can offer a few gold pieces or a rare item if the creature agrees to be a willing participant in a spell or request.
Your player could also barter a request for a request.
In other words, you do something for the other creature and then they do for you.
Another way of creating willing creatures is through the power of intimidation.
By demonstrating your strength and authority, you can often compel other entities into following your orders without putting up much of a fight.
Of course, though, it should never be taken too far as excessive force may backfire.
Breeding resentment is a good way to create dangerous enemies, not willing creatures.
Spells & Rituals
Finally, there are also magical spells like Suggestion that can be used to help create willing creatures.
This type of spell casts an enchantment on those affected by it so that they become compelled to act in accordance with your wishes, thus making them essentially willing agents at least until the effect wears off at some point in the future (if all goes according to plan).
Now, sometimes the spell (like Suggestion) doesn’t directly create a willing creature.
However, you can use these kinds of spells to make willing creatures indirectly.
With Suggestion, you can command that the target (a Nobel, for instance) to tell his guards to willingly submit to you.
Summoning Willing Creatures
Players can also use spells like summon creatures or conjure to get a willing creature.
For example, a Druid might use the spell Conjure Animals to summon willing creatures from the Feywild to help them on their journey.
Other methods of summoning exist as well.
Wizards can use ritual spells, ritual circles, and even runes and sigils to call forth creatures both powerful and mundane.
Clerics often rely on prayers or divine favor to bring forth entities, while Druids may call upon the fey powers for aid.
Does a Charmed Creature Count As a Willing Creature?
There is some wiggle room here for disagreement and DM choice.
In my opinion, a charmed creature cannot be automatically considered a willing creature.
Charmed creatures are not under the control of the caster, and their actions are still taken of their own free will.
They may act on behalf of the caster, but this is not compelled behavior.
Instead, when a creature is charmed, they are more friendly. This will make them easier to convince and persuade them to be willing.
Does Command Make a Creature Willing?
Comman may make a creature willing but it’s a bit in the gray area of DND.
Your DM would surely need to allow it to happen.
And getting your DM to be a willing creature is the biggest OP power of them all.
With Command, you could tell the target creature to “obey” on their next turn. But you still need to “do” or “say” something on their turn to take advantage of their willingness.
I think it would work much easier (and better) to command the creature to tell their underlings to comply with you.
Is an Unconscious Creature Willing?
According to Jeremy Crawford (mentioned earlier), the answer is No.
You can, of course, go along with this guideline.
Yet, I think there is room for implied consent in the equation.
If one of my party members is incapacitated and at risk of bodily harm, I think we can assume he or she wants us to protect them by any means necessary.
Including casting a spell on them that requires a willing creature.
When it comes to player characters, you can ask the player who is sitting around the table.
For NPCs, the DM can make their best guesstimate on implied consent and willingness.
Is a Sleeping Creature Willing?
When it comes to Dungeons and Dragons (DND) rules, official recommendations state that no sleeping creature can be considered “willing” in the eyes of the game.
This means that any action or effects used against a sleeping creature are not binding, and the creature cannot be counted as partaking willingly in any task or event.
However, there is a possible exception when it comes to unconscious creatures: implied consent.
Implied consent is when a creature’s lack of response can be interpreted as approval despite its unconsciousness.
Generally, this applies only if the situation involves situations where safety is not compromised and nothing malicious should be taking place.
Can a Willing Creature Be Yourself?
Yes, you can target yourself as a willing creature.
There is absolutely nothing in the rules that stops you from being your own willing participant.
As long as the description of the spell doesn’t prohibit casting magic on yourself, you should be good to go.
The only other exception that comes to mind is going against your best interests.
In that situation, the DM is probably going to decide if you can take a particular action that threatens your own safety or well-being in the game.
Speaking of casting spells on yourself, I wrote a good article over here about 21 Spells You Can Cast on Yourself in DND (Solved).
Is a Familiar a Willing Creature?
Yes, a familiar is considered a willing creature.
A familiar is usually a magical creature that serves as an ally, guide, and companion to its owner.
Familiars are typically found in the form of small animals such as cats, owls, rats, toads, lizards, ravens, or snakes.
Indeed, familiars are thought of as “willing” creatures.
They provide companionship while also being able to cast spells on behalf of their master.
They may even be involved in combat scenarios alongside their master.
In return for their loyalty and service, the familiar is given shelter, food, and protection by their master.
How To Use Willing Creatures in Your Campaigns
Willing creatures are a great way to spice up any Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) campaign.
These creatures – often humanoids, animals, or beasts – can be great assets in combat, scouting, or even in social situations.
The most common way to use willing creatures is by casting a spell on them.
You should also consider any special strategies that may be available when fighting with willing creatures.
Whether it’s coordinating attacks, setting traps, or even using the creature’s environment to give them the upper hand, there are plenty of ways you can use willing creatures to help your players succeed.
Additionally, consider the rewards that your players can get from working with willing creatures.
Rewards such as increased experience, special items, or even secret knowledge.
Here is a list of some other ways to use a willing creature:
- Use a willing creature to guard an important item, such as a magical artifact or the entrance to a secret hideout.
- Send them on reconnaissance missions to scout out enemy territory and identify weaknesses in their defenses.
- Have them carry messages between your party and NPCs they trust, such as allies or merchants.
- Have them serve as mounts for inexperienced adventurers.
- Have them serve as mounts for spellcasters, allowing easier access to dangerous areas while still providing protection from harm for the caster.
- Use them as additional firepower during battles.
- Have your creature act as bait in order to distract opponents.
- Leverage the special magical powers that come with certain creatures–such as flying, invisibility, or shape-shifting.
- Have your willing creature use its knowledge of magical items.
- Take advantage of any dungeon knowledge that they may have obtained while being held captive, such as awareness of traps or secret passages.
Final Thoughts: DND Willing Creature
The most important point I want to make about willing creatures is to always take common sense into consideration.
Ultimately, your DM will decide what is and is not allowed in your campaign.
For more articles about DND, check out the hand-selected blog posts below.
- DND Assassin Bug (Stats, Mechanics, and Ultimate Guide)
- DND: Can Players Get Legendary Actions? (Solved + 30 Tips)
- DND: Can You Concentrate on Two Spells? (Yes, Here’s How)
Wizards of the Coast
Personal Experience with DND