Pass Without Trace 5e D&D Guide [2021]

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Pass Without Trace is the ultimate stealth-enhancing spell. It can help the clever caster avoid detection and ensure no one is hot on their tail.

The rules for Pass Without Trace can be found in the Players Handbook on page 264.

Pass Without Trace 5e

Abjuration2ndLevel

Casting Time: 1 Action

Range: Self

Components: V, S, M (ashes from a burned leaf of mistletoe and a sprig of spruce)

Duration: 1 Hour (Concentration)

A veil of shadows and silence radiates from you, masking you and your companions from detection. For the duration, each creature you choose within 30 feet of you (including you) has a +10 bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks and can’t be tracked except by magical means. A creature that receives this bonus leaves behind no tracks or other traces of its passage.

The description for Pass Without Trace outlines it as the best spell for losing a potential tail unless the tracker is using magic. While the spell has a target range of self, its effects apply to any creatures the caster choses that remain within 30 feet. This can be a huge help if the whole party needs to get into or out of somewhere quietly.

How do You get Pass Without Trace?

Pass Without Trace is a 2nd level abjuration spell available to the Ranger and Druid base classes exclusively. The spell is available to Trickery Domain Clerics and Shadow Monks as well via the subclasses.

It is not out of the question to find a scroll of Pass Without Trace readily available since it is a relatively useful spell that is low level.

Scrolls and wands are a great way to get spells in the hands of the party that they would not otherwise have access to. Several classes have spells or features that are exclusive.

In this instance, if you want the characters to be extra sneaky or the party themselves decide that but do not have a ranger or druid, a scroll of the spell would work just fine.

Does Pass Without Trace Make You Invisible?

The Pass Without Trace spell makes a creature or group of creatures inherently stealthier. This makes them harder to spot and track but does not make them invisible. It doesn’t alter their physical form in any way, and they can still be spotted by normal means with low stealth rolls.

The idea is that the bonus to stealth checks (+10) would overcome poor rolls even with disadvantage and bump the stealth result higher than most creature’s passive perception. Anytime a creature is attempting to stealth and the potential spotter is unaware, they should be using passive perception. This generally ranges around 13 for most intelligent humanoids.

Bottom Line
Pass Without Trace is a great spell for getting the drop on a potentially tough target or scouting as a group in dangerous situations. Even the full plate wearing fighter has a good chance of remaining undetected with disadvantage on the roll. It isn’t guaranteed to work, though, and many creatures have ways to counter the spell.

Does Pass Without Trace Affect Smell?

The beauty of the streamlined version in 5e is that it makes these types of questions obsolete. There are creatures who have a bonus to or advantage on perception if they are relying on smell. Pass Without Trace doesn’t hinder those abilities. It makes the caster and companions harder to pick up with those abilities.

For example, the party uses Pass Without Trace to sneak past some guard wolves. The party rolls stealth and adds +10 for the spell. The wolves who are actively keeping a lookout roll perception with advantage as the party still emits some sort of scent.

The wolves would need to beat the stealth rolls (with +10) to be able to spot the party. So, unless the party rolls incredibly low, the wolves are unlikely to spot them even with their scent.

Hot Tip
5E is incredibly direct about what a spell does compared to what it doesn’t do. Creatures with blind sight are unaffected by spells like Pass Without Trace and Darkness because they don’t rely on hearing or seeing the target unless specified in the description.

Is Pass Without Trace Concentration?

Yes, the Pass Without Trace spell is concentration. This means the caster has to focus on the spell for the duration for it to last. This also means that the caster has to avoid any other concentration spells and make a concentration check if they sustain any damage.

The most likely scenario that would cause this to come up is combat. The caster is likely going to use another spell or take damage, forcing a check.

It might also be relevant when exploring as well; if the caster falls victim to a trap, they will need to make a concentration check. Either way, when the spell ends, it needs to be recast. If the group proceeds on, they should make new stealth checks immediately without the bonus.

Hot Tip
Magical tracking such as Hunters Mark is one way to counter Pass Without Trace. There is also the use of active perception. If it is feasible that the enemies know someone is around or are purposely looking for suspicious activity, they should make a perception check. If someone is sleeping or engaged in other activity besides keeping watch, they should use passive perception.

Final Thoughts

There are a number of scenarios and situations where Pass Without Trace shines. The fact that it is effectively exclusive to a few classes puts it high on the “should take” list. This will ensure that those classes stand out for the things they are especially designed to do. It is also a great spell for adding purpose and creating a bond within the group.

If the Paladin never passes a stealth because of their heavy armor, the Ranger can take them under their wing in stealth scenarios to help them along.

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