You are in a grim battle against a monster whose strength knows no bounds. You need an edge in the fight, so you envelop yourself in invisibility. You plan on delivering a devastating, advantage-filled blow to the monster, so you end your turn. Then… The monster casts Disintegrate on you. Truesight is one of the more annoying rules in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. If you’re not expecting it, you’ll spend a lot of resources fighting a creature with this sense for no particular reason. That can get exceptionally frustrating, but Truesight has a very set-in-stone list of rules. Once you learn what this ability does, you’ll be able to counteract it every time! So, let’s break this thing down in our Truesight 5E Guide!
Everything You Need To Know About Truesight DnD 5E
This guide will attempt to go over everything you will need to know, as both a DM and a player, about the sense Truesight. Dungeons & Dragons 5E is normally quite rules-light, but this ability has extremely specific wording that makes it easier to understand. Even so, something as generic as a “sense” can need some explanation. Let’s get into it.
What Is Truesight?
As described in the Monster Rules of the Players Handbook, Truesight works as follows:
A monster with Truesight can, out to a specific range, see in normal and magical Darkness, see Invisible Creatures and Objects, automatically detect visual illusions and succeed on Saving Throws against them, and perceive the original form of a Shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic. Furthermore, the monster can see into the Ethereal Plane within the same range.
Breakdown of Effects
Truesight is a sense, but a unique one. Similar to Darkvision, Truesight is a countering sense. That means it does not grant the monster a “new” way to see, like Tremorsense. It instead lets the monster ignore specific effects that otherwise prevent sight.
Truesight counters the following effects:
- Darkness. Any sort of darkness does not matter to a being with Truesight. They see everything in color, out to their normal range of vision.
- Invisibility. No matter how a creature or object receives Invisibility, Truesight ignores it. They see the creature with their clothing, items, and weapons. They know where the item is and can interact with the object without any chance of missing or hurting themselves.
- Illusions. Truesight ignores all visual illusions. If the spell is from the Illusion school and constructs an image – Minor Illusion, for instance, specifies sound or image – then the monster automatically sees through it. Notably, the monster does not save against auditory illusions. In the case that you construct an illusion which makes an image and a sound, the Truesight target can still hear the sound. However, without the image, the illusion will likely be much less effective.
- Shapechangers and Transmutation. A creature with Truesight always sees the natural form of a creature under a Transmutation spell. They also see through natural shapechanging abilities, like from a Doppelganger. They instead see the original form of the creature. In most cases, “original form” should be the form that they were born with.
On a side note, how weird must it be to see the original form of like… A Vampire who turned into a bat? It is up to DM interpretation on if the original form is shrunk to fit their transmutated form, or if they see the original form as full height, just in the same place as the transmutated form. We recommend the former.
Interacting with the Ethereal Plane
There’s one more thing that this ability “counters.”
- Ethereal. Anything in the Ethereal Plane is visible to the creature. This does not mean they are guaranteed to hit the creature, unless their weapon can strike creatures on the Ethereal Plane. They can only see the plane. They also can not hear creatures or sounds that may be on the plane.
The Ethereal Plane is, thankfully, normally quite blank. This will let you chase down creatures using Etherealness, or just look for objects that might have been stored on the Border Ethereal.
This part of the ability can get almost overwhelming in a place where there’s a lot of stuff in both planes. For PCs, we recommend allowing the PC to check the plane only if there’s something they’re looking for there, to prevent having to describe the Ethereal Plane at all times.
See Also: Unarmed Strike 5E Guide
How Can You Get Truesight?
Players have a few options to get Truesight. The first, and the most common by far, is the spell True Seeing. This grants Truesight 120 feet. It also has the strange additional ability to “notice secret doors hidden by magic.” While most magic to hide doors involve Illusion in some way, it does not necessarily require the door to be hidden by Illusions. If the door is, say, under the effect of Transmutation magic, the spell beneficiary might be able to locate it. This should be up to DM interpretation.
Some specific magical items also grant Truesight. The Crystal Ball of True Seeing is a legendary item that requires attunement. You can cast Scrying with it, and while you cast Scrying, you also gain Truesight. This is an awkward way to use Truesight, but this also allows you to use Truesight from a very safe distance. Great utility! There are other magical items with this boon, but they tend to be campaign-oriented. Do not expect to find magical items with Truesight around every corner!
Finally, you can get the Boon that grants Truesight. This boon permanently applies Truesight out to a range of 60 feet. Boons are a rare optional rule, and typically only go into play in late, late levels. Do not rely on this as your source of truesight if you’re desperate for the buff.
Common Enemies with Truesight
Truesight is a rare ability, but there are some famous examples of Truesight enemies throughout Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Here are a few examples.
- Nothic. This is one of the earliest examples of an enemy that has Truesight at CR 2, and sets the stage for us. Truesight tends to come with psychic abilities; targeting Charisma or Wisdom, messes with the mind, etc. Truesight tends to come from divinity or psychic powers, after all!
- Glabrezu. Some demons come with this ability, and the Glabrezu is an immensely powerful anti-mage. Don’t try to use illusions against this pinchy boy!
- Marilith. Similar to the Glabrezu, the Marilith is a magically resistant demon.
- Planetar. Hopefully, you won’t have to fight this Lawful angel. If you do, this fella is also a powerful anti-mage with divine abilities.
- Demilich and Lich. Yep! These guys have Truesight, and that makes them terrifying. These immensely powerful spellcasters will be able to avoid your illusions, darkness, and invisibility to attack you.
There is a link between many of these enemies. Truesight enemies are
- High Level. Outside of a few exceptions, you’re not dealing with Truesight until level 8 or so.
- Magical. These creatures will always have some form of magic, be it innate spells, anti-magic resistance, or a special ability that lets them cast a spell-like ability.
- Divine or Psychic. If a creature is a high-ranking Angel or Demon, expect to not be able to use illusions very easily. Thankfully, not all angels or demons have truesight… But it is a safe assumption, if you fail the knowledge checks.
What Can You Do To Avoid Truesight?
Notably, Truesight is not an aura where the enemies are guaranteed to see you at all times. You do have options to avoid a creature with Truesight!
- Physical Walls. While Truesight can see through illusions and darkness, you’re far from out of cover. As long as the creature can’t see through an object, you’ll be safe behind a rock.
- Conjuration Cover. Dust and debris isn’t darkness, and neither is fog from a conjuration spell. Fog Cloud can still cause heavy obscuration, and Truesight can’t pierce it! Not as written, at least.
- Blinding. Funny enough, Truesight does not improve any other sense. So, if the creature doesn’t have the innate ability to sense targets outside of their eyes, shutting their eyes also turns off their Truesight! This is difficult, as most creatures with Truesight are magically resistant, but it is possible!
Here are a few common questions concerning Truesight.
Can Someone with Truesight Be Blinded?
Yes! Truesight is not the magical ability to sense out to a certain range. Truesight is essentially immunity to illusions and magical effects, as well as darkness. This means that, as long as the creature does not have another way to sense you, Blinding them works just as well on them as anyone else!
Can Truesight See Through Tiny Hut?
By default, no. Tiny Hut is Evocation magic, which means there is an actual hut in the way. This hut has real walls, even if they are magical. Because the walls are created out of magic doesn’t mean they’re illusions!
In order to see through Tiny Hut, the creature will need to have an additional ability that allows them to see through walls and surfaces. Or, they would need to be able to somehow ignore magic completely. Truesight does not quite do that.
Does Truesight See Through Stealth?
Truesight does not necessarily see through a Stealth roll. It sees through Invisibility or Darkness just fine, so it’ll be much more difficult to hide. However, it does not see through walls or cover. As long as you can find a place to hide that does not rely on darkness, illusions, the ethereal plane, or disguises, you’re all set to hide!
That being said, several creatures with Truesight may have additional senses or abilities that make it more difficult to use stealth. Keep that in mind when you make a plan to hide around these beings!
Is Truesight Overpowered?
It depends on your build. If you are focused on Illusions, it can certainly seem completely overpowered. However, in many cases, Truesight is only a counter to specific magical strategies. By itself, it only really counters darkness, illusions, and the transmutations of a shapechanger or transformed creatures. It doesn’t do much to stop Stealth or damaging abilities, or abilities that directly influence their ability to sense. You’d be surprised how well blinding a Battle Force Angel works!
What is usually very strong about Truesight are the creatures it is attached to. Many of these creatures have great divine or psychic abilities that make them hard to plan around. Truesight just takes away more of these strategies and ideas! You’ll have to plan around an additional sense when taking down these foes.
That being said, as a DM, you shouldn’t hand out Truesight willy-nilly. Giving a character Truesight makes them ignore many different puzzles. It can be hard to make content if you can’t use illusions, shapechangers, darkness, or the ethereal plane!
Does Truesight Work on Changelings?
Yes. Truesight specifically counters the shapechanging abilities of Changelings by revealing their true form. The Changeling is still in their altered shape, but the being knows what they actually look like. This does not take away any ability that the Changeling, or any other shapechanger, gets from changing shape. All it does is reveal their identity.
Concluding our Truesight 5E Guide
Truesight is a pretty simple rule, compared to many of Dungeon & Dragons 5th Edition’s rules. It tells us exactly what it does. Even so, there are still so many things that are up to interpretation. Many of 5E’s effects don’t quite fall into what Truesight does. And Truesight itself is such a specific ability that it is hard to judge how strong it is. That’s why D&D 5E is such a cool game, though!
We hope that this guide helped you understand Truesight’s rulings and what you can do about it. For DMs, we hope that this guide explains why Truesight can be powerful on players and should be handed out carefully.
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