The first time you stumble upon a burrow hole, you may not know what to make of it. If you interact with it, your character will most likely comment that they are too large to fit through it. These holes are smaller than even characters like gnomes, halflings, and dwarves, so you’ll have to get creative if you want to utilize them. This guide will go over several methods for accessing burrow holes so you can take advantage of them with almost any party composition.
To use a burrow hole, you will first need to spot it with a successful Perception check. You can do this by walking near it with anyone in your party. They will announce its presence and it will glow for a couple of seconds. You’ll then be able to interact with it. Using one of the four methods below, you can enter the burrow hole to locate valuable treasure or access otherwise hard-to-reach places.
The Mage Hand summoned by the Mage Hand cantrip is able to enter burrow holes. Someone in your party is likely to have this spell, and you can have it as early as level 1. This method has quite a few limitations, though.
First, the Mage Hand only lasts for 10 turns, which can tick by surprisingly quickly. Turning on turn-based mode before casting it will help you get the most out of the spell without wasting its limited duration. You can then take your time figuring out what you need to do and maneuvering the hand to get it done.
Second, the hand can’t pick anything up. It can’t loot chests or unlock doors. But it can use levers and disarm traps, which will usually open the way for you to get your party into the area via another route.
One other thing to note is that while they can’t enter burrow holes on their own, creatures summoned by the Find Familiar spell can follow the Mage Hand through. Just make sure their movement is linked beforehand. You’ll then be able to use the familiar to continue exploring even if your Mage Hand expires.
Starting at level 2, Druids are able to shapeshift into various forms with their Wild Shape ability. Wild Shape: Cat is perfect for entering burrow holes. (All of the other druid Wild Shape forms are still too large.)
Wild Shape is perhaps the most straightforward method for dealing with burrow holes. You don’t have to waste any spell slots, and its duration is unlimited, so you don’t need to rush or fidget with turn-based mode. Moreover, you’re able to interact with objects normally while using Wild Shape – looting chests, disarming traps, picking locks, all of it.
If you’re playing a character from one of the smaller races – halfling, dwarf, or gnome – then you can use the Enlarge-Reduce spell to access burrow holes. The Reduce option combined with your already smaller size will make you small enough. This is a level 2 spell, so this option will not become available until you have a spell casting character of at least level 3.
If you don’t have a character from one of the smaller races, you can get around this with the Disguise Self spell. Choose a halfling, gnome, or dwarf of either gender, and you’ll be able to Reduce yourself and use the burrow hole.
Like Mage Hand, the Enlarge-Reduce spell only lasts for 10 turns, so it’s best used in turn-based mode if you want to be sure it doesn’t wear off before you can leave. In most cases you won’t be going back through the burrow hole, however, so it’s not too big a deal if it runs out. Keep in mind that this spell also reduces your carry weight, so you may suddenly find yourself Encumbered if your inventory is nearly full.
Note that the Duergar subrace of dwarves gains access to Enlarge as a feature at level 3, but not Reduce.
This last method requires a level 3 spell, so you won’t be able to use this early in the game. You’ll either need a spell casting character of level 5 or higher, or you’ll have to get lucky and find it as a spell scroll (which you’ll only be able to use once).
This method has several advantages. Unlike Mage Hand or Enlarge-Reduce, it doesn’t have a limited duration, so you can take your time – no turn-based mode required. Although you can’t talk, attack, or cast spells, you can still interact with objects, including looting and lockpicking, which you can’t do with a Mage Hand or familiar. You’re also resistant to damage and have advantage on physical saving throws while you’re in this form, which will help if you accidentally set off a trap or find yourself alone in combat waiting for your party to catch up.
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