Irrespective of whether you are still relatively new or a pro at the world’s most-played tabletop game, chances are that you have heard of this one cantrip: the Thaumaturgy spell. For Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts worldwide, the Thaumaturgy cantrip has long been at the center of discussion.
In this article, we will revisit the D&D 5E Thaumaturgy cantrip. What is it, what are its uses, who can use it, and when? We shall go through these questions and some more. Let’s get started!
Thaumaturgy 5E Explained
To begin with the basics, what is Thaumaturgy? The best place to start will be the Player’s Handbook. Let’s see what it mentions about the Thaumaturgy spell:
Range/Area: 30 ft.
Duration: 1 minute
You manifest a minor wonder, a sign of supernatural power, within range. You create one of the following magical effects within range:
- Your voice booms up to three times as loud as normal for 1 minute.
- You cause flames to flicker, brighten, dim, or change color for 1 minute.
- You cause harmless tremors in the ground for 1 minute.
- You create an instantaneous sound that originates from a point of your choice within range, such as a rumble of thunder, the cry of a raven, or ominous whispers.
- You instantaneously cause an unlocked door or window to fly open or slam shut.
- You alter the appearance of your eyes for 1 minute.
If you cast this spell multiple times, you can have up to three of its 1-minute effects active at a time, and you can dismiss such an effect as an action.”
So, simply put, Thaumaturgy is a cantrip, a simple yet powerful spell that you can cast by rote at level 0, as many times in a day as you want, without costing any spell slots. If its etymology is traced, we can link it to the Greek thaumatourgía, meaning “the performance of miracles,” referring essentially to charms and spells related to ritualistic magic.
D&D 5E Thaumaturgy practitioners are called thaumaturgists, and they are usually oracles of priests, priestesses, Gods, and divine healers. Defined in the Player’s Handbook as “a minor wonder, a sign of supernatural power within range,” the Thaumaturgy spell might come off as comparatively weaker than its more exciting counterparts, such as Lightning Lure, Booming Blade, or Thorn Whip. However, it takes the cake by offering the ability to possess multiple active effects at a time.
Note that the effects of the Thaumaturgy spell are cosmetic at best, meaning they will not provide lasting damage effects or other miscellaneous changes to any enemy. However, it’s all about utilizing the Thaumaturgy spell creatively.
Who Can Use Thaumaturgy?
The Thaumaturgy spell represents the foundational basis of a mortal being’s access to divine power. It can be classified as an early milestone or sign in a Cleric or any other thaumaturgist’s life. A natural fixture of the spell list for the Cleric class, it is easy to think that Clerics are the only thaumaturgists of the Forgotten Realms. That’s not true, though.
Divine Soul Sorcerers have access to this spell, along with Tieflings, who can learn it through their Legacy racial trait (given, their bloodline is linked to the Legacy of Maladomini, Dis, Infernal Legacy, or Avernus). The Thaumaturgy spell will also be available to those who opt for Magic Initiate and then choose the Cleric class.
Barring core publications, Drakewarden, the Unearthed Arcana’s Ranger Archetype, also allows access to the Thaumaturgy spell.
When and Where to Use Thaumaturgy?
Now, let’s get into the Thaumaturgy 5E uses: when and where do you get to use them to yield maximum results? Quite like Prestidigitation, Druidcraft, or Control Flames, the Thaumaturgy spell does not have the innate damage-dealing properties of Toll the Dead or Fire Bolt. Moreover, its cantrip status (read, lower resource usage) is an obstacle to its overall utility as a control spell.
While all that does not sound good, the exciting part is that Thaumaturgy’s primary uses are in trickery. For instance, you can use this spell for misdirection during combat. Even if it does not seem useful immediately, with several other terrific options at your disposal, its trickery value increases due to the lack of tough resource requirements for casting.
Being a cantrip, you can cast it as many times a day as you wish, and so-called “failed” uses only kill time, not slots. Simply put, with Thaumaturgy, you can sway the movements and actions of targets without costing any spell slot or requiring the use of mind control. You can use tremors on the ground to control their movement instead of causing damage. Dimming and brightening of lamps can cause suspicion, fear, and confusion.
You can cast the Thaumaturgy spell multiple times for varied effects (up to 3). So, naturally, we recommend using more than one effect to attain a greater sense of impact. While the possibilities are not limitless, the variety compensates for it. Thaumatology effects can be used anywhere anytime. For example, you can use it on a door to gauge whether it is locked or dim and brighten lights to hide items present in the surroundings.
As for where you can use the Thaumaturgy spell, it depends on the effect you choose. With a change in eye color, pitch-black dungeons are not a great idea. If you use the spell on a door, your location could be revealed to nearby targets. So, it’s best to understand your surroundings and situations well before strategically choosing the effect(s).
Note that the point of origin must stay within 30 feet, so the distance between you and your enemies becomes significant if you are using numerous effects. Essentially, what that means is, you must inch closer to a lamp if you want to control its lighting. However, the good news is, the Thaumaturgy spell does not require Concentration to keep up the effect, so forget about durability concerns.
Why Should Thaumaturgy Be Used?
We have been suggesting time and again that the apt use of the D&D 5E Thaumaturgy spell depends on creativity and the effects you choose. So, to make strategizing easier, here are some ways you can make the most of the effects offered:
1. You cause flames to flicker, brighten, dim, or change color for 1 minute.
If you are a stealth fan, this effect might just spice up the game for you by a significant few notches. The ability of the Thaumaturgy spell to dim flames can aid Stealth checks by immediately darkening the room. Alternatively, you can also use it to brighten the flame to navigate through a dark path, understand maps, or just help in Investigation checks.
Apart from that, you can use the flickering of flames to add gravitas to messages delivered or to persuade someone of someplace being haunted. If you are going for the latter, it won’t be such a bad idea to add some other Thaumaturgy effects, such as haunting whispers or shutters flying open.
2. Your voice booms up to three times as loud as normal for 1 minute.
The point of this effect is to appear and sound more intimidating than you usually are. Using this effect in reverberation-friendly settings is recommended, be it a dungeon or otherwise. With this feature, you can try controlling an otherwise messy scenario or convince a group to abide by your words.
What’s more, is, you can also use this effect to imitate the voice of God. Simply put, it adds a thunderous undertone to your voice, just like we always imagine God’s voice to be like.
3. You cause harmless tremors in the ground for 1 minute.
While the tremors are not as dangerous as they sound, running on shaky ground is not anyone’s idea of a comfort zone. Moreover, in a game where each combat round lasts around 6 seconds, 1 minute is plenty of time. Imagine the ground shaking for 10 straight rounds back to back! That is made possible by the Thaumaturgy spell.
You may want to try clubbing the booming voice effect with this effect to create the illusion of your loud voice making the grounds shake. Any one of these two effects is scary as it is; clubbing two or more together will only make it worse for enemies.
4. You create an instantaneous sound that originates from a point of your choice within range, such as a rumble of thunder, the cry of a raven, or ominous whispers.
Being able to create sounds when in reality, there is none is a scary and alluring concept, as it is. It sounds straight out of a high-brow Nolan-directed Sci-Fi movie. You can create the sound of thunder to prove your divinity and further emphasize divine wrath. Alternatively, you can also recreate angel choruses.
With this effect of the Thaumaturgy spell, you can create cawing crows or banshee wails to scare away lone guards at night. Trying to convince someone that a place is haunted? Add this effect without thinking twice!
5. You alter the appearance of your eyes for 1 minute.
From the very get-go, this effect has a lot to offer. Changing the eye color goes a long way in spicing up your gameplay. How can you use it? Let’s list down some ways:
The most common and overdone one is to change your eye color to have an identity shift. But, this effect has much more scope than it is given credit for. You can make your eyes appear cloudy and glassy, giving off the impression of blindness. If your target thinks you are blind, they will let their overconfidence get the better of them.
Alternatively, try turning your eyes angelic or demonic to exert your divinity. Club it with the bellowing voice, and you have in your hands some terrified enemies. You can also make your eyes slit or provide horizontal pupils to seem akin to animal folks and integrate with them.
6. You instantaneously cause an unlocked door or window to fly open or slam shut.
While this is quite an interesting effect, pay close attention to “fly open” and “slam shut.” Note that the doors and windows will truly close or open as loudly as they possibly can, thereby giving away your location to your enemies immediately. So, a better idea is to hide in a nearby hallway, and whenever a guard passes by, let the door fly open right in front of him. This will give rise to some understandable questions and concerns.
If you see a door approaching while you are on the run, try using the Thaumaturgy spell to open it immediately. If the door does not open, it’s a clear giveaway that it is locked. In that case, short of kicking it down or otherwise, there’s no getting through them.
The final takeaway is that just like all spells, the D&D 5E Thaumaturgy spell has its ups and downs. It all boils down to your ability to strategize well, taking into stride both the limitations and perks. If you can balance your build with the effects you choose, you can expect great help from this spell.