DnD 5e Witch Bolt Explained | How Good Is It?

Witch Bolt 5E

If you are a Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast, spells are a part and parcel of your daily gameplay. The world’s most famous tabletop game boasts of numerous enchantments and spells, including but not limited to the homebrew content. Most of them deal their damage and immediately shut down or add an effect. Some would last a few rounds and can hit multiple targets, as well. The D&D Witch Bolt is one spell that brings a lot to the table.

Here, we will provide a thorough Witch Bolt 5E Guide, including how and when to use it, its shortcomings and strengths, and everything in between. 

D&D 5E Witch Bolt Explained 

First things first, let’s take a look at the stats for DnD Witch Bolt from the Player’s Handbook:

Casting Time1 action
Range30 feet
Level1
ClassesWizard, Warlock, Sorcerer
SchoolEvocation
ComponentsV, S, M 
DurationConcentration, upto 1 minute

Here’s how the Witch Bolt 5E works:

A beam of sputtering, blue energy will lance out towards a creature that is within your character’s range, taking shape into a sustained lightning arc between the target and you. You can go ahead and make a ranged spell attack against it.

If hit, your target takes a 1d12 lightning damage. Additionally, on each of the turns you get in the duration, you can deploy your action to deal a scathing 1d12 lightning damage to your target almost automatically. As for how the spell ends, it’ll terminate if you use your action for anything else at that moment.

Be mindful of yet another condition to the spell ending: do not let the target get out of the spell’s range or take complete cover from your character. If your character is at a higher level, casting the Witch Bolt 5E using a 2nd level or higher spell slot increases the initial damage by 1d12 for every slot level upwards of level 1.

Let’s get into a little more detail about the D&D Witch Bolt spell:

To begin with, it is a level 1 evocation spell, advantageous to a wizard, sorcerer, and warlock. With a range of 30 feet, the spell boasts of a somatic, vocal, and material component. A concentration spell by nature, the D&D 5E Witch Bolt lasts up to a minute or even 10 full rounds of combat, if you can hold on to the concentration.

For every turn up to 10 rounds, your character may use an action to drive more energy down the arc that forms in between your target and you and strike it with yet another 1d12 lightning damage.

Using Witch Bolt During Combat

Albeit a level 1 spell, the D&D Witch Bolt is quite powerful if used well. The spell will tether you and your target with an energy lance, at which point you can go ahead and deal a 1d12 lightning damage, given your ranged attack roll hits. Your character can continue driving that 1d12 down the chain till your target is dead or if you take up another action.

If the 1d12 is employed properly, the damage caused will turn all except the most fatal enemies into ash. What if you do not slay them outright? The damage you deal will make the target vulnerable to any subsequent attack by others, and they can easily finish them off without even trying much.

What Are The Drawbacks of Using Witch Bolt?

Every spell will inevitably suffer a few let-downs, but that is what adds to the essence of the game. As for the D&D 5E Witch Bolt, here’s what you need to be on the lookout for:

Your character needs to make a ranged attack to gauge whether it hits the target. If you miss against the target’s high AC, alas, you have burnt a level 1 spell slot right there! Moreover, even if your character tethers the target with the very first strike, the spell could break in numerous ways. If the target moves past the 30 feet range or takes full cover, your Witch Bolt 5E is of no use.

Want to use your action for something barring driving another 1d12 down the chain? Bam, your spell will end yet again! You can only move as long as your target stays within the 30 feet range, and that too, while doing so, your character cannot cast another spell, attack, dash, assist, or do much or anything else. 

Lastly, if you are upcasting your Witch Bolt, the initial damage dealt will be hefty, but over time, the damage will remain at a constant 1d12. While that is not bad, per se, you can get your hands on way more powerful alternatives at this stage.

Can You Move Your Character While Using Witch Bolt?

First off, note that the D&D 5E Witch Bolt is terminated the moment you use your action to do just about anything at all, barring sending 1d12 lighting damage down the arc. What can cost actions? Generally speaking, anything from drinking a potion or swinging your sword to attack someone to using an ability can cost you actions. As for movement, reactions, and bonus actions, the Dungeon Master and their house norms will dictate those. 

For the most part, reactions are rarely considered actions, be it making a melee attack of opportunity or dodging an attack that comes your way with uncanny dodge. Bonus actions also mostly are not considered actions. Unless your character uses both their actions to dash, movements are not considered an action, for the most part.

Which Creatures Are Vulnerable to Lightning Damage? 

It always helps to know your targets before sending a D&D Witch Bolt their way, whether the biggest and baddest enemies or otherwise. You never know who has lightning resistance. As per the monster manuals, there are only 35 total lightning resistant and 10 entirely immune enemies. 

Your character shall be fine, as long as you are not fighting any of the following immune targets:

Behir, Djinni, Ochre Jelly, Bronze Dragon, Black Pudding, Will-O-Wisp, Flesh Golem, Blue Dragon, Storm Giant, Shambling Mound, Kraken

Worry not, for they are mostly very special, high CR enemies. Apart from these, you might find some targets to be resistant to lightning, but mostly, your Witch Bolt 5E will deal heavy damage. If your Dungeon Master chooses to introduce homebrew or 3rd party creatures vulnerable to lightning, you can employ your DnD Witch Bolt for them, as well!

Conclusion 

Here’s the takeaway: use the DnD Witch Bolt on bigger enemies who are already pinned down and wounded by your heavy hitters to avoid too much movement. Then, keep driving damage down the arc for as long as possible till your target is dead or weak enough for others to finish them off. The D&D Witch Bolt is a great spell if the restrictions are considered. Like every spell, it has its boons and banes. You have to be smart while employing it. Happy questing!

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