Acid Splash 5E: Melt Your Enemies in a Splash

When it comes to basic magic to fire out of your fingertips in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, you have a wide assortment of options. From Firebolt to Chill Touch, aggressive cantrips are a dime-a-dozen, and each element comes with a fantastic option for damage. Acid Splash in D&D 5E is another option for ranged cantrip damage, but it is one of the more interesting ones. If you’re looking for the world’s worst fireball – but for free! – you could do a heck of a lot worse. So, if you’re wondering if Acid Splash is worth it in Dungeons & Dragons 5E, we can help you make a choice!

Acid Splash 5E: The Basics

Acid Splash 5e
Acid Splash
Level: 1st
School: Conjuration
Class: Sorcerer, Wizard, Artificer
Range: 60 ft
Components: V S
Casting Time: 1 Action
Duration: Instant

You hurl a bubble of acid. Choose one or two creatures you can see within range. If you choose two, they must be within 5 feet of each other. A target must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d6 acid damage.

This spell’s damage increases by 1d6 when you reach 5th level (2d6), 11th level (3d6), and 17th level (4d6).

Acid Splash Spell Breakdown

Acid Splash is one of the several basic damaging cantrips in Dungeons & Dragons 5E. It and Primal Savagery are the only two acid damage cantrips in the game, and this is the only one with a range outside of touch in D&D 5E. A 60 ft range is equivalent to 12 squares on a standard grid.

Unlike every other ranged damage cantrip in 5E, this one allows you to hit more than one target. The 5 ft adjacency clause does make this a bit harder to have access to compared to other area-of-effect spells. Essentially, you’ll have to look for situations where two enemies, within 60 feet of yourself, are also right next to each other. 5 ft means they have to be in touching squares.

Instead of doing an attack roll, the enemies that you target with Acid Splash must roll a Dexterity saving throw. They roll a d20, add their Dexterity, then add any proficiency bonus to determine if you hit them or not. Acid Splash does no damage or effect if a target succeeds on their saving throw. But, if you do, this gets to do its damage twice! This can be one of the most damaging cantrips in the entire game with enough setup.

Is Acid Splash Good in 5E?

Acid Splash is within the bottom half of the ranged damage cantrips in Dungeons & Dragons 5E. Its issue is that it is only great in a specific scenario. Don’t get us wrong; that specific scenario happens all the time! Two enemies that are right next to each other happen when enemies fight a single hero. For instance, in a tight hallway, two skeletons will often be next to each other so they can hit your melee characters.

Acid Splash is also a Dexterity save, which is stellar! Rather than having to hit AC, you just have to have enemies flub their save. Since some enemies are not proficient in Dexterity saves, this can lead to scenarios where you’re just more accurate with Acid Splash than anything else.

In these instances, Acid Splash basically does 2d6 damage! That is, on average, the same as Toll the Dead, which is the highest ranged damage cantrip in the game! And all you need to do is have two enemies standing next to each other. And, well, that’s the problem.

Downsides for Using Acid Splash

Acid Splash requires two enemies to be next to each other to be a good cantrip. Otherwise, you’re dealing 1d6 Acid damage with no debuffs to a single target.When looking at damage cantrips, it is important to compare them to Fire bolt and Chill Touch. Fire bolt is the most basic ranged cantrip. It deals 1d10 fire damage at a 120 foot range. No downsides, no conditions.

Chill Touch has the same range, but deals 1d8 necrotic damage. However, it prevents healing and has a stronger effect against Undead which applies disadvantage to their attacks against you. This is around the power level you want for a utility cantrip.

Since Acid Splash has no debuffs, you’re comparing it to Fire Bolt. Acid Splash has half the range and almost half the damage, unless two enemies are standing next to each other. In addition, the Acid damage type is strictly mediocre. It is not as good as psychic, thunder, or radiant damage, in terms of enemies that are naturally resistant or immune to the damage type. However, it is not as commonly resisted as fire, cold, and lightning.

Finally, by dealing 1d6 damage to two targets, you’re dealing less damage to a single target. A big philosophy in Dungeons & Dragons is damage focusing; by dealing damage to one target, you’re more likely to kill it. Then, you can go to the next target. And, because an enemy is dead, your party will be taking less damage. With Toll the Dead or Fire bolt, you can quickly and effectively kill targets before they are threats to your party. With Acid Splash, you can deal good damage… But, by splitting the damage between two people, you might lose the chance to take out a threat early.So, by taking Acid Splash, you are conceding a Cantrip slot that may not always be at maximum power.

When Should You Use Acid Splash

Acid Splash is best used in tight hallways, such as a 10-foot wide dungeon hall. In these conditions, enemies tend to only be able to fight in a single-file line, or next to each other. Your melees can keep the monsters in check simply by going into melee! Then, you can get your 2d6 damage a turn without an issue.

This also works in situations where there are large swarms of enemies. Insects, for instance, tend to come in large groups. In this situation, even without a tight hallway, Acid Splash will probably do its 2d6 damage more consistently.Acid Splash is also fine if you know you’re about to go up against acid vulnerable enemies. These are exceptionally rare, but dealing double damage tends to be worth it, even if the 1d6 damage of Acid Splash is a bit low compared to other options.

There is also the top-tier instance where Acid Splash is viable: Alchemist Artificer. In this situation, you get to add your Intelligence Modifier to the damage of Acid Splash, as long as your DM agrees that a cantrip is a spell. Adding Intelligence to this is great!

When Better Options Are Available

In general, Acid Splash is best taken on a class like Wizard class, or the Eldritch Knight Fighter, which can more readily trade it out for other ranged damage cantrips. Acid Splash works great as a “second” ranged attack. For instance, if you want to spend 2 of your 5 cantrips on ranged damage, Acid Splash is a great backup plan. Your primary should be a spell like Toll the Dead or Firebolt. Then, Acid Splash can work for situations where there are many small enemies swarming your team and you don’t want to spend a spell slot.

What Does Acid Splash Look Like?

When you cast Acid Splash, a glob of smoking liquid flies from your hand. Remember, a round is 6 seconds, so this thing clears 10 feet per minute! That’s a fast pile of liquid.

Considering that it can hit two people, this blob is likely quite large. Probably not as huge as a bowling ball, but close! And this thing drips as it flies, scorching the ground beneath it briefly as it staggers through the air. This is just an interpretation of this cantrip, but we like to believe this thing has legitimate destructive power, even if it is something a Wizard can just fire at will!

Acid Splash vs. Chill Touch

While it is easy to compare a pure damage cantrip like Acid Splash to another one – like Fire Bolt – it can be harder to compare the utility cantrips to one another. When choosing your cantrip, it can be very difficult to justify something like Chill Touch, which only debuffs enemies for a short amount of time. But, when you are able to cast Chill Touch every turn, the debuff becomes more and more prevalent.

What is the value of something like that, though? Chill Touch, similar to Acid Splash, is a situationally insane spell. Healing prevention only comes up against magically improved enemies, most of the time. And the undead effect is both only active against undead and only matters if the undead can hit you! Otherwise, Chill Touch just hits for 1d8 necrotic damage.

But… 1d8 necrotic damage is still more than 1d6 acid damage in most situations. When it is not at full power, Chill Touch still does its job as a damaging spell better than Acid Splash. For situational cantrips like these, it is important to analyze how they do outside of their perfect scenario. This will let you understand how a cantrip fares in a basic combat and let you better appreciate its basic benefits.

Acid Splash FAQ

If there are two creatures in the same square, does Acid Splash hit them both?

In the rare cases where two creatures are able to be in the same spot, then yes, Acid Splash hits them both! The wording of Acid Splash is “within,” meaning that as long as they are within 1 square of your primary target, you’ve got your two targets. Within the same square is, thankfully, within that range.

Do you roll Acid Splash’s damage once or twice if you hit two targets?

Once. Acid Splash is always a single damage roll. This is part of the Player Handbook, which states that for any effect that deals damage to more than one target, the damage is always rolled once. This means that you can hit two targets for the additional damage of Alchemist Artificer.

What feats benefit Acid Splash?

The best feats for Acid Splash augment the damage type or improve the range of the cantrip. By default, this makes Metamagic Adept the best for augmentation and range increases… But that’s only technically. You shouldn’t be spending Metamagic on Acid Splash!

That makes Elemental Adept your best option for improving Acid Splash’s viability! This feat reduces resistance to Acid Splash’s damage while also improving your chance to roll high on it. This works best in a build entirely dedicated to the acid damage type, which is rare to say the least. 

Can you use Acid Splash on objects, like doors or walls?

Sadly, this cantrip can only target creatures. This is based on the wording of the spell. It would be up to the DM to improve the usefulness of Acid Splash… Though, realistically, the ability to change the world around the character should be limited to spells that take spell slots.

What races can get Acid Splash innately?

Acid Splash can be learned by specific Elven races. High Elves can learn Acid Splash, since they can learn any Wizard cantrips. Half-Elves can also learn it through the variant Moon Elf or Sun Elf rules. Be sure to talk to your DM before choosing any variant race, however!

Is Acid Splash AOE?

Despite the name and spell description, Acid Splash is not an AOE spell. Instead, Acid Splash targets either one or two targets, as long as the targets are within five feet of each other. This is a common misconception, as a large spray of acid would logically apply to more than just an individual target. But hey, magic is weird sometimes.

Concluding Our Acid Splash 5E Guide

Acid Splash is a pretty mediocre cantrip, but it does have its uses! We hope this guide explains the flaws that this cantrip has, but also why it can be handy sometimes. We also hope this guide helps your thought process when it comes to getting cantrips in the future. If you have a few other ranged damage cantrips and are looking for a situational option, you could do much worse than this one.

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