Welcome to the Poison Spray spell breakdown! Now that you have an idea as to how we feel about each spell, we can now delve into the fun part – playing the game! If your dungeon masters is anything like me, they will reward creativity that fits into the reality of the world that you are playing in. Each article will be broken into five sections – The spell attributes, pros, cons, when you can use it, and when you should be thinking about a better option. So let’s put our spellcasting cap on, and get to Spraying this cantrip out.
Poison Spray 5E Guide
Class: Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Range: Ten Feet
Components: V S
Casting Time: 1 Action
You extend your hand toward a creature you can see within range and project a puff of noxious gas from your palm. The creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 1d12 poison damage.
This spell’s damage increases by 1d12 when you reach 5th level (2d12), 11th level (3d12), and 17th level (4d12).
How Does Poison Spray Work in 5E?
Your character targets an enemy within ten feet with a cloud of noxious gas; to not be affected by this gas, your target will need to make a successful Constitution saving throw. If your target fails the check, they will take 1d12 poison damage. This will increase to 2d12 at level seven, 3d12 at level eleven, and 4d12 at level seventeen.
When making a saving throw, your opponent will need to make a roll based off of the stat that is mentioned (Constitution in this case) that is higher than your Spell Save DC. That is determined with the following formulas:
8 + Your Proficiency Bonus + Your Spellcasting Modifier.
1d20 + Constitution Modifier
Your Proficiency Bonus is dictated by level – for example; a level character will always have a Proficiency Bonus of +2. Your Spellcasting Modifier is determined by class. Reference the following chart in order to determine what your Spellcasting Modifier is:
Is Poison Spray a Good Cantrip?
there are benefits that come with casting poison spray. To cast Poison Spray, you will need no additional materials and you do not have to concentrate. That means you can cast Poison Spray at a seconds notice, with no hesitation. The fact that Poison Spray is a cantrip also means that you do not have to prepare to cast this spell as well, so you can continually spray away.
Poison Spray uses the highest damage die in the game – d12. That is impressive, considering that you can potentially take it up as one of your starting cantrips. The next highest die a cantrip uses for damage is d8. More importantly, the damage dealt by this spell scales as you level. Without expending a spell slot or using up any more of your action economy, you can deal some serious damage at higher levels.
Finally, Poison Spray is a ranged attack. While that range is not great, it does allow you to deal some damage without getting into melee range of most of the creatures you will face.
Downsides to Poison Spray
The biggest Con to Poison Spray is that your opponent will get a chance to make a saving throw. Very few spells in this game will let your opponent make a saving throw, and usually, the benefit can outweigh the possibility of missing. In this case, you will have plenty of other options that have a lower damage output potential that does not allow your target to make a saving throw.
This spell will also use your regular action for the turn; thus, you cannot do anything else if your opponent is successful with their saving throw. I would not consider that to be a huge downfall, because you can miss with a melee attack too. But why would you take a chance when you could have a guaranteed shot at doing your damage?
It is also worth noting that poison resistance is the most common resistance among monsters in D&D. Given how prevalent this resistance is, you can count on encounters cropping up with other effectiveness of this spell is limited.
And finally, Poison Spray is only efficient if you are within ten feet of your target. Unlike other damage-dealing spells that will let you hit them from a much larger distance, your character will need to be in the thick of combat in order to accurately affect your target. This is rarely ideal for a spellcasting character.
When Should You Use Poison Spray
My recommendation is to use Poison Spray in close combat. It is an instantaneous effect, so you do not spend any time preparing to cast Poison Spray. The range of the spell is ten feet, so it is not like you could use it in any other situation.
You could attempt to use the spell as a pseudo sneak attack, but that would be at the discretion of your Dungeon Master – if it were me, I would make you pass a move silently check first, then have your target roll their Constitution check with a disadvantage if you pass the move silently check. Having a disadvantage in fifth edition means you roll two dice and pick the lower of the two results.
When Better Options Are Available
I would not use Poison Spray when you know you only need a couple of hits to finish off your foe. For you to know this, your Dungeon Master should be doing a good job in describing how your enemy is reacting. A good example would be spotting that your enemy is laboring hard to finish an action, kneeling over from the pain, or trying to get up after an incredibly hard strike. You should be able to hit them with whatever weapon you are carrying as you should be attacking with an advantage. When you have an advantage, you get to roll two dice and keep the higher of the two results. And finally, because Poison Spray requires your target to at most be ten feet in front of you, there will always be another spell that can hit your target from a much larger distance.
Poison Spray vs. Acid Splash
Poison Spray is often compared to Acid Splash. While they are both damage-dealing cantrips, that is where the similarities end. As the name suggests, Acid Splash deals acid damage instead of poison. What’s more, the damage dealt by Poison Spray is double that of Acid Splash. Acid Splash is still a nice cantrip, however, as it has a range of 60 feet and allows you to target a second creature as long as they are within five feet of your original target.
Poison Spray FAQ
In this section, we’ll take on some of the most common questions involving poison spray.
Can Poison Spray Hit Multiple Targets?
Poison Spray is limited to a single target. Given the spell description, you might think otherwise. The spell creates a puff of toxic gas in your hand, which you launch into the face of your target. In theory, your cloud of poison spray could travel through another creature before hitting your target. There are some ways to target additional creatures with poison spray, like using metamagic to twin the spell. You can learn more about that option in our Sorcerer 5E Guide.
What Does the Poison Spray Spell Look Like?
The spell description describes Poison Spray as “a puff of noxious gas from your palm.” While fairly descriptive, I like to think of casting this spell as a green cloud of thick gas bursting from your hand directly to your opponent’s face. It also makes sense, given the lack of multiple targets, that the puff of green gas might manifest directly in the space that holds your target.
Is Poison Spray the Only Cantrip that Deals Poison Damage?
Poison Spray is not the only cantrip that deals poison damage. there is one more option available, which is Infestation. First released in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, infestation allows you to create a cloud of mites or fleas that deals 1d6 poison damage for one turn. This spell has better range than Poison Spray, but the damage is far less. Infestation is one of the few cantrips that requires a constitution saving throw. The other quirk of infestation that stands out from Poison Spray is that it causes the target to run five feet in a random direction upon a failed save. It’s a fun, thematic spell, but outside of the increased range it is much worse than Poison Spray.
Who Can Cast Poison Spray?
Poison spray is one of the most common cantrips in 5E. After all, nearly half of all classes have access to this spell. This includes druids, artificers, wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers. In fact, we have this on our list of the best wizard cantrips in Dungeons & Dragons.
Is Poison Spray a Cantrip in 5E?
Yes, poison spray is a cantrip. It is the lower possible level of spell available, but you can cast it at-will without expending a spell slot.
Wrapping Up Our Poison Spray 5E Guide
That concludes our guide to D&D’s Poison Spray spell. There are some real downsides with the spell for most casters. If you are within 10 feet of an enemy, you have probably already made a mistake. The limited range hampers most casters, and dealing poison damage is the worst possible option. Still, the damage itself is significant for a cantrip. It is great to have if you know your target isn’t one of the many creatures that is immune or resistant to poison damage.
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