Welcome to the Shillelagh 5E cantrip 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 master 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 get our spellcasting cap on, and get on with this Shillelagh.
Shillelagh 5E Attributes
- School: Transmutation
- Casting Time: One bonus Action
- Range: Touch
- Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (mistletoe, a shamrock leaf, and a club or quarterstaff)
- Duration: One Minute
- Class: Druid
Instead of using the normal ability modifier when you make an attack or deal damage with the enchanted club or quarterstaff, you will use your spellcasting modifier to perform that task. Because only a Druid can use Shillelagh, that means the Strength modifier will always be replaced with the Wisdom modifier when this cantrip is resolved. Every class uses a different ability modifier when it comes to resolving spells, and the Druid uses the Wisdom modifier.
To give you an example of what typical combat will look like, this is how damage is normally resolved if you were to use a simple Quarterstaff:
To succeed in an attack roll:
1d20 + Strength Modifier + Your Weapon Proficiency Bonus
To deal damage after a successful hit:
1d8 + Strength Modifier
Because you want the strongest stat to be Wisdom, you will need to make a sacrifice somewhere in the stat chart in order to remain proficient with your spellcasting. Taking Shillelagh will help make that decision a little easier.
The best Pro to using Shillelagh is the fact that you can practically ignore Strength for the entirety of the campaign. I am not saying you will not need Strength for something; especially if you do not have a melee-based character in your party. But when it comes to combat, you will be able to use your strongest stat instead of an inferior modifier. For a Druid, that superior stat should be Wisdom.
You can also cast Shillelagh as a bonus action, so you do not have to stop what you are doing in order to cast it. You could be deep in an intense battle and instantly cast Shillelagh so you can deal those extra points of damage. Who knows, those couple of points could be the difference between your team getting a well-deserved rest or dying.
Shillelagh will also make your strikes magical, meaning that if an enemy is weak to magic, that should deal additional damage to your foe.
The major Con belonging to Shillelagh is its duration – one minute. Typically, one minute will last ten rounds. Most smaller enemies should not take longer than ten rounds to defeat, but a big boss should probably take more than twenty rounds to finish off. That means you will need to find a moment in the middle of combat to set yourself up to take a bonus action. Setting up a bonus action is a little more difficult than it sounds, as you run the risk of giving your opponent an attack of opportunity. But because the spell has a verbal and several perishable components, you cannot reasonably expect a character mid-swing to scream out a magic command while using
Speaking of perishable components, you will need to keep a healthy supply of mistletoe and shamrock leaves on you if you plan on using Shillelagh to deliver the majority of your damage. How often you will be able to stock up on supplies will be at the discretion of the dungeon master, but I would expect that you cannot find mistletoe and shamrock leaves easily unless you spend every waking moment searching.
Shillelagh will also make your strikes a magical, meaning that if an enemy is resistant to magic, that will deal significantly less damage to your foe. It will depend on the dungeon master if this is information that you will learn during the course of the battle.
When Should You Use Shillelagh
Ideally, you will want to use Shillelagh the second before you take a swing with your very recently enchanted weapon. As the spell will last for ten rounds of combat, you will want to make sure you get in as many strikes as you can possibly swing. You can also find time to step away so you can get a bonus action to cast Shillelagh again, but I would advise against doing that as much as you can.
You could also use Shillelagh if you need to strike something hammer or strike an inanimate object harder. Basically, anything that requires you to swing your Club or Quarterstaff with great force in a direction away from you and your allies.
When Better Options Are Available
The best option is to use another character to take the swing for you. The fewer components you use, the more likely you will have them in case of an emergency. If you have a melee-based character in your party, it is best to let them take care of the minor strength issues instead of spending components to do that. While Shillelagh is a top-notch Druid cantrip, I would recommend using it as little as possible, simply because you will never know when components will become scarce.
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