Catapult 5e

Choose one object weighing 1 to 5 pounds within range that isn’t being worn or carried. The object flies in a straight line up to 90 feet in a direction you choose before falling to the ground, stopping early if it impacts against a solid surface. If the object would strike a creature, that creature must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the object strikes the target and stops moving. When the object strikes something, the object and what it strikes each take 3d8 bludgeoning damage.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the maximum weight of objects that you can target with this spell increases by 5 pounds, and the damage increases by 1d8, for each slot level above 1st.

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: S
Duration: Instantaneous
School: 1st-level transmutation

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, pg. 150

Catapult 5e

Catapult is a transmutation spell out of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything that’s ridiculously fun to use. It’s also quite a confusing spell, so we have a lot of rules to clarify.

Let’s launch straight into it.

Who Can Cast Catapult in 5e?

The following classes have Catapult on their spell list:

No subclasses get Catapult for free.

What Does Catapult Do in 5e?

Catapult allows you to instantly turn any object within 60 feet (that isn’t being worn or carried) into a projectile that can fly up to 90 feet in a straight line. The object must weigh between 1-5 pounds.

When the object would strike a creature, it makes a Dexterity saving throw; if it fails, the object stops and the creature takes 3d8 bludgeoning damage (13.5 average damage). If it succeeds, the object continues flying up to the distance decided by the caster.

The projectile can still hit another creature if the first creature dodges out of the way, as long as the second creature is within the distance and in a straight line. Here’s an illustration to show what I’m talking about more clearly:

catapult 5e projectile example dnd

The green circle is the spellcaster; if they fire an object in the direction of the red circle and the red circle succeeds on their saving throw, the projectile will continue and the blue circle will also need to make a Dexterity saving throw, or else they’ll take damage.

The catapulted object will stop early if it impacts a solid surface.

Finally, Catapult can be upcast, which increases the damage by 1d8 per slot level above first and allows you to target objects that are up to 5 pounds heavier per slot level. At ninth level, you can start throwing around 45-pound objects with this spell, if you’re so inclined.

Fun Fact: Catapult is 1 of 11 spells in Xanathar’s with only a Somatic component — before XGtE, only 5 spells in DnD 5e had only a Somatic component.

What Are the Rules for Catapult in 5e?

The rules for Catapult in DnD 5e are as follows:

  • Objects don’t do anything else besides Catapult’s damage when they hit a target. Even if you use Catapult on a flask of alchemist’s fire or Net weapon, the Catapult spell only deals 3d8 bludgeoning damage when it strikes a creature. This has been explicitly confirmed for alchemist’s fire in this Sage Advice thread.

    However, Jeremy Crawford also admits that a DM could reasonably decide that a flask might break, but even then he only recommends applying the fire damage at the start of each of the creature’s turns; not dealing the damage from the thrown flask improvised weapon itself.

    I can only assume that the same logic Jeremy Crawford applies to the alchemist’s fire example also applies to all other objects, including the Net. The Net weapon restrains targets that it hits, but it normally requires an attack roll, as well as requiring that it be the player’s only attack of the turn (PHB 148).

    This also checks out with common sense — catapulting a net in a direction probably won’t automatically entangle a target. The fact that it’s a weapon with its own proficiency is no accident; it takes a skilled attack with a net in order to entangle an enemy. Both rules-as-written and rules-as-intended, Nets cannot be used to restrain a creature when launched using the Catapult spell.

  • The total maximum range of Catapult is 150 feet. Catapult’s range is 60 feet, which refers to the object you’re targeting. Then you can shoot that object up to 90 feet in any direction, including directly away from you.

    Here’s a Sage Advice thread covering the topic.

  • A caster can choose to have the object fly less than 90 feet. Semantics are important in DnD spells, and the spell clearly states that the object can fly “up to 90 feet.”

    This is also supported by Jeremy Crawford’s phrasing in his answer from the Sage Advice thread above: “hurl that object a certain number of feet” — he wouldn’t have put it that way if the spell had to travel 90 feet.

  • Catapult is not affected by resistance/immunity to nonmagical weapons. While some creatures have resistance to bludgeoning damage “from nonmagical weapons,” the object you’re firing with Catapult isn’t a nonmagical weapon; it’s part of a magical attack. Furthermore, Catapult involves a saving throw, not an attack.

    This was even specified in later editions and can be found as the first entry in the Monster Manual errata.

  • The object takes damage too. Most tiny and small objects have 10 hit points or fewer (DMG 247), so it’s likely that whatever object is launched with Catapult will break.

  • You don’t need to see where the catapulted object is going. You only need to see and have a clear path to the object (PHB 204) you want to catapult and decide a direction for it to fly in. You don’t need to see the full trajectory that the object will follow.

  • You can’t Catapult creatures. Even if they meet the weight requirements via Enlarge/Reduce, the spell clearly states that it only works with objects. A nice DM might let a Reduced Gnome strapped onto an item that gets Catapulted, however.

  • Artificers cannot use Returning Weapon with Catapult. While the Returning Weapon feature allows for Artificers to have the magic weapon return to their hand after it is used to make a ranged attack, this doesn’t work with Catapult, which is not a ranged attack.

  • Angles don’t increase Catapult’s max range. Because the object you launch with Catapult doesn’t have inertia — it’s propelled by magic. The spell description makes this sort of explicit with the phrase “before falling to the ground” — normal objects don’t just fall to the ground mid-flight, unless you’re Neo and someone’s shooting at you.

dnd 5e tavern fight with bugbears and wizard casting catapult

How Do I Use Catapult in 5e?

Catapult is one of the most satisfying spells to use because the applications are as endless as the objects in your space and your imagination. That being said, here’s some advice to get your creative juices flowing:

  1. Gitgud at geometry. The best thing about Catapult is that, with planning and positioning, you can have multiple potential targets with a single casting of the spell. Try to line up your shot so that if the object misses the first target, it will continue moving and hit a second (or even third) enemy.

    We guarantee you’ll start paying more attention to battle maps and the positioning of minis once you pick up Catapult. Especially because Catapult has the potential to deal friendly fire damage too, if you don’t double-check your math.

  2. Catapult objects to yourself or allies. Almost every player misses this application of Catapult, and it’s a darn good one. If you can see an object within 60 feet, you can Catapult it exactly 59.5 feet in your direction — then reach out your hand and grab it as it falls at the end of its path.

    You can apply the same tactics with allies. Locked in jail but see the keys? Catapult those suckers over! See a MacGuffin on a pedestal that’s obviously a trap? Bring in the Catapult! Your buddy’s sword got knocked down into the crevasse? Catapult will bring ol’ Stabby back home again (just make sure the pointy side doesn’t come first).

  3. Shoot around corners. Let’s say you can hear a pack of Kobolds coming down a narrow hallway, but you can’t see them yet. You can toss a rock into the part of the hallway you can see and then launch it in a straight line. This is one thing that makes Catapult so unique.

  4. Set up follow-up attacks with your object choice. All right, so I know I said in the rules section that alchemist’s fire and regular flasks of oil don’t do any extra effects when they’re catapulted. But most DMs will rule that the fire effect from alchemist’s fire will work.

    Most DMs will also allow for things like regular flasks of oil to explode, which can allow for fiery follow-ups — perfect for Burning Hands and the like. Another player favorite is a pouch of ball bearings, but those can be just as much of a liability as a help for Dexterity-deficient players.

  5. Boost your grappling hook throws. There are no formal rules for grappling hooks in DnD 5e, but most DMs won’t all you to throw one up to 90 feet. Not a problem with Catapult! Just note that this does require using a second-level spell slot, as the weight of a grappling hook and 25 feet of hempen rope (or 50 feet of silken rope) totals 9 pounds.

  6. Combine with Subtle Spell for faux-telekinesis. This one’s usually just for fun or roleplaying, but using the Sorcerer metamagic Subtle Spell allows you to cast Catapult without any components, thus making you appear as a bonafide telekinetic wonder. This can also have practical use if your hands are bound.

Who Can I Target With Catapult 5e?

You technically target an object within 60 feet with Catapult. You then decide a direction that it moves up to 90 feet in, rather than specifying a target creature.

This can allow you to Catapult an object into a space you cannot see, although you still must be able to see and have a clear path to the object you hope to launch.

Is Catapult 5e a Good Spell?

Yes, Catapult is a good spell. 13.5 average damage is solid for a 1st-level single-target spell, right in line with other 1st-level spells like Chromatic Orb.

Beyond that, Catapult is just a lot of fun to use. It’s rare for a spell to have so much flexibility and different potential applications, especially one that, at first glance, appears to be a straight-up “Dex-save-or-suck” blasting spell.

Catapult 5e DM Tips

We recommend allowing catapulted flasks to shatter and apply their rider effects, but not the 1d4 bonus damage from improvised weapons they normally deal — Catapult’s damage is already accounting for the blunt force, as I see it. But the chances are, if a player wants to do this, they really want to do this, and disallowing it will hinder that player’s fun.

Plus, alchemist’s fire costs 50 gp per flask — not exactly cheap for a non-game-breaking 1d4 fire damage per round, with an easy Dexterity check to end the damage.

Other than that, we mentioned the catapulting of players under the Reduce effect of the Enlarge/Reduce spell. If they strap themselves tightly onto an object, and if their combined weight is within the spell’s requirements, then I say let them have a crack at it.

I’d also rule, however, that the object and reduced gnome both take damage upon striking something, as they are sort of a package deal at that point.

Simple Catapult 5e Spell Text

Catapult: (1st-level transmutation, 60 feet, S) Choose a 1-5 pound object in range that isn’t being worn or carried. It flies in a straight line up to 90 feet in a direction you choose. If it would strike a creature, that creature makes a Dexterity saving throw. If the creature succeeds, the object continues in a straight line and the creature takes no damage. If it fails, the object and what it strikes take 3d8 bludgeoning damage. | +1d8 and +5 pound object maximum weight per slot level above 1st.