You fill the air with spinning daggers in a cube 5 feet on each side, centered on a point you choose within range. A creature takes 4d4 slashing damage when it enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 2d4 for each slot level above 2nd.

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a sliver of glass)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
School: 2nd-level conjuration

Who can cast Cloud of Daggers? Bards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards have Cloud of Daggers on their class spell lists. No subclass gets Cloud of Daggers for free.

Player’s Handbook, pg. 222

Cloud of Daggers 5e

In DnD 5e, Cloud of Daggers is the small-space, big-damage “area of effect” spell that can lay down oodles of pain with proper set-up. It’s also a spell that’s frequently misunderstood, which I hope to clear up.

So let’s get into all the fun ways to bring a Cloud of Daggers to your next DnD session, as well as tips for DMs running the spell.

How Does Cloud of Daggers Work in 5e?

Cloud of Daggers that can affect between 1-4 squares and deals 4d4 (10 average) slashing damage to any creature that enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there.

Cloud of Daggers can last for up to 1 minute (concentration allowing) and can deal damage multiple times per round of combat, but cannot deal damage multiple times in a single turn.

Lastly, Cloud of Daggers can be upcast, dealing an additional 2d4 (average 5) slashing damage for spell slot above 2nd.

How to Use Cloud of Daggers in 5e

Here are a few ideas on how to use Cloud of Daggers in your next DnD session:

  1. Pair with push/pull effects. This is the real secret sauce to make Cloud of Daggers go from a “meh, decent one-time damage” spell into an absolute monster source of pain. A few examples for pairing with Cloud of Daggers, either yourself or with fellow party members, include:

    • Warlock’s Eldritch Blast invocations: Using Grasp of Hadar and/or Repelling Blast can pretty much guarantee that you can trigger Cloud of Daggers damage on multiple rounds of combat as long as the spell and your allies are strategically placed. And it’s a cantrip, so it’s easily replicable.

    • Thorn Whip

    • Thunderwave

    • Lightning Lure

    • Thunderwave

    Even just shoves (Shield Master feat anyone?) can make it easy to blend up baddies with your glorious Cloud of Daggers.

  2. Pair with Grapple. Casting Cloud of Daggers around your group’s grappler is a great way to guarantee an immense amount of damage from the spell. What makes grappling so special is the ability to freely move the grappled creature around — back and forth out of the blender of blades.

    Beyond a creature’s ability to break free of the grapple, this is a much more straightforward way of getting multiple procs of CoD damage than the push/pull method, which relies a bit on how the monster moves and how far it moves each turn.

  3. Pair with other effects that restrain movement. Spells like Hold Person and Web can do a decent job of accomplishing the same thing that grapple accomplishes — making sure a creature takes multiple rounds of damage from one casting of the spell.

    Beyond that, several conditions can reduce a target’s movement to 0, effectively guaranteeing multiple instances of CoD’s damage. Those conditions are:

    Any spell or effect that causes those conditions (especially for multiple rounds) can make Cloud of Daggers do silly amounts of automatic damage. Still, grappling is superior, since you deal damage on the grappler’s turn when they pull the creature out and back into the daggers, as well as at the start of the creature’s turn.

  4. Block narrow paths. Creating hazardous terrain doesn’t need to just be about dealing mad damage — it can also be used for battlefield control. Shutting down escape routes, making “rock-and-a-hard-place” scenarios, and creating single-file clusters can all help shut down your enemies’ options.

  5. Watch out for allies. The hazardous terrain thing is a double-edged sword, so make sure you don’t trap allies the same way that Cloud of Daggers is used to trap foes. Of course, if you do put your buddy in an awkward spot, you can drop your concentration whenever (even on their turn).

necromancer vs. owlbear dungeons and dragons 5e miniatures

What Are the Rules for Cloud of Daggers in 5e?

The rules for Cloud of Daggers in DnD 5e are as follows:

  • Cloud of Daggers affects between 1-4 squares. Originally a controversial answer on Sage Advice and later codified in the Sage Advice Compendium, the game’s developers have left it up to DMs to decide whether AoE effects need to “snap” to a grid or not (SAC).

    In any case, the space that Cloud of Daggers affects is a 5-foot cube, meaning it affects the equivalent of 1 square on a 1 square = 5 feet battle map. Lazy artist’s rendering:


    Only the X square is affected; all creatures on O squares are completely safe from Cloud of Daggers.

    However, a DM may allow a player to cast Cloud of Daggers on the intersection of two or even four squares if they’re using Xanathar’s rules for the template method on AoE spells (XGtE 86). In that case, Cloud of Daggers would look like:



  • Cloud of Daggers does not deal damage immediately if cast on a space that a creature already occupies. The Sage Advice Compendium confirmed that spells like Cloud of Daggers and Moonbeam don’t have an immediate effect, but are instead “setting up hurt for your foes on later turns” (SAC).

    You definitely don’t auto-hit with Cloud of Daggers both on your turn upon casting it and again when the enemy’s turn begins.

  • Cloud of Daggers deals “magical” slashing damage.“Magical” damage isn’t a technical DnD term, but it’s important to note that, for the purposes of overcoming creatures’ resistances and immunities to “nonmagical” slashing damage, Cloud of Daggers works. Sage Advice confirmation.

  • You can force a creature into Cloud of Daggers area to immediately deal damage to it (once per turn). The SAC goes on to say that “entering such an area of effect needn’t be voluntary…so hurl away” (SAC).

    In other words, you can instantly damage an enemy by blasting them into Cloud of Daggers with something like Thunderwave. This does have its limits, as the SAC also reminds us that CoD and similar spells only affect a creature “the first time it enters the area on a turn.”

    Of course, there are many turns in a single round of combat, so the potential to stack Cloud of Daggers damage high with clever teamplay does exist.

  • Cloud of Daggers can damage allies (including yourself). Cloud of Daggers deals damage to “a creature” — the spell text says nothing about hostile or friendly.

  • You roll damage for Cloud of Daggers when it actually hits a creature. So when you actually cast Cloud of Daggers, you won’t be rolling the damage dice right away.

Is Cloud of Daggers 5e a Good Spell?

Yes, Cloud of Daggers is a good spell in DnD 5e and can be a great spell with the right character build and/or party composition. Guaranteed damage is always great, and the no-save, no-attack roll nature of Cloud of Daggers is undeniably attractive for that alone.

But that’s not why players pick up Cloud of Daggers — they do it because they have a party that works with a playstyle that creates opportunities to trigger Cloud of Daggers multiple times per round of combat.

If you don’t have a squad that’s down for this type of clowning, we suggest skipping Cloud of Daggers for a more straightforward blasting spell.

Cloud of Daggers 5e DM Tips

We left DMs with a pretty big choice to make (or, more accurately, Jeremy Crawford did) by ruling that Cloud of Daggers affects somewhere between 1-4 squares. For me, I think Cloud of Daggers affects up to 4 squares, using Xanathar’s rules for AoE spells using the template method (XGtE 86).

If you rule it only affects one square, it severely nerfs the spell. Since it’s not even close to being overpowered if it affects 4 squares, I think it’s a perfectly reasonable way to run the spell.

DnD 5e Cloud of Daggers FAQ

Cloud of Daggers DnD 5e FAQ:

  1. Can you move Cloud of Daggers? No, Cloud of Daggers remains stationary once cast.

  2. When does Cloud of Daggers deal damage? Cloud of Daggers inflicts damage at the start of a creature’s turn if they’re within its area or when it enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn.

  3. Does Cloud of Daggers deal damage when cast? No, the spell only causes damage at the start of a creature’s turn while within its area or when it enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn.

  4. Does Cloud of Daggers hurt allies? Yes, Cloud of Daggers affects any creature within its area, including allies and the caster.

  5. Is Cloud of Daggers magical damage? Yes, Cloud of Daggers is magical slashing damage.

Simple Cloud of Daggers 5e Spell Text

Cloud of Daggers: (2nd-level conjuration, 60 feet, concentration, up to 1 minute, V/S/M (a sliver of glass)) Place spinning daggers in a 5-foot cube. A creature takes 4d4 slashing damage when it enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there. | +2d4 damage per slot level above 2nd.

How Other Conjuration Spells Work in DnD 5e

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