Green-Flame Blade 5e

You brandish the weapon used in the spell’s casting and make a melee attack with it against one creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, the target suffers the weapon attack’s normal effects, and you can cause green fire to leap from the target to a different creature of your choice that you can see within 5 feet of it. The second creature takes fire damage equal to your spellcasting ability modifier.

This spell’s damage increases when you reach certain levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra ld8 fire damage to the target on a hit, and the
fire damage to the second creature increases to ld8 + your spellcasting ability modifier. Both damage rolls increase by ld8 at 11th level (2d8 and 2d8) and
17th level (3d8 and 3d8)

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self (5-foot radius)
Components: S, M (a melee weapon worth at least 1 sp)
Duration: Instantaneous
School: Evocation cantrip

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, pg. 107

Green-Flame Blade 5e

Green-Flame Blade originally came to DnD 5e in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide back in 2015 and was later updated and reprinted in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything in 2020.

But ever since its release, players have been theorycrafting about where exactly this melee-ranged cantrip fits into a character build. There’s also a whole heap of rules questions around Green-Flame Blade, which we’ll also tackle.

Who Can Cast Green-Flame Blade in 5e?

The following classes have Green-Flame Blade on their spell list:

No subclasses get Green-Flame Blade for free.

What Does Green-Flame Blade Do in 5e?

Green-Flame Blade is a Cast a Spell action during which the caster makes a normal melee attack, using normal attack and damage modifiers (as opposed to spellcasting modifiers). That means the caster will be using Strength or Dexterity for those rolls in most cases.

If the attack hits, the target suffers all the normal weapon effects (damage, extra magical effects on the weapon, etc.) and the caster can choose to cause an additional 1d8 (4.5 average) fire damage to a different creature within 5 feet of the initial target equal to their spellcasting modifier (Intelligence for Artificers and Wizards, Charisma for Sorcerers and Warlocks).

Once a character is 5th level, Green-Flame Blade also causes an instant 1d8 fire damage to the initial target, as well as an additional 1d8 + spellcasting modifier fire damage to the secondary target. Both of these damage rolls increase by another 1d8 at 11th and 17th level.

What Are the Rules for Green-Flame Blade in 5e?

The rules for Green-Flame Blade in DnD 5e are as follows:

  • Green-Flame Blade doesn’t work with Extra Attack. Because it requires a Cast a Spell action rather than the Attack action, it is not eligible for the Extra Attack feature (confirmed in the Sage Advice Compendium, pg. 18).

    The exception to this is Bladesinging Wizards, whose Extra Attack feature does allow for them to cast cantrips in place of one of their attacks (TCoE 77).

  • Green-Flame Blade can’t be used on an opportunity attack. For the same reason as above — it’s Casting a Spell, not using the Attack action, which the rules for opportunity attacks clearly specify (PHB 195, SAC 18).

    The exception to this is the War Caster feat, which allows for a player to cast a spell as an opportunity attack (PHB 170). A Sage Advice thread confirmed that War Caster does in fact work with Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade.

  • Counterspell prevents all of Green-Flame Blade. Including the melee attack. This was confirmed on Sage Advice.

  • Green-Flame Blade’s melee attack is not magical unless the weapon itself is magical. Sage Advice confirmation. Of course, the fire damage portion of GFB’s effect is magical.

  • Green-Flame Blade cannot be used with Reach weapons or the Spell Sniper feat. Here’s Sage Advice confirmation that GFB’s range is “intentionally” limited to 5 feet.

    As for the Spell Sniper feat, well — GFB’s spell description itself, rather than the “Range” entry of its block, specifies that the target must be within 5 feet of the caster. Sorry everyone — there’s no way to cast GFB or Booming Blade on a target more than 5 feet away, rules as written.

  • Green-Flame Blade cannot be used with natural weapons, unarmed strikes, or improvised weapons. Because they’re not classified as “melee weapons.” DMs are, of course, free to ignore this rules-as-written interpretation.

  • Green-Flame Blade can deal 0 damage, but not negative damage. If you have a negative spellcasting modifier, Green-Flame Blade’s jumping fire damage will deal 0 damage (before you’re 5th level). You cannot deal negative damage in Dungeons and Dragons (PHB 196).

    A negative spell modifier will, however, reduce the damage of the 1d8 damage rolls for Green-Flame Blade at higher levels.

  • You can use a two-handed weapon with Green-Flame Blade. The material component section of the rules reads that “a spellcaster must have a hand free to access a spell’s material components — or to hold a spellcasting focus — but it can be the same hand that he or she uses to perform somatic components.” (PHB 203).

    Since Green-Flame Blade’s somatic element is the weapon itself, you’re fine to use it with a two-handed weapon — no free hand necessary.

  • You can use Green-Flame Blade with Warlock’s Pact of the Blade feature. Because, as Jeremy Crawford points out in this Sage Advice thread, the Pact of the Blade weapon “has the value indicated in chapter 5 of the Player’s Handbook.”

    In other words, it has a value of at least 1 sp, making it eligible for Green-Flame Blade’s material component.

  • You cannot use Green-Flame Blade with the Shadow Blade spell. The Shadow Blade spell creates a weapon that has no value, making it ineligible for use with Green-Flame Blade or Booming Blade. However, this is commonly ignored by DMs, as it’s viewed as a silly/overly literal interpretation of the rules as written.

  • Green-Flame Blade has no interaction with the Mirror Image spell. While Mirror Image creates duplicates of the caster, those duplicates are not considered creatures. Therefore, they’re not eligible for taking additional damage from Green-Flame Blade’s jumping fire effect.

  • Paladins can use Green-Flame Blade with Divine Smite. Divine Smite only requires that the Paladin hits a creature with a melee attack, which Green-Flame Blade is (PHB 85).

  • Green-Flame Blade cannot be used with Sorcerer’s Twinned Spell metamagic. Because Green-Flame Blade has a range of self and targets more than one creature, it breaks two eligibility rules for Twinned Spell (PHB 102).

dragonborn ranger mini casting green-flame blade 5e

How Do I Use Green-Flame Blade in 5e?

Here’s how to make the most of Green-Flame Blade in DnD 5e:

  1. Consider your class/subclass. Certain classes and subclasses will see more benefit from picking up Green-Flame Blade than others:

    • Arcane Trickster Rogue. Because Rogue’s don’t have the Extra Attack feature and therefore don’t “miss out” by casting a spell rather than using the Attack action, they’re naturally suited for spamming GFB every chance they get.

      GFB is especially attractive for Arance Tricksters, who are likely already putting some ability score points into Intelligence anyway, naturally boosting the spell’s base damage.

    • Bladesinger Wizard. Because Bladesingers can cast a cantrip in place of one of their attacks from their Extra Attack feature, there’s really no reason for them not to use GFB whenever the opportunity arises.

    • Eldritch Knight Fighter. Fighters are in a bit of an awkward place with Green-Flame Blade because they always have to weigh whether it would be better to just use Extra Attack instead.

      But once Eldritch Knights get the War Magic feature at 7th level, they can cast a cantrip and then follow up with a weapon attack as a bonus action. This is slightly worse than Bladesinging Wizards because it requires a bonus action, but it still makes GFB a lot more attractive for EK Fighters.

    • Arcana Cleric. Potent Spellcasting, Arcana Cleric’s 8th-level feature, allows the cleric to add their Wisdom modifier to the damage they deal with Cleric cantrips (SCAG 126).

      This means you’ll be adding Wisdom damage to both the initial target of Green-Flame Blade, as well as the jump target (twice, since the spell already includes bonus damage equal to your spellcasting modifier).

      Clerics don’t naturally get Green-Flame Blade, but a Magic Initiate feat for Shillelagh and a Spell Sniper feat for GFB can make it happen — right in time for level 8, when you’ll get the relevant subclass feature.
    • Battle Smith Artificer. Battle Smith’s Battle Ready feature allows the Artificer to use their Intelligence modifier instead of Strength or Dexterity for attack and damage rolls (TCoE 19).

      This means that Battle Smiths can fully commit to Intelligence as their main stat, making it easy to maximize Green-Flame Blade’s damage early on in your campaign.

    • Hexblade Warlock. The 1st-level Hex Warrior feature allows the Warlock to use their Charisma modifier instead of Strength or Dexterity for attack and damage rolls (XGtE 55).

      This means that Hexblades can fully commit to Charisma as their main stat, making it easy to maximize Green-Flame Blade’s damage early on in your campaign.

      Hex Warrior is such a strong 1st-level feature that many multiclass builds involve dipping into Hexblade for one or two levels. Sorcerers, Bards, and Paladins who also use Charisma as a spellcasting modifier, are optimal and common choices to pair with Hexblade.

    These “gish” builds (part magic, part martial) tend to get more mileage out of melee attack cantrips like GFB and Booming Blade. Even if you’re not one of these subclasses, taking a multiclass dip or grabbing the Magic Initiate feat can allow you to slot Green-Flame Blade into your gish character build.

  2. Get the War Caster feat. Being able to cast Green-Flame Blade as an opportunity attack makes it incredibly powerful and just opens up that much more utility.

  3. Get the Shillelagh cantrip. Shillelagh is great to pair with a spell like Green-Flame Blade or Booming Blade because it allows you to use your spellcasting modifier (as opposed to Strength or Dexterity) for your melee attack and damage rolls. This makes it far easier for builds that lean more to the caster side on the half-caster spectrum.

    Picking it up via Magic Initiate or some other way is a great option for a player that doesn’t want to have to worry about splitting up their ability score improvements between two many different stats.

  4. Pick it up on a Rogue or Cleric. We mentioned the specific subclasses that jive well with Green-Flame Blade above, but really any Rogue or Cleric is going to see more benefit from a spell like GFB or Booming Blade.

    Why? Well, they don’t have the Extra Attack feature, so they don’t have to worry whether it’s more optimal to attack twice or cast a cantrip — they’re almost never giving up anything to use Green-Flame Blade in place of a regular Attack action.

  5. Break it out for groups of enemies. This is more of a tactical tip rather than a strategic one, and one that’s probably fairly obvious to you. Green-Flame Blade does literally nothing at levels 4 and under unless there’s a secondary target within 5 feet of your initial target.

    At levels 5+, it’s acceptable to use GFB just for the bonus damage on the initial target — but it really shines when there’s a second target to spread that damage around.

    GFB is built for waves of weenie-level enemies with low hit points — an “AoE”, replicable cantrip that can burn down two baddies for the price of one.

Who Can I Target With Green-Flame Blade 5e?

You can target one creature within 5 feet (melee range) with Green-Flame Blade. While the range of the spell is listed as Self (5-foot radius), this is mainly to prevent it from working with the Spell Sniper feat and reach weapons and other, more edge-case rules.

Is Green-Flame Blade 5e a Good Spell?

Yes, Green-Flame Blade is a good spell if you’re able to use it to hit a secondary enemy. While the damage won’t be super high at low levels, the ability to spread damage around to enemies (who probably have low hit points anyway) is very handy.

At higher levels, Green-Flame Blade’s automatic bonus fire damage makes it an extremely attractive option for characters that don’t have access to the Extra Attack feature. Even characters that can use Extra Attack might be better served by using Green-Flame Blade when there’s a secondary target in range.

Green-Flame Blade 5e Compared to Extra Attack

Players often discuss whether it’s better to use Green-Flame Blade or just use an Extra Attack. Luckily, RPGBOT did some excellent analysis (so I don’t have to :))

https://rpgbot.net/dnd5/characters/melee_cantrips/

What he found is that Green-Flame Blade is better than a single Extra Attack (so not for higher-level Fighters), as long as you get the secondary effects (you have an eligible target for its secondary damage).

I recommend reading RPGBOT’s full article for a more comprehensive rundown of the scenarios where each option wins out.

Green-Flame Blade 5e DM Tips

My most important DM tip for Green-Flame Blade is: ignore the developer’s ruling that Green-Flame Blade doesn’t work with Shadow Blade. It’s clearly not breaking the game to allow the two spells to interact, and even if the Shadow Blade has no cost, it is taking the form of a weapon which does.

As for natural weapons and unarmed strikes, that’s more of a gray area. The spirit of the spell is that your melee weapon is being charged with fire energy which is then released upon hitting something.

Are Tabaxi charging their claws? Is a Monk charging his fists? I don’t really see any harm in allowing for it, since these weapons tend to do less damage than regular melee weapons anyway.

If a player is excited about tossing out fiery punches, why get in the way of that?

Simple Green-Flame Blade 5e Spell Text

Green-Flame Blade: (Evocation cantrip, Self (5-foot radius), S, M (a melee weapon worth at least 1 sp)) Make a melee attack one creature in range with the weapon you use to cast this spell. On hit, target suffers the weapon attack’s normal effects and you can deal fire damage equal to your spellcasting ability modifier to a different creature within 5 feet of it.

| At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra ld8 fire damage to the target on a hit, and the fire damage to the second creature increases to ld8 + your spellcasting ability modifier. +1d8 to both damage rolls at 11th and 17th level.