A flash of light streaks toward a creature of your choice within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 4d6 radiant damage, and the next attack roll made against this target before the end of your next turn has advantage, thanks to the mystical dim light glittering on the target until then.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 1st.

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: 1 Round
School: 1st-level evocation

Player’s Handbook, pg. 248

Guiding Bolt 5e

Guiding Bolt is a first-level evocation spell that packs a wallop and sets up an ally with an advantaged attack. If you’re rolling a Cleric and looking for a great single-target damage spell, look no further than Guiding Bolt.

Who Can Cast Guiding Bolt in 5e?

The following classes have Guiding Bolt on their spell list:

  • Cleric

The following subclasses get Guiding Bolt for free:

  • Paladin (Oath of Glory) (TCoE 53)

Divine Soul Sorcerers (XGtE 50) and Celestial Warlocks (XGtE 54) also have Guiding Bolt on their expanded class spell lists.

Additionally, Circle of Stars Druids have Guiding Bolt prepared and can cast Guiding Bolt without expending a spell slot a few times each day as long as they have their Star Map on them (TCoE 38).

What Does Guiding Bolt Do in 5e?

Guiding Bolt is a straightforward, single-target attack spell. You simply choose a target within the spell’s massive 120-foot range, and make a spell attack against the target.

To make a spell attack, simply roll a d20 and add your proficiency and spell modifier (Wisdom, in the case of Cleric). You would then compare the result to the target’s armor class (AC).

For example, let’s say you’re a first-level Cleric with a Wisdom of 15 (a +2 modifier) and a proficiency of +2. You cast Guiding Bolt on a Kobold. You roll a 9, to which you add 4 (your spellcasting ability modifier + your proficiency modifier).

The result is 13, which beats a Kobold’s AC of 12. Your Guiding Bolt lands, and you can now roll your damage (4d6).

Cast in the first-level spell slot, Guiding Bolt will do an average of 14 damage (quite a bit for a low-level spell).

The fun doesn’t end there though. The next creature to attack the target will gain advantage on their attack roll, meaning they’ll roll 2d20 instead of one.

What Are the Rules for Guiding Bolt in 5e?

The rules for Guiding Bolt in DnD 5e are as follows:

  • You don’t need to see your target to cast Guiding Bolt, but you still need a clear path to the target (PHB 204). A

  • You have disadvantage when targeting invisible units with Guiding Bolt (as with all attacks). You’ll have disadvantage if you’re attacking an unseen target, and possibly have to guess their location if you can’t hear them (PHB 194).

  • If you hit an invisible target with Guiding Bolt, the next attack against it does not have advantage or disadvantage. The two cancel out. The same goes for anything else that gives the attacker disadvantage on their attack (PHB 173).

  • Guiding Bolt can deal critical damage if you roll a natural 20, like all spell attacks. Yes, this means you’ll be rolling 8d6.

  • Yes, Guiding Bolt really deals 4d6 damage at first level. Some players even think this is a misprint. But, as Mike Mearls points out, Guiding Bolt’s average of 14 damage, isn’t crazy out of line with what other low-level players are capable of, and at the cost of a precious spell slot.

  • Anyone can use up Guiding Bolt’s advantage on next attack. As the spell states, “the next attack,” not “the next attack from an enemy creature.” If one of your party members is hit by Guiding Bolt, you can have your Wizard lightly slap the target to remove the advantage effect.

  • You can get advantage on your next attack off your own Guiding Bolt. Since the spell lasts until the end of your next turn, there’s nothing stopping the caster from also being the one who benefits from the attack advantage on their next turn.

  • A Darkness spell can dispel/prevent Guiding Bolt’s attack advantage effect. Because Darkness dispels any spell of a lower level that creates light, Guiding Bolt’s “mystical dim light” won’t stick to a target in magical Darkness or who moves into it. Because Guiding Bolt’s spell description clearly illustrates this light as the source of the attack advantage, Darkness also dispels that part of the spell.

    However, Darkness only dispels light sources cast using a 2nd-level or lower spell slot, so an upcast Guiding Bolt can make itself safe to Darkness’ light-dispelling effect.

guiding bolt 5e

How Do I Use Guiding Bolt in 5e?

To use Guiding Bolt most effectively:

  1. Support another player’s damage. While one-shotting squishy mobs is fun, it doesn’t maximize the damage potential Guiding Bolt offers. Instead, purposefully attack the highest health target in the melee, setting your ally up for a powerful finishing blow with advantage.

  2. Blast undead foes. Zombies, ghouls, and the other common undead that populate most DnD stories are often vulnerable to radiant damage. That means they take double damage

  3. Downcast and consider initiative order. At higher levels, you might be tempted to blast out more damage with Guiding Bolt — and we encourage that against undead foes.

    But when you use a level 1 Guiding Bolt at a moment when your party’s fighter can come in and deal big damage, that’s way more important than wasting a high-level spell slot on +3.5 damage per spell slot above first level.

  4. Save for the end of a dungeon. If you have this spell, you’re a Cleric. That means you have to be a little conservative with your spell slots to be ready to heal a party member.

    On top of that, the ends of dungeons typically have the hardest baddies, and this is definitely your hardest hitting spell at low levels. The takeaway: don’t blow Guiding Bolt at the first Goblin who pokes his head around the corner.

Who Can I Target With Guiding Bolt 5e?

You can target any type of creature with Guiding Bolt, as long as they’re within 120 feet and you have a clear path to them. Guiding Bolt does radiant damage, so it will deal additional damage to many undead foes.

Many celestials, on the other hand, are resistant or invulnerable to radiant damage, and so shouldn’t be targeted with Guiding Bolt (unless you’re casting it mainly to give an ally advantage on their next attack).

Is Guiding Bolt 5e a Good Spell?

Yes, Guiding Bolt is an insanely good early-level Cleric spell that scales decently into the mid-game. Even when the damage becomes less impressive, casting Guiding Bolt at first-level still sets up an ally with advantage on their next attack.

On top of that, radiant damage isn’t a common resistance in enemies, but it is a common vulnerability..

The only real downside is that expending a spell slot on Guiding Bolt takes away one chance to heal your party members, so you have to be tactful about how you use it.

Guiding Bolt Compared to Other Low-Level Cleric Damaging Spells

If you’re building a more melee-focused Cleric, you might wonder if Inflict Wounds is the better option over Guiding Bolt. It does deal slightly more damage (3d10, or an average of 16.5 at first level) and it does scale better.

However, necrotic damage is slightly more common a resistance, and that touch range can be annoying even if you do like being in the fray. Not to mention that the attack advantage aspect of Guiding Bolt makes it a great support spell as well, even if it does deal slightly lower damage.

If you decide to join the Light Domain, you’ll gain access to Scorching Ray at third level. You may look at this spell and wonder how it’s so much worse than Guiding Bolt, which you got at first level.

Guding Bolt is certainly a better value spell than Scorching Ray for single target damage, but Scorching Ray does come with some advantages. It deals damage to multiple enemies at once. It also deals fire damage, making it a good choice for fire-vulnerable creatures.

Guiding Bolt 5e DM Tips

Guiding Bolt is a straightforward spell attack, so you shouldn’t have too much rule-parsing at the table. If you’re DMing for new players, make sure to remind them of the advantage on the first follow-up attack, so they don’t squander part of Guiding Bolt’s utility.

Guiding Bolt FAQ

  1. Why is Guiding Bolt so powerful?

    Guiding Bolt is powerful because it deals significant damage, has a long range of 120 feet, and grants advantage on the next attack against the target.

  2. Can Guiding Bolt target an invisible creature?

    Yes, Guiding Bolt can target an invisible creature, but the caster will have to guess the target’s location and will have disadvantage on the attack roll.

  3. Can Guiding Bolt hit multiple enemies?

    No, Guiding Bolt is a single-target attack spell and can only target one creature at a time.

Simple Guiding Bolt 5e Spell Text

Guiding Bolt: (1st-level, 120 feet, 1 round, V/S) Make a ranged spell attack. On hit, target takes 4d6 radiant damage and the next attack roll against it before your next turn has advantage. | +1d6 per spell slot level above 1st