This spell is a minor magical trick that novice spellcasters use for practice. You create one of the following magical effects within range:

  • You create an instantaneous, harmless sensory effect, such as a shower of sparks, a puff of wind, faint musical notes, or an odd odor.

  • You instantaneously light or snuff out a candle, a torch, or a small campfire.

  • You instantaneously clean or soil an object no larger than 1 cubic foot.

  • You chill, warm, or flavor up to 1 cubic foot of nonliving material for 1 hour.

  • You make a color, a small mark, or a symbol appear on an object or a surface for 1 hour.

  • You create a nonmagical trinket or an illusory image that can fit in your hand and that lasts until the end of your next turn.

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous
School: Transmutation cantrip

Player’s Handbook, pg. 267

Prestidigitation 5e

The most basic of magics available in Dungeons and Dragons, Prestidigitation is a fun little starter spell that packs a surprising amount of utility. We’ll cover some of the player-favorite uses for this spell, as well as a few rules questions.

If you’re curious, Prestidigitation translates literally as “nimble fingers” and is defined as sleight-of-hand magic tricks used as entertainment. Here’s how to pronounce it:

Pres – tih – dih – jih – tay – shun

Who Can Cast Prestidigitation in 5e?

The following classes have Prestidigitation on their spell list:

No subclasses get Prestidigitation for free.

What Does Prestidigitation Do in 5e?

Prestidigitation causes one of six small magical effects:

  1. Harmless sensory effect

  2. Light/snuff flame

  3. Clean/soil a small object

  4. Chill/warm/flavor a small object for 1 hour

  5. Mark a small object or a surface for 1 hour

  6. Create handheld nonmagical trinket/illusory image until the end of your next turn

You can have up to three continuous effects (options 4 and 5) active at one time, and may dismiss such an effect as an action.

What Are the Rules for Prestidigitation in 5e?

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

  • Examples of trinkets you can make are on pages 160-161 of the Player’s Handbook. Other trinkets are possible, at the discretion of the spellcaster and DM (SAC 20).

  • Prestidigitation cannot make material components with a specified value for a spell. Or really any nonmagical object of significant value. The idea is that you create a “little bauble,” not a powerful artifact or expensive luxury item.

  • You cannot light any object aflame with Prestidigitation. Only candles, torches, and small campfires. So no setting fire to an enemy’s bowstring.

  • You cannot clean or soil creatures with Prestidigitation. Only objects.

  • You (probably) can’t create a specific key with Prestidigitation. While an “old key” is an example trinket in the PHB (and therefore a valid object to create with Prestidigitation), most DMs will rule that you can’t use this cantrip as a way of making a key for any lock you run into.

    At the very least, they’ll require that you’ve seen the key before and can recall its exact design. I also base my thinking on the 4th-level spell, Fabricate, which specifies that you can’t “create items that ordinarily require a high degree of craftsmanship,” which I believe a key fits into. And a cantrip shouldn’t be able to do something a 4th-level spell can’t do.

d&d spellcaster minis vs undead

How Do I Use Prestidigitation in 5e?

Here are a few ways to use Prestidigitation in DnD 5e:

Sensory Effect

  1. Create a distraction

  2. Foul a room’s smell to clear it out

  3. Conjure the sound of approaching footsteps

  4. Boost social ability checks (Performance, Intimidation, Deception, Sleight of Hand) by making appropriately helpful effects to increase the effect of your words

  5. Make someone itchy

  6. Fake fart sounds/smells

  7. Creating a pleasant smell to avoid deleterious effects of bad smells (DM-dependent)

  8. Draw a crowd

Light/Snuff Flame

  1. Darken the room from a distance (good if party has darkvision but enemies don’t)

  2. Light explosives from afar

  3. Ditch your tinderbox

Clean/Soil Object

  1. Get grime off your gear

  2. Embarass a creature

  3. Clean blood trail

  4. Add blood to a fake “corpse”

  5. Create a false trail of footprints

  6. Help sell a disguise (dirty, bloody, intimidating, etc.)

  7. Remove dirt from soiled document

  8. Remove ink from a document, wiping the contents clean

Chill/Warm/Flavor Object

  1. Counteract environmental conditions (DM-dependent power level)

  2. Dry out wet objects quickly

  3. Make ice

  4. Boil water

  5. Hide the taste of booze to get creatures drunk

  6. Improve the taste of bad rations

  7. Disguise the taste of poison/rotten food

Mark Object/Surface

  1. Leave messages

  2. Mark a trail

  3. Fake a seal or symbol

  4. Cheat at cards

  5. Alter your clothing’s color scheme

Create Trinket/Image

  1. Create image of creature you’re looking for

  2. Conjure a fake MacGuffin to fool a bad guy

  3. Summon a miniature image of a room’s layout before entering

As a final note, a Sorcerer’s Subtle Spell metamagic will make a lot of these tricks more viable or potent. If bystanders are present, the minor magical trick will seem much more impressive or realistic without an obvious spellcaster in the area.

Is Prestidigitation 5e a Good Spell?

Yes, Prestidigitation is a good spell. It’s a cantrip with loads of fun utility options and memorable roleplaying potential. Of the non-combat cantrips, Prestidigitation is a player-favorite for providing actual in-game use.

Prestidigitation 5e Compared to Thaumaturgy, Druidcraft, and Minor Illusion

Thaumaturgy and Druidcraft are the Divine and Primal equivalents of the Arcane Prestidigitation. They, too, offer minor magical effects that are more meant to impress and provide a bit of out-of-combat utility.

Thaumaturgy has some neat effects, but most players agree that Prestidigitation offers a wider variety. Druidcraft’s fun little extra effect is its ability to predict the day’s weather. Other than that, its effects are similar, but more limited, than Prestidigitation.

Minor Illusion, on the other hand, is much better for creating persistent, convincing illusory matter or sound. It also requires a specific ability check to discern its illusory nature, so it can even waste a creature’s time in combat.

That said, it has a smaller variety of options than Prestidigitation, which really reigns supreme as the most variable cantrip available in the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons.