At the end of each of the target’s turns, it can make a Constitution saving throw against the spell. On a success, the spell ends.
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
School: 2nd-level necromancy
Player’s Handbook, pg. 271
Ray of Enfeeblement 5e
Ray of Enfeeblement — the pretty bad spell that’s meant to weaken the enemy, but usually just ends up weakening your turn and your spell slots. We’ll cover why players are left so underwhelmed with this necromantic debuff, as well as a few common rules questions.
We’ll also give a few ways to use Ray of Enfeeblement, if you’re interested in optimizing a suboptimal spell.
Who Can Cast Ray of Enfeeblement in 5e?
The following classes have Ray of Enfeeblement on their spell list:
The following subclasses get Ray of Enfeeblement for free:
What Does Ray of Enfeeblement Do in 5e?
Ray of Enfeeblement is a ranged spell attack that reduces the target’s damage with Strength-based weapon attacks by 50% if it lands. Ray of Enfeeblement does not deal damage, even if the spell attack lands.
At the end of each of the target’s turns, it makes a Constitution saving throw; on a success, the spell ends early. Ray of Enfeeblement lasts for up to one minute and requires concentration.
What Are the Rules for Ray of Enfeeblement in 5e?
The rules for Ray of Enfeeblement in DnD 5e are as follows:
Ray of Enfeeblement cannot stack with itself. As per the rules on combining spell effects, “the effects of the same spell cast multiple times don’t combine” (PHB 205). I.e., two spellcasters casting Ray of Enfeeblement on the same target won’t cut their damage to 1/4.
Ray of Enfeeblement can stack with other effects. Like the resistance to physical damage granted by a Barbarian’s Rage feature cutting incoming damage in half. In that scenario, incoming physical damage would be divided by four.
Ray of Enfeeblement works on all Strength-based weapon attacks. Not Dexterity-based weapon attacks. For reference, all ranged attacks use Dexterity and finesse weapons can choose to use Dexterity; attacker’s choice.Relevant rules:
“You add your Dexterity modifier to your attack roll and your damage roll when attacking with a ranged weapon…you can also add your Dexterity modifier…when attacking with a melee weapon that has the finesse property” (PHB 177)
“The ability modifier used for a ranged weapon attack is Dexterity” (PHB 194)
“When making an attack with a finesse weapon, you use your chioce of your Strength or Dexterity modifier for the attack and damage rolls. You must use the same modifier for both rolls” (PHB 147)
Compare a creature’s weapon attack damage modifier with their Strength and Dexterity modifiers if you’re unsure if their attacks are Strength- or Dexterity-based. For creatures attacking with finesse weapons, you can always compare their damage modifier with their Strength and Dexterity modifiers — whichever one it’s equal to is the score they’re using for the attack.
Ray of Enfeeblement only works on weapon attacks. Not non-weapon attacks. Fortunately, even things like claws typically count as melee weapons in the Monster Manual and other creature sourcebooks.
Ray of Enfeeblement affects cuts all damage in half. Even bonus damage from things like Sneak Attack, Hunter’s Mark, or Hex.
That’s because additional damage dice are treated as part of the same damage roll, as per the Player’s Handbook (PHB 196). As long as the damage is triggered by a Strength-based weapon attack, the total damage of the attack is cut in half by Ray of Enfeeblement.
How Do I Use Ray of Enfeeblement in 5e?
Here are a few ways to use Ray of Enfeeblement in DnD 5e:
Prioritize multi-attackers. Because Ray of Enfeeblement has a chance to end each turn with a successful Constitution saving throw, this is the best way to ensure that Ray of Enfeeblement reduces the damage of multiple attacks.
Multi-attackers will suffer from half damage on each attack that lands, multiplying the effectiveness of RoE.
Get an edge in a one-on-one fight. If you or a buddy is engaged in a duel or some sort of gladiatorial competition, Ray of Enfeeblement cna be just the thing to even the odds (or tip them in your favor).
Also good for the roleplaying effect of making a group’s big-bad look like a pushover. Have your party’s bruiser challenge him while his crew looks on, then laugh off his enfeebled attacks. A DM might reward this kind of thinking.
Take advantage of the lack of resistance. While Ray of Enfeeblement is a somewhat lackluster and limited debuff, it does have one thing going for it — nobody is immune to its effects. It’s just an attack roll that causes a spell-specific condition on hit.
In contrast, every condition has several monsters that are completely immune to its effects. Not a worry with Ray of Enfeeblement.
Even bosses with Legendary Resistance are susceptible to Ray of Enfeeblement (although, in fairness, most such creatures have a high enough Constitution modifier to shake RoE off without much hassle).
Is Ray of Enfeeblement 5e a Good Spell?
No, Ray of Enfeeblement is not a good spell in DnD 5e. In fact, it’s a downright bad spell. Why?
Well, for starters, most creatures with high Strength scores also have high Constitution modifiers, meaning your best targets are also the least likely to stay enfeebled for very long.
Additionally, creatures have plenty of alternative actions they can take besides attacking with a Strength-based weapon attack. Ranged weapons, spells, and a whole host of other monster abilities are usually the most devastating thing you have to look out for — not melee attacks.
Not to mention that Ray of Enfeeblement requires concentration and doesn’t come close to the power level of other second-level spell options.
For Warlocks, there’s Hold Person, Misty Step, Shatter, Invisibility, and Suggestion, and Wizards get all of those plus Web, Rope Trick, and Flaming Sphere — to name a few tempting options.
Ray of Enfeeblement 5e DM Tips
While I normally don’t advocate for homebrewing spell fixes, Ray of Enfeeblement is in serious need of love.
The simplest and, I think, best change to this spell is to make it also give disadvantage on all Strength saving throws and ability checks.
That way, smart parties can pre-cast Ray of Enfeeblement and follow up with grapple combos, or have an easier time shoving an enemy off of a cliff. Or ally spellcasters can follow up with Strength saving throw-based spells like Entangle, Lightning Lure, or Ensnaring Strike.
I like this change because it encourages team play and creates new opportunities for the party to proactively take advantage of the enemy’s weakened state.
Simple Ray of Enfeeblement 5e Spell Text
Ray of Enfeeblement: (2nd-level necromancy, 60 feet, Concentration, up to 1 minute, V/S) Make a ranged spell attack. On hit, target deals only half damage with Strength-based weapon attacks. At the end of each of the target’s turns, it can make a Constitution saving throw against the spell. On a success, the spell ends.