Flame-like radiance descends on a creature that you can see within range. The target must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d8 radiant damage. The target gains no benefit from cover for this saving throw.
The spell’s damage increases by 1d8 when you reach 5th level (2d8), 11th level (3d8), and 17th level (4d8).
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S
School: Evocation cantrip
Player’s Handbook, pg. 272
Sacred Flame 5e
What could be cooler than your deity shooting radiant flames down upon your foes? Sacred Flame is a hyper-flavorful Cleric cantrip that packs a decent punch to single target while ignoring the effects of cover. Because gods won’t be put off by your pitiful 2-foot wall, silly goblin.
Who Can Cast Sacred Flame in 5e?
The following classes have Sacred Flame on their spell list:
The following subclasses get Sacred Flame for free:
Warlock (The Celestial) (XGtE 54)
Divine Soul Sorcerers can also choose to learn Sacred Flame whenever they choose a new cantrip.
What Does Sacred Flame Do in 5e?
Sacred Flame forces a target within 60 feet to make a Dexterity saving throw. If they fail, they take 1d8 radiant damage. If they pass, nothing happens.
The stand-out element of Sacred Flame is the fact that it ignores cover. Here are the normal rules regarding cover:
A target with half cover has +2 to Dexterity saving throws
A target with half cover has +5 to Dexterity saving throws
A target with total cover can’t be targeted directly by an attack or spell (PHB 196)
Sacred Flame ignores the first two points completely, but usually not the third point (more on this below).
Sacred Flame can be upcast for +1d8 damage at levels 5, 11, and 17, like most damage-dealing cantrips.
What Are the Rules for Sacred Flame in 5e?
The rules for Sacred Flame in DnD 5e are as follows:
You can’t target a creature you can’t see with Sacred Flame. Although Sacred Flame’s Dexterity saving throw isn’t affected by cover, you still can’t target a creature you cannot see and don’t have a clear path to. That means a creature with total cover cannot be targeted by Sacred Flame.
You can target a creature you can see but don’t have a clear path to. Here are the relevant rules as written:
“A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle” (PHB 196). “To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can’t be behind total cover” (PHB 204).
RAW, it appears that you cannot, under any circumstances, cast Sacred Flame at a target behind total cover. However, lead game designer Jeremy Crawford confirmed in a podcast that the rules as intended were for Sacred Flame to ignore total cover as well.
But the only instances where you can see a target but not have a clear path to it involve transparent obstacles, like glass windows, or reflective surfaces, like mirrors. So for a final ruling: You can target a creature that is benefiting from total cover with Sacred Flame as long as you can see it.
Sacred Flame deals radiant damage, not fire damage. Some players/DMs might miss this on their first play-through.
If it helps, you can think of Sacred Flame as being the only single-target spell in DnD 5e that behaves as AoE spells like Fireball behave. Spells like that ignore cover by spreading around corners, while Sacred Flame gets around cover by descending from above.
As Jeremy Crawford went on to explain in that podcast, “The idea is the cleric is calling this divine energy down on the target and it is not actually shooting out from the cleric…in the game, the exceptional always beats the general.”
How Do I Use Sacred Flame in 5e?
While Sacred Flame is a fairly straightforward, single-target damaging cantrip, there are ways to optimize your use of the spell or apply it in alternative ways:
Target Dexterity-deficient enemies. Dexterity tends to be one of the higher stats in a typical creature’s stat block, but there are ways to maximize your chance of success with Sacred Flame.
Targets who are incapacitated (which includes paralyzed, petrified, stunned, and unconscious) and restrained creatures have disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws, increasing the odds that your god’s mighty flame will land.
Creatures like Mummies, Ogres, Zombies, even Dragons — the ones that look slow and clumsy — also make prime targets for Sacred Flame.
Inspire awe. The nifty thing about Sacred Flame is that it descends. It doesn’t shoot from your hands, so if you’re able to cover up the somatic and verbal components of the spell, you can put the fear of god (literally) into onlookers.
This can be useful for persuading spiritually-inclined provincial people to follow your lead, if your DM allows you to run with this type of RP.
Attack over cover. As previously mentioned, the thing that makes Sacred Flame unique is that it ignores the rules of half and three-quarters cover entirely, and full cover somewhat. If someone’s trying to hide from you, show them that there’s no place to run from your god.
Target creatures vulnerable to radiant damage. Shadowy things don’t like the light. Shadow Demons and the like. It can also be good for making sure that a vampire or zombie doesn’t regenerate hit points each turn, if you can’t get in range to splash it with some holy water.
On the flip side, don’t waste your time trying to burn celestials with radiant damage.
Who Can I Target With Sacred Flame 5e?
You can target any creature you can see with 60 feet with Sacred Flame. Again, while creatures don’t benefit from modifiers to their Dexterity saving throws from cover, but you still need to be able to see the creature to target it with Sacred Flame. This means creatures behind opaque full cover are still not targetable with Sacred Flame.
Sacred Flame does radiant damage, which some undead and fiends are vulnerable too. More importantly, not many creatures you’ll be fighting are resistant to radiant damage, so this cantrip should almost always deal full damage when it lands.
Is Sacred Flame 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Sacred Flame is a good cantrip for in the base version of 5e (it’s Cleric’s only damage-dealing cantrip option in the PHB), but most Clerics using expansion materials opt for Toll The Dead instead as their early game damage cantrip (more on this below).
Sacred Flame’s strength comes from ignoring cover and, frankly, that’s not too much of an advantage in most scenarios. In fact, you wouldn’t even need to worry about cover in the first place if Sacred Flame forced a Wisdom saving throw instead of a Dexterity throw, for example.
Sacred Flame 5e Compared to Toll The Dead
Toll The Dead is a cantrip that came out with Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. It has the same range, components, and casting time as Sacred Flame. It forces a Wisdom saving throw instead of a Dexterity saving throw, meaning it lands more easily on more creatures and you don’t have to worry about cover either, since the saving throw is not based on Dexterity.
Toll The Dead also does extra damage to creatures that are already hurt, providing even greater offensive potential. The only downside to Toll The Dead is that more creatures are resistant to Necrotic damage than Radiant.
Sacred Flame 5e DM Tips
The most likely tip a DM will need regarding Sacred Flame is total cover: no, your players cannot cast Sacred Flame on creatures they cannot see. Yes, they can still cast Sacred Flame against a target behind full cover that they can see (through a window, or heck, maybe even via mirrors).
Simple Sacred Flame 5e Spell Text
Sacred Flame: (cantrip, 60 feet, V/S) Target must succeed on Dexterity saving throw. On fail, it takes 1d8 radiant damage. Target gains no benefit from cover. | +1d8 at 5th, 11th, and 17th level.