A sudden loud ringing noise, painfully intense, erupts from a point of your choice within range. Each creature in a 10-foot-radius sphere centered on that point must make a Constitution saving throw. A creature takes 3d8 thunder damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. A creature made of inorganic material such as stone, crystal, or metal has disadvantage on this saving throw. A nonmagical object that isn’t being worn or carried also takes the damage if it’s in the spell’s area.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 2nd.

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a chip of mica)
Duration: Instantaneous
School: 2nd-level evocation

Who can cast Shatter? Bards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards have Shatter on their class spell list. Additionally, Tempest Domain Clerics, Alchemist Artificers, and Artillerist Artificers always have Shatter prepared once they get access to 2nd-level spells. Way of the Four Elements Monks can also cast Shatter (Gong of the Summit) starting at 6th level.

Player’s Handbook, pg. 275

Shatter 5e

Have you ever met a door you really didn’t like? Enter Shatter — the environment-busting, elemental-smashing evocation spell that creative spell casters can have plenty of fun with.

If you’re a player looking for way to deal solid area-of-effect damage at low levels, DnD 5e’s Shatter spell is one of the best options out there. This article will cover how to use Shatter effectively, why it’s good, and cover answers about the spell’s rules in 5e.

What Does Shatter Do in 5e?

Shatter deals 3d8 area of effect damage to both creatures and nonmagical objects in a 10-foot radius. The point of origin must be within 60 feet of the caster

Used as a second-level spell, Shatter will deal an average of 13.5 damage to all enemies within range who fail their saving throw (which automatically includes objects). This scales up by +4.5 average damager per slot level.

A resilient, medium wooden door has an average of 18 hit points (DMG 247), so you’ll need to cast Shatter as a third-level spell or higher to ensure average rolls are good enough to break it open.

That being said, a flimsy wooden door only has 4 hit points. Be sure to gauge the strength of the door you’re trying to bust down beforehand so you don’t waste a spell slot.

How to Use Shatter in 5e

Shatter has many uses in DnD 5e:

  1. Bringing down groups of enemies. First and foremost, Shatter is an area of effect evocation spell, meaning its usefulness multiplies the more enemies you can affect with it. A 10-foot radius is on the small side. But Shatter’s damage scales nicely the more foes are bunched in that radius.

  2. Busting up elementals. An important part of Shatter’s spell text is the fact that creatures made of inorganic material have disadvantage on the saving throw. Talk to your DM about interpretations, but this can make Shatter especially useful in some campaign settings.

  3. Getting past a locked door. There are other, subtler ways to get past locked doors, but who’s got time for futzing around with thieves’ tools? As we detailed above, a resilient door might stand up to a Shatter spell cast at second level, but upcasting should guarantee most doors get blasted open.

  4. Creating environmental chaos. Creative players who enjoy Rube Goldberg machines, avalanches, and dominos might find some fun applications of Shatter’s environment-destroying capabilities. Just be sure to check your math and engineering, or a misplaced Shatter could bring the roof down on your head instead of the Goblins.

  5. Closing escape routes. Narrow, fragile passageways line mineshafts can easily be brought down with a well-placed Shatter. And if you’re running for your life out of one of these paths, shutting down your trail might be just the thing to do.

  6. Making new entryways. I know we just mentioned getting past locked doors, but why stop there? Any weak edifice or natural structure has a chance of being busted up with Shatter. Careful about trying to abuse this too often, though, or your DM might start to hate the spell.

  7. Creating a distraction. Depending on how far your DM rules that Shatter’s sound travels, you might be able to use it to make foes run off in the wrong direction — or straight into a trap you’ve set. This can also be a signal for a split-up party member to do something (steal the key, stab the guard, return to their post, etc.).

  8. Boosting performance/intimidation. Whether you’re putting on a play with a stormy scene or trying to scare some idiot goblins into turning on their boss, there’s nothing like the crack of magical energy to set a powerful mood.

Is Shatter Good in DnD 5e?

Yes, Shatter is a very good spell that has many applications both in direct combat and in creative problem-solving. As a damage spell, it might appear as a poor man’s Fireball, and a Constitution saving throw is slightly easier for most creatures you’ll run into than a Dexterity save.

That being said, the additional options that Shatter affords make it a strong pick for any spell caster who can pick it up, especially at early levels.

shatter d&d 5e

Thunderwave vs. Shatter in DnD 5e

Shatter is a more controlled and versatile spell than Thunderwave. They both use Constitution as a saving throw (a weakness of each), but Thunderwave deals less damage.

Thunderwave also emanates from around you, so you have fewer placement options. On the other hand, Thunderwave deals damage in a greater radius and pushes creatures away.

The big difference, though, is the massive range of Thunderwave’s sound. Most DMs agree that Shatter is a much stealthier option that won’t bring every monster in the dungeon right to you.

Shatter DnD 5e Rules

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

  • Shatter deals friendly-fire damage. Creatures within 10 feet of the target (including allies) must make a Constitution saving throw. Careful using this near allies unless you’re an Evocation Wizard with Sculpt Spells and can protect your party from unwanted area of effect damage (PHB 117).

  • Magical options don’t take damage from Shatter. Nonmagical objects, on the other hand, take full damage from Shatter — so long as they aren’t being worn or carried.

  • How loud is Shatter? The rules for Shatter do not explicitly say how much sound or how far the sound of Shatter travels, but most DMs interpret this spell as being audible at least within its range (10 feet).

    Many DMs use spells like Thunderwave (audible at 300 feet) and Thunderclap (100 feet) to inform how far Shatter’s sound travels (and lower it, since the spell description doesn’t explicitly say as it does for those two other spells).

    Of course, the results of objects shattering can certainly cause loud noises.<

  • You only roll Shatter’s damage once. This is just a rule that applies to all damage rolls — “if a spell or other effect deals damage to more than one target at the same time, roll the damage once for all of them” (PHB 196). If ye’ have any doubt remaining, here it is on Sage Advice as well.

  • Objects always fail Strength and Dexterity saving throws (PHB 185). So you’ll always deal the full damage of whatever you roll to objects with Shatter.

Shatter 5e DM Tips

In my experience, Shatter is mostly used as a straightforward AoE damage spell, but some players can think up all sorts of uses for it. If you’re a DM and one or more of your players is running Shatter, keep these tips in mind for when those situations come up:

  • Fun comes first. This is always a DM tip, but with Shatter, players can get some pretty wacky ideas. If they want to set up some ridiculous mechanism whereby breaking one beam causes catastrophic structural damage, work with them.

    As long as they’re not totally breaking the game, this kind of creative problem-solving is a lot of fun for certain players.

  • Actions have consequences. Just as you should encourage players to have fun with spells like Shatter that can affect the environment, you should have some fun as well. Maybe a thoughtless player casts Shatter near a support beam, causing a domino effect riddled with unintended consequences.

  • Jot down object hit points. If one of your players loves breaking out Shatter, you might want to keep object hit points handy. Fragile items have between 2 and 5 hit points, while resilient ones have between 5 and 27, depending on their size.

    Page 247 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide has all the info you need on object hit points.

Who Can I Target With Shatter 5e?

You can target anywhere within 60 feet with Shatter, but you need a clear path to the target (the point of origin of the spell). So while you can get the effects of Shatter into an area that you can’t see, you still must be able to see the center of Shatter’s sphere.

Shatter affects all creatures and non-magical objects (not being carried) within a 10-foot radius of your chosen point.

Shatter DnD 5e FAQ

  1. Shatter vs. fireball. Shatter does 3d8 thunder damage (13.5 average damage) in a 10-foot radius on a failed Constitution saving throw, while fireball deals 8d6 fire damage (28 average damage) in a 20-foot radius on failed Dexterity saving throw. Fireball is much, much better from a damage perspective, and Dexterity saving throws are usually worse than Constitution on most creatures in DnD 5e.

  2. Does shatter deal friendly fire damage? Yes, shatter deals friendly fire damage; anyone in range of shatter’s effect takes full damage on a failed Constitution saving throw or half as much on a success, including allies.

Shatter Spell DnD 5e Simple Text

Shatter: (2nd-level, 60 feet, V/S/M (a chip of mica)) Each creature within a 10-foot radius sphere centered on a chosen point make a Constitution saving throw. A creature takes 3d8 thunder damage on a failed save, or half that on a success. A creature made of inorganic material has disadvantage. Nonmagical objects that are not worn or carried also take damage. | +1d8 damage per slot level above second.