Lightning springs from your hand to deliver a shock to a creature you try to touch. Make a melee spell attack against the target. You have advantage on the attack roll if the target is wearing armor made of metal. On a hit, the target takes 1d8 lightning damage, and it can’t take reactions until the start of its next turn.
The spell’s damage increases by 1d8 when you reach 5th level (2d8), 11th level (3d8), and 17th level (4d8).
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S
School: Evocation cantrip
Player’s Handbook, pg. 275
Shocking Grasp 5e
When it comes to zapping enemies and sizzling them in their armor, there’s no cantrip more fun than Shocking Grasp. A staple of the game, Shocking Grasp has also been around since the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons.
This article will cover how the spell is used in 5e, its rules, and whether or not Shocking Grasp is worth a cantrip slot.
Who Can Cast Shocking Grasp in 5e?
The following classes have Shocking Grasp on their spell list:
No subclasses get Shocking Grasp for free.
What Does Shocking Grasp Do in 5e?
Shocking Grasp is a melee spell attack that deals 1d8 (4.5 average) lightning damage on hit. Additionally, the target can’t take reactions until the start of its next turn.
If the target is wearing metal armor, the attack roll has advantage.
Shocking Grasp gains 1d8 damage at levels 5, 11, and 17.
What Are the Rules for Shocking Grasp in 5e?
The rules for Shocking Grasp in DnD 5e are as follows:
You cannot make an opportunity attack with Shocking Grasp. From the Sage Advice Compendium, “You can’t [use a melee spell attack to make an opportunity attack] if the spell attack is created by casting a spell,” because you can only use your reaction to make a melee attack when a creature triggers an opportunity attack from you (SAC 15).
Spell Sniper does not increase Shocking Grasp’s range. While the Spell Sniper feat (PHB 170) doubles the range of spell attacks, this only works on numeric values, not touch spells. This Sage Advice thread confirms that “the feat doesn’t elongate your limbs.”
Shocking Grasp can only target creatures, not objects. This rules out the common question players ask about using Shocking Grasp on conductive materials like water, metallic objects, shields, weapons, etc. in order to increase its range or give it an area of effect.
Of course, DMs are allowed to reward creative thinking, but RAW, Shocking Grasp can only target one creature that the caster must touch.
You can Twin Shocking Grasp with metamagic. The Twinned Spell metamagic only requires that a spell target one creature and not have a range of self — Shocking Grasp meets both those requirements. If two enemies are within Touch range, you can Twin Shocking Grasp to attack both of them.
You can use Shield as a reaction to being hit by Shocking Grasp. The Shield spell increases the caster’s AC by 5 for 1 round and can be used as a reaction to being “hit by an attack” — which Shocking Grasp is. Since Shocking Grasp prevents reactions, some players wonder about the interaction here.
Since Shield specifically says that it works “against the triggering attack,” that means it can prevent the caster from being hit by Shocking Grasp. And if Shocking Grasp doesn’t hit, it doesn’t prevent reactions.
How Do I Use Shocking Grasp in 5e?
Here are a few ways to use Shocking Grasp in DnD 5e:
Prevent opportunity attacks. The #1 way that players use Shocking Grasp is as a panic button when a scary bad guy gets in melee range. Instead of disengaging, you can try to squeeze some damage in with Shocking Grasp and make an electrifying escape.
Stop Counterspell. Opportunity attacks might be the most common reactions, but they’re not the only ones. Notably, Counterspell is a powerful reaction that enemy spellcasters can use to completely negate some of your party’s most powerful tools.
But if you throw a Shocking Grasp down on an enemy spellcaster, they’ll be powerless to prevent you or your allies from casting a spell until their next turn.
Help your allies. If your squishy friend is stuck and disengaging won’t do the trick or isn’t possible, use Shocking Grasp to allow them to run away without fear of an opportunity attack.
Use it on metal armor-clad baddies. Advantage on your attack roll is pretty huge, so definitely use Shocking Grasp over disengage if your pursuer is sporting metal armor.
Pair with Find Familiar. This is where things get extra juicy. Find Familiar allows you to cast Touch spells through it from a distance of up to 100 feet. This makes Shocking Grasp usable much, much more often.
For exceptional results, use the Owl familiar to take advantage of its Flyby ability (it doesn’t take opportunity attacks), so that a) it’s still safe if Shocking Grasp misses and b) it can get into the fray to deliver the spell to the right target.
Pair with metamagics. Twinned Spell and Distant Spell are the two big metamagic options to pair with Shocking Grasp. Twinned Spell means you can hit two enemies within touch range in a single go, doubling the “bootleg disengage” utility of the spell. Bonus points: you can twin a Shocking Grasp from your familiar, giving you a 100-foot range on a 2-target, reaction-denying spell — pretty cool.
And Distant Spell (PHB 102) allows you to increase the range of a Touch spell to 30 feet. This isn’t as far as Find Familiar, but it also doesn’t require you to have a familiar or put your familiar in danger.
Make note of the initiative order. The fact that Shocking Grasp only prevents reactions until the start of the target’s next turn can sometimes be horrible. Especially if the target is right after you in the initiative order.
Sometimes, this is fine — like when you just need to take away their reaction so you can run away without suffering an opportunity attack. But if you’re using Shocking Grasp to help an ally or prevent a Counterspell on a later turn, make sure that the reaction you want to prevent will actually occur before the target’s next turn.
Don’t use it as your primary cantrip. Shocking Grasp is almost never viable as a standard, bread-and-butter cantrip (like Fire Bolt, Eldritch Blast, Toll the Dead, etc.) Instead, save it as a tool that you can whip out if an enemy gets in your face and you’d like to escape with extra style.
Use it as a prank. I’d be remiss to not mention the “shake hands with someone, then shock them” prank that Shocking Grasp allows. Warning: this damage does have the potential to kill commoners, so it’s not a prank for the lighthearted or frail.
Is Shocking Grasp 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Shocking Grasp is a good spell in 5e. It’s not a good option as a primary cantrip that you can use all the time because, generally, spellcasters don’t want to be in melee range of enemies.
That said, it’s a good “oh crap” button if a melee enemy gets in range (especially a metal-clad warrior) if you want to deal some damage and get away without fear of an opportunity attack.
As a counterpoint, Disengage is usually better, as a 100% success rate makes it safer. But if you get advantage from metal armor and/or you’re not too concerned about taking a hit from the enemy in range, Shocking Grasp is more fun and provides more overall utility.
And if you’ve got access to metamagic options and/or Find Familiar, you have some seriously awesome tactical choices with Shocking Grasp, making it even more satisfying to use.
Shocking Grasp 5e DM Tips
As a DM, you’ll hear one question about Shocking Grasp more than the rest — can I conduct the electricity through a material to extend its range/make it affect an area? The most common situations include frying a pool of water to hit all creatures in the water and using a 10+ foot metal pole that you shock to carry the electrical charge to an enemy it touches.
Rules as written, neither of these things work, as Shocking Grasp can only target a creature. Plus, these things can be cheesed by players over and over, giving this simple cantrip much more utility than intended. And there’s the slippery slope that these tricks would then extend to all lightning spells, which definitely sounds unintended.
For these reasons, I don’t allow things like this to work, as a rule.
However, if a player comes up with something really creative and it’s totally on the spot, I do like to reward a neat concept executed well. I also make sure that the player knows that this isn’t a readily-replicable effect of the spell — it’s a one-off reward, like Inspiration.