Spike Growth 5e
The transformation of the ground is camouflaged to look natural. Any creature that can’t see the area at the time the spell is cast must make a Wisdom (Perception) check against your spell save DC to recognize the terrain as hazardous before entering it.
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 150 feet
Components: V, S, M (seven sharp thorns or seven small twigs, each sharpened to a point)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes
School: 2nd-level transmutation
Player’s Handbook, pg. 277-8
Spike Growth 5e
Search far and wide, and you will not find a Dungeons and Dragons player who says they don’t like Spike Growth or think it’s a bad spell. And with good reason.
This big range, big radius spell gets so much done — battlefield control, ridiculous damage potential, and endless opportunities for synergy with other spells and effects from your allies and yourself.
We’ll get into all that, as well as common rules sections and tips for DMs who are pulling their hair out trying to deal with players who lean on Spike Growth a bit too often.
Who Can Cast Spike Growth in 5e?
The following classes have Spike Growth on their spell list:
The following subclasses get Spike Growth for free:
- Cleric (Nature Domain)
- Druid (Circle of the Land: Arctic)
- Druid (Circle of the Land: Mountain)
- Warlock (The Genie: Dao) (TCoE 73)
What Does Spike Growth Do in 5e?
Spike Growth creates a 20-foot radius area of difficult terrain* that causes 2d4 (5 average) piercing damage per 5 feet a creature travels through it. Creatures cannot tell that the area is affected by Spike Growth unless they see the caster cast it or succeed on a Perception check against the caster’s spell save DC.
Spike Growth can be cast from up to 150 feet away and lasts for up to 10 minutes, concentration permitting. Here’s the area of effect of Spike Growth:
What Are the Rules for Spike Growth in 5e?
The rules for Spike Growth in DnD 5e are as follows:
Involuntary movement causes a creature to take damage from Spike Growth. As Jeremy Crawford puts it, “a push is an effective way to force a creature to enter an area of effect, unless it requires willing movement.”
Spike Growth does not require willing movement. For every 5 feet of distance traveled, a creature takes 2d4 piercing damage, regardless of why they’re moving.
Spike Growth can affect an area you can’t see. You only need to see the center of Spike Growth’s area of effect to target the point that will be the spell’s “point of origin…from which the spell’s energy erupts” (PHB 204).
“A spell’s effect expands in straight lines from the point of origin. If no unblocked straight line extends from the point of origin to a location within the area of effect, that location isn’t included in the spell’s area. To block one of these imaginary lines, an obstruction must provide total cover.”
To help visualize this, let’s look at an example:
The purple triangle is the caster. They can target affect the green spaces with Spike Growth from where they’re standing, because they have vision of the spell’s point of origin. The spell then “erupts” to spaces that the caster does not have vision of, because the spell’s origin has “vision” of those spaces.
However, because the red spaces are blocked from the spell’s origin by total cover, Spike Growth will not affect those spaces.
A creature recognizes the area of Spike Growth as dangerous once it takes damage. The way the spell is worded, a creature only needs to make a Perception check “to recognize the terrain as hazardous before entering it.”
This implies that after a creature enters the area, it recognizes the entirety of Spike’s Growth terrain as hazardous.
A creature who stands still will take no damage from Spike Growth. Only traveling through Spike Growth’s area of effect inflicts damage on a creature.
Spike Growth has no effect on creatures that don’t travel along the ground. Creatures that fly or hover can avoid taking damage from Spike Growth, and also won’t be affected by the difficult terrain the spell causes.
A creature won’t consider Spike Growth’s area as “directly harmful” unless they know it’s there. For spells like Dissonant Whispers and Command, a creature can be forced to run into Spike Growth if it doesn’t know it’s there.
However, once it does move into the space and recognize the area as hazardous, they can no longer be compelled to walk through it.
The size of a creature does not change the damage it takes. A large or gargantuan creature moving 5 feet takes the same amount of damage from Spike Growth. They don’t take more damage for walking through more Spike Growth spaces.
How Do I Use Spike Growth in 5e?
Here are a few ways to use Spike Growth in DnD 5e:
Pair with push/pull effects. Spike Growth’s ultimate application is to forcibly move enemies through the space. Using this strategy as a party, you can inflict massive amounts of damage with Spike Growth in one round of combat.
Here are some of the best options for pushing/pulling enemies through the cheese grater of spikes:
Pair with grapple. A similar tip is to simply grapple an enemy who’s near the border of Spike Growth (to avoid taking friendly fire damage), and drag that enemy along the spiked ground.
This is even more potent with flying races.
Pair with Spirit Guardians. Spirit Guardians halves enemies’ speed — which stacks with difficult terrain to cut a creature’s effective moment to 1/4. Not to mention the great added per-round damage the enemy will suffer for remaining in range of the Spirit Guardians.
Of course, enemies can run away…very slowly…through spikes.
Combine with Plant Growth. Plant Growth makes it so that moving through plants in a certain area takes 4 feet of movement per 1 feet. That stacks with difficult terrain and Spirit Guardians.
Basically, creatures in an area of Spike Growth + Plant Growth won’t be moving unless your party drags them through the spikes with their own push/pull effects.
Pair with Silence. If one pesky enemy caught in your Spike Growth is a spellcaster, have one of your allies throw down a Silence spell on the whole area. Now that caster has to crawl through spikes or be unable to do anything in combat — win/win for you and your party.
Use it to clear out minions. 2d4 damage is nice, but it’s not going to do significant damage to most boss monsters. However, low-health minions can easily be mowed down by successive Spike Growth damage as they try to position themselves somewhere useful.
Set it up in choke points to prevent enemies from approaching or slow down their approach. Spike Growth is great in tight places, where enemies have no option but to run through it or stand helplessly still as your party picks them off at range.
Is Spike Growth 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Spike Growth is an incredibly good spell. The damage potential, battlefield control, and synergy with other spells and effects makes it consistently satisfying to use for an entire campaign.
Plus, Spike Growth encourages parties to communicate and work together in combat. Any spell that does this is a win in my book.
Spike Growth 5e DM Tips
Spike Growth is so good, in fact, that many DMs are left frustrated by players who use it to such great effect. For those DMs, I offer a few tips:
Utilize more ranged enemies. Only about 1/3 of the game’s monsters have the ability to attack at range, but if you can logically fit some into your adventure, you’ll have a much easier time ignoring the worst parts of Spike Growth.
Spread groups out. Spike Growth’s area of effect is sizeable, but it’s still avoidable in certain environments. Instead of attacking players from one direction, try to encircle them. Spike Growth’s overall utility and effectiveness diminishes the smaller proportion of enemies it affects.
Use flyers. This tip can feel cheap, especially if you start abusing flying monsters to totally negate Spike Growth in every fight. But it’s a good fallback to counter players and force them to rethink their tactics every once in a while.
Bust concentration. Last but not least, Spike Growth is a concentration spell. Pepper the caster with attacks, and you’re bound to break their concentration eventually — no more spikes to worry about.
All that being said, there’s no reason to jump straight to countering players who are making effective use of Spike Growth. It’s a fun spell to use, so don’t stop your players from having fun with it.
But if you feel like Spike Growth is making every bout of combat feel boring and predictable, these tips can help break up the monotony for you and your players.