5th Edition Spells – Chaos Bolt

Chaos Bolt

Sorcerer - 1 Level Spell

School: Evocation
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 120 ft
Components: Verbal and Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous
Attack/Save: Ranged
Reference: XGE 151

You hurl an undulating, warbling mass of chaotic energy at one creature in range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 2d8 + 1d6 damage. Choose one of the d8s. The number rolled on that die determines the attack’s damage type, as shown below.

d8  Damage Type
1 Acid 5  Lightning
2 Cold 6  Poison
3 Fire 7  Psychic
4 Force 8  Thunder

If you roll the same number on both d8s, the chaotic energy leaps from the target to a different creature of your choice within 30 feet of it. Make a new attack roll against the new target, and make a new damage roll, which could cause the chaotic energy to leap again.

A creature can be targeted only once by each casting of this spell.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, each target takes 1d6 extra damage of the type rolled for each slot level above 1st.

My Comments: So. Much. Fun. Everybody loves a bit of a gamble, right? Okay, maybe not everybody. But, that’s okay, because even with the chaotic damage system, it’s still a pretty great spell.

Also, as of time of writing, this is the only Sorcerer-exclusive spell, so it has that distinction.

What’s not to love about this spell?

Sorcerer casts Chaos Bolt Spell

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  • For a first level spell, it does great damage.
  • It scales with an additional d6 per level of upcast.
  • The range is an impressive 120 feet.
  • No material component.
  • And has about a 12.5% possibility of bouncing to other targets for even more damage.

Excellent. The only downside is that you don’t know what you’re going to get as far as damage type. This can suck when you’re fighting a Flaming Skull and it keeps coming up as fire damage, but really, that’s not that likely.

Because despite the odd wording, the RAI (rule as intended) is that you choose which of the dice determines the damage type after you’ve rolled. In that case, with a 3 and 4 for damage, you can choose the 4 and do force damage to that annoying flaming skull. Of course, you might get double 4’s and have to choose fire, but in that case you also get the bouncing effect of the spell and it arcs over to another target, so still excellent!

Here’s a Crawford-ism regarding the order of rolling and choosing:

So, yeah, the downside of the chaotic nature of this spell and it’s random damage type is … not so much of a downside.

Also, regarding range, while the 120 feet is good to start out, during the bounce, the second creature doesn’t need to be within that 120 feet. It just says it has to be within 30 feet of the original target. Ostensibly, this spell could potentially go on for miles with enough double rolls and targets within 30 feet of each other.

Yes, it’s highly, highly improbable, but not impossible.

Potentially infinite range with random damage types all over the place, and only level one? I think it’s definitely a fun spell.

Dave Goff

Writing and creating in my spare time to avoid going crazy in this mad, mad, world. Check out some of my materials on DMsGuild and let me know what you think! subscribe to keep up with new posts and leave comments to keep the conversation going.

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