5th Edition Spells – Green Flame Blade

Green Flame Blade

Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard - Cantrip Level Spell

School: Evocation
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range:
Components: Verbal and Material
Duration: Instantaneous
Attack/Save: Melee
Reference: SCAG 143

As part of the action used to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature within the spell’s range, otherwise the spell fails. On a hit, the target suffers the attack’s normal effects, and green fire leaps from the target to a different creature of your choice that you can see within 5 feet of it. The second creature takes fire damage equal to your spellcasting ability modifier.

This spell’s damage increases when you reach higher levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 fire damage to the target, and the fire damage to the second creature increases to 1d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier. Both damage rolls increase by 1d8 at 11th level and 17th level.

(NOTE: For some reason people interested in Green Flame Blade are also interested in Booming Blade, found here)

My Comments: Have I mentioned that I’m doing these posts as an exercise to force myself to learn more about the available spells in 5th edition? I think I mentioned it in the first post and not recently.

You, my clever reader, probably have used these spells before, or have been researching them so that you can use them to best advantage. I’ve neither used this spell nor have I even read the SCAG (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide) that it comes from.

Here’s my go at it. Imagine me thinking out loud… like I’m some weird guy in the game shop muttering in the corner as he looks over a battered scroll with a picture of a green-glowing blade…

So, it takes an action, but that action will be an attack with a weapon as the material component.
Not just an attack, but specifically a melee attack.
Your attack hits your primary target normally and then a ‘splash’ damage hit another target within 5ft for just your spellcasting ability modifier until 5th level, then increasing to d8+sam, and so on…

The restrictions:

  • You have to have an action available – no big deal if you were going to make a melee attack anyway.
  • You have to make a melee attack – same as above, except it should be noted you are making an attack with your Strength ability modifier.
  • There has to be another visible target within 5ft for the extra damage to trigger.
  • You have to make an attack with a melee weapon, so an unarmed attack wouldn’t work. Too bad, it would fun to have a monk build with this spell just for the cinematic role-playing quality…
  • Oh! And the attack has to hit, and hit using your strength roll.
  • Actually, this is relevant… “you must make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature within the spell’s range.” It implies the spell won’t work if you use your action to make two attacks. As a matter of fact, the action itself is the spell, not the attack.

Okay, let’s add all that up. It’s a Sorcerer, Warlock or Wizard spell and a cantrip, so I see it could be useful if you can cast unlimited cantrips and you just happen to get stuck in melee. Of course, here is where I note that I think there should be a limit on number of cantrips cast per day, but let’s go with it for now.

I guess in that case it’s okay. Mostly though, it seems like a damage buff for people who  don’t already do great melee damage. I wouldn’t bother to do a dip in caster level or waste a feat on it if I were a fighter or other class that can get multi-attack because it limits to one attack in that action. Besides, they can already do plenty of damage without a spell like this.

It could be used while two-weapon fighting, because the second attack happens in the bonus action, but the spell would only trigger on the attack action, not the bonus.

It’s also not great for casters that used Strength as a dump stat because you still have to hit with it.

All in all, it’s a fun spell, but I don’t think it’s all that great. Quick! Someone remind me that it gets stronger at higher levels and can be twinned and boosted, and and and…! Sure, I get it, I do, but you know what also gets stronger at those levels? Your opponents. Okay, it’s cool to get an extra 3d8 of damage on an attack plus 3d8 splash on another target without burning a real spell slot, but…

No, wait… that actually is kind of cool. Okay fine, it’s not all bad. As a table rule I would say that the green flame gives off a glow to light up 5-10 feet around you. The description doesn’t say that but it does make sense and helps with the issue of the second target being visible.

5e Cantrip Spell Green Flame Blade by Daniel Denova

Green Flame Blade by Daniel Denova. For more amazing art click the image.

 

Now you see the weirdo in the corner of the game shop finish muttering with a “Huh!”, a raised eyebrow and an appraising nod, then you blink and he’s gone.

 

[pssst… want to draw a card from The Deck of Many Things?]

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.

17 Comments

  1. Scott on March 2, 2018 at 8:02 am

    This spell combos really well for a single attack melee class like rogue, druid, or cleric with magic initiate and especially when combined with Shillelagh for the latter two.

    A tome warlock can be a really potent melee fighter as this combo relies only on CHA for attack and damage as well while still giving potent spellcasting power.

    This also effectively gives a 2nd attack early on for regular melee attackers and stacks with sneak attack and divine smite.

  2. Elisa Doll on May 19, 2018 at 10:36 pm

    You don’t have to use strength, there are finesse weapons. Dex in 5e is pretty good. Bladesingers are great with this cantrip as they don’t get their extra attack until 6th level, and, it gives flexibility even without enhancing feats. In some situations, you might be okay with slightly lower damage to one target in order to hit a second target as well.

    • Dave Goff on May 20, 2018 at 12:00 am

      Good point about Dex and finesse weapons!

  3. Nimoot on April 29, 2019 at 12:16 am

    If you’re a Hexblade Warlock, you use your Charisma Modifier to hit and for damage rolls…. so this would go perfectly with them.

  4. Noneya on May 3, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Don’t forget the fighter subclass/martial archetype Eldritch Knight. This is a spammable bonus for them, and if you think about it, being able to wade in and spam cast the cantrip using your multiple actions is fairly powerful. You’re likely already strong in the “to hit” stat of STR/DEX and you’re effectively adding a 1d8 bonus to every weapon swing. It’s actually the go to move of my current fighter in a 5e campaign 🙂

    • Noneya on May 3, 2019 at 9:00 am

      p.s. it’s important to point out that it’s better at the lower levels, before you get your extra attacks – up there what I wrote tends to imply you can do it with your extra attacks feature as a fighter, and I believe that’s incorrect. You have to trigger extra attacks by taking the attack action – casting a spell doesn’t count as that (altho many campaigns allow you to do one or the other for flexibility’s sake, it could be abused and overpowering though). But as a low level EK, this is a great cantrip to use.

      • Dennis on March 28, 2020 at 1:05 am

        Levels 3 and 4 Green Flame Blade is a spammable bonus. Levels 5 and 6: if there’s a second enemy within 5 feet of your target Green Flame Blade is good; otherwise, just make a 2 attack attack action.

        At level 7+ the Eldritch Knight can cast a cantrip and make a weapon attack as a bonus action, if the cantrip is Green Flame Blade that adds a second (melee) weapon attack. So for levels 7 – 10 it’s a spammable bonus again. Level 11 – 19: if there’s a second enemy within 5 feet of your target Green Flame Blade is good; otherwise, just make a 3 attack attack action.

        At level 20 you have 4 attacks per attack action. But after making good use of GFB for levels 3 – 19, does it really matter if it obsolete at level 20?



  5. Ruby on August 1, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    It works very well for a Arcane Trickster.

  6. MidrealmDM on August 20, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Druid = sheleighly + greenflame

    Also important distinction on unarmed strike
    https://twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/608776737917263872
    “…[The melee attack errata] lets melee weapon attacks use unarmed strikes, despite those strikes not being weapons.”
    PHB Errata
    “Melee Attacks (p. 195). The third paragraph now reads, “Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons). On a hit, an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + your Strength modifier. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes.”
    So while it wont work with “a melee attack with a weapon” it will work with abilities that require “a melee weapon attack”

    • Dave Goff on August 20, 2019 at 5:52 pm

      Excellent points, thanks MidrealmDM!

  7. Steven Victor Neiman on September 4, 2019 at 10:23 am

    It also helps to make the dreaded sorcadin even worse. You cast green-flame blade, smite off it, and quicken another green flame blade and smite off that. The DPR is absurd, and you can sustain it for a long time.
    As a subtle limitation, it doesn’t actually allow dual wielding. This is because while it is a melee attack, it is not the attack action.
    Also, it’s really ambiguous whether unarmed strikes in 5e are considered “melee weapons”, though weirdly they are unambiguously considered “melee weapon attacks”, being neither spells nor ranged.

  8. Joshua Kirtley on September 12, 2019 at 5:48 am

    Would it be worth it, as a Githzerai Tempest domain Cleric to take the Magic Initiate feat to get say Booming Blade and this Green Flame Blade cantrips plus another Level 1 Wizard spell? I am proficient in heavy armor and martial weapons, so I can take and give some hits.

    • Dave Goff on September 12, 2019 at 6:32 pm

      I personally think it’s a great combo, as long as your cleric is willing to be in the frontline. The downside is using a feat to accomplish it, but honestly, given that it also gives you access to a first level spell and another cantrip, I think it can be worth it. Just remember that the bonus on damage at 5th level uses your Wisdom for you spellcasting modifier and you’re good to go.

      Also, feel free to combo it with Divine Strike. 🙂

      Mind you, I’m more of a role-player than optimizer, so to me the most important thing would be the backstory that gets it to make sense.

      Have fun with it!

  9. TieDyeT on January 24, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Late to comments but I don’t see Circle of Spore Druid mentioned at all and they seem perfect for this. They play like support tanks. They don’t shapeshift and instead run shillelagh in melee so they don’t need str or dex stats. They only get 1 attack anyway, so no sacrificing multi-attack to use a melee spell. So basically they can use this cantrip everytime they’d make a melee attack. This is free extra damage for that build.

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