5th Edition Spells – Shape Water

Shape Water

Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard - Cantrip Level Spell

School: Transmutation
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 ft
Components: Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous
Attack/Save: None
Reference: EEPC 164

You choose an area of water that you can see within range and that fits within a 5-foot cube. You manipulate it in one of the following ways:

  • You instantaneously move or otherwise change the flow of the water as you direct, up to 5 feet in any direction. This movement doesn’t have enough force to cause damage.
  • You cause the water to form into simple shapes and animate at your direction. This change lasts for 1 hour.
  • You change the water’s color or opacity. The water must be changed in the same way throughout. This change lasts for 1 hour.
  • You freeze the water, provided that there are no creatures in it. The water unfreezes in 1 hour.

If you cast this spell multiple times, you can have no more than two of its non-instantaneous effects active at a time, and you can dismiss such an effect as an action.

picture of water-bender making a water dragon

My Comments:  I’m just going to start with this– no, as written, you cannot use shape water on a humanoid or other creature. Yes, I know, humans are nearly 70% water. I get it, I do.

However, a 0-level cantrip spell is not turning you into Katara from the Last Airbender.

Going back to the line of sight issues with Sacred Flame, you have to be able to see the water in order to shape it. Can you see all that water inside other people? Didn’t think so. Can you see water that comes out of them, like sweat? Sure, shape sweat all you want. It’s probably a great way to freshen up after a long run- just use shape water to remove the sweat from your body.

Wait, that might remove the water, but leave the salt and bacteria that cause the stink and discomfort. Probably not going to work as well as you might want… Well, it’s still a good way to dry off after a swim.

Anyway, you can’t bloodbend like Dark Katara with Shape Water. So, what can you do?

Well, it depends on your DM, much like anything else.

If you ask me, changing the flow of water doesn’t mean getting it to defy gravity, so I wouldn’t allow a caster to make a floating wall of water. Or, it might form it into a simple shape, like a wall, and that will last for an hour, but that doesn’t make this a miniature version of Wall of Water, a 3rd-level spell. This water could obscure vision and such, but it isn’t going to stop or even slow anything down.

However, if you make that wall and then spend another action and casting to freeze it, I would allow that to create a weak wall of ice.

More fun is to sneak a thin flow of water onto a surface and then freeze it, making for slippery conditions.

In social situations, you might use very tiny amounts of water to make it appear someone is sweating and giving the impression they’re nervous or guilty of something.

How about staying dry during a (normal) rainfall? Sure, why not?

Levitate water in a 5′ cube, freeze it, and then drop it on someone? No. Again, this is a cantrip and you are not a waterbender. No levitating. Changing the shape means that the water stays one continuous shape and needs a base. Make a sculpture out of water and freeze it in place, go ahead. It still needs something to stand on.shape water dnd 5e cantrip spell

In a darkened corridor or sewers, make a vague-humanoid shape and have it “walk” away as a way to throw pursuers off your trail. Just know they won’t be fooled when they get a better look at it.

Changing the color of a pool of water to look like blood is a great conversation-starter at parties. Okay, no, it’s not, but it is a great way to freak people out.

Cantrips beg to bring out the creative caster in you and this is a great example of one with a lot of potential, so go forth and do creative things with it. Just remember, it’s a cantrip, not a 5th-level spell of super-duper waterbending hellaciousness.

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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