Artificer, Sorcerer, Wizard - Cantrip Level Spell
Casting Time: 1 Action
Components: Verbal and Somatic
Reference: PHB 275
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).
My Comments: Again, this is one of the classic D&D spells. It always made me think of those joy buzzers in the back of old comic books. I even had one once. It made a buzzing sound and might have delivered a small shock. Overall, I was disappointed- I wanted less noise and more shock. It’s probably a good thing my 12 year old self only had the noisy kind.
Anyway, this joy buzzer-like spell is a lot more like the one used by the clown prince of crime. Less joy, more ouch.
This actually isn’t just a straight-up damage spell. It gets used that way but there’s more to it than that.
For one thing, it removes the target’s reactions until the start of the next turn. This means you can disengage after hitting with it. Did your squishy wizard find themselves too close to the enemy metal-covered meat shield? Shocking Grasp with advantage to hit and then move away quickly. Normally, you’d have to worry about attacks of opportunity but with their reactions zapped out them, you can waltz back behind the cover of your own meat shield without worry of injury.
Also, the spell description above says “target” instead of creature. Now, I don’t like PCs using knowledge their character shouldn’t have, so if I had an electrical engineer that wanted to set up a Shocking Grasp-powered generator or something crazy, I’d have to disallow. However, if you wanted to shock some other object, I would allow for creative uses. For example, one game involved a minion holding a door shut with the PC wizard on the other side, so they applied Shocking Grasp to the metal door handle. Rule of cool, I decided it would work just fine.
Of course, there are handy things like having a familiar deliver your touch attack, comboing with spells that creatures use reactions to get out of, and so on…
And finally, there are fewer creatures with resistance to Lightning damage, so that’s handy as well.
What’s your best creative use of electricity in D&D?