Cloud of Daggers 5e
Cloud of daggers dnd 5e is a 2nd-level conjuration spell available to the Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard classes in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. Cloud of daggers tends to get overlooked in favor of spells that deal higher damage (dragon’s breath, shatter) or offer more utility (spider climb, suggestion). While these are fair considerations, there is more going for cloud of daggers than straight-up damage or narrative utility. Before getting into the nitty gritty, let’s take a look at the spell found on page 222 of the Player’s Handbook.
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a sliver of glass)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
You fill the air with spinning daggers in a cube 5 feet on each side, centered on a point you choose within range. A creature takes 4d4 slashing damage when it enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there.
At Higher Level
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 2d4 for each slot level above 2nd.
Cloud of Daggers Damage When Cast – Magical Damage?
At first glance, 4d4 damage appears a little lackluster, especially since the damage is not dealt immediately. The spell deals an average of 10 magical slashing damage to a creature the first time it enters on a turn or starts its turn in the cloud’s space. More than likely, a creature caught in the cloud will make sure to leave the affected area, reducing the chance for persistent damage. And once cast, it’s unlikely an enemy creature will enter the space by choice.
Cloud of Daggers Potential Abuse
That said, there are several things worth taking into account. First, damage is automatic: there is no chance to miss with the spell or for the damage to be reduced by half with a successful saving throw. That’s a pretty significant amount of reliable damage if you–or your party–are somehow able to keep a creature in the spell’s area. Furthermore, a creature may also take this damage multiple times in a round if it leaves and then re-enters the 5-foot cube. Finally, although cloud of daggers requires concentration, you do not need to spend an action, or even a bonus action, for it to continue dealing damage. This means you can continue to cast other, non-concentration spells, make attacks, etc. So, even though cloud of daggers has a limited area of effect and the damage doesn’t seem too significant, this spell has a lot of potential, especially if you can pair it with ways of maneuvering your opponents into/out of the cloud’s area.
Cloud Of Daggers 5e Sage Advice – Area of Effect
Before moving onto good ways of combining cloud of daggers with other effects to maximize its usefulness, we should take some wise advice into account. For those of us who usually play with a combat grid, we might be tempted to limit the casting of cloud of daggers to a 5-foot square on the grid. But, as Jeremy Crawford notes in this Sage Advice column, the area of effect for the cloud is not necessarily limited to the 5-foot squares of the combat grid. The cloud could take up half of two adjacent squares, for instance. Ultimately, the decision of whether the spell’s effect must “snap-to-grid” is up to your GM. But it is not unreasonable to suggest that by having the area of effect partially cover two squares on the grid, creatures trying to move into or through those squares might have to squeeze, move acrobatically, make a saving throw, etc. in order to avoid the spell’s effect.
Twinned Spell cloud of daggers?
Now, let us turn to spell combinations and other abilities that will help to make cloud of daggers a potent choice. The idea of using the sorcerer’s Twinned Spell metamagic ability might come to mind. Unfortunately, the restriction on Twinned Spell is that it can only be used with spells which target a single creature, and cloud of daggers does not produce a targeted effect.
5e cloud of daggers Builds and Combos
The best way for cloud of daggers to maximize its damage potential is for your character and/or the rest of your party to maneuver your opponents into and out of the area. Spell effects that force targets to move, either by push or pull, are ideal. Thunderwave, thorn whip, lightning lure, and eldritch blast with the Repelling Blast or Grasp of Hadar invocations are all low-level spells which can help move your enemy into or out of the cloud. However, each of these only move the target up to ten feet in a straight line, so this strategy would necessitate the enemy staying fairly close to the cloud’s area and good positioning from you or your caster ally. This might happen in cramped quarters like a tunnel or hallway where the tanky party members can prevent enemies from moving too far.
In general, if you have a fighter, barbarian, paladin, etc. close to the cloud of daggers effect, it’s probably a better option for such athletic characters to simply grapple your opponent and hold them in the effect instead. The Sentinel feat is also a great way to stop enemies from moving away from the area. Holding an enemy in the effect could also be accomplished by allies spellcasters using effects that prevent movement, paralyze, or restrain. Hold person, web, entangle, and maximilian’s earthen grasp are some good options here. If your party has time to prepare a trap or ambush, using an effect like mold earth could create a small pit that conveniently fits the cloud of daggers, or even employing a mundane bear trap could keep your enemy painfully pinned.
Ultimately, cloud of daggers is kind of a niche spell. To unlock the real potential of this spell as something over and above a simple (and limited) area control spell, you really need some additional abilities or spells that synergize nicely with it. Whether you provide these spells/abilities yourself or whether you coordinate with your party members is up to you. If the GM allows for flexibility with regard to placing the spell’s area, that definitely increases the utility of cloud of daggers. If you’re not concerned as much with the spell’s overall damage output, then it definitely has some great potential for fun shenanigans, along with its normal strengths of doing some guaranteed damage and its ability to create chokepoints.