Last Updated on January 22, 2023
The Javelin of Lightning
The Javelin of Lightning is a magic weapon that, when you throw it and speak its command word, transforms into a bolt of lightning. The lightning forms a line 5 feet wide extending out from the wielder to a target within 120 feet. Each creature in that line (excluding the caster), must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or take 4d6 Lightning Damage. On a successful saving throw, the damage taken is halved.
When the lightning bolt reaches its target, it turns back into a javelin. Make a ranged weapon attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes damage from the javelin and an additional 4d6 lightning damage.
Once it has been used in this way, this property can’t be used again until the next dawn. The javelin is still treated as a magic weapon in the meantime for the means of overcoming damage resistances and immunities, for example.
Proficiency with a javelin allows you to add your proficiency bonus to the attack roll for any attack you make with the weapon.
Basic Rules, pg. 178
Pretty cool, huh?
What Is a Javelin of Lightning in DnD 5e?
A Javelin of Lightning is an uncommon magic weapon. Once per day, the wielder can hurl the javelin at a target up to 120 feet away, dealing extra lightning damage to the target and to any enemies in a 5-foot-wide line on the way.
The weapon functions fairly straightforwardly as a javelin until you speak its command word. Then, it transforms into a bolt of lightning and flies 120 feet (that’s 24 5-foot squares on a battle map), burning and zapping everything in its path on the way for an average of around 13 lightning damage on a failed save. Then, if it hits its intended target, that target takes an extra 4d6 lightning damage on top of the 1d6 + Strength from a basic javelin hit.
At lower levels, this can translate into a significant amount of damage, especially if you’re fighting a large group of enemies in an enclosed space. If most of your foes are below CR 1, there’s even a good chance you could roast an entire encounter with this weapon.
It’s also worth noting that magic items that use a command word are treated the same as a spell with the Verbal component. If you can’t make the necessary noise to say the word (if you’re affected by the silence spell, for example), the command word won’t work, and the weapon won’t “fire.”
Which Class Uses a Javelin of Lightning the Best?
The combination of magical attacks (for the purpose of overcoming damage resistances and immunities) with a once-per-day burst of damage (with the potential to roast a huge number of enemies if you get your positioning right) makes the Javelin of Lightning an outrageously good weapon for lower-leveled martial characters, especially those who rely on Strength.
Fighters, Paladins, and Barbarians are all great candidates for this magic item, while characters with typically poor Strength modifiers like the Bard, Rogue, Warlock, or Sorcerer may struggle here. Still, a javelin is a simple weapon, so there’s nothing to say that most classes (with the exception of the Wizard, who’s useless) can’t pick one up and at least have a go.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the javelin of lightning command word?
Each magic item has a different command word determined by the Dungeon Master, which you learn at the end of the short rest spent attuning to the item.
Does the javelin of lightning come back?
No. The Javelin of Lightning functions like a normal javelin and must be retrieved when thrown. When its lightning bolt ability is used, whether it hits its eventual target or not, the weapon stays where it lands.
How much does a javelin of lightning cost?
The Javelin of Lightning typically costs 1,000 gold pieces, according to our Magic Item Price Guide, although this is just a guideline, and the final decision is up to your Dungeon Master.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.