Chromatic Orb 5e: Mechanics and Guide to Using the Spell

Casting Time

1 action




Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Poison, or Thunder


90 ft


Sorcerer, Wizard








Verbal, Somatic, Material

Spell Description:

You hurl a 4-inch-diameter sphere of energy at a creature that you can see within range.

You choose acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, or thunder for the type of orb you create, and then make a ranged spell attack against the target. If the attack hits, the creature takes 3d8 damage of the type you chose.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 1st.

1st level5th level7th level9th level
Damage Dice3d87d89d811d8
Minimum Damage37911
Average Damage12.528.536.544.5
Maximum Damage24567288

1st level, Evocation, Damage, Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Poison, Thunder

Level: Sorcerer (1), Wizard (1), Eldritch Knight (3), Arcane Trickster (8), Bard (Magical Secrets, 10)

Materials Required: A diamond worth at least 50 gp

Number of Targets: 1

Die Type: d8

Number of Dice: 3 (increased by 1 for each spell slot level used above the 1st)

Damage Type: Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Poison, or Thunder, caster’s choice

Save: None

Damage On Successful Save: N/A

Statuses Inflicted: None

Status Duration: N/A

Affected By Cover: No

Advantage: None

Disadvantage: None

Who Can Cast Chromatic Orb?

Chromatic Orb is on the Sorcerer and Wizard spell lists, and those classes can take the spell starting at the 1st level.

Eldritch Knights will be able to take the spell from the Wizard spell list beginning at the 3rd level when they choose the subclass, but Arcane Tricksters will have to wait until the 8th level to select spells from the Evocation school.

Bards can take the spell from their Magical Secrets feature, available to all Bards by the 10th level. Any other classes who want to take Chromatic Orb will need to take the Magic Initiate feat and select either Wizard and Sorcerer as their Magic Initiate class.

What Is Chromatic Orb?

Chromatic Orb is a 1st-level Evocation spell. The caster creates a sphere of magic in their hands, choosing an element (Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Poison, Thunder) with which to create this magic with, and then hurls it at an enemy to deal damage on a hit.

When and Where Should I Cast Chromatic Orb?

Chromatic Orb is a versatile and potent damaging spell that can be used against virtually all enemies. Being able to choose your damage type means that you can choose damage based on your enemy and its d8 damage dice aren’t anything to sniff at either. 

The spell can be upcast and while it does have somewhat lower damage than a lot of higher-level damaging spells, its damage is backed up by the fact that it can choose to be an on-element spell so long as the player is aware of what the weaknesses of the enemy are.

There’s not really a bad time for Chromatic Orb, even at its lowest-level, it has a very potent damaging capability since it has a flexible damage type.

Why Should I Take Chromatic Orb?

Chromatic Orb is a great low-level damaging spell that packs versatility and high damage into a pleasing package. The spell makes a great single-target nuke and its low resource cost means that the spell can be used again and again. Getting to choose the damage type is just the icing on the cake for this versatile spell.

A caster with a strong knowledge of the game or a player character who is well read will be able to use Chromatic Orb’s flexibility to its fullest. The player will be able to choose effective damage types and utilize the cost-efficiency of the spell to its fullest.

The most difficult part, and the balancing factor, for Chromatic Orb is that it requires a steady supply of small diamonds (“small” meaning worth 50 gp). Players should keep in mind that any component with a listed price can not be substituted for an arcane focus and will not be present in the component pouch.

Alternatives to Chromatic Orb

  • Chaos Bolt

Common Questions About Chromatic Orb

Can You Use Twinned Spell on Chromatic Orb?

Yes. Since Chromatic Orb is a single-target spell, it is possible to use the Sorcerer’s Twinned Spell Metamagic on the spell.

Can You Use an Arcane Focus for Chromatic Orb?

Sort of. The Arcane Focus can only be used to replace items that do not have a listed price. Since the diamond that is consumed for Chromatic Orb has to be at least 50 gp, the Arcane Focus can’t substitute for it.

Does Chromatic Orb Consume the Diamond?

Yes. It is important to remember that Chromatic Orb consumes the diamond on cast.

Is Chaos Bolt Better Than Chromatic Orb?

Chaos Bolt is neither better nor worse than Chromatic Orb. Chaos Bolt is a lower-cost spell, but doesn’t allow the same versatility of choice that Chromatic Orb provides.