Witch Bolt 5e: Mechanics and Guide to Using the Spell

Casting Time

1 action






30 feet


Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard


Ranged Spell Attack


1 minute ©




Verbal, Somatic, Material

Spell Description:

A beam of crackling, blue energy lances out toward a creature within range, forming a sustained arc of lightning between you and the target. Make a ranged spell attack against that creature.

On a hit, the target takes 1d12 lightning damage, and on each of your turns for the duration, you can use your action to deal 1d12 lightning damage to the target automatically. The spell ends if you use your action to do anything else. The spell also ends if the target is ever outside the spell’s range or if it has total cover from you.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the initial damage increases by 1d12 for each slot level above 1st.

1st level5th level7th level9th level
Damage Dice1d125d127d129d12
Minimum Damage1579
Average Damage6.530.542.554.5
Maximum Damage126084108

1st level, Evocation, Damage, Lightning

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

Materials Required: A twig from a tree that has been struck by lightning

Number of Targets: 1

Die Type: d12

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

Damage Type: Lightning

Save: None

Damage On Successful Save: None

Statuses Inflicted: None

Status Duration: None

Affected By Cover: Yes

Advantage: None

Disadvantage: None

What is Witch Bolt?

Witch Bolt is a 1st-level Evocation spell. The caster makes a ranged spell attack against an enemy. The spell deals lightning damage on a hit, and the caster can choose to use their action next turn to automatically deal damage to the afflicted target again for up to 1 minute of combat.

Who can cast Witch Bolt?

Witch Bolt is present on the Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard spell lists, and those classes can take the spell at 1st level. Eldritch Knights can take the spell at 3rd level when choosing this martial archetype, but Arcane Tricksters will need to wait until the 8th level.

Bards can take the spell with their Magical Secrets feature, available to all Bards by the 10th level.

When and Where should I cast Witch Bolt?

Witch Bolt can be used at low levels for damage as the continuous ten rounds of damage can be quite significant since they don’t require another spell slot.

Witch Bolt’s biggest flaw is that it requires the caster to use its full action to get the full use out of it, and since the continuous damage does not scale, it’s very ineffective at high levels.

Why should I take Witch Bolt?

Witch Bolt is highly effective as a low-level spell, offering up to 11d12 damage on a hit when used as a 1st level spell. Upcasting isn’t really worth it since the continuous damage does not scale.

Even the greater initial damage doesn’t really balance out exactly how much is lost when the player misses it whilst using a higher-level slot.

Common Questions About Witch Bolt