Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (SCAG) published two cantrips that have long been a staple of the martial spellcaster (AKA “gish”) playstyle:
- Green-Flame Blade
- Booming Blade
SCAG was published by Wizards of the Coast in conjunction with Green Ronin Publishing. Since this was early in the development of 5th Edition, less than a year after the publication of the core books, the design team has had a lot of time to ruminate on tweaks to bring these spells in line with other design elements of 5th Edition.
These two cantrip spells, commonly referred to as “blade cantrips” or “bladetrips”, are being updated in the new core rules supplement, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything (TCE). Along with that, Wizards has released updated errata for SCAG content, including full rewrites of the blade cantrips:
There’s been a lot of speculation about how these changes interact with other gish kit options, and whether they change the way the spells work. I’m here to break that down.
The range was changed from “5 feet” to “Self (5-foot radius)”.
The wording was changed from “as part of the action to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature within the spell’s range” to “you brandish the weapon used in the spell’s casting and make a melee attack with it against one creature within 5 feet of you.”
The material component of both spells now requires a melee weapon worth at least one silver piece.
The player now has the option of making Green-Flame Blade’s fire leap to a second target (it’s no longer mandatory).
Twinned Spell Metamagic
Twinned Spell is a type of metamagic that can be used by a sorcerer (or anyone who took TCE’s new Metamagic Adept feat). Here’s how it works:
By the plain language, you see “doesn’t have a range of self” and reason that adding “self” to the range of the blade cantrips locks them out from twinning. It’s that simple!
- Green-Flame Blade can no longer be twinned.
- Booming Blade can no longer be twinned.
War Caster Feat
The War Caster feat is a great option for any gish. For our purposes, we’re focused on the third bullet point:
Unlike Twinned Spell, you can cast the War Caster opportunity attack spell so long as it targets “only that creature.” This doesn’t mean that the spell must be incapable of hitting multiple targets. It means that it only hits one target when you cast it.
Additionally, for these purposes, although the blade cantrips now have a range of self, that doesn’t make the caster a target (which would disqualify us from using War Caster under the single target clause). D&D Principal Rules Designer Jeremy Crawford confirms:
Applying this to our spells:
- Green-Flame Blade now works with War Caster, since you are no longer compelled to target a second creature.
- Booming Blade still works with War Caster, because it only ever targeted one creature.
Spell Sniper Feat
The Spell Sniper feat was also an attractive gish option for a few reasons.
This feat works really well with the blade cantrips, because it gives you a cantrip when you take the feat. This means on-spellcasting classes can take it for a direct power increase.
Additionally, doubling spell range opened up the opportunity to use the blade cantrips with reach weapons, such as polearms. This trick also works with a reach race, such as bugbear. You can see how a reach weapon would synergize really well with Booming Blade, by damage taxing a non-reach attacker each time they want to move into range.
But, this mechanic wasn’t preserved with the spell errata. The new wording does not lean on the range of the spell, but explicitly states that the target must be within 5 feet.
- Green-Flame Blade no longer works with Spell Sniper.
- Booming Blade no longer works with Spell Sniper.
Blade Pact Weapon
Pact of the Blade is a special pact available to Warlocks at 3rd level. Here’s how it works:
Since your conjured pact weapon takes the form of a weapon from the weapons table, it also adapts the value, and qualifies for the material component. If you adapt a magic weapon into your pact weapon, it should also have sufficient value to qualify. D&D Principal Rules Designer Jeremy Crawford confirms:
- Green-Flame Blade continues to work with Pact of the Blade.
- Booming Blade continues to work with Pact of the Blade.
Shadow Blade Spell
Shadow Blade is another spell that is a common gish option, since it gives you a 2d8 psychic damage-dealing sword with finesse, light, thrown (and returning) properties, that attacks with advantage in dim light or darkness.
Since this spell creates “a sword of solidified gloom” without reference to the weapons table, the shadow blade has no value. As such, it does not satisfy the material component of the blade cantrips. For confirmation, see Crawford’s tweet above.
- Green-Flame Blade no longer works with Shadow Blade.
- Booming Blade no longer works with Shadow Blade.
Soulknife’s Psychic Blades
Unless the Soulknife’s Psychic Blades are changed from their Unearthed Arcana version to reference the weapons table (as Pact of the Blade does), the fact that they do not have a value (like Shadow Blade) will prevent them from using blade cantrips with their staple Psychic Blades feature.
We’ll know when Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything drops on November 17. Stay tuned to this space for an update.
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5 thoughts on “Blade Cantrip Changes”
Agreed, excellent breakdown! Nice to know this has no effect on my Magic Initiate Swashbuckler…
Reblogged this on DDOCentral.
Worth a note that JC’s note there about Shadow Blade wasn’t the intent behind the change, and he considers there to be no balance problem with allowing it even though he acknowledges that by RAW it does prohibit it: https://twitter.com/jeremyecrawford/status/1327132714013782017?lang=en