Skip to Content

Call Lightning 5e D&D Guide

Call Lightning 5e D&D Guide

Call Lightning is a visually impressive spell that can dish out punishment and be maintained and used round after round.

The strikes invoked by the caster deal damage to small areas, potentially hitting more than one target.

The rules for Call Lightning can be found in the Players Handbook on page 220.

Call Lightning 5e

3rd-level Conjuration

Casting Time: 1 Action

Range: 120 Feet

Components: V, S,

Duration: 10 Minutes (Concentration)

A storm cloud appears in the shape of a cylinder that is 10 feet tall with a 60-foot radius, centered on a point you can see within range directly above you.

The spell fails if you can’t see a point in the air where the storm cloud could appear (for example, if you are in a room that can’t accommodate the cloud).

When you cast the spell, choose a point you can see under the cloud. A bolt of lightning flashes down from the cloud to that point. Each creature within 5 feet of that point must make a Dexterity saving throw.

A creature takes 3d10 lightning damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one.

On each of your turns, until the spell ends, you can use your action to call down lightning in this way again, targeting the same point or a different one.

If you are outdoors in stormy conditions when you cast this spell, the spell gives you control over the existing storm instead of creating a new one. Under such conditions, the spell’s damage increases by 1d10.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th or higher level, the damage increases by 1d10 for each slot level above 3rd.

The rules for Call Lightning outline the massive area the spell encompasses as well as the extended duration in which it takes place.

A 120-foot diameter cloud that is 10 feet tall allows the caster to target anyone inside and deals damage to any creature within 5 feet of that target.

Calling lightning bolts to strike enemies does take an action, and the spell is concentration, so once it is cast, the caster should plan on being at least semi-committed.

Is Call Lightning Good in 5e?

To be honest, it’s difficult to label Call Lightning and can be thought of as being situational at best, but definitely not bad.

Some pros are that it has high overall damage, meaning it can last for up to 100 rounds and provide the caster with 100 lightning bolts worth 3d10 Lightning damage (AoE) each. 

The problem is that 3d10 Lightning damage per round is actually quite low when looking at other spells like Fireball (3rd-level) or even a well-placed Spike Growth (2nd-level).

Another factor is Concentration, which can be used on another spell that has more utility, provides buffs or deals more damage. You should also consider the fact that the storm cloud can’t move, and most creatures can escape its area (60-foot radius) in no more than 2 rounds.

How Effective Is Call Lightning’s AoE?

When you cast Call Lightning, a giant storm cloud will appear in the area you pointed at. The cloud will have a 60-foot radius, and any creature inside the radius will be targetable.

The damage-dealing lightning bolt (3d10 Lightning damage) itself has an AoE of 5 feet. Unfortunately, the storm cloud can’t be moved, and if a creature moves away under the 60-foot radius, the lightning bolts can’t target it anymore.

Can You Use Call Lightning Indoors?

In short, the answer is yes. You can use the spell Call Lightning indoors. The room does need to be large enough to accommodate the cloud. This includes all elements of the cloud and specifications for casting.

The room would need to be 110 feet tall and 120 feet wide, and the caster would need to be in the center.

These specifications make it difficult but not impossible to use the spell inside. For example, a large underground cavern could potentially provide enough space to allow the spell to succeed.

Keep in mind that if there is not sufficient room for the spell, it automatically fails. The cloud also cannot travel around corners or through other openings.

Hot Tip
It is possible to maintain concentration on the spell after being indoors. This means that a caster could use Call Lightning and then enter a house or hut. The lightning would strike the house or hut rather than any creature inside, but it would certainly be able to target creatures outside.

Does Call Lightning Move With You?

The spell descriptions in 5E are very specific for a reason. This means that if the spell doesn’t say it can move (as this one), then it doesn’t.

Call Lightning is best cast in a location that the caster is intending to stay at least somewhat close to or placed strategically.

The 120-foot diameter does give the caster quite a bit of range as far as creatures they can target. The spell also does not specify that the spell ends if the caster leaves the area described after casting.

The caster still needs to be able to see the point targeted but is not required to stand in the area of the cloud.

Bottom Line
Call Lightning can be used in a variety of ways. It can be an absolute powerhouse in preventing a siege as well as taking out hordes of lesser foes. Maintaining concentration is the biggest negative in the spell description aside from limited use indoors. The spell can serve as the primary attack or support for others. Also, the added damage boost from tapping into an existing storm is a pleasant surprise as well.

Is Call Lightning a Concentration Spell?

Yes, Call Lightning is a concentration spell. This means that the caster, if concentrating, can keep the spell active for a full 10 minutes.

This is a great way to hold enemies back while the party regroups. It can also be used as cover for a party that needs to escape. There is nothing preventing a seafaring party from using Call Lightning to provide cover as they sail away.

Druids can maintain concentration while in wild shape. This means a druid could cast Call Lightning and then wild shape if needed. The downside is using the action to call a bolt down, but it also provides a potential ranged attack that wild shape generally lacks.

Can Wizards Cast Call Lightning?

In typical circumstances, Call Lightning is a Druid-exclusive spell. The Tempest Cleric does gain access to the spell, but it is not featured on any other class spell lists.

This is an enticing feature for the Druid that separates them from other casters and exemplifies their connection to nature. A Druid out in the wild is a force to be reckoned with.

Hot Tip
Druids draw their magic from the natural world. As such, they can be flavored differently than other casters. There are also many opportunities for different types of Druids; they don’t all have to be nature worshippers. The beliefs they hold might be more based on the natural flow of life & death or in their appreciation for what nature provides while having little issue with reasonable utilization.

Final Thoughts

Call Lightning is a spell that earns its spot on the prepared list. As a Druid exclusive, it is one of the most popular spells to take with that class.

It does have its downsides, but the impact it has is devastating. The flexibility and numerous potential uses make it a great multi-purpose combat spell.

Sending 5e D&D Guide

Tuesday 2nd of January 2024

[…] sending must directly compete with other spells like Fireball, Call Lightning, and Revivify, which are all 3rd-level spells. These are some of the best spells in D&D and […]

Top Best 20 Druid Spells in D&D 5e [Ranked]

Thursday 23rd of March 2023

[…] powerhouse damage spell for the Druid, Call Lightning, is 3rd level conjuration spell. The caster summons a storm cloud with a 60-foot […]

Fog Cloud 5e D&D Guide [2023]

Wednesday 22nd of March 2023

[…] Spells like Fireball and Call Lightning are great if you want to influence a large area with their […]