Poison spray is a simple yet effective cantrip falling under the Artificer, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard spell lists.
This spell deals effective short-range poison damage, which makes it suitable for players wanting a more up close and personal playstyle while also using magic.
The Player’s Handbook specifics are as follows:
- Poison Spray 5e
- What Does Poison Spray Do?
- So Is Poison Spray a Good Spell in 5e?
- Downside to Poison Spray
- Is Poison Spray Better Than Fireball?
- When Should You Use Poison Spray?
- Are There Better Alternative Spells?
- Final Thoughts,
Poison Spray 5e
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S
Extend your hand toward a creature you can see within range. Project a puff of toxic gas from your palm.
The target must succeed a Constitution saving roll or take 1d12 poison damage.
At Higher Levels: The damage of the spell increases by 1d12 at the 5th level (2d12), 11th level (3d12), and 17th level (4d12).
What Does Poison Spray Do?
When extending your hand toward your target and casting poison spray, a puff of poisonous gas travels from your palm in the direction of the target. If hit (the target has to be within 10 feet of you), the target is forced to make a Constitution saving roll or take 1d12 poison damage.
If your target fails their saving roll, they will be afflicted by poison and become debuffed. In D&D 5e, poison debuffs their attack rolls and ability checks until the poison subsides.
So Is Poison Spray a Good Spell in 5e?
Like many cantrips, poison spray doesn’t need any material components or concentration to be cast or kept active. Therefore, you can cast poison spray without hesitation to deal as much damage to your enemies as possible.
Even with its short range, it still travels a few feet (10 feet maximum), making it better than extremely short-range (touch) spells.
Its maximum damage is 1d12 poison damage at level one, but its damage scales by +1d12 for specific levels mentioned in the traits section. If this higher damaging spell is used against a vulnerable target, they won’t stand a chance if they fail their Constitution saving roll.
Note: Pairing poison spray with a defensive spell or offensive playstyle can increase its effectiveness due to its short range.
Downside to Poison Spray
Using poison spray has some questionable downsides, unknowingly aimed at longer-ranged spellcasters.
High Saving Roll Chance
Targets can stop your attack entirely if they succeed in a saving roll. The chances are increased because most eligible targets have a very high base Constitution. Unfortunately, this makes the likelihood of these targets successfully rolling a saving roll much higher.
Poison damage isn’t resisted as commonly as other damage types; however, it has many creatures who are immune to it. A spell that can potentially do no damage to targets makes your whole character less valuable overall.
Note: Using poison damage against humanoids is more effective as most have lower or no resistance to poison.
Unpleasant Short Range
One of the most limited features of this spell is the casting range. Being an ordinary spellcaster and having to be 10 feet or less from your target is not ideal.
The short range completely soft-locks the spell for specific spell lists without realizing it.
Is Poison Spray Better Than Fireball?
In short, although Fireball needs a material component, it still provides a much higher value than poison spray.
Fireball has a 140-foot longer range than poison spray, making it match more with most spellcasters.
It deals 8d6 fire damage on a hit, while poison spray only does 1d12 poison damage.
Fireball uses a Dexterity saving roll instead of a Constitution saving roll, increasing the chances of hitting most eligible targets.
Even Fireball’s scaling is far better than poison spray’s due to its exceptionally high base damage.
When Should You Use Poison Spray?
Some situations will still enable poison spray to be useful.
Since the casting time for poison spray is instantaneous, you spend no time preparing your poisonous attacks. Thus, you can instantly cast poison spray as your answer when forced to make a quick decision while in close range.
Most spellcasters don’t prefer to be in the midst of battle. However, confident close-range spellcasters like warlocks will find an excellent use for spells with lower ranges.
You can always cast a defensive spell as a warlock and endlessly cast poisonous clouds into the enemy front lines. Ultimately, this gives your party time to play supportively, deal more damage or flee.
Are There Better Alternative Spells?
Unfortunately, poison spray has many alternative spells that will make you never use it again.
These cantrips use no material components, are instantaneous, and use one action to best cast.
Fire Bolt, on average, deals less damage (even when leveled similarly to poison spray) because its damage scales with 1d10 instead of a 1d12 die.
The deciding factor comes from Fire Bolt’s range and damage type (110 feet more than poison spray). Fire damage is resisted far less than poison, making your damage more reliable overall.
On average, poison spray deals more damage than Frostbite because it scales with 1d6 instead of a 1d12 die.
However, your range is 50 feet more, and your attack deals cold damage instead of poison damage. Compared to Fire Bolt, Frostbite is even better when only looking at damage type.
Poison spray deals more damage than Thunderclap because it scales with 1d6 rather than 1d12 die. The range of Thunderclap is also 5 feet less than poison spray.
So why am I even suggesting this spell?
Thunderclap’s main advantage is its damage type. Thunder is one of the least resisted damage types in the game, making it incredibly reliable to use almost anywhere.
Even with poison spray’s advantages, it is quickly overshadowed by other cantrips providing more reliable damage and effects.
As seen in the alternative spells section, many spells outclass even poison spray’s best traits.
Do yourself a favor, don’t blindly choose spells that could potentially set your character back further down the line of your campaign.