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Shadow Blade 5e D&D Guide

Shadow Blade 5e D&D Guide

Shadow Blade lines up to be the perfect weapon for a magic-based assassin. Creating a weapon out of the shadows that can do significant damage and is always available is the best feature of this 2nd-level spell.

The rules for Shadow Blade are found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

Shadow Blade 5e

2nd-level Illusion

Casting Time: 1 Bonus Action

Range: Self

Components: V, S

Duration: 1 Minute (Concentration)

You weave together threads of shadow to create a sword of solidified gloom in your hand. This magic sword lasts until the spell ends.

It counts as a simple melee weapon with which you are proficient. It deals 2d8 psychic damage on a hit and has finesse, light, and thrown properties (range 20/60).

In addition, when you use the sword to attack a target that is in dim light or darkness, you make the attack roll with advantage.

If you drop the weapon or throw it, it dissipates at the end of the turn. Thereafter, while the spell persists, you can use a bonus action to cause the sword to reappear in your hand.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a 3rd- or 4th-level spell slot, the damage increases to 3d8. When you cast it using a 5th- or 6th-level spell slot, the damage increases to 4d8. When you cast it using a spell slot of 7th level or higher, the damage increases to 5d8.

The rules for Shadow Blade provide a good description of what the blade looks like and how it functions. The automatic proficiency and additional damage in dim light or darkness make the spell a decent choice for level 2.

It also has the ability to be cast at higher levels meaning its usefulness will continue on with the character.

Is Shadow Blade a Good Spell?

The ability to instantly arm yourself with a blade of pure shadow as a bonus action is never going to be a bad thing. Shadow Blade allows the caster to create a weapon spontaneously and instantly gain proficiency with it.

The 2d8 damage is psychic and rivals any standard weapon. The finesse, light, and thrown properties allow it to be versatile in combat. The advantage on attacks in dim light or darkness just enhances the weapon on its own.

The Shadow Blade spell does have some drawbacks, though. The weapon is melee by nature, meaning the caster will be within reach of the enemy. Since the spell is concentration, this could cause some problems unless the character has the War Caster feat.

The thrown property helps avoid melee conflict but would tie up the caster’s bonus action in recalling the weapon.

Hot Tip
The Finesse property on the shadow weapon allows the caster to choose between using Dexterity and Strength as the attack modifier for melee combat. Ranged attacks with the thrown property made with melee weapons use the same ability modifier for that damage roll and attack roll that is used to make a melee attack with the weapon. Certain weapons only use Strength, while those with the Finesse property let you choose between Strength and Dexterity

What Classes Get Shadow Blade?

Traditional classes, like Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards, have Shadow Blade on their spell lists.

All the classes above will have access to Shadow Blade at level 3 as they unlock their 2nd-level spell slots.

Subclasses like the Arcane Trickster (Rogue) can access Shadow Blade at level 7 since it’s an Illusion Wizard spell. The Eldritch Knight (Fighter) can also access Shadow Blade at level 8.

Can You Dual Wield a Shadow Blade?

The conjured blade has the light property, so it can be dual-wielded with another weapon.

The choice then becomes whether it is worth it to do so. Having an off-hand attack that does 2d8 damage is a significant advantage in any melee combat. This requires the use of a bonus action to accomplish.

Shillelagh and Shadow Blade are both bonus actions to cast. One is concentration, and the other isn’t, meaning it would be possible to dual-wield both. It would take two rounds to set up, but it could be a dangerous combination.

Does Booming Blade Work With Shadow Blade?

The original rules for Booming Blade did allow it to work with Shadow Blade. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything expansion book released errata with changes to Booming Blade as well as Green Flame Blade. These changes modified the required material components for the two spells.

The new material components require a weapon worth at least 1 silver piece. The Shadow Blade does not have value. Therefore, it cannot be combined with those spells any longer. The material component requirements also prevent a character from using a table leg with the spells as well.

Hot Tip
Shadow Blade does create a weapon. The weapon deals 2d8 psychic damage plus the standard modifier to damage (Strength or Dexterity). This is an application of the general rule of making weapon attacks.

Does Sneak Attack Work With Shadow Blade?

Shadow Blade acts as a weapon and makes a weapon attack. If the action of making that attack would trigger the sneak attack feature, then the feature is triggered. The sneak attack damage is the same damage type as the weapon used.

The Shadow Blade gives advantage to attacks made in dim light or darkness. Sneak Attack can be triggered on an attack that the attacker has advantage on. This means that an attacker using Shadow Blade in dim light could use a sneak attack every round.

Can You Give the Shadow Blade to Someone Else?

The Shadow Blade cannot be given to another person for use outside of your turn. The spell indicates that the weapon dissipates if you throw or drop it.

Transferring it to another person would meet the same criteria causing the blade to dissipate at the end of your turn. This would also require the use of a bonus action to recall the blade as long as the spell persists.

Does Shadow Blade Add a Modifier To Damage?

The description of Shadow Blade states, “It counts as a simple melee weapon with which you are proficient.” 

In this case, we understand that Shadow Blade is a melee weapon with which we have proficiency, meaning we can add our modifier used for normal melee attacks.

It’s quite easy to miss this or just assume you don’t add any other modifier onto the blade, but because it’s a simple melee weapon you have proficiency with, we know that we should also add the appropriate modifiers.

Can Shadow Blade Be Twinned?

For a spell to be eligible for twinning, it can’t have a range of self, and it can’t target more than one creature at a time.

Unfortunately, Shadow Blade has a range of self and doesn’t target any creatures, meaning there’s no way to twin it.

Final Thoughts

The Shadow Blade spell is actually a really neat spell to have with a caster. It is a good option to have if a caster finds themselves in melee combat.

The spell provides decent damage at the base level with the opportunity to be cast at higher levels for relevance later in the game.

The various properties of the created weapon ensure that the caster doesn’t need to be built in a specific manner to make use of the spell.

Green Flame Blade 5e D&D Guide [2023]

Wednesday 26th of July 2023

[…] spell no longer works with Shadow Blade as the blade conjured doesn’t replicate a weapon and thus has no […]

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Thursday 30th of March 2023

[…] you’re stuck without a weapon, Shadow Blade can be cast […]


Sunday 23rd of October 2022

The article was a nice read but “Ranged attacks via the thrown property always use Dexterity.” is a wrong statement. The thrown property says that you use the stat that you would normally use such as strength for a hand axe and strength or dex for the dagger since it has finesse