Skip to Content

Shape Water 5e D&D Guide

Shape Water 5e D&D Guide

Shape Water is a control Cantrip that the Druid, Sorcerer, and Wizard have on their spell lists.

Water flows throughout all the lands in many forms that weak mortals cannot control. Practicing magicians train effortlessly with the liquid the divines provide us.

The flow of water can push you down, however, it can also cause you to float if you surrender your resistance to it.

The Player’s Handbook states the following:

Shape Water 5e

Transmutation Cantrip

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 30 feet

Components: S

Duration: Instantaneous or 1 hour

Choose a body of water that you can see within range that fits within a 5-foot cube. You then manipulate it in one of the ways below:

  • You instantaneously move or otherwise alter the flow of the water as you direct it, up to 5 feet in any direction. This movement doesn’t deliver enough force to cause damage.
  • You force the water to form into uncomplicated shapes and animate at your direction. The change lasts for 1 hour.
  • You change the water’s opacity or color. The water must be changed the same way throughout. The change lasts for 1 hour.
  • You freeze water, provided that there aren’t any creatures in it. The water will unfreeze in 1 hour.

If you choose to cast this spell multiple times, you can have up to two of its non-instantaneous effects active simultaneously, and you can dismiss such an effect as an action.

Which Classes Can Pick Shape Water?

Traditional classes, such as the Druid, Sorcerer, and Wizard, can freely unlock Shape Water.

All three classes can unlock and use this spell at level 1.

No subclasses can freely unlock Shape Water.

Is Shape Water Good in 5e?

At first glance, Shape Water might seem underwhelming. However, as a Cantrip spell you should look further than what the spell description says, especially for a spell like this.

Water is all around you, and being able to control it in various ways will always benefit you somewhere in your journey.

Advantages – Shape Water

Cantrip Spell

Cantrips are great because all spellcasting classes can unlock them at level 1. They also don’t have to be prepared in advance and require no spell slot to be cast.

Only One Component

Shape Water only uses a Somatic component. Meaning players who use this spell only need to be able to use at least one hand for the spell to be successfully cast.

It doesn’t need a Material component, making it an even more valuable spell.

Disadvantages – Shape Water

Uses an Action

Actions are essential in D&D, especially in combat.

So having one of your actions used by a Cantrip spell (while you have a better alternative at the moment) means you could have done better than using it on less effective utility.

Spells Similar To Shape Water

Other Cantrips similar to Shape Water are Mold Earth, Control Flames, and Gust.

These four Cantrips deal with the elements of Water, Earth, Fire, and Air, technically meaning they’re elemental.

When or How Should I Use Shape Water?

Shape Water is traditionally a control spell allowing players to change their environment. It is best used in ways like this.

However, if you are creative, you might find a use for it in combat (though very rarely).

Use With Simulacrum

Simulacrum is a 7th-level spell that allows players to create a duplicate of a humanoid creature in range. The duplicate is a construct and is made out of ice or snow.

Shape Water comes in handy when players want to get a hold of Simulacrum’s Material component.

One of which is enough snow or ice sufficient to make a life-size copy of the targeted creature duplicate.

If you aren’t near ice or snow, you can simply use Shape Water to freeze a portion of water which will be enough to cast Simulacrum.

Note: Be sure to ask the DM if they’ll allow you to recast Shape Water every hour, as Simulacrum takes 12 hours to cast.

Finding Traps

Moving water isn’t just used for watermills or boats traveling in a river.

Taking water and moving it into a suspicious area in a dungeon can make a trap go off without harming your party.

Another great way would be to freeze doors to slow enemies’ movements briefly.

Moving water underneath a door and freezing it can cause any enemy inside or in the area to become suspicious.

Your party will be waiting for them when they check things out or try to break open the door.

Make Water Appear as Blood

Shape Water can also change the opacity or color of water. Meaning you can use it to make water appear as a different liquid.

One of the most helpful liquids is blood. You can use it to fake an accident, buy time for your party to sneak into a place of interest, or scare passersby, so they leave your party alone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Shape Water Break a Lock?

Moving water into the mechanism of most mundane locks and freezing it right afterward should make the lock brittle.

If the lock is of terrible quality, it should be broken already. However, higher-quality locks may need one last blow or kick.

Can You Unfreeze Water With Shape Water?

The spell description of Shape Water states that ‘you may dismiss such an effect as an action.’ Referring to the effects which Shape Water has on water.

What Spells Are Similar To Shape Water?

A very similar spell to Shape Water is Mold Earth. Most effects, such as moving, causing a change in colors, and changing the state or appearance of the targeted area, are similar.

Final Thoughts

Shape Water isn’t your average damage-dealing or control spell. It has an elemental twist and can be used for simple tasks.

Even though it’s a Cantrip, as you saw above, you can even use it to cast a 7th-level spell.

So don’t skip over it; see what you need beforehand and plan appropriately. You never know when you’ll need a Simulacrum!

Top 15 Best Transmutation Spells in D&D 5e [Ranked]

Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

[…] you’ve ever watched Avatar, you’ll understand Shape Water to be exceedingly close to water bending, just on a smaller […]

Simulacrum 5e D&D Guide

Tuesday 2nd of January 2024

[…] can use spells to solve your problem if you aren’t in a snowy area. Frost Fingers and Shape Water are two low-level spells that can help players obtain […]

Top 20 Best Cantrips in D&D 5e [Ranked]

Thursday 14th of September 2023

[…] Shape Water […]