Chain Lightning 5e DnD: 4 revolutionary ways for you to get the most out of this spell

So many RPGs have taken inspiration from the Chain Lightning attack in Dungeons and Dragons. Nobody is surprised by that, as the attack is a lot of fun to imagine and even more enjoyable to use it. 

This article will go quite in-depth on the best ways to use Chain Lightning 5e, what you should look out for and what you need to know before picking it. So if you are wondering if this attack is worth it to add to your arsenal of magical spells, read on! 

What is Chain Lightning 5e, and how does it work


  • Casting time: One action
  • Level: 6th level evocation
  • Range: 150 feet
  • Target: Target in range that you can see
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic, and Material (a bit of fur; a piece of amber, glass, or a crystal rod; and three silver pins)
  • Duration: Instant
  • Classes: Sorcerer and Wizard
dnd chain lightning

Spell description

You create a bolt of lightning when you say the magic words, have the materials and make some hand movements. This bolt shoots towards a target of your choice that is in range. Then the bolt splits into three more bolts that hit three more individual targets—these need to be within 30 feet of one another.

Creatures targeted by the lightning bolt need to make a DEX save. The target will take 10d8 lightning damage if the creature fails the save. If the creature has a successful Dexterity save, it will take only half the damage. 

Upcasting Chain Lightning: If you upcast this spell, you can add one additional target when the bolt leaps from one creature to another. So if you put this spell in the seventh slot, you will hit four creatures instead of just 3 with the jump. 

Chain Lightning’s advantages and drawbacks

The advantages are

  • You can make it even stronger by using more magic power.
  • It can hit many enemies all at once, like a chain reaction. You can zap three more enemies close to each other.
  • Most creatures can’t resist it because lightning is really strong.
  • You can shoot it really far away, like from a long distance.

The few drawbacks

  • You need a bunch of materials to cast this spell. It can be hard to find or carry all of them, especially if you don’t have a lot.
  • Compared to some other spells, it might not do the most damage for its level. There are spells that can be even more powerful.

So, Chain Lightning is great when you want to hit a bunch of enemies together and they can’t resist it.

5e chain lightning

Best uses for Chain Lightning 5e

Crowd Control

Chain lightning 5e is excellent for destroying hordes of creatures standing too close to one another. The lighting is going to destroy low-level monsters quite quickly. If you upcast the spell, you can hit many low-level creatures. So if your DM has sent a horde of zombies at you, which he painstakingly created with the finger of death, they will be turned into a crisp immediately. 

The spell is excellent for shooting and spraying at enemies from a distance and destroying low-level cannon fodder before they can come close and distract your fighters. Don’t forget; you can also upcast the Chain Lightning.

If you put it in the 7th spell slot, you will hit four targets with the leaping bolt, so 5 in total, counting your original targeted creature. With the attack in the highest spell slot, you can hit seven creatures simultaneously with the secondary attack. 

Picking something besides Lightning bolt

The lightning bolt is a much better spell than chain lightning if you compare them one vs. 1. However, picking a lightning bolt all the time is pretty dull. Chain lightning is an excellent alternative for it and still does enough damage to be functional. 

Doing puzzles

Dungeon Masters, if you are looking for a puzzle with a strong trap, then Chain Lightning is a great choice. Just have it fire at them when they enter the right solution. Odds are, if your party has four members, they will all be standing within 30 feet of one another and won’t think about possible AOE attacks. 

Imagine a kind of pressure puzzle where your players have a 30 feet by 30 feet grid where they need to stand on specific tiles. A chain of lightning springs forth if they mess up the order or the tiles they need to stand on. 

Long Range chip damage

A range of 150 feet is pretty decent and is a nice long-range attack. However, you can pick any creature to shoot this spell at, including bugs and small animals like rats and mice. So you can increase it a further 30 feet by shooting at an animal or bug in front of your targets. 

If you upcast the spell, you can increase the number of creatures you hit with the chain of lightning spells. There is a massive potential if you can hit a bunch of low-level monsters close to one another. 

Chain lightning 5e

Advice and final thoughts

If you want to deal some excellent damage on a ton of targets simultaneously, there aren’t many options that are better than the chain lightning spell. You can shoot this attack 150 feet away and hit a lot of enemies if they are close enough. 

If you are wondering if this attack is the best at your level, I will need to disappoint you. A lightning bolt is a more vigorous attack and deals much more damage reliably. However, chain Lightning is a powerful alternative and can be fun to use occasionally. 

Spell: Chain Lightning
DescriptionCreates a bolt of lightning that splits into three bolts, targeting individual creatures within 30 feet of each other. Targets make a DEX save and take 10d8 lightning damage on a failed save, half damage on a successful save. Can be upcast to hit additional targets.
Advantages– Can be upcast – Hits multiple targets – Few creatures are immune to lightning – Long-range
Drawbacks– Requires lots of materials – Not the most damage for 6th level
Best Uses– Crowd control against hordes of creatures – Alternative to Lightning Bolt spell – Puzzles with traps – Long-range chip damage
Advice and Final Thoughts– Deals excellent damage to multiple targets simultaneously – Lightning Bolt is a stronger option for damage – Chain Lightning can be a powerful and enjoyable alternative

Do you enjoy spells that many people do not use in their Dungeons and Dragons campaigns but are still pretty intense if you are a creature? Then, check out these guides we wrote. 

Chain Lightning FAQ

Can you twin spell chain lightning 5e?

No, unfortunately, you can not twin chain lightning. So you will be unable to twin the spell to do even more damage. However, you can upcast the attack to make it stronger. 

Can Chain Lightning hit allies?

Yes, if your allies are within 30 feet of the target of your spell, the magic can jump towards one of your allies and hit them in the face. So Chain Lightning is a spell, just like a fireball, that you must be careful with if you are shooting it around. 

Can you upcast the Chain Lightning spell? 

Yes, you can upcast the Chain Lightning spell. When you upcast the spell, you can add an extra creature to be damaged by the secondary lightning. So at the 7th slot, you hit your original target and up to four other creatures. At the 10th slot, you hit your original targeted creature and then up to 7 more creatures in that range.