Imagine this; you spend hours training up your barbarian or wizard. Finally, your team is geared up for a major battle against an evil Lich in his lair full of treasures and trinkets. Your Dungeon Master sees you are about to hit those 0 hit points and uses Disintegrate 5e on you. Game over for your beloved PC?
A great way to enjoy DnD is by using underestimated, obscure, and plain weird spells. Both players and Dungeon masters will get some great tips on using Disintegrate in D&D 5e. This guide is for those new to D&D and experienced RPG players. However, even if you just like to read about the game and have never played it, you will be able to follow and learn a thing or two about Disintegrate and magic!
What is Disintegrate 5e?
Disintegrate 5e is a level 6 Transmutation spell which you can find on page 233 of the Players handbook. That means it is a mid-tier, mid-game attack, and you will need to have a level six spell slot or higher available to you to be able to cast it. If you have a more elevated space open, that also works. The spell gets stronger when you put it in the 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th slot, but more on that later!
At the end of this chapter, I have put a summary for more experienced players or if you just require a fast reference when you are in the middle of your campaign.
Casting time and duration of disintegrate
Disintegrate will take you a single action to cast it. This magic will be your attack for the turn. Of course, you will still be able to do your bonus action like command your undead army if you used animate dead the turn before. You can also still use your movement turn.
The duration of the spell is instantaneous. That means it will appear, hit and disappear all in the same turn. It does not stack damage overturn as some spells do. However, you can combine it with an attack like Cloudkill, which does stack damage and does not require concentration, but more on that in the ‘uses’ chapter.
Range, school, and level
The range of Disintegrate in the 5th edition of D&D has not been changed. It is still 60 feet. This range is quite far for such a powerful attack, and it means it is a great way to do chip damage to an enemy which is flying or has trouble moving fast due to a spell-like wall of water that lowers the speed of your adversaries.
It is part of the school of transmutation. The transmutation school of magic is one of the many schools of magic in Dungeons and Dragons, and it is known for transmuting objects from one thing into another. A great example of a transmutation spell is polymorph or true polymorph.
The spell slot level required for disintegration is relatively high. You need to have the 6th level slot – or higher – free to use the spell. So you won’t be able to use the magic until your wizard or Warlock is mid-tier. Be patient, adventurers, and your time will come!
Components needed for disintegrate 5e
To use disintegrate, you are going to need to have three components. A verbal one, a somatic one, and a material one. Do you already know what these are? Great! You can just scroll down to the part about the damage. But, if you are new, allow me to explain; it isn’t as hard as it looks!
- Verbal component: This means you should be able to speak freely and produce audible noises. The speaking component requires you to utter understandable cantations. You won’t be able to do this when your vocal cords or mouth are restricted by external, magical, or physical force like a cloth in your mouth or the influence of the Silence magic.
- Somatic component: To cast Disintegrate, you must be able to move your hands. You need to be free enough to make certain gestures and point out your target. So if your hands are bound by, for example, a rope, or you are paralyzed due to a spell-like Feign Death, you won’t be able to cast this magic.
- Material component: Disintegrate 5e requires you to have two exhilarating materials to cast it. You need to have a pinch of dust and a lodestone. This quantifier should raise two questions straight away.
First, how much is a pinch in dungeons and dragons? In my campaign, I define a pinch as three grams. This measurement makes it relatively easy to bring along and keep track of how much your players have of the material.
Second, what is, how large, and how heavy is a lodestone in DnD 5e? A lodestone is a piece of magnetite that can be used as a magnet. In my campaign, a lodestone is about the size of two thumbs and 100 grams. So you won’t be able to bring a couple of hundreds of those.
What happens when you cast Disintegrate 5e and damage
So you have said the words, made your slight hand movements and offered up the required dust and lodestone. Now, this is where the magic happens, and disintegration starts to work.
When the magical effect hits
You can cast a spell on any target you like. You can use it on another player, an NPC, a creature, an object, and even magical creations like a Wall of Water. The thin green rays do not discriminate as long as it is within the 60 feet range!
Let’s assume you have targeted a creature. This target now needs to make a DEX saving throw. If it fails to save, it takes 10d6 +40 of force damage! In other words, the target will at least take 50 damage, 80 damage on average, and in the worst-case scenario, lose 100 hit points. Not bad! If this attack has reduced the number of Hit Points to 0, the target creature will be Disintegrated.
When the magic destroys
Not just the target is gone, but also all the items it is carrying or wearing. The only exception to this rule is magical items; these do not turn to dust. Feel free to make more exceptions to this rule if you are a DM or have magical things disappear.
When you want to revive the creature or player hit with disintegration in 5e, the DnD rules state that there are only two ways to do this. Your most convenient way to do this is by using a True Resurrection spell. The other way is by using the wish spell.
Higher levels and larger targets
There are limits to the size of things you can Disintegrate, so you won’t be able to wipe cities off the map soon. Any item, object, or creature of the size, large, medium, or small, will be Disintegrated completely when the magical force hits it. If the target is Huge or more enormous, or the creation of power like a wall of water will lose one 10 foot cube in size. Remember, magical items are unaffected by this magic.
Disintegrate is a level 6 spell, so you need to have a slot open at that level to use it. If you put it in a level higher slot, you will add 3d6 damage to the spell. If you add it to the eight-slot, you will add 6d6 damage. The 9th slot will add 9d6 damage, and if you put Disintegrate in the highest spell slot – the 10th – you will add 12d6 extra damage to the spell. That means you will deduce 36 more Hit Points than your target on average.
Classes and Subclasses that can use disintegrate
In the standard 5th edition, two classes have access to the Disintegrate spell. These are the Sorcerer and the Wizard. This attack is quite a nice addition to your arsenal, no matter which one of the two you choose to play with. Of course, if you are a DM, it goes without saying that using this will cause a ton of trouble for your players!
Some noticeable subclasses can use the spell in HomeBrew and extended editions. The most interesting, in my opinion, are the Arcane Trickster Rogue, The Eldritch Knight Fighter, and, lest we forget, the Arcana Cleric.
Best 5 ways to use Disintegrate in 5e D&D
Some say this spell is overrated, and others say it is underrated. I guess it all depends on how you use it, which situations pop up, and how lenient your DM is in you using it. Here are a couple of cool uses for disintegrating that I have used over the years in the D&D campaigns I hosted.
1. Combine it with Hold Person
If you want your Disintegrate to hit in 5e D&D; you will need to get the target’s Dexterity down. For example, let’s say a Giant Four-Armed Gargoyle is giving your party some trouble. While this monster only has a DEX of 11, you do not want to take any chances on it having a successful saving throw. Well, Hold Person will give it a disadvantage when rolling and will make your attack almost certain to hit!
Hold Person is just one of the many tactics you can use to get the Dexterity of your target down. Of course, you can also use good old-fashioned rope and ask your DM what this will do exactly.
2. Make evidence disappear
You don’t have to use this magic on just enemies. You can Disintegrate just about any item, as long as it is not magical. So if you want to make your tracks disappear or get rid of a defeated enemy, you can use this spell.
There is some debate about whether you can use it to make just the item you are pointing disappear or if everything around it will be affected. In my campaigns, I give my players the option to just point at what they want to Disintegrate.
There is a twist. However, you will need to roll, and your intelligence or Dexterity is your modifier. You blast away more than just your tiny target if you roll below an 8 (with your modifier added).
Of course, doing this extra mechanic is just something I do as a Dungeon Master in my campaigns. So you can always make up your way to deal with this.
3. Making a point
Sometimes your players are being just a bit too bold about the campaign. There’s nothing like defeating one of your players and using Disintegrate 5e on them to make a point. They will be a lot more cautious if you do so in the next campaign or with the new character they are playing with.
You don’t have to wipe the entire party. Using it on one of the players to have him turn to ashes and dust is more than enough. Next time, your adventurers will probably shake in their boots when they know one of your creatures has access to this magic attack.
4. Making shortcuts
Using this spell on a large target will only Disintegrate a 10 feet cube of matter. That means you can build yourself a tunnel through a mountain. Is there a wall in your way? Well, chances are you can just blast through it without too much effort.
If you are a Dungeon Master and don’t want your extensive labyrinth to get shot to pieces or have your city walls be reduced to rubble, I would just tell the players that a magical essence has been imbued into the walls or rocks. The magic can not turn magical items into ash after all.
5. Don’t over-use disintegrate as a DM
When you are a DM, the seduction to use flashy cool spells early in your campaign is always there. Well, at least for me, it is. However, it is important not to give in and start using spells that are simply too strong.
I would not use Disintegrate anywhere near the beginning of the campaign. You should make sure your adventurers and players have at least a counterspell or tactic in their arsenal before your villains are using magical powers of this magnitude.
5 Tips to survive disintegrate as a player
1. Invest in your Dexterity
If you want to avoid getting the full brunt of the damage when you get hit with Disintegrate in 5e DnD, you will have to invest in your DEX stat. This way, the chance of you having a successful saving throw greatly goes up. You should combine this by casting Haste.
This will give you an advantage when you roll on a dexterity save. If you have a successful saving throw when Disintegrate is cast, it will do nothing to you! Other options you have are Bless and Potion of Heroism.
2. Use Counterspell
Getting hit with a Disintegrate in 5e isn’t scary if you are well-prepared. If you have a strong wizard player character that has put some thought into the built, you will likely have access to the Counterspell. If you do not, you might be able to summon a Planar Ally who does and can help you out.
I would only advise you to use this magic as a last resort when you are about to hit zero hit points. At such high magic and player level, there are much scarier magical attacks to get hit with when you have enough hit points left in the tank.
3. Create more targets
If you do not have a Counterspell, another option is to have a lot of different targets that can cover you. If I can give you some sage advice: a great spell to use in this case is animate dead. You can get up to 15 undead followers, zombies, and skeletons to aid you in the battle this way or serve as cannon fodder. I love using this spell in all scenarios since having an undead shield of targets comes in handy in a noticeable amount of adventures.
4. Be out of range, out of sight
The range of Disintegrate is 60 feet, similar to Cloud of daggers. So if you stay out of that area, you won’t be able to get hit. You can also try to find some kind of cover. Since the spell can turn a cube of 10 feet to ashes and dust, make sure your cover is thicker than that. Try to be invisible or use the Blink spell to ensure you aren’t seen. You can’t get hit if they don’t know you are there!
If you are so afraid of getting hit by this attack, it might be better to just try and run away. You do not want to be a liability to your party by not being able to do any fighting. Sometimes running and fighting on another day is the way better option!
5. Be good friends with your Cleric
Your Cleric can get you out of a ton of trouble. Not only are they a prime candidate to have True Resurrection in their arsenal of magic, but you can also get them to cast Death Ward on you. This magical defense will help you survive when you are brought to a dangerously low amount of Hit Points and get hit by disintegrate. However, it might be difficult to find a cleric that can cast True resurrection. You need to have an open level 9 slot, and the combined cost of the components to cast is 25 000 gold pieces!
Disintegrate 5e FAQ
What happens on a successful disintegrate saving throw
When you have a successful Dexterity saving throw, Disintegrate will do no damage in 5e DnD. So you will not take half damage, but no damage at all. If you want to make sure you have a successful saving throw, investing as much as possible into DEX is a good idea. Some small things might help you have a better role, such as taking a portion of Heroism to boost your Dexterity.
How can a warlock learn to Disintegrate?
A warlock character can not learn Disintegrate. It is not on their spell list, so they can not learn it through the Mystic Arcanum. These are the rules as they are written in the 5th edition. However, Dungeons and Dragons is all about using your imagination, so you can ask your DM if you can get multiclass with, for example, a sorcerer built.
If I was the player or the DM in this campaign, I would use the Eldritch Invocations to achieve the same effect. That being said, I do think there should be some lore involved into why this Warlock is able to cast spells like this. Another way to ask your DM is to get this as some kind of reward from a sage mage you did a favor for or when you complete a fun little side quest.
How can I revive after being hit by Disintegrate 5e
Unlike regular spells, when you hit 0 hit points due to Disintegrate, it is a lot harder to revive your character. As you might know, the resurrection spells true resurrection, and Revivify requires you to have a part of the body.
The good news is that you still have the ashes after your character gets hit by the spell and dies. So this spell will work without any issue if you want to revive the player. The bad news, however, is that these spells are pretty expensive. You need thousands of gold pieces to cast it. So financially, your party is likely going to struggle. Casting true resurrection is something only real strong mages can do since you need a level 9 slot open for it.
Can you twin Disintegrate?
Yes! Disintegrate is one of the few level 6 spells you can twin in 5e DnD. The other spells you can use at this level are not as good to deal damage. You can also twin Harm, Heal, Mental Prison, and True seeing. If you want a stronger spell to twin, you might look at the 7th level slot. There you can get Finger of Death and Power Word Pain.
The disintegrate 5e spell is a powerful spell that can be used by any class, but it should not be used too much. It is best used as a finishing move or to end a fight quickly. It is best used when you need to take down a boss or take out some big enemies and make sure they won’t be able to come back.
Dungeons and Dragons tabletop is not for everyone, but knowing more about the game makes for a more immersive experience you can have with your friends. You also get to be the Dungeon Master, which means you have complete control over the story and what happens to your players. It’s hard to find anything that’s more fun than that!
If you are interested in more guides like this one, you might be interested in learning more about Agonizing Blast! This is a spell which, just like Disintegrate 5e, can pack quite a punch!