Creative and smart uses of cantrips: Shape Water 5e DnD

There are many overlooked and underrated cantrips in Dungeons and Dragons, some because they are downright bad and others because people don’t know how to use them creatively or know what the best uses are for them.

Today, we are taking a closer look at the best uses for the Shape Water 5e cantrip. This cantrip is one of those that scales with creativity and is great to pair with one that deals solid damage. Our expert DM will guide you through the best uses and give a ton of helpful tips along the way.

What does Shape Water do?

When you choose this cantrip, there are a couple of interesting things you can do with water. You can manipulate a small amount of it in a 5-foot cube within 30 feet, with a duration of one hour. You can do the following:

  1. Move water in any direction you choose, even up.
  2. Change the color or the opacity of the water
  3. Freeze the water into solid ice which melts after an hour or sooner if it is warm
  4. Shape it into simple forms such as a cube and cylinder
  5. Create a small wave of up to 5 feet high.

Alright, so what can we do with this? Ps we also have a in-depth guide on the Shape Water cantrip.

Creative best uses of shape water

1. Create a bridge

The best use overall for this cantrip is to create bridges over gaps and creeks. While this might seem like a trivial use, you have to keep in mind that public roads and bridges are pretty scarce in most medieval settings. Combine this with armored party members, and crossing a small creek can turn into a horror show of rust and mud, slowing down the party.

Experienced DMs know how to use the terrain to set traps and give advantages to the foes of your party. If you don’t have a bridge over a gap, you might have to take a detour of tens – if not hundreds – of miles.

2. Create a shield of water

Another fantastic way to use the Shape Water cantrip is by making a shield – or a cover – of water. This shield allows you to protect yourself from certain enemy attacks. You can use a shield of ice to protect against small projectiles or simple thrown weapons, or from fire and acid.

While the shield is not very strong, it might be able to take the edge off the attack. If I am DMing and a player uses the cantrip like that, I give them an advantage on the saving throw.

The shield is pretty fast to set up and can protect two small or one medium-sized creature. You might want to use the shield to protect your tank and front-liners, as the range is 30 feet.

shape water 5e

3. Trigger traps

Thirty feet is quite a lot. Since the water can be moved freely into a 5-foot cube and can thus exert quite a bit of pressure, it is perfect for triggering traps that rely on tripwires or pressure plates.

This is particularly helpful if you want to get rid of a trap quickly or don´t have a trap specialist like a ranger or rogue in your party. You can just have water flow against the trip wire or crash down on the pressure plate and set it off. Just make sure you are out of the area of effect.

4. Create distractions for enemies:

Moving water and ice can be a great way to draw attention towards a spot. If you have high stealth or have some pretty great cover to hide behind, you can cause quite a few interesting and effective distractions. You can also make something resembling a water weird if you combine this with a minor illusion.

For example, you can have drops rain or flakes of snow fall on a guard outside, leaving him to wonder if there is very local rain or snowfall going on. Since you can also change the color of the water, you can make a red stream of water pop out somewhere.

5. Flood a room

Talking about creative uses of Shape Water that are distractions, the good old flooding a room is always a good one. By flooding a room, you are certain to distract whoever is in there.

If you are in a dungeon or a jail cell, you can use the Shape Water to pretend there is a leak somewhere. This will certainly have someone go to the source to check it out, giving you a window of opportunity.

best uses for shape water 5e dnd

6. Catch fish

If your party has forgotten the small fact that you need to bring enough food to survive long journeys, you might need to hunt and gather for sustenance. One way to do this quite easily is by using the Shape Water cantrip to catch fish in creeks and rivers.

Unlike in the modern world, most rivers and creeks in medieval settings will have aquatic creatures in abundance. Your Shape Water spell can guide them towards you by creating a funnel, or by raising the water, with the fish in it, up. Just makesure you look out for river encounters!

7. Douse fires

If you need to put out a fire quickly and safely, the Shape Water cantrip can be used. While the amount of water you can control is not substantial, it is enough to quickly douse small fires from a distance.

Although you won’t be able to extinguish the flames of a building that has been set ablaze, candles, torches, and campfires should be no problem at all. If your enemy does not have darksight, they might suffer significant disadvantages.

8. Make ice balls and ice picks:

If you are in need of some ammunition, then ice balls and picks might be a decent option. A very important factor in this is just how dense you can make the ice by using Shape Water.

The density of the ice will not just influence the weight, but also the strength of the weapon. If you have a very dense block of ice, it will have a lot more force on impact and will likely be able to make a dent even against heavily armored foes. If your iceball is more like a snowball, you won’t be doing much damage. So make sure you ask your DM!

9. Create pathways

If you want to navigate through dense foliage, then making a trail with shape water for your party and allies to follow is an effective way to not get lost. The water can form a nice visible trail that will stay around for a few days.

This strategy is pretty effective to make sure your allies follow your path and do not lose time getting foliage out of the way themselves.

10. Clean wounds and objects

Don’t have a healer that has spells to spare? Want to clean utensils or just discovered treasure? Use shape water to do so!

Wounds can get infected if they are not cleaned quickly, and if your cleric has a limited amount of spells, you might want to prioritize your own party members over allies and use this cantrip.

Final words

Here you go, a couple of smart uses for the Shape Water 5e cantrip that are bound to surprise your DM. While you won’t win big-scale battles against powerful foes, there are some uses where you might be able to get a much-needed advantage!

We would love to hear if you have some other better ways to use this spell or if you have a story about a player/yourself using it during a campaign.