A powerful spell for the loud and proud, the Thunderwave spell announces to enemies that the spellcaster is a thunderous force to be reckoned with. As a 1st level evocation spell, bards, wizards, sorcerers, and druids, can bring forth a thunderous wave from themselves to sweep away their mortal enemies.
What is Thunderwave 5e
- Casting time: 1 action
- Level: 1st level evocation
- Range: Self (15-foot cube)
- Target: Self (15-foot cube)
- Components: V S
- Duration: Instantaneous
- Classes: Bard, Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard
A wave of thunderous force sweeps out from you. Each creature in a 15-foot cube originating from you must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 2d8 thunder damage and is pushed 10 feet away from you. On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage and isn’t pushed.
In addition, unsecured Objects within the area of Effect are automatically pushed 10 feet away from you by the spell’s Effect, and the spell emits a thunderous boom audible out to 300 feet.
At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd Level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 1st.
Advantages and drawbacks
- AoE (Area of Effect) range: A 15-foot cube is cast from the spellcaster, giving plenty of range to simultaneously affect multiple enemies in flight and on land.
- Rare saving throw: The Thunderwave spell requires a Constitution saving throw done by the targets. Using constitution as the saving throw is handy as this is a rare proficiency. In the world of Dungeons and Dragons, not many creatures can be found with proficiency with this, so use this to your advantage!
- Rare damage type: The thunder damage type dealt by the Thunderwave spell is one of the rarest damage types in the Dungeons and Dragons universe. Barely any creatures in the universe can be found with resistance and immunity to the thunder damage type. With this in mind, you can guarantee that casting the Thunderwave spell will almost always affect every creature you may encounter in your future sessions.
- Guaranteed damage: Even if the enemy makes the Constitution saving throw, it is guaranteed that at least half of the damage is inflicted.
- Upcast: When you cast the Thunderwave spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 1st.
- No materials needed: The Thunderwave spell doesn’t require a material component to be cast, saving you money to spend on other priority items.
- Spellcaster safety: Since the Thunderwave spell is blasted out from the caster, this prevents the user from being harmed by the spell.
- Casting time: Unlike many other spells requiring concentration, the Thunderwave spell requires only one action.
- Low-cost spell slot: The Thunderwave spell is a 1st level evocation spell, which doesn’t break the bank for many spellcasters in spell slots. Every spellcaster starts with a minimum of two and may have a maximum of four, depending on their level.
- Instantaneous: The Thunderwave spell can only last at the instant it has been cast and doesn’t last for a longer duration than that.
- Not discreet: Close to nothing is louder than thunder, making the Thunderwave spell not ideal for an espionage mission. As the Thunderwave spell states, “the spell emits a thunderous boom audible out to 300 feet.” Therefore, you must consider your situation before casting to avoid unwanted attention.
- Needs components: Despite not needing materials for the Thunderwave spell to be cast, the spell still requires a somatic and verbal component. This means that you need to utilize your voice and movement for this spell to work. So, if you find you’re in a position where you are gagged or tied up, you will not be able to use this.
- Destructive: If delicate and priceless objects surround you, it’s not the brightest idea to cast the Thunderwave spell. When cast, the Thunderwave spell can cause unsecured objects to be pushed 10 feet away from the caster. So, you might end up breaking something if you’re not careful.
- The disadvantage to your party: During combat, your party members within the cube will be affected by the spell and will receive damage whether or not they passed the Constitution saving throw.
Best uses for Thunderwave 5e
1. Crowd Control
In the moments where you find yourself surrounded by mobs and hostile creatures, the Thunderwave spell can be there to save you. Especially if you are facing multiple enemies at a time in close-range combat, the Thunderwave spell’s area of effect (AoE) range and the added 10 ft push also help give you some leg room.
What’s more, due to the rarity of the Thunderwave spell’s saving throw, it gives a higher chance of having the creatures fail it. With this, you can escape without triggering an attack of opportunity. So, if you ever find yourself in a pinch, the Thunderwave spell is the way to go.
2. Warding Off Foes
In the coming of your future adventures, you may find yourself delving into deep dungeons, searching around ancient ruins, and exploring mysterious manors. But you never know what lies among the shadows. May it be rogue tricksters or even invisible mages lurking about, the Thunderwave spell can surely clear out an area of concern.
Since the spell creates a 15 ft cube, surely, any enemies hiding would be cleared out. Whether it may be a vent or just around the corner, the spell still affects them if you cannot see them. Remember that your location will be revealed, given the booming presence of the Thunderwave spell.
3. The Ultimate Bodyguard
Bright flashing lights, fans pushing and shoving to get a better look, the crowd screaming at the very sight of them, and that’s what you call celebrity presence. If you are ever lucky enough to work with a celebrity, this is your chance to show them who you are and what you’ve got!
With the Thunderwave spell, you can be a great bodyguard for them! If you and your celebrity boss don’t mind scuffing some of the fans and paparazzi, you can cast this to push them away when you need to. But do take in mind that the thunderous roar might attract the roar of an even larger crowd.
4. A Thunderous Call and Distraction
Do you need a distraction to lure in your enemies? Well, the best distraction is here, thanks to the Thunderwave spell. With its thunder booming from you, enemies as far as 300 ft away can surely be alarmed unless they’re deep sleepers.
What’s more, with its other features, you can add to the distraction by ruining some of your enemies’ prized possessions, as the spell with push away any unsecured object.
This can also be useful to alarm your fellow party members if you’re out of reach or in trouble. They’ll surely know only a certain spellcaster who can do that!
Advice and final thoughts
The Thunderwave spell can make a statement for every bard, druid, sorcerer, and wizard. With its thunderous roar waving through the area and the additional push, your enemies can be shown who’s boss around here. Especially since it has a rare damage type and a rare saving throw, there’s a high chance that it will hit and effects will work on the enemy.
However, this may not be the best spell for an upcoming espionage mission, given the range of 300 feet of noise that the Thunderwave spell emits. Therefore, it’s important to consider what is to come in your next adventure so that you can use this spell to the very best of its capabilities. All in all, the Thunderwave spell is a great one for players of every level. Make sure you also check out our Lightning bolt 5e guide if you like to make your campaign more electric!
Thunderwave 5e FAQ
Does the Thunderwave spell work if you’re trapped inside a giant creature?
If you ever find yourself in the position where you’ve been eaten whole by a whale or a giant salamander, it is still possible to apply the Thunderwave spell. This would cause an explosion in every direction while inside the giant creature.
Where does the Thunderwave spell push enemies?
If the enemy fails the Thunderwave spell’s Constitution saving throw, the enemy will be pushed 10 feet away from the point of origin, the caster. This push would be outward in all directions from the caster themself.
If you use the Thunderwave spell and it pushes away an opponent, is there an attack of opportunity?
Unfortunately, no, an attack of opportunity would not be triggered if an enemy fails their Constitution saving throw and is pushed away. According to the reaction’s description, “You can make an opportunity Attack when a Hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach.” Since the enemy has moved away unwillingly, it doesn’t meet the requirements to use the reaction.
Does Thunderwave rebound back to the caster if they are in a tight space?
No, it does not rebound since it is not detailed in the Thunderwave spell’s description. However, if you find yourself in a confined space, such as a hallway or a dungeon, you don’t have to worry about it returning to you since the spell still carries out the effects described.