This underrated spell shatters your opponent’s willpower along with environmental obstacles
“The stone golem raises a pillar of leg to crush the Sorcerer underfoot. My eyes dart between the golem’s vacant expression and the panicking Sorcerer, who is now pulling something from the pocket of his robe: it’s a piece of mica! I know what this means, and cover my ears. Birds scatter from the piercing blare as the golem’s leg cracks and splinters…”
Table of Contents
What is Shatter Spell?
According to the Player’s Handbook, Shatter 5e is a 2nd level evocation spell for Bards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards that sends an extremely loud ringing noise in a 10-foot radius sphere. It costs 1 action and can be cast 60 feet. Each target in the 10-foot radius must make a Constitution saving throw or take 3d8 thunder damage. If they pass, they take half damage.
Stone, crystal, or metal creatures (those vulnerable to soundwaves) have disadvantage on a Shatter saving throw. Importantly, the Shatter spell also affects unworn nonmagical objects in the area.
Upcasting Shatter 5e (using a spell slot above level 2) increases the damage by 1d8 per upcasted level. Shatter 5e also technically requires a piece of mica as material for casting. Material components are great for realism and immersion, but it’s up to your group.
Shatter 5e stats
|Casting Time||1 Action|
|Range/Area||60 feet (10-foot radius)|
|Classes||Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard|
|Components||Verbal, Somatic, Material*|
|Attack/Save||Constitution, half damage on a success|
How Does Shatter 5e Work?
Shatter 5e is an area-of-effect spell that inflicts thunder damage on all creatures caught within its 10-foot radius sphere. You select a point within a 60-foot range, and Shatter is cast outwards in a 10-foot radius sphere from that point. Thunder damage is concussive, which affects rigid materials like stone, metal, or glass more drastically.
Anyone and anything inside the 10-foot sphere is affected.
- Enemies behind walls
- Nonmagical, unworn objects
Most groups say that the noise from Shatter is also heard outside the sphere, which can attract enemies in open areas.
Use your judgment regarding how Shatter works against certain material. Concussive damage works better against material that vibrates. It will crack through brittle or inflexible material, and cause stronger inorganic materials like metal to ring painfully.
Human tissue can probably absorb Shatter, for example, while glass probably can’t. It’s up to your group how you want to interpret what is organic or inorganic.
Shatter works great against clusters of enemies, especially if two casters team up to Shatter the whole bunch. Shatter can also work against you if you’re careless and damage your crew, or if it brings more enemies to you!
Shatter also works great to break down nearly any sort of object, which DnD players often overlook.
Shatter on Objects
Shatter 5e automatically hits most objects. Only the object’s hit points matter — and no objects in 5e have more than 27 hit points. If you have the available spell slots and the time, you can “shatter” just about anything! The exception to this rule is objects such as castle walls, which have a damage threshold — you must pass the threshold to damage them.
Objects in DnD 5e have hit points (HP) and an Armor Class (AC) just like you do. AC is normally used to see if a physical attack succeeds. For objects, a high AC guards against someone just pummeling a wall to get through it, for example. But Shatter isn’t a physical attack, so the only thing that matters is the HP. Many spells have qualifiers that prohibit targeting objects — but not Shatter!
Per the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Objects in DnD 5e are classified into Fragile and Resilient. Use your judgment as to whether an object is fragile or resilient. You roll a certain type and number of dice depending on the object you try to shatter.
|Size (fragile, resilient)||Fragile HP (dice)||Resilient HP (dice)|
|Tiny (bottle, lock)||2 (1d4)||5 (2d4)|
|Small (chest, lute)||3 (1d6)||10 (3d6)|
|Medium (barrel, chandelier)||4 (1d8)||18 (4d8)|
|Large (cart, 10×10 window)||5 (1d10)||27 (5d10)|
Cut through a lock, break open a chest, or tear down a chandelier in the middle of a ballroom! You can also topple a column, smash a tavern full of glasses, or crumble a statue of someone you don’t like.
If it’s a large or gargantuan object, such as a colossal statue or a boulder, you can target sections of the object with Shatter to wear down its integrity. Chip away at the strut of a bridge, blast through the hull of a ship, or split through a load-bearing beam to bring down a building on some unsuspecting heads!
The chaotic potential of shattering objects is only limited by your creativity—and your DM’s flexibility. Just remember not to get caught in the area of effect! Also, remember that townsfolk usually don’t take kindly to area-of-effect spells…
How Loud is Shatter 5e?
You can hear and be damaged by shatter 5e if you’re within a 10-foot radius sphere from the point where it erupts. How far Shatter can be heard outside the sphere is debatable, since it isn’t explicitly stated in the rules. Most parties play it so that creatures a reasonable distance outside of the sphere (say 100-200 ft away) can still hear the noise.
Usually, the rules are explicit if a spell has an unexpected effect. The rules don’t say anything about Shatter being silent outside the sphere of eruption, so it makes sense that the sound travels as it normally would.
The noise is described as “loud” and “painfully intense” so it can likely be heard quite far away, especially in quiet areas such as forests. Think about setting off a car alarm in the middle of a monastery… how far away would you hear it?
Some groups have ruled that since Shatter is magic, it doesn’t have normal properties and isn’t heard outside the 10-foot sphere.
GameCows Tip: Cast Silence before you cast Shatter if you want to cause super sneaky destruction. Silence is a 20-ft sphere, so it can create a soundproof bubble around Shatter!
Is Shatter a Good Spell?
Shatter 5e is a great spell when used correctly! Not only is it one of the first “Area of Effect” spells that the available classes can get in the early game, but Shatter can also rip through mobs of enemies and destroy objects strategically.
Consult with your DM, but typically with Shatter, you can pulverize columns, doors, support structures, or anything else that makes sense. Shatter is one of the only spells that can target objects effectively! This makes it unusually powerful if you use it creatively. It’s like having magical dynamite!
How good Shatter is can sometimes depend on how your DM runs their campaign. The Player’s Handbook recommends 6-8 encounters per long rest, but many DMs only do a handful of encounters. 2nd level spell slots are in short supply, so if you have to stretch them over 6-8 battles, Shatter becomes less useful.
Which Classes Can Use Shatter?
- Bards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards get Shatter at level 2.
- Tempest Domain Clerics get Shatter at level 3.
- Artillerist and Armorer Artificers get Shatter at level 5.
- Way of the Four Elements Monks get access to Shatter at level 6, for 3 ki points.
- Eldritch Knight Fighters get access to Shatter at level 7, for a 2nd level spell slot.
- Arcane Trickster Rogues get access to Shatter at level 7, for a 2nd level spell slot.
Shatter 5e FAQ
Does Shatter work on Elementals?
Shatter works on Elementals normally. They don’t get disadvantage since they are still made of organic material.
Does Shatter affect the caster?
Yes, if within range of the 10-foot radius sphere, the caster will be damaged by Shatter. Shatter will also affect allies within the sphere.
Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages. She is also a professional content writer at SlashGear.com