Shadow Blade: D&D 5e Spell Guide

What is a Finesse Weapon in D&D 5e?

Shadow Blade was one the many spells that were added to 5th Edition of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

This spell is fun, especially for those who are part of the spellcasting class.

Let’s explore this further and discover how it can be used to create trouble or fun.

What does it do?

Shadow Blade
School: Illusion
Level: 2
Casting Time: 1 Bonus Action
Area: Self
Components: V, S
Duration One Minute (Concentration).

You can create a sword of Shadow in your hand. This is a weapon that you can use for attacks. Anyone who can cast the spell is familiar with this simple melee weapon.

You can use Strength or Dexterity to attack it.

It can be thrown like a handaxe, if desired.

This spell does more damage if you cast it with a higher level slot. For example, 5d8 for a 7th-level or higher slot.

It vanishes when you throw it or drop it. You can also call it back with bonus actions, provided you are still focused on the spell.

It has the advantage of allowing you to attack in shadow. You gain an advantage when you attack something in darkness or dim light.

See also
True Polymorph 5e : D&D Spell Guide

Who gets the Shadow Blade?

The spell is available to Warlocks, Wizards, and Sorcerers as part of their class spell list.

It could be picked up by Bards as one of their Magical Secrets. Eldritch Knight Fighters and Arcane Trickster Rogues can also get it from the Wizard spells list.

Multiclassing could allow you to pick up the skill from other classes, such as Warlock, Wizard, and Sorcerer.

Uses for Shadow Blade

Shadow blade are relatively simple.

Make a sword you can use to attack.

This spell is useful, especially for those with darkvision. We can also look into certain classes.

1. Warlocks

Shadow Blade is a… interesting spell for warlocks. Shadow blade is a concentration spell. It competes with hex and dark if your have Devil’s Sight.

If you have a Shadow Sorcerer, they can cast the dark spell. Darkness will give you an advantage anyway, so shadow blade is somewhat useless.

Shadow blade cannot be used with the Pact of the Blade, or the Hexblade’s Hex Warrior features. Shadow blade can be used in your offhand if it is necessary to dual-wield. However, none of your Blade Pact Invocations will work with it.

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Faerie Fire 5e: D&D Spell Guide, Rules & Uses

This makes it a fun melee choice for non-Pact of the Blade Warlocks. It is more practical when combined with a cantrip such as greenflame blade.

You’ll be able to do more damage if you have eldritchblast, Agonizing Blast invocation and Hex.

2. Eldritch Knight Fighters

Pros:

This spell is very useful for Eldritch Knights.

The spell is not available until you reach level 8. It’s an illusion spell so you must take it at a level where you can choose a spell from any school.

The spell can be used without a high Intelligence modifier, which is a huge plus.

Once you have the spell, you can create a blade that does greater damage than a greatsword. You can also pair it with a shield to increase your AC.

After reaching 13th level, you will be able to make a Shadow Blade that deals 3d8 Damage on a hit.

You can really make a difference as a fighter by using your Action Surge.

Cons:

Concentrate on the spell.

This means that you could lose it if your damage exceeds its limit. It can also be used in conjunction with spells such as haste or any other spells you may want to focus on.

See also
What is a Finesse Weapon in D&D 5e?

You may be able to find a Flame Tongue, or another magic weapon that has lots of damage dice, and you might want to use it instead.

This frees up spell slots for haste to increase attacks and defense bonuses.

Shadow blade is a good alternative if your campaign doesn’t include many magic items.

3. Arcane Trickster Rogues

Shadow blade works well with Arcane Tricksters. You do some additional damage but not many more attacks.

It’s just as bad as an Eldritch Knight.

Sneak Attack is a big factor in your damage output. shadow blade is a great option if you have difficulty seeing in dark or dim light and need Sneak Attack.

Although your Versatile Trickster feature gives you an additional way to take advantage of mage hands it is more difficult to set up.

It must be cast as an action. This is a bonus action to move your hand. You can also get advantage by using it.

Shadow blade is simpler, and it doesn’t take your bonus action every turn.

It can be paired with greenflame blade, or booming blade to increase your Sneak Attack’s fire and thunder damage to Shadow blade’s psychic damages.

See also
What is a Finesse Weapon in D&D 5e?

4. Sorcerers

Sorcerers are often very squishy. They aren’t usually comfortable with spells that target melee.

This spell can be used by sorcerers in some very interesting ways. It also has powerful options if you want to get into melee.

You can cast shadow and then cast your action twice to cast the boom blade cantrip with your Twinned Spell metamagic. Unfortunately, this is not possible with greenflame blade.

You can also Quicken another boom blade to start your turn for three powerful melee attacks.

Pros:

It can be quite effective if you are in dark or dim light, especially if your Elven Accuracy is high.

You can cast up 3 blade cantrips per turn using your Twinned Spell or Quickened Spell metamagics.

Each of your attacks with shadow knife or booming sword, deals 5d8 psychic damage and 3d8 thunder to the target. If they move, you can also deal an additional 4d8 thunder injury.

Additional thunder damage from boomerang does not stack on one target. However, you can use it to threaten multiple opponents with the booming damage to lock them down. You can also add the Mobile feat to lock them down so they can run with impunity.

See also
Faerie Fire 5e: D&D Spell Guide, Rules & Uses

You can also cast meteorswarm at 17th level for 20d6 fire or 20d6 bludgeoning damages.

You have many options with 9th-level spells. Shadow blade and Booming blade are not the best tricks for every situation. However, they can be very effective if you need to enter melee.

You can’t fight psychic or thunder-immunized things.

Cons:

Even if Elven Accuracy gives you triple advantage, you’ll still need a good attack modifier.

This means that a sorcerer must have decent Strength or Dexterity, which makes it more important to have good stats and Ability Score Improvements.

This combo can be used against multiple opponents. Twinned Spell can only be used against one target. If you have more than one target, the combo will not work.

This strategy can also be used to burn sorcery points.

You can save them by twinning boom blade. It’s half as expensive than your Quickened Spell metamagic.

This brings down your attack frequency with boom blade to 2.

You don’t need to spend sorcery points for Quickened Spell if you manage to get hold of Illusionists Bracers. You can cast a cantrip with the bracers as an added bonus action.

See also
True Polymorph 5e : D&D Spell Guide

This means that you can now twin your bonus action boom blade for 4 attacks.

You can become a true warrior on the battlefield if you are able to get a pair these bracers (from Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica), and you figure out how to protect your sorcerer against their attacks.

5. Wizards and Bards

Shadow blade is used here, mainly by the Bladesinger wizards, the College of Swords Bard and the College of Valor Bard.

All three subclasses receive Extra Attack. Shadow blade is therefore a little more useful.

The spell is still available to other types of wizards and bards, but not as well.

Pros:

It’s possible that all three subclasses will be high in Dexterity. This means you don’t need to worry about buffing any other ability.

Swords bards are more inclined to concentrate on melee attacks to maximize their flourishes.

They get flourishes at higher levels for free, so shadow blade can be a great way to increase their damage.

Although it still competes against high-level spells of the same level, it is a strategy that allows them to attack for a substantial chunk of damage and then use their bonus action in order to give out Bardic Inspiration or cast other bonus action spells such as healing words.

After casting a spell, the Valor bard gains the ability to make a weapon strike.

See also
True Polymorph 5e : D&D Spell Guide

You can choose popping green flame sword for additional damage, and then attack with shadow blade as an bonus action.

To learn shadow and green blade, you would need to invest 2 Magical Secrets. This is quite expensive.

Bladesinger’s Song of Victory allows them to deal additional damage equal to their Intelligence modifier whenever they use melee weapon attacks. This makes shadow blade more attractive at higher levels.

You’ll still get only two attacks and they have to be able to compete with all the powerful spells that the wizard has.

Cons:

A bard who desires shadow blade must multiclass or use one their Magical Secrets. This can be difficult if the game has counterspell or fireball.

The wizard has access to Tenser’s transformation starting at 11th level. It is also possible for bards to access it through Magical Secrets.

Tenser’s transformation does approximately the same damage (a bonus 2d12 foresight on top of your weapon’s damage die vs. an flat 4d8 psychic when casting shadowblade at 6th level).

Tenser’s transformation is more efficient than shadow knife. It does not require a lack light to benefit from. It gives extra attack to wizards who don’t already have it, some saving throw proficiencies and a lot of temporary hit points.

See also
What is a Finesse Weapon in D&D 5e?

This spell is not able to cast spells while you focus on Tenser’s transformation. However, it’s still fun for wizards who have to enter melee.

Shadow blade is unable to keep up with the many high-level spells.

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Raven
Raven
8 months ago

For anyone interested in additional Blade Cantrips these might be of interest/use:

https://www.reddit.com/user/Raven_Wanderer/comments/n3thfr/ravens_carefully_balanced_blade_cantrips_5e/

Sagi
Sagi
3 months ago

You can’t use official blade cantrips as they require a weapon worth some value. Shadow blade isn’t worth any monetary value.