Shadow Blade spell in 5e explained

Love a bit of an ambush from the dark? Having trouble with non-magical weapon resistance? Just need a bit more zap in your stab? Shadow Blade, my friend.

A Shadow Blade


As a Rogue Bladesinger, Shadow Blade is one of my favourite spells, especially at lower levels. I love getting stuck into melee action, but as primarily a wizard, I am somewhat prone to being turned into a fine red mist with more challenging encounters. Shadow Spell works a charm as it doubles down on my ability to sneak attack and then meld back into the shadows (aka flee) before my next heroic barrage. Not heard of Shadow Blade before? Allow me to explain…

Shadow Blade allows spellcasters to create a magical weapon from the shadows themselves. An illusionary weapon, imbued with the essence of darkness that particularly useful for characters like my beloved Rogue Bladesinger that excel in stealth and infiltration tactics, as well as those looking to add some lateral combat options to their arsenal.

I’ll cover some of the intricate details of the Shadow Blade spell, and answer some of the most common questions I see and explore its Shadow Blade’s with other abilities and spells in the 5e.

What does the Shadow Blade spell do?

Shadow Blade allows the caster to create a solid, black, and weightless melee weapon made of shadowy energy. The spell grants a number of benefits, including:

  • The weapon deals 2d8 psychic damage on a hit, with the damage increasing by 1d8 for each spell slot level above 2nd.
  • The weapon has the finesse, light, and thrown properties, with a range of 20/60 feet.
  • The caster gains advantage on attack rolls if the target is in dim light or darkness.

These unique properties make the Shadow Blade an ideal choice for ambushes, night-time encounters, or any situation where the environment is less than brightly lit.

Situations where Shadow Blade might be useful

The Shadow Blade spell is particularly effective in the following scenarios:

  • Fighting creatures with immunity or resistance to non-magical weapons.
  • Engaging in stealth-based combat, especially in low-light areas – this might be at night, in dungeons or the Underdark.
  • Facing enemies that are vulnerable to psychic damage or resistant to other damage types.
  • When you simply need to boost the damage over that of your standard weapon
  • An additional way to get advantage on creates with the Alert feat

How does Shadow Blade work?

Casting time, duration, and components
Shadow Blade is a 2nd-level illusion spell that requires one bonus action to cast. The spell has a duration of 1 minute (10 turns) and requires concentration to maintain. The spell’s components are Somatic, meaning that the caster must have a free hand to perform the necessary gestures to cast the spell.

Concentration requirement
As a concentration spell, Shadow Blade requires the caster to maintain focus on the spell for its entire duration. Taking damage, casting another concentration spell, or being affected by certain conditions (such as being incapacitated) can cause the caster to lose concentration and, subsequently, end the Shadow Blade spell prematurely.

Shadow Blade being used in the UnderdarkThinking of stalking the lightless caverns of the Underdark? Don’t forget to pack your Shadow Blade!

Combining Shadow Blade with other spells

There are some potent spell combinations you can use in conjunction with Shadow Blade to increase your damage output. When exploring these options, it’s also important to realise the limitations of the spell and what can not be achieved. The most common questions around combing Shadow Blade with other spells are:

Can Booming Blade and Shadow Blade be used together?

Yes, Booming Blade and Shadow Blade can be used together. Booming Blade is a cantrip that requires a weapon attack as part of its casting. Since Shadow Blade creates a melee weapon, it can be used to make the weapon attack required by Booming Blade. This combination allows the caster to deal both the psychic damage from Shadow Blade and the thunder damage from Booming Blade on a successful hit.

Can you combine Green Flame Blade with Shadow Blade?

Yes, Green Flame Blade and Shadow Blade can be combined. Similar to Booming Blade, Green Flame Blade requires a weapon attack as part of its casting. As Shadow Blade creates a melee weapon, it can be used to make the weapon attack required by Green Flame Blade. This combination allows the caster to deal psychic damage from Shadow Blade, fire damage to the primary target, and additional fire damage to a secondary target as determined by the Green Flame Blade cantrip.

Does Spell Sniper work with Shadow Blade?

No, Spell Sniper is a feat that doubles the range of spells that require an attack roll. However, Shadow Blade is a spell that creates a weapon, and the attack rolls made with that weapon are considered weapon attacks, not spell attacks. Therefore, Spell Sniper does not interact with Shadow Blade and does not increase the thrown range of the weapon.

Can you use Twinned Spell on Shadow Blade?

No, Twinned Spell is a Sorcerer Metamagic option that allows the Sorcerer to target a second creature with a single-target spell. However, Shadow Blade does not qualify for Twinned Spell because it does not target a creature. Instead, Shadow Blade creates a weapon that the caster can use to make attacks. As a result, Twinned Spell cannot be used with Shadow Blade.

Fighting with the Shadow Blade

There is often some confusion with Shadow Blade being a magical weapon as to how it interacts with standard melee rules, let’s explore:

What modifier do you use for Shadow Blade?

Shadow Blade has the finesse property, allowing the caster to use either their Strength or Dexterity modifier for attack and damage rolls. However, if the caster is a Hexblade Warlock with the Hex Warrior feature, they can use their Charisma modifier instead.

Is Shadow Blade one-handed?

Yes, Shadow Blade is a one-handed weapon. The spell does not specify any handedness, and the properties it grants (finesse, light, and thrown) are typically associated with one-handed weapons.

Can you use Shadow Blade with Two-Weapon Fighting?

Shadow Blade can be used with two-weapon fighting because it has the light property. The caster can wield Shadow Blade in one hand and use another light weapon in the other, allowing them to make an additional attack with the off-hand weapon as a bonus action. However, the caster does not add their ability modifier to the damage roll of the off-hand attack unless they have the Two-Weapon Fighting style (available to Fighters and Rangers) or the Dual Wielder feat.

Can you dual-wield Shadow Blade 5e?

Shadow Blade has the light property, which means that it can be used for two-weapon fighting. However, as it is a concentration spell, it is not possible to dual-wield two Shadow Blades. The act of casting the second blade would break concentration on the first blade, making it disappear.

Does Shadow Blade break stealth?

Casting Shadow Blade itself does not automatically break stealth, as the spell does not create any noise or bright light. However, attacking with the Shadow Blade may break stealth, depending on the situation and the Dungeon Master’s discretion. When making an attack, the attacker usually reveals their position, whether the attack hits or misses. After revealing their position, the character can attempt to hide again using their Cunning Action (if they have the feature) or by taking the Hide action on their next turn. It’s important to note that the advantage granted by Shadow Blade when attacking targets in dim light or darkness synergizes well with stealth-based tactics, making it a valuable asset for characters who rely on ambushes or surprise attacks.

Shadow Blade and class interactions

Can you use Warlock Hex Warrior with Shadow Blade?

Hex Warrior is a class feature available to Hexblade Warlocks that allows them to use their Charisma modifier instead of Strength or Dexterity for attack and damage rolls with a specific weapon. However, Hex Warrior specifies that it only works with a melee weapon that lacks the two-handed property. As Shadow Blade is considered a melee weapon with the light and finesse properties, it is compatible with Hex Warrior, allowing the Hexblade Warlock to use their Charisma modifier for attack and damage rolls.

Can you use Shadow Blade as a Warlock pact weapon?

Shadow Blade cannot be used as a pact weapon for a Warlock’s Pact of the Blade feature. Pact weapons are specifically created by the Warlock’s class feature, while Shadow Blade is a spell-generated weapon. Though both create magical weapons, they are distinct in their origins and mechanics and cannot be combined.

Can Arcane Tricksters use Shadow Blade?

Yes, Arcane Tricksters can use Shadow Blade if they have access to the spell. Arcane Tricksters are a Rogue subclass that gains limited spellcasting abilities, primarily focused on enchantment and illusion spells. At 8th level, Arcane Tricksters can learn a spell from any school of magic. If the player chooses Shadow Blade as their 8th-level spell, they can effectively use the spell and benefit from its unique properties.

Can a Monk use Shadow Blade?

A Monk cannot naturally cast Shadow Blade, as it is not part of the Monk’s class features or spellcasting abilities. However, if a Monk has levels in a spellcasting class that grants access to Shadow Blade (such as Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard), they can cast the spell. It is important to note that the weapon created by Shadow Blade does not count as a Monk weapon, so the Monk cannot use their Martial Arts or Flurry of Blows features with it.

Is Shadow Blade a good spell?

Shadow Blade offers unique advantages when compared to other similar spells or abilities. The psychic damage it deals is rarely resisted, and the advantage on attack rolls in dim light or darkness allows for more consistent damage output. Additionally, the finesse property and the ability to use either Strength or Dexterity make it a versatile choice for a variety of characters.

Shadow Blade situational advantages and disadvantages

Shadow Blade excels in specific situations, such as in darkness or dimly lit environments, against enemies with resistance or immunity to nonmagical weapons, and when facing creatures vulnerable to psychic damage. However, it may be less effective in brightly lit areas, against enemies with high psychic resistance, or when the character cannot maintain concentration on the spell.

Recommendations on when to use Shadow Blade

Shadow Blade is a strong option for characters who often engage in stealth-based combat or fight in environments with varying lighting conditions. The spell is also valuable for characters without access to magical weapons or those who want a versatile damage type. However, characters who frequently fight in well-lit areas or have access to more powerful magical weapons may find the spell less useful. Overall, Shadow Blade is a good spell for those who can take advantage of its unique properties and adapt their tactics accordingly.

Should you take Shadow Blade?

Maybe you’re convinced, maybe you’re. I’ll tell you, when our ship was boarded at sea by the undead with resistance to non-magical weapons, spell slots were low and I got 10 rounds of damage with the Shadow Blade, I was popular. Yes, there may have been some fleeing and hiding between attacks, but it’s the outcome that matters! Shadow Blade might not be for everyone, but if you know you’re going to be spending time in some dark places with things that aren’t going to die with the clash of metal, you’ll be glad to have a Shadow Blade at your side!

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First introduced to D&D by the cRPG Baldur's Gate after borrowing it from a friend in 1998, Mark is currently experiencing repeated bouts of unconsciousness trying to take his melee Wizard through a 5e campaign.