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5E Is the Poison Spray Cantrip any good?


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It's the highest damage cantrip in the PHB and can be used in melee, which means it has a place.

The best damage cantrips are generally agreed to be Eldritch Blast for warlocks and Toll the Dead for wizards, and clerics with there being a case for Create Bonfire to block squares. If playing a wizard or sorcerer using only the PHB Poison Spray is your backup to Firebolt for when the enemy gets too close - but you don't want enemies within 10 feet of you in the first place.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I've found it's pretty good in tight quarters, particularly when your allies are between you and the enemy (thus providing cover to the enemies) such as in a choke point battle. Being a Con save and poison damage means it's not ideal on some enemies.

Truthfully though, most games are not hard enough in my experience to always need to take the most optimal options. So if this fits some kind of theme you have in mind or just sounds like fun, go for it. Just know its limitations.
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
While there is nothing wrong with it per se, there are other cantrips that mechanically are better IMO.

As others have said, Poison is a common resistance (along with Fire) and quite a few do have immunity. It compensates for that with the d12 a bit, but also relies on a CON save, which CON is one of the highest ability scores overall in the game. Since creatures with high HP will likely have good CON scores, that d12 damage counts for even less.

But, all that being said, if you want to take it, go for it! It will still prove useful enough and you don't always have to take the "optimal" choice to have fun. :)
 

If you happen to be a Yuan-Ti getting it for free doesn't hurt - it's situationally useful. Alchemists and Green Dragon Sorcerers might get more mileage out of it.
 

jmartkdr2

Adventurer
While there is nothing wrong with it per se, there are other cantrips that mechanically are better IMO.

As others have said, Poison is a common resistance (along with Fire) and quite a few do have immunity. It compensates for that with the d12 a bit, but also relies on a CON save, which CON is one of the highest ability scores overall in the game. Since creatures with high HP will likely have good CON scores, that d12 damage counts for even less.

But, all that being said, if you want to take it, go for it! It will still prove useful enough and you don't always have to take the "optimal" choice to have fun. :)

Specifically, all but one creature in the undead category are immune to poison - so if your dm like zombies (or just dislikes using intelligent enemies all the time because you always end up talking and the fighters getting frustrated because they can't fight) , this cantrip will be effectively useless for you. If undead were merely resistant this wouldn't be a big deal because cantrips aren't about big damage anyways.

Also a bunch of fiends are immune, but those are higher level so at least those aren't a problem in average games. But undead make up a ton of the low-level monsters.
 

J-H

Explorer
I feel like it would be better (if perhaps a bit OP) if it was a 10' line (which would hit a 5x10 rectangle) instead. CON or nothing is pretty rough.... although I suppose it compares favorably to Sacred Flame??
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I feel like it would be better (if perhaps a bit OP) if it was a 10' line (which would hit a 5x10 rectangle) instead. CON or nothing is pretty rough.... although I suppose it compares favorably to Sacred Flame??
Then it would remind me of something like a minor Tidal Wave.
 



Vael

Hero
I wouldn't take it, even when I know undead aren't going to feature strongly in an encounter, because of the CON save and short range. Three strikes against it in exchange for the best damage? Not good enough, IMO.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
Well, the cons of the cantrip are:
  1. Very poor range, you're practically in melee to use.
  2. One of the worst damage types in the game; many foes are resistant or outright immune to poison damage
  3. A Constitution save for no damage. Con Saves are usually fairly high for many monsters/NPCs.
The pros are:
  1. Highest Cantrip Damage die in the game; lacks Toll the Dead's requirement that the target be injured to get the d12 die.
  2. Err...Can be useful for a more melee focused caster, where the Range isn't much of an issue.
 

guachi

Explorer
I could see taking it if I were an Arcane Trickster or Eldritch Knight where being in melee isn't the worst place to be. The low range is really crippling, though.
 


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