Unleashing Thunderous Devastation: The Ultimate Shatter 5e Guide

shatter spell
Table of Contents

The echoing boom of shattering stone reverberates through the ancient ruins as the party sorcerer's spell obliterates a weakened section of ceiling, sending boulders raining down to crush the horde of goblins below. Cheers erupt from the adventurers – the tide of battle has turned thanks to the devastation wrought by Shatter!

One of the most versatile and creatively impactful spells in the 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons arsenal, Shatter packs a sonic punch. This guide contains everything you need to master this thunder-based evocation, from spell breakdowns to tactical tips, class synergies to creative applications.

So brace yourselves, adventurers, and prepare for the resounding thunder of our Shatter 5e guide!

Understanding Shatter: A Booming Blast of Destruction

At its core, Shatter produces a percussive blast of thunderous sound, but its implications and applications make it far more intriguing than just an offensive spell.

The Shatter Spell Description

As described in the D&D Player's Handbook, Shatter is a 2nd-level evocation spell usable by Bards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards. Here are the key parameters:

  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: 60 feet
  • Duration: Instantaneous
  • Components: Verbal, somatic, material (a chip of mica)

You choose a point within 60 feet and a thunderous ringing erupts in a 10-foot radius sphere centered on that point. Each creature in the area must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a target takes 3d8 thunder damage, or half as much on a successful save.

Objects and creatures made of brittle materials like stone, crystal, and metal have disadvantage on this save. Furthermore, nonmagical, unattended objects in the area automatically take the full damage.

When cast using spell slots above 2nd level, the damage increases by 1d8 per slot.

Key Attributes of Shatter

Beyond the basic effects, Shatter has additional attributes that make it special:

  • The thunder damage is rarely resisted, giving it consistent impact against most creatures.
  • It's one of the earliest available area of effect (AOE) damage spells, making it very useful at lower levels.
  • The spell can damage objects and structures, enabling creative environmental uses.
  • Its thunderous blast produces a painfully loud noise audible far beyond the spell's radius.
  • As an evocation, its damage cannot be sculpted to avoid allies. Careful placement is key.

This versatility means Shatter has a wide range of applications both in and out of combat if you get creative with it!

Which Classes Get Access to Shatter?

The Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard classes gain access to Shatter at 3rd level, when 2nd level spells become available.

Several other classes can also eventually access Shatter:

  • Tempest Clerics always have it prepared and can maximize damage via Channel Divinity.
  • Artillerist and Armorer Artificers get it starting at 5th level.
  • Four Elements Monks can cast it at 6th level by spending 3 ki points.
  • Eldritch Knights and Arcane Trickster Rogues get access at 13th level from the Wizard spell list.

With all this thunderous power spread across classes, Shatter is widely available for D&D parties with a spellcaster.

Mastering Shatter’s Mechanics and Quirks

Understanding Shatter's intricacies is key to mastering it. Let's break down how this sonic spell operates and interacts with the environment.

Shatter's Damage Type and Delivery

Shatter deals thunder damage, a concussive blast of sound. This sonic force is exceptional at shaking rigid structures and materials like stone or glass. Flesh and bone are more resistant as living tissue can flex and absorb acoustic impacts.

The delivery is instantaneous; an eruption of booming energy rather than a sustained effect or projectile. It originates from the chosen point and spreads in a sphere, with no need to physically trace spell trajectories like a lightning bolt.

Interactions: Creatures, Objects, Terrain, and More

Shatter's interactions follow some specific quirks:

  • The thunderous shockwave passes through barriers, damaging objects or creatures on the other side in its radius. Total cover doesn't protect against the percussive burst.
  • Brittle materials like glass and crystal are especially vulnerable, giving them disadvantage on Constitution saves to resist the damage.
  • The spell automatically damages unattended, nonmagical objects in its area of effect. No save is allowed.
  • If Shatter damages a load-bearing pillar or structural element of a building, for example, the DM can determine if this triggers a partial collapse.
  • Particularly large or densely built objects may have damage thresholds that require multiple Shatter castings to destroy.
  • The spell makes no distinction about targets close to or far from the point of origin within its area. All are affected equally.

These unique interactions open up many possibilities, which we'll cover in the tactics section.

Acoustic Mayhem: Tactics and Strategies for Shatter

With an understanding of the spell's capabilities, let's delve into using Shatter creatively and effectively as a player.

Basic Combat Tactics

Though simple to use, Shatter has great tactical potential:

  • When facing clustered enemies, center it over as many as possible to maximize carnage.
  • Use it early in a fight before enemies spread out. A tightly packed horde is an ideal target.
  • Follow up a Shatter blast with melee attacks on staggered survivors. The concussive trauma impairs them momentarily.
  • Lead with Shatter instead of fire or cold against groups with elemental protections. Its thunder damage is rarely hindered.
  • Upcast Shatter when facing hordes with high Constitution saves. More damage dice improves the odds of dealing half damage.

Combining Shatter with Class Features and Spells

Some classes and builds can really amplify Shatter's impact:

  • Tempest Clerics can maximize damage using Destructive Wrath Channel Divinity, greatly boosting lower level castings.
  • Repelling Eldritch Blast synergizes perfectly with Shatter by pushing enemies back into the spell's area of effect for repeated damage.
  • A Sorcerer using Careful Spell metamagic on Shatter can exclude allies from the damage.
  • Wizards specializing in Evocation gain sculpt spell to shape Shatter around friendly targets.

Creative Applications Beyond Damage

Shatter truly shines when you utilize its broad capabilities creatively:

  • Shatter doors, chests, barricades, and other obstacles, opening new paths and possibilities. Knock is overrated!
  • Use it to remotely trigger traps and environmental dangers beyond your line of sight. The sphere radiates through barriers.
  • Target weak points in structures to damage supports and bring down ceilings, bridges, or columns onto foes.
  • Create distractions with the piercing boom to draw attention away from stealthy allies.
  • Demolish enemy fortifications and siege equipment with well-placed shots.
  • Shape the battlefield to your advantage – collapsed rubble can create difficult terrain or block off access.

With some cleverness, you'll keep discovering new applications for Shatter far beyond basic blasting.

Friendly Fire and Stealth: Drawbacks to Consider

Shatter's versatile offense does come with some caveats to keep in mind:

  • The spell damages allies and summons, unless you can sculpt around them. Mind the area of effect.
  • Its thunderous boom carries far and makes stealth nearly impossible. Enemies may come running to investigate the noise.
  • Reliant on Constitution saves, some high-Con enemies may regularly take only half damage from Shatter if they make the save.

Despite these limitations, you can play around them. Just beware that Shatter isn't always the ideal choice depending on party composition and situation.

Optimizing Shatter as Specific Classes and Builds

Each D&D class that gains access to Shatter has different specialties that can complement the spell. Let's call out some key class considerations.


Subtle Spell metamagic allows a Sorcerer to remove verbal and somatic components, muffling the thunderous sound for stealthier calamitous collapses. Careful Spell, as mentioned before, protects allies from the damage.


Beyond Evocation wizards protecting allies, Transmuters can really boost area damage. Their Minor Alchemy feature enables turning a stone surface to wood or glass, making it vulnerable with disadvantage on Shatter saves!


The Repelling Blast invocation is an essential pickup to repeatedly shove enemies back into Shatter's area of effect. It combos flawlessly with the spell.


Cutting Words can impose penalties on saves against Shatter, while Inspiration boosts allies' chances to resist the damage if caught within.


Tempest domain clerics gain access to Shatter and can maximize its damage by using their Destructive Wrath channel divinity, making it hugely impactful even when cast using lower level slots. Spirit Guardians is another excellent cleric spell that pairs well with Shatter, first damaging enemies with the thunderous blast before they take additional radiant damage if they continue approaching the caster.


The Artillerist artificer is practically made for Shatter, not only gaining access at level 5 but also being able to imbue it into their Arcane Firearm to add an extra 1d8 damage to its already formidable thunderous eruption. The force ballista created by the Artillerist also deals thunder damage, so taking Shatter meshes perfectly with their established combat capabilities.


Arcane Trickster rogues must wait until 13th level for Shatter, but its power to obliterate obstacles and doors at range plays right into their wheelhouse for infiltration and stealth-based missions. Reducing sound by casting from hiding spots or using subtle spell metamagic on a multiclassed sorcerer/rogue results in thunderous destruction for unsuspecting guards and fortifications before they even realize what's happening.


Four Elements monks can learn Shatter via the Gong of the Summit discipline, spending 3 ki points to cast it. Though expensive for their limited ki, this provides monks with an extremely useful area damage option to integrate into their typical single-target strikes, potentially allowing them to contribute against hordes of lower-health foes. Way of the Four Elements monks with Shatter can also tactically target destructible terrain to manipulate the battlefield.

Shatter Rules Clarifications, Questions, and Houserules

For completeness, let's address some of the most common rules issues, questions, and houserules around Shatter to give DMs and players helpful interpretations and options for managing this potent spell.

  • The spell's damage starts from a single point, not the caster. Area need not be visible but origin point must be.
  • Shatter's sound can feasibly travel far beyond its damage radius based on environment. Discuss this with your DM.
  • For damaging objects, use hit point thresholds from the DMG rather than auto-destruction. Apply your game's sundering houserules if relevant.
  • When targeting worn or carried items, have the attacker roll against user's Constitution save rather than the object's AC to represent resistance.
  • Creatures with damage resistances but not full immunity can take half damage or none per DM discretion. Up to you whether metal creatures “ring” internally!
  • Allow a Constitution save when Shatter collapses terrain for creatures to brace themselves and potentially avoid burial under rubble.

Shatter remains one of D&D's most open-ended spells despite its straightforward description. Talk with your DM about any grey areas to set expectations. The key is maintaining fun and balance at your own table.

Mastering the Shatter Spell for Thunderous Warlock Victory

Shatter exemplifies the warlock's magical versatility – its damage dealing potential combined with battlefield manipulation makes it a formidable tool. Here are some warlock-specific tactics to maximize your Shatter sorcery:

  • The Repelling Blast invocation pushes enemies deeper into the spell's radius or prevents escape, causing repeated damage.
  • Use Foresight or Greater Invisibility to gain advantage on Constitution saves, then Evaard's Tentacles to restrain groups before Shattering them.
  • Cast Shatter during aerial boss fights to drop crystals and debris onto melee allies below to divide enemy attention.
  • Eliminate the somatic and verbal components with Subtle Spell metamagic for stealthy structural demolition behind enemy lines.
  • Summon a mental image of past thunderstorms before casting to channel natural acoustic energy for greater thunderous force.

On top of its raw damage, a warlock's devious cunning allows Shatter to fulfill your wildest explosive fantasies. Just be sure to deal with any unintended consequences leveraging this much power creates!


Shatter fills a unique role in the D&D spell repertoire, blending thunderous damage with the ability to manipulate environments, bypass fortifications, and open new tactical possibilities. This guide contains everything you need to master this sonically destructive evocation.

While Shatter shines in combat when used creatively, its applications beyond dealing damage cement its place in a prepared spellcaster's arsenal. A cunning wizard won't hesitate to bring down the house to crush some enemies!

So don't underestimate the strategic potential of Shatter – it can utterly devastate your foes. Just be sure not to obliterate your own eardrums in the process.


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