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In the game I DM for, one player is playing a ranger. The player asked me if he would be able to cast the lightning arrow spell, then use the arrow as ammunition for the conjure barrage spell.


The lightning arrow spell (PHB, p. 255) has a casting time of 1 bonus action, and a duration of "Concentration, up to 1 minute":

The next time you make a ranged weapon attack during the spell’s duration, the weapon’s ammunition, or the weapon itself if it’s a thrown weapon, transforms into a bolt of lightning. Make the attack roll as normal. The target takes 4d8 lightning damage on a hit, or half as much damage on a miss, instead of the weapon’s normal damage.

Whether you hit or miss, each creature within 10 feet of the target must make a Dexterity saving throw. Each of these creatures takes 2d8 lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

The conjure barrage spell (PHB, p. 225) has a casting time of 1 action and a duration of "Instantaneous":

You throw a nonmagical weapon or fire a piece of nonmagical ammunition into the air to create a cone of identical weapons that shoot forward and then disappear. Each creature in a 60-foot cone must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 3d8 damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The damage type is the same as that of the weapon or ammunition used as a component.


The rule on bonus-action spellcasting (PHB, p. 202) states:

A spell cast with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to cast the spell, provided that you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn. You can’t cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.

But then on the next page, it also states in the rules for concentration (p. 203; emphasis mine):

Normal activity, such as moving and attacking, doesn't interfere with concentration. The following factors can break concentration:

  • Casting another spell that requires concentration. You lose concentration on a spell if you cast another spell that requires concentration. You can’t concentrate on two spells at once.

Would the ranger be able to cast both spells in the same turn?
I interpret the last quote as meaning that you can cast 2 spells, if 1 requires concentration and the other does not, unless a spell doesn't count as an attack.

If he can't use them in the same round, could he cast lightning arrow, save it until the next round, then use it for conjure barrage?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that, while this combo doesn't work (due to the spells-per-turn limitation), your final paragraph is correct in regards to concentration: you can cast as many non-concentration spells as you like without affecting your concentration at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Tin Man May 25 '17 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related question: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/95238/… \$\endgroup\$ – Marq May 28 '17 at 14:43
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RAW, a Ranger can't cast two spells requiring spell slots on the same turn, if one is a bonus action.

One must be a cantrip, if the spell being cast as a bonus action uses a spell slot.

A spell cast with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to cast the spell, provided that you haven't already taken a bonus action this turn. You can't cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of l action. -PHB 201

Theoretically you could do it over the course of two (or more) rounds, as long as your concentration on lightning arrow holds up.

But it's not going to stack like your player thinks. Lightning arrow says

The next time you make a ranged weapon attack during the spell's duration, ...

Conjure barrage is technically not a ranged weapon attack. It's a spell effect that forces a saving throw. (Emphasis here mine)

You throw a nonmagical weapon or fire a piece of nonmagical ammunition into the air to create a cone

You throw the ammo into the air, not at a potential target.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As mentioned by @NautArch, it wouldn't work if it wasn't used until the next round because the arrow is considered magical. \$\endgroup\$ – bubbajake00 May 25 '17 at 19:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ The arrow isn't magical at that point. You're not making a ranged attack, so the arrow wouldn't turn into lightning in the first place. So it's not magical at the time you cast conjure barrage. \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Cassino May 25 '17 at 19:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ RAW, you can cast up to 3 non-cantrip spells in a turn, as long as none of them is a bonus action. (1 action + 1 action surge + 1 reaction) \$\endgroup\$ – András May 25 '17 at 19:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Besides what @András said, the bonus action spell rule applies regardless of whether the bonus action spell uses a slot (e.g. Shillelagh). \$\endgroup\$ – Doval May 26 '17 at 0:58
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No AOE combo, for two reasons

Lightning Arrow vs Conjure Barrage

The requirements for Lightning Arrow and Conjure Barrage seem to be at odds. The Lightning Arrow does not become magical until it has been used for an attack:

Make the attack roll as normal.

This requires an attack roll in order to convert the non-magical arrow into a Lightning Arrow.

Because it remains non-magical, that piece of ammunition can be used for Conjure Barrage.

At the next round (so as not to break action economy and spellcasting rules), the non-magical arrow is thrown up in the air where a cone of identical non-magical arrows are sent down up an enemy, requiring a Saving Throw.

Because there has been no "attack roll as normal", Lightning Arrow is not activated and the Conjure Barrage proceeds as normal with standard non-magical ammunition.

Limitations for Casting more than one spell on your turn

Typically, you can only cast an Action cantrip and Bonus Action spell in a single turn(PHB 202), unless you have dipped into Fighter to gain another Action.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll add this to my post, but I found this Twitter question to Jeremy Crawford where someone asked about using it as ammunition as well. sageadvice.eu/2015/01/15/volley-with-lightning-arrow \$\endgroup\$ – bubbajake00 May 25 '17 at 19:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @bubbajake00 Volley/Whirlwind is not a spell - it's a special ability for Rangers. Crawford's ruling makes sense given the requirements of each of those (volley requiring ammo/target and whirlwind requiring melee attack). \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 25 '17 at 19:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh shoot, I didn't realize it was for Volley and not Barrage. Then ignore that post, you are correct. \$\endgroup\$ – bubbajake00 May 25 '17 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @bubbajake00 Take a look at my revised answer. Even if you set this up over multiple rounds, it should still fail :( \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 26 '17 at 13:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with that as well. You've got to actually attack with the arrow, not just shoot it into the air. \$\endgroup\$ – bubbajake00 May 26 '17 at 14:28
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Everything previously stated is true. However, I would say this is largely up to the DM's discretion. Technically, anytime an arrow is fired... it's fired into the air. It's up to you how literal you want to be with your interpretation. I agree that it would at least have to be brought together over two turns due to casting rules, but it's your game. If you want to let your player stack the two abilities, let him. If your worried about how it will effect the balance, you could make it clear that you will only allow it as a last ditch effort for when your players are in a tight spot and several PC's are down. Or you could offer it as a special kind of inspiration to that player.

It's important to know the rules, but it's also important for everyone to have fun. At the end of the day, that's what d&d is all about and what every good DM should strive for.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ By the rules (as written or as intended), there's no way for the two spells to be combined. Conjure Barrage is not a "ranged weapon attack", which is what triggers the effect of Lightning Arrow. The DM could house-rule in this way, but the asker seems interested in what's possible by the rules, not specifically in whether house-ruling it this way is balanced. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 31 '18 at 21:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree. Just posting, should someone new to DMing have the inclination to do so. They may be unaware that they don't have to strictly adhere, if they don't want to. This is an older post, so I imagine the answer doesn't matter to the asker, now. However, if someone is researching this now, house-rules weren't really explored. So just wanted to let future readers know that there were other options out there. \$\endgroup\$ – Shadowstrydaar Sep 4 '18 at 6:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you used such a house rule in your own game? How has it worked in your experience? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 4 '18 at 7:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not this one, personally. However, I do like to reward player creativity. If a player wants to use an "outside the box" method, I'm inclined to let them - Provided it's not of game breaking proportion - I find that willingness to listen to player's ideas/working together to achieve a balanced outcome helps improve DM/Player relations and enjoyment. My suggestion for anything you're unsure of is to allow it as a one off, then work with your player to decide whether or not it's viable for future gaming. If not, they're usually still appreciative that you listened & gave them the oppertunity. \$\endgroup\$ – Shadowstrydaar Sep 7 '18 at 10:43
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I think that I might disagree with using the same arrow for Conjure Barrage at all.

My interpretation of the rules are the same as stated above, except that by rolling the D20 in the Lightning Arrow spell, I interpret that you have fired the weapon (Can't really fumble an arrow that is locked and loaded). It has transformed to lightning in mid air and returns to form as a spent arrow on the battlefield. Unless the Ranger wants to spend some movement and one action to retrieve the arrow, it cannot be used again in this battle. I believe that the reason that 5E states that it returns to non-magical form is so that it counts towards the number of arrows that you can retrieve after the battle (as opposed to the Conjure Barrage weapon that is lost).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE, Venny. if you haven't, go ahead and take the tour for this site. It would also appear you misread the intent of the original question; the idea was to combine two spells and have them go off in one go, not to use the same object for those two spells independently. \$\endgroup\$ – Scrawnoisis 2 days ago

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