Can I cast lightning bolt as an opportunity attack using War Caster Feat?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site. Consider taking the tour as it's a useful introduction to how things work around here. Is there any chance you can expand upon your question a bit more? Is there a reason you think this can or can't be done? Is there a particular rule, part of a rule, or just ambiguous wording that has led to your confusion? It helps us to know what specifically has you confused so that we don't over explain or write up a completely useless answer because you've already looked at X rules but haven't mentioned so in the question. Brevity can be fine, but more explanation is always good. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Aug 15 '17 at 3:40

No, you can't. To be cast as an opportunity attack with War Caster:

The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.

However, Lightning Bolt is an area of effect spell. The Spellcasting chapter, under Targets, says:

A spell’s description tells you whether the spell targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect (described below).

So the target of Lightning Bolt is its point of origin. Ok, so what's Lightning Bolt's point of origin? Well, its Range is given as Self (100-foot line). The Range section has this to say:

Spells that create cones or lines of effect that originate from you also have a range of self, indicating that the origin point of the spell’s effect must be you (see “Areas of Effect”).

That being the case, the point of origin (and therefore the target) of Lightning Bolt is you. As such, you cannot use it with War Caster.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is worth noting that the spell resulting from war caster is not, in fact, an opportunity attack, but is a special reaction in place of an opportunity attack. This often trips people up, so it might be worth adding to the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 31 '18 at 19:55


The war caster feat specifies that you can only cast a spell that targets one creature:

The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.

Lightning bolt is an AOE spell:

A stroke of lightning forming a line 100 feet long and 5 feet wide blasts out from you in a direction you choose.

Therefore, it does not meet the single-target criteria.


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