I am curious about the extent of damage from the spell Shocking Grasp. According to the spell it targets the person touched. This is clear to me. The questions I have are:

  1. Does the electricity from this spell act like regular electricity? (example: i step on a live electrical wire and touch a metal bench and shock someone who is sitting on the bench)
  2. If it does work the same as normal electricity, could you electrocute multiple people at the same time if they are all in contact when one of them is touched with this spell?

Common sense, in the realm of real life, would tell me yes. However, this is magic, it is a first level spell, and real life common sense is not always applicable to the D&D world. If you can answer this with some links to back it up that would be great. But, I have looked around and can't find anything on this.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Clarus_Nox Thank you for posting that as an answer. We require that our users do not answer in comments. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4, 2017 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Similarly @Mindwin please reserve comments for suggesting improvements or requesting clarification. Answers or partial answers in comments aren't accepted, including pseudo-answer commentary. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4, 2017 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I figured it wasn't an answer when i posted as a comment \$\endgroup\$
    – Clarus_Nox
    Sep 4, 2017 at 15:54

3 Answers 3


As you said, this is magic. So no. The effects of the spell are clear in that the target touched is the one affected. It does not carry to additional targets even if the entire chain should be conductive (say metal elementals).

  • \$\begingroup\$ That is what I thought. But, I just needed clarification. Would you happen to know if there are any in game statements that cover this? It is more for the DM. He is new(ish) to DMing and said that my shocking grasp traveled through the hobgoblin and fried both him and the captive. So, I just want to show any documentation that I can find to help him with better understanding the rules of magic in the game. This is also a new situation to both of us so I was wondering for myself as well. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4, 2017 at 5:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Usually what happens is you disregard the real world and logic, and only accept exactly what an effect describes. If it does not say it carries, then it shouldnt. However many DM's tend to house rule certain things so they are more reasonable, or fit into their story. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Sep 4, 2017 at 6:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jigglescaliente The game isn't going to say what doesn't happen, only what does, because the sheer number of things that don't happen is way too big for the game to cover! In essence, spells (and pretty much everything else) only do what they say they do unless the GM house rules that they do more. (In this case, just make sure the GM's consistent if he sticks to the ruling so that when your buddy uses charm person to make two hobgoblins hold hands, then you shocking grasp one hobgoblin, point to this incident, and roll damage for both!) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4, 2017 at 6:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Haha! that is a sure way to deter him from having me kill the hostage. I was also thinking of using something like that as an example at our next game. Thanks for the clarification. I will show him this page and leave him with the option of making it a house rule or leaving it as intended. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4, 2017 at 6:24
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note, this behavior has been confirmed on Aquatic Adventures campaign settting book (page 46), if an official source is needed. But casting underwater makes it so targets of ranged touch attacks spells that cause electricity damage do not produce audible and visible effects, as those are caused by combusted air. As such, if anyone fails to identify the spells, they become flat-footed against the attack since they have no idea what is coming after them. Shocking Grasp and melee touch spells are not affected by this. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 4, 2017 at 13:31

How a spell works is exactly as it is written in nearly all scenarios.

However your DM has a large amount of influence over what actually happen.

An example from my own experience;

My table once had a trio of aquatic creatures coming out of a dirty lake and I told my DM I cast shocking grasp with my hand in the water and hit all 3 of them from 10 feet away. One of the other players mentioned how he liked the idea a lot and how he'd start trying to use that kind of creative thinking. In response to this, I elaborated on how water is a better conductor with more impurities in it and the reverse being the cleaner it is.

A few sessions later, this player tries to cast Lightning Bolt(lv 3) at a large aquatic creature in a crystal clear lake. The DM ruled that the spell did not affect it. When asked why, the DM quoted my older comment about pure water being an insulator.

If you and your DM decide to apply science and logic, do keep it to simple and common science, much less of a headache.


As raw, Fering answer it.

I would like to add another point. Lets the see, in your own homerule table.

As a DM, I will allow it. I will allow it, because I do not want to see my players hampered by the rules. Rules are here to support the game, not to limit it. I want to see them thinking out of the box. I want them to think and show creativity. Your case is a borderline move, but a logical and out of the box one. By rewarding them, I send a message. Do it more!

It is like the question of using Grease with fire.

Also, this kind of move can bring unbalance to the game. As which each unbalance problem, you will have to handle it. Basically, you are not saying "No", you are saying "Yes, but".

For example, a nd6 Shocking Grasp could become \$\frac{n}{2^x}\times\text{d}6\$ where \$x\$ is the iterator of the target. Each target become a kind of resistance.

So for 3d6, \$\frac{3}{2^0}\times\text{d}6 = 3\text{d}6\$ for the first target, then \$\frac{3}{2^1}\times\text{d}6 = 1\text{d}6\$ for the second target, then \$\frac{3}{2^2}\times\text{d}6 = 0\text{d}6\$ so nothing for the third one.

Another kind of rule could be to split the damage and each target take half the damage each time (8d6 = 4d6 + 2d6 + 1d6 + 1d6 or 3d6 = 2d6 + 1d6). You could even add modifiers (bonus or malus) for whatever.

Demo: Scamage (build it myslef. Any input is welcome :3)

Caster tends to be top tier. Be careful with balance. Find one logic for your table and go for it. We are here to have fun.

  • \$\begingroup\$ One argument against this is that it makes the spell more powerful than it was originally designed. Yes there are other AoE spells of the same level, but they do less damage, and are a more common energy type. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Apr 6, 2021 at 21:54

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