One of the new spells from Xanathar's Guide to Everything is dragon's breath (p. 154). Even though the spell seems like it involves attacking, nowhere in the spell description does it specifically say that you are attacking with it, only that you use an action.

Can a familiar that has the dragon's breath spell cast on it use its action to use this spell? Or would it not be a viable thing for the familiar because of dragon's breath technically being considered an attack?

Based on What counts as an attack?, I would assume that this would be a perfectly acceptable move, but again, not entirely sure.


1 Answer 1


Yes, the familiar can use the effect of dragon's breath

The Find Familiar spell description says "A familiar can’t attack, but it can take other actions as normal". The term "Attack" means you're making an attack roll. You don't need to attack in order to use the effect of the Dragon's Breath spell (XGtE, p. 154), because there is no attack roll involved, but a saving throw instead:

You touch one willing creature and imbue it with the power to spew magical energy from its mouth [...] the creature can use an action to exhale energy of the chosen type in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a Dexterity saving throw, [...]

Per the rules on making an attack, for something to be considered "an attack" in 5e, it must involve an attack roll or otherwise must be called "an attack" explicitly in the rules (as with grappling and shoving):

If there's ever any question whether something you're doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you're making an attack roll, you're making an attack
(Player's Handbook, page 194)

you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple
(Player's Handbook, page 195)

"An attack involves an attack roll or doing something that the rules call an attack, like grappling or shoving"
(J. Crawford's comment)

See also: What counts as an attack?

Since the familiar isn't making an attack, it can use the effect of the Dragon's Breath spell.

Jeremy Crawford confirms this

As @V2Blast has pointed out, an unofficial tweet from rules designer Jeremy Crawford supports this answer:

Dragon's breath is cast on a willing creature. Your familiar is a creature that can be willing. Find familiar prevents a familiar from attacking, but dragon's breath involves no attack.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I figured this was the case. It's just that this seems to be the first spell I've seen (I'm not too familiar with all the spells, just some of the more popular ones) that allows you to give an attack method to a creature, so I just wanted to make sure I was interpreting the rules correctly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jay Kay
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 14:22
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ @JayKay It's even better; not only can your familiar act on its own initiative and use its action to shoot the Dragon's Breath -- the spell is itself a touch-range spell, which means don't even have to have the familiar with you to pull this off. You can cast as a bonus action, and have the familiar deliver the touch instead of you, targeting itself to give it the power-up from up to 100 feet away. (I have to assume this is very much the intended use of the spell, since the actual spell effect is pretty lackluster for a 2nd level spell otherwise.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 22:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym Wow, I didn't even consider that! That's a really cool trick there, thanks for that! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jay Kay
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 3:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic could you please suggest another source, maybe a relevant quote from the PHB? \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 13:59

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