Forgive me if this has already been asked, but I've been through pages of searching various combinations of "attack", "touch", "spell", "melee", "bite", "weapon", and a few others.

Most touch spells call out "Make a melee spell attack", and I get that an action can be "Cast a spell" OR "Make an attack" so you can't stack them.

But in the spell Bestow Curse, it simply says, "You touch a creature..."; nothing about being an attack. Specifically, the spell is a WIS save.

So my question is, could my Lizardfolk Cleric deliver this touch via his teeth sinking into tasty flesh? Yes, he would need to make an attack roll for the bite, but the victim would also need to make a WIS save to shrug off the curse.

I'm not saying all touch spells across the board can be done this way, just touch that don't require an attack.

Related, but not the same:

Not in the same action

Attacking a creature is an Action. Bestow curse, the example you linked, also requires an Action to cast. Your character cannot do both at once.1

This is a matter of adhering to the action economy in this edition of the game.

As flavour

Absolutely! If you have haste, or spread it out over two turns and it makes sense, casting a spell through teeth sunk into flesh is a really fun idea! A spell with touch range and no melee attack is effectively a spell with 5ft range (on a grid). All you need to do to cast the spell is to be adjacent.

1If you had multiclassed as a Fighter, and have the Action Surge feature, you could take two Actions in the same round.

  • Please review the edit. I tossed in a link to an explanation of the action economy, and added a footnote for an edge case. – KorvinStarmast Aug 13 at 20:56
  • @SirCinnamon Lizardfolk have a bonus action bite attack (Hungry Jaws which gives some temp HP) once per short rest which might modify your answer a bit. – RonV Aug 13 at 21:31
  • Not sure about 5e, but some previous editions have had classes that can do this without multiclassing (Duskblades in 3.5e for example). – Austin Hemmelgarn Aug 14 at 10:10

Yes, but...

Spells like Bestow Curse have a casting time of 1 action. This isn't just how long it takes to cast the spell, that's the cost of the spell. Nothing else can use that 1 action.

However, as long as nothing else is using that action, there is no reason your touch spell can't use the contact from your (presumably unarmed) weapon attack as the point of contact, which would match up with what you're looking to do.

This would mean that you could:

  • Use a bonus action to attack through some special method, and then cast the spell as an action.

  • Use the Quickened Spell metamagic from being a Sorcerer to change the casting time to be a bonus action, allowing you to use your main action to attack.

  • Use Action Surge from being a Fighter to get a second action, using one action to attack and the second to cast the spell.

Another possibility would be a grapple. A grapple generally requires an action to start, but does not require an action to maintain, and you would be touching the target through the entire duration. You could grapple on turn 1, and then cast a touch spell on turn 2 without any additional attack/touch rolls.

This is all on the premise that Bestow Curse does not require an attack roll, but specifically requires you to touch the target. If they do require an attack roll they will say so, I.E. Shocking Grasp.

Touch spells only include an attack when the description says so.

The action is being used to cast a spell not make an attack. One cannot make an attack AND cast a spell. The action used must be one or the other and follow the description of the chosen action.

  • I think this correct answer would be better if it included an example of what you're referencing when you say "the description says so." The various blade spells come to mind.... – nitsua60 Aug 13 at 22:37

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