If a creature uses Shocking Grasp on another creature that uses its reaction to cast Absorb Elements, will Shocking Grasp, which stops a creature from using reactions, prevent the casting of Absorb Elements since Shocking Grasp should happen first before Absorb Elements does?


Correct, you cannot cast absorb elements in response to shocking grasp

Reactions happen after their triggers unless specified otherwise. The trigger for absorb elements is taking damage...

Reaction which you take when you take acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage

...but when you take damage from shocking grasp, you can't cast reactions anymore:

 On a hit, the target takes 1d8 lightning damage, and it can't take reactions until the start of its next turn

This means that you never have the opportunity to cast absorb elements, as you correctly deduced.

This is different from shield because shield triggers when you are hit or counterspell which triggers when the spell is cast while absorb elements triggers when you take damage. You aren't reaction-blocked until after the hit, and shield can intercede in that hit.

| improve this answer | |
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CTWind yes, but you can't actually use absorb elements until you take the damage (so regardless, you are reaction blocked) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Nov 8 '18 at 18:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the answer you linked specifically calls out Absorb Elements as an interrupting reaction, allowing you to cast it before Shocking Grasps effect happens. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Nov 8 '18 at 18:29
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage it interrupts the damage taking (which is the trigger), not the hit (which causes the reaction-block) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Nov 8 '18 at 18:31

No, you can cast Absorb Elements when (about to be) hit by Shocking Grasp

According to this answer (backed by Crawford), Absorb Elements applies to the triggering attack.

Q: Does Absorb Elements give you resistance to damage from the triggering attack?

A: Yes.

You cannot take damage, and then halve that damage (the damage is already taken and done with). Therefore, Absorb Elements must be cast before taking damage from the attack, which is before the effect of Shocking Grasp prevents the reaction.

Normally reactions that interrupt an attack (between roll and the effects happening) specifically call out that they are interrupting (see Shield). In Absorb Elements case it doesn't, but the only way for the spell to work as intended is for it to work the same way. This problem probably stems from the fact that Absorb Elements was published in a campaign module not a regular rulebook. Such things tend to have a lower level of Quality Assurance applied to them.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't necessarily mean that the reaction is taken before the damage. There are other effects which retroactively influence outcomes (like the shield spell or a bard's Cutting Words) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Nov 8 '18 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron Likewise, you can cast shield when hit by Shocking Grasp (see related) \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Nov 8 '18 at 17:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Shield is different. It triggers on a hit (which happens before damage). \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Nov 8 '18 at 17:52
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ It’s also worth considering that the other question, and Crawford’s tweet, are clarifying the normal effect of Absorb Elements. It may be a stretch to say Crawford was also ruling on unusual interactions that weren’t mentioned at the time. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 8 '18 at 18:05

Specific (spell block text) > General (core rule text)

D&D is a game of exceptions, meaning (a) happens before (b) except when it doesn’t. I agree with the other answer that AE triggers before SG is completed but AE isn’t resolved until SG is resolved. Both are instantaneous effects if RiE. Both have a primary effect and a secondary effect. Primary > Secondary until you can prove otherwise.

This is a specific exception to the rules. The reaction spell casts faster than an action spell. So in the midst of SG spell effects, AE activates and begins its effects. SG then finishes it’s effects followed by AE last effects.


Casting Time


Some spells can be cast as reactions. These spells take a fraction of a second to bring about and are cast in response to some event. If a spell can be cast as a reaction, the spell description tells you exactly when you can do so.

Order of Resolution

  1. Creature A. casts Shocking Grasp on Creature B
  2. Creature B. is hit and takes (primary effect of SG) xd8 lightning damage
  3. Creature B. casts Absorb Elements as a reaction, triggered by receiving lightning damage (primary effect of AE).
  4. Creature A. (secondary effect of SG) target can’t use reactions til end of his next turn.
  5. Creature B. (secondary effect of AE) extra d6 damage with next melee Attack on next turn.

If that’s not the case, then you have an OP Cantrip ? For it literally disables a majority of the reaction mechanic, including specifics.

Disabled by Shocking Grasp

Class Features

  • Barbarian: Retaliation
  • Bard: Cutting Words
  • Cleric - Nature Domain: Dampen Elements
  • Cleric - Tempest Domain: Wrath of the Storm
  • Fighter - Battle Master: Maneuver - Parry
  • Ranger - Hunter: Hunter’s Prey - Giant Killer
  • Ranger - Hunter: Supeior Hunter’s Defense - Uncanny Dodge
  • Rogue: Uncanny Dodge
  • Warlock - Archfey: Misty Escape


  • Defensive Duelist


  • Reactions
| improve this answer | |
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you assume that Shocking Grasp's effects are distinct and wouldn't resolve at the same time? It's one spell, with an atomic effect - there's no reason to believe that something could interrupt the spell effects. It doesn't say "the target takes damage, and (after resolving any reactions to this spell) cannot take reactions ..." it says they take damage and cannot take reactions - one "operation". \$\endgroup\$ – Delioth Nov 8 '18 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ “A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone else's.” PBH pg 190 RiE Instant .. synonym for instantaneous just as fast as SG. \$\endgroup\$ – XAQT78 Nov 8 '18 at 21:08
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Is your opening quote from somewhere meaningful? Not sure I understand why it's in quotes or what it's really doing for the answer. It may also help to specifically say whether or not AE works in this case rather than parsing it through your steps. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 8 '18 at 21:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mimicking Game of Thrones line, lol. \$\endgroup\$ – XAQT78 Nov 9 '18 at 5:44
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ "If that’s not the case, then you have an OP gamebreaking Cantrip ? For it literally breaks the whole reaction mechanic." Being an exception to the general way reactions work does not break the whole reaction mechanic. As you point out, this is a game based on exceptions to general rules. Additionally, there is no such thing as primary or secondary effects according to the rules. So, unless you provide some source for this distinction this is really just a houserule. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Nov 9 '18 at 15:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.