The shape water cantrip description says:

You choose an area of water that you can see within range and that fits within a 5-foot cube. You manipulate it in one of the following ways:

  • You move the water up to 5 feet in any direction. This movement doesn't cause damage.

  • You cause the water to form into simple shapes and animate. This change lasts for 1 hour.

  • You change the water's color or opacity. This change lasts for 1 hour.

  • You freeze the water, provided there are no creatures in it. The water unfreezes in 1 hour.

  • If you cast this spell multiple times, you can have no more than two of its non-instantaneous effects active at a time, and you can dismiss such an effect as an action

Following those rules I can think of several ways you could use shape water in an offensive way (a few of them are pushing it, though):

  1. Take the water and move it onto the head of the creature within 5 feet of the point of origin, thereby drowning them.

  2. Move the water above the head of the enemy freeze it and drop it onto their head or don't freeze it and have enough volume or height. (got that idea from transmute rock).

  3. Turn the water into a weapon made of ice and attack with it.

  4. Turn the water into a cube of ice, shatter it, then launch the shards at an enemy. (Basically a grenade only 100x more awesome).

  5. Depending on the DMs interpretation of how freezing and unfreezing the water works you could say that you simply raise or lower it's temperature. So you could say heat the water to boiling temperatures then throw it at the enemy.

How else does one use shape water offensively, so that it deals damage?


Shape Water cannot be used offensively... unless the DM allows it.

In the D&D 5E system, it is assumed that spells, and most other game mechanics, do only what the rules say they do. If a spell's description does not mention some effect (such as being used for damage or utility), then as far as the rules are concerned, the spell cannot do it.

Sometimes this may seem unrealistic, such as fire spells that don't emit light. But then again, if you consider game elements like magic, bards, catfolk, and carnivorous treasure chests, it's evident that D&D isn't meant to simulate or prioritize realism. D&D is driven by its own game mechanics and abstractions.

The Shape Water cantrip says nothing about attack rolls or dealing damage, so by the RAW (rules as written), it cannot be used offensively.

However, the DM can override the RAW rulings in their games. If you can convince the DM to let you use Shape Water for some offense purpose, then it's possible that the DM will allow it. But this will depend on your DM. Since the RAW don't give guidelines for the equivalent offensive value of Shape Water, the DM would decide what sort of damage effect it can achieve.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The Shape Water cantrip allows you to freeze a cube of ice. That's RAW and its instantaneous. If that cube of ice happens to fall on someone that's an "offensive" use of the cantrip. This exact thinking is what got us 4e "grease is grease but can't catch on fire because it doesn't make grease it just gives everyone this debuff" \$\endgroup\$
    – mlanier
    Jun 3 '21 at 20:59

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