Thunderwave Builds: Creating the Perfect Character for Maximum Impact

Thunderwave is a 1st-level evocation spell in the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D 5e). When cast, it creates a wave of thunderous force that radiates out from the caster in a 15-foot cube, affecting all creatures within that area. The spell deals thunder damage to the targets and pushes them away from the caster, potentially causing them to fall prone.

The damage dealt by Thunderwave increases with the spell’s level, making it a useful offensive option for spellcasters. It can also be used to push back enemies that are approaching too closely, potentially giving the caster some breathing room or allowing them to maneuver into a better position. Additionally, Thunderwave can be used to destroy objects or structures that are vulnerable to thunder damage.

Overall, Thunderwave is a versatile and powerful spell that can be used both in combat and in non-combat situations, making it a popular choice for many players and characters in D&D 5e. A wave of thunderous force sweeps out from you. Each creature during a 15-foot cube originating from you wants to make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 2d8 thunder damage and is pushed 10 feet far from you. On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage and is not pushed.

In addition, unsecured objects that are completely within the world of effect are automatically pushed 10 feet far away from you by the spell’s effect, and therefore the spell emits a thunderous boom audible bent 300 feet.

Thunderwave 5e

Thunderwave Builds: Creating the Perfect Character for Maximum Impact

  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: Self (15-foot cube)
  • Components: V S
  • Duration: Instantaneous
  • Classes: Bard, Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard

At Higher Levels: once you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd Level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for every slot level above 1st.

As noted, the range for the origin is self, so effectively these combined mean you’ll place the cube anywhere such any a part of one edge (probably including a corner, but the GM could potentially get particular about that) is found somewhere the caster’s space. Generally, this may get on the sting of the caster’s space and aligned with the grid, but there are no rules reason I do know that it cannot be skewed. It’s just simpler to place it with the grid. As for moving targets away, the GM and player could probably decide between moving right away from the caster/origin (more to the letter of the spell description) or at once from the side the origin is on (easier to try on the grid).

Thunderwave, per RAW, targets a cube adjacent to the caster, supported by the very fact that its area may be a 15′ cube, and therefore the rules on spell areas of effect within the rules. Once I first read the spell, though, not being fully conversant in the principles of areas of effect, I assumed it targeted a cube around the caster, partly supported how “elegant” it seemed, and partly supported the spell’s description (a “wave” sweeping “out from you”, a “cube originating from you”, etc.).

This spell creates a thunderclap of sound centered on the wizard. Anyone within 15’ of the wizard must make a saving throw vs Paralysis or be pushed 10’ faraway from the wizard and take 2d4+2 points of injury. Anyone making their save takes half damage and isn’t pushed away.

You also don’t provoke a chance attack once you teleport or when someone or something moves you without using your movement, action, or reaction. For instance, you do not provoke a chance attack if an explosion hurls you out of a foe’s reach or if gravity causes you to fall past an enemy.

So some spells and effects like turn undead make a target advance its turns which movement can provoke an attack of opportunity, spells like hell wave that pushes them don’t provoke. It does make the first-level spell Command using the “approach” option pretty powerful. The target fails a save and moves directly toward the caster provoking any attacks of opportunity along the way, then it ends its turn before it can do anything after getting within 5′ of the caster. A tactically minded cleric and properly positioned fighter/rogue duo this is often pretty darn good.


A: Thunderwave pushes creatures up to 10 feet away from the caster. If the creature is pushed into an obstacle, it takes additional damage and may be knocked prone.

A: Yes, Thunderwave can affect flying creatures as long as they are within the spell's area of effect. However, the spell does not force them to fall to the ground or become prone.

A: Yes, Thunderwave can damage or destroy objects that are vulnerable to thunder damage. This includes fragile or brittle objects, such as glass or ceramic, as well as structures made of wood or stone.

A: Yes, targets of Thunderwave must make a Constitution saving throw to resist the spell's effects. The DC of the saving throw is determined by the caster's spellcasting ability modifier and proficiency bonus.

A: No, Thunderwave has a verbal component, meaning that the caster must speak the incantation out loud to cast the spell.

A: In addition to dealing damage and pushing creatures away, Thunderwave can also create a loud boom that can be heard up to 300 feet away. This can alert nearby creatures to the caster's presence, potentially causing them to investigate or become hostile.

A: Yes, Thunderwave affects all creatures within its area of effect, regardless of whether they are friendly or hostile. Careful positioning and communication with allies is important when using Thunderwave to avoid accidentally harming them.

A: Thunderwave's area of effect is a cube of air, so it does not work underwater or in other environments where air is not present

A: Thunderwave can be a useful spell for sorcerers and wizards who want an early-game offensive option with some utility. It is particularly effective against groups of weaker enemies, but may be less effective against single targets or enemies with resistance to thunder damage.

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