5E Chaos Bolt DnD Spell Guide: Let Your Chaos Flow!

Chaos Bolt 5E isn’t a spell for the min-max DnD player who wants everything optimized for DPS however for players who love to play the sorcerer class because of the possibility of wild magic surge, then chaos bolt is the type of sorcerer spell that you will want to add to your list of random crazy spells.

Let’s take a look at the chaos bolt spell description.

5E Chaos Bolt Spell

  • 1st-Level Evocation
  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: 120 feet
  • Components: V, S
  • Duration: Instantaneous

You hurl and undulating, warbling mass of chaotic energy at one creature in range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 2d8 + 1d6 damage. Choose one of the d8s. The number rolled on that die determines the attack’s damage type, as shown below.

Roll D8 to Determine the Damage Type

Dice RollDamage Type
Complete dice table for 5E Chaos Bolt Damage Types.

If you roll the same number on both d8s, the chaotic energy leaps from the target to a different creature of your choice within 30 feet of it. Make a new attack roll against the new target, and make a new damage roll, which could cause the chaotic energy to leap again.

A creature can be targeted only once by each casting of this spell.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level of higher, each target takes 1d6 extra damage of the type rolled for each slot level above 1st.

5e chaos bolt picture

5E Chaos Bolt Spell Guide

Chaos bolt is a fascinating spell because the random damage type mechanic means this could be an incredibly effective spell or it might end up being a bit of a bust. Damage type can’t be chosen but the player rolls a d8 to determine what type of damage the spell does. When the spell is twinned, the player rolls a separate d8 for each bolt.

This does means that that one chaos bolt could be force damage while another is psychic damage.

Or two bolts could even be opposites like one cold and one fire. If you roll well you can even get unusual damage types like force damage (usually only available from magic missile in early game).

Chaos bolt’s unique setup makes it interesting and the damage output is very good for a first level spell as 2d8 + d6 is excellent for a 1st level evocation spell and adding an extra d6 to each extra level keeps it relevant, though at very high levels other spells will overtake it.

Introduced in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, it’s a fun D&D spell that can do surprise massive damage if you happen to hit the magic type that the enemy is weak to, and gives a lot of versatility (albeit uncontrolled) from one spell. It’s a fun spell and in the right circumstances  a Wild Magic Sorcerer can make serious use of it.

DnD 5E Chaos Bolt Damage Guide

Direct spell comparisons can be a bit difficult considering there’s always variety when rolling dice, but using averages we can take a look at how Chaos Bolt is going to compare to some other spells it brings to mind like chromatic orb, witch bolt, or magic missile.

Chaos Bolt Vs Chromatic Orb

As much as I love 5E’s chaos bolt, chromatic orb is one of the most comparable spells that I have to say will win in a head to head comparison when it comes to both potential damage (especially scaling up) not to mention extra control. Chromatic orb might not have the wild ceiling that chaos bolt does, but chromatic orb is more consistent and over the long haul mathematically is likely to do more damage on average.

Chaos Bolt Chromatic Orb
Spell Level1st Level1st Level
Base Damage2d8 +1d63d8
Damage per higher levelAdditional 1d6 per levelAdditional 1d8 per level
Duration / Range1 Action, 120 feet1 Action, 90 feet
Damage TypeChoose one of the numbers from the rolled d8s, it could be: acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, poison, psychic, thunderChoose from acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, or thunder.

While Chaos bolt has access to damage types that chromatic orb doesn’t, such as force damage and psychic damage, and it has a longer range, on average it’s going to do less damage than the colorful chromatic orb. Both are good spells – and it’s not out of the question to use both depending on your build.

However, when you cast chaos bolt you are leaving things up a bit more to chance.

5E Chaos Bolt Vs Magic Missile

Chaos Bolt beats Magic Missile in most ways, but Magic Missile’s benefit is the same one that makes it so popular despite only doing d4 damage: the fact that magic missile automatically hits. MM is also force damage, which very few things have any resistance or immunity to, while you can only get that from RNG when rolling with chaos bolt.

However, if you hit after making an attack roll, there’s no question the average damage per level or per round will be much higher with Chaos Bolt vs Magic Missile.

Chaos Bolt Vs Witch Bolt

Witch Bolt is an interesting comparison, because it relies on your hitting your target and then being able to maintain concentration. This keeps you locked into an enemy, but a 1d12 can do a lot of damage if you keep it on a target over a long period of time. There’s also the bonus that once you hit a target, it’s locked on and you can just continue to roll damage in future rounds without having to roll to hit again.

While you have a 1 in 8 chance of any particular damage type for the first, witch bolt is going to do lightning damage: pure and simple.

So What’s the Verdict on Chaos Bolt in 5th Edition D&D?

That said, this newer D&D 5E spell jumps into my sorcerer builds more often than not. It’s fun, it does good damage per turn and gives some serious juice when using two sorcery points to bring back a 1st level spell for another cast. This can do some great work and it’s an entertaining spell that fits in with most sorcerer builds and can give you a lot of mileage for its usage.

The 5E Chaos Bolt is a great spell and one that many sorcerers are going to thoroughly enjoy using!

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