Chromatic Orb D&D 5e Spell Guide: Rules, Uses & Tips
Ever feel like enemies keep resisting your main damage type?
Ever want to throw a magical baseball at your enemies?
Well Chromatic Orb can help fill both these needs and more. So let’s analyze it.
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 90 Feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (A Diamond worth 50 Gold Pieces)
So basically, you hurl a magical baseball at a creature, choosing between six different damage types: acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, thunder. And it does 3d8 damage on a hit.
Its material component is not consumed, but you need to make an initial investment to do it.
Who Gets It?
First off, Chromatic Orb is available to sorcerers and wizards.
Since the spell targets a single enemy, it is an option for the sorcerer’s Twinned Spell metamagical ability.
Besides the classes that get this as an option on their spell list, both Arcane Trickster Rogues and Eldritch Knight Fighters gain access to the wizard spell list in some capacity, allowing them to also use this spell.
All classes can gain this spell from the magic initiate feat as well.
Chromatic Orb Uses
Being one of the most powerful first level spells, being able to deal 3d8 of an assortment of different damage types can be very useful.
Fire can be a very useful damage type, as certain enemies like trolls can have their regeneration stalled by fire, and enemies like mummies are vulnerable to it.
Shambling Mound comes your way? Cold and Fire damages aren’t great options, so hit it with some acid or poison?
Basically, if you find enemies resistant to the damage type you throw at it, try and try again.
Chromatic Orb also has a very good range, allowing you to harass enemies at a distance that will require 2-3 turns to cover.
Chromatic Orb Spell Comparisons
So let’s compare Chromatic Orb to a few first level spells that wizards or sorcerers may find useful.
Magic Missile and Witch Bolt, which are available to both wizards and sorcerers, and the sorcerer’s Chaos Bolt, which is very similar to Chromatic Orb.
vs. Magic Missile
Magic Missile, when cast at a first level spell slot, allows the user to fire 3 magical darts that automatically hit, and each hit does 1d4+1 force damage.
One roll is made and all darts do the same damage.
So on average, Magic Missile does 10.5 force damage, compared to the 13.5 damage that Chromatic Orb puts out on average.
So from a raw damage per turn perspective, Chromatic Orb is better.
However, Magic Missile is more accurate. And force damage is probably the best damage type that doesn’t come from magical slashing/bludgeoning/piercing.
So both are good in their own right.
Vs. Witch Bolt
Next, Witch Bolt.
Witch Bolt is a concentration spell unlike the other two, having a concentration of 1 minute.
It does an average of 6.5 lightning damage per turn, and requires a ranged spell attack, doing 1d12 lightning damage on a hit.
However once it hits, you can use an action each turn to automatically deal an additional 1d12 each turn as long as it remains within thirty feet of you, and is not in total cover.
So Witch Bolt is remarkably less powerful than Chromatic Orb. But can do a more consistent damage output, falling somewhere between Magic Missile and Chromatic Orb.
Vs. Chaos Bolt
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything gave us one of the most fun sorcerer spells in Chaos Bolt.
Chaos Bolt allows you to throw a mass of chaotic energy at one creature in range. Make a ranged spell attack, and on a hit, the target does 2d8+1d6 damage.
You can choose one of the two d8s, and that number determines damage type. Have a peek at this page for a damage type table
Chaos Bold does 2d8+1d6 damage as a bolt of chaotic energy hits a target.
Depending on what you roll for the 2d8, that gives you options to pick for your damage type.
If you roll doubles the spell jumps to another creature, allowing you to make an attack roll against an additional target.
Then you roll again for damage.
If you roll doubles again, it can keep going as long as there are targets you haven’t hit, since it can only hit each enemy once per cast.
So Chaos Bolt could potentially do infinite damage based on the number of enemies you have.
Chromatic Orb is more consistent, doing an extra point of damage on average, but Chaos Bolt has better range & could potentially do more damage.
Chromatic Orb Build Ideas
The biggest flaw of Chromatic Orb is the fact it requires that 50 gp material component.
On average, wizards have 110 starting gold, with 10 of that coming from the background. You need to hit this average to afford this.
Since a Spellbook and the small diamond each cost 50 GP and would both be needed, you’d elect to use mage armor over normal armor, with using a staff (5 gp) as an arcane focus and traveler’s clothes (2 gp) for obvious reasons.
Sorcerer’s only get an average of 70 gold pieces to start, but don’t have to buy that pesky spell book, so substitute an explorer’s kit for that, which is 40 less gold.
There isn’t really a wizard subclass that Chromatic Orb is best suited for.
Rather it works with all of them.
Sure, school of Evocation has a great 10th level feature that could help. But cantrips outpace lower level spells at that point.
High Elfs and Forest Gnomes can be good choices, but Wizards only need their Intelligence Bonus.
If you opt to take the Elemental Adept feat, this can be really awesome to pair with chromatic orb, especially fire or cold.
Elemental Adept allows you to ignore resistance to one of acid, cold, fire, lightning, and thunder, as you can see all options for Chromatic Orb.
You also can treat a 1 on the damage die as a 2.
Draconic Ancestry also allows you to select a dragon associated with acid, cold, fire, lightning or poison, leaving acid, cold, fire, or lightning as the go to choices.
You gain more hit points, and potentially a high armor class from draconic resilience, which are both useful for squishy sorcerers.
Elemental Affinity allows you to do even more damage for your preferred damage type, adding your charisma to one of the rolls, allowing even more damage and allowing you to spend a sorcery point to gain resistance to said damage for one hour.
With Metamagic and Draconic Bloodline, you could fire off a quickened chromatic orb and a twinned firebolt.
Since one of the two attacks with this has to be a cantrip, it can also be a quickened fire bolt and a twinned chromatic orb, which is possible at level 3 since it requires 3 sorcery points to pull it off.
So it can do 3d8 fire damage to one target, and 1d10 fire damage to two targets, or 3d8 fire damage to two targets and 1d10 fire damage to one target.
So either 13.5 + 11 fire damage to one target, and 11 to another, or 13.5 +11 fire damage to one target, and 13.5 damage to another on average every turn.
This isn’t even factoring in the bonuses!
Depending on DM’s allowing it, or to swap the fire element with others at a DM’s discretion, by level 6 you gain resistance to fire damage.
And you can ignore resistance without the feat, and can deal 3 additional fire damage to creatures of your choice within 10 feet if you use a 1st or higher level spell that does fire damage.
Orb of Dragonkind
Wondrous item, artifact (requires attunement)
Ages past, on the world of Krynn, elves and humans waged a terrible war against evil dragons. When the world seemed doomed, the wizards of the Towers of High Sorcery came together and worked their greatest magic, forging five Orbs of Dragonkind (or Dragon Orbs) to help them defeat the dragons. One orb was taken to each of the five towers, and there they were used to speed the war toward a victorious end. The wizards used the orbs to lure dragons to them, then destroyed the dragons with powerful magic.
As the Towers of High Sorcery fell in later ages, the orbs were destroyed or faded into legend, and only three are thought to survive. Their magic has been warped and twisted over the centuries, so although their primary purpose of calling dragons still functions, they also allow some measure of control over dragons.
Each orb contains the essence of an evil dragon, a presence that resents any attempt to coax magic from it. Those lacking in force of personality might find themselves enslaved to an orb.
An orb is an etched crystal globe about 10 inches in diameter. When used, it grows to about 20 inches in diameter, and mist swirls inside it.
While attuned to an orb, you can use an action to peer into the orb’s depths and speak its command word. You must then make a DC 15 Charisma check. On a successful check, you control the orb for as long as you remain attuned to it. On a failed check, you become charmed by the orb for as long as you remain attuned to it.
While you are charmed by the orb, you can’t voluntarily end your attunement to it, and the orb casts suggestion on you at will (save DC 18), urging you to work toward the evil ends it desires. The dragon essence within the orb might want many things: the annihilation of a particular people, freedom from the orb, to spread suffering in the world, to advance the worship of Takhisis (Tiamat’s name on Krynn), or something else the DM decides.
Random Properties. An Orb of Dragonkind has the following random properties:
- 2 minor beneficial properties
- 1 minor detrimental property
- 1 major detrimental property
Spells. The orb has 7 charges and regains 1d4 + 3 expended charges daily at dawn. If you control the orb, you can use an action and expend 1 or more charges to cast one of the following spells (save DC 18) from it: cure wounds (5th-level version, 3 charges), daylight (1 charge), death ward (2 charges), or scrying (3 charges).
You can also use an action to cast the detect magic spell from the orb without using any charges.
Call Dragons. While you control the orb, you can use an action to cause the artifact to issue a telepathic call that extends in all directions for 40 miles. Evil dragons in range feel compelled to come to the orb as soon as possible by the most direct route. Dragon deities such as Tiamat are unaffected by this call. Dragons drawn to the orb might be hostile toward you for compelling them against their will. Once you have used this property, it can’t be used again for 1 hour.
Destroying an Orb. An Orb ofDragonkind appears fragile but is impervious to most damage, including the attacks and breath weapons of dragons. A disintegrate spell or one good hit from a +3 magic weapon is sufficient to destroy an orb, however.
As a Chromatic Orb 5e spell you do hurl a 4-inch-diameter sphere of energy at a particular creature which you able to see clearly within a range. You can chose acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, or a thunder for the type of orb that you create and also then make a ranged spell attack which is against to the target.
Suppose, if the attack hits, that specific creature will take 3d8 damage of the type you actually choose.
Also check out: branding smite spell 5e
At Higher Levels:
Whenever you do cast this chromatic orb dnd 5e spell by using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each and every slot above the level 1st.
Attributes Of Chromatic Orb Spell
|Casting Time||1 action|
|Components||V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 50 gp)|
Artifact (requires attunement) Spellcasting Focus
This Crimson, Glowing Orb, has what appears to be some sort of liquid inside of it, Sloshing around if you jiggle the orb. It appears to be Demonic in Origin. The orb glows brighter, and has more liquid in it the more "full" it is.
The orb can be used as a spellcasting focus for any magic-using class that can use a focus.
Wellspring of Energy. The orb has a pool of energy, equal to your level. You can use spells from the orb's energy, deducting an amount of energy equal to the spell level. If the Orb is completely out of energy, you gain 1 level of exhaustion for every round it is out of energy. The exhaustion goes away as long as the Orb has at least 1 energy. You cannot cast spells higher of a level than your proficiency bonus.
Drain Energy. Using your action and bonus action, you may begin to drain the energy out of a targeted creature. At the start of your next turn, the creature must make a Constitution saving throw, or take 2d6 Necrotic damage, and give the damage dealt back to the orb as energy. This feature does not give energy back from undead, constructs, or fiends.
Life Tap. As an action, you may damage yourself by up to 20 hit points, to restore the Orb's energy by that amount.
Pact of Infinite Energy. While attuned to this item, the Orb will always float at least 20 ft next to you, and can be controlled telekinetically by you. If you die while the Orb is attuned to you, it will absorb your soul into the Orb, and completely restore it's energy pool.
Bloodthirsty. The Orb doesn't care about defending itself or healing others, it just wants blood. While attuned to this orb, you can only cast spells that deal damage, or aid in dealing damage, for example, spells like true strike and hex can be cast, but spells like shield or mirror image cant.
Half-Sentience. If the Orb has absorbed a soul, then it becomes a sentient weapon. The orb retains the personality of the soul it has absorbed, but it still retains all of these features above, the soul inside is merely a prisoner. The Orb retains the Charisma, Wisdom, and Intelligence modifiers of the soul inside. The Orb, while sentient, has a blindsight of 20 ft.
Breaking the Orb. If you wish to break the orb, it must run out of energy completely, and then must be struck 77 times with a holy weapon in quick succession. This will free the soul inside.
Orb of the Kwakosal
This orb belonged to a peaceful group of natives outside the borders of the known lands. These natives are known as The Kwakosal. The orb was built by the priests and minor god, Osi, of the Kwakosal. The orb is used to foretell the future of general events. Osi empowered the orb with a portion of his wisdom. He dreamt to his priests the responsibility of the orb’s use. Since the divination of the future consumes a great deal of powerful magic, Osi placed a cost to use it. To teach responsibility to his worshipers any use of the orb will age the any living being the time of fortune that is read. The Kwakosal priests understood the gift they received and only used to orb to forecast for harvest and coming invaders. New priests would show their devotion to the community by giving part of their life to forecast with the orb. Its use was spread amongst all the priests to reduce its bad effect. This brought an understanding and respect for its power. The loss of a small amount of life brought prosperity to the whole.
Explorers from the civilized world of men eventually found the Kwakosal and began trade. The Kwakosal did their best to keep the secret of the orb from the outsiders but eventually its power was discovered by an young imaginative rogue. The secret was shared with others, for a cost, in the far away lands. Some came for its use, some to steal, some to worship. The Kwakosal priests prevented any theft, use, or viewing of the orb. They knew that misuse of the orb would cause ruin.
Eventually the legend of the orb found itself in the wrong hands. A self serving and powerful group of adventurers visited the Kwakosal to negotiate for the orb’s use and possible sale. They offered gold, jewels, magic, and everything a culture could possibly want to make themselves wealthy. All offers were refused. The priests sensed the group’s greed and used the orb to determine the adventurers true intentions. The priests discovered the group would kill to acquire the item. The priests acted first and attacked the adventurers in an attempt to capture them. Their power was too great and the adventurers killed the priests, destroyed the civilization, and stole the orb.
Upon their return the group’s arch-mage decided the first use of the orb. She would predict the future of the known lands, hundreds of years from now. She wished to determine its foretelling range. Unfortunately for the adventurers the Kwakosal priests never told them of the orbs proper use This single use drained the life of all those around the orb. Only an apprentice to the arch-mage survived the ordeal. He was only aged 87 years, all the others were lifeless husks. The apprentice was so old he could barely walk. He managed to leave the group’s compound to get away from the orb as far as he could. He kept a personal log of the events and his journeys. Eventually he died 1 year later, but his log was found.
After the orbs final use Osi discovered that the user was not of his order. His fury was brought down upon the thieves and their compound destroyed by an apparent natural occurrence. Osi’s power waned with no worshipers and he is now only a thought in those that remember him. The power of the orb still exists as it draws upon life and not Osi for its use.
Abilities: The orb allows the user to foretell the future accurately for up to 999 years ahead. The age of the user will advanced an amount of time equal to the years fortold.When the years are foretold farther than the live of the user the orb will consume the life from the next closest living being until it accumulates enough power to work.
The orb will not consume the life of plants and can’t consume the negative life force of undead. The orb is a perfect sphere of pure emerald. Its casing is made of gold as is its 3″ stand. This device is unique and can’t be created.
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