ColumnsD&D 5e

Kevin’s Spellbook: Shape Water

Welcome adventurer!

Today I crack open my grimoire and tell you about another one of my favorite spells. This time we will take a look at a cantrip that often goes ignored for its more flashy cousins, Prestitgititaion, Mage Hand, and the like. But, with the right tools and in the hands of a clever player Shape Water can be a potent ally.

(I decided to save Major Image and illusions for another week. That school offers so much I wanted to do it justice)

Water You Waiting For?

There are tons of cantrips that I absolutely adore, and my go-to spells are Prestidigitation, Mage Hand, and Minor Image, but I recently got to play a druid and a pirate druid at that. So, it made sense that I’d have some water-shaping abilities. Little did I know how useful that would be.

The spell allows you to move or change the flow of water, made it form simple shapes (perfect for flipping off an enemy), change the color or opacity, or freeze the water. This gives you immense power to manipulate the environment at will.

Need some steps up to a platform? Whip up an ice ramp! How about finding a gem in brackish waters? Boom! Clear as a tropical lagoon. Versatility is the name of the game with shape water. For inspiration, I recommend watching Avatar: The Last Airbender (watch it anyway, it’s really good!). They come up with all kinds of clever ways to manipulate water in that show.

Of course, Shape Water has one weakness, namely, it needs water. So, how do you get around that little caveat?

Just Add Water

The answer is my new favorite magic item: The Decanter of Endless Water. This nifty wondrous item allows you to produce between 1 to 30 gallons of water at various velocities. It’s perfect for surviving in the desert, or if you’re a water-based character stuck on land.

It also is the perfect companion to Shape Water. In the campaign in which I play a druid, I got to use these two tools together to solve some of the problems our DM threw at us. 

We had fallen into a fey dungeon where there were mirrors that took your soul if you looked at them. We had to pass through a whole corridor of them, so I took out my handy Decanter and used shape water to flow the water up the sides of the corridor and become cloudy before freezing it into place. 

We then had to open a door that required a special key. I asked if I could use Shape Water to try to form a key to fit into the lock. The DM allowed it and a few lucky rolls later, we were through the door and rescuing the orcish children that had been kidnapped.

Decanter of Endless Fun

Shape Water is available to Druids, Sorcerers, and Wizards as a cantrip. While I am not sure that it should take up a cantrip slot for every character build, it is a very useful spell for manipulating the game world. If you’re tired of the same cantrips you go to every time you roll up a caster, I recommend trying Shape Water for a change of pace.

Depending on what your DM allows, you can potentially use this to freeze enemies in place or to push them away when fighting underwater. Like an illusion spell, the ability to form simple shapes and to animate those shapes gives you a lot of freedom to use your imagination.

For me, finding a clever way to use a spell to solve a problem is much more satisfying than just blowing it up… most of the time. If your reflex reaction to an encounter is to fight your way through, you might want to consider how your spells can change the environment to suit you. Shape Water can let you do just that.

Next week, I promise we will look at Major Image.

If you want to look at other spells in my grimoire, here are some we’ve covered:

Heat Metal