Does extra attack work with spell attacks in DnD 5e?

No it doesn’t. As stated in the Player’s Handbook and SRD, the attack action and cast a spell actions are 2 different actions. The extra attack feature is exclusive to the attack action. It doesn’t give you a whole separate action to use, it simply means that when you take the attack action, you can make an additional attack.

The confusion comes when making spell attacks, but such spells are still considered to be using the casting a spell action rather than the attack action.

Where this becomes a little trickier is when some spells create an effect that then allows you to make an attack. The ways these spells operate too can be quite different. Below are a few examples and how we’d rules these spells:

Booming blade: This spell requires an action, and as part of the spell, it allows you to make an attack with the weapon. Because the action being made is still casting a spell, you are unable to make an extra attack when casting booming blade.

Magic stone: You imbue some pebbles with magical power using your bonus action, you’re then free to throw these at enemies to do extra damage.

The rules on this one are a bit unclear. It states that “You or someone else can make a ranged spell attack with one of the pebbles by throwing it or hurling it with a sling.” While it sounds like you’re making a spell attack (which could fit under the casting a spell action) no spell is actually being cast, and unlike other similar spells, it doesn’t state that you use a specific action to do this. Instead, the spell attack element of this appears to be referring to the fact that you use your spellcasting ability modifier to hit and for damage rather than your attack modifier.

As such, I would rule that the spellcasting element for this spell is the bonus action and that the throwing of the stones uses the attack action so would allow extra attacks for throwing magic stones. This is backed up in a tweet by Jeremy Crawford.

Flame blade: Another awkward one. In a similar way to magic stones, you summon a flaming blade into your hand to attack with as a bonus action. The wording is a little different to magic stones though, it says: “You can use your action to make a melee spell attack with the fiery blade.” In this case, you are using your action to make a spell attack rather than just using your spellcasting ability modifier for the attack.

In this case, I’d rule that the intention here is that you can’t use your extra attack when attacking with flame blade, but again, this is not clearly defined.

Shadow blade: Thankfully, this is a much simpler one. Like flame blade, you summon a blade using your bonus action, but the description is very clear in stating that this operates as a standard weapon (other than its magical, shadowy properties). This means you attack with it using the attack action and therefore, can use extra attack when attacking with it.

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Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.

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