Fire Bolt 5e
This spell’s damage increases by 1d10 when you reach 5th level (2d10), 11th level (3d10), and 17th level (4d10).
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S
School: Evocation cantrip
Player’s Handbook, pg. 242
Fire Bolt 5e
Fire Bolt is the bread-and-butter blasting cantrip of Sorcerers and Wizards. It’s a no-fuss, big damage spell that can start fires and be cast endlessly — need I say more?
Who Can Cast Fire Bolt in 5e?
The following classes have Fire Bolt on their spell list:
No subclasses get Fire Bolt for free.
What Does Fire Bolt Do in 5e?
Fire Bolt is a ranged spell attack that deals 1d10 (5.5 average) fire damage on a successful hit. To make a ranged spell attack, roll a d20, then add your spellcasting ability modifier (Charisma for Sorcerers, Intelligence for Wizards and Artificers) and proficiency bonus to the result.
If you meet or exceed the target’s AC (Armor Class), then Fire Bolt lands and you can roll 1d10 for damage.
Like most cantrips, Fire Bolt’s damage automatically scales with character level. At levels 5, 11, and 17, casters can add an additional d10 to their damage roll.
Note that this is not tied to class level, so a single level of multiclassing to get Fire Bolt will allow its damage to scale without continuing to level that class.
What Are the Rules for Fire Bolt in 5e?
The rules for Fire Bolt in DnD 5e are as follows:
You can attempt to hit an unseen target with Fire Bolt. Following normal rules for unseen targets, “you have disadvantage on the attack roll…whether you’re guessing the target’s location or you’re targeting a creature you can hear but not see” (PHB 194).
If the target wasn’t where you aimed your attack, the DM doesn’t tell you — they just say the attack missed regardless of your attack rolls.
Fire Bolt can target objects. Many spell attacks cannot target anything but creatures if you’re following the rules as written. Objects have an AC and hit points, as laid out in the Dungeon Master’s Guide (pg. 246-7).
Fire Bolt works with the Flames of Phlegethos racial feat. Tieflings got a racial feat in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything that triggers benefits upon dealing fire damage (XGtE 74). Since Fire Bolt deals fire damage, it can trigger the benefits of this feat. Sage Advice confirmation.
You can use Twinned Spell on Fire Bolt. Even upcast, Fire Bolt can only ever target one creature so it’s always eligible for Sorcerer’s Twinned Spell metamagic (PHB 102).
Fire Bolt can ignite candles, torches, etc. Since these things are flammable and Fire Bolt ignites objects that are flammable, these things can be lit with Fire Bolt. The DM probably won’t make you roll to hit for such a task, either.
You can’t Ready Fire Bolt to have a de facto permanent torch. The Ready action doesn’t say anything about a spell being visible while it’s held, only that you “hold its energy.” Plus, the rules for the Ready action state that a readied action only remains until the start of your next turn (PHB 193).
You can target a creature in the Web spell OR the Web itself with Fire Bolt; not both. Fire Bolt does not cause flames to spread to nearby objects or deal area of effect damage. If it targets a creature, it deals damage to the creature. If it targets an object (like Web), it deals damage to the object and ignites it if it’s flammable.
It can’t do both things in one casting.
How Do I Use Fire Bolt in 5e?
You use Fire Bolt as your bread-and-butter damaging cantrip for most combats. Besides that, keep these tips in mind:
Use fire vulnerabilities to your advantage. Everyone always harps on fire immunities/resistances (which you should totally look out for). But what gets left out is that there are some times when fire damage is the best option.
Plant creatures are often vulnerable to fire damage, and fire damage is the best way to stop a Troll’s regeneration ability from making them unkillable machines.
Start fires. From campfires to environmental damage, Fire Bolt’s object-smacking, fire-igniting capabilities are part of the flavor and flare (heh) of the spell. Don’t let people tell you Fire Bolt doesn’t have any utility — it literally starts fires!
Consider your subclass. Certain subclasses will benefit more from having Fire Bolt as their main spell attack cantrip. Here are a few stand-outs:
Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer. 6th-level feature Elemental Affinity that lets you add your Charisma modifier to damage from spells associated with your draconic ancestry; Brass, Gold, and Red are associated with fire damage.
Evocation Wizard. 10th-level feature Empowered Evocation that allows you to add you your Intelligence modifier to the damage roll of any wizard evocation spell you cast.
Celestial Warlock (XGtE 55). 6th-level feature Radiant Soul that allows you to add your Charisma modifier to the damage roll of any spell that deals radiant or fire damage.
Artillerest Artificer. 5th-level feature Arcane Firearm that lets you add 1d8 to any spell damage roll.
Get a non-fire, saving throw-based damaging cantrip as well. This is just spellcaster 101 for Dungeons and Dragons. It’s good to have a spell attack for low-AC targets and a saving throw attack for low-ability score targets. Something like Toll the Dead for Wizards, Mind Sliver for Sorcerers, or Frostbite for Artificers.
Who Can I Target With Fire Bolt 5e?
You can target creatures or objects with Fire Bolt in 5e. Creatures won’t ignite from Fire Bolt, nor will objects that they are wearing or holding.
But if a flammable object that is neither worn nor held is hit by Fire Bolt, it ignites in flames. The severity and degree of these flames are largely up to the DM. An object also has an AC and hit points, as described in the Dungeon Master’s Guide (pg. 246-7).
Is Fire Bolt 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Fire Bolt is a good spell. It’s a fine choice if you’re playing a pure spellcaster that doesn’t plan on using a weapon. Consistent average damage of 5.5 (scaling to 11, 16.5, and 22 as you level) is definitely solid when you don’t need/want to use a more impactful spell.
That being said, Fire Bolt doesn’t offer any utility, as (lower) damaging cantrips like Chill Touch, Ray of Frost, or Mind Sliver do. Additionally, fire is the most common resistance/immunity in the DnD 5e (although this point is overblown and not a huge factor in most campaign settings).
Fire Bolt 5e Compared to Other Damaging Cantrips
A common question players have is whether the big damage of Fire Bolt means that it’s the obvious best choice for their cantrip blasting spell. The answer is no, it’s definitely not obvious.
Chill Touch only deals 1 less average damage, deals less often-resisted necrotic damage, and prevents all healing/regeneration on the target for a round of combat — a strong choice for many scenarios.
Mind Sliver offers a debuff that benefits every spell caster in the group who’s got saving throw-based spells. And Ray of Frost helps control the battlefield a bit more, especially in conjunction with other effects.
Even Toll the Dead can deal more damage (1d12) to an already-damaged creature, albeit at a shorter range.
But really, the question comes down to whether you want the biggest replicable damage at the best range or a little extra utility in your cantrip spell. It’s perfectly valid to have Fire Bolt as your basic damaging spell and a more utility-based damaging cantrip as your secondary option for appropriate scenarios.
Fire Bolt 5e DM Tips
A common player request is to change Fire Bolt’s damage type and make it into “Frost Bolt” or “Thunder Bolt” or whatever. The reason Fire Bolt got the biggest damage on a cantrip (aside from the godly Eldritch Blast) is because fire is the most common resistance/immunity of creatures in the game.
However, if a player really wants to flavor Fire Bolt to fit their character’s story better and they’re not just trying to cheesily metagame around this flaw of the spell, then I say let them do it. It won’t break the game and it’ll help make their character feel more thematically complete.
On the restrictive side of things, I’d say don’t let players melt locks or any other metal with Fire Bolt. Even a spell like Heat Metal doesn’t do something like this, so save your back-of-the-napkin physics lesson for someone else, pal. “Spells only do what they say” is the refrain and mantra of the game’s developers, so let’s stick with that.
On the less clear side is something like a wooden door — can players just burn down every one of these with a cantrip from now on? I vote “no” in most cases — wood doors are usually varnished or protected in some way, so they shouldn’t light up instantaneously. Plus, they have hit points of their own, so unless the 1d10 breaks them, they should stay standing.
That being said, an especially run-down piece of wood would probably be annihilated by Fire Bolt — no rolls required.
Simple Fire Bolt 5e Spell Text
Fire Bolt: (Evocation cantrip, 120 feet, V/S) Make a ranged spell attack against a creature or object. On hit, deal 1d10 fire damage. A flammable object hit by this spell ignites if it isn’t being worn or carried. | +1d10 at 5th (2), 11th (3), and 17th level (4).