Have your parents or guardians told you that you shouldn’t play with fire? Of course, you shouldn’t! Fire is extremely dangerous; a small ember can engulf an entire house given the right resources and circumstances. It is a deadly weapon that men have used since they have had the brains to comprehend it. Yet, in the D&D world, does this rule still apply? As a DM, I would say you can certainly try!
If the child within you wants to burn some evil people, unleash it on them in D&D. There are a ton of spells that can help you do what you desire. Yet, one stands out as something a spell caster can do without the limitations of a spell slot, and that is Fire Bolt. If the world in your campaign does not have guns, then Fire Bolt can do the job for you, albeit with a lot less gunpowder and a lot more fire.
Is the baddie stuck on a tree? Burn them with Fire Bolt! Is the baddie using wooden shields and weapons? Burn them with Fire Bolt! Is the baddie wearing paper armor because their mommy made them origami clothes to wear to battle? Burn them with Fire Bolt! Okay, the last one might be too much, but if you are interested in learning Fire Bolt the fun way, this Fire Bolt 5e guide will teach you how.
Bottom Line Up Front: What is Fire Bolt in D&D 5e?
Fire Bolt is an evocation cantrip spell you can find in the Player’s Handbook on page 242. Cantrips are spells that do not require spell slots, and evocation magic deals with using energy and directing it to a target.
In a sense, it can create weapons made from energy out of thin air. Below are the key details about the Fire Bolt spell.
- Fire Bolt
- Cantrip, evocation
- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: 120 ft.
- Components: V, S
- Duration: Instantaneous
For more details on how to use Fire Bolt and how it works, read up on the other sections below, where I explain them vividly.
How to use Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
Fire Bolt, like other spells, has a set of requirements you must meet before you can cast it towards others. So, ease up on the sizzling trigger finger and read a detailed description about them in my other article, Scorching Ray 5e Guide. In the “How to use” section of the article, I list out the requirements needed. These two spells are nearly identical to each other, and so are the essentials.
Scorching Ray and Fire Bolt are evocation spells needing somatic and vocal components. They have similar casting times, duration, and range. The only difference between the two is that Scorching Ray is technically a lot more powerful than Fire Bolt.
So it uses a level two spell slot. Since Fire Bolt is a cantrip, it does not need a spell slot. You can cast it whenever you want, though it takes action in combat.
After confirming that you can spit out fire from your hands with Fire Bolt by meeting its requirements, you can follow the steps below.
- Choose a target within 120 feet from you for your Fire Bolt: Assuming you are in battle, and the battlefield has square grids measuring five feet each, that would be 60 square grids from you.
- Roll a 20-sided die to make a ranged spell attack: If your target is too near you, i.e., five feet from you, your attack is at a disadvantage. Thus, roll two d20s and choose the lowest result.
- Add the results with your spell attack modifier: The spell attack modifier differs between classes, which I will explain later. Essentially, it consists of your spellcasting ability and your proficiency bonus.
And voila, the Fire Bolt comes cruising towards your opponent! However, whether or not it will hit its target is still open. To determine if your Fire Bolt burnt your enemy to a crisp, read the next section as I explain how it works after sending it out from your fingers.
How does Fire Bolt work in D&D 5e?
A hot streak of fire comes rushing into a targeted creature. To know if the Fire Bolt hits its target and how much damage it deals, the DM and the player must do the following procedure:
- Compare the attack roll to the target’s Armor Class: After adding everything up, the sum must be equal to or greater than your target’s Armor Class (commonly referred to as AC) for Fire Bolt to hit successfully. If not, the Fire Bolt misses the target.
- Roll a d10 (or more) to calculate damage on a successful hit: If you have reached level five, Fire Bolt’s damage becomes 2d10 (i.e., two 10-sided dice). After reaching level 11, it becomes 3d10, and on level 17, it becomes 4d10.
- The target reduces his HP by the calculated damage: Hit Points, commonly referred to as HP, are units of measurement to determine a character’s life force.
Fire Bolt is a really simple spell to learn and understand. You choose a target, roll to determine if your attack hits your target, and calculate the damage. However, Fire Bolt may still seem confusing. Yet, you do not have to worry because I will be giving an example scenario using the spell.
Example scenario for using Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
It is back to Arthur’s D&D Lab again, and this time, we are testing out the Fire Bolt. Half-elf Wizard Marshal knows this cantrip, and he is ready to shoot fire on an unsuspecting victim. On the other side of the room is a goblin named Ricky, who we “invited” to participate. He was more than willing to be a part of science today! Below are some essential details about these two participants.
Marshal the Half-elf Wizard
- Intelligence Modifier: +3
- Proficiency Bonus: +2
Ricky the Goblin
- Hit Points: 9
- Armor Class: 15
It is Marshal’s turn, and he casts Fire Bolt towards Ricky. Fire Bolt has a 120 ft. range, and since Ricky is 25 ft. far from Marshal, the Fire Bolt can hit him. Below is an illustration to visualize how far he is from the Wizard.
I roll a d20 to make Marshal’s ranged spell attack, resulting in a ten. I then add this result to my spell attack modifier, my spellcasting ability, plus my proficiency bonus. Therefore, I add the ten to my Intelligence ability, which is +3, and my proficiency bonus, which is +2. I can write this equation as such:
- Ranged Spell Attack: D20 + (spellcasting ability + proficiency bonus)
- Marshal’s Ranged Spell Attack: 10 + (3 + 2)
Adding everything together, I get 15. Since Ricky’s Armor Class is 15, the Fire Bolt successfully hits him. To calculate damage, I roll a d10 and get eight. Thus, Ricky’s HP becomes one (nine minus eight). Now it is Ricky’s turn.
He goes near Marshal and attempts to attack with his sword. However, due to his having low health, he misses his shot. Now, it is Marshal’s turn, and he will cast Fire Bolt again at Ricky.
However, since Ricky is five feet near him, he gets a disadvantage during his ranged spell attack. So, I roll 2d20 and get 19 and 6. Having a disadvantage on an attack means picking the lowest result. Thus, I pick 6.
Adding up six with my spellcasting ability (+3) and proficiency bonus (+2), I get an 11, which is not enough to hit Ricky. Therefore, this Fire Bolt misses Ricky, and I do not roll to calculate damage.
Who can cast Fire Bolt in D&D 5e?
Artificers, Sorcerers, and Wizards can cast Fire Bolt, along with three subclasses (Arcana Cleric, Arcane Trickster Rogue, and Eldritch Knight Fighter), two races (High Elf and Half-elf with Moon Elf or Sun Elf Descent variant), and three backgrounds (Boros Legionnaire, Gruul Anarch, Rakdos Cultist).
Classes that can cast Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
Artificers, Sorcerers, and Wizards can shoot fire from their fingertips using the Fire Bolt spell if they have it in their magical arsenal. Because Fire Bolt is a cantrip, everyone can cast this spell as early as level one as long as they know it.
Below are some essential details about these three D&D classes, such as their spell attack modifier.
Classes that can cast Fire Bolt
Spell attack modifier
|Artificer||Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, page 9||Your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier|
|Sorcerer||Player’s Handbook, page 99||Your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier|
|Wizard||Player’s Handbook, page 112||Your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier|
Subclasses that can cast Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
Only three subclasses can cast Fire Bolt, and these three are the Arcane Cleric, Arcane Trickster Rogue, and Eldritch Knight Fighter. If you want to use Unearthed Arcana, the Giant Soul Sorcerer (Fire Giant) can also have Fire Bolt as part of their spells by default.
Their spell save DC would be the same as the Sorcerer’s, which is the proficiency bonus plus the Charisma modifier.
Subclasses that can cast Fire Bolt
|Originating Class||Subclass Source||Class Source||
Spell attack modifier
|Arcana Domain||Cleric||Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, page 125||Player’s Handbook, page 56||Your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier|
|Arcane Trickster||Rogue||Player’s Handbook, page 97||Player’s Handbook, page 94||Your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier|
|Eldritch Knight||Fighter||Player’s Handbook, page 74||Player’s Handbook, page 70||Your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier|
Clerics in the Arcana Domain can get the Fire Bolt as part of their cantrips due to the Arcane Initiate subclass feature. They can get two cantrips of their choice from the Wizard spell list.
Meanwhile, the Arcane Trickster Rogue and Eldritch Knight Fighter can also get the Fire Bolt thanks to their Spellcasting subclass feature. Similar to the Clerics in the Arcana Domain, the subclass feature allows them to add two cantrips of their choice from the Wizard spell list.
Races that can cast Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
Two races can have the Fire Bolt cantrip: the High Elves and Half-elves with Moon Elf or Sun Elf Descent. These D&D races can know one cantrip of their choice from the Wizard spell list.
Their spell attack modifier would be their proficiency bonus plus their Intelligence modifier. If you want to know more about these classes, their sources are listed below.
Races that can cast Fire Bolt
Spell Attack Modifier
|High Elf||Player’s Handbook, page 23||Your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier|
|Half-elf (Moon Elf or Sun Elf Descent)||Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, page 116||Your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier|
Backgrounds that can cast Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
Surprisingly, a couple of backgrounds can make a character have the Fire Bolt cantrip as long as the character can cast spells. These backgrounds are the Boros Legionnaire, Gruul Anarch, and Rakdos Cultist. They are from the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. Thus, these backgrounds would make sense in a campaign with that setting.
Below are the sources for each background and more important info. Again, your character needs to have a spellcasting ability to get this feature. For example, a Paladin with the Gruul Anarch background can cast Fire Bolt. Still, a Barbarian with the Rakdos Cultist background cannot.
- Boros Legionnaire: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, page 40
- Gruul Anarch: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, page 60
- Rakdos Cultist: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, page 79
Creative and valuable ways to use Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
Despite being a cantrip, Fire Bolt has many practical uses. It is so flexible that you can utilize it in many ways, such as trapping an enemy, causing immense damage, and more.
As I will show you in this section, it is more than just a weapon to us against enemies far away from you. Here are some creative and practical ways to use Fire Bolt in D&D 5e.
- Triggering traps.
- Igniting explosives.
- Making distractions and signals.
- Burning buildings and areas.
- Lighting up dark places.
Triggering traps using Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
Many traps in dungeons use flammable objects to trigger, like a piece of string attached to a mechanism that, when tripped or broken, drops poison from the ceiling. Another example would be a rope that, when cut, releases a storm of arrows towards a specific area. When you see something that you think is a recipe for a messy trap, it is best not to find out yourself.
Fire Bolt comes in handy when you need to trigger deadly traps to proceed to the next area without putting anyone in danger. The cantrip has an immensely long range, so you and your team can stand back 120 feet away, if possible, to avoid any unnecessary harm. Plus, since it is a cantrip, you would not put yourself at a disadvantage by using spell slots for such measly tasks.
You can apply the same logic to traps that you built yourself. You want to set a trap on an entrance to a hallway where you are sure that your enemies will come. You can set up your trap so that you can trigger it using fire, such as burning rope among its mechanism. You can stay away from a distance when you shoot it, and if something goes wrong with the trap, you can escape easily.
Igniting explosives using Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
Explosives are handy tools to carry around with you. Of course, you should not keep them too close to you, or they might ignite if a fire starts! They are deadly and valuable at the same time. If you want to penetrate through something like a wall or a bank (I won’t judge what your party is up to), then explosives would be reasonable solutions for the situation.
To start an explosion, you would need fire to trigger it, and that is where Fire Bolt becomes useful. You can immediately blow stuff up at a safe distance due to the cantrip’s far range. With the right timing, a single Fire Bolt towards an explosive can eliminate many enemies. In theory, this cantrip can cause immense damage to many entities in a single area.
You can also shoot Fire Bolt to places that you think contain explosives. Are the walls hooked up with dynamite, ready to blow everyone up at the right time? Stand back and release the flames from your fingers towards the wall. If your intuitions are correct, the wall will explode while you are at a safe distance, evading you and your party the hassle of death.
Making distractions and signals using Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
You and your party are hiding from the enemies while they are actively searching for you in every nook and cranny. They are almost near your hiding spot, and at any moment, chaos may ensue. You see a tree just miles away, and you decide to shoot a Fire Bolt towards it. The tree bursts into flames in a short while, and now their attention is on the burning tree.
As the enemies investigate the scenery, you make your escape. Congratulations, you just made a distraction to avoid a deadly conflict using Fire Bolt. When there are flammable objects nearby, like a tree or an abandoned house with a thatched roof, Fire Bolt can burn the whole thing. Fire is not a natural occurrence most of the time, so enemies will likely fix their gaze on the sudden incident.
At the same time, you can use Fire Bolt to signal your allies to do something or let someone know of your presence in an area. Perhaps you are stuck between rocks in a “127 Hours” type of situation, and you need help immediately. A Fire Bolt to a nearby patch of grass or tree can catch the attention of anyone nearby; you just need to hope that the people going towards you are friendly.
Let’s say that you are planning a surprise attack and you are waiting for the right moment to strike. An army of soldiers ready to fight by your side is waiting for a signal. As soon as you can find an opening among the enemy ranks, you set out a fire on a nearby building. The soldiers understand your signal, and they start attacking. Indeed, Fire Bolt can catch the attention of your allies or enemies.
Burning buildings and areas using Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
If you are playing D&D, the chances are that you are in a medieval setting where wizards and dragons exist. In those days, the chances are that many buildings are extremely flammable. The common houses are usually made of wood and hay because peasants cannot afford stone most of the time. Enemy camps are of the same boat, being made of wood. Fire Bolt can mess things up in a lot of burning ways.
If all your enemies are holed up in a single house made of wood, then a spray of flames from your fingers with Fire Bolt can eliminate all of them. If your enemies are in a field of corn and you do not care about the agricultural living of the locals because you are a heartless monster, then you can set it up on fire and watch your enemies burn, struggling to escape as they choke on the smoke.
However, you would also have to be careful so that your Fire Bolt would not sabotage you and your friends. If you let out a Fire Bolt while in a flammable house, you best make sure that it will not hit anything if you do not want to become roasted adventurers. Unless you have a spell that can control flames, you should also be careful with how you use your flames within buildings.
Lighting up dark places using Fire Bolt in D&D 5e
Vision is an essential aspect of life, and it is critical when you go on adventures. You may encounter places where darkness envelops every corner. If you do not have night vision like elves do, you will be entering it blindly. Believe it or not, dungeons are not always fully furnished with chandeliers hanging on the ceiling. So, you may expect darkness a lot when going on adventures.
If you need light, Fire Bolt can help you out. If you have a torch, candle, lamp, or anything flammable at hand, you can cast a streak of fire from your fingers, and it will light up your surroundings. Think of Fire Bolt as a matchstick that you can always have at your fingertips. Lighting up places can be easy with Fire Bolt, and it is helpful to see where you are going.
A light might even spell out death or life. Imagine wandering in the darkness without relying on any light. Suddenly, you feel your feet are walking in thin air, and you realize you just wandered towards a cliff. With Fire Bolt, you can avoid these situations by igniting a torch or candle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can I use Fire Bolt underwater in D&D 5e?
Answer: Yes, you can use Fire Bolt while being underwater in D&D 5e. Magic sometimes behaves outside the normal laws of physics; thus, someone can use Fire Bolt while underwater. It can hit its target and cause damage. Still, it is unlikely that flammable objects hit with Fire Bolt underwater will burst into flames. The flames produced by the Fire Bolt will most likely be extinguished immediately by the water.
Question: Is Fire Bolt a cantrip in D&D 5e?
Answer: Yes, the Fire Bolt spell is a cantrip in D&D 5e, which means you can cast Fire Bolt whenever without needing a spell slot. In combat, Fire Bolt costs one action. A spellcaster can ready this cantrip in response to a trigger.
Question: How much damage does Fire Bolt do in D&D 5e?
Answer: Fire Bolt can cause 1d10 fire damage on a successful hit against an enemy or object. However, the damage increases as your level rises. Suppose you have reached level 5, its damage increases by 2d10 fire damage. If you have reached level 11, its damage increases by 3d10, and by level 17, its damage increases by 4d10.
Conclusion: Is Fire Bolt a good spell in D&D 5e?
Fire Bolt is a good spell thanks to its versatility in D&D. Its use is mostly offensive, though it can have practical uses. A spellcaster with no spell slots left can use Fire Bolt as a way to attack enemies since it is a cantrip. Indeed, the best part about Fire Bolt is that it is a cantrip. Plus, it can deal a decent amount of fire damage, especially at early levels.
Furthermore, many creatures within the world are weak to fire. For example, trolls cease regenerating when they receive fire damage, so Fire Bolt is especially harmful to them. Someone can even heighten up the Fire Bolt’s offensive uses, like igniting a whole area into the fire. It can change the battlefield in an instant due to how fire functions. It is a chaotic element that you will find useful.
Aside from its improper uses, it has other practical uses, such as lighting up dark areas or making distractions and signals. It is beneficial when backed in a corner without any spell slots left. It can even be a spell that incorporates a character, like a pyromaniac who loves burning things up with his spells. Fire Bolt’s usefulness can be a lot more if you widen your horizons and imagination.