Whether taking the form of crackling flames, jets of blue plasma, or simply extreme heat, fire damage is one of the most common damage types found in Dungeons & Dragons 5e.
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at how fire damage works in D&D 5e, the characters, creatures, and spells that inflict it (or are resistant, immune, or vulnerable to its effects), how to calculate how much damage is dealt by standing in fire, and some of the other edge case rules that will help you dish out fire damage – or avoid getting burned to a crisp.
How Does Fire Damage Work in D&D 5e?
Fire damage is one of the 13 Damage Types in DnD. The type of damage is important for characters and creatures that are resistant or vulnerable to it. Fire damage spells and abilities deal a stated amount of damage. For example, a Fire Bolt will do 1d10 fire damage. Fireball, 8d6 and up.
There is typically text stating flammable objects “ignite” if they are not carried or worn. Unless mentioned, there is no lingering burning effect on a fire-based attack. If the surrounding area is set on fire, a DM decides how much “non-magical fire” burning is inflicted each round.
Fire damage is associated with extreme heat, whether that means a wizard’s fireball, a smoldering campfire, or a red dragon’s breath weapon. Creatures whose natures are tied to fire – like fire elementals, red dragons, and demons from the fiery abyss, are often resistant or immune to fire damage; creatures made from flammable material, like dry bandages or wood, can also take double damage from fire.
While weapons, items, spells, monster attacks and abilities, and other sources of fire damage state the amount of damage inflicted, simply standing close enough to a fire is enough for your character to get hurt.
How much damage does non-magical fire do in D&D 5e?
Generic, Non-Magical fire in DnD 5e has no specific mechanic associated with it. Rule of thumb damage can be summarized as d4 for a small fire, d6 moderate, and d8 for a significant fire. Each turn in the fire increases the damage: Round One 1d6, Two 2d6, Three 3d6 and so on with appropriate damage die.
Whether it’s falling into a pit of boiling oil, being showered with hot coals, or dashing through a burning building, there are plenty of ways other than spells and pissing off a red dragon to take fire damage in 5e.
Weirdly, unlike falling damage, there’s no explicit rule in the Dungeon Master’s Guide for applying non-magical fire damage. So, the short answer is: it’s up to the DM.
However, using some materials from the Elemental Evil supplement and some common sense, I think we can come up with some rough guidelines for DMs whose players keep running into burning buildings to get on the local news.
To calculate the damage of a non-magical fire, we’re going to use two factors: heat and duration.
In the Elemental Evil supplement, the Evocation cantrip Create Bonfire is the closest spell we have to a “non-magical” fire. Any creature caught within its area of effect must make a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d8 fire damage.
Using d8s as the damage dice for fire damage makes sense, as it’s the same die used to calculate falling damage. We’ll take this as the base damage for a bonfire or equivalent-sized fire.
If the fire is smaller than a campfire, a DM could down-step the damage die to a d6 (or even a d4) to reflect less heat. Likewise, a bigger, hotter fire could result in the damage die being increased to a d10 or d12.
Then, let’s look at duration. In much the same way that falling an extra 10 ft results in an additional d8 of bludgeoning damage, each turn a character spends in a fire increases the damage they take.
On their first turn in the fire, a character suffers 1d8 fire damage; then, on the second turn, 2d8; then 3d8 on the third turn; and so on…
A character who runs through a burning room at full speed might only get slightly singed; a character who spends precious seconds searching that room for survivors (or the survivors’ wallets, most likely) is going to emerge smelling delicious and in need of a pen to draw themself a new set of eyebrows.
If you’re a benevolent DM, you could also allow players to make Dexterity or Constitution saving throws each round in order to halve the damage taken from the fire. Or you could shrug and say “Don’t stand in the bad stuff.”
Characters and Fire Damage
If taking the full force of an evil wizard’s fireball doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, there are a few ways in which your character can gain resistance to fire damage in 5e. Here are a few of our favorites.
Tieflings have a racial feature called Hellish Resistance, which means that they only take half damage from fire.
Red, Brass, and Gold Dragonborn all gain resistance to fire damage as part of their Draconic Ancestry trait.
The Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer’s Elemental Affinity feature grants them resistance to either acid, cold, fire, lightning or poison damage.
The Gift of the Chromatic Dragon draconic gift released as part of Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons allows characters to give themselves resistance to a chosen damage type a number of times per day equal to their Proficiency Bonus.
Bear Totem Barbarians gain resistance to all damage types other than psychic (which includes fire) while raging.
Fire Genasi gain resistance to fire damage as one of their racial bonuses.
Warlocks who choose the Fiend as their otherworldly patron gain access to the Fiendish Resilience ability, which grants resistance to a damage type of your choice.
At 6th level, Transmutation Wizards can create a Transmuter’s Stone, which is capable of giving them resistance to acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage.
Any creature that is fully submerged in water has resistance to fire damage.
Many spells, magic items, and potions also grant characters resistance to fire damage, but more on that in a minute.
Fire Damage and Spells
Firebolt (cantrip, Evocation; Artificer, Sorcerer, Wizard)
One of the best damage cantrips in the game (Eldritch Blast excepted), Fire Bolt allows the caster to throw a ball of flame at an enemy, rolling a ranged spell attack that deals 1d10 fire damage on a hit. The damage also ticks up by a d10 at 5th, 11th, and 17th levels.
Heat Metal (2nd, Transmutation; Bard, Druid, Artificer, Cleric (Forge Domain)
One of the rare fire damage spells that doesn’t actually involve an open flame, Heat Metal turns a weapon or a suit of heavy or medium metal armor red hot, forcing the wielder to drop their weapon or, if they’re wearing armor, to take 2d8 fire damage, and continue to take damage for up to a minute.
Fireball (3rd, Evocation; Sorcerer, Wizard, Cleric (Light Domain), Warlock (Genie, Fiend), Artificer (Artillerist)
One of the most iconic spells in all of D&D, fireball launches a spark of light from the caster’s fingertips, which explodes into a raging conflagration dealing 8d6 fire damage to any creatures (allies included) within a 20 ft sphere.
Meteor Swarm (9th, Evocation; Sorcerer, Wizard)
The granddaddy of fire damage spells, Meteor Swarm calls down four flaming balls of death from above, each one dealing 20d6 bludgeoning damage and 20d6 fire damage to anyone unlucky enough to be caught in their path.
The seven spells that can grant resistance to fire damage (there may be more, but I think this is all of them), include Wish, Absorb Elements, Hallow, Protection from Energy, Primordial Ward, Feign Death, and Fire Shield.
Monsters and Fire Damage
While fire damage is the second most common damage type (after poison) to which monsters are likely to be resistant or immune, it’s also the damage type to which the most monsters (9) are vulnerable.
Monsters Vulnerable to Fire Damage
Monsters that take double damage from fire damage include…
Some plant type monsters, like Awakened Shrubs and Trees – although not the Shambling Mound or plant-adjacent creatures like Myconids.
Mummies and other Mummy-adjacent creatures like the Centaur Mummy (a truly terrifying yet comic concept that really deserves its own creature feature guide), which makes sense given the fact they’re essentially piles of dry bandages and embalming fluid.
Dust Mephits, First Salamanders, and Hydroloths (the latter being from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes) are also vulnerable to fire damage. There are also a fair number of monsters scattered throughout the various published 5e adventures that may take double damage from fire.
Monsters Resistant and Immune to Fire Damage
For the average wizard who just learned to cast Fireball, the list of monsters that are resistant or completely immune to fire damage is depressingly long. In the Monster Manual alone there are 37 creatures with resistance to fire damage and a full 40 that are completely immune.
Many Fiends – including the Azer, the Balor, and many other archdevils and greater demons – are completely immune to fire damage, and even most lesser demons and devils have resistance to its effects.
Basically, if tieflings are only half-fiend and even they get fire resistance, it’s a pretty sure bet that 90% of the demons you encounter will be unfazed by open flames.
Red, Brass, and Gold Dragons (basically, any dragon that breathes fire) are also completely to fire damage. Even dragon wyrmlings are immune to their innate damage type.
Also, even though their magical powers and breath attacks are psionic in nature, some Gem Dragons (the Emerald dragon in particular, which favors living in or near volcanoes) are also resistant to fire damage. Tiamat, the queen of evil dragons, is (obviously) immune to fire damage.
Other creatures tied to the elemental plane of fire, like Fire Elementals, Fire Genasi, Salamanders, Efreeti, Fire Snakes, Fire Giants, Magma Mephits, and (depressingly) the Tarrasque, all shrug off fire damage as though it were a light summer breeze.
Magic Items and Fire Damage
As you might expect from one of the game’s most common damage types, there are a ton of magic items, weapons, and potions that can inflict, grant resistance to, or otherwise interact with fire damage. Here are some of our favorites.
This legendary flail, carved to resemble the five heads of the Dragon Queen Tiamat, can inflict an addition 5d8 of a damage type of your choice (including fire), as well as enable the wielder to cause the heads to breathe multicolored flames in a 90-foot cone, inflicting 14d6 damage (again, of a type of your choice) on a failed Dexterity saving throw.
Quaff a dose of this potion and use a bonus action to exhale fire at a target within 30 feet of you. The target must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 4d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
You can use this effect three times. Use this to remind the party’s dragonborn that he’s not special.
This magical ring quite simply grants resistance to fire damage.
Easily one of the most badass early-mid tier magic weapons, the Flame Tongue looks like a regular sword until its command word is spoken. The blade is then wreathed in flames, shedding bright light in a 40 ft radius and ng an extra 2d6 fire damage when it strikes its target.
Easily some of the best magical armor in the whole game, in addition to a +3 bonus to your AC, which is frankly disgusting, Efreeti Chain makes you immune to all fire damage.
Oh, and you can now automatically speak and understand Primordial, as well as walk across molten rock as though it were solid ground. You become Lava Jesus, is what I’m saying.
This super neat little metal brazier lets you cast the summon elementals spell (you always summon fire elementals) once per day. Perfect for a wizard who needs something very big and scary to hide behind while the paladin is busy wasting time trying to save people.