5E Control Flame in Combat?

tglassy

Explorer
Two game questions in one day.

Scenario: I have a rag soaked in oil. I tie/wrap said rag to the end of my quarterstaff. I light said rag on fire.

Then I point said quarterstaff at an enemy and use Control Flame to spread the fire into the enemy's 5 ft space, using his clothing as "fuel". Alternatively, he is standing on something that could be considered "fuel" for a fire, I light that on fire and make it fill the 5 ft space.

What happens?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It seems like the create bonfire spell might be a decent basis for ruling what happens here.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Scenario: I have a rag soaked in oil. I tie/wrap said rag to the end of my quarterstaff. I light said rag on fire.

Then I point said quarterstaff at an enemy and use Control Flame to spread the fire into the enemy's 5 ft space, using his clothing as "fuel". Alternatively, he is standing on something that could be considered "fuel" for a fire, I light that on fire and make it fill the 5 ft space.
Since control flames does not specify damage, and also does not say that the fire fills the target space, I would treat it as simply increasing the fire's "reach." If you use it on a torch, as you propose, and try to set a creature's clothing on fire, it works just as if you were attacking that creature with the torch: Melee attack for 1 fire damage. If there is something highly flammable in the space, like oil or paper, then it works as if you had tossed a torch into that space.
 

jaelis

Explorer
Personally, I wouldn't let you use the clothing as fuel. But if they are standing on something flammable, sure. I agree with [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] that the create bonfire mechanic seems applicable.
 

tglassy

Explorer
So if Create Bonfire were the example, would it then scale in damage the way Create Bonfire does?

And while it doesn't specify damage, it does say you can spread the fire into a space. How much damage does someone take if they're standing in a fire?
 

jaelis

Explorer
So if Create Bonfire were the example, would it then scale in damage the way Create Bonfire does?
I don't think so.
And while it doesn't specify damage, it does say you can spread the fire into a space. How much damage does someone take if they're standing in a fire?
1d8 seems reasonable :) But the DMG might have something to say about it too.
 

aco175

Adventurer
It seems that you want the spell to do more than intended. It is a cantrip and should not do more than other cantrips like fire bolt, which is already the offensive fire spell. If the description does not list a attack or save, then I may limit to just affecting flame in the area. I also separate magical flame from normal flame and limit the damage of normal flame from stuff like this. Someone poked with a torch may only take 1 point of damage, but 1d10 from fire bolt.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
The spells I would look for for "outside references" would be shspexwster, move earth snd the "air" equivalent that came out as the " play with elements" spell suite - multiple flavor effects plus minor at best combat utility.

As for extending burning torch fire into another hex, agree that it's just magical flavor and reach for the std torch attack. It's not Bonfire from torch.

Then again, I have seen in play ths big gains from this spell being the shapes snd brighter source effects, much more than its fire drag effects.
 

tglassy

Explorer
It’s not that I WANT to do more than intended, it’s why I asked the question here to get a consensus. The description says you can spread the fire to fill a five foot cube adjacent to it. Fire is naturally painful, and it doesn’t say, like Shape Water does, that the space cannot have a creature in it.

So if I’m in a burning building made of wood, and I’m fighting a goblin for some reason, and we’re standing next to fire, and I use the Control Fire cantrips to spread that fire into his space, you’re saying that would only do 1 point, like hitting him with a torch? Alchemist Fire s not Magical Fire and it does 1d4 of fire damage at the beginning of every turn unless it is put out.

But then the DMG says “burned by coals” would be 1d10 and “stumbling into a fire pit” is 2d10. Having the ground underneath you erupt into flames should be comparable to “stumbling in a fire pit”, but I’d agree that 2d10 seems like a bit much for a cantrips that isn’t meant for combat.

The main thing is that fire is naturally damaging, and the cantrips lets you control it and spread it to different spaces. Having a torch means you can easily spread the fire to any space around you as long as there’s something flammable in that space.

Obviously there are cantrips that can cause fire damage more efficiently, but I’ve got a character with no damage cantrips and I took Control Flame because it goes with his background. He’s an Entertainer and his thing is he’s a Fire Dancer, so he uses Control Flame as a means to make his performances more dazzling and spectacular. It was as I was thinking of the cool things he could do with that that it occurred to me that if he has what is essentially a staff or club with a flaming torch on the end, he could do some interesting things in combat with Control Flame, since it’s not Magical Flame. He’s a Sorcerer, so he could grab Firebolt or Create Bonfire later, but he’s only lvl 3 right now, and I’ve got other means of dealing with combat for the time being. This was just something interesting I’d thought of during creation and I wanted to get some thoughts.
 

jaelis

Explorer
The only reasonable answer is, ask your DM. If you are in a burning building, presumably the DM has already decided how much damage the flames would do if you entered a burning space. That seems like the value to go with. In the torch example, I could see basing it on the torch damage or on what you think the burning fuel would otherwise do. There doesn't have to be a universal answer.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I have trouble imagining that setting an opponent's clothes on fire is going to somehow deal more damage than alchemist's fire, which is basically napalm. Also, 1d4 damage per round, until you use an action to extinguish it (I'd skip the Dex check and just make it automatic), AND not requiring concentration, is pretty excellent damage for a cantrip that's not designed to deal damage. OTOH the target needs to be within 5 feet of a flame, so it's basically a melee cantrip, and those are allowed to be a little bit good.

So, the way I would rule is: spell attack roll to hit the target creature within 5 feet, and deal them 1 point of fire damage. This puts some fire on them -- not enough to deal damage, but enough that on your next round you can use control flames again, this time to set the target on fire, after which they take 1d4 per round like alchemist's fire. In other words, getting the really good effect requires two castings of control flames: one to get a person's clothes on fire (but it's a weak fire that goes out really fast) and another to turn brief flame into a damage-dealing conflagration.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
It’s not that I WANT to do more than intended, it’s why I asked the question here to get a consensus. The description says you can spread the fire to fill a five foot cube adjacent to it. Fire is naturally painful, and it doesn’t say, like Shape Water does, that the space cannot have a creature in it.

So if I’m in a burning building made of wood, and I’m fighting a goblin for some reason, and we’re standing next to fire, and I use the Control Fire cantrips to spread that fire into his space, you’re saying that would only do 1 point, like hitting him with a torch? Alchemist Fire s not Magical Fire and it does 1d4 of fire damage at the beginning of every turn unless it is put out.

But then the DMG says “burned by coals” would be 1d10 and “stumbling into a fire pit” is 2d10. Having the ground underneath you erupt into flames should be comparable to “stumbling in a fire pit”, but I’d agree that 2d10 seems like a bit much for a cantrips that isn’t meant for combat.

The main thing is that fire is naturally damaging, and the cantrips lets you control it and spread it to different spaces. Having a torch means you can easily spread the fire to any space around you as long as there’s something flammable in that space.

Obviously there are cantrips that can cause fire damage more efficiently, but I’ve got a character with no damage cantrips and I took Control Flame because it goes with his background. He’s an Entertainer and his thing is he’s a Fire Dancer, so he uses Control Flame as a means to make his performances more dazzling and spectacular. It was as I was thinking of the cool things he could do with that that it occurred to me that if he has what is essentially a staff or club with a flaming torch on the end, he could do some interesting things in combat with Control Flame, since it’s not Magical Flame. He’s a Sorcerer, so he could grab Firebolt or Create Bonfire later, but he’s only lvl 3 right now, and I’ve got other means of dealing with combat for the time being. This was just something interesting I’d thought of during creation and I wanted to get some thoughts.
" The description says you can spread the fire to fill a five foot cube adjacent to it. "

No, it does not.
Unless I read itbincorrectlybthe word "fill" is not there and you are making that up whole cloth.

Good try.

But nah.

The 5' part says you can expand the flame 5' in one direction provided there is wood or other fuel there.

So, if you have a torch sized flame and you have fuel in a square 5' to its side you can expand the flame into that square - but nothing says that torch somehow grows to fill that square.

The 1 pt torch references are to expanding a torch sized flame, not to expanding a blazing room 5'.

In essence it boils down to this - mostly that feature adds or expands the reach of whatever natural flame it was applied **if** there is the fuel it needs there in the new reached square.

In that natural fire was torch *and* there is "torch stuff there in that next square, you can extend it into there. If the natural fire is a burning wood floor and there is fuel enough to match that, it can be expanded to another square.

But the damage potential does not increase or decrease.

So, no, really, the house fire doesnt get snuffed down to a torch by the expand feature. But, then, nobody said it did.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I think a lot of DMs worry too much about allowing things that don’t explicitly say they can be used to do damage to do damage, especially when it comes to cantrips. Personally, I try to err on the side of allowing a result that reinforces the players’ sense of a consistent world. It makes sense that filling a creature’s 5-foot space with fire would hurt them, so it should do some fire damage. Probably with a chance to avoid the damage with a successful save. So, I’d say the target should make a Dex save and take 1d6 fire damage on a fail.
 

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