D&D 5E Does lightening bolt spell cause extra damage to sea creatures in water?

Klaudius Rex

Explorer
The exact situation is that in my Dungeon of the Mad Mage game, my players come across a coven of sea hags in an underground cavern...

...and so we’re rolling initiative next weekend for battle. And they’re already discussing tactics which is cool...but one player wants to cast lightening bolt into the river, and I’m pretty sure they think that the electricity will cause damage to the hags even if they succeed in their saving throw or that the damage will be amplified because they’re in water?!

is this a thing? (I’m not much of an electrician here)...

Has anyone come across this? I especially want to hear from any Saltmarsh DMs with all that water in that setting...

And if it doesn’t work, for whatever reason, is there a way I can ‘rule of cool’ reward the player for creativity without going overboard?!
 

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Kurotowa

Legend
In the old old days, there were entire pages of rules for how being underwater altered spell effects. Lightning Bolt, for example, would turn into a spherical AoE similar to Fireball. I believe cold spells would cause water to freeze, potentially dragging ice-bound targets towards the surface.

These are not the old days. The principles of 5e are simplicity and ease of use. Having to look up and parse all the spell alterations would only confuse your players and slow the game down, so magic is magical and just works. Don't worry about it and focus on larger concerns.
 

The exact situation is that in my Dungeon of the Mad Mage game, my players come across a coven of sea hags in an underground cavern...

...and so we’re rolling initiative next weekend for battle. And they’re already discussing tactics which is cool...but one player wants to cast lightening bolt into the river, and I’m pretty sure they think that the electricity will cause damage to the hags even if they succeed in their saving throw or that the damage will be amplified because they’re in water?!

is this a thing? (I’m not much of an electrician here)...

Has anyone come across this? I especially want to hear from any Saltmarsh DMs with all that water in that setting...

And if it doesn’t work, for whatever reason, is there a way I can ‘rule of cool’ reward the player for creativity without going overboard?!
If you want to be simulationist about it, treat lightning bolt as just electricity, but reward the player a little, I'd have the point the lightning bolt strikes the water as the centre of a 20ft radius lightening blast. (Because the water will conduct it) However I would also have anyone in that area automatically take half damage, no save. (Because the electricity prefers to conduct through the seawater water and will path around the bodies of people in it as a preference.)
So the player gets to hit more creatures, and more reliably, but will do less damage probably.

Personally I'd treat it as magic and not adjust the spell. You could make a similar argument that full plate armour should grant you resistance at least to lightning damage for instance. Its a slippery slope. :)
 


Steampunkette

A5e 3rd Party Publisher!
Supporter
I imagine a Lightening Bolt would just make the water float bit.

;)

But yeah. In games I generally have spells just follow their normal rules, regardless of environment. A lightning bolt goes it's full range in water, striking only what is in it's path, because it's magic in the form of lightning, rather than magic manipulating electricity that exists.
 

I mean, every video game I've played with a type(ish) situation like this would usually allow lightning to do something extra. At most, you could do it like how Heat Metal treats metal and just like allow the lightning spell to roll with advantage to hit because of the water.

But I already hear the murmurs of the audience whispering their disapproval for associating. DND with video game aspects: away I go! Tuxedo Mask outta here.
 

Its not real lightning. Its magical. It works underwater the same as it does on land.

It cant be cast by the PCs underwater unless they can breathe water though, as it has a V component.
 

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