D&D 5E Thoughts on letting spellcasters change elemental damage as a rule...


I was asked to consider allowing spellcasters be able to select the type of elemental damage a spell can do regardless of the one listed in the spell. The argument was that some elements are less represented, and therefore, if you have less selection if you want to pursue a particular avenue...for example, there are many more spells that do fire and cold damage than lightning and thunder. So, for example, a wizard could cast a static sphere instead of a flaming sphere to deal lightning damage if they wanted to. Once they decide on the damage choice to prepare, they are stuck with it. I do know of some of the ways around this in the form of Transmuted Spell if a sorcerer and Awakened Spellbook if a wizard. Just wondering if anyone else has such a rule or if they have house ruled anything similar? I am inclined at this time to decline this rule. Let me know if you agree or not.

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I would probably treat them as separate spells. So if someone wanted an elemental themed caster that was missing spells, we could reskin some. But they'd have to learn them (or whatnot) as that new spell, and prepare it as that new spell.

I don't remember doing it for elements, but I've certainly been in games where some other spells were reskinned to have appropriate effects.


No rule is inviolate
I'd be disinclined as, for example, almost no monsters have resistance/immunity to thunder damage, but a significant portion do to fire and ice. If I'm a caster, I'd simply make everything thunder damage to avoid limitations versus demons, etc. It would become an exploitation.

Now, if you wanted simply to reskin spell appearances (e.g. a fireball explodes in a visible ball of lightning but still does fire damage), that's another matter and was part of an AD&D Dark Sun expansion book wherein no two wizard spells ever looked or sounded alike.


A suffusion of yellow
first off I have Wizards etc pick an elemental tradition in which they are proficient, which means a arcana skill check if they want to change the energy type on the fly

otherwise, energy ball replaces fireball and allows for different elements plus extra status on a failed save
-fireball ignites flameable objects and causes extra burn damage,
-acid causes flesh rot plus burn damage,
-ice causes things to freeze plus burn damage,
-electricity causes knock prone and burn damage

my favourite variant is Hail of thorns which causes the bleeding condition

if more monsters have fire resistance than thunder, then the issue is to be more creative with monsters rather than less permissive with spells

It always bothered me a little, because it makes Lightning Bolt a strictly inferior spell to Fireball. Not a deal-breaker, it just bugs me.

I've always wanted to have elemental damage be consistent across spells, sort of like Tonguez is describing.


I've been allowing swapping elements since 1st ed. Although I've always insisted that they're different spells.

Swapping out elements on the fly is fine but... it's a decent advantage. So I'd maybe allow a metamagic feat be applied to it. Hmm, given this is 5e and feats are hard to come by, maybe just the one-time feat tax. Thereafter the caster can swap out freely.


Unfortunately, the damage types have largely been balanced around resistance and immunity. Fire tends to do the greatest amount of damage, with psychic dealing the least, since there are a ton of monsters resistant/immune to fire. Elemental damage is the least affected, but thunder is less resisted than any of the others. I would suggest working with them on individual spells they want altered, creating new spells with appropriate damage and secondary effects.


That comes with sorcerer and elemental magic.

Also with elemental adept feat.

Also try if you like elemental mastery reworked feat as a house rule:

+1 to int, wis or cha
Pick element out of acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison and thunder.
You can ignore resistance to that elemental damage and treat immunity as resistance.

that way you keep all effects tied to specific element, but can deal with all, or almost all monsters.


All great feedback and lots of stuff for me to consider. The player in this case wants to basically have all his pyromancer's spells affect with fire damage because of his infernal and draconic blood lines...basically having an innate relationship with fire. At this point, I am thinking of having that manipulation be completely possible but at some risk of not working or completely fizzling. So, for example, learn the spell lightning bolt...but when you go to cast it, roll arcana using proficiency + charisma against the spell's difficulty. If if the check beats 10+spell level, the damage is transformed. If you don't meet or beat that DC, it goes off as lightning. If you roll a 1, it fizzles and the spell is wasted. Too harsh? Too easy? Thanks again for weighing in on the myriad of options.

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