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D&D (2024) What is the lowest damage Fireball could deal where you would still prep/use it?

What is the lowest damage Fireball could deal where you would still prep/use it?

  • 1d6 (avg 3.5)

    Votes: 3 3.7%
  • 2d6 (avg 7)

    Votes: 3 3.7%
  • 3d6 (avg 10.5)

    Votes: 2 2.5%
  • 4d6 (avg 14)

    Votes: 10 12.3%
  • 5d6 (avg 17.5)

    Votes: 15 18.5%
  • 6d6 (avg 21)

    Votes: 32 39.5%
  • 7d6 (avg 24.5)

    Votes: 3 3.7%
  • 8d6 (avg 28)

    Votes: 11 13.6%
  • More than 8d6 (i.e., I don't use it now)

    Votes: 1 1.2%
  • I wouldn't use Fireball no matter how much damage it did

    Votes: 1 1.2%

I'd be perfectly fine with Fireball at 6d6. I'm just trying to figure out whether I'd take/use it if it was 5d6 or so.

Tidal Wave, for example, is 4d8 (average 18, roughly the same as 5d6's 17.5). I've never really been happy with Tidal Wave, but mostly in comparison to Fireball. The equivalent of 5d6 while knocking prone vs 6d6 without knocking prone could be a reasonable choice, whereas 8d6 just completely overshadows a knock prone effect.

Anyway, that bit of consideration puts me at 6d6 for Fireball.
Tidal wave also has a much small AOE, which is a big issue.

Fireball is 20' radius, so 40' across, which is absolutely gigantic.

Tidal Wave is a line 10' wide and up to 30' long. That's a small fraction of the size of a fireball - about 1/4 to be precise (300 square feet vs 1257 square feet - yes a fireball does have better square footage than a small house!).

I think this is the big issue people don't really process with Fireball - it's a double-whammy. It not only does ridiculous damage for its level (intentionally) in the current design, but it has a ridiculously large AOE, and a circle AOE is one of the easiest to position efficiently.
 

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Asisreo

Patron Badass
I think there's a misconception that fireball is picked because it's the best when the reality is that fireball is picked because it's unqiue.

Fireball is AoE damage pure and simple. No DoT. No status effects. No concentration. It's one big explosion. The only one comparable is lightning bolt, which is pretty much just the same spell with a different shape.

Fireball is balanced simply because it has nothing to balance against it. Cone of Cold has a much better AoE where the party can simply be behind the wizard and it has greater range. Blight is a druidic damage spell, which makes it bad in comparison to those that have access to fireball but it's still viable for druids that want damage.
 

SakanaSensei

Adventurer
So in other words, it should be removed from the game. That's my point: if you are going to nerf it to be useless so no one takes it, then just come out and state that Fireball shouldn't be in the game. Which isn't going to happen.
As a martial, if I had the option to grab an ability that let me, a few times a day, take a swing at every creature in a massive area, I’d be all over it. I don’t understand why something that would be an obvious boon to one archetype is worthless on another.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
As a martial, if I had the option to grab an ability that let me, a few times a day, take a swing at every creature in a massive area, I’d be all over it. I don’t understand why something that would be an obvious boon to one archetype is worthless on another.
Mostly because there are better things to use spell slots on. I mean, compare this to the humble sleet storm.

3rd-level conjuration

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S, M (a pinch of dust and a few drops of water)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

Until the spell ends, freezing rain and sleet fall in a 20-foot-tall cylinder with a 40-foot radius centered on a point you choose within range. The area is heavily obscured, and exposed flames in the area are doused.

The ground in the area is covered with slick ice, making it difficult terrain. When a creature enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, it must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, it falls prone.

If a creature starts its turn in the spell's area and is concentrating on a spell, the creature must make a successful Constitution saving throw against your spell save DC or lose concentration.

So while it doesn't do any damage, for basically an entire combat, you get a 40' radius zone that costs double movement for enemies to move through, and if you fail a save when you do, you fall prone and stop moving entirely, and then next turn, you get to try again, and failure effectively reduces your speed to 1/4th! Oh and it also nicely forces concentration checks if you have an enemy spellcaster to worry about.

That kind of battlefield control and caster denial is something a non-caster could only dream about, way better than a super limited "swing my weapon at everyone in 30'".

Basically, if you're going to use one of your limited spell slots on something, it really needs to be effective. A big, unfriendly blast that can fail to slaughter some CR 1 enemies? Yeah, I'll take the sleet storm, thanks. It can keep enemies you aren't ready for yet out of melee, foil ranged attacks, and mess with casters for a whole fight vs. softening up enemies which are still 100% combat effective.

And I haven't even mentioned hypnotic pattern, slow, or stinking cloud yet!
 

SakanaSensei

Adventurer
Mostly because there are better things to use spell slots on. I mean, compare this to the humble sleet storm.

3rd-level conjuration

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S, M (a pinch of dust and a few drops of water)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

Until the spell ends, freezing rain and sleet fall in a 20-foot-tall cylinder with a 40-foot radius centered on a point you choose within range. The area is heavily obscured, and exposed flames in the area are doused.

The ground in the area is covered with slick ice, making it difficult terrain. When a creature enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, it must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, it falls prone.

If a creature starts its turn in the spell's area and is concentrating on a spell, the creature must make a successful Constitution saving throw against your spell save DC or lose concentration.

So while it doesn't do any damage, for basically an entire combat, you get a 40' radius zone that costs double movement for enemies to move through, and if you fail a save when you do, you fall prone and stop moving entirely, and then next turn, you get to try again, and failure effectively reduces your speed to 1/4th! Oh and it also nicely forces concentration checks if you have an enemy spellcaster to worry about.

That kind of battlefield control and caster denial is something a non-caster could only dream about, way better than a super limited "swing my weapon at everyone in 30'".

Basically, if you're going to use one of your limited spell slots on something, it really needs to be effective. A big, unfriendly blast that can fail to slaughter some CR 1 enemies? Yeah, I'll take the sleet storm, thanks. It can keep enemies you aren't ready for yet out of melee, foil ranged attacks, and mess with casters for a whole fight vs. softening up enemies which are still 100% combat effective.

And I haven't even mentioned hypnotic pattern, slow, or stinking cloud yet!
That looks great to me! I still fundamentally disagree with the premise that 2d6 to everything in a massive area, usually the entire battlefield, is somehow so anemic as to not be worth taking, ever.

Spells like Sleet Storm or Hypnotic Pattern are fine by me because they don’t directly step on the toes of several core character archetypes by showing them up in the fanciest way possible. In fact, as a martial, I’d be ecstatic if my wizard buddy used Sleet Storm in a smart way, because it’s basically terrain that has made the scenario more tactically interesting!

I’ve had players, though, especially new players, hit level 5, and after having asked “can my barbarian like, swing around with their hammer out and hit everyone around me?”, being told no, that’s not how the class works, gotten used to that for 3-4 levels, and then seeing a friend throw fireball and do the equivalent of several rounds of their attacks in damage, get deflated and want to retire their character.

This’ll be my last post because again, I don’t want to drudge up the tired martial/caster divide conversation. People have their camps and I’ve never seen someone change their mind on it. I just really didn’t appreciate essentially being called a liar or people using wording that implied I was arguing in bad faith. “Just say you want it deleted!” No, I’d just like it to be weaker, please, thanks.
 

Horwath

Legend
The reality is if it did 4d6 damage but otherwise was the same as now (i.e. no prone), some people would still take it, because it has a really good AOE pattern.
that would be complete garbage tier spell.

what, to lose preparation slot for some off-chance that DM will position 15+ creatures in 20ft radius?
 

Horwath

Legend
I think there's a misconception that fireball is picked because it's the best when the reality is that fireball is picked because it's unqiue.

Fireball is AoE damage pure and simple. No DoT. No status effects. No concentration. It's one big explosion. The only one comparable is lightning bolt, which is pretty much just the same spell with a different shape.

Fireball is balanced simply because it has nothing to balance against it. Cone of Cold has a much better AoE where the party can simply be behind the wizard and it has greater range. Blight is a druidic damage spell, which makes it bad in comparison to those that have access to fireball but it's still viable for druids that want damage.
this.

for 1D&D, 8d6, 20ft Fireball should be benchmark of what all other damage spells will start.
 

Clint_L

Hero
That looks great to me! I still fundamentally disagree with the premise that 2d6 to everything in a massive area, usually the entire battlefield, is somehow so anemic as to not be worth taking, ever.
Context matters. As a level 1 spell...yeah, that would be okay. As a level 3 spell, against all the other options out there? No way anyone takes that, unless MAYBE they have such foreknowledge of an upcoming event where a zillion kobolds are going to be packed into a room (and even then accept that most or all of them are likely to survive). And no one with limited spell options would use one of them up on such a feeble, niche spell - no sorcerer would even consider it, for example.

Also, you are comparing this to a weapon attack, but weapon attacks get significant damage bonuses, can crit, are basically never resisted, and aren't saveable. What does an actual great sword attack hit for at level 5? Typically at least 11 damage, before bonuses for rage, magic, crits, etc. Adjusting for saves, that Fireball's 2d6 is going to be around 4-5 hp damage, on average, over that area. It's just not a realistic proposal for a level 3 spell in today's D&D.
 
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that would be complete garbage tier spell.

what, to lose preparation slot for some off-chance that DM will position 15+ creatures in 20ft radius?
No, it wouldn't, not unless most 3rd-level damage spells are "garbage tier". Compared to other 3rd-level damage spells it would still be "okay". It wouldn't be outstanding, but it'd be okay, because of the ridiculous radius. What it would do would be change a spell from a no-brainer to a spell you only memorized when you expected to fight a lot of weak opponents.
this.

for 1D&D, 8d6, 20ft Fireball should be benchmark of what all other damage spells will start.
So Full Casters should just be a lot more powerful than non-casters?

That's what you're saying, essentially.

I do agree that if they insist on keeping Fireball where it is, they should pull up other 3rd level damage spells a bit, but really, they knock Fireball down to 6d6, where it would still be close to a no-brainer, but not a total no-brainer.
 

As a level 1 spell...yeah, that would be okay.
LOL.

Dude, have you ever looked at level 1 damage spells? 2d6 save for half over a 20' radius, 1257 square feet, hitting dozens of 5' squares, would be drastically more powerful than any other level 1 combat spell. Not "okay". It'd be better than some level 2 combat spells and certainly on-par with most - Snowball Swarm does a 5' radius with 3d6 damage and Shatter does a 10' radius with 3d8 damage (save for half in both cases, Shatter is objectively superior, to Snowball Swarm, and 2d6 Fireball would also be objectively superior to Snowball Swam in virtually all multi-target situations).
 

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