Today, I am going to talk about a fire that does not give of any light and only lasts a minute. Yes, the create bonfire 5e cantrip in DnD is weird, like seriously wacky. I have been playing as a warlock and I’ve been using this spell quite a lot and I just thought, this spell is so much more than you would expect it to be on the surface.
First, it does not produce any light, the text says nothing like that unlike other spells, however, this could be an oversight. You can also use it underwater, with no limitations at all.
If you want to start burning down the world of Faerun then the Create Bonfire spell is a pretty good start. In this guide, I am going to explain what the spell does, give you some insight and tips and tricks on when to use it best, and answer some of the most asked questions about it.
What does Create Bonfire 5e do?
My source for this is Xanathar´s guide to everything. This is the first large expansion of 5e. When you cast create bonfire, you fill a 5-foot cube with a magical fire. You can see this within a range of 60ft. The spell lasts one minute.
When a creature of any kind walks into the bonfire, they must make a dexterity saving throw to avoid taking fire damage. If they fail this throw, they will take 1d8 damage. You can also cast a bonfire where a target is standing. In that case, they also must roll a 1d8 dice for damage if they fail their DEX save.
As an additional effect, the fire can spread to flammable objects in the 5ft cube that is not worn or carried. So you can’t roast your marshmallows in it, technically speaking, as you are carrying those.
It is a cantrip spell that requires only one action. For those who love the school of conjuration or are playing a conjuration only built, this is one of those spells you can add to your arsenal. Being a cantrip, Create Bonfire does not need a spell slot! So getting this cantrip does not lock you out of level 1 spells, you do need to make sure that you go over all the possible cantrips and compare them to know if this is the one that is right for your build.
The spell scales with the level of the caster. You start out with a 1d8 as a level one, 2d8 when you are level 5, 3d8 when you are 11 and finally 4d8 when you reach level 17. Not bad for a bonfire! If you want to make this spell even stronger, you can use a Fire Snake as a material component!
There are 5 different classes that can cast Create Bonfire. First, the druids, second the sorcerers, third the warlocks, fourth the wizards, and finally the artificers can also use it.
When should you use this spell + examples
Let´s talk about timing first. This is one of those spells you need to set up before the fight begins. It lasts 60 seconds, so you should use it right before you engage in combat or try to lure them into the bonfire.
Now, what about the place? The spell is 5ft and static. So either you cast it under an enemy or in a narrow space. Another great option is somewhere where there are a lot of flammable things nearby. The effects of spell are pretty useful to start a fire and 5 ft is a pretty large area.
Create Bonfire 5e is also great for crowd control. If you are fighting a hoard of weak monsters in a tunnel, hallway or mountain pass this spell is going to do some serious damage in total. A chance to hit an 8 in fire damage after a monster fails a dex save might not be much, but it adds up if you have a ton of enemies in front of you.
So the most obvious case when you should use Create Bonfire 5e is when you want to block a doorway or a narrow passage. Casting the spell makes sure that any enemy that wants to get to you or your party is going to take some nice damage if they fail their dexterity role.
Some incredible examples on how to use create bonfire 5e
1. Skeletons in an underground dungeon
Let´s say you are fighting as a level 1 druid, in a dungeon. In front of you is a door, and you just know that there is a hoard of skeletons readies to attack you and the boys (and girls). A great tactic could be to try and lure them out of the room, and before they come outcast a bonfire on the floor.
Every single skeleton passing through will have to do a Dex save throw. If they fail, they get 1d8 damage. Those chips of damage are going to add up! If you are fighting 4 skeletons and 3 miss their save, you are talking about a potential damage output of 24 right at the start of the fight.
2. A cramped goblin tunnel
Another good place to use it would be in a goblin tunnel. These are quite narrow and a 5ft block is more than enough to block the entrance or exit. The interesting thing about using this spell in the dark is that it gives no light despite being a fire. So a bonfire created with this magic is different from a regular campfire in DnD as those do give off light.
Goblins aren’t too strong and often come at you in larger groups. Those two facts mean that the cumulative damage done to your green adversaries will be quite a bit to deal with for your DM. If he does not have a proper way to pursue you and avoid the bonfire, your party might very well damage his goblin hoard that you can just turn around and fight them with a lot better odds.
3. Enemies backed in a corner or pursuing you in buildings
Another nice tactic is when your enemy is backed into a corner or is a mindless being that wants to kill you no matter what. You are fighting, for example, a zombie, and you cast the spell right behind them. This way, you can kick them straight into the fire to chip away their health. You can also have a party surround an enemy and just kick them into the fire.
Lastly, this is a great spell if you want to escape or you have a lot of room to run back to. Let’s say you are getting overwhelmed in a long hallway and being pursued by cultists. If you cast this spell behind you, and the hallway is narrow, they will all need to make a throw. This can seriously add up to the damage you have done over the span of a turn. You might even turn the tide of battle if enough of them miss a throw, and you have additional spells that can damage them.
Tip: Remember that Create Bonfire in 5th edition DnD is a concentration spell. Once it is cast, you can not cast another spell, or it will be lost. Keep this in mind, as this does limit your action economy quite a bit if you want to keep this magical attack up.
How good is create bonfire?
It is one of my favorite spells to use in DnD 5e. I think it scales pretty well and is really strong if you use it well.
The strength of this skill is 100% dependent on where you use it. If you are going to use it in an open field, you won’t make much of an impact. Creatures will just be able to walk around it. You can also box in a creature if it is in a corner. Then you can make sure it won’t be able to leave the bonfire, and keep kicking him in together with another player.
Second, it also depends on how many creatures there are. If you are fighting a hoard of monsters that individually are rather weak but a real menace to fight if they are in groups, Create Bonfire is one of the best spells to use if you are in tunnels or hallways. Just imagine having a hoard of 15 goblins pass through the bonfire before they can even attack you. If you have a party member that is at least level 5 so the potential damage is double, you can make a difficult fight a walk in the park.
Talking about levels, I think at level 17 bonfire can still be very useful depending on the surroundings. In narrow spaces, it is completely overpowered.
Conclusion – this is one strong DnD campfire!
Using a Create Bonfire spell in 5e DnD can be a massive headache for your opponent. To the frustration of many DM’s this spell can be used a lot more often than you would think at first glance. Turns out, a lot of things you have to pass through are 5ft. Almost every hallway, door, mountain path, tunnel,… is 5 feet. So this spell gets spammed all the time.
You might want to think about ways to have the spell backfire on your players if they use it too often. You could also just ban it outright or force them to use another concentration spell, as that will extinguish the bonfire.
If you are playing as a class that can use this spell, it is definitely worth considering adding to your arsenal! Keep in mind that the spell shines most when you are not being attacked directly. You will need to have a decent team strategy to make sure you get the most out of this magic.
Create Bonfire 5e FAQ
Question: How long does Create Bonfire last?
Answer: The Create Bonfire spell lasts for 60 seconds. However, since this is a concentration spell, it can be cut short the moment you do an action that requires you to stop concentrating on casting this kind of magic. This could for example be casting another spell like agonizing blast. So you might want to watch out for that.
The duration in my opinion is quite long and does not add a lot of value to the power. It does not give off any light, so it is disqualified as a lightning source, and it is static. Since you will only use the spell for a couple of seconds most of the time the duration it is up is not a huge bonus.
Question: Is this a good fire spell?
Answer: It depends on where and how you use it. If you use it correctly, in a narrow passage of 5 feet where enemies have to pass through, it is very strong. The same goes when there is stuff around that would catch fire. If you use it in an open field, it isn’t good at all. Enemies can just walk around it.
As a Dungeon master, I really like Create Bonfire in 5e. That is why I often send out monsters towards my players that might be weak to fire or that I HomeBrew to be weak to a fire-based spell. The monsters I used in my last campaign er Ice Elementals. These are large, relatively slow Ice Monsters that mindlessly pursue a target when given the command, so a perfect victim for magic like this!
Question: How much damage does create bonfire do?
Answer: The damage of the Create Bonfire spell starts at 1d8 at level 1. It scales with the level of the caster. At level 1 it damages 1d8, at level 5 it will be 2d8, level 11 3d8 and at 17 4d8. This hit is not guaranteed. The creature must fail a DEX roll in order to get hit by the spell, and he has to either walk into the bonfire or be standing in the 5 feet cube when it is cast.
This is okay damage when you only have one target run through the fire. However, when you are being pursued by a bunch of monsters like a hoard of reanimated dead, like zombies and skeletons, and they all get hit by this, you do cumulative damage that is often over a hundred hit points. Tactics like this can weaken enemy mobs quite a lot and swing the battle back into the favor of your party.