Believe it or not, we haven’t written a Fireball 5e guide yet! This iconic spell has been the most popular one for mages to use in every single edition of Dungeons and Dragons. No wonder, since it is crazy powerful and a true staple of any campaign.
Both Dungeons Masters and (new) Players will find value in this massive handbook for the fireball spell. Since I will go very deep discussing the good and the bad of this spell.
At the end of the guide, I will answer some frequently asked questions.
I strongly suggest you use the table of contents to navigate quickly to the parts you want to read.
|3rd||Evocation||150 feet||V, S, M||Instant||Sorcerer, Wizard|
Source: The Official Players Handbook on page 241.
If you are a more experienced player, this table should be enough for you to know how the basics Fireball work. If you are a new player, this chapter is going to teach you a ton about spells, so don’t skip it!
In case you want to read more fire-related beginner content but monster-related, our Fire Snake Guide is perfect.
Fireball is a level 3 spell. That means you will have to place it in the 3rd slot. Level 3 is not hard to get, so you will get it at around the early intermediary stage of your campaign.
If we look at the other magical attacks that the Sorcerer and Wizard have available at this stage, fireball is likely going to be the main damage dealer amongst all of those.
So if this is your first campaign, and you don’t want to get left behind, strongly consider picking Fireball as one of your level three spells.
Evocation school of magic
Fireball is a part of the evocation school of magic. This school has spells that manipulate energy and use an unseen energy source to evoke magic. There are many iconic magical attacks based on the evocation school of magic besides this one.
Most notably, Lightning bolt, Frostbite, and magic missile. All of these do some severe damage and are great picks for adventurers who want to do serious damage.
One of my favorite things about Fireball in 5e, and the other editions, is the range of the spell. You can fire this magical fire up to 150 feet. That is a massive range and much more than for example Magic stone. This makes it one of the best spells for a long-range attack and opens up a ton of opportunities.
Also, I am a major fan of doing chip damage before fighting. By having your druid cast Moonbeam, which has a similar range of 120 feet, you can seriously harm the enemy before they can get close to you.
Even more so when they only have melee attacks and have a rather slow movement speed.
Components needed to cast Fireball 5e
In order to cast a Fireball, you need to have a Verbal (V), Somatic (S), and Material (M) component for it to work. If you are new to casting magic, this can be quite confusing. You always need at least one component to use a spell in Dungeons and Dragons.
- Verbal: The (V) element means you need to be able to speak. Being able to speak means as much being able to make an audible noise as if you are talking at a regular noise level. In case your mouth is obscured by a cloth, a hand or you have fallen victim to Silence, you won’t be able to cast spells that require a verbal component.
- Somatic: The (S) stands for movement. If you can not move your hands enough to make a gesture and point at your target, you can’t use magic that requires the somatic component. So if your hands are tied up, or you are in a very tight tunnel, you won’t be able to use this magic.
- Material: Some magic requires you to use materials. In case of Fireball, you will need two different materials. This is 1) A tiny ball of bat guano and 2) some sulfur. If you do not have these materials, you can not cast the magic.
The duration for Fireball is instantaneous. This means that when you cast this magic, it appears in an instance and will go away straight after doing its effect. In this case, burning your enemies to a crip.
There are a massive amount of magical attacks and effects that can last longer than your turn. Think about spells like Blink, which lasts up to a minute, or Conjure Element which can last up to an hour.
Classes that can use Fireball
There are two classes that have access to Fireball in 5e. These are, and no surprises here, the Sorcerer and the Wizard. For both these classes, it is probably the strongest level 3 magic you can pick.
Picking this and putting it in your third spell slot – or higher – as one of those classes is essential to turn into a reliable damage dealer.
For both the Sorcerer and the Wizard, this is an iconic spell. However, there are quite a few subclasses that are able to use Fireball:
- Eldritch Knight Fighter
- Light Domain Cleric
- Fiend Warlock
- Arcane Trickster Rogue
The spell is optional for these four classes and are not as much as a vital part of the build for them. It is still a lot of fun to cast, but from a role-playing perspective, I would suggest not picking Fireball.
If you are playing subclasses like these, I strongly suggest you to pick less known magical spells that are not as damage focussed, like Catnap 5e, to make your campaign more creative.
What Fireball does when you cast it
When you cast a spell like Fireball, you need to say (V) the magical words, have your Bat shi… Euh Guano (M) and Sulfur (M) are ready and point (S) at a target.
The moment you do this, a bright streak of magical light flashes from the finger you use to point at the target that is within the 150 feet range.
Then a flame explodes where you have pointed. The flame erupts into a ball of scorching fire of a 20 feet radius sphere (which is massive). Every creature that is within range of that huge sphere of magical fire must now make a DEX saving throw.
Creatures that fail this throw will take 8d6 damage. That means the average damage dealt with Fireball is 24. Creatures that do a successful Dexterity saving throw will only get hit for half that damage, or 12 damage on average.
This fire can spread around the corners of walls, and just like Cloudkill it will fill cracks and spaces if it is within the sphere of the range. Items that are flammable – which are not worn, carried, or magically protected – will catch fire if they are in these 20 feet radius spheres.
Fireball at higher levels
In Dungeons and Dragons, you sometimes have the option to put a spell in a higher tier to make it more powerful. Fireball 5e is one of those.
Putting it in the 4th slot increases the damage by 1d6. Putting it in the 5th slot will add 2d6. This goes on all the way to the highest slot. Another example of this game mechanic is Earth Tremor.
Is Fireball 5e good?
Fireball is iconic for a reason. It is one of the best spells you can have as a Wizard or a Sorcerer. If you want to deal a massive amount of damage from a distance, then you don’t have many better options than this one.
Since the Dungeon Masters often send out large amounts of enemies by having a villain use Animate Death or combine less strong monsters like Helmed Horrors into a unit, having a spell with a huge AoE always is a great option to have in your book.
Besides taking on a large number of enemies, Fireball can also cause a distraction, put things ablaze and destroy buildings. For creative players, there are a ton of things you can do.
No need for thinking
From a roleplaying perspective and just wanting to have fun, this is one of my favorite spells of all time. The spell is simple and straightforward but can have a lot of unexpected uses if you are creative.
Fireball is also one of those magic attacks that are a ton of fun to cast due to the sheer amount of d6 dice you have to throw to calculate the damage.
Tip: Since Fireball is a magical fire, you can also use it underwater, so the magical fire blast might come in handy in underwater combat. Unfortunately, it only does half damage due to your targets being covered in water.
When is Fireball bad?
There are some scenarios where I would strongly suggest you do not use Fireball. While the spell is great for the most part, it is also the one magical attack that most often kills allies and the caster.
Dangerous for allies
The Area of effect is a 20 feet, which is quite large. A lot of players misjudge this and cast the spell while they or an ally is in range.
A few other things that might make Fireball kind of bad in some situations is that since it is an AoE spell you can not do a critical hit. The fact that it is AoE also means you can not just go shooting it without putting something on fire.
Fire is a common resistance
Finally, fire is the most common resistance in Dungeons and Dragons. That means in a lot of your encounters; your attack won’t do the damage that you want it to do and only deal half. So make sure you know the resistance of an enemy before you use a spell or an attack on it, so you do not waste a turn.
There are also quite a lot of enemies that are immune to fire, in that case, you will not do any damage at all. Ps: We have a Life Transference Guide that is going to help you restore your party members hit points super fast in case you burned them.
How to use Fireball
- Fire long-range attacks
- Attack lots of enemies in the radius
- Ignite stuff
- Aim at the periphery
So now you know the good and the bad about this evocation magic, let’s take a look at how you can use Fireball in 5e to its full potential, besides just burning down an entire dungeon room to a crisp.
Long range attacks
The best aspect of Fireball, in my opinion, is the fact that it has a range of 150 feet. That is massive. You can fire this spell long before a melee opponent is able to reach you. No matter where you are on the battlefield, you can blast your enemies away with almost no problem.
The long-range also means you can just blast this sphere of fire in a long hallway, or in a cave just before entering if you aren’t in the mood to get ambushed.
There are not many magical spells that have a similar range at this level and can dish out a ton of damage. So I would strongly suggest you pick Fireball as your long-range attack as a Wizard and Sorcerer for your character levels 5 to 8.
Talking about ambushes, imagine a giant poisonous snake swarm hiding in the jungle somewhere, just waiting for your party to pass through the canopy and attack. Well, the radius of a Fireball is 20 feet. So the odds are pretty big that your spell hits something if you just fire off in the general direction where you think it is.
While you should not go around firing a sphere of fire around any corner, it still is a great way to make sure you aren’t being ambushed.
Talking about corners, remember that a Fireball can go around the corner of a wall, so if you think someone is lurking, it is a great option to snuff them out.
Putting things on fire
Everything that is not being worn or carried that is flammable can catch fire when casting this spell. If you just want to cause maximum chaos in a military fort made out of wood, this is the way to go.
Fireball 5e can put the wood ablaze from a distance of 150 feet (170 feet actually if you count the 20 feet radius of the sphere too).
If you want to burn a goblin den to the ground, this spell is a great option too. Another creative way I have seen my players use this spell is to burn evidence and bodies.
Off center aiming
Going a bit deeper about the radius, this really is a two-faced aspect of the spell. The radius is both the best and worst part of this spell. The area of effect can melt down your coins, burn your allies, and put ablaze your favorite inn. The great thing however is that you just don’t need to aim well.
You can blast down a flying enemy like a Giant Gargoyle. You can pinpoint a specific point, too, and use it as a very temporary area of denial spell as a warning.
When not to use fireball
- enemies immune to fire
- enemies resistant to fire
- invisible allies
- valuable items nearby
- at higher levels
As said, there are a couple of downsides to using Fireball in 5e. This list is not exhaustive. Since there are an almost infinite amount of scenarios where you should not use a 20 feet sphere of fire. As some general advice, use your common sense with this spell.
Immune to fire
There are so many monsters that are immune to fire. Odds are pretty high that you are going to come across multiple of these during your adventures.
While low-level monsters like the Giant Toad don’t have a lot of immunities and resistances, tonnes of higher levels do. So Fireball – and a lot of other fire based elemental magic – starts to drop off quite fast due to this.
In some cases, an enemy can be resistant to fire due to a magical effect. For example, when under the influence of Feign Death the creature is completely immune to any kind of damage.
Resistant to fire
Obviously, if a creature is resistant to fire you should not use a fire-based magical attack on it. So if you see a Tarrasque, and you blast a Fireball at it, it won’t do anything. Make sure you have your Monster Manual nearby or ask your DM to tell you what the resistances are.
If you have a DM – like me – that tells you to go off your own knowledge, it might be a good idea to do some monster studying! You can also ask your Dungeon Master – or an in-game NPC – to give you a brief overview of the fauna and flora of the region you are in.
If your allies are invisible and roaming on the battlefield, you might not want to use a spell that has a radius of 20 feet. When you cast Fireball this might hit one of your party members. So if you do decide to use this evocation magic when you have invisible allies make sure you know where they are.
You just can’t believe how many times I had players fighting in a room full of treasure and slinging magic around without any regard of what is in it besides the enemies they are fighting at the moment.
Result: Burned scrolls, destroyed fabrics, molten gold, and damaged pieces of jewelry you won’t be able to use for Incite Greed anymore. Oftentimes, when the item they were quested to retrieve was in that very dungeon room, it has been turned to dust by the end of the fight.
Fireball is great when you are at around level 5. It is a strong spell that packs a serious punch at that stage of the campaign, however, it does start to fall over time. Around level 13 there are much better spells available to your wizard or sorcerer.
At the end of the campaign, it is almost worth nothing, even if you put it in the highest slot. For example, Meteor Swarm has a range of one mile and can do 45 times as much damage as a Fireball.
If you want to get around all of those fire resistances and immunities, there is a way. If you have the Elemental Adept feat, your Fireball can ignore resistances to elemental damage of your choice.
A good pick, in this case, would of course be fire. Moreover, every 1 you roll on your 6d’s changes to a 2. Since you roll so many of them, this gives a very decent bonus.
Fireball is all about showing restraint. You need to be aware of your surroundings and know where your enemies and your allies are. The spell is instant and has a range 150 feet and a 20 feet radius. So it is extremely hard to dodge for an enemy.
Open planes and long caves
The best way to use Fireball is on open plains or long caves and dungeons, where you there are a ton of smaller units. Imagine a makeshift army of kobolds, goblins, zombies, and skeletons archers.
A Fireball right in the middle of a squadron like that is going to do massive damage and instantly turn the tide of battle.
Not good for single-target high hp monsters
Using a Fireball on a monster that has a ton of hit points, or a resistance or immunity to fire is going to be a bad idea. It won’t do enough damage or have a useful effect to make a real impact.
Fireball: The D&D origins
Fireball has been an essential part in the rich history of Dungeons and Dragons. It seems fitting that we look at the spell when it started out to see how much this iconic attack for wizards and sorcerers has changed.
This short overview also gives those playing or adapting from older editions a chance to see if they should use an older version of Fireball. For most of us, including me, this is mainly a nostalgia trip.
The Original D&D
Odds are you have never played this version of the game. This isn’t even the first edition. It is more like an alpha or beta version of it. The books are black and white, with rusty colors. This is where a ton of the fundamentals of the game have been established.
In the original DnD, the Fireball spell only has a 2 inch radius and a 24 inch range, it is a 3rd level spell here too. However, in later expansion, they change these numbers to more familiar stats. In the Immortal and master series, the range changes to 240 feet and the radius to 20 feet.
The 1st edition
This is where a lot of people are going to get their nostalgia hit from. In the first edition, Fireball is a 3rd level spell, and does d6 damage per level of the caster. So we see the iconic d6 dice pretty soon in the history of this spell.
There are components now, you only need a Verbal and Somatic component to cast Fireball in the 1st edition of D&D. So no bat guano and sulfur, or other materials are needed to be able to cast it.
The spell also needs to be cast in 3 segments. The range has also been messed with a bit, in the first edition you have a 10 feet range plus 1 feet per level. The radius is 2 feet here, but can scale to 20.
How hot is magical fire?
Magical fire in Dungeons and Dragons works very differently than regular fire. Spells that make use of this kind of fire, like Create Bonfire and this one can be cast underwater, do not consume oxygen, and do not make things catch fire beyond their radius of effect.
So how hot is magical fire and are there differences between spells?
Can melt metals
We know that a spell like Fireball has the effect to melt metals with a low melting point. These are lead, gold, bronze, silver and bronze. The metal with the highest melting point on this list is copper. Copper has a melting point of 1085 degrees Celsius. So we can assume that the heat of a spell like Fireball is at least 1100 degrees Celsius.
Higher spell slot = hotter fire
Fireball gets stronger when you put it in a higher spell slot. However, the range and the radius of the magical fire stays the same. So we must assume the flames made by the magic when casting it gets hotter.
You add a 1d6 for every level, so might be able to assume you make the fire 200 degrees hotter every level. Of course, this is just some back of tin foil napkin math. If you have a better calculation, let me know.
Can ignite and melt almost everything
So what does this imply? Well, this amount of heat can set ablaze and ignite a very large range of items. Paper, wood, grass, cloth can all easily be ignited with a temperature of this level. So a room of treasure would have all of the more valuable metals (Silver and Gold) melted and any scrolls would be turned to dust almost instantly.
A wooden house, a traveler’s inn or bandit hideout with a ton of fabrics and straw for a bed will also easly burn to a crisp. Moreover, the sheer amount of smoke that this fire would produce is substantial enough to suffocate targets.
Related items to Fireball
Being the most iconic spell in the game, there are a ton of items that are related to Fireball. Here is a short overview of the most well-known items that you can use to evoke this spell. The rarity of these mainly depends on the module you are playing and on your Dungeon Master.
Wand of Fireball 5e
This item has 7 charges. Each of these charges gives you the ability to expend an action to cast the Fireball spell. You can upgrade the power of the spell by expending more charges.
Expending a charge adds 1d6 to the damage. Expending two charges adds 2d6. Just like as if you would be putting it in a higher slot as a caster.
The want can regain charges at dawn. To be more specific it regains 1d6 plus an expended charge. However, if your wand has been brought to 0 charges, you will need to roll a die. If you roll a nat 1, your wand turns to dust.
The wand of Fireball 5e rarity is rare and costs quite a bit. So you won’t see this item commonly in your campaigns. As a DM I would strongly suggest you make rare items actually rare.
Necklace of Fireball 5e
This necklace gives you the ability to detach a bead and throw this up to 60 feet away. The bead then detonates as a level 3 regular Fireball.
Throwing multiple beads increases the spell with an extra level per bead you have thrown. Another thing you should know about this item is that nothing stops you from just throwing the entire necklace.
The necklace of Fireball is a rare and wondrous item that is worth quite a lot, 1650 GP at least according to market prices.
Scroll of Fireball 5e
Spell scrolls are pretty iconic too in Dungeons and Dragons. These are consumables which give you the ability to use a spell. The Scroll of Fireball allows you to cast, well you know what you can cast with it, but how much does it cost.
The price of the scroll is around 100 to 500 GP. I would put the spell at 400 gold pieces per scroll. The rarity of this item is uncommon. So you would see this item in a specialty shop. Remember that you still need to make and pass a check to use this scroll and cast the spell.
Iconic, powerful, and fun. That is how I would describe Fireball. When you add this to your arsenal when you are about level 5 as one of your 3rd level spells. The spell is chaotic, but that is by design.
There are a couple of other spells you can choose from at around this level, like Lightning Bolt, but I do prefer Fireball if you want to have an awesome time and more utility as a magic caster.
Strong but dangerous
You can blast a whole group of goblins without any problem, and destroy a fortress of dry wood with the simple wave of your fingers. The spell is somewhat like Disintegrate but without control. However, with great power comes great responsibility.
You wouldn’t be the first player who gets overexcited and burns down his entire parties awaiting treasure by being overzealous. Keep in mind that a radius of 20 feet is a lot.
Watch your allies
Your party members might be in a dangerous position when you cast Fireball when in combat. The spell is amazing at the mid-level but starts to become useless at higher levels. I don’t think it has any utility after your character hits level 13.
Do you have any comments about our Fireball 5e guide? Feel free to let us know! If you are interested in reading more of our articles, here is a useful overview of DnD related blog posts.
Fireball 5e Pro´s and cons summary table
|Long-range attack (range of 150 feet)||Enemies immune to fire|
|Can attack multiple enemies in a 20 feet radius||Enemies resistant to fire|
|Can ignite flammable objects and create chaos||Risk of hitting invisible allies|
|Can be aimed at the periphery or around corners||Risk of damaging valuable items nearby|
|Effective for lower-level characters (levels 5-8)||Becomes less effective at higher levels|
|Can ignore resistances with the Elemental Adept feat||Can cause collateral damage and destruction|
Fireball 5e FAQs
What is better lightning bolt vs Fireball 5e?
Lightning Bolt and Fireball have a ton of similarities. Both have quite a large area of effect, both do about the same damage 8d6, and both the spells require a DEX roll to save. If we look at what a lightning bolt does, it is pretty similar in effect.
A Lightning Bolt fires a 100 feet long jolt of electricity that is 5 feet wide (500 feet surface area). A Fireball creates a 20 feet radius ball of fire (1256 feet surface area). The Fireball is better in my opinion. The spell is a bit unpredictable for me and can cause a massive amount of damage to the surrounding.
However, it is really useful if a ton of enemies are kind of spread out coming at you. A lightning bolt can only hit those in a straight line, which makes it perfect for a cave or a dungeon, but that is a bit more niche in my opinion. The 50 feet extra range is great too in my opinion.
What class can learn the spell early?
There are two classes that can learn Fireball early. These are the Sorcerer and the Wizard. Since you will need a level three-slot open to use this, you will have access to this spell around level 5.
For Warlocks, I have bad news, It will take you quite long since you need to access a level 9 spell to be able to pick Fireball. However, there are a few (sub) classes that can learn it early, which I have discussed in the guide.
How many squares is Fireball 5e?
Fireball covers a surface area of 1256 feet. We can calculate this by using the formula to find out the surface of a circle and use the 20 feet radius. This converts to 44 squares when you use the regular system. It is best to not use squares at all when firing off spells like this one that uses round shapes. Just use the surface area, it is a lot easier and more fun.
Can you twin Fireball and cast it twice in one action?
No. In the hard rules of 5e D&D, a Sorcerer or Wizard can not cast the Fireball as a twin spell since it has an Area of Effect. It is also impossible to cast the spell twice in one turn or/and action.
Now, there is a bit of discussion about this. There isn’t a written rule that says you can not cast two spells in one turn that have a casting time of a single action. So if we look at multi classes like a fighting caster or an Eldritch Knight that has access to something like action surge, it might be possible to fire off two Fireballs in one turn.
This completely depends on what your DM says is possible. So you will need to discuss this with him or her before you start using this out of the blue.
Do you roll damage for each creature?
When you cast Fireball against multiple opponents, you do not need to roll multiple times. The rules in 5e are very clear about that. Nowhere does it state that you need to roll multiple times. So in conclusion, to roll damage for this spell in 5e, you only need to roll once.
The actual damage done is individual. Since every creature will have to do a DEX saving throw. The monsters that fail this throw will take the full amount of damage that you have just rolled. Those creatures that did do a successful DEX Saving throw will take half of the damage you have rolled.
Of course, you also need to take into account the differences between the vulnerabilities, resistances and immunities of each creature into account. You need to calculate this damage after you have rolled your die for each monster individually.
Flame strike vs Fireball 5e – What is the better spell?
Flame Strike is clearly a better spell than Fireball in 5e D&D. Flame Strike does more damage all the way up to level 8 when compared to Fire Ball. It also has a much better precision which makes it less likely that you blow up your own allies or something you did not want to damage.
Moreover, Flame Strike does not suffer from a couple of the drawbacks Fireball has. For example, It can not be blocked on the way to the target. Flame Strike is also a lot safer to cast in a room with a lot of valuable items. It does not melt your gold or burn your scrolls to dust.