Sign up ×
Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sometimes players find themselves without a weapon or with a desperate need to do fire-damage, perhaps against an ooze. In this case, it makes sense to grab a torch if they have no better alternative. What I'm not so sure about it what kind of stats or attributes to give the torch when its being used to attack something. Does the character just swing it towards the enemy like a club to attack them with the flame at the end (never really held a torch, so I don't really know what they'd do with it.... :)

I started to think of a rough layout and got something like this:

Dexterity vs. AC (assuming that a good hit comes not so much from the power behind 
the hit, but from being hit in a critical area, like the face, so I'm using Dex 
instead of Str)

hit bonus: -1 (assuming it'd be pretty hard to hit someone with a torch if they 
were on guard against it)

damage: 1d4 fire damage, plus ongoing 2 fire damage (save ends) 

But this feels a little bit too powerful, almost like I'd always reach for my torch instead of my dagger in a fight for the ongoing damage bonus. Again, I've never held a torch, but it seems like they should break fairly easily if hit against armor or a shield. Something along the lines of giving it only 2 hp and have it break and become unusable if the character rolls a 1 on the attack roll.

Do these stats seem to model how attacking with a torch should work? Can anyone recommend me some official stats or stats they've successfully used?

share|improve this question
I changed the tag on this from 3.5e to 4e, since your stat block is pretty clearly 4e based. – Cthos Jun 17 '11 at 15:31
Not really a full answer, but the torch would be an improvised weapon (1d4), I think the fire damage is reasonable, but it should only do the ongoing damage on a crit (since setting something on fire by smacking it with a torch isn't quite as easy as one might think). – Cthos Jun 17 '11 at 15:35

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Improvised Weapons

Sometimes objects not crafted to be weapons nonetheless see use in combat. Because such objects are not designed for this use, any creature that uses one in combat is considered to be nonproficient with it and takes a -4 penalty on attack rolls made with that object. To determine the size category and appropriate damage for an improvised weapon, compare its relative size and damage potential to the weapon list to find a reasonable match. An improvised weapon scores a threat on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage on a critical hit. An improvised thrown weapon has a range increment of 10 feet.

I'd say a torch is most similar to a club. So you're looking at your normal attack -4 for 1d6 + strength damage. I would add 1 point of fire damage, no more. Actually lighting someone on fire with a torch is hard enough (not that I've tried cough cough), and nigh impossible if they are defending against it - so no ongoing damage, in my opinion.

EDIT: This answer was for 3.5 before the tag was changed.

Same thing for 4e though:

Again, this is an improvised weapon. Strength vs. AC for 1d4 + strength physical and fire (both types) damage. No ongoing. You don't really need to give an explicit -1 to the attack roll, as this is covered by not being proficient with an improvised weapon. Most "official" weapons give an inherent +2 or +3 proficiency bonus, and you'd be missing that with a torch.

share|improve this answer
I would remove the on-going fire damage completely. There is no way to "attack" something with a torch and light it on fire. It should be 1d6 fire damage. And that's it. – GMNoob Jun 17 '11 at 15:38
@GMNoob I wouldn't make it all fire damage, as most of the oomph from getting smacked by a torch is going to be the force behind it. The fire wouldn't really do that much beyond singing you. Then again, if you were to use a Grease spell or shatter an oil flask on the target first, things could get more interesting... – dpatchery Jun 17 '11 at 15:40
then I guess 1d6 fire and blunt damage? I've never seen a weapon that has two different damage amounts for the different types. – GMNoob Jun 17 '11 at 15:42
Eh, I'd still give it a little ongoing on a crit, as you could ignite something by smacking it with a torch, it's just pretty unlikely. – Cthos Jun 17 '11 at 17:31
@Cthos if anything, maybe an extra 1d6 fire damage. Even a flaming weapon doesn't do ongoing on a crit, and that's made to burn bad guys. – dpatchery Jun 17 '11 at 17:37

Keeping in mind that an improvised weapon should almost always be inferior to a purpose-built weapon, I could see it going one of two ways:

  1. Using the torch as an improvised club: STRENGTH + AC, no prof. bonus, 1d4 damage. (If you want to be nice, make all or part of it fire damage).

  2. Using the torch to light someone on fire (holding it against the clothing rather than smacking them with it): STRENGTH vs AC (maaybe Reflex), no prof. bonus, ongoing 2 fire.

My thinking is that you don't want this to be a good option unless (a) they're out of better options - the torch is the only thing at hand, or (b) you're fighting a monster with vulnerability to fire and someone is feeling inspired (in which case the vulnerability will do most of the damage for you.)

share|improve this answer

If you really want the fire to have a chance at ongoing damage, I'd make it a secondary attack. Thematically, you could attack reflex with it, but I think that's too powerful. I'd keep it as an attack on AC, with the fluff that armor is usually not very conductive so you're trying to hit them where the armor isn't.

share|improve this answer

My answer is based off monster stats, so feel free to ignore it. The fire lord cultists (mm3 p.114) can do 5 ongoing fire damage as an encounter, so I'd rule 3-5 ongoing fire damage, depending on how generous you are feeling, but the torch would be extinguished (from pressing it into your enemy) I'd recommend this if you were feeling especially generous.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.