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It says about a Tinderbox:

This small container holds flint, fire steel, and tinder (usually dry cloth soaked in light oil) used to kindle a fire. Using it to light a torch—or anything else with abundant, exposed fuel—takes an action. Lighting any other fire takes 1 minute.

So that's the normal method of lighting a torch and general rules about setting fires.

Now with certain fire magic and spells, this little tidbit is added in (emphasis added):

A flammable object hit by this spell ignites if it isn't being worn or carried.

Torches are meant to be carried and if I were lighting one I'd imagine I would be holding it when lighting it (dip it in fuel and light a match). If you couldn't light it while it's carried, I would think they would add something in to say "You must set this item down to light it", which in itself wouldn't make sense. So RAW seems to say that if you are holding a torch (i.e., it is worn or carried) and know some level of fire magic, you couldn't light it.

Am I overthinking this or am I missing something?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 12 '17 at 22:38
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By RAW, you're correct. The intention of that passage (where included) is to avoid having to adjudicate the fate of each and every potentially flammable object a creature may be carrying or wearing when the creature is hit by hostile fire magic.

Druidcraft and Prestidigitation specifically allow for lighting flammable objects, and don't include that passage. If a character is deliberately attempting to magically ignite a flammable object they're carrying, there's little reason (other than rigidly sticking to RAW or possibly diminishing the usefulness of the aforementioned cantrips) to disallow spells like Fire Bolt to be used as well. More powerful spells may be a bad idea, of course - casting Fireball at yourself just to light a torch may be a bit much.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 12 '17 at 22:39
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The Prestidigitation cantrip has this as one of its possible effects:

You instantaneously light or snuff out a candle, a torch, or a small campfire.

So yes, you can light a torch using magic.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The question was edited from "Can torches be lit by magic" to "Can held torches be lit by magic". The real question — is it possible to lit an item (not necessarily a torch), which the caster is holding. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Aug 30 '18 at 9:48
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One note in addition to answers already posted - if you ever have a DM enforcing incredibly strict RAW with that rule, you can simply stick your torch in the dirt and firebolt it. At that point it isn't being "worn or carried", so even by the strictest RAW interpretation I can come up with that should work fine.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A resilient object of that size (smaller than a chest or a lute) has 5 HP. Fire Bolt does 1d10, so there's even odds you'll light it as you'll blow it to cinders. You need to go beyond RAW for it to work reliably. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Nov 9 '17 at 19:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. reliably yes, but he did say a method that would allow it to work, albeit less than half of the time (average of the 1d10 being 4/10 times of being under 5 damage). Once you get to the level where the d10 count increase though, that would get harder and harder up to having to roll 4 1s to light it. \$\endgroup\$ – bubbajake00 Nov 9 '17 at 19:56
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As with all things D&D there's some flexibility in how to apply the rules based on what the DM wants to happen. In this case, I would argue that so long as the person carrying the torch WANTS it to be lit by magic (e.g. is not resisting this effect), then any spell (even a cantrip like Fire Bolt) could be successful in lighting a torch.

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