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Example scenario:

A character was hit by cone of cold and failed their save, and due to high rolls of damage, they are killed outright by massive damage and become a frozen statue. Fortunately, the cleric has Revivify prepared. We'd need to thaw the statue before casting revivify (assume the DM says so), and so we only have one minute or less to thaw the PC.

The obvious fast method would be by using magic, however by RAW, spells do not do anything more than their description, so if a spell does not have descriptive text that says that it melts ice, it doesn't. As far as I remember, even fire-based spells don't specifically say that they "release heat;" that suggests to me that fire spells can't melt ice, so firebolting the statue won't work.

The closest I can think of are spells that specifically say they set unworn equipment or objects on fire, thus it being reasonable to rule that they can melt ice.

Going by RAW, is there any spell that can be used to melt ice?

Preferably it can melt nonmagical and magical ice, but just either is fine. It also does not need to be a fire-based spell. Wish is also a too obvious answer since you can do virtually anything with it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 29 '18 at 18:49
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Per wall of ice, any source of fire damage will work

Wall of ice creates wall sections that are 100 cubic feet of ice each, and take 30 damage to destroy, or 15 points of fire damage (since it has vulnerability).

If I were a DM looking to rule on a player attempting to break through some ice, I'd use that as a guideline for how much damage it takes, and treat all ice as vulnerable to fire damage. (I'd also make it immune to cold damage, because duh.)

By RAW, this doesn't melt the ice, because the word "melt" is not used. And by RAW, this only applies to wall of ice, not to ice from any other source. Hey, maybe it's magical ice that has none of the properties of normal ice.

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All spells that produce fire or fire based damage will work (unless their text specifically says they produce no heat)

Just because something isn’t ignited doesn’t mean that no heat is produced

D&D is written in English (and translated into other languages). If the game doesn’t define a term (like fire or ice) we are expected to use the English meaning of the word. The definition of fire in English includes the production of heat.

There is a difference between igniting a substance and producing heat. The ignition temperature of a lot of substances is quite high, often requiring either sustained (long) proximity to a hot substance, or exposure to a very hot substance (eg paper autoignites at >218 degrees Celsius). For example your body produces heat, you don’t set things on fire, yet contact with your body can still melt ice.

As such the absence of text in a spell saying that it “ignites” nearby objects cannot be used to justify the absence of heat being produced by any fire.

The logical result of this is that any spell which causes fire damage will melt ice. How much ice each specific spell melts depends on the amount of fire damage and the duration of the flame (the DM will need to adjudicate both of these factors). A sustained flame, like the one produced by Create Bonfire, will be able to consistently melt ice. The DM will need to adjudicate the rate of melting.

There will obviously be places where no amount of fire will be able to melt ice due to the extreme cold (for example the Plane of Ice).


If the spell produces fire, but it's text doesn't say it produces heat isn't that an issue for this answer?

No. The spell says it produces fire, which includes the production of heat by definition.

As a counter example, producing fire (or flame) without producing heat is an extraordinary thing that would need to be specifically called out, ala the Continual Flame spell (emphasis mine):

A flame, equivalent in brightness to a torch, springs forth from an object that you touch. The effect looks like a regular flame, but it creates no heat and doesn't use oxygen. A continual flame can be covered or hidden but not smothered or quenched.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a totally sensible argument but will likely not satisfy the OP's demand for RAW. +1 anyway because demanding RAW is unreasonable and arbitrary. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Sep 30 '18 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells RAW just means you can must interpret the words using their ordinary English meaning, unless there is a specific game rule that modifies the normal meaning (eg Attack being distinct to attack). The spells produce fire, or cause fire damage (presumably by making fire). The normal use of the word fire includes the emitting of heat from a fire. Producing a cold fire, that does not give off heat, would be truly exceptional, and would require a specific RAW statement in the text to allow it. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Oct 2 '18 at 13:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Really? Because I routinely see people here argue that, RAW, things don't have any properties that aren't mentioned in the text. For example, the whole reason we have this question is that the OP believes that magically-created fire doesn't produce heat. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Oct 2 '18 at 18:56
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It only takes a cantrip

The Prestidigitation cantrip (PHB 267) can, among many other useful features:

... chill, warm, or flavor up to 1 cubic foot of nonliving material for 1 hour.

Will this work on a dead body? It's not living, so the answer is yes.

What about the volume limitation? Prestidigitation says you can warm 1 cubic foot. Also:

If you cast this spell multiple times, you can have up to three of its non-instantaneous effects active at a time

According to this calculation the volume of a 155 lb human is 2.43 cubic feet:

155 ÷ 8.3 lbs/gal = 18.41 gallons = 2.43 cubic feet = 0.07 cubic meters

Prestidigitation can affect 3 cubic feet in 3 castings and more if needed. My interpretation of the spell would be that if a fourth casting is done the first casting stops working, however this doesn't mean that the material instantly goes back to freezing temperature, it just means it stops being actively warmed.

Prestidigitation is superior to any other spell I can think of because:

  • You can cast it an unlimited number of times
  • It only takes 1 action to cast
  • It doesn't potentially cause damage to the frozen corpse
  • I love it when cantrips save the day!

Alternatively a 10th level Druid, Circle of the Moon will do

A 10th level Druid in the Circle of the Moon can transform into an elemental. Choose fire, of course.

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You've already pointed out that very few spells that any reasonable DM would adjudicate as creating heat in some capacity actually say so by RAW, so in this situation, you'd probably not be able to do much to save your friend.

But the situation as presented, I’m sorry to say, is a contradictory screwjob, because the DM is selectively varying the strictness of the RAW. In order for anything to address the strict RAW mechanic of having to thaw someone out to allow a revivify spell to work on them, said strict RAW mechanic needs to exist in the first place, which it doesn’t:

  • Spells and/or conditions that prevent each other will say so. Revivify, for example, states that it can't work on a creature that's been dead for more than a minute, died from old age, or is missing body parts. Or, for that matter, one you cannot touch. Cone of cold does not do any of these. (Contrast with disintegrate, which very obviously does: "A disintegrated creature ... can be restored to life only by means of a true resurrection or a wish spell.")
  • One could argue that the frozen statue left behind by cone of cold would be an ineligible target for revivify due to being an object and not a creature, but this requires reading revivify (or any resurrection spell, for that matter) in a way that makes it impossible to cast, ever, and which Crawford has explicitly contradicted. And that's not getting into the implications of when they return to being a dead creature instead of an object; can't cast resurrection too soon because they're still frozen? C'mon.)

So your DM’s assertion of “RAW for thee, not for me” is internally inconsistent, rejects the possibility of the answers it asks for, and is frankly a major insult to the players. If it were a real DM at a real table, I’d be surprised if they didn’t get a drink in the face.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While this may be true, OP's post explicitly says "We'd need to thaw the statue before casting revivify (assume the DM says so)". Given that premise, this doesn't really answer the question, since it's already a given assumption that thawing is required. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 25 at 7:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Expanded to make this being a frame challenge more clear and point out the consequences of the assumptions; how's it look? \$\endgroup\$ – sevenbrokenbricks Feb 25 at 7:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to add that "If the text of a spell says it can target a dead creature (aka a corpse), the spell can, in fact, target a corpse." twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/1099821259108474880 \$\endgroup\$ – Vylix Feb 25 at 19:09
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I'd say a normal fire, or maybe the Druids fire-making cantrip. There is a Homebrew spell called Heated Hands which does what you want.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Given that OP asked for RAW, that explicitly excludes homebrew spells... \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 24 at 18:58

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