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Are there any rules around spells nullifying each other? For example, I cast heat metal on a target's armour in round 1. In round 2, I use a bonus action to make the target take the burning damage again, and cast frostbite on the target.

Does the frostbite damage and effect have any adverse effect on the heat metal spell or vice versa?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am asking as a general rule. This was just a specific example I came across last night in a game. \$\endgroup\$ – Daryn Wilkinson May 15 at 14:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarynWilkinson are you the DM? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor May 15 at 14:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Is there a rule for how to handle creative use of spells? \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz May 15 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor I am the player. The DM didn't allow the damages to stack which I fully accept as the DM has final say on these sorts of things. It was just an interesting situation I thought. \$\endgroup\$ – Daryn Wilkinson May 15 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ They did let me know it wouldn't work before casting the spell \$\endgroup\$ – Daryn Wilkinson May 15 at 16:21
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Spells do what they say they do, and this includes interactions between spells.

As mentioned in this question, spells do only what they say they do. If there is any special interaction between spells, the spell description will include it. An example would be the interaction between Wall of Force and Disintegrate. The description of Wall of Force states:

A disintegrate spell destroys the wall instantly

In the example mentioned in the question, where a spellcaster uses their bonus action to deal damage with an active Heat Metal spell, and then uses their action to cast Frostbite on the same target, the target will take fire damage from Heat Metal, followed by cold damage from Frostbite. The two spells will not cancel each other out or interact with each other in any way, because neither mentions the other in its description.

However,

A DM can always rule otherwise.

The DM always has the final say and can override RAW. They may decide that the super heating of the armor via Heat Metal immediately followed by the cooling from Frostbite cancels out the damage, or has some other effect like damaging or destroying the affected armor.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While the DM can always do this, are you suggesting a cantrip can override a Level 2 spell? That generally isn't the way those types of mechanics work (darkness and light, for example.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 15 at 15:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ The main thrust of your argument is spot-on. However, I really think this answer needs to note that allowing a cantrip to cancel a 2nd level spell is in general a bad idea and a recipe for unhappy players. Destroying armor is also something that really should have a warning on it too. Yes, a DM can allow these things, but your answer implies little consequence to the actions. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 15 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ In reference to not over-riding a level 2 with a cantrip with a level 2 spell, its also worth considering that frostbite has an instantaneous duration while heat metal is continuous. With that logic the target would likely just freeze for a second before the frost thawed or vanished and then the metal would reheat from the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Falconer May 15 at 16:33
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RAW (rules-as-written), there is no interaction

Spells do what they say. Neither Heat Metal nor Frostbite say that they are cancelled by, or interact with, each other, so they don't. Their effects are completely independent of each other, and don't depend on each other for anything.

If you need to keep up verisimilitude, imagine what would happen if your poured liquid nitrogen on your left hand, and then 6 seconds later covered the hand in gasoline and lit it on fire. The 'cold' and the 'hot' damage you took don't cancel out at all. You're left with a frostbitten, burned hand.

Your DM is well within their rights to house rule nullification between spells, but there is nothing in the rules that specifically allows for it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also may be helpful to note that frostbite is instantaneous while heat metal is an ongoing effect (assuming concentration continues) - and there are general better ways to get 1d6 cold (the other effects are already provided by heat metal...and longer lasting) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 15 at 14:59
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RAW, frostbite has no adverse effect on heat metal for damage

There are no examples of a damage-causing spell nullifying the damage of another. It is, of course, possible for advantage/disadvantage granted by one spell to be negated by the opposite effect caused by another spell, and for non-damage effects such as darkness to be dispelled.

RAW, the target would take both fire and cold damage in your example.

Even in reality, it's possible to suffer from fire burns and ice burns simultaneously - take for example mountain climbers at very high altitude suffering both sunburn and frostbite. One type of burn doesn't negate the other.


What the spells say...

Frostbite says:

You cause numbing frost to form on one creature that you can see within range. The target must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the target takes 1d6 cold damage, and it has disadvantage on the next weapon attack roll it makes before the end of its next turn.

Heat Metal says:

Choose a manufactured metal object, such as a metal weapon or a suit of heavy or medium metal armor, that you can see within range. You cause the object to glow red-hot. Any creature in physical contact with the object takes 2d8 fire damage when you cast the spell. Until the spell ends, you can use a bonus action on each of your subsequent turns to cause this damage again.

If a creature is holding or wearing the object and takes the damage from it, the creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or drop the object if it can. If it doesn’t drop the object, it has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks until the start of your next turn.

They say nothing about interference.

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