Flame Blade creates a blade of fire in your free hand:

You evoke a fiery blade in your free hand. The blade is similar in size and shape to a scimitar...

Can that blade of fire be used for an improvised weapon attack?
Would such an attack benefit from scimitar proficiency?
Would it deal 1d4, 1d6, or 3d6 damage?
Would the damage be fire damage?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ How has this come up in game? When would someone want to forgo 3d6 damage in exchange for 1d4 or 1d6? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 25 '19 at 17:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.A.Streich when used as an improvised weapon, it would use strength instead of your spellcasting modifier, be eligible for Extra Attack, and add a modifier to damage. There's several reasons to do so if it works. \$\endgroup\$
    – Speedkat
    Jun 25 '19 at 17:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm curious how anybody could think that a flame could benefit from a strength modifier. \$\endgroup\$
    – krb
    Jun 25 '19 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that this question has generated a multi-page thread at the GIantITP forums. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 26 '19 at 0:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.A.Streich if it were an improvised weapon then it could benefit from extra attack. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 26 '19 at 0:03

The fiery blade cannot be an improvised weapon

The rules for Improvised Weapons specify that they require an object:

An improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands, such as broken glass, a table leg, a frying pan, a wagon wheel, or a dead goblin.

The rules define an object as:

a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone

This is further elaborated on in this answer to the question "What is an object?".

While it can be argued that the fiery blade is discrete (I'd agree), and inanimate (a bit harder to convince of, but I'd agree as well), it is not an "item":

an individual article or unit

By the very nature of fire, you can't really refer to it as a unit.

In conclusion, the fiery blade you evoke from flame blade is a spell effect, not an object. Therefore it cannot be an improvised weapon.

What if my GM rules that it can be?

Allowing the flame blade to act like an improvised weapon opens up more mechanics than the spell accounts for and a GM will need to consider how that may impact the other aspects of the game. Considering this, if your GM does allow the spell effect to be used as an improvised weapon or decide that the fiery blade is an object, the following answers apply:

Would such an attack benefit from scimitar proficiency?

Maybe. The rules say:

At the DM's option, a character proficient with a weapon can use a similar object as if it were that weapon and use his or her proficiency bonus.

So it is up to the GM whether the fiery blade is similar enough. It has the same size and shape so that's a point in the "yes" direction, but it is made of fire rather than metal.

Would it deal 1d4, 1d6, or 3d6 damage?

It would deal either 1d4 or 1d6,

If your GM rules that it is similar to a scimitar, it will use the scimitar's damage. Otherwise it:

bears no resemblance to a weapon [and] deals 1d4 damage

So, in short it is up to your GM.

Would the damage be fire damage?

Maybe. As before, if it's being treated like a scimitar it has those properties:

can use a similar object as if it were that weapon

... and therefore it would deal slashing damage.


the DM assigns a damage type appropriate to the object

... and fire is probably the most likely candidate. Again, up to the GM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there a justification for why the thing created by the spell is not an object? Clearly you can swing it around. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Jun 25 '19 at 16:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden Indeed, but there are no "hidden" rules in 5e. Spells do what they say they do. If a necromancy spell says it creates an object, then it creates an object. A spell doesn't have to be in the conjuration school to create an object, it just so happens to be that most (maybe all?) spells that do are in the conjuration school. So it's worthwhile to consider if an individual spell does or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Jun 25 '19 at 19:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Irony: the spell does state specifically that it creates a blade. The term "blade" is defined in only one place in 5e, so far as I can see. "Bards of the College of Swords are called blades." All sorts of implications for that one, if you want to try to run overly-RAW. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Jun 25 '19 at 20:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden I now interpret Flame Blade to create a bard out of fire, that you hit people with. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Jun 25 '19 at 21:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage Yep - and the bard is similar in size and shape to a scimitar. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Jun 25 '19 at 21:29

Sorry, Flame Blade does not create a melee weapon

Flame Blade...

You evoke a fiery blade in your free hand. The blade is similar in size and shape to a scimitar, and it lasts for the duration. If you let go of the blade, it disappears, but you can evoke the blade again as a bonus action. You can use your action to make a melee spell attack with the fiery blade. On a hit, the target takes 3d6 fire damage. The flaming blade sheds bright light in a 10-foot radius and dim light for an additional 10 feet.

...only lets you make a melee spell attack, not create a melee weapon (which is what you would need for an improvised weapon attack).

Unless the description specifically states otherwise, the thematic effect/flavor of a spell does not tangibly affect the world. Similar effects for other melee spells include the shadowy wreath around your hand in Vampiric Touch or the vine-like whip that shoots out in Thorn Whip. The description of the effect in Flame Blade is more elaborate than these other examples but if it was a weapon suitable for making melee weapon attacks it would say so. Conversely, these effects also aren't valid targets for disarm. They also do not work with Maneuvers. They will however trigger things like Armor of Agathys and Repulsion Shield because they are melee attacks.



  • Choose a spell which does create melee weapons. Shadow Blade and Alter Self (Natural Weapons option) would both enjoy all the benefits of weapon attacks. They are also both Second Level (like Flame Blade), though not Druid spells.

House rules

  • Use a little Home Brew to tweak Flame Blade into something more like Shadow Blade.

  • Add Alter Self to the Druid spell list (not just as a level 14 Circle of the Moon cantrip). A part of me says it should be there already.

Side note: Bigby's Hand, also a melee spell attack, could be used as an improvised weapon. Its description specifically says that it creates an object. It might be fun to see someone try that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you support your suggested house-rules by citing evidence or experience? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jun 26 '19 at 5:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've seen the sentiment other places too wishing that Flame Blade was more like Shadow. I've never run a Druid myself, so I haven't missed out. I may take a whack at it for fun. \$\endgroup\$
    – Blinky
    Jun 26 '19 at 7:33

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