For spells like flame arrows, lightning arrow or absorb elements, the spells are cast before making an attack, yet they deal damage when an attack hits.

Flame arrows would deal 1d6 fire damage, lightning arrow 4d8 lighting damage, or absorb elements dealing 1d6 of the absorbed elemental damage on the turn after absorb elements has been used as a reaction, from a melee attack.

When the attack charged with the spell hits, does this count as a spell for other mechanical purposes?

For example:
I had the Elemental Adept feat for fire or lightning, and make an attack charged with one of these spells. I then roll a 1 on the damage die made for the attack. If Elemental Adept applies this damage roll now counts as a 2 and undercuts resistance to its element.

I'm unsure; this seemt be an edge case where it's unclear whether ongoing spells cast historically confer their status of being a spell when taking the Attack action.

Furthermore, do magic damage rolls made due to magic items count?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi alex, welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour to find out how things work here, and visit the help center for more info. I've made a few minor edits to your question, mostly capitalisation (the Attack action in particular), and I've also removed the "Thanks" (we have a meta question about that). This is a good question, though! \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Oct 9, 2019 at 10:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I've included another paragraph about absorb elements, and spell damage, it is a tricksey spell being that it is reactionary and implies which damage type it deals. \$\endgroup\$
    – alex
    Oct 9, 2019 at 10:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the clarification, I think that clears it up nicely (that particular spell isn't quite as intuitive as the other two at first glance). \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Oct 9, 2019 at 10:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure if your "furthermore" bit isn't another question in its own right. It's best for question scope to ask separate questions separately. You can ask that question as its own question and link back to this one to show how it is related. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9, 2019 at 12:43

2 Answers 2


Damage sources are what they are

Mechanically the elemental damage you roll from using Absorb Elements remains derived from it, thus originating from a spell.

Assume you are an Elemental Adept aligned to acid. You get hit by an acid-type attack. You cast Absorb Elements to charge your next melee with 1d6 Acid.

Elemental Adept states:

[...] For a spell you cast that deals damage of [your aligned] type, you can treat any 1 on a damage die as a 2.

It doesn't state that the damage has to be the immediate result of casting the spell.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This does certainly answer the question as asked. I would be interested if there are any examples of this outside of the elemental adept feat, but assume that as long as (if they exist) these other examples would follow that lingering spell effects still apply any benefit you might have to spell casting. But as per above I'll ask those separately as and when they come up in my game/ or I imagine such a state of affairs. \$\endgroup\$
    – alex
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you elaborate what you mean by "examples of this outside of the elemental adept feat"? The source of the damage? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9, 2019 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are at least things like witch bolt and booming blade if that's what you mean \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9, 2019 at 13:40

Elemental adept reads:

In addition, when you roll damage for a spell you cast that deals damage of that type [acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder], you can treat any 1 on a damage die as a 2.

It doesn't state at the time of cast or have any temporal constraints. It simply states that to gain the effect you meet two conditions:

  1. A spell has been cast by you.

  2. That spell deals damage of the specified type.

For magic items, it depends on the wording.

If the wording is "you spend an action to cast a spell..." then yes.

If the wording indicates the damage is done via a spell-like effect, then no.


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