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When I use the green-flame blade cantrip to attack a creature, then it can bounce the flame to a creature within 5 feet of my target.

If there is no enemy within 5 feet of my target, but there is a friendly character within that distance, must the friendly character take the fire damage? Or can I simply ignore the bouncing in this situation, meaning the friendly character is not damaged?

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It is optional.

The description of the green-flame blade spell states (SCAG p. 143, emphasis mine):

you can cause green fire to leap from the target to a different creature of your choice

It says you “can”, indicating there is a choice.

Notably, this wording was introduced in the November 2020 errata for the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. Prior to this change, the description of green-flame blade said:

On a hit, the target suffers the attack’s normal effects, and green fire leaps from the target to a different creature of your choice

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This came up in our game a few months ago, and our DM ruled the same way. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 5, 2021 at 12:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ What's interesting is that in the linked question has a different wording. In November of 2020 an errata was released with the "can" wording. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 5, 2021 at 21:26

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