Does energy substitution cover force damage type?

I'd like to fire flaming missile to exploit monster weaknesses and searching for a way to add fire description to the spell or replace original with fire.


The Elven Spell Lore feat (from Player's Handbook 2) can change the damage type of one spell. In this case, Magic Missile. It requires either a high intelligence score or being an elf, and only works for prepared spellcasters with spellbooks.

For a more convoluted method, you can add fire damage to Magic Missile by using a combination of Snowcasting (from Frostburn. It adds the Cold descriptor to the spell) and Energy Substitution (which only requires the energy descriptor). This assumes that Energy Substitution changes the damage type of a spell to begin with - oddly enough, this is not stated.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Force Missile Mage (Dragon Compendium) can also do it directly. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 16 '13 at 22:33

No, Energy Substitution does not cover Force damage.

The feat states:

Choose one type of energy (acid, cold, electricity, or fire). You can then modify any spell with an energy descriptor to use the chosen type of energy instead."

Emphasis mine. "An energy descriptor" is not a generally defined game term, as far as I am aware, so I'd say the only reasonable interpretation is the one that it is referring to the descriptors corresponding to the energy types specified in the previous sentence.

If you want a reliable, low-level spell that deals fire damage, I'd look at Lesser Orb of Fire, from Complete Arcane (reprinted in Spell Compendium).

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    \$\begingroup\$ "I'd say the only reasonable interpretation is the one that it is referring to the descriptors corresponding to the energy types specified in the previous sentence." -- I'd partially disagree with that. Descriptor is a defined game term, and there are many places where sonic is referred to as a type of energy damage. However, force never is, so that's something of a moot point. \$\endgroup\$ – starwed May 16 '13 at 14:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any "general definition" (not something inferred from specific usage) of what constitutes an energy type out there? I don't remember seeing one, but it would be rather relevant here. \$\endgroup\$ – Ernir May 16 '13 at 15:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, there's no general definition that I can find. It's at least clear that fire, lightning, sonic, acid, and cold are considered energy types -- there are many references to resistance to such energy types, and the rules for damage objects also refer to them as such. That's systematic enough that you can consider it part of the rules; it's not like trying to infer the meaning of a game term from a single feat, or something. \$\endgroup\$ – starwed May 16 '13 at 17:28


Energy substitution only covers spells with "one type of energy (acid, cold, electricity, or fire)". Force (or sonic*) is not on the list.

As @Ernir found out, there are some metamagic feats that let you do what you wish (Snowcasting and Elven Spell Lore).
Again, energy substitution can't change magic missile into a fire spell by itself.

*while Sonic is a type of energy, the text can easily be read as "one of those types of energy (list)".
By RAW, it's excluded; By RAI, it could be a missing word.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I tried looking for metamagic tricks like flash frost spell to add a descriptor to the missile but I found nothing. They might exist. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel May 16 '13 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know two. Added them to a separate answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Ernir May 16 '13 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you would kindly edit so I can remove my -1. I had the Crystal Keep Feats up and they say "i.e" for energy types. In multiple online sources it uses that descriptor too, but in Dragon 325 and in Complete Arcana there is no "i.e.", therefore by RAW you're right. However, the core books and D20 SRD recognize sonic as a type. It may be possible that one publication just c/p'd to the other. \$\endgroup\$ – CatLord May 20 '13 at 5:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catlord I think "one type of energy (list)" can be easily read as "one of those types of energy". I'm editing the question to encompass both interpretations. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel May 20 '13 at 9:57

You could just take 2 levels in Force Missle Mage

  • \$\begingroup\$ We don't really like linking dndtools around here as there are questions of copyright infringement. Could you discuss what the levels of force missile mage provide? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Feb 6 '14 at 22:52

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