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If a caster casts the Create Bonfire cantrip and creates a bonfire in the square a creature is occupying, and the creature either chooses to stay in a square occupied by the bonfire or is forced to stay in that square, is the creature damaged twice? Once when the fire is created and once when the creature ends its turn there?

Create Bonfire says:

Any creature in the bonfire’s space when you cast the spell must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d8 fire damage. A creature must also make the saving throw when it enters the bonfire’s space for the first time on a turn or ends its turn there.

If so, then this cantrip looks like it would be more powerful than other damage cantrips, particularly if the caster's companions have some way to restrict movement. Is that correct?

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Yes, it is.

You've actually answered your own question in the quoted spell description. The key parts of this are as follows:

  1. When the fire is first created, if it's in the creatures space they make a DEX save to avoid the damage or take 1d8 (depending on spell level) fire damage

  2. When the creature enters the bonfire's space for the first time on a turn, or ends its turn there.....

So it's very specific. If you cast the spell, the creature would take damage if it failed its save. Then, if it didn't move out of the square when it came to its turn, then yes, it would take additional damage if it failed its save because it ended its turn in the affected square. Don't forget about the ongoing saving throws for damage.

I wouldn't worry about whether or not this is overpowered. The damage is directly comparable to normal weapons, so it's not like this could be overtly abused. At best, you'll only see the double hit in a single round when you initially cast the spell before the creauture's turn, and then have somebody lock the target in place in the same round (for example with a feat like Sentinel.)

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Yes, there are two separate conditions that trigger the saving throw and damage. If a creature is in the space when you cast the spell, it has to make the saving throw or take damage. Then if it ends its turn still in the space, it has to once again make the saving throw or take damage.

The baseline for damage cantrips is Fire Bolt, which is a single-target damage cantrip that uses an attack roll and deals 1d10 fire damage. It's the baseline because it's the most straightforward - other cantrips like Ray of Frost deal less damage but have additional effects that make them more tactically powerful.

In this particular case, Create Bonfire deals less damage than Fire Bolt, but has a chance of dealing that damage twice on the first turn, then once on proceeding turns. It also offers a Dex save rather than an attack roll, which is generally considered to be less powerful (although this varies depending on your enemies.) Most importantly, it requires concentration, an incredibly valuable resource that will generally be better used for something else.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just as a side note, I notice everyone keeps saying 'twice' , but the application of this spell allows for an ongoing 1d8 every single turn the creature is caught within it's fire; potentially exceeding twice. Such as if the fire was created, and then Hold Person was cast restraining it in place via paralysis (And making it auto fail that Dex save it would otherwise be making for Create Bonfire). Then we start to see the creature take 1d8 for far more turns than just 2. Or are we just talking only twice in ONE turn/round ? \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Aug 3 '15 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Airatome Well, the question specifically asked about twice, but it's a good point. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Aug 3 '15 at 16:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ My confusion was.... I didn't see if the question was asking 'twice max' or 'twice a turn' . I reread the answer where twice was also mentioned though and he did specify twice in the same turn it was cast. :) I just wanted to make sure others who may read this will understand it's potential synergy for ongoing damage. That's one nifty bonfire. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Aug 3 '15 at 16:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Airatome Round and Turn are not synonyms! A round is everyone having gotten a turn. Now, a given casting isn't going to get more than 2x per round, either, but be careful with the terms, because they're different things in 5E. \$\endgroup\$ – aramis Aug 3 '15 at 21:53

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