The description of create bonfire says, in part:

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.

Say 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 forced to making the saving throw twice in one round - once when the bonfire is created, and once when the creature 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?


3 Answers 3


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.)


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, 2015 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Airatome Well, the question specifically asked about twice, but it's a good point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Aug 3, 2015 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, 2015 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, 2015 at 21:53

The damage can be applied more then twice a round though.

Turn 1 It is intially cast, doing damage.

Turn 2 the creature's turn; it does not move out. Maybe it is afraid of OA from nearby fighters. bonfire does damage.

Turn 3 a player push the creature out of the bonfire.

Turn 4 a player pushes the creature back into the fire. (Example, by using thorn whip). Bonfire does damage . The spell says

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.

Turn 5 A player first push the creature out, and then use a multiattack or something to drag it back in. Bonfire does damage.

Round ends.

In this round it has then done damage 4 times.
In this scenario it is strong, but dependent on your other players to work with it, it is unlikely that it is able do damage that many times.

This is a digression, but similar mechanics work with moonbeam:

Moonbeam is stronger since it does damage at the start, not the end of a creatures turn. So the creature can't flee out of the effect on its turn. You can redirect the moonbeam using your action, so it's essentially the same as casting a new bonfire if the creature moves out of it.

Also the damage is not applied initially, only on the creatures turn so you can't use the movement of moonfire to move it back and forth in to a creature, or scorching many creatures during it's movement.

But you can do the same tactic as bonfire with pushing and pulling since the spell says " enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there "

this is confirmed in a sage article. https://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/rules-answers-april-2016 So I assume the same applies to bonfire since it is worded the same.

I'm not sure what would happen if someone pushed a creature through a moonbeam or bonfire, not into it since they do enter it, but only for a very short time, and does not land there. I guess it is up to the GM?

Flaming sphere works similar to bonfire, doing damage at the end of a creatures turn, not the start. But it does not do damage initially, unless you use your bonus action to move it, then ram it in to a creature, but then it stops when you hit a creature (so you can't scorch it over several creatures) and it doesn't do damage when a creature enters it, so you can run through it or be pushed through it.

All of these spells can damage more then once per round. Bonfire and flaming sphere are really good if placed where movement, or OA, is an issue for a monster. Bonfire and moonbeam are better if the whole party push enemies around.

  • \$\begingroup\$ On other players turns, they can push the creature in and out of the bonfire causing damage. The spell says " enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there " Note on a turn, not on a round. But a player can't use a multiattack to push and pull the creature in and out of the effect causing damage more then once, on HIS TURN. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 22, 2020 at 17:40
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    – NotArch
    Oct 22, 2020 at 18:11

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