Last night my 10th level cleric was casting the wizard cantrip spell fire bolt against a high level cleric. The DM asked me what level spell it was and I said cantrip and he said it doesn't work.

I didn't argue his decision I just accepted it. I'm aware the intended target (high level cleric) could have cast a spell or had some magical item that could negate my fire bolt but not sure how the level of the spell matters. What should matter is the type of spell. But assuming the cleric did not cast a spell and was not using some magic item to negate my fire bolt should my fire bolt be effective against a high level spell caster? Assuming I hit of course.

Are high level spell casters immune to lower level spells? I can't find anything that says that other than higher level spell casters have higher saving throws. But in this case fire bolt only requires the cleric to roll a d20 attack roll and the intended target does not get any type of saving throw. So at a minimum if I were to roll a natural 20 I should have hit even if the intended target was a 20th level spell caster. Am I missing something?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Please take the tour when you get a chance. Your question sounds like it's about D&D; what edition are you playing? \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Mar 3, 2016 at 14:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do come back and let us know WHY the fire bolt failed! I'm interested to know what the cause was, if not mistaken DM rulings. \$\endgroup\$
    – Airatome
    Mar 4, 2016 at 2:36

1 Answer 1


There are a lot of reasons why a Fire Bolt could be guaranteed to fail. For example, the enemy could be immune to fire, or standing in an Antimagic Field, or behind a Wall of Force.

On the other hand, it sounds like the level of the spell was important. That narrows the list of potential options a long way.

  • You may have been Counterspelled.
  • The enemy could have had a Globe of Invulnerability.
  • The enemy could have had an Ioun Stone of Absorption, an Ioun Stone of Greater Absorption, or a Rod of Absorption.
  • The enemy could have been a Rakshasa in disguise.

There is not, however, any general mechanic which causes cantrips or other low level spells to automatically fail when used against high level spellcasters. High level spellcasters aren't automatically immune to low level spells, although they are more likely to be protected against them.

Finally, it's important to point out that the DM has effectively unlimited latitude in designing and using NPCs. If he decided that that character was simply immune to cantrips, then they would be. Your best recourse is just to ask your DM - if they want to keep their reasons a secret, they will, but they might be perfectly happy to explain their reasoning, too.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It can also help to ask the GM to expound on why it doesn't work to get clues; does it hit an invisible shield? Did it fizzle out as you cast it, did the spell deflect itself away into the ceiling....? \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob
    Mar 3, 2016 at 14:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Miniman. That is what I thought. I just have to trust the DM that there must be something at play that we haven't discovered yet that made my fire bolt ineffective. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ron
    Mar 3, 2016 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ron I strongly recommend asking - your DM might think it was obvious, and not realise that you don't understand what happened. Of course, if you ask and they just smirk evilly, it was probably a Rakshasa in disguise :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Mar 3, 2016 at 14:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Asking what the failure looked like could be a useful clue. If the spell fizzled before you even finished casting it, it means one thing, but if the fire bolt sailed through the air and then had no effect on its target, that means something else altogether. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Mar 3, 2016 at 23:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe makes a good point, about remaining curious. The DM may expect you to try figure out what is going on. Weird mysteries should always be investigated, especially when they involve your attacks being ineffective. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Grant
    Mar 4, 2016 at 3:29

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