Does a spell that does not specify if it is going to damage object damage objects? For example Cone of Cold states that:

It drains heat, dealing 1d6 points of cold damage per caster level

Does this damage unattended or even attended objects in the area of effect?

  • \$\begingroup\$ From the Player's Handbook, so far as I can tell, only four area spells don't specify that they damage either only creatures or creatures and objects: cone of cold (212), fire trap (231), flame strike (231), and storm of vengeance (285). Perhaps the question could be updated to reflect that? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 10:47

2 Answers 2


Some spells specifically state that they damage unattended objects, eg Fireball:

Unattended objects also take this damage.
The fireball sets fire to combustibles and damages objects in the area. It can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the fireball may continue beyond the barrier if the area permits; otherwise it stops at the barrier just as any other spell effect does.

Compare this with Fire Storm:

The raging flames do not harm natural vegetation, ground cover, and any plant creatures in the area that you wish to exclude from damage.

Other spells, such as Cone of Cold, make no mention of whether they affect objects, so we have to find a general rule. Though they are a little hard to find, there are rules about energy attacks to objects:

Acid and sonic attacks deal damage to most objects just as they do to creatures; roll damage and apply it normally after a successful hit. Electricity and fire attacks deal half damage to most objects; divide the damage dealt by 2 before applying the hardness. Cold attacks deal one-quarter damage to most objects; divide the damage dealt by 4 before applying the hardness.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems reasonable that if not specified energy spells do damage to objects, fireball specifically mention it because it has the "put on fire" effect that could be roleplayed (spreading a fire in a city in example). However don't put that to realistic, in example few fire magic spells could drain all breathable air from a dungeon, but that will be too boring for players. I think the quoted description is there for "applying damage to equipment / locked doors" and so on. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 8:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ To make it clear fire storm deals damage only to creatures, it might be useful to finish out the spell description: "Any other creature within the area takes 1d6 points of fire damage per caster level (maximum 20d6)" (PH 231). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 10:48

Although it may vary for each spell many do impact the area in which they are cast. The main example I can think of is fireball, its AOE hits and causes damage to most areas. Personally it also varies from Dm to Dm as well some will take it more into consideration than others will.


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