When most imagine meteor swarm they would imagine a meteor covered in fire plummeting downwards towards your enemies. However the PHB specifies it as "Blazing orb of fire" (and not a rock)... yet it also says creatures will take bludgeoning damage which would not make much sense if it was just a ball of fire.

Is it actually a meteor or is it just a giant ball of fire? (If it's a rock, since it's quite a big meteor, would the creature get stuck under it?)


3 Answers 3


Spells do exactly what they say they do

Addressing your second point first, creatures can't get stuck under it because the spell doesn't say so. For a case where creatures can be pinned, you can look at Bones of the Earth, which is explicit about pinning creatures:

If a pillar is prevented from reaching its full height because of a ceiling or other obstacle, a creature on the pillar takes 6d6 bludgeoning damage and is restrained, pinched between the pillar and the obstacle.

Meteor swarm has no such language.

There are many different ways of envisioning what the meteor looks like. Previous editions make clear that spellcasters have some control over the appearance of their spells, so different casters might have different versions of meteor swarm. No matter how it appears, though, it must do what the spell description says, and only what the spell description says.

For example, note that it doesn't say that your targets must be outdoors. This means you can cast the spell in a cave, for example, with the same effects. Maybe it's just particularly powerful, concussive fireballs that appears only a few feet above the ground and falls; that would be consistent with the spell's description.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Although if it was just a more powerful fireball would it not do bludgeoning damage? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 8:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ It could be a particularly forceful explosion, or it could be an exploding flaming rock too. The point is that it can be anything you want, as long as it fits the spell description. \$\endgroup\$
    – Icyfire
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JasperNakamura Suggest you look up the multiple effects of a FuelAir explosive IRL. Overpressure, not flame, is primary agent of damage. Close enough to bludgeoning with ... an air hammer? See also this study \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 19:03

As to whether it actually is a rock or not, the description of the spell is ambiguous.

However, following 5e's philosophy of using natural language, we can use the name of the spell "Meteor Swarm" to conclude, the spell is in fact using a swarm of meteors.

Additionally, there is no wording in the spell that allows for a creature to become trapped by one of the Meteors, and as Icyfire's answer states, spells do exactly what they say they do, and nothing more.


A rock moving fast enough is a blazing orb of fire

Objects moving at re-entry velocities, such as your average meteor, are blazing orbs of fire, independent of identity. Simple friction guarantees this at such extreme speeds, even if the underlying object isn't very big by the time it gets to the surface because most of it was vaporized by the heat.

Fast moving objects break up onbefore impact

Another general rule is that if an object isn't explicitly designed to take the stresses of re-entry, it'll break up as it burns up due to the high drag forces sort of pulling the object apart. Hence, instead of a single bigger rock landing on your head, you get pelted with lots of smaller burning chunks, which explains the bludgeoning damage scattered about the area and why nobody winds up laying there pinned by a summoned space rock.

However, there must be something solid there, not just a blast

However, there actually isn't much of a blast in a meteor swarm by RAW. D&D 5e chooses to model the concussion of a shockwave as thunder damage instead of lumping it in with bludgeoning damage from physical objects, and meteor swarm doesn't do thunder damage, only fire (from white-hot air) and bludgeoning (from rocks hitting you on the head). (Likewise, fireball doesn't create a blast because it doesn't do thunder damage, only fire.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ You're mixing fantasy magic with real world physics here, and basing your entire answer on what happens in the real world, without demonstration real world physics has anything to do with what the spell does. (Magic can have a concussive bludgeoning fireball if it says so. Consider: flail or club made entirely of fire. I can have that and thump someone with it, if the stat block says I can do that.) Can you show this stuff is actually relevant according to game rule sources rather than according to real world physics (or show that real world physics are relevant here)? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 3:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Suggest you look up the multiple effects of a FuelAir explosive IRL. Overpressure, not flame, is primary agent of damage. Close enough to bludgeoning with ... an air hammer? See also this study \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast -- sounds like you're the type to rewrite Meteor Storm (which wouldn't hurt my feelings) -- shockwaves indeed do a lot of concussion, but as I said, that's thunder damage in 5e-land. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 23:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shalvenay Nope, what I am doing is explaining to you where Bludgeoning damage comes from in your simulationist kind of answer. I don't disagree that Thunder and Bludgeoning damage are cousins in terms of effects. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 3:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am glad the Q was put on hold because the only true answer to the Q in D&D 5e is "It works however you want it to work, physically, since You Are the DM." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 3:16

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