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In D&D 5e, can someone physically walk through a flaming sphere unimpeded (assuming they can stand the heat)?

FWIW: a flaming sphere 'occupied' a square in 4e, and in earlier editions it was considered 'spongy', but I'm not positive how it might function now in 5e.

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No, you may not.

The description of the flaming sphere spell specifically states that:

A 5-foot-diameter sphere of fire appears in an unoccupied space of your choice within range and lasts for the duration. Any creature that ends its turn within 5 feet of the sphere must make a Dexterity saving throw. The creature takes 2d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

If you ram the sphere into a creature, that creature must make the saving throw against the sphere’s damage, and the sphere stops moving this turn.

When you move the sphere, you can direct it over barriers up to 5 feet tall and jump it across pits up to 10 feet wide. The sphere ignites flammable objects not being worn or carried, and it sheds bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light for an additional 20 feet.

This clearly speaks to the sphere's solidity. It's an object that has to move around obstacles, and leaps over pits (note that the spell says it jumps, not that it hovers). On top of that, it distinctly states that creatures that end their turn within 5 feet of it are affected, but does not state anything about a creature ending its turn in the sphere's square.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you're in its space, you're within 5 feet. Also you've possibly rammed it into yourself. (actually, the "ram" bit also supports its solidity) \$\endgroup\$
    – Adeptus
    Jan 24 '17 at 3:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Um. I just read the description again, and the only thing that sort of speaks to the sphere's solidity is the second paragraph, and even then it sounds like the verb ram only implies solidity. Likewise, just because the sphere rolls along the ground doesn't mean it's solid. (My fear is that folks will want to use the spell to create an impenetrable barrier!) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 24 '17 at 19:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, since my Barbarian's description doesn't explicitly SAY he's solid, I guess I can walk through him then. The rules don't say what you can't do, they say what you can. The sphere says nothing about walking through it, and the text heavily implies it's extremely solid (ramming it into people, having to go around or over objects) so it's not assumed you can just traverse through it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25 '17 at 3:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ The ball is made of fire. You can, though shouldn't, walk through fire. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 27 '20 at 0:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m having trouble with this answer. It states that flaming sphere “specifically states” something, then just quotes the entire spell description without identifying the relevant “specific” information. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 27 '20 at 1:21
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Yes

flaming sphere doesn't specify exactly if the sphere itself is solid.

What we do know:

  1. The sphere is made entirely of fire:

    A 5-foot-diameter sphere of fire

  2. You can walk through fire, in real life (though you shouldn't), and in the game. Like create bonfire or just mundane fire.

That would lead to the conclusion that it should be able to be walked through/around in the square that it occupies -- taking damage along the way.

As for the verb description "ram"; I can't think of a better verb for pushing a floating fire into someone with force than "ram" can you?

Designers' Intent

A question about when damage is dealt walking through flaming sphere was tweeted to Jeremy Crawford, who answered:

As written, the flaming sphere spell deals damage only at the end of a turn or when used to ram someone.

Even claiming that is how it is written:

I run flaming sphere as written.

So, it is the intent of the designers, and what the designers think they have written, that a person can walk through a flaming sphere and doesn't hurt/do damage to do so unless you stop in range.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You misspelled "ram" as "ran" the second time. (You may also consider linking from the first item in your list to the Q&A What is the source of the “spells do only what they say they do” rules interpretation principle?.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Aug 26 '20 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Especially since that question cites examples from the DMG of spells doing things they don't say they do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Aug 26 '20 at 23:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Removed that point, as it wasn't really important to the argument. I've also added on the fact that lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford meant and read it as allowing people to pass through it. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 27 '20 at 15:43
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Yes

The spell does not specify whether or not it occupies its space - compare Artillerist's Eldritch cannon:

A Small eldritch cannon occupies its space,

...or Guardian of Faith

The guardian occupies that space

Since Flaming Sphere does not specify that it occupies that space, and it is not a creature which does so innately, we can infer the space is not occupied, and can be moved through freely. Since the spell does not say it deals damage to a creature that does so, it does not.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you expand on this with an example? I'm trying to visualise it. The flaming sphere does not do any damage to anything passing through it so it only "activates" fire damage if something remains within 5 feet at the end of its turn - or, if it is rammed into someone and then stops next to the them. Presumably it takes time to activate the fire damage. \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Dec 18 '20 at 11:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Frankly the only explanation I can provide is you can step around the sphere unless it's rammed into you, and the heat isn't severe enough to deal damage if you leave the area fast enough. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 18 '20 at 12:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vonBooomslang Thanks. That makes sense - with you on that one: a not-so-slow cooker spell! \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Dec 18 '20 at 23:08
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RAW, the spell doesn't specify that it impedes movement. Spells that block movement do specify that little detail.

While use of words like "ram" or "has to move above obstacles" might make some think that this implies solidity, this is a quite indirect way to determine solidity, not a surefire way at all. There sentences describe the movement of the sphere itself, not the movement of creatures relative to the sphere.

Lots of other immaterial stuff can apply force. Example: Unseen Servant applies forces, is not an obstacle itself, yet cannot go through obstacles by itself. It doesn't even have a flying speed despite that spell not "specifically" stating that it does not have one.

The "specific beats general" rule doesn't mean that if something is NOT written then it means that it is allowed. Because if you go that route, you open up all kinds of weird shenanigans. If something is not written, you just go with the baseline default that makes sense. Most spells in fact are not obstacles in and of themselves, often directly apply some effect or force, and can't go through obstacles. So that is the "default".

It is a sphere made up of fire after all. Fire ain't solid. So, when you "ram" the flaming sphere, it ddescribes the fact that you throw the sphere on the creature and then it stops in the same square as the target creature: not 5 feet "before" the creature. Someone can also run through the sphere's square, and as long as they cross fast enough and don't remmain there they'll feel the heat but not actually get burned.

Not the way I do the spell in my campaign because it doesn't make sense to me that when the sphere is put on a creatre (rammed into a creature), then the damaging effect applies, but when a creature all by itself decides to ram itself through the sphere, then nothing special happens. So in my campaign anybody trying to move through has to DEX Save to avoid the fire damage. But that is a house rule.

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