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Or just the first creature?

This answer made me wonder about the wording/phrasing of Fire Form. Some might read it as (only) the first time the Fire Elemental enters a creatures space on a turn, that creature takes....

OR

The first (and every) time the Fire Elemental enters (any) creatures space on a turn, that creature takes....

Which one is correct? Only once per turn, or once per creature whos space you move in to per turn?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Or just the first hostile creature, for that matter? (Friendly fire isn't, dude...) \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Apr 4 '17 at 3:21
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The first time it enters a creature's space, the creature takes 1d10 damage as stated

In addition, the elemental can enter a hostile creature's space and stop there. The first time it enters a creature's space on a turn, that creature takes 5 (1d10) fire damage and catches fire.

So if there are five creatures, it can run through all five and do 1d10 to all of them. It can only do that once a turn, however. The quote from above does not mention the fire elemental only being able to do the 1d10 to one creature a turn, therefor it applies to any creature it moves through as long as it has not done so previously in the same turn.

It's also somewhat good to note that because of what page 190 of the PHB states, it would have half movement as if moving through difficult terrain while it moves through a creature's/player's spaces. So it isn't too powerful while still being a good ability for an elemental creature.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh. I'll edit. \$\endgroup\$ – Jihelu Apr 4 '17 at 4:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the point of the "once per turn" clause is to prevent a fire elemental from moving in/out of an enemy's square multiple times per turn to stack the damage. \$\endgroup\$ – Doktor J Apr 4 '17 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't "enter a hostile creature's space and stop there" indicate that it can only do it to one creature per turn? If it is sweeping through a group of opponents, it isn't stopping in any of them (or at most, one of them). \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Apr 4 '17 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I interpret it, and feel that it was meant to be so because of the little (1d10) damage it does, as it is mentioning it can rush through a line of enemies and end it's turn inside of an enemy. I feel like it would be worded differently if it meant only one creature. \$\endgroup\$ – Jihelu Apr 4 '17 at 18:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PhilBoncer, I went back and forth on this and even started to write a counter answer to the posted ones, but on reviewing the movement section of the PHB (p. 191 - moving around other creatures) this is what I think: the two clauses should be treated totally independently. The first is an exception to the normal movement rule wherein the elemental can enter any hostile creature's space (not just those 2 sizes smaller/larger) and can also stop in said space (which is normally disallowed). Additionally, the elemental can simply "run through" any creature's space and trigger the fire effects. \$\endgroup\$ – JBC Apr 4 '17 at 21:53
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The relevant text from the SRD.

The first time it enters a creature’s space on a turn, that creature takes 5 (1d10) fire damage and catches fire;...

So the Elemental can only "burn" a creature once per turn. It's also worthy of note that the "catching fire" ability should not stack. So if a creature is "on fire" at the start of their turn, they take a d10 fire damage, regardless of how many times they have been hit.

Also note that the elemental is a Large creature and it also has this special ability regarding moving through other creatures.

The elemental can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing... In addition, the elemental can enter a hostile creature’s space and stop there.

Taken together, I read this as the Fire Elemental can freely move its 50 feet / round going through other creatures and setting them on fire. One could argue that spaces occupied by humanoids would count as difficult terrain, but given that the elemental can move through a 1 inch gap without slowing down, I would not rule that a PC is really going to "get in the way".

This attack mode of sweeping through enemies is what makes the fire elemental dangerous. But it's not a free ride. Such movement will still cause attacks of opportunity unless the Elemental took the Disengage action.

Yes, the Fire Elemental can deal a lot of damage. It's pretty scary. But all of the Elementals are scary in their own ways.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the Fire Elemental likely welcomes opportunity attacks, since they resist nonmagical weapons and deal 1d10 damage to melee attackers within 5 feet. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Taxi4Dave Aug 29 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Taxi4Dave, yep, Opportunity Attacks are just more automatic damage to the PCs. I really like the Fire Elemental as an enemy because it forces PCs to work/think differently. Reminds me of these CR2 Beli from Tome of Beasts. They have lots of mobility + ranged weapons + regeneration + invisibility. Fighting them really requires different tactics than most normal fights. koboldpress.com/tome-of-beasts-beli \$\endgroup\$ – Gates VP Oct 2 at 17:53

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