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Fireball

3rd-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 150 feet
Components: V, S, M (a tiny ball of bat guano and sulfur)
Duration: Instantaneous

A bright streak flashes from your pointing finger to a point you choose within range and then blossoms with a low roar into an explosion of flame. Each creature in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on that point must make a Dexterity saving throw. A target takes 8d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

The fire spreads around corners. It ignites flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 3rd.

Fireball Variants

Source DM5E

Fireball is perhaps the most iconic damage-dealing spell in fantasy RPGs, so why mess with it? Partly to add an interesting twist to something familiar, partly to give it a story or character spin, and partly just for fun. Here are three options to consider for variant fireballs used by your PC or NPC casters.

Fireball can be easily spiced up by changing its appearance and damage type. The following table offers twenty options for reskinning fireball; roll a d20 or choose the options that best suit the character who’s casting the spell. The new appearance can become emblematic of that caster, as personal as a signature, a catchphrase, or a distinctive facial feature.

All items created by a variant appearance vanish as soon as their damage is done; no items or materials can be recovered.

Reskinning Fireball
d20 Appearance Damage Type
1 Blue fire Fire
2 Ball of fiery serpents Acid
3 Fiery rain Thunder
4 Cloud of adamantine needles Piercing
5 Swarm of bees Poison
6 Tiny spheres of antimatter Necrotic
7 Screaming skulls Necrotic
8 Hail the size of oranges Cold
9 Flurry of sparks Lightning
10 Stones falling from the sky Bludgeoning
11 A whirling sphere of scimitars Slashing
12 A burst of light from a tiny, exploding sun Radiant
13 Darting imps that siphon life essence Necrotic
14 Crackling rays of static electricity Lightning
15 Plunging magical arrows Piercing
16 A holy word echoes in the air Radiant
17 Slashing, flensing knives Slashing
18 A whirling, icy tornado Cold
19 Flesh-eating orange slime Acid
20 Spheres of pure, explosive energy Force

Power Changes

Fireball is an instantaneous spell, but it might just as easily resemble heat metal, with a round of warning, a round of damage, and a round of additional damage. Spreading out the damage this way could be called a slow-burn fireball.

Though this is a bit more bookkeeping, such a spell would be appropriate for limited use by a pyromaniacal spellcasting NPC.

While fireball is an area of effect spell, a smaller version could attack a single target. This might be called solitary fireball, and could easily find a place in an elementalist’s spellbook or in the hands of a fire imp or an efreet.

Finally, the third variant here is a bouncing fireball, which (as the name implies) strikes one location, then bounces according to the caster’s direction to a second location and explodes again. This is similar to how chain lightning works, but bouncing fireball attacks multiple targets in both locations. The tradeoff is lower damage against each creature when compared to chain lightning.

Solitary Fireball

2nd-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 150 feet

Duration: Instantaneous
Components: V, S, M (a candle and a pinch of sulfur)

A bright streak flashes from your pointing finger to a point you choose within range, where it blossoms with a low roar to engulf a single creature in searing flame. That creature takes 6d6 fire damage, or half damage with a successful Dexterity saving throw. Solitary fireball does not ignite other flammable objects.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 2nd.

Slow-Burn Fireball

3rd-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 150 feet

Duration: 3 rounds
Components: V, S, M (small chunks of coal and sulfur)

A bright streak flashes from your pointing finger to a point you choose within range, where it slowly ignites the air itself with phlogiston. Each creature in a 20-foot-radius sphere around the target point takes 4d6 fire damage, or half damage with a successful Dexterity saving throw.

Every target that takes damage takes the same amount of damage again at the start of your next two turns unless it uses an action to put out the flames on its clothing, hair, and other accoutrements. Flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried are also ignited.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 3rd.

Bouncing Fireball

6th-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 150 feet

Duration: Instantaneous
Components: V, S, M (a tiny ball of bat guano and sulfur, and three iron pins)

A bolt of flame streaks from your finger toward a point you choose within range, then explodes into an inferno of flame. Each creature within 20 feet of the explosion takes 7d6 fire damage, or half damage with a successful Dexterity saving throw.

Immediately afterward, a second bolt of flame streaks from that explosion to a second target point you can see exactly 40 feet from the first explosion. It explodes again at the second target point, causing another 7d6 fire damage (halved by a successful Dexterity saving throw).

Then the flame jumps instantly again to a third target point, also within your line of sight and exactly 40 feet from the second explosion, where it detonates for the final time with identical results.

Note that for the second and third bursts, the flame jumps exactly 40 feet—never more, never less—and if any part of a burst area overlaps the area of a previous burst, the burst fails to happen and the spell ends immediately.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 7th level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 6th.