[RPG] Would the 1st level Burning Hands spell burn down a wooden house/inn


One of my players seems to think that this spell will cause all sorts of carnage whereas I'm more inclined to say it may cause a bit of a fire and a bit of damage but not necessarily be all-consuming.

Are there any rulings on this?

Best Answer

The description of Burning Hands states that it 'sets fire to flammable objects'. At its maximum, it is a 15-foot wide cone. So the answer here is that it might be able to set fire to a wooden building, but wouldn't necessarily burn it down, unless the fire was ignored for a reasonable length of time.

Remember, too, that even in medieval times there were still some measures that could be taken to prevent house fires, and that wood doesn't just burst into flames at the touch of fire. Some varieties of wood are particularly difficult to ignite, and if it's rained recently it probably won't matter at all, it's just not going to light up.

To set fire to a building, you would either need to coat it in something more flammable, such as alcohol or pitch, or keep a fire on it for an extended period of time. A momentary blast of flame might singe or char a wall, but it probably won't ignite it. Think about it: building a campfire, you have to start with kindling and small twigs, you can't expect logs to burn straight away — same here.

Oddly enough, it would probably be easier to use a torch for your arson, since you could hold the torch to the wood until it ignited. Alternatively, the 'flask of oil' item is pretty much made for this; its whole purpose is to burn easily. If you throw a flask of oil on the building and then cast Burning Hands, you should achieve your goal. (Assuming your player wanted to burn down the building, that is; if he was worried about property damage when casting Burning Hands he should be good to go.)