Burning Hands is a close-range 1st-level offensive spell falling under the Sorcerer and Wizard spell lists.
While this spell falls under an offensive category, many players might underestimate its defensive capabilities due to its limited class availability.
Even long-range mages might find themselves cornered at some stage in their journey.
The Player’s Handbook specifics are as follows:
Burning Hands 5e
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self (15-foot cone)
Components: V, S
You raise your hands with thumbs touching and fingers spread, and a thin stream of flames shoots forward from your outstretched fingertips.
Every creature in a 15-foot cone must make a Dexterity saving roll. Creatures will either take 3d6 fire damage on a failed saving roll or half as much fire damage on a successful one.
The fire sets any flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried ablaze.
At Higher Levels: When the spell is cast using a spell slot of the 2nd level or higher, the fire damage will increase by 1d6 for every slot level above the 1st.
What Does Burning Hands Do 5e?
Burning Hands is a short-range spell with a reasonable amount of fire damage (3d6) for a first-level spell.
When players cast burning hands, it releases a 15-foot cone of fire, being able to hit multiple targets within range.
When cast, there is always guaranteed damage, as if the targets fail their Dexterity roll, they take (3d6) damage, while if successful, they still take half the damage.
Is Burning Hands a Touch Spell?
Some players might be confused with the name ‘Burning Hands’ as it sounds like the attack needs to be in touch range to cast.
However, similar to Chill Touch, burning hands is a ranged spell. Even with its short range, it is still not classified as a ‘touch’ range.
Is Burning Hands Good?
Like many fire-based spells Burning Hands deals decent damage but falls short when analyzing its damage type.
Burning Hands is a level-one spell, dealing (3d6) fire damage, with a range of 15-foot cone, no material components, and is instantaneous.
The damage this spell has is quite reasonable. Its cone shape makes it effective when cast into groups of enemies. It also has good scaling (1d6) damage increased for every slot above the 2nd.
Burning Hands won’t be helpful in every situation; however, when it is, the true potential of this spell will shock most players.
Limitations of Burning Hands
As mentioned, the greatest obstacle for many spells will be their damage type.
In the case of Burning Hands, its fire damage will fall short of many other damage types in the game (force, radiant, psychic, and necrotic).
However, if Burning Hands is used without thought, the experience will be even more lackluster.
Players should carefully choose their spells before mindlessly casting them, as it could end badly for anyone involved.
Effectively Using Burning Hands
Burning Hands is a valuable spell but only when used cleverly.
Close Range Combat
The range of Burning Hands is 15 feet spread into a cone shape. It can hit multiple enemies in range and forces them to make a Dexterity saving roll.
Since spellcasters are so squishy, especially at lower levels, carrying at least one close-range spell is always good.
If enemies decide to rush you or target you because of your damage, you can always choose to blast them with relentless fire.
Once they know, you can cast this spell. The remaining enemies might stop targeting you entirely.
For the ones stupid enough to keep trying, you can just endlessly fry them until they become scorched corpses.
When exploring, many players might encounter creature nests (usually added by their DM).
Many creatures, like goblins, giant spiders, harpies, drow, etc., could make a nest or hide out in a cave/point of interest.
One of the quickest ways to deal with these nests would be to use spells that do AoE or widespread damage.
Players can quickly bring these nests to ashes by using Burning Hands.
Even though fire isn’t a very reliable damage type, it also has the most vulnerable creatures.
Many water-based creatures and forest monsters or elementals are very susceptible to fire. Treants, Wood Woads, Dust Mephits, and Awakened Trees are all vulnerable to fire.
Creative Ways To Use Burning Hands
Spells using fire can be used as a weapon on the battlefield and a tool on journeys.
Narrow Caves or Pathways
In certain areas, the path becomes exceptionally cramped. Due to the spread of Burning Hand’s flames, casting it in a cramped space will force all the fire to move down the single pathway.
Not only will all the enemies within range be in danger, but even if they succeed in their Dexterity saving roll, they will still take damage.
Nothing stops players from doing this again on their next turn, this time maybe fully hitting the enemies with the total damage of their flames.
Since non-living objects are set alight from Burning Hands, players can easily set an entire encampment ablaze.
Most camps are made from flammable things like cloth, wood, and rope.
Not only will this burn extremely easily, but it will burn quickly, spreading the fire throughout the encampment.
Note: Be sure to strike at night when enemies are less aware.
Igniting Campfires or Signaling Companions
Burning Hands can also light simple things like campfires or fire signals to aid your party.
Providing your party with warmth or letting them know where you are is always beneficial in the long run.
Players might only sometimes have flint and steel. They might also become lost, making it easy to light a fire and send smoke signals to their companions.
Most players might not use Burning Hands in every fight; however, if push comes to shove and they have to use it, having it is better than not having it.
This spell’s creative appeal makes it even better to add to your spell list. Try it for yourself; you might find it more valuable than you think!