Druids don’t have the broadest options for cantrips. Unlike sorcerers, who have a relative host of damaging cantrips at their fingertips, a druid’s choices are more limited.
That’s why it’s important for anyone considering a druid to have a solid grasp on which cantrips hold the most promise in and out of combat. With that in mind, let’s take a look at one of the druid’s available cantrips – Produce Flame 5E.
What is Produce Flame?
The Produce Flame cantrip has the following game stats:
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S
Duration: 10 minutes
The caster can, by means of this spell, produce flames in his or her palm. These flames last for the full duration of the spell and harm neither the caster nor their possessions. The flames cast bright light in a 10’ radius, and dim light for a further 10’ radius.
The spell can also be used as a ranged attack. While the spell is active, the caster can hurl the flame at any target within 30’ by making a ranged spell attack roll. Note that doing so obviously removes the flames from the caster’s palm, ending the spell.
This ranged attack, if successful, deals 1d8 fire damage to the target. This damage increases by an additional 1d8 at 5th, 11th, and 17th level.
Produce Flame is a cantrip on the druid’s list, and consequently they are the most common users of the cantrip. However, priests of the Nature Domain would also have access to the cantrip via the Acolyte of Nature Domain ability. Bards could also gain access to the cantrip via the Magical Secrets ability at 10th level (or, for bards of the College of Lore, 6th level).
The Good and Bad of D&D Produce Flame
Here we should take a deeper dive into this cantrip and whether or not it’s worth having in your arsenal. First, let’s break out the pros and cons of this particular cantrip:
The Good of Produce Flame
There are only two other cantrips on the druid’s list that do ranged damage, Thorn Whip and Poison Spray. Produce Flame would seem to compare favorably at least to the first one, doing 1d8 damage compared to Thorn Whip’s 1d6 at the same range. And while it can’t match the 1d12 damage for Poison Spray, it makes up that difference with a 30’ range in place of Poison Spray’s practically-in-melee 10’ range – a significant factor since druids are seldom front-line fighters.
But aside from respectable damage, Produce Flame also has the advantage of working from an attack roll, rather than having the target make a saving throw. Diving into the calculations, spell attack rolls will generally in favor of the caster more often than target saves, especially since the caster’s spell attack bonus runs off their primary stat (Wisdom).
And the cantrip is more than just damage. As noted in the description, Produce Flame produces a quick source of light that lasts up to 10 minutes, handy in the right circumstances when you suddenly need light and don’t want to waste time fumbling in your backpack for your flint and steel.
The Bad of Produce Flame
There are a few downsides with Produce Flame, however. First and foremost, fire damage is one of the most-resisted sorts of damage in the game, second only to cold damage. It’s also number two in damage immunity, second only to poison. That means you’re likely to encounter a large number of creatures against whom the spell will be of little use.
There’s also the fact that, since throwing the flame constitutes an attack (costing an action), you can cast the spell and throw the flame in the same round. Granted, if you’re already carrying the flame and happen upon an enemy, it’s a handy first-round attack. Outside of that, however, spending two rounds just to do 1d8 damage seems like a waste, and puts the cantrip at a disadvantage compared to other options.
If used outside of combat for a light source, it’s hard to see how simply pulling out your flint and steel isn’t just as easy, unless you don’t have it at hand or other circumstances make it impractical (all your gear is wet, for instance). Depending on the DM’s rulings on the nature of the flame (if it would still work underwater, etc), there seems little to make Produce Flame preferable to non-magical fire-starting when an extra few seconds doesn’t matter.
In combat is another matter. If for whatever reason you need instant light in a melee situation (if the lights in the room are suddenly extinguished), Produce Flame can provide quick and easy light that will last much longer than most combats. Outside of such narrow circumstances, though, it’s harder to justify.
Start Casting Produce Flame!
Produce Flame is a so-so druid cantrip. Alongside the other two ranged damage cantrips, it holds its own in terms of damage and overall isn’t the worst choice for a 5e druid to have on hand.
With that said, however, the likelihood of the target having fire resistance combined with the two-step process to make an attack with the cantrip make it a poor choice if you’re only looking for an attack spell. Thorn Whip may only do 1d6, but it can do it every round.
As a combination utility spell for creating light and an as-needed attack spell, it’s not bad – and certainly not bad in comparison to the druid’s limited cantrip choices. But simply put, most things this cantrip can do are done more easily in other ways, both magical and non-magical, and anyone that has access to it can probably find better choices for their list of cantrips.
Produce Flame FAQ’S
The Produce Flame cantrip creates a flickering fire in the caster’s palm which does no damage to either the caster or their gear and lasts up to 10 minutes. This flame casts light in a 20’ radius (bright light for the first 10’, dim light for the remaining 10’), and can also be thrown at a creature up to 30’ away for 1d8 fire damage (though this ends the spell.
Casting this cantrip causes a flame to appear in the caster’s hand. This flame will provide light for up to 10 minutes at up to a 20’ radius (bright light for the first 10’, dim thereafter). But the flame can also be thrown at a creature up to 30’ away (which ends the spell early), doing 1d8 fire damage on a successful ranged spell attack roll.
This would be a judgment call. The spell description notes that, when thrown at a creature, it does fire damage. That certainly implies that it is a “real” flame when thrown and lighting objects on fire would be as simple as throwing the flame at them. However, the cantrip’s description also says that it can be thrown at a creature – not a creature or object, as in the description of Fire Bolt. Based on that, it would seem the fire effect only works on targeted creatures – in other words, you can’t chuck the fire at a door or stack of logs. You’d have to work this out with your DM, but the pure text of the spell seems to say no.
It would seem not. Since the flame is described as not doing damage to the caster or their equipment, it’s implied that the magical flame produced cannot cause fire damage to objects or creatures when in the caster’s palm (otherwise, it would likely present the option of a melee spell attack as well). A strict view of the spell’s description seems to state the cantrip only does fire damage when thrown, and then only to creatures, meaning the party can’t light torches, candles, or fine cigars from the caster’s palm.