Ranged attacks through a Wall of Fire


Rules Questions


Would the damage from the wall of fire apply to ranged attacks (ammunition and projectiles) passing through it?

The spell itself seems to indicate damage happening to creatures, not objects (unlike fireball, for instance, which specifically calls out being able to damage objects in the area).

Would it make a difference which side of the wall the arrow was shot from, or whether the shooter was also the one who cast the wall of fire?

Assuming it does do the damage, would an arrow, once it leaves a bow but before it hits its target, be considered an unattended object? (Thus putting it into the 'always fails saving throws' category).

As well, would an arrow (or bolt) get the 'half damage from energy' attacks that objects usually get?

And for added confusion, what if the ammunition were fired from a weapon with the flaming special property?


Unless you house rule it or the spell description specifically says it, firing projectiles through the wall won't be lit on fire.

Regarding whether or not objects take damage: It would make sense that objects that are inside the wall take damage like anything else, but an arrow flying through at high speeds really shouldn't be affected IMO. But I'm not sure how those rules work.


Alarox wrote:
Unless you house rule it or the spell description specifically says it, firing projectiles through the wall won't be lit on fire.

Oop, in case I wasn't clear, I'm not asking if the projectiles become 'flaming projectiles' when they pass through...

I'm trying to figure out if they are potentially destroyed when they pass through, turning the wall of fire into an effective arrow shield.


EvilMinion wrote:
Alarox wrote:
Unless you house rule it or the spell description specifically says it, firing projectiles through the wall won't be lit on fire.

Oop, in case I wasn't clear, I'm not asking if the projectiles become 'flaming projectiles' when they pass through...

I'm trying to figure out if they are potentially destroyed when they pass through, turning the wall of fire into an effective arrow shield.

Seeing as though it is 2d6+caster level damage over the course of six seconds, and an arrow is traveling at a rate of about 200 feet/second, I don't see much of a reason the arrow would be destroyed. That's from a logical perspective. From a rule perspective, this spell deals no damage to projectiles as it doesn't say it does. If you're playing pathfinder society then they'll probably see it like that.

Being able to SEE enemies behind the wall is another question though. It is a giant wall of violet fire so I would assume you can't see through it and would need a perception check of some kind unless you had tremorsense or something. Of course, this goes both ways. That's a realism standpoint again. From a rules perspective it shouldn't limit vision either way since it doesn't say it does.


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Couple thoughts: First for a single projectile passing through I don't believe there's any clear cut ruling that says yes or no to the object being damaged, it's entirely house rule territory. Personally I wouldn't bother with it causing damage as the exposure is typically so brief unless the object was already quite vulnerable for some reason (either flammable or so fragile i.e. low hp) that the brief exposure might actually destroy it.

Second I'll point out the wall is opaque --> "Effect opaque sheet of flame up to 20 ft. long/level or a ring of fire with a radius of up to 5 ft./two levels; either form 20 ft. high" Anything on the other side will have total concealment from a ranged attack. If you attack through the Wall you had better have a good idea which square(s) you are aiming at and even then you still face a 50% miss chance if you pick the correct square(s). This, in my opinion, makes it a fairly good "arrow shield" already.


Alarox wrote:
EvilMinion wrote:
Alarox wrote:
Unless you house rule it or the spell description specifically says it, firing projectiles through the wall won't be lit on fire.

Oop, in case I wasn't clear, I'm not asking if the projectiles become 'flaming projectiles' when they pass through...

I'm trying to figure out if they are potentially destroyed when they pass through, turning the wall of fire into an effective arrow shield.

Seeing as though it is 2d6+caster level damage over the course of six seconds, and an arrow is traveling at a rate of about 200 feet/second, I don't see much of a reason the arrow would be destroyed. That's from a logical perspective. From a rule perspective, this spell deals no damage to projectiles as it doesn't say it does. If you're playing pathfinder society then they'll probably see it like that.

Being able to SEE enemies behind the wall is another question though. It is a giant wall of violet fire so I would assume you can't see through it and would need a perception check of some kind unless you had tremorsense or something. Of course, this goes both ways. That's a realism standpoint again. From a rules perspective it shouldn't limit vision either way since it doesn't say it does.

As a partial counter, consider that you do not take reduced damage if you charge through the wall of fire, even if you're only in the wall for a single step. So it isn't really "over the course of six seconds".

However, the spell doesn't indicate that it deals any damage to objects at all, so there's that.

Liberty's Edge

I would consider the wall as concealment as it does say opaque, but I agree, projectiles are passing through the wall very fast, and as the description doesn't mention destroying projectiles as other spells/situations/effects do, they should be undamaged.


Off course in my games a wall of fire blocks line of sight so unless you like firing blindly there really is no reason to shoot through a wall of fire. Even if you believe a wall is semi translucent creatures on the other side would at the least have some concealment thus making shooting through a wall of fire a difficult proposition.

edit ninja'd


blahpers wrote:
Alarox wrote:
EvilMinion wrote:
Alarox wrote:
Unless you house rule it or the spell description specifically says it, firing projectiles through the wall won't be lit on fire.

Oop, in case I wasn't clear, I'm not asking if the projectiles become 'flaming projectiles' when they pass through...

I'm trying to figure out if they are potentially destroyed when they pass through, turning the wall of fire into an effective arrow shield.

Seeing as though it is 2d6+caster level damage over the course of six seconds, and an arrow is traveling at a rate of about 200 feet/second, I don't see much of a reason the arrow would be destroyed. That's from a logical perspective. From a rule perspective, this spell deals no damage to projectiles as it doesn't say it does. If you're playing pathfinder society then they'll probably see it like that.

Being able to SEE enemies behind the wall is another question though. It is a giant wall of violet fire so I would assume you can't see through it and would need a perception check of some kind unless you had tremorsense or something. Of course, this goes both ways. That's a realism standpoint again. From a rules perspective it shouldn't limit vision either way since it doesn't say it does.

As a partial counter, consider that you do not take reduced damage if you charge through the wall of fire, even if you're only in the wall for a single step. So it isn't really "over the course of six seconds".

However, the spell doesn't indicate that it deals any damage to objects at all, so there's that.

That is true, but you're also flesh being encased in fire for over a second. If you put your hand in a fire for a whole second you can get a pretty nasty burn, but if you swing your hand through in a fraction of a second (still a stupid idea) it will be far less burnt. Even more important though is surface area.

An arrow would pass through in a fraction of a second with an extremely small surface area, so minimal heat transfer compared to a big lump of flesh passing through for about a second.


Amusingly, you could toss a steak in the fire and it'd be unwarmed, but reach out to grab it back and you're toast.


blahpers wrote:
Amusingly, you could toss a steak in the fire and it'd be unwarmed, but reach out to grab it back and you're toast.

This is about as appropriate time as any to trot this out: "A wizard did it". Or, equally appropriate to this spell, "DRUIDS!"


Well, I would say yes the projectiles would be damaged.

A projectile is an unattended item. Attended is defined as "grasped, touched, or worn." A fired projectile is none of the above.

Non-magical unattended items are always considered to have failed a save.

Non-attended magical items do get saves, so it is possible to pass or fail.

Most arrows, being non-magical, pass through the Wall of Fire, auto-fail, and take damage.

Objects take half damage from energy attacks.

A Light Hafted weapon has Hardness 5, 2 hp. There isn't an entry for arrow, but arrows have wood shafts (harness of wood normally 5) and are very light objects.

The minimum damage from a Wall of Fire is around 2d6+7 (average 14). Half damage is 7, minus hardness is still 2. Enough to destroy a non-magical arrow. Since enhancement bonuses increase hardness and hp, even a +1 arrow would survive at minimum caster level.


The spell only mentions "creatures" getting damaged. Does that factor into your ruling?

Note that fireball specifically mentions unattended objects, and cone of cold simply stated that it deals damage without qualification.


Unless particularly vulnerable to heat (not fire but heat) ranged ammo going through a wall of fire wouldn't be inside the wall long enough to be noticeably affected. The bigger worry is that a wall of fire is opaque so anyone targeting through it requires some means of targeting other than vision and will still have a 50% miss rate due to cover. Not as good at stopping arrows as a wind-wall but still pretty good.


blahpers wrote:

The spell only mentions "creatures" getting damaged. Does that factor into your ruling?

Note that fireball specifically mentions unattended objects, and cone of cold simply stated that it deals damage without qualification.

I believe that the specific mention of damaging objects in Fireball is simply to counter act the general rule that instantaneous fire effects don't start fires.

Since Wall of Fire is not an instantaneous effect, the general rule doesn't apply and there is no need to point out an exception.

I am also unswayed by the idea of "time in the fire" not damaging the ammunition. A flying Giant Eagle using the Run action will spend less than 1/10th of a second in the Wall, but still takes full damage. The rules state that if an object is "particularly vulnerable" to a specific energy type it does not apply hardness, not that you have to be "particularly vulnerable" to do damage.

For a comparison, contact with lava only does 2d6 damage per round. The Wall has a minimum of 2d6+7 (up to 2d6+20 without metamagic).

I also mentioned a saving throw in my original post. Wall of Fire doesn't offer a saving throw (though that doesn't impact my numbers since I assumed auto-failure for being unattended and non-magic), but since it is contact with a non-instantaneous fire effect passing through the wall should force a DC 15 Reflex save to avoid Catching on Fire.

Dark Archive

I just hope that the inevitable pathfinder version 2 clears up any and all of these CONFUSING rules.


Emageht wrote:
I just hope that the inevitable pathfinder version 2 clears up any and all of these CONFUSING rules.

It won't.

It's still not written by PhD English professors and Harvard lawyers.

However, by raw, arrows are unaffected.

Dark Archive

*Thelith wrote:
Emageht wrote:
I just hope that the inevitable pathfinder version 2 clears up any and all of these CONFUSING rules.

It won't.

It's still not written by PhD English professors and Harvard lawyers.

However, by raw, arrows are unaffected.

But can we at least get people that do not make rules vague and ambiguous on purpose?

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