How Much Damage Does Lava Do?

Lava is present almost in every D&D scenario, and you may tumble into it when fighting a dragon on the rim of a volcano. Calculating the harm that lava can inflict to any plater confounds many gamers.

This article will discuss the damage that a player can sustain from lava damage in D&D 5e.

What Damage Does Lava Do 5E?

Lava is scorching hot in the game, with temperatures reaching 1,600°F. Your skin could severely burn in a second under 160°F (it would suffer third-degree burns after a second if immersed under 150°F water). The highest temperature any internal body could survive is 115°F.

Here is the damage your character could suffer based on its distance from the lava. 

  • If a creature is within 30 feet of lava, it takes 1d4 fire damage per round. As a result, the skin becomes visibly flushed with exposure to internal body parts. If you have fire resistance, the heat only causes eyes to water and imposes a disadvantage on attack rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks based on sight. Creatures having resistance or immunity to fire damage could succeed on the saving throw. 
  • If a creature is within 20 feet of lava, it takes 1d10 fire damage per round. As a result, the skin suffers second-degree burns that take 2d6 days to heal without magical healing. Creatures wearing medium, heavy armor, or heavy clothing would have the disadvantage of saving throws. Creatures having resistance or immunity to fire damage could succeed on the saving throw. 
  • If a creature is within 10 feet of lava, it takes 4d10 fire damage per round. As a result, the skin suffers second-degree burns that take 3d6 days to heal without magical healing. Creatures wearing medium, heavy armor, or heavy clothing and not holding their breath will have the disadvantage of saving throws. Creatures having resistance or immunity to fire damage could succeed on the saving throw. 
  • If a creature is within 5 feet of lava, it takes 20d10 fire damage per round. Under direct exposure, clothes get burned, metal armor sears to the flesh, and exposed skin suffers third-degree burns causing permanent disfigurement to exposed creatures. Creatures wearing medium, heavy armor, or heavy clothing and not holding their breath will have the disadvantage of saving throws.

Another way to determine the damage caused by lava is to use the Improvising Damage chart from page 249 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG) specifies the damage caused to a character due to fall damage, like falling from a cliff or slipping into the lava. 

Improvising Damage Chart

1d10Burned by coals, hit by a falling bookcase, pricked by a poisonous needle
2d10Being hit by lightning, stumbling into a fire pit.
4d10Hit by falling debris in a collapsing tunnel, stumbling into a vat of acid.
10d10Crushed by compacting walls, hit by whirling steel blades, wading through a lava stream.
18d10Being submerged in lava, being hit by a crashing flying fortress.
24d10Tumbling into a vortex of fire on the Elemental Plane of Fire, being crushed in the jaws of a godlike creature or a moon-sized monster.

The table provides a series of landmarks for any damage a player might encounter during the game. Understanding these damages will set the tone for the game for you. Some gamers must accept that their characters may perish due to falling rubble.

According to the above Improvising Damage chart, any player or character takes the following damage per round in the game:

Wading or walking through a lava stream

If any character walks through a lava stream, then the lava will cause 1d10 damage to that character. 

Being submerged in lava

If any character gets submerged into lava accidentally during a battle, then the lava will cause 18d10 damage to that character. Although it sounds nasty, a character could indeed die like this. 

Princess of the Apocalypse

In Princess of the Apocalypse, a creature that falls into lava suffers 6d10 fire damage. 

Tomb of Annihilation

In Tomb of Annihilation, a creature that falls into lava suffers 55 (10d10) fire damage. 

According to the chart, default damage should be 1d10 (for damage caused due to getting burned by coals ) or 2d10 (damage because of stumbling into a fire pit ). 

Ultimate damage will be the death of the creature.

If you consider the practical interpretation of lava, your character will instantly die by falling into the lava unless it is immune to fire. Any death save or damage rolls will not prevent the demise. Only a true resurrection spell or a wish spell could resuscitate the character. 

Lava is a molten rock with a density three times that of water and is 100,000 times more viscous than water. Your character’s skin would rupture, blacken, and evaporate (transitioning from solid to liquid to gas) within a few seconds. 

Your organs would split, your bones would smash, and your blood would turn to a gas inside your veins. The fire damage from lava will reduce the character’s hit points to 0, and it will lose all its saving throw and death saves. 

A Damage Severity and Level table show how deadly these damages could be for different levels of characters. 

Damage Severity and Level Table

Character LevelSetbackDangerousDeadly
1st to 4th1d102d104d10
5th to 10th2d104d1010d10
11th to 16th4d1010d1018d10
17th to 20th10d10118d1024d10

If a character is immune to fire damage caused by lava, what will be its movement rate in the game? Let us discuss this question in the next section. 

What Is Your Movement Rate in Lava?

A character in the game may not sink into lava but rather float on top of it as though being cooked alive. It will happen because lava is denser (𝜌=3000𝑘𝑔/𝑚³ρ=3000kg/m³) than the human body (𝜌=1000𝑘𝑔/𝑚3ρ=1000kg/m3) by a significant margin, even if the human or character wears a heavy armor in the game. However, if the characters are warforged or rock golem, they would swim because of their similar density.  

If your character is not immune to fire, it will not swim in it. It may survive in the lava or could melt and evaporate in a few seconds due to its heat and toxic fumes like sulfur dioxide. It all depends on your GM. If you convince your GM, she may allow the players to use magic items or spells to survive contact with lava for some time, as decided by the GM. 

All possibilities like impaired movement, rugged terrain, and forcing players to swim around the lava are up to Game Master’s discretion. She has the most knowledge about lava functions in the 5e game. 

If a character/monster is immune to, say, fire damage, does that mean they could take a swim in lava with no damage done to them in D&D 5E?

Characters or monsters immune to fire damage could walk on lava without taking any significant damage. The lava is more dense than stone, and humans cannot swim in it. Even if the character is immune to fire, it cannot sink in the lava. If your Dungeon Master (DM) allows you to swim through lava and your character is immune to fire, then lava will cause no harm. 

Is There a Way to Gain Immunity to Fire Damage?

Usually, you should avoid touching the lava to protect yourself from lava damage. To get immunity from fire damage by lava, DM can implement dexterity saves for players to avoid falling into lava. 

A character can also use fire shields to gain temporary protection from fire damage. Aside from dexterity saves and fire shields, there are a few spells in D&D 5e that can provide characters immunity to fire damage.

Investiture of flame 

The spell investiture of flame allows you to become immune to fire damage and have resistance to cold damage. Cast this spell on a 6th-level Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard to render them immunity to fire for 10 minutes.

Primordial Ward

The 6th level Druid spell, the primordial ward spell, provides resistance to a damage type and allows your reaction to getting immunity to fire damage when you take some damage (2d10). 

Get God-y

The 17th-level Forage Domain Clerics get permanent immunity to dire damage as a part of their Saint of Forage and Fire feature. 

Magic Items

  • The red dragon mask is a legendary magic item from Rise of Tiamat. It can upgrade the fire resistance immunity that you already have. 
  • Efreeti chain is a legendary chain mail that grants the wearer immunity to fire. 
  • You gain immunity to fire damage if you destroy a fire elemental while attuned to a ring of fire elemental command.

Channel Chandra

The unofficial Plane Shift: Kaladesh document includes a pyromancer Sorcerer subclass (page 9), which at level 18 gains immunity to fire damage. 

What Creatures Like to Live Around Lava?

In D&D, creatures found near lava are Fire Snakes (under Salamanders), Kobolds over Goblins, and many more creatures that live near or exist around the lava. 

Here is a table of creatures or monsters living near lava with their CR (Challenge Rating) in the game. 

Creatures or Monster found near LavaCR (Challenge Rating)
Fire SnakesCR 1
SalamandersCR 5
Fire ElementalsCR 5
Magma MephitsCR 1/2
MagminsCR 1/2
AzersCR 2
SkeletonsCR 1/4
Minotaur SkeletonCR 2
OozesCR 1/4 – CR 4
CambionCR 5
Succubus ServantCR 4
ImpsCR 1
LemuresCR 0
Spined DevilsCR 2
Red Dragon WyrmlingCR 4
Stench KowCR 1/4
Red Guard DrakeCR 2
GhostCR 4
VrockCR 6
GoristroCR 17
Brass Dragon WyrmlingCR 1
Fire GiantCR 9
BalorCR 19


How Much Damage Should a Creature Take if It Walks Across Lava While Wearing a Ring of Water Walking?

Any character wearing a Ring of Water Walking can stand on and move across any liquid surface as if it were solid ground. 

The ring of water walking will aid the creature in walking across the lava because in D&D 5e, the lava is liquid, and according to the Improvising Damage section (DMG, page 249), you can wade through or get submerged in the lava and incur the damage between 2d10 and 6d10, or it could be 4d10 (middle of the range). 

How Much Damage Would You Take by Water Walking On Lava in D&D 5E?

The Water Walk spell enables you to move across any liquid surface, including water, acid, mud, snow, quicksand, or lava- as if it were harmless solid ground (creatures crossing molten lava may still suffer damage due to the heat). The lava is much hotter than fire and will cause 2d10 fire damage to the creature in the game. 

The benefit of casting a water walking spell is that it will prevent you from falling into and submerging into lava, which could cause 18d10 fire damage. So, using the water walking spell, you would suffer 2d10 fire damage instead of 18d10 fire damage. 

How Much Damage Does Generic, Non-magical Fire Do per Round?

It is left to the discretion of the DM in the game to determine the damage done by generic, non-magical fire. The Improvising damage section on page 249 of the DMG suggests the damage caused by falling into a fire pit could be 2d10. 

You can create a bonfire on the ground visible within your range. The bonfire fills a 5-foot cube, and any creature in the bonfire casting the spell must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d8 fire damage. 

A dexterous character could pass through a 5-foot cube of fire without suffering any damage or may incur minimal (1d8) damage if they are clumsy. It is similar to moving your finger through a candle flame without getting burned. The damage may be 1d10 per round of flame for a larger area. 

Can Tieflings Swim in Lava?

Yes, Tieflings can play or swim in wading pools of lava with no ill effect. However, without knowing how to swim, they might drown in the lava and die.