Hello and welcome to our very first entry for a new series of articles called Underrated or Underpowered, where we decide if certain spells, subclasses, or abilities are better than we give them credit for or deserve the flak they get. In this article we’ll be talking about Aganazzar’s Scorcher, a 2nd level spell that came out in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion.
A Hot Addition to Fire Spells
Fire spells are among the most numerous in the game, with staples such as Burning Hands, Scorching Ray, and Fireball being seen in nearly every adventure. When the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion came out, it added many new additions to all the different elemental spells, fire included. Spells like Immolation made a firey entrance, while some spells like Pyrotechnics seemed to be extinguished as soon as they came out (maybe we’ll talk about this one in the future!). However, one spell I see very little of however is Aganazzar’s Scorcher. Allow me to introduce it to you.
This spell comes at 2nd level, being available to the Sorcerer and the Wizard. It takes one action to cast, has a range of 30 feet while being 5 feet wide, and asks for a Dexterity save, dealing 3d8 damage on a failed save and half as much on a successful one. When cast using a higher level spell slot, the spell deals an additional 1d8 damage. On its own, the spell seems quite potent, dealing a sizeable amount of damage in a decent sized AoE, hitting up to six people in a perfect scenario, and maybe two to three on average. The 5×30 area of effect is also quite useful in maneuvering around your teammates, as you can often clip enemies with it that are next to your teammates. Off the bat, this spell is looking pretty solid! But no spell comes without its drawbacks, and Aganazzar’s Scorcher might get extinguished before the end of this article.
Turning Down the Heat
One of the most glaring issues that comes with Aganazzar’s Scorcher is its range. While the 30 foot range is nice, it faces a similar problem that Lightning Bolt has: More often than not, you will end up hitting more enemies with a spell like Shatter or even Snilloc’s Snowball Storm, another EE Player’s Companion spell. Many encounters allow you to position your spells just out of range of your allies while still affecting all the enemies, and a 10 foot radius (in the likes of Shatter) will more of ten than not hit more enemies than a 5×30 line. Apart from this, there is debate – probably the only discussion I’ve seen on this spell – about the range of the spell itself. Unlike Lightning Bolt, which has a range of Self, Aganazzar’s Scorcher has a range of 30 feet, with a 30 foot line. However, the description states that the line emanates from you, implying that it starts from you. This discrepancy has many people confused as to what the true range of the spell is, and while this may seem like a minor gripe you can figure out with your DM, it is still a lack of clarity that should not be overlooked.
A Firey Competition
One thing I look forward to doing in this series is comparing the spells, subclasses, or abilities to others in the game, seeing how they stack up against each other. Aganazzar’s Scorcher’s biggest competition comes in the previously mentioned Shatter. Both are 2nd level spells and both deal 3d8 damage, but from there their paths split. While Scorcher deals the more common fire damage, Shatter deals the rarely seen thunder damage. The range of Shatter is 60 feet, with a 10 ft radius and instead of requiring a Dex save, it requires a Con save and is available to the aforementioned Sorcerer and Wizard as well as the Bard, Warlock, and Tempest Domain for Clerics. With all of that out of the way, let us begin our comparison!
Starting off with damage types, we compare fire to thunder. Fire is one of the most resisted damage types in the game, sitting at 37 creatures resisting and 40 creatures being immune to fire damage (using just the Monster Manual for reference). However, it also has the most creatures vulnerable to it at 9. Thunder damage on the other hand has 14 creatures resisting it, 2 standing immune, and only 1 being vulnerable (sorry earth elementals!). Without considering Elemental Adpet, thunder damage seems to be the more generally likeable damage type.
Next would be the damage AoEs/range, and considering on previous discussion you can probably tell where this is going. Shatter is often going to be easier to work around your teammates with and will often catch more enemies in it. The spell has the added benefit of being a circle, allowing it to clip enemies on the edge while Aganazzar’s Scorcher doesn’t get that luxury. The range of 60 feet on Shatter will allow you to stay near the back, where you most likely want to be considering your d6 hit dice!
Lastly though, the scales tip in Aganazzar’s Scorcher’s favor when it comes to saves: generally, a monster’s constitution save will be much better than its dexterity save. Look at dragons for instance, who have about a 5 point differential between their Con saves and their Dex saves. Generally you’ll have better luck targeting Dex saves, and this is where Aganazzar’s Scorcher seemingly eeks out ahead of Shatter.
A few final things to take note of, Shatter does cause creatures made of inorganic material to make their save at disadvantage, but has the drawback of creating quite a loud noise… perhaps louder than the screams of those at the tail end of your Aganazzar’s Scorcher!
The Final Verdict
Now we arrive at our very first decision, and I must say it’s been quite a fun bit of research. I dub Aganazzar’s Scorcher… Underrated! I think the spell is really solid on its own, targeting a good save and dealing pretty respectable damage in an AoE. The spell instantly becomes better if you take Elemental Adept, a feat that is almost a must have on spellcasters especially considering how many fire based spells there are. If you combine the spell with an evocation wizard or a draconic sorcerer on top of that, it becomes in my opinion one of the best low level AoE fire spells you can get!
If you’ve made it this far, I’d like to thank you a ton for reading through this article! If there is anything I missed or you would like to add to the discussion, please leave a comment or ask us questions on one of our social medias. If you liked the content, we’d greatly appreciate it if you gave us a follow on those social medias. I look forward immensely to writing more of these, and again thank you so much for reading!