Casting Melf’s Minute Meteors in DnD 5e

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Melf's Minute Meteors 5e

In this article, we will go deeper into Melf’s Minute Meteors – what’s our thoughts on it and how to cast it!

Intro

The wizarding classes of the Dungeons and Dragon’s universe might not have the martial prowess and physical skills of the broadsword wielding warrior or even the strength borne out of the religious fury of the Cleric. But they are certainly the class with the most unexpected tricks to play. Whereas you know that a Paladin is going to offer a fair fight to the opponents before you and any Rogue is going to use guile and stealth to launch a surprise attack, a spell-caster, with the ability to pull both offensive and defensive spells alike out of thin air, is an unknown quantity. You never really know what they are going to do until they do it, and even then, you might not know what manner of eldritch conjurations they have set in motion.

SchoolEvocation
Level3
Casting Time1 Action
RangeSelf
DurationConcentration, up to 10 minutes
ComponentsV, S, M
SaveDexterity
Damage TypeFire

Great Balls of Fire

One of the more common offensive spells, especially at lower levels, is Melf’s Minute Meteors. Upon casting the spell causes create six tiny meteors to be conjured up in the caster’s vicinity. Thee fiery spheres initially float in the air and orbit the caster for the spell’s duration. Once cast — and as a bonus action on each of the turns after they come into existence — the caster can expend one or two of the meteors, sending them streaking away toward a point or points they choose within 120 feet. They can choose up to two target areas, even if those targets are in opposite directions in relationship to the caster. Once a meteor reaches its designated destination or impacts against a solid surface, the meteor violently and impressively explodes. Each creature within 5 feet of the point where the meteor explodes must make a Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 of fire damage on a failed save. A successful save reduces the damage to half of that indicated by the roll. 

The Finer Points

Melf’s Minute Meteors is a 3rd level spell, from the Evocation school of magic and requires verbal, somatic and material components. The latter being something like a bead of sulphur, niter or, for more nature-orientated casters, perhaps pine resin. The designated target must be the caster themselves and the meteors will disappear after 10 minutes if not despatched to a target point.

The spell increases in intensity for each higher spell slot it is carried in. For example, when it is cast using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the number of meteors created increases by two for each slot level above 3rd. The targets saving throw is made against fire damage and all the usual resistance and vulnerabilities rules apply.

Melf’s Minute Meteors versus Fireball

There is much debate in magical circles about which is best out of the two spells. Fireball, also a 3rd level evocation spell, has a broader target radius and inflicts much more damage on anyone caught in its path. The fiery effects will also ooze around corners and ignite any combustible substances that it passes near. But it is a one-time hit.

The advantages of MMM is that once summoned you can carry the meteors around in your orbit, waiting for targets to appear and attacking multiple opponents, admittedly for less damage. Once conjured, you can use the bonus action to send the meteors on their way, even whilst you are readying a new spell. Although as this is a spell that required concentration, a DM ruling that any spell being readied whilst this is in motion should be limited to any spell not requiring concentration, seems fair.

So essentially, MMM is a spell that is good for when you know what is awaiting you around the next corner, especially if you expect multiple low-level opponents. The Fireball is better used against a concentrated area, perhaps one bigger target or a close-kit group of opponents. Both are good spells, each suited to slightly different circumstances.

Supercharging the Meteors

Like so many spells and rules in DnD 5e, there are options for combinations and upgrades if you know how to combine skills and abilities. The most obvious combination to use with MMM is if your character has the bonus skill of Empowered Evocation. This allows you to add your Intelligence modifier to “one damage roll,” meaning that you can choose to supercharge any one of the meteors as you send it towards its target for additional damage.

The Area of Effect

There is always some discussion about areas of effect, especially as they are given in circular radii which then generally need to be applied to a grid marked playing area. The Dungeon Master’s Guide gives the following ruling, summarised as – 

The area of effect is centred at a grid intersection

If the area covers at least half of a square, that square is in the AOE

Meaning that the target point should be placed at a grid intersection and will affect each of the four squares that are adjacent to  it. If you don’t use a gridded mat to play on, then just use a ruler to measure 5ft out from the spells point of impact, any character or creature in the zone, is affected. If you prefer playing grid-less, perhaps make some templates, circles, cones etc to lay down when determining the blast zone or effect of spells.

Final Thoughts

Spell casting isn’t always about the most powerful spell to use or choosing the one that deals out the most damage. Melf’s Minute Meteors might not be as powerful as Fireball or even Magic Missile, but it is certainly more flexible.

For a start, you can choose up to two targets areas per round, even if they are in opposite directions. A fireball might be great at slowing a charge by orcish warg riders coming at you head-on and in tight formation, but when you are surrounded by goblin fighters, oozing out of cracks and holes in the caverns that you are exploring, the ability to fire a series of magical volleys in all direction might be what saves the day. And on that day, you will be glad that you are carrying Melf’s Minute Meteors!