I'm planning an RPG character who's supposed to emulate dragons and to live up to the image he'd use as little equipment as possible. Without weapons, his main tool for hunting is fire attacks.

I suppose lethality wouldn't be a problem because that's numerical in the context of the game - if I can do enough damage, it's gonna kill what I'm hitting. (Even though I don't quite understand how getting hit with a fire bolt would kill something without it exploding)

But thinking realistically, I could see the problem of lethal fire charring the meat, hide, and trophies that would defeat the point of hunting.

Is it possible that breathing or throwing fire at prey would be a viable way to hunt?

And would killing prey with fire ruin the meat and possible trophies?

  • $\begingroup$ how accurate can you be? like can you just aim for the head and burn just that? or is it like an uncontrollable fire? can you then just run to put it off before the whole body is on fire? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 16, 2019 at 4:26
  • $\begingroup$ Hunting for what? Food? Trophies? Sport? $\endgroup$
    – Priska
    Commented Nov 16, 2019 at 4:31
  • $\begingroup$ It would depend on the spells but the two go to's would be fire bolt which look like a small ball of fire being launched and the breath weapon which is likely comparable to a flamethrower attack. $\endgroup$
    – Banana Dan
    Commented Nov 16, 2019 at 5:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Priska Food. Trophies would be a bonus. $\endgroup$
    – Banana Dan
    Commented Nov 16, 2019 at 5:06
  • $\begingroup$ And I just got back from asking on a DnD Discord - apparently there's no specifics on the fire bolt spell so the physical properties of it are kind of up to interpretation. $\endgroup$
    – Banana Dan
    Commented Nov 16, 2019 at 5:14

3 Answers 3


One method of hunting large herds of animals is by inciting them to stampede over a cliff or into a trench. Some will be killed outright, others maimed, and the rest can be contained behind fences that the hunters built ahead of time, able to be picked off at leisure. Such game jumps were used by North American natives to hunt bison and similar animals.

A proper dragon is ideally suited to this method of hunting. Fire is a great way to induce fear and panic in animals. From its position flying above the herd, the dragon could see whether it was on course to the jump and use gouts of flame to cut off any escape, while remaining safely out of trampling range. Dragons are big, so it's natural to assume big appetites, and this provides them with a massive amount of meat in one fell swoop (so to speak).

For your dragon-emulator, the scale would need to be smaller (what would one survivalist need with hundreds of dead bison?) but the principle is the same. Isolating members of the herd, or preying on animals that congregate in smaller groups such as deer, he would use fire to panic them and drive them over a cliff or into a pit trap or other hazard he'd prepared ahead of time. Being able to project fire at a distance would provide an ideal means of cutting off escape and channeling the animals where he wants them to go.

  • $\begingroup$ The idea was more about if killing something with fire would ruin the meat but I do really like the idea of using the fire indirectly. Fire bolt has a range of 120 ft (and more under certain conditions) so even if my guy cant run fast, he could probably make up for it with reach - he's just gotta make sure not to start a wildfire. The big problem is that the character would be humanoid and wouldn't be able to fly until he levels up a bit. But big props for thinking outside the box. Much appreciated. $\endgroup$
    – Banana Dan
    Commented Nov 16, 2019 at 5:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As shown in this answer on outdoors.SE there are different kinds of forest fires. What you'll be contending with are understory fires, which are confined to the forest floor. Spacing out attacks, aiming low, avoiding areas of particularly thick ground clutter, and not hunting during the dry season should keep the risk of a crown fire to a minimum. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Commented Nov 16, 2019 at 5:45

Indirect fire hunting already exists, in multiple species.

Humans actually used fire to hunt, mainly in grasslands/ shrublands. Most well known in australia and north america. it takes two forms the native australians burn small patches of ground to kill small prey (especially burrowing animals) it has a side benefit of making the ground more attractive to other prey as the returning vegetation is more favorable. It helps that the sparseness of the scrubland means fires can't spread very far (55 acres max), it may even benefit the ecosystem by keeping hte vegetation in a patchy perpetually growing conditions instead of reaching maturity. There is some argument this was also used to hunt australia's megafauna to extinction, since it is rather easy to trap large animals with this methods. It is also used to clear land for native tuber farming.

In north america fire was used to drive herds into natural traps such as cliffs which would kill the animals for them, this is fairly wasteful but for something big like a dragon it may be less so especially if it is willing to scavenge the animals for a while afterwards.

surprisingly birds have also been known to hunt by spreading wildfires, so called firehawks (actually three different species of australian kite) use fire to hunt by picking up burning sticks and spreading fire to new places, this both kills prey directly and also flushes them out of cover making them much easier to hunt.

I know of no animal that uses fire directly to attack, but animals caught in wildfires may serve as a proxy, in grasslands they are mostly intact the fire is not long or incense enough to destroy anything, in forests however the intensity of a forest fire can destroy a carcass sometimes more or less completely. So just don't try to use fire hunting in a forest, this will be important for your characters safety anyway, forest fires are much less predictable. it is no coincidence that all these animals hunt in scrubland.

Fire is not going to damage anything you want.

Animals are not that flammable flesh does not burn readily or well, only high intensity forest fires or human created pyres can really destroy a carcass, and only because there is a LOT of external fuel to keep the fire going for a long time. Leather is commonly used as protection from fire precisely because it is very hard to ignite, even more so while still on flesh. So you don't have to worry about destroying the meat, fire mainly kills through asphyxiation or lung damage (scorching the lungs), occasionally skins may be charred but the underlying meat is rarely even touched, when it is it is more by cooking the tissue which you are going to do anyway. "Burns" are more often not really burned tissue but cooked tissue. The mechanics of DnD is not clear on how "fire" damage kills but I would assume it is similar to normal fire either cooking or lung damage.

I doubt firebolt will ruin an animal, if anything it may help, fire was used to clean hair off of skins, especially tough hair like hogs, hair burned but the rest of the carcasses is fairly fire resistant, which makes sense it IS mostly water. at worst burning may start the cooking process, again animals really are not that flammable.


I think that, like for cooking meat in the oven, it would depend on the heat of the flame and "cooking" time.

If your flame is very hot, then the blast would be very destructive and char everything in its path. Most of the beast would be ruined. This is best suited for pure damage output, for example in a confrontation with a rival dragon hunter.

However, if your hunter can regulate their breath and emit a less hot flame (but still hot enough to cook meat) over a longer period of time, they would be able to cook their prey alive. This wouldn't spoil any of the meat, and could be quite a cool (if a little grim) way to finish off a prey that was previously trapped in a ring of flame, or forced into a corner, sort of like Cadence described in their answer.

There would however still be fire damage on the surface of the animal, so trophies might be hard. You may want to think about what would constitute a good trophy for someone who hunts like this. Even though the hide would be damaged, a good beast skull makes for a great trophy in most cultures.


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