D&D 5E Can you cast an Area Damage Spell if you are under the "Hopelessness" Symbol?

Stalker0

Legend
This just came up in the Vecna fight, so I'm curious on people's thoughts.

Here is the spell text for the portion of the symbol spell.

Hopelessness: Each target must make a Charisma saving throw. On a failed save, the target is overwhelmed with despair for 1 minute. During this time, it can't Attack or target any creature with harmful Abilities, Spells, or other magical Effects.


So its clear as a bell that I couldn't cast like a dominate person or something. But can I still use an area damage spell like a fireball?
 

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Stalker0

Legend
"Target" in 5e includes hitting something with a fireball. It isn't like 3e, where "target" was a keyword.

(You could probably cast a fireball you didn't know would hit a creature.)
True, but in that case my target is a point in space, not a creature.

The relevant text:

Targets
A typical spell requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the spell’s magic. A spell’s description tells you whether the spell targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect (described below).

Unless a spell has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a spell at all. An effect like crackling lightning is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature’s thoughts, typically goes unnoticed, unless a spell says otherwise.


Fireball
  • Target: A point you choose within range

So at no point am I "targetting a creature"
 

FarBeyondC

Explorer
True, but in that case my target is a point in space, not a creature.

The relevant text:

Targets
A typical spell requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the spell’s magic. A spell’s description tells you whether the spell targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect (described below).

Unless a spell has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a spell at all. An effect like crackling lightning is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature’s thoughts, typically goes unnoticed, unless a spell says otherwise.


Fireball
  • Target: A point you choose within range

So at no point am I "targetting a creature"
Adjudicating Areas of Effect on page 249~250 of the Dungeon Master's Guide seems to disagree with you.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
From the other thread:

And here's one about dragon's breath:

1657850877457.png


Seems to imply that creatures in AoE are "targets", even if not "targeted".

Also:

1657850893383.png


When you choose a point in space for an AoE spell, that point becomes a "target" for the spell (of course, it is not a creature... hmm...).

So, my vote is definitely no to any AoE spell (or feature or magical effects) that is harmful.

This would also work against Vecna's Flight of the Damned IMO. It doesn't target creatures, but is a harmful magical effect.
 
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What about a spell like wall of fire?

It doesn't refer to creatures damaged by it as "targets" at any point, and you don't designate any creatures to be affected by it, neither by pointing a nasty thing at them nor by doing any other things. Creatures only take damage by standing inside the fire or standing up to 10' away from the side that deals damage.

Is wall of fire "targeting" a creature that walks into its damage area, or is it simply a persistent fire which, y'know, burns things which foolishly approach too close?
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
What about a spell like wall of fire?

It doesn't refer to creatures damaged by it as "targets" at any point, and you don't designate any creatures to be affected by it, neither by pointing a nasty thing at them nor by doing any other things. Creatures only take damage by standing inside the fire or standing up to 10' away from the side that deals damage.

Is wall of fire "targeting" a creature that walks into its damage area, or is it simply a persistent fire which, y'know, burns things which foolishly approach too close?

Well, yes and no. You are not targeting people with the spell if they walk into it, but they are targets of the spell itself. As are you, if you walk into the wrong side.

It's a gray area when you drop it down and line it up on enemies. They would then be targets, and you'd probably count as the one doing it. But it would be up to your DM.

A spell's target is anyone who is effected by it. That's just how the game works. (And it's a separate use of the word "target" from the one that allows you to pick the origin point of a radial area of effect - though they wind up being the same thing on single-target spell attacks).
 

Well, yes and no. You are not targeting people with the spell if they walk into it, but they are targets of the spell itself. As are you, if you walk into the wrong side.

It's a gray area when you drop it down and line it up on enemies. They would then be targets, and you'd probably count as the one doing it. But it would be up to your DM.

A spell's target is anyone who is effected by it. That's just how the game works. (And it's a separate use of the word "target" from the one that allows you to pick the origin point of a radial area of effect - though they wind up being the same thing on single-target spell attacks).
Ah, the clarity and simplicity of "natural language" in action. Truly, O brave new world, that has such rules in't!
 
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cbwjm

Legend
Basically, I feel like if you're casting the spell in an effort to harm or hinder your enemies, it's probably a no go for this spell. If you want to cast fly on yourself to nope out of there, no worries, if you feel like a wall of fire would hinder your enemies but they aren't "targets", well, I think they are, so no.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Too bad @Stalker0 didn't post this as a poll. Then even people who aren't posting could vote and give us a bigger ("better"?) feel for how people would rule. I don't know if you can change the OP to a poll after posting...
 


Basically, I feel like if you're casting the spell in an effort to harm or hinder your enemies, it's probably a no go for this spell. If you want to cast fly on yourself to nope out of there, no worries, if you feel like a wall of fire would hinder your enemies but they aren't "targets", well, I think they are, so no.
My question mostly lies at the intersection of these two things. What about a situation where you're dropping wall of fire in order to prevent people from following you? You don't want to target any of them--you WANT them to stay AWAY from the fire, because that lets you get away.

Does "target" care about the psychology of the caster? It seems to me that "drop something to cover my butt so I can turn tail and run" is a perfectly reasonable thing to do when you feel "hopeless," yet it also seems like the natural-language meaning of the description of that effect is that you can't really cast damaging spells or SoD/SoS spells, regardless of how they do their damage or cause someone to die/suck.

Too bad @Stalker0 didn't post this as a poll. Then even people who aren't posting could vote and give us a bigger ("better"?) feel for how people would rule. I don't know if you can change the OP to a poll after posting...
Unfortunately I'm pretty sure you cannot change a regular thread into a poll after posting it.

Edit: Turns out I'm wrong! If you click the "...v" button next to "Watch" at the upper-left corner of the first post, you can just straight-up say "Create Poll." So yeah, it can totally be added now!
 

NotAYakk

Legend
My question mostly lies at the intersection of these two things. What about a situation where you're dropping wall of fire in order to prevent people from following you? You don't want to target any of them--you WANT them to stay AWAY from the fire, because that lets you get away.

Does "target" care about the psychology of the caster? It seems to me that "drop something to cover my butt so I can turn tail and run" is a perfectly reasonable thing to do when you feel "hopeless," yet it also seems like the natural-language meaning of the description of that effect is that you can't really cast damaging spells or SoD/SoS spells, regardless of how they do their damage or cause someone to die/suck.
Target might not; but hopelessness clearly is intended to.

I'd rule you can cast it not "on" creatures, but you can use it to separate creatures. Like a defensive wall, cutting enemies off.

They are free to run into the wall without you triggering hopelessness -- you just can't directly attack them with it. Because such attempts are hopeless.
 

Target might not; but hopelessness clearly is intended to.

I'd rule you can cast it not "on" creatures, but you can use it to separate creatures. Like a defensive wall, cutting enemies off.

They are free to run into the wall without you triggering hopelessness -- you just can't directly attack them with it. Because such attempts are hopeless.
Well sure, but that's exactly what others upthread have said they wouldn't count, because it's still an offensive spell, even though you aren't trying to use it offensively.

TBH, I'm super glad this discussion has happened. It is a perfect encapsulation of why I dislike "natural language" design, in a direction I had never considered before.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Well sure, but that's exactly what others upthread have said they wouldn't count, because it's still an offensive spell, even though you aren't trying to use it offensively.

TBH, I'm super glad this discussion has happened. It is a perfect encapsulation of why I dislike "natural language" design, in a direction I had never considered before.
The thing is, this isn't natural language. "During that time, it can't attack or target any creature with harmful abilities, spells, or other magical effects?" That sounds like something out of a legal document. When I see that kind of precise, exhaustive phrasing, I assume it's written that way so that you can parse it out and get an exact, black-and-white answer to any question about how it works. If you can't, it isn't "natural language"--it's just a badly written rule.

A natural language version would say something like, "It can't try to harm other creatures." Simple, succinct, and makes it clear that the DM is going to have to rule on exactly what constitutes "trying to harm."
 

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