D&D 5E Clarification about Flaming Sphere

Retreater

Legend
One of my players emailed me to appeal my ruling about Flaming Sphere. Maybe I'm doing it wrong? Maybe he's wanting more than the spell should offer? Maybe this has been definitively answered by WotC (though I couldn't find it)?
I'll address the situation that made him question my handling of the spell and post the text of his email below.

The game situation...

The party was fighting 6 wights in a 35' x 70' room. There were 5 NPCs and 5 party members, so it was a little tight quarters. The wizard dropped a flaming sphere next to a wight (who was engaged with the party's monk and rogue) and wanted to ram the creature with it. I said that meant moving it into the wight's space, where it would stop once it made contact with a living creature. At that point, the monk and rogue would be required to move away before the end of their next turn or be subject to the 2d6 fire damage (since they would both be within 5 ft of the sphere).

You can read the player's email below, but basically he is saying the the ramming is an attack from the sphere and doesn't require moving it.

My thought is that if it were like an attack like a "minotaur ramming" or a spiritual weapon strike, it would be an attack roll - not a saving throw. The "saving throw" indicates that it is occupying the same area as the creature (not unlike a fireball or lightning bolt).


The player's email...
"I’d like to appeal on (Flaming Sphere | D&D 5th Edition on Roll20 Compendium) occupying the same space as a monster.
  • The sphere must originate in an unoccupied space.
    • This implies it has a physical-ness. If it was able to occupy the same space why must it originate in unoccupied space?
  • Ramming verses occupying
    • Ramming the sphere is more akin to minotaur ramming a player in that they don’t both occupy the same space
    • Ramming implies physical-ness otherwise it would only occupy
  • The sphere is 5m diameter
    • Unless the monster is versed in clown geometry, that’s the entire square.
  • The spell loses substantial damage.
    • The monster is effectively protected from players who don’t want to end their turn within 5 feet or risk damage
    • Not ramming means the monster needs to merely move to ignore the sphere’s damage."
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Nothing I can see in the spell outright states it occupies a square. That you can move it up to 30 feet suggests to me that it can ram a creature in an adjacent square regardless of how much it has moved from its originating square. Boiled down, it would seem to me the intent is that you get to ram a creature within 30 feet once per turn, then potentially force some other creatures to have to move away before the end of their turn or take fire damage.
 


NotAYakk

Legend
Even if you say it has to enter the creature's space, it could just ... leave afterwards. It should have plenty of movement if it was summoned right next to the target.
 



Retreater

Legend
Even if you say it has to enter the creature's space, it could just ... leave afterwards. It should have plenty of movement if it was summoned right next to the target.
No. Once it hits an enemy, its movement ends. Otherwise, you can just have it doing laps through every enemy on the board.

Here's the specific section of the spell description that makes me think that it requires moving the sphere...

"As a bonus action, you can move the sphere up to 30 feet. If you ram the sphere into a creature, that creature must make the saving throw against the sphere’s damage, and the sphere stops moving this turn."

Specifically, the caster has taken a bonus action to move the sphere. It is no longer in the same place it was. It hits a creature and stops moving.
 


Bolares

Hero
One of my players emailed me to appeal my ruling about Flaming Sphere. Maybe I'm doing it wrong? Maybe he's wanting more than the spell should offer? Maybe this has been definitively answered by WotC (though I couldn't find it)?
I'll address the situation that made him question my handling of the spell and post the text of his email below.

The game situation...

The party was fighting 6 wights in a 35' x 70' room. There were 5 NPCs and 5 party members, so it was a little tight quarters. The wizard dropped a flaming sphere next to a wight (who was engaged with the party's monk and rogue) and wanted to ram the creature with it. I said that meant moving it into the wight's space, where it would stop once it made contact with a living creature. At that point, the monk and rogue would be required to move away before the end of their next turn or be subject to the 2d6 fire damage (since they would both be within 5 ft of the sphere).

You can read the player's email below, but basically he is saying the the ramming is an attack from the sphere and doesn't require moving it.

My thought is that if it were like an attack like a "minotaur ramming" or a spiritual weapon strike, it would be an attack roll - not a saving throw. The "saving throw" indicates that it is occupying the same area as the creature (not unlike a fireball or lightning bolt).


The player's email...
"I’d like to appeal on (Flaming Sphere | D&D 5th Edition on Roll20 Compendium) occupying the same space as a monster.
  • The sphere must originate in an unoccupied space.
    • This implies it has a physical-ness. If it was able to occupy the same space why must it originate in unoccupied space?
  • Ramming verses occupying
    • Ramming the sphere is more akin to minotaur ramming a player in that they don’t both occupy the same space
    • Ramming implies physical-ness otherwise it would only occupy
  • The sphere is 5m diameter
    • Unless the monster is versed in clown geometry, that’s the entire square.
  • The spell loses substantial damage.
    • The monster is effectively protected from players who don’t want to end their turn within 5 feet or risk damage
    • Not ramming means the monster needs to merely move to ignore the sphere’s damage."
Yeah, I'm with your player on this one. Nothing in the rules state that the sphere must be in the same space as the creature it's hitting, and every instance (that I can think) of the game allowing two objects/characters ocupying the same space is spelled out in the text of the rules. I'd advise you to revise your rulling on the spell, or at least let the player choose another spell of the same level, because this is really nerfing it, making it really detrimental to use, if you care about hurting your own party.
 

The rules are not totally clear, but I've always interpreted them the same way as your player. The idea that a Flaming Sphere could possibly share a space with another creature didn't even occur to me until reading this thread.

IRL rams tend to bounce back after hitting their target, unless it's destroyed.
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
  • The sphere is 5m diameter
    • Unless the monster is versed in clown geometry, that’s the entire square.
5', but yes. That's the whole square.

I agree that the sphere never shares a space with a (living) creature. If you "ram it into" an opponent, that's a bit like a Bull Rush; in the fiction the sphere makes contact with the enemy, but for grid purposes it ends in the square adjacent to them from which it struck.
 


Mort

Legend
Supporter
I agree with those that say it stays in it's own square.

If the caster rams it into a creature, it then stops in its own square.
 


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