D&D 5th Edition "Sage Advice" from Designers Mearls & Crawford

Many of you likely remember the Sage Advice column in DRAGON Magazine, a tradition which lasted decades. Nowadays, both Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford, lead designers of D&D 5E, have been answering rules questions on Twitter and elsewhere, and I've been busy gathering them. (Also, Zoltar has set up a blog to compile these). It's a big list, so here goes.... I've noted the designer who posted each simply with a J or an M. Note that most of this is from Twitter, thus the abbreviated language, etc.

UPDATE -- I have subsequent articles similar to this with more of the same. You'll find them at the following links:

[dnd]x[/dnd]General Questions
  • Is it true stats including racial bonuses cannot be above 18 at lvl1? max is 20. -M.
  • Any chance you will give pointers for 4e classes out of 5e? EK is not qutie Swordmage. we're planning for conversion guides later this year -M.
  • Can a Barb2/Lock3 retrain an invocation into Pact Blade? (ie: is 5th level 5th level? or 5th warlock level? also, retrain rules) up to the DM - depends on group expectations. -M
  • The pixie was size Tiny in 4e. Do you see Tiny being a possibility in 5e, or would they become Small for a PC race? I think it's still Tiny, but the way we treat size in 5th makes it a pretty small issue for most classes. -M
  • The halfling lucky doesn't specify only the number on the die. So it only works on a roll of 1 after modifiers? should specify natural 1. -M
  • what would the action sequence be like for sheathing one weapon,drawing another,and attacking?Is that all 1 action? yeah - the intent is to avoid punishing players for that stuff by charging an action. -M
  • How does the term 'per turn' work? Could a PC who can make an attack 'per turn' make an attack on everyone elses turn? yes, though you'd still need to use your action or reaction. -M
  • hiding: attacking w/ ranged it says you give away your location, does this cancel hiding? Doesn't say you are "seen" or "heard". Yes, others are aware of you. -M
  • Can a low-init character ready an action, then take that action if legit triggered by a high-init character in the next round? yes. -M
  • Is choosing a subrace required or optional?. Not 100% clear. it's required - you're a step behind without one. -M
  • Was the "Dueling" fighting style intended to support a shield? "Dueling" doesn't scream "shield" at me. A character with the Dueling option usually pairs a one-handed weapon with a shield, spellcasting focus, or free hand. -J
  • Mask of the Wild differs from Skulker. Restricts to natural light obscurity. Trouble adjudicating. Can you advise? Mask of the Wild lets a wood elf try to hide when lightly obscured by anything in nature: the dim light of dusk, fog, etc. -J
  • Can an Action be a Bonus Action? i.e Can a Bard use a BA to grant Bardic Inspiration and an action to cast Healing Word? Actions and bonus actions aren't interchangeable, so that bard could use Bardic Inspiration or healing word, not both on a turn. -J

Hitting Things
  • Does a halforc that criticals with a maul roll 5d6 or 6d6? There was a question because the halforc ability says one die. just one die - great axes FTW! -M
  • 2wf clarification: can only use 2wf to attack one creature since bonus action w/action, or can attack 2 diff. Enemies with 2wf? can attack two targets. -M
  • Are we going to be able to charge into combat in the full rules? Curious why it isn't in Basic yeah - the 3e and 4e rules made charging worth a separate rule. Oppy atk and move rules make it easy to spam charge. -M
  • When you crit, do youalso roll all extra damage like Sneak Attack/Divine Strike again as well? Can seems like a lot. yes - reroll all. -M
  • For 2weapon fighting, do you get at most 1 bonus hit a turn even if you have Extra Attacks from the fighter? (Uses Bonus action) that's correct. Since it uses your onus action, you can only use it once. -M
  • Action Surge + Extra Attack means double attacks, IE 3 normal attacks + AS equals six attacks, yes? yes. -M
  • Action Surge+TWF+Haste at 20th level how many att does this yield? A bunch of attacks! At level 20, Attack action + TWF = 5 attacks. Action surge = 4 attacks. Haste = 1 attack. -J
  • Can 2-weapon fighting bonus action/attack be split up with movement? I think not, but was hoping for clarification. Thx! Movement can happen not only before and after an action, but it can also happen between attacks. -J

Resting & Recovery
  • Can stabilized PC spend HD after 1hr short rest even though it regain 1HP after 1d4hr? believe that is correct - at 0 hp, a short rest lets you spend HD. -M
  • does Trance allow elves to get the benefit of long rest in 4 hours instead of 8? nope, they still need 8 hours of rest, but spend only 4 of it zonked out. -M
  • at 1st level, if you take a long rest. Do you regain 1 HD back or none(from rounding down of .5)? you get 1 - should be min. 1 for long rest. -M
  • "at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, ..." Long Rest interrupted by any combat or only combat that lasts more than an hour? Must last 1+ hours to break it. -M

Reach & Opportunity Attacks
  • Do reach weapons threaten 10 feet for the purposes of triggering opportunity attacks? yes. -M
  • If I have reach (10 ft), do I only get an opportunity attack if enemy moves to 15 ft? yes, you attack when they leave your reach. -M
  • Concerning weapons with the Reach property: Opportunity Attacks are provoked at 5' or 10' or both? 10 feet. -M
  • Monsters w/ multiple melee reach get AoO from furthest? Ogre's large & has only 5' melee reach; AoO @ 5' reach? in general, use shortest. -M
  • If an AoO occurs just before the trigger, how does a Qtrstaff work with Polearm Master? Aren't they out of reach? The Polearm Master feat is an exception to the opportunity attack rule: "… when they enter your reach." -J
  • Does a polearm master opportunity attack interrupt movement? The Polearm Master attack is in response to a creature entering your reach, so movement can be before and after it. -J

Those Sneaky Rogues
  • Rogue hidden behind tree. Can he shoot an arrow with advantage, or does stepping out negate it? Re-hide behind same tree after? DM's call - suggest atk with advantage, but disad to hide again. IMO if rogue sees target from hiding while hidden, can attack. -M
  • Could a rogue hidden behind cover run to a target & Sneak Attack; are they hidden until after attacking or after leaving cover? hidden until leave, but Adam might rule creature is distracted -M
  • Rogue Hides behind tree. Ogre can't see him. Leans out, shoots ogre, returns. Advantage on attack? Sneak attack? Same next turn? I would say advantage on attack, disadvantage on check to hide again. -M
  • If a rogue attacks an enemy when emerging from a cover source, does he still gain benefit of stealth in the attack? Only if the rogue is still hidden when making the attack. -M
  • question about rogues: any chance of a future subclass that allow them attack more than once per round without 2-weapon fight? not without losing or modifying sneak attack. -M
  • Does a rogue get more than 1 reaction during the first round with thief's reflexes? kind of - you get your reaction back when your turn starts. You can't accumulate more than 1. -M
  • CunningAction for dash,dash,move would be 30+30+30 right? (assuming 30 move speed) Or have I got my math wrong? believe that's correct. -M
  • Can a rogue sneak attack with a net even if it deals no damage? No, sneak attack is additional damage. -M
  • Does uncanny dodge work automatically on every seen attack the rogue gets hit with? Magic too? Yep! Uncanny Dodge works against attacks of all sorts, even spell attacks. -J
  • is rouge sneak attack dbld on a crit style? DM say no. The immortal question! "The DM has final say, but the intent is for Sneak Attack dice to be rolled again on a critical hit." -J

Class Features
  • Is the bard's Jack of All Trades feature intended to apply to initiative? Yes, Jack of All Trades can apply to initiative, since that roll is a Dexterity check. -J
  • can HalfOrc Monk use Savage Attacks trait with his unarmed strikes or Flurry? Or improvised weapons? yes, that doesn't break anything. -M
  • Does a monk have to stand in place to make flurry of blows attacks or can he move between attacks as if they were extra attacks. monk can move. -M
  • been a split on whether the immediately part of flurry meant you could atk>move>atk>move>atk>move>atk or atk>move>atk x3. when in doubt with the monk, ask "What would Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan do?" That answer is probably correct. -M
  • Quick question: Fighter "Second Wind". Usable in combat only? nope, usable at any time. -M
  • Divine smite refers to "paladin spell slots." How does this interact with multiclassing, or is the word "paladin" redundant? paladin is redundant. -M
  • if a fighter with the Duelist combat type uses a shield, does he still get his bonus? The text reads "no weapon". yes, believe so. -M
  • for the champions expanded crit range, are 18-19 automatically a hit? Or are they only crit if attack hits? believe you get the auto hit and double damage. -M
  • Does the Barbarian's rage give you advantage on melee attacks using strength? Pg. 48 PHB. Rage doesn't grant advantage on melee attacks using Strength, but Reckless Attack does. -J
  • Can Warlock familiars (Ie Imp/Sprites) activate magic items? Ie Wand of Magic Missiles or a potion. That's up to your DM. Nothing in the game says an imp or a sprite familiar can't activate a magic item. -J
  • For the Warlock Old One Pact Telepathy power. Is it one way or two way communication? I read it as one, but others don't. The intent is for it to be one-way communication, but a DM could certainly rule that it's two-way telepathy, as in monsters. -J
  • Can a ranger's beast companion take reaction and make opportunity attack? I would rule that the beast can make an opportunity attack. -J
  • If a Warlock forgoes an attack to let his Pact of the Chain familiar attack does it occur immediately or on it's next turn? I would rule that the warlock commands the familiar to attack, and then the familiar does so on its turn. -J
  • Does an animal companion add the Ranger's proficiency bonus to its save DCs (for example, a Mastiff's bite)? The ranger's proficiency bonus isn't added to the beast's save DCs, but a DM could certainly override that. -J
  • Does Agonizing Blast add damage per Eldritch Blast casting, or per beam? E.g. 5th level lock deals 2d10+2*Cha, or 2d10+Cha? I would rule that you add your Charisma modifier whenever a beam hits. But I have my eye on this feature. -J

  • There has been confusion over the durable feat and the meaning of "roll" does a 20 con wizard regain a min 10 or 15 hp w/ feat? 10 - roll means die roll + mods. Anything that affects only the number yielded by the die will say so specifically. -M
  • so a class with d6 or d8 HD and a 20 con can use durable to get back more than max possible? -yes. -M
  • Can you use the spell sniper feat to grab the Shillelagh spell? How about Thorn Whip? Spell Sniper allows you to learn thorn whip, which includes an attack roll, but not shillelagh, which doesn't. -J
  • Can Great Weap Mstr & Polearm Mstr be combined (take -5/+10 with the bonus attack) and do you add the mod. to the damage? Yep, you can combine them, and you do add your modifier to the damage. -J

Spells & Magic
  • Does a Wild Surge effect replace the effect of the spell cast triggering it or both effect happens? A Wild Surge effect is meant to be in addition to a spell's effect. -J
  • With cantrips, does a MC caster use their character or class level for determining damage? A multiclass character uses character level to determine the damage of a cantrip. -J
  • Can a wizard Burning Hands himself? His hands clearly aren't affected, but what about his feet? nope - point of origin isn't in area. Wiz would have to want to immolate self. -M
  • Any advice on handling Clerics/druids with shields and spell casting? They seem disadvantaged without a hand free for S/M comps. just stow that weapon in the shield hand for a moment and you're good - the rule isn't there to restrict, but to clarify. -M
  • I'm casting Burning Hands on you, I'm hidden, you don't know I'm there. Do you get disadvantage on that saving throw? DM's call. -M
  • Ftr5/Wiz5/Clr5 you'd be a 15th lvl character, 10th lvl spellcaster, is dmg for cantrips on char lvl or caster lvl? char level. -M
  • where is the Generalist wizard!? didn't include one because schools no longer restrict spell access. -M
  • Does Truesight see through Illusions that are only in a target's mind, like Phantasmal Killer/Force or Weird? DM's judgment, but I'd say no. -M
  • Can True Polymorph be cast on self? Some say only works on others, citing loss of spellcasting ability. yes, just remember that concentration breaks it and the caster could stick into the form permanently. -M
  • Can dodging character with Sanctuary block chokepoint? stuff like this is a big part of giving DMs tools to adjudicate and improvise - so many situational elements in an RPG. -M
  • If a creature is immune to cold and is hit by "Ray of Frost" do they suffer the 10-foot speed penalty in #DnD 5E? yes - immunity applies only to damage. -M
  • can you cast a spell that uses somatic components if you weild a 2 handed weapon or a vertile weapon in 2 hands? nope. -M
  • Does copying a spell scroll into a Wizard's spellbook consume the scroll? The basic rules don't seem to explicitly say so. believe it does. -M
  • wizards cantrips Via elf racial ability. If one takes Shocking Grasp does the damage go up with Level? yes, it goes up. -M
  • The overchannel ability for wizards. Can it be used to max cantrip damage? At no cost as well, since it's a 0 level spell? as written, yes, but i'd house rule it to increase the damage by 1d12. -M
  • Wizards have insane damage (Meteor Swarm). Will other classes, like Fighters, be able to keep up? yes - compare meteor swarm's 40d6 to 8 attacks from a fighter using action surge. Fighter can easily get up to 140 damage. -M
  • Can you crit with a spell (assuming it has an attack-roll)? Rules seems to indicate that you can. yes, you can. -M
  • EmpEvoc +int mod,if thats on one target,is that still +intmod or +intmodX3? empowered evocation applies only once per target. -M
  • Magic Missile, three missiles, three targets: Separate damage rolls, or once for all of them? What about a 2-1 missile split? one damage roll per target. -M
  • Also noticed that Thunderwave gains +d8/spell level, while Burning Hands only gains +d6/spell level. Thunderwave wins later on. yes, it's a little weird but judged to be easier than swapping die types at higher levels. -M
  • Heal replaces Cure Wounds completely when gained: Ranged, maximum and much larger hp regained, cures afflictions etc. Intended? yes, but keep in mind it needs a higher minimum slot level. -M
  • so how will concentration spells work as potions? same way - effect ends if you lose concentration. -M
  • if a stonskined wizard is taking damage should he make a concentration check? yes, unless spell says otherwise. -M
  • With Meteor Swarm...how close do the four meteors have to be to one another? Anywhere in the spell's range? anywhere in range. -M
  • Is there a line of effect in D&D and does Wall of Force block it? in general, a barrier that stops physical objects stops spells. -M
  • Does the Wizard's Potent Cantrip feature apply to cantrips with attack rolls or only to saves? Potent Cantrip affects only cantrips that require a save, such as acid splash and poison spray. -J
  • do you get crit-hits on spells that use and attack rather than a DC? A spell attack can definitely score a critical hit. -J
  • Bonus Action Spell:You can't cast another non-cantrip CT1 spell but nothing prevent you from having already cast one right? If you've already cast a spell of 1st level or higher on your turn, you can't cast a bonus action spell on that turn. -J
  • Can a MC Wizard 2/Cleric 18 learn a 3rd level spell, i.e fireball that he would find on is adventure? That character wouldn't be able to learn fireball, since he doesn't have enough levels in the wizard class. -J
  • If I cast Shillelagh on my quarterstaff and have Polearm Master feat, does the bonus attack deal d4 or d8? The bonus attack would use a d4. I like it: druid master of polearms. -J
  • If my Temporary Hit Points are 10 and I take 30 damage from an attack, what is the DC of my Concentration Check? The DC is 15. When temporary hit points absorb damage for you, you're still taking damage, just not to your real hit points. -J
  • of someone is restrained by a spider attack: Web, or spell: Web, does misty step free them? Or it travel with? I'd rule it frees them. -M
  • Is there a reason why the wording is inconsistent between Mage Armor and Unarmored Defenses? Mage Armor uses "Base AC". The difference isn't intentional. -J
  • Does Twinned Spell make two spell instances (I.E., can't Concentrate on both spells) or change one spell instance to 2 targets? One spell instance, two targets. -M
  • Can Wall of Stone be cast on dirt? It seems like its written to always need stone to merge to. Is that correct? that's correct - need some stone to merge with or be supported by. for instance, a bridge is OK if the two ends touch stone. -M
  • Was trapped soul replaced with imprisonment? Is imprisonment supposed to be on the wizard spell list? Trap the soul shouldn't be on the spell list. But yes, it is correct that imprisonment is there. -J
  • if i were to twin a chromatic orb, could I target the same creature twice? ability specifies a second creature, so no. -M
  • So cantrips that improve with levels: character level or class level? My monk has Sacred Flame via Magic Initiate, e.g. character level -M.
  • can a Cleric or Paladin cast spells requiring somatic components when wielding weapon + shield emblazoned with holy symbol? I'd say yes if the holy symbol is being used as the material component of the spell, so yes if "S, M," but no if only "S." -J

  • Confused about tools in game. Is it necessary to have proficiency in any of them to use them? nope - you can still use them, just without the proficiency bonus. -M
  • but what about thieves tools? do you require prof to pick locks and disarm traps? No info in the sourcebook about this. nope, anyone can try. you might need the tools to attempt it, or you might attempt at disadvantage if the DM so rules. -M
  • Would using bracers of armor change the way you calculate AC or can they stack with unarmored defence? probably not stack - think of bracers and unarmored defense as establishing a base AC, like using natural OR manufactured armor. -M
  • is a rapier a light weapon as well as finesse? By the rules you can't fight with rapier and dagger and that seems off. Typo? nope, not light. As a rule of thumb TWF is restricted to d6 weapons, iirc. Rapier is cast more as one hander/no shield in 5e. -M
  • Can thrown weapons be used for sneak attack damage? Seems to go against the qualifiers of sneak attack being Ranged-Finesse. yes, they can. basically, as a DM feel free to let the rogue sneak attack with anything that deals a d6 or less. -M
  • what is the purpose of the light property on hand crossbows as Two Weapon Fighting rules specify only melee weapons can be used? it might come into play with other abilities or DM rulings. For instance, tight passage where non-light weapons have disad.-M
  • Doffing armor says it can take half time with help, could a shield be doffed as a bonus action rather than an action with help? Don't see why not - that'd be more of a DM ruling thing, though. -M
  • Things like caltrop/ball bearings ref to moving at half speed how do you do that? Treating each 5' as 10 like difficult terain? yes, essentially pay an extra 1' per 1' moved. -M
  • is there a way to make a non-magical weapon magical? The easiest way to give (temporary) magic to a nonmagical weapon magic is to cast the magic weapon spell on it. -J
  • I notice people have different interpretation, does polearm increase reach always or only when attacking with it? The reach property applies only when you attack with a weapon. Any use beyond that is up to the DM. -J
  • Do nets (thrown) use STR or DEX for attack rolls? Are they exempt from close combat disadvantage, as normal range is only 5feet? Dex, since you can't make melee attacks with it. still take disad in close combat despite range. -M
  • do wands require a spell casting class? specifically detect magic and magic missile wands? some wands do not - anyone can use the magic missile one, not sure about the other one. -M

  • So an Adult Red has claws (5ft) and bite (10ft) and tail (15ft.) If I run from adjacent, when does he get to OA? none - only if you move away, dragon picks which one to use. claws make most sense. -M.
  • in D&D 5e the number of monster's Hit Dice how are calculated? Are determined by the CR? Start with HD, then determine CR. The CR calculation includes both offense (atks, dmg) and defense (AC, hp). -M
  • Sorry to be pestering you about this. Started in 4e with XP budgets and trying to wrap my head around this CR thing. So CR represents a monster's power. You should avoid using monsters with a CR above the party's average level. in 4e terms, mostly the same, but instead of using any critter keep yourself to critters with CR = or less than PC level. -M
  • I'm running the LMoP (loving it!) and the Bugbear picked up a greatsword. With his Brute ability, would he do 3d6 or 4d6? 3d6. -M
  • if a creature/pc has Resistance and then makes a saving throw against said resistance it is Half of Half correct? yes. -M
  • do natural armor cap dexterity or accept full dex bonus? Natural armor doesn't limit a creature's Dexterity bonus. -J

  • Redbrand Hideout Room 9 in the Starter Set is a deadly 1200XP of 1000XP budget for 5 LVL 2 characters. Intentional? yes - charging in is a dangerous tactic, PCs are much better off trying to trick them. -M
  • For lvl5 PCs continuing on from LMoP and into the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, how hard is it to scale the monsters. You could also simply start with chapter 4 of the adventure and play from there. -M

  • FR Camp Guide for 4e stated it had been 100yrs since the last [iteration ie3/3.5e] can we expect something similar for 5e? Nope - timeline is not making a huge leap forward. The spell plague is over and the Sundering is at an end, but that's it. -M
  • They want a Dark Sun game 11 days after the PHB comes out? But what can I use for defiling rules? I'd let defiling replenish the use of arcane recovery. -M



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First Post
@cqchoi: [MENTION=32417]MikeM[/MENTION]earls for bladelocks, do they use the Charisma modifier for attacks w pact weapons, or Str/Dex?
[MENTION=32417]MikeM[/MENTION]earls: @cqchoi str/dex


First Post
[MENTION=68368]Juriel[/MENTION] Well, since Crawford's answer actually matches the rules in the book (which state things pretty clearly in the first place), I'd go with his answer.

Here's one I asked yesterday.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/MythicalAviose">@MythicalAviose</a> I'd rule yes</p>&mdash; Mike Mearls (@mikemearls) <a href="https://twitter.com/mikemearls/status/511915211901517824">September 16, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

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