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5E Question: Spirit Guardians/Distant Spell metamagic interaction?

Arial Black

Explorer
I'm creating a Divine Soul sorcerer.

I have the Distant Spell metamagic, which says, "When you cast a spell that has a RANGE of 5 feet or greater, you can spend 1 sorcery point to double the RANGE of the spell".

The spell spirit guardians, under the 'Range' entry, says, "Range: Self (15-foot radius)".

So, does Distant Spell double the radius to 30-foot (on the grounds that the radius is mentioned in the entry for 'range', which makes it able to be affected by Distant Spell), OR does Distant Spell not apply at all (on the grounds that the range is 'Self')?
 

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dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Nope. Range is self. The area is 15' radius, which Distant spell won't help. That's my take, anyway.
 


Agreed, there are anomalies which mean that some pbaoe benefit from Distant Spell (e.g. Sword Burst) and some do not (e.g. Thunderwave).
 
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gyor

Legend
Nope. Range is self. The area is 15' radius, which Distant spell won't help. That's my take, anyway.
There are some spells where area of effect is explicitly tied to the spells range such as Seeming or Major Illusion sort of (you can move the imagine around an area 240 feet instead of 120 feet with distance spell).
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
There are some spells where area of effect is explicitly tied to the spells range such as Seeming or Major Illusion sort of (you can move the imagine around an area 240 feet instead of 120 feet with distance spell).
Sure, but both of those spells have explicit ranges, not self or 0 feet. Since they have ranges, those are doubled.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
Agreed, there are anomalies which mean that some pbaoe benefit from Distant Spell (e.g. Sword Burst) and some do not (e.g. Thunderwave).
Meh. "Range" and "Area" are words that have meanings; they're not arbitrary labels. From the body of the spell description for Sword Burst it's clear the header should say Range: Self (5 ft. radius). The header is simply erroneous. (Note that you even called it a pbaoe.) My ruling would be that Distant Spell does not apply.
 

Meh. "Range" and "Area" are words that have meanings; they're not arbitrary labels.
True. And Sword Burst, Thunderclap, and Word of Radiance all use the word "Range" not "Area".

From the body of the spell description for Sword Burst it's clear the header should say Range: Self (5 ft. radius). The header is simply erroneous.
Once could be an error, but making the same mistake in three separate cantrips? The probability is very low.

(Note that you even called it a pbaoe.)
There is nothing in the description of Distant Spell that explicitly prohibits pbaoes being affected.

My ruling would be that Distant Spell does not apply.
As DM you are free to rule how you think best. However, RAW Distant Spell should apply. Personally, I don't see it as a problem, since all those cantrips do low damage. I can't think of any more powerful spells with similar wording that could be abused by this.
 

Arial Black

Explorer
As DM you are free to rule how you think best. However, RAW Distant Spell should apply. Personally, I don't see it as a problem, since all those cantrips do low damage. I can't think of any more powerful spells with similar wording that could be abused by this.
Well....spirit guardians....!
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
There are a number of spells that have two ranges - both Self and a distance. Just about every cone or line spell, for instance.

Gust of Wind
Range: Self (60-foot line)

Reading the description of Range in regards to spells (PHB 202), range is the part listed in feet for most spells, while they "also have a range of self, indicating that the origin point of the spell's effect must be you".

Distant spell says "When you cast a spell that has a range of 5 feet or greater..."

(I also checked the PHB Errata and the Sage Advice compendium, no referense in either.)

So, by RAW it seems that Distant spell does quality - the Range section on spells indicate that the range of those spells has an amount in feet and a second part of self - both are range. Does this spell have a range of 5 ft or greater? Yes, it does. (It does not say "Unless it's range is self or touch", which would also be true by the other range for the spell.) So distant spell should apply.

That's not how I'd run it at my table though. D&D 5e is big about no keywords, and the area of effect being listed there for some spells but in the text of other spells like fireball I don't feel should be a meaningful distinction. Distant Spell is intended to affect range, not area of effect, so I would not allow it to increase the AOE portion, only the point-of-origin portion. Since the point of origin is Self, it doesn't qualify for Distant spell.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
There are a number of spells that have two ranges - both Self and a distance. Just about every cone or line spell, for instance.

Gust of Wind
Range: Self (60-foot line)

Reading the description of Range in regards to spells (PHB 202), range is the part listed in feet for most spells, while they "also have a range of self, indicating that the origin point of the spell's effect must be you".

Distant spell says "When you cast a spell that has a range of 5 feet or greater..."

(I also checked the PHB Errata and the Sage Advice compendium, no referense in either.)

So, by RAW it seems that Distant spell does quality - the Range section on spells indicate that the range of those spells has an amount in feet and a second part of self - both are range. Does this spell have a range of 5 ft or greater? Yes, it does. (It does not say "Unless it's range is self or touch", which would also be true by the other range for the spell.) So distant spell should apply.
Even though I agree with your ultimate conclusion that Distant Spell should not apply to PBAOEs just because of an anomalous stylistic choice in their descriptions, I think your reasoning here is based on a misreading. I think in context it is fairly clear that that "also" refers to the end of the previous paragraph describing another set of spells (those that affect only the caster) that have a range of self, not to the notion that the term 'range' includes the area. Here is the whole two paragraphs:

PHB said:
Most spells have ranges expressed in feet. Some spells can target only a creature (including you) that you touch. Other spells, such as the shield spell, affect only you. These spells have a range of self.

Spells that create cones or lines of effect that originate from you also have a range of self, indicating that the origin point of the spell's effect must be you (see “Areas of Effect” later in the this chapter).
I've highlighted the portions of the text that, to me, appear to be a parallel construction (albeit inexactly formed) that is the basis of my point.

EDIT: To put it differently (though I don't know whether this will be clearer or not), I think the parsing/associativity is more like "also (have a range of self)" rather than "(also have a range)( of self)".

I will admit that if you juxtaposed the first sentence of the first paragraph and the first sentence of the second, the result would point more in the direction of your reading, but I don't think eliding the intervening sentences is really justified.

EDIT: Also, this: https://www.sageadvice.eu/2018/07/1...nteract-with-spells-with-cone-or-line-ranges/
 
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Spirit Guardians is already an extremely powerful spell, and it would be downright game-breaking if it could extend 30 feet in each direction. So I'd rule against this combo without even bothering to figure out what the RAW might be.
 

gyor

Legend
It occurs to me that maybe it's intentional that for some spells they use range for it's area of effect, like Spiritual Guardians, maybe it's why there is distant spell metamagic, but no enlarge metamagic like 3.5e. Enlarge metamagic seems like an obvious metamagic to have, but they don't, which surprised me when I read the sorcerer for the first time. But if Distance Spell situationally enlarges the area of effect spells when part or all of its area of effect is equal to range, then enlarge spell metamagic would be partly lredundant.

I'll also add that while Distant Spell doesn't have an specified effect for the range of self, it doesn't have anything that procludes spells with a range of self from benifiting. What I mean by that is distance spell doesn't include a provision for spells with a range of self, it also does exclude them, their is no provision that specifically bans them from being effected by distance spell.

That means logically by raw Spirit Guardians does benifit, and there is good reason to believe its intentional that it does.

Also it's not broken, at most you will reach 1 or 2 enemies more usually, at most and the Divine Soul gets to be further away from the front lines then the cleric, which given that the Divine Soul doesn't get the armour and weapons and so on of the Cleric, its a far trade off.

Where as extend spell is functionally like a second casting of the spell for 1 Sorcery point, right after the first.

edit: I just read the sage advice, Jeremy contradicts himself in it, he says it only effects spells with a range in feet, but lightening bolt has a range in feet, as well as self.
 
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gyor

Legend
Spirit Guardians is already an extremely powerful spell, and it would be downright game-breaking if it could extend 30 feet in each direction. So I'd rule against this combo without even bothering to figure out what the RAW might be.
It's not game breaking, read my post above.
 


Harzel

Adventurer
edit: I just read the sage advice, Jeremy contradicts himself in it, he says it only effects spells with a range in feet, but lightening bolt has a range in feet, as well as self.
The header for Lightning Bolt says "Range: Self(100-foot line)".

The header for Sunbeam says "Range: Self(60-foot line)".

This tweet https://twitter.com/jeremyecrawford/status/729793588322652160 makes it clear that the parenthetical is a description of the spell's area ('line' being one of the shapes that a spell's area can have), which distinct from its range. There is no contradiction, just the sloppiness of using the label "Range" to mark the description of range and area.
 
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Harzel

Adventurer
Also it's not broken, at most you will reach 1 or 2 enemies more usually
There seem to be a lot of assumptions needed to make that case. A 30-ft radius circle covers 4x the area that a 15-ft radius circle does, so the enemies would have to be positioned in such a way that that multiplier wasn't effective. That's certainly possible, but I don't see the argument for converting that 'possible' into 'usually'. Of course, I wouldn't argue that you 'usually' reach 4x as many enemies, either; it's just too situation-dependent. However, used situationally, it seems like it would be more potent than you are giving it credit for.
 


There are a number of spells that have two ranges - both Self and a distance. Just about every cone or line spell, for instance.
No, the don't. They have a range and an area of affect. It's just that they use the rather odd convention of listing the AoE in brackets after the range, rather than having a separate AoE line. This is more obvious on D&D Beyond, where they add a symbol for the type of AoE to the brackets.

The entry for Fireball on D&D beyond reads: Range/Area: 150ft (20 feet [SPHERE SYMBOL]).
The entry for Spirit Guardians reads Range/Area: Self.

Anything in brackets is not affected by Distant Spell. Any number not in brackets is.

Distant Spell is intended to affect range, not area of effect, so I would not allow it to increase the AOE portion, only the point-of-origin portion. Since the point of origin is Self, it doesn't qualify for Distant spell.


This does not always work though. The Spell Word of Radiance has a range of 5', and targets any creature you choose that you can see that is within range. So it is affected by Distant Spell.

However, Word of Radiance is modelled on Sword Burst (Sword Burst being published first) - same level, same damage, same range. The only difference is it targets everything in range. Thunderclap is identical to Sword Burst apart from damage and saving throw type.

RAW, all three of these spells benefit from Distant Spell (and I believe this is also RAI), even though all three are de facto pbaoes.
 
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