Behind every great game designer is … D&D. Rob Daviau, creator of the Legacy type of board game, calls in to speak to Greg and Shelly about where his career in games began: July 1981 with his first session of D...
Sage Advice is a monthly column that gives official clarifications of D&D rules. Sometimes it also provides reference documents to help your D&D game run more smoothly.
This month I tackle a new batch of questions on a variety of D&D topics.
If you have a D&D rules question, please reach me on Twitter (@JeremyECrawford), where I answer questions every week (please send the question to firstname.lastname@example.org if it’s too long for a tweet).
My rulings here and on Twitter don’t override the decisions of a Dungeon Master. The answers and information I provide are meant to assist a DM in adjudicating the game.
Can a bard retrain spells gained through Magical Secrets? When you gain a level in the bard class, the class’s Spellcasting feature lets you replace one bard spell you know with another bard spell of an appropriate level. A spell learned via the Magical Secrets feature counts as a bard spell, so it can be replaced upon gaining a bard level later. But it must be replaced by a bard spell, given the rule in the Spellcasting feature.
Does the druid’s Elemental Wild Shape limit you to the four creatures listed, or can you turn into any creature with the elemental type? The creatures listed in Elemental Wild Shape—air, earth, fire, and water elementals—are specific creatures in the Monster Manual, not creature types or subtypes. Elemental Wild Shape allows you to transform into one of those creatures.
When a monk using Deflect Missiles catches and throws a projectile, what is the damage of the attack? A missile counts as a monk weapon if thrown via Deflect Missiles; it deals its damage or Martial Arts damage (the monk’s choice).
For Sneak Attack, what if your ally was 10 feet away with a polearm (which has a reach of 10 feet), instead of 5 feet away? Would you still be able to use Sneak Attack? The 5-foot limitation in Sneak Attack is unaffected by the reach of your ally’s weapon. Your ally is creating a close-up distraction, regardless of the weapon in hand.
If you’re a Pact of the Blade warlock, can someone else wield your pact weapon? Yes. Someone other than the warlock can use a pact weapon before the weapon disappears.
If you have the Charger feat, can you make your charge attack when your mount takes the Dash action? The Charger feat relies on you, not your mount, taking the Dash action.
With the Great Weapon Master feat, do you have to take the bonus action immediately, or could you move and then use it on the same turn? The intent is that you can move before taking the bonus action in the Great Weapon Master feat.
If I use the Ready action to deal damage to someone who’s moving, do I deny the target the rest of its movement? Dealing damage to a moving target doesn’t halt its movement, unless the damage is accompanied by an ability that stops movement. Things like the Sentinel feat give you such an the ability. Reducing a moving creature to 0 hit points is also usually an effective way to stop it!
If I’m invisible and I shoot an arrow at a target, is hiding again an action? Without a special ability, hiding in combat requires the Hide action.
If a creature is grappled, can it still attack and use its special abilities? The grappled condition limits movement, not attacks, spellcasting, and the like. That said, many grappling abilities, such as a roper’s tendril attack, also deliver effects like the restrained condition.
Can spellcasters prepare spells not all at once, but prepare spells at various times in the day? You prepare your list of spells only at the end of a long rest. You can’t prepare some spells at the end of the rest and then prepare more later.
Do you always know when you’re under the effect of a spell? You’re aware that a spell is affecting you if it has a perceptible effect or if its text says you’re aware of it (see PH, 204, under “Targets”). Most spells are obvious. For example, fireball burns you, cure wounds heals you, and command forces you to suddenly do something you didn’t intend. Certain spells are more subtle, yet you become aware of the spell at a time specified in the spell’s description. Charm person and detect thoughts are examples of such spells.
Some spells are so subtle that you might not know you were ever under their effects. A prime example of that sort of spell is suggestion. Assuming you failed to notice the spellcaster casting the spell, you might simply remember the caster saying, “The treasure you’re looking for isn’t here. Go look for it in the room at the top of the next tower.” You failed your saving throw, and off you went to the other tower, thinking it was your idea to go there. You and your companions might deduce that you were beguiled if evidence of the spell is found. It’s ultimately up to the DM whether you discover the presence of inconspicuous spells. Discovery usually comes through the use of skills like Arcana, Investigation, Insight, and Perception or through spells like detect magic.
Is the damage dealt by a beast from conjure animals considered magical? The stat block of a conjured creature determines the nature of the creature’s damage, unless the spell says otherwise.
Can the familiar you conjure with the find familiar spell use the Help action to grant you advantage on your attack roll? A familiar can’t attack, but it can take non-attack actions, including Help. As the text of the Help action indicates (PH, 192), the action doesn’t require you to be able to attack; you simply need to be able to provide some sort of distraction.
Does the familiar of find familiar count as an ally for the purposes of Sneak Attack? A familiar is an allied creature. Its proximity to a target can allow you to use the Sneak Attack feature or any other feature that requires the presence of an ally.
Is the sentence of suggestion in the suggestion spell the verbal component, or is the verbal component separate? Verbal components are mystic words (PH, 203), not normal speech. The spell’s suggestion is an intelligible utterance that is separate from the verbal component.
Can I use unseen servant to act as an ally when using a class feature like Sneak Attack? Unseen servant creates “an invisible, mindless, shapeless force” (PH, 284). In combat, it doesn’t act as a creature, an enemy, or an ally.
Whenever you cast wish, do you always have a 33 percent chance of never casting it again? If you cast wish to duplicate a spell of level 0–8, there are no detrimental effects. However, if you do anything other than duplicate a spell of level 0–8, you suffer the stress described in the final paragraph of the spell. If you suffer that stress, there is a 33 percent chance that you are unable to cast wish again.
The Monster Manual notes that a Mezzoloth exhales toxic fumes that can choke and kill whole groups of creatures. However, it’s cloudkill is listed under Innate Spellcasting. Because of that, would a paladin’s Aura of Warding resist it? Yes, because cloudkill is a spell, Aura of Warding would be able to grant you and friendly creatures within 10 feet of you resistance to it.
My fighter attacks a creature with a magical longbow and nonmagical arrows. Is the attack magical? The attacks made by a magical ranged weapon are magical, even if the ammunition isn’t magical. This point was clarified in the errata for the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
For the hat of disguise, how do I set the spell save DC for disguise self? Does the wearer have to be a caster? Use your spellcasting modifier to set the DC. If you don’t have a spellcasting modifier, use your proficiency bonus to set it (this builds on the rule on page 141 of the DMG, under “Spells”).
Sage Advice Compendium
The Sage Advice Compendium gathers every installment of Sage Advice in one PDF. It’s been updated to include this month’s column.
Here are other D&D reference documents we’ve posted on this website.
D&D Spell List (version 1.01)
Monsters by Challenge Rating (version 1.0)
D&D Monsters by Type (version 1.0)
Magic Items by Rarity (version 1.0)
Conversions to 5th Edition D&D (version 1.01)
About the Author
Jeremy Crawford is the co-lead designer of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. He was the lead designer of the fifth edition Player’s Handbook and one of the leads on the Dungeon Master’s Guide. He has worked on many other D&D books since coming to Wizards of the Coast in 2007. You can reach him on Twitter (@JeremyECrawford).