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.
Conjurations, Arcane Ward, reach weapons, and more!
After last month’s rules roundup, we return to the main work of Sage Advice: answering D&D rules questions. For the foreseeable future, I’ll use Sage Advice to gather rules answers I’ve given on Twitter, and I’ll often expand on those answers, since here I’m not limited to 140 characters! Each month, I’ll also continue to answer questions from the Sage Advice inbox.
Is the Dueling fighting style intended to support a shield? Yes. A character with the Dueling option usually pairs a one-handed weapon with a shield, a spellcasting focus, or a free hand.
Does Uncanny Dodge work automatically against every attack a rogue or ranger gets hit by? Spell attacks too? A use of Uncanny Dodge works against only one attack, since it expends your reaction, and only if you can see the attacker. It works against attacks of all sorts, including spell attacks, but it is no help against a spell or other effect, such as fireball, that delivers its damage through a saving throw rather than an attack roll.
Does a monk need to spend any ki points to cast minor illusion granted by the Shadow Arts feature? No. The ki point cost in the feature applies only to the other spells in it.
Does a monk’s Purity of Body feature grant immunity to poison damage, the poisoned condition, or both? That feature grants immunity to both. As a result, a monk with Purity of Body can, for example, inhale a green dragon’s poison breath unharmed.
Does a sorcerer’s Wild Magic Surge effect replace the effect of the spell that triggered it, or do both effects happen? The spell and the Wild Magic Surge effect both happen.
Does the warlock’s Awakened Mind feature allow two-way telepathic communication? The feature is intended to provide one-way communication. The warlock can use the feature to speak telepathically to a creature, but the feature doesn’t give that creature the ability to telepathically reply. In contrast, the telepathy ability that some monsters have (MM, 9) does make two-way communication possible.
Is an abjurer’s Arcane Ward healed only when the ward has 0 hit points? The ward regains hit points whenever the abjurer casts an abjuration spell of 1st level or higher, not just when the ward has 0 hit points.
Does casting alarm as a ritual heal Arcane Ward? Any abjuration spell of 1st level or higher cast by an abjurer can restore hit points to his or her Arcane Ward. As is normal for healing, the ward can’t regain more hit points than its hit point maximum: twice the wizard’s level + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier.
How does Arcane Ward interact with temporary hit points and damage resistance that an abjurer might have? An Arcane Ward is not an extension of the wizard who creates it. It is a magical effect with its own hit points. Any temporary hit points, immunities, or resistances that the wizard has don’t apply to the ward.
The ward takes damage first. Any leftover damage is taken by the wizard and goes through the following game elements in order: (1) any relevant damage immunity, (2) any relevant damage resistance, (3) any temporary hit points, and (4) real hit points.
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 saving throw, such as acid splash and poison spray.
Can a bonus action be used as an action or vice versa? For example, can a bard use a bonus action to grant a Bardic Inspiration die and an action to cast healing word? No. Actions and bonus actions aren’t interchangeable. In the example, the bard could use Bardic Inspiration or healing word on a turn, not both.
How does a reach weapon work with opportunity attacks? An opportunity attack is normally triggered when a creature you can see moves beyond your reach (PH, 195). If you want to make an opportunity attack with a reach weapon, such as a glaive or a halberd, you can do so when a creature leaves the reach you have with that weapon. For example, if you’re wielding a halberd, a creature that is right next to you could move 5 feet away without triggering an opportunity attack. If that creature tries to move an additional 5 feet—beyond your 10-foot reach—the creature then triggers an opportunity attack.
Can you use the Ready action to take the Dash action on someone else’s turn and then combine the Charger feat with it? No, since you can’t take a bonus action on someone else’s turn.
Can spell attacks score critical hits? A spell attack can definitely score a critical hit. The rule on critical hits applies to attack rolls of any sort.
If I have 10 temporary hit points and I take 30 damage from an attack while concentrating on a spell, what is the DC of the Constitution save to maintain my concentration? The DC is 15 in that case. When temporary hit points absorb damage for you, you’re still taking damage, just not to your real hit points.
In contrast, a feature like the wizard’s Arcane Ward can take damage for you, potentially eliminating the need to make a Constitution saving throw or, at least, lowering the DC of that save.
When you cast a spell like conjure woodland beings, does the spellcaster or the DM choose the creatures that are conjured? A number of spells in the game let you summon creatures. Conjure animals, conjure celestial, conjure minor elementals, and conjure woodland beings are just a few examples.
Some spells of this sort specify that the spellcaster chooses the creature conjured. For example, find familiar gives the caster a list of animals to choose from.
Other spells of this sort let the spellcaster choose from among several broad options. For example, conjure minor elementals offers four options. Here are the first two:
- One elemental of challenge rating 2 or lower
- Two elementals of challenge rating 1 or lower
The design intent for options like these is that the spellcaster chooses one of them, and then the DM decides what creatures appear that fit the chosen option. For example, if you pick the second option, the DM chooses the two elementals that have a challenge rating of 1 or lower.
A spellcaster can certainly express a preference for what creatures shows up, but it’s up to the DM to determine if they do. The DM will often choose creatures that are appropriate for the campaign and that will be fun to introduce in a scene.
If I cast shillelagh on my quarterstaff and have the Polearm Master feat, does the bonus attack use a d4 or a d8 for damage? The bonus attack uses a d4. That attack is a function of the feat, not the weapon being used.
Is natural armor considered light armor? No. Natural armor doesn’t fit into the categories of light, medium, and heavy armor, and when you have it, it isn’t considered to be an armor you’re wearing.
Does natural armor cap a creature’s Dexterity bonus? Natural armor doesn’t limit a creature’s Dexterity bonus.
Sage Advice Compendium
This month’s questions and answers are now part of the Sage Advice Compendium.
Bio: Jeremy Crawford is the co-lead designer of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. He was the lead designer of the new 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).