dnd 5e – How are Fireball attacks on Iron Golems resolved?

The party was in Curse of Strahd this evening and encountered two iron golems.

A helpful NPC first cast lightning bolt, damaging both of the golems.

The PC evoker then cast fireball on the golems, potentially healing them, but for how much?

Each creature in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on that point must make a Dexterity saving throw. A target takes 8d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

The golems have:

Damage Immunities Fire

and

Fire Absorption. Whenever the golem is subjected to fire damage, it takes no damage and instead regains a number of hit points equal to the fire damage dealt.

Between these three effects (saving throw against spell damage, immunity to damage, and absorption of damage), what is the order of application?

Was there no effect from the fireball, did it heal them for its full rolled damage amount, or did the amount it healed them by depend on whether or not they made their saves?

Why should the Golem have both Immunity and Absorption, doesn’t each obviate the other? If the Immunity is applied first, the Golem takes no damage and so Absorption is not triggered. If Absorption is applied first, the Golem takes no damage and so Immunity is not triggered.

If Immunity is applied before Absorption, the ordering of the Saving Throw does not matter. But if Absorption is applied before Immunity, how much the Golems will heal depends on whether the saving throw is applied before or after the Absorption.

Absorption says that it is triggered whenever the golem is “subjected to fire damage”. I do not think that “subjected to damage” is a defined game term. The natural English definition of “subjected to” could be interpreted as “whenever it actually takes damage (after the saving throw)” or “whenever it is at risk of taking damage (before the saving throw)”, so no help there.

For a saving throw (emphasis mine)

A saving throw–also called a save–represents an attempt to resist a spell, a trap, a poison, a disease, or a similar threat. You don’t normally decide to make a saving throw; you are forced to make one because your character or monster is at risk of harm.

If you make a saving throw when you are “at risk” of harm, that to me implies the save is made before the damage is applied, or in this case, absorbed.

So, my interpretation would be:

  1. Fireball damage is rolled.
  2. Golems attempt their saves. Successful saves halve the damage.
  3. Absorption means no damage is taken, and instead hp are regained. More hp are regained if the save failed than if it succeeded.
  4. Immunity is never triggered since they did not take damage.

Is this correct?

dnd 5e – If I have expertise in a skill and I take Aereni Expertise over the Elf Weapon Training, does that mean that I would have quadruple proficencey bonus?

dnd 5e – If I have expertise in a skill and I take Aereni Expertise over the Elf Weapon Training, does that mean that I would have quadruple proficencey bonus? – Role-playing Games Stack Exchange

dnd 5e – For a base 1st-level spell, can a Scribes wizard use the Master Scrivener feature to copy it at 2nd level (before its power is enhanced)?

Master Scrivener, the 10th-level feature of Order of Scribes wizards, is described as follows (TCoE, p. 78):

Whenever you finish a long rest, you can create one magic scroll by
touching your Wizardly Quill to a blank piece of paper or parchment
and causing one spell from your Awakened Spellbook to be copied onto
the scroll.

The spellbook must be within 5 feet of you when you make the scroll.
The chosen spell must be of 1st or 2nd level and must have a casting
time of 1 action. Once in the scroll, the spell’s power is enhanced,
counting as one level higher than normal. You can cast the spell from
the scroll by reading it as an action. The scroll is unintelligible to
anyone else, and the spell vanishes from the scroll when you cast it
or when you finish your next long rest.

Obviously, the best would be to make it a 2nd-level scroll, thus getting a 2nd-level spell upcast to 3rd level.

But say you wanted a benefit that only a 1st-level spell had (say, Magic Missile‘s automatic damage). Could you copy a 2nd-level version of that spell into the scroll, and then the scroll would let you cast it at 3rd level? Or could you only copy the 1st-level version of the spell, for a final result of 2nd-level Magic Missile?

dnd 3.5e – How to Build a Gnoll Pugilist

Sherlock Gnolmes

(OK, yes, that pun sounds as much like a riff on “gnome” as it does “gnoll,” sue me. I didn’t name them and it’s past midnight.)

So a gnoll gets +4 Strength, +2 Con, −2 Int, and −2 Cha, 2 RHD, and LA +1. Aside from these things, its only racial trait is darkvision out to 60 feet.

This is, to put it mildly, really bad. LA is near-crippling, and monstrous humanoid hit dice are pretty mediocre. Also, Strength is a somewhat difficult score to capitalize on, particularly as a pugilist.

Ultimately, the pugilist fighter is alright, but only that, in my opinion. Since you are at BAB +1¾ to begin with as a gnoll, the difference between fighter BAB and, say, monk BAB is largely academic. The free Endurance feat is basically worthless to you, and the pugilist special ability options are mediocre.¹

Monk, of course, isn’t really a lot better. The unarmed strike damage is a bit better, but nothing to write home about. Your bonus feat options are more limited, but there may be some interesting options you couldn’t otherwise take. You could go the unarmored route, but unless your Wisdom is rather good, regular armor is probably better.

On the other hand… you don’t have a Wisdom penalty. In fact, since you have large bonuses to Strength and Constitution, you can probably afford to have a rather good Wisdom score. We could maybe roll with that. Monk, of course, exists and is relevant to fisticuffs, but it’s more important in my mind because of psionics. Ardent, psychic warrior, and war mind all have valuable possibilities here for you. (Ardent is from Complete Psionic; the others are from Expanded Psionics Handbook and are thus available in the SRD.)

All three psionic classes benefit from three facts:

  • They are Wisdom-based, which is the one mental ability score you don’t have a penalty to.
  • They have access to some powerful combat abilities in the form of expansion, hustle, psionic lion’s charge, reach,² and so on.
  • Tashalatora exists.

And, frankly, it seems really fitting for your theme: these are pugilists with class, pugilists who fight you with their focused attention to the details of the battle and intense control over their own bodies and minds. They fight, in a sense, in much the way Sherlock Holmes is often portrayed (though I wouldn’t expect this character to have Holmes’s deductive brilliance with that −2 Int and every reason to dump the ability as hard as they possibly can).

If you have Monastic Training from Eberron Campaign Setting applied to a psionic class, you can take Tashalatora from Secrets of Sarlona. Tashalatora allows that psionic class to progress just about everything worthwhile about the monk class (unarmed strike damage, fast movement, flurry of blows, and AC bonus). Monastic Training can be gained as your 1st-level monk bonus feat, and Tashalatora as a 2nd-level monk bonus feat, but you can take them as regular feats and neither feat requires levels in monk (or, for that matter, the psionic class you choose, which can be useful since it means you could take those feats early on before you actually have those classes, e.g. for the feats you get from your RHD or whatever).

Ask your DM before doing Tashalatora with zero monk levels, but we can work with one or two monk levels in this build. This works out thanks to Practiced Manifester from Complete Psionic, which allows us to “make up” up to 4 missed manifester levels, say from 2 RHD and 2 monk levels (sadly, Practiced Manifester cannot help your level adjustment problem, since it’s capped by your Hit Dice rather than your ECL).

So I think that Monastic Training, Tashalatora, and Practiced Manifester should be considered a must for this character, no matter what.

Another likely key feat here is Hammer Fist from Dragon Compendium—that lets you use an unarmed strike as a “two handed” weapon, which will put your big Strength to good use, and also enables the use of Power Attack (and could lead into solid übercharger feats like Shock Trooper from Complete Warrior and/or Leap Attack from Complete Adventurer). That will apply no matter what route you go down.

Annoyingly, Hammer Fist cannot be used with “a flurry of blows attack.” If that just means it doesn’t apply to the bonus attacks during a flurry of blows, that’s fair enough, but if it means that you can’t use it at all during a flurry of blows, you are going to have to pick between Hammer Fist and flurry of blows. It may therefore be worthwhile to take the decisive strike alternative class feature from Player’s Handbook II. You won’t always want to use it, but it’s a pretty decent option and it’s definitely better than a flurry of blows you can’t really use. If you go that route, it is very worthwhile to get Combat Reflexes and have a decent-ish Dexterity score, though honestly those were always strong choices no matter what you do.

As for those routes, here’s what I see:

Ardent: greatest psionic power, maybe least fisticuffs.

You can actually get 9th-level powers as an ardent, which is astounding. Ardents are very forgiving of multiclassing, which is very nice since you have effectively multiclassed simply by being a gnoll. You will have a lot fewer feats available, however, as you will not be getting bonus feats, and you will probably want to take Expanded Knowledge at least once for expansion.

Ultimately, this is a fine trade. Psionics is stronger than fisticuffs, even when the psionics is focused on making you better at fisticuffs. Probably you just want to be a gnoll 2nd-level monk/15th-level ardent for this build, grabbing Monastic Training and Tashalatora as monk bonus feats.

If you really want to improve your combat prowess, you might drop a level of monk, take Tashalatora as a regular feat, and then also take Track as a regular feat—so you replace that level of monk and 9 levels of ardent with slayer. That will be sufficient—at 19th—to reach BAB +16 and achieve that fourth iterative. If you do that, choose slayer rather than ardent for Monastic Training, since you’ll have more slayer levels than ardent levels. On the other hand, you give up a fair few levels of monk progression by splitting your psionic classes, plus you give up two feats between losing the Tashalatora bonus feat and having to take Track, and you can’t get the excellent dominant ideal alternative class feature from Mind’s Eye. This build probably doesn’t use a lot of metamagic, so dominant ideal isn’t as good as it would otherwise be, but it’s still quite strong. So honestly I’m not sure I would bother with slayer.

Psychic warrior or war mind: more straightforward warrior

Psychic warrior gets both bonus fighter (or psionic) feats, and psionic powers, including native access to expansion, hustle, and more. It really is a quite strong class—but RHD, LA, and a dip in monk hurt. Particularly since psychic warrior gets a bunch of bonus feats, it’s a really strong candidate for trying to push for a zero-monk-level Tashalatora build.

War mind is a weird prestige class that gets full BAB and a small number of psychic warrior powers. Because of the lost levels due to RHD, LA, and any monk levels you take, the war mind actually has more power points than the psychic warrior (except at 20th), which is a pretty big deal. War mind also gets the excellent sweeping strikes feature, which allows every attack you make to hit two targets. On the other hand, you don’t get bonus feats, and you have to qualify for the class by getting some power points somewhere—probably needing a dip in psychic warrior anyway. That allows you to get at least a couple of bonus feats, which is probably enough.

Of the two, I like the war mind better, personally. Build both with your standard Power Attack, Shock Trooper, Leap Attack feats, grabbing expansion, hustle, psionic lion’s charge to pump yourself up.

Mindcrasher: Because we really want to have our cake and eat it, too

Really, to take advantage of that big Strength, you probably would be best off going with dungeoncrasher fighter from Dungeonscape. But for LA +1, a dungeoncrasher really wants goliath or half-minotaur, not gnoll, so they can take Knockback from Races of Stone. A half-minotaur dungeoncrasher/war hulk is terrifying. As a gnoll… not so much.

But say you really liked pugilist, and your DM was cool with a pugilist dungeoncrasher (dungeoncrasher replaces the 2nd-level and 6th-level fighter bonus feats, so it’s trivial to have it just replace the 2nd-level and 6th-level pugilist bonus feats), but this psionic stuff sounds pretty good too, and you really wish you could just do all of it. Well… OK then.

ECL Class Special Feats
1st LA
2nd RHD Darkvision 60’ Power Attack
3rd RHD
4th Monk Decisive strike, Monastic Training Wild Talent
5th Pugilist Endurance, Improved Bull Rush
6th Pugilist Dungeoncrash (4d6 + 2×Str)
7th War Mind Expansion Knockback
8th Pugilist
9th Pugilist Combat Reflexes
10th Pugilist Hammer Fist
11th Pugilist Dungeoncrash (8d6 + 3×Str)
12th War Mind (1st-level psy war power)
13th War Mind DR 1/– Practiced Manifester
14th War Mind Hustle
15th War Mind Sweeping strike
16th War Mind DR 2/–, reach² Tashalatora
17th War Mind
18th War Mind (4th-level psy war power)
19th War Mind DR 3/– (feat)
20th War Mind (5th-level psy war power)

So what this does is combine decisive strike, sweeping strike, dungeoncrasher, and Knockback. Your attacks deal double damage, and each hits two targets at a time. And then you get to bull rush both of those targets, and if you bull rush them into a wall, you do 8d6 + 3×Str damage to them—and that arguably gets doubled too. You can only attack once per turn (twice at 20th), and you need to use hustle to reposition which is pricey on your limited power points, but you also have Combat Reflexes, expansion, and reach—you threaten a lot of the playing field, and every one of your attacks of opportunity threaten the same doubled damage, bull rush, potential massive damage for hitting someone into a wall that your regular attack does.

In an open field, you hit kind of hard. In a dungeon, you’re absolutely terrifying. It may be worth trying to come up with some way of casting blockade from Spell Compendium, though I leave figuring out how to fit that into this build as an exercise for the reader.

But ultimately, gnoll remains an albatross around this build’s neck. A half-minotaur kalashtar would be Large, have the same LA, have a ton of desperately-needed bonus power points, and would have two more levels to play with. A cleric dip gets Travel Devotion and Magic Domain, freeing up a ton of power points for hustle and allowing you to zap a wand of blockade. A barbarian dip gets rage and pounce. Two levels of swordsage gets Wis-to-AC again, with the option of light armor, plus tons of great options for maneuvers. Gnoll, by comparison, gets darkvision.


  1. Barring cheesing around shake it off, which I presume isn’t what you’re here for. For example, an undead pugilist would be immune to damage with that ability, which is obviously absurd (and equally-obviously, not likely to fly at any actual table). You can do some neat things with shake it off by, say, multiclassing with crusader, but that’s moving away from the concept of a pugilist.

  2. Reach is a 2nd-level power from this Mind’s Eye article. Complete Psionic has a similar power, extend reach, but its duration is much shorter and it applies only to one weapon. Note that at this level, a war mind is eligible to take a 3rd-level power—but reach might be the better option.

dnd 5e – If a character with the Thrown Weapon Fighting fighting style has no weapons drawn, can they use Two-Weapon Fighting to draw and throw 2 daggers?

No, the interaction of these two rules does not allow you to draw and attack with two daggers using TWF.

(See @Medix2’s answer for how you might achieve the desired result anyway, though.)

The Two-Weapon Fighting rules (as you’ve quoted) require you to already have both weapons drawn (emphasis mine):

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, (…)

The “holding in one hand” is a qualifier for both the first and the second weapon, meaning that at the start of this attack combo, you need to have both weapons in one hand each.

The Thrown Weapon Fighting fighting style allows you to draw them as part of the Attack action, which means that when you make attack #1, you do not have weapon #2 in your hand.

This concludes in grammatical nitpickery, because Two-Weapon Fighting specifies that the conditions (both weapons in a hand each) have to be met when making the first attack. Since this (implicitly) excludes drawing them within the action, you cannot use Two-Weapon Fighting in this case.


However, as a DM, I personally would absolutely let this slide. You are already taking a niche and likely non-optimal route, so why not?

dnd 5e – Would allowing Shillelagh to transform your staff into another weapon be unbalanced?

I am planning a (not explicitly optimised) Ranger/Monk character, that uses Druidic Warrior to cast Shillelagh:

Druidic Warrior

You learn two cantrips of your choice from the druid spell list. They count as ranger spells for you, and Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for them.

The spell in question:

The wood of a club or quarterstaff you are holding is imbued with nature’s power. For the duration, you can use your spellcasting ability instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of melee attacks using that weapon, and the weapon’s damage die becomes a d8. The weapon also becomes magical, if it isn’t already. The spell ends if you cast it again or if you let go of the weapon.

No where does it say it stops being a club or quarterstaff. Would it be unbalanced it transforms into a sword as part of the spell (while retaining the 1d8 damage)? The only thing I can think of us the damage type changes from bludgeoning the slashing.

Part of motivation is flavour: magical weapon cool; magical transforming weapon, way cooler.

The other part is that if I picked Kensei as my monk subclass, I could pick Longsword as my Kensei weapon, and have my Shillelagh count.

dnd 5e – Is this “Wandering Dwarf” subrace balanced?

In a campaign setting I designed, the Dwarves are wandering nomads who rarely stay in one place. I created the following subrace for these nomads, and I was wondering if it was balanced.

Wandering Dwarf:

Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity Score increases by 1.

Idea: To make them more agile, a thematic increase and similar to other subraces.

Fleet of Foot: Your walking speed increases to 30 feet.

Idea: Similar to the Wood Elf, increasing their speed to the average for a PC.

Perseverance: You are immune to the effects of a forced march if your march for 12 hours or less in a day.

Idea: Mostly thematic (most campaigns don’t deal with the schematics of travel, and unless there is a party of all Wandering Dwarves, this won’t come into effect).

Life of a Nomad: You are proficient in the Nature, Perception, and Survival skills.

Idea: This trait is supposed to make them better at travel, allowing them to identify plants, more easily spot things, and track creatures-all useful nomad skills.

dnd 5e – Which Rogue archetype does the highest damage for my Highwayman build?

Concept

A single-classed Rogue who fits the Highwayman (Stand and Deliver!) archetype / trope.
Not to be named Dennis Moore

  1. The Highwayman is both clever and bold. He will either attack from
    ambush or attempt to persuade / bully their victim into handing over
    their loot. Robin Hood as a fine example, however, the highwaymen of
    the 17th century (of historical fact) who became folk heroes, and
    around whom various legends arose, is the general concept.

  2. Highwaymen are charismatic leader types – thus the party face
    requirement. Since I cannot expect a campaign (from our DM) that is
    mostly about robbing stage coaches from levels 1 through 12, the PC
    has to perform acceptably for the overall adventuring challenges as
    a rogue.

    “What rogue does the most damage?” isn’t my question;
    during my initial review, I ruled out the other archetypes
    (particularly assassin, due to how clunky surprise is in this
    edition) but frame challenges are welcome.

Build framework and Constraints

  • vHuman, Rogue, with the subclass of either Arcane Trickster or Swashbuckler.

    If you can point to a different subclass that is much better than either of the above, that’s welcome. Swashbuckler is a strong thematic-based choice due to the character concept (and I like the boost to Initiative) while the Arcane Tricksters I have seen in action have great flexibility, and some nova damage bursts (shadow blade) that have raised my eyebrows.

  • Character level from 1-12. Campaign may end before 12, but take it to 12 for this case.

  • Assumptions:

    • Criminal Background
    • Crossbow Expert as the vHuman feat taken at level 1.
      My assessment is that this offers an early game damage boost that will benefit the party.
    • Party Face: this character is also the party face. That has to be folded into the build.
    • Other PCs(as of this writing): Druid(Stars), Fighter(Battlemaster), Barbarian(Ancients)
    • Single class; no multiclassing

Rough Build Plan

S 10 D 15(+1) C 14 I 10 W 10 Ch 13(+1) (assume point buy)

  • at 4th ASI Dex(18)

  • at 8th ASI Dex(20); I am open to a feat here (some Tasha’s half feats
    add expertise, SS for damage).

  • at 10 ASI Dex (20, if feat at 8) or Feat

  • at 12 Feat (Alert is a strong contender, as is Lucky)

    I have reviewed a number of Q&A here on Sharpshooter as a feat, and feel that getting the Dex higher so that to hit is maxed out is a pre-requisite for that feat. If we had a cleric (bless) I might feel differently. (If I am wrong about this, an explanation of why is welcome).

Proficiency(7): Deception(Crim), Stealth(Crim), Intimidation, Persuasion, Investigation, Perception, Sleight of Hand(vHuman)
Expertise: Stealth, Intimidation(or persuasion?). at 6: Investigation, Thieves tools

Bottom Line – more is better, if it’s damage

Which archetype give me the best damage for this character concept; Swashbuckler or Arcane Trickster?
(Also, if my build plan is out to lunch, show the better build plan)

dnd 5e – Does the Eldritch Adept feat have an extremely limited list of invocations?

It would be unbalanced.

Your reading of the rule is correct, the rule seems entirely unambiguous.

So the question remains of balance – and it would make this feat really good. There are some invocations that should be viewed as warlock class features that shouldn’t be available to non-warlocks through a feat. BaconyRevenant gives more detailed commentary on the issue of giving non-warlocks warlock toys in this answer.

Agonizing Blast

Agonizing Blast is so good, that we have a high scoring question dedicated to the problem of solving eldritch blast spam: Does Warlock combat just equal Eldritch Blast spam? Agonizing Blast is a class feature for warlocks. It makes eldritch blast so good, that there is often no reason to do anything else. This optimization question asks what the highest consistent damage output for a warlock can be, and the answer is “how many times can you cast eldritch blast today?”

We really should just view Agonizing Blast as one of the Warlock’s unique class features. We even have a comparison we can make that shows how absolutely powerful it is. Consider the Evocation Wizard’s Empowered Evocation feature:

Beginning at 10th level, you can add your Intelligence modifier to one damage roll of any wizard evocation spell you cast.

This is just agonizing blast, but way worse, since the wizard doesn’t get a multi-hit cantrip like eldritch blast. Additionally, this is a 10th level Evocation feature, and Agonizing Blast is available at 2nd level to any warlock.

It really cannot be overstated how good Agonizing Blast is.

That said, it still takes some work for most classes to even get eldritch blast. Anyone could just take the Magic Initiate feat and get eldritch blast. Which is to say, Agonizing Blast is good enough to take two feats for, if for some reason you don’t want to just be a Warlock, but you want to play like one and multiclassing isn’t an option. Of course, if you take a 1 level dip into warlock, you can satisfy the prerequisite of Agonizing Blast and take it with the feat.

My DM already forbids 1 level hexblade dips, this just makes that option even stronger.

“At will” spellcasting is a problem.

There are a number of “Prerequisite: Nth level” invocations that give you the ability to cast a leveled spell at will without expending a spell slot. No cost, no limitations. This is just too strong to be gained by a feat. Magic Initiate lets cast a 1st level spell once per day. Taking the Visions of Distant Realms invocation would give you a 4th level spell unlimited times per day. These options are just too good to be made feats available for everyone. These are class features for a Warlock.

dnd 5e – What happens if a character takes the Thief of Five Fates invocation, but doesn’t have Warlock spell slots?

The text of the Eldritch Invocation is pretty clear…you can cast bane using a Warlock Spell Slot.

If you don’t have Warlock Spell Slots, you cannot cast it. This same rule applies to a multi-classed Warlock: they have to use a Warlock spell slot for this, they can’t use a normal spell slot that they acquired from, say, Multi-classing Sorcerer.

The language used across these Eldritch Invocations is very consistent. If it was intended that you could cast these spells using some other Spell Slot, then it wouldn’t specify that you had to use a Warlock Spell Slot. It would instead say something like…

You can cast bane once using a spell slot.

But it doesn’t. It would have been very easy for them to leave the specificity out, and they did not. Thus it’s a safe bet that this is intentional.

This is supported by an interview with Jeremy Crawford (lead rules designer for WotC), found here. To transcribe…

Bart Carrol: “So, for example, if it requires a warlock spell slot, then in that case it would require a warlock to be able to use it?”

J. Crawford: “What this feat is saying, is that it doesn’t matter what the prerequisite is. If an Invocation has a prerequisite of any kind, only a Warlock can take it”

While not a definitive ruling (as it’s just an interview, not a formal Sage Advice post), and is using Crawford’s usual circuitious language…I find this to be fairly strong support. Crawford appears to consider “you need a Warlock Spell Slot to cast this” to be a prerequisite.

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