“Attack a target” vs taking the Attack action in regards to Hound of Ill Omen

I have a few questions regarding what falls under the category of "attacking [the Hound of Ill Omen’s] target" for the Shadow Sorcerer’s Hound of Ill Omen feature.

…On its turn, [the Hound of Ill Omen] can move only toward its target by the most direct route, and it can use its action only to attack its target." (XGE p. 51)

So the hound is limited to using its action to attack its target. But does "attacking its target" specifically mean taking the Attack action to make an attack roll, or are their other things that qualify as an attack?

For example, could the hound use the Attack action to attempt to shove or grapple a creature? Or, stretching it a bit further, could they take an action (that is not the Attack action) to attempt to damage their target; (for example using the special action granted by the Dragon’s Breath spell) or if attack were impossible given the hound and the target’s positions taking the Dash action to be able to make a future attack possible?

Furthermore, would a hound be free to use its bonus action however it wants? For example, if Expeditious Retreat were cast on the hound, could it use the Dash action as a bonus action even though it is not attacking the target?

Thank you in advance for any answers I might receive.

How do spell components work in regards to the UA Psionic Soul Sorcerer’s Psychic Sorcery ability?

The UA Psionic Soul Sorcerer has the following Psionic Talent option:

Psychic Sorcery. When you cast a spell, you can use your mind to form it, rather than relying on words, gestures, and materials. To do so, roll your Psionic Talent die. The spell then requires no verbal component, and if you rolled the level of the spell or higher, the spell doesn’t require somatic or material components either.

(Emphasis Mine)

This strikes me as confusing due to how the player’s handbook describes spell components

A spell’s components are the physical requirements you must meet in order to cast it. Each spell’s description indicates whether it requires verbal (V), somatic (S), or material (M) components. If you can’t provide one or more of a spell’s components, you are unable to cast the spell

I had assumed that you needed to be able to provide the components before attempting to cast the spell, but the wording on the subtle spell metamagic begs to differ

When you cast a spell, you can spend 1 sorcery point to cast it without any somatic or verbal components.

According to This Answer this metamagic allows you to cast it without being able to provide the components if you cast it using the subtle spell metamagic. However, comparing this to the UA we see a problem. The psychic sorcery ability activates at the same time, but isn’t guaranteed to make the spell castable necessarily, so that brings me to my question

Can you attempt to cast a spell without having the needed components by using this psionic talent option, and if you don’t succeed on the roll and find yourself needing to provide components that you can’t provide, what happens to the casting?

(Note additionally that if you cast a lv 1 spell or a cantrip it’s functionally guaranteed to succeed by not from a rules perspective if that matters to the answer)

What is considered strenuous activity in regards to a long rest?

The description for a long rest states:

A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which a character sleeps for at least 6 hours and performs no more than 2 hours of light activity, such as reading, talking, eating, or standing watch. If the rest is interrupted by a period of strenuous activity – at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity – the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.

Which of the following interpretations is correct in regards to what is considered strenuous activity?

a)

  • at least 1 hour of walking
  • at least 1 hour of fighting
  • at least 1 hour of casting spells

b)

  • at least 1 hour of walking
  • fighting
  • casting a spell

Personally, I think option b) is correct, because option a) allows for silly shenanigans. For example, assuming a combat encounter lasts 10 rounds – that is, 1 minute in game time – then it would be possible to have 59 encounters and still benefit from the long rest.

How do you balance an NPC ally with regards to the DMG combat balancing?

My players want an NPC to fight alongside them. They don’t like it when he is "cut out" of the fight and they don’t want it to feel like he isn’t being helpful at all since he’s proven to be competent. I’m okay with having him at their side but I don’t know how to balance the game where he joins as if he’s a party member.

For reference, the DMG has a chart that shows level-to-exp threshold in order to determine encounter difficulty. Since the NPC doesn’t have a level, he can’t be directly added.

Should I:

  1. Add his exp directly to the threshold. So if he has 200 exp, then normal exp threshold + 200

  2. Convert CR to level via Xanathar’s Table for 1-1 player matchups? CR 1/4 = LVL 1 character. CR 10 = LVL 10 character

  3. Subtract EXP from the encounters. Encounter difficulty exp - 200exp

I want to keep the game fairly balanced based on RAW.

How do targeting and line of sight for spells work in regards to allies?

I’ve been wondering on how spells interact with allies:

  • Does your line of sight gets blocked by allies?

  • Can allies stand in the way of your spell?

I cannot really find evidence on how the rules work, even though there are some examples and a Sage advice.


Example: Poison Spray

Poison Spray states: (emphasis mine)

You extend your hand toward a creature you can see within range and project a puff of noxious gas from your palm. The creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 1d12 poison damage.

If an ally is in front of me, and behind him is an enemy, can I:

  1. Target the creature behind my ally? Ally blocks the line of sight?

  2. Hit the creature behind my ally? Ally blocks the clear path to the target?


Example: Sacred Flame (ignores cover)

Sacred flame states:

Flame-like radiance descends on a creature that you can see within range. The target must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d8 radiant damage. The target gains no benefit from cover for this saving throw.

If an ally is in front of me, and behind him is an enemy, can I:

  1. Target the creature behind my ally? Ally blocks line of sight?

  2. Hit the creature behind my ally? Ally blocks the clear path to the target, but the creature does not benefit from cover: so ally doesn’t block the spell?


Conclusion (questions)

Am I correct to assume that:

  1. An ally provides half cover for an enemy behind him?

  2. An ally blocks a clear path to the enemy?

Does crypto shredding count as deletion in regards to CCPA?

I have a compliance question around crypto shredding and CCPA. I’m basically just wondering if crypto shredding is sufficient to comply with the CCPA customer deletion requests.

I know that crypto shredding has it’s own downsides (quantum computers??), but if data is only stored for a period of time (on the order of years), it seems reasonable to assume that crypto shredding keys that encrypt a specific user’s data will make that data inaccessible. Does this still count as deletion though from a legal perspective?

My question is specific to CCPA, but I’m also curious about crypto shredding in relation to laws requiring data erasure in general.

An example of an implementation of crypto shredding might be: – Create a unique key pair for each customer using the strongest encryption available at the time. – Encrypt all customer data with these keys. – Customer data may then be combined into large archival files (on tape or CD backup), with each record of a customer’s data being encrypted with their own specific keys. – A CCPA deletion request comes in, and we purge the key store of the decryption keys for that customer. – At this point we can no longer reasonably retrieve a customers data, even though it lives on archival media for a period of time. The only possible method of retrieval would be if decryption technology vast exceeded what we have available today.

I’m mainly looking for resources around the legal ramifications around this. My initial research shows that there are exceptions to archival storage of such data, but doesn’t have anything regarding crypto shredding. My current assumption is that since this isn’t theoretically permanent, it’s not a valid way to delete data according to the law.

How is Challenge Rating (CR) calculated for a mixed group of multiple monsters in regards to the Treasure Table?

I understand that encounters are balanced around exp thresholds in the DMG (e.g. https://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/105360).

With that said, there are loot tables in the DMG 136-139 that have “Challenge Rating” ranges for how loot should be distributed.

I understand CR is not supposed to be summed or multiplied, but if the party kills 20 CR 3 monsters, in the loot table, what would the challenge rating range be for these monetary loots?

As a tangential note: the DMG item loot tables don’t really explain which table to use “A vs B vs J, vs K…”.

Does switching between using a versatile weapon one-handed to two-handed cost anything with regards to the action economy?

The versatile weapon property says (PHB, p. 147):

Versatile. This weapon can be used with one or two hands. A damage value in parentheses appears with the property–the damage when the weapon is used with two hands to make a melee attack.

A weapon with the versatile property, such as a longsword or a quarterstaff, can be wielded with one or two hands. Does it consume any part of the action economy to switch between using one or two hands on your turn?

Intuitively I’d say no, I imagine it costs absolutely nothing, but I can imagine, at worst, there being arguments for it costing your “free object interaction” (PHB, p. 190). Which is it?

(Below are some related Q&As, but not specific to versatile weapons, sadly).


The accepted answer to a related Q&A (thanks @NautArch) suggests that:

Taking your hand off the weapon should not require any action expenditure – you are just letting go of it, same as if you dropped it.

You can then use your free object interaction to restore your grip after casting.

The reasoning for the first case makes sense, but the second case isn’t backed up by anything, although I can see the logic behind it.

The errata posted in that answer, to me, suggests that it would in fact cost nothing to grip the weapon with a second hand, almost like it’s “part of the attack”, similar to how the Ammunition weapon property works, but again, this is logic, not RAW.

To give a concrete example, if we imagine that a PC’s turn starts with a longsword in one hand and a spellcasting focus in the other; they spend their bonus action casting a spell with their focus, and then spend their free object interaction putting that focus away. With only their action left, can they now attack with their longsword using it as a versatile weapon (i.e. dealing 1d10 damage instead of 1d8)?


See also, the “following round” scenario of this question (thanks @Medix2), which involves sheathing a shortsword and attacking with a longbow that requires two hands. This is almost exactly the same scenario as the one I detailed above.

Which symbols are safe with regards to SQL injection / XSS / other injections attacks?

I have an input field in web that is being saved to a storage via API. This field can be shown in other systems that I do not have control over and that’s why I would like to limit what is allowed to write in the field but allow some common special characters for convenience.

This is what I came up with:

  • Alphanumeric
  • Space
  • .,()-:

I would like to check if this is “safe” enough with regards to XSS injection, SQL injection and eventually any other things I did not think about.

P.S. I do know that this is not the right way to prevent an attack and I only need this because data use will be out of my control.