What spell targets count for Gravity Well?

The gravity well feature from the Graviturgy Magic arcane tradition triggers "whenever you cast a spell on a creature", and has an effect "if the target is willing to move, the spell hits it with an attack, or it fails a saving throw against the spell." It’s not clear to me what kinds of spells can actually trigger this feature.

Based on the singular phrasing of "on a creature" and the later use of the word target, I would normally read this as only applying to spells that explicitly target creatures (and perhaps only those with a single target, in contrast to the phrasing of the Sculpt Spells feature of the evocation wizard, for example). However, spells that target a location can use the word target in a different sense (see What counts as a target for a spell?).

What’s actually going on here? Does this feature only work on targeted spells, or does it function for area of effect spells as well, or is this just an ambiguous phrasing that will rely on DM’s ruling?

Do spell targets know they were targeted if they make their saves?

A lot of spells in D&D 5e either work or they don’t, with no visual or audio effect. If your target cant see or hear that you are casting a spell, and they make their save for that spell… do they know that they were targeted? Do they "feel" it?

I ask because it seems that the only thing that counts as an attack in 5e is something with an attack roll. If that’s the case a lot of shenanigan’s can happen, with players claiming their spell meant to immobilize or even kill a foe, was not an attack and should not have provoked the target.
Is there an "official" way to handle it?

When extra damage dice are listed in a critical effect, do they apply to crit-immune targets?

In the immunity rules, we read:

Immunity to critical hits works a little differently. When a creature immune to critical hits is critically hit by a Strike or other attack that deals damage, it takes normal damage instead of double damage. This does not make it immune to any other critical success effects of other actions that have the attack trait (such as Grapple and Shove).

My interpretation of this rule is that the normal doubling of damage does not occur, but any other listed affects of a critical success do occur. I believe this is the accepted interpretation of the rule, as well.

Now, about the spell Hydraulic Push. This spell reads a bit unusual, because it normally does 3d6 damage (and 5 feet of knockback), but has a listed critical effect that instead does 6d6 damage (and 10 feet of knockback). This is notably different from the standard/basic critical effect of rolling normal damage and then doubling it.

When Hydraulic Push crits against a crit-immune creature, how much damage does it do? And more generally, are extra damage dice listed under a critical effect applied to crit-immune targets?

Timing of Suggested actions and a target’s “best ability”

The first level enchantment spell Command specifies that the action the target is forced to take happens

on its next turn

The second level enchantment spell Suggestion, on the other hand, says that for the target,

On a failed save, it pursues the course of action you described to the best of its ability.

Since the action is not specified as starting on its next turn, it is possible that it could be started or even completed before its next turn, provided the action was one which it could take even while not on its turn. Furthermore,

the spell ends when the subject finishes what it was asked to do.

How should the GM, or possibly the GM playing as the target of the spell, interpret "to the best of its ability"? Is it better to act sooner, before its turn, or wait until its turn so as to have more options or more powerful options available in order to complete the suggested course of action?

As a specific example, suppose a target with Extra Attack was subject to the suggestion "attack the guard". The guard then leaves the reach of the target before the target’s turn. The target could choose to use its reaction to make a single attack, which would end the suggestion effect. The target could also choose to wait until its turn, allowing it to take the Attack Action, attack multiple times with Extra Attack, and possibly use other abilities such as bonus actions or movement to make its attacks more effective.

Of these two choices (less sooner or more later), which would be considered pursuing the course of the action to "the best of its ability"?

This question is related, and asks (in part) whether the target will perform actions before its first turn. However, my question is different in that asks about the resolution of the "to the best of its ability" clause by supposing a tradeoff between acting sooner for less effect or later for more effect.

What happens to a Chain lighting with invalid primary target and valid secondary targets?

This question asks what happens when a single-target spell has an invalid target. (A target that is not legitimately permissible, not a target that is weak from illness or injury).

The answer appears to be: that depends on whether one wishes to implement an older Sage Advice segment of a Dragon Talk podcast, or the more recent but optional written rules in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

Assume for this question that I prefer XGtE.

The rule for resolving invalid spell targets states (XGtE 85-86):

If you cast a spell on someone or something that can’t be affected by the spell, nothing happens to that target, but if you used a spell slot to cast the spell, the slot is still expended.

Now consider the chain lightning spell, in which

You create a bolt of lightning that arcs toward a target of your choice that you can see within range. Three bolts then leap from that target to as many as three other targets, each of which must be within 30 feet of the first target. A target can be a creature or an object and can be targeted by only one of the bolts.

Suppose my primary target for the spell is invalid, because it is not a creature or an object. If an example must be given, suppose it is an illusion. However, each of the three secondary targets of the spell are valid, being either creatures or objects.

Do I spend the spell slot with nothing happening at all, or does the slot get spent, the chain lightning impact the illusion but do nothing to it and then leap to the three valid targets with the full effects given in the spell description?

Note: I am assuming that an illusion is not an object, based largely on my interpretation that an illusion is not an "item" and on the text of the 14th-level School of Illusion wizard feature, Illusory Reality. I am open to frame challenges that demonstrate that illusions are, in fact, objects, but such answers will be better if they then either provide a more appropriate example of something that is not a creature or an object, or demonstrate that the question is moot since everything is at least either a creature or an object.

What happens if a Sibriex targets the same creature with Warp Creature repeatedly?

The Sibriex monster, found in page 137 of Mordekainen’s Tome of Foes has an ability called "Warp Creature". For convenience, here’s the entire text of it: (emphasis mine)

The sibriex targets up to three creatures it can see within 120 feet of it. Each target must make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw. On a successful save, a creature becomes immune to this sibriex’s Warp Creature. On a failed save, the target is poisoned, which causes it to also gain 1 level of exhaustion. While poisoned in this way, the target must repeat the saving throw at the start of each of its turns. Three successful saves against the poison end it , and ending the poison removes any levels of exhaustion caused by it. Each failed save causes the target to suffer another level of exhaustion. Once the target reaches 6 levels of exhaustion, it dies and instantly transforms into a living abyssal wretch under the sibriex’s control. The transformation of the body can be undone only by a wish spell.

I’m aware that normally a creature can’t be "double-poisoned". If it is poisoned and gets hit with the condition again, the duration is simply reset. However, Exhaustion is a special condition in that it comes with 6 levels of severity.

I’m at loss as of how to interpret the wording of the Sibriex ability. If it has hit a creature with Warp Flesh, can it speed up the death process by using the ability again? Or can it only wait for six failed saves and hope the creature does not rid itself of the effect?

  • Does the sentence "Each failed save causes the target to suffer another level of exhaustion" apply only to end-of-turn saves or to saves caused directly by the sibriex using the ability again too?
  • If not, is there any benefit for it to try Warping the same creature twice?

Is there a standard way to handle spells that have *willing creatures* as targets but no ruling for unwilling ones?

Some spells allow to target willing creatures and specify what unwilling ones should do (usually, a saving throw) to avoid the magical effect (see Scatter, for example).

Other spells use wording such as "up to $ X$ willing creatures", "You touch a willing creature" and similar, but they do not have any rules for not willing ones.

Is there any standard/common way to handle spells belonging to the latter case? Or does the magical effect simply take place?


Most of these spell are buffs, hence usually the targets are willing creatures. Down below I report a couple of example situations in which a creature may want to avoid the spell’s effect.

Catnap

You make a calming gesture, and up to three willing creatures of your choice that you can see within range fall unconscious for the spell’s duration. The spell ends on a target early if it takes damage or someone uses an action to shake or slap it awake. […]

The party is fighting a group of 3 ogres and they are heavily injured, they want to run away from combat: the bard casts Catnap and the ogres fall unconscious even they are not willing to do so.

Water Walk

This spell grants the ability to move across any liquid surface–such as water, acid, mud, snow, quicksand, or lava […]. Up to ten willing creatures you can see within range gain this ability for the duration.

If you target a creature submerged in a liquid, the spell carries the target to the surface of the liquid at a rate of 60 feet per round.

A group of enemies cast Water Breathing for fleeing under water from the party. The wizard casts Water Walk to force them to emerge from the water: now they are easy targets for the ranger.

What type of targets are valid for Scorching Ray?

Almost all the attack spells in the PHB specific the type of target as either a creature, an object, or a point in space (as per Target section on PHB pg 204).

Scorching Ray just says

You create three rays of fire and hurl them at targets within range

But it doesn’t specify what types of targets (creature, object, point in space). Should I interpret that to mean all three are then valid? I couldn’t find anything in the Errata or Sage Advice Compendium on this specifically.

Can Detect Thoughts distinguish thoughts between multiple targets?

The situation is quite simple: You cast detect thoughts, and you have two targets within your cone that both fail their will saves. Does the caster immediately know which thought belongs to which target? I haven’t been able to figure it out from the spell description, is there even a RAW interpretation for this?

An archer firing through an arrow slit has improved cover. Do his targets have cover?

I’m running a module that features a fort with arrow slits and murder holes, and I’m trying to figure out what the cover rules are for people on each side of them.

Under the Combat rules, the CRB states:

Improved Cover

In some cases, such as attacking a target hiding behind an arrowslit, cover may provide a greater bonus to AC and Reflex saves. In such situations, the normal cover bonuses to AC and Reflex saves can be doubled (to +8 and +4, respectively). A creature with this improved cover effectively gains improved evasion against any attack to which the Reflex save bonus applies. Furthermore, improved cover provides a +10 bonus on Stealth checks.

From this, it seems clear that the defending archers should have improved cover. This is reinforced by this section under Dungeon Environments:

Walls with Arrow Slits

Walls with arrow slits can be made of any durable material but are most commonly masonry, hewn stone, or wood. Such a wall allows defenders to fire arrows or crossbow bolts at intruders from behind the safety of the wall. Archers behind arrow slits have improved cover that gives them a +8 bonus to Armor Class, a +4 bonus on Reflex saves, and the benefits of the improved evasion class feature. (emphasis added)

The words "defenders" and "behind arrow slits" make me think that the cover is at least somewhat directional – the defending archers are meant to be at an advantage over the besiegers (which makes sense). However, the general cover rules seem to suggest that the besiegers might also have some cover:

Cover

To determine whether your target has cover from your ranged attack, choose a corner of your square. If any line from this corner to any corner of the target’s square passes through a square or border that blocks line of effect or provides cover, or through a square occupied by a creature, the target has cover (+4 to AC).

When making a melee attack against an adjacent target, your target has cover if any line from any corner of your square to the target’s square goes through a wall (including a low wall). When making a melee attack against a target that isn’t adjacent to you (such as with a reach weapon), use the rules for determining cover from ranged attacks.

I think that the intent is that arrow slits would be at the corners of grid squares. RAW, I think that would give the besiegers no cover. However, on the map I’m using, the arrow slits are in the middle of the grid squares, which suggests that the besiegers also have at least cover, if not improved cover.

Distinct from this question (although related) in that this is about improved cover like arrow slits, whereas that was more a case of low cover.