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I have a question as to the sustaining of Flaming Sphere. I know that it only needs to be sustained once, but in the Sustain Minor effet, it reads:

"You can sustain this power until the end of the encounter. As a standard action, you can make another attack with the sphere."

My question is: Can you attack each turn for the rest of the encounter once it's sustained, or only 1 secondary attack when you first sustain it?

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2 Answers 2

You can attack each round.

Sustaining the sphere (a minor action) and attacking with it (a standard action) are two separate actions.

[...] I know that it only needs to be sustained once, [...]

That's not true: in order to keep it active you have to spend a minor action each round. By doing so, you prolong the duration until the end of your next turn. You can sustain the sphere this way up to the end of the encounter (or up to 5 minutes, if not cast during an encounter).

That's both confirmed by the general rules for sustaining (PHB, page 278) and the Flaming Sphere'sDDI Sustain line:

Sustain Minor: The sphere persists until the end of your next turn.

In general, keep in mind that no power must be sustained "only once". D&D 4th edition rationalized power durations, and it's quite difficult to find a power that is not included in one of these categories:

  • Instantaneous
  • Until the start/end of your/target's next turn.
  • Until the end of the encounter (or 5 minutes, if not in an encounter).
  • Save ends: target(s) rolls each round until it shrug off the power's effect (sometimes there are one or more aftereffects).
  • Sustainable powers: you must expend an action (usually minor, but it could also be move or standard) each round you want to prolong the power effect for another round.

While Flaming Sphere is active, you can spend a standard action to make another attack with the sphere (the first comes with the same action used to "cast" this power). If, for example, you expend an action point, you can use that standard action to attack with the sphere a second time.

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Those two sentences aren't directly connected, as in, they don't happen at the same time. They're just a list of things you can do:

  • If you choose, you can sustain the sphere.

  • Whenever you wish and are able and the power is active, you may make another attack with the sphere by using a standard action to do so.

They are placed near each other because, obviously, you can't choose to make more attacks with it if the sphere doesn't exist because you didn't sustain it.

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Okay, here's an example: Turn 1: Use Standard Action to activate FLaming Sphere and roll 2d6 for its attack. –  John W Sep 3 '13 at 22:12
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@JohnW You appear to misunderstand how Sustaining works. You need to spend a minor action in each of your turns to Sustain it. The sphere vanishes at the end of a turn if you did not sustain it in that turn. –  Jonathan Hobbs Sep 3 '13 at 22:23
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So to be clear, that would mean that each turn the sphere must be sustained as a Minor action to remain active until the end of your next turn, at which you must sustain it again, and while it's sustained, you can use its attack once per turn as a Standard action? –  John W Sep 3 '13 at 22:31
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@JohnW Have you read the rules for sustaining? PHB (original printing) p. 278 describes it: a sustain allows you to take an action every round to continue the effect. Normally this is limited to up to 5 minutes duration, but it can say otherwise. So "You can sustain this power until the end of the encounter" is changing the maximum time limit, it's not the effect of a single sustain action. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 3 '13 at 22:49
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@JohnW The Sphere's text doesn't need to say that, because (like everything in D&D 4e) you obey the general rule first, and only disobey the parts that the power changes. The text only changes the duration (end of encounter instead of 5 minutes) compared to the default rules, so you use the default rules with only that change. You can't play the game by only reading the text on the powers—you have to also know the general rules. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 4 '13 at 0:19

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