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A 7th-level Evocation wizard hits a 7th level rogue with a cantrip that requires a Dex saving throw, like acid splash.

The wizard has the Potent Cantrip feature that means any creature that succeeds the Dex save will always take half damage:

Starting at 6th level, your damaging cantrips affect even creatures that avoid the brunt of the effect. When a creature succeeds on a saving throw against your cantrip, the creature takes half the cantrip’s damage (if any) but suffers no additional effect from the cantrip.

The rogue has the Evasion feature, which means a save for half damage becomes save for none:

Beginning at 7th level, you can nimbly dodge out of the way of certain area effects, such as a red dragon's fiery breath or an ice storm spell. When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.

Since both of these are passive abilities, which takes priority and how much damage does the rogue take if it succeeds the dex save?

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Potent Cantrip makes a cantrip exactly the kind of effect that Evasion works against. Evasion causes "an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage" to instead deal no damage. Potent Cantrip means that your cantrips deal half damage on a successful saving throw. Which is to say, the target gets to make a saving throw to take only half damage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ By qualifying the cantrip for Evasion, does the ability actually make them worse in this particular situation? Because now the rogue only takes half damage on a failed save vs the full damage before. Sounds weird. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Jun 9 '17 at 15:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Szega Yep, it's an odd quirk of these 2 abilities. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jun 9 '17 at 15:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Szega It wouldn't be the only case where interacting rules result in one being completely negated and the other being boosted beyond its normal effect. Disadvantage + Lucky feat = Super-advantage. \$\endgroup\$ – 8bittree Jun 9 '17 at 19:27
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Yes, Potent Cantrip causes Evasion to trigger, but only on cantrips that require a Dexterity saving throw - which are only four out of the ten Wizard spell cantrips that force the target to make saving throws.

Poison spray, toll the dead, and frostbite are all ignored by Evasion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already. This is a pretty good answer :) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 26 '18 at 23:57
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To generalize & address commenters' criticisms:

  • Rogue feature specifically defends against X.
  • Wizard feature specifically modifies an Action to cause X.

The result is self-explanatory.

From a feelings perspective, you might say, "But I gained X! It should actually do something!" And indeed it does, the action's effectiveness has been substantially improved, except against creatures that specifically defend against X. This is just as true whether X is "half damage on a successful save" as it would be if it were "knockdown."

Note, there is no question as to order of operations. The Wizard feature is modifying the behavior of an existing action, not adding an additional effect that will occur some time after the unmodified action. It doesn't say, "And then, only after all possible defenses against the base action have been deployed, you now apply the additional effect X!"

Specific vs. Specific meet and they live happily ever after.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If it was self explanatory the OP wouldn't need to ask the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Voromir Kadien Jan 5 '18 at 19:42
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Monk ability only affects area of effects. Cantrips for the most part are targeted and may bounce (have no area of effect). Cantrips unless they have an area in the description will damage the monk even if he saves.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Factually wrong: Evasion affects more than area of effects effects. While it mentions area of effect, it's actual writeup is more generic. Also, FYI your syntax is just plain weird and hard to understand. \$\endgroup\$ – RonLugge Mar 29 at 5:22

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