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My player's character, a 4th level wild magic sorcerer, cast magic missile as a 2nd level spell after using Tides of Chaos. Since she had used Tides of Chaos, I had her roll on the Wild Magic Surge table to recharge it. She rolled a 07, the dreaded self-fireball. As her character had only 4HP left, and failed his Dexterity saving throw, he instantly died a spectacular death.

In retrospect, could she have potentially saved her character from instant death by using Tides of Chaos again, on the Dexterity saving throw? My understanding of the rules was that Tides of Chaos recharges after the wild magic surge occurs. However, I recently noticed it says that you get it back after rolling on the wild magic surge table, which is arguably complete before the fireball goes off.

Is there any clear rule about this, or is it up to the DM's judgment?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a particular reason the character died, rather than going unconscious? The only reason instant death would have occurred is if the fireball did enough damage to get the character's HP to negative max HP, which even for a wizard, is quite a bit for one spell. Admittedly, I don't remember what level fireball goes off, or how much damage it does, so it's possible. \$\endgroup\$ – Tal Nov 14 '17 at 21:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tal A 4th level Wizard, even with high Con (+2), would only have 26 hit points. On average, fireball throws out 28, so a damage roll a little above average is all that's needed to kill an above average Wizard and nearly every other low-level Wizard with only 4 HP remaining. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Nov 14 '17 at 21:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yup, this is pretty much what happened. +1 Con modifier, 4 HP when the fireball went off, and a bit above average on the damage roll. Brought the sorcerer under negative max HP, so he died instantly. \$\endgroup\$ – Xavier Lebec Nov 16 '17 at 0:16
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Yes, she could have taken advantage on the save

There isn't any text outside the sorcerer class that further defines how the ability works, but the text is pretty clear. You get the use of the feature back after the DM has you roll on the table, which is before any of the results of rolling on the table happen. Rolling on the table, in this case, caused her to regain the feature and cast fireball on herself-- there is no reason to hold the timing of the fireball preferrentially.

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