I just picked up the spell Sickening Radiance and had a chance to try it out last session. The wording has caused some confusion and a disagreement between myself and my DM. The spell states:

When a creature moves into the spell's area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, that creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 4d10 radiant damage [...]

We were fighting multiple vampires. I cast Sickening Radiance on the enemy group. DM immediately rules that due to the language of the spell, they are not affected by it, since they "haven't started their turn in it" and they "didn't move into it". Okay, fair enough. They'll start their turn there, so I'm not concerned.

They start their turn within it and are dealt the damage. They then, logically, move out of the spell, but stand five feet out of it. Their turn ends, and my turn begins. I cast Eldritch Blast twice along with the Invocation Repelling Blast to push two of them 10 feet, which shoves them into the spell's effect area. The DM moves onto the next person; I gently remind him that they need to make Constitution saves for Sickening Radiance.

He refuses, stating that the language of Sickening Radiance uses "moves", not "pushed", and therefore is only triggered by the target using their movement, not just any movement into it. I obviously disagree, and argue that it just says "moves into", which they did, as a result of my Eldritch Blast.

Obviously DM fiat and all that, so if he says it doesn't work, it doesn't work. But I'm still curious about a rules based answer to this, as it seems like a very strict (and likely incorrect) reading.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note: there is no such thing as a "move action" in 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Jan 3 '18 at 21:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this is a duplicate, because of the phrase "moves into the spell's area". The linked questions are about spells that use the phrase "enters the spell's area". My understanding is that "moves" requires using your movement and does not included forced movement. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Jan 4 '18 at 1:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ In absence of a designer quote, it is likely impossible to clarify whether this is an incidental turn of phrase. AFAIK, there is no ruling that "move" refers solely to voluntarily using one's Speed, however. I think it's worth keeping open if only to clarify that point for future questions of wording. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jan 4 '18 at 4:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have a quote that can clear this up, where "move" is used expressly for non-voluntary movement, but cannot put it into an answer with the question closed. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jan 4 '18 at 5:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited the title to remove the reference to "move action" (which doesn't exist) as pointed out above. \$\endgroup\$ – Baron Jan 5 '18 at 8:15

From PHB, "Opportunity Attacks":

You also don‘t provoke an opportunity attack when you teleport or when someone or something moves you without using your movement, action, or reaction.

Emphasis mine. There is linguistic precedent in the rule that the word "move" does not expressly refer to the voluntary use of one's own Speed. In the absence of specific wording to make sickening radiance an exception to the general ruling of nearly identically worded spells, the overwhelming likelihood is that it behaves like all the other spells described in the April 2016 Sage Advice column.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What does opportunity attacks have to do with spells? \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Jan 5 '18 at 16:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Absolutely nothing. The question hinges on whether the word "move" in 5e parlance necessarily means voluntary movement using your Speed, as the asker's DM maintains. This rules quote shows that there is wording that specifically does not mean this. "Move" is merely used in its plain English meaning: "to change location". The word "move" has no special rules meaning. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jan 5 '18 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ There was a recent tweet that move means movement in those particular spells. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Jan 6 '18 at 23:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just saw that yesterday. If you'd like to put that into an answer, that would be cool, but I think the above rules quote still leaves room for doubt and uncertainty. Particularly in the instance of the spell in the question, there seems little reason to believe that this is anything more than careless wording. There's nothing about it that suggests that the target's intent in entering the effect has any bearing. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jan 7 '18 at 19:46

Thanks to @Szega for the related question!

From Sage Advice April 2016, emphasis added:

Reading the description of any of those spells, you might wonder whether a creature is considered to be entering the spell’s area of effect if the area is created on the creature’s space. And if the area of effect can be moved—as the beam of moonbeam can—does moving it into a creature’s space count as the creature entering the area? Our design intent for such spells is this: a creature enters the area of effect when the creature passes into it. Creating the area of effect on the creature or moving it onto the creature doesn’t count. If the creature is still in the area at the start of its turn, it is subjected to the area’s effect.

Entering such an area of effect needn’t be voluntary, unless a spell says otherwise. You can, therefore, hurl a creature into the area with a spell like thunderwave. We consider that clever play, not an imbalance, so hurl away! Keep in mind, however, that a creature is subjected to such an area of effect only the first time it enters the area on a turn. You can’t move a creature in and out of it to damage it over and over again on the same turn.

Most applicable to this question, and how it differs from Moonbeam, is that the applicable answer is in the second paragraph: Yes, forcefully moving enemies into the area does cause them to be affected by the spell.

Note, however, that in that case they would not also be affected on their turn. Sorry, no 8d10 damage per round here...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Because it explicitly says it's one time per turn. The 'moves into or starts their turn' are the two ways to activate the single time \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Jan 3 '18 at 23:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ But the "starts its turn" clause refers to a different turn. At least in the text you cite, I don't see anything to specify that this damage can only be applied once per round. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Veeder Jan 4 '18 at 1:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso I think this might clear it up. You can be damaged multiple times in one round, but only once a turn: dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/rules-answers-april-2016 \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jan 4 '18 at 4:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Nothing counts as their turn. Either it is, or isn't. \$\endgroup\$ – András Jan 4 '18 at 8:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answers the question, but don't believe the last part about not being affected twice is accurate so I am hesitant to accept it without it being removed or clarified. I opened that as a new question here: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/112815 \$\endgroup\$ – Baron Jan 5 '18 at 5:35

Jeremy Crawford tweeted recently, on the subject:

They have no special game meaning, other than that "moves" refers to movement. "Enter" is more open-ended.


This implies your DM, while personally disagree with him, is technically correct according to the Rules as the Written, or at least as the designers intended.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How does Jeremy's tweet make the DM right rather than wrong? Jeremy said "moves" simply means "movement." Push is simply a type of movement. Thus, the DM is wrong - push is type of movement - thus the spell causes damage. How are you reading it? \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Feb 22 '18 at 22:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ As an addendum - that interpretation also seems to go against the Sage Advice column referenced (see the accepted answer): rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/61909/… \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Feb 22 '18 at 23:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ "... moves refers to movement" which is a game term. You have X spaces of movement per turn, when your speed is X. I disagree that Opportunity Attacks language is enough evidence that all instances of move don't refer to the movement game mechanic. Otherwise, why else would Jeremy specify that moves refers to movemen? \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Feb 24 '18 at 3:41

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