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This came up during a game this weekend where the rogue player claimed that, since she was taking damage from it and she could see where the "attack" was coming from, she could reduce that damage with this feature. I allowed it at the time, for the pace of the game.

The Rogue feature Uncanny Dodge states:

Starting at 5th level, when an attacker that you can see hits you with an Attack, you can use your reaction to halve the attack's damage against you.

In my mind, this excludes the Magic Missile spell, since nowhere in the spell description does it state the word "attack".

You create three glowing darts of magical force. Each dart hits a creature of your choice that you can see within range.

In the future, I would have to say "no", based on my reading of the ability and the spell.

Looking for confirmation/counter-arguments.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Related rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/71245 \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Jan 29 '18 at 20:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've removed the rules as written tage from your question because it is used only for cases in which strict, legalistic interpretations of the rules are required. It does not seem that you need or intended this. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 29 '18 at 20:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Congratulations for "I allowed it at the time, for the pace of the game." It's easy to get caught up in rules and forget to have fun. \$\endgroup\$ – Mooing Duck Jan 29 '18 at 23:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Even if Magic Missile did count as an attack, I would say you could only halve the damage from one of the darts. After all, you only have one reaction. \$\endgroup\$ – Dinopolis Jan 30 '18 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dinopolis: Thanks for chipping in! Just so you know, we do not accept answers or partial answers in comments. Comments are only for clarification or suggestions for improvement of the question/answer. Comments are temporary and are eventually deleted and thus any information that you think is important should be written in your own answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 30 '18 at 18:49
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No, Magic missile is not an attack.

The general rule is:

If there's ever any question whether something you're doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you're making an attack roll, you're making an attack. (PHB 194)

Since magic missile never rolls, it is not an attack.

Jeremy Crawford has confirmed this:

Uncanny Dodge works against an attack that hits you. Magic missile involves no attack, so Uncanny Dodge is no help against it.

You can find more discussion on what is and isn't considered an Attack here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This despite the fact that "magic missile" invariably hits you in order to do the damage: "Each dart hits a creature of your choice that you can see within range". Jeremy Crawford's own use of the word 'hit' could cause some confusion here, considering there is a difference between attacks and Attacks, as NautArch answered below. \$\endgroup\$ – TylerH Jan 30 '18 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH: I think the stress was more "attack that hits" even if it hits it still must first be an attack to matter in this case. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 30 '18 at 18:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ true, and it's a good answer regardless. I have seen some games where rogues are only allowed to use U.D. in combat, and games where they are allowed to use it against environmental things like a falling rock when just exploring. The rules try to be explicit, but that results in unbelievable scenarios sometimes (e.g. a falling rock should not really make an attack roll to determine whether it hits). That's the awkwardness of trying to impose a rule set on a free-form RPG game! \$\endgroup\$ – TylerH Jan 30 '18 at 18:55
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No, Magic Missile is not an Attack

Magic Missile is a Cast A Spell Action, so the Uncanny Dodge does not activate. There is no Attack, just a spell cast and a damage roll.

See here for the difference between upper case Attack and lower case attack.

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If there's ever any question whether something you're doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you're making an attack roll,you're making an attack. (PHB 194)

According to this, magic missile is not an attack and thus Uncanny Dodge has no effect on it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This rule actually is a bit problematic in that it is affirming the consequent, a well-known logical fallacy. 'If you're making an attack roll, you're making an attack'. This does not necessitate the inverse of 'if you are making an attack, you must make an attack roll'. Sometimes attacks hit without a need to make an attack roll. Herein lies the true confusion of the situation: what counts as an "attack" (or Attack, as NautArch describes in his answer). \$\endgroup\$ – TylerH Jan 30 '18 at 18:49
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I realize this isn't a full answer, but rules forbid putting this as a comment

While all the other answers are correct, I also wanted to add that nothing in the Magic Missile description says the missiles come from the caster; only that the caster creates darts of force.

It is completely possible that the darts can come from anywhere; behind the target or multiple directions. So while the caster can be seen, the darts can come from somewhere you're not looking.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose, I'm reading when an attacker that you can see hits you with an Attack as when you see the attack coming. Unless we consider Uncanny Dodge as some sort of 'Spidey sense', in which case why would they need to see the attacker? Consider, in game, a target can be surrounded, but the Magic Missile always hits without chance of hitting nearby creatures. If the darts always come straight from the caster, that means someone can interpose. Which means that the darts can come from anywhere and it is unlikely that the rogue is watching every bit of empty air to see the "attacker". \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Jan 30 '18 at 19:50

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