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I am looking to choose spells for my Sorceror, and I found Earth Tremor in XgtE.

Range: 10 feet

You cause a tremor in the ground within range. Each creature other than you in that area must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage and is knocked prone. If the ground in that area is loose earth or stone, it becomes difficult terrain until cleared, with each 5-foot-diameter portion requiring at least 1 minute to clear by hand.

My problem is that no where in the spell description does it tell you how big of an area is affected. You clearly can choose a point within 10 feet (the range of the spell) but there no area listed.

I looked on DnD Beyond and they enter the information as "Range/Area: 10 feet", but they also do the same thing for every spell even when there is no area involved (compare and contrast Fireball and Firebolt).

How big is the area affected by Earth Tremor?

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2 Answers 2

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The area is the ground within a 10 foot radius of you.

The wording of the spell is a little ambiguous, but it intends a 10 foot radius from the caster.

1) A previous version of the spell has a range of "Self (10-foot radius)" and explicitly states that "you cause a tremor in the ground in a 10-foot radius." (See: this older edition of the Elemental Evil Player's Companion from 2015). This indicates the original design intent.

2) The current version of the spell specifies that "you cause a tremor in the ground within range." Literally, the ground within the range of the spell includes precisely the ground within 10 feet of you. Therefore the range of the spell itself sweeps out the area: a circle with a 10 foot radius centered on you.

Yes, the new wording is dissimilar from how most spells indicate a similar area (using a range of "Self" and mentioning the nature of the area in the spell text), but I conjecture that the designers revised the spell to simplify the wording and inadvertently introduced an ambiguity.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That older version is much easier to understand. They used the same ambiguous wording for the Thunderclap cantrip (also from XgtE), and I was wondering if I should post another question for it. It's annoying how they completely change how they use Range for spells for these 2 spells in particular. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Jan 30, 2018 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ If this is going to be the answer of choice, you may want to add the citation to the official ruling and I can delete my answer since they are redundant. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 30, 2018 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron: No reason to delete your answer unless you really want to. It is good to have multiple good answers and you have no way of knowing which way the votes will go. rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6690/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Rubiksmoose
    Jan 30, 2018 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron I agree with the comment above. Your answer is meaningful on its own merits. No need to subsume it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 30, 2018 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do wonder if the intention was better synergy with the sorcerer's Distant Spell metamagic, which doubles the range of a spell (but not the area-of-effect size). \$\endgroup\$ Feb 28, 2020 at 23:01
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10 feet in every direction.

The center of the area is yourself. Every creature within 10 feet makes the save and the location of the difficult terrain is a circle with radius 10 feet.

Jeremy Crawford has confirmed:

“That area” refers to the ground within 10 feet of you.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose THe spell later says "...it becomes difficult terrain until cleared, with each 5-foot-diameter portion". Probably a good thing for David to add in to confirm radius. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Jan 30, 2018 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubicksmoose Sorry. Cited \$\endgroup\$ Jan 30, 2018 at 20:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubicksmoose You can't clear the area evenly. Small circles within the radius can be cleared. It takes more than 4 cycles to clear since there is space between the circles you can clear. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 30, 2018 at 20:13

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