Let's say an ancient dragon, for some reason, fails a saving throw with legendary resistances left, but decides to save its legendary resistance and take the negative effect instead. Then, a round or two later, the dragon changes its mind, and decides it doesn't want this negative effect after all. Can the dragon at this point retroactively decide to use one of the remaining legendary resistances, in order to remove the negative effect? Or is that not allowed?

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    \$\begingroup\$ On what basis would you think that this is allowed? \$\endgroup\$
    – Icyfire
    Feb 1, 2018 at 2:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ He's asking because the explanation "if the dragon fails a saving throw" can be read in a way that suggests the time window is open. The dragon gets cursed...fails...then a few rounds later realizes that curse is actually an issue...and then uses its resistance to reverse that fail. It seems like a legitimate alternative view of reading the text - particularly for some who are newer to the game. From that perspective, it seems like an honest inquiry. I am voting up as a result \$\endgroup\$
    – Praxiteles
    Feb 1, 2018 at 6:09

1 Answer 1


Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the dragon fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

fail: verb, 3rd person present

failed: verb, 3rd person past

The dragon fails a saving throw now, it can use Legendary Resistance. The dragon failed a saving throw then, it can't use Legendary Resistance.

Many ongoing effects allow saves after the initial saving throw - the dragon could use its legendary resistance on one of these contemporaneously. This would not work for spells that use subsequent ability check like Entangle because ability checks are not saving throws.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As a relatively new player, while I will say that this logic is likely the correct answer, I don't think the rationale to reach the answer is necessarily concrete. Reading it literally, the condition for 'choosing to succeed' is simply that the dragon 'fails'- while that is the present tense, any situations in the future would still mean that the second part is triggered. If you were going to argue for the grammar, I would expect the sentence to say 'When the dragon fails' for clarity, and exempt the comma. \$\endgroup\$
    – Onyz
    Feb 1, 2018 at 13:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @onyz in 5e there is no room for double-reading of the text, and there is no fluff. So if a verb is in present tense, the rule it is written in must be applied in the present. In our case at hand, at the resolution of the effect that triggered the save. The timing window for the choice to activate LR is between the dice roll for the save and the application of the effect. Nowhere else. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 1, 2018 at 13:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Typically if abilities have an ability that "bypasses time and space" it states so. \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Feb 1, 2018 at 14:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @John Note that the OP is not asking if the Dragon can undo the effects of the negative effect for the two turns that have already passed- simply if the Dragon can free itself from the negative effect in the current turn and later turns after having been afflicted with the negative effect. No time and space bypassing to speak of. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Onyz
    Feb 1, 2018 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's worth noting in the answer that many negative effects require a saving throw every round. In those cases, the dragon can choose to use legendary resistance on any of the rounds against that round's saving throw, since it is a separate roll. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ethan
    Feb 1, 2018 at 21:50

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