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The Ring of Spell Turning says the following:

While wearing this ring, you have advantage on saving throw against any spell that targets only you (not in an area of effect). In addition, if you roll a 20 for the save and the spell is 7th level or lower, the spell has no effect on you and instead targets the caster.

If a spell like Hold Person is cast using a 3rd level slot to target 2 creatures, but one has a Ring of Spell Turning, will they have advantage on the save?

Is the answer the same if the spell targets more than one creature via another method such as a sorcerer's Twinned Spell?

Note that the description has the clarification within it, "(not in an area of effect)". Page 201 of the PHB seems to provide definitions for various areas of effect, none of which really apply to the Hold Person example.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you might want to split up the upcasting and twinned parts of your question since they seem to be very different. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 18 '18 at 19:00
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No, the Ring of Spell Turning does not work on spells that target more than one creature for any reason

you have advantage on saving throw against any spell that targets only you (not in an area of effect)

So the ring gives you advantage on saves from spells that only target you but that is not an area of effect.

A typical spell requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the spell's magic. A spell's description tells you whether the spell targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect (described below).

Many spells can target multiple creatures in their effects and these are not considered to be targeting an area.

If a spell like hold person, which targets creatures and not an area, is upcast such that it allows an additional target then that spell is now targeting more than one person. Thus, the Ring of Spell Turning will not grant advantage against it.

When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you can target one additional humanoid for each slot level above 2nd

Jeremy Crawford has confirmed that up casting a spell would indeed increase the number of creatures targeted by that spell:

Can a spell at its current level target more than one creature? If yes, you can't twin it.

This is in reference to the twinned spell restriction that says:

When you Cast a Spell that Targets only one creature and doesn’t have a range of self...

Crawford says that upcast spells that target more than one person cannot be twinned. That means that spells that are upcast that target more than one person do indeed count as one spell that is targeting more than one creature.

Going back to the question at hand, this means that an upcast spell that targets more than one creature definitely will NOT be a spell on which the ring will give you advantage.

Regarding a twinned spell:

...you can spend a number of sorcery points equal to the spell’s level to target a second creature in range...

The untwinned or not upcast versions of the spell may only target one creature, but upcasting or twinning them causes that spell to target more than one creature.

Thus, regardless of the reason, if the spell does not target only, then it is not affected by the ring. This is the case with hold person in both upcast and twinned varieties.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Please note that the description specifically includes the clarification, "(not in an area of effect)", which appears to be specifically defined on page 201 of the PHB, none of which are applicable to the Hold Person example. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Feb 17 '18 at 2:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical correct, the area of effect clause does not affect hold person since hold person targets a creature not an area. Luckily, my answer does not use it or depend on it for that very reason. I've deleted the clause in case people found it confusing. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 17 '18 at 2:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ The concern I have is the way the description is phrased. You've deleted part of it and I think that confuses the issue at hand. It states 'targets only you,' then in parenthesis states, 'not in an area of effect.' That choice of phrasing seems to suggest that a spell complies with the 'targets only you' aspect if it's not an area of effect. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Feb 18 '18 at 15:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical I would agree. The wording seems unclear but I think that was it's intent. Can elaborate though on what confuses you about it with that in mind? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 18 '18 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 19 '18 at 0:34
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The first question is answered in the item description. Does the spell target more than one creature? Then this ring has no effect.

The second question is more open to interpretation, because the spell being twinned can't target more than one creature, but a special ability is making it affect a second target. That's a "DM adjudication" situation. Personally, I'd allow the ring to function.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Please note that the description specifically includes the clarification, "(not in an area of effect)", which appears to be specifically defined on page 201 of the PHB, none of which are applicable to the Hold Person example. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Feb 17 '18 at 2:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ If a spell is twinned, that twinned version of the spell isn't targeting only you (even if the regular spell could only target one creature). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 17 '18 at 23:41
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Which Specific rule overrides which General Rule?

The general rules get overridden or have exceptions made throughout the game by specific rules, which is clearly stated in the PHB under "Specific Beats General"

Many racial traits, class features, spells, magic items, monster abilities, and other game elements break the general rules...Magic accounts for most of the exceptions to the rules. (PHB p. 7).

The ring works as advertised for the wearer

  1. What you are dealing with here is two specific rules in conflict: one of which is the magic item specific rule, and the other is either the Twin specific rule, or the upcast specific. That means that an answer needs to rely on a bit of judgment to form a ruling.

  2. Negating a magic item takes an antimagic field, which is an 8th level spell (magical effect).

  3. Spells create magical effects.
    Modifications to spells, such as twin or upcasting, are modifications to a discrete magical effect.

    A spell is a discrete magical effect (see What is a spell? PHB, p. 201).

Ruling: the ring wearer gets the benefit of the ring, the other target does not.

Why?
The ring's magical protective features is applying its magical effect to a single target; there is a single magical effect affecting the target of the hold person spell, and that magical effect is not an area of effect. The target is the ring wearer. The other target of the spell gets no such protection, because that target is not wearing the ring. (And if it were, it too would get the protection).
This question is more clearly answered from the perspective of the target(s) not from the perspective of the spell caster.
Why?
Because you are dealing with multiple "specifics" to deal with Hold Person's "general." The target not wearing the ring gets no protection.

What the caster is doing, by applying an additional resource (be it meta magic points or added spell slots) to the single target spell as cast, either by twinning or by upcasting to choose an additional target, is creating a second instance of a discrete spell effect. The upcast is not creating an area of effect spell, nor is the twin. The only caveat regarding the ring of spell turning not applying advantage to the spell save is the application of an area of effect spell.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you can target one additional humanoid for each slot level above 2nd. The humanoids must be within 30 feet of each other when you target them. (Basic Rules, p. 93)

Notice that "at higher levels" does not hold all creatures in an area; what it allows is for more than one creature In Range to be forced to save of be held.

The ring's core protective feature is:

you have advantage on saving throws against any spell that targets only you (not in an area of effect.)

Twinned is the easier case to address

The twinned hold person can only target you; it takes the magical effect (and expended resource) of the twinning to apply the discrete magical effect of hold person to another target. From the frame of reference of the ring, a single target spell is being attempted against the wearer. The other target gets no protection.

Upcasting is the trickier case

Because of "how spells at higher level" work, there is some question as to which exception takes precedence: the addition of another target, or the protective effect of a legendary item? The item wins.

  • Compare what level of time, effort, and magic it takes to create a ring of spell turning (DMG. p. 129) 500,000 GP, 17th level minimum, and (500,000 GP) divided by (25 GP) character days (20,000~ 54.8 years) to create. Note that it takes 8th level spell casting (first available at 15th level) to get access to an anti magic field, which would suppress the effects of this magic item.

Why? The second (or third, etc) instance of hold person that comes from up casting does not convert the spell to an area of effect. What it does is create another magical effect that another creature has to save against. From the frame of reference of the ring, that other target may as well not exist. Its magic is only applicable to the wearer. The wearer gets advantage on the save.

To rule otherwise is to apply 8th level magic to lower powered magical effects

In order to nullify the effects of a legendary magical item generally requires subjecting them to an anti magic field: an 8th level spell effect. That's is considerably more powerful magic than a 2d level spell, or the twinning meta magic.

But let's bury ourselves in edge cases, as rules lawyers like to do

Were the Hold Person Spell to be cast at 8th level, the ring of spell turning cannot turn the magic back upon the wearer. That's a limitation of the item.

The spell expands to fill the slot it is put into (p.201)

The instance of hold person that the wearer is saving against is still based only on that person and they make their own save. The other creatures are on their own.

One could argue that having exceeded the spell level threshold of one protective feature may as well override all ring protective features; the hold person effect at 8th level of casting overpowers the ring and no advantage would accrue to the saving throw. It's a reach, but since spells grow to fill the power of the slot when upcast, the case could be made and 8th level is the same level of power/magic as the antimagic field mentioned previously. It's a that goes into the grey area where the rules are not specific, but you can as well argue that the 7th level threshold only applies to the turn, and otherwise the ring fundamentally does its usual thing: protect the wearer from spells (discrete magical effects) directed at them.

A similar case of multiple instances of one spell: Eldritch Blast

Jeremy Crawford has ruled that if multiple blasts of Eldritch Blast hit the same creature, with the repelling blast invocation being active, each instance of the blast moves the creature the 10 feet. This ruling and the above reasoning is consistent with the point that a spell cast with multiple instances (the eldritch blast must hit each in each time for this to work) has each instance treated separately. The caster in this case can spread the blasts to multiple creatures, or to one creature, but each instance has its own discrete magical effect.

That's what a spell does: create a discrete magical effect.

The basic characteristic of the spell, hold person, is that it targets a single creature. The upcast creates a parallel instance that does not effect the other targets. Applying additional instances of a spell by either twinning or up casting a "single target" to add additional targets does not change the nature of the spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There are many spells that allow you to target several individual creatures with one casting (and are still not considered an area of effect). Are all those considered multiple instances of that spell? Additionally, how does any of this negate the magic item? Doesn't every single area of effect spell already "negate the magical item" simply by virtue of the fact that the item is not made to reopen those spells? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 19 '18 at 2:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, they do not. That magic item has a particular strength, and a particular limitation. Given how rare magic items are in 5e -- note that this is not the WBL game of 3.x -- a legendary item should not be blown off by a poor ruling. A decent analogue is how to understand the difference between a series circuit and a parallel circuit. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 19 '18 at 2:23

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