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You animate the target’s shadow with semi-living energies drawn from the Shadow Plane, instilling a maddening hunger for its owner’s life energy within it. If the target fails its Will save, it takes 1d4 points of Strength damage as a quasi-real shadow manifests in its space and attacks it. This shadow remains attached to the target and moves wherever the target moves.

At the start of each subsequent round, the target must succeed at a Reflex save or take 1d4 additional points of Strength damage; a successful save reduces the Strength damage to 1 point.

If an enemy succeeds on the first save, does that cancel the secondary effects too?

Since it says "You animate the target’s shadow" without giving a save that would imply that the secondary effect is still active even if you succeed the will save and reduce the original d4 to 0 damage, is that correct or does the will save stop the secondary part from occurring?

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This GM would have a creature that makes a successful Will save against masochistic shadow be unaffected by the whole spell

The spell masochistic shadow has the entry Saving Throw: Will negates, then Reflex partial; see text. On Magic on Saving Throw on Negates says, "The spell has no effect on a subject that makes a successful saving throw."

While that see below in the spell's Saving Throw entry is potentially meaningful, this GM would err on the side of the spell's effect being negated by success on the initial Will saving throw. That is, that the definition of Negates in conjunction with the spell's description makes this GM believe that success on the initial saving throw prevents the entire spell from affecting the target.

That is, first the spell's description explains its initial effect:

You animate the target’s shadow with semi-living energies drawn from the Shadow Plane, instilling a maddening hunger for its owner’s life energy within it. If the target fails its Will save, it takes 1d4 points of Strength damage as a quasi-real shadow manifests in its space and attacks it. This shadow remains attached to the target and moves wherever the target moves.

A successful saving throw negates this effect. Then the spell's description continues, explaining its round-by-round effect:

At the start of each subsequent round, the target must succeed at a Reflex save or take 1d4 additional points of Strength damage; a successful save reduces the Strength damage to 1 point. If its Strength score is reduced to 0 by this spell’s effects, the target dies. If the target is in bright light, it gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves against this spell. If the target is in darkness, it takes a –2 penalty on Reflex saves against this spell.

(Emphases mine.) That word additional is important. If the subject was dealt no damage initially because it succeeded on the saving throw, presumably the subject also can't be dealt additional damage.

Many spells have flowery descriptions that explain what effects occur if the spell has its full effect. For example, the lesser geas spell says, "A lesser geas places a magical command on a creature to carry out some service or to refrain from some action or course of activity, as desired by you," mentioning nothing about the subject needing to fail a Will saving throw against the spell for that effect to occur. Similarly, the lightning bolt spell says, "You release a powerful stroke of electrical energy that deals 1d6 points of electricity damage per caster level (maximum 10d6) to each creature within its area," yet mentions nothing about this damage being halved on a successful Reflex saving throw. This GM believes that, like those spells, the masochistic shadow spell's flowery description illustrating what occurs if the subject fails the initial saving throw.

Although this reader agrees that relying on a spell's Saving Throw entry to manage a spell instead of writing a more complete description can lead to some misleading spell descriptions, the alternative—each spell describing exactly what happens on both a failed and a successful saving throw—would likely see spell descriptions both double in length and make the same statements repeatedly, and this reader thinks that's pretty much exactly what a spell's Saving Throw entry is trying to avoid.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Some pointers to what you said. "Saving Throw Reflex half" - In the link of the spell lightning bolt you sent. Additional also means "added, extra, or supplementary to what is already present or available". You can add something to nothing. "If the target fails its Will save, it takes 1d4 points of Strength damage as a quasi-real shadow manifests in its space and attacks it" That implies that a successful save deals 0 damage, since being animated isn't mentioned in there. Spells like Geas, lesser does not mention saves in the flowery text so therefore isn't comparable. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon May 2 '18 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Simon However, the description of lightning bolt doesn't mention its save nor does the description of lesser geas, just like the initial portion of masochistic shadow. And the lead designer's said (albeit in a different context) that something can't be added to nothing. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 2 '18 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Simon Keep in mind, also,—although balance here may be a secondary concern—that if the spell's initial saving throw does not negate the spell's secondary effects, then, using that reading, masochistic shadow still deals at least Strength damage equal to caster level automatically, making it an utterly terrifying hit-and-run spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 2 '18 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Balance is secondary concern. More powerful spells exists and each GM can rule differently if power is an issue for their specific game. I see your point, although the save part of Shadow says: "Will negates, then Reflex partial; see text", implying both not one of the effects need a save, regardless of the other. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon May 2 '18 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ An example being "Phantasmal killer" which specifies that the saves rely on each other in the text "The target first gets a Will save to recognize the image as unreal. If that save fails, the phantasm touches the subject, and the subject must succeed on a Fortitude save or die from fear. Even if the Fortitude save is successful, the subject takes 3d6 points of damage" \$\endgroup\$ – Simon May 2 '18 at 14:32
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In my opinion, the wording and difference of the saves implies that the first will save will stop the shadow from being animated. Because on each subsequent turn you roll a reflex that only lowers damage to 1 point instead of 0.

Of course it is all up to your DM and personally if I was casting I would prefer your interpretation. The RAW however seems to say that a will save saves from the shadow animating.

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