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I got myself Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, and am almost done reading through it. I made it to Star Spawn, and two things about the Star Spawn Hulk caught my attention:

  • Psychic Mirror. If the hulk takes psychic damage, each creature within 10 feet of the hulk takes that damage instead; the hulk takes none of the damage. In addition, the hulk's thoughts and location can't be discerned by magic.

  • Hulks are seldom encountered without a commanding seer nearby.

So I checked out the Star Spawn Seer, and it has two attacks that deal Psychic damage. One is a simple ranged attack, which is wonderful. The other one is melee, and imposes a condition, like so:

Comet Staff. [...] plus 18 (4d8) psychic damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 19 Constitution saving throw or be incapacitated until the end of its next turn.

What I want to know is:

If a Star Spawn Seer hits a Star Spawn Hulk with a Comet Staff attack, and the psychic damage is redirected to creatures within 10 ft. of the Hulk, which creatures (if any) must make a Constitution save vs incapacitation?

I'm not worried about the Seer, as it is immune to psychic damage, probably for reasons like this. But I want to know, if I am running a Hulk or two against a party with a Seer nearby, whether I am going to have the Seer blast away with the ranged psychic attack or dish out conditions.

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Only the Star Spawn Hulk is at risk for becoming Incapacitated

As you quoted above, the only relevant aspect of Psychic Mirror is:

If the hulk takes psychic damage, each creature within 10 feet of the hulk takes that damage instead

The Psychic Damage is displaced, but the DC 19 Constitution Saving throw is not something that is off-put. There is no language there that says the Hulk avoids the risk of the Incapacitated condition. In addition, the Star Spawn Hulk is not immune to the Incapacitated condition.

In addition, there is no language that suggests those suffering from the redirected psychic damage have to make an additional save against Incapacitated. They only end up taking the damage.

Preventing Comet Staff abuse

One possible reason for the language not including either protection for the Hulk against the save or forcing the save on any creature within 10' of the Hulk is that it prevents a a Seer-Hulk combo from occurring. Normally, the Seer only targets a single creature with the Comet Staff attack. If this combo was allowed, it could then target multiple creatures for damage and condition. That's a HUGE difference in power for that attack.

On the flipside, it seems like it would have been a cool natural combo if allowed. If the Hulk was immune to the Incapacitated Condition and that condition save was passed onto the 10' radius targets, then this mechanic would be incredibly powerful and a neat effect.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Agree your answer is RAW. This seems to be a common question with abilities that do damage + effect combined with abilities that provide immunity or redirect said damage. Logically and thematically it makes far more sense for the side-effect to affect the creatures taking the damage though! If that IS the RAI, it would be nice for the wording to say "...X damage; creatures affected by the this damage must make a save ... etc". \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Jun 8 '18 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ Maybe, but that could vastly increase the power of that ability and would likely affect the CR rating. ANd the fact that they weren't that specific suggests that was not the intent. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 8 '18 at 13:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ Possibly done so that a combo of Seer attack Hulk to be able to attack multiple creatures via the Comet Staff attack isn't done (Staff only targets 1 normally.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 8 '18 at 13:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Of note...this tactic is explicitly called out in the flavor text of the Star Spawn Seer: "A star spawn seer is almost always accompanied by one or more star spawn hulks. Although the hulk is a worthy combatant in its own right, it’s also a vital part of a tactic often used by seers. When a seer deals psychic damage to a hulk, the hulk isn’t hurt, while the effect ricochets off the hulk and expands to assault other creatures." source \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Jun 8 '18 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Not really...the main attack a Seer would use in this case is the Psychic Orb, which drops pure Psychic damage (and a lot more of it) at 120' range. If using the Comet Staff, the Seer has to be in melee range of the Hulk and will deal bludgeoning damage to the Hulk. Kinda silly to use the Comet Staff in that way. The reflected psychic damage isn't an issue...Seer is immune \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Jun 8 '18 at 14:44
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RAW state that only the damage is transmitted to nearby creatures. The Hulk should still take a DC 19 Constitution check since it is the original target of the attack and incapacitation does not count as damage so it should not be spread to creatures within 10 feet.

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