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In my campaign, a character used witch bolt against an illusionist and hit, dealing 12 damage. The illusionist proceeded to cast mirror image.

Witch bolt states:

On a hit, the target takes 1d12 lightning damage, and on each of your turns for the duration, you can use your action to deal 1d12 lightning damage to the target automatically.

While mirror image states:

Each time a creature targets you with an attack during the spell's duration, roll a d20 to determine whether the attack instead targets one of your duplicates.

Assume the initial attack hits the actual target. Does the ongoing damage from witch bolt (after the initial hit) automatically hit the target, or does a roll occur to determine if it hits the right one?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've edited the question to clarify what I'm guessing you're actually asking about. Please confirm whether my edit is on-point, or revert that particular part of my edit if it's not what you're asking. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 13 '18 at 4:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast You are correct. \$\endgroup\$ – Collin Jul 14 '18 at 7:40
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The ongoing damages aren't attacks, and are unaffected by mirror image

Quoting the text of mirror image with emphasis:

Each time a creature targets you with an attack during the spell's duration, [...]

"Attack" has a specific definition (see this answer for more detail); it's only an attack if it requires an attack roll. Once the initial attack hits, subsequent applications of damage no longer require an attack roll, therefore they're not attacks as far as the rules are concerned. Since Mirror Image only works on attacks, it is ignored.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 13 '18 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ The linked answer relies heavily on an error of basic logic (reading "if" as "if and only if"). Witch bolt does not have an attack roll; therefore it is inconclusive whether it is an attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jul 13 '18 at 15:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells It's stated in the rules, and clarified consistently by Crawford, that if you don't make an attack roll it's not an attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan Jul 13 '18 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ethan Cite your source. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jul 13 '18 at 18:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ "If there's ever any question whether something you're doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you're making an attack roll, you're making an attack" \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan Jul 13 '18 at 20:32
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No

From the description of Witch Bolt, it's clear that the ongoing damage is applied to the same target as the original damage.

From the description of Mirror Image, it's clear that based on the d20 roll, the target is changed. ("the attack instead targets one of your duplicates").

If the original target is changed, and the ongoing damage hits the same target, that ongoing damage must also apply to the changed target. If that target is destroyed it'd end the spell just as if the initial blast from Witch Bolt killed the target.

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    \$\begingroup\$ But the foe is only targeted once. They are not targeted on subsequent rounds. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jul 13 '18 at 15:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @keithcurtis, that's correct, but the wording of Witch Bolt makes it clear that the ongoing damage on subsequent rounds hits the same target as the original attack (and thus the now destroyed image as the original attacks target was changed by Mirror Image) \$\endgroup\$ – Haegin Jul 13 '18 at 15:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Image destroyed = no more target. You want to try hitting them again, cast Witch Bolt again. It's the act of targeting, which only happens once. The target is never "changed". \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jul 14 '18 at 3:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @keithcurtis exactly, once the target for the spell is destroyed the spell ends. I can see how me describing the target as changing could be confusing as targeting does only happen once (on the initial attack). Maybe it's better to say that the caster of Witch Bolt selects the target they intend to attack, then, still as part of the targeting of the spell, Mirror Image redirects the spell to the duplicate. This is the change of target I'm referring to and is clearly described by the text of Mirror Image as quoted in the original question. \$\endgroup\$ – Haegin Jul 16 '18 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see what you're saying now. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jul 16 '18 at 21:22
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Based on the wording of the spells, the correct target who was hit by Witch Bolt is unofficially "Statused" if you will. (Wrong term, right idea.) Witch Bolt's extra damage is tied to the specific creature it hit and will continue afflicting him despite the Mirror Images. Of course, if you meet any of the conditions for Witch Bolt's damage to end, (not spending your action to deal the extra damage, being out of Witch Bolt's range, or having total cover from the caster,) Witch Bolt would then stop working. Effectively, the extra damage is like feeling the after shocks of being struck by lightning. The duplicates will also act like they are in pain, however, since they mimic the original and thus will not give away the original's identity as a result.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Supporting your understanding with relevant rules would vastly improve this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 13 '18 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Will update answer with more detail when I get home from work then. \$\endgroup\$ – Sora Tamashii Jul 13 '18 at 18:41
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The original scenario states that the target casts mirror image AFTER which bolt. In this case, mirror image will be ignored, as the which bolt is already linked to the target. Now: it mirror image was cast before which bolt, then there is a reasonable chance that which bolt will fail: if it hits one of the illusions, that illusion will immediately “die” and hence the spell is done, it can’t be transferred to a new target.

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