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I am trying to workout what template cloud of daggers (PHB, p. 222) would be on a grid. The spell states:

You fill the air with spinning daggers in a cube 5 feet on each side, centered on a point you choose within range.

So does that mean it would look like this:

cloud type 1

Or like this:

cloud type 2

From what I've read online, there seems to be some suggestion that it is a single square (tile) though this does stack with the spell description of "a cube 5 feet on each side".

Clearing this up for my group would be great, and I am sure our DM will be pleased as his monster were nicely diced by this spell. Thanks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi, and welcome to rpg.stackexchange! You said you looked online, but have you looked on this site yet? This question seems to deal with it well. If it doesn't clear it up for you, could you add to your question to show how? \$\endgroup\$ – Isaac Reefman Jul 30 '18 at 1:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IsaacReefman The question you link is certainly related, but this isn't a duplicate. That question takes as a given that the cloud only takes up one square, and then asks about different ways to place it. This question asks about what the size of the cloud is. Different enough questions that they warrant being asked separately. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Jul 30 '18 at 1:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, did I flag it as a dupe? Sorry, I was about to, but I thought I stopped short and just linked it as a question that may clear it up because of how it was related. My bad if I pressed that button by accident! \$\endgroup\$ – Isaac Reefman Jul 30 '18 at 1:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @quillbade - I probably should have put my earlier comment here instead, but: You're welcome, though I fail to see how leaving out "each side" would do anything other than decrease the clarity of the description. Does it seem unclear to you that "each side" is referring to the dimensions of the cube? If not, how would you consider those words to be confusing? \$\endgroup\$ – Isaac Reefman Jul 30 '18 at 3:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure what this sentence in the question is supposed to mean: "From what I've read online, there seems to be some suggestion that it is a single square (tile) though this does stack with the spell description of "a cube 5 feet on each side"." (...That's what I edited it to in an attempt to make at least a little more sense.) Is my interpretation of what you were trying to say there correct? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 30 '18 at 5:30
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Cloud of daggers fills one 5-foot square.

Neither of the options that you show are correct. The spell description states that it takes up:

a cube 5 feet on each side

Since one square is five feet by five feet, you can fill one square with the cloud. If you target the center of a grid cell, then the spell fills that entire grid cell.

Note that the spell does not have a 5 foot radius. "5-foot radius" and "a cube 5 feet on each side" are very different measurements. A spell with a 5 foot radius fills a circle 10 feet wide. A spell that fills a cube 5 feet on a side fills a square, and that square is only 5 feet wide.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ we play with the notion that when you select a point you are select a square rather than a location on the grid which could cross into another square or in the middle of two. The other way to look at it is if a point can have a side then it - spell has a 5ft radius. This is why I have asked this question. \$\endgroup\$ – quillblade Jul 30 '18 at 1:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @quillblade I added some more clarification. I don't really understand where you're getting "5ft radius" from "5ft cube", but hopefully this clears it up more. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Jul 30 '18 at 2:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's a little weird that the spell description says "centered on a point you choose" when usually cubes have a point of origin anywhere on a side, but this only really effects the range (and that only by a max of <5ft) \$\endgroup\$ – Isaac Reefman Jul 30 '18 at 2:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I see the confusion. "5 ft. each side" does not mean "5 ft. out in one direction from the point of origin, and also 5 ft. out in the other direction." It means "A cube whose edges (sides) are each 5 ft. long." \$\endgroup\$ – EightAndAHalfTails Jul 30 '18 at 11:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question is addressed in the 2019 Sage Advice Compendium (...though I don't quite agree with it, as the DMG only has rules for partially covered squares being affected for circular AoEs): "Using 5-foot squares, does cloud of daggers affect a single square? Cloud of daggers (5 ft. cube) can affect more than one square on a grid, unless the DM says effects snap to the grid. There are many ways to position that cube." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 30 '19 at 19:48
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Cloud of Daggers only effects one tile if we assume everything "snaps to grid."


What is "a cube 5 feet on each side?"

Looking at the section of the PHB "Areas Of Effect" we see:

Cube

You select a cube’s point of origin, which lies anywhere on a face of the cubic effect. The cube’s size is expressed as the length of each side. A cube’s point of origin is not included in the cube’s area of effect, unless you decide otherwise. - PHB pg.204

In a comment you said:

The other way to look at it is if a point can have a side then it - spell has a 5ft radius. This is why I have asked this question.

Which suggests you are thinking of spheres and cubes as being similar areas of effect. When we're dealing with a 5 foot cube, there is a sphere that could be considered to be almost identical in effect, but it would have a 2.5ft radius, or a 5ft diameter. Of course, when the areas we're dealing with get bigger, the similarities decrease.

Take the image below:

Sphere inside Cube

The point indicated is at the center of both the cube and the sphere, and the length of one side of the cube is equal to the length of the diameter of the sphere (but the radius is only half that). While the sphere fits entirely inside the cube, there is plenty of space taken up by the cube that lies outside of the sphere's bounds. When using a 5ft grid, as the sphere/cube get larger, more and more spaces are effected by this difference, which is why I said "the similarities decrease."

If we were to say that the cube is 5 feet on each side, it would fit nicely inside one 5ftx5ft tile on a map. The area of effect of the sphere and the cube would be effectively the same if we consider that everything snaps to a grid: either one would completely effect one creature, and only one, as creatures can move through eachother's space, but not stay there.

How does this effect Cloud of Daggers?

As you said, the spell states:

You fill the air with spinning daggers in a cube 5 feet on each side, centered on a point you choose within range. - PHB pg.222

Usually you select the point of origin, which can be included in the effect or not, but in this case we select the center point, which must be within the area of effect. From this, we can see that a cube 5ft on each side could fit perfectly within one tile of a 5ft grid.

Again, in a comment you said:

we play with the notion that when you select a point you are select a square rather than a location on the grid which could cross into another square or in the middle of two.

Which sounds like snap-to-grid, so you couldn't place the cube on the intersection of two tiles as addressed by this question.

In conclusion:

Cloud of Daggers only effects one tile if we assume everything "snaps to grid."

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Cloud of Daggers always affects four 5' squares.

The square takes the following area on a grid:

Cloud of Dagger in blue, affected squares in red

Image 1: Cloud of Dagger in blue, affected squares in red.

From the rules as written, it cannot take any other shape on the grid.

First, from the DMG page 251, regarding areas of effect:

Choose an intersection of squares or hexes as the point of origin of an area of effect, then follow its rules as normal.

The origin of the Cloud of Dagger spell must be an intersection of squares.

Additionally, from the description of the spell:

You fill the air with spinning daggers in a cube 5 feet on each side, centered on a point you choose within range

Hence the square is centered on its point of origin - which means it occupies the four squares around an intersection of squares.

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