When reading the wording for the Word of Radiance cantrip, it says:

Each creature of your choice that you can see must pass a Constitution save or take 1d6 radiant damage.

Let's say that my cleric is standing in an open area with enemies within 5 feet on all sides. How would I be able to hit enemies behind me at the point of casting? The whole point of the spell is to hit everyone around you, and it is purposefully not a cone, but it seems like there is no way to have line of sight 360 degrees around you.

The only [mainly flavor] explanation is that it works because the character can spin around 360 degrees during the casting time to "see" the targets behind them.

5e lacks official flanking rules, so is there any clarification on the interaction between line of sight and positioning in cases like this?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you using the variant facing rules from the DMG? Or just the default rules? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Sep 12, 2018 at 0:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Using default rules. The variant rules explain that in this situation, the spell would only hit those in the caster's facing arc. \$\endgroup\$
    – DarkerJona
    Sep 12, 2018 at 0:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarkerJona the default rules don't say that, so... \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Sep 12, 2018 at 7:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ "That you can see" not "That you do see". The spell requires the ability to see the target (e.g. nothing between you and it that could prevent your ability to see it, and you not being blinded or the like), not that you have to be staring at all targets. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doc
    Sep 12, 2018 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


The rules assume that facing direction doesn't matter.

Therefore they routinely use "creature you can see" to mean "creature you could see, if you were to look in that direction". For example, opportunity attacks trigger when "a creature you can see" moves out of your reach.

If the spell was intended to operate only in the direction the caster is looking at the moment, it would be a cone. Since it's not, we should assume it radiates in all directions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this (correct, IMO) answer would be stronger if it included the bit about "a combat round assumes movement and awareness of things all around you" from the PHB. I'm away from my books at the moment, or I'd find it for you. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Sep 12, 2018 at 0:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ It may help OP to cite the variant facing rules as there is an official option if they want to use it. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 12, 2018 at 0:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I don't see what purpose that would serve. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Sep 12, 2018 at 1:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nitsua60's citation gives a direct quote from the PHB as support for your argument. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 12, 2018 at 1:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ DMG p 250 also has some nice example pictures to help establish line of sight \$\endgroup\$ Sep 16, 2018 at 19:41

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