A lich listed in a WotC Adventure can cast wall of force.

More specifically the Archlich in Tomb of Annihiliation

We are trying to determine what the lich could do if it were to cast a spherical Wall of Force around itself.

Wall of force creates a barrier indestructable to physical attacks but also transparent.

According to answers in this question, spells require a direct connection from their caster to their target. Additionally, if we understand correctly, Jeremy Crawford has also ruled that transparent walls create Total Cover (i.e. he said that sight is not a requirement.) Thus, given that spells cannot target targets under Total Cover, even targets that are seen cannot be targeted with spells. Lastly, as described in the answer, the only spell that ignores cover is sacred flame.

Do these interpretations mean that everything outside of a spherical wall of force is under Total Cover to a creature inside of it (and thus untargetable with spells except for sacred flame) - and does that mean that not only spells but also Gaze Effects are ineffective as well?

  • \$\begingroup\$ "The question is - do these interpretations mean". So is the question about how gaze effects work, or is it about Jeremy Crawford? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 19:46
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells My reading of the question was that we know that spell targeting is foiled by total cover and they are asking if Gaze effects would fall under the same cover constraints. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 19:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I have tweeted Jeremy Crawford to attempt to get a clearer answer to this: twitter.com/Carminis_Vigil/status/1091327224140185603 \$\endgroup\$
    – Vigil
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 13:28

2 Answers 2


The rules are unclear for the lich.

The Lich's "gaze effect" is this:

Frightening Gaze (Costs 2 Actions). The lich fixes its gaze on one creature it can see within 10 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or become frightened for 1 minute. The frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a target's saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the target is immune to the lich's gaze for the next 24 hours.

You correctly observe that this is not a spell.

The lich has to fix its gaze on the victim, which suggests a more intense version of just looking at them. You can look at someone through a glass window, but can you fix your gaze on them? It's hard to say.

For other "gaze" attacks, it's more clear.

There are other gazes that use different language. The Medusa, for example:

Petrifying Gaze. When a creature that can see the medusa's eyes starts its turn within 30 feet of the medusa, the medusa can force it to make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw if the medusa isn't incapacitated and can see the creature.

The Basilisk is almost identical:

Petrifying Gaze. If a creature starts its turn within 30 feet of the basilisk and the two of them can see each other, the basilisk can force the creature to make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw if the basilisk isn't incapacitated.

Or the Nothic:

Rotting Gaze. The nothic targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw against this magic or take 10 (3d6) necrotic damage.

Note all of these explicitly require the monster to see the victim (and sometimes for the victim to see the monster) but not to interact with it in any other way. By definition, a transparent barrier can be seen through, so they work.

All of these are called "[Something] Gaze", so I'd take them as establishing a pattern that should apply to gaze attacks in general, but that's a little less solid.


Yes, gaze attacks work through a wall of force

Gaze attacks are not spells and do not require line of effect. They merely require that the attacker can see the target (or that the target can see the creature that has a gaze attack, depending on the individual monster in question).

Since wall of force is transparent, it does not hinder seeing, and therefore gaze attacks work through it.

When game terms are not defined, we are to use the normal English interpretation. The dictionary defines fix ones eyes/gaze/stare upon as

to look at (someone or something) steadily

There is no reason why the lich cannot do that through a transparent obstacle, if it can do it otherwise. So also the lich's gaze attack will work.


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