The Wild Magic sorcerer's 6th-level Bend Luck feature (PHB, p. 103) states:

When another creature you can see makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw, you can use your reaction and spend 2 sorcery points to roll 1d4 and apply the number rolled as a bonus or penalty (your choice) to the creature’s roll. You can do so after the creature rolls but before any effects of the roll occur.

This indicates that Bend Luck can be used after the die roll in question is made. However, it is unclear whether you can use it after it has been announced whether a roll passes or fails.

As a concrete and realistic example, suppose a monster makes a saving throw against the Sorcerer's fireball. The DM rolls the saving throw. The DM declares whether the save passes or fails, based on their knowledge of the monster's stats and what the player says the save DC is. The DM then applies damage and other effects to the monster if applicable then moves on to the next action.

What is the latest point in that sequence of events when the player can use Bend Luck?

Note that if the DM rolls in secret behind a screen (as I do) then the player does not know the result on the die until the DM announces it, and even then they often only announce a pass/fail result. This can make the timing tricky if we treat it like Bardic Inspiration, which must be used before the pass/fail result is announced.

If the player must decide to use Bend Luck before the result is announced, then this is essentially the same as having to use Bend Luck before the roll was made (unless the DM publicly announces all their rolls, but that would slow things down and then what's the point of the DM screen?).

If the choice can be made after the pass/fail result is announced, then this is more useful. As a corollary, though, how should the player be informed of the die result, if at all, for them to make an informed decision about whether to use Bend Luck?

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Before the effects of the roll occur

The "effect" of the roll are not whether a creature saves or fails, it is the application of the consequences of that roll. In this case, it's whether or not the creature gets a fireball to the face.

So, as a sequence of events:

  • Sorcerer casts fireball
  • Creature rolls to save
  • Outcome is determined (save)
  • Bend Luck is applied (d4 is rolled and added to/detracted from the creatures save)
  • Creature then receives a fireball in the face, depending on the outcome of the roll.

Since there is no real degree of how well a creature might succeed or fail on said roll, the only evidence of the outcome that is needed is just success or failure. Since you, the DM do know the outcome of the creature's save, you can still make the calculation, without revealing the numbers.

From the players perspective, Bend Luck does require more specific knowledge, so as to determine whether or not the application of the ability is even worthwhile. Again, this doesn't need the numbers - you can let the player know whether or not Bend Luck would even be worthwhile. Perhaps you could employ a phrase like "Bendable" when the situation can be altered by the Bend Luck ability.

In this situation, this is really the only place that this can be applied - it is both the earliest and the latest it can be applied to the situation.

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    Answer should be edited to clarify the creature would not re-roll. The sorcerer rolls 1d4 and applies it +/- to the creature's d20 roll. – lightcat Oct 3 at 4:50
  • Can the sorcerer know the result of the creature's natural roll, as well as knowing whether the creature passed or failed the saving throw? The question specifically talks about rolls made in secret. – Clearly Toughpick Oct 3 at 7:30
  • @ClearlyToughpick it is required that the DM inform the player whether the creature succeeded or failed. If they don't know, they won't know whether or not to roll for damage. I also addressed the rolls made in secret - the number is not important. Only the success/failure – Ben Oct 3 at 7:33
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    @Ben: Surely the number is important. If the roll was passed/failed by more than 4 then there is no point using Bend Luck. Is it your opinion that sometimes the player is just expected to waste this ability (which is fine, I just feel this point is missing from your answer). – Chris Oct 3 at 9:07
  • @Chris: Officially, that's the risk. Nothing in the rules specifies that you know the exact number of the original roll when you use a feature like Bend Luck - or Cutting Words, or the Shield spell - though many DMs are lenient and do let the player know the actual roll so that the player doesn't feel like it's wasted. (Contrast this with the Valor bard's Combat Inspiration, which says "it can use its reaction to roll the Bardic Inspiration die and add the number rolled to its AC against that attack, after seeing the roll but before knowing whether it hits or misses.") – V2Blast Oct 4 at 1:06

The DM should declare the result (Number) of the roll, not just the pass/ fail.

The reason is that if the player does not know the roll they have no agency to decide if it will be a good use of a power or not.

What is the point of bending fate when the roll is more than 4 away from the desired result?

The idea is the the player does not know what modifiers you are going to apply, so they are not certain that the roll is good enough or not, so they are still taking a chance, but it can be an educated choice not just a shot in the dark.

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    I can agree with that, but at the same time, the DM can also simply state that Bend Will just won't work - the difference is too great. – Ben Oct 3 at 7:41
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    @Ben that still takes away the ability to choose, a player does not know the final number they need to hit and being able to make a choice that is completely wrong is part of that. – SeriousBri Oct 3 at 7:59
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    Or at least some kind of qualitative "just barely avoids" or "easily avoids", for DMs that really don't want to get numeric. – Peter Cordes Oct 3 at 10:29
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    "Agency" does not mean "guaranteed result". The player can choose to take a risk on using the ability or not without knowing the exact number rolled. Indeed, because the roll is adjusted by d4 points, the player is already taking a risk that the ability might be "wasted" any time they use it on a roll which was made or failed by more than 1 point. (I do agree that there should be some accommodation to recognize that the player may be expending a resource pointlessly, but the reason is the resource economy, not "agency". Personally, I'd deal with it by reducing the SP cost from 2 to 1.) – Dave Sherohman Oct 3 at 10:56
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    Agency is when a player can take an action in response to information provided. If you don't provide information, or don't allow them to act upon it, or force a situation regardless then you are stealing agency. Informed decisions, not blind decisions. – SeriousBri Oct 3 at 10:58

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