6
\$\begingroup\$

One of my players (a gnome wizard) recently picked the War Caster feat and took the spell vampiric touch to combine it with. Now there's some debate on if this is even an option, so my question is twofold:

  1. Is it possible to cast vampiric touch as a reaction using the War Caster feat?
  2. If not, would it be imbalanced to allow it?
\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related question. More specificaly, this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – AntiDrondert Oct 3 '18 at 6:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AntiDrondert: That answer seems to have been deleted by the user since you commented. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 4 '18 at 0:58
7
\$\begingroup\$

Vampiric Touch is not usable with the War Caster Feat

Although Vampiric Touch is ambiguous in some ways (Who is the target? Is it a spell attack?) the War Caster Feat is very clear.

(PHB 285)

Vampiric Touch

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Self

The touch of your shadow-wreathed hand can siphon life force from others to heal your wounds. Make a melee spell attack against a creature within your reach. On a hit, the target takes 3d6 necrotic damage, and you regain hit points equal to half the amount of necrotic damage dealt.

The range of Vampiric Touch is either Self as written, or it is Self and One Creature as the description explains. Either way it is invalidated from use with the War Caster Feat.

(PHB 170, emphasis mine)

War Caster ... you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack. The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.

War Caster clearly states the spell must target "only that creature." Vampiric Touch does not target "only that creature" and cannot be used with this feat.

Would it be imbalanced to allow it?

That depends on how you allow it. The War Caster Feat could allow this 1-minute-long concentration spell to be used as both a reaction and an action each round for ten rounds, depending how you rule that. With hits that would come out to 6d6 + half that regained in HP per round for a 5th level wizard, and all for only one spell slot over ten rounds (assuming concentration is maintained). I might rule that if it's cast as a reaction it stays as a reaction, and if it's cast as an action it stays as an action. Though you could tell your player that you're willing to try it out and see how it goes.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, but I'd like to add that though Vampiric Touch is ambiguous, it's understandable: the Self range is given by the fact that you are indeed affected by the spell, since you're healed if the attack it grants hits. Thus, it effectively affects two creatures: the one hit by your melee spell attack, which suffers necrotic damage, and your character, who gets healed by half of that damage. \$\endgroup\$ – StackLloyd Aug 21 at 8:06
4
\$\begingroup\$

No, War Caster doesn't allow Vampiric Touch as an Opportunity Attack

Vampiric touch says (PHB, pg. 285):

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Self

...

Make a melee spell attack against a creature within your reach.

...

Until the spell ends, you can make the attack again on each of your turns as an action.

The War Caster feat says (PHB, pg. 170):

When a hostile creature's movement provokes an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack. The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.

So War Caster needs the spell to have a casting time of 1 action (check) and needs to only attack one creature, but the spell has a range of self, so what is range?

The Range section says (PHB, pg. 202):

Most spells have a range expressed in feet. Some spells can target only one creature (including you) that you touch. Other spells, such as the shield spell, affect only you. These spells have a range of self.

This seems to split Touch range and Self range spells, and specifies that, although vampiric touch has you make a melee spell attack against a creature, the spell itself only affects you. Therefore, due to the range of the spell, you could not cast vampiric touch for your opportunity attack via War Caster, because War Caster needs a spell that targets a creature, not yourself.


However, once cast, you can use Vampiric Touch for Opportunity Attacks

That's when the spell is first cast. What about if the spell is still active from before (assuming you are maintaining concentration)?

The Opportunity Attacks section says (PHB, pg. 195):

You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach. To make the opportunity attack, you use your reaction to make one melee attack against the provoking creature.

Since vampiric touch only requires you to make a melee attack, this should be fine, since the opportunity attack rules do not specify melee weapon attack.

However, the last part of the quote I've included for vampiric touch says "as an action". But it seems to me that the rules for an opportunity attack are more specific than those of normal combat actions, since you're being allowed to make attacks outside of your turn, whereas the description of vampiric touch is describing normal "on your turn" combat.

Hence I conclude that you can keep using vampiric touch for opportunity attacks for as long as the spell is active.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ War Caster doesn't let you cast a spell as an opportunity attack; it lets you cast a spell in place of an opportunity attack. The feat itself says this: "When a hostile creature's movement provokes an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 4 '18 at 0:59
2
\$\begingroup\$

No, Vampiric Touch is not allowable using War Caster

The immediate reason for this is because Vampiric Touch is declared as:

Range: Self

The War Caster feat explicitly says:

When a hostile creature's movement provokes an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack. The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.

The fact that the Vampiric Spell also allows you to make a melee spell attack in the same action as casting is irrelevant here because it is the range of "self" that is important.

Rationalisation:

The fact that Vampiric Touch is a long lasting concentration spell that allows you to make repeated melee spell attacks indicates that this really is a spell you are casting on yourself and which gives you the ability to make life-draining attacks with your 'empowered hand' for the duration.

However

A melee spell attack is also a melee attack. So this possibly means that in subsequent rounds, as long as Vampiric Touch is active, you could use this attack for Opportunity Attacks (the War Caster feat wouldn't even be necessary for this - its just a melee attack!).

This, however, may need DM confirmation. The spell states "you can make the attack again on each of your turns as an action". Whereas Opportunity Attacks require a reaction....except the melee attacks are typically actions anyway with the Opportunity Attack rule specifically overriding this. It depends on whether you count the Opportunity Attack rule or the spell as the specific rule that overrides the general reaction requirement.

(Personally, I wouldn't see it as particularly game-breaking to allow it).

\$\endgroup\$
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The spell specifically indicates you can only make the attack as an action on subsequent turns. "Until the spell ends, you can make the attack again on each of your turns as an action." It cannot be used as a reaction unless you have a homebrew War Caster Feat. You should edit that in your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Oct 3 '18 at 10:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @lightcat. Possibly. Making any attack is normally an action though, but the Opportunity Attack rule is a specific rule that overrides this, stating "you may use your reaction to make one melee attack". I agree this is where it gets a bit vague though. I'll edit my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Oct 3 '18 at 10:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ: War Caster changes nothing about how the spell works except its initial casting time. Also, War Caster doesn't let you cast a spell as an opportunity attack; it lets you cast a spell in place of an opportunity attack. The feat itself says this: "When a hostile creature's movement provokes an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 4 '18 at 1:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.