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The Monster Slayer ranger's 7th-level feature, Supernatural Defense (XGtE, p. 43), states:

Whenever the target of your Slayer’s Prey forces you to make a saving throw [...], add 1d6 to your roll.

If you take damage while concentrating on a spell, you must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration.

Does Supernatural Defense provide a bonus to your concentration saving throw, assuming the triggering damage came from the target of your Slayer's Prey feature?

In other words, is the target of your Slayer's Prey forcing you to make the Constitution saving throw? Or are you technically being forced by the damage taken, not by that target?

Some specific examples where the distinction may be relevant:

  • Reoccuring poison damage might be caused by your target's weapon as part of their attack. Would I add 1d6 to every concentration save? Or does it cease to be forced by something other than my opponent after the initial attack?
  • What happens if some other effect my opponent did caused me to take damage, like pushing me off a cliff, or into a trap?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ You may wish to reconsider which answer you accept for this question now that there's an official ruling on it in the Sage Advice Compendium (...though that ruling has yet to be mentioned in the answers themselves, at the moment). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 5 '20 at 2:40
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Officially, the Sage Advice Compendium document states that Supernatural Defense does help with maintaining concentration

Q. Does a Monster Slayer ranger’s Supernatural Defense feature apply if a creature damages the ranger, thus causing the ranger to make a Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration on a spell?

A. Yes.

I am somewhat saddened by this response; it is quite unlike the SAC doc to simply state an answer without any sort of an explanation as to why that is the answer. So while this is the official ruling and is likely also how the feature was intended to work, I do not find the evidence they provided (none) particularly convincing. Below is my original answer to this question, from the evidence I could find:


Personally, I believe that Supernatural Defense does not help with maintaining concentration

From the question "When must the wizard choose to overchannel?", we know that if something says "When you cast a Wizard spell... that deals damage" it does not mean you wait to see if the spell deals damage; you decide to use Overchannel immediately when casting the spell.

Thus we must know whether a spell deals damage before its effects take place (otherwise how would we know what spells are eligible for Overchannel?); the only way to know this is the spell's description. Therefore, a spell that doesn't deal damage normally but happens to move a creature onto a damaging area does not suddenly count as "a spell that deals damage". Whether such an area existed is outside of the spell's control.
What is forcing you to take damage is not the spell, but the area of effect.

The Sorcerer's Careful Spell Metamagic uses similar wording, stating:

When you cast a spell that forces other creatures to make a saving throw, you can protect some of those creatures from the spell’s full force...

Similarly then, we must know whether a spell forces a saving throw before its effects take place (otherwise how would we know what spells are eligible for Careful Spell); the only way to know this is the spell's description. Therefore, a spell that doesn't cause a saving throw normally but happens to damage a creature that is concentrating on a spell does not suddenly count as "a spell that forces a saving throw". Whether the target was concentrating is outside of the spell's control.
What is forcing you to make the saving throw is not the spell, but the damage.

This also prevents the unusual scenario of a Sorcerer using Careful Spell on a spell like firebolt. If the target were concentrating on a spell, and firebolt counted as forcing them to make a saving throw, then the Sorcerer could use Careful Spell but it would have no effect whatsoever. Though this isn't necessarily disallowed, it is exceptionally odd and points towards saving throws to maintain concentration not counting as having been forced by the spell.


I don't see any greater link between a spell happening to move a creature onto a damaging area and a spell happening to damage a creature that is concentrating on a spell (neither results are under the spell's control as they rely on outside forces). So if a spell resulting in a saving throw to maintain concentration counted as "a spell that forces a saving throw" then a spell which moves a creature onto a damaging area would count as "a spell that deals damage", which is almost certainly incorrect.

I believe that a spell only forces a creature to make a saving throw if the saving throw is part of the spell's description, not if it just happens to result in a saving throw being made.

All of this argument extends to the Hunter feature:
A creature moving you onto a damaging area of effect would not count as them forcing you to take damage and a creature damaging you would not count as them forcing you to make a saving throw to maintain concentration. It was not in their control whether the damaging area exists or whether you are concentrating on a spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This question is now explicitly addressed in the latest Sage Advice Compendium: "Does a Monster Slayer ranger’s Supernatural Defense feature apply if a creature damages the ranger, thus causing the ranger to make a Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration on a spell? Yes." You may want to update your answer accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 4 '20 at 8:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I still like this answer, and would rather delete it than update it to be effectively no more than a single quote that ultimately just reaches the same conclusion as a far more upvoted other answer to this question \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Oct 4 '20 at 13:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I mean, you don't have to delete the whole thing. If you still favor the interpretation in the answer, you could address the SAC's ruling and why you find it to be wrong/unsatisfying/just not as fun as your interpretation (as the case may be). Either way, it makes the answer stronger to address the counterargument and why you disagree with it. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 5 '20 at 2:38
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Supernatural Defense benefits concentration.

This is addressed in the Sage Advice Compendium, which states:

Does a Monster Slayer ranger’s Supernatural Defense feature apply if a creature damages the ranger, thus causing the ranger to make a Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration on a spell?

Yes.

It benefits concentration, because there is no difference relevant to Supernatural Defense between concentration and other sources of saves like spells, features, and monster abilities.

The Monster Slayer ranger's Supernatural Defense feature states that (XGtE, p. 43):

At 7th level, you gain extra resilience against your prey's assaults on your mind and body. Whenever the target of your Slayer's Prey forces you to make a saving throw and whenever you make an ability check to escape that target's grapple, add 1d6 to your roll.

Whereas the rules for concentration state that:

Whenever you take damage while you are concentrating on a spell, you must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain your concentration. The DC equals 10 or half the damage you take, whichever number is higher.

There is no strict definition of "when [a creature] forces you to make a saving throw". There is a great variety of spells, features, or monster abilities, etc. which clearly trigger Supernatural Defense. What all those examples have in common, they also have in common with concentration: you follow a series rules to adjudicate something done by the prey and one of those rules demands that the ranger makes a saving throw.

Moreover, this is well within Supernatural Defense's flavor. After all, the damage is certainly an assault on your body, while the attempt to break your concentration is an assault on your mind.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There are other similar wordings such as the Whisper Bard's Shadow Lore feature which states: "On a failed saving throw, the target is charmed... until you or your allies... force it to make a saving throw.". Also the Arcane Archer's Beguiling Arrow, and the Careful and Heightened Spell Metamagics \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Sep 10 '19 at 5:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast thanks for pointing that out, I have updated it accordingly \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruse
    Oct 6 '20 at 21:31

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