I'm preparing to play a certain, popular lich and am going through possible spell combos that he would use on the players.

One in particular I want to use is Time Stop + Cloudkill + Chain Lightning (It's too bad Wall of Force is also concentration - I would love to trap them in with the Cloudkill).

Now, Cloudkill is one of those spells that seems to fall under the fuzzy ruling of delayed AoE spells, like Cloud of Daggers or Moonbeam, which have the confusing ruling of only dealing damage when the creature enters the AoE and starts its turn there.

This makes me wonder how it interacts with Time Stop, which has this stipulation:

This spell ends if one of the actions you use during this period, or any effects that you create during this period, affects a creature other than you or an object being worn or carried by someone other than you.

Emphasis mine. Because Cloudkill and like AoE spells have been ruled to not deal damage, and thus affect creatures until the start of their turn, does this mean that casting Cloudkill right atop them doesn't break the Time Stop? (at least until I cast something like Chain Lightning)


3 Answers 3


Casting cloudkill doesn't break time stop.

Time stop doesn't break when you do something that affects a creature; it breaks when something you do affects a creature. The active verb is "affects". It breaks at the time the creature is affected, not before.

(Besides which, we don't know that the creature is going to be affected until it happens. What if you cast a spell that requires a save, and they make their save?)

The logic of the delayed-AoE spells like cloudkill is that the creature gets hit once on each of its turns that it spends any time inside the AoE. Until time stop breaks, the amount of time the creature has been in the cloud is zero, because time is stopped.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure I follow this answer. Your second line, what if a creature makes their save implies that I can cast Phantasmal Force, Dominate Person, and Tasha's Hideous Laughter and if they make each save I the spell is not broken. Also, I think that if the creature is forced to make a save immediately, that counts as affecting the creature. I also fail to really understand the difference in your first sentence. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nicbobo
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 0:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would agree. If I cast dominate person and you make your save, then the spell doesn't affect you, just like if I attack you and miss, the attack doesn't affect you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 0:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a subtle distinction. Let's see if this helps: It doesn't break when "you do (something that affects a creature)"; it breaks when "(something you do) affects a creature". \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 0:39

Time Stop is yet another poorly written 5e spell requiring some DM adjudication. The key question is whether a spell or effect engaged during the time stop "affects" another creature.

2 Interpretations:

  1. Does a spell or effect that you use "affect" another creature at all? If so, then it ends the Time Stop.
  2. Does a spell or effect that you use "affect" another creature during the Time Stop? If so, then the Time Stop ends.

My view is that the most reasonable interpretation of this spell is interpretation 2, as the spell obviously contemplates spell effects which may affect another during the Time Stop, or which may not (potentially eliminating interpretation 1). If we use this interpretation, spells like Moonbeam or Cloudkill wouldn't affect others during the Time Stop because the spell doesn't do anything to them until the start of their next turn. Casting spells which affect other creatures at the beginning or end of their turn would not end Time Stop.


Cloudkill states:

When a creature enters the spell's area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, that creature must make a Constitution saving throw.

As the affected creatures aren't experiencing a turn, they aren't entering the Cloudkill. This means they take no damage until the Time Stop is over.

A spell I would recommend is Delayed Blast Fireball, which would be a minimum of 14d6 and guaranteed max of 17d6.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem with Delayed Blast Fireball is that even 17d6 [avg 59.5] AoE fire damage is not very much by the time you're using 9th level slots. Best case scenario, you're looking at Delayed Blast Fireball + Teleport (or similar) so you can escape, but even if you stack up 2 AoE spells you're better off just casting Meteor Swarm for 40d6 damage [avg 140] (and then you only use 1 level 9 slot instead multiple slot instead of several). Incendiary Cloud + Forcecage + Teleport is much better, doing 10d8 [avg 45] damage each round for 10 rounds [450 average total damage]. \$\endgroup\$
    – James
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 2:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Incendiary Cloud doesn't work with Time Stop the way Delayed Blast Fireball does: "When the cloud appears, each creature in it must make a Dexterity saving throw" means Time Stop ends. \$\endgroup\$
    – CapnZapp
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 14:02

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