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In D&D 3.5 fear is a very fun mechanic, typically the province of enemies but also something you can build a character concept around. Rather than describe all the rules here, I'll link to this handbook on how fear works and how best to use it. This specific question is about the capstone ability for fear-based prestige class Dread Witch:

Reflective Fear (Su): At 5th level, any fear effect against which you successfully save is immediately targeted back at the source. You still gain the benefits of absorb fear. If the source of the fear effect fails its save, everyone else who might have been subject to the fear effect (such as your companions) immediately gains a second saving throw to shake off the effects, as they observe the object of their fear itself grow terrified.

I love this ability, but there are a lot of cases where it's not clear exactly how it works. If a spell both causes a "fear effect" and does something else - either natively or because a fear effect has been added with Fearful Empowerment (another Dread Witch ability) or the Fell Frighten metamagic, for example - is only the fear portion of the spell reflected, or is the entire spell the "fear effect" and thus reflected? What about AOE: the effect is "targeted" back on its source, so does that mean only the caster is affected or that the spell affects everyone in a normal radius centered on the original caster? Last but not least, are metamagics that were applied to the original ability also reflected, and if so is the caster or the Dread Witch in control of metamagics like Chain Spell (which allows a single-target spell to target multiple nearby creatures, typically of the caster's choice)?

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A spell is a magical incantation, a casting of a spell is actually gathering up and releasing the magic needed, and an effect refers to the results of the casting. Once cast, it is usually the effect that has to be dispelled, not the spell itself (the spell simply being words in a book).

Some spells do require concentration, but technically that's simply maintaining the magic that was put in to the spell, which is more like "continued casting". For those spells, you can say that the casting and the effects are tightly coupled, but for most spells, the effects continue after the spell has been cast.

In many cases, this distinction does not matter, as most spells have only one effect, so they're often referred to interchangeably, but in this case, the distinction is necessary.

...is only the fear portion of the spell reflected, or is the entire spell the "fear effect" and thus reflected?

If multiple effects are generated from a spell (e.g. because of Fearful Empowerment), they are each handled separately. Reflective Fear affects only fear effects that directly comes in contact with your character.

What about AOE: the effect is "targeted" back on its source, so does that mean only the caster is affected or that the spell affects everyone in a normal radius centered on the original caster?

If multiple targets are affected by a fear effect from a spell, each individual effect on each target is an instance ("copy") of an effect. The only instances that are affected by Reflective Fear are those that target a character with this ability.

So, by way of example, a party of four are hit with a Fearful Empowered spell. Four instances of fear means four Will saves are now required. Presuming the Reflective Fear user makes their save, the effect is then redirected back to the original caster, and they must also make a Will save.

If the caster fails, then the other three in the party, if any failed, are allowed a second chance to Will save again. No more than four people will end up with a fear effect on them, because there are four instances of fear to go around.

Last but not least, are metamagics that were applied to the original ability also reflected, and if so is the caster or the Dread Witch in control of metamagics like Chain Spell (which allows a single-target spell to target multiple nearby creatures, typically of the caster's choice)?

Nobody. Metamagic features modify the casting of the spell (silence, fast, etc). There is no new spell being cast, so there's no new metamagic involved.

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