The second bullet point of the Spell Sniper feat says:

Your ranged spell attacks ignore half cover and three-quarters cover.

What is a "ranged spell attack", in this case?
Does that mean ranged spells that have an attack roll, or ranged spells that deal damage?

Or, to get right to the point: does Spell Sniper allow my fireball to ignore the bonus to Dexterity saving throws that cover normally affords?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Side note: Given that a fireball spell spreads around corners, does partial (or even full) cover actually help at all against it? \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Jan 30 '19 at 3:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RyanThompson It doesn't say cover doesn't help. Apply the appropriate level of physical reasoning for your player group. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jan 30 '19 at 17:51

Spells that use ranged spell attacks will say that.

A ranged spell attack is a ranged attack roll1 to hit with a spell. Eldritch blast, for example, says "Make a ranged spell attack."

Spells that have attack rolls typically don't allow saves (not against their main effect, at least). Like any attack roll, the difficulty for a spell attack roll is based on the target's AC and gets a bonus for partial cover. Spell Sniper negates that bonus.

1Attack Rolls

When you make an attack, your attack roll determines whether the attack hits or misses. To make an attack roll, roll a d20 and add the appropriate modifiers. {snip} Some spells also require an attack roll. The ability modifier used for a spell attack depends on the spellcasting ability of the spellcaster, as explained in chapter 10. (Basic Rules, p. 76) - Some spells require the caster to make an attack roll to determine whether the spell effect hits the intended target. Your attack bonus with a spell attack equals your spellcasting ability modifier + your proficiency bonus. (Basic Rules, p. 85)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Solid answer, I just added a ref. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 30 '19 at 4:01

Throughout the Player's Handbook, the phrase "spell attack" is used to specifically refer to spells that have an attack roll, including in the spellcasting class descriptions where it specifies your spell attack bonus as distinct from your spell save DC. A "ranged spell attack" is a spell that has a range longer than touch and has an attack roll.


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