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To cast cube-shaped spells,

You select a cube's point of origin, which lies anywhere on a face of the cubic effect.

After looking through a multitude of other questions regarding Thunderwave (see 1, 2, 3), which has a range of self, it seems to be general consensus that you can cast Thunderwave as the picture below shows.

enter image description here

But the thing is, this means you have a range of 5ft for casting it, doesn't it? Your point of origin is the square 5ft in front of you. I just assumed that a range of self meant something like this.

enter image description here

You wouldn't take damage since:

A cube's point of origin is not included in the cube's area of effect, unless you decide otherwise.

In order for both these images to be possible casts of Thunderwave, a range of self and a 5ft are the same. Is this interpretation correct?

PS: I didn't show the cube to have 15ft height, but that's to keep things simple. Assume the cube has the proper height, but for this question, we are focusing on the bottom third of it.

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Yes, there is a difference

Or rather, No, your interpretation is incorrect.

First of all, let's look at the rules really quick.

Area of Effect on a Grid, DMG (I don't have the DMG in DnD Beyond, so this excerpt is from Xanathars)

Choose an intersection of squares as the point of origin of an area of effect, then follow the rules for that kind of area as normal (see the “Areas of Effect” section in chapter 10 of the Player’s Handbook). If an area of effect is circular and covers at least half a square, it affects that square.

So by the very nature of using a grid template, you're bound by the rules of choosing an intersection as the point of origin. Your character sits at the center of a square and occupies the entire square. The edges and corners of your square are 0 feet. The next square over, those far edges are all 5 feet away (including diagonals). Similarly, most characters have a melee reach of 5 feet which extends out towards the adjacent 8 squares. When creatures move out of those tiles, opportunity attacks are provoked. Range is always calculated from your tile boundary outwards and excludes the tile that the edges the range touches belong to. So 5 feet from your edge is another edge, but it excludes the next tile over. In this way, you can count the squares in a typical 5-foot grid system to calculate range.

So, a range of self is actually the "5-foot" range image you posted, since you are choosing a corner 0 feet away. If you had a 5-foot range, you could choose the intersection of any square up to 5 feet away, effectively moving the effect one tile away from yourself.

Remember that your point or origin is not always centered on a face of a cube, but rather anywhere on any face of that cube. So you must always pick a corner as the origin, but you could "translate" that cube any way you'd like.

Areas of Effect, Cube, PHB

You select a cube's point of origin, which lies anywhere on a face of the cubic effect. The cube's size is expressed as the length of each side.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ No. Self is literally self. 5ft is literally 5ft, and thunderwave is litterally a 15-foot-cube AoE. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Apr 1 at 22:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.A.Streich Exactly, so place the origin on an intersection, per the rules in the DMG. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Apr 1 at 22:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I miss read part of your answer. I see we're saying the same thing different ways. I thought you were arguing that he was wrong in a different way which was also wrong -- but you are right. Except I can't take back my down vote until an edit. I'll keep an eye for one. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Apr 1 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand the So you must always pick a corner as the origin, part. Can you clarify? \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Apr 2 at 8:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov Ah, you mean a corner of "the grid square you are standing on" as the origin. I understand now \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Apr 2 at 15:25
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Thunderwave has two ranges

Thunderwave has two ranges:

Thunderwave

Range: Self (15-foot cube)

Self

The first part says you are the target. So you cast thunderwave on yourself. The self part it can target only you (this is different from affecting only you, as the second range will show):

Other spells, such as the shield spell, affect only you. These spells have a range of self.

This does not affect where the cube appears.

15-foot-cube

The second range says the area of effect ("A wave of thunderous force sweeps out from you. Each creature in a 15-foot cube originating from you") is a 15 foot cube with you at the origin, following the targeting rules in the Basic Rule or PHB.

You select a cube's point of origin, which lies anywhere on a face of the cubic effect. The cube's size is expressed as the length of each side.

A cube's point of origin is not included in the cube's area of effect, unless you decide otherwise.

So the cube can look like either of the images you posted at your choice, but neither of those is a range of "5ft" or "self." They both depict the squares of a 15 foot cube. Not that it is a cube, so both of those would also be 15 feet high as well, but you said as much in your PS.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "This does not effect where the other range appears except that spells says you are the origin." - I'm not sure what this sentence is trying to say. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 2 at 5:33

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