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The spell Holy Weapon empower a "weapon you touch" to do extra damage (2d8 radaint per hit) and shed light (30 feet bright light, 30 feet dim light). It has one final feature (XGtE, p. 157, bold added):

As a bonus action on your turn, you can dismiss this spell and cause the weapon to emit a burst of radiance. Each creature of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of you must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 4d8 radiant damage, and it is blinded for 1 minute.

Now, note that unlike some spells (like Shillelagh), this spell doesn't end if you are no longer touching the weapon you cast it upon. So you could conceivably cast this spell on an ally's weapon (say, if you're a cleric and you have a fighter ally who attacks many times in one turn). If you did this, I found myself wondering where the "burst of radiance" would be centered: on the spellcaster, or on the weapon?

In seemed unambiguous at first, since every time a spell mentions "you", it's referring to the caster. But at the same time, the spell says that the burst of radiance comes from the weapon, so I became unsure.

So how would you rule this? If the person who casts Holy Weapon is far away from the weapon when they activate the "burst of radiance" where is the burst centered? On the spellcaster, or on the weapon?

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The burst is intended to originate from the weapon.

Xanathar's Guide to Everything's lead designer and managing editor Jeremy Crawford noted on Twitter:

The explosion of the holy weapon spell originates from the weapon, not the spellcaster. The text that says otherwise will be corrected in a future printing. #DnD

The text may or may not yet be corrected in the entry for holy weapon on D&D Beyond or current printings of the book, but either way, that will require an additional purchase.

Currently, there is no errata available online for Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

Despite preferring RAW, I would rule it originates from the weapon.

Though I tend to rule fairly strictly to the rules text, this spell's description has a clear mistake that also violates the fiction and flavor of the spell. I have played with both interpretations (before noticing the error and after), and I don't think changing the burst's origin significantly changes the power of the spell.

What if I want me to burst?

If I had a player who was strongly attached to the literal text interpretation, I would allow it, so long as the burst's origin is consistent. I would not allow the added flexibility of choosing the burst's origin spontaneously.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Important to note that JC's tweets are nonbinding and not official anymore. He made that tweet in March of 2018 - ample time for them to have released the errata for it in November of 2018 had they actually intended to. The fact that they didn't throws some doubt on his statement. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 9 at 19:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch, I agree that the rules text can't be considered modified until WotC releases an official update (via errata, updated printing, or Sage Advice Compendium), but my answer is about the author's intent, for which a directly relevant quote from the book's lead designer and managing editor must be sufficient. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Clark Apr 9 at 21:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have XGE on Beyond, and can confirm that the text there has been updated to read "you can dismiss this spell and cause the weapon to emit a burst of radiance." \$\endgroup\$ – anaximander Apr 10 at 8:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @anaximander It's the next line that has the error: "Each creature of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of you". The distance should be relevant to the weapon. Can you confirm that part has been changed? \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Clark Apr 10 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoshClark Ah, good catch - that part has not been changed. I guess they're waiting for an official errata. \$\endgroup\$ – anaximander Apr 10 at 14:59
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Oddly enough, it's you

As you've quoted, the specifics are within 30' of you and not within 30' of the weapon. Even though it talks about weapon emitting the radiant damage, the spell is clear that it only affects creatures within 30' of you (the caster.)

Ruling otherwise

I think a roleplay case could be made for using the weapon as the point, but that may give 'more range' to the damage than originally assumed and removes your own risk of being close to whatever it is you want to damage. This may be minimal, but you could easily 'game' this by having something like an unseen servant or some other creature deliver the weapon to it's explosion point and turn this into a remotely detonated bomb. Having said that, I don't think it'll be gamebreaking to have it emit from the weapon, but if you're looking at the RAW, then the caster is the centerpoint.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you feel that this is an unbalancing "gaming" of the spell? A fifth level spell slot seems a high price to pay for 4d8 damage in a 30 foot radius, even if you could remotely detonate it (especially since you still would need to see the creatures being damaged by the spell). \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Apr 9 at 19:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme I'm honestly not sure, but figuring out if you'd still need to see them (or if it'd just default to all creatures) seems like another area you'd need to houserule to figure out. I'm not sure if it's unbalancing, but trying to do it just raises more questions. It feels like the intent is for the caster to be wielding it and trying to figure out ways around that seem odd. But I have no basis to back that up (which is why I didn't include it in my answer) :) Also why I focused on the answer and a concern about homebrewing a new solution. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 9 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme I also want to add that I think the 4d8 damage is the 'soft' part of that effect. Blinding them is a big deal. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 9 at 19:22
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The RAI (and revised RAW) is that the Weapon is the origin of the Damage + Blindness, not the Spellcaster

Jeremy Crawford has confirmed that the text in Holy Weapon is a mistake, and would be corrected in future printings:

The explosion of the holy weapon spell originates from the weapon, not the spellcaster. The text that says otherwise will be corrected in a future printing. #DnD

Jeremy Crawford, Twitter, 2018-03-14@6:37PM EDT

I don't know if the revised version has already been printed, or if Errata has been released, or what the revised wording will look like. I predict, however, it'll probably be something like this:

You imbue a weapon you touch with holy power. Until the spell ends, the weapon emits bright light in a 30-foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet. In addition, weapon attacks made with it deal an extra 2d8 radiant damage on a hit. If the weapon isn't already a magic weapon, it becomes one for the duration.

As a bonus action on your turn, you can dismiss this spell and cause the weapon to emit a burst of radiance. Each creature of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of you the weapon must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 4d8 radiant damage, and it is blinded for 1 minute. On a successful save, a creature takes half as much damage and isn't blinded. At the end of each of its turns, a blinded creature can make a Constitution saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Possible Holy Weapon Revision

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    \$\begingroup\$ "I don't know if the revised version has already been printed, or if Errata has been released" - it has not. There has not been any errata released for XGTE yet. I assume they're waiting until there's a sufficient number of changes necessary before they issue a new printing of the books with such changes. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 9 at 23:32

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