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If a level 6 Path of the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian is hit by an attack, can he use his reaction to Spirit Shield himself?

The Spirit Shield feature (XGtE, p. 10) says:

Beginning at 6th level, the guardian spirits that aid you can provide supernatural protection to those you defend. If you are raging and a creature you can see within 30 feet of you takes damage, you can use your reaction to reduce that damage by 2d6.

When you reach certain levels in this class, you can reduce the damage by more: by 3d6 at 10th level and by 4d6 at 14th level.

This extends to creatures the Barbarian can "see", but can he "see" himself and reduce damage dealt to himself? Or does this only apply to other creatures?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you un select my first answer as the one you've chosen to accept? I have written a different answer which points out the reason the first answer is incorrect. I would hate for people to be led astray by my error. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    May 20 at 23:57
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This answer is incorrect.

It was written with the assumption that the OP was quoting the rules text from an official source which, it seems, they were not.

The official text for the ability is "another creature you can see" not "a creature you can see." In fact, even the lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford made the mistake of assuming the "a creature" wording was correct in his tweet below.

It's comforting to know that even Jeremy can make this mistake but the fact remains that ANOTHER creature must be the target of the Barbarian's ability. See my second answer instead.

I can't delete this answer because it has been accepted so, I'm editing it to put this disclaimer in until it can be deleted and leaving the original answer below for archival purposes. My deepest apologies for the damage I have cause by answering incorrectly.


Yes, the Barbarian can benefit from his/her own Spirit Shield

Even though Spirit Shield is an ability not a spell, the rules on spellcasting talk about a parallel situation with (spell) effects:

Targeting Yourself

If a spell targets a creature of your choice, you can choose yourself, unless the creature must be hostile or specifically a creature other than you. If you are in the area of effect of a spell you cast, you can target yourself.

Assuming the Barbarian can see himself, he can target himself to benefit from Spirit Shield. Of course, the flipside of this is that Spirit Shield would not be available for use on an ally until the next turn, so doing this does have an opportunity cost.

There may be circumstances where the Barbarian cannot see himself: if he is blinded or in the dark for example. But otherwise, your interpretation is correct (and has been affirmed by Jeremy Crawford in an unofficial tweet).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Jeremy Crawford also (unofficially) addresses the specific case of Spirit Shield here and confirms this. A user asked: "can the spirit shield on the Path of the ancestral guardian be used on himself? He's a creature and he can see himself..." Crawford responded, "Well done on answering your own question correctly!" and then retweeted for others' benefit, saying, "You are a creature. Can you see yourself? If yes, you can choose yourself if you must target a creature you can see." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Apr 10 '19 at 1:11
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No

I went back and checked my copy of XGtE and its text differs from what you quote. The Spirit Shield feature (p. 10) says:

Beginning at 6th level, the guardian spirits that aid you can provide supernatural protection to those you defend. If you are raging and another creature you can see within 30 feet of you takes damage, you can use your reaction to reduce that damage by 2d6.

I'm not sure where the a vs another mismatch arises (the DnDBeyond copy is behind a paywall), but according to the hard copy of the text I have, the rule requires another creature be the target of the attack, not you, the Barbarian.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The wording of the D&D Beyond version is the same as in your answer: "If you are raging and another creature you can see within 30 feet of you takes damage". XGtE hasn't had any errata, so I'm guessing OP just quoted the text from somewhere unofficial. (...It also strikes me that Crawford's answer on Twitter totally misses that wording - guess that's another reason his tweets are now considered unofficial.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Apr 20 '19 at 6:10

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