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Suppose I am a wizard and cast a Glyph of Warding on a surface, utilize the Spell Glyph feature, and input the Life Transference spell.

Does this combination work by RAW? Would I take damage and the healing power be stored within the Glyph?

Or would it rather be that the Glyph takes the damage upon being triggered and heals whoever triggers it? Or would it simply not work?

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Life transference doesn't work with glyph of warding at all

Glyph of warding says:

The spell must target a single creature or an area.

However life transference actually has two targets: you, the creature that is harmed, and the other creature who is healed:

You sacrifice some of your health to mend another creature’s injuries. You take 4d8 necrotic damage, and one creature of your choice that you can see within range regains a number of hit points equal to twice the necrotic damage you take.

Being damaged or affected by a spell is generally considered enough to be considered a target of a spell. Thus, it shouldn't qualify to go into glyph of warding at all.

The above is what I view to be correct RAW and would run at my table, but because it is not explicitly declared who the targets are, your DM may disagree and rule otherwise. If they do, see below.

If your DM rules that the caster is not a target it would work

As J.A. Streich's answer also says, if your DM rules that the caster is not included in the targets of the spell then it qualifies to be put into the glyph of warding. The way it would work is that upon casting, nothing would happen except the spell being stored in the glyph.

The spell being stored has no immediate effect when cast in this way. When the glyph is triggered, the stored spell is cast.

Then, when the glyph is triggered, the caster should take the damage (because they are the "you" who cast the spell) and the triggerer should receive the healing. The glyph doesn't cast the spell, you still did. The effect is just taking place later.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jun 4 at 0:06
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Combination Legal

Glyph of warding reads:

You can store a prepared spell of 3rd level or lower in the glyph by casting it as part of creating the glyph. The spell must target a single creature or an area.

  • 3rd level or lower - life transference is level 3. Check.
  • Single Target - This is debateable, because you take damage, but many spells say things like "you make a melee spell attack" or "you make a ranged spell attack." I'd argue that you are not the target of spell, the target is the "creature you choose". So, arguably check. Generally, like with alter self, when you are the target, the range is "self" or even"self,X feet" which isn't the case of life transference

When Damage to Caster

RAW

The rules as written imply the damage to the caster should happen when triggered.

The spell being stored has no immediate effect when cast in this way. When the glyph is triggered, the stored spell is cast.

This seems like an interesting way to play it, as it increases the risk of the combination and gives another hidden benefit of knowing when it is triggered.

How I'd Rule

Despite that, I'd be tempted to run it the more "sensible" way and roll damage immediately and store just the healing effect. I'd count the necrotic damage as a spell component, which it feels more like.

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The object or surface to which the Glyph is inscribed would take necrotic damage and heal the creature that triggered it.

The Glyph could be placed on the surface of the skin of a creature who is shackled in place (consider that the Glyph if moved 10 feet from where it was created will become ineffective).

"You" in the case of the Life Transference spell is the Glyph and the target is the creature triggering it.

Glyph of warding reads:

When you cast this spell, you inscribe a glyph that later unleashes a magical effect...

Spell Glyph. You can store a prepared spell of 3rd level or lower in the glyph by casting it as part of creating the glyph. The spell must target a single creature or an area. The spell being stored has no immediate effect when cast in this way. When the glyph is triggered, the stored spell is cast. If the spell has a target, it targets the creature that triggered the glyph. If the spell affects an area, the area is centered on that creature.

Life Transference reads:

You sacrifice some of your health to mend another creature’s injuries. You take 4d8 necrotic damage, and one creature of your choice that you can see within range regains a number of hit points equal to twice the necrotic damage you take.

P246 of the DMG includes rules for objects Hit Points, it would be very strange for an object to transfer life, but maybe the Glyph is inscribed into the bark of a tree that withers and dies as the spell takes effect.

Consider another possible scenario: An evil spell caster shackles a hostage to a wall and inscribes the Glyph of Warding onto their forehead. Anyone enters an area around the hostage will trigger the Glyph.

An unwitting adventurer enters the room and the hostage is obliterated with 4d8 Necrotic damage, the triggering adventurer is fully healed, a bittersweet ending.

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ So you are saying that the glyph is the one casting the spell? How does it take damage? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 4 at 0:44

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