The Prismatic Wall spell says:

When a creature attempts to reach into or pass through the wall ...

A creature forced through the wall (by whatever means) is not “attempt[ing] to ... pass through the wall”.

Is it therefore immune from its effects?


Movement through the wall should be voluntary

Below is a direct quote of the answer @gandalfmeansme provided to the related question "If a creature is moved through a prismatic wall multiple times is it affected multiple times?"

There are numerous spells that do damage or otherwise inconvenience a creature when that creature moves, or is moved, into their area of effect. Since you used Wall of Fire as an example, let's examine the text that spell uses:

Wall of Fire

A creature takes the same damage when it enters the wall for the first time on a turn or ends its turn there. (PHB, p. 285)

This movement does not need to be voluntary: if you are shoved into a Wall of Fire, or walk into it yourself, you still "enter" the wall. However, note the similar (but not identical) text of Prismatic Wall (PHB, p. 269, bold added):

When a creature attempts to reach into or pass through the wall, it does so one layer at a time through all the wall’s layers. As it passes or reaches through each layer, the creature must make a Dexterity saving throw or be affected by that layer’s properties as described below.

This "attempts" is crucial. If a creature is grappled and moved against its will, it did not "attempt" to move in the direction it is moving: it had no choice in the matter. For a creature to "attempt" to pass through the wall, it must be moving through it (or reaching into it) voluntarily [emphasis mine].

This is also complicated by the fact that the second sentence in the quote above doesn't require intent, but simply that a creature "passes through" or "reaches through" a layer of the wall. It is a DM's prerogative to decide which of these sentences takes precedence in this situation.

What happens if you're pushed/grappled into the wall?

It's very hard to say. Strangely, none of the layers of the wall prevents a creature from physically passing through it while they are active (layers prevent things like magical and nonmagical ranged attacks from penetrating the wall). Nor is there any text that directly states that the wall is solid. It is described as "opaque", but that simply means you cannot see through it.

It would be a DM's call what would happen if you shoved a creature towards the wall, or attempted to run through the wall with a creature grappled [emphasis mine]. A case could be made for the idea that the wall is solid when you are thrown into it, because of the "attempts" mentioned mentioned earlier: this time, "attempts" is significant not because it indicates willing movement, but because it suggests a possibility of failure. If you "attempt" to move through something, it does somewhat imply that moving through it is not guaranteed, which might imply some level of solidity. Again though, that's very much a DM's call.

One thing seems clear to me: it does not seem likely that the wall is meant to be both harmless and intangible to creatures who are pushed through it involuntarily [emphasis mine]. If that were the case, a group of enemies could simply shove each other through it and avoid its effects altogether (except the unlucky one who is last).

[Section on the blinded condition removed]

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    \$\begingroup\$ If a creature wants to pass through the wall, and deliberately allows another creature to push them into it, I call that "attempting" to cross the wall. The text doesn't say the creature has to "directly" attempt this feat. \$\endgroup\$ – Ton Day Oct 12 '19 at 19:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaytonWilliams I suppose that's fair, in that case I would say both creatures clearly are attempting to go through voluntarily so the normal rules apply, nothing is off about the scenario \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 12 '19 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tend to lean towards the "it's a solid barrier if you weren't trying to go through it" interpretation. The spell is an abjuration, and I don't know about 5th but in older editions, abjurations were commonly restricted so they wouldn't function offensively (e.g. Protection from Evil simply failing if you try to force the barrier against a creature). If creature A tries to grapple creature B forcibly through the barrier, I say that A simply can't pull B through, and if A tries hard enough, it likely ends the grapple. \$\endgroup\$ – Ton Day Oct 12 '19 at 22:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 If I understand your answer correctly, if I'm not aware of the existence of the wall (e.g. it's behind me and haven't seen it) and I try to reach the other side (I'm walking backwards), this would imply that I'm not trying to pass through the wall voluntarily (since to be voluntarily I have to be aware of it), right? Therefore, it is the DM call, as per your answer, since it is a matter of the "voluntarily" part of your argument? \$\endgroup\$ – Chepelink Oct 12 '19 at 22:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chepelink They would still be voluntarily moving even if not voluntarily moving through the wall. They just need to be moving of their own volition, not being forced to move of flung \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 12 '19 at 22:54

Let's look at the prismatic walls description and compare it to other wall type spells.

A shimmering, multicolored plane of light forms a vertical opaque wall--up to 90 feet long, 30 feet high, and 1 inch thick--centered on a point you can see within range.... As it passes or reaches through each layer, the creature must make a Dexterity saving throw or be affected by that layer’s properties as described below.

Wall Of Fire states

You create a wall of fire on a solid surface within range. You can make the wall up to 60 feet long, 20 feet high, and 1 foot thick, or a ringed wall up to 20 feet in diameter, 20 feet high, and 1 foot thick. The wall is opaque and lasts for the duration...... A creature takes the same damage when it enters the wall for the first time on a turn or ends its turn there.

Wall of Light

The wall appears in any orientation you choose: horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. It can be free floating, or it can rest on a solid surface. The wall can be up to 60 feet long, 10 feet high, and 5 feet thick......A creature that ends its turn in the wall’s area takes 4d8 radiant damage.

In the case of wall of fire the rules don't state anything similar to being willing. If a create enters the wall or finishes his turn there takes damage regardless of whether they were brought there via forced movement or via their own movement

In the case of wall of light we can see that the rules state that regardless of willingness if a creature ends its turn in the wall it takes radiant damage. So someone could be grappled and dragged to the wall before receiving the damage however passing through does not do damage.

Comparing these to Prismatic Wall which mainly differs from them with the line you mentioned my interpretation is that Prismatic wall does not deal damage to someone forced to pass through it however as the word 'Attempt' is used I believe that asking your ally to shove you past the Prismatic wall still counts as trying to pass through.

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Relevant developer tweet

As stated in the relevant tweet, prismatic wall IS triggered by forced movement. It is a 9th level spell, and it's meant to be insanely powerful.

Many of the contrived interpretations here make it barely better than a 9th level, cool-looking, wall of force (a 5th level spell), with a bit of sight/spell blocking added.

But if this spell breaks your game, the DM can obviously rule differently. If your player has this spell, state your interpretation before they use it.

Suggestions include not allowing movement unless it was willing, or limiting the damage to 1 pass-through per turn. You could even invent a reason such as creatures that take damage from the wall take 1 round to finish crossing it, etc.

Although tweets by WoTC developers are not RAW, it is as close as we get. Most of the interpretations that try to limit this spell effectively neuter it to being a waste of a 9th level spell slot. At that point, might as well remove it and allow your player/NPC to cast a more fun spell, if you think it's too abusable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please note that despite the name of that website, it is just a 3rd party collection of devolper tweets and calling them Sage Advice is misleading as that is the name of official rulings published on WotC's website. It is better to quote the material directly, which also protects against link-rot. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Oct 20 at 11:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also worth noting that those tweets are only examples of how the respondent would rule at the time they wrote the tweet. There are enough examples by Jeremy Crawford of conflicting rulings, which further degrades the usefulness of this information. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 20 at 13:00

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