As part of the definition of a cone spell in the handbook:

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

As an example, what would either case be for a casting of Burning Hands?

Could the caster include themselves? or does this mean that they can exclude the first square of the cone?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking: Would a caster always burn themselves every time they cast Burning Hands?? \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Feb 11 '20 at 15:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good question. I never thought of this after all my sorcerers. \$\endgroup\$ – Eternallord66 Feb 11 '20 at 15:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ I'm pretty sure the OP is asking what are the pros and cons of including the point of origin and possibly asking which square is the origin. \$\endgroup\$ – Eternallord66 Feb 11 '20 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Somewhat related: "cone point of origin for large creatures (i.e. when a dragon breathes) \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Feb 11 '20 at 15:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Eternallord66 I can already think of many pros and cons of including the caster. I'm moreso asking what exactly is this choice. What am I choosing between? Hitting the caster vs. not? Hitting the person in front of me or not? \$\endgroup\$ – Axoren Feb 11 '20 at 15:41

You can damage yourself, if you really like

The cone's point of origin is the square the caster is in, or if you're using more abstract ways of measuring, the point of origin is the caster themselves. (Their hands, their mouth, whatever the spell's flavour decides.)

Spells that create [areas of effect] that originate from you also have a range of self, indicating that the origin point of the spell's effect must be you. (PHB p.202, emphasis mine.)

This rule allows you to include the origin of the cone (yourself) in the effect. This most likely doesn't ever really seem like a good idea unless there's a Swarm in your space, but in that case, you are allowed to include your own space in the effect, else you'd never be able to hit something inside your own space with a cone spell.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Agree, but wonder if the question has not been framed under the incorrect assumption that spell areas always have to 'fit' into 5' squares. \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Feb 11 '20 at 15:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you need to support that a point of origin is actually/somehow an entire square. In particular the accepted answer here ends with discussion of two possible ideas about what a point or origin is. \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Feb 11 '20 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 That rule is not in the PHB, where did you find it? \$\endgroup\$ – Axoren Feb 11 '20 at 15:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Most cone spells, such as Burning Hands which the question posed, have a range of self (15 feet cone). So the origin is always the caster. If you're using a square based combat system, either the square you are on in its entirety is part of the AoE, or it isn't, there's no "this part is and that part isn't." once you include the point of origin. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Feb 11 '20 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 also "Every area of effect has a point of origin, a location from which the spell's energy erupts. The rules for each shape specify how you position it's point of origin. Typically, a point of origin is a point in space, but some spells have an area whose origin is a creature or an object." (PHB spellcasting > Casting a Spell > Areas of Effect)" \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Feb 11 '20 at 18:01

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