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In Chapter 6: Friends and Foes from Eberron: Rising from the Last War, many of the creatures with spell lists include the note

(see "Actions" below)

after a single spell (two spells in one case). Often this is a cantrip, but the Undying Councilor has this note for a 5th-level spell that requires spell slots.

When I first saw this I assumed that the creature would modify the spell in some way, but text given in the Actions section always appears to line up with the standard description of the spell, and the normal spell attack bonus or spell save DC of the creature.

The relevant creatures and spells, in order of appearance, are:

What is the mechanical reason to have these spells listed as Actions? Does it modify the rules for the called-out spell in any way? Should I as the DM run the creature differently in combat as a result?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This sort of seems like a designer-reasons question as currently phrased, which are no longer allowed on RPG.SE. That said, you could edit the question to ask about whether there's any mechanical impact/effect to writing out the description of these spells as an action, or if there's any difference between how these spells listed under "Actions" work vs. how they normally work. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Apr 11, 2020 at 7:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Is the focus more appropriate now? I'm willing to rewrite as needed. I am primarily interested in making sure I understand how the creature "works" in combat. In all honesty though, I'm not sure designer intent can be fully separated from mechanics when it comes to Eberron material. \$\endgroup\$
    – raithyn
    Apr 11, 2020 at 20:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I think it's clearer now that you're looking for reasons why the distinction might matter to the reader/DM (which is more answerable). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Apr 11, 2020 at 22:19

1 Answer 1

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For convenience, possibly

While the true reasons why Eberron: Rising from the Last War has this approach to monster's stat blocks is something only the design team involved can truly answer (and I couldn't find it online), this approach was firstly featured in Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus (the Skull Lasher of Myrkul being an example).

My best guess is that presenting such spells in the stat block is to be convenient for the DM, either because:

  • The monster relies on such spell, so its damage output matches its CR;
  • The spell is not the optimal damage choice, but gives it versatility, like adding a ranged attack to its repertoire.

As explained in the Creating a Monster section of chapter 9 of the Dungeon Master's Guide (pgs. 273–283), the damage output of the spells that a monster can cast should be taken in consideration when calculating its challenge rating:

The impact that the Innate Spellcasting and Spellcasting special traits have on a monster's challenge rating depends on the spells that the monster can cast. Spells that deal more damage than the monster's normal attack routine and spells that increase the monster's AC or hit points need to be accounted for when determining the monster's final challenge rating.

Taking the information of this chapter of the DMG in consideration, and the Undying Councilor as an example, having its major damage output (Flame Strike)* included in its stat block is a big convenience for DMs that use the councilor in an encounter, as the Dungeon Master doesn't need to check additional sources to get the info about what the spell do.

*Average damage of 56, assuming it hit two creatures.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have Avernus. Out of curiosity, are all the Action spells (for lack of a better term) from the SRD as they are in Eberron? \$\endgroup\$
    – raithyn
    Apr 12, 2020 at 13:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ In Avernus' case, they aren't, @raithyn. The Master of Souls has Ray of Sickness as one of his "spell actions", which isn't in the SRD. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kuerten
    Apr 12, 2020 at 14:24

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