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Are the locusts created by the Insect Plague spell affected by other spells like Fireball, Cloudkill, Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting or similar spells? By similar spells I mean spells that deal damage on an area greater or equal than the 20-foot-radius sphere of the Insect Plague spell.

The Insect Plague spell does not describe the locusts as a creature (as a Swarm of Insects, for example) nor gives HP or clues on how damage them. I strongly believe that if someone throws a Fireball inside this swarm some effect would arise, which will be different by the effect provided by an Ice Storm or by a Cloudkill: I find the wording of Insect Plague quite ambiguous.


This question is an offshoot of this one: Cloudkill plus Insect Plague - What do the players see?. The comments there give some insights about the presented issue, but I think the topic deserves a full answer.

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RAW, No.

Usually, we interpret spells assuming a “spells do only what they say they do” principle. Since insect plague doesn’t assign any of the appropriate statistics or give any end conditions involving the insects taking damage, we can say that damage from a fireball doesn’t affect the insect. They are magic bugs, after all.

As an example of what such an end condition would look like, the staff of swarming insects has a helpful example:

Insect Cloud. While holding the staff, you can use an action and expend 1 charge to cause a swarm of harmless flying insects to spread out in a 30-foot radius from you. The insects remain for 10 minutes, making the area heavily obscured for creatures other than you. The swarm moves with you, remaining centered on you. A wind of at least 10 miles per hour disperses the swarm and ends the effect.

The DM may rule otherwise.

Intuitively, it may make sense that something like a fireball centered on an insect plague should destroy the insects, and this wouldn't be an entirely unreasonable ruling. If my players thought of this plan, I would almost certainly let it happen because of rule of fun and rule of cool.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't need to assign stats to the locusts; they have whatever stats locusts have, cause it says they are locusts. It doesn't matter if you do kill them, though (which, of course, you can do since locusts are living creatures): the lack of end condition means, as you correctly state, you'll keep taking damage anyways, even though all the bugs are dead. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 7, 2020 at 6:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil A more reasonable interpretation of RAW (than taking damage from nothing) may be that whilst the spell is active dead bugs are replenished by the same magic that generated them in the first place. The spell is active and has a duration after all. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 7, 2020 at 7:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov no difference in ruling indeed, just in interpretation and narration. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Sep 7, 2020 at 11:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ You'd let your players use it for cool, but would you use it against your players? \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Sep 7, 2020 at 13:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch You better believe it. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 7, 2020 at 13:47

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