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In an unsurprising turn of events, the wording of the Echo Knight's features continues to cause confusion.

The description of the Echo Knight fighter's Manifest Echo feature states, in part (EGtW, p. 183):

If [your echo] has to make a saving throw, it uses your saving throw bonus for the roll.

The overwhelming consensus is that the echo is not a creature, as it is simply "an image" (per the first paragraph of the Manifest Echo feature description).

Every spell or ability that requires a saving throw, as far as I know, targets creatures. Take for example, the spell fireball; its description states, in part:

[...] Each creature in a 20-foot radius sphere centered on that point must make a Dexterity saving throw. A target takes 8d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

The echo is not a creature; therefore, it can never take damage from fireball.

After reviewing the wording on several monster abilities and spells, I'm left scratching my head as to whether a character set on destroying an echo really has any options besides simply hitting it via the Attack action.

Are there any saving throws that the Echo can actually fail?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to check those votes again before declaring "overwhelming consensus" both for the split and the total sample size. \$\endgroup\$
    – raithyn
    Dec 10, 2020 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you need further confirmation of this consensus here are some resources that might help you:1, 2, 3 \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrendire
    Dec 10, 2020 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ My point is that 14 people (maximum) is not a large enough sample to be statistically meaningful. So yes, those help in proving my point. \$\endgroup\$
    – raithyn
    Dec 10, 2020 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @raithyn If you want to dispute this I'd encourage you to ask it in your own question. The simple fact of the matter, which which you can verify with a quick search of questions mentioning Echo Knight, is that the larger RPG.SE community, as well as Jeremy Crawford agree that the Echo isn't a creature. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrendire
    Dec 11, 2020 at 0:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I found further rulings from Crawford regarding Fireballs and the Echo. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Dec 14, 2020 at 13:16

3 Answers 3

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Overall, Rules as written and intended along with balance considerations suggests it should NOT be a creature.

It can, of course, fail saving throws because it has saving throw included in its stat block. However, it cannot be targeted by many saving throws such as Fireball since it is not a creature but a magical object.

1. Clarified by the designer, it does not suffer from fireball, as it is not a creature.

An unofficial ruling by Jeremy Crawford and repeated here answering a different question indicates that it is not a creature intentionally:

The fireball spell in D&D forces creatures to make a saving throw. The Echo Knight's echo is intentionally not a creature, so it doesn't make the save.

The shatter spell affects creatures and nonmagical objects. The echo is intentionally neither of those things. - Jeremy Crawford

2. Rules as written, it should not be assumed to be a creature.

It does not specifically say it is or is not a creature, which leaves room for debate.
For a more in-depth breakdown of what a "creature" actually is, refer to this Q&A: Is the Echo of a Echo Knight actually a creature?

However, even though a 'creature' is not clearly defined in 5e the absence of the wording "creature" is very uncommon. In order to argue RAW we must look at precedent for entities which do not explicitly state "creature" (which is actually very few) and we must look at similar magical objects such as Mirror Image.

Overall, I think there is substantial argument RAW for Echo being a magical object (whether it is immune to fire damage is likely up to your DM).

3. This creatureless status is important to the balance of the Echo.

This 'creatureless' status also brings downsides including it cannot flank or perform other interactions creatures can and it cannot be targeted for many buffing spells.

I would argue that many broken interactions would be possible if it were considered a 'creature'. The most important of them is probably casting Polymorph on your Echo. But endless other issues exist and it is much better balanced as an object as the designer intended.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I can't buy into your RAI claim when the rules text for the echo talks about the possibility of it having to make a saving throw. If the author intended for saving throw to never apply to the echo, then they wouldn't have told us what to do when the echo has to make one. I think this is a case of JC tweeting without really thinking, which he seems to have made a habit of doing. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2022 at 17:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Relevant meta: Please avoid using the RAI acronym, or use it carefully & be clear in context. You should edit your answer to clarify the intended meaning, or rephrase to avoid the acronym entirely. (Also, a tweet being on SageAdvice.eu means nothing; it's a third-party site that rehosts/embeds a variety of tweets by D&D designers, which doesn't make those rulings any more "official".) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Feb 22, 2022 at 17:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov - that is fair. But I have linked 4 tweets. All of them JC has clearly stated it is not a creature. Tweeting once accidentally is common for JC. But I think there is evidence this is the way he intended. Maybe it is a dumb way? But it is nevertheless the way he has stated, hence RAI. \$\endgroup\$
    – JFreeman
    Feb 23, 2022 at 3:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I think it's effectively "future-proofing" against any possible future game content that may apply to the echo – even if it's not relevant to current content. It's neither a creature nor an object, just an "image" of the Echo Knight fighter, so neither things that affect creatures nor things that affect objects would affect it. If content is eventually released that would force it to make a saving throw, that's when the saving-throw line would become relevant. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Feb 23, 2022 at 16:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ultimately, some amount of conjecture is always required for the Echo Knight. That said, this answer makes the least amount of stretch conjectures and draws upon designer intent, hence accepting this one despite downvotes (which I think have been addressed in comments). \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrendire
    Feb 23, 2022 at 22:56
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Of course it can fail saving throws

If it couldn't fail a saving throw, it wouldn't have specified the text you quoted:

If [your echo] has to make a saving throw, it uses your saving throw bonus for the roll.

The fact that a situation is envisaged where a saving throw needs to be made, means it can make, and fail, saving throws.

"Ok... but that doesn't answer my question."

Your question's premise is that the echo is not a creature. This is a frame challenge to that premise in your question. As argued in my answer to the linked question, the echo is a creature:

To start with, creature is not a strictly defined term in the game. Since D&D 5e uses natural language as opposed to strictly defined language, we need to figure out whether or not it "walks like a duck" so to speak.

But we have some clues it should be counted as a creature:

  1. It has an AC and Hit Point(s), so it can be hit and interacted with
  2. It has explicit immunity to all conditions

The second point is important, as conditions are described as (emphasis mine):

Conditions alter a creature's capabilities in a variety of ways [...].

If it's not counted as a creature, then it doesn't need to have the immunity specified, but it does, so it must be capable of being targeted by conditions. Ergo it is a creature, and is affected by all things that creatures are.

Since, it's a creature for the purposes of the rules, it can make and fail all the same saving throws a creature can.


But what if I don't agree that it's a creature?

Mechanically, for the purposes of fireball, it doesn't matter. The text of the spell also has this paragraph:

The fire spreads around corners. It ignites flammable objects in the area that aren't being worn or carried.

If it's not a creature, it is most certainly an object (since it has hit points). It is not being worn or carried. So, is it flammable?

It doesn't say it isn't flammable, and most objects are flammable, so being non-flammable is an exceptional thing, and thus would need to be specified in the rules as an exception, which it isn't.

Therefore, the echo is flammable, and is automatically set on fire by fireball. Being on fire, causes fire damage, and the minimum amount of damage possible from being on fire is 1 hp of damage. Coincidentally, this is exactly the amount of HP an echo has, and therefore fireball destroys any echos that are in its area.

But it says it's an "image"?!

Just because something is an image, doesn't mean it's not flammable. Nitrite film holds images and is most certainly flammable. A picture in a picture frame is an image, and is most certainly also flammable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Btw I love that last paragraph it made me chuckle in delight :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Dec 10, 2020 at 11:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ "flammable" relies on the DM's interpretation of what is flammable. I think most people would agree that a magical ghost from another timeline probably doesn't follow the rules of physics, and, in all likelihood, isn't flammable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrendire
    Dec 10, 2020 at 15:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Andrendire Why? Ghosts themselves can catch on fire just fine. \$\endgroup\$
    – raithyn
    Dec 10, 2020 at 16:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @raithyn You're applying logic for creatures. A ghost is a creature and would be subject to the standard rules for fireball--i.e. it would take the fire damage and would not be set aflame. Seeing as the Echo is not a creature, the uncertainty remains, unless you know of a source that defines a "ghost object"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrendire
    Dec 11, 2020 at 17:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JFreeman the rules state that if it needs to make a saving throw it uses your saving throw bonus. Non-creatures don't make saving throws in 5e. Added to that the question asked is "can it ever fail a saving throw". If it can make a saving throw, per its specific rules, then it can fail a saving throw. \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Feb 23, 2022 at 16:03
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It probably takes damage from fireball.

Here's a sentence that does not appear in the fireball spell:

Things that are not creatures take no damage.

An Echo clearly acts like a creature in some ways. For example, it can be attacked, take damage, and make saving throws. Fireball interacts with creatures in its area of effect by blowing them up, which forces them to attempt a saving throw and deals damage to them. The Echo can be interacted with in those ways.

Contrary to what seems to be a popular opinion on this site, the D&D rules do not break the world down into precisely defined and labeled categories and then specify strongly typed interactions between them. Whether something "is a creature" depends on why we're asking.

Fireball doesn't specify that it affects Echoes because (1) they didn't exist when it was written, and (2) 5e aims for straightforward, readable spell descriptions rather than trying to exhaustively cover edge cases. It doesn't actually say whether it affects them or not, but come on, they have hit points and Dex saves. Make a reasonable ruling.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Spells have always been clear enough for at the very least what they target: a creature, an object, a point in space. While it is true that fireball does not have such a statement as you quoted, only creatures in the area take damage, whilst uncarried objects take fire (but not the fireball damage). Everything in the game that makes a creature appear / creates a creature specifically states whether those effects creates a creature or something else. By proxy, your reasoning would imply that other non-creature effects would be destroyed just because they may act similarly to creatures. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2020 at 11:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also for reference, see how the spell simulacrum creates an "illusory duplicate" that is defined as a creature. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2020 at 11:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KogarashiKaito First, fireball certainly targets a point in space, not a creature--the Spellcasting rules use it as the example of a spell that targets a point in space. Second, Manifest Echo doesn't say whether the Echo is a creature or not a creature. It says it's an "image", then describes its other properties in terms of game mechanics that do not strictly identify it as a creature or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Dec 10, 2020 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this Sage Advice thread an unofficial or official RAI? sageadvice.eu/… \$\endgroup\$
    – JFreeman
    Feb 22, 2022 at 7:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JFreeman: SageAdvice.eu is an unofficial third-party site that rehosts tweets by various D&D designers, and is not actually "Sage Advice". Sage Advice is also the name of a column on Wizards of the Coast's website that contains official rulings, as well as the Sage Advice Compendium which compiles all such official rulings (and contains links to the latest errata for each book as well). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Feb 22, 2022 at 17:35

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