Almost all the attack spells in the PHB specific the type of target as either a creature, an object, or a point in space (as per Target section on PHB pg 204).

Scorching Ray just says

You create three rays of fire and hurl them at targets within range

But it doesn't specify what types of targets (creature, object, point in space). Should I interpret that to mean all three are then valid? I couldn't find anything in the Errata or Sage Advice Compendium on this specifically.


2 Answers 2


Yes, all the listed targets are valid.

Many spells and other effects are examplary to the rule Specific Beats General on page 7 of the Player's Handbook:

Remember this: If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins.

The spell scorching ray, however, falls in line with the general rule, and seems to have no specific rules for the targets of its attacks. Since the spell does not clarify a specific target for its rays, we use the general rule about Making an Attack on page 193-194 of the Player's Handbook , more specifically the first bulletpoint:

Pick a target within your attack's range: a creature, an object, or a location.


Unless it says otherwise, you can target any creature or object within range (and not behind total cover).

As a general rule, attacks have broader targeting restrictions than save-inducing abilities.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Well, only creatures can make saving throws because objects and spatial points don't have ability scores. Saving throw spells/abilities are naturally limited in targeting scope because of this fact ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 2:28

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