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Awakened Spellbook, a level 3 Order of Scribes feature, says the following:

When you cast a wizard spell with a spell slot, you can temporarily replace its damage type with a type that appears in another spell in your spellbook, which magically alters the spell's formula for this casting only. The latter spell must be of the same level as the spell slot you expend.

If I cast a spell that deals multiple damage types, for example Ice Knife (https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/ice-knife), how does this work? Could I change both damage types to a different type (for example force damage on initial hit, fire damage on burst) or only the same damage (force damage on both damage rolls). Also, could I switch the two damage types inside the spell, having cold damage on initial hit, and piercing damage on the burst?

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Only the GM knows what happens when you try to change the damage type of a spell that deals multiple types of damage

Notably, the feature in question says that can replace its damage type, not its damage types. This works perfectly well for spells that only have one type of damage, but when there are spells like flame strike and ice knife and others, this becomes less clear. Strictly speaking those spells don't even have a damage type, they have multiple. Thus, under some sort of strict reading of the feature, it wouldn't work at all with these sorts of spells.

Instead, I would say it is undefined in this case and that any adjudication about what happens when you try the change the damage type of a spell that deals multiple types of damage is going to be left to the GM.

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You cannot replace more than one damage type of a spell that has more than one damage type.

Because the feature says you can replace "its damage type", where "type" is singular, you cannot replace multiple damage types with a single use of the feature. That would be allowed if the feature said "its damage types" or "its damage type(s)", but it uses neither of those constructions.

So, you cannot change Ice Knife to both deal bludgeoning damage on a hit and fire damage after it explodes.

Intuitive Example: John has three cats. Animal control has a warrant allowing them to "replace John's cat with a rabbit." They are not allowed to replace three cats with three rabbits.

This includes swapping the damage types within the spell.

Switching Ice Knife to deal cold on a hit and piercing in the explosion is identical to switching both of those types to some other spell whose level matches the level at which you cast Ice Knife. The fact that you're getting those types from the same spell in your spellbook doesn't change the fact that it is two replacements: one for the cold, and one for the piercing.

The GM must rule on whether you can replace one of the damage types of a spell that has more than one damage type.

The Ice Knife spell has two damage types: piercing and cold. Arguments could be made that you could replace piercing or cold with a single use of the feature. An argument for being allowed to replace one of the types is that that fulfills the singular construction of the feature's wording. An argument for not being allowed to replace one of the types is that the singular construction of the feature's wording means there's no matched concept to replace—Ice Knife doesn't have "a damage type" it has "damage types."

Because arguments both for and against this action are possible, the DM must rule whether this is allowed by such ambiguous wording until Sage Advice is updated with a clarification.

Intuitive Example: John has three cats. Animal control has a warrant allowing them to "replace John's cat with a rabbit." They are not allowed to replace one of his three cats with one rabbit without first clarifying the warrant with the judge, because the warrant is unclear.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough, it was not word-for-word, my apologies. I do think the new revision is better than your original. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 5:43

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