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The description of the Sickening Radiance spell says (XGtE, p. 164):

When a creature moves into the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, that creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 4d10 radiant damage, and it suffers one level of exhaustion and emits a dim, greenish light in a 5-foot radius.

The grammar and punctuation here makes me wonder: do the level of exhaustion and greenish light happen regardless of the result of the saving throw, just like how some spells still deal half damage when you succeed on the save?

I suspect they do. Otherwise it should have been written "...must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 4d10 radiant damage, suffer one level of exhaustion, and emit a dim, greenish light..."

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Interestingly enough, the current description of the sickening radiance spell on D&D Beyond says:

When a creature moves into the spell's area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, that creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 4d10 radiant damage, suffer one level of exhaustion, and emit a dim, greenish light in a 5-foot radius.

However, this wording change is not mentioned in any official errata (there has only been 1 errata PDF for XGE).

Wizards of the Coast has created changes between print versions before that were not included in official errata releases. D&D Beyond, as an official digital partner, may have already gotten a revised version even if a new printing has not been made for the physical book.

...Or it could be a typo on their website.

Unfortunately, I do not have access to the most recent printing of XGE. Anyone who does, feel free to comment and let me know if it has changed.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you provide an example of places Wizards has changed without listing in errata? \$\endgroup\$
    – RallozarX
    Mar 3, 2021 at 5:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question documents several changes never documented in PHB: As of the November 2018 core book updates, what changes were made in the latest printings of the PHB that aren't noted in the errata document? \$\endgroup\$
    – Daveman
    Mar 3, 2021 at 5:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not sure if it should be an Edit until I get a response, but a DDB team member said they were going to check into it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Daveman
    Mar 3, 2021 at 6:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Given that the current wording matches Crawford's unofficial ruling, I assume it is an intentional change... Albeit one that's not documented in the errata PDF. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Mar 19, 2021 at 0:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ It has been a couple weeks since DDB promised you a reply. Have you received an update? \$\endgroup\$
    – gto
    Mar 20, 2021 at 4:05
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If you succeed on the save, you avoid all of the effects

That question has an answer by Jeremy Crawford on Twitter. When asked this exact question, namely whether the exhaustion is tied to failing the saving throw, his answer was "Yes":

Are the non damaging effects (exhaustion and no invisibility) tied to the save? There is a comma after "or take 4d10 radiance damage" so it is a bit confusing.

Yes.

It should be noted that Jeremy Crawford's tweets are not considered official rulings.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've changed the link to go directly to the tweet and removed mention of "Sage Advice" since it can cause confusion as the official rulings guide is called Sage Advice and that website collects unofficial tweets. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2021 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am downvoting this on the grounds that Sage Advise as you have stated is not an official source and the answer below yours cites an actual source. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19, 2021 at 12:32
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It's unclear

I compared the wording of the spell to some other spells that have saving throws and multiple effects. If the extra effect only takes hold on a failed save, that is often stated. Some examples:

Reality Break (EGW, p. 189):

The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw, or it can't take reactions until the spell ends. The affected target must also roll a d10 at the start of each of its turns; the number rolled determines what happens to the target, as shown on the Reality Break Effects table.

Whirlwind (XGE, p. 171)

A creature must make a Dexterity saving throw the first time on a turn that it enters the whirlwind or that the whirlwind enters its space, including when the whirlwind first appears. A creature takes 10d6 bludgeoning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. In addition, a Large or smaller creature that fails the save must succeed on a Strength saving throw or become restrained in the whirlwind until the spell ends.

So one could argue, if the exhaustion would be conditional on failing the saving throw, that would have been stated.

I had a hard time finding a spell where an extra condition is explicitly not dependent on the saving throw, however I found one:

Temple of the Gods (XGE, p. 167):

If a creature of the chosen type attempts to enter the temple, that creature must make a Charisma saving throw. On a failed save, it can't enter the temple for 24 hours. Even if the creature can enter the temple, the magic there hinders it; whenever it makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw inside the temple, it must roll a d4 and subtract the number rolled from the d20 roll.

So here one could argue if the exhaustion would be independent from the failed save, that would be stated explicitly.

Both Whirlwind and Temple of the Gods are from the same source book as the Sickening Radiance, so it seems reasonable to expect the wording to be similar.

Therefore I conclude: The wording is unclear.


It's not a very useful conclusion, but as I already did the research about other spells wordings, I at least wanted to note it down, if only as a base for other people's answers.

Personally, I think the exhaustion and glow is only on a failed saving throw. The spell is already reasonably strong like this; if you make the exhaustion not dependent on the saving throw it, it's overpowered.

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The question is what the spell effect sentence means. Is it one spell effect clause with a list of 3 effects, or is it a list of multiple spell effect clauses.

In an English sentence list items are separated by commas until the last one that can have "and". Example: The colors are red, yellow, green and blue.

The sentence is not written with a list of effects of the saving throw. The sentence uses ", and" which separates it into multiple effect clauses. The first clause is "that creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 4d10 radiant damage". The phrase "that creature" is the subject of the clause. The second clause is "it suffers one level of exhaustion and emits a dim, greenish light...". The exhaustion and "emits..." are one clause with "it" as the subject.

The exhaustion and green glow are not changed by the saving throw.

It would be more clear to write it: When a creature moves into the spell's area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, that creature suffers one level of exhaustion and emits a dim, greenish light in a 5-foot radius. The creature must also make a Constitution saving throw or take 4d10 radiant damage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, the use or omission of a comma in that last position in English is optional -- a matter of style. For details, google "Oxford comma." \$\endgroup\$
    – gto
    Jan 13 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not the last position. It's the middle positon in the original version. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gnargles
    Jan 15 at 19:22

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