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The Order Domain cleric from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has the Voice of Authority feature. Part of that feature states:

If you cast a spell with a spell slot of 1st level or higher and target an ally with the spell, that ally can use their reaction immediately after the spell to make one weapon attack against a creature of your choice that you can see.

Immediately after the spell _____ ? Is cast? Targets the ally? Affects the ally? Ends?

For spells like healing word, the intent seems simple. The spell is instantaneous, so:

  1. You cast healing word, targeting your ally.
  2. Your ally is healed.
  3. You use Voice of Authority. Your ally uses their reaction to make an attack.

For spells like dawn, things get a little more complicated. For simplicity, I'll assume that all creatures within the area count as targets. It seems like the initial cast of a duration spell would work like this:

  1. You cast dawn, which includes one ally in the area.
  2. Your ally rolls their save and takes damage.
  3. You use Voice of Authority. Your ally uses their reaction to make an attack.

But if you maintain concentration, the spell continues:

  1. Your ally (the same one as above) takes their normal turn in initiative.
  2. Your ally ends their turn.
  3. Your ally is still within dawn, so they are targeted/affected (?) by the spell again.
  4. Your ally rolls their save and takes damage.
  5. (?) You use Voice of Authority. Your ally uses their reaction to make an attack.

Voice of Authority restricts you to only one ally affected, but (potentially?) doesn't restrict that one ally to more than one attack.

For some additional weirdness, allies could be targeted/affected only on subsequent turns:

  1. You cast dawn, which includes no allies in the area.
  2. Your ally takes their normal turn in initiative, during which they enter the area.
  3. Your ally ends their turn in the area.
  4. Your ally is targeted/affected (?) by the spell for the first time.
  5. Your ally rolls their save and takes damage.
  6. (?) You now use Voice of Authority. Your ally uses their reaction to make an attack.

On a similar note, would readying an instantaneous spell like cure wounds with the trigger "once my ally is in range" allow you to use Voice of Authority? After all, when you Ready you "cast the spell as normal" on your turn, but release it later.

My question is: how does the timing of Order Domain's Voice of Authority work, particularly for repeated and/or off-turn effects? I expect to be using this class feature at a table that sticks closely to RAW, so it would be helpful to know what the rules say precisely. If the rules are unclear or undesirable, then tested rulings are also welcome.

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Since it's based on the action "you cast a spell", and in general reactions happen after the trigger completes (unless the specific rule says otherwise), I would assume the reaction happens immediately after casting is complete. So you cast the spell, the spell resolves, then the reaction occurs. Nothing in the ability seems to indicate it would be related to a duration expiring or being affected by a spell at some time after casting.

My interpretation is that if a spell has an ongoing effect, the Voice of Authority effect happens only if you target the creature initially, when you cast the spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer made me think of a similar case - readying an instantaneous spell - which may (or may not) behave differently. I've edited my question to reflect that and to clarify my precise question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Red Orca
    Mar 12, 2021 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can use a reaction on your own turn, and there's no particular reason you can't use a reaction to a reaction, so there should not be any change to my answer. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 12, 2021 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was getting at the fact that you say that the reaction happens "immediately after casting is complete". Casting is complete on your turn (when you use Ready). Your ally might not even be within line-of-sight, much less within range at that point. Does VoA trigger (1) on your turn, (2) when you release the spell, or (3) never, since you didn't cast and target in the same action? \$\endgroup\$
    – Red Orca
    Mar 12, 2021 at 21:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since you don't pick targets until you release the energy, "when you cast a spell on a creature" effects get weird with respect to readying and I usually just consider the 'held' state to be an extended casting time to avoid those quibbles. I wouldn't get too hung up on the minutia here -- you cast a spell on an ally, so when you're done with the spell, they can make an attack. "Noooo, they can't attack because technically you cast it and didn't target anyone--" isn't going to make anyone at the table happier. There's no points for being technically correct while annoying your friends. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 12, 2021 at 22:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ That does make sense as a ruling, though I wish things were a bit more clear for RAW situations, like AL. \$\endgroup\$
    – Red Orca
    Mar 12, 2021 at 22:15
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DM's call, most likely Voice of Authority's attack can be granted once, immediately after you finish casting the spell

Voice of Authority
1st-level Order Domain feature
You can invoke the power of law to embolden an ally to attack. If you cast a spell with a spell slot of 1st level or higher and target an ally with the spell, that ally can use their reaction immediately after the spell to make one weapon attack against a creatureof your choice that you can see.
If the spell targets more than one ally, you choose the ally who can make the attack.

This is the entirety of the feature's text. Since there is nothing to clarify what "immediately after the spell" refers to, and there is no SAC on it, we are left with interpretation. That means, in the final conclusion: the DM will have to decide what he thinks is meant by that phrase.

That said: Darth Pseudonym's interpretation makes a lot of sense. After you fully cast the spell and targeted an ally, that ally one-time and immediately can take their reaction to make the attack. There are no repeated effects or attacks. If you ready the spell, then your ally can make an attack immediately after you release it, not before.

As a first level feature, Voice of Authority works well on tier one with a spell like bless, which will boost your team for the fight, but also costs you potentially one attack. By combining the effect with an extra attack, the feature allows you to win back some of that lost time.

Timing and Context

In general, the method to adjudicate the timing of reactions (DMG 252) is:

Use this rule of thumb: follow whatever timing is specified in the reaction's description. For example, the opportunity attack and the shield spell are clear about the fact that they can interrupt their triggers. If a reaction has no timing specified, or the timing is unclear, the reaction occurs after its trigger finishes, as in the Ready action.

So, here the timing is apparently unclear. What then is the trigger? If you cast a spell with a spell slot of 1st level or higher and target an ally with the spell.

The trigger is casting a spell and targeting an ally with it - immediately after this the reaction that can be taken is described. The only issue is that it does not say, "immediately after the spell is cast", which would avoid the confusion.

But as Jeremy Crawford reminds us context matters, and here the "immediately after the spell" is mentioned in the context of talking about casting the spell. "After the spell" here means, after casting the spell.

I think the sentence aimed to avoid, not cause, confusion because in most situations, a spell "is cast" as soon as the casting begins. However, targets need only be selected, when a spell is released (otherwise readied spells would not work), and here we also have to select a target before the reaction can occur. Adding the additional reference to "immediately after the spell" may just aim to help make that clear: the entire casting of the spell must first be finished.

Three reasons against multi-targeting

  1. If you had an ongoing spell effect like Aura of Vitality 1, and if "immediately after the spell" would not refer to the casting but to the entire spell, then during the ongoing spell is not after the spell. It is during the spell. You only then could trigger it after the spell ended, if you immediately before still targeted an ally. That does not make a lot of sense, really.

  2. The trigger is both casting the spell and targeting an ally. It is not enough to only target an ally, to grant the reaction. And you cast the spell only one time. There also would be a lot of text missing that you'd need to mentally fill in, if you wanted to claim this works every time you target someone with the spell: "immediately after the spell 's effect affected an ally that you targeted in a given round". This is not like a missing word for clarity. This is a full sentence to construct a far-fetched interpretation. From a balance perspective, this would be heavy for a first level ability, allowing you to hand out free opportunity attacks every round of a fight. If the spell really wanted to enable that, it would need to say so much more explicitly.

  3. The last sentence says, If the spell targets more than one ally, you choose the ally who can make the attack.: This talks about a single ally, and a single attack.

I total, the interpretation that the trigger is the finished casting of the spell is unproblematic, power-adequate, and best supported by the exisiting text. But unfortunately it is not 100% airtight. So you will need to rely on the good judgement of the DM.


1 Wether you target anyone with Dawn is a bit sketchy, like the what the target of a spell is in general, so I'm using aura as a spell that more clearly targets allies.

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Before getting into the answer itself, do note that this ruling is most likely not a great way to use the spell from a gameplay standpoint, and thus probably not RAI. The other answers give more practical rulings, while not exactly RAW, so I will be giving an interpretation as close to RAW as possible, as per requested in the question/bounty. That is why you won't find "it is up to the DM" in this answer.

RAW : after the whole spell is finished

The main issue is in determining what "after the spell" means. I believe we should take the word "spell" as the totality of the spell, meaning all its components. This includes both the casting and the effective duration of the spell. Nothing in the description mentions either parts of the spell either way, so it makes sense to take it as a whole.

With that in mind, let's go through the different possible situations that might occur.

Spell duration : instantaneous

The spell works as intended here :

  • You cast the spell and select your target(s).
  • The spell takes effect.
  • Voice of Authority triggers : you choose the affected ally and a creature. That ally can use a reaction to attack the chosen creature.

Spell duration > instantaneous

This is the weird case :

  • You cast the spell and select your target(s).
  • The spell starts taking effect.
  • After the spell's duration is completed, the spell wears off.
  • Voice of Authority triggers.

Breaking concentration

In the event where your concentration on a spell ends, the spell ends as well. We are now in the following situation :

  • You have cast a spell with a spell slot of 1st level or higher. Casting condition satisfied.
  • You have targeted an ally when casting the spell. Targeting condition satisfied.
  • The spell ended. The "immediately after the spell" condition is satisfied.

All the conditions are fulfilled. Voice of Authority triggers the moment your concentration ends, even if it was broken unwillingly. Of course, this does not apply to readied spells, since they are not complete until they take effect (half a spell is not a spell).

Area of effect spells are an edge case

There are two ways Voice of Authority can be interpreted, especially the following (emphasis mine):

If you cast a spell [...] and target an ally with the spell, [...]

The "and" can be interpreted either as "cast the spell, then target an ally at any point with that spell" or "cast the spell and target an ally, at the same time". This second interpretation makes it impossible to use Voice of Authority with an area of effect spell, since the spell first needs to take effect (read: the spell first needs to deploy the area).

There is another issue. There are distinctions to make between two ways of targeting:

  • When a creature is in the area, you can target it.
  • When a creature is in the area, the spell targets the creature.

The first case isn't an issue. The second one, however, can be up to interpretation as well. Since the ability's description asks for you to manually target an ally with the spell, the spell doing the targeting automatically for you could be seen as not satisfying the condition. The character only targets a point in space where the spell's area will originate from. This last point, however, seems to be source of debate, as mentioned in the question.

To summarize, following a strict reading of the rules, the spell would need to be finished entirely in order to trigger Voice of Authority. This leads to the intended behaviour when using an instantaneous spell, but leads to unintended, difficult-to-use behaviour when using a spell with a duration. The situation becomes foggy when talking about area of effect spells, especially since the way targetting works with them is not clear.

Quick mention of an opposite argument

As mentioned by @Non-novelist in comments, the interpretation of "after the spell is cast" could also be a valid reading of the effect, since the word "spell" could refer to "when the spell is cast", right before the problematic part. With my understanding of english, both interpretations seem like valid readings as the original text is fairly ambiguous in its phrasing. It all comes down to an individual's "natural reading" of the text, which is subject to the reader's bias.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I DV this because I think that the only possible answer is "There is no RAW-way to read this feature, it is a DM's call" since I feel that the feature's description is incomplete. I am not convinced on your reading that "after the spell" means "after the spell in its totality", because it has little meaning, given other game features activating after precise condition on spells. I think that Groody's answer above is the correct approach, \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Jul 12, 2022 at 10:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Congratulations! Your answer has been selected for an award of 500 antibiotic free internet points. I selected your answer because it (1) did an excellent job of trying to remain faithful to a rules-as-written reading of the feature, (2) thoroughly explored the diverse array of circumstances where the feature might be used, (3) and explored the additional ambiguities created by the rules-as-written reading of the feature. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 13, 2022 at 13:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ No evidence from the text is given to support that all effects of a spell have to end for the spell to 'have been cast'. This reading suggests that you can never completely cast a permanent magic circle or continual flame because the spell effects don't end. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 13, 2022 at 18:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @aherocalledFrog we're talking about the spell as a whole, not just the spell being "cast", which ends when the spell takes effect. If the effects of the spell are not part of the "spell" then it opens up alot of issues. You are right in the fact that this interpretation means permanent spells never end, since their effects are still happening (they're permanent, after all). This also means that in this interpretation, the effect of Voice of Authority would never trigger with those spells, which, I agree, is dumb. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Jul 14, 2022 at 16:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree though, the rules being dumb has never stopped D&D before. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 14, 2022 at 17:59
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Voice of Authority is used immediately after (a) the spell is cast and (b) you select one of the allies (perhaps the only ally) you have targeted in casting the spell.

You offer four possible alternative timings:

  1. Is cast.
  2. Targets the ally.
  3. Affects the ally.
  4. Ends.

There is no difference in the timing between 1 and 2

If a spell requires a target, choosing a target is part of the casting of a spell. The rules say "A typical spell requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the spell's magic." (PHB 204, emphasis added) A DM might, for laughs, allow a player to cast magic missile to "attack the darkness", but if a spell requires you to pick a target, then if you don't select a target, the spell doesn't get cast. I can offer examples to back up this claim, but establishing this further would be a separate question.

If the spell only has one target, case closed. If there is more than one target, you get to select which one is affected by Voice of Authority. But "choosing a target" and "casting a spell" still happen at the same time.

3 is not the correct timing, because you don't target a creature every time your spell affects a creature

You raise the issue of an ally being affected by the same spell multiple times. At one point in your question you use the construction "targeted/affected" as if they are interchangeable. But there is a difference between a creature being targeted and a creature being affected.

I think that the area of effect of dawn introduces complications (which I will address below), so I'm going to switch from your example of dawn to heroism, a spell on the Order Domain spell list. Unlike dawn, which has an area of effect, heroism targets a creature you touch and the spell clearly refers to the creature as "the target". The creature "gains temporary hit points equal to your spellcasting ability modifier at the start of each of its turns." This creature is the target of the spell, and is affected multiple times. Does Voice of Authority trigger each time they are affected?

No, because the act of choosing a target only happens once, when the spell is cast. Voice of Authority happens "If you cast a spell with a spell slot of 1st level or higher and target an ally with the spell. [emphasis added]" Each turn when the creature gains temporary hit points, they are affected by the spell, but you have not targeted them an additional time. You targeted them once, when you cast the spell. There is nothing in RAW that suggests that you have somehow targeted them an additional time, or that targeting and spellcasting are separated in time.

But you also raise the issue of being the target of an area affect spell (specifically, dawn). You write:

For simplicity, I'll assume that all creatures within the area count as targets.

You link to a proposed answer that has not been accepted as the correct answer. While you can make that assumption, it has not been established that the proposed answer has correctly identified RAW. I think the proposed answer is incorrect, but I don't think it has to be answered in order to answer the current question. The discussion regarding heroism establishes that the spellcaster targets a creature when the spell is cast, not when the target is affected.

4 is not the correct timing, as it would rely upon an extremely unnatural reading of the phrase "immediately after the spell".

Finally, you have the difference between 1 (when the spell is cast) and 4 (when the spell ends). To see the implications of this, consider the spell aid. This can be used to target an ally when the spell is cast, and has a duration of 8 hours. As it does not affect the ally at multiple discrete times, it can only be interpreted as when the spell is cast or when the spell ends.

It would be extremely strange if the intention of Voice of Authority would be for the ally to use their reaction to make a weapon attack 8 hours after casting the spell, when you will most likely not be in combat.

Compare the actual rules for the Voice of Authority feature with an alternative wording (difference in italics):

The actual rules: If you cast a spell with a spell slot of 1st level or higher and target an ally with the spell, that ally can use their reaction immediately after the spell to make one weapon attack against a creature of your choice that you can see.

Hypothetical alternative wording: If you cast a spell with a spell slot of 1st level or higher and target an ally with the spell, that ally can use their reaction immediately after the spell's duration ends to make one weapon attack against a creature of your choice that you can see.

The most natural reading of "immediately after the spell" is "immediately after the spell is cast". "After" is somewhat vague. "Immediately after" is a little clearer. Still, it's not impossible to read "immediately after X" as "immediately after X ends". But given an alternative interpretation, like "immediately after the spell ends", the reader should ask, why doesn't it say that? I suggest that your proposed reading is unnatural, and an English writer/editor would realize this and write something clearer, like the hypothetical alternative wording I have supplied. Since spells can have durations measured in minutes, hours, days, or longer, Voice of Authority would be useless for most or all non-instantaneous duration spells if we adopted your proposed reading.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ One difference between "is cast" and "targets an ally" occurs when you ready a spell. A readied spell is cast on your turn, but isn't released until you use your reaction. If targets have to be selected on "is cast", then you would be unable to say "I ready fire bolt for the first creature that comes around the corner". \$\endgroup\$
    – Red Orca
    Jul 8, 2022 at 1:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ My question also presumes that you do target creatures within your areas of effect, to avoid any confusion. The targeting rules say: "If you are in the area of effect of a spell you cast, you can target yourself." It seems odd to be able to target yourself with dawn, but no one else. \$\endgroup\$
    – Red Orca
    Jul 8, 2022 at 2:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RedOrca I think there is a separate question which is "For an area of effect spell, does the spellcaster target both an origin and the creatures in the area of effect?" I think you and I would disagree on the outcome. That's why I have written my answer using heroism as the example instead. But if you rule differently, the rest of my argument stands, and can still be applied to area of effect spells. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 8, 2022 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RedOrca I guess the question is whether you think this answer can be improved by (a) eliminating the two paragraphs beginning with "But you also raise the issue of being the target of an area affect spell (specifically, dawn)"; or (b) explaining how this would work if the caster targets both creatures and an origin in an area of effect spell. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 8, 2022 at 13:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's certainly valid to do a frame challenge, particularly if the area of effect ruling is the source of the problem. It'd be good if your answer directly addressed the change, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Red Orca
    Jul 11, 2022 at 14:30

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