Shadowfell Shard:

When you use a Metamagic option on a spell while you are holding or wearing the shard, you can momentarily curse one creature targeted by the spell; choose one ability score, and until the end of your next turn, the creature has disadvantage on ability checks and saving throws that use that ability. ~TCE 135

What is the order of operations here, does the effect get applied to the spell being cast? If I cast hold person quickened, and use this shard, can I give my target disadvantage? Or does it only apply to spells following the spell used to trigger this shard?


2 Answers 2


There is a rule in XGTE that tells us what to do in the event of simultaneous effects. This appears to be a simultaneous effect. XGTE page 77 (like many rules these rules are optional) says:

"If two or more things happen at the same time on a character or monster’s turn, the person at the game table — whether player or DM — who controls that creature decides the order in which those things happen. For example, if two effects occur at the end of a player character’s turn, the player decides which of the two effects happens first."

Jeremy Crawford reinforced this in a tweet a while back, but as do whatever works for your table. https://twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/931243403127406592

Xanathar's Guide contains a rule on simultaneous effects. Short form: you decide the order of simultaneous effects on the turn of a character/monster you play. #DnD

  • \$\begingroup\$ Please edit in the information of links that is relevant to your answer :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Nov 14, 2021 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Using this optional rule requires that the things in question actually be happening simultaneously. Can you support that this is the case here? It would also be good to explicitly state what two things you are saying happen simultaneously. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 3:43

The timing is a bit unclear

I am somewhat unsure of the timing of the Shadowfell Shard. It says it is used when you use a Metamagic option, but it also says that you choose a creature targeted by the spell (past tense). If we want both of these to be true, then it is used after using a Metamagic and then also after creatures have been targeted by the spell. In this case, it is unclear to me whether the disadvantage should happen before or after saves and damage, so the GM would have to make a ruling. What I would personally use at my tables is the following:

It depends on the Metamagic being used

In most cases, the target would have disadvantage against the spell being used

The Shadowfell Shard works "When you use a Metamagic option on a spell", so it happens while (or immediately after) using a Metamagic option. Almost every single Metamagic happens "When you cast a spell", which would be before the effects of the spell actually take place (this can be proven because Metamagic is clearly supposed to do something which it can only do if the effects of Metamagic are applied before the effects of the spell). Thus, in most cases, you would cause disadvantage against the spell being cast.

The exception is Empowered Spell

This Metamagic happens when you roll damage, which is, probably, after your target has already made their save. That said, Empowered Spell is also unique in that you can use it even if you've already used another Metamagic option. Strictly reading the rules, the target of a spell using only the Empowered Spell Metamagic option would not have disadvantage on the spell's saving throw.

I have not actually applied this ruling at a table yet, and would surely playtest it if I could. I will note that the effects of the Shard last until the end of your next turn, so this is letting the caster cause disadvantage against two (or potentially more) of their spells.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You make a good point the order of operations is ambiguous for metamagic options that are used before spell targets are selected. However, I don't think the grammar argument really supports this. "Targeted" is an attributive verb, not an actual past tense. It would probably be better to quote the rules for selection of spell targets to show when that happens relative to metamagic usage. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Targeted could also be read as "directed at" in this context. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 19:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ryan I don't think the rules define precisely when targets are chosen and how that compares to the timing of "When you cast a spell". That said, clearly Metamagics apply first because they can do things like add targets or make otherwise invalid targets (out of range) become valid. You also can't prove targeted isn't the past tense. I'd sooner upvote an answer you write about this than update my own answer \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ downvoted due to ignoring extant rules \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 2:53

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