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The spell Raulothim's Psychic Lance can hit a creature without having to see it, so long as the caster utters the name of the target:

You unleash a shimmering lance of psychic power from your forehead at a creature that you can see within range. Alternatively, you can utter a creature's name. If the named target is within range, it becomes the spell's target even if you can't see it. If the named target isn't within range, the lance dissipates without effect.

Can Psychic Lance hit a creature behind full cover? Typically, that would be against the rules (PHB, page 204):

To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can't be behind total cover.

However, the spell's description says "if the named target is within range, it becomes the spell's target", which make it sounds like it could be an exception to the full cover rule.

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The lance targets the named creature, so that's exactly what it does

Usually in order to target something you need to have a clear path to the target:

To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can't be behind total cover.

However Raulothim's Psychic Lance skips the usual process, and jumps straight to having the spell target a creature:

If the named target is within range, it becomes the spell's target even if you can't see it.

It is tempting to see the end of the sentence "even if you can't see it" as being the only mechanic that this spell skips, however if the spell says that the named target becomes the spell's target, then that's exactly what it does.

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Yes, this spell can ignore cover.

Here's the general rule for spell targeting, already quoted in the question (PHB, p. 204):

To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can't be behind total cover.

And here's the rule that describes the effect of total cover (PHB, p. 196):

A target with total cover can't be targeted directly by an attack or spell, although some spells can reach such a target by including it in an area of effect.

(Emphases mine in both cases).

That is the entirety of the rules for the effects of total cover: total cover means you can't be the target of spells.

Here's the relevant section of the spell's description (Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, P.21):

You unleash a shimmering lance of psychic power from your forehead at a target that you can see within range. Alternatively, you can utter a creature's name. If the named target is within range, it becomes the spell's target even if you can't see it.

(Again, emphasis mine).

The spell provides a specific targeting rule ("A named creature within range") that beats the general rule ("A creature not behind total cover"). So, yes, Raulothim's Psychic Lance ignores cover if the caster knows and utters the target's name.

But the spell doesn't mention cover, just visibility.

The wording of the spell ("target that you can see ... even if you can't see it") does read as though the primary intent of the naming-a-creature option is to bypass concealment. But the stated effect is worded such that it clearly is also an exception to the total cover rules.

The "specific beats general" meta-rule of D&D (PHB, p. 7) doesn't require that more specific rules explicitly identify all of the general rules they create exceptions to. It's enough for the specific rules for (in this case) a spell to enumerate its effects, and they are understood to take precedence over any more general rules that might otherwise apply.

Doesn't total cover mean the creature can be a target, but the spell has no effect?

No, it specifically doesn't mean that. The total cover rule explicitly says that the effect of total cover is that a creature can't be targeted.

Here's how the rules word "targeted but no effect", from (for example) the Globe of Invulnerability spell:

...a spell can target creatures and objects within the barrier, but the spell has no effect on them.

That's not how the total cover rule is worded. Raulothim's Psychic Lance can target creatures in a Globe of Invulnerability, but it won't have any effect on them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Being concealed is that necessarily being behind cover. As an example, a creature concealed by Darkness is definitely a valid target but nothing in the spell itself says it ignores any cover. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Nov 25 at 23:23
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You cannot target anything behind total cover without an explicit exception

Quoting the rules on A Clear Path to the Target:

To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can't be behind total cover. [...]

The Raulothim's psychic lance spell does not state it ignores cover nor that it can go around corners. We can compare this to sacred flame and fireball

[...] The target gains no benefit from cover for this saving throw. [...]

[...] The fire spreads around corners. [...]

Because the spell has no similar exception, it cannot ignore cover of any kind.

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    \$\begingroup\$ How is "If the named target is within range, it becomes the spell's target even if you can't see it" not an exception? It clearly states the exceptional targeting rules for this spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Nov 25 at 14:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Marq It makes no explicit exception about cover. There are numerous spells (such as fire bolt) that can target creatures you cannot see; they still require a clear path. Not needing to see your target is completely different from not needing a clear path \$\endgroup\$ Nov 25 at 15:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would say it makes explicit exceptions about everything. Fire bolt just says "at a creature within range"; it doesn't say "choose a creature within range; it becomes the target". Raulothim's Psychic Lance specifically says that a creature whose name you utter becomes the target, unconditionally. How does that not override cover? \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Nov 25 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm concurring with @Marq about this \$\endgroup\$ Nov 25 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you have the right answer, but it would be good to address the point of confusion; if "being seen" is the same as "being in cover" and what happens to a spell if there is no line of effect to a target. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 26 at 6:16
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Maybe
Firstly, the quoted "Clear Path to the Target" only talks about targeting specifically, while the spell gives you a specific way to target an opponent.

If the named target is within range, it becomes the spell's target even if you can't see it.

Unfortunately it doesn't specifically mention full cover being overruled, therefore:

Most likely not

You aren't making a ranged attack, so there isn't a physical projectile being fired towards the enemy. However that isn't enough, as per this question about Dissonant Whisper

One argument could be this Crawford tweet about how a spell might not need a clear path.
But that is countered by the fact that you are the target of misty step.

Very few things can ignore or partially ignore total cover without an area of effect, and they should mention it in the description;
Like Sacred flame, that still needs you to be able to see the target for the actual targeting:

The target gains no benefit from cover for this saving throw.

Or the Monk: Way of the Sun Soul's "Searing Sunburst" that can go through transparent cover (but still an AoE).

A creature doesn't need to make the save if the creature is behind total cover that is opaque.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Unfortunately it doesn't specifically mention full cover being overruled" This does not take into account specific beating general, and I would assume that even if it's not explicitly named. Implicitly it's a specific case. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 25 at 16:07
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You can target a creature under total cover, but unlikely you may hit them.

There are two relevant parts in the description of the spell. The former is (emphasis mine):

If the named target is within range, it becomes the spell's target even if you can't see it.

There are several ways in which a creature can not be seen: for example they may be hidden, invisibile, or even completely beyond a wall. Consider this last case: it falls under the umbrella of total cover. Indeed, the rules state (emphasis mine)

A target with total cover can't be targeted directly by an attack or a spell, although some spells can reach such a target by including it in an area of effect. A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle.

Being beyond a wall (or any other similar situation) is equivalent to be completely concealed by an obstacle: and being completely concealed by an obstacle means that one can not be seen. Let's put everything together:

  • a creature beyond a wall is under total cover and it is unseen by the caster
  • Raulothim's Psychic Lance allows to target unseen creature once their name is spoken

Then, a direct reading of the spell's description says that such a creature under total cover can be targeted by the caster.

The second relevant part of the spell is (emphasis mine):

You unleash a shimmering lance of psychic power from your forehead at a creature [...] within range.

The lance must have a straight route from the caster's forehead to the target: nowhere it is stated that it can bypass obstacles, for example by taking a curved trajectory. The lance seems to crash on the wall beyond which the target is. Up to a DM's call, the wall can present a small crack or a loophole that allows the lance to pass: it depends on the situation.

Résumé

Raulothim's Psychic Lance may allow to target creatures that benefit from total cover, but it is very unlikely that they can be hit.


The above explanation is based on a creature being beyond a wall, but there are several situations that can grant total cover in other ways.

In my opinion, it seems that this spell has been designed having in mind unseen target with the invisible condition on, or that are hidden.

An interesting use of this spell is to reveal the position (more or less clearly) of an unseen creature, at the cost of a 4th level slot.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There's not really a provision in the rules for targeting a creature with a spell but the spell not affecting them -- at least, aside from other effects like Globe of Invulnerability. This spell isn't an attack, or a physical effect of any kind (it's explicitly "psychic"). So I don't understand how this can target, but not affect, a creature. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Nov 26 at 10:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ This might be true if it was an attack spell. However, as far as I know, cover applies only to attack rolls, not saving throws \$\endgroup\$ Nov 26 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Marq I will address those points asap \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Nov 26 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheDragonOfFlame I based my answer on the (incomplete) quoted description in the question: anyway, the description of the spell is pretty clear, even there is a ST there is this magical lance going from the forehead to the target. Is this magical lance blocked by physical obstacles that may provide total cover? It is not clear, I will address in the answer asap. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Nov 26 at 16:00
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No You Can't

Because It says that the spell originates from your forehead any physical object that would prevent line of sight would also prevent the spell from passing through the object.

The wording allowing you to target despite not having line of sight is most likely intended to deal with darkness or some other immaterial shroud.

While this is RAW I know a few DMs who would rule otherwise for the sake of making the wording simplified, saying "if you can target you can hit"

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site Ben, take the tour when you have a moment. When you say “is most likely intended to deal with darkness or some other immaterial shroud”, it isn’t clear to me where this is coming from. Can you further support this claim? \$\endgroup\$ 2 days ago
  • \$\begingroup\$ Originally while in UA the relevant part of the Spell's description said, "You unleash a shimmering lance of psychic power from your forehead at a creature that you can see within range. Alternatively, you can utter the creature’s name. If the named target is within range, it gains no benefit from cover or invisibility as the lance homes in on it." This explicitly allowed the targeting of the creature behind full cover, however as the line regarding ignoring full cover was removed we can infer that is ability was removed from the spell for balance reasons \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Snow
    yesterday
  • \$\begingroup\$ You should include that info in the answer. \$\endgroup\$ yesterday

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