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If both Mirror Image and Sanctuary are on the same creature, do I determine if a duplicates is hit before or after the effects of sanctuary happen?

Mirror Image says:

Each time a creature targets you with an attack during the spell's duration, roll a d20 to determine whether the attack instead targets one of your duplicates.

Whereas the relevant text from Sanctuary is:

Until the spell ends, any creature who targets the warded creature with an attack or a harmful spell must first make a Wisdom saving throw.

Which effect takes place first, if they are attacked? If sanctuary takes precedence (or the creature passes it's wisdom saving throw), and the attack goes through, does it need a second save to target the duplicate? If mirror image takes precedence, does sanctuary still try to prevent the attack?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic the question wandered while I wrote it, but the title didn't get updated. I think it's clearer now \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21 '21 at 18:35
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In rare cases, effects can happen at the same time, especially at the start or end of a creature's turn. 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.

Xanathar's Guide to Everything, page 77

So, if it's the NPC turn, your Dungeon Master decides what happens / triggers first. If it's your turn, you decide.

This is optional rule so if you are not using it at your table, then it's DM call. But I believe it to be a fair rule to follow, and using rules from the book can help to prevent disagreements.

Either way, both effects take place, if after the first one, the second one still makes sense:

So if sanctuary goes first and stops the attack, no roll for duplicate retargeting is needed. If mirror image goes first and the roll indicated the real character, then roll for the sanctuary takes place.

This is because if first effect prevented the attack, the second one does not do anything as it makes no narrative sense. The attacker is no longer being someone targeting the PC with an attack, and so is no longer a valid subject of the second effect.

If mirror image made someone target duplicate instead of protected character, then sanctuary has nothing to do as it only affects creatures targeting the warded person, per spell text. And attacker is no longer targeting warded person, he is targeting duplicate instead (again, per mirror image spell text).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I've done a small bit of rewording to make the sentences flow a bit better and be more readable. Please do rollback if you see fit. In rewording though, I noticed you don't cover what happens if the duplicate does get targeted before sanctuary takes effect. Or does your last paragraph imply the mirror image spell 'prevented the attack', so the sanctuary spell no longer takes effect? I'd say it's not prevented the attack or initial targeting... but does sanctuary remember the initial targeting? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22 '21 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AncientSwordRage If mirror image made someone target duplicate instead of caster, then sanctuary has nothing to do as it only affects creatures targeting the warded person, per spell text. And attacker is no longer targeting warded person, he is targeting duplicate instead (again, spell text). \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Dec 22 '21 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ That clear it up for me \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22 '21 at 14:50
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As a dungeon master, I would apply Sanctuary first. Logically, I'd say being forced to target someone other than you by sanctuary happens before seeing if they target the right you from mirror image.

That said, that's just my opinion as a dungeon master, and as written they happen at the same time mechanically. I can't seem to find a completely definitive official answer, so it would be left up to the dungeon master and players to decide how things work at their table.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with this answer; the Wisdom check comes before the Attack roll, so logically Sanctuary must take effect first. Then again, I think my interpretation is biased by way of playing Magic: The Gathering for so long. Breaking down attacks into "phases" makes multiple effects more manageable in my opinion. \$\endgroup\$
    – phyrfox
    Dec 23 '21 at 1:38

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