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The wand of wonder item states the following (emphasis mine):

If the effect causes you to cast a spell from the wand, the spell's save DC is 15. If the spell normally has a range expressed in feet, its range becomes 120 feet if it isn't already.

If an effect covers an area, you must center the spell on and include the target. If an effect has multiple possible subjects, the DM randomly determines which ones are affected.

There are 6 spells that can be cast from the wand that can possibly affect more than one target in an area:

  • faerie fire
  • fireball
  • gust of wind
  • lightning bolt
  • slow
  • stinking cloud

The slow spell affects up to 6 creatures of your choice in the cube, and all of the other spells affect all targets in the area (so all creatures in a line for lightning bolt, all creatures in a sphere for fireball, etc.).

How does this interact with the wand of wonder description? It's clear that if you target a creature with the wand, then that creature must be affected by the spell cast by the wand. Does the sentence "if an effect has multiple possible subjects..." mean that even for spells like fireball, the DM has to roll randomly to determine if a particular target is affected?

So suppose I use the wand on a creature and I am forced to cast fireball (centered on it), and suppose I have an ally right next to the targeted creature. Does my ally automatically get hit by fireball or does the DM determine randomly if the ally is affected?

I'm confused about the wording because the slow spell has caster choice determine the targets, and so that mechanically operates differently from fireball. So I can understand if the random determination of targets was intended only to apply to a spell like slow and not to something that is indiscriminate like fireball.

Edit: My other confusion rises from the use of the word "subject". If the sentence said "multiple possible targets", I think it would be clearer to me.

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1 Answer 1

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  1. You use an action to expend a charge and choose a target within 120 ft.
  2. Roll d100, find out the effect.
  3. The action takes place, at the target.

To answer your question, sometimes there are multiple creatures within the area of effect, which the description is referring to as subjects. As an example, if the effect is slow, it is a 40-ft cube centered on the target. If there are more than 6 creatures within the 40 cube, the maximum affected by slow, the GM randomly determines which ones.

Fireball does not have a limitation of affecting up to a number of creatures, so everyone within the radius of the fireball is fireballed.

The point of the "GM randomly determines the number of subjects affected" phrase is how to adjudicate in cases where normally the caster chooses. In those cases, such as slow, the GM chooses randomly.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I understand what you're saying, but it also strikes me as odd that the special clause is part of the general item description and not relegated to the table only. The only spell on the table that doesn't affect all targets in its area is slow, so why not just put the special clause for the slow spell only? Something like "You cast slow; if there are more than 6 creatures in the area of the spell, the DM randomly determines which creatures are affected, in addition to the target you chose with the wand." \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2022 at 0:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ If fireball would affect an area with 3 creatures, then those 3 creatures are possible subjects of the spell. So I don't agree that the special clause for the wand would not affect fireball. I think the disagreement ultimately lies in our interpretation of the word "possible". Even a fireball cast normally (i.e., not from the wand) has possible subjects, namely every creature and unattended object in the 20-foot-radius sphere of the spell. It just so happens that in most circumstances all those possible subjects are also the actual subjects. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2022 at 0:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoeGuadagni You might want to formulate your opinion into an answer, it would be a valuable perspective. I would rule differently than you propose, I would rule that the while the Wand says "IF an effect has multiple possible subjects", in the case of Fireball, there are NOT multiple possible subjects, it is an area of effect and the GM does not make any random determination. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 21, 2022 at 19:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that "random" has a lot of wiggle room there. While I think that fireball should affect all targets in the sphere, I don't think there is a RAW way to determine who should be targeted by slow. For example, "randomly select an order of potential targets and then flip a coin for each potential target in order, each head is a target, stop at 6" is a sufficiently "random" interpretation. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2022 at 20:58

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