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I was thinking about making a Wizard that casts glyphs of warding on his skin (which is a surface) such that any time that I take damage, the source of the damage gets hit with stored fireball spells until they die. My DM said that I could not do this, because my skin does not count as a surface. I know that my DM would be willing to let me do this if I could prove to him that this would work RAW. How do I do this?

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Your skin is probably not a surface. Just cast it on an object you wear or carry.

Glyph of warding gives examples of surfaces:

You inscribe it either on a surface (such as a table or a section of floor or wall)

This seems to indicate that the intent is that a creature's skin is probably not a "surface" in the sense of the spell. There might be room for a DM to rule that you can do this on your actual skin, but there is no need - you can cast it on the surface of an object you wear or carry. Notably, the glyph can be inscribed on very small objects.

However, the real issue is...

If you move more than 10 feet, the spell ends.

Glyph of warding says:

If the surface or object is moved more than 10 feet from where you cast this spell, the glyph is broken, and the spell ends without being triggered.

So if you do cast it on an object you wear or carry, the spell ends if you move that object more than 10 feet.

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Glyph has an anti-move clause

Whether skin counts as a surface isn't well defined. It's certainly quite different from the examples given in the spell. The bigger obstacle you're gonna run into is that glyph of warding has a rule against moving too far:

The glyph can cover an area no larger than 10 feet in diameter. If the surface or object is moved more than 10 feet from where you cast this spell, the glyph is broken, and the spell ends without being triggered.

So even if your DM accepted your skin as a surface (which it sounds like they haven't), as written you'd be bounded to within 10 of where-ever you cast the spell (or waste the castings), which would be a rather large obstacle to any adventurer.

There is to my knowledge nothing that would allow you to set up exactly what you envision (ignoring magic items etc., not that I know of any specifically). The closest (conceptually) is contingency but that is limited to targeting yourself, and I don't think there are any buffs which would achieve the retributive strike you seek.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Doesn’t it just say that you can’t move more than ten feet if you cast it on a object? \$\endgroup\$
    – Consus
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 20:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Consus You propose to be the surface which that rule cares about being moved, aren't you? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 20:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Consus "If the surface or object is moved more than 10 feet" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 20:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Consus Your proposal is that your skin is the surface onto which the glyph is cast, right? The rule says "If the surface or object is moved" \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 20:37
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Not for Glyph of Warding, but you might have other alternatives

You could go for a defensive approach with an Absorbing Tattoo to provide you with immunity to a certain damage type. This quite be handy as you can use your Reaction to trigger it. It resets at dawn. It is a very rare item and requires attunement, though. (TCoE, p.119)

You could also use a Livewell Tattoo to give you Life Ward, which again resets at dawn. Again, it is a very rare item and requires attunement. (TCE, p.129)

Or perhaps, you could go on the offensive with Spellwrought Tattoo (3rd Level) and use it -like you mentioned- to store a good ole Fireball in it. However, you might need a few of these, as "once the spell ends, the tattoo vanishes from your skin". Saying this, it is only uncommon so if your DM likes the idea maybe they'll give you access to a few of these. (TCE, p.135)

You could use the spell Contingency as already mentioned (PHB, p.227) and this is similar to Glyph of Warding in that you can specify certain criteria which will trigger the spell to be cast on yourself that is of 5th level or lower. This can be used in combat, for instance: False Life, Mirror Image, Mislead, Vampiric Touch or Polymorph.

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