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The 1st level spell Snare takes one minute to cast and sets up a barely-visible trap on the ground with a radius of five feet. Once set up, the spell has a duration of eight hours. So it sits there, waiting, until some unwitting (or unwilling) creature enters that radius:

The trap triggers when a Small, Medium, or Large creature moves onto the ground or the floor in the spell's radius. (XGE, 165)

If the creature fails their dexterity save, then they are "magically hoisted into the air". They remain dangling upside-down three feet above the ground/floor until the spell ends or they succeed on a saving throw (which they can attempt at the end of every turn) or they/someone else succeeds on an attempt to free them using an Intelligence (Arcana) check.

Now, my question is this: what happens if one creature is already restrained due to have triggered the spell, and then a second creature enters the radius? This could well occur if a creature gets hoisted, then a second member of their group approaches them their dangling companion to examine what happened. Or if two or more creatures get pushed, pulled or fall into the radius.

When the second creature enters the circle, will the spell trigger again, forcing the second creature to make their own Dexterity saving throw to avoid being hoisted up next to their already dangling companion?

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Yes, it will trigger each time the condition is met until the spell ends

Some may imagine this abjuration spell turns the 25 feet of rope that is the consumed material component into an invisible, animated rope, such that once the rope is hoisting one creature, there is no rope left to hoist a second. That is how I pictured it when I first read the spell.

But this is not what the spell says.

When you finish casting, the rope disappears and the circle becomes a magic trap. (XGE, 165)

It does not say that the rope becomes invisible (which is how I had misremembered it). The rope "disappears", being consumed by the spell. And the "circle" on the floor that the rope bounded "becomes a magic trap", rather than the rope itself becoming a magic trap.

The trap triggers when a Small, Medium, or Large creature moves onto the ground or the floor in the spell's radius. (XGE, 165)

So the first creature enters the circle, fails their dexterity save and gets hoisted into the air. But the spell has a duration of 8 hours. Unless that time has elapsed, and so long as the following condition has not been met, the spell has not yet ended and is still active:

After the trap is triggered, the spell ends when no creature is restrained by it.

So will the spell trigger again on a second creature if one is already restrained? There is nothing in the spell to indicate otherwise.

Let's compare with a couple of other abjuration 'trap' spells that are triggered by certain conditions being met. The 3rd level spell Glyph of Warding has a duration of "until dispelled or triggered", meaning that triggering it once unleashes its effect and then there is no more Glyph. The same is true of the 7th level spell Symbol. But unlike these two, which explicitly say that triggering the spell causes it to end, Snare simply has a duration of "8 hours", which means it continues to be active after triggering, so long as nothing has occurred to cause the spell to end (i.e. eight hours have not yet passed, there is no creature restrained by it, and no one has cast Dispel Magic).

Examples

It seems entirely possible that a well-place Snare spell could end up restraining, for instance, a whole herd of sheep (imagine them being herded through an open gate that had Snare cast across it). Or if you had a trap or effect that pushed an entire party into or through a five foot radius circle, the whole party could get restrained by a single casting of this spell (assuming they all failed their Dexterity saving throw). Note, there is nothing in the spell to say that the movement that causes a creature to enter the circle has to be voluntary (compare the cantrip Booming Blade, where the extra damage only triggers if the target's movement is voluntary).


Superfluous Personal Commentary

This is a much more useful spell than I had realised. I think it could make an excellent trap when combined with, say, a collapsing floor trigged by a certain amount of weight (e.g. over 500 pounds), which opens over a drop that has a chute that spits the victim(s) onto a spot on the floor below that has Snare cast upon it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Funny by the way how you create a circle with a 5 foot radius with 25 feet of rope. Someone at WotC missed their math lessons in school. Maybe you splice the rope up? Or cut it into pieces for a dotted-line circle? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 1, 2022 at 4:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin, I think it was less about math and more about cutting a standard 50' rope in half so you can cast the spell twice with no waste, instead of once and having 18' of rope left. Unless you wanted to save those scraps for rope trick later in life. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Jun 1, 2022 at 6:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott, yeah, our group carries 2 9-foot ropes for rope trick (so you can get in quickly). \$\endgroup\$ Jun 1, 2022 at 6:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ You need the part of the rope that goes up into the air, too. Of course, it disappears, and who knows really why they picked 25', but a loop and then the rope going up into the air makes sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Jun 1, 2022 at 10:43
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It can, but the space is still be occupied

Nothing in the description of the spell says it will end when it triggers. In fact, the spell says

After the trap is triggered, the spell ends when no creature is restrained by it.

So it will remain until all restrained creatures are freed or the duration of 8 hours ends. It also does not say that it can only be triggered once, so it will be possible to trigger it multiple times. The wording of "when no creature is restrained" instead of "when the creature is not restrained any more" also suggests that it can hold multiple creatures.

Snare also says:

That creature must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or be magically hoisted into the air, leaving it hanging upside down 3 feet above the ground or the floor. The creature is restrained there until the spell ends.

The creature is still in the same space. While it is possible for other creatures friendly to it to move into that space and fall prey to the snare, the DM will have to resolve if they would do so, and how many creatures can dangle in the same space, or if they get pushed out into an adjacent spaces when dangling (which would limit the capacity to four medium or small or one large creature).

Other creatures reach the creature from the neigboring space to free it, without needing to enter:

Alternatively, the creature or someone else who can reach it can use an action to make an Intelligence (Arcana) check against your spell save DC. On a success, the restrained effect ends.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Whether a creature is a friend or an enemy, you can't willingly end your move in its space." If the area of Snare is already occupied by 4 Medium creatures, and another triggers it, it unwillingly ends its movement in that space, as they are restrained. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14 at 2:43

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