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Tiamat has the Limited Magic Immunity trait, I know that much. But the wording confuses me:

Unless she wishes to be affected, Tiamat is immune to spells of 6th level or lower. [...]

I understand spells like fireball or suggestion because Tiamat would be the target for those spells (or with fireball, the area around her).

Since the smite spells (like brandishing smite, searing smite, etc.) have a range of Self, would she take the extra damage/be subject to the affects if a creature that cast one of those spells hit with the weapon attack?

On the same line of thought: If a creature with a regular AC of 20 casts shield of faith (bringing their AC up to 22), does Tiamat ignore the spell, and thus only need a total of 20 on her attack roll to hit?

Is Tiamat subject to the extra effects of smite spells when hit with an attack? And can she circumvent shield of faith?

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'Affected' can be ambiguous but is somewhat defined in the rules.

From the rules on spellcasting, specifically the range of spells, from the Basic Rules / Player's Handbook there is a quite clear statement what creatures are affected by spells with a range of self (emphasis mine).

Most spells have ranges expressed in feet. Some spells can target only a creature (including you) that you touch. Other spells, such as the shield spell, affect only you. These spells have a range of self.

Although I don't think there is a clear definition for every type of range and the creatures those spells 'affect' or 'target', the quoted rule quite deliberately states what creatures are affected by spells with a range of self.

Going by this the various spell smites, with their range of self, by RAW only affect the caster and not Tiamat. They could thus work.

Whether they actually do is in my opinion still a bit of an edge case, although these smite spells have a range of self they still quite directly affect (going by the normal definition of the word) the target of the weapon attack they are a part of. Although mentioned here and there, 'affected' is not a precisely defined game term and it can be more than reasonable for a DM to handle ranges of self on a case by case basis.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A text saying that a spell that targets you "affects" you doesn't mean it is the only way a spell can "affect" you. This proves that being targeted is being "affected", but does not prove that other ways of being influenced by a spell is not being "affected". In more abstract terms, proving "If A, then B" doesn't prove that "If not A, then not B". \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Apr 20, 2023 at 9:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Matthieu I think you are not reading the quoted text correctly or in its entirety. The important part is "Other spells, such as the shield spell, affect ONLY you. These spells have a range of self." Afaik this is a clear statement that spells with a range of self only affect you (the caster). No mention of targeting is made for spells with a range of self, it directly states what they affect. \$\endgroup\$
    – anon
    Apr 20, 2023 at 12:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ As I understand it, this describes some spells which only affect you (shield is a very obvious example here), but not explicitely all spells with a range of self. In other words, spells that only affect you have a range of self, but that does not mean that spells with range of self only affect you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Apr 20, 2023 at 12:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I get what you are saying. Logically it is true that the text only really says "if it affects only you the spell has a range of self" and thus not every spell with a range of self has to necessarily only affect you. But I think it is a fair assumption that the whole section is meant to be an exhaustive list of spells and their ranges, so I think the conclusion that spells with a range of self only affect you is a fair one to make. In the end it doesn't really matter, 'affected' is still not really a properly defined game term in any shape or form. \$\endgroup\$
    – anon
    Apr 20, 2023 at 12:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I concur with Pepijn. The Text heavily implies the two groups "spells which target only you" and "spells with range self" are the same. Like if someone would write "...affect only you. These spells are called "affect-only-you-spells." One would assume one is a synonym for the other. \$\endgroup\$
    – Falco
    Apr 20, 2023 at 16:35
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The key word is "affected"

If a spell would "affect" Tiamat, then this trait may apply. What this exactly means is unclear, as there is no proper definition for this word, or any clarification in the rules.

The english definition of the word itself is ambiguous, since it can apply both to direct or indirect influences.

As such, it is up to the DM to draw the line and decide what definition of "affected" they want to use.

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How powerful do you want her to be?

Tiamat ought to be the ultimate boss fight. To my mind, it would be daft for her to be inconvenienced by a Wall of Force spell - even though she isn't the "target", I let her trample through unimpeded.

For player buffs, I rule that those that target a player can still work (Bless adds 1d4 to hit, Guardian of Nature adds 1d6 force damage etc), but those that target her don't work unless L7 and above.

The smite spells specify that damage and effects are applied "to the target". So for me, they're a "no". Similarly, I wouldn't let a player Banishing Smite a rakshasa.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @SwissFrank This answer is pure opinion. It should have a section about what the rules say (factual) and then add a section about what the answerer would do (differently from the rules), preferably backed by experience with doing that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Apr 21, 2023 at 6:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's another view on this, which is that the DM is free to customize monsters, including named ones, as suits their campaign. So rather than viewing this as a ruling or interpretation on their legendary resistance, you can view this as modifying the default Tiamat so that the Tiamat in this universe is not affected by Smite spells/effects. I don't have it handy, but I suspect there is guidance in the DMG to this effect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave
    Apr 21, 2023 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Ultimately, the Dungeon Master is the authority on the campaign and its setting, even if the setting is a published world." I didn't quote it because it's DMing 101. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 22, 2023 at 8:08
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The consensus I can find from similar questions about fighting a Rakshasa is that the base Divine Smite is not considered a spell, and should affect her. They don't outright mention other smites in any of the sources I checked.

For shielding spells, it is generally agreed that it can't ignore those, as it just raises the AC of a character. See this specific response to a similar question here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This only partially answers the question. The question is not about divine smite but about smite spells like Searing Smite. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Apr 20, 2023 at 16:03
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The creature trait, Limited Magic Immunity, can be difficult to adjudicate.

But let's take a closer look.

If we look at the Rakshasa from the Basic Rules, it has this feature.

Limited Magic Immunity. The rakshasa can't be affected or detected by spells of 6th level or lower unless it wishes to be. It has advantage on saving throws against all other spells and magical effects.

There is an addition here, from the Monster Manual errata.

Rakshasa (p. 257). Limited magic immunity: the first sentence now reads, “The rakshasa can’t be affected or detected by spells of 6th level or lower unless it wishes to be.”

The original text was

The rakshasa is immune to spells of 6th level or lower unless it wishes to be affected.

Unofficial designer tweets

There are several tweets addressing questions about LMI, but they do not answer all questions, and sometimes create new ones.

The Mike Mearls comment seems to imply a spell targeting you (or your weapon) would still work, but that doesn't agree with Jeremy Crawford's answer regarding Magic Weapon. If we ignore MM's comment, this starts to give us a few more guidelines, like an instantaneous effect that doesn't last, or an effect with a duration would not affect the LMI target.

Reddit

There’s a reddit post with this answer.

Magic users have a whole brace of options against [a creature with Limited Magic Immunity].

  • 7th level or above spells (above the LMI threshold)
  • Summon spells
  • Buff spells on other characters
  • Defensive spells like counterspell and shield
  • Spells that create an instantaneous effect that then later affects the Rakshasa, like a stone-shaped sword.
  • Spells with a radius including the Rakshasha that continue to function at least partly as normal through the LMI such as silence. (The Rakshasa could still cast a spell as the silence does not affect them but the area still prevents all sound from escaping so functionally, they are still silent)

I tend to agree with most of this interpretation, although Counterspell seems to be up for debate, and Shield probably wouldn't work, since although it's defensive, it is a spell effect that has a duration. So to answer your question,

Do Smite Spells work on Tiamat?

Although those spells have a range of self, they are not instantaneous, leaving a non-magical item, rather they are spell effects with a duration, so

No, but ask your DM.

But that doesn't mean all spells are useless.

Further, you didn't ask, but since Divine Smite, the class feature isn't technically a spell, the answer is more difficult. One could argue they are fueled by spell slots and are "magical" in nature, but the ability specifically calls out spells, so in this case, I would imagine a DM may rule a creature with LMI, or specifically Tiamat, is not immune.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That website is just a third party aggregator of developer tweets. The real Sage advice is the published document by wizards and we should be careful not to call unofficial tweets Sage Advice because of smart marketing by the guy who started it and a need to separate them for stackizens. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Apr 21, 2023 at 23:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough, but I removed JC, since more than his are quoted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wyrmwood
    Apr 21, 2023 at 23:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have a copy of the MM that still has the original text. It used to say "The rakshasa is immune to spells of 6th level or lower unless it wishes to be affected." \$\endgroup\$ Nov 24, 2023 at 7:05
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There are several "smite" spells: Banishing, Blinding, Branding, Searing, Staggering, Thunderous, Wrathful. Each of them states "If the attack hits, deal X damage" where X is some dice of some damage. So this is what is damaging Tiamat, not the spell itself. So check if Tiamat is immune to that damage, the spell has nothing to do.

Damage Immunities acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks

The paladin's divine smite states:

Divine smite "Starting at 2nd level, when you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, you can expend one spell slot to deal radiant damage to the target, in addition to the weapon’s damage. The extra damage is 2d8 for a 1st-level spell slot, plus 1d8 for each spell level higher than 1st, to a maximum of 5d8. The damage increases by 1d8 if the target is an undead or a fiend, to a maximum of 6d8."

Again, the damage is extra damage of radiant damage. Is Tiamat immune to radiant damage?

With "Shield of Faith", the target gains a bonus +2 AC. The target gains a bonus, Tiamat does not gain a malus. Is Tiamat emitting an antimagic field suppressing all the spells? No - limited immunity is not antimagic.

Limited Magic Immunity Unless she wishes to be affected, Tiamat is immune to spells of 6th level or lower. She has advantage on saving throws against all other spells and magical effects.

In my opinion, rules are pretty clear and smite spells, smite ability and shield of faith work.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There's no 5e spell called "Smite". The spells with smite in their name which do radiant damage are Branding Smite (2nd) and Blinding Smite (3rd). They buff the caster; you don't cast them on a weapon, you cast them on yourself, and your next hit with any weapon attack gets the benefit (if you're still concentrating on the spell). So if you have multiple weapons, e.g. a mace and a crossbow, you don't have to pick one when you cast. (The thing people usually mean when they say just "smite" isn't a spell at all, it's the Divine Smite ability. That clearly works on Tiamat.) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2023 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi rookie! I have removed your link to 'dndwiki"; we do not link to 'pirate' content here for a number of reasons, including that it is sometimes inaccurate (the site you linked did not include Tiamat's Innate Spellcasting, for example). It seems like you were making the point that she does not have antimagic field, which you can't really prove without listing the entire stat block, but I edited in the closest thing from her official stats in _RoT_and emphasized that it is not antimagic. Feel free to re-edit after reading the meta. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Apr 21, 2023 at 15:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes If ever, there are even more smite spells. It was just an example to report the wording "extra damage", not for the in game mechanics (attacker vs. weapon). And the OP explicitly referred to smite spells, so I don't get your point. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2023 at 15:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ My point was that your original statement, "The spell "Smite" adds radiant damage to the weapon" isn't true in D&D 5e. There isn't only one smite spell, so the definite article "the" doesn't make sense. (and none with that as their exact name.) And many of the smite spells have a damage type other than radiant. So it wasn't at all clear what you were answering about until your edit, smite spells vs. Divine Smite. (I don't find it obvious, though; the spell's magic is pretty directly damaging the target of your attack, and even applying a spell effect such as banished or blinded to them.) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2023 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that it makes sense that magic immunity doesn't let her ignore AC buffs like Shield of Faith (or the Shield reaction spell), and Divine Smite works because it's not a spell. (And perhaps would work even if it was a spell that just added damage on an attack.) But Branding / Blinding / Banishing Smite have other effects that Tiamat surely can ignore via her limited magic immunity. It doesn't make sense to me that she would take the 2d6 radiant damage but not be branded (glowing and can't benefit from invisibility). There isn't even a saving throw for it (unlike Blinding Smite). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2023 at 16:08

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