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I'm currently playing the Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden published adventure. My Bugbear has been affected by Vlagomir's spark (see area H30 on p. 226-227), and he has grown to be 21 feet tall as a result. He now has the a strength of a Frost Giant (23).

My Bugbear was previously 7 feet 11 inches.

Are there rules to suggest that the reach of my bugbear should increase to 15 or even 20 feet?


UPDATE: I talked to my DM and he made a ruling that I was happy with that made logical sense. He now considers me a Huge creature with a reach of 15 feet (20 feet with my glaive) on my turn. He said that if my height is changed then it also makes logical sense that the length of my arms has changed. He considered the 25ft I was hoping for but started thought that was too much. My height tripled, logically the length of my arms should have tripled. If my proportions are all the same so my reach on my turn anyway should triple. I'm happy with the extra 5ft even though I wanted 10. He could have said no extended reach at all so for me this is a compromise I'm happy with.

Bugbears get Sneaky. In addition, without squeezing, you can move through and stop in a space large enough for a Small creature. Since I am now Huge, he is going to allow me to move through space one size smaller which is Large. His logic which I agree with is that Small is one size smaller than Medium and using RAW on the ability doesn't make sense. Otherwise, I'd still be able to move through a space large enough for a Small creature.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to our stack, Sean! Please take the tour to learn a bit about us and you can also visit the help center for even more information. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 3, 2023 at 16:52

3 Answers 3

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There is no rule correlating size category and reach

In 5e, there is no rule that states that creatures of a specific size have a specific reach. Also, neither the Enlarge/Reduce spell nor the effect from Rime of the Frostmaiden (p. 227) say anything about reach. Notably, the effect,

Vlagomir's spark,

doesn't even state a size category that applies. However, we know that it has to do with a Frost Giant because the effect description states that the item belonged to one. A size of 21 feet and a Strength score of 23 are also associated with Frost Giants (see Giants, MM p. 153) and Belt of Frost Giant Strength (DMG. p. 155).

A reach of 15 feet could be appropriate

There are no official rules, so you need to ask your DM. However, from the MM we know that a Frost Giant is huge and has a reach of 10 feet. Your DM could reasonably decide that this applies to you while you are that tall. If they do, they could reasonably decide that your reach would be further increased by 5 feet through the long limbs because the race description says it is additive and because the item description says nothing about changing body proportions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, this one said what I was trying to, and succinctly too. I'll delete mine as it won't add anything now I can see the effect \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2023 at 19:06
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There's a number of factors here

The item you encountered only gives a very specific set of mechanics about body growth over time ultimately reaching the final changes of:

  • 21 foot height
  • 7,700 pound weight
  • Strength 23

All in all, this is a pretty impressive list, but there is a notable - if obvious - missing item: creature size.

Creature size vs space controlled

Creature size is a sticky wicket. The space a creature controls by it's size isn't necessarily equivalent the space a creature takes up in reality. A Frost Giant is over 20 feet tall, but they're only a Huge creature that controls a 15x15 foot space.

And all we have now in your situation is a medium creature that's 21 feet tall and massively heavy. Like a Frost Giant.

DMs Choice

Here is where it comes down to the table and DM. You can say you are now Huge, or Gargantuan, or still Medium.

But what isn't a choice is that being a bugbear simply states:

When you make a melee attack on your turn, your reach for it is 5 feet greater than normal.

This is very clear in that the racial trait gives you an extended 5 feet of reach when you make a melee attack on your turn.

If you are still Medium, you still control a 5x5 area and have a reach of 10 feet when you make a melee attack on your turn. This is a bit weird to imagine, but there's fluff for everything :)

If you are Huge, you control a 15x15 are and have a reach of 10 feet when you make a melee attack on your turn. There are examples of monsters in the Monster Manual that are this size and greater with just 5 foot reaches. There is no reason to extend reach just because you're bigger. The increased area of control also effectively extends your reach because you control more spaces.

The item doesn't give you an extended reach, it only increases your height, weight, and strength. Not only that, but the Frost Giant itself only has a 10' reach - but the item doesn't give you their reach, just an increase of weight, height, and strength.

Do note that it also doesn't talk about increased damage - you only get the increase from your Strength score.

Downsides to being upsized: Squeezed

Don't forget that you're in the Caves - which have a tunnel height of 10-15 feet. The caverns are 30 feet, but you may be squeezing quite a bit and you definitely won't be able to enter buildings and may encounter other environmental problems.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It gets very gamist to have a 21' tall Medium creature, and kind of works against the "things only do what they say they do" argument elsewhere. However, I do now have some rules for the transform to work with, so I will try to fix my answer to be specific to OP's situation. \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2023 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NeilSlater Not sure what you mean by 'gamist'. My point is that your height changes, but your size doesn't by the terms of the item. A DM is left to figure out what to do - but the reach itself never changes. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 3, 2023 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes I think I agree about the conclusion on reach, because the effect is specific and not open-ended (although I would be happy as DM to rule some extras here, I agree with and have upvoted the answer). By "gamist" I mean sticking to game rules when they start to clash with the narrative, because there is no explicit rule for or against something. \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2023 at 19:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gotcha - I don't think I'm sticking to the rules but explaining with what rule items a DM can use in their decision-making. But for a player, it isn't up to them at all. And my addendum shows that there is a very real downside to remaining like this as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 3, 2023 at 19:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think increasing the PC's size category and keeping their reach the same is a reasonable ruling (notwithstanding the practical issues re: going indoors and such). Increasing their size to that of a giant effectively extends their reach, in the sense that a larger area is now within their reach thanks to their larger controlled space. \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2023 at 19:26
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This looks like a supernatural gift:

You gain 1 foot of height every hour and become proportionately heavier until you stand 21 feet tall and weigh 7,700 pounds. When you are 9 feet tall, your Strength becomes 19 unless it is already higher. For every 3 additional feet of height you gain, your Strength increases by 1, to a maximum of 23. Armor and clothing you are wearing and weapons you are carrying magically increase in size to match your growth. If you are the recipient of a greater restoration spell or similar magic, this charm vanishes from you, and you immediately shrink back to normal size, along with any armor, clothing, and weapons in your possession.

One of the core rules of D&D 5e is that effects do only and exactly what they say they do. Nothing in the description of Vlagomir's Spark says that your reach increases.

I cannot find anything in the rules explicitly tying reach to size, and there are indeed large creatures like ogres - standing 9-10 feet tall and described as "hulking giants" - that have only 5 feet of reach.

I can find nothing in the rules that would indicate that the recipient of Vlagomir's Spark in specific (or any similarly-worded ability) would also get their reach extended.

Also of particular note: the Spark does not increase the recipient's size category, even though it changes their height. That omission seems to argue in favor of not changing reach. Yes, you're now somehow a 21-foot-tall medium creature, towering over large creatures you encounter (at least, until you get hit by greater restoration or similar).

As a DM, I would expect the recipient of the Spark to ask about reach, but I would be inclined not to grant it: reach is really quite good in the vast majority of cases, and bumping strength up to 23 is already pretty potent. That said, I wouldn't look askance at another DM who included reach.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Uh. You say "the Spark does not increase weapon size", but your own excerpt includes "Armor and clothing you are wearing and weapons you are carrying magically increase in size to match your growth." (emphasis added) Which kinda turns your whole argument on its head; if a 3'6" (typical length from rules) longsword wielded by a 6' human has a reach of 5', it's quite strange that a 21' tall human (which would have arms around 8-9' long, if proportions stay the same) with a 12'3" sword is somehow still limited to 5' reach. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2023 at 2:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowRanger: wow, not sure how I missed that. Editing momentarily. \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    May 4, 2023 at 3:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ A Large creature like an Ogre controls a 10x10' space. Reach beyond that space doesn't necessarily also need to increase to feel realistic. (Credit to Ryan C. Thompson for this observation) \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2023 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was replying re: your paragraph about ogres, where you seem to be saying that it's weird for a "hulking giant" to still only have 5ft reach. But it's not too weird as long as their size category reflects their size, so that comparison doesn't help much. The fact that Spark doesn't say anything about your size changing is super weird and a big problem for mechanics modeling narrative. This seems like a case where a DM should make other mechanical rulings to match when they notice a problem, despite the rules for that item not saying so. (And you solve it with size category, not reach.) \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2023 at 14:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ok yes, I see the intent. But it's important to point out that Ogres are Large, and thus control a 10x10 space, instead of having reach. Controlling more space means there are more spaces they can attack at any given time without moving, since there are more adjacent squares. Being 21ft tall but still only controlling a 5x5 doesn't make sense the same way, so an ogre isn't a good analogy, and doesn't make Spark non-weird. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2023 at 14:15

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