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The party is looking at facing Tiamat as the 20th-level epic boss fight that will end the campaign. The evoker has only four spell slots that can directly affect her, due to her limited magic immunity, so has to choose well.

He is considering Arcane Hand, which when upcast has good damage output, considering her immunity to most of his damage types and her legendary saves. However, the Hand, as an object, automatically fails Dex saves and so will go down pretty quickly to fire, lightning, and acid breath. The Hand, as an object, is immune to poison.

I was confused about her cold breath. White dragon cold breath is a Con save; Con is a pretty standard save against cold damage (cf. Cone of Cold, Freezing Sphere). As an object, the Hand would also be immune to damage that came with a Con save. But the statblock I have for Tiamat in Roll20 says that her white head's cold breath causes a Dex save. I don't have access to the print copy of Rise of Tiamat.

Is the Roll20 cold breath correct, or in error? If her printed statblock actually does call for a Dex save, is there any precedent for that - perhaps in previous editions, or any official reason why it would be different from white dragon breath?

Matswecja's answer resolved my wizard's decision by pointing out that dragon breath, including Tiamat's, as written can damage only creatures, not objects. However, it does not explain why Tiamat's cold breath works differently from a white dragon's. I am still seeking an explanation for this - it could be a legacy of her stats in previous editions, a deliberate change signaled somewhere, or simply an error in editing.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this title a spoiler? Currently playing through Rise of Tiamat so maybe I should stay out of this question altogether. \$\endgroup\$ May 11, 2023 at 7:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @FerventHippo honestly, Tiamat's depicted on the cover of the book, her holy symbol includes 5 chromatic dragon heads, and I'd consider this a general knowledge, other than slight mechanical spoiler for which specific save is called for. \$\endgroup\$
    – matszwecja
    May 11, 2023 at 7:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @FerventHippo I've edited the title to remove the specific save. Hopefully it is not a spoiler, after 48 years and six editions of representations, that she has a cold breath. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    May 11, 2023 at 7:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ If your question was really about the designer-reasons, then that should have been the focus. This is a good example of why one question per question is helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 11, 2023 at 19:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your second to last paragraph is asking if it's correct or not. It also asks if there is lore behind the history of the breath weapon. And finally it asks if there are designer reasons for the save choice. That's three questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 12, 2023 at 13:03

1 Answer 1

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Yes, the statblock for Tiamat calls for Dex save.

However, both existing statblocks of Tiamat specifically call for creatures to make a saving throw. This means that, as a baseline, Arcane Hand would be unaffected by any of them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Alternatively, objects could be automatically affected by them with no save allowed. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    May 10, 2023 at 16:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage is there a general rule about that? Or is that a suggested house rule? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 10, 2023 at 17:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, I hadn't considered that - and it does appear consistent with dragon breath in general that it does not affect objects (which I had not noticed). While it solves my problem, this does not fully answer my question - is there any source that explains why Tiamat's white dragon breath calls for a different save than a white dragon's? Also, when you say "both existing statblocks of Tiamat" do you mean both the print and roll20 versions of Rise of Tiamat? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    May 10, 2023 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt In Fizban's Treasury of Dragons there's a statblock for Aspect of Tiamat, which is a bit different from what is presented in RoT \$\endgroup\$
    – matszwecja
    May 11, 2023 at 7:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, they are two different creatures, both for the statblock and for the description. The aspect is a sort of avatar of the fiend. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    May 11, 2023 at 7:55

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