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The arcane maul spell (Secrets of Sarlona pg. 126) has 3 interesting uses as an offensive spell. The 2nd usage has a rules issue I'd like to get a ruling on based on the following paragraph:

If hurled, an arcane maul shoots out from your fist as a line 50 feet long, then fills a 20-foot-radius burst at the end of its range. Creatures within the area of the line and burst take ld6 points of force damage per two levels (maximum 10d6) and are stunned for 1 round. A successful Fortitude save halves damage and negates the stun effect.

Can a creature that is both inside of the 50' line and the 20' burst radius at the end of its range, be subject to a double dose of damage (as well as the stunning effect) from the spell?

The text that starts with "then fills" is what lead me to think that it's potentially a 2-stage spell in regards to dealing damage + stun to qualifying creatures.

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No, it doesn’t deal double damage. There are actually a couple of reasons why:

  1. Any effect applied by the one casting of the spell will surely be subject to the “same source” limitation on stacking effects. Without something explicitly allowing self-stacking, that doesn’t happen.

  2. “the area of the line and burst” defines a single area as the union of two other areas (the line and the burst). All creatures that are within this singular area are subject to the damage and stunning—the line and burst separately do not have their own effects. Therefore, there is no “overlap” to be had, so really there aren’t any two effects that even could stack.

To have the effect you want, it would have to be written as something like

If hurled, an arcane maul shoots out from your fist as a line 50 feet long, then fills a 20-foot-radius burst at the end of its range. The line and the burst each deal 1d6 points of force damage per two levels (maximum 10d6) to creatures within, and stuns those creatures for 1 round. A successful Fortitude save halves damage and negates the stun effect. Creatures within both areas are subject to both effects, which stack.

Also, a word of warning: this is not a very good spell. The damage for hurling it is very poor (1d6/level is standard, this is half that), and Fortitude tends to be the most difficult save to target. Stun immunity is annoyingly common, too. The melee usage is better, but as a standard action that lasts 1 round/level, you will often have to give up your first turn summoning it, which is very bad (combats often only last 2-3 turns). It’s not completely awful or anything, but you can do much, much better with a 3rd-level spell slot.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I got a bit confused for a moment, reading your answer and then reading the spell text in your answer and going "Hey wait, but that's the opposite of what it says!" \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Jul 9, 2023 at 2:27

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