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I was considering the following scenario with a Wild Magic Sorcerer (this uses a houserule where the player chooses when to refresh Tides of Chaos ability) where they are targeted by a concentration spell, like Enervation.

  1. Enemy casts Enervation.
  2. Wild Magic Sorc. casts Shield as a Reaction.
  3. They refresh Tides of Chaos, rolling on Wild Magic Table, and as a result, cast Magic Missile at 5th level.

Does the enemy have to make a concentration save? If so, do they lose the spell on failure without dealing damage? Or, do they lose the spell after the Wild Magic Sorcerer makes the saving throw? The same applies for other methods of dealing damage on a reaction. Does the enemy risk losing their spell? The most I could find on it is that Concentration applies to "maintaining" a spell, but I'm unclear on whether the initial casting also comes under that label.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe, for clarification, you edit your question and replace enervation with one of the smite spells that require both concentration and an attack roll. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shadomew
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 19:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CookedTurtle Now the question makes no sense -- a Paladin smite spell is not targeting you at all, it is targeting the Paladin with a target of "Self". You obviously could then cast shield in response to being hit by a smite-enhanced attack, or you could cast it in response to them casting the smite (but then you do not even know if they will attack you, they might attack someone else). I would recommend to keep this question as it is (about a spell like enervation targeting you). I'd recommend to ask this as a new question instead. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 6:52

1 Answer 1

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You cannot cast shield in response to enervation

Shield’s casting time is:

Casting time: 1 Reaction*
* which you take when you are hit by an attack or targeted by the magic missile spell

Enervation is not an attack. It does not involve an attack roll. It is a spell with a saving throw mechanic. Therefore, it does not qualify for casting shield (p. 194 PHB):

If there’s ever any question whether something you’re doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you’re making an attack roll, you’re making an attack.

You could instead take the Ready action to cast a spell as a reaction to being hit by enervation. However, without shield's special rules that allow you to have the shield preempt the attack that triggered it, the reaction would resolve only after the thing that triggered it (p. 252 DMG):

If a reaction has no timing specified, or the timing is unclear, the reaction occurs after its trigger finishes, as in the Ready action.

Therefore, you could not avoid the initial enervation damage but you could force a concentration check right after that, and if it was failed, avoid the damage from subsequent rounds. However, that does not really make this a great tactic: you have to give up your action to Ready there, and the opponent might do something other than casting on you, wasting the slot you spent on shield.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry - I made a mistake. However, I would still like to know the answer to the fundamental question. Say I counterspell and trigger a Wild Magic Surge. Can the damage from that Wild Magic Surge cancel their attack, even if the Counterspell fails? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 21:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CookedTurtle I’d rule this works. Normally it could on your own turn or if the spell has a longer casting time. Else, because there is no sub-action timing, the resolution order of simultaneous effects is up to the DM or, using Xanathar's, the active player, so opponents would order it differently. But if you want other's take on that, too, maybe best ask it in a new question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 0:08

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