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I was wondering if in the past our party could have prepared better to fight a potentially deadly foe. We had time to prepare for this and could have used a Glyph of Warding or two, but we didn't. We had a day to prepare for the fight as I recall. The short version of what happened is that we had a TPK (total party kill) when facing a dragon. Some were lost outright and a couple of us were restored to life from a couple of charred bones by a "court of healers" - which was quite magnanimous of our DM really.

I've been mulling this over recently while reading other questions and wondered about how we could have prepared better.

My question is whether we could have used Glyph of Warding to prevent the TPK.

Could we have set up a spell like Healing Word (range of 60 ft.) to be triggered when a particular PC's hit points went down to 0 hit points, died? Or, a spell like Aura of Life (range of self) with the Glyph of Warding to be triggered when the first PC was killed? (PHB, pp. 216, 250, 267)

I could see how both of these spells in a Glyph of Warding would have saved our bacon but want to check whether this would have been possible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/158134/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Nov 9, 2023 at 11:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you just asking if glyph works with healing spells? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9, 2023 at 12:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I believe I was trying to get OP to clarify their question so that informed answers are possible. I don't see asking where the fight takes place as providing an answer to the question of whether a glyph can be used to avoid a TPK. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Nov 9, 2023 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Thomas, it is about using the Glyph of Warding and a spell that can potentially heal a target or in an area, so as to trigger when the PC(s) hit 0 HP. I didn't add the whole background because it didn't seem necessary. I'm not asking what to do next or how to defeat the dragon. Not sure Vlaz's sarcasm was necessary but a "Kill Dragon With No Save" spell would be handy, yes. ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Nov 9, 2023 at 23:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Asking "Can healing spells be stored in a Glyph of Warding" is a fundamentally different question to "Can Glyph of Warding prevent a total party kill" which in turn is similar but not exactly the same question as "Can Glyph of Warding prevent a total party kill when fighting a dragon". \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Nov 10, 2023 at 5:49

1 Answer 1

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Yes, you could have used glyph of warding this way

Spells that can be stored into a glyph of warding must fullfill these conditions:

You can store a prepared spell of 3rd level or lower in the glyph by casting it as part of creating the glyph. The spell must target a single creature or an area.

That includes spells that target self. Aura of life is 4th level, so it will not work unless you upcast the glyph to 4th or higher level. Healing word will work without a hitch, as it is a prepared spell of 3rd level or lower that targets a creature. The pre-errata version of glyph talked about harmful effects, but this has been removed in errata, so now beneficial effects can be stored too.

What is more difficult to decide is the circumstances that trigger the glyph. While the spell has quite a bit of language about it, much remains unclear and needs the DM. For example, is there a range limit? Is the glyph omniscient? Can it trigger on your own death? Can it see the future? And so on. But I think an in-character visible event, such as a character falling unconscious from damage should not be a problem.

So yes, you probably could have changed the odds a bit more in your favor, by preparing the area where you stood your ground with such glyphs.

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