This ties in to my previous question, where the answer was that I can't target them with a spell because the ground acts as full cover.

The context for this question is that my enemy (another player) burrowed 5 feet underground after transforming into an earth elemental, and I only had like one AOE spell, that being tidal wave. I can't burrow after them and I can't target them with spells because of full cover, and there's a pillar that attacks the players twice per round, dealing 10 unavoidable DM damage sometimes. No roll to dodge, just take 10 damage regardless of resistances. I don't have any healing spells prepared, and I can't break the ground with a heavy weapon because I'm a fairy, which is small.

Is there a way for me to defeat them in this situation if they decide to not resurface, and just let me die to the pillar, or am I just fated to die?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, that explains a lot. The Wizard's most powerful ability is "leave and come back later", but you can't do that. Normally you'd just memorize move earth and maybe polymorph or a spell to make the dirt too hard to burrow through, and maybe toss a pick and shovel in your bag of holding (even a tiny fairy can move dirt), but with none of those options available to you, it sounds to me like you lost the arena fight by failing to prepare, both the highest crime and top cause of death among wizards. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18 at 18:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ It would be helpful if you posted the exact tules of this PvP setup. What counts as a loss? How much time is there? Etc. After all, the Earth Elemental player already fled the arena by burrowing away, so leaving seems to have no penalty? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18 at 18:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ FYI, Wizards can't normally learn any healing spells. Even if they take the Magic Initiate feat for Cure Wounds, that doesn't let them cast it using their own spell slots, only once / long rest from the feat. (Unlike some other feats like Fey Touched that let you use your own spell slots on the spells you get, but limit your choice of schools.) This is a world-building design decision in D&D: arcane magic learned through book study with no involvement of divine / celestial powers or lineage can't heal, only necromancy stuff like False Life. Except artificers where it's flavored as alchemy \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 at 5:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I participated in some PvP arenas like this back in the 3.5 era (mostly GM-less), and the winner was usually the person who was most creative, not the one to build the most powerful character(s). I forget the details, but one event was won by the guy who had a pair of mid-level Koa-toa who flooded the entire arena area and effectively disabled everyone who wasn't aquatic. Sometimes, by the time you get to the table, it's already too late to have a chance to win. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bobson
    Mar 19 at 12:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not that it matters now, but the DM could have been generous to the other player, since Earth elemental's earth glide ability is restricted: "The elemental can burrow through nonmagical, unworked earth and stone." Whilst the description of the arena sounds very much like a built location. The elemental's player was lucky that the DM either did not know that rule, or ruled very generously in their favour, since the "winning move" seems in all honesty a quite cheap gotcha given the DM decides answer to questions like "what is the floor made of?" A DM planning a large battle would not do that \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 at 12:38

2 Answers 2


There is always a way

Nobody's answer provides some specifics, this is more general:

You ask:

Is there a way for me to defeat them in this situation if they decide to not resurface, and just let me die to the pillar, or am I just fated to die?

In the billion permutations open to you, there must be winning combinations.

Without knowing all the parameters, we can't tell you the winning combinations.

Leverage your strengths, their weaknesses, and the environment

What are our liabilities? . . . Our assets? -- Westly, The Princess Bride

We don't know what these are. You do. You need to use your strengths, their weaknesses, and the environment to your advantage. I know that sounds simplistic, but it isn't.

As an example, don't fairy PC's have enlarge/reduce? What could you use it for? I don't know, but maybe you do. You mentioned being limited by your small size. Perhaps enlarge/reduce would have helped.

Change the game

Saavik: On the test, sir. Will you tell me what you did? I would really like to know. Kirk: I changed the conditions of the test. . . . I don't like to lose.Star Trek: the Wrath of Khan

They're talking about the Kobayashi Maru, a purposely unwinnable training exercise.

If you think your contest is purposely unwinnable, break the rules. Try casting tidal wave at the judge, or something unexpected.

Refuse to play

"The only winning move is not to play" - Joshua, in War Games

Sometimes you just have to refuse to play. You might not "win" this apparently unwinnable game, but maybe you'll gain a moral victory.

I am meaning in character, but maybe out of character too. This is supposed to be fun. Is it fun? It doesn't sound like fun. Maybe a conversation with the DM is warranted.

Play another day

"Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you." - The Big Lebowski

I don't have a quote for this one, but a great thing about D&D is that while it is a meaningful and exciting game, it is just a game. You can choose to play your character (or a different one) another day.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The reason I mentioned being limited by size is because of the lack of capability to use heavy weapons. I therefore didn't bring heavy weapons. There was no judge, just an empty area with an electrical ceiling and 4 players instructed to kill each other. We weren't told the situation we would be dealing with before the game, just that we were level 12. My strengths were being out of melee range and causing ranged attacks to have disadvantage. I don't know the opponent's weaknesses. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tasi
    Mar 18 at 19:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think you can give us enough information to provide a specific answer. Everything we say, leads you to add another tidbit of detail. But even if you gave us everything, we weren't there, we cannot provide a specific answer. If it were a published module, then sure. I hope the answers here give you some food for thought, though. And you know, a 12th level wizard can have a pretty significant spell list. We can't tell you what you should have taken. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 18 at 19:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tasi: This sounds weird to me. Were all the players and DM new to 5e? Most people with any experience would know that wizards components aren't supposed to be a struggle, usually just narrative flavour unless your character gets thrown in jail and all their possessions taken. Wizards can normally cast most of their spells. And how did you have Guiding Bolt as a wizard? From the Quandrix Student background from Strixhaven, or a feat like Magic Initiate or Strixhaven Initiate? It's only on the Cleric spell list for learning / preparing it without special features. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 at 5:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tasi "I am meaning in character, but maybe out of character too. This is supposed to be fun. Is it fun? It doesn't sound like fun. Maybe a conversation with the DM is warranted." This is the best advice here. D&D is not meant to be a competitive PVP game. That's not saying it's wrong to do that if everyone is having fun, but it sounds like you didn't have fun. D&D is meant to be a cooperative PVE game. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tasi sounds more like you need a different DM \$\endgroup\$
    – Pyritie
    Mar 20 at 10:39

Just leave

As a level 12 wizard you have access to spells like dimension door and given the size of typical dungeon maps, this should be plenty to get out of there. If, for some reason, you decided to not pick or prepare this staple, there are many other options you could use to improve your situation, from gaseous form, to misty step in combination with a familiar, to resilient sphere, to knock, to rope trick, to trying to dispel magic the fan effect. You don't even state there is anything forcing you to stay in the room, so just move away. Nobody is forcing you to win every fight.

If, for some reason, you have opted to not learn or prepare any defensive or escape hatch type spells, it is also worth examining all other parameters of the situation you are in. Assuming that your DM has not simply set you up to die for your lack of foresight, there may be other options — to disable the column in some way, to find secret doors, to negotiate for your life. Part of this game is thinking on your feet to creatively solve problems that you can not just power through.

And if this is a PvP setup, as you comment, then neither of you will win if both of you opt to disengage and not reengage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is the key lesson here; Don't know the situation? Plan for them all. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Mar 18 at 21:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dimension door would be a perfectly practical way of exercising @Jack's answer of "refuse to play". \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Mar 19 at 8:57

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