If my barbarian was swallowed whole by a dragon, would a spell with an area of effect(such as fireball or lightning bolt) hit me?

Does the same apply for channeling to heal me?

In this question, the accepted answer states

Yes, lightning bolt affects everyone in its line of effect

Creatures do not block line-of-effect, so areas extend through them...

A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A line of effect is canceled by a solid barrier. It's like line of sight for ranged weapons, except that it's not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight. A line of effect starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that would block it. A line-shaped spell affects all creatures in squares through which the line passes.

emphasis added. This suggests that area spells would hit a swallowed creature


2 Answers 2



Spells require line of effect in order to affect a target. If you are completely obscured from a character (ie. you have total cover) then you can't be hit by that character (exception being a Spread which can fold around corners, in which case the origin of the spread must be in line of effect to the caster).

There are 3 main kinds of areas of effect that spells can have, burst, spread, and geometry (line, cone, cylinder, sphere).

Burst (and emanations, which are just persistent bursts):

A burst spell affects whatever it catches in its area, including creatures that you can't see. It can't affect creatures with total cover from its point of origin (in other words, its effects don't extend around corners).

Example: Prayer. Note that Total Cover is the same as not having line of effect.


A spread spell extends out like a burst but can turn corners. You select the point of origin, and the spell spreads out a given distance in all directions. Figure the area the spell effect fills by taking into account any turns the spell effect takes. The effect can extend around corners and into areas that you can't see. Figure distance by actual distance traveled, taking into account turns the spell effect takes. When determining distance for spread effects, count around walls, not through them. As with movement, do not trace diagonals across corners. You must designate the point of origin for such an effect, but you need not have line of effect (see below) to all portions of the effect.

Example: Fireball. Note that the description of Fireball includes:

If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the fireball may continue beyond the barrier if the area permits; otherwise it stops at the barrier just as any other spell effect does.

So, this suggests you might be able to affect a creature inside another creature with a spread, if there is a clear path to it or its stomach is about to burst (and the fireball damage is too much). I'll concede that MAYBE, if the dragon still has his mouth open, and all the various valves and sphincters in his digestive system are open, you might be able to affect a swallowed companion, but I find that tenuous without a detailed study of dragon biology.

Geometry: Cones and spheres are just descriptions of the previous 2 types.

When casting a cylinder-shaped spell, you select the spell's point of origin. This point is the center of a horizontal circle, and the spell shoots down from the circle, filling a cylinder. A cylinder-shaped spell ignores any obstructions within its area.

An untyped cylinder WOULD affect a swallowed creature, as RAW, although they may be restraining their thinking to 2d. Example: Flame Strike

A line-shaped spell shoots away from you in a line in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that blocks line of effect. A line-shaped spell affects all creatures in squares through which the line passes.

Example: Lightning Bolt

The same would apply to energy channeling (which is a burst).

So we see that we need Line of Effect, how do we define that?

Line of Effect:

Line of Effect: A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A line of effect is canceled by a solid barrier. It's like line of sight for ranged weapons, except that it's not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight.

You must have a clear line of effect to any target that you cast a spell on or to any space in which you wish to create an effect. You must have a clear line of effect to the point of origin of any spell you cast.

A burst, cone, cylinder, or emanation spell affects only an area, creature, or object to which it has line of effect from its origin (a spherical burst's center point, a cone-shaped burst's starting point, a cylinder's circle, or an emanation's point of origin).

An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least 1 square foot through it does not block a spell's line of effect. Such an opening means that the 5-foot length of wall containing the hole is no longer considered a barrier for purposes of a spell's line of effect.

Unless you can argue that a dragon's stomach is not a solid barrier (in which case you shouldn't need to cut your way out of it), it blocks line of effect to creatures in it. It would only provide soft/partial cover to a creature behind it, but a swallowed creature is encased entirely with no chance of being able to peek around the dragon's bulk.

Edit: After further consideration, Lines are just jerks. Whether the barb gets electrified really depends on how you are implementing the rules, since in this case the last line (aha) of the description for lines completely contradicts the previous ones. It really depends on if you are playing 'pure' RAW, or actually basing your campaign in a 3-Dimensional world.

For example, assume you are in a circular hallway with a baddie against the wall. You lightning bolt him, and the bolt stops after hitting the wall behind him. Then the wall moves, and you find out the 'wall' was actually a sleeping dragon, one so massive you just assumed it was solid mass. Does the bolt now go through the dragon and out the other side, frying the baddies friends AND the dragon, or does it stop since it hit an object that really was solid, it just happened to be a creature.

Another example, what if your baddie was teamed up with a mole person, who had just his normal-sized head peeking out of the ground behind the baddie? Does the bolt arc down? What if there was a flying baddie hovering 5ft above the mole? 10ft? 100ft? What if you have all flying baddies, can you aim up? Would you hit all enemies in a 'ray' from you through the target? Would you hit all the enemies in a vertical plane?

Personally I resolve rules based on how I would imagine such an effect would work in real life (I imagine something like force lightning from Star Wars), but this is completely subjective and arbitrary.

Conclusion: Lines suck, I have no idea how they work.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also known as stomach dimensions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 19:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage Thanks for improving the answer. I have a small question about lines. It says that it affects all creatures within the squares the line passes through, and the dragon doesn't stop the line from passing through. Shouldn't it affect me too? \$\endgroup\$
    – Bishop
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bishop That's a tough case. On one hand the victim has total cover from the line, but on the other RAW does say it hits all creatures in the squares of the line. Also to consider, is the victim IN those squares? As in, where in the creature is the victim? Is it up off the ground? How "high" is a line? I would just say No to the whole thing, but a decent argument could be made to a GM, who could then argue specifics of location, so it really depends on how he feels. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that "squares" are considered to be 3D spaces in Pathfinder, despite the name. You might want to revise your addendum about lines. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 0:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie No where in the question you linked to does it show that "squares" are actually cubes, people just say they are without any proof and link to irrelevant pages. I would agree, but I can't find ANY official ruling on it. Hence my rant. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 16:07

Only if it includes the square(s) you're in

Swallow Whole reads:

If a creature with this special attack begins its turn with an opponent grappled in its mouth (see Grab), it can attempt a new combat maneuver check (as though attempting to pin the opponent). If it succeeds, it swallows its prey, and the opponent takes bite damage. Unless otherwise noted, the opponent can be up to one size category Smaller than the swallowing creature. Being swallowed causes a creature to take damage each round. The amount and type of damage varies and is given in the creature’s statistics. A swallowed creature keeps the grappled condition, while the creature that did the swallowing does not. A swallowed creature can try to cut its way free with any light slashing or piercing weapon (the amount of cutting damage required to get free is equal to 1/10 the creature’s total hit points), or it can just try to escape the grapple. The Armor Class of the interior of a creature that swallows whole is normally 10 + 1/2 its natural armor bonus, with no modifiers for size or Dexterity. If a swallowed creature cuts its way out, the swallowing creature cannot use swallow whole again until the damage is healed. If the swallowed creature escapes the grapple, success puts it back in the attacker’s mouth, where it may be bitten or swallowed again.

Format: swallow whole (5d6 acid damage, AC 15, 18 hp); Location: Special Attacks.

Grab reads:

If a creature with this special attack hits with the indicated attack (usually a claw or bite attack), it deals normal damage and attempts to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. Unless otherwise noted, grab can only be used against targets of a size equal to or smaller than the creature with this ability. If the creature can use grab on creatures of other sizes, it is noted in the creature's Special Attacks line. The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use the part of its body it used in the grab to hold the opponent. If it chooses to do the latter, it takes a –20 penalty on its CMB check to make and maintain the grapple, but does not gain the grappled condition itself. A successful hold does not deal any extra damage unless the creature also has the constrict special attack. If the creature does not constrict, each successful grapple check it makes during successive rounds automatically deals the damage indicated for the attack that established the hold. Otherwise, it deals constriction damage as well (the amount is given in the creature’s descriptive text).

Creatures with the grab special attack receive a +4 bonus on combat maneuver checks made to start and maintain a grapple.

Format: grab; Location: individual attacks and special attacks.

Neither these nor the normal grapple rules move you into an opponent's space (Though you might be moved to a single adjacent space of the grappler's choice, depending on how the grapple was initiated). So the spells function normally and affect you if your space is included in their area.

Assuming you were in some of the opponent's spaces, either because you are very small or because of a GM ruling regarding Swallow Whole or you or they are using some kind of special ability/maneuver/etc or any other reason, you would be affected if the space(s) you were in were affected, which would necessarily include affecting the swallowing creature, though it would generally be possible to affect the swallowing creature without affecting you, since you generally don't occupy all of their squares.

Obviously, if the GM houserules that swallowed creatures aren't affected by outside spells when they houserule that you are moved into the creature's space, then you aren't affected by outside spells.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So when the text says the predator swallows its prey the text doesn't mean the prey's off the map, now essentially sharing the predator's space? So the ability's less swallow whole more like, I dunno, lick whole? (Ew.) (BTW--Not my downvote; I appreciate literalism.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 1:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Sharing the space seems completely unsubstantiated and would require a lot of additional rules that just don't exist. Off the map isn't stated anywhere and movement is normally handled somewhat more carefully and explicitly in the rules, but off the map is, at least, a good, simple, effective houserule, albeit with weird consequences of its own (e.g. stomach dimensions). And yes, I agree this makes 'swallow whole' a misnomer. Unless the tarrasque, like sea cucumbers, projects its internal organs out of its mouth in combat, but in a somewhat more predatory way (for additional ew). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 4:51

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