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A group discussion happened last night. The power in question was Stinking Cloud. Our wizard argued that zone spells always succeed until the sustain fails. This seemed to be very strong in my opinion. It was in my opinion that it must hit a target to be cast (as in you choose one target if it hits him the zone is created).

So do zone effect spells require a target to hit and if it fails to hit does the zone happen?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hello and welcome to the site. Take the tour to get an idea of how things work around here. We have a one question per post policy here. This allows the community to focus on one problem at a time and vote accordingly. If you have a second question you should ask it separately. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Aug 27 '15 at 11:30
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There are actually two questions in the OP, so I'll answer them both.

Yes, the power can be used in a place without valid targets.

An Area Attack doesn't aim at a target. It aim at a square (within line of effect, as usual), and usually targets creatures within the area created around the target square. If there is no valid targets in the area, usually this means you throw your magic missile at the darkness and nothing happened. However...

Stinking Cloud creates the zone even if there is no targets in the area

Pretty much every power in 4e have three lines that describes what happens when you use a power. The Hit line describes what happens when, well, your attack roll hits, the Miss line describes what happens when the attack roll miss, and the Effect line describes what happens when you use the power, regardless of its attack roll (or if it doesn't have an attack roll).

The creation of the zone in the power Stinking Cloud is an Effect, and thus, always happens in the designated area regardless of the result (or presence) of the attack roll.

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The Wizard power stinking cloud has a range of Area burst 2 within 20 squares, not a target creature, meaning that the spell does not need to hit a target to succeed. The Wizard can target a burst spell on any space within range (in this case, 20 squares of herself) that she can affect (is not blocked by a solid object such as a wall), and the cloud covers a 5x5 (2 squares out from the origin) area. Targets that are within the area take 1d10 + Intelligence mod damage when it's cast, and any creature that enters or starts its turn in that area takes the damage again. So yes, the damage would effectively be 2d10 + 2x IntMod.

However, in Dragon Magazine #401, the spell's damage was reworked. Creatures that start their turn in or enter the area after it's cast instead take 5 + IntMod damage, rather than the 1d10 + IntMod damage dealt when it's cast. A later update also limited the damage to once per turn (though the initial damage and the entry damage can occur on the same turn). (source)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Since you have to wait until the start of their turn for the extra 1d10+Int, it's not quite effectively 2d10+Intx2, but unless the enemy has an immediate reaction move or someone applies forced movement out, it's pretty close. \$\endgroup\$ – Lunin Aug 27 '15 at 22:07

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