Can warlocks choose who is affected by fey presence, or does it automatically affect everyone in the 10-ft cube? I assume it to be like Presence in Vampire the Masquerade. The wording is:

"...As an action, you can cause each creature in a 10-ft cube (..) to make a Wisdom check..."

Now I read this as: as an action, you can cause each (all) creature to make a wisdom check. As in, For an action, you can either make them all take a check, or none of them. Kind of like you radiate this presence, and anyone near you is scared or charmed.

The player feels as though he should be able to target specific people. I realize it is up to the DM, but I don't want to screw the player. In fact, I am thinking about just letting it go and allowing him to choose just so he has more fun with it, but I want to know what you guys think.


It's every creature...

Area of Effect spells and abilities, unless specified otherwise, hit everyone in their area. The same wording "each creature in a [certain] foot radius" is present in Fireball. By the logic of your fellow player, you should also be able to decide which creatures are affected by fireball. But that is not the case.

For reference, a spell that does let you choose creatures inside of an area is Slow, which has a 20 foot cube and allows you to choose 6 creatures. So, because the phrase "creatures you choose" is not present in the description of Fey Presence, it affects everyone in the specified area.

The use of the word can is not relevant here, since it is stating that you can use an action to use this ability, not that you can or cannot affect certain creatures.


you can choose whether they are charmed or frightened by you, and a player charmed by another player in combat may not behave any differently than before, although they might not particularly care to be charmed by you. It only lasts until the end of your next turn.


There is no hard and fast rule in the PHB that says all AoE spells behave thusly. However, the description of each spell will tell you whether or not you can pick and choose targets. If you can't target creatures individually in the area, it always says "each creature", as opposed to "each creature you choose" or "up to X creatures you choose". You need to look at each spell individually to see how it behaves.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for mentioning the option to charm of frighten. Charming your party members has no negative effect unless they were intending to betray you in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – arthexis Oct 15 '15 at 15:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @arthexis It can be a little awkward when the charm wears off, though. Depending on what happened during the interim. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 21 '15 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just remember that its charm or frighten for all "The creatures that fail their saving throws are all charmed or frightened by you (your choice) until the end of your next turn." \$\endgroup\$ – Jim B Oct 22 '15 at 1:01

Breaking this down word for word and considering the punctuation, I would say the portion about charming is clearly a standalone. To emphasize this there is a period between the targeting portion and the result portion of Fey Presence.

With that it could be said that the "you can cause" line is refering to the saving throw but then the function of the spell would be odd; essentially you could use the spell/ability and then decide not to cause the DC which would be pointless unless the user had control over what they hit within the spell.

For those who think that the second sentence of Fey Presence has more to do with the first, let's consider fireball. Does the damage dealing portion of fireball's description fit with the targeting portion of fireball? I don't believe it does.

In the end the important part of the wording as you say is 'you can cause' which indicates some element of choice in the matter. The 'creature' part means anyone, friend or foe so because of the wording (any creature, all creatures etc) of Fireball and Faerie Fire there's no choice (unless you have the 'sculpt spell ability) as to who gets hit. Some spells specify 'hostile' creatures but most don't so these kind of AoE spells do need to be used with some caution.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In D&D the DM is the master of the games rules, you are essentially a god in that universe. If the player doesn't agree with your rulings you can always ask him/her to leave the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Arceb Ulned Oct 21 '15 at 22:21

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