My wizard recently acquired a Staff of Swarming Insects, and I used its Insect Plague spell for the first time. I cast it with the resulting sphere of locusts centered around my character, essentially acting as a (very effective) barrier against some powerful melee-based enemies.

The question came up afterwards, though, whether I used it correctly — as written, the spell damages "each creature" within the sphere, which would technically include my own character. We noticed this because one of the staff's other spells (Insect Cloud) creates a similar but non-damaging effect but specifically states that its effect applies to creatures other than you, something I'd assumed was inherent in these types of spells that give the player control over some type of focused effect.

So is the Insect Plague spell really only useful focused somewhere away from the player character (to avoid damaging themselves), or is the spell's wording just somewhat ambiguous?


1 Answer 1


The rules as written are fairly clear: it's more typically useful with the caster outside of the sphere.

The sphere remains for the duration, and its area is lightly obscured. The sphere’s area is difficult terrain. When the area appears, each creature in it must make a Constitution saving throw.

No exception is given for the caster. The caster was your wizard, which by game rules is "a creature." An object, for example the door next to your wizard, is not a creature and would take no damage.

A creature takes 4d10 piercing damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

The spell caster should by a strict ruling have taken damage, mitigated by a save as appropriate. Since this spell requires concentration, if the caster is in it and takes damage a save to avoid losing concentration would also be required.

A creature must also make this saving throw when it enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or ends its turn there.

If the caster just stood there in the Insect Plague, at the end of each turn of being in it the damage is taken again(providing concentration was maintained). It would make sense to roll a save each time for the damage, treating each instance (end of turn) separately. {credit to @yinzanat for that point}

(Citation is from PHB p. 254).

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ The spell also requires concentration so don't forget if you take damage you'll need to make saving throws or break concententration. \$\endgroup\$
    – yinzanat
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 20:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, that's what I was starting to be afraid of. I'm new enough to the system that I'm not always clear on what distinctions like that are implicit. \$\endgroup\$
    – dplmmr
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ This would be an interesting approach if you had something that (a) provided resistance to piercing damage and (b) gave you advantage on saves. You could stand there for a bit without taking too much damage before you had to get out of the cloud of insects. While I can't see how to use this tactically, that's more my lack of imagination than anything else. I'd recommend creating the plague just in front of your so as to block/obstruct whatever it is, so that anything trying to get through has to deal with that damage. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 20:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .