When you cast the mass version of the cure light wounds spell, its range changes from touch to close and from creature touched to creature touched/level with targets within 30 feet of each other. To this sounds like a ray spell as you would have to make an attack roll vs every creature (this is because you could target undead and living creatures with the same casting). Is it possible to have the same creature targeted by the spell more than once? I dont see any place which states you can only affect a creature once with the casting.


Since there has been debate over how the rules should be applied in this case, lets do a comparison with out multiple touch spells.

  • Cure Wounds mass spells "Target one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart"
  • Chill Touch "Targets creature or creatures touched (up to one/level)"
  • Haste "Targets one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart"
  • Bull's Strength mass "Targets one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart"
  • Cat's Grace mass - "Targets one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart"

Since I dont know of anyone who can successfully claim that Chill Touch cant be applied to the same target multiple times in a round assuming a sufficient bab or hasted. Someone can be affected by multiple haste spells, but only one has the effect, and is not helpful doubling up in this case because its part of the same spell so any effect that would dispel or counter one would get all instances of it. Same with Bulls and Cats. The most important difference is that the others except for Chill Touch say "One creature" but that can be thought of in two ways. The one likely intended being that a creature can only be selected once for the spell, or the creature can be selected multiple times each time taking up one of the creature targets.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is actually a tough rules question to find arguments against. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2016 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ It has just enough possibility and vagueness that I thought it could be possible. It would sure make the mass versions of the cure (and inflict) spells so much more useful. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Sep 20, 2016 at 18:28

5 Answers 5


Targeting the same creature multiple times simultaneously with the same effect causes the creature to be affected still only once

That is, this GM would rule that just because an effect can be used one time against multiple targets doesn't mean that the same effect can instead apply multiple times against one target and yield multiple results.

While it can be technically lawyered that a spell that affects multiple creatures can, instead, affect the same creature multiple times, that notion doesn't yield positive results in actual play (i.e. you'll earn a book to the noggin not applause). And, as you can see from broaching the question here, even bringing up the idea is anathema to some.

To put this negative reaction in perspective, let me employ an analogy: a game show contestant is allowed to pick two cars. While most contestants will pick two different cars, this contestant baffles host and studio audience by picking the same car twice, technically picking two cars: this car and this car again. Although this impresses the game show's lawyers, and the sponsor's pleased at the prospect of only having to provide one vehicle, this makes for lousy ratings. Seriously, don't do this: you don't want to make Drew Carey—or the GM—angry.

That said, the spell mass cure light wounds targets "one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart." However, once the caster has picked that one creature to be affected, picking that same creature likely runs afoul of of Combining Magical Effects: the creature is supposed to realize simultaneously enough the same spell's effect multiple times, something the game usually either rejects outright or accommodates grudgingly (by mandating only the most recent, most beneficial, or most detrimental effect occurs).

With that in mind, a GM could allow a lone creature to be targeted multiple times by a mass cure light wounds spell then have only the highest individual result affect the target… or even have the target affected uniquely only once, the GM mandating all creatures that the spell would've affected would've been affected equally.

Compare the spell mass cure light wounds with the spell wail of the banshee: the wail targets "one living creature/level within a 40-ft.-radius spread," and "[c]reatures closest to the point of origin are affected first." This does not mean if a Wiz20 catches but two creatures in that 40-ft.-radius spread, the wizard can force those two creatures to make 10 successful Fortitude saving throws each or die! Each affected creature instead makes 1 saving throw, and the remainder of the spell's effect is wasted. (By the way, here's a Paizo messageboard discussion about the spell wail of the banshee.)

This GM urges that unless a spell or effect says otherwise, a decision to use the spell or effect against less than than its maximum number of targets doesn't make the spell or effect's power greater against the targets the spell or effect is used against!

(I could find but this lone 2011 Paizo messageboard thread discussing the idea of picking the same target multiple times for an effect that affects multiple creatures. The topic doesn't seem to warrant serious consideration.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Spell stacking rules apply to “[s]pells that provide bonuses or penalties on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and other attributes”. Healing (like damage) isn't a bonus or a penalty, and anyway isn't in the set of effects that doesn't stack, so isn't this reasoning moot? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2016 at 1:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie The Stacking Effects section of Combining Magic Effects applies to more than bonuses and penalties, despite the opening paragraph. Even if my word is insufficient, it's hard to argue that multiple mental control effects are a bonus or penalty. If we assume that part isn't aberrant, then the rest should apply to spells that do things besides generate bonuses or penalties, like spells enabling mental control or even healing. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2016 at 4:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I read that the other way around: general rule (“Combining Magical Effecgt”, most spells don't affect each other), more-specific general rule (“Stacking Effects”, spells providing mods don't stack w/ self; same type mods don't stack), specific rule (“Multiple Mental Control Effects”, mental control effects have a special stacking rule). So I don't think an argument can be made that mental control effects having an explicit rule implies an analoguous implicit rule for all other effects, especially given the general rule (spells don't affect each other). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2016 at 4:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Just to be clear, when you read, "Same Effect with Differing Results: The same spell can sometimes produce varying effects if applied to the same recipient more than once. Usually the last spell in the series trumps the others. None of the previous spells are actually removed or dispelled, but their effects become irrelevant while the final spell in the series lasts," you mentally insert after each spell a bracketed that grants a bonus or inflicts a penalty? And you do that for each spell in that section except the mental effects part? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2016 at 5:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, because that is explicitly in the scope of the heading “Stacking Effects”, which is about effects that provide bonuses and penalties, and nothing internal to that rule specifies a different scope (like the mental control effects rule does). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2016 at 5:04

It's not a ray. The targeting line isn't touch.

It works by asking you to select the number creatures you want to affect (with a limit on distance from you and each other). You can choose up to one/(your level). That many creatures get exactly the effect, and no more. No creature can be “selected twice” — selecting a creature just includes or excludes it from the effect. There's no “hitting” one creature multiple times — only choosing or not choosing it to be affected at all by the spell.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was pretty sure that you wouldnt be able to affect the same creature multiple times but it was worth asking just to turn them from meh healing into great healing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Sep 20, 2016 at 17:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, after all it is cure light wounds. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2016 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like Heal is the only real healing spell once your able to cast it as it out performs any of the other healing spells I know. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Sep 20, 2016 at 17:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Fering You're not wrong. Once heal does come online at level 11 it is the only fixin'-da-hp spell that matters unless really weird circumstances dictate otherwise (mass cure light wounds to heal a group of low-level soldiers, for instance). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2016 at 18:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've made great use of Cure Serious and Cure Critical in cases where an ally had been hit but not for enough to justify a Heal slot, but could be in danger before my next turn. Heal is obviously the best spell at healing, but not always the most appropriate. (the 2c of a full campaign spent on a monk-cleric) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jun 24, 2020 at 14:55


From cure light wounds:

Target: one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart

You target one creature/level. You have a spell that affects multiple creatures and get to choose which creatures to target. If you are level 3 and choose the same creature 3 times, how many creatures are you affecting? You're still only affecting one creature. If you could choose the same creature more than once then you could choose the same creature however many times you wanted because it is still 'one creature' affected by the spell, leading to a contradiction.

DESCRIPTION: You channel positive energy to cure 1d8 points of damage + 1 point per caster level (maximum +25) on each selected creature

So you select creatures. When choosing teammates for some sport you don't get to choose the same person twice. Selection is a yes or no operation, either they are selected or not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Im curious why you tried to answer the question with no new information or even a differing view point from already upvoted, accepted, and much older answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Jun 24, 2020 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering I didn't think those were simple enough or easy to understand. I also didn't see one mentioning the contradiction that would occur if you attempted to select the same creature more than once, the fact that the spell text would technically allow you to keep selecting the same creatures over and over because they would only count as 'one creature' for the target. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24, 2020 at 14:46

I feel that the repeated targeting for best benefit is a fair compromise, without too much rules lawyering. After all, it is cure light wounds. Although, even if it did work that way, I can just make the mobs more difficult anyway. GM creation monsters are how you nuke rules lawyers. :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour. While this answer does explain how workable this effect is with mass cure light wounds, it could be improved by explaining how such a ruling would ripple throughout the game system (e.g. the spell wail of the banshee). That's not my downvote—minority opinions are totally legit here. However, supporting those minority opinions and examining their effects is usually necessary for an answer to be upvoted. Anyway, thank you for participating and have fun. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 17, 2017 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ For instance, would it be reasonable to heal a creature for (HDd8+5)*CL, up to 20d8+100 for a 5th level spell slot? What does that implicate for mass Cure Mod/Ser/Crit, etc \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jun 24, 2020 at 14:57

I really don't see the problem with allowing multiple, even/uneven targeting, otherwise the spell is practically worthless for a lv 5 spell. GM creation monsters or unusually high CR's beat rules lawyers every time. If a monster wants to utterly destroy a party (i.e. chain lightning which explicitly stated each target can only be targeted once), then something like this as inflict would work just fine.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour. A level 10 caster could—with this reading—cast mass inflict light wounds to deal one creature 10d8+50 points of damage (average 95) with a Will save (or 10) for half. I mean, sure, divine casters rule, but in the abstract arcane casters are supposed to be better in the blasting department! This change would alter this idea significantly. (Not to mention force one dude to make at least 17 save-or-die rolls against wail of banshee!) If this answer could offer a comparison that shows this is fair, I'd upvote it! Thank you, though, for trying to help! \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2018 at 19:15

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