How is the the total damage of a spell calculated, if it is enhanced by the Empower Spell metamagic feat and a critical hit is rolled?

According to the d20 SRD Empower Spell feat entry:

Benefit: All variable, numeric effects of an empowered spell are increased by one-half.

Still according to the SRD in the note about Multiplying:

Sometimes a rule makes you multiply a number or a die roll. As long as you’re applying a single multiplier, multiply the number normally. When two or more multipliers apply to any abstract value (such as a modifier or a die roll), however, combine them into a single multiple, with each extra multiple adding 1 less than its value to the first multiple. Thus, a double (×2) and a double (×2) applied to the same number results in a triple (×3, because 2 + 1 = 3).

So, if for example, a 5th level wizard casts an Empowered Shocking Grasp (5d6 damage) and scores a critical hit, will she:

  • roll 10d6, the add 50% of the total (i.e. the Multiplying rule does not apply), or
  • roll 5d6 plus 50% plus another 5d6 (i.e. by the Multiplying rule: 5d6×2×1.5 = 5d6×(2+0.5))?
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie why is the question tagged [dnd-3.5e]? Wasn't it tagged [d20-system]? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2016 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looks like an editor removed "d20 3.5" from the title (we don't put tags in the titles) and changed the tags to reflect the removed "3.5". If you're actually playing "The D20 System", then you might want to change it back, but so few people actually play just the SRD that the tag is rarely used. If you're playing D&D 3.5e (as the title seemed to say), then just [dnd-3.5e] is probably the right tag. Does it seem like the wrong tag? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2016 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes and no. I thought I would post a question about the d20 system, since it is not specific to dnd and I had no access to the PHB... OTH it is true that tagging it as a dnd question gives it more appeal. No problem, thanks for the explanation \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2016 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cool. Incidentally, you can see the edit history of a post by clicking on edited [time] ago under the post. Only the most recent editor is shown beside that link (right now that's me, since I changed some formatting most recently), but clicking the link will take you to a list of every change and show you who did it, when, what exactly was done, and (if it was provided) a summary/explanation of what the edit was for. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2016 at 23:42

1 Answer 1


Empower Spell adds 50% of the variable, numeric effects of a spell. The number of dice is not a variable, numeric effect (e.g., you roll 5d6 on a shocking grasp -- that number is not the variable being referred to, the result of rolling it is).

Therefore, if you normally roll 5d6 on a shocking grasp and you score a critical hit, then you will roll 10d6. Taking the result of 10d6, you then add 50% of that result to get the empowered value.

Shocking Grasp in your example grants (5*2)d6 on a Critical Hit.

Say you score 36 (a hair above average): then you will add 50%, or 18, to the result, coming to 54 damage.

The example given in the PHB is of magic missle and describes the same process -- for each 1d4+1 missile, multiple the 1d4 result by 1.5.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is your answer founded on any official source? Thank you \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2016 at 19:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ that is correct and official, what I mean though is if you have proof that your interpretation is the official one. (I see that your interpretation is sound, but others around the table could disagree, you know...) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2016 at 22:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ They are indeed, but would you please point me to a couple of those online sources? I've been looking for sources for quite a while now, but maybe I'm just looking up the wrong thing. Sorry, I don't want to sound polemic, I'm just simply looking for a (quasi)official source to adjudicate this corner case \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2016 at 9:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see, problem is it does not explicitly mention critical hits. I am convinced of your answer (in fact I just accepted it) but I don't remember any rule stating that metamagic effects are to be applied after critical multipliers... I am truly sorry to go on pestering you, I really appreciate your help \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2016 at 19:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, now it should be. Thank you for your patience \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2016 at 19:44

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