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Telekinesis, Eyebite, and Bigby's Hand are some of the few spells which persistently affect one creature. As such, they appear to fit the requirements of Twinned spell, which are...

Twinned Spell: When you Cast a Spell that Targets only one creature and doesn’t have a range of self, you can spend a number of sorcery points equal to the spell’s level to target a second creature in range with the same spell (1 sorcery point if the spell is a cantrip).

To be eligible, a spell must be incapable of targeting more than one creature at the spell’s current level. For example, Magic Missile and Scorching Ray aren’t eligible, but Ray of Frost is.

Bigby's Hand, Eyebite, and Telekinesis are all incapable of targeting more than one creature at a time at any level. This leads to...Difficulties...interpreting then. Can you even twin them? If you can twin them, how do you target them on future turns? Can you cause different effects to different targets on each turn, per Eyebite or Bigby's?

I included Bigby's because of multiclassing.

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You cannot twin any of these spells

Eyebite has a range of self so it is explicitly disallowed when twinning as per the Twinned Spell description:

When you Cast a Spell that Targets only one creature and doesn’t have a range of self...

Bigby's Hand and Telekinesis do not target a creature, but rather each create an effect, which can then target a creature. This would seem to disallow either of them from being twinned.

In addition, they both could affect multiple creatures throughout the length of the spell, which should disqualify them as well. As per the Twinned Spell description,

To be eligible, a spell must be incapable of targeting more than one creature at the spell’s current level.

This does not say "incapable of affecting more than one creature at a time." Additionally, the extra rules that would be required in order to dictate how they work on future turns would likely be more than most tables might be comfortable with.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am incredibly skeptical of telekinesis and Bigby's not counting as targeting a creature, given that they involve the same "you choose" wording as other spells. To take this further, it implies "phantasmal force" cannot be twinned, because it creates an illusion which targets a creature. I agree with most of your point and that the spell is invalid for other reasons, but I don't think that part is valid reasoning as written. \$\endgroup\$ – MrCharles Dec 19 '16 at 5:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MrCharles Bigby's Hand: "You create a Large hand of shimmering, translucent force..." Telekinesis: "You gain the ability to move or manipulate creatures or objects by thought." Neither of these target a creature. They create effects, as THiebert has pointed out. Phantasmal force, on the other hand, does in fact target a creature. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Dec 19 '16 at 5:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree that that implication exists, as Phantasmal force begins "You craft an illusion that takes root in the mind of a creature that you can see within range". Because it takes root in the mind of a creature, it targets a creature. Additionally, the next line mentions "The target..." \$\endgroup\$ – inthemanual Dec 19 '16 at 5:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I believe Crawford's commentary on what's considered a target in the "Sage Advice" section of their latest podcast reinforces this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – CTWind Jan 20 '17 at 0:47
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Twinned Spell (p.102) says:

When you cast a spell that targets only one creature and doesn’t have a range of self

Bigby's Hand (p.218) targets "an unoccupied space" not a creature and so is ineligible.

Eyebite has a range of "Self" and so is ineligible.

Telekinesis does not have a target - it causes an effect that can affect one creature or object at a time and so is ineligible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is the best answer, if you fix what @SevenSidedDie just suggested and remove the "in addition" paragraph. I deleted my answer after reading yours, and I think yours is the clearest explanation. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Dec 19 '16 at 5:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is similar to the above answer, and I am similar skeptical of the "effect then target" because of similarly worded spells like "Phantasmal force" creating illusions which then affect one creature for the entire duration. If it said "Range: self" I'd agree (regardless of self spells not being twinnable) but the spell itself targets a creature with it's effect. \$\endgroup\$ – MrCharles Dec 19 '16 at 5:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MrCharles Crawford himself has confirmed it: A spell like Maximilian's earthen grasp doesn't target anyone at first. You create a thing, which then targets. The difference is evident in other places; when you want to get rid of Bigby's Hand you target the hand, not the creature. Additionally a spell's target is bound by the range requirements; effects created by the spell are not. You can move the hand and affect creatures well beyond the 120 foot range. That makes it clear the target is the point of origin for the hand. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Dec 19 '16 at 17:12
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Telekinesis can be Twinned, part 1

Contrary to the other answers so far posted, Telekinesis can be Twinned. Bigby's Hand and Eyebite cannot for the reasons the other answers have stated.

But before I go into why, let me point at examples of spells that can be twinned. This will make sense in a minute.

Hex can be Twinned

The Warlock spell Hex fulfills all the requirements of Twin Spell.

  • It targets one creature
  • It is incapable of targeting more than one creature at any level of the spell
  • It does not have a range of Self

There is a caveat, though: on subsequent rounds, after the target's death, you can use a bonus action to move the hex from the original target to a new one.

Point 2 may be where the disagreement comes in, but I would say most people will agree that Hex can be Twinned. The reason you can Twin it is, at the time of casting this spell, you cannot target more than one creature. You cannot do so no matter the level of the spell slot used. And you cannot move the spell until the target dies, anyway.

Hunter's Mark can be Twinned

This spell is similar to the previous one, but has an important distinction: it does not need the target to die before you can transfer the spell onto another creature. But, Hunter's Mark fulfills all of the same checkboxes as Hex:

  • It targets one creature
  • It is incapable of targeting more than one creature at any level of the spell
  • It does not have a range of Self

And so, if you accept Hex can be Twinned (which I believe most people would), then you must accept that Hunter's Mark can be Twinned as well.

Ice Knife can be Twinned

Now we are getting into weird territory. What I have shown is you can twin a spell as long as it cannot target more than one creature at the time of casting. Ice Knife has a range of 60ft and has the following effect:

You create a shard of ice and fling it at one creature within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 1d10 piercing damage. Hit or miss, the shard then explodes. The target and each creature within 5 feet of the point where the ice exploded must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 cold damage.

You first target one creature, which you make an attack roll against. This target then takes 1d10 piercing damage. If the spell ended there, then we can unambiguously say that this spell is eligible for Twinned Spell.

However, it has an extra effect: the shard you threw will explode and damage enemies in an area around your initial target. So, where does this leave the spell with regards to Twinned Spell?

Let us fall back to Hex and Hunter's Mark: both spells are eligible for Twinned Spell, but both can affect more than one creature over their durations -- but they can only ever affect one creature at a time. More importantly, they can only affect one creature at the time of casting.

Now, Ice Knife has a duration of Instantaneous. That means, as soon as you conjure and throw the ice knife, that is the effect of the spell that directly results from your casting. And at the time of casting of Ice Knife, you choose one target, and the Instantaneous nature of the spell means your choice was only made so far as to the target of the knife you threw. The ice simply explodes as a further effect of the spell -- but by the time the knife explodes, your casting of the spell is over.

This is essentially the reverse logic of why Bigby's Hand or Maximillian's Earthen Grasp cannot be Twinned -- while they can only target one creature, they first create an effect and then target one creature. Ice Knife provides the reverse -- it targets one creature and then creates an effect.

Now, what of PHB pg 205. that reads:

Many spells specify that a target can make a saving throw to avoid some or all of a spell's effects

Well, this is true for Disintegrate, Fireball, etc. But it doesn't explicitly say "all targets that make a saving throw due to a spell's effects are to be considered as targets of the spell". This means, the creatures making saving throws do not necessarily have to be treated as targets of the spell, if this is the only line we are using as basis.

So, if you believe that Bigby's Hand or Maximilian's Earthen Grasp cannot be Twinned, then you must believe the reverse logic, and Ice Knife can be Twinned.

Telekinesis can be Twinned, part 2

Now we come back to Telekinesis. We so far know that, as long as the spell only targets one creature upon casting, it can be Twinned (see: Hex). This is true even if you can transfer the effect via a bonus action (see: Hunter's Mark).

Telekinesis, now, explicitly allows you to choose your target. When you target a creature, this is the pertinent clause:

Creature. You can try to move a Huge or smaller creature. Make an ability check with your spellcasting ability contested by the creature’s Strength check. If you win the contest, you move the creature up to 30 feet in any direction, including upward but not beyond the range of this spell. Until the end of your next turn, the creature is restrained in your telekinetic grip. A creature lifted upward is suspended in mid-air.

This is not negated by the fact you can use your action to move the spell to a different creature, or even to affect a different object.

But Wait! Telekinesis Creates An Effect First

The same reasons why Bigby's Hand and Maximilian's Earthen Grasp may be used to say Telekinesis is ineligible -- they both create an effect first which then targets a creature. Strictly speaking, this disqualifies them from Twinned Spell.

However, I contend that Telekinesis does not share the same limitations.

Telekinesis reads, at the first sentence:

You gain the ability to move or manipulate creatures or objects by thought.

This sentence does not say anything about the target of the spell. While it may seem to be the effect the spell creates, that does not mean you have determined the target of this spell already.

Yes, this is an effect of the spell, but it is also not the only effect. This is an effect. One of many, and this particular effect is silent on who the target is.

Note this sentence is not synonymous with:

You are the target of this spell, and therefore gain the ability to move or manipulate creatures or objects by thought.

In fact, it is just as valid to interpret that sentence as:

While you gain the ability to move or manipulate creatures or objects by thought, you are not the target of the spell.

For reference, see Warding Bond. Warding Bond is a single-target spell which affects the caster, but targets a different creature. This allows the same caster to cast Warding Bond multiple times on different creatures, without breaking the clause of that spell that you cannot target a creature already affected by Warding Bond.

That is to say, there is another spell that affects the caster, but does not target the caster. This precendent lends credence to the fact that a spell that affects the caster does not necessarily target them.

Contrast this to Bigby's Hand:

You create a Large hand of shimmering, translucent force in an unoccupied space that you can see within range.

As well as Earthen Grasp:

You choose a 5-foot-square unoccupied space on the ground that you can see within range.

It is clear in both spells that they first create effects, which, as a consequence, allow you to target other creatures via that primary effect. The same cannot be said for Telekinesis in a clear-cut way.

Now, the 2nd and 3rd sentences for Telekinesis reads:

When you cast the spell, and as your action each round for the duration, you can exert your will on one creature or object that you can see within range, causing the appropriate effect below. You can affect the same target round after round, or choose a new one at any time.

This is a bit more explicit. We said that for Hex, Hunter's Mark, and Ice Knife, you can Twin all those spells because, at the time of casting, you can only target one creature. Now, let us postulate that the phrase "at the time of casting" implies the same thing as "when you cast the spell" -- that is, both phrases, in plain English, refer to the instant the spell is cast.

Now, Telekinesis says that the instant the spell is cast, you may target one creature. It is quite explicit: at the moment of casting, you can choose to target one creature. If this is what you do, then it is eligible for Twinned Spell. If you target an object, then it is not eligible. And remember, the fact you can target either a creature OR an object does not disqualify it -- what matters is, at the time of casting, it cannot target more than one creature.

Stacking Telekinesis On One Creature

But wait! Does this mean you can initially cast Telekinesis on two creatures, and then move the two effects to one creature?

Yes! Yes, you can. But they are affected by only one spell effect. This is due to PHB pg 205, which reads:

Combining Magical Effects

The effects of different spells add together while the durations of those spells overlap. The effects of the same spell cast multiple times don't combine, however. Instead, the most potent effect—such as the highest bonus—from those castings applies while their durations overlap.

For example, if two clerics cast bless on the same target, that character gains the spell’s benefit only once; he or she doesn’t get to roll two bonus dice.

So one creature affected by two Hexes, or two Hunters' Marks, or two Telekinesis, will only be affected by the spell once. This makes sense if you imagine two opposing Wizards casting Telekinesis on the same target in a tug-of-war: only one Wizard will succeed in controlling the target, while the effect of the less potent spell is temporarily suppressed.

Houseruling And Does It Break The Game?

Now, should you disallow your Sorcerer from Twinning these spells? Well, that depends on the balance you want to strike in your game. If you see that it is going to break many of your encounters, then rule they cannot be twinned. If, on the other hand, it doesn't really change much and you can design with this in mind, then allow it by all means. After all, getting Twinned Spell is an investment from the player, and being able to hold two Fire Giants with your arcane prowess is nothing short of cool -- and we value Rule of Cool around these parts. :)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 21 '16 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ "you" gain the ability seems to be self-targeting to me. \$\endgroup\$ – Voromir Kadien Jan 12 '18 at 8:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would disagree on being able to twin Ice Knife, as per Jeremy Crawford's ruling on Green Flame Blade not being able to be twinned due to targeting 2 creatures, even though one is an additional effect similar to Ice Knife. twitter.com/jeremyecrawford/status/663510873449762816?lang=en \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Moore Jan 12 '18 at 13:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisMoore Green Flame Blade has different wording. It requires you to choose another target to be hit. Ice Knife can be twinned as its a single missile, which then explodes dealing damage to everything within a radius, you don't get to choose which targets (and it might not hit any additional targets) \$\endgroup\$ – Baergren Jan 12 '18 at 14:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baergren In the Sage Advice segment of the Dragon Talk podcast for Jan 19, 2017, Jeremy goes into excruciating detail on this subject, and clarifies that if the spell has the potential to do anything to anyone beyond a single chosen target, it can't be twinned. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Jan 12 '18 at 19:35

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