I had thought this to be obvious, but it has caused some discussion in my group.

When a Wizard casts an area-of-effect spell and puts themselves in the effect area, does it affect themselves too?

I suspect there may be a difference here when an effect 'originates' from the point of the caster or not.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have an example or two of spells where this isn't clear? I posted an answer and as far as I know the spell description will always tell you who gets damaged. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ling
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 11:28
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Ling is correct. The specific effect you're wondering about here really is necessary. There are effects that (unintentionally?) slaughter the user (my favorite technical example is the psion power breath of the blue dragon, despite the spell's description), but questions about such effects should be posed specifically instead of about all effects generally. Magic is fickle, fiddly, and hard to generalize. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 11:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related, and/or possible duplicate: Does Evard's Black Tentacles affect the spell's caster? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dyndrilliac Contrarily it seems that one would be good to close as a dupe of this; this question is a much better canonical for any AoE spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude Any time a newer question is asked on the same thing as an older question, and the newer question covers more ground and has better answers, you should close the older question as a dupe of the newer one. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 15:43

3 Answers 3


It depends on the spell. Most of it is explained on the SRD under "Aiming a spell"

Most notably:


Some spells affect an area. Sometimes a spell description specifies a specially defined area, but usually an area falls into one of the categories defined below.

Regardless of the shape of the area, you select the point where the spell originates, but otherwise you don’t control which creatures or objects the spell affects.

So for any spell that affects an area, if you pick an area that includes yourself, you're going to be hit by it. This includes spells like Fireball. (Unless the spell says differently, of course. But most don't.)


The spell description will (always) tell if you are hit or not.

Below, Fireburst is compared to Fireball:

Fireburst causes a powerful explosion of flame to burst from you, damaging anyone within 5 feet of you. All creatures and objects within that area, except for you and any creatures or objects that share your space, take 1d8 points of fire damage per caster level (maximum 5d8).

A fireball spell is an explosion of flame that detonates with a low roar and deals 1d6 points of fire damage per caster level (maximum 10d6) to every creature within the area.

A fireball originating on the caster will damage the caster while a fireburst will not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How is “share my space“ defined? What about clothes, backpacks or a person on one's back? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 6:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @FelixDombek Thats a good question that deserve its own post. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ling
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 8:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @FelixDombek Or perusal of object saving throw rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wyrmwood
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 18:53

Yes they can.

Be very careful with those Fireballs as there is no built-in way of excluding anything or anyone from the area of effect.

If you want to insist on centring Fireballs on yourself but you'd rather not be extra-crispy then check out the feat Selective Spell from Shining South.

Prerequisite Any other Metamagic Feat

Benefit You can modify an area spell so that it does not affect one designated creature within it's area. All other creatures in the spell's area are affected normally. Selective spell has no effect on target or effect spells. A Selective spell uses a slot one level higher than the spells normal level.

Or Sculpt Spell from Complete Arcane.

Prerequisite: Any metamagic feat.

Benefit: You can modify an area spell by changing the area's shape to either a cylinder (10-foot radius, 30 feet high), a 40-foot cone, four 10-foot cubes, a ball (20-foot-radius spread), or a 120-foot line. The sculpted spell works normally in all respects except for its shape. For example, a lightning bolt whose area is changed to a ball deals the same amount of damage, but affects a 20-foot-radius spread. A sculpted spell uses a spell slot one level higher than the spell's actual level.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Sculpt Spell lets you play mage Tetris? \$\endgroup\$
    – The Nate
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the added info, but the other answers provide better reasoning as to the actual answer. Thanks though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 20:19

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