# Does Psychic Crush cause stunning on a successful save also?

I'm a bit unsure about a part of the spell description. Specifically what happens when the target/s succeeds on their saving throw.

Psychic Crush says

As an action, you create a 20-foot cube of psychic energy within 120 feet of you. Each creature in that area must make an Intelligence saving throw. On a failed save, a target takes 8d8 psychic damage and is stunned until the end of your next turn. On a successful save, a target takes half as much damage.

Is the target stunned if it succeeds on its saving throw?

For example: Let's say I cast psychic grip on a 2 targets. The first target fails his saving throw and is both stunned and take full damage. The second target succeeds on his saving throw and only takes half damage. But is he stunned?

The text just says that he takes half damage, but doesn't specifically say whether or not he is stunned.

Edit 2 - So I was looking through the other disciplines and found this: Venom Strike (1–7 psi). As an action, you create a poison spray that targets one creature
you can see within 30 feet of you. The target
must make a Constitution saving throw. On a
failed save, it takes 1d6 poison damage per psi point spent and is poisoned until the end of your
next turn. On a successful save, the target takes
half as much damage and isn’t poisoned.

Venom Strike follows the same basic structure that Psychic Grip does, but unlike Psychic Grip, the last sentence clarifies that the "side effect" does not occour on a successful save. This would indicate that side effects do take place on successful save, unless otherwise specified. I still doubt that this is the intended reading.

• Don't worry, the “more specific” was merely about which game (rather than all games — not very specific!). The question was specific enough once we knew which game's rules were involved. – SevenSidedDie Mar 17 '17 at 17:03

No, it's not stunned ... the way it's worded it tells you what happens on a failed save:

On a failed save, a target takes 8d8 psychic damage and is stunned until the end of your next turn.

and then it tells you what happens on a successful save:

On a successful save, a target takes half as much damage.

Nothing more, nothing less ... no stun mentioned on successful save .. so no stun.

• I'm not quite convinced - is there an example of a spell that states fail: x damage, y effect / success: x/2 damage, y effect? (As in, still has its effect on a successful save?) – Charanor Mar 17 '17 at 21:37
• @Charanor Destructive wave (paladin 5) does damage on a failed save and knocks the target(s) prone. On a successful save it does half damage and doesn't knock prone. This is also how Psychic Crush appears to work as described in this answer. – LegendaryDude Mar 17 '17 at 23:19
• @LegendaryDude Yes, but destructive wave specifically states "A creature that succeeds on its saving throw takes half as much damage and isn’t knocked prone." Psychic Grip lacks the clarity. – Simon Mar 18 '17 at 4:41
• Perhaps a better question is: "Is there any other precedent of a spell in 5e applying a condition (other than dmg) on a successful save?". I can't think of any, however, I'm hardly a reservoir of memory :) – Ditto Mar 21 '17 at 14:46
• I'm also of the strong belief a stun on a save is WAY too strong, and NOT intended ... that of course, is not itself proof, however, it does help focus on the precedent/intent: if they wanted it to stun on a save, they would have stated it – Ditto Mar 21 '17 at 14:54

The text, as written, is ambiguous.

Another answer seems to claim that because two conditional statements are listed...

On a failed save, a target takes 8d8 psychic damage and is stunned until the end of your next turn.

and

On a successful save, a target takes half as much damage.

...only one of these statements occurs. And it occurs in isolation. But this is not linguistically true. Consider this modification:

During the day, a target takes 8d8 radiant damage and is stunned until the end of your next turn. During the night, a target takes dark damage.

In this example I've replaced the saving throw and damage modification events with alternative events. I've done this because we have many preconceptions about how these events should interact (for example: that succeeding in a saving throw reduced the negative affects you will experience).

With the preconceptions removed. It becomes quite reasonable to interpret the alternate statement as saying that the target will take 8d8 dark damage and be stunned during the night.

I should note that one of the reasons this interpretation is compelling is that the "During the night..." statement makes reference to the contents of the "During the day..." statement. As in, you cannot interpret the "During the night..." statement without knowing the amount of damage from the "During the day..." statement. This is a trait shared with the "On a successful save..." statement in the original text. In a technical document, where word count is not important (which, admittedly, a game manual is not), this would indicate that the two clauses do not exist in isolation.

Now, I'm not saying the context we removed by modifying the text is not important. In fact, I suspect the writer's intent was to convey that targets who make their saving throw are not stunned (which I think is also a valid reading of the text). But it seems clear to me that the wording of the text is ambiguous on the issue, as identified by the replacement test above.

• I agree wth what your statement above. To add to this, I noticed that "Venom Strike"'s description includes this paragraph: "On a successful save, the target takes half as much damage and isn’t poisoned." Here it specifically states that the sideeffect does not occur. This leads me to believe that the side effect takes place, if it has not specifically been stated, that it does not. I still think this is just unintentional ambiguity. – Simon Mar 18 '17 at 4:49
• @Zach: "It becomes quite reasonable to interpret the alternate statement as saying that the target will take 8d8 dark damage and be stunned during the night." I disagree ... I don't believe there is any precedent to a spell or effect applying a condition on a successful save like that "and it not being specifically spelled out" ... ie "... a target takes dark damage and is also stunned." ... – Ditto Mar 21 '17 at 14:49
• @Ditto: I replaced the "successful save" conditional with "during the night" in the example statement specifically to sidestep the precedent that "successful save" would normally set. In doing so I hoped to show that the claim "No, it's not stunned" is reliant on an assumption (a reasonable one) and so is not an indisputable fact. I felt compelled to add this answer because I think that's an important distinction. – Zach Mar 21 '17 at 16:42
• @Zach: I understood .. just disagreed :) I feel precedent is more important here than actual "English Grammar 101" ... I think that's the issue everyone gets side tracked a lot with these "RAW" discussions ... The problem with English, is it isn't hard to pick out slight variations of interpretation based on "non-perfect" wording. – Ditto Mar 21 '17 at 17:16
• @Ditto: Totally fair. Just wanted to make sure I was communicating clearly. – Zach Mar 21 '17 at 17:27