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I have a question about the Lore Master's damage changing feature, Spell Secrets. It says (empashis mine):

When you cast a spell with a spell slot and the spell deals acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, radiant, or thunder damage, you can substitute that damage type with one other type from that list (you can change only one damage type per casting of a spell). You replace one energy type for another by altering the spell’s formula as you cast it.

Would this changing of the type of damage affect every instance of the damage type, or just the damage type of actual damage done? For example, vampiric touch has two instances of “necrotic damage”, but only one is doing damage:

Make a melee spell attack against a creature within your reach. On a hit, the target takes 3d6 necrotic damage, and you regain hit points equal to half the amount of necrotic damage dealt. Until the spell ends, you can make the attack again on each of your turns as an action.

Does using Spell Secrets to change the damage done by vampiric touch also change the part of the spell that doesn't do damage, but refers to how much necrotic damage you dealt? Basically, would vampiric touch still heal the caster if it dealt fire damage?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wasn't quite sure, and the lore master is pretty broken anyways so i was wondering if it was worse than i thought lol \$\endgroup\$ – 20th_lvl_wizard Mar 21 '17 at 20:16
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What an interesting question.

Under RAW, it would not heal. Spell Secrets is pretty specific that only the damage type is substituted, and furthermore, at least for the wording under Vampiric Touch the healing specifically comes from necrotic damage dealt.

Make a melee spell attack against a creature within your reach. On a hit, the target takes 3d6 necrotic damage, and you regain hit points equal to half the amount of necrotic damage dealt. Until the spell ends, you can make the attack again on each of your turns as an action.

Technically there was no necrotic damage dealt here. And that makes sense. Why would fire damage heal the caster like siphoned off necrotic energies.

That said, RAI, it would not be the end of the world to extend the healing to this power.

NOTE: Unearthed Arcana is playtesting material, and may not be balanced, worded well, or workable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe note that UA material is playtesting material, and may not be finished/balanced/well-worded in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 19 '17 at 22:20
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There is no good reason to believe it wouldn't. It can change only one damage type, but it does not say it only changes one reference to that one damage type.

In the case of Vampiric Touch, the damage changes from necrotic and the healing is based on the (changed from necrotic) damage dealt.

The clear intention of the restriction on that ability is for spells like Ice Storm and Prismatic Spray, that deal multiple types of damage in one casting. The first deals ice and bludgeoning - only the ice can be changed, and only to another element, while the bludgeoning damage is unaffected. The second deals a variety of "elemental" damage types, only one of them can be changed.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The very fact that this question is being asked, and that vampiric touch is pointed out as a possible counterexample demonstrates that there is reason to believe. This is UA, so contradictions can be explained away as being incorrectly worded. \$\endgroup\$ – Johnathan Gross Jul 27 '17 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JohnathanGross My point is that there is no ambiguity in the ability created by Vampiric Touch. One type of damage "necrotic" is changed for another. The ability does not say "in one place in the spell description, change one word to a different word and reparse". It says "change one type of damage". \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Jul 27 '17 at 20:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, the ambiguity arises because there is only one damage type for vampiric touch and it is necrotic. Meanwhile the healing effect is referencing the damage done by the spell. The spell was written before any spell damage type changing effects existed in 5e, so the designers weren't aware they had to deal with this issue. And being UA, short of clarification from Crawford or Mearls, saying something was the "clear intention" of the designers is well beyond your ability to know. \$\endgroup\$ – Johnathan Gross Jul 27 '17 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JohnathanGross Where's the ambiguity? Damage types are changed - "necrotic damage" becomes "radiant damage". What leads one to believe it would be changed in one part of the spell, but not the other. By your logic, using it with Acid Splash would have one target taking acid damage while the other takes the adjusted damage type. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Jul 27 '17 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. the problem is that the ability says "When you deal [a type of damage] you can substitute that damage type for another". This causes the damage of the spell to change. But the life regaining effect is not dealing damage, so it stands that it shouldn't be replaced. This makes thematic sense as well. You are draining life essence from the target to bolster yourself. Thematically, it wouldn't make much sense for you to get life back if you lit the target on fire or melted their flesh with acid. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Jul 27 '17 at 21:30

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