Content of the article: "Reopening the talk about Magic Missile’s triple concentration save and death save fail in regards to Jim’s Magic Missile."
TL;DR ACQUISITIONS INCORPORATED has a spell called Jim's Magic Missile, specifically stating to be an altered Magic Missile which has an attack roll for each separate dart. Does that mean it's separate sources of damage, meaning multiple concentration saves/failed death saves?? If yes, must the same logic apply to the classic Magic Missile??
I've seen this discussion a fair bit about whether or not Magic Missile is 1 or 3(+) con saves or failed death saves. The two opinions are thus: Magic Missile is a single spell, a single source of damage, OR; Magic Missile has separate darts that can target different sources and are therefore different sources of damage. Balance wise, arguments have been made that a single, level 1 Magic Missile could instantly fail 3 death saves on a single target, and that is unbalanced. I've also seen someone use the argument that Insect Plague would therefore amount to potentially hundreds of death saves.
Firstly, the Insect Plague argument is dumb because while the flavour of the spell may dictate hundreds of insects, the actual damage roll is a single damage roll (4d10 at base level), while magic missile is a roll per dart (1d4+1 per dart at base level).
Secondly, while the instant kill may seem drastic – and it is – a single attack with extra attack or a bonus duel wield attack can have the same result (melee auto-crits = 2 death saves on first attack), so while it is a bit more overpowered, it's not drastically outweighing an alternate weapon option, be that melee or ranged.
That covered, I want to address ACQUISITIONS INCORPORATED, first printed in June of 2019 as an addition to the D&D5e setup in conjunction with Penny Arcade Inc. It's a fun addition of flavour with a comical tone and it brings with it some new and some altered spells. On page 76 you'll find:
JIM'S MAGIC MISSILE 1st level evocation Casting Time: 1 action Range: 120 feet Components: V, S, R (1 gp) Duration: Instantaneous <...> You create three twisting, whistling, hypoallergenic, gluten-free darts of magical force. Each dart targets a creature of your choice that you can see within range. Make a ranged spell attack for each missile. On a hit, a missile deals 2d4 force damage to its target <...>
There is much more mechanics and flavour to the spell but this is the part I want to focus on. First of all, hypoallergenic AND gluten-free?!?! I don't need either of those things but I'm impressed all the same. This is the tone of the entire book in general. However, it also states that there is an individual attack roll for each dart.
On page 203 of the PHB you'll find a bullet point about conenctration saves:
Taking Damage. Whenever you take damage while you are concentrating on a spell, you must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain your concentration. <...> If you take damage from multiple sources, such as an arrow and a dragon's breath, you make a separate saving throw for each source of damage.
One argument is: Technically, 3 separate attack rolls means 3 separate attacks, since the darts are the source of the damage. The other argument is: Technically, the source of the attack is the single character who cast the spell.
So, which would apply??
- The Power of an All-Cleric Party? Just want to make sure this is RAW & my maths is correct
- Find Steed and self AoE saves
- And examination of the Undead Pact Warlock, or “I want to be a walking Nuclear Warhead, and make my Dungeon Master hate my guts”
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