Howdy, peeps! Just got done DMing a session where an interesting situation came up.
Some swarms of hornets attacked my players after their nest was disturbed. Due to a high initiative, the swarm descended upon one of my players quickly, taking up their space and stinging them furiously. Another character cast Sacred Flame on the hornets, but I called for the player being swarmed to make the Dexterity save in tandem with the swarm. I reasoned that, if the swarm needs to dodge out of the way then the player in that same space would need to do the same. The caster however, brought up that Sacred Flame focuses on a single creature and would only target what they chose. It was a back and forth for a bit, but in the end, I had the swarmed player make the dexterity save, which they succeeded with flying colors while the swarm failed.
This situation wasn't a stressful one (until the swarm crit twice and almost outright killed a PC), but it got me thinking: if a creature occupying the same space as another creature is targeted by a single target spell with a saving throw or an attack with a saving throw, specifically a physical saving throw (Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution), would both creatures need to make a save or just the target for that spell.
Another example could be the Frostbite spell; "You cause numbing frost to form on one creature that you can see within range. The target must make a Constitution saving throw". If a creature is being swarmed or is otherwise in the same space as that target, would both creatures need to make the save or just the target. It technically only targets one creature, but it has to manifest ice in the area to get all of swarm. It would make sense for the spell to instead of targeting several dozens creatures in that area, to target that area instead. I could be reading too much into this. Maybe the spells can discern between its targets. I'm leading towards the former, but how do/would y'all rule it?
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