[RPG] Does a Morkoth’s Spell Reflection work against area-of-effect spells like Fireball


The Morkoth (Volo's Guide to Monsters, pg. 177-178) has a reaction called "Spell Reflection":

Spell Reflection. If the morkoth makes a successful saving throw against a spell, or a spell attack misses it, the morkoth can choose another creature (including the spellcaster) it can see within 120 feet of it. The spell targets the chosen creature instead of the Morkoth. If the spell forced a saving throw, the chosen creature makes its own save. If the spell was an attack, the spell is rerolled against the chosen creature.

My question is if this applies to area-of-effect spells. The early wording only specifies it has to be a spell that forces a save or is an attack roll. However, "The spell targets the chosen creature instead of the Morkoth" seems to imply that it requires the spell to target the Morkoth specifically. Fireball isn't a spell that mentions having any "targets".

Does the Morkoth's Spell Reflection trait work on rea-of-effect spells like Fireball?

Best Answer

It doesn't reflect fireball.

The key words are "The spell targets the chosen creature instead of the Morkoth."

"Do B instead of A" means "In a situation where you would do A, don't do A, and rather do B." (You are doing B in A's "stead".)

Fireball doesn't target the Morkoth, so it can't target another creature instead of the Morkoth.

"But fireball says 'a target takes 8d6 damage'"...

Yes, but it's wrong. Those aren't targets. These are targets:


A typical spell requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the spell's magic. A spell's description tells you whether the spell targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect (described below).

Note that the caster picks "one or more targets". For fireball (and area-damage spells generally), you don't pick the specific creatures; you pick the point of origin.

The rules sometimes, confusingly, use the word "target" to mean "anything affected by the spell". For example:

Saving Throws

Many spells specify that a target can make a saving throw to avoid some or all of a spell's effects. The spell specifies the ability that the target uses for the save and what happens on a success or failure.

Why do I acknowledge the point of origin as the real target of the spell, rather than the "targets" who are making saving throws? First, because one of them is described in a paragraph titled "Targets" in large bold letters. And second, because of this:


The target of a spell must be within the spell's range. For a spell like magic missile, the target is a creature. For a spell like fireball, the target is the point in space where the ball of fire erupts.

That seems fairly conclusive: for purposes of the spellcasting rules, the target of fireball is the point of origin. Since you can't choose the Morkoth as the target (you have to choose a point!), its Spell Reflection can't choose something else as the target "instead".