[RPG] When using the evocation wizard’s Sculpt Spells, can you protect fewer creatures than the maximum you are allowed


The Evocation Wizard's Sculpt Spell ability allows the wizard to protect some creatures from their own evocation spells:

When you cast an Evocation spell that affects other creatures that you can see, you can choose a number of them equal to 1 + the spell’s level. The chosen creatures automatically succeed on their Saving Throws against the spell, and they take no damage if they would normally take half damage on a successful save.

Does the number of chosen creatures need to be exactly equal to 1 + the spell's level, or can it be lower?

For example, if an evocation wizard casts Fireball, can they choose 1, 2, or 3 creatures to be protected from the spell, or do they need to select either zero or exactly 4 creatures?

Best Answer

The ability is poorly written, and the intent is clear.

I admit, in a strict RAW sense, you can either choose 1+level or 0. Sculpt spell says:

you can choose a number of them equal to 1 + the spell’s level.

Sometimes strictly RAW readings give less than desirable results - this is one of those cases.

Let’s consider fireball at 3rd level. My friend is engaged in melee combat with two enemies, and I’d like to blast them with fireball without torching my friend.

Here is what a strict reading of the ability means:

I have the skill to shape my fireball around four allies, but not one, two, or three. Oh, and if I upcast fireball to 4th level, I forget how to shape it around four and can only do five.

This is silliness. Just let it be a number of creatures up to 1 + the spell’s level.