dnd 3.5e – Does a golem’s magic immunity bypass its opponent’s defensive spells?

Golem spell immunity is perfectly equivalent to having infinite spell resistance, and nothing more.

In the case of buffs on others, like freedom of movement, those don’t do anything to the golem—their effects exist entirely on their targets. There is nothing for the golem to be immune to. The golem prevents spells from being cast on it; it does nothing about magic altering reality around it, which is what freedom of movement does.

Also, I dislike that freedom of movement completely shuts down grappling as a viable strategy for both PCs and enemies at higher levels

This is completely fair; freedom of movement is a completely bonkers spell…

SR and magic immunity bypassing it seems like an elegant solution.

…but I could not possibly disagree more strongly with this.

SR is a clunky, problematic mechanic. The rules are not well-designed in the least.

Figuring out how on earth to extend spell resistance (and, by extension, golem immunity) to affect things beyond the being that has them—preventing spell effects on other creatures, objects, and locations—is a dubious exercise. You might feel that you can just say “well the golem can treat you as if you didn’t have that SR-Yes spell cast on you,” but that will be nearly impossible to consistently define. What does it mean for the golem to ignore, say, the flight speed someone got from fly? I don’t know—and neither do you. And that’s literally just the first spell that jumped out at me when I gave a quick scan of the core spell list; there are going to be dozens, if not hundreds, of spells who are going to need individual adjudication. It’ll be a complete nightmare.

And so what will happen instead is that the DM’ll just “go with their gut” any time SR is involved, and golems and the like will become mystery boxes where the game is to read the DM’s mind about what works and what doesn’t. Personally, I’d have zero interest playing that game.

Finally, as overpowered as spellcasters are—and they absolutely are—turning off magic is a terrible “solution.” Yes, if you force the party into a dead magic zone, the cleric and wizard will be useless.1 But that isn’t any better than the monk being useless otherwise. You still have a broken game—and game where some of the players are told to stop playing for a while. No one picked the wizard class to play a powerless know-it-all; they picked the wizard class to cast spells. Denying them the opportunity to play is rude, and is rather likely to lead to those players finding something better to do with their time.

There are, simply put, vastly better solutions to the problems of overpowered magic like freedom of movement. My personal preference for that is quite simple—in E6, freedom of movement isn’t overpowered because no one can cast freedom of movement. A cleric of travel might have a few rounds per day of it, at most. There are, of course, other options if you wish, though.

  1. Barring Cheater of Mystra, which if you’re pulling dungeon-wide dead-magic zones, I’d say you actually managed to deserve it.

dnd 3.5e – In melee combat, is a poorly optimized high-level Paladin weaker than its optimized mount?

Yes, this can absolutely be true.

There are some really powerful feats for a paladin’s special mount. Combine the Devoted Tracker feat with the beastmaster, halfling outrider, Harmonium peacekeeper, and ranger-knight of Furyondy prestige classes (which will consume all your feats to qualify), and you can easily reach nearly 20 HD on your mount while you yourself are less than half that.

Meanwhile, such a paladin has devoted a ton of their own resources to the mount, and has very little combat ability to show for it.

The sad/scary part is, though, that this might be the most powerful way to build a paladin, aside from simple dips for divine grace as part of, e.g., a sorcadin build. Even if the paladin invested all those resources in themselves, there just aren’t a lot of things you can do with paladin. Divine grace is amazing, and aura of courage is strong, but you can’t really “optimize” either aside from just having a lot of Charisma for divine grace. Those things aside, the paladin just doesn’t really have anything all that good: smite is far too rare to spend resources on, the spellcasting is extremely limited and there’s no “mystic paladin” like there is a mystic ranger, and stuff like mystic fire, Sword of the Arcane Order, and so on just don’t do all that much. The one exception, perhaps, is the mount.

dnd 5e – Does the Elemental Gem require Concentration?

It requires concentration.

You have noted the relevant text from the item description:

an elemental is summoned as if you had cast the conjure elemental spell.

“As if you had cast” indicates that we treat you as if you had cast the conjure elemental spell. Which, if you had cast the conjure elemental spell, you would be concentrating on it, since it requires concentration.

dnd 5e – How should I set up and execute air battles in my session to avoid easy encounters?

Admittedly, Hypnotic Pattern is an unusually powerful spell and one that can tip a combat, especially if the PC’s outnumber the monsters. Before you resort to changing the fundamentals of that spell, though, or “giving immunity” to monsters, make sure you are running the PC’s spells RAW. If you are not paying attention to things like range and timing, but just allowing the players to use spells because they have them, spells like Hypnotic Pattern are going to come off as even more powerful than they already are.

The sky is big – have you checked RAW range?

Unlike a “dungeon” or indoor setting, where most of the participants remain in spell range for the entire combat, the sky is a big, open space.

Mind Sliver has a range of 60 feet.
Polymorph has a range of 60 feet.
Hypnotic Pattern, for some reason, has a range of 120 feet.

But the roc has a flying movement of 120 feet! This means that it has a reasonable chance of remaining out of spell range until its turn, and then moving into range and making its attack, so long as its target is not immediately adjacent to the caster. For example, consider a Hypnotic Pattern caster and an allied PC standing on deck 20 feet away. If the roc approaches from the direction of the ally, it can start its turn at 140 feet from the caster (out of range of the Pattern) and still reach the ally to attack by the end of its turn. If it is a big ship and the PC’s aren’t clustered together, that may even give the roc the opportunity to both attack a PC and get back over the rail before the caster can respond. With a +13 to hit and an automatic grapple, the roc should be taking a PC with it. That should give the players pause – once their companion is over the rail in the roc’s talons, hypnotizing or polymorphing it may mean that a PC will be joining the roc in plummeting a thousand feet.

Casters can, of course, ready actions to cast spells when the roc comes within range. But remember that readying a spell requires casting the spell and then holding the energy, which dissipates at the end of the round. You can have the roc circle the ship a few times before it moves in. Once the casters have burned through a few third and fourth level slots readying spells that are never cast, they may reconsider.

Also, is the ship moving? If it is not hovering in place, but moving at a certain speed and direction, the roc may be able to use that. By grappling the aftmost PC, for example, the ship might move ‘out from under’ the PC on its turn.

Flying combat takes place in three dimensions

Currently 5e movement rules largely indicate two dimensional thinking. But the roc is a creature of the air. What is to prevent it from approaching the ship from underneath, so that the casters cannot see it until right before it bursts on deck and grabs someone? What is to prevent it (besides masts – I’m not familiar with the design of the airship) from approaching the ship from above, and dropping from outside of spell range to the deck, taking some fall damage itself but possibly doing considerable damage to everyone it lands on?

Finally, not RAW but pretty reasonable and supported in earlier editions – the roc could start its turn at a higher elevation than the ship and gain speed by dropping in elevation as it traveled toward the deck, allowing it to move from outside of spell range into its attack range and back off the ship in one turn.

The GM describes the environment

In general, you should avoid changing the details of player’s spells when you find them challenging to deal with. Players often feel a GM is being antagonistic rather than fair if they ‘nerf’ the player abilities – the one thing the players have going for them and can count on. However, it should be expected that the GM describes both the environment and its effects on the combat. Is the airship noisy and the roc a silent glider? Then it can likely sneak up on the ship at night, in a storm, or in a cloud – getting within striking range perhaps in a surprise round. When a roc falls, is it being buffeted by winds or just the air resistance of its massive wings? That could reasonably be considered something that would “shake the creature out of its (hypnotic) stupor” before it hit the ground. Have the players polymorphed an enemy flier into a chicken and thrown it off the ship? Chickens can fly – perhaps not well enough to glide a thousand feet to the ground – but certainly well enough to spiral, collide with the hull, take a point of damage, and resume their original form long before they hit the ground.

Rather than trying to change rules to limit the characters’ spells, try to rigorously enforce pre-existing RAW limits, expand the strategic options of the monsters, and describe the consequences of the environment in ways that don’t favor the players.

dnd 5e – Can you carry someone while levitating?

This is my personal opinion which seems to work with players

I’ve always ruled the spell effect as being able to levitate a creature or object that weights 500 pounds or less and that’s it as far the spell’s weight limitation goes.

Whether a PC can carry someone or something else depends on their ability to hold onto the weight they want to carry. Just because you’re currently under the effects of Levitate doesn’t mean you can personally carry more. That extra load requires you to hold it so the character’s strength score is going to come into play.

Alternatively, you can add the (commonsense) restriction that if the total load being lifted exceeds 500 pounds the spell ends, with whatever effect the DM thinks is relevant happening e.g. fall to the ground, drift down, etc.

So, a PC under the effect of Levitate, to my mind, can’t say “I want to carry up that 300 pound boulder and drop it.” unless they can personal carry that weight normally.

I’ve found that most players I’ve played with agree with this approach as practical and still useful in game.

Carrying an unwilling target

For this I would rule that a standard grapple check is required. There is nothing mechanically different about grabbing someone while under the effects of Levitate compared to grabbing them normally. The effects of the grapple are still the same as are their options for breaking free so I see no reason to further complicate it.

dnd 5e – can a Familiar allow you to avoid verbal and somatic components?

The final section of the Find Familiar spell says:

Finally, when you Cast a Spell with a range of touch, your familiar can deliver the spell as if it had cast the spell. Your familiar must be within 100 feet of you, and it must use its Reaction to deliver the spell when you cast it. If the spell requires an Attack roll, you use your Attack modifier for the roll.

The only thing mentioned here us using the familiar to deliver the touch component of the spell, for which you use your attack modifier.

There is nothing in the spell description that alters any of the other aspects of casting a spell i.e. you still need the components or a focus, you have to make the somatic gestures and speak the verbal component.

You can still be seen casting the spell if you are in visual range and not hidden and if you are visible and in range then you can be Counterspelled as normal.

dnd 5e – Trying to figure out dispel magic DC?

The DC to dispel a spell effect is based on the spell’s slot level.

Dispel magic says:

Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends. For each spell of 4th level or higher on the target, make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level.

The rules for spell slots say:

When a spellcaster casts a spell using a slot that is of a higher level than the spell, the spell assumes the higher level for that casting. For instance, if Umara casts magic missile using one of her 2nd-level slots, that magic missile is 2nd level. Effectively, the spell expands to fill the slot it is put into.

So a spell that is normally 1st level cast with a 4th level slot is a 4th level spell. Therefore the DC to dispel it would be 10 + 4 = 14. A spell’s level is determined by the level of the slot used to cast it.

dnd 5e – Can you activate more than 2 magic rings in one turn?

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dnd 5e – How should I set up and execute air battles in my session to avoid easy encounters?

Combat balance is always tricky, and airship-related elements can make it harder. I’ll try to focus on the novel environment of the airship, since that’s the meat of the question. But for completeness, a few issues about combat balance generally:

  • Combat difficulty estimates (like a hard encounter, deadly encounter,
    etc.) are just that– estimates. And not very precise ones. Further,
    the difficulty of an encounter is mostly defined around the
    likelihood of PC KOs. Even a deadly encounter is one that PC party is
    expected to win
  • Powerful parties are powerful. They have lots of options to deal with
    a variety of situations, and one manifestation of that is that they
    can approach a given encounter in many ways. Some of those ways will
    make certain combats pretty easy for them, such as gaining access to
    Polymorph. With options like that available, an encounter may need to be much harder to suit those powerful options
  • You are running a game for a pretty large party. 5 to 6 party members (and even up to 8!)
    gives a big edge in terms of action economy, and allows for lots of
    synergies between PCs (which tends to make combats easier).
    If you have that many PCs, you likely need to include more enemies
    per combat in order to keep things challenging
  • 3 to 5 hard combats per day is below the number assumed in a typical
    adventuring day, and consequently it’s not surprising if the party
    overperforms

Tweaks to ordinary combat-balance issues are covered pretty well in answers to other questions, and are not quite in scope here.


Airship combat between individual characters and enemies can be tricky to balance

As you’ve discovered! If you can get enemies onto the deck of the ship you can have a pretty typical combat encounter, plus an obvious terrain feature that allows shoving enemies over the side to plummet to the ground.

But if you have flying enemies that menace the ship by flying around it you can start to lose terrain features and tactics that add variety and challenge to combats. For an easy example, consider cover: outside of using the body of the ship, cover is probably going to be hard to come by. This favors spellcasters and ranged fighters, who get to act like fixed turrets.

My preferred approach to combat between PCs on or in a vehicle and enemies that move around that vehicle (this includes airships, regular ships, wagons, mine carts, and so on) tend to focus on treating the vehicle as a unique environment which is a part of the fight(s):

  • A rollable table of ship-related effects is a great tool to have, and
    can really alter player tactics. For example, if the airship suddenly
    rolls to the side PCs may need DEX saves to keep their footing or
    risk falling prone/taking damage/pitching over the side. Rolling a d6
    every round or two to impose environmental effects like that can make
    a combat harder without fiddling with enemy composition, as well as
    adding variety to combats generally
  • Flying hundreds of feet in the air offers unique opportunities and
    dangers. Does the airship have to fly through a thunderstorm,
    possibly creating a risk of lightning damage or driving winds? Can
    the PCs defeat the enemies and survive the harsh environment? Does the environment make certain strategies more or less attractive, by adjusting the potential risks and rewards? Can enemies weave in and out of clouds, breaking line-of-sight and attacking from unexpected angles?
  • What are the enemies’ goals? If they want to kill or otherwise impede
    the PCs, they might as well focus on damaging the airship itself.
    This can change combat from an HP-reduction grind into a race against
    time, and can also keep enemies out of easy reach of spells and
    ranged attacks. If the enemies want something other than slaughter, the fight being relatively easy for the PCs may not be enough to truly “win” the combat encounter
  • Some condition exists that means things get worse until that
    condition is fixed. In one combat I ran, my players were in a small
    ship trying to escape from a massive Orcish warship, which had shot a
    large hauser-connected harpoon into their deck. As long as the ships
    stayed attached, orcs kept climbing across the rope to board the
    ship. The PCs had to fight the boarders and cut through the hauser
    or rip out the harpoon, or else the fight would (effectively) never
    end and they would eventually be overwhelmed

Adventure-day design is a different beast than single-encounter design

Encounter design is always an art, and designing a challenging combat is different from designing a difficult adventuring day. A combat might be tough, but with lots of resources a party might be able to prevail. An adventuring day being tough, in contrast, means more questions about whether or not it’s worth spending resources right now (for an easier current combat) versus keeping something in reserve for potential future combats, and surviving those later combats when the resources are gone.

And however easily your players dispatch threats in a given fight, if they have more fights they will eventually run low on resources and face much greater danger. More combat encounters per day, with fewer opportunities for rest, lead to much greater challenges for the party.

dnd 5e – what is the equivalent of Lathander from the Dawn War Deities

A player getting his cleric ready for a campaign I am creating has told me he usually plays Forgotten Realms and his usual deity is Lathander, this is not a deity I am familiar with.

Largely I am basing my Pantheon for this campaign on the DawnWar Deities, with some tweaks being made. I am perfectly happy allowing my Cleric to play Lathander, and he is equally happy to worship an equivalent deity in my pantheon.

Who would be the closest equivalent to Lathander from the Dawn War Deities, either to be replaced by Lathander or to replace him as my players Deity?