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5E 5 Years in: Concentration

How do you use Concentration

  • By the book

    Votes: 103 79.2%
  • Limited to 1 concentration spell in effect, but I forget to ask for checks

    Votes: 23 17.7%
  • We just track spell durations

    Votes: 4 3.1%

  • Total voters
    130

Xeviat

Adventurer
Supporter
Lately, I've been growing frustrated with the Concentration mechanics in spells. I think it might be applied a little too much across the spells (I just realized, today, that Protection from Energy is concentration, but Protection from Poison isn't). I tend to not really bother with concentration checks in my game, and I feel that the number of concentration spells can really hurt options (a warlock trying to limit the number of concentration spells they know, or paladin and rangers having to use concentration spells while in the thick of melee).

I was curious of the community's thoughts on the concentration mechanic.
 

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Nebulous

Legend
For better or worse, a massive amount of the 5e combat system is balanced around concentration. Nearly all the best spells require it, and the risk of losing that precious slot because you failed a Con check is one of those balancing factors. Sometimes a spell is SO damn good that the best option (for PCs and DM both) is to hurt that spellcaster. Ranged attacks are usually best. The more the better.

We have always found it a very hard thing to remember, but since we are also a very minis heavy game, any concentrating spellcaster has a colored tab under the miniatures.

And I will point out for those who don't know (and I didn't for a long time) when you READY a spell, it counts as concentrating, even if it is not a concentration spell.
 

Nebulous

Legend
I am on the fence regarding concentration. It keeps the balance of power in check, but it is also too limiting in many respects, and for the enemy, too damn easy to break concentration. Even a wizard hit by a single magic missile, 2 points from a dagger, and 1 point from a waffled firebolt, would be forced to roll three DC 10 Con saves to maintain his spell.
 
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Galandris

Adventurer
Usually, concentration spells cast on an enemy don't last long because they will soon make their saves (and the bounded accuracy making it nearly impossible to have spell stick very long, even on underlings). So it's mainly a mechanics to keep in check the pre-battle buffing, to avoid protection spells to be cast preemptively and stacking throughout combat. I can see the balance goal, but that, combined with the dearth of utility spells compared to 3.5, has in my opinion strenghtened the "blaster mage" archetype. We play by the book, but I hope the players don't feel shoehorned into playing blaster mages...
 

ad_hoc

Hero
It's a fantastic source of tension at our table.

When the spellcaster gets hit will they lose that important spell which is keeping half the enemy forces at bay?

What about when the evil spellcaster is doing the same? Can the PC successfully knock the evil wizard senseless enough to free their allies?
 





I like the idea of concentration in general, but there are some issues:
  • Since concentration is limited to one spell, casters tend to cast only the "best" concentration spells, meaning there are tons of spells in the PHB that nobody ever bothers taking.
  • Concentration encourages cowardly play from casters. It's better to hide behind a corner after casting your spell than to risk taking any hits at all and losing concentration.
  • Since concentration is easily lost when taking damage, self-buff spells that could help out in melee are pretty useless to most casters who don't have a way of boosting their con saves.
 

MiraMels

Explorer
(a warlock trying to limit the number of concentration spells they know, or paladin and rangers having to use concentration spells while in the thick of melee).

Why would a warlock try to limit the number of concentration spells they know? They only have a few spell slots to begin with, so their the class least likely to be hampered by the inability to layer their spells together?
 



dave2008

Legend
I think the concept could actually be expanded to more uses than just spells. That being said, I think the mechanic / spells that require concentration could be tweaked. For instance, a feat allowing you to concentrate on an additional spell would seem safe.
 

It's nicer in theory then in actuality. In practice it's a bit of a blunt instrument.

It's definitely needed (or at least something like it is) to handle the old flying invisible wizard with stone skin issue. So for that reason alone I wouldn't want to see it gone and will likely introduce something like it in earlier editions if I run them.

The bigger issue with buff spells is that because you can't stack them in practice you resort to the best ie Bless. It also has some weird interactions. Is 'Thundering Smite' so powerful that it couldn't be stacked with Bless?

There's room for a bit more nuance. I'd like to see a version of the bard that is perhaps able to break the limits, ie perhaps maintaining a number of concentration spells so long as they are woven into an ongoing song (perhaps make them less of a full caster to compensate).

We're also missing the whole aspect of being able to interrupt spells while they're being cast, and I've increasingly come to feel that that's an important aspect of the tactical team aspect of the original game.
 
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Xeviat

Adventurer
Supporter
There's room for a bit more nuance. I'd like to see a version of the bard that is perhaps able to break the limits, ie perhaps maintaining a number of concentration spells so long as they are woven into an ongoing song (perhaps make them less of a full caster to compensate).

Every once and a while, I consider taking the Bard to the drawing board and making them a half-caster. I'm often reminded of my desire to do that when the Bard gets ahold of a Paladin or Ranger spell that wasn't balanced to be around so early.

We're also missing the whole aspect of being able to interrupt spells while their being cast, and I've increasingly come to feel that that's an important aspect of the tactical team aspect of the original game.

5E did go rather far in limiting what triggers opportunity attacks, didn't it?
 

5E did go rather far in limiting what triggers opportunity attacks, didn't it?
Yes, but I think I actually prefered the older method, where you had to declare casting and it could be interrupted by someone acting before you got your turn.

Simpler - and it also gives pcs a chance to eat some free attacks to go over and try and smack the evil spellcaster before they finish.
 
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
I love concentration; it's one of my favorite novel mechanics in 5e. The fact that concentration is applied so liberally means that it's easy to tweak it up to taste. Giving out custom spells that are concentration-free versions of other spells, or magic items that maintain concentration on one particular spell for the caster, are great rewards for casters.
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
Another positive for the Concentration mechanic is that it allows you to have things like magic items and class abilities that are similar to existing spells, but which aren't rendered obsolete or less valuable by an existing party member having those spells, since the items/abilities don't require Concentration.

For example, a Potion of Speed allows non-concentration Haste.

Or the UA Love/Unity Cleric gets non-concentration quasi-Guidance/Bless.
 

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