D&D 5E Battlefield Control is For Everyone!


We usually think of magical AoEs and wall spells as battlefield control. But my philosophy is that, even if it isn’t your class's job, there's no reason to ignore battlefield control

I’m talking about turning tables over for makeshift barricades. I’m talking about spiking doors so that reinforcements can’t show up. Grapple builds can shove dudes off parapets; roguish-types can reset traps; archers can see to their own high ground. Even if you’re a bog standard big dumb fighter, you can plop your heavily-armored butt into a narrow opening and make yourself a wall. It may not be as obvious as “I cast wall of stone,” but these are all elements of battlefield control.

So for this thread, what do you say we share some of our finest battlefield control moments? When did you turn the mundane environment to your advantage? Did you set up a sniper’s nest? Maybe you went nuts bull rushing dudes into industrial equipment? Or perhaps you stuck to the classics and actually pulled off the chandelier swing. Whatever you genius play, let’s hear all about it!

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)

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DnD 5e playtest, when Drunk was a condition that gave you 1d4 temp HP against every attack, but imposed disadvantage on all your rolls. In a dungeon full of kobolds, we got noticed and fled into what turned into a dead end, followed by like twenty of the little guys.

We bar a door to give us time to make a plan. We hear the kobolds outside gathering supplies, probably to smoke us out.

Our two dwarves in plate armor get drunk, open the door, and stand in a doorway while the rest of us shoot arrows and stab with polearms.

Eventually the kobolds were too scared to keep fighting our invincible drunkards and they ran away.


Back in the day, the party was trying to flee on a ship with a bunch of npcs before a group of crooked constables and ruffians showed up to grab us. When the mob showed up at the end of the long pier, the TWF-food-processor fighter told the rest of the party and crew to keep working to get the ship going, then calmly strolled halfway out to meet the mob and planted themselves on a section of the pier that was only ten feet wide and almost completely bottlenecked with crates and barrels.
None of the mob had ranged or reach weapons, so they could only come at the character two at a time and trying to climb over the crates to get past her would have them eating an opportunity attack. Since most of the bad guys were basic mooks, there was a good chance that trying it would be fatal.
By the time the ship got underway several rounds later, the bad guys were having to climb over a stack of corpses just to reach the fighter.

And then there's Daern's Instant Fortress, a.k.a The Holy Hand Grenade - nevermind using the tower as a place to rest, pop that thing open right in the bad guys' faces anywhere you have the room to open it. It's a massive area-effect attack that provides the whole party with instant cover as well as completely changing the geography of the battlefield.

An enemy ship was coming close to allow boarding. Instead of attacking the fighter used their actions to throw people overboard. The group was level 1 and the fighter probably did as much effective damage as the monk and wizard combined using this method, while also keeping the field controlled.

My favorite example was a player running a goliath fighter/bard grappler build. If you've ever DMed for one it is insane. There was effectively nothing I could do to stop the grapple. He would pick a target and make their life a nightmare. This was 2015 so I'm sure there are more effective grapple builds now, but it was impressive.


Back in 3E, my barbarian dwarf did all kinds of crazy things, like he had some sort of death wish.

- Our group got named "of the Burning Portal" when we doused a dungeon door in oil, lit it on fire and I ended up ripping it off its hinges and using it as a shield to freight train my way through a bunch or ranged enemies

- I dive-tackled a kobold sorcerer out of a 2nd floor window and while still holding the kobold on landing, had the Druid repeatedly zap the two of us with Call Lightning.

- In an underground cavern, I Sparta-kicked an enemy orc shaman into a stalagmite-filled chasm. To ensure his deadiness, we dropped a couple rocks and stalactites on his head as well.


I feel that my group has done less thinking in recent editions over than 1e/2e days. Not sure if this has to do with more rules on combat or something else. We used to use burning oil and blocking the gaps with fighters. We would throw halflings over bad guys to get behind them or open portable holes filled with swamp alligators and water to flood the tunnel and have the alligators chase the rest.


So for this thread, what do you say we share some of our finest battlefield control moments? When did you turn the mundane environment to your advantage? Did you set up a sniper’s nest? Maybe you went nuts bull rushing dudes into industrial equipment? Or perhaps you stuck to the classics and actually pulled off the chandelier swing. Whatever you genius play, let’s hear all about it!

The best I have ever seen is a Fey Wanderer Ranger with expertise in athletics spamming a concentration-free Summon (mirthful) Fey every turn. Each Fey is getting an action and putting out a minute long charm as a bonus action every turn with no save at the end of the turn in addition to an action. If a target makes his save the Ranger uses beguiling twist to stick frightened on another target.

Then you have the Fey Grapple the charmed enemies or combine charm with frightened to keep them from moving towards the Ranger, or just charm them and block them and get in their way. You can also attack and then use the charm so even once you have everyone charmed you can still swoop in and damage and then charm again.

In one large fight my character (13th level Ranger/1st level Rogue) started with a Fey and then spent the first 3 turns putting another Fey on the battlefield in a massive open melee. By round 3 every single enemy still alive was either charmed or frightened or both.

When I stopped summoning and got into the Melee I was getting two attacks, my Fey were getting 5 attacks and 4 charms every turn and finally I was twisting it if one of the victims managed to save. I would attack a bad guy, then grapple, Fey would swoop in and attack then charm. If the charm failed I would twist it and another Fey would attack then charm. Once the charm stuck the remaining fey would move to a new target and attack and then charm him. Because they follow you in initiative it is very easy to combine/cooperate on targeting and charming.

As we got down to the stragglers I had a guy grappled and he can't harm me because he is charmed, he can't move because he is grappled and he has disadvantage to break out of the grapple because he is frightened and on my turn I am going to attack him twice and then the first Fey is going to attack him twice and charm him again .... and if he makes the save he gets attacked again by the second Fey and gets to make another save against charm and if he makes that save ......

The thing is I still had a bunch of spell slots left after this fight!

Also if you have a Cleric ally and are fighting a lone bad guy you can have your Fey charm your cleric. Because he has a great Wis save he will probably pass the save and when he does you twist that to frighten the bad guy. If your cleric fails the save it is no big deal because he is charmed by the Fey and the Ranger who he was not going to attack anyway!
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James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
4e game. I was playing a Dragonborn Fighter with the most ridiculous Paragon Path ever, Snapping Tetsudo- I was a master of dual-wielding shields, lol.

We were in the Shadowfell, and some Vecna cultist was trying to summon some demons to fight us. Well, he succeeded. I ran up, used my Dragonfear to hit all the enemies; some were feared, but the actual point was to Mark all the enemies (I could do that, as a Fighter). Then I used my bonus action to make every enemy near me suffer a -5 penalty to hit anyone who wasn't me, action pointed (giving me +4 to all my defenses) and used total defense (for another +2 to defenses).

The DM paused. "So wait. All my guys have -7 to hit anybody who isn't you, and you just boosted your defenses by SIX!!?"

"Yes, that's right."

"WTF!" He decided to have them all gang up on me that turn, giving my party the chance to lay down some crowd control of their own. Needless to say, I started my next turn completely unscathed.

Battle field control (various systems):
  • A weaponsmith (earthdawn artificer) with high defenses mocked a horror-dragon. No special taunt abilities, just made fun of how weak it hit. Character effectively made saves against dragon fire, Necromancy, and soaked/dodged many up claw strikes, reporting "Is that all?" With each attack. Dragon ignored everyone else for 4 rounds. (Weaponsmith lived, dragon fled)
  • Shattered center span of a bridge over a chasm, cast an illusion of the intact bridge. A PC with "fly" was on the far side shooting arrows then "ran" across bridge with enemies in hot pursuit. Cue Wilhelm screams.
  • Underwater fight - someone had an octopus familiar that used its squid ink. Later we used "minor image" of a blobs of squid ink to hide inside & snipe (transparent to character, total obscurement for enemies and spears go through ink normally so... )
  • Same underwater fight - Shape Water (ice) used freeze a door shut (125cu ft/4 tons of ice is a heck of a door-spike, and enemy casters had to hack through door to see ice to dispel it)
  • Fight on a dock near ships. Rogue climbs a mast to snipe but sees a cargo net suspended from a yard arm. Makes acrobatic/climb/jump rolls to get to arm, then manages to fling the net across most of enemies.(7th sea, iirc)
  • Classic evil bbeg tower. Reinforcements are charging up circular staircase. Dwarf fighter pulls out 15lbs of ball bearing and cascades them down stairs, 5lbs a round. Then we start launching furniture down stairs across bearings.

Retake battlefield control:
  • enemy cast Wall of Ice. Cantrip Mold Earth was used to open a hole underneath it.
  • Phase spiders web a high level monk. Monk goes ethereal, takes web with it. ("This is mine now, right? Doesn’t belong to anyone else?") Flies ethereally over other enemies, rematerialized, dropping on them and trapping them in web. Cue monk grappling them to death
  • Fighter is eaten by purple worm. Worm gets confused look. Then fighter reappears, dripping slime, holding a rod of security, and grinning.

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