log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Concentration variations

5e tries to avoid "fiddly" mechanics, so maybe this isn't really in the spirit of the current edition, but I'd like to see more shades of gray in concentration mechanics. Many people have suggested that some spells simply have the Concentration tag removed, but how about if spells change depending upon whether or not you maintain concentration? Specifically I'm thinking about spells that allow a saving throw each round, and that don't require the caster's action or bonus action to utilize.

Think about how any of these options might apply to, say, hold person, blindness/deafness, or polymorph:

- Advantage on saving throws (after the first one) if no concentration
- Conversely, disadvantage on saving throws (again, once a target has already failed the first save) if there is concentration
- As an alternative to the above, if concentrating, the caster can use a bonus action (or reaction?) to impose disadvantage on saving throw.
- No additional saving throw if concentration, normal saving throws if no concentration

#3 is my favorite, I think. Could also be combined with #1. So there would be three "tiers"
- Advantage on saves if no concentration
- Normal saves if concentrating
- Caster can use reaction to impose disadvantage on saving throw to a creature that is currently under the effect.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Stormonu

Legend
If anything, I think if the caster takes an action to focus on a concentration spell, it should impose disadvantage on the target's saving throw.

There are some spells though, I'd like to see concentration removed from (like Barkskin. I think it's unfair Mage Armor doesn't require concentration and Barkskin does).

Also, I would like to see feats or ability that allow you maintain more than one concentration spell - possibly tied to level (1 such spell at level 1-5, two at 6-12, three at 13-20). Being able to do things like pass concentration off to familiars or special items might also be feasible; so long as the stacking doesn't get out of control like back in 3E.

Finally, I'd like to see it changed from being named "concentration" to "maintain". "Concentration" would become taking an action to focus on a maintained spell, and would make more sense with multiple spells you "maintain".
 

I am a bit leery. The spells you picked as examples are not generally the ones which are considered "too weak" and "not worth" concentration.

Barkskin. True Strike. Witch Bolt. Flame Arrows. That kind of thing.
Oh, sure. We can talk about which spells. I just grabbed the first ones I could think of that required concentration, allowed a new saving throw each round, but didn't have any kind of ongoing interaction.

And there are some spells, like barkskin, that shouldn't require concentration. Agreed.
 

Also, I would like to see feats or ability that allow you maintain more than one concentration spell - possibly tied to level (1 such spell at level 1-5, two at 6-12, three at 13-20). Being able to do things like pass concentration off to familiars or special items might also be feasible; so long as the stacking doesn't get out of control like back in 3E.
That would be so good that it would start to feel like a feat tax.

I'd rather see it implemented in subclasses, so that it could be appropriately balanced.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Oh, sure. We can talk about which spells. I just grabbed the first ones I could think of that required concentration, allowed a new saving throw each round, but didn't have any kind of ongoing interaction.

And there are some spells, like barkskin, that shouldn't require concentration. Agreed.
My problem is, which spells is about the only thing that matters.

The exact same mechanics on a different spell lead to different levels of overhead and different changes in spellcaster power level.

...

Bonus actions are near-free in some builds. If (in general) you could burn a bonus action to force disadvantage on saves on spells you are concentrating on until the start of your next turn, it would be a significant upgrade to such spells.

...

Barkskin could be tweaked to be worth concentration. For example, what if it gave you a 16 AC and gave you resistance to all non-fire damage. Except, if you took damage, the spell ends at the end of the caster's next turn unless they spend an action reinforcing it.

Barkskin, as a long-duration targetted buff with no concentration, makes entire categories of armor obsolete. Mage armor acts like a class feature -- burn a low level spell slot and have it on your list, you get AC of 13 plus your dex. If Barkskin is a cheap source of long-duration AC, it ends up being a spell-slot tax to burn your own spell slots to give other players a class feature. We don't want barkskin to be so good that it is worth its price in the general case.

Make it self only, or have it work on your self or an animal?

...

I've played with giving bonus concentration slots. Right now I have some rules I'm refining; one, "Yet Another Ranger" where you get a 1st level "Primal Bond" that grants abilities at a few Ranger dead levels.

Bond of the Hunt boosts your Ranger spellcasting level by 1, gives you HM as a free spell ranger spell known, boosts HM and (at T2) lets you cast HM while concentrating on another spell.

Bond of the Pack gives the companion from Tashas, and (in T3) lets that companion both cast and concentrate on a Ranger spell for you.

A T3 cleric ability lets them concentration on a spell that targets either only them or only an item they are holding, plus one spell that neither targets them nor an item they are holding. (some careful wording makes sure that Holy Weapon qualifies, even though Holy Weapon can explode and target more than just the weapon)

The idea is to add narrow concentration-broadening mechanics, and not "you can concentrate on 2 effects" in general. I audited all ranger spells, and didn't find a serious problem with the double-dipping at that point; similarly, I audited cleric self buffs and other buffs, and found more fun than problems. It encourages the high-level cleric to both self-buff and debuff (or buff allies, and self-buff).
 
Last edited:

OptionalRule

Explorer
I don't see the need for this or what it adds to the game myself but that doesn't mean it's bad. What are you trying to accomplish with this? Are you trying to achieve better balance? Are you trying to add more excitement? something else?
 

I am kinda digging the general purpose house rule: “You can spend you action to Focus on a spell you previously cast that requires concentration. Until the beginning of your next turn you have advantage on concentration checks, and creatures who make a saving throw against the spell on their turn do so with disadvantage.”

or something like that. Maybe the “on their turn” is unnecessary.
 

Ok, new version: "You may spend your action to Focus on a spell you previously cast that requires concentration. Until the beginning of your next turn you have advantage on Constitution saving throws to concentrate on that spell, and if another creature makes a saving throw against that spell you may use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the roll."
 

OptionalRule

Explorer
Ok, new version: "You may spend your action to Focus on a spell you previously cast that requires concentration. Until the beginning of your next turn you have advantage on Constitution saving throws to concentrate on that spell, and if another creature makes a saving throw against that spell you may use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the roll."
I can see this. It seems balanced as they're sacrificing an action to gain advantage. My hesitancy for things like this is that there are way more opportunity to use it against the players than the other way around. It would be rough for a player to be constantly (or more frequently) locked down by behavior controlling spells like Cause Fear, Compelled Duel, Ensnaring Strike, Entangle, Faerie Fire, or a bunch of other spells. Likewise it would incentivize arguments about why the caster didn't sacrifice all their actions to maintain the spell for the other party members.

Anyway, the balance seems good but I worry about the impact on play at the table.
 

I can see this. It seems balanced as they're sacrificing an action to gain advantage. My hesitancy for things like this is that there are way more opportunity to use it against the players than the other way around. It would be rough for a player to be constantly (or more frequently) locked down by behavior controlling spells like Cause Fear, Compelled Duel, Ensnaring Strike, Entangle, Faerie Fire, or a bunch of other spells. Likewise it would incentivize arguments about why the caster didn't sacrifice all their actions to maintain the spell for the other party members.

Anyway, the balance seems good but I worry about the impact on play at the table.

In the bolded part, do you mean why doesn't the caster use it to maintain, for example, haste?

In terms of making a good tactical decision, you only get partial benefit when using it on a buffing spell, i.e. advantage on concentration saves. The other benefit, imposing disadvantage on an enemy, is wasted. Still, there may be times when this is important enough to be worth it.

If it's causing arguments about how the caster should spend their action, then the table has other problems. Jerks will be jerks. Even in the absence of this option, such people will probably still harass the caster about which spell to use, or who to cast it on, etc. In general I try to not let "yeah, but what about jerks?" be a factor in RPG decision-making, whether it's game/adventure design, roleplaying, or DMing.

What I was going for with this option...with this thread...is a way to let you get the most out of your spell slots. Sure, you could spend another spell slot, or cast sacred flame just because you love watching monsters make Dex saves, but this way you can use your action to increase the efficacy of a slot already used.
 

We're relatively happy with concentration as a means to limit the number of active spell effects, but we're not super happy with how concentration can be ended so easily. It's not fun as a spellcaster.

We tried making failed concentration saves cost a round of spell duration rather than ending the spell. It was better, but felt like a lot of bookkeeping.

I've thought about making concentration spells require you to stay in range of the target in order to maintain concentration, but this feels like way too much work.

I've thought about making attacks only trigger saves on NPCs. That is, the PCs automatically succeed on concentration checks. This works but feels super gamist.

I've thought about eliminating concentration saves entirely and reducing spell duration of concentration spells by a factor of 3 (e.g., concentration spells that formerly lasted 1 minute instead last 3 rounds).

I've thought about making concentration spells end automatically if you're grappled, restrained, or suffering from related conditions, but otherwise not dealing with concentration saves at all. That is, if you attack a target who is grappled, you can instead end what they're concentrating on instead of damaging them. That means you have to actively try to end a spell. It means you can end a spell if you need to, but means that ending concentration isn't a free rider on every attack roll. This is probably my favorite solution, but I haven't tried it out yet. Edit: Biggest concern is Misty Step.

I've also thought about making spells where you save every round not end on a successful save, but instead require you to keep saving. If you've been held and fail your first save, you're on the hook for saving every round for the spell's total duration. This means the spell can start affecting you again on later turns.
 

I've also thought about making spells where you save every round not end on a successful save, but instead require you to keep saving. If you've been held and fail your first save, you're on the hook for saving every round for the spell's total duration. This means the spell can start affecting you again on later turns.
I find that super interesting.

It adds that moment of suspense each round, kind of like a breath weapon recharge, and the outcome can have a dramatic effect on decision-making, changing the tactical situation every round. (Including whether or not the caster should keep concentrating, or give up and use another concentration spell.)
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Spells that force more than 1 successful save break legendary resistance.

Honestly, I look for that kind of thing pretty often in 5e. If you can get multiple saves to avoid a suck from one spell, you have an anti-legendary-resist effect.

Spells that only deal damage, like Zone Spells, are good. One that enforce conditions and repeated saves can become crazy strong against legendary resistance.

If you are paying a spell slot and an action to force a save, that works; if you aren't paying one of those, your ability needs to take into account this issue.
 

Spells that force more than 1 successful save break legendary resistance.

Honestly, I look for that kind of thing pretty often in 5e. If you can get multiple saves to avoid a suck from one spell, you have an anti-legendary-resist effect.

Spells that only deal damage, like Zone Spells, are good. One that enforce conditions and repeated saves can become crazy strong against legendary resistance.

If you are paying a spell slot and an action to force a save, that works; if you aren't paying one of those, your ability needs to take into account this issue.

Yeah I agree with that.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
My problem is, which spells is about the only thing that matters.

The exact same mechanics on a different spell lead to different levels of overhead and different changes in spellcaster power level.

...

Bonus actions are near-free in some builds. If (in general) you could burn a bonus action to force disadvantage on saves on spells you are concentrating on until the start of your next turn, it would be a significant upgrade to such spells.

...

Barkskin could be tweaked to be worth concentration. For example, what if it gave you a 16 AC and gave you resistance to all non-fire damage. Except, if you took damage, the spell ends at the end of the caster's next turn unless they spend an action reinforcing it.

Barkskin, as a long-duration targetted buff with no concentration, makes entire categories of armor obsolete. Mage armor acts like a class feature -- burn a low level spell slot and have it on your list, you get AC of 13 plus your dex. If Barkskin is a cheap source of long-duration AC, it ends up being a spell-slot tax to burn your own spell slots to give other players a class feature. We don't want barkskin to be so good that it is worth its price in the general case.

Make it self only, or have it work on your self or an animal?

...

I've played with giving bonus concentration slots. Right now I have some rules I'm refining; one, "Yet Another Ranger" where you get a 1st level "Primal Bond" that grants abilities at a few Ranger dead levels.

Bond of the Hunt boosts your Ranger spellcasting level by 1, gives you HM as a free spell ranger spell known, boosts HM and (at T2) lets you cast HM while concentrating on another spell.

Bond of the Pack gives the companion from Tashas, and (in T3) lets that companion both cast and concentrate on a Ranger spell for you.

A T3 cleric ability lets them concentration on a spell that targets either only them or only an item they are holding, plus one spell that neither targets them nor an item they are holding. (some careful wording makes sure that Holy Weapon qualifies, even though Holy Weapon can explode and target more than just the weapon)

The idea is to add narrow concentration-broadening mechanics, and not "you can concentrate on 2 effects" in general. I audited all ranger spells, and didn't find a serious problem with the double-dipping at that point; similarly, I audited cleric self buffs and other buffs, and found more fun than problems. It encourages the high-level cleric to both self-buff and debuff (or buff allies, and self-buff).
I'm always mystified at the number of people so traumatized by 3.x CodZilla that they make up excuses like how
1610567744382.png
is made "obsolete" if we quit punishing druids for the sins of two versions ago
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I'm always mystified at the number of people so traumatized by 3.x CodZilla that they make up excuses like how
is made "obsolete" if we quit punishing druids for the sins of two versions ago
Barkskin replaces mithral chainmail + heavy armor proficiency.

Or a breastplate, 14 dex, and medium armor proficiency.

5e values armor proficiencies higher than you do.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
Barkskin replaces mithral chainmail + heavy armor proficiency.

Or a breastplate, 14 dex, and medium armor proficiency.
no it is a way that a medium armor & shield proficient class with spellcasting can badly use concentration & spell slot to get the equivalent of...
studded leather or hide with 14dex & a shield, chain shirt with 12 dex & a +1 shield, scalemail or breastplate with zero dex & a shield, half plate & 12 dex & no shield, ring mail with any dex & a shield, or chainmail with any dex & no shield. Coincidentally that's also the same ac as a level 1 barbarian in starting gear with 16 dex/16 con, a level 1 cleric with a domain that allows them to choose to start with chainmail, a level 1 fighter who chooses to start with chainmail or chooses leather armor with a shield & 16 dex, a level 1 monk with 16dex & 16 wis, a level 1 paladin using the starting chainmail but not the shield they could have started with, a level 1 ranger with 14 dex & the scalemail they started with, a level 1 draconic sorcerer with 16 dex or 12 dex & a shield....
When your using a second level spell slot to get the AC obtained that cheaply or by that many classes at level 1 there's nothing to worry about being tossed aside I'm playing a dwarf wizard who just got level 3 in a game a friend asked me to join... his ac with some trash that was found at level?
1610569381721.png

If a second level spell that can be cast twice a day starting at level three isn't allowed to equal the starting gear of so many classes.. at what point are casters allowed to contribute without slighting non-casters?
 

NotAYakk

Legend
If a level 2 spell slot makes a class feature obsolete, what is the point of class features?

You get more spell slots than other classes get class features.

16 dex and 16 wis is a large investment. 16 dex/con is a large investment. A 2nd level spell slot is not.

I'll admit barkskin is a bad spell; the concentration cost is high.

But making it last all day and stripping concentration isn't the way to fix it.
 

If a level 2 spell slot makes a class feature obsolete, what is the point of class features?

You get more spell slots than other classes get class features.

16 dex and 16 wis is a large investment. 16 dex/con is a large investment. A 2nd level spell slot is not.

I'll admit barkskin is a bad spell; the concentration cost is high.

But making it last all day and stripping concentration isn't the way to fix it.

I'm also not sure that AC parity among classes is a desirable goal.
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top