Counter spell and calling out spell levels

Nutation

Explorer
This. So much this. Counterspell is amazingly powerful RAW; no need to give the players free information to make it even more of a sure thing. As is, bards (with magical secrets), and abjurers don't really have to worry about upcasting it much at all due to the bonus they get on the check anyway. The spell is meant to have some level of risk associated with it, no need to eliminate that entirely.
A very good point. I have been declaring spell slot level (this is in Adventurer's League). But, AL tables can have as many as 4 casters with Counterspell vs. one poor enemy caster. I should pull back on the info and make it more uncertain.
 

mikebr99

Explorer
I just make it all part of the same reaction instead of '2' reactions. Also, on a side note, is there a place (other than Xanathar's) that says making skill checks in combat is a reaction or an action?

My impression was that Xanathar's Guide has a whole bunch of 'optional' rules.

I'm just curious.
Hey Taran,
That's the only place I've seen these rules... But casting Counterspell uses your whole reaction time, so you don't have any time left to do anything else.

And trying to deduce what is coming at you once you're witnessed all the V/S/M components coming from the castor should take some time shouldn't it? At least as long as every other reaction in the game?

thanks

Mike
 
Hey Taran,
That's the only place I've seen these rules... But casting Counterspell uses your whole reaction time, so you don't have any time left to do anything else.

And trying to deduce what is coming at you once you're witnessed all the V/S/M components coming from the castor should take some time shouldn't it? At least as long as every other reaction in the game?

thanks

Mike
Yeah, maybe. I just see it as innate knowledge.

You can describe it as, "You see him start to cast a spell"

Or you can describe it as, "you see him pull out rose pedals as he casts a spell"

With the latter description, you Immediately say, "I'd better counterspell his Sleep spell!" Because the recognition is instantaneous and, in fact, part of recognizing that he's casting a spell.

You know? You see him casting a spell and you either know what it is or you don't. Having that knowledge doesn't take time. To me the arcana check is just to see if you recognize it immediately or not. I don't see it as you analyzing exactly what the spell caster is doing. Which is why I make it harder to do if they use a focus or easier if there's a somatic or almost impossible if they use subtle spell. I'll read up Xanathar's.

I might make the DCs easier if you use your reaction or, even easier, if you spend your whole action watching.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I have to say I can't be given to care if the players are using counterspell a lot. They must like doing it, for one, but also it's at least a 3rd-level spell slot and they don't have an infinite amount of those. Plus it's at trade-off against choosing and preparing other spells that might be useful in situations that arise. In an action-packed adventuring day, if they want to blow those slots on counterspell instead of, say, fireball, that's fine by me.

And if there's ever a time where I want to raise the difficulty of the challenge, I can just add multiple spellcasters or some kind of feature of the area that makes counterspell costly or risky. No big deal.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
A very good point. I have been declaring spell slot level (this is in Adventurer's League). But, AL tables can have as many as 4 casters with Counterspell vs. one poor enemy caster. I should pull back on the info and make it more uncertain.
This raises to me a better question.

If i start to cast a spell and four potential counterspellers, ready to use their reactions, how do you resolve those choices?

Do thry get time to talk among themselves to decide who id gonna counterspell or if they want to counterspell?

Or do you say they each make choices *without* waiting to see other counterspells going off, or not?

Obviously a planned group could have plans and patterns so they knew who was "on counterspell" etc, but short of that, is it a debate over the reaction or blind choices that csn redult in multiple counters at one spell or none if everybody thinks another will do it?
 

Nutation

Explorer
This raises to me a better question.

If i start to cast a spell and four potential counterspellers, ready to use their reactions, how do you resolve those choices?

Do thry get time to talk among themselves to decide who id gonna counterspell or if they want to counterspell?

Or do you say they each make choices *without* waiting to see other counterspells going off, or not?

Obviously a planned group could have plans and patterns so they knew who was "on counterspell" etc, but short of that, is it a debate over the reaction or blind choices that csn redult in multiple counters at one spell or none if everybody thinks another will do it?
In practice, they don't speak up at once. I'm sure that's happened, but normally, one will announce a counterspell, and if that fails (or the opposing caster counters), another will announce. That's generous of me, but I try not to let AL games be very adversarial. If timing conflict really became an issue, I would use initiative order.
 

Satyrn

Villager
A very good point. I have been declaring spell slot level (this is in Adventurer's League). But, AL tables can have as many as 4 casters with Counterspell vs. one poor enemy caster. I should pull back on the info and make it more uncertain.
If I was playing in AL, I'd be seeking out DMs that are free with this sort of info.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I have to say I can't be given to care if the players are using counterspell a lot. They must like doing it
This is kind of a side-topic, but I've found that players are often drawn to doing things they don't like. Usually it's something that makes the game fun in the short term but not the long term, or vice-versa. So the fact that players do something a lot isn't, by itself, a great indicator that they enjoy that thing.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This is kind of a side-topic, but I've found that players are often drawn to doing things they don't like. Usually it's something that makes the game fun in the short term but not the long term, or vice-versa. So the fact that players do something a lot isn't, by itself, a great indicator that they enjoy that thing.
Who am I to get in the way of someone else's masochism?
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
I just tell them what spell it is, and what level it is. After all, people who actually live in that world would be far better at understanding what that looks like than I am at describing it to the table.

Besides, it's already a tough choice to decide that you want to counterspell something in the first place, even with all of the information available to you. I don't see any reason to make anyone gamble even further, based on a lack of information.
 
I don't think there is anything in the normal rules that says it takes an action or reaction to identify a spell as it is being cast. I'm not even sure that the information is secret at all. So I don't tax casters an extra action and I allow an arcana check when a spell is cast to see if they can identify it as it is being cast. ( Or religion if it is a divine spell from someone of the same religion, though this is much more rare ).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Counterpoint: counterspell is overpowered and leads to boring game-play. Often the best tactical option is to just counterspell everything; it's an easy decision to make, and by eliminating enemy spells before they happen, counterspell also eliminates future interesting decisions. So maybe taking a hard line on spell identification and spell level identification would balance counterspell better and make casting it more of a gamble.
It's not overpowered. Stopping an enemy from casting fireball isn't more powerful than fireball. Which is better is situational. If you're seeing players burn all their slots on counterspell, that's great! they're using huge swathes of their power and versatility stopping the enemy from doing things they could survive and then respond to with powerful magic.

Regarding 5e counterspell:

I haven't read Xanathar's Guide well enough to know what they say there but I do the following:

-A spell gets cast
-Player declares his reaction to counter-spell
-I allow them an arcana check to discover what spell is being cast. Difficulty depends on whether it's subtle or has components (components makes it easier to identify) or has a focus etc...
-If they succeed, I tell them which spell is being cast and they can use an appropriate slot, if they wish
-If they fail, they just have to guess.
-Resolve counterspell as normal
I just make it all part of the same reaction instead of '2' reactions. Also, on a side note, is there a place (other than Xanathar's) that says making skill checks in combat is a reaction or an action?

My impression was that Xanathar's Guide has a whole bunch of 'optional' rules.

I'm just curious.
It's absolutely an optional rule, yeah. There are no rules anywhere else about whether or not seeing something happen in front of you requires a reaction, but since you don't need to use your reaction to see that a spell is being cast, I can't imagine why you'd need to in order to recognize it. You either recognize it or your don't.

I do allow casters to try and obfuscate what they're casting,though. I don't really care about arguments that it steps on the sorcerer's toes. Subtle Spell isn't the singular core feature of the sorcerer. Also, martial characters can trip eachother without being Battle Masters. Class features let them do it better, in both cases.

Hey Taran,
That's the only place I've seen these rules... But casting Counterspell uses your whole reaction time, so you don't have any time left to do anything else.

And trying to deduce what is coming at you once you're witnessed all the V/S/M components coming from the castor should take some time shouldn't it? At least as long as every other reaction in the game?
Why would it take time? How would it take time? It's either going to be part of recognizing that spells are being cast, not happen within the timeframe of an action.

I have time to see the creatures around me moving, and take opportunity attacks, but somehow seeing the wizard draw the sigil that finishes the fireball spell while holding a tiny ball in his hand takes too much time?

Nah.

Yeah, maybe. I just see it as innate knowledge.

You can describe it as, "You see him start to cast a spell"

Or you can describe it as, "you see him pull out rose pedals as he casts a spell"

With the latter description, you Immediately say, "I'd better counterspell his Sleep spell!" Because the recognition is instantaneous and, in fact, part of recognizing that he's casting a spell.

You know? You see him casting a spell and you either know what it is or you don't. Having that knowledge doesn't take time. To me the arcana check is just to see if you recognize it immediately or not. I don't see it as you analyzing exactly what the spell caster is doing. Which is why I make it harder to do if they use a focus or easier if there's a somatic or almost impossible if they use subtle spell. I'll read up Xanathar's.

I might make the DCs easier if you use your reaction or, even easier, if you spend your whole action watching.
I agree with all of this.

I also give Advantage or Disadvantage on the check (Arcana, Religion, or Nature, depending on the type of caster, or Investigation) depending on whether it's a spell they have seen in game before, one they're researching, one they know, etc.

If it's a spell they cast all the time, I just tell them what spell it is unless I want to emphasize that the caster is working from a very different tradition than the player character.
 
I never thought Counterspell was overpowered but I think I'll go with XGtE rules, with the exception that if you are familiar with the spell being cast then you don't need to identify it. Being "familiar" is a bit subjective, certainly includes knowing the spell yourself but there might be other cases (e.g. common low-level spells of your class, next-level spells you're working on, spells you've seen your allies cast before). If the enemy casts the same spell again I certainly won't require to identify it again.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm dm'ing a 5e game.
That doesn't change the fact that you are essential, if not actually mirroring the 3e system. I wasn't knocking you for it. I was just saying that it was the 3e counterspell system.

Personally, were I to use that system for my game, I would change it so that you could counterspell as a reaction. You are already requiring that the wizard have the exact spell, or possibly the same school if they have improved counterspell. Requiring them to give up their action is just too harsh and in my experience, caused it to see little play. Read 0 times from 2000-2018 when I stopped playing 3e.

Requiring the wizard to ready an action means that the wizard automatically loses a duel against a wizard who doesn't bother counterspelling. The battle goes like this.

Wizard 1: counterspell is readied.

Wizard 2: Casts a spell that wizard 1 doesn't know. Wizard 1 has now wasted his turn and taken damage or been forced to save and possible miss that save against something nasty.

Wizard 1: counterspell is readied.

Wizard 2: maybe casts a spell that wizard 1 knows, and maybe doesn't.

Rinse and repeat until wizard 1 is dead, or actually starts to fight back.

It's a losing proposition and smart players just don't do it. They just cast their spells and kill the enemy caster with the aid of their companions.

If you make counterspell as a reaction, then occasionally you will have the same spell memorized, and a bit more often you can use a spell of the same school if you have improved counterspell, so you will get some use out of it without gimping the entire group.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It's not overpowered. Stopping an enemy from casting fireball isn't more powerful than fireball. Which is better is situational. If you're seeing players burn all their slots on counterspell, that's great! they're using huge swathes of their power and versatility stopping the enemy from doing things they could survive and then respond to with powerful magic.
I disagree. A fireball used against the party will typically hit most or all of them, or else the enemy caster uses some other spell. That amount of damage will usually use up more party resources than a single 3rd level spell slot. At least from the players side of things. From the monster side of things, they aren't usually concerned with resources beyond the single combat, so it may be more important to fireball the party than stop a fireball headed towards the monsters.
 

Myzzrym

Explorer
After reading a few of the comments here I feel like rolling an Arcane Check to see if the PC recognises the spell sounds pretty fair. I can always add disadvantage or increase the DC if he's in a particularly rough situation, or if he never saw the spell before.
 
That doesn't change the fact that you are essential, if not actually mirroring the 3e system. I wasn't knocking you for it. I was just saying that it was the 3e counterspell system.

Personally, were I to use that system for my game, I would change it so that you could counterspell as a reaction.

***

If you make counterspell as a reaction,....
Counterspell IS a reaction in 5e. No need to change the rules.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
After reading a few of the comments here I feel like rolling an Arcane Check to see if the PC recognises the spell sounds pretty fair. I can always add disadvantage or increase the DC if he's in a particularly rough situation, or if he never saw the spell before.
Disadvantage might be a good application to making the Arcana Check as a reaction AND casting Counterspell (since it is also a reaction). If they character does one OR the other, no problem, but if they want to try to do both using only one reaction, impose disadvantage on either the Arcana Check or the Counterspell roll or even both if you want (but that might be too harsh...).
 

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