5E Counterspell Variant: More Specific, Lower Level

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Alright so I spend a lot of time thinking about countering casters in fantasy games. It’s a fun thing for me as a player, and as a DM.

But Counterspell is...thematically limited.

Solution? Variants that target certain types of spells.

So here is my basic thoughts for a countering spell for conjuring!

Conjurer’s Foil
Level: 2 Casting Time: Bonus Action Range/Area: 60ft Components: S

Duration: 1 minute, Concentration School: Abjuration Save: Con

You create a barb in the magical connection between the target and another creature within 120ft of the target*. Both creatures must make a Con save or take 1d10 Force Damage. Once per round when you deal damage to either target, the other target takes damage equal to your spellcasting modifier, as long as it remains within 120 ft of you or the other target.

[scale with spell levels]

* I’d like to restrict it to a creature and another creature already tied by magic, but that’s complex.

The design goal here is to have a spell that specifically screws summoners, making it hard to maintain concentration, and punishing them for keeping their pets around.

I’d love feedback, and please share your ideas for specific spells that counter the magic of others in new and interesting ways.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
For a lower level "Counterspell," maybe a level one spell that forces a concentration check (perhaps with a penalty of some kind for upcasting) would be the way to go. The only question is what DC to start with. The DC would have to be higher than your Save DC, otherwise you would be better off just casting Magic Missile and using the raw damage to force a check most of the time (or forcing three checks, if the table prefers)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
For a lower level "Counterspell," maybe a level one spell that forces a concentration check (perhaps with a penalty of some kind for upcasting) would be the way to go. The only question is what DC to start with. The DC would have to be higher than your Save DC, otherwise you would be better off just casting Magic Missile and using the raw damage to force a check most of the time (or forcing three checks, if the table prefers)
Exactly right, IMO.

A simple lesser Counterspell would just force a concentration save, perhaps as a bonus action. Not sure I agree with it needing to be higher than your Save DC. That should usually be higher than half magic missile damage.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
The lowest any damage based concentration check can go is 10. At level 1, with a 16 in your primary stat, your save DC is 13.

I don't see an effective 3 point penalty to a D20 roll (while sacrificing all your damage) being worth a level one spell slot. In comparison, Shield gives a 5 point penalty to multiple potential rolls, and extra goodies on top of that.
 
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TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
The lowest any damage concentration check can go is 10. At level 1, with a 16 in your primary stat, your save DC is 13.

I don't see an effective 3 point penalty to a D20 roll (while sacrificing all your damage) being worth a level one spell slot. In comparison, Shield gives a 5 point penalty to multiple potential rolls, and extra goodies on top of that.
As a standard action, could you do it as a cantrip?
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
As a standard action, could you do it as a cantrip?
Do you mean make the potential "Lesser Counterspell" as a cantrip instead of a level 1 spell?

Well the math would line up more or less with Guidance. Though I wouldn't imagine anyone taking it unless it was a caster-heavy campaign and you were all-in on making an anti-mage from level one. While weak, cantrips are paradoxically more valuable to most classes than level one spells due to the limited number of them you have access too.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
The lowest any damage based concentration check can go is 10. At level 1, with a 16 in your primary stat, your save DC is 13.

I don't see an effective 3 point penalty to a D20 roll (while sacrificing all your damage) being worth a level one spell slot. In comparison, Shield gives a 5 point penalty to multiple potential rolls, and extra goodies on top of that.
However, with a 20 in your starting stat, you're looking at a DC 15, which I would argue is easily worth it. That's the equivalent of a concentration check triggered by 30 damage. I certainly wouldn't want to go higher than that at level 1.

You can't just look at the average when balancing an effect; you also need to examine the maximized effect. Not everyone uses the array. If you roll an 18 and take a race that grants a +2 (or variant human and a feat that grants +1) you can start with a 20.

A DC 13 is a bit meh, but it isn't entirely worthless either. Just unreliable (as is the case for a lot of spells when your DC is that low). That said, outside of a high magic campaign where encountering casters is commonplace, this sort of spell is the kind of thing that most players probably won't pick at 1st level. It's too specialized in it's application. It's the kind of thing you bring in a few levels later when your 1st level slots are becoming more useful for utility than direct application.


Regarding counterspell alternatives, what about a spell that imposes disadvantage on concentration checks? Maybe call it something like Absentmind.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The lowest any damage based concentration check can go is 10. At level 1, with a 16 in your primary stat, your save DC is 13.

I don't see an effective 3 point penalty to a D20 roll (while sacrificing all your damage) being worth a level one spell slot. In comparison, Shield gives a 5 point penalty to multiple potential rolls, and extra goodies on top of that.
I’d not mess with the complexity of making it “spell save DC+X”, so I’d instead consider making it backfire on them if they fail, so they also take damage?

IDK I’d definitely learn a level 1 spell that lets me force a Concentration Save equal to my spell save dc as a reaction, and if they fail they lose the spell they’re trying to cast while still spending the spell slot. There will be times where a defensive spell is better, and times where no defensive spell would be useful at all but this would.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
However, with a 20 in your starting stat, you're looking at a DC 15, which I would argue is easily worth it. That's the equivalent of a concentration check triggered by 30 damage. I certainly wouldn't want to go higher than that at level 1.

You can't just look at the average when balancing an effect; you also need to examine the maximized effect. Not everyone uses the array. If you roll an 18 and take a race that grants a +2 (or variant human and a feat that grants +1) you can start with a 20.

A DC 13 is a bit meh, but it isn't entirely worthless either. Just unreliable (as is the case for a lot of spells when your DC is that low). That said, outside of a high magic campaign where encountering casters is commonplace, this sort of spell is the kind of thing that most players probably won't pick at 1st level. It's too specialized in it's application. It's the kind of thing you bring in a few levels later when your 1st level slots are becoming more useful for utility than direct application.


Regarding counterspell alternatives, what about a spell that imposes disadvantage on concentration checks? Maybe call it something like Absentmind.
I agree with all that, and I love Absentmind!

What do you think the level would be if it doesn’t require concentration to maintain, and lasts a minute?
 

NotAYakk

Explorer
Variants that target certain types of spells.
In a game, things whose utility varies with the kinds of opponents you face have serious issues.

Players rarely have control over it. So you either need to be able to scout & prepare, or just get lucky.

So this kind of spell ends up taking a slot for a non-prepared caster that can only be changed like once per level. For a prepared caster it is slightly more plausible, but still needs a bit of "scry to win".

---

Ideas:

Mage Duel
  • Starts a "duel" between you and the target; no save.
  • Requires concentration.
  • If you have concentration, you have to roll at the start of your turn to keep it.
  • You can both burn spell slots to disrupt enemy spells. If you have a spell of the same school you get a bonus; if it also matches the level you get another bonus.
  • Instead of yes/no, how about 4 different results:
** Reduce damage/save bonus
** No
** Yes
** Caster takes damage, spell goes off

Spell Decay
* Increases the rate at which time passes before the duration of a spell ends
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
My gut says probably 2nd level. It's kind of like a weaker, specialized version of Bestow Curse, if I'm remembering correctly. AFB ATM.
That makes sense!
In a game, things whose utility varies with the kinds of opponents you face have serious issues.

Players rarely have control over it. So you either need to be able to scout & prepare, or just get lucky.

So this kind of spell ends up taking a slot for a non-prepared caster that can only be changed like once per level. For a prepared caster it is slightly more plausible, but still needs a bit of "scry to win".

---

Ideas:

Mage Duel
  • Starts a "duel" between you and the target; no save.
  • Requires concentration.
  • If you have concentration, you have to roll at the start of your turn to keep it.
  • You can both burn spell slots to disrupt enemy spells. If you have a spell of the same school you get a bonus; if it also matches the level you get another bonus.
  • Instead of yes/no, how about 4 different results:
** Reduce damage/save bonus
** No
** Yes
** Caster takes damage, spell goes off

Spell Decay
* Increases the rate at which time passes before the duration of a spell ends
I like those ideas!

And as for your concerns, that’s one reason why my suggested spell doesn’t actually require a spell to have been cast for the spell to work. My original concept was that it would be a barb in the connection between a conjurerer and what they’d conjured, or a necromancer and it’s thrall, etc. instead, it simply creates a barb where both take damage any time one takes damage.
 

Bacon Bits

Adventurer
The only change I've ever considered to counterspell was removing the entirety of the "At higher levels" clause. I don't think I've seen a simpler alteration that had more or less the desired effect, but the one campaign we tried it in, nobody was a Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard. We kind of forgot about it since then.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The only change I've ever considered to counterspell was removing the entirety of the "At higher levels" clause. I don't think I've seen a simpler alteration that had more or less the desired effect, but the one campaign we tried it in, nobody was a Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard. We kind of forgot about it since then.
So, you simply always have to make the check for a spell that is higher than 3rd level? I could live with that.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
What about a higher level Counterspell that functions like a Smite Spell? Bonus Action, 1 min with concentration, the next time a creature within 30 ft of you casts a spell, you can move up to 10ft and make a weapon attack against it as a Reaction. If you hit, you deal the normal damage as well as 2d10 Force damage, and the target must succeed on a Concentration check against either your Spell Save DC or half the damage dealt, whichever is higher, or it is unable to cast the spell.

obviously clean up for 5e language formatting, get all the right "then the spell ends" clauses, increase damage by spell level, etc.

I'd place it at 4th level? Within eventual reach of half casters.

Could it be 3rd level, right alongside Counterspell, since it requires that you hit and that the target fail it's save in order to stop the spell?

I selfishly want it to be 2nd somehow, because my rogue/wizard mage hunter may never get 3rd level spells, and I want this spell, but I don't like to homebrew with only a single character in mind.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
At 2nd it should be an action and deal 1d10 extra.

At 3rd it is a bonus action.

At 4+ it gets +1d10 per slot level.
I don’t love the idea of changing the action economy at higher levels.

I think it’s balanced with other smites if it deals a single die of damage, and is somewhat more situationally applicable, as a 2nd level spell.
 

Horwath

Explorer
here is some spell vs spellcasters.

Mana burn.
Level 1 evocation
range 60ft, spell attack.
duration 1 min

deal 1d6 damage per level of highest current available spell "slot" target has or per level you cast this spell. Whatever is lower.
Wisdom save for half damage.
for the next minute every time target cast the spell it suffers the same damage. Depending on spell level cast.
 

NotAYakk

Explorer
I don’t love the idea of changing the action economy at higher levels.

I think it’s balanced with other smites if it deals a single die of damage, and is somewhat more situationally applicable, as a 2nd level spell.
No, it gives 1d10 damage and gives you an attack when you wouldn't have one and generates a nice smite effect.

For many builds, a bonus action 2nd level spell that just said "you get to attack" would be worth it. (While many builds get bonus action attacks, they do so with investment either in class features, gear layout, feats, or more than one of the above)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
No, it gives 1d10 damage and gives you an attack when you wouldn't have one and generates a nice smite effect.

For many builds, a bonus action 2nd level spell that just said "you get to attack" would be worth it. (While many builds get bonus action attacks, they do so with investment either in class features, gear layout, feats, or more than one of the above)
I don’t think a spell that just gave a situational reaction attack would even be worth a 1st level slot.

But as a 2nd or 3rd level spell that gives a situational reaction attack with a bonus, and a chance at stopping a spell, it’s worthwhile.

4th would require some real damage boosting.
 

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