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5E Counterspell what do people think?

WaterRabbit

Villager
Exhausted his spells on what? He can see out, but the door is still in the way so he has no line of effect to anyone. From the PHB, "To target something, you must have a clear path to it,so it can’t be behind total cover." Now, the following sentence does say can't see and blocked, but the prior indicates that blocked is enough, so the DM will have to rule on the contradiction. There's a very good chance that the wizard just trapped himself and twiddles his thumbs. At least if you have a fair DM.

There are also other spells besides knock that will get the party through that door or block vision so that that the wizard definitely cannot cast spells and his escape is out to the party.

For someone who made such bad assumptions about my ability to design an encounter, yours isn't very good. I would have thought you'd be an expert at encounter design, what with the way you were throwing rocks in a glass house.
A Clear Path to the Target (PHB pg. 204)
"To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can't be behind total cover."

Cover (PHB pg 196)
A target with total cover can't be targeted directly by an attack or a spell, although some spells can reach such a target by including it in an area of effect. A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle.

The caster can be behind total cover, just as an archer can fire through an arrow slit. The only "contradiction" a DM has to adjudicate would be how big a hole there has to be in total cover for a person to cast a spell through it and for it to still be total cover -- probably less than an arrow slit, but bigger than a gold piece. Also, while I understand your meaning, Line of Effect isn't really a term in 5e.

No the mage hasn't trapped himself.
Yes, there are other spells that allow one to get through barriers, they just aren't commonly employed by parties that prioritize counterspell in their spell selections.
No, the mage in question isn't behind a door. The door just leads to the sanctum which isn't in the room the mage is viewing. The point of the triple locked door is just to slow the party down (assuming they can find it in the first place).
It is like you have never played the game. If you really need me to, I can draw a map for you, since you cannot seem to imagine how it would work.

Your assumption here is that the NPC mages are only casting directly at the PCs. All of the tricks I have mentioned are designed to give the mage space and time to bring out their spells. Many spells don't require the mage to have LOS/LOE for them to cast. For example, Greater Invisibility is only useful if the mage has time and space to cast it. If the mage risks been countered or pincushioned by archers it is a bit of a waste. Summons, buffs and the like also work well, and the aforementioned Magic Jar.

I can also see how if D&D 5e is the only game you have played why you might not think of "extreme" measures like these. However, in previous versions (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) spellcasters could be interrupted without using counterspell, so a prudent caster did their best to avoid having a direct reciprocal LOS to their opponents. In 1st edition, my cleric could never get a spell off if I had LOS to a wizard as they would interrupt my spells with magic missile. (MM was a fast spell and all Cleric spells were slow.)

You seem to think counterspell is a god spell that cannot be trivially dealt with. Just like you seem to think medicine is a god skill that is used all of the time. While they might indeed by that powerful in games you run, they are not at most tables. I have been playing/running D&D (and other RPGs) for a very long time. The number of opportunities for counterspell to be effective are few and far between. Just like the number of opportunities for medicine to be used are few and far between (assuming that both existed in their current form in older/other games).

If you feel that counterspell is that powerful, I would first challenge you to look at your encounter design and rethink how you run NPC mages. On the other hand, if your players are complaining about getting countered, I would challenge them to play their mages smarter.

It seems like your posts are just trying to pick a fight. You also show look up the word "assumption" since you have been using it wrong every single time.

Note: I am using mage in the generic sense to mean anyone that casts spells as typing spellcaster over and over is cumbersome. Obviously, different casters have to employ different strategies, but the idea is that casters should avoid, when possible, exposing themselves to attacks/counters. It is why warlocks with Devil's Sight and darkness have such an advantage -- cast darkness on a rock while behind total cover, step out and EB your foes to death. You can see them and they cannot see you.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
A Clear Path to the Target (PHB pg. 204)
"To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can't be behind total cover."

Cover (PHB pg 196)
A target with total cover can't be targeted directly by an attack or a spell, although some spells can reach such a target by including it in an area of effect. A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle.

The caster can be behind total cover, just as an archer can fire through an arrow slit. The only "contradiction" a DM has to adjudicate would be how big a hole there has to be in total cover for a person to cast a spell through it and for it to still be total cover -- probably less than an arrow slit, but bigger than a gold piece. Also, while I understand your meaning, Line of Effect isn't really a term in 5e.
Term? No. Concept? Yes. So might as well use the term anyway, to save having to type "clear unobstructed path but not necessarily clear sight" every time.

No the mage hasn't trapped himself.
One would hope the mage has a bolt-hole of some sort - making a last stand in a dead-end room isn't exactly wise.

Yes, there are other spells that allow one to get through barriers
Spells? Getting through barriers is what the heavyweights are there for - they take their axes and hammers to the door while you-the-caster do what you can to give them cover and-or neutralize the enemy.

No, the mage in question isn't behind a door. The door just leads to the sanctum which isn't in the room the mage is viewing. The point of the triple locked door is just to slow the party down (assuming they can find it in the first place).
It is like you have never played the game. If you really need me to, I can draw a map for you, since you cannot seem to imagine how it would work.
You're basing all of this on a situation where the PCs are attacking the mage on his-her home turf, which is probably the worst approach for the PCs to take and does rather limit their options.

But in a more typical open-field battle, counterspell can have its uses.

I can also see how if D&D 5e is the only game you have played why you might not think of "extreme" measures like these. However, in previous versions (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) spellcasters could be interrupted without using counterspell, so a prudent caster did their best to avoid having a direct reciprocal LOS to their opponents. In 1st edition, my cleric could never get a spell off if I had LOS to a wizard as they would interrupt my spells with magic missile. (MM was a fast spell and all Cleric spells were slow.)
The way to beat this, of course, was to have more than one caster in the party and to stagger your casting - the MM could, if you did it right, only interrupt one of you.
 

WaterRabbit

Villager
One would hope the mage has a bolt-hole of some sort - making a last stand in a dead-end room isn't exactly wise.
Yes, that is the implication.

Spells? Getting through barriers is what the heavyweights are there for - they take their axes and hammers to the door while you-the-caster do what you can to give them cover and-or neutralize the enemy.
Depends on the door doesn't it? But let's use an example we are probably familiar with -- the arcanaloth in the Amber Temple in CoS. Perfect example of a caster setup to avoid being attacked directly by the party. The only thing missing is arcane lock on the door and it barred from the inside. A party isn't going to get through that door with axes and hammers.

You're basing all of this on a situation where the PCs are attacking the mage on his-her home turf, which is probably the worst approach for the PCs to take and does rather limit their options.
Yes. You have been following the thread right?

But in a more typical open-field battle, counterspell can have its uses.
First, an open-field battle really isn't more typical. But unless you are talking an open field with no cover what-so-ever, this has also been addressed up thread.

The way to beat this, of course, was to have more than one caster in the party and to stagger your casting - the MM could, if you did it right, only interrupt one of you.
Even in 1st edition, MM could deliver more than one missile. So while effective against a 1st level wizard, at 3rd and higher more than one caster wasn't very effective. Generally, the best counter was a bowman who won initiative. Generally, in 1st edition we did have more than one caster since our parties were about a dozen players. So the counter to your counter was already there as the enemies were typically had more than one wizard. Also in 1st edition dungeon develing was much more the norm and it was much easier to get bottlenecked at doorways and the like. Bottlenecks are kind of two-edged sword depending on which side can win the range war. In 1st edition, counterspell would have fallen into the segment initiative system and would have more often than not been interrupted because MM was king in that system -- shield was mandatory for wizards to survive spell duels.

IMHO, 1st edition still has the best initiative system. While more complicated, it offered much more interaction and handled interrupts more cleanly.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
A Clear Path to the Target (PHB pg. 204)
"To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can't be behind total cover."

Cover (PHB pg 196)
A target with total cover can't be targeted directly by an attack or a spell, although some spells can reach such a target by including it in an area of effect. A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle.
So total cover is total cover. You can't be behind it and still target people on the other side. They automatically have total cover from you as well.

The caster can be behind total cover, just as an archer can fire through an arrow slit. The only "contradiction" a DM has to adjudicate would be how big a hole there has to be in total cover for a person to cast a spell through it and for it to still be total cover -- probably less than an arrow slit, but bigger than a gold piece. Also, while I understand your meaning, Line of Effect isn't really a term in 5e.
So you're conflating total cover with partial cover. An arrow slit works in both directions, so that archer does not have total cover. The same goes for the caster. If he is behind total cover, then everyone on the other side of that total cover also has total cover from him. If at any point he can target anyone else, that target can also target him back as he no longer has total cover.

With the window idea, if he can see out and target the party, they can see in and target him right back. Except nobody can target anyone in that situation because the cover it total, even though there is still sight. If there is a hole that he can target out of, then the cover is no longer total and both sides can target each other.

There isn't a situation as you have described your encounter, where the wizard can target the party, but they cannot target him back.

It is like you have never played the game. If you really need me to, I can draw a map for you, since you cannot seem to imagine how it would work.
Here's a mirror. At least my encounters don't involve a wizard cheating and casting through total cover as he traps himself inside a room. My wizards are too smart to make those sorts of blunders.

Your assumption here is that the NPC mages are only casting directly at the PCs. All of the tricks I have mentioned are designed to give the mage space and time to bring out their spells. Many spells don't require the mage to have LOS/LOE for them to cast. For example, Greater Invisibility is only useful if the mage has time and space to cast it.
Greater invisibility works just fine in the middle of combat. At worst he can still be targeted for a round before he makes a stealth check and the party loses track of him. At best he casts it and then moves somewhere that they can't target him.

If the mage risks been countered or pincushioned by archers it is a bit of a waste. Summons, buffs and the like also work well, and the aforementioned Magic Jar.
Wait. Didn't you say that counterspell was nearly useless? Why should he be worried about a nearly useless spell? As for archers, you do know that they all have disadvantage to hit, so it's highly unlikely that any of them will. Even if one does, the wizard likely makes the low concentration check.

I can also see how if D&D 5e is the only game you have played why you might not think of "extreme" measures like these. However, in previous versions (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) spellcasters could be interrupted without using counterspell, so a prudent caster did their best to avoid having a direct reciprocal LOS to their opponents. In 1st edition, my cleric could never get a spell off if I had LOS to a wizard as they would interrupt my spells with magic missile. (MM was a fast spell and all Cleric spells were slow.)
Yes, I know all about it. In 3e it really didn't matter much as wizards had insanely high concentration skill by the time it really mattered. In 1e and 2e you really had to worry. I remember weighing what level of spell I would cast, because of it. There were times I went with magic missile over fireball, because I was facing fast creatures.

You seem to think counterspell is a god spell that cannot be trivially dealt with. Just like you seem to think medicine is a god skill that is used all of the time. While they might indeed by that powerful in games you run, they are not at most tables. I have been playing/running D&D (and other RPGs) for a very long time. The number of opportunities for counterspell to be effective are few and far between. Just like the number of opportunities for medicine to be used are few and far between (assuming that both existed in their current form in older/other games).
God? No. Overpowered? Yes.

If you feel that counterspell is that powerful, I would first challenge you to look at your encounter design and rethink how you run NPC mages. On the other hand, if your players are complaining about getting countered, I would challenge them to play their mages smarter.
Yeeaaaaah, I'm not taking encounter building advice from someone who builds an encounter like the wizard one above. I would wreck you if I was playing in your game.

Note: I am using mage in the generic sense to mean anyone that casts spells as typing spellcaster over and over is cumbersome. Obviously, different casters have to employ different strategies, but the idea is that casters should avoid, when possible, exposing themselves to attacks/counters. It is why warlocks with Devil's Sight and darkness have such an advantage -- cast darkness on a rock while behind total cover, step out and EB your foes to death. You can see them and they cannot see you.
So you're using mage, a word associated with wizards, to mean clerics, druids, bards, paladins, warlocks, sorcerers, and so on?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Depends on the door doesn't it? But let's use an example we are probably familiar with -- the arcanaloth in the Amber Temple in CoS.
"CoS" - Curse of Strahd? Not one I'm familiar with at all - sorry. Never played or run anything Ravenloft/Strahd related; I've read one or two 1e-2e era Ravenloft-y modules but have since managed to mostly forget them.

Perfect example of a caster setup to avoid being attacked directly by the party. The only thing missing is arcane lock on the door and it barred from the inside. A party isn't going to get through that door with axes and hammers.
I'll just have to take your word for this.

Yes. You have been following the thread right?
I have, and to pull one particular specific situation where counterspell might not be much use doesn't help much in a general discussion of its overall usefulness.

First, an open-field battle really isn't more typical. But unless you are talking an open field with no cover what-so-ever, this has also been addressed up thread.
Even if there's some cover, [MENTION=23751]Maxperson[/MENTION] has it right: if you can target them then they in theory can target you.

Even in 1st edition, MM could deliver more than one missile. So while effective against a 1st level wizard, at 3rd and higher more than one caster wasn't very effective. Generally, the best counter was a bowman who won initiative.
Yes, archery was hell on casters - as it should be. :)

Generally, in 1st edition we did have more than one caster since our parties were about a dozen players. So the counter to your counter was already there as the enemies were typically had more than one wizard. Also in 1st edition dungeon develing was much more the norm and it was much easier to get bottlenecked at doorways and the like. Bottlenecks are kind of two-edged sword depending on which side can win the range war. In 1st edition, counterspell would have fallen into the segment initiative system and would have more often than not been interrupted because MM was king in that system -- shield was mandatory for wizards to survive spell duels.
I run 1e - or close enough - and have Counterspell in it. I handle it like Featherfall: a very fast spell that takes almost no time to cast, provided you've either waited for the foe to start casting or happen to have your init. come up during her casting time. Side benefit: because Counterspell has a fixed casting time (even if very short) it cannot itself be countered, which means I never have to worry about M:tG-style counter-counter-counter garbage.

That said, one of the worst things about 3e-4e-5e is how easy spellcasting has become. The ease-of-interruption in 0e-1e-2e was one of the best means out there to keep casters in check a little.

IMHO, 1st edition still has the best initiative system. While more complicated, it offered much more interaction and handled interrupts more cleanly.
Very true, but believe me when I say there are simpler - MUCH simpler - ways of achieving more or less the same result.

Cyclic turn-based initiative a la 3e-4e-5e is terrible.
 

WaterRabbit

Villager
So total cover is total cover. You can't be behind it and still target people on the other side. They automatically have total cover from you as well.



So you're conflating total cover with partial cover. An arrow slit works in both directions, so that archer does not have total cover. The same goes for the caster. If he is behind total cover, then everyone on the other side of that total cover also has total cover from him. If at any point he can target anyone else, that target can also target him back as he no longer has total cover.
Stopped reading after this. An arrow slit provides total cover. LOS isn't always reciprocal. You clearly have your own way of playing, but you are not playing D&D.
 

BigBadDM

Explorer
Stopped reading after this. An arrow slit provides total cover. LOS isn't always reciprocal. You clearly have your own way of playing, but you are not playing D&D.
Actually if you read the PHB, page 196 an arrow slit is 3/4 cover. It even uses 'arrow slit' as an example.
If someone has total cover they can not be 'directly' targeted by anything.

If you are going to state something from the rules, make sure you are stating the appropriate rule rather than trying to ridicule a person when the information is incorrect.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Stopped reading after this. An arrow slit provides total cover. LOS isn't always reciprocal. You clearly have your own way of playing, but you are not playing D&D.
Really? Because according to the rules:

Three-Quarters Cover

A target with three-quarters cover has a +5 bonus to AC and Dexterity saving throws. A target has three-quarters cover if about three-quarters of it is covered by an obstacle. The obstacle might be a portcullis, an arrow slit, or a thick tree trunk.
 

TallIan

Explorer
Stopped reading after this. An arrow slit provides total cover. LOS isn't always reciprocal. You clearly have your own way of playing, but you are not playing D&D.
LoS is always reciprocal . If I can see you, you can see me - it might be incredibly difficult but it is possible.

A sniper can be seen through a 6” loop hole from anywhere he can see. Again it will be incredibly difficult, because you’ll have to know how to get your eyes to adjust to see into the dark room, but not impossible.

Unless you start taking into account one way mirrors, lenses something similar.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
LoS is always reciprocal . If I can see you, you can see me - it might be incredibly difficult but it is possible.

A sniper can be seen through a 6” loop hole from anywhere he can see. Again it will be incredibly difficult, because you’ll have to know how to get your eyes to adjust to see into the dark room, but not impossible.

Unless you start taking into account one way mirrors, lenses something similar.
Don't confuse line of sight and line of effect. Line of sight may not be reciprocal - if it's dark out I can see someone standing under a street light even if they can't see me.

Line of effect is reciprocal. As noted in the PHB, level of cover may vary but if A can draw 1 or more unobstructed lines to B, B can always draw 1 or more unobstructed lines to A.
 

John R Davis

Explorer
Counterspell is absolutely fantastic. Even though it's not my turn I can stop a spell caster from doing something devastating to the party and it then just about wastes there go!
 

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