• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Crown of Madness not as bad in play as it seems

ECMO3

Adventurer
We have a sorcerer who picked up crown of madness way late (at level 8) and in game it has not been as awful as it appears on paper. While the enemy does not attack every turn he is usually effectively out of the fight for several turns. I will also note that we have a Fey Wanderer Ranger in the party too and this certainly helps. Overall it has been pretty effective for a 2nd level slot.

It has generally taken combatants out of fights entirely or for several rounds. The cost is the sorcerer using his action every turn. A few key things I observed:

If the target does not attack, he is not free from the spell he just can act normally, or in reality kind of normally. He is still charmed, this means he can't attack the sorcerer, he can't launch an area of effect that would harm the sorcerer.

If the sorcerer gets in his way the victim needs to walk around him to attack someone else, either going far out of his way or drawing an opportunity attack (with a spell because he has warcaster). The sorcerer has a whip he is not proficient in just to provide a large AOO area to cover.

If the target makes it into melee he can get grappled and moved into an area where he always has one of his allies to attack and it is impossible to escape from the grapple as long as the grappler moves him to a good location because he must use his action to attack.

The sorcerer can still cast action spells using quicken spell.

The real kicker though is when he does save it is a save against being charmed and the Ranger then hits another enemy with Beguiling twist (usually frightened). So when the spell ends the party gets an additional few turns of frightened without concentration out of it.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


I love hearing those stories. It is not uncommon in our games that a "questionable" pick of a spell or a feat or subclass saves the day.
Usually damage is overvalued, but it often comes down to: what 21 points of damage won't solve, 23 damage won't do either. Some creative use of an "underpowered" ability might prove to be invaluable in that situation.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
eh...I still think the spell is far to finicky and situational. A Hold Person could almost always have a better effect, though that might not be available to the same number of casters. I'm not saying that all spells need to be perfectly balanced in all situations, but this one really seems to require a lot out of the caster and a fairly high amount of rules parsing to use.

That said, the best use I've seen of this spell is cause an npc to attack their flying mount (I can't remember if it was a griffin or wyvern). It was rather hard for victim put distance between himself and his mount.
 

jgsugden

Legend
You're stealing one action from a monster, and getting to make a melee attack using the target's attack against one of their allies. That actually is not that bad. However, limiting it to only humanoids keeps it off my list. I'd rather have spells that are not limited to humanoids unless it is a highly humanoid centric game.
 

eh...I still think the spell is far to finicky and situational. A Hold Person could almost always have a better effect, though that might not be available to the same number of casters. I'm not saying that all spells need to be perfectly balanced in all situations, but this one really seems to require a lot out of the caster and a fairly high amount of rules parsing to use.
I just checked. All the base classes that have access to Crown of Madness have access to Hold Person. I don't know about the Artificer, nor 3PP classes.
 

jgsugden

Legend
This has a few more use cases than Hold Person that make it more versatile. It has longer range, it charms, it has the potential to incite infighting amongst enemies. Consider what happens when the hobgoblin guard to the goblin king suddenly gets a crown above his head and attacks his king when there are no visible enemies nearby.... In a story driven game, that could be a major turn of events.
 


grimslade

Doddering Old Git
Crown of Madness is a very thematic spell. It makes the PC (or NPC) caster a puppet master or a font of insanity. The spell is situational but very cool to show the horror of Enchantment.
 

The real kicker though is when he does save it is a save against being charmed and the Ranger then hits another enemy with Beguiling twist (usually frightened). So when the spell ends the party gets an additional few turns of frightened without concentration out of it.
It seems like a Fey Wanderer Ranger on the team would flip the script on the usefulness of a lot of spells and abilities that involve one or more saves against being charmed or frightened.

As for Crown of Madness, I think it is a fine spell when you gain access to it at level 3. At that point the chances of having a humanoid enemy whose attacks do more damage than you can with your action as a full spellcaster are reasonably high, you've got to get the most out of every spell slot, and not upcasting (like the rival Hold Person) is not an issue. I'm surprised you've found it useful at eighth level, but I suppose if you have a Sorcerer who intends to burn metamagic on Quickens anyway the loss of the action just means trading an extra cantrip per round for whatever attacks the Crown of Madness target can do.
 

Dausuul

Legend
This has a few more use cases than Hold Person that make it more versatile. It has longer range, it charms, it has the potential to incite infighting amongst enemies. Consider what happens when the hobgoblin guard to the goblin king suddenly gets a crown above his head and attacks his king when there are no visible enemies nearby.... In a story driven game, that could be a major turn of events.
Unfortunately, the very visible spell effect (the iron crown) gives the game away against reasonably bright foes. Even if the hobgoblin king doesn't recognize crown of madness, it's pretty clear that when an iron crown pops out of nowhere on a guard's head and the guard goes berserk, something hinky is going on.

There are cases where crown of madness beats out hold person, but consider that you give up:
  • Your action each turn while maintaining the spell
  • The monster being prevented from attacking your fellow PCs*
  • Advantage on all attacks against the monster
  • Automatic crit on any melee attack that hits the monster
  • The monster autofailing Strength and Dex saves
  • Any chance of people not realizing magic is involved
And what you get in exchange:
  • One monster attack's worth of damage per round... maybe
  • The ability to use the spell on targets up to 120 feet away instead of 30
  • Dumb monsters might be provoked into fighting each other (but remember it only works on humanoids, so you won't be targeting animal-intelligence foes)
It's not that you get nothing in the trade, but the price is so damn high, and the benefits are so limited. And when both spells are as specialized as they are... I can't imagine ever wanting to prepare two concentration-combat-debuffs-that-only-target-humanoids. Other folks can pick what they like, but with those restrictions, I'm always going to take the spell that absolutely wrecks the target when it lands.

*Yes, I know, the charmed condition prevents the monster from attacking you. But paralysis prevents it from attacking anybody.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Unfortunately, the very visible spell effect (the iron crown) gives the game away against reasonably bright foes. Even if the hobgoblin king doesn't recognize crown of madness, it's pretty clear that when an iron crown pops out of nowhere on a guard's head and the guard goes berserk, something hinky is going on.
But what hinkyness is unclear, right?

If they are not spellcasters familiar with the spell, they might assume it is some kind of enhancement spell, right?

Think if it this way:

Bob steps into a chamber and see three orcs on the opposite side of the chamber. They're in a line. He casts hold person on one. His party races in behind him and gets to attack the paralyzed orc, finishing it off quickly. They're now engaged in melee and get counter attacked,

Reverse Time.

Bob steps into a chamber and sees three orcs on the opposite side of the chamber in a line. He casts Crown of Madness on the center one. His party races in and attacks one of the other ones killing it. Then the orc with the crown goes and finishes off his other ally. He can't retreat without an OA. The PCs go again and finish him off.

I think the sustained Crown is a mislead. This spell generally does the dirty work on the first round, and the concentration beyond that is a "just in case" element.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
eh...I still think the spell is far to finicky and situational. A Hold Person could almost always have a better effect, though that might not be available to the same number of casters. I'm not saying that all spells need to be perfectly balanced in all situations, but this one really seems to require a lot out of the caster and a fairly high amount of rules parsing to use.

That said, the best use I've seen of this spell is cause an npc to attack their flying mount (I can't remember if it was a griffin or wyvern). It was rather hard for victim put distance between himself and his mount.
Lol I love stuff like that. I mean, in a game where I’m trying to live in my characters headspace, I can’t stand mine control effects, but in video games and less serious games I love it.

I play DDO sometimes and my Bards stay spamming that Charm Person.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
It seems like a Fey Wanderer Ranger on the team would flip the script on the usefulness of a lot of spells and abilities that involve one or more saves against being charmed or frightened.
After watching this in play I am convinced this is the best Ranger.

Gloomstalker is a better martial and a FW is more of a Gish flavor but man he has a lot going for him. He has awesome charisma skills, they are better than Paladins, Sorcerers Warlocks and comparable to bards who put expertise on charisma skills. He gets extra damage with dreadful strike and it is psychic damage.

The guy in our group has a 16 wisdom and cause fear through shadow touched. He casts that as a 1st or 2nd level spell to start the fight, every time someone saves he shifts the fear. The real kicker is it is actually better after someone saves against his cause fear because it goes from concentration frightened to non-concentration frightened. So after 3 rounds or so his cause fear spell is dead but he still has someone frightened and can cast it again (or cast something else like favored foe).

We have not got to the point yet where he has an squad of concentration-free Summoned Fey running around with each one of them casting a charm every single turn. I think it is actually going to be overpowered when we get there. I think we are going to get to a point where after 2-3 turns every single enemy on the battlefield is either charmed or frightened.
 
Last edited:

jgsugden

Legend
After watching this in play I am convinced this is the most powerful Ranger.

Gloomstalker is a more powerful martial and a FW is more of a Gish but man he has a lot going for him. He has awesome charisma skills, they are better than Paladins, Sorcerers Warlocks and comparable to bards who put expertise on charisma.

The guy in our group has a 16 charisma and cause fear through shadow touched. He casts that as a 1st or second level spell to start the fight, every time someone saves he shifts the fear. The real kicker is it is actually better after someone saves against his cause fear because it goes from concentration frightened to non-concentration frightened. So after 3 rounds or so his cause fear spell is dead but he still has someone frighened and can cast it (or something else like favored foe).
Toss a few sorcerer level so that he can quicken that cause fear....
 

Dausuul

Legend
But what hinkyness is unclear, right?

If they are not spellcasters familiar with the spell, they might assume it is some kind of enhancement spell, right?
They might. They also might not. Even if they do, you've put them on alert that someone around here is throwing spells, and they know their buddy has never shown any sign of being a spellcaster. If the goal is to sow discord among one's foes, suggestion is both subtler and infinitely more versatile.

Bob steps into a chamber and see three orcs on the opposite side of the chamber. They're in a line. He casts hold person on one. His party races in behind him and gets to attack the paralyzed orc, finishing it off quickly. They're now engaged in melee and get counter attacked,

Reverse Time.

Bob steps into a chamber and sees three orcs on the opposite side of the chamber in a line. He casts Crown of Madness on the center one. His party races in and attacks one of the other ones killing it. Then the orc with the crown goes and finishes off his other ally. He can't retreat without an OA. The PCs go again and finish him off.
Equally plausible:

#1. Bob casts hold person. The party races in, and the rogue one-shots the paralyzed orc with advantage and an automatic crit. The other two PCs take down a second orc.

The last orc attacks the PCs. The PCs have suffered 1 orc attack and have one orc left to kill.

#2. Bob casts crown of madness. The party races in. Two PCs take down one orc as before. The rogue doesn't have advantage this time, and misses. The crowned orc attacks his buddy, but an orc needs to be very lucky to one-shot another orc at full health. It doesn't happen.

The other orc attacks the PCs. The PCs have suffered 1 orc attack, but have two orcs left to kill--one injured, one not.

And more plausible than either:

#1. Bob does not waste a 2nd-level spell slot on three measly orcs, and as a result, he has that spell available later in the day when he really needs it.
 

jgsugden

Legend
...
#1. Bob does not waste a 2nd-level spell slot on three measly orcs, and as a result, he has that spell available later in the day when he really needs it.
3 Orcs at levels 3 and 4 is worth a 2nd level slot. They hit hard for their level, and with a good damage roll, a crit (or both) they can be nasty.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
And what you get in exchange:
  • One monster attack's worth of damage per round... maybe
  • The ability to use the spell on targets up to 120 feet away instead of 30
  • Dumb monsters might be provoked into fighting each other (but remember it only works on humanoids, so you won't be targeting animal-intelligence foes)
You also get a monster that is charmed and that is not nothing. Not as good as a monster that is paralyzed certainly, but it significantly limits what he can do even if you don't take his action.

I am cenrtainly not saying it is better than HP, it isn't, but it in my mind did go from being classed with true strike and witchbolt to something usable in the right circumstances. Using the common SABCDF - I would say it went from F to C in my mind, with HP being probably a solid B.
 
Last edited:

Ashrym

Hero
Unfortunately, the very visible spell effect (the iron crown) gives the game away against reasonably bright foes

It's also a method of marking a target for clever players.

It's not that you get nothing in the trade, but the price is so damn high, and the benefits are so limited.

A good chunk of the cost is in maintaining the effect. In game play the PC only pays maintenance if there's a good enough reason to keep the spell up.

Think a character has to pay maintenance because a character can is where the issue is. If I cast crown of madness I want the target to move away because it gave me an attack, prevented an action, then triggered opportunity attacks. Then I likely let it drop, and if the target doesn't move that's when I am more likely to pay maintenance.

Crown really does play better than it looks, especially in a strong melee group or group that's good at moving opponents back into range of the crown target.

Taking hold person as an alternative means also taking charm person to cover more spell applications that crown has. I can take crown as a multitool and the same extra 1st level spell in Tasha's hideous laughter for longer duration action denial with cheaper upkeep.

Or just go with Tasha's for a cheaper slot and take another 2nd level spell because there are many good ones.

I would rate crown of madness as average instead of good or bad tbh. Useful but the creature type restrictions hold it back regardless of being a multitool spell. I can definitely make good use of it dealing with humanoids but that's a bit too specific for my tastes.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
Crown really does play better than it looks, especially in a strong melee group or group that's good at moving opponents back into range of the crown target.
Disagree. The charm effect that is so lauded is duplicated by 1st level spell, and the maintenance cost, as noted, is very high. The limitation to humanoids is a drag once the cost of a 2nd level spell slot becomes negligible (and at that point, the maintenance really is a pain). Sure, a one round than drop is possible, but then you've burned a 2nd level spell slot for one round of effect, you really need the right situation and some DM cooperation (cause dissension in the ranks, maybe not have the target and allies move away from each other).
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top