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Flesh to Stone spell - why the poor rating

jgsugden

Legend
In my game I introduced a new spell which has some advantages that I believe makes it more attractive. Primarily, it is not a concentration spell and the creature can't shrug it off with one successful save - they must continue to make saves every round until the end of the duration unless someone assists them with dispel magic or they get a lucky saving throw. The one PC that used it typically used it for hit and run tactics. For purposes of this spell and other spells I have made for my game, Legendary Resistance is treated as rolling a 20 on a saving throw.

Medusa's Gaze
6th-level transmutation
Range: 90 feet
Components: V, S, M (a snake head)
Duration: 1 minute (no concentration)

Your eyes flash with a blue glow and one creature of your choice that can see you must make a Constitution Saving throw. If the target's body is made of flesh, the creature must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, it is restrained as its flesh begins to harden and a "stone counter" is tracked for the creature. On a successful save, the creature suffers no negative effects this round and no stone counter is gained. A natural 20 on this saving throws ends this spell.

On each round during the duration of the spell, the creature must make another Concentration saving throw at the end of each of its turns. On a failed save, it is restrained as its flesh hardens and an (additional?) "stone counter" is tracked for the creature. On a successful save, if the creature was restrained by this spell, it is no longer restrained. A natural 20 on one of these saving throws ends this spell.

If a creature gains five "stone counters" before the end of the duration of this spell, the creature is subject to the petrified condition until the end of the duration and no longer makes any saving throws for this spell. If the creature suffers physical deformities while petrified, it suffers similar damage when returned to flesh. If petrified at the end of the duration, the creature turns to stone until the effect is removed.
 

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Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
What if the spell was changed as follows?

Flesh to Stone
6th-level transmutation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a pinch of lime, water, and earth)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You attempt to turn one creature that you can see within range into stone. If the target’s body is made of flesh, the creature must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save it suffers from being petrified, however the creature remains conscious and aware of its surroundings. On a successful save, the creature becomes restrained.

A creature that is either petrified or restrained by this spell must make another Constitution saving throw at the end of each of its turns. If it successfully saves against this spell three times, the spell ends. If it fails its saves three times, it is turned to stone and subjected to the petrified condition for the duration, losing consciousness and awareness of its surroundings. The successes and failures don’t need to be consecutive; keep track of both until the target collects three of a kind.

If the creature is physically broken while petrified, it suffers from similar deformities if it reverts to its original state.

If you maintain your concentration on this spell for the entire possible duration, the creature is turned to stone until the effect is removed.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
[MENTION=59848]Hawk Diesel[/MENTION] I like your version of the spell, this definitely more potent.

Some critiques: This pretty much guarantees ~3 round restraint, no matter the targets resistances or Saves. It could be a little too much to automatically inflict on an Ancient Wyrm/Orcus. This is also a good way to force a foe to burn through their Legendary Resistances, though they may not need to use them to through off the effects, as it is a Con Save. Might it not be better to follow Otto's Irresistible Dance and have the spell Immediately inflict the restrained condition, no save, then force the target to spend an action on their turn to make the initial save? If the target makes the save, then the spell is over, but at least they suffered the restrained condition for a partial round and wasted an action to overcome it. If they fail the save, then perhaps they need to make two saves before they fail two suffer petrification condition for the duration.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
[MENTION=59848]Hawk Diesel[/MENTION] I like your version of the spell, this definitely more potent.

Some critiques: This pretty much guarantees ~3 round restraint, no matter the targets resistances or Saves. It could be a little too much to automatically inflict on an Ancient Wyrm/Orcus. This is also a good way to force a foe to burn through their Legendary Resistances, though they may not need to use them to through off the effects, as it is a Con Save. Might it not be better to follow Otto's Irresistible Dance and have the spell Immediately inflict the restrained condition, no save, then force the target to spend an action on their turn to make the initial save? If the target makes the save, then the spell is over, but at least they suffered the restrained condition for a partial round and wasted an action to overcome it. If they fail the save, then perhaps they need to make two saves before they fail two suffer petrification condition for the duration.

The 3 rounds (min) of restraint is intentional. I didn't want it to resemble Otto's Irresistible Dance too much because if that's what you want, then why not cast that spell? So I removed the action cost intentionally. Thematically, if you envision a spell turning you to stone, if it doesn't work instantly then it is visibly and slowly turning you to stone. In any movie I've ever seen, the slow process version increasingly impacts mobility. So from a narrative perspective, the spell either works, it midway works until you become stone, or you resist it off.

This spell will certainly make many fights easier, but not any more so than Hold Monster as mentioned above. Additionally, if we are talking big bads like dragons and such, they should always have minions, lair actions, or ways to attack that don't require attack rolls.
 

Stalker0

Legend
To the OPs question...the key aspect of the spell is it’s automatic nature.

Almost any monster, no matter how powerful or legendary...for 3 rounds:

1) cannot move
2) has disadvantage to all attacks
3) all attacks to hit it have advantage.

So as a solo debuffer that seems nice to me. The question though is it 6th level spell worthy?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
From a PCs point of view this quirk is useless, partly because three rounds is an eternity in combat, partly because - well, who wants a stone statue?

The only conclusion is: this spell is meant only for "evil" NPCs to scare players with.

From a player's POV it's severely overleveled for what it actually does, assuming petrification is zero added value.

What the spell needed to do to deserve its level, is of course instant petrification (=taking a monster out of the fight completely).

In order for the spell not to be a save-or-die spell, the target could still be given a chance to recover and break out of the petrification three rounds later.

But the main analysis is easy: restrained is far too weak a condition for this level.

You're welcome.
 
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jaelis

Oh this is where the title goes?
Actually, it is:
- Make the initial save: no effect
- Fail the initial save: restrained for at least three rounds

I think that a multiround, no save restraint effect would be worth level 6.
 

MarkB

Legend
[MENTION=59848]Hawk Diesel[/MENTION] I like your version of the spell, this definitely more potent.

Some critiques: This pretty much guarantees ~3 round restraint, no matter the targets resistances or Saves. It could be a little too much to automatically inflict on an Ancient Wyrm/Orcus. This is also a good way to force a foe to burn through their Legendary Resistances, though they may not need to use them to through off the effects, as it is a Con Save. Might it not be better to follow Otto's Irresistible Dance and have the spell Immediately inflict the restrained condition, no save, then force the target to spend an action on their turn to make the initial save? If the target makes the save, then the spell is over, but at least they suffered the restrained condition for a partial round and wasted an action to overcome it. If they fail the save, then perhaps they need to make two saves before they fail two suffer petrification condition for the duration.

How about this:

The target is subjected to the spell with no saving throw and becomes Restrained.

They then need to make Constitution saves at the end of each of their turns. Successful saves progress their condition from Restrained to Slowed to free of the spell. Failed saves progress their condition from Restrained to Paralysed to Petrified. The spell ends when they become either freed or petrified.
 

jaelis

Oh this is where the title goes?
How about this:

The target is subjected to the spell with no saving throw and becomes Restrained.

They then need to make Constitution saves at the end of each of their turns. Successful saves progress their condition from Restrained to Slowed to free of the spell. Failed saves progress their condition from Restrained to Paralysed to Petrified. The spell ends when they become either freed or petrified.

I like that idea. Maybe instead of slowed though I would just make their speed zero, that is simpler.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Reading through the class guides, most give this spell a poor rating which I don't understand.

I know it is a Con save which is not a good save to go against, but if the the creature fails the first save, it is restrained until it succeeds on 3 saves. Its not like other spells in which once it saves the spell is done.

While it is restrained, it has a speed of 0. That dragon or whatever flying creature can't fly and all attacks against it are at advantage. And its attacks are at disadvantage.

So what am I missing for its poor grade?

For one thing, it's not a Flesh to Stone spell. It's just a paralysis spell with a rock theme. How often are you going to fail 3 saves and have the caster keep his concentration for 10 rounds?
 
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jgsugden

Legend
Another option would parallel Disnintegrate

6th Level
60' range
VSM
Concentratin / 10 rounds

You attempt to turn one creature that you can see within range into stone. If the target's body is made of flesh, the creature must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, it is restrained and takes 10d8 damage as its flesh begins to harden. On a successful save, the creature isn't affected.

A creature restrained by this spell must make another Constitution saving throw at the end of each of its turns. Whenever it fails a saving throw it takes 4d8 damage. If it successfully saves against this spell three times, the spell ends.

If the creature's HPs drop to zero while restrained by this spell, it is turned to stone and subjected to the petrified condition for the duration.

If the creature is physically broken while petrified, it suffers from similar deformities if it reverts to its original state.

If you maintain your concentration on this spell for the entire possible duration, a petrified creature is turned to stone until the effect is removed, but the spell ends if the creature is merely restrained.
 

Rossbert

Explorer
A side issue becomes who cares?

It may not be an optimal spell but pick it if you like it. The ratings don't dictate spell choice. I, personally, on more than one occasion looked at a spell, saw its poor rating and grabbed it anyway because it fit my character or I liked the feel of it.

Can you do better with a sixth level slot? Yes. Do you like the idea of turning someone to stone? Take it anyway. Especially against frail, high WIS enemies, like rival casters. It becomes boring if everyone picks the same 'best' spells every time.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
A side issue becomes who cares?

It may not be an optimal spell but pick it if you like it. The ratings don't dictate spell choice. I, personally, on more than one occasion looked at a spell, saw its poor rating and grabbed it anyway because it fit my character or I liked the feel of it.

Can you do better with a sixth level slot? Yes. Do you like the idea of turning someone to stone? Take it anyway. Especially against frail, high WIS enemies, like rival casters. It becomes boring if everyone picks the same 'best' spells every time.

So I completely understand this sentiment and agree to an extent. D&D, especially 5e, is not as much about optimizing and suboptimal choices can still be fun and effective.

But I think its still a worthy pursuit to find ways for thematic and fun choices to still be effective against their mechanical peers. Settling for choices that are cool but not as effective can lead to frustration when they don't work as often or in the ways you might expect.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
A side issue becomes who cares?

The people posting in this thread seem to, for one (or more than one). Though, you are right in that many casual gamers may arguably not notice the difference. Though, in my limited anecdotal experience, these are also the types of games where it may be forgotten or glossed over that the caster needs to maintain concentration for the full 10 rounds for the effects to stick, or forget about concentration all together; or forget or gloss over some other key aspect of the spell. If they're still having fun, then more power to them! Not everyone fits

It may not be an optimal spell but pick it if you like it. The ratings don't dictate spell choice. I, personally, on more than one occasion looked at a spell, saw its poor rating and grabbed it anyway because it fit my character or I liked the feel of it.

Can you do better with a sixth level slot? Yes. Do you like the idea of turning someone to stone? Take it anyway. Especially against frail, high WIS enemies, like rival casters. It becomes boring if everyone picks the same 'best' spells every time.

I think you are quite right to not depend overmuch on others' spell ratings. And trying for perfect balance in all games and play styles is an unattainable goal. We should, as players, asses the spell based on our play style, experience, likes and dislikes, etc. I feel the debate lies in how much effort is put into making things of reasonable balance. One of the goals of this edition was to reduce the built in 'system mastery' that previous editions demanded. One of these elements of system mastery is 'trap' spell choices, choices that sound good/cool but in reality are quiet limited in effectiveness. I don't think it is too great of a burden to put on designers to balance spells with the rest of the system. Just shrugging and saying: "you can't have perfect balance" is giving the designers to much of a pass, IMHO.

Given further thought, I would revise my initial take and have the spell inflict the restrained condition immediately and force the target to spend an action on their turn to make a Con save to end the effect. This counters the argument about the spell not really does not do anything that lower level spells do (inflict the restrained condition) in that it does so without a save and forces the target to waste an action. So far this still parallels Otto's, but wait, the target becomes paralyzed if the save is failed, followed by the three failures before three success format before petrification sets in. This gives the spell a little more umf, as it inflicts a harsher condition if the initial save is failed, yet is little different than a Con based Hold Monster that is a level lower than this spell. True, the target does not end the effect with one successful save, but at one level higher, this is not too bad.
 

Rossbert

Explorer
The people posting in this thread seem to, for one (or more than one). Though, you are right in that many casual gamers may arguably not notice the difference. Though, in my limited anecdotal experience, these are also the types of games where it may be forgotten or glossed over that the caster needs to maintain concentration for the full 10 rounds for the effects to stick, or forget about concentration all together; or forget or gloss over some other key aspect of the spell. If they're still having fun, then more power to them!

I do forget that concentration for permanence may be a concern for some people. I tend to find once you make the first 18 or so seconds of it the rest of the minute is usual trivial as combat is probably almost over.

I will admit most my uses for the spell are thematic and dramatic over the actual power of it, and often leaning (or diving) into the murky end of the alignment system.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Again, the fix that truly fixes the spell, and the fix people expect...

...is for the first failed save to petrify the target.

What happens then (=how to escape it, how to make it permanent*) is something we can discuss after agreeing this is what's needed.
 

For the restraining application of Flesh to Stone, what makes it better than Levitate? The restraining condition is pretty potent in several ways (especially the disadvantage to all attacks part), but the best part (locking enemies in place) you get from both spells.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
There are a couple of components to consider when comparing Levitate to Flesh to Stone. For one, there is the weight limit. A 500 lb weight limit means that only creatures roughly twice as big as humans would be affected. So giants, dragons, even large bugbears would be unaffected by the spell.

Additionally, there are restraints with space. If you are fighting in a tight space or anywhere with a ceiling, you are going to allow a creature a way of maneuvering despite the spell. This is especially true if you are fighting a creature with large tentacles. Plus there is nothing to stop it from grappling someone and continuing to attack, even if it can't run or maneuver as well as it might like. This doesn't even consider bad guys that might be spell casters with access to fly (a likely target for anything that targets a Con Save), which would completely negate the spell.

Not to mention, if done right, the Flesh to Stone spell has a chance to be effectively permanent, while Levitate will always eventually end.

Finally, the restraint condition as you mention is incredibly powerful. Target has disadvantage on attacks and Dex saves, while your allies all have advantage. That is pretty great. That is effectively -5 to all attacks the creature makes, and +5 to all attacks made against the creature.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
I love the older edition "Flesh to X", especially if you pick up the appropriate "Shape X" spell. Too much fun.

But in 5E, yeah it's just too each to save against.
 

There are a couple of components to consider when comparing Levitate to Flesh to Stone. For one, there is the weight limit. A 500 lb weight limit means that only creatures roughly twice as big as humans would be affected. So giants, dragons, even large bugbears would be unaffected by the spell.

Additionally, there are restraints with space. If you are fighting in a tight space or anywhere with a ceiling, you are going to allow a creature a way of maneuvering despite the spell. This is especially true if you are fighting a creature with large tentacles. Plus there is nothing to stop it from grappling someone and continuing to attack, even if it can't run or maneuver as well as it might like. This doesn't even consider bad guys that might be spell casters with access to fly (a likely target for anything that targets a Con Save), which would completely negate the spell.

Not to mention, if done right, the Flesh to Stone spell has a chance to be effectively permanent, while Levitate will always eventually end.

Finally, the restraint condition as you mention is incredibly powerful. Target has disadvantage on attacks and Dex saves, while your allies all have advantage. That is pretty great. That is effectively -5 to all attacks the creature makes, and +5 to all attacks made against the creature.

I see all that, and I still think Flesh to Stone is woefully underpowered. 6th level and all. I wouldn't use it even in a 4th level spell slot, because CON is a garbage save to target.
 

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