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D&D 5E How can players counter Mass Suggestion?

I have a (homebrew) monster who can cast Mass Suggestion, but I hesitate to use it against my players, because I see very few ways that the players can counter it. I am considering to nerf the monster and to remove the Mass Suggestion. From a roleplay perspective, the Mass Suggestion makes sense - this is an influential NPC - but I think it is over-powered. I am looking for some feedback!

What can a player do against Mass Suggestion after their failed the saving throw? Are they just ****ed for the next 24 hrs? There seems no way to get rid of it, other than a different spell from a (friendly) spell caster (e.g. dispel magic, or another suggestion spell). It is also not a concentration spell, so you can't just hit/kill the creature who cast it to get rid of it.

Btw, Mass Suggestion is really a Kryptonite to my players: None of them have racial/class benefits against it, and they all have crap Wis saves. I want to force my players to flee the battle. I expect at least 3 of the 6 to fail their saves, which means the battle is lost, and the players will either be killed or captured (note: I don't need to capture them for my storyline, and I would much rather see my players victorious in this encounter, which is why I consider nerfing the NPC).
 

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Coroc

Hero
Charm and hold spells in former Editions were at least as powerful. In AD&D2nd even the lowly 1st Level sleep was such a killer that along with 1st Level charm Person and 2nd Level hold Person i either houseruled them to be not available or immediately dispelled when soemone only intended to attack an PC or mob under this spell. (So no autohit)

Problem is they were instakillers, an effect which you could not produce that reliable with soem 7th or 8th Level spells.

For your specific Problem: I see no Problem with mass Suggesting the PCs to leave/ flee. Make sure the Scenario is composed in a way that Players making their saves see it will go against the Odds even with full Group, so they follow their beguiled comrades.

Other than that be very strict that charms normally do not work against fundamental interests like self preservation / attacking a friend or at least grant a saving throw in These Events.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Telegraph and foreshadow this threat well in advance. It should not in my view be a surprise to the players when the spell is cast on them. That gives them the opportunity to think about how they want to possibly counter or avoid it when the time comes. The easiest way to try to deal with it is spending Inspiration on their saving throws to have a better chance of success, but they may come up with some clever options.

It's the players' role to come up with a solution, not yours. All you need do is warn them it's coming. And if they do nothing and are killed and/or captured, they will know they had a hand in that outcome. But they may surprise you.
 

Do any of your players have Counterspell? Calm Emotions? Greater Restoration?

Only counterspell. And only 1 player. So this is their only chance. But it's a DC16 (Mass Suggestion is a 6th level spell), so no guarantees it works.

Cheese in ears.

That requires that the players anticipate Charm spells. I don't think they will see this one coming.
For your specific Problem: I see no Problem with mass Suggesting the PCs to leave/ flee. Make sure the Scenario is composed in a way that Players making their saves see it will go against the Odds even with full Group, so they follow their beguiled comrades.
Yeah, I am on the same page as you. Either remove the Mass Suggestion, or alter the scenario. I think I may go for the first option though, as running away presents a whole new set of problems for the storyline, which I did not include in the post (because I don't want to discuss that).

Telegraph and foreshadow this threat well in advance. It should not in my view be a surprise to the players when the spell is cast on them. That gives them the opportunity to think about how they want to possibly counter or avoid it when the time comes. The easiest way to try to deal with it is spending Inspiration on their saving throws to have a better chance of success, but they may come up with some clever options.

It's the players' role to come up with a solution, not yours. All you need do is warn them it's coming. And if they do nothing and are killed and/or captured, they will know they had a hand in that outcome. But they may surprise you.

As I said above: In the current storyline, the players won't see it coming. So I have to change the story, or remove the spell. I think the spell has to go, and the monster will be nerfed a bit. It's a homebrew monster anyway, so nobody will notice something was changed.
 
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You say they all have poor wisdom saves? I think the party needs to be punished for that. Can't you give the Mass Suggestion to mischievous sprites who will just use it to steel all their stuff (and clothes)?
 

Gardens & Goblins

First Post
You say they all have poor wisdom saves? I think the party needs to be punished for that. Can't you give the Mass Suggestion to mischievous sprites who will just use it to steel all their stuff (and clothes)?

Seconded. If they have crappy Wisdom then so be it. No need to change your creature design just to accommodate their stat allocation. Did they roll for stats or use point buy?
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
So wait a second...

You have an influential and powerful NPC that you gave Mass Suggestion to them for, presumably because their power and influence would allow them to protect themselves by casting MS when uppity adventurers got in their face. Okay, that makes sense. This powerful NPC probably has bodyguards and traps in his HQ and whatnot too I'd imagine.

You then say you want to force your players to flee the battle that they will inevitably have with this influential NPC. So you presumably want the NPC to cast Mass Suggestion on the party, suggest that they all leave his HQ now before they get hurt. Then based upon bad WIS saving throws you figure probably at least half will fail and the ones that don't will have to decide whether to follow the failed PCs out the door, or try and take on the boss by themselves (and get either killed or captured.) Okay, that's understandable.

But then you say you want your players to be victorious in their fight against the NPC. Which runs exactly counter to your earlier point about wanting the PCs to flee the battle? That doesn't make sense. Let's ignore the fact for the moment that you are trying to dictate the results of your player's actions (which usually never is a good idea as you can barely ever get the result you are looking for)... but what exactly are you hoping to see here? Do you want them to flee or do you hope that they win?

But then this brings up an important point-- what is this "story" you feel as though you need to see happen? Why is your "story" so important you want to dictate the results? Why can't your "story" play out in both directions-- where the party is suggested to leave the NPC (and they "lose"), or they kick the NPC's rear end and they "win"? Why don't you have a direction the story can take for either result? Because it seems to me, this would allow you to not have to do anything. You don't have to nerf your NPC, the fight can just happen, and the narrative can continue on regardless of the results. No dictating necessary.

So I wouldn't worry about figuring out ways to get around Mass Suggestion-- after all as you say, the NPC just doesn't have to use it if its really that important. But rather, the question really is why not getting Mass Suggested is actually important in the first place? Especially when dealing with an NPC who apparently is important enough that you felt the need to give them Mass Suggestion as an ability?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This is a good example of why wanting particular outcomes for the emergent story can be problematic.

The DM sets the scene. The players do stuff. The outcome is what we all play to find out. Putting one's thumb too heavily on the scale of the outcome risks creating undesirable complications.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I suspect the OP accidentally omitted the word "don't" here :)

Heh... that would make a little more sense. But I'd wonder then why the NPC was given Mass Suggestion in the first place? An important and powerful NPC probably would have a spell like Mass Suggestion at their disposal just for this possibility-- adventurers show up, get in his grill, then he suggests they all leave before they get hurt. And then they do. That makes perfect sense.

But what wouldn't make sense would be for this NPC to have Mass Suggestion and then use it... but the DM hopes it doesn't work because he doesn't want the PCs to have to run away so he's looking for ways they can counter the spell. Why bother? Either just not have the NPC have Mass Suggestion available (perhaps he already used it earlier in the day and doesn't have it now)... or he just suggests an action that isn't running away?

You don't need to find ways to counter a spell... you just don't need that spell cast in the first place. It seems like we're looking for an answer to an unnecessarily asked question.
 



jgsugden

Legend
Punish players for having low wisdom? I'm not a fan of that mentality.

D&D is an RPG - a role playing game. Characters play a role in a story. Look to the story to solve these mechanical issues by figuring out what would make for an exciting story...

1.) They could hear of his abilities in advance and have a chance to come up with their own defenses. Silence, counterspells, ambushes, etc...
2.) He could give them a suggestion that they can outsmart by completing earlier than he expects. For example, if he told them to go fetch something he believes to be far away, and the PCs already have it, the suggestion could end early.
3.) Just let it go and have him give them a command that forces them to retreat. Losing a battle, especially in a non-lethal way, is often great for storytelling.
 

I'd have the NPC Mass Suggest that the PCs "Surrender, drop your weapons, and kneel before me! And, then, um... come peacefully to my holding cells and wait patiently for me to summon you... obviously because I don't want my suggestion to end early... now hurry up!" The few PCs who save can then make a choice to actually carry out the Suggestion, perhaps pretending they were under the effect, or do something brave/dumb.

Perhaps the thief in the group has a bandoleer of throwing knives hidden under his tunic that goes undetected. Just something I heard somewhere.

This is a setup for a fun prison break session while the powerful NPC sets up his intricate Bond Villain diabolical death trap.
 

Punish players for having low wisdom? I'm not a fan of that mentality.


The OP didn't say "low wisdom", they said "poor wisdom saves". That's not the same thing at all. It's quite possible to have a low wisdom and still have respectable wisdom saves, and if you know your party is weak in that area there are things you can do to counter it.

For the whole party to have poor wisdom saves you must have no: clerics, druids, monks*, paladins, rangers*, warlocks, wizards, elves or gnomes, and no one with the Resilient (Charisma) feat.

That's quite an achievement of itself!


*Okay, so it is hypothetically possible for a monk or ranger to have poor wisdom saves, it's quite unlikely.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
The NPC is known to have the ability, it is common tavern talk, and rumor suggests his favorite use is to Suggest "You should not fight me but join me."
(Actually, his favorite use of Mass Suggestion is "Please clean out that mega-dungeon for me.")
 

jgsugden

Legend
The OP didn't say "low wisdom", they said "poor wisdom saves". That's not the same thing at all...
Forest for the trees... forest for the trees.

What I do not like is the mentality that players should be punished for character design, whether that design results in low wisdom saves, low wisdom scores, or low wisdom skills.

You're telling a great story together. The players are not trying to gain the DM's approval. The DM should not be attacking their 'poor PC design', but instead finding ways to work the design of the PCs into a great story.

This DOES NOT mean avoiding wisdom saves when there are low wisdom saves across the board. Instead, figure out how to make these challenges interesting and fun. See my suggestions above for more...
 

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