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D&D 5E How on earth is this balanced?! Twilight cleric, more in-play evidence


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You just made a huge blanket statement.

If there's an ability that says "each enemy that starts their turn within 200 miles of you instantly dies during the next minute", that would be game breaking.

If you instead didn't mean that huge and provably wrong blanket statement, and instead meant "I don't think an ability that grants THP/this amount of THP every round for one minute is game-breaking", that's your own opinion, and I have said that from my experience, it has broken parts of the game (very specifically, it has broken certain encounters in the official adventure I am running with the Twilight Cleric in it; Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden).
I can't dispute that a Twilight Cleric broke your encounter(s) in your campaign. Care to elaborate so those of us who might run IDRotF in the future might (try to) avoid the same fate?

Paladins are powerful, as are their auras, but their auras all come at a much later level than this feature, and Paladins are balanced more on being support-type martial characters, while Clerics are (typically) supposed to be support-type divine spellcasters. And, the auras are all much smaller ranges than this Channel Divinity until 18th level, and have smaller benefits than refreshing THP (yes, bonus to saves is good, as is immunity to frightened, but the bonus to the saves is dependent on the MADness of the paladin, and frightened is a very situational condition).
Good point.

But that's the thing, powerful abilities are typically balanced by one of the following things:
  1. The ability being granted at higher levels (or only "coming online" at higher levels, like Creation Bards losing most of their restrictions on what they can magically summon at level 14).
  2. The ability being situational enough that the feature isn't broken (like letting Monks run on water and up walls).
  3. The cost of recharging the ability is expensive enough to balance out the feature (like Limited Wish recharging after 1d4 long rests).
  4. The ability requires a long enough activation that the feature isn't OP (literally the whole reason why Ritual spells exist).
Twilight Sanctuary is really good as soon as you get it (level 2), and only gets better as you get higher levels, so Balancing Factor #1 is thrown out the window. It also isn't situational at all, as THP is an extremely useful feature and also fairly rare (yes, the ending of the charmed/frightened condition is rare, but that's just some situational icing on the OP cake), so Balancing Factor #2 is also not applicable to Twilight Sanctuary.
Reasonable points - the ability does seem better than most (all?) other level 2 subclass abilities in the game.

Next, it recharges on a Short Rest, which are very easy to take,
Short rests are easy to take? Maybe. Maybe not. Very campaign and/or session specific, methinks.
The more combats between short rests, the less effective the ability, right?
Not really related to short rests, but: the more social interaction or exploration challenges in the game, the less valuable Twilight Sanctuary becomes, yes?

and Clerics get even more CDs each short rest at level 6 and level 18, which gets rid of the last possible main balancing factor. Finally, Twilight Sanctuary only takes 1 action to cast, and it doesn't count as a spell, which means that it's not only very powerful, very rechargeable, and a very early-coming feature, but that it also is very easy to use. By all means available to us (including comparing it to similar features, like Eldritch Cannon), Twilight Sanctuary is OP. The subclass would be powerful without this feature, but this just helps bump it into the OP tier.

It's OP. It really is.
It is undoubtedly powerful. Whether it could ruin the fun at our table remains to be seen. I promise to report back if/when someone plays one in our game!
 


Zardnaar

Legend
You're assuming default array and a min-maxing player who is completely happy to ditch their character character concept in the name of optimisation.

An actual ribbon ability is one that is basically almost never useful rather than an ability that simply isn't useful to hardcore min-maxers. If someone wants to play a cleric without cat-like reflexes then heavy armour enables that.

Spirit Guardians is a spell the white-room analysts misunderstand. If the cleric is allowed to do their thing then spirit guardians does excessive damage. But in practice it's a tanking spell that draws aggro until the cleric fails a concentration check - which is why it's nowhere near as OP as people just looking at the damage expect.

And because it's a concentration spell every single point of AC is important to prevent you from getting hit. If you've gone in with a cookie-cutter DEX 14 then medium armour is probably sensible. If you want your cleric to have less than catlike reflexes (cats are AC 15) because you want to play a portly friar for example then to wade in like that you probably want heavy armour.

Assuming that Blessed Strikes is in play. This is my big criticism of Tasha's - all the optional class features that may or may not be in play.

If Tasha's isn't in play or that rule potent spellcasting looks a lot better.

Divine strike becomes a ribbon ability or if the twilight cleric really wants to use a weapon it's a rapier.
 


AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I can't dispute that a Twilight Cleric broke your encounter(s) in your campaign. Care to elaborate so those of us who might run IDRotF in the future might (try to) avoid the same fate?
Don't allow a Twilight Cleric.

Okay, I'll be more helpful than that. Change Twilight Clerics in one of the ways recommended in this thread if your party has one (probably by making the THP be once, not every round, and maybe even limit it to 1d6+WIS mod/PB). A major part of the theme of Rime of the Frostmaiden is the feeling of solitude in Icewind Dale, that there is no one out there that can help them, and that they are alone and exposed in the wilds. If the party can take on a Frost Giant with a Lance that is riding a Mammoth at level 3 (like mine did, thanks in no small part to the Twilight Cleric's THP feature, Moonbeam, and spamming Sanctuary), that part of the adventure either won't be present or they'll feel less nervous to tackle some of the later challenges in the adventure (how is a CR 11 god scary at level 9-10 if they took on something just 3 CRs below it when they were level 3!?!?). If the party doesn't feel exposed, that negates a major part of the adventure (for me, at least).

My advice to you if you were to run it with a Twilight Cleric is to either not allow the Twilight Cleric, or don't allow it as written.
Good point.
No problem, and thanks for being open to change your mind in this discussion. That's a pretty rare thing to find on internet forums.
Reasonable points - the ability does seem better than most (all?) other level 2 subclass abilities in the game.
Yeah. IMO, it's one of the best (if not the best) 2nd level ability in the game. Most other features are balanced in the ways I described above to avoid this kind of unbalance, but for some reason this subclass didn't get any of that.
Short rests are easy to take? Maybe. Maybe not. Very campaign and/or session specific, methinks.
The more combats between short rests, the less effective the ability, right?
Not really related to short rests, but: the more social interaction or exploration challenges in the game, the less valuable Twilight Sanctuary becomes, yes?
Okay, maybe it would be better if I said "Short Rests are easier to take than Long Rests, and Long Rests are when the majority of 5e's character class/subclass expendable features recharge". It is campaign dependent, of course, but Short Rests are typically easier to take than long rests and are easier to take between combats, so that makes this feature even more ridiculously powerful than it was before.

I typically only have one or two combats each short rest, and that's only ever on a really combat-heavy day. It's almost always "combat done, you take a short rest, right?" in my games.

That applies to literally every combat-applicable feature in the game, so I don't find it a valid argument against Twilight Sanctuary (and the subclass as a whole) being OP. Sure, you're right, but only right in general, not right in the specific case of the Twilight Domain. Furthermore, that's quite a large change that the DM has to make to their whole game's playstyle because of a subclass feature. If having to change a major aspect of your game to balance out Twilight Domain Clerics isn't proof that it's gamebreaking, I don't know what is.
It is undoubtedly powerful. Whether it could ruin the fun at our table remains to be seen. I promise to report back if/when someone plays one in our game!
(y)
I would be happy to hear your experiences with them and if/how they differ from my table's in the future. It is definitely campaign-dependent in its usefulness (as is literally every feature/mechanic in the game), but I still hold my opinion on it being OP.
 

Undrave

Hero
Then you have put a high score where it's sub optimal.

What's your con score? How about dex?

It's the opportunity cost. Wisdom and dex gives you better skill, saves, initiative etc. And you have 14 con.

And at level 8 if you're a cleric with divine strike well you suck.

Skill and iniative I grant you, but I could easily build a heavy armor cleric.

Let's assume V-Human with +1 CON and +1 WIS I can start with 15 STR, 10 DEX, 12 CON, 10 INT, 16 WIS, 10 CHA if I want (15 CON if I ditch INT and CHA to 8, 16 if I use my feat to pic CON save proficiency and a +1 to con!). Wear Heavy Armor and a Shield and use a weapon until level 5 where I go for cantrips full time after bumping my WIS by 2 at level 4. Then at level 8 I ditch Divine Strike for the new Tasha's replacement.

I get the advantage of a weapon user at low level and get to be a competant caster with high AC at later level.

I don't see that as a bad build myself.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Skill and iniative I grant you, but I could easily build a heavy armor cleric.

Let's assume V-Human with +1 CON and +1 WIS I can start with 15 STR, 10 DEX, 12 CON, 10 INT, 16 WIS, 10 CHA if I want (15 CON if I ditch INT and CHA to 8, 16 if I use my feat to pic CON save proficiency and a +1 to con!). Wear Heavy Armor and a Shield and use a weapon until level 5 where I go for cantrips full time after bumping my WIS by 2 at level 4. Then at level 8 I ditch Divine Strike for the new Tasha's replacement.

I get the advantage of a weapon user at low level and get to be a competant caster with high AC at later level.

I don't see that as a bad build myself.

All the heavy armor builds seem to use variant human.

If you don't want a human. Or for sheer damage an arcane cleric using cantrips like booming blade.

The difference in AC is only 1 point. If you can use a rapier the damage is the same as the strength cleric.

Your builds not bad but it's not optimized.
 

Undrave

Hero
All the heavy armor builds seem to use variant human.

If you don't want a human. Or for sheer damage an arcane cleric using cantrips like booming blade.

The difference in AC is only 1 point. If you can use a rapier the damage is the same as the strength cleric.

Your builds not bad but it's not optimized.
I mostly went human to keep it simple. It's not full on optimized but I think it would be good enough to do well.
 

ECMO3

Explorer
A while ago, I had a reasonably successful thread here about the value of damage prevention vs damage infliction for the psi warrior (briefly, the psi warrior can spend a psi point as a reaction to block 1d8+int (at level 6, the dice scales a bit) points of damage inflicted to you or an ally within 30 feet of you.

I recently was playing in a session where this came into play big time. 3 PCs (martials) on a side quest (we were missing some players), we get ambushed, vicious fight follows. My character was very effective because this damage prevention, notably stopping both the paladin and the ranger from going down. I had to spend every psi point I had available to me, but we made it. I thought to myself "well done, the PC is fun to play and impactful!". It didn't feel super OP, just good.

But later I was thinking - temp hit points are essentially damage prevention "pre-loaded". It's "fake" HP that will take the hit for you, and you can have them in advance, ready to be used when needed. No reaction needed! And who gives out tons of temp HP? The twilight cleric!

The Twilight cleric can use an action to channel divinity to raise the aura of twilight. Everyone you want, at the end of their turns, gets 1d6+level temp HP, which is almost equivalent to the 1d8+int mod at tier 2. So yes, an action is a bigger "cost" than a reaction... but you only need to do it once! Then every turn, everyone gets the temp HP. You didn't get hit last round? Well here are temp HP again, maybe the roll will be better this time!

So let us make up an "ordinary" fight - party size is 4, the battle is going to last 4 rounds, and each PCs will get hit three times during the battle.

The Psi warrior will spend 4 reaction to "block" 4 times, using 4 of his 6 psi hitpoints (he can regain 1 per short rest, so that's not a lot). He cannot block more than one hit a round. This means that most of his psi points are devoted to defense. Total damage blocked 4d8+ intX4, which can be quite impactful if they prevent people from going down. However, 8 attacks will "go through" with no mitigation whatsoever.

The twilight cleric, on the other hand, uses one action to activate her power (action channel divinity, probably using a bonus action to activate spiritual weapon on the same round). Unless someone gets hit more than once in a round (this could happen to the psi warrior too so it's not a bit concern IMO), the twilight cleric will block (up to) 12d6+72 hp points of damage.

The difference is stark. (oh and the aura can also remove fear/charm)

Oh, and the twilight aura continues for a minute, ie probably after the fight is ended - and as mentioned, you'll probably get a few rolls so a decent chance that next fight, everyone starts with 10-12 temp HP already there - so the power will impact 2 battles, not one. Basically, this "leftover effect" will be as good, if not better, than the psi warrior's protection. (40-48 hp leftover). Now the cleric only gets 2 channel divinity at level 6, but they are regained on a short rest.

Now you might say "surely, a cleric should be expected to be more "defensive/protective" than a fighter?" Yeah, that's fair. But this good?!? And it scales with party size! So if you have a large party, or god forbid some kind of summoner in your party, that 12d6+72 could become much greater.

I can only conclude that the twilight cleric is soo good to be effectively OP. I will not allow one in my games again...
It is probably the most powerful cleric, but I don't really think it is gamebreaking, nor do I think the CD is even the subclass's most powerful feature (the 300' darkvision is).

The channel divinity is great but it is not accurate to suggest every party member will get extra temp hps every turn. They only will if they manage to stay within 30 feet and get hit. The 30' requirement in particular is very restrictive. In play, it has been most effective for the Rogue (me) in the party I am playing because I have enough mobility to make sure I end my turn inside the effect. With the others it is hit and miss whether it works.

I don't know that it is any more gambreaking than having someone use cause fear on a Dragon from outside of breath weapon range and then have everyone hang back and pelt him with arrows from range until he dies.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
So, short fights with focus fire makes this a strong ability.

Long fights with spread out damage makes this an insane ability.

Balance wise, abilities that require pure class levels are less of a problem than dip abilities. As a 2 level dip, this ability sucks. Only by investing at least half of your levels does the action cost pay off in healing in a tough fight.
 

Then the game is balanced.
It has a twilight cleric in it. So no, the game isn't. DMing is constantly juggling to make sure everyone is having fun, no matter if their character is strong or weak, or their tactical skills are good or bad.
The DM balancing for different player skill is a totally different thing and basically one of the reason they are there.
Nope, it's just the same.
 
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No problem, and thanks for being open to change your mind in this discussion. That's a pretty rare thing to find on internet forums.
I mean, I’m here to learn all I can to make our table’s experience better. All the same, thank you for the acknowledgement.

I typically only have one or two combats each short rest, and that's only ever on a really combat-heavy day. It's almost always "combat done, you take a short rest, right?" in my games.
Cutting out a bunch of stuff - not b/c I disagree or don’t want to address your other points, but on my phone it gets unwieldy. Plus, really want to dive into the point you make about offering your players up a short rest.

IMO, that’s a DMing stylistic machination that doesn’t exist at every table. At our table, for example, it’s up to the players to tell the DM what they are doing after the DM describes the environment - in this case, describing the aftermath of the combat. For the DM to specify or suggest a particular course of action for the party is really overstepping the DM role in the game (yes, of course I sometimes do this but I try really hard not to:)). Therefore, at our table, a rest of any kind after a combat is not "almost always" a given - it will be dependent upon the situation at hand and if the players want to try it. In world time pressure, for example, encourages players to weigh the cost/benefit of resting. Note, that this is not an indictment of your playstyle (i.e. if you are having fun, you are doing it right), but it is pointing out how some tables might perceive certain abilities as more powerful than other tables might.

TL;DR: If rests are a given at a table, then abilities which recharge with rests will play more powerfully than at tables where rests are not a given.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
TL;DR: If rests are a given at a table, then abilities which recharge with rests will play more powerfully than at tables where rests are not a given.

I've found this to be THE biggest factor in discussing both difficulty of encounters and dominance of casters, at least for combat.

When players determine the pace of play (as in determining when they get to rest) casters can let loose with near impunity and, as such, will do significantly better in any combat. Further, because of the larger resource expenditure, combats are going to be much easier for the party (I often see this when people complain that 5e combats are too easy - that DM is usually allowing the group to approach far too many combats when at full capacity).

When the DM dictates the pace of play (significant random encounters, doom clocks, other dangers) the above is not nearly as much an issue.

Having said all that, I can see how the twilight aura is huge in either scenario. Sure you can only use it once per short rest (until high level), but during the encounter it is used, it is extremely efficient HP retention. Being able to retain large amount of HP efficiently (as in with low resource usage) means having more resources available for more encounters and having those encounters be that much easier.
 

I've found this to be THE biggest factor in discussing both difficulty of encounters and dominance of casters, at least for combat.

When players determine the pace of play (as in determining when they get to rest) casters can let loose with near impunity and, as such, will do significantly better in any combat. Further, because of the larger resource expenditure, combats are going to be much easier for the party (I often see this when people complain that 5e combats are too easy - that DM is usually allowing the group to approach far too many combats when at full capacity).


When the DM dictates the pace of play (significant random encounters, doom clocks, other dangers) the above is not nearly as much an issue.
There's also a difference between the utility of short and long rests. There's only one major caster type (the warlock) that makes significant use of short rests, so handing out short but not long rests tends to be something that empowers the non-casters. It's long rests that empower the casters.

And when sandboxing I tend to run short rest = 8 hours, long rest = long lazy weekend somewhere safe, with aspected and unused temples significantly improving this rest rate. (Which is my excuse for dungeon crawling; if you sleep one night in a friendly temple that's a long rest - and a short rest can be done in fifteen minutes - with about twenty minutes schlepping through the dungeon to get to the temple).
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I've found this to be THE biggest factor in discussing both difficulty of encounters and dominance of casters, at least for combat.

When players determine the pace of play (as in determining when they get to rest) casters can let loose with near impunity and, as such, will do significantly better in any combat. Further, because of the larger resource expenditure, combats are going to be much easier for the party (I often see this when people complain that 5e combats are too easy - that DM is usually allowing the group to approach far too many combats when at full capacity).

When the DM dictates the pace of play (significant random encounters, doom clocks, other dangers) the above is not nearly as much an issue.

Having said all that, I can see how the twilight aura is huge in either scenario. Sure you can only use it once per short rest (until high level), but during the encounter it is used, it is extremely efficient HP retention. Being able to retain large amount of HP efficiently (as in with low resource usage) means having more resources available for more encounters and having those encounters be that much easier.
Additionally, the whole "do two combats each short rest" argument is also flawed because Twilight Clerics only have to wait until level 6 to be able to have 2 uses of Channel Divinity each short rest, thus covering both encounters each short rest.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
It's once per rest for a minute. Let's not give it more credit than it is due.
It also affects the next fight because the effect lasts a minute, ie probably longer than the battle, so you start the next fight with a good dose of temp HP - those temp HP last until used or a long rest is taken! And at level 6 (not 18, not 9, 6), it's now twice per short rest. As a result, most fights it will have an impact.

Have you actually used or seen used it in play?
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
It also affects the next fight because the effect lasts a minute, ie probably longer than the battle, so you start the next fight with a good dose of temp HP - those temp HP last until used or a long rest is taken! And at level 6 (not 18, not 9, 6), it's now twice per short rest. As a result, most fights it will have an impact.

Have you actually used or seen used it in play?

Why does.the clock stop when combat ends instead of running out quickly afterwards?
 


Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Why does.the clock stop when combat ends instead of running out quickly afterwards?
The ability to give temp HP lasts a minute. Say the fight last 5 rounds, so you have five rounds to roll 1d6+level each round, so you are probably going to roll max on that d6 - so it's level + 6 temp hp.

... then the twilight aura ends... but the temp HP don't go away! They go away following normal temp hp rules (either you use them up or a long rest has passed).
 

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