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D&D 5E Imposing dis-advantage on saves

MoutonRustique

Explorer
I've found precious few ways of imposing disadvantage on saves. (My character is an 11th level wizard.)

I get that the more "dramatic" effects have been put behind saves as opposed to attack rolls, and I understand the need for restraint when forcing disadvantage on saves.

This being said, my character really needs to find a way to make this happen - he's supposed to be a "summoner" and able to take control of fiends and whatnot. As the rules stand, this is, in effect, impractical (to avoid saying impossible) - as most targets of pertinence have advantage on saves vs spells and my summonings require significant advanced warning of impending combat (this isn't a dungeon-based game.)

It's kind of strange that banish works better on non-classically-appropriate-targets and I'm being torn between what the rules tell me to do and what my character should be able to do. It's not a situation I appreciate. Having my most powerful resources work ~18% of the time (in theory) has, in effect, meant that my 5th and 6th level spells do... nothing. 100% of the time. Not fun.

All this being said - my system mastery of 5e is quite low. I am not confident in my assessment of my options - and so, I turn to the forums.
 

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famousringo

First Post
Only two ways off the top of my head are to go 3 levels into sorcerer to get Heighten Spell or to go 11 levels into eldritch knight so your melee attacks apply disadvantage. The second one obviously isn't much of an option for you.

5th Ed isn't really designed so that a caster can pick mastery of one category of spells and be exceptionally effective with them. Wizards in particular are expected to "impose disadvantage" by targeting an opponent's weak save, rather than just forcing the spell through.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
Alright - thank you.

In this instance, I'm not looking to be exceptionally effective with them - I'm just looking for options to be "at least sometimes effective". The disadvantage is required to offset the advantage all relevant targets possess.
 

pming

Hero
Hiya!

Like many...many, things in 5e, it's easy to adjust/fix/change if you have a good DM. What you are asking doesn't take "rules" to do, it takes an imaginative player and an equally imaginative DM. That whole "imagination" thing has been downgraded over the last couple decades, IMHO, in favour of "hard and fast rules/options". A cryin' shame if you ask me. :(

Anyway, [puts on old grognard hat], back in my day, if a player had an idea for his character, he brought it to the DM. It wasn't usually phrased as a direct request (e.g. "I want THIS for my guy. Do it.", more of a "My character is getting pretty heavy into summoning, binding, banishing, and that kind of stuff. I wonder if there are spells or magic items or something out there to help him? Can he do research at the wizards guild or something?". Then the DM took that ball and ran with it. The DM would usually take a week or so (between sessions, basically) and come up with some ideas, then present the obvious tasks and goals the character would have to undertake.

Again, IMHO, this method of play is ultimately superior to just "Oh, go fork over $40 for the Uber Magic supplemental book. There's classes, spells, items and feats for summoning and all that stuff". With "the old way", characters became even more unique and beloved. Nobody could just "re-create them". These things involved the DM and the players, collectively sharing their vision of their own personal fantasy world.

Anyway, [takes off grognard hat], as I said in the first paragraph, it's really up to you and your DM...not what books you have or what "build" you can make. Tell your DM what you envision your PC as, then ask him how you might go about acquiring that "vision". A simplistic DM (or one with little time), will probably opt for the quick and dirty "take these rules, nix those rules, take that feat, and we'll call it good". A superior DM (or one with more time), will take the next week examining his campaign world and thinking about how this would affect it and how it would have come about. Then he'll inform you of routes your character can take to try and get the 'power' he wants (see my 2nd paragraph), if it is possible.

As for the RAW... I don't think there is any real, consistent way.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Gadget

Adventurer
Perhaps I'm a little slow, but what is it specifically, that you want your character to do? Am I to understand you want your character to be good at summoning/binding and you are not given the tools or spells to be good at it? It is possible to be summoner/binder in 5e, it just takes a lot of resources to do so and can not be done at the drop of a hat. 5e has, wisely, tried to reduce the amount of pets/bound creatures you can have out one time in an effort to keep the action economy in check. This can be overcome (with a cost) by the necromancer and various summoning spells, but I'm not sure if I understand the specifics of your problem enough to offer any suggestions.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
The Bestow Curse spell has an option to give disadvantage on saves that use a chosen ability score. Of course Bestow Curse itself has a save so this doesn't really help much (though it is a 3rd level spell and therefore much more spammable than the binding spells you want to land).

Divination wizards have the portent ability which bypasses the roll altogether so advantage isn't an issue. It's not very reliable though on a day to day basis as sometimes you don't roll low ability scores at the beginning of the day. And seeing as you're 11th level you've already chosen your subschool and changing would require DM buy in.

Honestly, binding outsiders just doesn't seem like a very viable strategy in 5e if you're only sticking to mechanics as they are currently given. Heck, Magic Circle doesn't even offer very good protection during the binding process (even when magic circle suggests it be used in this fashion). If you're set on this character concept I'd say talk to your DM to work out some kind of house rule.
 

Okay, you've asked two related question: how to impose disadvantage on saves, and how to be an effective summoner. Let me tackle these separately.

1.) Aside from Portent (Diviner) and Bestow Curse which have already been mentioned, the other method I know of is to bring along a Wild Sorcerer and have him use Bend Luck with his reaction, imposing a 1d4 penalty to the save. It's not huge but it may tip the scales often enough to improve your summoning efficiency, especially when used in conjunction with disadvantage. In addition to that, an Ioun Stone of Mastery will increase your proficiency bonus (and therefore save DC) by +1, and there are tomes out there which can potentially increase your ability scores as well. Finally, a Robe of the Archmagi will also increase your save DC by +2.

Finally, Feeblemind will drop the target's Int and Cha scores to 1, imposing massive penalties against certain kinds of spells.

2.) Magic Circle is enough to let you Planar Bind elementals safely, especially with their rubbish Charisma scores, and even Goristros and Chasmes, but for binding Mariliths, Balors, Glabrezus, Arcanaloths, Nycaloths, etc. a little something extra is needed. One approach is traditional: make a deal with the creature for it to serve you willingly, and then just use Planar Binding to make sure it sticks around. (It will probably try to corrupt you, per MM Glabrezu entry.) The other method is sheer brute force. You can't rely solely on Magic Circle because fiends can teleport to any location they can see within a certain radius, and Magic Circle only delays teleportation, it doesn't prevent the fiend from re-trying every round until it succeeds. So instead you have to either block vision, or pre-cast Mordenkainen's Private Sanctum over your Magic Circle (opting for teleport prevention but not plane shifting prevention so you can still Gate in your fiend). But you're not done, because some of the fiends you'd most like to summon (Nycaloths, Glabrezus) are spellcasters who can cast Dispel Magic at will to break the Magic Circle and/or your teleport block. The only way I know how to deal with this, that doesn't require researching custom spells, is to Feeblemind the fiend before you bind it. This also works against creatures like Pit Fiends which cannot teleport or Dispel Magic but can Fireball you 600 times while you are trying to Planar Bind them.

So you've got two paths. Either you bribe/threaten the fiend into letting you Planar Bind it willingly, or you chain-cast: Mordenkainen's Private Sanctum, Magic Circle, Gate (to get the demon), Bestow Curse V (perma-stun for 8 hours), Bestow Curse V (Int save disadvantage for 8 hours), Feeblemind, Bestow Curse V (Cha save disadvantage for 8 hours), Planar Binding VII (bind for 30 days), Greater Restoration (so you have a non-Feebleminded minion who can actually cast spells). Now assuming you're a 20th level summoner with maxed Int and DC 19 on your spells, and that you have a wild sorc buddy with you to Bend Luck, you have a 97.5% chance that you just Planar Bound a Marilith to be your slave for 30 days for the low, low cost of 1300 gp and the peril of your immortal soul! (Plus fixed cost of 5000 gp for Gate components, which are not consumed.) Tomorrow you can extend the duration to a year and a day.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
The character started out in 3e - as a conjurer of infernal creatures. It was heading in the "True Word" PrC.

It was converted to 4e - as a conjurer of infernal creatures (easy re-fluffing of powers)

It was converted to 5e (11th level) - and played horribly... (i.e. not as I envisioned my character)

Things I'd like to do :
- conjure creatures to fight for me
- be able to dominate fiends/demons (need not be combat applicable)

Things I've found in play :
- my conjured elemental(s) was/were incredibly ineffective
- conjuring is quite difficult to use when not through items or "I know there's a battle coming and have a full minute of time"
- I contributed in a major fashion during two encounters where I rolled criticals back-to-back-to-back and 8+ on all my damage dice using cantrip attacks (not attributable to class, a commoner rolling like I was would win against Orcus...)
- banish is much more effective against non-demon/fiends (i.e. 0 in 6)
- I do not have a moderately reliable way to impose my will on a minor devil (spinagon) even when expending all my strongest resources (and some of my allies')

Notes:
- I'd like to use the rules as presented, if possible.
- If there are no avenues for what I'm hoping, I'll re-build him as a re-fluffed druid (and go full WoW-warlock demonology!)
- Advice that amounts to "talk to your DM/house-rule it", while they are meant to be helpful, and are taken as such, are not. I am not a novice player and am quite comfortable talking to my DM about issues. An important thing about bringing issues up however, is doing your ground work before: checking to see if there are avenues other than "rebuild the game/house rule".

Are there spell choices that are required to make this work? Someone mentioned Bestow Curse - this does help a good deal for half of what I'm looking for. I'd rather not expend 3rd+ level slots until I break through advantage on saves, but if it gets me a fair shot with my 6th slot, that's something.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
Okay, you've asked two related question: how to impose disadvantage on saves, and how to be an effective summoner. Let me tackle these separately. [cut]
Thank you very much.

As it stands, much of what you propose isn't viable for my character (but then again, you did not possess that information) - but that simple fact tells me I'm better off simply bitting the "druid-bullet" and leaving aside much of my character's history.

Either way, I'm going to need a cookie (a small one - refluff the druid), (a very big one - make the conjure spells 1 action casts and/or give planar binding options to make it viable).
[MENTION=6784845]MonkeezOnFire[/MENTION] Thank you for the honest advice.
 
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Either way, I'm going to need a cookie (a small one - refluff the druid), (a very big one - make the conjure spells 1 action casts and/or give planar binding options to make it viable).

The druid is the best low-level conjuror in the game for several reasons:

1.) Conjure Animals is a one-action cast instead of a one-minute cast.

2.) Conjure Animals is a 3rd level spell instead of 4th, so instead of casting it with your 4th and 5th level slots for normal effect you can cast it with your 3rd and 4th level slots for normal effect and 5th level slots for double effect. In essence, he gets twice as much summoning done at a given level.

3.) Mephits have neat special abilities, but when it comes to raw damage output, a pack of wolves, giant owls or giant cobras is far better at tearing enemies to shreds than mephits are.

(The Moon Druid also has built-in interesting things to do via Wildshape while his concentration is occupied with conjurations.)

Good luck with your plan!

BTW, out of curiosity, what made your elementals so bad? I've found that a modest squad of three or four air elementals is actually terrifyingly good in combat, and if you're 11th level you're at the point where you can actually accomplish that fairly easily. Remember to Mage Armor them for the AC 18 boost, and strongly consider having them grapple + lift + drop physically weak targets instead of making regular attacks. Earth Elementals are also quite good from inside Stinking Clouds/Cloudkill, because they get advantage to attack and attackers get disadvantage to hit them, from heavy obscurement + tremorsense. And some DMs might let Earth Elementals grapple targets and then drag them below the surface of the earth, which... would be bad. I haven't had a player try to do that but I might just let it work if he did.

-Max
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
BTW, out of curiosity, what made your elementals so bad? I've found that a modest squad of three or four air elementals is actually terrifyingly good in combat, and if you're 11th level you're at the point where you can actually accomplish that fairly easily. Remember to Mage Armor them for the AC 18 boost, and strongly consider having them grapple + lift + drop physically weak targets instead of making regular attacks. Earth Elementals are also quite good from inside Stinking Clouds/Cloudkill, because they get advantage to attack and attackers get disadvantage to hit them, from heavy obscurement + tremorsense. And some DMs might let Earth Elementals grapple targets and then drag them below the surface of the earth, which... would be bad. I haven't had a player try to do that but I might just let it work if he did.

-Max
Basically, I had 4 chances at summoning an elemental. I took the higher CR ones (Salamander once, Earth Elemental the other times). All in all, considering ALL they did - and I'm not exaggerating here - one of my earth elementals was "instrumental" in finishing the fight slightly faster as they provided a "ledge" for the other characters to get to a balcony. And the other, helped get us down from a high ledge (not in combat, was just made easier).

While that was nice, it's not really "5th level spell" kind of nice...

Note: I included all damage done here (i.e. 0) and all damage received instead of someone else (i.e. 0) and all possible grantings of advantage and cover and everything else.

The Salamander dealt around ~10 hp of damage, and that's about it...

I'm quite certain there would have been better uses of them - but that's kind of my point, in a way, the base system requirement to be minimally effective is pretty freakin' high...
 

Basically, I had 4 chances at summoning an elemental. I took the higher CR ones (Salamander once, Earth Elemental the other times). All in all, considering ALL they did - and I'm not exaggerating here - one of my earth elementals was "instrumental" in finishing the fight slightly faster as they provided a "ledge" for the other characters to get to a balcony. And the other, helped get us down from a high ledge (not in combat, was just made easier).

While that was nice, it's not really "5th level spell" kind of nice...

Note: I included all damage done here (i.e. 0) and all damage received instead of someone else (i.e. 0) and all possible grantings of advantage and cover and everything else.

The Salamander dealt around ~10 hp of damage, and that's about it...

I begin to see, I think. I'm still surprised that your elementals received and dealt so little damage--was it a mobility issue? Summoning Air Elementals instead of Earth/Fire Elementals ought to fix that right up--but the key point is that you were casting the spells on the fly, instead of binding the elementals in advance with Planar Binding a la Shadowrun. I'd encourage you if at all possible to give it another shot. Conjure an Air Elemental and spend 1000 gp and a 6th level spell slot to Planar Bind it for ten days. Repeat at least once. Then when combat time comes around, you can add a third Air Elemental if you feel like it, but I guarantee you you will be pleasantly surprised how much they contribute in combat. 270 HP and 84 potential DPR at +8 to hit, plus a 10' diameter AoE attack, is pretty nice.

At higher levels you Planar Bindings will last for much longer than 10 days, but 2000 gp for a mini-Brute Squad should be quite affordable in most campaigns.
 

Chocolategravy

First Post
The character started out in 3e - as a conjurer of infernal creatures. It was heading in the "True Word" PrC.

It was converted to 4e - as a conjurer of infernal creatures (easy re-fluffing of powers)

It was converted to 5e (11th level) - and played horribly... (i.e. not as I envisioned my character)

Unfortunately they're rather liberal with things that flat out screw over casters. Giving resistance to most fiends is just one example.

Your best bet is to just stick with 3E as it has far far far more options for players than 5E will ever have and it is far easier to modify too. Not even the Warlock comes close to doing the things you want and it has fiend pact and can Hurl Through Hell.

The Oath of Vengeance Paladin's Channel Divinity is almost what you want but it frightens rather than dominates.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
I think I understand what you want a little better now, and you're right 5e does not have the specific things you seem to want out of the box. However, summoning spells are often cited as the most potentially broken spells in the game. This may be a bit counter intuitive coming from older editions, as the creatures summoned don't appear to be all that on paper, especially compared with what one could summon in older editions of the game. Yet 5e's concept of Bounded Accuracy makes even weaker creatures quite powerful in the right situation. I'm not sure how your elementals were so ineffective as to hit numbers and AC scale slowly in 5e and the main measure of increased stature is hit points and damage.
 
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Psikerlord#

Explorer
I've found precious few ways of imposing disadvantage on saves. (My character is an 11th level wizard.)

I get that the more "dramatic" effects have been put behind saves as opposed to attack rolls, and I understand the need for restraint when forcing disadvantage on saves.

This being said, my character really needs to find a way to make this happen - he's supposed to be a "summoner" and able to take control of fiends and whatnot. As the rules stand, this is, in effect, impractical (to avoid saying impossible) - as most targets of pertinence have advantage on saves vs spells and my summonings require significant advanced warning of impending combat (this isn't a dungeon-based game.)

It's kind of strange that banish works better on non-classically-appropriate-targets and I'm being torn between what the rules tell me to do and what my character should be able to do. It's not a situation I appreciate. Having my most powerful resources work ~18% of the time (in theory) has, in effect, meant that my 5th and 6th level spells do... nothing. 100% of the time. Not fun.

All this being said - my system mastery of 5e is quite low. I am not confident in my assessment of my options - and so, I turn to the forums.

The best fix for this will be to custom make your own feat that better achieves your summoner concept.
 

The best fix for this will be to custom make your own feat that better achieves your summoner concept.

Yeah, there are already feats that nullify the effects of elemental resistance, and others that negate other monster abilities (Alert vs sneaky monsters, Sentinel vs mobile ones). I don't think it would be a stretch to make one that nullifies spell resistance as well - perhaps limited to a particular class of spells (just like Elemental Adept is limited to one element). Or maybe not, I'm not sure there are enough monsters with spell resistance to justify such a limit.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
Thank you all for the input and advice.

I'm not a huge fan of 5e to date and so I may not have put in the work for the required system mastery to make my character work - I kind of went "Well, I'm seeing non-stop praise. I don't get it, but I'll give it a "fresh"* whirl and see how it goes. When building my character.
*meaning, no studying the monsters for optimal summons, choosing spells based on "history"/role-playing considerations, etc.

Binding my conjured elementals hadn't even occurred to me! It might be a pretty big stretch to make that work in the game... but I'll see what my DM thinks off it**
**Explanation: my character is a very dour, very strict, evil-cult hunter. He uses the forces of "Hell" to fight these evil-cults. His long-time companion is an "Inquisitor" paladin. There is a great deal of trust between the two characters and, while the extant of my character's use of infernal power isn't know, that he does is fairly open.

He is "saved" by his iron discipline and his intransigent helping of the defenseless (~ "spiderman philosophy"^10 / "Constantine methods"). On the other hand, the fact that his familiar is an imp (as opposed to the crow it appears) is a secret his companion does not know.

Should I bind air elementals in this more "permanent" manner - it would mean (in game) a binding of air-devils of some kind that I would then need to try and convince my friend of allowing, or attempt to hide them from him... A thing made very difficult in this edition ("demon sense"). Also, from my character's point of view, binding of an imp is a lesser threat as, should it get free, it is easy to destroy. These elementals would, on the other hand, represent bringing much more powerful demons into the world. Should I lose control of them, it would possibly incur a great deal of harm to others - which isn't acceptable.

Lastly! we are currently fighting a demonic-plague that serves as a gateway for demons to enter the material realm. This is important (besides the obvious) because we are currently in a geographical region in which the gods do not hold sway and extra-dimensional travel is extremely difficult - demons should not be able to enter this realm at-all / aside from very time-limited summonings.

So yeah, this is from a campaign that's been going on for over 20 years now, so there's a lot of back-story and things to hold in consideration when looking at spells (conjurations and such, most especially).

As to gameplay style : we tend to have "dungeons" that are ruins and castles and such, but with a time-frame that goes more "hours" of exploration over "minutes" of exploration. Which makes hour-long spells, not long enough to see certain use and one-minute cast spells much to long to use one the action starts - in many instances. On the other hand, pretty much everyone else found their characters to fit excellently to their concepts - so I'm the odd duck in this case (which I prefer, not being the duck, just that there's just the one duck).

I'll fiddle with the build a bit, but there's a possible out for my character at this point in the campaign, so I might take it and build a new one - one built around the 5e assumptions. We'll see.

In any case, thank you very much for the conversation, the advice and the information. Have a great one!
 

Should I bind air elementals in this more "permanent" manner - it would mean (in game) a binding of air-devils of some kind that I would then need to try and convince my friend of allowing, or attempt to hide them from him... A thing made very difficult in this edition ("demon sense"). Also, from my character's point of view, binding of an imp is a lesser threat as, should it get free, it is easy to destroy. These elementals would, on the other hand, represent bringing much more powerful demons into the world. Should I lose control of them, it would possibly incur a great deal of harm to others - which isn't acceptable.

Since you're re-fluffing the elementals as "air devils", maybe you could negotiate with your DM to also have them vanish into a pocket dimension (like familiars do) when you're not actively commanding them? Then you could summon an air devil with an action, and not have it vanish in an hour. Mechanically it's no different from having them around all the time, but your companion might find it more acceptable, and at least in my opinion it fits just fine with the "binder of demons" fluff.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
Since you're re-fluffing the elementals as "air devils", maybe you could negotiate with your DM to also have them vanish into a pocket dimension (like familiars do) when you're not actively commanding them? Then you could summon an air devil with an action, and not have it vanish in an hour. Mechanically it's no different from having them around all the time, but your companion might find it more acceptable, and at least in my opinion it fits just fine with the "binder of demons" fluff.
Could work - have a 5th or 6th level "custom" spell : "Recall previously bound creature"... Actually... yeah, I might use this to have the "base spell" be an action cast, but require a "focus component" that shatters if the creature is destroyed - creating the focus would require down-time and resources equivalent to the casting of the summons and the binding.

... yep, yep, making sense and not requiring much work/house rules... I like it!

It's actually better the the regular spells - it works with the "true name" thing and researching a particular demon to summon and bind : each focus is sort of an "summon this dude amulet". Quite nice, quite nice.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
At 9th level the Arcane Trickster rogue archetype gets the ability to impose disadvantage on saving throws when hidden from the target of the spell.
 

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