D&D 5E Magic Resistance Alternatives


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Distracted DM

Distracted DM
Supporter
Well first, 4 out of 5 PC's are casters, so there's a lot of saves going around. But it really came to a head when we had a fight with these CR 1/8 fey with magic resistance- there were a lot of them, and just getting through one entangle from the Druid had me going "...this is going to be a thing for the whole campaign. My God, this is going to suck."

EDIT: you're right that I could just roll 2d20 at the same time and it wouldn't really slow things down that much. In the moment, I was irritated by all the die rolls, but my real problem is that it feels like too strong of an advantage, and one that's overused, and it doesn't feel particularly fair to my players.

Now obviously, not every fight is going to have that many opponents with magic resistance, but it feels like a lot of monsters have it, and I'm looking to kill two birds here- one come up with something that works more smoothly, and two be a touch more reasonable with my players. I don't want them thinking I'm going out of my way to nerf their characters, lol. But if an adventure says "and they fight a devil", I would like to use a devil, and not have to go find another creature because I think the party has been facing too many resistant foes.

I could just remove the trait, but I was hoping to find a middle ground.
OK so to be clear, you find the slog comes from "roll two d20s, take the higher."
Well first, you said that "There were a lot of" these little MR fey. I'd recommend rolling saves in groups. If there are 10 enemies all making a save, break it up into 2 group rolls. That saves time.

But otherwise, just make magic resistance a +3 or +4 bonus to the save, if you think that Advantage is going to be too much of a time sink. That's your issue, right? I see a lot of other suggestions here, but if the problem is "I don't want to roll 2d20s and take the highest over and over," just give them a flat bonus for it.

Other ideas like reduced efficacy etc. are interesting, but that's not going to reduce the time- and that seems to be your issue.

Edit: I see your EDIT now, missed that. So your don't like that MR will mean that your players' spells will be less effective ... I'd still say that a flat bonus is the smoothest, but otherwise "half damage" or "can use their reaction at the end of their turn to end" is also a possibility.. but that might be too strong for you.
Lots of suggestions here to pick from :)


Or just get rid of their magic resistance if you want your players abilities to work more reliably.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I noticed that both the current and upcoming adventures in my 5e game have a lot of enemies with magic resistance. My party consists of 1 Fighter and four casters, so constantly rolling saves with advantage is going to slow down the game and be pretty obnoxious for the players.
1: voluntary failed saves.

2: add a disadvantage that nullifies the advantage.

3: spend three hours before the game practicing rolls with advantage. I bet you'll get up to speed.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I noticed that both the current and upcoming adventures in my 5e game have a lot of enemies with magic resistance. My party consists of 1 Fighter and four casters, so constantly rolling saves with advantage is going to slow down the game and be pretty obnoxious for the players.

So I'm curious if anyone has a good house rule for magic resistance to make it less onerous. I tried replacing it with "resistance to spell damage", after seeing it on the Archmage, but while that makes rolling saves faster and ensures debilitating effects will land more frequently, it has the same basic issue as "resistance to b/p/s from non-magical weapons", another plague upon the system, and the end result is combats are still a slog.
I’m thinking something like:

1. Take half damage against damage from spells.

2. At the start of the creatures turn roll a d20, dc 11. If successful any ongoing magical effects this turn are ignored. For each additional spell effect on the creature beyond the first increase the dc by 1 or maybe 2.

Benefits -
1. Eliminates a good chunk of extra rolls on direct damage spells.

2. Instead of rolling the extra d20 once for every ongoing save ends effect you roll once per turn.

3. Side benefit is that more types of spells are impacted by spell resistance and teamwork can help against it.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Something else I was considering was having limited magic resistance, that only works against certain schools of magic, but I realized afterwards that time would end up being spent for characters to look up the schools of their spells to find out what they are, as generally only Wizards care about such things.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Something else I was considering was having limited magic resistance, that only works against certain schools of magic, but I realized afterwards that time would end up being spent for characters to look up the schools of their spells to find out what they are, as generally only Wizards care about such things.
I started to go there as well but had the same conclusion.

Magic resistance could also be something like:

Unaffected by spells at all until creature has ignored X level of spells. Maybe X is half CR or something like that. So a CR 12 creature could ignore a couple of fireballs or something like that before working normally.
 

DragonLancer

Adventurer
Well first, 4 out of 5 PC's are casters, so there's a lot of saves going around. But it really came to a head when we had a fight with these CR 1/8 fey with magic resistance- there were a lot of them, and just getting through one entangle from the Druid had me going "...this is going to be a thing for the whole campaign. My God, this is going to suck."
If you have multiples of creatures don't roll individual saves. One roll and apply it to the lot. That is what I've done for years and it works fine.
 


Quickleaf

Legend
Well first, 4 out of 5 PC's are casters, so there's a lot of saves going around. But it really came to a head when we had a fight with these CR 1/8 fey with magic resistance- there were a lot of them, and just getting through one entangle from the Druid had me going "...this is going to be a thing for the whole campaign. My God, this is going to suck."

EDIT: you're right that I could just roll 2d20 at the same time and it wouldn't really slow things down that much. In the moment, I was irritated by all the die rolls, but my real problem is that it feels like too strong of an advantage, and one that's overused, and it doesn't feel particularly fair to my players.

Now obviously, not every fight is going to have that many opponents with magic resistance, but it feels like a lot of monsters have it, and I'm looking to kill two birds here- one come up with something that works more smoothly, and two be a touch more reasonable with my players. I don't want them thinking I'm going out of my way to nerf their characters, lol. But if an adventure says "and they fight a devil", I would like to use a devil, and not have to go find another creature because I think the party has been facing too many resistant foes.

I could just remove the trait, but I was hoping to find a middle ground.
I have a couple tricks I've tried, very likely will be unpopular. But before I even utter my D&D blasphemies, it almost sounds like your issue is the interaction between spells with ongoing saves & Magic Resistance being tedious and feeling unfair.

Could you just eliminate most ongoing saves for spells? There will be exceptions I'm sure, but just immediately addressing your Entangle issue, that might solve a lot of the issue you've described.

For things like Immolation where the ongoing save is necessary, you could just require "something needs to change to warrant the repeated save", e.g. some attempt to douse itself or extinguish the fire. Or else it becomes a race to break the caster's concentration.

So back to my tricks... I love to make monster-specific alternatives to Magic Resistance (as well as to B-P-S resistances). For example, I ran a coin-themed devil who had Magic Resistance to all spells except those ringing a holy water doused silver bell as a component or those cast by someone who selflessly tithed for a faith they believed in.

Mostly when I suggest this, GMs balk and say "No, too much work, want universal solution." I'm sure you can come up with a better solution to the current Magic Resistance mechanics that could work universally, but my view is it's the one-brush-stroke-fits-all approach that leads to milquetoast design like Magic Resistance. IOW I'm 100% sure that you can do better, but universal Magic Resistance mechanics are never going to feel awesome, they're just going to be better than uninspired.
 
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Distracted DM

Distracted DM
Supporter
So back to my tricks... I love to make monster-specific alternatives to Magic Resistance (as well as to B-P-S resistances). For example, I ran a coin-themed devil who had Magic Resistance to all spells except those ringing a holy water doused silver bell as a component or those cast by someone who selflessly tithed for a faith they believed in.

Mostly when I suggest this, GMs balk and say "No, too much work, want universal solution." I'm sure you can come up with a better solution to the current Magic Resistance mechanics that could work universally, but my view is it's the one-brush-stroke-fits-all approach that leads to milquetoast design like Magic Resistance. IOW I'm 100% sure that you can do better, but universal Magic Resistance mechanics are never going to feel awesome, they're just going to be better than uninspired.
Actually I wouldn't mind that at all if it were an extra line in the monster statblock or description. I think it's a cool idea, probably done in some OSR game somewhere as well :'D

It makes me think of something like a ritual spell or feature or something that'd also do similar, "spells cast from inside this ritual empowerment circle ignore magic resistance" to make things tactically interesting; the spellcaster has to be stationary, imperiling themselves or letting the monsters potentially block the empowerment site. Pushing, shoving, tripping, etc. encouraged.
 

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