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D&D General Martial/Caster balance and the Grease spell

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
...that is literally the fundamental benefit of the spell. Area denial. As I specifically said earlier.
In most situations it does a poor job of area denial. It's more typical use case is to delay an enemy or two from reaching the party for a single turn.

But they have to take some kind of action to do it. The grease spell just...works. It doesn't need anyone attending to it. It doesn't need the Wizard to spend one of his fire bolt dice. It just happens.
It doesn't 'just work'. Once an enemy walks around it, through it, under it or over it, grease has no more effect. Contrast with a fighter that can repeatedly prone every single turn and the enemy can't simply get past it once and never have to deal with it again. The point is that there's pros and cons to both methods of proning and focusing only on greases pros and ignoring the cons of it when compared with the fighters method makes poor analysis.

I wasn't--and as far as I could tell, you weren't--talking about that. You were talking about comparing damage outputs, and treating both the casters and the Fighter as having identical accuracy. This is not true, because casters have a choice: they can attack AC, or they can target any save for which they have an appropriate spell. Most saving throw bonuses are significantly lower than AC bonuses.
There's much more to it than that. The effects of Wizard spells aren't identical. One often has to choose between using a less accurate spell with a stronger effect and bigger AOE or a more accurate spell with a lesser effect and a smaller AOE. So yes, Wizards can 'improve their accuracy' by targeting weak saves but it's usually with a large enough tradeoff that it isn't worth worrying about. Also, generally speaking Wizards will be concentrating on 1 spell an encounter and after that they have cast that spell they have very limited options for the remaining spells/cantrips they cast in an encounter. So while it makes wizards sound really powerful that they can target the enemies weaker saves and improve their accuracy, in practice concentration and the difference in spell effects from what the best spells in the situation target and the best saves to target generally makes this a moot point.

I have.

The fact that you think I haven't is very frustrating.
Then why aren't you agreeing that Fighters basic attacks @ level 5 tend to be the equivalent of a good single target damage 2nd level spell?

Then I dispute the argument as fundamentally in error. A caster can do most of those things, if we make the Fighter's mechanics into a spell. And then the next round, if it suits them, they can do something much better than the Fighter. Or they can do something about half as good, safely at range.

The point is that the effects the fighter is capable of producing on his turn would make good spells. Making the point that the wizard is still better because of versatility isn't a counter to this. I'm not trying to debate you about whether Fighters or Wizards are stronger, just whether the effects the fighter can produce would be good spells. Please address that instead of sliding in the Fighter vs Wizard stuff.

And how many times per day do you get that "2nd wind" effect? How many spell slots are we talking about?
Every short rest. General consensus would say 3 (2 short rests).

Even if I granted this (which I don't, I still think you're pretty heavily over-weighting things and ignoring maintenance-action costs), even if I gave you that it was legit actually the equivalent of a 3rd-level spell (which I emphatically do not), you're talking about three-ish 3rd-level spells per day at 5th level (depending on number of short rests). You know how many 3rd-level spells a Wizard has at 5th level? Two (potentially three, via Arcane Recovery--every other spellcaster has two). A mere one level later, and all casters have three such spell slots. So the Wizard is already matching a clearly favorably-viewed version of the Fighter's special powers, even without considering cantrips, rituals (if applicable), and 1st and 2nd level spells. With some 20ish spells a day, and several of those spells being dramatically more powerful than anything in the Fighter's arsenal, I'm not seeing the power you talk about. I'm seeing a Fighter that gets some reasonably good stuff early on, which mostly scales poorly (a very common problem with Fighters across editions), and which the Wizard can reasonably match at level 6.
The effects of using Action Surge + attack actions are what I would consider as making good wizard spells.

Also, Fighters get substantial power via subclass features as well. For example, what all spells could we create with the various combinations of maneuvers, action surge, 2nd wind, basic attacks, prones, shoves, grapples. Would those be good spells?

Plus...don't forget the Wizard's class features. Spell Mastery at 18th level literally DOES let you cast a (chosen, but changeable) 2nd level spell at-will. So even that is something the Wizard eventually gets for free, albeit at quite high level (but still two levels before the Fighter gets a third extra attack!)
I've already said wizard at high levels are stronger than fighters. Why can't we focus on the part about fighters effects on their turns and how strong of spells they would make? That to me is alot more enlightening.

Then you shouldn't have said...


You were very specific about turning these things into actual spells, back then. That specifically rendering these effects as spells would create an "instant difference in perception." I've done the described task, and did not see the described result. Now you're saying you meant some other task. That's very frustrating to me. (Particularly since the actually-powerful things, like Second Wind and Action Surge, are not at-will.)
Sorry if you misunderstood what I was getting at I'm sure at least half the fault for that lies with me. I'm not saying take 2nd wind and make it a spell. Take action surge and make it a spell. I'm saying, take the things the fighter does on his turn when using 2nd wind or action surge or both and let's see how strong of a spell that makes.

Being able to replace one attack with an attempt to knock a single target prone is not a powerful effect. If that were an at-will spell, it would be pretty bad. Sapping sting, as mentioned earlier, attempts to knock prone and do damage, just as the Fighter's shove already can. It's, admittedly, relatively light damage (d4 per tier), but...it already fits the bill, there's already a spell that does very nearly what you're talking about, and nobody's freaking out about it. Attempting to do 5 damage (2d4, take half damage on a save) and simultaneously knock prone is certainly less than doing 13.33 damage and separately attempting to knock prone, but not a vast gulf. I would not be looking in shock and confusion if sapping sting was based on d8s instead of d4s (frankly, I actually think d4 is a little weak, but since I appreciate spells that are weaker than non-spell options, don't take that as a complaint).
  • Being able to cast grease is not a powerful effect either. That's kind of the point.
  • The damage component being much higher is what brings the fighters up beyond cantrip level. Or if the fighter wanted to, he could prone two enemies. In either event that's clearly much stronger than that cantrip.
  • **Also, Sapping Sting doesn't deal damage on a passed save.

Doing 13.33 damage with a single melee attack instead of (about) 6 damage with a single ranged cantrip attack is, likewise, not a huge deal. Is it better? Yes, certainly. But don't forget that the Warlock can do 1d10+5 damage per hit at-will by spending something innate to their class (exactly like choosing a maneuver or a fighting style). Some people dislike that spellcasters (mostly Bard and Sorcerer) can dip for eldritch blast + Agonizing Blast, but you aren't hearing people throwing a fit because there's a cantrip that can deal 10.5 damage per hit at range and throw an opponent back 10 feet per hit, or slow each hit target by 10 feet (non-stacking), or the like. It may not be absolutely perfectly 100% identical to doing 13.33 damage on a melee hit and being able to trade doing that damage for knocking the target prone, but it's NOT worlds apart from what the Fighter does, and there isn't, and has never been, a chorus of voices complaining that eldritch blast is ridiculously OP plz nerf.
The point isn't that it's the strongest thing in the world, but for an at-will option it's at least equivalent to a level 1 spell if not a level 2 spell. That's about where I'd place EB + invocations at level 5 as well. For the fighter this still isn't looking at spending he resource abilities - which is where the comparison to at level spells comes in.

The Shove action, presented as a spell, is weak. Plain and simple. The Shove action, presented as a rider on top of a cantrip you can already cast at the cost of reduced damage, would be...situational, even as a ranged attack. It certainly wouldn't be seen as horrendously overpowered--nor "10x stronger" than what the Fighter does.
But that's not the argument I'm making. The fighter has various at-will effects and various effects he can produce by spending a resource. Despite having limited access to 'strong single effects' he can combo together the effects he can produce. We can roughly map those kinds of effects to already existing spells (not perfectly, but at least we can get in the ballpark of what level of spell they would make).

Consider this spell: 'make 6 attacks at 2d6+1d10+modifier damage'. You heal for 1d10+11 damage. On the first hit the enemy will make a strength save or be be knocked prone, on the 2nd hit the enemy must make a wisdom save or be frightend for a turn, on the 3rd hit can allow your allies to spend half their movement and reposition. On the 4th hit you push the enemy back 15ft. That's 132 average damage (with the possibility for advantage on most of the attacks), with 16.5 avg healing, with the possibility for prone, frightened, ally movement and pushback 15 ft. At level 11, that's much stronger than the level 6 disintigrate spell. Now, this can only be done once per short rest, but this makes for a very strong spell.

You're arguing I've missed something. This is entirely possible, I'm human and make plenty of mistakes. Given this, would you be willing to point back to the specific posts where you did so, so I can re-read them and try to find what I missed?
No. I've told you what I meant and hopefully that's more clear now. It's definitely probable I could have made the posts more clear when initially raising the idea.
 
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You just jump over the grease effect if it's in your optimal path. If someone does the readied spell thing to catch the first 'giant', then that giant slips and falls blocking the hall... then uses it's action to dash, which lets it stand up and move 3 squares out of the way and clears the hallway for its buddies. So you've used an 18th level spellcaster's action to block one enemy from getting attacks for a turn. That might be a reasonable trade, but it isn't 'wrecking' anything about the action economy, you're trading one PCs main action and reaction (and, again, in a lot of level 18 fights giving up the ability to counterspell for a round is a big deal) to stop one enemy's main action.

If you're they can't jump over it because you've decided the roof is too short, I'd say that the scenario is too contrived to be a general rule. I'm also not really sure how the 4 giants with a 30' move the lead one of which needed at least 20' of movement to get to a PC who is in an area that's generally 10' wide were going to gang up on a PC without grease blocking one. It sounds like the best they could do without grease is get one giant engaged with a PC and the rest stuck behind him, or maybe have one squeeze next to the PC and a second one engage the PC with the other two behind. 30' move large creatures can't gang up very well in 10' wide corridors.


Move 30 creatures against level 18 PCs are generally highly kiteable unless there's something about the terrain that forces the PCs to fight instead of kite. The grease spell doesn't have anything to do with that.



You're wrong about this, but I deliberately cut those points out of my response because I'm not interested in arguing about the jumping rules, and literally none of what I'm discussing involves jumping over a prone creature. There's no reason for one of the giants to lay prone in the grease, they can always dash, stand up, and clear the way for those behind.



Again, it doesn't complicate their path. If one gets caught by a readied action casting then he dashes to clear the way (effectively trading one PC's action and reaction to stop one enemy's attack sequence), and the others just jump over the grease. I don't think that using the dash action and 'no roll required' jumps is anything special, and 18th level characters kiting 30' move enemies who are in a space that is more confined for them than for PCs is generally going to be pretty easy.

Alright, back from being away a bit.

The conversation isn't getting anywhere, so hopefully a visual will help. And I'm going to break out my thoughts more on various subjects in this thread. The below isn't from the game I GMed 4 years ago (I don't have that map), but this is a reasonable facsimile thereof:

CHOKEPOINT AND BLOCKING TERRAIN AMPLIFICATION.PNG


1) This was basically a dungeon scenario for a Far Realms alien ship. On your right is the typical dungeon corridor (55 * 10 * 15) connecting one bay (vessel/drone/maintenance) to the next bay (engineering) and on your left is the bay with vessels/drones/gear + equipment + work stations + tech to do the upkeep etc (those are the blackened out sections; blocking terrain).

2) The right green arrow is Grease cast as a Readied action against the lead of 3 ATST-like tank once they've spent their Move + half of their Dash. They fail the Dex save, they fall prone. These are large "creatures" basically like 8 * 8 * 12.

3) No, I am not letting the next two tanks leap over the lead tank. This is going to lead to a pretty big aside, but I have to spell it out there. Something I lament often is how (a) the square-cube law is so obnoxiously violated for large, nonmagical creatures in D&D yet (b) Fighters are notoriously brutally screwed in mythic noncombat action declarations because of D&D GM rote application of "earth physics" to basically constrain their permissible action declarations/move-space. In our world, the closest analog we have to 12 ft bipeds is the great therapods (no, they aren't a match for a bipedal mech like an ATST or a Giant...but its the closest we have...and its less about the nature of the hip joint and more about the lack of explosive capacity in the posterior muscle chain). They_could_not_leap. These were not athletically explosive creatures. The great T-Rex did not move explosively or swiftly. It almost surely plodded behind sauropod herds and ate the sick/infirm/injured/slow/inattentive as carrion or easy to pick off. The can't produce the massive amount of newtons of force required to move explosively and if they did, their skeletal structures would sustain catastrophic injuries. Our large therapods had a ~7 ft gait and couldn't move explosively nor jump. Arthropods don't get bigger than chickens in our world because their exoskeletons would suspend their respiration capacity entirely and crush them. From a power : weight ratio perspective, your D&D Fighter of 20 Str and 280 lbs of armor and gear is unbelievably more powerful than a 25 Str (or even 30...or much much more) creature that weighs 9,000 - 10,000 lbs!

Personally, I can suspend some_level_of disbelief when handling big creatures in D&D-land. Dragons are magical creatures so whatever. Spiders can get large because somehow their exoskeletons are extraordinarily light-weight (magic or something). But no, I'm not just allowing massive creatures/tanks (even if they hypothetically possess the actual omnidirectional locomotion capacity to move in odd ways...in this case, they don't) to make ridiculous leaps/jumps/parkour nonsense. Not happening. If folks want to have their giants and dinosaurs and other creatures of that ilk doing crazy, square -cube law violating, explosive athletics...sure. You do you. I'm not doing that in my game.

And even if I was, I'm not having a 12 ft high walker tank somehow perform the necessary leap/twist move required to manage the tiny ceiling clearance between a wrecked ATST and the ceiling above them. And no, I'm not doing the whole complete denial of the typical panicked sprawl + try to get up Amygdala Hijack that happens when even a highly trained individual suddenly loses their footing due to whatever reason. I'm not having them fall flat to the ground like some Fantasia Spec Ops scene and then have the units behind them avoid the Grease. And again, if we're doing the genre stuff, the ATST in RotJ that dealt with the log trap did exactly what I'm talking about above, it teetered, tried to sprawl, slipped sideways and then become a cluster-eff of on the ground after 2-3 seconds of trying to recover (where it was basically a big box of an impediment afterward).

If this was out in the open and a huge or greater creature and no impediment (no blocking terrain, no small ceiling, no obstructions), then sure...you plop a 10 ft patch of terrain down that is supposed to be a problem, I have no problem allowing that creature to avoid it under most circumstances. But there are so many situations in dungeons where that ain't it. And there, Grease (particularly Readied Grease on a lead creature w/ low dex is hugely useful).

4) So effectively, you've got a situation where the Readied Grease on the chokepoint has created action denial for those 3 tanks. Their subsequent round should have been them getting in the room and trying to deploy multiattack in melee. Now its going to be getting in the room and hopefully trying to deploy a ranged attack against something in range. So the Wizard has spent their Round + Reaction (their Reaction could have been for Shield) creating action denial for 3 * CR 9 ATSTs; they lose their Dash in their opening round. Further, this loss of Dash has force-multiplying effects of causing them to lose optimal positioning in the following round as they have to spend that lost Dash action getting into the room. This has the downstream effect of ensuring they lose at least half of their optimal damage deployment (they aren't multi-attacking) and possibly all of it (in this case, from memory, 0 were able to get in melee and 1 of the 3 lost all potential damage output because it had no targets for range due to blocking terrain interceding between it and line of sight to any target).

That is not an insignificant expenditure of action economy. That is a single 1st level spell and only 1 of 16 spell slots for an 18th level Wizard (not including their 4 * At-Will Cantrips and their At-Will Shield and their At-Will Misty Step). Its a nothingburger investment for high return.

5) The far left Green Arrow is how you turn a terrain configuration into a huge connecting obstruction for a large creature to pursue. It basically creates a 7 * 6 area of blocking terrain that Large Creatures have to go around. So whereby Medium (or Small) creatures can easily navigate that area to snipe and get back to cover and then kite the creature around if the large creature pursues (or a Swashbuckler w/ Expertise Athletics can trivially leap the Grease to run in and out and attack) around the 7 * 6 effective area of blocking terrain to futilely try to get into melee to deploy multiattack (it can't...so it has to rely upon its single ranged attack...thus crippling its damage output).




So this is my last word in this thread. This is the best I can do to (a) convey the encounter situation from the level 18 game I GMed 4 years ago and (b) convey how a high level Wizard can deploy Grease for a particular encounter archetype (chokepoint management creating action denial + terrain amplification creating area denial which leads to significant net loss of damage output). Again, a Wizard's job is to play Rock - Paper - Scissors with the game, ensuring they have (i) answers to various encounter archetypes when the come up (Grease is a great low investment + high return Spell for this particular encounter archetype) + (ii) surveil/recon Spells/Rituatls (iii) so they can optimize their Adventuring Day Spell Loadout and output.

Grease is not overpowered at low level. In fact, it probably should virtually never be loaded out because you need much more bang for your buck because your Spell Slots are not prolific like an endgame Wizard. But compare...

* 7the level Wizard only has 7 Spell Slots + 4 Cantrips + 4 levels worth of Spell Slot Recovery + low tier Rituals.

* 18th level Wizard has 16 spell slots + 4 * Cantrips + 9 levels worth of Spell Slot Recovery + At-Will 1st (often Shield) + At-Will 2nd (often Misty Step) + Expert Divination Slot Recovery + all tier Rituals. For the exact same proposed Adventuring Day (6-8 encounters), Its a significant gain on 4 major axes: Spells Known + Spell Slots + Save DC + Ritual power/breadth. So that latter 18th level Wizard? Yeah, that latter Wizard can absolutely afford to loadout Grease as a specific answer to a specific encounter archetype (Medium to Large Creature + Low Dex Save + Chokepoint management + Blocking Terrain Amplification leading to action denial and area denial and net damage output loss and maximum kiteability). Its a nothingburger investment for high return.

A Wizard's loadout is not a siloed piece of business where you look at each spell individually for individual prowess for any given encounter. It should be working in concert, the entire suite amplifying the Wizard's power. Looking at a Wizard's loadout/spell suite as siloed pieces by themselves is not remotely the correct way to approximate an endgame, well-played, Wizard's prowess. Its Captain Planet or Voltron; with their powers combined...
 
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Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
Alright, back from being away a bit.

The conversation isn't getting anywhere, so hopefully a visual will help. And I'm going to break out my thoughts more on various subjects in this thread. The below isn't from the game I GMed 4 years ago (I don't have that map), but this is a reasonable facsimile thereof:

View attachment 139699

1) This was basically a dungeon scenario for a Far Realms alien ship. On your right is the typical dungeon corridor (10 * 10 * 15) connecting one bay (vessel/drone/maintenance) to the next bay (engineering) and on your left is the bay with vessels/drones/gear + equipment + work stations + tech to do the upkeep etc.

2) The right green arrow is Grease cast as a Readied action against the lead of 3 ATST-like tank once they've spent their Move + half of their Dash. They fail the Dex save, they fall prone. These are large "creatures" basically like 8 * 8 * 12.

3) No, I am not letting the next two tanks leap over the lead tank. This is going to lead to a pretty big aside, but I have to spell it out there. Something I lament often is how (a) the square-cube law is so obnoxiously violated for large, nonmagical creatures in D&D yet (b) Fighters are notoriously brutally screwed in mythic noncombat action declarations because of D&D GM rote application of "earth physics" to basically constrain their permissible action declarations/move-space. In our world, the closest analog we have to 12 ft bipeds is the great therapods (no, they aren't a match for a bipedal mech like an ATST or a Giant...but its the closest we have...and its less about the nature of the hip joint and more about the lack of explosive capacity in the posterior muscle chain). They_could_not_leap. These were not athletically explosive creatures. The great T-Rex did not move explosively or swiftly. It almost surely plodded behind sauropod herds and ate the sick/infirm/injured/slow/inattentive as carrion or easy to pick off. The can't produce the massive amount of newtons of force required to move explosively and if they did, their skeletal structures would sustain catastrophic injuries. Our large therapods had a ~7 ft gait and couldn't move explosively nor jump. Arthropods don't get bigger than chickens in our world because their exoskeletons would suspend their respiration capacity entirely and crush them. From a power : weight ratio perspective, your D&D Fighter of 20 Str and 280 lbs of armor and gear is unbelievably more powerful than a 25 Str (or even 30...or much much more) creature that weighs 9,000 - 10,000 lbs!

Personally, I can suspend some_level_of disbelief when handling big creatures in D&D-land. Dragons are magical creatures so whatever. Spiders can get large because somehow their exoskeletons are extraordinarily light-weight (magic or something). But no, I'm not just allowing massive creatures/tanks (even if they hypothetically possess the actual omnidirectional locomotion capacity to move in odd ways...in this case, they don't) to make ridiculous leaps/jumps/parkour nonsense. Not happening. If folks want to have their giants and dinosaurs and other creatures of that ilk doing crazy, square -cube law violating, explosive athletics...sure. You do you. I'm not doing that in my game.

And even if I was, I'm not having a 12 ft high walker tank somehow perform the necessary leap/twist move required to manage the tiny ceiling clearance between a wrecked ATST and the ceiling above them. And no, I'm not doing the whole complete denial of the typical panicked sprawl + try to get up Amygdala Hijack that happens when even a highly trained individual suddenly loses their footing due to whatever reason. I'm not having them fall flat to the ground like some Fantasia Spec Ops scene and then have the units behind them avoid the Grease. And again, if we're doing the genre stuff, the ATST in RotJ that dealt with the log trap did exactly what I'm talking about above, it teetered, tried to sprawl, slipped sideways and then become a cluster-eff of on the ground after 2-3 seconds of trying to recover (where it was basically a big box of an impediment afterward).

If this was out in the open and a huge or greater creature and no impediment (no blocking terrain, no small ceiling, no obstructions), then sure...you plop a 10 ft patch of terrain down that is supposed to be a problem, I have no problem allowing that creature to avoid it under most circumstances. But there are so many situations in dungeons where that ain't it. And there, Grease (particularly Readied Grease on a lead creature w/ low dex is hugely useful).

4) So effectively, you've got a situation where the Readied Grease on the chokepoint has created action denial for those 3 tanks. Their subsequent round should have been them getting in the room and trying to deploy multiattack in melee. Now its going to be getting in the room and hopefully trying to deploy a ranged attack against something in range. So the Wizard has spent their Round + Reaction (their Reaction could have been for Shield) creating action denial for 3 * CR 9 ATSTs; they lose their Dash in their opening round. Further, this loss of Dash has force-multiplying effects of causing them to lose optimal positioning in the following round as they have to spend that lost Dash action getting into the room. This has the downstream effect of ensuring they lose at least half of their optimal damage deployment (they aren't multi-attacking) and possibly all of it (in this case, from memory, 0 were able to get in melee and 1 of the 3 lost all potential damage output because it had no targets for range due to blocking terrain interceding between it and line of sight to any target).

That is not an insignificant expenditure of action economy. That is a single 1st level spell and only 1 of 16 spell slots for an 18th level Wizard (not including their 4 * At-Will Cantrips and their At-Will Shield and their At-Will Misty Step). Its a nothingburger investment for high return.

5) The far left Green Arrow is how you turn a terrain configuration into a huge connecting obstruction for a large creature to pursue. It basically creates a 7 * 6 area of blocking terrain that Large Creatures have to go around. So whereby Medium (or Small) creatures can easily navigate that area to snipe and get back to cover and then kite the creature around if the large creature pursues (or a Swashbuckler w/ Expertise Athletics can trivially leap the Grease to run in and out and attack) around the 7 * 6 effective area of blocking terrain to futilely try to get into melee to deploy multiattack (it can't...so it has to rely upon its single ranged attack...thus crippling its damage output).




So this is my last word in this thread. This is the best I can do to (a) convey the encounter situation from the level 18 game I GMed 4 years ago and (b) convey how a high level Wizard can deploy Grease for a particular encounter archetype (chokepoint management creating action denial + terrain amplification creating area denial which leads to significant net loss of damage output). Again, a Wizard's job is to play Rock - Paper - Scissors with the game, ensuring they have (i) answers to various encounter archetypes when the come up (Grease is a great low investment + high return Spell for this particular encounter archetype) + (ii) surveil/recon Spells/Rituatls (iii) so they can optimize their Adventuring Day Spell Loadout and output.

Grease is not overpowered at low level. In fact, it probably should virtually never be loaded out because you need much more bang for your buck because your Spell Slots are not prolific like an endgame Wizard. But compare...

* 7the level Wizard only has 7 Spell Slots + 4 Cantrips + 4 levels worth of Spell Slot Recovery + low tier Rituals.

* 18th level Wizard has 16 spell slots + 4 * Cantrips + 9 levels worth of Spell Slot Recovery + At-Will 1st (often Shield) + At-Will 2nd (often Misty Step) + Expert Divination Slot Recovery + all tier Rituals. For the exact same proposed Adventuring Day (6-8 encounters), Its a significant gain on 4 major axes: Spells Known + Spell Slots + Save DC + Ritual power/breadth. So that latter 18th level Wizard? Yeah, that latter Wizard can absolutely afford to loadout Grease as a specific answer to a specific encounter archetype (Medium to Large Creature + Low Dex Save + Chokepoint management + Blocking Terrain Amplification leading to action denial and area denial and net damage output loss and maximum kiteability). Its a nothingburger investment for high return.

A Wizard's loadout is not a siloed piece of business where you look at each spell individually for individual prowess for any given encounter. It should be working in concert, the entire suite amplifying the Wizard's power. Looking at a Wizard's loadout/spell suite as siloed pieces by themselves is not remotely the correct way to approximate an endgame, well-played, Wizard's prowess. Its Captain Planet or Voltron; with their powers combined...
I feel we still haven't gotten to the point that we can recognize that Grease can be a perfectly reasonable spell to prepare at high-levels without it being broken.

Grease could be a wizard-exclusive cantrip that doesn't count against their cantrips known and grease still wouldn't be OP. Not because its particularly bad at its job, its just that its job is somewhat niche. Again, we're talking about a high-level wizard deciding to, instead of investing a more general "free" spell like Fog Cloud or Mirror Image, is investing in a spell best used in enclosed spaces.

Grease is fine. Its useful at high levels but it just doesn't pass the barrier of ridiculousness that would make it "broken" or "OP."
 


Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Alright, back from being away a bit.

The conversation isn't getting anywhere, so hopefully a visual will help. And I'm going to break out my thoughts more on various subjects in this thread. The below isn't from the game I GMed 4 years ago (I don't have that map), but this is a reasonable facsimile thereof:

View attachment 139699

1) This was basically a dungeon scenario for a Far Realms alien ship. On your right is the typical dungeon corridor (10 * 10 * 15) connecting one bay (vessel/drone/maintenance) to the next bay (engineering) and on your left is the bay with vessels/drones/gear + equipment + work stations + tech to do the upkeep etc.

2) The right green arrow is Grease cast as a Readied action against the lead of 3 ATST-like tank once they've spent their Move + half of their Dash. They fail the Dex save, they fall prone. These are large "creatures" basically like 8 * 8 * 12.

You said it was your last word in this thread so I won't criticize your point about Grease being extremely useful action denial in this particular setup, despite not sharing your idea over fighting creatures capabilities in the name of realism. I prefer my fighter to jump to a chandelier and get down in the middle of the room and subsequently attacking the foes standing next to him rather than rule "so you take falling damage and you're prone when you land, making you an easy target". But different ways to plays are all alright and I agree that lack of "high DCs" examples for regular actions are a nerf to PCs in 5e, so many DMs will be less inclined to have a level 20 fighter do wuxia-level (or Herakles-level) actions.

However, when looking at that setup, I don't think Grease (or a fighter shoving the lead AT-ST) was even necessary. The players brillantly took the fight to a place where the Large 2x2 creatures are bound to fail and it would have guaranteed a resounding success at little cost anyway for them, irrespective of the Grease spell. The 3 AT-ST were advancing in a corridor toward the PCs in a queue. They wouldn't have been able to cross two PC blocking the exit of the corridor (standing at the right-hand side green arrow) and forming a chokepoint because they are Large creature and can't move through Medium opponents squares. So, only the first ATST would have been able to attack anyway. They don't have enough movement to go for the front-liner to go back 6 squares the two other ATST as it would count as difficult terrain in order to try and attack one after the other. The geography of the fight scene has turned a "3 AT-STs encounter" into 3 single AT-ST encounter, which will be trivial for a 17th-level party. The only advantage of Grease was to give disad to the first ATST and give advantage to the PCs fighter in the front row (at the price of disadvantage for the ranged PCs) and disad on the ATST. Movement and action denial was granted by the fight scene, Grease had very little to do with it since it was replicatable at no cost by just standing there for the PCs, who obviously had at least a round to move around since one of them had the time to ready an action to cast a spell.

The PCs also lucked out on Grease because the AT-ST elected to enter the "room" (really quite small for them) in two wave. The first AT-ST hadn't spent all his movement and half his dash just at the right arrow, so even without anything to stop him, he would have moved 3 squares more. This would have resulted with, at most, the lead AT-ST in the room, the second still exiting the tunnel and the third still well into the tunnel. It would have been a terrible way to start the fight, tactically, even without any PCs intervention. If they had stopped safely in the tunnel to make sure they got all their movement before storming the "room", the grease would have landed in a far worse position than just having two fighters making a chokepoint at the green arrow.
 
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MarkB

Legend
Alright, back from being away a bit.

The conversation isn't getting anywhere, so hopefully a visual will help. And I'm going to break out my thoughts more on various subjects in this thread. The below isn't from the game I GMed 4 years ago (I don't have that map), but this is a reasonable facsimile thereof:

View attachment 139699

1) This was basically a dungeon scenario for a Far Realms alien ship. On your right is the typical dungeon corridor (55 * 10 * 15) connecting one bay (vessel/drone/maintenance) to the next bay (engineering) and on your left is the bay with vessels/drones/gear + equipment + work stations + tech to do the upkeep etc (those are the blackened out sections; blocking terrain).

2) The right green arrow is Grease cast as a Readied action against the lead of 3 ATST-like tank once they've spent their Move + half of their Dash. They fail the Dex save, they fall prone. These are large "creatures" basically like 8 * 8 * 12.

3) No, I am not letting the next two tanks leap over the lead tank. This is going to lead to a pretty big aside, but I have to spell it out there. Something I lament often is how (a) the square-cube law is so obnoxiously violated for large, nonmagical creatures in D&D yet (b) Fighters are notoriously brutally screwed in mythic noncombat action declarations because of D&D GM rote application of "earth physics" to basically constrain their permissible action declarations/move-space. In our world, the closest analog we have to 12 ft bipeds is the great therapods (no, they aren't a match for a bipedal mech like an ATST or a Giant...but its the closest we have...and its less about the nature of the hip joint and more about the lack of explosive capacity in the posterior muscle chain). They_could_not_leap. These were not athletically explosive creatures. The great T-Rex did not move explosively or swiftly. It almost surely plodded behind sauropod herds and ate the sick/infirm/injured/slow/inattentive as carrion or easy to pick off. The can't produce the massive amount of newtons of force required to move explosively and if they did, their skeletal structures would sustain catastrophic injuries. Our large therapods had a ~7 ft gait and couldn't move explosively nor jump. Arthropods don't get bigger than chickens in our world because their exoskeletons would suspend their respiration capacity entirely and crush them. From a power : weight ratio perspective, your D&D Fighter of 20 Str and 280 lbs of armor and gear is unbelievably more powerful than a 25 Str (or even 30...or much much more) creature that weighs 9,000 - 10,000 lbs!

Personally, I can suspend some_level_of disbelief when handling big creatures in D&D-land. Dragons are magical creatures so whatever. Spiders can get large because somehow their exoskeletons are extraordinarily light-weight (magic or something). But no, I'm not just allowing massive creatures/tanks (even if they hypothetically possess the actual omnidirectional locomotion capacity to move in odd ways...in this case, they don't) to make ridiculous leaps/jumps/parkour nonsense. Not happening. If folks want to have their giants and dinosaurs and other creatures of that ilk doing crazy, square -cube law violating, explosive athletics...sure. You do you. I'm not doing that in my game.

And even if I was, I'm not having a 12 ft high walker tank somehow perform the necessary leap/twist move required to manage the tiny ceiling clearance between a wrecked ATST and the ceiling above them. And no, I'm not doing the whole complete denial of the typical panicked sprawl + try to get up Amygdala Hijack that happens when even a highly trained individual suddenly loses their footing due to whatever reason. I'm not having them fall flat to the ground like some Fantasia Spec Ops scene and then have the units behind them avoid the Grease. And again, if we're doing the genre stuff, the ATST in RotJ that dealt with the log trap did exactly what I'm talking about above, it teetered, tried to sprawl, slipped sideways and then become a cluster-eff of on the ground after 2-3 seconds of trying to recover (where it was basically a big box of an impediment afterward).

If this was out in the open and a huge or greater creature and no impediment (no blocking terrain, no small ceiling, no obstructions), then sure...you plop a 10 ft patch of terrain down that is supposed to be a problem, I have no problem allowing that creature to avoid it under most circumstances. But there are so many situations in dungeons where that ain't it. And there, Grease (particularly Readied Grease on a lead creature w/ low dex is hugely useful).

4) So effectively, you've got a situation where the Readied Grease on the chokepoint has created action denial for those 3 tanks. Their subsequent round should have been them getting in the room and trying to deploy multiattack in melee. Now its going to be getting in the room and hopefully trying to deploy a ranged attack against something in range. So the Wizard has spent their Round + Reaction (their Reaction could have been for Shield) creating action denial for 3 * CR 9 ATSTs; they lose their Dash in their opening round. Further, this loss of Dash has force-multiplying effects of causing them to lose optimal positioning in the following round as they have to spend that lost Dash action getting into the room. This has the downstream effect of ensuring they lose at least half of their optimal damage deployment (they aren't multi-attacking) and possibly all of it (in this case, from memory, 0 were able to get in melee and 1 of the 3 lost all potential damage output because it had no targets for range due to blocking terrain interceding between it and line of sight to any target).

That is not an insignificant expenditure of action economy. That is a single 1st level spell and only 1 of 16 spell slots for an 18th level Wizard (not including their 4 * At-Will Cantrips and their At-Will Shield and their At-Will Misty Step). Its a nothingburger investment for high return.

5) The far left Green Arrow is how you turn a terrain configuration into a huge connecting obstruction for a large creature to pursue. It basically creates a 7 * 6 area of blocking terrain that Large Creatures have to go around. So whereby Medium (or Small) creatures can easily navigate that area to snipe and get back to cover and then kite the creature around if the large creature pursues (or a Swashbuckler w/ Expertise Athletics can trivially leap the Grease to run in and out and attack) around the 7 * 6 effective area of blocking terrain to futilely try to get into melee to deploy multiattack (it can't...so it has to rely upon its single ranged attack...thus crippling its damage output).




So this is my last word in this thread. This is the best I can do to (a) convey the encounter situation from the level 18 game I GMed 4 years ago and (b) convey how a high level Wizard can deploy Grease for a particular encounter archetype (chokepoint management creating action denial + terrain amplification creating area denial which leads to significant net loss of damage output). Again, a Wizard's job is to play Rock - Paper - Scissors with the game, ensuring they have (i) answers to various encounter archetypes when the come up (Grease is a great low investment + high return Spell for this particular encounter archetype) + (ii) surveil/recon Spells/Rituatls (iii) so they can optimize their Adventuring Day Spell Loadout and output.

Grease is not overpowered at low level. In fact, it probably should virtually never be loaded out because you need much more bang for your buck because your Spell Slots are not prolific like an endgame Wizard. But compare...

* 7the level Wizard only has 7 Spell Slots + 4 Cantrips + 4 levels worth of Spell Slot Recovery + low tier Rituals.

* 18th level Wizard has 16 spell slots + 4 * Cantrips + 9 levels worth of Spell Slot Recovery + At-Will 1st (often Shield) + At-Will 2nd (often Misty Step) + Expert Divination Slot Recovery + all tier Rituals. For the exact same proposed Adventuring Day (6-8 encounters), Its a significant gain on 4 major axes: Spells Known + Spell Slots + Save DC + Ritual power/breadth. So that latter 18th level Wizard? Yeah, that latter Wizard can absolutely afford to loadout Grease as a specific answer to a specific encounter archetype (Medium to Large Creature + Low Dex Save + Chokepoint management + Blocking Terrain Amplification leading to action denial and area denial and net damage output loss and maximum kiteability). Its a nothingburger investment for high return.

A Wizard's loadout is not a siloed piece of business where you look at each spell individually for individual prowess for any given encounter. It should be working in concert, the entire suite amplifying the Wizard's power. Looking at a Wizard's loadout/spell suite as siloed pieces by themselves is not remotely the correct way to approximate an endgame, well-played, Wizard's prowess. Its Captain Planet or Voltron; with their powers combined...
Okay, so you have a very specific hang-up / houserule that prevents the walking tanks from jumping over their prone comrades, but how about them just walking over their prone comrades? A walking tank isn't going to be significantly harmed by having another tank standing on top of it for a few moments, and the tank standing on it will be unaffected by the grease.
 

Dessert Nomad

Adventurer
3) No, I am not letting the next two tanks leap over the lead tank. [much more]

I've said multiple times that nothing I'm talking about involves a creature leaping over another creature. I'm not sure why you're so focused on leaping over creatures that you made a giant aside about it when responding to me, it's just weird to post paragraphs of stuff arguing about something irrelevant.

4) So effectively, you've got a situation where the Readied Grease on the chokepoint has created action denial for those 3 tanks. Their subsequent round should have been them getting in the room and trying to deploy multiattack in melee. Now its going to be getting in the room and hopefully trying to deploy a ranged attack against something in range. So the Wizard has spent their Round + Reaction (their Reaction could have been for Shield) creating action denial for 3 * CR 9 ATSTs; they lose their Dash in their opening round. Further, this loss of Dash has force-multiplying effects of causing them to lose optimal positioning in the following round as they have to spend that lost Dash action getting into the room. This has the downstream effect of ensuring they lose at least half of their optimal damage deployment (they aren't multi-attacking) and possibly all of it (in this case, from memory, 0 were able to get in melee and 1 of the 3 lost all potential damage output because it had no targets for range due to blocking terrain interceding between it and line of sight to any target).

That is not an insignificant expenditure of action economy. That is a single 1st level spell and only 1 of 16 spell slots for an 18th level Wizard (not including their 4 * At-Will Cantrips and their At-Will Shield and their At-Will Misty Step). Its a nothingburger investment for high return.

The grease spell didn't cost them actions. When the lead giant hits the green arrow, he has 15' of movement left (according to what you said), so stands back up, and the other two are stuck behind him, costing them all a half-move. I think the third giant wouldn't even be able to get to the grease arrow without the grease there, and certainly not the fourth mentioned in the original telling. Looking at the map, anyone in the big room would be able to make a regular move on their next turn and be out of range of the giants even if the giants didn't lose their 15' coming in. I'm pretty sure the best case scenario for the giants with no grease is that the lead one could get someone in melee if the party wasn't well prepared, so at best the wizard traded his action and a first level slot to stop one giant from melee attacking on one round.

I think that all of the talk about the amazing effectiveness of grease and claiming it's costing the giants bunch of their actions ignores that the party could literally just make regular moves and have at best one giant get to melee in round 2, then for the rest of the fight limit the giants to one in melee range by fighting from the corridor. This terrain is extremely well-suited for the PCs to avoid the giants just by regular movement or to bottleneck them so that they are stuck with one in melee range (if the party has someone who likes staying in melee).

And you could achieve the same effect by hitting the first one with ray of frost, or having a melee combatant stand in the doorway. You could hinder them even more with other first level spells, like entangle which would take them at least 20' of extra movement (and more likely 30'-40'), depending on how you handle diagonal difficult terrain and large size creatures dealing with difficult terrain) instead of the 15' this cost.

5) The far left Green Arrow is how you turn a terrain configuration into a huge connecting obstruction for a large creature to pursue. It basically creates a 7 * 6 area of blocking terrain that Large Creatures have to go around. So whereby Medium (or Small) creatures can easily navigate that area to snipe and get back to cover and then kite the creature around if the large creature pursues (or a Swashbuckler w/ Expertise Athletics can trivially leap the Grease to run in and out and attack) around the 7 * 6 effective area of blocking terrain to futilely try to get into melee to deploy multiattack (it can't...so it has to rely upon its single ranged attack...thus crippling its damage output).

The large creatures can also just jump over the grease. At worst they spend an extra 5' movement to fit into a medium space to squeeze past the corner, but that's a pretty iffy interpretation of terrain to me. And this gain highlights that you've stuck the 'half the part's average level CR' tanks in terrain that is very unsuited to them. The basic setup requires the giants to make at least 3 moves to be in melee range of the party, and the party has a convenient corridor the giants can only fight one at a time in, and the terrain is sized to hinder the giants mobility further by restricting their ability to jump.

The fact that a group of 18th level characters can easily beat up on 3x CR9 creatures in an environment that's very unfavorable to the CR9 melee-focused creatures at the outset doesn't seem at all surprising to me.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Alright, back from being away a bit.

The conversation isn't getting anywhere, so hopefully a visual will help. And I'm going to break out my thoughts more on various subjects in this thread. The below isn't from the game I GMed 4 years ago (I don't have that map), but this is a reasonable facsimile thereof:

View attachment 139699

1) This was basically a dungeon scenario for a Far Realms alien ship. On your right is the typical dungeon corridor (55 * 10 * 15) connecting one bay (vessel/drone/maintenance) to the next bay (engineering) and on your left is the bay with vessels/drones/gear + equipment + work stations + tech to do the upkeep etc (those are the blackened out sections; blocking terrain).
So far the biggest issue looks to be multiple large enemies fighting in a spaces just big enough for one of them. That's a huge terrain advantage for the PC's with or without grease. Surely we can agree there.

2) The right green arrow is Grease cast as a Readied action against the lead of 3 ATST-like tank once they've spent their Move + half of their Dash. They fail the Dex save, they fall prone. These are large "creatures" basically like 8 * 8 * 12.
This always boggles my mind as readied actions go both ways. What if they ATST's had simply moved forward and readied actions to shoot whatever walked out? It always boggles my mind that enemies never deploy even rudimentary tactics to situations and instead chase PC's with all their might as fast as they can.

3) No, I am not letting the next two tanks leap over the lead tank. This is going to lead to a pretty big aside, but I have to spell it out there. Something I lament often is how (a) the square-cube law is so obnoxiously violated for large, nonmagical creatures in D&D yet (b) Fighters are notoriously brutally screwed in mythic noncombat action declarations because of D&D GM rote application of "earth physics" to basically constrain their permissible action declarations/move-space. In our world, the closest analog we have to 12 ft bipeds is the great therapods (no, they aren't a match for a bipedal mech like an ATST or a Giant...but its the closest we have...and its less about the nature of the hip joint and more about the lack of explosive capacity in the posterior muscle chain). They_could_not_leap. These were not athletically explosive creatures. The great T-Rex did not move explosively or swiftly. It almost surely plodded behind sauropod herds and ate the sick/infirm/injured/slow/inattentive as carrion or easy to pick off. The can't produce the massive amount of newtons of force required to move explosively and if they did, their skeletal structures would sustain catastrophic injuries. Our large therapods had a ~7 ft gait and couldn't move explosively nor jump. Arthropods don't get bigger than chickens in our world because their exoskeletons would suspend their respiration capacity entirely and crush them. From a power : weight ratio perspective, your D&D Fighter of 20 Str and 280 lbs of armor and gear is unbelievably more powerful than a 25 Str (or even 30...or much much more) creature that weighs 9,000 - 10,000 lbs!

Personally, I can suspend some_level_of disbelief when handling big creatures in D&D-land. Dragons are magical creatures so whatever. Spiders can get large because somehow their exoskeletons are extraordinarily light-weight (magic or something). But no, I'm not just allowing massive creatures/tanks (even if they hypothetically possess the actual omnidirectional locomotion capacity to move in odd ways...in this case, they don't) to make ridiculous leaps/jumps/parkour nonsense. Not happening. If folks want to have their giants and dinosaurs and other creatures of that ilk doing crazy, square -cube law violating, explosive athletics...sure. You do you. I'm not doing that in my game.

And even if I was, I'm not having a 12 ft high walker tank somehow perform the necessary leap/twist move required to manage the tiny ceiling clearance between a wrecked ATST and the ceiling above them. And no, I'm not doing the whole complete denial of the typical panicked sprawl + try to get up Amygdala Hijack that happens when even a highly trained individual suddenly loses their footing due to whatever reason. I'm not having them fall flat to the ground like some Fantasia Spec Ops scene and then have the units behind them avoid the Grease. And again, if we're doing the genre stuff, the ATST in RotJ that dealt with the log trap did exactly what I'm talking about above, it teetered, tried to sprawl, slipped sideways and then become a cluster-eff of on the ground after 2-3 seconds of trying to recover (where it was basically a big box of an impediment afterward).

If this was out in the open and a huge or greater creature and no impediment (no blocking terrain, no small ceiling, no obstructions), then sure...you plop a 10 ft patch of terrain down that is supposed to be a problem, I have no problem allowing that creature to avoid it under most circumstances. But there are so many situations in dungeons where that ain't it. And there, Grease (particularly Readied Grease on a lead creature w/ low dex is hugely useful).
I've no dog in this race.

4) So effectively, you've got a situation where the Readied Grease on the chokepoint has created action denial for those 3 tanks. Their subsequent round should have been them getting in the room and trying to deploy multiattack in melee. Now its going to be getting in the room and hopefully trying to deploy a ranged attack against something in range. So the Wizard has spent their Round + Reaction (their Reaction could have been for Shield) creating action denial for 3 * CR 9 ATSTs; they lose their Dash in their opening round. Further, this loss of Dash has force-multiplying effects of causing them to lose optimal positioning in the following round as they have to spend that lost Dash action getting into the room. This has the downstream effect of ensuring they lose at least half of their optimal damage deployment (they aren't multi-attacking) and possibly all of it (in this case, from memory, 0 were able to get in melee and 1 of the 3 lost all potential damage output because it had no targets for range due to blocking terrain interceding between it and line of sight to any target).
If the terrain and enemy behavior all goes in the PC's favor then grease is strong. And I'm not disputing that it can be strong when everything aligns, just that these factors rarely align to make that the case. They shouldn't have even aligned in this instance being discussed.

That is not an insignificant expenditure of action economy. That is a single 1st level spell and only 1 of 16 spell slots for an 18th level Wizard (not including their 4 * At-Will Cantrips and their At-Will Shield and their At-Will Misty Step). Its a nothingburger investment for high return.
The whole scenario relies on cramped terrain, a readied spell with a very specific trigger that relies on enemies behaving tactically dumb. The stars essentially have to align for this to work.

Then let's look at what was actually bought in this scenario? In the best case scenario (with everything aligning and the lead creature failing his save) you cost the lead enemy and all others 15 ft of movement on the current turn. You cost the lead creature 15ft of movement on the subsequent turn. And then the remaining ATST's walk into the grease make/fail their save, stand up and continue on their way. All you actually bought was a single turn worth of movement. Which would be really good if you could continue kiting away but the terrain prevents that. Preventing the whole enemy team 1 round of movement isn't inconsequential, but given the scenario that appears to be fairly minor advantage to me. You essentially prevented 1 ATST from attacking in melee for 1 round (as the terrain wouldn't have allowed more than 1 in melee at a time anyways).

5) The far left Green Arrow is how you turn a terrain configuration into a huge connecting obstruction for a large creature to pursue. It basically creates a 7 * 6 area of blocking terrain that Large Creatures have to go around. So whereby Medium (or Small) creatures can easily navigate that area to snipe and get back to cover and then kite the creature around if the large creature pursues (or a Swashbuckler w/ Expertise Athletics can trivially leap the Grease to run in and out and attack) around the 7 * 6 effective area of blocking terrain to futilely try to get into melee to deploy multiattack (it can't...so it has to rely upon its single ranged attack...thus crippling its damage output).
That's actually worse. If the PC's retreat to that room let the ATST's wait and recharge their guns to shoot whatever walks around the corner. Why take 3 large creatures in a single file line after the PC's when you can just wait them out and/or wait for reinforcements.




So this is my last word in this thread. This is the best I can do to (a) convey the encounter situation from the level 18 game I GMed 4 years ago and (b) convey how a high level Wizard can deploy Grease for a particular encounter archetype (chokepoint management creating action denial + terrain amplification creating area denial which leads to significant net loss of damage output). Again, a Wizard's job is to play Rock - Paper - Scissors with the game, ensuring they have (i) answers to various encounter archetypes when the come up (Grease is a great low investment + high return Spell for this particular encounter archetype) + (ii) surveil/recon Spells/Rituatls (iii) so they can optimize their Adventuring Day Spell Loadout and output.
It's not my last post and I really want to address this. No one disputes grease can be good in certain scenarios. It's just that (a) those scenarios are pretty rare, (b) that the advantage actually being gained usually isn't actually as big as while it at first appears (as above what appeared to be keeping 3 ATST's from melee range was actually keeping 1 from melee range for a turn as the PC's had a terrain advantage to funnel them in one at a time even without grease), and (c) action economy wise, there were better rock, paper scissor spells. For example, Slow or Confusion would have been a much better action economy investment on a spell (and it's not like you are short on 3rd and 4th+ level slots).

Grease is not overpowered at low level. In fact, it probably should virtually never be loaded out because you need much more bang for your buck because your Spell Slots are not prolific like an endgame Wizard. But compare...

* 7the level Wizard only has 7 Spell Slots + 4 Cantrips + 4 levels worth of Spell Slot Recovery + low tier Rituals.
On this we agree.

* 18th level Wizard has 16 spell slots + 4 * Cantrips + 9 levels worth of Spell Slot Recovery + At-Will 1st (often Shield) + At-Will 2nd (often Misty Step) + Expert Divination Slot Recovery + all tier Rituals. For the exact same proposed Adventuring Day (6-8 encounters), Its a significant gain on 4 major axes: Spells Known + Spell Slots + Save DC + Ritual power/breadth. So that latter 18th level Wizard? Yeah, that latter Wizard can absolutely afford to loadout Grease as a specific answer to a specific encounter archetype (Medium to Large Creature + Low Dex Save + Chokepoint management + Blocking Terrain Amplification leading to action denial and area denial and net damage output loss and maximum kiteability). Its a nothingburger investment for high return.
It's not then either, as action economy becomes the more important consideration and there are simply better spells for stalling enemies than grease. IMO, there are only a few actual use cases for grease at high level and primary movement/action depravation isn't one of them. (I expand on the use cases in the next paragraph).

A Wizard's loadout is not a siloed piece of business where you look at each spell individually for individual prowess for any given encounter. It should be working in concert, the entire suite amplifying the Wizard's power. Looking at a Wizard's loadout/spell suite as siloed pieces by themselves is not remotely the correct way to approximate an endgame, well-played, Wizard's prowess. Its Captain Planet or Voltron; with their powers combined...
Sure. Versatility adds power as you are more likely to have the perfect spell for the job. It's just that grease is rarely ever going to be the perfect spell for any job. Which is why attempting to use it as an example has faced such pushback.

We can even elaborate on this concept. A spell's power isn't as related to what it says on the tin as much as what it does in the actual cases you use it. At some point it stops mattering how badly a spell sucks in every other situation as you have other spells you are going to use in those situations. The problem for grease in this analysis is that typically other spells accomplish movement/action depravation better than grease and so it's only true use cases are to cause damage via granting advantage to melee characters, using when you are already concentrating on a better spell or really need to conserve higher level spell slots.
 

Dessert Nomad

Adventurer
The problem for grease in this analysis is that typically other spells accomplish movement/action depravation better than grease and so it's only true use cases are to cause damage via granting advantage to melee characters,

One thing to keep in mind is that if you have melee to take advantage of the enemy being prone, any melee types who are pretty tanky (like fighters, clerics, barbarians, paladins, moon druids, and so on) can perform area denial just by standing in the hallway in front of them, forcing them to fight with just the lead and probably preventing the back line from even using ranged attacks. Having a tanky character or summon just block them in would probably reduce their damage more than forcing them all to use their ranged attack, since they'd be attacking someone with high AC or resistance to their damage.

using when you are already concentrating on a better spell or really need to conserve higher level spell slots.

Note that in the specific scenario given, the wizard could not be concentrating on a better spell, as he had to use his concentration to hold grease to fire at the correct time. In this situation, the wizard had to give up concentration, an action, and a reaction. For an easy fight that doesn't matter, for a tier 4 fight that is actually a challenge to the party giving up a wizard's concentration and the chance to cast shield, absorb elements, or counterspell can be a significant tactical mistake.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
So this is my last word in this thread. This is the best I can do to (a) convey the encounter situation from the level 18 game I GMed 4 years ago and (b) convey how a high level Wizard can deploy Grease for a particular encounter archetype (chokepoint management creating action denial + terrain amplification creating area denial which leads to significant net loss of damage output). Again, a Wizard's job is to play Rock - Paper - Scissors with the game, ensuring they have (i) answers to various encounter archetypes when the come up (Grease is a great low investment + high return Spell for this particular encounter archetype) + (ii) surveil/recon Spells/Rituatls (iii) so they can optimize their Adventuring Day Spell Loadout and output.
After the lead bad guy fell why didn't the others just run around the corner, out of sight, and wait for the spell to end? Yes it lost them one action and left one guy on his back (that the party had disadvantage to attack because they were more than 5 feet away unless they went into the grease), but I fail to see why the rest would simply line up in a congo line to be slaughtered.

To me this sounds like a DM playing an intelligent enemy unintelligently more than it is an overpowered 1st level spell.
 

Dessert Nomad

Adventurer
Personally, I can suspend some_level_of disbelief when handling big creatures in D&D-land. Dragons are magical creatures so whatever. Spiders can get large because somehow their exoskeletons are extraordinarily light-weight (magic or something). But no, I'm not just allowing massive creatures/tanks (even if they hypothetically possess the actual omnidirectional locomotion capacity to move in odd ways...in this case, they don't) to make ridiculous leaps/jumps/parkour nonsense. Not happening. If folks want to have their giants and dinosaurs and other creatures of that ilk doing crazy, square -cube law violating, explosive athletics...sure. You do you. I'm not doing that in my game.

You know, I had skipped the whole jumping bit since it's irrelevant, but I want to point out that what is described here is changing the basic rules of the game in a way that makes melee attackers much, much less effective, and anything that walks (instead of flying or teleporting) noticeably less effective. Part of the balance of a spell like grease is that, if you use the standard rules instead of house-ruling it to be better, almost any creature can easily step over it. I think describing a fire giant or dinosaur stepping over an obstacle that is less than it's stride as 'ridiculous leaps/jumps/parkour nonsense' is completely unfounded. A huge giant crossing 10x10 obstacle is roughly equivalent to a human crossing a 3' obstacle, and for a large creature it's like crossing a 5' obstacle. This isn't some kind of super-parkour, this is taking a slightly long step (huge) or making something that's barely a leap (large).

And discussing the balance of a spell vs a type of creature while house-ruling away the fact that RAW the creatures can easily bypass the spell is silly. Of course if you house rule enough in favor of a particular ability it becomes more powerful, but it's the balance of the house rule that's significant there.

Also, since I'm going on this sidetrack, I'll also say that I find modeling a fast blaster armed hit-and-run walker like the AT-ST with the slow, melee oriented stats of a fire giant a bit peculiar, especially when you're making the walker half the size of the movie walkers (which are around 25' instead of 12'). I'd give them good speed (like a 40-60' move rate, movie AT-ST has a top speed of 55 Mph) with a ranged attack as their main attack.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
I’d like to thank the OP for this thread. The grease spell has been destroying my high level campaigns. And thanks to the many good ideas to the wonderful people on this thread i now have ideas on how to handle this situation when it arrives
 

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