D&D 5E Silvery Barbs - How has it looked in play?

How strong is Silvery Barbs in your game?


  • Poll closed .

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I think you've both got your points. It's not overpowered when used willy-nilly, because you will have wasted it as often as not, but it's pretty OP when used in combination with powerful spells against vulnerable enemies to stop them from saving against those spells (making those spells much more powerful even then they already are).

Either way, it's a pain for DMs. You either have the PC caster blowing their spell slots for nothing (leading to 5-minute workdays) or holding onto them just for that right moment to destroy an encounter. I don't like it either way.
 

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Stalker0

Legend
All the ENTIRE point of this thread is to poll peoples EXPERIENCE with the spell. The math has been hashed to death, there are numerous threads that have covered that to utter exhaustion.
 

Right, but as outlined in the very next paragraph, a small chance of it coming up in an individual circumstance rapidly becomes a large chance of it coming up during a large encounter. The more difficult the encounter, the longer it is likely to take, and the more saves you'll likely be forcing upon the enemy, and therefore the more likely it is to come up. A 54% chance of coming up and impacting an encounter is not "highly situational". Obviously the fictionalized 'everything has a 80% chance' scenario isn't real math, but it's a close enough approximation to demonstrate the point, which was ignored. A 20% chance of a situation coming up Per Incident rapidly rises to a high probability that it will come up.
Not real maths = true.

Close enough to approximate a real encounter = RUDE WORD DELETED false
 

it's pretty OP when used in combination with powerful spells against vulnerable enemies to stop them from saving against those spells (making those spells much more powerful even then they already are).
Nonsense. If the enemy is "vulnerable" the chance of saving is going to be closer to zero (remember 20 does not auto-succeed under current rules). Most of the time that enemy is going to fail first time.
 

All the ENTIRE point of this thread is to poll peoples EXPERIENCE with the spell. The math has been hashed to death, there are numerous threads that have covered that to utter exhaustion.
Yeah, I've seen it used loads, because I have a dumb player who thinks it's better than it is. Most of the time it does nothing, or works like a weak Shield spell that you can cast on a friend.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Nonsense. If the enemy is "vulnerable" the chance of saving is going to be closer to zero (remember 20 does not auto-succeed under current rules). Most of the time that enemy is going to fail first time.
Right, but you only use it if they make it. I've had this happen. Caster casts dc17 Banishment on BBEG who has a +2 CHA save. BBEG makes the save. Silvery Barbs! Now, you think I'm gonna get a second roll of 15+? Not likely.

When used at the "right" moments, it is, of course, a very good spell and incredibly disappointing for the person making the save - for example, I would NEVER use it against my players, because THEY WOULD NOT FIND IT FUN. I don't think spells should exist that are only fun in one direction!

And it's a terrible spell when used and wasted. (I have also had your experience, with a PC blowing through all 4 of his level 1 slots without doing anything).

Which balances out to a crappy spell, IMO.

I'm losing track of what you're arguing for, because I thought I was agreeing with you, and you responded to me with "nonsense".
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
Seen it in play twice and have thought about taking it myself.

The 3rd level Spirit Bard who had it, used all of their spell slots for it and had no others left before realising this. It was that powerful and easy to use that other spells weren't even considered. It was only after she was out of slots that we all realised.

3rd level Lore Bard used it to land a Blindness that had been saved. Changed the encounter from difficult to pushover. They used it a couple more times and didn't even think about using their reaction for Cutting Words.

I have build a PC with it, but then took it away before actual play because I felt dirty.

I think if you are choosing it over all of your other options consistently, you either just love that spell or it may be more powerful than any other option you have. After discussion, we have decided to either not have the spell or have it be cast at a higher level if someone really wants it.

If accessible, it's feels like an auto-pick and an auto-use. From my point of view, I personally think its the most powerful spell at the low levels. I cannot attest to higher level play. So I would class it as overpowered.
It's not even that great on a 3rd level character. Very good but balanced.

It is once the character gets to level 7+ that it gets completely out of control.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
From what I've seen, reactions are really REALLY precious at high level, especially for casters.

By the time of this spell, group was 15+. 1 PC (the wizard) got it. However, he saved his reactions for Counterepell, shield or absorb elements (all of which saw decent use). In 4-5 sessions of play, Silvery Barbs did not get used. Now, there is a confound, the player new and was comfortable with the old spells so certainly could have favored them over an unknown.

Will have to see when I start running the Spelljammer adventure for the group. Lower level and new characters might bring different habits.
 

ECMO3

Hero
ECM I'm not quoting your post, it's too long, but you have multiple logical fallacies contained therein. First, you assume spending more spell slots on it is desirable. Spending fewer spell slots on it is more spell slots available for other things.

My comments are not based on spell slot cost, but they are relevant. One argument presented is that you use a 1st level slot to cause a higher level effect, but that is only true when the enemy fails. If the enemy saves you are using more spell slots to cause no effect.

If the enemy has an 80% chance to make the save (needs to roll a 5), it will cost on average 6 levels worth of slots to reverese the outcome one time (4 first level slots and one second level when you are out of 1st level slots). Further it costs 5 reactions. So if you are using it with banashment, on average it will cost 6 levels worth of spell slots to land one mre 4th level banishment using silvery barbs.

Now if the enemy has a 20% chance to save as in your example, then yes it is very powerful to use statistically, but you suffer from opportunity.

Think of this like feather fall. Feather Fall is the most powerful spell available if your party is plummeting from 500 feet altitude. It will flat stop a certain TPK. Nothing, not even wish, is better in this circumstance (wish is not better because it is not a reaction). So when that happens feather fall is THE BEST spell you can have prepared. If that does not happen though then having feather fall is not useful, or is of limited use (like say you are falling 20 feet). Silvery Barbs is the same. Having it available when an enemy who is about to kill your party rolls a needed 19 on a save or suck is HUGE, but that does not happen often and if it does not happen then it is not relevant to have it.


Second, you ignore that you do not need to choose to use it until and unless someone has made the save.

This makes it weaker agaisnt foes with good saves. You can only use it when the enemy has already made a save, which means the slot cost and action cost is high. Perhaps not as high as the original spell cast (and wasted), but it will likely be a failure if the enemy has a good saving throw. Further because this is after the first roll suceeded the enemy is MORE likely to save than if he just had flat disadvantage.

For example - the enemy needs a 7 to save (actual from red Dragon-banishment example). IF you give him disadvantage on the save his chance of failing is 51%, meaing he will fail more than he succeeds. Howver if he already suceeded once then his chance is only 30%. Meaning when you make the choice to use it he will most likely succeed.

So if there is an enemy with a poor save who makes the save in question, it will not "usually fail", it will usually succeed, as the attempt at using it for that begins in the state at which the enemy has already made the save in question.

No it is extremely powerful in that case, but that is rare and being rare makes it SITUATIONAL .... like the Feather Fall example above.

You don't have a lot of high level spell slots, if the enemy has a poor save most of the time having this spell prepared will be irrelevant. Not all the time, but most of the time.


Third, you ignore the impact of a successful spell is often a combatant being entirely eliminated. The most power SB ever is when the DC is a natural 20, because then you took someone you -know- made the save, got lucky, and remained in the fight to potentially cause huge problems, and you were able to make it exceedingly likely that, due to your use of a 1st level spell, they are instead eliminated from the fight.

It takes 35 full adventuring days to reach 20th level.

About half of those days are 11th level or above.

This means going from level 1 to level 20 you will cast approximately 60 spells of 6th level or higher (assuming you use all your spell slots).

If every single one of them targets a creature that needs a 20 to save, on average this will happen THREE TIMES with a high level spell going from level 1 to level 20.

This assumes you use ALL your spells to target someone that needs a natural 20 to save, AND it assumes every single high level spell you cast is a save or suck. No summoning, no Wishes, no simulacrum ....

Three times!


Finally, you act as if you can only use it on spells you yourself are casting. It's not that 'most days you won't use it because no enemies are failing your saves anyway' (which sound like pretty easy days to me and a desirable outcome!), it would have to be that 'no enemies are failing -any- saves from -any- abilities of your party members'.ty

This is true, but not enough to make it OP. I played in a gorup that went to tier 3 with 3 casters that had it.

Also worth noting that Legendary Resistance makes this MORE effective, since normally to get a chance at burning one you need to connect with a potent enough effect to be worth the burn, and you want to burn through those ASAP. This gives you another chance at burning one with extreme action efficiency, helping guarantee you peel those away ASAP so your spells can actually land. Not saying spending your reaction on it is a 'free' thing or without risk, but your logic and calculations are flawed.
You are trading your reaction for a CHANCE to burn a legendary and if he succeeded on the original save, it is probably not a good chance.

Do that against a Lich and you can't counterspell, do that against a dragon and you can't cast absorb elements.

I would like an exampel of an enemy and a spell where you think this would be a good idea for say a 14th level caster.

Also keep in mind you only have 4 1st level slots AND you need to be within 60 feet to cast it.
 

You are trading your reaction for a CHANCE to burn a legendary and if he succeeded on the original save, it is probably not a good chance.

Do that against a Lich and you can't counterspell, do that against a dragon and you can't cast absorb elements.

I would like an exampel of an enemy and a spell where you think this would be a good idea for say a 14th level caster.

Also keep in mind you only have 4 1st level slots AND you need to be within 60 feet to cast it.

A Lich or Sphynx isn't casting more than one spell per turn. Certainly if that's the BBEG then it's better to keep Counterspell in the pocket (which also requires being within 60 feet) in most circumstances. However, that calculation changes if someone else has counterspell, or they've already spent their legendary actions on other things. Vs a Dragon, Absorb Elements is great, but if they Just Used their Breath weapon, it would behoove you to use the opportunity to get them to where they can be put into a SoS situation as soon as possible.

Banishment is a poor choice since it targets their Best save. Generally you'd want to go for something like Hold Monster, where the Dragon needs a 12 to save. Assuming you're going for that (or Confusion, or Polymorph, or Hypnotic Pattern), you're reducing their chances of a save and thus preservation of a legendary resistance from 45% to 20%. Instead of on average 6 spells you need on average 4. And, once those Are burned and the Dragon is saving at the end of each of its turns to escape the effect, you're similarly reducing the likelihood it does so and reenters the fray. Instead of on average having a 1 turn window to wail away at it uncontested, you on average have a 3 turn window.

Just my 2 cents, we agree it's worthless to use if they had a 75% chance to save originally, as often the primary effect will be wasted. We also agree on Feather Fall being a prime example of a situational spell. I personally found that the amount of 'situations' in which it was a good choice, as compared to the amount of 'situations' in which Feather Fall came up, were not remotely comparable.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Reducing the chance of a negative outcome from 20% to 4% may only be a "16% chance it actually made a difference", but it's also an 80% reduction in the rate of undesirable outcomes, and of the total 84% of situations in which it "didn't make a difference", you were not using it, and expended no resources, in 80% of those.
Sure but that means it is still not usually relevant.

When an outcome is already rare, making it more rare does not usually matter.

If need a 3 to hit a Zombie then giving me a +1 to attack decreases my chance to miss by 50%, but it is not that relevant. Giving me a +6 to attack when I need a 13 to hit decreases my chance to miss by the same 50%, but it is MUCH MUCH more powerful.


So if your party forces 5 saves on enemies over the course of a battle, and each of those have an 80% chance the enemy fails, 32% of the time, they fail all of them. Great! You won! The other 68% of the time, one or more of those saves are succeeded, and you're in a situation where Silvery Barbs can come into play, and in the situations where it comes into play, 80% of the time it results in the save being failed instead.

But you are not considering stacked probability here and this is unrealistic for multiple reasons:

1. First off 5 saves on a high level spell is a lot. If you have a party of 5 14th level characters with 2 full casters they only have 4 spells of 6th level total, so using 5 of them in one battle is a bit unrealistic. Further if it is a truely powerful spell only the first failed save matters.

2. We are talking about powerful spells. If the enemy fails a single save against a spell of this magnitude you should win the battle. Your scenario is based on the idea that it matters to change the save, so failing the save means a win for the good guys. If you are using it to cause a failure for fireballs or dissonant whispers this is an entirely different discussion, but he has to make 5 saves for you to get a chance to use 5 SBs and hold true to those numbers..


That said even if you do this:
Chance enemy fails every single save and silvery barbs is irrelevant: 33%
Chance enemy saves at least once and silvery barbs does not change the outcome: 13%
Chance enemy saves at least once and silvery barbs changes the outcome: 54%

So in this highly unlikely scenario you have presented Silvery Barbs is still only effective half the time.

But like I said this is very unrealistic if we are talking about game cahnging spells. You only need to land one of them to win. In this case Silvery Barbs only has a 17% chance of chaging the outcome if the first landed spell wins (with 16 of that 17% coming on the very first spell cast).


Thus, the chance it makes a difference in the outcome = 54%, for a cost of 1 spell slot.
Only if he actually gets to make 5 saves and enemy should not be getting 5 saves agaisnt a high level spell and still be in the fight.

That is the point.

Casting dominate monster 5 times so the numbers for silvery barbs look better is not a relevant test. One failure and the fight is over.


Your 'math' seems to focus primarily on how unlikely it is to come up in isolated incidents. In a party of 6, for a given single target attack, one could say that Shield only 'makes any difference to the outcome' if they are targeted, hit, and hit by an amount where +5 AC would change the result. So you could 'calculate' the potential impact as 4%. But such 'calculations' would ignore how impactful it is in the situations where it Does come up, and I feel strongly that you're making the same mistake here.
Shield is far more powerful in play than SB because the opportunity to use it and its effectiveness is higher. Also the enemy can not save against it. It works to increase your AC every time it is used and it usually effects more than one roll, especially at high level).
 
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ECMO3

Hero
Vs a Dragon, Absorb Elements is great, but if they Just Used their Breath weapon, it would behoove you to use the opportunity to get them to where they can be put into a SoS situation as soon as possible.

If they just used their breath they have a 33% chance of getting it back and if you are within 60 feet (range on SB) they can take you rto the cleaners with attacks and Legendary actions without using his breath.

Further more when you are saying "if" that means situational.
 

ehren37

Legend
I've seen it as "the party never gets critted" spell, which makes 5E's fairly dull and predictable combat even more predictable. I'm tempted to rule that it can't override a natural 20.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I've seen it as "the party never gets critted" spell, which makes 5E's fairly dull and predictable combat even more predictable. I'm tempted to rule that it can't override a natural 20.
I have real bad news for you out of the One D&D Playtest materials if you consider monster crits essential.
 


ECMO3

Hero
I've seen it as "the party never gets critted" spell, which makes 5E's fairly dull and predictable combat even more predictable. I'm tempted to rule that it can't override a natural 20.
It works well for this .... but under DNDone enemies are not going to crit any more anyway.

Edit: Seems I was late as someone already said this..
 

Stalker0

Legend
It works well for this .... but under DNDone enemies are not going to crit any more anyway.
So it is WAY WAY WAYYY too early to be looking at playtest stuff and declaring "so this is how it is now everyone, get used to it". If 5e versus its playtest is anything to go off of, many changes you in the playtests today will not make the cutting room floor.
 

jgsugden

Legend
So it is WAY WAY WAYYY too early to be looking at playtest stuff and declaring "so this is how it is now everyone, get used to it". If 5e versus its playtest is anything to go off of, many changes you in the playtests today will not make the cutting room floor.
Note that the 5E playtest was coming from 4E and was a substantial departure from both 3.5 and 4E. This is more of a tweak to 5E than anything else. The core of the mechanics are pretty well understood. I would be very surprised if they reverse the 'crits are only for PCs' entirely, although I do expect some monsters (specifically legendary ones) will be able to crit PCs.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I would be very surprised if they reverse the 'crits are only for PCs' entirely, although I do expect some monsters (specifically legendary ones) will be able to crit PCs.
Your saying that if the polling came back where a huge portion of the fanbase was against it, that WOTC would just keep it in "because"?

Like not only have we only seen one playtest document, we haven't even heard the survey feedback from that that playtest yet. We are 100% in the dark here, I wouldn't be surprised by anything at this point.
 

Seen a couple of characters with it so far. Overall it is an extremely powerful spell. While I've seen it used as a cheap way of punching through saves (and counterspell!) it has also been used to negate crits and on quite a few ability checks. It is this sheer versatility as well as raw power that has made it the most common spell cast by at least one character.

It has definitely contributed to my decision to not allow some setting-specific material into my current game.
 

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