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

How strong is Silvery Barbs in your game?


  • Poll closed .
The power seems directly proportional to how often the characters need to reroll a mission critical save or ability check.

I do like the spell's ability to make everyone at the table shout "YES!" and cheer, so it gets to stay.
 

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jgsugden

Legend
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.
I am saying that - yes. This is a situation in which negative feedback from people in the short term would likely not change the course.

The reason I would be surprised is that they do have a lot of long term feedback on the underlying issue and a lot of experience with it. This isn't speculative work here - this is work based upon all of those years of people being frustratde by the 'random' low level deaths caused by monster crits. The idea that a player might spend considerable time on a backstory, a DM might spend considerable time weaving backstory into the campaign - and then a 1 in 20 chance against certain monsters can flat out kill a PC ... that has been painful to a lot of groups.

However, I think what we'll see here is not a lot of short term negativity - but instead a 'vocal minority' that complain about how horrible it is. Like with Silvery Barbs when there were players screaming that it ruined the game and would be a must have automatic pick for every PC including clerics that would take Fey Touched just to get access to it ... the reality and the complaints will not be in synch. I think we're going to see crits be the domain of players, and of boss monsters - but not of the general fodder monsters that make up most encounters.
 

jgsugden

Legend
On Silvery Barbs:

You finish your turn. You're a 10th level Aberrant Mind Sorcerer and have this spell via your class feature. Enemies are going. The first thing that happens is a huge beater rolls a critical hit when attacking the cleric (with a lot of dice) . Do you cast this spell to negate the crit and perhaps the hit overall - or do you wait to see if you need your reaction for something else. What are the chances you'll want to cast a shield spell? Or use warcaster to cast a spell? Or counterspell?

Spellcasters have a lot of uses for reactions ... this is competing with a lot of good stuff.
 

You're a 10th level Aberrant Mind Sorcerer.
Aberrant Minds are an exception/outlier since they can output dramatically more Silvery Barbs than any other caster except maybe a Diviner. Their willingness to use the spell is going to be much higher than average.
 

Dausuul

Legend
The math here is way simpler than people are making it out to be. In fact, you don't really need math at all.

When you cast a "save or X" spell on a single target*, you are buying a lottery ticket. If you win, you get to hit the target with X; if you lose, you get nothing. The odds of winning depend on the save DC and the monster's bonus. For this lottery ticket, you pay a spell slot of whatever level plus an action.

If you lose, silvery barbs gives you the option to buy another ticket--same odds, same payoff--but the cost is a reaction and a 1st-level spell slot. Generally speaking, "reaction plus 1st-level spell slot" is a much lower price than "action plus N-level spell slot." And on top of that, you get to hand out advantage to an ally even if you lose! If the first lottery ticket was worth buying, then the second one is a steal. If the second one isn't worth buying, then the first was really stupid, and you need to get better at deciding when to use save-or-X spells.

However, there is one additional opportunity cost: To have silvery barbs on hand, you must give up your least-useful prepared spell/spell known**. This is a one-time cost, spread over the number of "second lottery tickets" you buy each day. Whether that is worth it depends on a host of factors: How often do people in your party (not just you!) cast a single-target save-or-X spell? How often do the targets make their saves? What is that least-useful prepared spell which you have to give up? And what about alternative uses of silvery barbs like negating crits or messing up enemy skill checks, how often do you find those useful?

In theory, you could use math to tackle this question, but the inputs to that math are highly campaign-dependent and change every level. Trying to estimate "universal" white-room values for those inputs is silly; you'd just be making up numbers. So, in practice, it really boils down to the premise of this thread: How has it panned out for you in actual play?

Personally, I think silvery barbs is a no-brainer at any significant level. I was getting use out of it even at low levels. But that's based on my experience in my playgroup.

*Or where there's only one target you really care about, like when you hit the boss with slow and catch a couple of mooks in the AoE.
**I emphasize "least-useful" here. You aren't going to give up an AMAZING AWESOME SPELL to prepare silvery barbs; you're going to keep that spell, and give up the spell you were kind of waffling on anyway. The opportunity cost is highest for classes which have the smallest number of known/prepared spells.
 

you are buying a lottery ticket.
No, SB is not a complete con. Buying a lottery ticket is stupid, because the odds are appallingly bad. Silvery Barbs doesn't have much chance of changing the outcome, but it's not as bad as buying a second lottery ticket, even with a huge discount.
 
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jgsugden

Legend
Aberrant Minds are an exception/outlier since they can output dramatically more Silvery Barbs than any other caster except maybe a Diviner. Their willingness to use the spell is going to be much higher than average.
I play one ... and rarely cast it. I selected it as an example because I am doing it right now.
 

ECMO3

Hero
On Silvery Barbs:

You finish your turn. You're a 10th level Aberrant Mind Sorcerer and have this spell via your class feature. Enemies are going. The first thing that happens is a huge beater rolls a critical hit when attacking the cleric (with a lot of dice) . Do you cast this spell to negate the crit and perhaps the hit overall - or do you wait to see if you need your reaction for something else. What are the chances you'll want to cast a shield spell? Or use warcaster to cast a spell? Or counterspell?

Spellcasters have a lot of uses for reactions ... this is competing with a lot of good stuff.
The only time my bladesinger with this spell went down is when she cast it to uncrit a crit and subsequently got hit a bunch by several enemies. She might have survived all that if she had eaten the crit and used shield on one of the later hits.
 

ECMO3

Hero
The math here is way simpler than people are making it out to be. In fact, you don't really need math at all.

When you cast a "save or X" spell on a single target*, you are buying a lottery ticket. If you win, you get to hit the target with X; if you lose, you get nothing. The odds of winning depend on the save DC and the monster's bonus. For this lottery ticket, you pay a spell slot of whatever level plus an action.

If you lose, silvery barbs gives you the option to buy another ticket--same odds, same payoff--but the cost is a reaction and a 1st-level spell slot. Generally speaking, "reaction plus 1st-level spell slot" is a much lower price than "action plus N-level spell slot." And on top of that, you get to hand out advantage to an ally even if you lose! If the first lottery ticket was worth buying, then the second one is a steal. If the second one isn't worth buying, then the first was really stupid, and you need to get better at deciding when to use save-or-X spells.

This is a fallacy because the real cost of SB is in the reaction, not the slot.

A better comparison would be you buy a lottery ticket and then if it loses you can buy a second lottery ticket for less money and get a free hot dog on the side. But if you do buy a second lottery ticket then you are not allowed to buy stock or a house or life insurance .... you are stuck with the lottery ticket and have to sleep on the street if it doesn't pay out.

Personally, I think silvery barbs is a no-brainer at any significant level. I was getting use out of it even at low levels. But that's based on my experience in my playgroup.

I got use out of silvery barbs, both at high and at low level and it is a good spell. It is not as good as the best 1st level spells though.
 

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