log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Sleep Spell 1st-Level, No-Save Death Spell?

Felon

First Post
I took a long break from RP'ing. Been a couple years at least. I'm very interested in this new editionless edition. Looking through the PHB, I'm very impressed overall. I like the classes, I like the approach to making components like feats and alignment optional, and I like the idea of spells having a consistent mechanic regarding their effectiveness improving by assigning higher slots.

I haven't done a real cover-to-cover deep-dive yet, however, so I thought I'd check with you guys about the one thing that set a bunch of alarms off: the new sleep spell. No saving throw is mentioned, and it works off of current hit points, and can be improved by slotting it at higher levels. Rather than its traditional role of being a spell intended for dropping groups of weak foes, this version seems quite deadly when used against a single character. The hit points it affects averages 14 at 1st-level, and then 7 more for every slot level assigned to it. That's a pretty high base relative to level, and doesn't even account for the target taking some damage before getting whammied.

As in previous versions, a sleeping target wakes up if they take damage, but if you can simply slit a sleeping victim's throat, that's not much condolence for him. I can easily envision scenarios where one character casts sleep, and an ally steps in to deliver the death blow. It hits the character with the lowest hit points within 20 feet first, but I think that's going to be pretty manageable much of the time.

So, I guess I'm asking if there are limiting factors than I'm not aware of. Is there no coup de grace option in this edition, for instance, so you can't just lop of a sleeping foes head in one hit?

I searched for a thread for this spell specifically and didn't find one. If it's been discussed already, sorry.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Astrosicebear

First Post
Powerful indeed but instead of save or suck, its roll well or suck. In 5E most encounters will be above the 'pay grade' of the HP limits of this spell. Even using a 9th level spell slot resulting in 21d8 HP, the average is only 84... thats equivalent to a CR4-5 monster? Not very good use of a 9th spell slot.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
As Thaumaturge once said, "The save for sleep is having more hit points." At 22 average hp, that will affect mayber 2 or 3 PCs at full hp. Elves are immune. There should be some party members that are awake and can shake awake other party members or administer healing if a baddie knocks them unconscious.

Yes, it can be quite deadly if the party is already low on hp. Welcome to 5e.

We need an evil laugh smiley.
 

Faradon

First Post
As Thaumaturge once said, "The save for sleep is having more hit points." At 22 average hp, that will affect mayber 2 or 3 PCs at full hp. Elves are immune.

Good point with elves being immune. Wouldn't they also eat up the HP of the spell? If there was an elf in the AoE with 5 HP, the spell would target them in order of HP like normal, but they would be unaffected by the spell right?
 

The average HP roll is about 20 when used as a first level spell. Useful against kobolds (5 HP), and to a lesser extent goblins (7 HP). DMs seem to be using max HP for creatures, so it's little use except for injured monsters. Even when they are weakened, the front liners could likely take them out with a single swing, or could be taken out with Magic Missile anyway. I not complaining mind you, at least it's not as worthless as Color Spray with its 1 round duration, or worse yet, Sleep could be a concentration spell.
 


drjones

Explorer
There is nothing about sleep that allows it to avoid allies. So unless you are super-metagaming you don't know if the fighter surrounded by goblins has 5 hp or 20 or how many the goblins have. Sure you might take out all the goblins, or you might ensure the fighter gets massive damage and dies. And you are paying a slot for that.

And by design it is always going to go after the weakest targets first, those you would not need a lot of resources to kill otherwise. It's mostly useful for cleaning up trash so you don't get overwhelmed by a horde of mooks focus-firing you but even for that there are more precise instruments.

Not exactly an I Win button.
 

1of3

Explorer
Compare it to Magic Missile. If you hit a single target, the damage of Magic Missile is the same as the "damage" of Sleep, on average.

But while Magic Missile deducts from the target's HP in any case, Sleep is an all or nothing affair.

The advantage of Sleep is that you can indeed affect a group of weak targets. (With the limitation of possibly affecting allies.)

Also the maximum "damage" (18) is higher than Magic Missile's (15), while the minimum "damage" is lower (3 vs. 6).

So if you feel lucky, use Sleep. If you don't, use Magic Missile.
 

sithramir

First Post
Compare it to Magic Missile. If you hit a single target, the damage of Magic Missile is the same as the "damage" of Sleep, on average.

But while Magic Missile deducts from the target's HP in any case, Sleep is an all or nothing affair.

The advantage of Sleep is that you can indeed affect a group of weak targets. (With the limitation of possibly affecting allies.)

Also the maximum "damage" (18) is higher than Magic Missile's (15), while the minimum "damage" is lower (3 vs. 6).

So if you feel lucky, use Sleep. If you don't, use Magic Missile.

Sleep is 5d8 isn't it?
 


Felon

First Post
:eek:
The average HP roll is about 20 when used as a first level spell. Useful against kobolds (5 HP), and to a lesser extent goblins (7 HP). DMs seem to be using max HP for creatures, so it's little use except for injured monsters. Even when they are weakened, the front liners could likely take them out with a single swing, or could be taken out with Magic Missile anyway. I not complaining mind you, at least it's not as worthless as Color Spray with its 1 round duration, or worse yet, Sleep could be a concentration spell.

As stated in the OP, my concern is with it being leveled against single creatures, particularly those who would be most vulnerable (like casters). As others have treated it as essentially an all-or-nothing damage spell that either wipes out a foe's current hit points, or does no damage at all, I'll run with that. Pretty effective in that respect, having no attack roll or save, and good damage for single-target DD. It's actually pretty potent, provided you're targeting with it judiciously (not every creature has their HP padded with major hit dice and con bonuses). It's particularly effective against character classes, since many of them will low HP's relative to monsters.

Just always adventure with a basket of baby chickens on your back. Each has 1 hit point.

Hehe, I know someone who would consider doing something like that. I'd be disgusted with them, but then again I could think of fantasy writers who would deem it a clever tactic for their characters (Bill Willingham, for instance, would do it in a heartbeat).

There is nothing about sleep that allows it to avoid allies. So unless you are super-metagaming you don't know if the fighter surrounded by goblins has 5 hp or 20 or how many the goblins have. Sure you might take out all the goblins, or you might ensure the fighter gets massive damage and dies. And you are paying a slot for that.

And by design it is always going to go after the weakest targets first, those you would not need a lot of resources to kill otherwise. It's mostly useful for cleaning up trash so you don't get overwhelmed by a horde of mooks focus-firing you but even for that there are more precise instruments.

Not exactly an I Win button.
It is not that challenging for organized characters to stay out of their caster's AoE's. The spell does not have to be centered on anything, so the caster puts his desired target on the periphery of the spell's effects. This is not a new tactic by any means. It's a very traditional way of using not just sleep, but also things like silence and fireballs. I'm not saying it's never an issue, mind you, but it's very manageable without meta-gaming.
 
Last edited:

drjones

Explorer
It is not difficult at all for organized characters to stay out of their caster's AoE's. The spell does not have to be centered on anything, so the caster puts his desired target on the periphery of the spell's effects. This is not a new tactic by any means. It's a very traditional way of using not just sleep, but also things like silence and fireballs. I'm not saying it's never an issue, mind you, but it's very manageable without meta-gaming.

With a 40ft diameter radius there are almost no encounters in the starter set for instance where it would hit any significant number of targets while not also being a threat to allies. Unless the DM is really bending over backwards to help the players it is only useful in limited situations (group of ranged attackers, surprise ambush) and even then has a random component that might make it not do much. Being powerful under limited circumstances is pretty much the definition of spells in D&D. You took Sleep today and had to fight a throng of goblin archers up an a parapet? Yahtzee. You had to fight a bunch of bugbears who jumped your party in a gully? Bummer.
 

Joe Liker

First Post
Being powerful under limited circumstances is pretty much the definition of spells in D&D. You took Sleep today and had to fight a throng of goblin archers up an a parapet? Yahtzee. You had to fight a bunch of bugbears who jumped your party in a gully? Bummer.
Good thing most parties will face a variety of combat situations in a given day, not just one. And I'm not sure why people always seem to assume they have to fight the monsters wherever the map places them. If you need space, bring the fight out in the open.

Given space, and with a bit of tactical coordination, your team can swing the potential usefulness of sleep in your favor. Just have people arrange their readied actions so that the melee people disengage and move out right before the wizard casts the spell.

May not work every time, but it's worth a shot in many cases.
 

Astrosicebear

First Post
Funny story:

In my Lost Mines game, the party had just entered into the lair where Sildar Hallwinter was being kept (having been beaten and tortured by goblins and at 1 HP). The lead goblin held Sildar over the 10ft drop and threatened to drop him. As they were conversing the wizard decided he had enough and cast sleep. Unfortunately it hit Sildar first, and a random goblin or two, as I had given the leader 1 more Hp (to designate him). Sildar's dead weight made the goblin lose grip and Sildar dropped off the cliff. The party was able to heal him, and dispatch the goblins quick enough but it was a lesson learned. Also became the groups "shoot the hostage" moment.
 

Felon

First Post
Oh, ooops. Why did I think it was 3d6? Was that in the playtest?

Treating the 5d8 as 17.5 damage on average, it's a step up from 10.5 of magic missile. They have very different areas of strength, as the sleep requires tactical placement while magic missiles are quintessentially precise, but if you're looking at it from sheer knockout punch against a single target, sleep is on the high end.

With a 40ft diameter radius there are almost no encounters in the starter set for instance where it would hit any significant number of targets while not also being a threat to allies. Unless the DM is really bending over backwards to help the players it is only useful in limited situations (group of ranged attackers, surprise ambush) and even then has a random component that might make it not do much.
In this thread, there seems to be a reductive perception of how to deploy AoE's. As a caster, you don't need to worry about a 40 ft diameter, but rather only the 20 ft. radius. If the diameter is too large, you bleed off some of it off the map, into a wall or what have you. Just mind that the center is in a valid open space, and then you only need twenty feet from center to the desired target. As to not being able to hit any significant number of targets, I would again submit this is not necessarily the most potent way to use this spell. It may well prove more effective to trap one big threat inside it.

Good thing most parties will face a variety of combat situations in a given day, not just one. And I'm not sure why people always seem to assume they have to fight the monsters wherever the map places them. If you need space, bring the fight out in the open.

Given space, and with a bit of tactical coordination, your team can swing the potential usefulness of sleep in your favor. Just have people arrange their readied actions so that the melee people disengage and move out right before the wizard casts the spell.

May not work every time, but it's worth a shot in many cases.
Indeed. Well-said. I think some folks are used to battles being a free-for-all, with melee characters charging blindly and generally getting in the way of the artillery. Of course, that happens, and that may well be their general experience with D&D, and perhaps that gives rise to a reductive perception when it comes to exploiting assets like spells. "Situational" means far less to the canny than it does to the ham-fisted.
 
Last edited:

brehobit

Explorer
Treating the 5d8 as 17.5 damage on average, it's a step up from 10.5 of magic missile.
I think 5*4.5 or 22.5, a bit more than twice magic missile.

Question: I don't have the PHB in front of me, but as I recall, it wasn't clear to me how those hit points got affected. Is it closest to the middle? Least HP first? Something else?
 


Joe Liker

First Post
Ascending order of their current hit points (ignoring unconscious creatures).
This does bring up the question of temporary hit points, for this spell and others such as the power words.

Because the section on temporary hit points very carefully specifies that temp hp are "separate from real hit points," I'm inclined to say they are not included in your "current hit points," as specified in sleep and related enchantments.

But the rules are not clear-cut in this matter as far as I can tell, so it's probably best discussed with the DM.
 

Psikerlord#

Explorer
Sleep is very strong at low levels,but I believe monster HP increases at a higher rate than sleep HP scales. So still useful later,but single target and will need some beating on first.
 


Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top