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D&D 5E sleep vs tasha's laughter

auburn2

Adventurer
Which one would you pick for a multi-class 4/2 arcane trickster/wizard?

At 4th level rogue I get another spell which must be an enchantment or illusion. I already have charm person and disguise self, there is not a lot left that excites me.

Sleep is pretty weak for a 6th level character, but I suppose I could use it to put down a heavily wounded foe in a fight with multiple enemies, and the no saving throw is nice especially for enemies with magic resistance (which we are running into a lot of lately). I can also upcast it with a 2nd level slot.

Tasha's laughter would work on more enemies and earlier in the fight, but it is kind of meh because it does not upcast, and allows a save every turn plus every time the enemy takes damage.

FWIW here is my spell list:
Cantrips: mending, message, light, booming blade, mage hand, chill touch
Wizard-detect magic, identify, find familiar, grease (P), protection from evil and good (P), shield(P), mage armor (P), feather fall (P)
Rogue-charm person, disguise self, absorb elements
Fey Touched feat-misty step, hex
 

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Arilyn

Hero
Thematically, Tasha's seems to fit your concept better. Sleep, however, is probably more useful, so it really comes down to which one will give you more satisfaction at the table.

I am absolutely cursed with Tasha's. The spell almost never works for my characters. I'm now at the point of just ignoring it when choosing spells. 😊
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
At 6th level, sleep cast with a 1st level isn't going to cut it, Tasha's scales natively a bit better. Even sleep with a 2nd level slot likely isn't going to help much with the foes you are facing.
 

Arvok

Explorer
At 6th level, sleep cast with a 1st level isn't going to cut it, Tasha's scales natively a bit better. Even sleep with a 2nd level slot likely isn't going to help much with the foes you are facing.
Not in my experience. At 6th level sleep might be ineffective at the start of combat, but after an enemy is whittled down it can be very helpful (especially when upcast). This is especially true when you're fighting multiple enemies that are all rather tough. You can expect sleep to take out 1 opponent of around 20 hp or less, a sleep upcast to 2nd level to take out 2 opponents at 15 hp or less. In effect, your caster is putting out 20 or 30 damage with a 1st or 2nd level spell.

Of course it's easy for any remaining opponents to rouse sleep victims but they have to burn their action to do so, and any melee fighters get advantage on attacks against the sleepers (except maybe for horses and centaurs--a DM might rule they don't fall prone when they sleep ;)).
 


Mort

Legend
I'll agree with most of the above. Sleep is the better spell, but Tasha's seems thematically better.

Though it is a bit party dependent. I've seen groups where the party tactics (or, more usually, lack thereof) make sleep a very tricky spell to try to pull off. You don't have that problem with Tasha's.
 

practicalm

Explorer
I know neither Silent Image or Color Spray are one of the spells you are trying to choose from but not sure why you wouldn't go with one of them instead.
 

Mort

Legend
I know neither Silent Image or Color Spray are one of the spells you are trying to choose from but not sure why you wouldn't go with one of them instead.
Silent image is good - especially when used creatively.

Color spray is not great: The mage has to essentially be in melee to use it and it's a 15' cone so ,realistically, you're not going to get that many targets. Sleep, on the other hand, has a 90' range and a 20' radius from there. Plus victims of sleep are not a threat at all, allowing serious focus on enemies. Color Spray reduces the threat (decently, sure) but does not eliminate it.
 

You can expect sleep to take out 1 opponent of around 20 hp or less, a sleep upcast to 2nd level to take out 2 opponents at 15 hp or less. In effect, your caster is putting out 20 or 30 damage with a 1st or 2nd level spell.
Remember they're not a pure caster, they're mostly Rogue. 20 damage is probably what they deal if they spent the action attacking rather than burning a spell slot.
 

I think you're rarely going to use Hideous Laughter, because it's concentration. You went to the trouble of getting Hex with a feat, and more often than not you won't want to drop your Hex for a single target save or suck that will likely only incapacitate an enemy for 1 round if it succeeds.

I'd go with Sleep. Sure you are not going to have a lot of encounters at level 6 where it is the win button like it frequently is at levels 1-2, but occasionally it still is the win button if the DM decides to just throw 40 goblins at you or something. It also continues to be useful if you need to subdue an already heavily damaged enemy; if you want to incapacitate a mount, familiar, or other strategically important low level enemy; if you need to defeat a low HP enemy who is exceptionally difficult to damage or finish off for some reason, and, to me most importantly, when you need some nonviolent incapacitation of random npcs, be they hapless townsguard or innocent civilians.

I'd also say that going forward Hideous Laughter is more directly superseded by higher level spells, whereas Sleep continues to shine within a niche, albeit one that slowly gets smaller level by level. So if this is just a placeholder until you can replace it with a level 2 spell it might be easier to say goodbye to Hideous Laughter, whereas if you are going to be stuck with it for many levels because you are taking mostly Wizard levels from here on out or something I'd pick Sleep as the one that continues to excell for a handful of niche purposes.
 


Stormonu

Legend
Sleep also has out-of-combat uses, putting prison guards, shopkeepers, annoying kender and the like to sleep making it easier to slip past them. Tasha's is the opposite and is likely to draw attention (which can be useful, but generally less so).

Upcast sleep has been especially helpful in the Saltmarsh game I have been running; it's particularly good for thinning hordes and making them more manageable.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
Remember they're not a pure caster, they're mostly Rogue. 20 damage is probably what they deal if they spent the action attacking rather than burning a spell slot.
As much damage as sleep? Unlikely. Average is 14.5 if I hit with SA that is only if I hit. It creeps up to 18 if I have hex running. Average on a crit is 25, which is still less than sleep with a 2nd level slot and I would need a natural 20 for that.
 

Dausuul

Legend
If you get sleep, I would do so for the reason @Stormonu suggests: Use it as a noncombat tool to disable guards and the like. I have just never found it useful in combat past very low levels. There is only about a 10 hit point window where sleep really shines. If the enemy is below that window, a regular attack or cantrip drops them just as well and doesn't cost your spell slot. If the enemy is above that window, sleep has a high chance of doing nothing at all.

So you have to catch an enemy right in that window on your turn, which is rare; and correctly guess that they are in the window, which is next to impossible. The only way I would see it being effective in combat is if your DM likes to throw mobs of mooks with very low hit points at you.

As for Tasha's, it's one of my personal picks, but I play full casters where I can burn a first-level slot without thinking too much about it. I like Tasha's in midrange encounters where I don't want to bust out the big guns, but there are enemies worth using my action to lock down for a couple rounds. As an AT, with much more limited spell slots, I'm not sure how well that will work.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
I would ask your GM about uses of Sleep outside of combat. For instance, if it fails its HP roll, does it still make somebody sleepy? Can you cast it on somebody with too many HP and make them decide to go have a nap, assuming they won't lose their job for doing so?

What about if you cast it on somebody who is already sleeping? When I DM that is one of the major uses of it. I rule that it puts people into very deep sleep from which they cannot be woken without extreme measures. So you can rob the place, or steal a key from their belt easily.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
Thanks everyone. I think I am going to go with sleep. I honestly won't use it much because I have a ton of other spells I will likely use more considering this build. I would't use tasha's much eaither, but if I get sleep I will have it for those corner cases.
 

Democratus

Adventurer
I had an archmage shut down a high-level party once with a 9th level Sleep after roughing them up with a couple of AOEs.

An average of 90hp put down with no save is pretty potent.
 

Lidgar

Hero
Can't go wrong with either. Of note, both give advantage on your attacks against the prone targets if they are successful - which really benefits your PC! :)
 


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