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5E What to do about Hypnotic Pattern?

Rabulias

Adventurer
Nothing in the spell's description says the caster's allies are immune to hypnotic pattern... And if any of them are averting their eyes, they may give intelligent enemies the idea that they should look away, too....
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Nothing in the spell's description says the caster's allies are immune to hypnotic pattern... And if any of them are averting their eyes, they may give intelligent enemies the idea that they should look away, too....

the defined area of affect...
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Use swarms
Use creatures immune to charm
Use enemy casters
Start enemies further away with ranged attacks. Allows them to wake up allies before melee PCs arrive.
Have enemies come at PCs from multiple directions.
just bulk up enemy numbers. Double the number of enemies should do the trick.
 

...one particular player has learned how good it is and therefore always takes it. Always. No exceptions....
One way to deal with cheese is to feed a dose back to the player(s). Let an enemy or two use it on them, in the same way it's being used. However, I've found the best way is to talk to the players as a group about whether anyone believes certain features of the game need to be nerfed (e.g. a gimmick spell or combo).

...I really hate that bit at the end when the whole party is whaling on the one poor leftover who was looking at the pretty lights while his buddies got slaughtered.

Here's some points to make to your players about why the spell is unbalanced as written, and some counterpoints:
  • Incapacitation is already awesome, and this makes it better by removing all movement. Bam, you can't do crap. Total removal of all enemies who failed the save from the combat. The counter-argument is that it could, in theory, catch allies and is limited to roughly 9 enemies in a cube. See below.
  • Deadly to low level or high level foes. A fireball becomes less deadly as you go up in levels, but this spell remains as potent as ever. You could do 28 damage (14 on a save) with a fireball to four giants, or remove 2-3 of them from combat, given most monsters don't have a proficiency saving throw bonus. No brainer.
  • A cube with range. You don't need line of sight, just some angle to set the cube. Clever players can use terrain and full cover to avoid counterspell, etc. Match this with no verbal component and foes might not have any idea where the spell came from.
  • Doesn't even come close to matching similar debilitation spells. Hold Person at 3rd level allows 2 targets, with concentration up to 1 minute, and like this spell effectively removes them from combat. You can get 2 with Hold Person + a save each round, or up to 9 with no save each round and requiring enemies to waste their actions waking allies up. No brainer.
  • No saves per turn. Detailed above.
  • With a Devotion Paladin (allies immune charm), you can freely drop this nuke at will.
You could offer to nerf the spell a bit. In 3.5, the spell (2nd level) had a Hit Dice maximum of 2d4 + caster level, max 10. The AD&D 2E version (also 2nd level) maxed at 24 HD based on random # of hit dice per level affected and couldn't affect anything above 6th level.
 

The groups I DM for always have someone with hypnotic pattern, as soon as they're high enough level to take the spell. This is because one particular player has learned how good it is and therefore always takes it. Always. No exceptions. And if that PC runs out of spell slots to cast it, they'll rest instead of fighting without it.

You're the DM. Why are you letting them do that?

Impose story consequences for resting. Doom clocks (save the princess by midnight or else bad thing X happens) are a fantastic method, or simply alter the resting rules in your campaign if you cant be stuffed with doom clocks.

If you dont do that (police resting and the adventuring day) you'll have more than just problems with Hypnotic Pattern.
 



ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Not that many, I admit--partly because I hate running them.

So what get you engaged into a caster or two in a fight? It seems to me Hypnotic Pattern shows up a lot when players are fighting a lot of 5ft ranged melee fighters all the time. If you can make it interesting and engaging for your to ranged, hidden, and caster enemies then you will likely not see as much Hypnotic Pattern. You can't catch many ranged enemy with it. You can't target those you can't see, and casters have defenses against it.

I often find when GMs complain about players combat habits its because the habits are caused by how the GM runs combat. 5ft melee enemies are the worst. The are simple and uninteresting to run so the GM is just board waiting for the fight to end, but to the players there life is on the line so they are engaged and looking to find what works. If your able to make a different style more fun for you will be more likely to change things up and them in turn.
 


Stalker0

Legend
I often find when GMs complain about players combat habits its because the habits are caused by how the GM runs combat. 5ft melee enemies are the worst. The are simple and uninteresting to run so the GM is just board waiting for the fight to end, but to the players there life is on the line so they are engaged and looking to find what works. If your able to make a different style more fun for you will be more likely to change things up and them in turn.

The flip side is many a DM gets tired having to specially tailor their fights all the time just because of one spell. For a special occasion, of course, but having to effectively toss a whole bunch of encounter possibilities out the window just for one spell... yes I can understand why it gets tiring. Maybe I would just like to make my encounters the way I want to, instead of 1 spell dictating how I have to make them.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
I get your pain, you don’t always want weird magical enemies and spellcasters in your fights. My advice is let it be good sometimes and let it do nothing other times. The unreliability will stop its being the go to spell, but there will be times it will work.

The hypnotic pattern’s awesomeness is balanced by how easy it is to end with a single point of damage or an action to break the spell.

There are a couple of solutions, some mundane, some magical.

Have those that make their saves, shake the ones that don’t. It effectively takes the group out for a round depending how many saved.

As DCs increase and more foes fail their saves, have enemies with multiple attacks do a damage on multiple targets. Deal min damage if they hit - with advantage. That will be 3-4 damage for most enemies which at the level Hyp Pat comes online is a drop in the ocean. Your player caster effectively uses up some enemy actions for a round and deals a bit of damage vicariously. In exchange for a third level spell.

If the foes act on the same initiative then let them wake colleagues either through damage or shaking and then let those victims act.

For foes with a spell caster, just shut it down straight away. Intelligent foes should know the capabilities of the party if they could.
Counterspell liberally at 3rd level spells and higher.

Or use other tricks... a magic missile will instantly break the spell for 3 people with a couple of points of damage and if enemies go on the same initiative they are now free to act having only temporarily been incapacitated. Upcast mm to increase number waking. Incidentally give a rogue a scroll, or an NPC the equivalent of magic initiate and anyone can have magic missile.

It goes without saying that hypnotic pattern is one of the flashiest spells you can cast. It will make the caster the focus of everyone’s attentions that isn’t stupefied and being concentration based, this could end very quickly.

If concentration is broken at the start of the foes turn everyone else will still get to act

Lastly, simply just up the number of enemies. If by the time the six bandits have been shaken from the stupider the party have kicked their ass, then add 8 or 10 or 12 bandits. Eventually you’ll reach a point where the spells effect ends before the enemies drop.

If you want non-meta game / in-world solution. Make the illusionist famous, his Hypnotic powers become feared and evil-doers are ready for such tricks - using the methods above. Put a bounty out on the illusionist.
 
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The flip side is many a DM gets tired having to specially tailor their fights all the time just because of one spell. For a special occasion, of course, but having to effectively toss a whole bunch of encounter possibilities out the window just for one spell... yes I can understand why it gets tiring. Maybe I would just like to make my encounters the way I want to, instead of 1 spell dictating how I have to make them.
In a world where people cast Hypnotic Pattern people are going to be prepared to fight casters of Hypnotic Pattern.
 

Delazar

Explorer
It doesn't look that strong.

It's a 30 foot cube (not that big), that affects everyone in the cube (also allies, so you need to cast it before melee is joined), and you can be snapped out of it if an ally uses an action.

Also, once you take any damage, you snap out of it. Against a boss monster is only good to make him lose one round, and against groups of monsters it's not that easy to use, and they can help each other get out of it.

Works on Wis, so mostly brutes with a lot of hit points will fall for it. Losing one round shouldn't be too bad for them.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
My thoughts, in no particular order. A lot of these have already been covered.

If the PCs are resting when the caster runs out of spell slots to cast a 3rd level spell you have other issues. Why are they able to rest? I know there are some spells that make it safe, but that just gives the bad guys the option to set up an overwhelming counter strike when they end their rest.

Any damage at all gets them out. Have flying creatures that fall to the ground and immediately wake up because they took damage. Have low level monsters use ranged attacks to hit the targeted creatures.

It's only a 30 ft cube. If all the monsters always get caught in that cube (and not the PCs) then you are attacking in what we call "fireball formation" to begin with. Attack from multiple directions and in multiple waves. Send in low level creatures first. Heck, send in illusions first.

It's concentration. Focus fire on the caster, even if it means risking opportunity attacks. Every single time the caster takes damage they need to make a check.

Use legendary resistance now and then.

Even though it has a long range, you still need to have line of effect.

Talk to the group and the player, explaining why this is an issue and how it's spoiling the fun for everyone.

Last, but not least you can always modify or ban a spell if you feel that it's too powerful. Let snapping someone out of the spell be a bonus action or give the affected creature a save at the end of every round.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Also, once you take any damage, you snap out of it. Against a boss monster is only good to make him lose one round, and against groups of monsters it's not that easy to use, and they can help each other get out of it.
I forgot about this one. Hm...by time the players are at the level to take Hypnotic Pattern, some monsters have multiattack or AoE's. I wonder if enemies could just deal damage to multiple allies in a turn.
 

There are a lot of protections vs the charmed and/or frightened conditions.
As said in a different thread, if that is your trademark spell, expect enemies to come prepared.
Also it is concentration and has a very easy out. Damage! If you catch 3 enemies, a single cast of magic missile is the counter spell. Why waste an action to shake your friends free if you can just give them a little slap for 1d4+1 damage.
Hold person is actually a quite potent spell too. Paralyze is a much more potent disable, every attack from 5ft range is a critical hit. So well chained it does not help the enemy a lot if he gets another save.
That does not mean, hypnotic pattern is not a great spell, but it has hard counters.
And you should not act as if enemies don't know how to counter it.

On the other hand, I had a similar problem with fireball spamming. Actually usually even a faster way of obliterating foes that happen to stand in the hypnotic pattern area.
My solution was changing the rest cycle:

I used a modified version of gritty healing and healing surges:

  • a good nights sleep is a short rest where you regain 1/4 of your healing surges.
  • one day off is long rest. During that rest you may explore a small dungeon and even fight. But travelling for 12 hours rules it out.
  • 1 hour rest is a standard short rest. (I actually thought about reducing it to 15 min, only allowing to spend max your half HD and only recharging a single short rest power).

That change actually made spending resources meaningful. The wizard started not using fireball quasi at will in overland travels where encounters are quite rare. In Dungeons you don't force players to retreat too much. My justification for such a change: I see the standard healing rules just as a suggestion for beginners. Once players figure out the power of spells those rules are too favourable and take away a lot of fun.
 

Coroc

Hero
The groups I DM for always have someone with hypnotic pattern, as soon as they're high enough level to take the spell. This is because one particular player has learned how good it is and therefore always takes it. Always. No exceptions. And if that PC runs out of spell slots to cast it, they'll rest instead of fighting without it.

I've spread out the baddies so that they can't all be caught with one spell.

I've given the baddies magic resistance.

I've had the baddies use their turns to wake each other up.

None of them seem to prevent the fights from becoming predictable, at least where hypnotic pattern is concerned. I really hate that bit at the end when the whole party is whaling on the one poor leftover who was looking at the pretty lights while his buddies got slaughtered.

Does anyone have suggestions for any other way to deal with the spell?
undead golems and constructs are your friends
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
The flip side is many a DM gets tired having to specially tailor their fights all the time just because of one spell. For a special occasion, of course, but having to effectively toss a whole bunch of encounter possibilities out the window just for one spell... yes I can understand why it gets tiring. Maybe I would just like to make my encounters the way I want to, instead of 1 spell dictating how I have to make them.
That's my point thought. Its very likely not 1 spell dictating how I have to make them. Its one fomrula of combat dictating to them what spell will work well. Its very possible that your creating your own problem. If so getting ride the spell will not solve the problem because players will find another natrual counter for your "typical encounter" that works everytime and that will become your replacement problem spell or tactic. You will not cure players of tailoring to your play style by removing options that work over... and over ... and over again. If this is the case, It could also mean your making encounters on a formula because your bored of combat. Players will not pick the same solution every time when it doesn't work every time.

Pretty much every single post I have read on this thread suggesting something is suggesting changes to the encounter. They are all suggestions to mix up the formula to get different results from the players.
 
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Coroc

Hero
There are a lot of protections vs the charmed and/or frightened conditions.
As said in a different thread, if that is your trademark spell, expect enemies to come prepared.
Also it is concentration and has a very easy out. Damage! If you catch 3 enemies, a single cast of magic missile is the counter spell. Why waste an action to shake your friends free if you can just give them a little slap for 1d4+1 damage.
Hold person is actually a quite potent spell too. Paralyze is a much more potent disable, every attack from 5ft range is a critical hit. So well chained it does not help the enemy a lot if he gets another save.
That does not mean, hypnotic pattern is not a great spell, but it has hard counters.
And you should not act as if enemies don't know how to counter it.

On the other hand, I had a similar problem with fireball spamming. Actually usually even a faster way of obliterating foes that happen to stand in the hypnotic pattern area.
My solution was changing the rest cycle:

I used a modified version of gritty healing and healing surges:

  • a good nights sleep is a short rest where you regain 1/4 of your healing surges.
  • one day off is long rest. During that rest you may explore a small dungeon and even fight. But travelling for 12 hours rules it out.
  • 1 hour rest is a standard short rest. (I actually thought about reducing it to 15 min, only allowing to spend max your half HD and only recharging a single short rest power).

That change actually made spending resources meaningful. The wizard started not using fireball quasi at will in overland travels where encounters are quite rare. In Dungeons you don't force players to retreat too much. My justification for such a change: I see the standard healing rules just as a suggestion for beginners. Once players figure out the power of spells those rules are too favourable and take away a lot of fun.
yep, maybe even have one enemy be a suicidal fireball caster. He first pretends to be affected, allow a deception vs perception roll for that, and then quickcasts fireball as soon as the pcs start to loot the bodies
 

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