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5E What to do about Hypnotic Pattern?

THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
I had a similar issue with my lore bard for a couple levels. Honestly, I struggled from about 5th through 7th level to properly challenge the characters. I was still throwing a bunch of hobgoblins at them and thinking that would be a fair fight. Um, nope. When I got better at selecting level-appropriate foes and putting them in tactically challenging environments, a lot of problems went away. Including hypnotic pattern. Also, I just got comfortable with the idea that spellcasters have "I win" buttons that they can pres a couple times per adventuring day. Win some, lose some. There are always more monsters...
 

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SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
If I was dealing with a bard using hypnotic pattern the most effective strategy would likely be to have ranged attackers able to attack him. Bards don’t have good ac. They don’t have the greatest con saves either.
I like Glyph of Warding: Silence.

Even better if the group interprets a point in range as the person who set it off.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Fireball does an average of 31.5 as a 4th-level spell and 35 as a 5th-level spell as a single-target attack.

Blight, a single target attack, does an average of 36 damage. Cone of cold also does 36 damage, as well as having a wider AoE. Fireball does an expected 4 targets while Cone of Cold does an average of 6 targets.

I'm not saying these spells are amazing, I usually never take blight if I'm playing a caster with access to it, but fireball isn't better than the best damaging spells. In fact, there plainly isn't alot of damaging spells available, period.
Sorry, fireball is shy of the most damaging single target spell before disintegrate by 4 damage?

So sure, technically I was wrong, but I think the point I was making still stands?
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Sorry, fireball is shy of the most damaging single target spell before disintegrate by 4 damage?

So sure, technically I was wrong, but I think the point I was making still stands?
Yeah, not trying to dispute your point. Though if you had Fireball and Blight in the same prepared list and was planning on casting with the same spell slot on a single target with equal resistance to both fire and necrotic, you would be better to cast blight with the spell slot.
 

I've honestly never had problems with Hypnotic Pattern as DM. Sure, it's effective, but as others have stated so are a whole bunch of other level-appropriate spells such as Conjure Animals and Fireball. (I find Conjure Animals to be generally MUCH more problematic). Some tips for dealing with it:

  • Creatures have to see the pattern to be affected by it. So anything that provides heavy obscurement - like smoke or fog - negates it. Technically even keeping one's eyes closed should prevent the effect though it would be unfair metagaming to have the enemy abuse this without good reason.
  • It's both a charm and illusion effect. Quite a lot of creatures are immune or resistant to charm; at higher levels Truesight allows a fair few enemies to simply bypass it.
  • Servants, familiars, some pets - event those who are mostly non-combatants (e.g. cowering goblin children) can still wake a creature affected by it up.
  • Consider creating situations where enemies attack the PC from multiple sides; or otherwise do not conveniently bunch up into a fireball-sized group.
  • Have the enemy arrive in waves. Maybe 2 rounds after sounds of fighting or dying break out in the room, that group from two doors down comes looking.

EVEN if you're running premade adventures, you have narrative leeway as DM to change things up a bit.
 
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FrozenNorth

Adventurer
These particular druids didn't have conjure fey on their spell lists. But I'll keep that in mind for next time I design my own antagonists.
I’m playing a conversion of an older adventure (3.5). One change that I’ve noticed compared to my homebrew is that a lot of combat takes place in very small rooms (10x10 or 20x20).

This makes sense, as even palaces and ruins (which may have the occasional larger room), are mostly made up of small functional rooms (also, most places with “castles” get drafty in the winter).

These are also places where it is impossible to cast hypnotic pattern without catching your allies (or yourself) in the effect.

Enemies spread out across multiple rooms (and within earshot of one another) also means that 5mwd is more difficult and expensive re: spell slots. Incidentally, this also benefits melee fighters over ranged.
 


jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
These are also places where it is impossible to cast hypnotic pattern without catching your allies (or yourself) in the effect.
That's something I'll have to keep in mind. My groups are large, though (6 players in one, 8 in another), so combat in small rooms causes other headaches.

Incidentally, this also benefits melee fighters over ranged.
For your group, maybe! For mine, it sounds like an invitation to nothing but doorway fights, where the ranged PCs stand in the doorway and fill the room with arrows/fireballs/magic missiles and never even get touched by whatever enemies are in those rooms. The downside to a small room is that there isn't much room for enemies to stand in them either, meaning that there is just one or two per room and they can be picked off with smaller spells.
 
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That's something I'll have to keep in mind. My groups are large, though (7 players in one, 8 in another), so combat in small rooms causes other headaches.
Make that a feature, not a bug. I've just doing a large party (seven, including the dog) in a tight dungeon, and that forces them to make some interesting tactical decisions about who goes into the room and who is jammed into the corridor outside.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
For your group, maybe! For mine, it sounds like an invitation to nothing but doorway fights, where the ranged PCs stand in the doorway and fill the room with arrows/fireballs/magic missiles and never even get touched by whatever enemies are in those rooms. The downside to a small room is that there isn't much room for enemies to stand in them either, meaning that there is just one or two per room and they can be picked off with smaller spells.
Very few rooms are “one-entrance one-exit”, and the monsters generally know the layout better than the players. Monsters can go around and ambush the players while the tank is jammed in the doorway.

Smaller rooms means monsters start 10’ away, not 30’ away.

Also remember, monsters can use smart tactics too: including closing and locking the door while they wake those affected by Hypnotic Pattern!
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
That's something I'll have to keep in mind. My groups are large, though (6 players in one, 8 in another), so combat in small rooms causes other headaches.


For your group, maybe! For mine, it sounds like an invitation to nothing but doorway fights, where the ranged PCs stand in the doorway and fill the room with arrows/fireballs/magic missiles and never even get touched by whatever enemies are in those rooms. The downside to a small room is that there isn't much room for enemies to stand in them either, meaning that there is just one or two per room and they can be picked off with smaller spells.
That's why any monster can use "shove" as an attack. I (house?) rule that any melee attack in the monster's stat block can be a shove. On the other hand it doesn't come up that often for me since my environments tend to be more dynamic.
 


Mistwell

Legend
As far as I can tell, yes. But I believe they'd have more fun if situations were more varied. And I know I'd have more fun if I didn't have to run the classic hypnotic pattern fight over and over.
Have you asked them if they would have more fun if the combats were more varied?
 

And I know I'd have more fun if I didn't have to run the classic hypnotic pattern fight over and over.
Then as the DM you should absolutely do something about the spell, whether its having a talk with your players or adjusting the spell.

The DM's fun is the most important...because your also doing a lot of work. Players don't have to do much for their fun, so if its diminished slightly they will still find plenty of ways to enjoy things. But if a DM is not enjoying the game....that quickly leads to burnout....and then the game ends. I have both seen it and dealt with it personally several times over my 20 years of gaming/Dming.

So don't feel bad about making adjustments to ensure your own enjoyment.
 

No, policing the adventuring day is ANY action taken by the DM to deal with the 5MWD.

It includes tweaking the resting rules or using rest variants. Rulings. Random monsters. Not-so-random monsters. Doom clocks. Failing forward. Taking to the players and reaching social consensus not to try and game the rest system. Even heavy handed 'you rest and nothing happens' or 'nope'.
I strongly recommend against arbitrarily informing your players that their long rest had no effect. That way leads to madness and the lamentations of your women.
 
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I strongly recommend against arbitrarily informing your players that their long rest had no effect. That way leads to madness and the lamentations of your women.
I dont have to luckily.

Part of session zero is a discussion about the 5MWD, and rest/ resource expectations in the campaign, and how I dont really brook anyone trying to game the system. I inform the players that they should expect 6-ish ecounters per long rest as a median, and can expect around 2 short rests in that time (also as a median).

From there (in game) I make liberal use of doom clocks and surprise encounters, enough to make the system largely self regulating in actual play.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I just want a bigger range of tricks to deal with it when it's appropriate, and I as a DM am frankly uncomfortable with the inevitable part at the end of the combat where the entire party are beating up helpless enthralled enemies. I feel like that is damaging to a heroic-toned campaign, and it's also boring as heck to run. To be honest, that's my biggest complaint with the spell.

I'm also frustrated because every combat in every campaign has to be built around this one spell. There's a limit to how much "celebrating" should be allowed to dominate every session you ever run, or so it seems to me.
What does your group want?

A DM is not building the DM's world. The DM build's the group's world. You're not creating the story of your NPCs - it is the story of the PCs exploring your world.

It is all about the heroes of the tale, not the DM's world.

Does that mean you're expected to suffer through and be at the whim of the players? Absolutely not. You're there to build an interesting world for them to explore and in which to thrive and adventure. The game works best when the players walk into a world that is interesting to them, but does not feel like it was built just for them. A DM can have the fun a parent has when they build a town of blocks and then watches their 11 month old child play Godzilla and crush it. (Would you think of gluing it all together to stop the kid from using their body to break it apart?)

However, you're absolutely not there to invalidate their choices. If you don't like the illusion rules, but you have a player that really wants to play an illusionist and loves the illusion rules, talk with them to understand what it is they like, explore options, try to encourage understandings that you think are improvements - but in the end you need to take what they love about their PC idea and celebrate it, regardless of what it is they love about it (within socially acceptable limits, of course).
 

I dont have to luckily.

Part of session zero is a discussion about the 5MWD, and rest/ resource expectations in the campaign, and how I dont really brook anyone trying to game the system. I inform the players that they should expect 6-ish ecounters per long rest as a median, and can expect around 2 short rests in that time (also as a median).

From there (in game) I make liberal use of doom clocks and surprise encounters, enough to make the system largely self regulating in actual play.
Good news.

Though, personally, I've never like doom clocks. Instead, I changed the in-game incentive structure.

1) I award XP for completing quests, not killing monsters. So if the party kills a monster, retreats, and rests, they've earned 0 experience.

2) I also increased short rests to 8 hours and long resist to 5 days, which gives monsters enough time to regroup (reinforcements!) if the party decides to retreat back to town after only a couple of encounters.

The downside is that increasing the short rest time sometimes means a party to complete 8 encounters without resting at all. On the other hand, fighters, monks, and warlocks get to shine during wilderness exploration, when one-encounter days are the norm. So I feel like it balances out.
 
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What does your group want?

A DM is not building the DM's world. The DM build's the group's world. You're not creating the story of your NPCs - it is the story of the PCs exploring your world.

It is all about the heroes of the tale, not the DM's world.

Does that mean you're expected to suffer through and be at the whim of the players? Absolutely not. You're there to build an interesting world for them to explore and in which to thrive and adventure. The game works best when the players walk into a world that is interesting to them, but does not feel like it was built just for them. A DM can have the fun a parent has when they build a town of blocks and then watches their 11 month old child play Godzilla and crush it. (Would you think of gluing it all together to stop the kid from using their body to break it apart?)

However, you're absolutely not there to invalidate their choices. If you don't like the illusion rules, but you have a player that really wants to play an illusionist and loves the illusion rules, talk with them to understand what it is they like, explore options, try to encourage understandings that you think are improvements - but in the end you need to take what they love about their PC idea and celebrate it, regardless of what it is they love about it (within socially acceptable limits, of course).
Or instead DMs and players could find and develop groups of like-minded individuals whose playstyles complement one-another. A player who likes illusions is better off playing with a DM who likes illusions than one who doesn't.

Personally, I ban everything I don't like. When a new (but experienced*) player comes to the table, I hand him/her a copy of my player's guide which lists my (minimal) house rule as well as the options available in my world. The player can then decide the game isn't for him/her. That's fine with me. It saves us both a lot of trouble.

* with new players the process is a little different.
 

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