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Feeblemind requires an Int save: on a fail, the target's Intelligence and Charisma are set to 1. This pretty much destroys any Int or Cha-based caster, but the fact that the latter have low Int (and are not proficient with Intelligence saving throws) makes them especially vulnerable.

What are some ways to handle this? The route I've taken with a Sorcerer concept is to start as a Rogue for my 1st level (for Int proficiency) and then go Sorcerer from 2nd level. Other ideas welcome.

My goal is to learn what options there are to prevent getting Feebleminded, be it at character creation, or a magical item, or... anything that helps resist it. E.g., it just occurred to me that, while expensive, L9 Globe of Invulnerability will prevent it (and duration could be doubled for 1 sorc point).

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Unless I'm mistaken, 1 level in Rogue won't give you proficiency in Int saving throws, unless it's your first level. See rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/22541/… –  Miniman Aug 28 at 1:18
    
Yeah, that's what I meant--allow me to clarify. –  Khashir Aug 28 at 1:20
    
I definitely don't mind Dex prof either (probably more attacks target Dex than Cha), and the other features aren't bad at all: light armor prof, 4 skills instead of 2, Expertise, and Sneak attack. –  Khashir Aug 28 at 1:29
    
(But if there's a way to deal with the spell as a pure sorcerer, I'd definitely consider it, given the L20 feature...) –  Khashir Aug 28 at 1:29
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The answer I still kinda want to write up is all about 'The best defense is a g- NUKE IT FROM ORBIT!' –  Miniman Aug 28 at 1:51

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Assuming you are vulnerable to 8th level spells (meaning no 9th level Globe of Invulnerability), the only way to prevent the Ability Drain effect from Feeblemind is to succeed on the Intelligence saving throw.

There are several ways to improve your Intelligence saving throws. Here is an attempt at an exhaustive list in ascending order of inconvenience according to my own humble opinion with the first item being the best or least inconvenient option and the last item being the worst or most inconvenient option.

  1. Become proficient with Intelligence saving throws.

    • Take the Resilient feat (PHB page 168). This feat allows you to choose an additional type of saving throw with which to become proficient. It has the additional perk of granting a +1 bonus to an ability score of your choice. If your Intelligence score is odd, choosing it will further increase your Intelligence modifier and thus your saving throw bonus by an additional +1. This can be done as early as your 4th level in any class or as late as your 19th level in any class, unless you picked Human in which case you can do this at 1st level.
    • Pick Druid, Rogue, or Wizard as your starting class at 1st level.
    • Pick Monk as your starting class, and get to 14th level. At 14th level, Monks get the Diamond Soul class feature which grants proficiency with all saving throws.
  2. Resistance cantrip. Allows a Druid or Cleric to give a touched creature a d4 bonus on their next saving throw (max 1 minute concentration). The Magic Initiate feat can be taken to get this cantrip while playing a class other than Druid or Cleric. Also, Warlock's can get this through their Pact of the Tome expansion feature at 3rd level.

  3. Paladin's Aura of Protection. At 6th level, Paladins get the ability to add their Charisma modifier to the saving throw of any ally including themselves within a certain radius which improves as they gain class levels.

  4. Bard's Bardic Inspiration. Bard's can use this class feature a number of times per day equal to their Charisma modifier to give any ally within 60 feet a minimum of a d6 bonus on their next ability check or saving throw for 10 minutes.

  5. Warlock's Dark One's Own Luck. Warlocks with Fiendish patrons get this class feature at 6th level which allows them to add a d10 to one ability check or saving throw of their choice per short or long rest.

  6. Increase your Intelligence modifier.

    • Use the Ability Score Improvement class feature to boost Intelligence.
    • Take feats that provide an Intelligence bonus. Examples: Keen Mind, Linguist, Observant, Resilient.
  7. Gain advantage on the saving throw.

    • Take the Mage Slayer feat (PHB page 168). You gain advantage on any saving throws against spells cast within 5 feet of you. Close range on spell-slingers quickly!
    • Take the Dungeon Delver feat (PHB page 166) Take this is you suspect that Feeblemind spell traps are a possibility. Grants advantage on saves to resist traps.

Other answers have discussed ways your fellow party members can help you recover if you fail your save and are hit by Feeblemind despite your best efforts. One additional option you might explore is to speak to your DM about the Paladin's Cleansing Touch feature. At 14th level, a Paladin can use his action to end one spell on himself or a willing creature that he touches a number of times per day equal to his Charisma modifier (minimum 1). Feeblemind explicitly states that when a creature succeeds on its saving throw, the spell ends. So presumably, the Paladin's feature should be able to cure someone afflicted with Feeblemind since it is capable of arbitrarily ending spells.

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@mattdm If you pick the right race you can properly allocate the standard ability score array such that you begin with 16 CHA, meaning you can max CHA with only 2 uses of Ability Score Improvement in order to bring it up to 20. Not taking multiclassing into account, that leaves you with 3 feats or improvements to other ability scores (like Intelligence). Also, there are other nasty things that call for Intelligence saves - Mind Flayers, for example. Many adventurer's have lost their lives due to a combination of a failed saving throw and lack of an 8th-level Mindblank spell. –  Dyndrilliac Aug 28 at 5:22
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If you are Human, you can take this Feat starting First Level. –  Crico Aug 28 at 10:36
    
Kudos for the Mind Blank reference--using Wish, a Sorcerer can cast Mind Blank, which is much better defense than my lame idea of L9 Globe of Invulnerability + Sorcery Point expenditure. If you could add that to the answer, that would be swell (for other folks who come this way). –  Khashir Aug 29 at 1:41
    
@Kashir I don't believe Mind Blank will completely protect someone from Feeblemind because while you are immune to psychic damage, you are not immune to the spells other effects. Feeblemind does not allow the caster to sense the target's emotions, read its thoughts, cause the charmed condition, nor is it a divination spell. –  Dyndrilliac Aug 29 at 3:28
    
@Dyndrilliac--ah, I think you're right. RAW, it would seem that way, I wonder though if RAI, it would be too much of a stretch? Consider the description of Feeblemind: “You blast the mind of a creature that you can see within range, attempting to shatter its intellect and personality." "Until the spell ends, one willing creature you touch is immune to psychic damage," The thought being that, given Feeblemind's description, the effect is presumably the result of "psychic damage" (in a general sense; blasting the mind), which is protected by MB. –  Khashir Aug 29 at 4:59

There's a limited amount you can do proactively to prevent this. The fact that your int save isn't going to be very good is pretty much a fact of life. If you're targeted by this spell, there's a really good chance you're going to get hit with it. You can take a starting class as something that gets proficiency, but that may not fit every build (and it's a big investment to pick up a save prof). A much smaller (though still costly), investment would be to take the Resilient feat. This feat gives you +1 to the ability of your choice and an extra saving throw proficiency.

The things you can do to ameliorate this are as follows:

  • Make sure your Dex is good enough that you can use a ranged weapon. This doesn't scale well, but it's something you can contribute if you've got nothing else. That's about it.

However, this is mostly a case where you're going to be relying on your cleric friend. two of the three spells that can fix this are on their list (Heal/greater restoration. The wizard can also use Wish to take care of it. Neither of the cleric spells are a huge investment, and if they don't happen to have them prepared on a particular day, the effect will still be there for them to remove tomorrow.

This is not something that you should be expected to deal with on your own. If you fail this save, you must rely on your party members. And you're right, there's a really good chance that if your character gets targeted, he's going to fail it. Hopefully your party is ready to help you out, because that's the true answer here.

RS Conley (10k only sorry) makes a very good larger point though. It's unwise to prepare a strategy against one high level spell when there are dozens of spells that are as bad or worse than this one. This class of spells is termed "save or suck" and this is certainly in line with the expectations for those spells. But, ultimately, I would class this as one of the easier spells to deal with in this class. At most you'll be in a bad way for an encounter or at most a day (if your cleric doesn't have the right spells prepped, or high level slots left).

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There are a couple of spells that could help protect against this though. (At work, so no direct examples), but you can boost your Int and I think there's a spell that boosts saving throws. –  Miniman Aug 28 at 1:34
    
@Miniman I'm not sure either is on the Sorcy list though. Also Feeblemind prevents casting, so it'd need to be a reaction or an always on or something –  wax eagle Aug 28 at 1:36
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Ouch! So that one comes back to relying on your teammates as well. Damn these games that rely on cooperation for mutual benefit... –  Miniman Aug 28 at 1:41
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"RS Conley" is a broken link. –  Lohoris Aug 28 at 15:58
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Well, technically, if a user can access this but not the linked page, it is a broken link. The fact that it's not broken for someone doesn't make it right ;) –  Lohoris Aug 28 at 17:01

1. Don't play D&D alone.

No one character can be proof against everything. Even without digging in the whole ruleset, I think it's fairly likely that there are various attacks which hit the Int-based casters particularly hard too. If you're playing with a balanced party, they'll have your back. Specifically,

The spell can also be ended by greater restoration, heal, or wish.

None of these are low-level (and greater restoration does have a token cost), but if you're at the level where this is a threat, the party should have these available. Greater restoration is a 5th level spell available to bards, clerics, and druids; heal a 6th level spell for clerics and druids; and wish, of course, a 9th level spell for sorcerers and wizards.

And, if you have none of those in your party, having a scroll of heal or greater restoration seems useful anyways (although the rules there don't seem to be in final form yet).

2. If your DM keeps doing it, ask them to stop

If you are playing a solo game, or for other reasons the above doesn't apply, talk to your DM about it.

Spells which shut you down with little opportunity to do anything to prepare or respond aren't fun. Nothing wrong with it being a real threat sometimes... it's an 8th-level spell, and it should be serious. But if your DM is casting this at you all the time... have a talk about that not really being a fun way to spend your time.

3. Talk to your DM (different approach)

The basic rules include a Ring of Evasion, which gives advantage on Dexterity saving throws and some other benefits. I don't see a strong reason why your character couldn't have (find, commission, create, etc...) a Ring of Mental Protection which does something similar for Intelligence saves. Again, this is all work-in-progress in the rules — presumably the DMG will have guidelines for creation of custom magic items. But this doesn't seem like it would be particularly controversial.

You might even ask for a ring which gives protection from this spell in specific. Since it is so situational, I really don't see why not. It'd probably take up one of your three "attuned" items, and were it my game that'd seem perfectly reasonable.

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"No sorcerer is an island" is pretty much exactly my thoughts on this, +1. –  SevenSidedDie Aug 28 at 15:51

Spending resources (Feats, Ability Points, etc.) to defend against this will likely cripple your character. My suggestion is to play your characters strengths, not its weaknesses.

If you absolutely must have some way of defending against it or making it less effective, you have options, but they're costly.

Run

If you get hit, get out of Dodge. You should never engage when you're at a disadvantage. Invest options that will allow you to safely retreat.

Use it first

If you can identify which enemies are likely to be able to cast it, use it against them first. Invest in having a good Initiative so you can insure you can get it off before they do.

Be a better fighter

If you're formidable without spellcasting, it won't effect you as much.

Play a Bard

Bards can basically defend against anything. It's quite ridiculous in my opinion. If you're clever you'll always go first, always have ample defenses, and won't be crippled if you do get hit.

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