Long story short, I was the DM running my adventure when one of the players asked if he could DM for a few session. In the last session, the level 6 party acquired a few magic items, one of them being:

Staff of Crowds

On a spell cast, you may impose that all enemies affected by that spell has disadvantage on ability checks made against that spell, once per day.

(By "ability checks made against that spell" he means saving throws)

This one worries me quite a lot. I'm thinking about only allowing the disadvantage against the damage from the spell, making an aditional normal roll if the spell has any secondary effects. As it is, this can be too much of a game changer if used with crowd control spells like hold person or high level charm spells.

Another thing is that this will probably be used by a druid, which means that if he uses the effect of the staff with say, a moon beam, he will probably stay the whole fight just moving the moon beam because that might be his best option to do lots of damage. I might be wrong here, but I don't want to encourge him to bore himself out in a fight.

The party is only level six now but soon they'll be seven, and with level 4 spells comes some pretty good AoE. This might not be a problem now but I think it'll be soon.

Is this item balanced for a lvl 6-7 party with the adjustments I made?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think you need to include the item rarity in order to decide if it's balanced. With just a description, literally anything between a healing potion and a legendary artifact could be considered balanced at some level. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 26, 2017 at 21:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ The rarity of an item is determined by what it does, you can't have a +1 weapon and call it legendary, and he gave no such things as rarity, that's why I wrote about the party lvl. \$\endgroup\$
    – Manner
    Oct 26, 2017 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Should I just make 6 different questions? This seems like some excess flooding to me. If you can only talk about some of the items do it, you don't have to talk about every single of them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Manner
    Oct 27, 2017 at 1:02
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I would go ahead and post severally. Not all at once, though. Post the one you're most concerned about. Then the next, a day or two later. Another day or two after that you'll probably have seen enough crowd wisdom on how to evaluate/fix that you'll be fine tackling the others on their own. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Oct 27, 2017 at 1:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Shouldn't you change "all enemies affected by that spell" to "all creatures affected by that spell"? The second option sounds more consistent with the rest of the rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Oct 27, 2017 at 10:45

2 Answers 2


That's a hard no. Gigantic flashing neon NO.

Disadvantage on saves is rare and powerful, and usually is either specific to the spell in question (only affects certain kinds of target or under certain circumstances) or requires a one-two punch (such as restraining a target to give them disadvantage on dexterity saves, or the Eldritch Knight's 10th level ability). The Sorcerer's Heighten Spell metamagic costs a whopping 3 sorcery points -- the most expensive metamagic (other than using Twinned on a 4+ level spell) and worth half of a 6th level sorcerer's entire daily allotment of spell points -- and that only works on one target of the spell, and only on the initial save (if it has repeated saves).

Changing it to only work with damage-only spells doesn't really help, and I wouldn't recommend it anyway -- it's a very 'gamey' way to deal with the power, and just adds a complication you don't need.

I don't know that I have a really good solution. Maybe something along the lines of "once per day, you force one target affected by a spell cast using this staff to subtract 1d4 from their initial save" (or words to that effect, use the Bane spell as your guide), but that's just off the top of my head.


The Staff of Crowds should definitely be nerfed. Imposing disadvantage on saving throws is pretty powerful and rare. Although, the once a day limit does help to mitigate that. The following edits would help to make it more balanced.

  • Only affects a specific type of save, i.e. dex or wis.
  • Limit the number of creatures affected.
  • Only works with spells from a specific school of magic, i.e. evocation or enchantment.
  • Add an attunement requirement.

For example:

Staff of Crowds: When you cast an enchantment spell that requires a wisdom saving throw choose up to 3 targeted creatures. Those creatures have disadvantage on the saving throw. This staff has one charge. Each dawn roll percentile die. On a roll of 51 or higher the staff is recharged. Requires attunement by a Druid or Wizard.


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