A character in my group has multiple ways to reduce/prevent incoming damage, among others the Heavy Armor Master feat and such things. This wasn't a big problem so far. I could just throw more bad guys at this character. And the fact that this player deliberately stacked multiple effects to reduce/negate damage just means, that he wants to play an awesome character, who can take a lot of damage. And that's not inherently a bad thing. But recently this character acquired the ability to cast Armor of Agathys. And NOW it's a problem. Up until now, most combat encounters had some named bad guys and some mooks. This made sense (and was easy to balance), because why would the Big Bad come alone. The mooks helped mainly in the way that the party couldn't allow themselves to only focus on the Big Bad. But since the character in question uses Armor of Agathys, the number of mooks per encounter became practically irrelevant. The mooks just attack, their damage is negated most of the time, and they die a horrible death. This really unbalances my game.

I guess I interpret the spell correct: as long as the caster has the temporary hit points from Armor of Agathys, the attacker takes damage, even if the attacker didn't actually deal any damage. (If this interpretation is wrong, please correct me).

My actual question is: how can I restore my previously held encounter balance, without just taking away Armor of Agathys or all the ways to prevent/reduce damage?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What other damage reduction abilities does this character have? Can you give us an example of a case where they had a bunch of them stacked up? If we are to make a balance determination we need to know exactly what the situation is. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2018 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ In addition, what level is this character. Armor of Agathys is based of temporary hitpoints and when those are gone, so is the spell. Even with damage reduction, the lifetime of that spell is limited. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Apr 11, 2018 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to put this on hold as it is unclear what the actual issue/situation is. For example, is the armor wearer reducing damage to 0 as your question implies? If so, how? Without knowing this we don't know where the actual issues are and cannot clarify that issue with an answer. Especially since you want us to consider balance. However, I suspect there are some rules issues that will clear up the whole ordeal once information is supplied. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2018 at 14:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question appears to be about the order of reducing damage, between heavy armor master and the temp HP of armor of agathys. I think this is either a dupe, or heavily related to this question ...This q&a is also related \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2018 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd say the question is more "given the related questions, how can I still balance my game around this character?" \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Apr 11, 2018 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


My actual question is: how can I restore my previously held encounter balance, without just taking away Armor of Agathys or all the ways to prevent/reduce damage?

Tactics, Tactics, Tactics

Unless the bad guys are completely mindless or insane they won't keep trying the same thing over an over if it doesn't work. Even an Ogre with its Legendary Stupidity will eventually try something different.

  • A single Dispel Magic takes care of this.
  • Mooks switch to ranged. On top of that if they know of this tactic before hand they can start with ranged because Bob the Mook survived a previous encounter and actually communicated to his cohorts. The PCs enter a room and all the mooks have a readied action to loose all their crossbows.
  • Mooks use attacks that don't do Piercing, Bludgeoning or Slashing. Alchemists Fire or Acid Vials work just fine. If any are casters you can add Cold and other spells to that repertoire.
  • Incapacitation or Restraint, Hold Person, Sleep, Web or simple snare traps keeps the troublesome PC at bay while the rest of his party is dealt with.
  • Enemies with resistance or immunity to Cold.
  • What's good for the goose is good for the gander. The rest of his party could deal with a similarly stacked enemy. Maybe the Big Bad is a Hex Blade with Armor of Invulnerability and under the effects of Armor of Agathys cast at a higher level.
  • Sneak attack him with a ballista. (not literally as in the Rogue ability but surprise him when he charges through the door with a ballista to the face).

Bottom line is don't punish the player for his play. He has stacked his character a specific way and, my personal opinions of min/maxing without in game reasons aside, he specialized. In nature specialists that meet things they can't deal with die.

Let him shine a lot but humble him with unexpected tactics. Tucker's Kobolds would never go toe to toe they would use traps and fire and acid and ad infinitum.


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