The Sleep spell states:

This spell sends creatures into a magical slumber. Roll 5d8; the total is how many hit points of creatures this spell can affect.

(PHB 276)

The sleep spell doesn't deal damage directly, instead affecting a number of hit points (current hit points) and sending one or a number of creatures into magical slumber. Since this spell does not deal direct damage, I don't believe there are any attributes, spells, or effects that can counter the Sleep spell's effects, aside from the one caveat at the end of the spell description:

Undead and creatures immune to being charmed aren't affected by this spell.

This, however, simply immunizes the creature from the effects of the spell entirely. I'd like to find a trait, spell, or other effect that is RAW and that lessens but does not necessarily entirely nullify the effects of the Sleep spell and other spells that affect hit point totals (e.g. Color Spray).

My motivation? I have a homebrew race that I'm developing for my campaign, and one of its defining characteristics is resistance to anything and everything magical (broken, but it fits the story). I've already given it resistance to all types of magical damage (except for force damage; I've made a racial feat for that) and the trait Magic Resistance. Primarily I'm using members of this race as enemy NPCs. I understand that a race like this is beyond overpowered, but that is the topic for another discussion.

As of now, this race is not resistant to the effects of spells that affect hit point totals. I'd like to find a way to mitigate the effect this category of spell has on this race without making it entirely immune.

RAW answers only, please, if they exist.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think you need to worry that this is "broken". If they are NPCs, balance is not an issue. Monsters are not overpowered, monsters are powerful. Adjust the CR and don't worry about balance. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jun 7 '18 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @keithcurtis It's a playable race in my setting that none of my players elected to play as, so the race is only being used for NPC's so far. \$\endgroup\$ – Viishnahn Jun 7 '18 at 14:29

Elf's Fey Ancestry is the closest I can think, but it is still immunity, not "resistance".

Fey Ancestry. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.


Aside from that, "Resistance" against sleep is something hard to define, to begin with. It is not a damaging spell, so the common "resistance" = half damage doesn't apply.

It also doesn't require an Attack Roll or a Saving Throw, so disadvantage/advantage (respectively) also doesn't apply.

Because of these reasons, I don't think there is any kind of feature that mitigates the sleep spell - every entry I know of is either immune to it or not.

Little Frame Challenge: You want it RAW, but you are yourself using it for a homebrew, so I fail to see the relevance of RAW.

A simple feature that is somehow "equivalent" to Resistance would say something on the lines of

Putting this creature to sleep costs twice from the HP pool.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a fair point. I am using it for homebrew, yet I want to keep its mechanics as close to RAW as possible. I may end up simply giving the race immunity to the charmed condition or, like you say, end up halving the hit point pool that spells like this affect. I was just curious if there was some fringe case that I wasn't aware of that I could take advantage of. \$\endgroup\$ – Viishnahn Jun 7 '18 at 1:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't sleep affect targets in ascending order of their hit points? For the purposes of the calculation I'm wondering how that would work, if you simply kept them in the same place (since their hit points didn't change) you could potentially get a lot of work out of that. Is there a similar feature that uses the same verbiage? \$\endgroup\$ – user52772 May 31 '19 at 11:40

Resistance protects vs damage; advantage on saving throws fits your need

Sleep does not do damage. There typically isn't a save versus the Sleep spell, so resistance is an odd attempt at a mechanical fit. However, there is some room to work here by way of a RAW example.

You will want to give your monster advantage on saving throws versus sleep in your homebrew. That mechanic is consistent with 5e.

Examples of applying advantage on saving throws ...

  1. See the Bugbear Chief:

    ... advantage on saving throws against being charmed, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned, stunned, or put to sleep. (MM. p. 33)

    How do you make that work? Easy. Apply a spell save DC based on whomever or whatever is trying to put the bugbear chief to sleep magically. Most creatures don't get a save versus the sleep spell, but in this case you need to apply one since the chief can't apply advantage on a saving throw that isn't there; this becomes a case of specific over general (PHB p. 7). You can make it work the same way for your custom monster.

Other examples of advantage on saving throws as a creature feature ...

  1. Dwarfs have advantage on saving throws versus poison; elves and half elves have advantage on saving throws versus charm. (PHB p. 20, 23)

  2. Deva

    A Deva has advantage on saving throws versus spells and other magical effects. MM p. 16

An experiential note regarding making a custom monster:

Given that you are homebrewing this, you already have room to work to make this fit in a way like the Bugbear Chief works. Based on trying to make cool/custom monsters across a variety of editions, (to include this one) I'd advise against over complicating the design. It can be tricky enough to get a custom monster "just right" already. While I'd suggest that you not tie your own hands, in the end you have to be happy with your creation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ As noted in my question, the race already has the "Magic Resistance" trait that the Deva does. \$\endgroup\$ – Viishnahn Jun 7 '18 at 1:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Viishnahn Which is why I suggested that you use advantage on saves, since resistance is not relevant to what you are trying to accomplish vis a vis Sleep. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 7 '18 at 1:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Sleep does not require a saving throw, though. You simply are put to sleep if the rolls from the spell are higher than your HP. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 7 '18 at 1:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint Tell that to the Bugbear Chief. Use the spell DC for whomever is casting it \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 7 '18 at 1:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Viishnahn Given that you are homebrewing this, you already have room to work to make this fit into how a Bugbear Chief works. I'd advise against over complicating the design, as it can be tricky enough to get a custom monster "just right" already. Suggest that you not tie your own hands. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 7 '18 at 1:30

There is the Warlock Eldritch Invocation "Aspect of the Moon" available to Pact of the Tome Warlocks which states:

You no longer need to sleep and can’t be forced to sleep by any means. To gain the benefits of a long rest, you can spend all 8 hours doing light activity, such as reading your Book of Shadows and keeping watch.

So, while not technically "resistance" I believe this would be what you're looking for.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 30 '19 at 23:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's another good find for a way to avoid being put to sleep, but it is simply a binary state. The intent of the question was to try to find a way (if it already existed) to try to show that this particular creature was not immune, but just very strong against a spell of this type. I ended up using HellSaint's suggestion and gave them effective double HP against those spells. \$\endgroup\$ – Viishnahn May 31 '19 at 2:35

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