23
\$\begingroup\$

I'm playing in a 5e campaign, and one of the other players convinced the DM to let him summon animals inside of other animals - for example, summoning a wolf inside of a cow.

The player has exploited this to summon other animals inside of people, giving them wings or the ability to breathe underwater. He also uses it offensively and summons animals inside of enemies to hinder them.

This makes encounters much less interesting, but the DM and the player both see nothing wrong with it. Am I overreacting to a harmless buff? What do I do about this?

\$\endgroup\$
  • 11
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour. Has the DM codified these house rules, either aloud or in writing, so that everyone has had the opportunity to evaluate them or has it been all Animals in animals… that would be cool… sure or the like? Further, did you know of this house rule when the campaign began? Finally, does the house rule apply universally or to just one character? (You should edit these answers into your question instead of answering in comments.) Thank your for participating, and I hope answers help you have more fun! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 19 '18 at 23:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ What class and level is your character? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 19 '18 at 23:30
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ To follow up on what Hey I Can Chan asks, Spells like Conjure Animals require line of sight to the area you are summoning into. Does the house rule affect this one specific spell or is it that line of sight limitations are not being enforced globally? \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Dec 19 '18 at 23:54
54
\$\begingroup\$

No, you are not overreacting.

First off, every "Conjure Something" spell I checked specifically calls out that the summoned being appears "in unoccupied space". I'm curious how the DM thought it was valid to apply the spell differently. Discussing this with the DM in a one on one conversation may clear this up.

Second, I don't know how anybody made the leap that summoning something into something else would be a happy blending and not Brundle Fly.

Last, I can see this as easily exploitable. Take the simple Conjure Animals as a 3rd level spell. I summon 8 Pteranodon (1/4 hit die) into my party. We now all have 60-ft flight speed for an hour. That is far more powerful than the the 3rd level Fly spell which only lasts 10 minutes and only effects one person; although still the 60 ft fly speed. At maximum upcasting for Fly (9th level) you can make 7 targets fly; fewer than the single Conjure Animal example.

Solution

Discuss the above points with the DM in an effort to scale the spell back to its designed power level.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ How can you possibly make a credible claim about "overreacting" since the OP has not explained how they are reacting? \$\endgroup\$ – Lexible Dec 20 '18 at 18:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The last line of the question is, "Am I overreacting to a harmless buff?". So the header finishes that thought. The rest of the answer handles the rest of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Dec 20 '18 at 19:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ We agree about the last line, we do not agree that the OP explains their actual reactions anywhere in their post. \$\endgroup\$ – Lexible Dec 20 '18 at 21:05
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @Lexible In this context, the OP is speaking colloquially: "Am I overreacting?" is code for "Am I wrong to think this is weird/overpowered/wrong?" They're not asking whether their literal in-person reaction (unspecified) was correct, they're asking whether their internal reaction is correct. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Dec 20 '18 at 21:59
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Even Brundle Fly would be a generous interpretation. Most likely, it'd go down to "You summon a wolf inside the farmer, instantly killing both of them in a gruesome and explosive display. The spirits have taken note of your reckless (and humiliating) treatment of those of them that came to assist you and will be less inclined to help you further down the line." \$\endgroup\$ – Suthek Dec 21 '18 at 10:57
17
\$\begingroup\$

This is a complete misuse of the spells. Summoning spells do one thing: they summon. They don't allow you to create hybrids by combining the summoned object with another existing object. You're not going to suddenly add wings or gills to a party member just by summoning the appropriate source animal. You need much more interesting - not to mention powerful - spells to achieve that sort of effect.

If you could summon an animal inside another animal the best that would happen is that the sudden appearance of a wolf inside a cow would cause the cow to explode. I assume that there'd be a saving throw against the summon actually working.

Unfortunately your GM has allowed this, for whatever reasons. I would have laughed it off the first time and said something like "Yeah, funny. Summoning doesn't work like that. What are we actually doing?" Maybe it's not too late to have that talk.

Of course your game could be the sort of thing where the weirdest crap actually works as long as you can find a sufficiently cool explanation. If so then maybe you can find something completely wacky to outshine the stupidly over-powered summoner.

If I were in your situation, having already had this in play for a while, I'd be having a quiet word with the GM about how a) it's a stupidly overpowered use of a low-level spell and b) it's making the game a little bit absurd and a lot boring for you.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ While I agree with your position on the problem at hand, the problem to solve (albeit poorly presented in the question) is in how to convince the DM to scale down the house rule. The "how" of the answer and solution could use a little more meat. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 20 '18 at 14:11
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The question is not "Is this ruling overpowered" but (an unclear, VTC) "am I overreacting". \$\endgroup\$ – Lexible Dec 20 '18 at 18:58
7
\$\begingroup\$

Step one, confirm that you know it is a broken house rule.

In this particular case, its quite clear that the ruling is remarkably broken. For other cases though, examine how it might affect the balance (e.g. do similar effects cost more to pull off). "Why doesn't everyone do this?" is an excellent question to ask.

Step two, determine if you are OK with this.

You have also established you're not OK with the ruling, but it is worth asking if you'd rather not rock the boat on this matter. Consider both yourself and others (it may be that someone else at the table also hates the ruling). If everyone is having fun at the table, then why bother?

Step three (A), talk privately with the player for whom this house rule was first introduced.

Usually I would advise talk to the GM first, but in a case like this, where there is a player who suggested the rule, I think you should talk to them. After all, if they stopped using this rule, it would seem likely that the whole matter would stop.

Absolutely have this conversation in private/offline from the game.

When talking to them, I would advise the following steps:

  1. (Honestly) speak of your enjoyment of the game as a whole. Hopefully on some level you do enjoy playing the game, and playing it with them. This should be an effort to help maximize the enjoyment of the game for both of you.

  2. State how the recent change with the house rule has negatively impacted your enjoyment. Again, "play nice" would be my advice here. Don't let it get heated, but at least say that sitting back while you watch them summon puppies inside the boss, thus killing them instantly, isn't all that fun for you.

  3. Now the tricky part, lay out your argument against the house rule. Show why its broken, why the ability isn't supposed to function like that, and why in allowing that, it is stepping on the toes of everyone else. While it might appear to be fun in the narrative of it all (and sure, it is funny, at least the first time), its not a good thing to base a game around.

  4. If they're open to stopping, ask if they'll talk to the GM with you. If they're not open to stopping, consider if you're willing to escalate this to the GM, and let them know.

Step three (B), talk privately with your GM

This is about the same as three (A), only with the GM, with similar advice. State that you enjoy the game. State that the ruling is hindering your enjoyment. State that the ruling causes more problems that its alleviating. If the GM won't back down, inform them you'll be bringing this up with the group for their opinion.

Step four, speak to the group as a whole

This is kind of your last option with regard to fixing this. At this point you should bring up your grievance to the group as a whole, either before or after a session. Again, state how much you enjoy the game, and how this change is making you (and hopefully others) feel less useful, or less challenged. Lay out your argument that this is a fairly broken rule, and that without other significant changes to the game (ones your group is certainly not prepared to figure out). Hopefully other players will agree with you, but do try to play mediator as well. Don't let your dislike of the house rule turn this into a full argument.

Step five, determine how you feel about continuing in this game.

If you've gotten to this point and have still been unsuccessful, you'll have to decide if you want to keep going in this game. If this house rule is such a detraction from your enjoyment, perhaps you should leave the table. If these other players are your close friends and core gaming group (hopefully one does not find themselves in this situation), then perhaps bow out until a GM change or a new campaign.

Remember, your goal ought to be to help make the game as enjoyable for everyone at the table.

My advice:

  1. Don't show them this topic and use it as ammo for why their idea is bad.
  2. Don't try to abuse this rule to prove how bad it is.
  3. Don't make it so much about the rules, as it is about enjoyment of the game. If they're using this ability to negate the need for anything else, that is taking much of the joy of the game from other players.
  4. If you're at the table, remain a good player. Try to not mope, be helpful.
  5. If you're at the table, observe rule 0. Beyond voicing a basic objection to a questionable ruling, don't disrupt the flow of play.
\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

One approach I haven't seen suggested yet was to have a chat with the DM about how you think this rule has affected balance, and ask if they could come up with encounters or campaign arcs that are balanced in light of this party member's ability.

That might take the form of enemies that have some kind of resistance to having animals summoned into them, maybe due to anti-magic properties of the enemies or the setting, or due to the enemies being ghosts/ooze/otherwise insubstantial.

It could also take the form of a campaign arc centered around building relationships with or resolving a dispute between NPCs. There's only so much you can do by summoning animals into folks in order to avoid a war, challenge oppression, or reverse the poor economic fortunes of an abandoned mining town.

Finally, the DM could consider ways to power up the other party members to make them about the same effective level. That could look like giving them similarly versatile spells, powers, or magic items, and then just upping the campaign difficulty globally.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your paragraph 4 is a good way to look at this from a "glass half full" perspective. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 20 '18 at 21:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.