I have been struggling with the Slow spell in 5e.
RAW it does not affect attacks aside from casting spells, but if Slow is essentially the opposite of Haste, Haste gives an AC +2 as the creature is harder to hit, then why is there no penalty to attacks from Slow?

A person moving in slow motion should be easily avoided. I was made aware there was a penalty in Pathfinder.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it seems to be asking a question about Designer Intent, which is off topic for this site. Questions like this tend to invite a lot of speculation and conjecture, which doesn't fit the format of Stack Exchange sites. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Feb 6 '19 at 16:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JTmyth I've edited your question to make it more about balance of game mechanics and removed the assumption that the Slow spell is opposite of the Haste spell. If the question no longer reflects what you want to ask, feel free to roll it back or edit it further! \$\endgroup\$ – MrSpudtastic Feb 6 '19 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MrSpudtastic I think the change that you made to be about balance might be reasonable (as long as JTmyth thinks it is still asking what they want) however don't remove/change incorrect assumptions from questions. Many questions/answers hinge on talking about assumptions and it is the role of answers to correct them if assumptions were incorrectly made. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 6 '19 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Based on the comments in the answers below, it does seem like you are wanting to know why the rules are written in a certain way and want to challenge that. Unfortunately, I do think that is off-topic as designer reasons or that this question appears more like a rant about the 5e mechanics. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 6 '19 at 17:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I'm concerned as well based on comment activity that this is seeking justification for why the rules are the way they are. We are not the game designers and are not here to justify their choices or explain motivations behind them: we don't know them and asking about designer intent is off topic. The spell doesn't work the way some of us think it should, but that's that. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 6 '19 at 17:40

Slow is not the opposite of haste, they are completely unrelated spells

Your problem is in assuming that these two spells are in any way related. They are not. Some of their effects may coincidentally be the inverse of each other, but that does not mean that they have any kind of underlying connection beyond the fact that they are more-or-less turning the same dial (action economy basically).

Slow, in fact does have an AC penalty which means the person is easier to hit. They do not suffer a penalty to attacks. RAW does not even say that the creature is actually moving in slow motion (though that is a common way to visualize the effects). Also, the actions of the creature are limited to an action or bonus action so there is indeed some restriction on the attacks that can be taken.

In the end, the spell does only what it says it does (and any additional uses/effects are up to your DM) and there is no secret part of the spell that you are missing. Only the designers can answer why they did or did not include things in the spell.

Other editions' rules are irrelevant

Every edition of D&D has rules that are completely independent of rules from the previous edition. It's better to consider them different games rules-wise. A penalty might have appeared in a previous edition and, if so, just means that the designers saw a reason to remove it. They don't have any bearing on our interpretation of the rules for the current edition though.

Sometimes it is better to accept that this is a game that doesn't always make perfect sense

The important thing to remember is that sometimes magic and the way the rules are written sometimes combine into situations that may not align with IRL common sense. In cases such as these you either just accept the incongruity as the necessary result of playing a game with a lot of moving parts or talk with your DM to see if it is an issue that they want to fix.

If you don't like the way the spell says it works get with your DM and change it. Keep in mind that making something make more sense does not mean that it will necessarily make that thing fun.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The conflict with this answer is that in previous version such as pathfinder it explicitly says it IS a counter to haste and if cast on a creature that is hasted, negates the effects of haste and counters the spell 1 for 1. I felt given the name of the spell, the fact that it states how time is altered for them, and that they move at half speed that they are indeed moving SLOWly. This would make sense too that they could not attack as quickly as a non-slowed creature. I do not accept the answer of "spells do what they say they do and that's all." because that kills creativity and reason. \$\endgroup\$ – JTmyth Feb 6 '19 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Going off of that, it would mean spells like Ray of Frost and Acid Splash can't be cast unless a creature is involved, but why could Ray of Frost not freeze something? It's a literal beam of freezing energy. Acid splash says "You hurl a bubble of acid. Choose one creature within range..." but why would you NEED a creature? You should be able to use it on a door or statue or lock as well since all you are doing is "hurling a bubble of acid." Spells can't just say "hey, that's not a creature, I can't work like this." I wouldn't think so anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – JTmyth Feb 6 '19 at 17:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JTmyth the rules are a baseline for a DM to work off of. It's not "spells do what they say they do and that's all." It's "spells do what they say they do and your DM decides on any additional things outside of that". We are not your DM so we can't tell you what you can allow at a table because that is not our call. We are readily able to tell you want the rules say however. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 6 '19 at 17:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JTmyth There is no conflict between this edition and previous editions. You either play one or the other at the table. Each edition has its own unique revision of a core game that was first published in 1974 - D&D. That game has changed, and Pathfinder embodies some changes. Since Pathfinder does not treat all elements of the game as AD&D 1e did, is there something wrong with how Pathfinder treats the slow spell? No. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 6 '19 at 17:46

There are more limitations on attack than you suppose

It's not quite right to say that "RAW it does not affect attacks aside from casting spells."

When a creature is affected by Slow:

On its turn, it can use either an action or a bonus action, not both. Regardless of the creature’s abilities or magic items, it can’t make more than one melee or ranged attack during its turn.

For example, a dual-wielder cannot attack twice, and a Fighter with four attacks can only use one of them, and someone brandishing a magical Scimitar of Speed forfeits that weapon's bonus-action attack.

When that is considered, the spell looks more like the inverse of Haste but I agree with a previous answer that we must not assume the designers were trying to create the opposite of Haste, per se.

As for the "metaphysics" of the two spells (or how they are explained to work), they really are not the same.

  1. Haste increases the target's speed, costing them energy later (they are inhibited for a time after the spell is over).

  2. Slow does not "do the opposite", i.e. it does not reduce a target's speed (nor does it help them conserve energy). Rather:

    You alter time around up to six creatures of your choice in a 40 foot Cube within range.

    Since 5e is not big on giving elaborate (or comprehensible) explanations of "how spells work", you're on your own in interpreting this -- but it is not the same kind of thing as Haste, so RAW, it should not be expected that the effects of the two spells be exactly opposite.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This still doesn't give a reason to why you can't move out of the way of someone trying to punch you in slow motion or at least make it harder for them to hit you. Yes their actions are limited but the actions they CAN take still act as though they were not affected by a time altering spell. \$\endgroup\$ – JTmyth Feb 6 '19 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JTmyth This is a turn based game, not RTS or reality simulator. As a turn based game, things happen during turns. That is a core reality, and even a core constraint, of this game engine. If you do not accept that the game engine uses turns - and occasional out of turn actions using a reaction to do something on another character's turn - to resolve combat, then you may be playing the wrong system for your table/game. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 6 '19 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JTmyth this DOES include a reason as to why you CAN move out of the way. The fact that you're only getting one attack. A round isn't 6 seconds of you waiting to swing your sword once. It's a constant game of cat and mouse. The attack rolls are just a representation of the chances for you to lose HP. So, when someone is only getting one attack roll off, part of that is representing that their other attack attempts are easily avoidable. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Feb 6 '19 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5 To further amplify your excellent point, let us note that since this is a 3rd level spell, it means players who get it are typically at the level of facing multiattack creatures (or NPC's boasting a plurality of attacks per turn), so your point is spot-on. \$\endgroup\$ – Valley Lad Feb 7 '19 at 5:18

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