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I've homebrewed a spell that is effectively a combination of shield (in terms of timing) and misty step (in terms of its effect) that I've called reactive step. It's intended for sorcerers, warlocks and wizards.

I've reasoned that it's a 2nd level spell, like misty step, but I wonder if I'm missing something with regards to how it could be used that makes a 2nd level spell slot too cheap, or whether it's so niche that it's actually too expensive. I think it's either probably fine, or it's too cheap for a reason I have not thought of, so I wanted some feedback as to whether it's use justifies it's spell level.

Reactive Step

2nd level conjuration

Casting Time: 1 reaction, which you take when you are hit by a melee attack
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

When you are hit by a melee attack, you may teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space you can see, turning the triggering attack from a hit into a miss.

I originally toyed with the idea of only teleporting after taking the damage of the triggering attack, but then I decided that it would be less appealing, so I changed it to avoid the damage of the original attack (turning the hit into a miss). I include this because it might be that some think that it would have been balanced as I originally planned, but not in it's current form, so answers may choose to include such a detail. (Based on feedback thus far, I'm almost definitely going to go back to my original idea, but I'm not going to adjust the spell description above, because I don't want to change the question. Hence this question is still about the version of the spell as it's written.)

I've also restricted it to melee attacks, since I think teleporting around in response to ranged attacks is perhaps a bit too powerful for what I intended this spell to be for (primarily for getting squishy spellcasters out of melee), since otherwise it would make cover-shooting a near perfect strategy (run out from behind total cover on your turn to make a ranged attack, teleport back into total cover on the enemy's turn after they try to hit you with one ranged attack, rinse and repeat).

So, in it's current form (restricted to melee attacks, turns the triggering attack into a miss), is this spell balanced, specifically with regards to the spell level?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This isn't a balance issue exactly, but the timing language in this spell is paradoxical for the same reason shield is: it triggers when you're hit by an attack but then negates the hit. It would be cleaner for it to (1) trigger when someone attempts a melee attack, and force the attack to miss, or (2) trigger when you're hit by a melee attack and negate any damage from the attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Nov 19 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells Yeah, I just copied the wording from shield exactly for the timing. However, given that I'm likely to go for the version that means you take the damage before you escape, hopefully that wording issue will at least make sense in my case (not as it's written, though, but like I said, I'm just matching what shield says) \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Nov 19 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you wanted to still keep the aspect of "escaping the attack", you could perhaps give it a saving throw aspect - the caster rolls a saving throw (matching their spellcasting ability, or maybe a dex saving throw), with the DC being one more than the attack roll that is being reacted to. So if the attacker rolls an 18, the saving throw is against 19. I'm not sure if it would need further balancing, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Glen O Nov 20 at 8:22
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This is very powerful, probably overpowered (although play-testing would have to prove that).

It combines both the things that make Shield amazing and Misty Step very good, improved on both and uses the same spell level as Misty Step.

Look at what this lets you do that casting both Shield and Misty Step (which takes 2 spell slots and an extra Bonus Action) does not:

  • Completely negate critical hits (Shield is useless against those)
  • Completely negate a Monster's Multiattack (Shield applies to everything, but they might still hit. This just moves you out of reach)
  • Still let you cast a full spell on your next turn (Misty Step, using a Bonus Action, blocks that)
  • Lets you maintain concentration with 0% chance of dropping it

In addition (although this may be unintended) it lets an Eldritch Knight or other melee-caster completely evade an attack against him without leaving the monster's threat range, since simply side-stepping the attack is enough to trigger a miss.

As a Wizard, I would feel very safe knowing I have this panic button, and I would probably make it a must-pick for every Wizard. I already consider both Shield and Misty Step to be very powerful spells to keep a Wizard alive and this is better than both.

If you were to change it back to letting you teleport after taking damage, that sounds like it'd be more balanced. It means you are trading certain pain now for less pain later and means you can't reliably protect your concentration. It also entirely removes the 'exploit' of dodging attacks as a melee caster. It would also feel less like "an even more powerful Shield" and more like a "slightly different Misty Step".

Although at this point, it becomes very close to being an alternate use of Misty Step, so I might even consider merging both into one spell by allowing Misty Step to be used in reaction to being hit with an attack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for that. I'm definitely going to go with the "after you get hit and actually take the damage" version going forward, although I am interested in your suggestion about just extending misty step slightly so that it can be used in this way, and may consider just doing that instead of having a reactive step. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Nov 19 at 10:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ In view of your considerations, which Spell Level do you think would be appropriate for the unaltered Reactive Step as proposed by the OP? I like the concept, so instead of making it weaker, one could also just acknowledge its power and adjust the Level. \$\endgroup\$ – Mars Plastic Nov 19 at 13:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd also be interested to know your take on that; although, as written, it's clearly OP for a 2nd level spell (thanks to your analysis), but at what spell level would it be balanced for? Or is it OP even at 9th level? \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Nov 19 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the spell level that it would be balanced for (as written in the question) is at least 5th level, that also sidesteps the issue you mentioned around Eldritch Knights, since they won't have access to it anymore. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Nov 20 at 14:31

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