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Many creatures in D&D 5e have a feature called Magic Resistance. One such is the Archmage:

Magic Resistance. The archmage has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

So the Archmage has advantage on saving throws against magical effects. Suppose I wanted to weaken the Archmage's resistance to magic - I use some effect that gives disadvantage on the saving throw for my spell. Normally, this would balance out to a straight roll, as the rules for advantage and disadvantage say:

If circumstances cause a roll to have both advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20. This is true even if multiple circumstances impose disadvantage and only one grants advantage or vice versa. In such a situation, you have neither advantage nor disadvantage.

This seems to set a baseline for a straight roll on saves against magical effects, that the Archmage can never roll at disadvantage against magical effects.

But is there a way to get around this? Keep in mind, such an ability must respect the specific beats general rule:

That said, many racial traits, class features, spells, magic items, monster abilities, and other game elements break the general rules in some way, creating an exception to how the rest of the game works. Remember this: If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins.

The general rule here is that advantage and disadvantage balance out to a single die roll, so getting around Magic Resistance must either specifically override the rule for advantage and disadvantage, or eliminate Magic Resistance entirely.

Is there any way (e.g. magic item, class feature, spell, etc.) to force a creature with Magic Resistance to make a save against a magical effect with disadvantage?


While writing this up I did find this closed question which asks generally how to combat creatures with Magical Resistance, I intend this to be a (hopefully) more focused version of that question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you interested in merely any method, (answers could be single items) or every method (answers should grow and develop and try to be extensive and exhaustive)? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Aug 27 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Completeness is certainly preferable. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Aug 27 at 14:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is Magic Resistance a "magic effect" that would fail inside an anti-magic field? Oh wait, being inside an anti-magic field is basically full immunity from all magic, so it's useless in practice either way. :P \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Aug 28 at 3:30
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To my knowledge there is no feature that lets you give super-disadvantage and override a present advantage. So the only option is to take away the Magic Resistance feaure. While there is no specific way for that, there is:

Polymorph

The 4th level spell polymorph and its big brother true polymorph are able to completely overwrite the statblock of a creature. It is replaced by that of a beast. Since the Magic Resistance feature is part of the statblock, that is lost as well.

While they do get to save againts the transformation, they only roll 1 save, and once it sticks their saves will not only be without advantage, but their modifiers are also likely in the gutter as well!

You might have a bit of trouble targeting them with other effects as they are now a beast and not what they were before, but effects that could affect both will persist even when polymorph wears off.

You also cannot damage them properly, but in exchange they are helpless as well.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ if you keep up true polymorph for the full hour and then kill them, they're still quite dead, at least as far as we can determine.. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Nov 10 at 3:09
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(This answer appears to be invalidated by 2018 PHB erratum that nerfed Portent to only replace 1 die, see How does the Diviner's Portent ability interact with Advantage and Disadvantage?, thanks @NautArch for pointing that out.)


A divination wizard's Portent ability can be used on enemy saves, replacing their d20 roll regardless of advantage or disadvantage.

Starting at 2nd level when you choose this school, glimpses of the future begin to press in on your awareness. When you finish a long rest, roll two d20s and record the numbers rolled. You can replace any attack roll, saving throw, or ability check made by you or a creature that you can see with one of these foretelling rolls. You must choose to do so before the roll, and you can replace a roll in this way only once per turn.

This replaces the d20 (straight / advantage / disadvantage) roll (from a tweet by Jeremy Crawford), before the creature's modifiers are added. So it can be combined with other additive modifiers like Bane (minus 1d4).

It's definitely not disadvantage, but posting anyway as requested by the OP. Using on enemy saves against save-or-suck spells is one of the most effective combat uses for low d20 portent rolls. (If you're curious how this plays in practice and enjoy watching live-play D&D videos, a character in the Fantasy High series on youtube makes good use of her low and high portent rolls this way, especially in season 2 when they're higher level and have more important save-or-suck spells.)


Also note that the Lucky feat does not work for this. It works for Attack rolls against you, but never checks/saves by other creatures. (This question quotes the wording; sage advice confirms it can turn advantage into super-disadvantage for attacks against you, although without removing mechanical benefits of advantage such as Sneak Attack.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Aug 28 at 23:35
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Because of the advantage/disadvantage rule. There is no easy way to force a roll with disadvantage.

You have to remove the advantage somehow.

The only way I am aware of is to strip the target of their resistance, such as the spell “polymorph” which itself would be subject to the protection. But while polymorphed, it would be susceptible to any other magic effect, which would carry over after polymorph ended.

Otherwise you could also Wish resistance away.. Although that is a bit extreme, it would grant your proper advantage roll.

The other theoretical options would be to change the saving throw to be non-magical somehow. Or a “ignore spell resistance” ability added. Keep in mind such abilities, which negate creatures benefits, are very rare, examples might be the Gloomstalker’s “anti-darkvision” ability. Or the Elemental Adept feat ability to ignore damage resistance. Exceptions to exceptions can get hard to follow for rules arbitration.

Combining the theoretical ideas with the actionable “wish”. You could wish to be able to ignore magical resistance, or for your spells to be considered non-magical (my head hurts).

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer would definitely benefit from the examples of abilities that you say are "very rare". It sounds like such an ability would answer this question quite nicely, but it seems odd to say they are very rare, as though they exist, and not describe them. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Aug 27 at 15:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was saying counter abilities in general were very rare and gave two examples of abilities which negate creatures abilities (darkvision and damage resistance) I will reword it to be better indicate this. \$\endgroup\$ – Daveman Aug 27 at 15:39
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You could use a luck point which is almost disadvantage, since you are making them roll twice and use the lower.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For the benefit of anyone else like me who don't remember what luck points are, could you expand on that and of course how they work and are "almost disadvantage"? \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Aug 27 at 17:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the Lucky feat only allows you to affect your own saving throws. \$\endgroup\$ – Red Orca Aug 27 at 22:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RedOrca: Presumably the source of the confusion here is that it does allow you to affect someone else's Attack roll against you. But only your own rolls for saves/checks. And yes, can turn advantage into super-disadvantage, as Sage advice points out. (But not stopping a Sneak Attack if they still hit; mechanically it was still "at advantage", so "almost disadvantage" is warranted). Can a character use a luck point to affect a roll that was replaced by Portent? quotes the full PHB feat \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Aug 28 at 3:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Speaking of Portent; you can use it on enemy saves, replacing their roll regardless of advantage or disadvantage. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Aug 28 at 3:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes Sounds like an answer, post it. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Aug 28 at 3:31

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