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This spell is intended to be used by a mad mage my players are going to encounter, who's "spells" are all practical items that mimic the effects of magic. This will ironically be the only magic he knows, and the players will find a scroll of this spell in his lab.

Jar of Bees
3rd-level conjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 20 feet
Components: V, S, M (a sealed clay jar)
Duration: Concentration, 1 minute

You throw a jar full of angry bees, stinging and chasing the target. Make a spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 1d10 slashing damage as the jar shatters against them, and they are surrounded by the swarm of bees. While surrounded by the bees, the target has disadvantage on concentration saving throws, attack rolls, and ability checks. At the start of their turn, the target must make a constitution saving throw or take 4d4 piercing damage, or half as much on a success. The bees can move up to 30 feet in a straight line on a turn: if the target moves more than 30 feet, the bees will choose a different creature within 10 feet. If their are no creatures close enough, the swarm disperses.

Classes: Bard, Druid, Ranger, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard

My comparison spells were Spirit Guardians and Fear; the damage is lower than spirit guardians, which is made up for by the extra effects and no saving throw. I intended for the damage to match a Swarm of Insects (Wasps). Fear has some similar effects, but no damage. I felt this spell still allows the creature to make attacks, and it is easier to end the effects of the spell (no saving throw to escape), which justified the added damage.

I like this spell because it could potentially make a chain of people trying to escape the spells effects, with the person concentrating deciding whether letting their ally take damage is worth the opportunity to pass the effect on to an enemy afterwards.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hello, beees! \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31, 2021 at 1:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why piercing damage rather than poison damage? I know they've got pointy stingers, but unless these are huge friggin' bees, the actual pinprick from the stingers is not the real danger (without venom, it's more annoying than dangerous). I'll grant, swarm of insects uses piercing damage, but if we're talking bee stings, I'd change the damage type. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31, 2021 at 3:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @shadowranger Swarm of insects with the Wasps variant still uses piercing, even though the venom may be more likely the cause of damage. I just went with that. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31, 2021 at 7:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another spell for comparison is the 5th level spell Insect Plague (which does a lot more damage; has a much larger range and is AoE - but different, and arguably less impactful debuffs). Jar of Bees seems more powerful than Cloud of Daggers and less powerful than Insect Plague, so I think 3rd level is a good starting point. One thing I'm not quite sure about from the description though: When does the swarm actually move? Are they following the currently targeted player on their turn (and potentially chaining a lot of movement per round?!), or do they have their own initiative? \$\endgroup\$
    – F1000003
    Aug 31, 2021 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowRanger Balancing a spell is meta-gaming. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 1, 2021 at 14:44

1 Answer 1

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The spell is probably balanced

As you said, the spell Spirit Guardians (PHB p.278) is quite a good comparison because it is also a 3rd level spell that does consistent damage against someone in a particular area during Concentration and the damage is also halved if the target succeeds on their save. Here are some strengths and weaknesses of your spell:

Strengths:

  • Disadvantage on concentration saving throws, attack rolls, and ability checks. This is really strong and the main effect an enemy will want to avoid.
  • Hard to avoid in the right circumstances, like narrow spaces and if the target has a low movement speed. I see a strong synergy with slowing magic.

Weaknesses:

  • What happens if the spell attack doesn't hit? Is the spell slot wasted? If so, this is a real weakness for a Concentration spell.
  • The spell doesn't have an increase in effect if cast with a higher spell slot.
  • The spell ends if the last target moved more than 30 feet and there is no other creature in 10 feet of them so creatures with a high movement speed can easily outrun it if there is enough space.
  • The duration is 1 minute as opposed to 10 minutes (Spirit Guardians)

Some things in your spell are also unspecified but this may be nitpicky:

  • How much space do the bees occupy?
  • If there is an ally within 10 feet of the bees, is it possible that the bees choose them?
  • Do you mean "if the target is more than 30 feet away" or is only the amount of feet moved relevant?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, but I'm not sure that "no upcasting" is strictly a weakness. It means that having the spell may be less useful at high levels, and that we don't have to worry about the balance of the upcast version, but it's not a weakness. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Nov 17, 2021 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices you are right, it is not "strictly" a weakness but since it is a Warlock spell and the "Spirit Guardian" for instance can be upcasted I figured I should mention it as one \$\endgroup\$
    – Lit Pit
    Nov 17, 2021 at 19:03

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