Last session our party (totem barbarian, mutant (homebrew) druid, starry druid, soulknife rogue, fathomless warlock, conjuration wizard, all 14th level) just got completely pwned by a couple of baddies. The fight lasted 5 rounds, they mopped the field with us, and we barely escaped by bugging out through a portal. We got away though and I have to count that as a win.
Aside from being generally just bad-to-the-bone, both of the baddies were scary as heck. I mean we were literally frightened of them. One baddie was a big ol dragon with Frightening Presence and the other was a paladin (or paladin-esque) with something like the conquest pally's Conquering Presence.
The relevant aspect of the dragon to the question is its Frightening Presence. It was some truly big and bad dragon of gargantuan size, with both cold and lightning, but this question is about dealing with the fear.
Yeah, the fear. Our barb I think in 5 rounds never got in a hit. He's our go-to melee scrapper and he never got over his fear of the pally. He'd move toward the dragon and the dragon would just fly off. The rest of us were also less than effective at times due to being frightened.
The fear allowed a save each turn, although the barb failed every time.
At the risk of fighting the last battle, we're trying to figure out how to better operate in similar circumstances.
We don't have a bard, cleric, or paladin so we don't have access to bless, calm emotions, heroism or similar spells on those lists or benefits from those classes. We're going to see what we can do with enhance ability and heroes feast. We're also looking at what we can do for the barb for ranged attacks.
We have plenty of magic items, but none to deal with this. Low-level magic items are relatively common, although rarely the one you want at the time you're looking, and at soul-crushingly exorbitant prices, and we've reached out to our contacts without much success, although we'll keep looking. We have enough money that plenty of relatively low-level magic items are within our grasp, if they can be found.
I always consider running away to be a strategically valid option, although in this case there was no terrain exit and we were lucky that we had any high-level teleportation-type magic left. I generally try to keep teleport available for just such a case, but we'd already used it that day.
We'd like to reach our objective by going around these two if we can, and we're trying to find out more about them, and we're tooling up to hit back harder if we have to, but, it's the fear, man, it's the fear. As someone once said, "fear is the mind-killer..."
The real problem is that the cause of the fear were area effects that we were getting subjected to from multiple sources. We couldn't suddenly eat a heroes' feast and enhance ability only works on one PC at a time, even had it been available. And then once you're frightened, attacks and ability checks are at disadvantage, which really puts a damper on things.
In this particular case, our barb couldn't close on the pally, and many of our attacks and abilities were weakened by being frightened.
In similar circumstances, being controlled through fear tactics, what have you successfully used to deal with being frightened, either negating it, or somehow managing to operate successfully in spite of it?
An example of negation would be enhance ability, although that one isn't great because it doesn't end the fear, it just enhances saves.
An example of operating successfully would be using magic missile, since it doesn't use an attack roll or an ability check and hence isn't adversely affected by the frightened condition.