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The description of the spell says

1 reaction, which you take when a creature you can see within 60 feet of yourself succeeds on an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw

So it sounds like the answer is no, but I'd still like to ask is it possible to use my reaction here even though the creature attacking me with a spell or breath weapon didn't succeed at anything but I failed my saving throw, also it's worth mentioning that I lose half the spell's effect by doing that because I'm only getting advantage rather than getting advantage and giving an enemy disadvantage.

Update: the DM said the silvery barbs was banned even before I asked him this question xD

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    \$\begingroup\$ I’ve added the [dnd-5e] tag since you quoted the 5e spell silvery barbs. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 7:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ No worries, welcome to the stack. When youve got a minute, our tour can give you a brief overview of the site, and the help center has some more detailed basic information. And if you really want to go down the rabbit hole, our FAQ has some discussion about issues specific to the site that may be different from other sites on the stack exchange network. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 11:51

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You can only cast a reaction spell when the defined trigger occurs.

The rules for reaction spells state:

If a spell can be cast as a reaction, the spell description tells you exactly when you can do so.

Since silvery barbs says:

when a creature you can see within 60 feet of yourself succeeds on an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw

The only time you can cast silvery barbs is exactly when one of these things occurs. If none of them have happened, you cannot cast the spell. In your case, an enemy creature is targeting you with a spell or breath weapon, but has not succeeded on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, so you cannot use your reaction to cast silvery barbs at that time.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for the answer, guess next session I'll bring my DM's favourite pizza before asking him if I could homebrew it to allow me to trigger it when a friendly creature fails a check in exchange for losing half the spells effect(disadvantage on enemy). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 0:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Muhammadhiari obviously what you do at your table is up to you, but I'd note that Silvery Barbs is already considered borderline overpowered, and adding additional flexibility is probably going to make it worse. Food for thought. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 17:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Joe I'm still quite new to 5e, so thanks for the insight. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 18:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Joe It's just that my bladesinger is hard countered by AOE spells and breath attacks, guess absorb element will have to do. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 21:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Update, DM banned the spell, rightfully. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 14:06

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