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The Oath of the Open Sea paladin (a third-party subclass from Critical Role) gets the Channel Divinity option "Marine Layer" at level 3:

As an action, you channel the sea to create a thick cloud of fog that surrounds you for 20 feet in all directions. The fog moves with you, remaining centered on you and making its area heavily obscured. You and each creature within 5 feet of you instead treat the area as lightly obscured. This fog lasts for 10 minutes, spreads around corners, and cannot be dispersed unless you choose to end this effect (no action required).

Is there a way, fighting against this, to remove it or negate its effects?

From what I read, it is not a spell, so it can't be counterspelled, it doesn't require concentration, lasts way longer than any fight, and moves with the paladin so you can't even move them away from this effect. Also it's not darkness, nor does it count as "invisibility", so all the divination effects designed to see through those will fail...

Is there something I missed?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a specific reason you're concerned about countering it? It hampers the character just as much as their enemies if not more. And its duration cannot be broken up, so they'll have it for 1-2 encounters in most situations. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Apr 29, 2023 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Actually it can be ended by the paladin: "[...] unless you choose to end this effect (no action required)". \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Apr 29, 2023 at 13:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking as a player, or how to manage this ability as the DM when a player has it? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2023 at 18:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso: I want to counter it for pvp reasons (think of it like a tournament arc), but in a way that is more satisfying than "spam fireballs and ignore your abilities". It doesn't hamper the character that uses it: they only gets disadvantage on perception, which only rarely matters, while they can't be targeted by anything that requires sight. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2023 at 21:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin as a player \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2023 at 21:48

5 Answers 5

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Blindsight can "see" through the fog

Blindsight allows a creature to "see" through senses other than normal vision. The description reads (PHB 183):

A monster with blindsight can perceive its surroundings without relying on sight, within a specific radius.

Blindsight most likely counts as seeing for the purposes of a spell that requires sight. There are a couple of ways you can get access to blindsight:

Magic Items

The Dagger of Blindsight is a rare magic item from Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage with the following ability (WDMM 86):

A creature attuned to it gains blindsight out to a range of 30 feet.

If magic items are available to you, you might ask your DM about obtaining this item. There are also legendary items from the Rise of Tiamat campaign which can provide limited blindsight (thanks Kirt for pointing these out), and there may be others I am unaware of, but I do not know what may be available in your specific game. You are already outside the realm of official books with the Oath of the Open Sea subclass, so there may be other unofficial options available to you.

Spellcasting

Draconic transformation is a 7th-level spell from Fizban's Treasury of Dragons available to druids, sorcerers, or wizards that provides the following benefits (FTD 19):

With a roar, you draw on the magic of dragons to transform yourself, taking on draconic features. You gain the following benefits until the spell ends:

Blindsight. You have blindsight with a range of 30 feet. Within that range, you can effectively see anything that isn't behind total cover, even if you're blinded or in darkness. Moreover, you can see an invisible creature, unless the creature successfully hides from you.

Breath Weapon. When you cast this spell, and as a bonus action on subsequent turns for the duration, you can exhale shimmering energy in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking 6d8 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Wings. Incorporeal wings sprout from your back, giving you a flying speed of 60 feet.

A downside of this method is that it uses concentration, so you would be limited to non-concentration spells if you want to keep the blindsight.

Wait it out

Another option is just to wait out the effect of the fog.

You state the fog "lasts way longer than any fight", but it doesn't have to. You can use rope trick to hang out in an extradimensional space for the 10 minutes, etherealness to pop into the ethereal plane for the duration, or use forcecage to trap the paladin until the fog effect expires (although with forcecage you have to wait the full hour duration as well, you cannot choose to end it like you can with the other two mentioned spells). You are essentially putting the combat "on hold" until you can fight on your own terms.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There are magic items in HotDQ and RoT that grant blindsight. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    May 2, 2023 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I really like the "wait it out" option, I even think it could be achieved with a simple Invisibility spell, assuming this Pally can't see the invisible. \$\endgroup\$ May 2, 2023 at 23:43
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This ability is hard to counter directly, but there are a few ways to level the playing field a bit.

Hit the middle of the fog with area effects

In order to benefit from this feature, the paladin's allies all need to stand directly adjacent to each other in the center of the fog so that they can see through it. This makes them very vulnerable to area effects, including both damaging effects like Fireball as well as other effects such as Web. Using such effects (or threatening to use them) strongly incentivizes the paladin and their allies to spread out, negating a large part of the benefit of this feature (especially because paladins are typically not great at ranged combat).

Get into melee

All creatures within 5 feet of the paladin gain the ability to see through the fog, so if you are melee fighter, the best strategy is to run right into the fog and into melee with the paladin. Then you will have vision of the paladin and their allies, and you will be able to make opportunity attacks if they try to fall back in order to take away your vision.

(Obviously, be careful about combining these two strategies at once.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ None of those are actually negating the effect: they are ways to outplay it. I'd like to make it so I can target them with spells that require line of sight for example. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2023 at 21:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, these are very much indirect counters, ways to negate the benefits of the ability without negating the ability itself. We'll see if other answers can come up with some direct counters. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2023 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Blindsense too maybe? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Apr 30, 2023 at 2:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoakimM.H. Both spells can be cast blind (i.e. they require line of effect but not line of sight). The fog is spherical, so aiming at the center is easy enough even though you can't see into it (especially in the case of fireball, whose radius is the same as the fog's). \$\endgroup\$ May 1, 2023 at 0:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Area of effect spells like web, entangle, and black tentacles are going to be particularly effective here if the fog is being used as a mobile bunker. The more allies the paladin has, the more likely one of them will be restrained. Then they will be faced with the choice of stopping and freeing the ally or continuing to move, leaving them behind and exposed to sight (hopefully while restrained). \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    May 2, 2023 at 14:35
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Be a Pact of the Chain Warlock with a bat familiar

Pact of the Chain Warlock can summon a bat as their familiar, as one of the forms listed in the Find Familiar spell (PHB p.240).

You gain the service of a familiar, a spirit that takes an animal form you choose: bat, ...

The bat posesses blindsight with a radius of 60 feet, allowing it to ignore the heavily obscured area created by the Paladin's ability, as it does not rely on vision to see the Paladin.

The Warlock should also take the Voice of the Chain Master invocation (PHB p. 111). One of the benefits of the invocation states:

You can ... percieve through your familiar's senses as long as you are on the same plane of existence.

After that, keep the bat in the sky well above the Paladin (but in the 60ft blindsense range), preferably after casting Invisibility on it. The bat will allow you to see the Paladin despite their fog aura.

Though kinda useless, and the invocation is not required

As was brought up in the comments, the Voice of the Chain Master invocation only changes the maximum distance for using your familiar's senses, but not the cost of an action to do so. This means you can see the Paladin, but without your Action, little can be done against them.

The key part of the Find Familiar spell:

While your familiar is within 100 feet of you, you can communicate with it telepathically. Additionally, as an action, you can see through your familiar's eyes and hear what it hears until the start of your next turn, gaining the benefits of any special senses that the familiar has.

With this, you can skip the invocation because the default 100 foot distance, mentioned in the Find Familiar spell, will probably be enough for all practical purposes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, this isn't very useful, since you have to spend your action each turn to perceive through your familiar's senses, which means you can't actually do much of anything at the same time. \$\endgroup\$ May 2, 2023 at 13:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, right. I looked at the invocation and forgot it only increased the viewing distance, but the base requirement for spending an action remained the same. \$\endgroup\$
    – FortTell
    May 2, 2023 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ You also don't need to signal your edits - just update your answer to what you want it be in it's final form and folks can always look at the history to see what it used to be. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 2, 2023 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nothing in the rules on Help says that a helper needs to see your target or that an invisible helper loses invisibility by helping. For your bat, have them fly down and take the Help action, giving you advantage and offsetting the disadvantage from not seeing the target, then fly away - since they are invisible they will not provoke OA. Use readied actions so that the two of you attack on the same turn. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    May 2, 2023 at 14:43
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Hard Counter to Opponent's Strength: Blindsight

OP says that he is most interested in ways to negate the effect of the paladin's fog. As smbailey's answer points out, the hard counter to non-magical fog is blindsight. Unfortunately, nearly everything that grants blindsight does so to such a limited distance that it is unlikely to be helpful except in melee, and if your plan involves melee, will you be taking on all of the paladin's group by yourself? Or, if you are bringing allies, can you provide each of them with blindsight?

Blind Fighting Fighting Style will get you blindsight to 10 feet, as will the Ascendant Aspect of the Way of the Ascendant Dragon Monk. A ranger's Feral Senses will counter the fog to 30', as will the Draconic Transformation spell or the unique magic item Dagger of Blindsight. However, even 30' is awfully short unless you can equip your whole group. Between them, the Hoard of the Dragon Queen and the Rise of Tiamat contain five magic items that will grant blindsight to 30' for five minutes a day.

Each of the five Dragon Masks have this ability. Even if your characters play the adventures, they are unlikely to gain access to more than one of the masks, at least until the very end, when they have a chance to capture the combined five. However, if this adventure series has already happened, or has not happened yet, in the timeline of your campaign, it might be possible to obtain one or more of the masks, either before or after they are important.

Besides items, you might acquire blindsight by tapping into the senses of a familiar (find familiar) or animal companion (beast sense). Some suggested forms that naturally have blindsight would be bats, crabs, and psuedodragons. Unfortunately, seeing through the eyes of the beast or beast form requires your action, meaning there is little you can do to capitalize on not being blinded by the fog. Alternately, you could wild shape, shapechange, or polymorph into a form with blindsight (bat, crab, giant crab, giant constrictor snake). In this case you would preserve your action, but the possible uses of your action in that form are underwhelming. Overkill would be, as a 20th level wizard or druid, true polymorphing or shapechanging yourself into an ancient brass dragon. Then you would have natural, actionless blindsight to 60 feet and a host of offensive options. But if you are a 20th level full caster it seems an odd choice to be focused on countering your opponent's fog compared to your other options for dealing with them.

Soft counter to Opponent's Strength: Offsetting Advantage

As Ryan C. Thompson's answer says, area of effect spells typically don't care about whether you can see the secondary targets or not. The fog tells you where the targets are, so blast away! However, OP desires something more sophisticated.

The paladin's mobile fog screen protects them and their allies - you can't see them, so you are at disadvantage in all your attacks. However, you do know where the paladin is - they are in whichever square is at the center of the fog. And if the paladin's allies are within 5' of them, there are only eight squares in which they can be - so the more allies, the more likely you can guess one of their squares as well. You don't have to see them to attack - you just declare the square you think, or know, they are in. You do have disadvantage on the attack - unless you can find some way to also have advantage, in which case they offset and you have a flat roll, which is a soft counter to the fog. There are lots of ways to gain advantage, and many of them work even against opponents you cannot see. Consult here and here for some examples, but especially consider an invisible flying familiar with the Help action. Remember also that if they can't see you, it doesn't matter that you can't see them, so there is another way to offset the disadvantage (and see mirror match, below).

If you are primarily engaging them with missile weapons, this soft counter may be enough to achieve your objective of continuing to effectively target the paladin. However, the OP says that he wants to target the opponents with spells that work on line of sight, and many spells require you to see the target. If those spells are your principal offense, the soft counter of offsetting advantage will be insufficient.

Soft counter to Opponent's Strength: Forced Movement

Your opponent is using the fog to protect their group from attacks that rely on sight. They can only do that, however, by keeping them in a tight cluster within twenty feet of the paladin, and much of the protection is lost at more than five feet from the paladin. So one counter strategy is forced movement. If you can get the paladin to flee, all of their group will be exposed. If you can get the group to scatter, you can focus fire on the weaker opponents. One option is fear, although at third level and 30' range it's not great. Paladins aren't immune to fear until 10th level. If you have access to a wand of fear, no spell slots and a 60 foot range is pretty decent1. At a lower level is the bard's dissonant whispers. Eminently repeatable and a 60 foot range; the target has to be able to hear you but you don't have to be able to see it. If your warlock is of high enough level to get two eldritch blasts per turn, then repelling blast might be enough to push one of your opponents out of the fog, or force the paladin back far enough to reveal his allies. No save, but you do have to hit and you will likely be firing with disadvantage. Still, 120' range2.

Exploiting the Opponent's Weakness: Poor Maneuverability

Up until now I have been making a good faith effort to address OP's stated goal of countering the fog by negating it. However, rather than trying to counter the opponent's strength, in this case it is far more practical to exploit their weakness, which is their poor maneuverability.

In the real world, infantry are trained to move in formation, whether that is for rapidly covering long distances (marching) or for engaging enemies as units (at tactical speed). The 5e ruleset, however, with its initiative order and turn-based movement makes the latter particularly difficult to do. If the paladin is stationary, the counter to the fog is to just retreat out of range or behind cover and wait out the duration of the Marine Layer. But if the paladin tries to move, consider the problems that poses to them and their allies. As soon as the paladin moves more than five feet, most of their allies are no longer within five feet of them and are thus blinded, meaning your attacks on them are no longer at disadvantage. If the paladin moves more than twenty feet, their allies will likely be left out of the fog and will become prime targets, at least until their own turn for movement. Your group can focus attacks on theses opponents exposed and left behind. To get around this, the paladin might creep along, keeping their group protected, but at the cost of movement rate. Or, the entire group might ready actions to move in formation on the paladin's turn, but at a cost of giving up their own on-turn actions and crippling their offensive capability.

If your group counters the fog by being mobile and staying out of range, the paladin's group is already at a tactical disadvantage. But you can do more than that. There are a wealth of spells that impose difficult terrain (for example web, entangle, and spike growth) that you can drop in front of the fog to further slow the paladin's progress. These are typically low-level spells, allowing them to be cast repeatedly, and they usually have good range. Their add-on effects might include damage or restraining. The more allies the paladin has, the more likely one of them will fail its save (even given that paladin's frustrating aura of protection). If you can restrain just one of the paladin's allies, their group then has a devil's choice of stopping until the ally is freed, or continuing on without them, meaning that the ally left behind is not only exposed but can be attacked at advantage once their group has moved on.

Basically this is the strategy of 'kiting' your opponent, but your goals, in addition to doing ranged damage and denying them the ability to close, is to force them to split up and then to attack the members of their group that are no longer protected, as well as running out the clock on the fog.

The Mirror Match: Poor Spectacle

If your group doesn't have the mobility and range attacks you would need to effectively kite the paladin's group, you might consider the mirror strategy; covering your own group in a way that makes it more difficult to target, typically by casting darkness on an object one of you carries (I suggest something carried by your warlock with devil's sight). Your group will be subject to the same difficulties in moving that the paladin's group has, but you will be equally protected. If you think you can win a melee with a level playing field, you might then just charge in, trusting that no one in the combat can see anyone else. Or, you can continue to circle them at a distance, protected from their ranged attacks but denying them contact until the fog times out.

OP has said that this contest might be part of a tournament arc. In such a case, it is likely that the spectators and judges will not be happy that the combat is unwatchable, or that you are deliberately frustrating the action tempo they expect. Sometimes, however, your lives are worth more than your fortunes or honor.


1And if you have access to an imp familiar and a wand of fear, why haven't you had the imp attune to the wand yet?
2Can your team hire a ringer for the length of the tournament? You are looking for a pact of the chain warlock with an imp familiar, wand of fear, eldritch blast on tap, both repelling blast and eldritch spear invocations, darkness, and devil's sight. They can stay at 300 feet from the fog and blast opponents out of it with impunity. The rest of your team just does what you normally do and focus fire on the opponents as they get tossed out of the fog.

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Get the paladin to bring it down.

Since there is no way to dispel or disperse the effect, you are going to have to get the paladin to bring it down.

I've come up with two ways to do this.

  1. Surround the paladin. If you were to surround the paladin with creatures, then the paladin will want to bring down the effect so that their allies can interact with the creatures surrounding him.
  2. Use suggestion. The suggestion spell can be used to force the paladin to bring the spell down. A spell caster need only run into the fog and cast the spell on the paladin.

If these options aren't available, you will just have to play around the fog using area of effect spells, or the hide action to counteract the disadvantage caused by the heavy obscurement.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "A spell caster need only run into the fog and cast the spell on the paladin" going into melee as a spell caster (notoriously squishy classes), especially if the paladin's allies are close to them, sounds like a good way to get killed. Especially if you die before you could bring the fog down, since you are now dying, in the middle of the enemy group and out of sight from your allies. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    May 2, 2023 at 11:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Matthieu not all spellcasters are squishy but I see your point. \$\endgroup\$ May 2, 2023 at 13:01

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