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I'm trying to create a few spells for an Illusionist I'm currently playing. I could use some help refining the wording used as well as prevent any broken mechanics or introducing an unbalanced spell to my group. So any advice or feedback would be appreciated.

Is this spell overpowered or broken?

How does it compare or fit in with other similar spells?

Is there a published alternative that would fit the "Illusionary Armor" spell theme I'm going for?


Father’s Dread

1st Level Illusion

Casting Time: 1 round

Range: Self

Target: Self

Components: S, V, F (A thick leather belt or other instrument of punishment that must be held in one hand and remain visible at all times for the duration of the spell.)

Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

Classes: Wizard, Warlock, Paladin (Oath of Vengeance, oath breaker)

You cloak yourself in a magical aura derived from the essences of fear and authority. Any creature within 10 feet that would attack you with a melee attack must make a Charisma saving throw. If the saving throw fails all melee attacks against you until the start of their next turn are made at disadvantage. Creatures are subject to this saving throw only once per round, but are subject to a saving throw each round.

At Higher Levels:

When you cast this spell using a slot of 3rd level or higher, upon a failed save the creature cannot use a melee attack derived from a bonus action against you in similar effect to the Sanctuary Spell (The action can be redirected if there is a legal target that meets the bonus attacks conditions).

When you cast this spell using a slot of 5th level or higher, upon a failed save the creature cannot use a melee attack derived from a reaction against you in similar effect to the Sanctuary Spell.

When you cast this spell using a slot of 7th level or higher, upon a failed save the creature cannot make more than a single melee attack against you, all other attacks are subject to a similar effect to the Sanctuary Spell.

When you cast this spell using a slot of 9th level, upon a failed save the creature must forgoe all melee attacks against you until the start of their next turn.

The effects of casting this spell using a higher level slot are cumulative.

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    \$\begingroup\$ AFAIK, Casting Time are generally actions (Action, Bonus Action or Reaction) unless the spell takes several rounds to cast. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3 at 8:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Recall than there are no spell slots higher than 9th level (at least, without artifacts). \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Apr 3 at 8:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ The last upcasting "against you until the start of their next round." I think it should be changed to "their next turn". \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Apr 3 at 8:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PlayPatrice No, no published spell uses the word “round” in its casting time. The official casting times used are action, bonus action, reaction, 1 minute, 10 minutes, 1 hour, 8 hours, 12 hours, and 24 hours. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3 at 10:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this definitely DND 5e? Sounds like pathfinder or similar \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Apr 3 at 17:17

1 Answer 1

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Careful with trigger warnings

This is more of a meta thing, but it seems relevant enough to warrant a short mention beforehand. The subject of child abuse, which is clearly the spell's theme, can be a difficult subject for certain people. It can go from simply making other players uncomfortable, up to bringing back previous trauma in very painful ways.

That's not to say that you should think of another theming, but rather to be careful about which players you expose to this spell. At the very least, I'd always bring it up during session 0, just to be safe.

Potential loophole

Regarding the following part :

Any creature within 10 feet that would attack you with a melee attack must make a Charisma saving throw. If the saving throw fails all melee attacks against you until the start of their next turn are made at disadvantage.

As written, this means that as long as a creature fails the Charisma check, all melee attacks made against you are at disadvantage until the creature's next turn.

That would include melee attacks from any other source, meaning other creatures who didn't even take the skill check would automatically have disadvantage, which is likely not the intent behind the spell since other parts of the spell specify the creature that triggered the effect.

As such, there is current room for exploiting by having another creature (or even a teammate) attack you and purposefully failing the skill check, in order to give you the effect "for free".

The long casting time makes this very risky

A lot can happen during a round, and any smart foes will focus their attention on the character who's casting a long spell.

Since you need to make a concentration check any time you get damaged while you're casting the spell, you risk loosing the spell for the entire duration of the round you're casting it.

And if you loose the spell, that means you've wasted your entire turn, lost the spell slot used for the spell and revealed a crucial information to your foes.

And since this spell is probably your main defensive spell for combat, this means you most likely do not have any other spells protecting you from damage while you're casting it, meaning it's even easier for foes to break the casting's concentration.

One way to circumvent this is to cast it right before entering battle, but even this is not always a possibility, depending on the context of the fight. And even if you manage to cast it, you're still one instance of damage away from potentially loosing it entirely.

Upcasting isn't all that worth it outside of PvP

Very few monsters actually use bonus actions, and even when they do, it usually is either for defensive abilities (goblins can Disengage or Hide, for example) or for spells.

As a matter of fact, I couldn't find a single monster that can use a bonus action to make a melee attack. That doesn't mean they do not exist, but that speaks to their rarity, at the very least.

Most monsters get all their melee attacks through Multiattack, meaning they get all their attacks through their action, excluding opportunity attacks.

The higher effects of upcasting indeed give great protection against melee attacks, which can be especially nice for opportunity attacks. However, those upcasts become available at a rather high level of play, where foes likely will have more than just melee attacks in their arsenal.

As such, they will have no shortage of ways to break your concentration, then resume their assault.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would removing either (not both) the long casting time or the concentration requirement bring this to a better spot? I'm trying not to overshadow the Clerics Sanctuary spell or just transcribe sanctuary to the wizard spell list. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3 at 9:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PlayPatrice I do believe both of those is too much, so removing one of the two would make the spell more attractive for sure. I haven't looked at the potential repercussions of either options for each class though, playtesting might be needed in order to give a final answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Apr 3 at 10:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sanctuary has no concentration and is quick to cast, I am not sure there is any reason why this needs to be different. It is basically just an illusion version of sanctuary with upcast options. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Apr 3 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sanctuary is a Cleric spell. There are many "parallel" spells (Spiritual weapon, Mordenkins sword for example) - and it ensures each class feels unique and does their job or lane better than others. Sanctuary is a cleric spell, this is an attempt at making an arcane themed spell without replacing the other. I /could/ just ask my DM to let me put sanctuary on my wizard list, but thats not the point. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3 at 18:50

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