Coming up to the end of the current story arc, I would like the main villain to become a recurring enemy, popping up at the most inconvinient of times as they do.

There is going to be a large scale battle, in which the main villain will be revealed (as they party believe he is a friend) and this is when he will turn on the party. I want to be able to either Stun them or otherwise prevent them from taking an action so the villain can get away.

What spells or magical items are available that can Stun or otherwise hold the party?

Some quick information:

  • the party consists of 5 PCs at Level 7
  • I already know of Hold Person, which would require an 8th Level spell slot if I'm right
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ A problem you will encounter is that fair spells that control a whole party at least permit a saving throw. Is it necessary that the PCs are stunned/asleep/... or could something like an instant teleportation do the tricks ? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6 '16 at 13:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme ideally I want the villain to have his little speech just before he disappears, plus he has class levels in Fighter, giving him Action Surge, so he can cast a spell to Stun them, say his few words and then disappear \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6 '16 at 14:14
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ Is taking a bit of narrative control and just declaring he states a few words and disappears enough? Why must it be a mechanical spell? \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Dec 6 '16 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does 5e still have the concept of phylacteries? If so, it would eliminate any "cheesing" of saving throws to ensure players failed. Simply let them kill the villain, and have him show up later once he regenerates. Stopping him permanently becomes largely about locating and destroying his phylactery before the final battle. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7 '16 at 11:29

Ways to prevent multiple characters from taking any action:

  • Command (Only for 1 round)
  • Eyebite (1 character per round for 5 rounds)
  • Hold Person (As you know)
  • Hypnotic Pattern
  • Sleep
  • Symbol (Insanity, Pain, Sleep, or Stunning)
  • Time Stop (Not technically, but it achieves what you need)

Of these, Hypnotic Pattern is probably your best bet, as it's low level and does exactly what you need, so long as the party fails their saving throws. Sleep, somewhat uniquely, does not allow a saving throw. But it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to affect the entire party with it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ maybe the traitor developped a buff spell that cranks up the next Hypnotic pattern DC by 5; a little like ... shoot... i forgot the name of that spell... that grants +20 to hit on the next attack... but much more circumstancial. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Dec 6 '16 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ this is the sort of answer I was looking for! as good a suggestion traps are, it doesn't quite work out in the story I have planned, which is why I wanted spells or magical items. the other option I was thinking was creating a brand new spell for this purpose, but I'd rather stick to what's in the books. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6 '16 at 13:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @JamieBrace Glad to hear it - for what it's worth, I think you constrained your question well and kept it from being too broad, regardless of users ignoring the constraints you gave. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Dec 6 '16 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mouhgouda True Strike? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6 '16 at 20:52

Spell Trap

The use of traps makes a lot of sense here. You can create multiple Glyph of Warding "traps" that each have hold person stored within:

Spell Glyph. You can store a prepared spell of 3rd level or lower in the glyph by casting it as part of creating the glyph. The spell must target a single creature or an area. The spell being stored has no immediate effect when cast in this way. When the glyph is triggered, the stored spell is cast. If the spell has a target, it targets the creature that triggered the glyph. If the spell affects an area, the area is centered on that creature. If the spell summons hostile creatures or creates harmful objects or traps, they appear as close as possible to the intruder and attack it. If the spell requires concentration, it lasts until the end of its full duration

If the villain can lure them into the glyphs, then each Hold Person can be rolled for save.

However, the last part is the important bit - if you they save, they're not held. You can have a whole hallway filled with them, so it's just glyph after glyph after glyph, but that may be a little heavy handed. In addition, he'd have to prepare for this as the glyphs can't travel. So there'd need to be a place he can lure them TO where he's set up his 'escape'.

As said above, Hypnotic Pattern is an option, but that's also circumvented with a save.

Run Away

The hallway of Glyphs is the easiest and simplest mechanic to achieve what you're looking for - although a simple Dimension Door could do it, too.

Magical Items

The Robe of Scintillating colors (DMG, p194) can force a DC 15 Wis save or be stunned to the entire party. Again, the problem here is someone making their save.

Alternate Option-Wall of Force (5th level) or Forcecage (7th level)

I just noticed in the comments of another answer that you didn't want to use traps. If that's the case, then Glyphs of Warding don't really work. What COULD work is containment. Casting Wall of Force or Forcecage can contain them without allowing a save. It gives you time to taunt and then either run or dimension door away.

Alternate - Mislead(5th level spell)

The answer below suggesting using an illusion scroll is a great idea, but I am taking it one step further with using Mislead, a 5th level spell. It has a one hour duration, which allows the Villain to turn invisible and get a safe distance before "turning" on the group as the illusion and telling them of his evil plan. Since the group has no reason to physically interact with the Illusion, there is no save. Once he says his peace, he can either walk the illusion off, or dismiss it. All while a safe distance away.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I love the Wall of Force idea - I didn't know that spell existed so that's great! \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6 '16 at 14:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ And you can shape it into a 20' Diameter sphere (if you can get the party into that) or if no one has a burrow or fly, you can just wall them inside. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Dec 6 '16 at 14:17

You don't necessarily need to "Stun" them to have your character exscape. There are a few magic spells (Misty Step, Dimension Door, Teleportation) that can get your villain to a safe distance after the big reveal, there are also a few magic items that have those spells attached to them as well. A whole party stun is actually very hard to pull off, especially at 7th level where a few different classes have easy ways to circumvent magical effects, plus there is always the lucky roll that lets someone save from it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Worth adding that mechanically, allowing a few words spoken as a "free action" when the main action is an escape spell is within the normal rules, so there is no need to do something that feels forced. This can also be the backup plan to a failed attack/stun spell - provided the NPC can cope for a round with whoever is left attacking him/her \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7 '16 at 10:39

A preset mechanical trap, which the (undercover) villain tricks the party into, seems the most likely method of dealing with this. A room riddled with trapdoor pits, for instance, and the party standing on the trapdoors as requirement for "solving a puzzle" to advance in some way, a net (or multiple nets) that drop or spring on the party, the list goes on and on. The beauty of this is that a trusted character can lie through his teeth to get the party to walk straight into the trap -- and then make his exit while they're trying to extricate themselves.


What about doing something "alternative"?

I mean..he is a villain, after all: he knows he can't mock on those former-friends without them trying to punish him. He knows he can't use any spell/trap without them getting at least one chance to avoid it and reach him.

But he is clearly smart enough to create something useful for him to escape: for example, he could pay (or coerce..he's a villain, right?) a local magician to use an Illusion Scroll to project himself in front of the party, while remaining at safe distance.

Or he could cast "Mislead" (5th level), as @nautarch pointed out :)

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Or he could cast "Mislead" (5th level) which does exactly what you're suggesting :) \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Dec 6 '16 at 17:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem is always the same: would it be possible to get a saving throw in the situation? I suppose that, under certain circumstances, the "reality" of the game should be less important than the "fiction" of the story. TL;DR: the party does "not" have a chance to reach the villain before he escapes :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Erenor Paz
    Dec 6 '16 at 17:24

A nice option which hasn’t been mentioned yet:

Wall Of Fire

It’s very grand and awesome. Unless the PCs are willing to step through a solid wall of fire (or end their turn within 10ft of its outward-facing side) and take 5d8 damage it will keep them away from your villain and prevent them from following him. It also allows your villain to taunt them and hold a nice speech while hiding behind the wall.

Or just have your villain escape into a tunnel which collapses behind him or turn invisible.


How about a totally different approach?

I'm a 3.5/Pathfinder player so I don't know exactly how to pull this off in 5 but something along these lines should be possible:

Teleport out and leave behind some sort of illusion that makes the speech. Make a ghostly image of the NPC that gives the speech. If the party attacks, so what? Their weapons pass right through, their spells (other an dispel) have no effect. You get your speech, he gets away clean.

Villains have such a want to talk that I'm sure there's some sort of magic that can do this. Off the top of my head (remember, I'm doing this for 3.5):

Departing Speech Level: 2 Target: Self Duration: 1 hr/level + 1 round/level (special) Save: None

You cast the spell and then it makes a recording of your actions for 1 round/level and holds it. If you then voluntarily use any form of teleportation magic the recording is played back in the spot you left. The image is clearly not real and is unaffected by anything that happens while it is playing.


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