12
\$\begingroup\$

Background:

This is the first time I've DM'd 5e (returning from extensive 2e and 3e experience).

I've run the group through the official "Lost Mines of Phandelver" adventure and just started the "Hoard of Dragon Queen" adventure. All potions the group has looted/purchased have been used since healing ability is a scarcity in this group (Paladin, Sorcerer, and Ranger/Cleric). I only allow long rests outside of active dungeons (Alarm spell goes off alright!).

When the ranger multi-classed as a cleric, she realized she could cast Goodberry with all available unused slots before a long rest. This way, she would have them for the majority of the next day. We are only level 7 now, but I can see the impact of Goodberry getting out of hand (i.e. expending multiple slots with a lot of healing on tap, effectively negating short rests). (I don't allow Goodberry to be used to revive unconscious characters.)

Now, I've found that small brawls/encounters are trickier since the party effectively has pockets of Cure Light Wound on tap (plus the full reserve of cleric/ranger slots). Even the fact that it takes an action for every HP of healing doesn't fully counter this.

The Problem With This:

As you can see Goodberry has changed encounter dynamics — the group can start a dungeon with 100+ HPs of targeted easy healing (only gets stronger as they level).

Hoarding spell slots isn't the problem (wouldn't be an issue in my eyes, this would mean they'd have to not cast spells in other situations). The problem is the prospect of a safe long rest starting with the previous night's Goodberry hoard. To solve this problem, I came up with the following house-rule:

"Goodberry will last 24 hours or until the caster regains spell slots"

This way, you can cast Goodberry before sleeping and it will remain in effect if your sleep is interrupted, but after a long rest it will lose potency (and your spell slots refresh).

Is this a balanced rule change? I cannot find other spells in the PHB that have a similar duration of >8 hours and don't require concentration or active spell slots to compare it with (perhaps Goodberry is a one-of-a-kind spell?).

\$\endgroup\$
11
\$\begingroup\$

Your house rule is fine

Our group has been playing with a house rule that overlaps with yours: "Slots used to cast spells that last 24 hours aren't available again until the spell ends", without issues. We started that house rule following some shenanigans with Animate Dead.

But you are ignoring some of Goodberry's description that makes this unnecessary

Part of Goodberry's description is:

...the berry provides enough nourishment to sustain a creature for one day.

So, if you eat 10 Goodberry's that is equivalent to eating 10 full days of food; it's completely fair (and sane) to reason that characters to be unwilling to eat large numbers of berries.

If players insist on gluttonous characters you still have some options.

In the short term it's reasonable to apply the Poisoned condition to someone who heals 10 HP by eating 20 big Mac meals in a minute. In the long term the sheer caloric intake of healing through Goodberries would wreck the bodies of even the most cardio intensive classes.

Unfortunately, 5e doesn't provide any guidance for the DM in how to handle extreme magically induced weight gain but here are some starting points.

  • preferential targeting by hungry monsters,
  • checks required in tight passages,
  • stairs becoming difficult terrain, and
  • increased armor costs.

On another note, RP reactions may turn up because a player with so much mass would actually be quite useful in negotiating with smaller (or hungry) creatures.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ interesting. I hadn't thought of "locking" the spell slot that is powering the "casting". I cant find many examples of spells that could be maintained over a "long rest". Most seem to have taken the exploitability into account (such as mage armour etc) \$\endgroup\$ – AngryCarrotTop Apr 12 '17 at 10:20
  • 27
    \$\begingroup\$ So, if you eat 10 Goodberry's that is equivalent to eating 10 full days of food; it's completely fair (and sane) to reason that characters are not willing to eat large numbers of berries because of how filling they are. This is way too much of a stretch for my tastes. The spell does what it says it does, no more and no less. I don't mind if DMs take liberties or have house rules but I don't like pretending any of this remotely resembles the RAW. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Apr 13 '17 at 3:56
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Agree with Doval completely. NOTHING in the spell description says the berries are "filling". They provide enough nourishment, nothing more. It would seem that everything after the first paragraph is a house rule? \$\endgroup\$ – JPicasso Apr 13 '17 at 13:11
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ @Ceribia WHAT? Everything under your second section indicates that the berries would be filling. 10 berries = 10 days of food, being poisoned by eating many, and substatial caloric intake? That is certainly not in the spell description and is certainly mentioned in your answer. Your first part of the answer is probably enough. You're speaking from experience, so fine, but the second part of your answer does not follow from the spell description. (IMHO) OP likes is, so it must have helped. \$\endgroup\$ – JPicasso Apr 17 '17 at 12:23
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The other option for a house rule is to use the limitation pathfinder used ie "subject to a maximum of 8 points of such curing in any 24-hour period" \$\endgroup\$ – Neuromancer May 8 '18 at 23:01
14
\$\begingroup\$

I wonder why you are opposed to (a) allowing this as written and (b) throw the occasional rest-interrupting encounter. The problem happens because you don't do (b). Right now the players think "he won't ever interrupt a long rest, so use everything you've got." By throwing a monkey wrench and interrupting them, they will start thinking that they may need to keep some resources.

Since you worry about nighttime interruptions with a fight, how about the following: a fire in town (bells ringing, people calling for help, bucket brigade) or an official announcement from a royal herald ("Hear ye hear ye! The king declared that [...]") The PCs may decide to ignore or engage. It doesn't always have to be a fight. And what if it is? Will your party wuss out because it's time for their beauty rest?

You mention that your party uses all its consumables, forcing them to turn to the goodberries, and now you want to nerf that too? An alternative: give them more consumables, they obviously need it. With a party of 3 characters, their action economy vs what they face is an issue.

I would not change the working of goodberry, I would change how I approach the game and challenge the players.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Since you can cast spells just before ending a long rest adding interruptions doesn't solve this problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Ceribia Apr 12 '17 at 20:17
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ But interrupting the long rest would prevent you from gaining its benefits. \$\endgroup\$ – JP Chapleau Apr 12 '17 at 20:25
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ @JBC I don't believe that is correct; I believe 5e allows up to an hour's interruption of a long rest (including for things like combat, spellcasting, etc.) without the rest being negated. (SRD p.87) \$\endgroup\$ – CTWind Apr 13 '17 at 17:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Actually looks like I'm wrong (standard caveats on it being Mearls and not Crawford, etc): rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/42123/… \$\endgroup\$ – JBC Apr 13 '17 at 19:01
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ So since the linked answers establish you can cast spells for up to an hour during the long rest without losing its benefits you can see how trying to interrupt the long rest won't fix the issue the asker is having with goodberry \$\endgroup\$ – Ceribia Apr 13 '17 at 20:08
12
\$\begingroup\$

Your house rule may be balanced, but it's certainly arbitrary

To single out one specific spell and impose a meta restriction such as suggested seems to go against the spirit of the game mechanics. The characters have found a clever use of one specific spell, please let them use it. To say that one spell is somehow affected by taking a rest seems to be a heavy-handed method.

Is it really a problem?

Honestly, it's not that unbalanced. It's powerful, but not game breaking. The best case scenario, is that they have extra healing for their first 16 hours after their long rest dealing with their enemies. After that, they are choosing to spend spell slots on goodberry, and not on other, spell opportunities.

There are probably better in-game ways to deal with it

At the DM's disposal is a random encounter table that can interrupt their long rest. Perhaps the game speed needs to be upped so that the characters have to make a choice between starting their long rest again, or just moving forward. Interruptions will reset the clock on the long rest, but the good berries will be running out.

Not only can the DM interrupt their initial rest, but the dm can provide an environment where the party's travels involve them with non-combat activites until close to, or after, the goodberries loose their effects. At 16:01 the goblins attack!

If you have to impose limits, I would think a better solution would be to say that one could only have 10 active berries from the spell, or to limit the number of berries the druid can find useable for the spell. Work within the mechanics. This would allow you to stay closer to the rules regarding the magic invovled, and will be fairer to the players.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The question address how this is a problem for the asker, and you don't address those issues in your answer. Interrupting a long rest doesn't help in this situation. Eventually they need to have a successful long rest, and when they do characters can blow excess spell slots to make a bunch of berries for the following day. If the next day isn't also a full adventuring day then the day, then the day after they can have an absolute pile of berries available. Asker has also stated they are playing one of the official adventures which leaves far less latitude for awkwardly scheduling encounters. \$\endgroup\$ – Ceribia Apr 13 '17 at 20:14
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm also unconvinced that scheduling encounters to only happen after the parties precast spells have run out is in anyway a good idea. Being open with your players about the problem and removing the exploit leads to a much better table relationship than arbitrarily redesigning the world to undermine them. \$\endgroup\$ – Ceribia Apr 13 '17 at 20:17
8
\$\begingroup\$

Your house rule should not be game-breaking. It might be simpler to treat Goodberry like any other spell that creates a resource or an effect: don't let it stack. This would be more in keeping with spells that say, provide bonus hit points, where you are allowed to have only the benefits of one casting at a time. If your caster creates ten berries, those berries are good until 24 hours pass, or you use the spell again to create more goodberries. This sort of wording is found in many other spells and abilities.

This is obviously not the RAW reading of the spell, but it is in keeping with the spell's level not to allow characters to use it to carry around 100+ healing points.

\$\endgroup\$
4
\$\begingroup\$

Unless you're a Life Cleric with a level in Ranger or Druid or used a feat to get Goodberry it only does 1hp of healing per action. It takes an action to eat 1 berry for 1hp. The main purpose of this is so you don't starve in the wild and are able to come back to consciousness if you are at 0 hp.

I have no idea what shenanigans you are letting them do but it isn't practical to waste an action for 1 hp. Even if a Life Cleric did it they just get to add 2 plus the spell level (1) for a total of 4 hp. The max they can get from a berry is 12 using a 9th level spell slot and being a Life Cleric with the ability to cast spells not in their spell repertoire.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the problem is out of combat healing, where the number of actions required to eat multiple berries isn't a problem. \$\endgroup\$ – divibisan May 8 '18 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ In question comments (now integrated into the question itself) the OP clarifies that they are already well aware of the action economy limits, and that they don't actually allow revival of unconscious characters with this anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 May 8 '18 at 21:04
4
\$\begingroup\$

I agree with @JPicasso's answer: don't punish players for finding clever ways to use spells.

Also I'm not sure why you wouldn't let people restore hit points to a player making death saving throws with berries. If you can force feed someone a potion then you should be able to do the same with a berry. The rules are a little unclear on that, but the lead dev endorses that approach.

I would say it makes sense that a PC would only be physically capable of eating so many berries though. Not a over nourishment thing, but a capacity of the stomach. Put like a twenty five berry limit per six hours.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast if a berry can lose its magic by not being consumed in time then it probably wouldn't kill you with nurisment. If that is how your going to rule it then your druid would become the worlds greatest assassin by making good berry pies. Is that what you want? Pretty easy way to cheese a boss. Throw a town or even kingdom into chaos. \$\endgroup\$ – Destiny Pugginty Feb 10 at 18:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I did word that poorly, by res I mean during the death saving throw phase, not restore life to a dead body. \$\endgroup\$ – Destiny Pugginty Feb 10 at 18:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate the point out. I hope that is satisfactory. \$\endgroup\$ – Destiny Pugginty Feb 10 at 18:39
2
\$\begingroup\$

There is a simpler fix, just make the material component consumed on casting.

Mistletoe is not something easy to find it grows high in the branches of trees and is very rare on top of that, in many environments they will not find any at all. Now you can control how many goodberry castings they can cast and thus the number of berries becasue you control how many material components they have.

The advantage here is you are not punishing the players for coming up with a creative solution, they still get to use their cool trick, they just can't use it all the time. Plus if they really want to use it more often they can invest the time and effort to get more of the needed resources, which you as the DM can still mitigate.

I have used this fix before, it keeps the utility of goodberry without it removing resource management.

\$\endgroup\$
1
\$\begingroup\$

You are only encountering this problem because of your DMing style.

Firstly, I would bet that your ranger/cleric knew exactly what they were doing. Did they choose life domain? They specifically built around this synergy.

Any houserules you make to limit goodberries will directly punish this player

You absolutely should not be creating houserules to counter 1 player. You, the DM, should be engineering the game so that there remains challenges.

Goodberries are not easy to use

Lets look at the effectiveness of Goodberries for a second. Each berry requires at least free object interaction (to pull the berry out of a pocket) and an action (to eat the berry) in order to heal in combat. The berries also have to be distributed before the combat starts, otherwise you are looking at an additional move action (to get close enough to pass the berry), free object interaction (to pull the berry out of ones pocket), and an action (to pass the berry).

Using this synergy requires effective planning and teamwork.

Producing Goodberries isn't easy

If the PCs are able to spend a day in town, then go out and adventure the next day, it is strong. However, you are overlooking how this spell functions on multi-day trips. On the day before the trip the ranger/cleric can make a lot of berries. But after that, they will have to retain spell slots from the day's encounter in order to continue producing more berries for the party. What's more, if the party is attacked during the night the ranger/cleric may not have any spell slots left over to fight.

Goodberries are great, but only if you spend levels and choices multi-classing, if you have spell slots left over to use to prepare them, guaranteed safety to use all your spell slots before you sleep, and the opportunity in combat to use inefficient healing methods.

When are Goodberries bad

  1. If there is a risk of a long rest being interrupted by a fight
  2. When you can't just go rest up for a full day before returning to the dungeon
  3. When you don't have actions, interactions, and moves to spare to eat goodberries in combat
  4. When you don't have a lot of left over spell slots at the end of the day

Here are some tips so that this spell will have less impact:

  1. Give the players a reason to spend multiple days in a dangerous place. They need to get to X place before something happens. If they leave and come back then more monsters will be there, erasing their progress.
  2. Don't always let players rest without consequence. If they choose to rest outside a dungeon, maybe monsters come out and harass them at night. Maybe there's a pack of wolves. Maybe some local goblins try to kidnap someone.
  3. Create combat encounters where spending an entire turn (perhaps of 2 people) to heal is a hard choice. A goblin will escape and warn the tribe if the party don't act fast. There are multiple people low on hp for the ranger/cleric to deliver berries to. If they don't move now the enemy caster will finish channeling a spell, the gelatinous cube will dissolve the bridge, the enemy archer will target the already weakened wizard.
  4. Give opportunities for the ranger/cleric to expend resources before the day is up. At the very least, step the encounters up a notch so they can't just save a ton of slots for berry making.
\$\endgroup\$
0
\$\begingroup\$

Yes, this seems balanced

Having a limited duration would effectively limit how many Goodberries the party can stock at any one time, preventing them from having these high reserves of health.

One of the spell’s primary features is to ensure the party has adequate food which you are not taking away from them.

However, there are other ways to do it

  1. One possibility is to give the Goodberries weight, if they do not have a significant weight already. Rather than imagining the berries as small, dice sized things, i would imagine it as a berry the size of a small watermelon or pumpkin with a weight to match its size.

    This way, your party still could carry around hundreds of berries, but they’d need a cart or two to haul them all. What this could mean then is your party may only stock a day or two’s worth of berries, preventing them from having the huge artificial health pool (as i say, they could stock more but it’d be impractical to do so).

  2. You could also have the fruit ‘expire’ after while, becoming rotten. Whilst it would still provide nourishment, it would not give hp and has a chance to apply the Poisoned effect. Alternatively, a disease, fungus, or insect infestation may make the fruit inedible. This would discourage large stockpiles of the berries for fear of losing all of them.

  3. Finally, carrying such large amounts of food may have some downsides, notably far more random encounters. Animals, monsters, hungry villagers, bandits etc. may be drawn to the scent of hundreds of Goodberries and be inclined to attack the party to try and get the food, especially in times of war, famine or scarcity (in times of war, you may even have soldiers or guards trying to confiscate your food or pay tribute to them).

Whilst such encounters may not be too challenging for the party individually, many such encounters could wear down the party’s resources (either their spells, potions, health, items etc) or cause their hoard to dwindle as they use some of the berries to avoid combat.

Using one or more of these options, your players may then realise that carrying around a huge stockpile of food is more trouble than its worth. This would discourage them from doing so and alleviating your issue.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.