Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gaming Staple: Sleep Spell Part 2

Last night was game night and I was talking with the uber goobs about the sleep.  I crunch some numbers. 

With 5th edition based on hit points.  It's current write up knocks out 5d8 hit points worth of enemies.  I'll use the goblin as the standard enemy.  I check the goblin stats in the Starter Set and they have 7hp.  So an average roll for the spell would be 22 to 23 hit points affected.  So in 5e a mage can put to sleep an average of 3 goblins. 

In older editions the standard sleep spell could take out 4d4 creature with 1 hit die or less.  Goblins average less than a hit die in older versions.  So the mage would average 10 goblins a Sleep spell. 

So the Sleep spell in 5e has been nerfed a bit.  I don't mind the change.  I always thought Sleep was overpowering to begin with.  I like the 5e version because its not overpowering at low levels and doesn't become completely useless at high levels.

JDJarvis brings up an interesting situation. 
What interests me in that notation is if the HP limits for spell effects are meant to be the targets usual healthy HP score or the current score. If the current score it opens a host of tactics that were otherwise completely absent, hitting a troll a couple times and casting sleep on it is now valid (but does it wake up when it regenerates above the HP limit of the spell?).

I think I would run with current hit points.  The party manages to whittle down a giant to 10 hit points and the mage hit it with a sleep, I say good on them.  Maybe the next giant will get to make meat soup.

How would you guys rule it?


  1. Yeah, I agree, I'd run it with current hit points because it gives the players more decisions to make, like JDJarvis suggested. I like the way it makes the question of timing crucial. Do I hit the giant with the sleep spell this round, and risk wasting it because he may still have too many hp left? Or do I wait another round until he's whittled down a bit more, even though he'll have also done more damage to the party at that point?

  2. Definitely current HP. The beat 'em down and then finish with something that wouldn't normally work is a staple of many genres.

  3. I think sentence in the sleep strongly suggests it is the current hit points of the target.

    Starting with the creature that has the lowest current hit points, each creature affected by this spell falls unconscious until the spell ends, the sleeper takes damage, or someone uses an action to shake or slap the sleeper awake.

    1. I really like the "start at lowest HP" guidance. That works on many levels. It could also be "highest to lowest, or lowest HP to highest, caster's choice. " so you could try and sleep the toughest first, at the risk of leaving more awake, or the easiest first, at the risk of still having to face the biggest pile of hit points.

    2. I wouldn't add a scalable sleep spell to my campaign It sounds to exploitable in combat. Something that would be continually cast to bring down opponents and robbing the sense of hard won victory from the players. Instead of that giant staggering on with its last few HP, still a deadly threat, instead it becomes a throat-slitting ending over and over again. It is a nice little low level spell for the generally fragile and under powered mage and this change threatens to make it something used with every combat. It sounds like a sugar-teat which is fine for an infant but gets Game of Thrones disgusting once the kid is old enough to be cast out of Sparta to fight wolves over his dinner.

    3. Too and With, These comments need and edit button.

  4. I would definitely go with current hit points. Adds some interesting possibilities to a fight, and since neither the players nor the characters should really know how many hit points an opponent currently has, could make for some nice 'aw crap, I thought he was hurt worse than that' moments :D

  5. Current HP. It's more interesting that way.

  6. I meant to go back and reread and didn't, but I hope the current HP trend here is correct. Hasn't Sleep been nerfed enough? Besides, isn't it verisimiltudinous that you'd be more apt to fall asleep if you were tired from fighting? And it adds a tactical element to its use.