Content of the article: "How to handle Psychic Scream?"
I'm running a high level game, and would like to throw in some CR10-15 mooks instead of a legendary creature, but I find that XGE's Psychic Scream invalidates most monsters. This spell stuns up to 10 creatures if they fail an intelligence save, allowing a new save every turn. It also does a bunch of damage and makes heads explode, which is awesome, but that's not the problem here.
- First of all, dedicated spell save DCs at this level with some magic items lie around 23. This means that any enemy with an intelligence between 3 and 15 fails even on a nat 20 unless they have proficiency. This includes almost all cool monsters, and most PCs! They get to repeat the save on following rounds for eternity.
- The duration is instantaneous, which means that this effect cannot be dispelled. The permanent 'stunned' condition can only be healed by Power Word Heal, a 9th-level bard-only single-target spell. Which means not even Wish can fix them without triggering the strength drain.
- The stun effect is listed separately from the psychic damage. This means that by RAW even enemies who are immune to psychic damage, like constructs, are affected.
- It affects up to 10 creatures of your choice within a 90 feet radius, i.e. "everyone you want".
So there's the obvious counters: creatures with 1 or 2 intelligence aren't affected, creatures immune to being stunned can tank the damage, and obviously creatures with legendary resistances can opt out. You can try to blind the caster before they get to act (which seems metagamey for monsters of mediocre intelligence to do). But most creatures in almost any level 20 combat will be instantly and permanently stunned by Psychic Scream, which would mean I don't need to bother cooking up any interesting monsters because they'll be comatose starting the first round.
I know this is a 9th level spell, and it's supposed to be broken to an extent, but a single player immediately ending any encounter that's not 10 purple worms led by a demilich isn't fun. At least Mass Polymorph needs concentration and can be dispelled, Time Stop can't be used offensively, PW: Kill is single target, Meteor Swarm can be tanked, and Wish requires creativity. I really want the spell to be amazing but I feel like the only way to keep the game interesting is to limit myself to creatures with intelligence save proficiency or 1-2 int.
Any of you have any experience with handling Psychic Scream in your games, either from a DM or player perspective? How do you keep it spicy?
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