Content of the article: "What are the downsides to being deafened in combat? I’m creating an encounter with a Storm Giant Quintessent and could use some ideas."
My party is planing a long trip across the wilderness and along the way I've been thinking of including a Storm Giant Quintessent as a guardian of some powerful magical item. If she can be beaten in combat, she'll bestow the item to the party. The Storm Giant Quintessent is a CR16 monster from Volo's Guide to Monsters, and looks pretty powerful all together. But they have one lair action that does the following.
The giant creates a thunderclap centered on a point anywhere in its lair. Each creature within 20 feet of that point must succeed on a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or be deafened until the end of its next turn.
So all it really does is apply the deafened condition. Which as a reminder only has this effect.
A deafened creature can't hear and automatically fails any ability check that requires hearing.
I know there are some bard abilities that require the target to be able to hear you, but there's no bard in my party. It seems to me like this lair action would have no real effect on characters that fail the save, making it a waste of a lair action.
So my question to you all is if anyone has any ideas for elements I can add to this fight that would make the deafened condition matter. I have some of my own ideas I could use input on, but I'm not entirely satisfied with them and would appreciate some fresh takes on this.
My first idea is to include some Invisible Stalkers in the fight. They're always invisible, and if a character can't hear them, and assuming the giant's mastery over wind in the lair means their movements can't be felt either, maybe it's safe to say that an Invisible Stalker would automatically be hidden to a deafened creature. Invisibility already confers advantage on its attacks and disadvantage on attacks against it, so being hidden might not be that big of an advantage besides a character being unable to target it unless they attack a random spot and get lucky.
Another idea I had was to include some puzzle element to the encounter. Maybe a song plays out during the fight that needs to be repeated somehow at spots around the lair, and being deafened would interfere with that. But I'm not sure how to assemble this puzzle into something satisfying or challenging for the players.
Lastly I was considering just rewriting the ability to deal thunder damage on a failure as well. I think I would prefer to leave the deafened ability as it is though. I've always been curious about ways the deafened condition might actually matter in combat, and this feels like a good opportunity to try things out. But otherwise I was already thinking about changing the giant's stablock so that it could see through fog with its truesight, which would help it synergize better with another lair action it has that creates fog, but that's also something I'm not 100% about.
Those are my ideas, but as I said I'm not sure I'm very happy with any of them. So if anyone has other ideas I'd be very interested in hearing them.
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