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Is Banishment Overpowered? How To Deal with Banishment as a DM

Aside from Counterspell, which I dealt with in an earlier post, another problematic spell in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons is Banishment. In fact like Counterspell it also makes DM David’s top four irritating invocations in the game. In his words:

Banishment lets players split combat scenes into two parts. In part one, the wizard or cleric banishes the toughest foes so their party can gang up on the outnumbered mooks in a one-sided romp. In the second part, the banished creatures spring back into reality and the party ambushes them. A potentially compelling fight turns into a rout followed by a dreary murder scene.

This is exactly what happened when I was Dungeon Mastering the other day and I came across the spell as a DM for the first time. The party’s camp was attacked at night by a band of orcs, led by an orc eye of gruumsh and a pet cyclops. The fight started interestingly enough with my cyclops scoring a critical hit on the party’s almost indestructible paladin, but the minute the party’s sorcerer cast Banishment on the cyclops the fight was over as a contest. Orcs were routinely mopped out of existence after which the cyclops rematerialised surrounded and outnumbered. The subsequent dice rolls were pregnant with the weight of their own pointlessness.

Up in a puff of smoke…

I was pondering how overpowered and frustrating the spell was after the session and so looked it up to see if somehow we weren’t missing something… and indeed we were. A closer look at the material components of the invocation (p. 217 PH), reveals that “an item distasteful to the target” is required to cast it. Now, I’m a pretty liberal DM when it comes to components. If the costs aren’t prohibitive I assume the caster in question keeps a reliable stock of whatever bits, bobs, nuts and guts they are likely to need during the course of an adventure. However this component requirement clearly demands some knowledge of the intended subject of the spell and varies completely depending on the target. And so I’ve informed my players that if they want to cast this spell in the future they are going to do some legwork on their opponent and then after go out and acquire an appropriate ingredient for the spell to work. In other words it’s nerfed… and all according to the rules!

[Update: Some people have pointed out in the comments this can be bypassed by use of a component’s pouch or spellcasting focus. Another person has pointed out a reason why that might not be the case.]

Of course it’s up to you as DM how strictly you want to enforce this rule, and what breaks you give your PCs… maybe some kind of nature or knowledge check could determine if a character for example knows that orcs hate elves, and therefore if they have something elven on them they could go ahead and cast Banishment successfully. But overall, a strict interpretation of this material component will help seriously reduce the otherwise over-effectiveness of a potentially very problematic spell.

One final thing to note is that Banishment does require concentration, so if the PC in question casts another spell that requires concentration the baddie they just banished will pop back into existence. Similarly if the bad guy’s buddies are smart and rain blows on the caster the chances are they will quickly lose concentration and the banished boss will reappear.

So there you are… problem solved? Let me know your thoughts and experiences!

Ps. if you feel the component aspect is too arbitrary and open to interpretation and you would rather go with a rules fix, I would suggest – something similar to DM David’s suggestion – that the Banished creature returns in 1d8 rounds, in a random direction, between 5 and 50ft feet (1d10 x5) of the spot they were banished from. And they must materialise in a space (not in a wall etc.). Or you could simply give them a saving throw to return at the end of each of their turns. Just give your players advance warning of any rules changes you want to enforce and allow them to change spells if they feel that they don’t like your amended version.

More Stuff!

I’ve recently had a go at ‘fixing’ Circle of the Moon’s Wild Shape, so let me know your thoughts, especially if you agree that it’s way too overtuned!

I don’t just complain about things by the way. Here’s a look at why so many adventures start in taverns – and how you can break the mould!

And here’s 101 terrain features for fun-filled D&D combats!


A Quick & Easy Flanking Optional Rule


More Realistic Healing Rules (5e D&D)


  1. Alexey

    A character can use a component pouch or a speIlcasting focus (found in chapter 5) in place of the components specified for a spell. (PHB 203)Only if a cost is indicated for a component, a character must have that specific component before he or she can cast the spell.
    So any spellcasting focus renders this “fix” useless. And most spellcasters I know use foci and not component pouches for exactly the reasons “I have to explain to DM where I found this particular component”.

    • duncan

      Hi Alexey, you’re absolutely right. Of course as the DM you can rule that components are required, or at least required for this spell, especially as the component for banishment is something quite specific that seems to require the PCs to do some groundwork / research before using.

  2. XenoBard

    I use a different approach…let’s say the party is fighting creatures native to another plane…say fiends and the big bad is a Hezrou. BAMM the players banish the Hezrou back to its home plane. Since it does not indicate where on the home plane, I send it back to the spot it came from. All of a sudden it appears back in front of its master and he isn’t stupid. Casts Dispel Magic, threatens the Hezrou not to come back until his mission is complete and sends him back with a Glabrezu. I doubt the party will be using that spell too often.

    • duncan

      haha! Handy trick to have up your sleeve…

    • K the Wizard

      Alexey is completely right about components and focuses. If you want to suddenly impose a rule about strict component or knowledge requirements for this spell, there are two things as a DM I think you need to do:

      1) Be absolutely open that you are you are targeting this spell and ONLY this spell with a custom nerf by your choice.

      2) Allow the player to pick another spell immediately. If they prepare spells for the day, like clerics and paladins do, they get to immediately prepare a new one. If they have to select spells to learn, such as wizards and sorcerors do, they get to immediately choose a new spell. If the wizard opts to “unlearn” the spell and do something else, you refund them all money and anything else they spent to learn and transcribe the spell. No questions asked. No role play scenario needed unless they are into that. It just happens, because you’ve possibly just ruined the potential for their spell, so they get to freely compensate.

      I play a Wizard and the first session where I had this spell, our DM threw a single huge boss at us. I cast Banishment. It was a machine, so its charisma was not going to be up there. But to make double sure about that, I used one of my Divination Portents to make it automatically fail. And that was the end of that boss.

      You know what that was? Me schooling an unprepared DM. He threw a fit, but eventually accepted it and apologized for his outburst. He did not know what spells his players were capable of, and he did not recognize how devastating a well-rolled Portent can be despite having seen me use Portent for dozens of sessions. And we’ve never had another battle with a single enemy ever again. He adapted. Next time I tried to banish something, something else left behind attacked me, I lost concentration, and the big thing popped right back into existence. Wasted my one fourth level spell slot.

      A lazy DM will look at this spell the first time it’s cast and come up with all sorts of interpretations and nerfs to bring it back down to what they consider fair. A prepared DM will already be ready for the consequences of what his players can do and make the scenario work within that framework.

      (Also, casters in D&D have a hell of a time, already. The brawlers can just keep hitting and scoring huge damage over and over; we have to carefully consider the usage of our very limited spells and then pray that we hit with the spell attack or that the target fails their save. Don’t make things even harder on us.)

      • duncan

        Hi K

        Thanks for stepping up to represent the player’s POV!

        I totally agree, if you are going to change, ban or nerf a spell as a DM you should say why and let the PC choose another spell. Generally in these circumstances it’s best to play by the rules as written at the time, rather than have an argument at the table, and then have a chat after the game why you want to make a change going forward.

        I do feel Banishment is a real fun drain though… you said you were schooling a newbie DM, but did you consider that your fellow PCs might actually want to fight the big boss? It’s a big disappointment when the climax of an adventure is decided by one spell.

        Also I have a wildly different opinion on casters than you! I still remember the days of 1st edition when you really did have a limited pool of resources as a wizard. These days you get more slots AND cantrips, so you never run out of things do. Plus you get the mass damage and versatility of spells. Casters are so much more powerful than brawlers, especially if you play low encounter days.

        Anyway great comment, thanks. Hopefully DMs reading this are taking notes.

    • K the Wizard

      That sort of deus ex, behind-the-scenes reasoning sounds like a surefire way to successfully cast Banishment on your game. If I was a player that experienced that, my immediate thought would be that nothing predictably works anymore, so there’s no point to anything, because the DM can just create a scenario of his choosing to bend the game back to his will.

      IN FACT, I deal with a DM right now that’s EXACTLY like that. He’s getting a little better, but most of the game, if he wanted his story to proceed the way he envisioned it, your spells meant nothing against his creative license to come up with a reason why they don’t work. At a certain point, I adopted a “whatever happens” attitude, stopped trying to develop my character, and go into every battle expecting to die and kind of hoping it actually happens.

      In fact, I’m arguing with one of the other players in that game at this very moment about why I want to quit. Don’t be a capricious DM. You may think you’ve got a great justification, but ask yourself what your players would think. The first time you do something capricious that throws rules and logic and predictability to hell, you probably still have a chance to apologize, explain, discuss, and rectify. The second time you do it, they’re gone. They may not leave your game physically, but they’re not there anymore.

      • duncan

        Good point. It’s always better to let the players express their powers and change the course of the story, rather than dictate what happens by ruling against them. Whilst it can be frustrating as a DM when you planned a tight fight and it turns into cakewalk, players actually love that, and it’s not as if, as a DM, we run out of monsters or other sticky scenarios we can put our players in down the line.

        It takes a while for most DMs to understand that (or at least it did with me!). I would have a polite chat with yours and try to stress that as players you want to be able to influence the story, and that he shouldn’t be scared of the unknown / unplanned.

        One good thing to do as a DM is throw stuff at players that is harder than you think they can manage, and NOT have a plan how they might get out of it, or win the fight. Resourceful PCs have a way of dealing with these situations, no matter how tricky, and as the DM you can relax and enjoy their creativity.

        Just the other day, when DMing, I had a situation where a young dragon was bearing down on my 3rd level party and I was thinking “f&ck, they are all going to die.” All of the characters are complete noobs, but the ranger won initiative and asked what ensnaring strike does… suddenly the dragon was crash landing in front of them, instead of taking them out with its breath weapon. I think I enjoyed the fight more than they did!

        One of the best DMs I play with in a different group says he never has a solution to the problems he poses us. He just sets up the scenario and then sees what we come up with. It sounds like your DM does the opposite.
        Maybe encourage him to not have a fixed idea how the adventure should play out. It will also help him relax and enjoy the players’ victories rather than constantly stressing to keep the encounters as he thinks they should play out according to the pre-ordained drama he had planned.

    • just some girl

      If you banish a creature on its home plane it is sent to a harmless demiplane.

  3. The Lovely Dr Dickpunch

    Quick fix would be to add “which the spell consumes” after the material cost.

    • duncan

      I’m not sure what that changes Dr. D!?

      • Bacon Awesome

        Doesn’t that mean you can’t use an arcane focus or component pouch and would have to actually have a distasteful item?

  4. Gus

    What happens to a PC that is grappled (biten) by a Remorhaz and the Remorhaz is Banished? Does the PC go with the creature that is Banished?

    • duncan

      Haha, first of all I love the scenario!

      If the PC has been swallowed then I’d definitely say they get banished too. If it is just bitten / grappled as you say, then my head tells me that only the Remorhaz gets banished. But since that is a bit boring, you could make the PC make the same saving throw as the Remorhaz… if they succeed they stay, if they fail they go. If the caster is an ally you could give them advantage.

      Sage Advice is a good place to go for official answers to these types of questions:

  5. Steven Victor Neiman

    My only complaint about Banishment is that it affects non-extraplanar creatures. Dismissal was supposed to be the middle finger to summoners and extraplanar invaders, which is why in 3.5 it had absolutely no effect on anything native to the plane you cast it on. 5e on the other hand seems to have forgotten that and made it a spell which can divide and conquer no matter the foe type.
    If I wanted to just rebalance I would limit it back to extraplanar creatures, or give natives of the plane a +5 save bonus. If I instead wanted to make the game more interesting, I would keep a table of extraplanar creatures, many quite nasty, and say that if you break concentration there’s a 25% chance that something tags along on the ride back. That way the spell could still be a powerful reserve option, but it would have something of a godzilla threshold because they might banish a CR 7 creature to deal with its CR 2 minions, and then one of the minions hits the caster and they find themselves dealing with the CR 7 boss, some of his CR 2 minions, and the CR 10 fiend he talked into helping him.

  6. Stabracadabra

    I’ve been playing 36 years. I believe an experienced DM is able to see the whole picture.
    The spell may give the players a situational advantage, but consider the high cost in spell slots, and the risk involved that it may not even work. It’s a high-risk spell. All high-risk spells have higher pay-off potential. That’s the way they are purposely designed. You’re looking for balance, and not finding it, but that’s the balance right there. That spell was designed by people who understand the game better than you do. 😉

    • duncan

      From 9th level, a wizard has three 4th level spell slots, so I don’t see that as a particularly high cost, given that each casting of Banishment has about 70% chance of ending that encounter as a contest.

      Meanwhile the 5th level Hold Monster spell provides a similar ‘out of action’ effect, but on a Wisdom save (easier to pass) that is repeated every turn.

      Maybe in another 36 years you’ll realise that’s imbalanced!

      • Jon

        With Hold Monster you can continually hurt the creature without breaking the spell. This is not the case with Banishment. Your comparison is invalid.

        • duncan

          It’s not invalid, but that’s certainly something to consider as well. Overall, if you play Banishment without components I think it’s much more powerful than Hold Monster. A held monster is going to take some major hurt, for maybe one round, or two. A banished creature is basically dead when it comes back, and meanwhile you don’t have to waste any actions killing it until you’ve dealt with the other opponents.

          My real point was that the 5e designers are not infallible gods, and that should you see fit to alter a spell or remove it you should feel empowered to do so… as the designers themselves stress. Just compare Hypnotic Pattern to Confusion and you can see that spells have not been correctly balanced throughout the edition. (Often hangovers from previously poor balanced editions).

  7. DNDeviant

    I see a lot of people tearing into you for this post, and I am a bit late on the draw for coming to your defense in any fashion. First, however, I want to cover what’s actually wrong here; the proposed fixes. In a vacuum, it seems fine. Banishment requires a bit of planning? Great… except that it is now competing with spells that are better. If you were going to home rule some spells in this fashion, I think it should be a rule that comes in from the start of a campaign and lasts until the end. It lets people choose to be a wizard, who have less issues choosing between spells if they can reasonably acquire scrolls. Otherwise, you’ve invalidated the spell.

    This said, I do think Banishment is a bit strong in its RAW state. As someone else said, the spell was originally made to be a big middle finger to extraplanar creatures. Now it’s just an average finger to everything scary to the party. The spell has some other uses as well, aside from just removing something in combat. Unless I’m forgetting a block to this, it’s also a way to get a party back home from the Astral Plane, which is otherwise an eternal prison if you’re sent there against your will.

    At the end of the day, Jeremy Crawford and the goons over at Wizards of the Coast do know what they’re doing. Banishment isn’t egregious, and there are plenty of ways to bypass a casting of the spell. Counterspell it, use legendary resistances on it, get creative with the encounter before you decide it has to be nerfed. Only when something seems so oppressive it can’t be dealt with should something see a nerf.

    Now, healing word on the other hand…

    • duncan

      Hi DNDeviant

      Yes, if you are strict with the components then the spell becomes a very poor choice for anyone that can’t change their spell list easily.

      To be honest, that was my goal… to push people towards other spells, as I just feel Banishment works in a way that is really anti-dramatic, as per the blogger DM David’s comments, which I quoted.

      I do 100% agree changes such as these should be made known before a campaign starts, or at the very least, with the option for the player to swap the spell out of the spell list if they no longer feel they can use it as often as they wish.

      Regarding your point about preparing especially for it… this is not something I think DMs should have to do, as I’ve said in numerous other posts about problematic abilities. Commenters often cite the argument that “good DMs should be able to plan for X, Y and Z”. There’s some truth in that, however, if we are constantly obliged to design encounters specifically to deal with problematic powers/abilities/spells then you get a very artificial sort of encounter… (in this example, is every orc war party going to appear with a mage henchman now to cast counterspell!?). It’s better to recognise that the spell is a problem and fix that, especially as there are only a few really overpowered things in 5th edition.

      Cheers for the comment!


      Ps. Just one more counterargument. Regarding Legendary Resistance, only a very select number of foes have that, and most have CR 14 or more. Players access Banishment at level 7, so it’s not a great solution for dealing with Banishment. Unless you are to give it to foes…. which feels more of a cheat to the players, than dealing the spell itself.

  8. TexasDevin

    I gave this some thought and I believe the rules as written already account for Banishment’s unusual material component.

    PHB 203 says “A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus (found in Chapter 5, “Equipment”) in place of the components specified for a spell.”

    Banishment does not specify its material component.

    Alternately, since the component is unspecified, the DM must define it. The DM can simply choose to define the component for a given situation as having a specific cost. Obviously, your players will call BS on you if you tell them a random villager’s distasteful item is a lump of dung worth at least 1 silver. But if you want to stop your players from circumventing your story-based dungeon boss with their arcane focus, I think you could reasonably say the item they find distasteful is an icon of their most hated deity made from at least 50 gp worth of adamantine. And you’ve also built a story hook at the same time.

    • duncan

      hi TexasDevin

      Interesting interpretation.

      I had to read your comment a few times to understand it, but what you’re saying is that the description “an item distasteful to the target” is not specific, so therefore the spellcasting focus can not be used to replace the unspecified component.

      I like your example of what such a component might be.

      For me this very unique component description points towards a spell that is supposed to be used against foes that the PCs are preparing to fight. “Ok we’re going into the hag’s lair, let’s do some research and find a distasteful item, so we can banish it, and steal its treasure.”

      Not, “we’re been surprised by a remorhaz… no worries I cast Banishment, encounter over!”

      In the first example the spell makes sense and doesn’t derail the story, not least because the DM knows they are going to make use of the spell and can plan accordingly.

      In the second example one 4th level spell slot solves what was supposed to be a really dramatic moment.

  9. Taren

    There is a lot of chatter around the fact that the target is immediately vulnerable upon its return, surrounded and pin-cushioned, etc. And that the inevitable piñata fest isn’t fun. I challenge the first assumption, and the second. I think it can be very fun to play with this spell as written.

    I got stuck on the material component part as well, for a moment, wishing it were specific, not so that I could nerf the spell but because it’s a missed opportunity for role-play. Even so, I feel the spell is appropriately balanced, given three things:

    1. A target native to the plane of casting is incapacitated on a demiplane for the duration, yes, but it’s not unconscious or paralyzed. It can’t take actions or reactions, but it can think. An intelligent foe would be ready for the moment of return, and thereby not surprised. Might even have a well-thought out plan of action ready to spring in a dramatic fashion.

    2. A target banished to its native plane is not incapacitated at all. It might not be able to return of its own accord (or might it?), but it can take actions and move and also make plans. A demon, for example, might be banished to its home world, but it may have magic and allies and a seething, burning desire for revenge on the caster who dared the insult!

    3. Let’s not forget that anything the players can do so can the NPCs. How dramatic will it be when the Evil Wizard banishes the pesky barbarian who was moving to eviscerate her? Or the rogue or the party’s wizard? Mwahahaha!

    So I agree with several of the comments above that the spell, while it may seem unbalanced and game wrecking, does not have to be. A GM has several choices, all of which are amazing and fun! And if you’re caught off guard, as even the best and most prepared GMs can sometimes be, let the PCs have the surprise win! That’s fun, too.

    • duncan

      Hi Taren, well I can’t fault your enthusiastic attitude!

      I’m not sure you’ve convinced me however… here are some counterpoints.

      1) It’s one thing for the monster to be able to think up a plan, but any creative players will have been able to use their brains, and their bodies to make the monster’s comeback short lived. Caltrops, grease, a ring of fire, etc. etc. under their feet will give PCs a big advantage. Also the mechanics of the game mean that people can hold their action in anticipation of the monster’s returning, meaning every PC will get a free hit the second they reappear. The players can probably even fix the initiative chain so that it acts last on the next turn. Unless concentration is broken, or the battle is immense and long, a banished creature = a dead creature. Banishment is effectively delayed Power Word Kill.

      2) I like this idea… although players won’t obviously.

      3) I think a good way of testing if a spell is overpowered is see what happens when an NPC uses it on a party. Trust me, your players will not enjoy banishment at all. Taking a PC out indefinitely, without even a repeat saving throw to pin ones hopes on, is about as least fun a player can have at the table.


  10. Majestic Hobo

    As a dm, I warn my players on the first session, whatever you use in a fight, I hold the right to use the same. They have the right to be as underhanded as they want… But so do I.

    Also, if you look at the intentions for the spell, an item repulsive to the target is supposed to bring to mind things like holy symbols against extra planar beings or the undead. A spell without flavor is wasted in a role playing game.

    And, who’s to say the one banished isn’t holding his action for sweet release from banishment? And he has been waiting a very long time to act. Much longer then the PCs. I think he wins in the initiative order… Though we can be fair and balanced and demand an initiative role to see who “reacts” first, what is initiative but a way to judge ones reaction to events?

    • duncan

      Sure, but I think what will happen is that you’ll both agree a truce on Banishment as once PCs have seen it used against them they’ll understand it’s bad for the game.

      I agree there is room for flavour using this spell, but it still needs a rewrite. Or maybe just should be for banishing non-native creatures.

      Technically a creature is incapacitated during their banishment, so it can’t take actions or reactions. Also, unless the creature is an arcana expert it might not even be expecting to come back to the battlefield, and certainly wouldn’t be able to predict when. The PCs on the other hand know the exact situation. You could rule that a new initiative roll is required, but your players will have a strong argument for why that shouldn’t be the case.

  11. Christian

    I’m sorry but I really have to speak out against you here. There is nothing overpowered about banishment, and yes a foci or components pouch deals with the material aspect of it. This is a very common spell among spellcasters, that means your “boss” or one of its underling could very feasibly have it as well. And they would probably also have some knowledge about it to and could work to prevent it being cast or shore up in case it is successfully cast and something gets banished. What I see (and this is also noticeably in you counterspell and paladin rant as well) is that you aren’t preparing the encounters well enough. Counterspell isn’t OP, the paladin isn OP and banishment isnt OP. There is almost nothing in 5e that could be considered OP because of how well balanced it is, the tools are there, read up on them and use them accordingly.
    Really sorry if this comes of as a bit harsh in my wording, but a lot of the points you bring up is what other DMs with similar difficulty to create encounters have, and the solution is almost always to prepare better.

    • duncan

      Hi Christian, you’re welcome to express your opinion here.

      I do get frustrated with the ‘you aren’t preparing well enough’ comment that I often get though, for a number of reasons:

      1) I am rarely the Dungeon Master in our group… if I complain about something, it’s because I see it’s bad for the game. We have a bunch of opinionated people in our group, including three very experienced DMs, but between us we had almost no arguments about dropping Hypnotic Pattern and later Banishment from our table, and revising Divine Smite. If you want to play with them, that’s fine. I think your game is a little worse for it, and if you read this post and my other comments I believe I’ve made a pretty strong case for why Banishment doesn’t work, breaking even 5e’s own design principles.

      2) I also disagree in general with the notion that DMs should need to prep encounters with certain spells in mind. In a slick system, the DM throws appropriate level monsters and challenges at a party and they deal with them with appropriate level powers. Isn’t that the very definition of balance? Your argument seems like a contradiction to me… if someone needs to do extra prep to account for a couple of specific spells / powers, isn’t that the proof that those powers are unbalancing the system, ie. are overpowered?

      Following your philosophy you’re also putting more onus on the DM, who already carries a disproportionate burden for the success of the game on their shoulders. (On a related point it makes writing D&D adventures a lot harder! Because a DM can do specific prep to ensure that their own party can’t breeze through certain encounters, but for the D&D writer who is creating an adventure that 100s or 1000s of PCs might engage with, it becomes very difficult to create encounters that will challenge certain parties with some of 5e’s unbalancing powers, but not wipe out others… just another reason why i wish the designers had opted for more balance vs. more fun. A creature that can threaten a 2nd level wizard is very different to one that can threaten a 2nd level Circle of the Moon druid…

      3) The third reason ‘do more / better prep’ comment irritates me is because, on those occasions when I am the DM, I am perfectly willing and able to do this – so no need to assume I can’t 😉 It just doesn’t address the fact that certain powers in 5e are too strong and worsen the game. Overpowered abilities enable certain PCs to outshine others, which I don’t like, and what’s more they make a lot of cool abilities unattractive by dint of not being as powerful as the overpowered ones. Quick example, why would anyone choose Lightning Bolt for example over Fireball…? LB may as well not be in the Player’s Handbook, as it does the same damage but just 40% area of effect and terrible range by comparison ( That’s not good design!

      Finally, before someone says it, I do love 5e D&D… but let’s just not pretend it’s perfect.

  12. Kyle

    Don’t forget, enemy spellcasters can banish player characters too.

    • Joshua Chunick

      Don’t forget… to read other comments before you comment yourself; you may just find that it’s been said *several times* before. 😉

  13. Cricket

    I dont understand the uproar. Its 60 ft. Its in counterspell distance.

    If It was only one oponent, just make another.

    If It is 3 or more hipnotic pat. Is a better spell and It is 3 circle.

    There are spells, feats, special atacks and pure raw damage to end a concetration spell.

    It is a concetration spell, meaning no other will be used. A concentrated wizard is as userfull as how many damage spells he have, wich makes him a glorified ranger (ALL good spells need concentration)

    Thats my opinion anyway.

    • duncan

      Fair opinion

      But how many monsters in the Monster Manual have counterspell? Many don’t even have a range attack. And if they do, they may have a more immediate threat or not have the brains to understand that their ally disappeared due to a concentration spell being cast.

      Fireball / Lightning Bolt aren’t concentration spells… they do more damage than a ranger’s bow! Sleep neither.

  14. John

    Banishment only “permanently” banishes creatures not native to the plane you’re casting it on, assuming you were able to concentrate on the spell for the whole duration.

    If they’re native to the plane, they just go away until you lose concentration or you hold the spell for 1 minute, and then they come back right where you left them.

    If your players Banish and extraplanar creature, great! Hopefully it wasn’t carrying any cool magic items your DM was trying to gift you. However, that creature arrived on your plane once, it can do it again, and now it knows what you’re capable of. Now you have a recurring villain who can come back bigger and badder.

    Next time give it a lair with lair actions. Give it Legendary resistances. Make sure they have lackeys so the fight doesn’t end the moment they get Banished. Or maybe THEY were the lackey and they return with a bigger, stronger “friend.” There are a lot of ways to capitalize on your players getting the best of you in a way that builds upon the narrative rather than arbitrarily trying to nerf one of their spells.

    I also don’t think it’s unreasonable for a DM to ask for updated copies of their group’s character sheets each time they level (even just a picture of it if players are using pencil and paper). This way you can make sure encounters are balanced around what your party is capable of, and everyone will be better off for it.

    • duncan

      Fine for the 1% of the time it’s used on an extraplanar creature. The other times the banished foe won’t become a recurring villain because in one minute and 6 seconds time it will dead, after a tediously prepped scenario that no self-respecting party or DM will find enjoyable the second time it plays out.

      There are those who are happy to invest time or create whole storylines around bad bits of game design, but I don’t see why the easier and simply and cleaner solution of removing those bits from the table is met with such resistance by some.

      Having said that, if a player was really attached to using banishment I would probably let them. It’s overpowered but not game breaking, esp. if you have some mooks with ranged weapons. Having to design every encounter so that it has minions is quite a cost to gameplay just to incorporate this tedious mechanic.

  15. Storyteller

    Once i was DM’ing a campaign where my players are fighting a very powerful knight that was protecting a evil wizard who was trying to cast a ritual. I had it all planned. The knight would throw some players out of the cliff into a lake of magma and stuff, probably some PC dramatic death. And at some point the wizard casted a Planeshift on him. You see, the knight has about 150 hp, and none Legendary Resistance left, and it failed the save. The wizard made him literally go to hell. Well, that was very anticlimatic to me, i created a very mortal combat that my players ended in about 5 rounds and they still managed to interrupt the evil wizard’s ritual.

    I wanted a longer fight, a hard fight. Possibly one or two characters dying, but no. But at that point all players were cheering, thanking the wizard to send the guy to hell, making jokes about his name and final destination. And that was awesome, everybody having fun.

    You see, it doesnt matter the players just ended that awesome fight i had planned with just one spell. It dosnt matter that a mortal encounter i planned ended being so quick and easy. Everybody was having a great time, and as a DM i was feeling great.

  16. Bear

    Honestly, the cyclops encounter becomes awesome thanks to banishment. The orcs have an immediate goal to target the caster to get back their heavy hitter. Concentration spells are usually breakable in one or two rounds. At that moment, the fight goes from “let’s just fight” to objective-based combat for both sides. Can the party keep the stream of orcs off the caster?

    I don’t think the game is worse for banishment existing, it just requires reacting to it. You don’t have to be an expert on magic to know that, when a caster can disappear your big boy, you kill the caster first. Banishment has the added risk that, even with a failed save, you might lose concentration before they even miss a turn. A single magic missiles is often as good as or better than a dispel magic against a concentration spell.

    I understand the frustration, and I don’t think 5e is perfectly balanced, but most of the time if your reaction to “man this is strong” is “how does it fit into the world?” rather than “how can I nerf this?” then your game will be more interesting.

    Once in a while, a single spell or ability will totally decide an encounter, and usually it’s not just the damage-based ones. Suggestion, banishment, polymorph – these are all completely OP in the right situation, but useless in others. Players will naturally try to use them when they’re at their most potent. GMs should try to find the right balance of rewarding that and counteracting it.

    Nerfs are an easy place to go, but saying “your spell doesn’t work anymore” is a much less fun thing than “your enemies are learning what you can do and now have countermeasures that you have to outplay”.

    • duncan

      You make a very good point about concentration spells creating a fun objective within the combat. That is prefaced on the very big IF, regarding whether orcs (in this case) understand how concentration spells work. That’s really up to how you envision your world and how common magic is. I started playing D&D as more of a high magic setting (than when I wrote this article), so yes maybe banishment becomes less of an encounter ender and more of an additional challenge.

      Overall is it a spell that makes the game better or worse? For me, still worse on balance. But everyone can make their own mind up.

      Thanks for sharing your insight!

  17. jason

    how about using the spell on an enslaved person of BBEG( a human NPC?) thoughts? a rescue of sorts. Too far fetched?

  18. Chris Merrick

    I was going to bring this up. I’m not sure an orc or a cyclops would be intelligent enough to comprehend “concentration.” Personally think it’s a brilliant spell because it rewards a keen mind on the battlefield. It’s pretty situational though; against a more organized foe it just won’t be as effective. Another way to deal with stuff like that is a long tough quest or dungeon. Maybe the orcs manifest some sort of guerilla style offensive poking at the party when they’re vulnerable (i.e. during their rests). It’s pretty hard to recoup spell slots when you can’t get a full nights rest.
    Also once you start using lair actions/legendary resistances against the party banishment won’t seem like such a big deal.
    The second a player feels like they’re being targeted by the DM they’ll want to leave the game.
    On another note I read above that you’re worried about the certain classes outshining others… I always am open a player picking a different class if they want to spice it up a bit (they have to create a completely new character though and I as the DM get their old character as an NPC mwahaahahhahahaah).
    There are a lot of spells and abilities that are really strong. Stunning strike, polymorph, toll the dead, spirit guardians, counter spell, silence, fireball I mean the list goes on and on.
    You just can’t single out a spell. You have to have an organic way to target the party; not the spell.

  19. Justin

    Once again I find myself agreeing with your concerns about balance Duncan 🙂

    When I played SKT the cleric pretty much used this as his 1st action in almost every big battle. And as you say, we absolutely stopped bothering with rolling dice for the slaughterfest on their return, unless we weren’t going to get a long rest afterwards (and in SKT, you can basically always get a long rest after every consequential battle!)

    IMHO the simplest fix (and yes, this should only be done at the start of a campaign, or even as PCs are levelling up to level 7) is simply to make Banishment only work on extra-planar creatures.

    To me that matches the design concept, a thought reinforced by DMDavid’s comments about the history of the spell.

    It’s then still a GREAT situational spell. But not one that level 7+ spellcasters turn into their go-to 1st action in every single major combat. And if I’m understanding you right, that’s your biggest issue with these sorts of overpowered abilities, yeah?

    • duncan

      Hi again Justin. Yes, this spell is an encounter ruiner basically – for everyone! In general I don’t like spells / abilities that completely remove a player or monster from the game. Give them disadvantage great, blind them, knock them over, reduce their HP… but removing players / monsters from an encounter makes the encounter more boring.

      You can also say that the worst 5e mechanics are the ones that break the 5e mould. This one breaks the mould that offers repeat saving throws to end nasty effects (that we see in 95% of spells), so fixing this spell might be about giving a repeat saving throw (could be at disadvantage). Another solution could be raising the spell’s level to a 5th or 6th level spell.

      I also don’t think the banished creature should be helpless when banished, they should be able to use their own spells in the demiplane, possibly returning early or with buffs.


  20. I just came across your Blog because of your VTT article. Thumbs up! I’m definitely going to spent more time here 😉

    While reading I had the idea, that if the enemy also is a spellcaster and /or knows about this spell and the time of duration (probably doing an INT-Check) , it might take its time to prepare and hold an action / casting a ritual to unleash on the players by returning.
    I mean they‘re giving it some spare time on the bench. So why not using this for something to its advantage?

    • duncan

      Hi Toby, that would certainly make the spell more interesting and something you could homebrew for your table.

      As written however the spell specifies that the target of the spell is incapacitated while on the demiplane. So it can’t cast spells… (or take any other actions). Annoying!

      Thanks for dropping by and your kind words! You can also subscribe to stay in touch, I got some good content planned for these coming months 🙂

  21. Ahhh… missed that part. Sorry 😅

    I‘m definitely looking foreward to your new content 😉

  22. Beaver Dan

    The spell doesn’t specifically say a GP cost but the “distasteful” item may have one. If, for instance, the distasteful item were to be a 500 GP goblet… well that won’t be in a component pouch, if it were bat guano, sure. It’d take research and more RP for that spell.

  23. Single Target fights can 99% of the time be ruined by one or two utility spells anyways. Banishment isn’t an exception to this rule. It’s a 4th-level spell, almost halfway up the total spell power chart, and as a result should be given equal power capabilities. Polymorph as well as 4 Summoning spells are all 4th level. If I can summon a creature or completely change the shape of a creature, why would I not be able to banish a creature? Also as far as “Are orcs smart enough to realize that the cyclops that they were working with popped out of existence the moment that that fancy looking humanoid finished saying fancy words?” I say yes, but you can play dumber orcs if you like. At the end of the day you are saying that you prefer to not play with banishment under the assertion of “its an OP spell” which is what I think most people are arguing against here. You can’t give an opinion as if its fact and then expect nobody to respond in opposition. As a player and a DM, I respect your decision to remove/change it as you wish, as is the spirit of D&D, I just think that asserting your claims as facts instead of opinions is holding up the actual conversation here.

  24. Isaac

    I think the only problem was that there were not 2 cyclops.

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