Sleep Spell – DM’s Pocket Guide
Welcome to DM’s Pocket Guide, where we discuss the rules, spells, and monsters of Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition.
Tricia: Today, we are going to talk about the spell Sleep.
Rachel: This spell is on page 276 of the Player’s Handbook, and it’s one that does have a couple of intricacies about how it’s used.
T: This is one of those spells that if you’re not familiar with it, and a player uses it in a fight, you’re hurriedly trying to skim through it and will likely miss something…I might be speaking from experience.
R: Yeah, for sure. Okay, so the casting time for this one is one action. It’s going to take up a player’s full turn to try and cast this. The range is 90 feet, so it’s got a good amount of range. It’s probably going to cover most of your battlefield that you’re using. And it does require all three spell components. And this isn’t something we use a huge amount. But it does mean it has a verbal component, a somatic component and a material component. If your players can’t speak – if they’ve been silenced – they aren’t able to cast this spell. If they can’t move – if they’ve been restrained – then they wouldn’t be able to cast this spell. And if they didn’t have the right ingredients, which is a pinch of fine sand, rose petals, or a cricket, then they can’t cast this spell. I usually don’t hold my players accountable to having all their spell components.
T: Yeah, I don’t either. But I do like – there’s a specific kind of group that would be very into that. And I’ve had one player who was kind of interested in like, “Oh, I’m in this area, are there any crickets around?” And it can lead to some fun, some fun little role-playing bits. But that’s up to you how much you want to follow this or not.
R: For sure. And then the duration for this spell is one minute. So anything that falls subject to this will fall asleep for one minute.
T: That’s 10 rounds of combat.
R: Excellent. So the spell itself reads, “This spell sends creatures into a magical slumber. Roll 5d8s; the total is how many hit points of creatures this spell can affect. Creatures within 20 feet of a point that you choose within range are affected in ascending order of their current hit points.” That ignores unconscious creatures. And there’s an important point here about ascending weights.
T: Yeah, so if you are casting this against a group of four goblins, say, and they’re all within that 20 feet, then if they’re all at their full seven hit points, I think it would just be randomly chosen. But if some of them have already taken damage, the ones that are most damaged will be put to sleep first.
R: So if you’ve taken damage, you are more vulnerable to this spell is maybe the way to remember it. Okay, so 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 slap or shake the sleeper awake. It’s up to one minute is the duration of the spell, don’t forget, so these guys aren’t going to be asleep forever. And it will be a long time in six second rounds of combat, but there are some things that can happen to end the spell. Taking damage, I think is probably the most likely one in a battle situation.
T: Remember not to attack the sleeping creatures.
R: Or if you’re the DM, remember to have damage, maybe full on some of those sleeping creatures if you need to get them up, especially if the players are throwing around area of effect spells, like yeah, that’s a good consequence for just randomly throwing that around. So you subtract each creatures’ hit points from the total before moving on, and that’s the total of those 5d8s. And then you move on to the creature with the next lowest hit point. Creatures’ hit points must be equal to or less than the remaining total for that creature to be affected.
T: So let’s play that out. We have 5d8 here, go ahead and roll them.
R: Okay. I have a total of 18.
T: So if we are fighting those four goblins, they typically have seven hit points each. If they were full health, how many would you get?
R: So 7, 14, 21. So I’ll get two of those goblins with my 18 points to spend. The two of them will be totally covered, and then I would have four points of Sleep left. I would try to use that on this goblin, and it would be ineffective because I don’t have enough to cover the amount of hit points that the goblin has. Because I’m rolling the dice, I have to meet or beat the hit points.
T: Yep. And there’s no like, oh, they fall half asleep or anything. Those points just go away.
R: It’s all or nothing. Yeah.
T: What about if you were attacking a troll, which is a much more difficult creature? They have 84 hit points.
R: Yeah. So a player might come into this encounter and be like, “I’m gonna just make that troll fall asleep!” Well, even if you roll the maximum amount of 5d8s, you are not going to equal 84 hit points. But if that troll was taking damage, then you are much more likely be able to, to Sleep a damaged troll than you would a fully functional troll.
T: Yeah, so this is a strategic spell you want to use when you’re pretty sure they have lower hit points than 5d8.
R: Not something that should be used at the beginning of the combat. Although it would be quite useful towards the end, like let’s see, if it’s a really pitched battle, a few of your players have taken damage, and you need to recuperate pulling out a first level – like, you probably got a lot of first level spell slots – it would be probably quite effective to do it at that point. That’s where I see myself using the spell.
R: There are some immunities. So undead creatures cannot be put to sleep. So no vampires, no zombies.
T: Those things don’t sleep. They’re just shambling around.
R: That’s fair. And there are some creatures that are also immune to being Charmed. So make sure you check the immunities on your, on your creatures. Stone golems are a good example of that. They’re immune to being Charmed, so that doesn’t work.
T: Yeah, that’s the thing to remember that I don’t know that I would necessarily until we read through this, that putting something to sleep is being Charmed. So that’s useful.
R: You’re lulling them to sleep. Singing them a lullaby.
R: And then the last part that’s in the Player’s Handbook is at higher levels. So when you’re casting this above first level, you had 2d8s for every spell slot. And so yeah, maybe you could take on that troll if you were, you know, casting it at fifth level and rolling at – Oh, my goodness, how many even is that? That’s 10 plus the original 5. 15d8s might get you there!
T: That would be awesome.
R: Yeah. Excellent. Yeah, I think that’s Sleep.
T: That’s Sleep. And that is on what page?
R: Page 276 of the Player’s Handbook.
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