Bard, Cleric, Warlock - 1 Level Spell
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, and Material
Duration: 1 Minute
Reference: PH 216
Up to three creatures of your choice that you can see within range must make Charisma saving throws. Whenever a target that fails this saving throw makes an attack roll or a saving throw before the spell ends, the target must roll a d4 and subtract the number rolled from the attack roll or saving throw.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 1st.
* – (a drop of blood)
My Comments: I want to review this spell on its own, but it’s impossible not to compare it to Bless. They are just too inextricably tied to each other. In earlier editions, Bane and Bless were not just considered opposites, they would actually counter each other.
Okay, first we’ll compare the two, and then we can work out what Bane is best for and when to use it.
The obvious things are that Bless helps your allies’ rolls and Bane hurts your enemies’ rolls. Easy enough.
Here’s the kicker that will have me reaching for Bless way more often than Bane- when you cast it on an enemy target, they get a saving throw. That makes perfect sense. Just imagine if an NPC caster decided to cast Bane on you- you would definitely want a saving throw!
However, this does still mean that the spell has a little over a 70% chance of succeeding at lower levels and less at higher. A 70% success rate means a 30% fail rate. This feels a bit like one-third of your spell output is being wasted on average.
Mind you, Charisma saves aren’t as common as say, Constitution or Dexterity, so it has that going for it.
On the other hand, when you cast Bless on your friends, there is no need for a saving throw- all three instances of the spell work perfectly.
Does that mean Bane sucks, and you should always go for Bless?
Bane has some great uses, particularly for parties with multiple casters. Cast this and, if successful, you can significantly reduce your opponent’s ability to save against other spells. There is a downside that Bane is a concentration spell, so you as the caster won’t likely be targeting them with another spell (though you might be with a spell-like effect, or even a combat maneuver.)
Is your ever-excited mage ready with that fireball they’ve been dying to cast? It’s a great time for Bane to mess with the enemy’s saves.
Even better, it also reduces their attack rolls by 1d4 for the duration of the spell. It’s important to note that the spell affects every attack during the spell’s duration. This means it’s really helpful against opponents with a lot of attacks. Even better, three opponents with lots of attacks.
Fewer successful attacks mean less damage your character is taking.
One reviewer noted that it can reduce DPR (damage per round) of creatures less that 4th level by about 15%. It may not sound like much, but remember, that’s a 15% reduction of damage taken per round.
If you’re fighting 3 Ropers with Charisma of 6 and 5 attacks/round, then heck yeah, fire up that Bane!
And finally, if you’re higher level and facing creatures with legendary resistance you can ping them with several lower level spells like Bane to wear them down.
Overall, it’s not a bad spell, and it’s actually an excellent spell in certain conditions, but I would still tend to go for Bless instead.
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