Enchanter Combat Tactics for D&D 5e
Enchanters from Volo’s Guide to Monsters are themed around manipulating others. They have high Intelligence and Dexterity, average Wisdom and Constitution, and low Strength. This indicates that they prefer to stay away from melee fighting and use social interaction to avoid combat entirely when possible.
Curiously, Enchanters aren’t any more charismatic than the average commoner, and possess no proficiency in social skills. This indicates that they are untrained in mundane manipulation tactics, and compensate for their lack of expertise using magic. They have many spells to tip the social scales in their favor as well as a variety of magical ways to escape when negotiation fails. All of their spells are analyzed below:
- Friends is mainly useful when in social interactions with laborers and other lower-class folk without enough political power to harm the Enchanter.
- Tongues allows for basic communication with all types of creatures.
- Mage Hand and Mending are minor favors that can be used to build trust.
- Charm Person has a longer duration than Friends and prevents the target from attacking the Enchanter, making it a useful tool to postpone or prevent a likely fight. It might be boosted up to 4th level to affect multiple targets (an Enchanter saves its 5th level slots for Hold Person and Hold Monster)
- Suggestion is the most valuable social spell in the Enchanter’s arsenal. Depending on your interpenetration of the spell, the Enchanter could force someone to truthfully answer all questions, turn them-self in to the local city watch, leave town immediately, or remove them-self from battle until the Enchanter has defeated the rest of the party.
- Mage Armor, which protects the Enchanter in combat, is cast as a contingency measure when things seem to be heading towards a fight.
- Invisibility is useful for hearing juicy gossip that the Enchanter can later use to their advantage. It is also an extremely useful escape hatch when negotiations fail
- Haste is useful for getting away quickly if Invisibility is thwarted. It can also be used to boost an ally’s combat skills in the rare situation that an Enchanter actually wants to fight.
- Hold Person is used to delay pursuers when both Invisibility and Haste fail and can also provide a significant advantage in a battle that the Enchanter chooses to fight. It will be boosted all the way to 5th level to immobilize as many opponents as possible
- Hold Monster is used the same way as Hold Person if the Enchanter is fighting a particularly dangerous non-humanoid
- Dominate Beast can cause a nearby animal to rampage, providing a somewhat useful distraction for an escape. However, in most situations, Haste, or Hold Person will be much better use of the Enchanter’s concentration.
- Fireball and Magic Missile are useful for dissuading relatively weak pursuers or helping out in a battle that the Enchanter wants to fight.
- Message is used to command the Enchanter’s allies without giving away its plans to the enemies.
- Stoneskin can protect a melee oriented ally in a battle that the Enchanter is trying to win, and is most useful when used on an ally that will likely be attacked by 2 or more enemies at once. The range of touch means that it will only be cast before combat erupts. Once a fight starts, there’s no way an enchanter will dash into the thick of it to confer this benefit!
An Enchanter’s battle tactics depend on the relative power between the Enchanter’s allies and its enemies. Its high Intelligence means that it can judge this power difference relatively accurately, attacking only when it has numerous allies and the encounter is Deadly according to the encounter building rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.¹
If the Enchanter’s side is outmatched, it tries to talk its way out of combat before fighting begins, boosting Charm Person to affect its 2–3 most influential opponents.² If Charm Person doesn’t ease the tension, the Enchanter casts Suggestion on whoever seems to be in charge, asking them to do whatever will most efficiently prevent a fight. At some point during these negotiations, an Enchanter casts Mage Armor just in case combat does break out. If opponents attack despite all these spells, the Enchanter flees immediately, hoping to get revenge another day.
When an Enchanter actually wants to fight, it starts combat by casting a concentration spell. If there are less than 5 opponents, and at least 2 of them are within 30 feet of each other, it casts Hold Person, which can be boosted all the way to 5th level if necessary. If the conditions for casting Hold Person don’t apply, the Enchanter buffs a melee oriented ally. It uses Stoneskin if its allies are outnumbered, or Haste if they have the numerical advantage.
After the first round of combat, an Enchanter uses its damaging spells, casting Fireball when it can affect at least 4 enemies and Magic Missile otherwise. If your interpretation of Suggestion allows for immobilizing opponents during combat, an Enchanter uses this spell with its 2nd level slots to take the most dangerous opponent out of the battle until everyone else is defeated.³
An Enchanter uses its Instinctive Charm reaction against the first opponent to attack it, regardless of whether it would be a better tactical play to save that feature for later use. Enchanters are relatively inexperienced in battle, so when they get hit, all thought of tactics goes out the window.
If an Enchanter loses its concentration, it casts Haste on the nearest melee oriented ally or uses a boosted Hold Person if it can target at least 2 enemies that haven’t successfully saved against that spell before. Whatever spells an Enchanter casts, it saves a 2nd level slot for Invisibility and a 3rd level slot for Haste in case it needs to escape.
If an Enchanter is reduced to 24hp(60% of its hit point maximum) or half its allies are defeated, it tries to stop the fighting and open negotiations, using the same tactics as if it realized it was outmatched from the start.
When negotiation efforts fail, an Enchanter immediately casts Invisibility and tries to slip away. If its opponents can see through or dispel Invisibility, the Enchanter casts Haste to try and outrun them, possibly slinging a Fireball over its shoulder to dissuade weaker opponents from pursuit. If Haste is dispelled or thwarted, the Enchanter becomes extremely desperate. It surrenders to opponents that might show mercy or casts Hold Person boosted to 5th level in a last ditch effort to escape from certain death.
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