[RPG] How to make Stinking Cloud stick


On the surface Stinking Cloud seems great:

You create a 20-foot-radius sphere […] Each creature that is completely within the cloud at the start of its turn must make a Constitution saving throw against poison. On a failed save, the creature spends its action that turn retching and reeling.

Wow, they can do nothing, if they fail the save!
Except from walking out of the area, and shooting at you, casting a spell, or just hitting one of your allies with a stick. The best you can hope for is they fail their save, and spend their action "retching and reeling" for that turn, but then they just leave the area. Spending an action and a 3rd level spell slot just so maybe make some monsters spend their action seems like a very bad deal. You can't even put it on the big boss once your teammates surrounded it.

  • If you put it on top of its head, it just has to walk 20', most monsters can do it easily
  • If you want to use it seal an entrance, it only slows the enemies down, but you can not use this slowness to shoot at them, as the area is heavily obscured
  • It would work great with Entangle or Web, they need an action to get out of, and the enemy is denied exactly that, but these spells require concentration too
  • If you have a 10th level Monk in your party with Purity of Body and Blindsight, he would really be effective in the middle of the cloud, but those are rare.

So how can Stinking Cloud be used effectively?

Best Answer

Forced Movement

The saving throw is triggered at the beginning of a creatures turn. So if you have a way to move creatures into the cloud, they will not have a chance to move out of it before a saving throw is triggered (unless another force moves them out before their turn rolls around). Using this technique you can lock down enemies for longer than usual. Some ways to forcefully move enemies are:

  • The spell Thunderwave is particularly useful in this role as it can affect multiple creatures at once.
  • Bigby's Hand is versatile, but to use with stinking cloud will require another caster due to concentration centration as well a second caster will be necessary
  • Pushing Attack Battle Master maneuver
  • One Hand Technique feature of Open Hand Monks has a push mode
  • Thunderous Smite Paladin spell
  • Repelling Blast Warlock invocation
  • Spells that allow you to dictate what a creature does such as Command, or Dominate Person/Monster
  • Shoving a creature by substituting an attack
  • Grappling a creature and moving it around (at half speed)

As Fog Cloud+

As you mentioned the spell's area is considered heavily obscured. This means that the spell can be used tactically in much the same way as you would use Fog Cloud.

  • If placed on top of a group of enemies with ranged attacks they will be forced to relocate and you can sometimes place it cleverly enough that the area they move to puts them at a disadvantage. It also has the benefit that the enemies will not be able to fire after the relocation if they fail their save.
  • If placed in a choke point between you and a group of enemies that must move to engage you it can slow their approach and give you time to prepare. It also has the benefit of having a chance of consuming an action giving you even more time.
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