Silvery Barbs 5e Guide
Is Silvery Barbs Good?
Overall Rating: Sky Blue. This means that silvery barbs is an amazing spell. If you do not take this spell your character would not be optimized.
Overall Notes: Probably one of the more broken spells in 5th Edition. Silvery barbs allows you to automatically grant disadvantage to any creature when they succeed on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. This may seem innocent enough, but when used in higher-level play and when noted that there is no saving throw to resist the effect, it can make short work of a legendary monster's Legendary Resistances when saving against powerful spell effects. Essentially, silvery barbs acts like a second casting of a high-level spell, for the low price of a 1st-level spell slot and a reaction. Yes, using your reaction means you won't be able to counterspell. But in most circumstances, especially when fighting a non-caster legendary monster, it can begin to trivialize encounters. The secondary effect, wherein you grant another creature advantage on the next attack roll, ability check, or saving throw is simply icing on top of the extremely powerful cake.
Class Specific Ratings for Silvery Barbs
Wild Magic sorcerer: While normally an overpowered spell, silvery barbs is even better for Wild Magic sorcerers because they have access to Bend Luck, which can further hamper an enemy's ability to succeed on a saving throw or attack roll.
School of Divination wizard: Already an overpowered spell, silvery barbs in the hands of a Divination Wizard is just plain cruel while also being thematic. By "looking into the future," you can use this spell to make enemies roll with disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws, while also giving advantage to your party members. Then, if the enemy still succeeds or your party member still fails, you can Portent their result anyways. Also, with Expert Divination, you'll likely have an abundance of opportunity to generate 1st-level spell slots efficiently when you start running low.
How to Use Silvery Barbs Effectively in 5e
Silvery barbs is effective in any caster build that can run it. It is a supportive skill, which means it is more preferred on builds that like to support their allies, but is still extremely effective as a means to support yourself. It can be effective in any scenario with opposing sides, including combat, social, and exploration encounters.
This spell is very flexible and powerful. You can use it to disrupt an otherwise dangerous attack or roll-based ability from an enemy, try to make an enemy fail an important saving throw, and give an ally advantage on a future check or attack. It can even be used against an ally to give another ally a better chance for success on a more important check, such as a death save, or persuasion, although this function could be subjective depending on the DM at a particular table.
Because it is a first level spell, an 18th level wizard can also use this spell infinitely if they choose this spell with spell mastery, which gives high level wizards access to an even more constant source of defense and utility.
Silvery Barbs VS Shield
Silvery barbs and shield are 1st level spells that, at reaction speed, allow a caster to create a favorable outcome to something that would otherwise negatively affect their character.
The key differences are:
Silvery Barbs: Allows the user to affect characters other than their own. This means you can use this ability to help allies avoid attacks and not just yourself. It can also be used offensively to impose negative saving throws on enemies and give your allies advantage on checks, saving throws and attacks. However, because it is based on rerolls and advantage, there is some variance on whether silvery barbs works or not.
Shield: This is a more guaranteed defensive ability. The guaranteed +5 armor class means that you will almost always create a successful result when using the spell. It only works against attacks and only for oneself.
While shield can guarantee a successful defensive maneuver, silvery barbs has more applications while simultaneously providing advantage. Shield may be more useful at early levels where more enemies rely on attacks to deal damage as opposed to ability checks; silvery barbs overall outclasses shield, despite shield being an incredible spell. There is one major drawback to silvery barbs and that it might not be allowed at every table.
Is Silvery Barbs Overpowered?
There are some people who say that silvery barbs is not just a powerful spell, but that it is an overpowered spell. It can contend with spells of higher spell level by drastically altering outcomes of many scenarios. It can do so at a very low investment of a 1st level spell slot. It’s low investment means it can be used very frequently, especially as the player characters reach higher levels. Some DM’s ban this spell from their table, arguing that constantly forcing rerolls upon the DM while simultaneously providing advantage can create an unfun gaming experience. Consult with your DM to see if this spell is allowed at your table.
Silvery Barbs 5e FAQs
Does this spell give disadvantage on a roll?
No. This spell functions better than disadvantage because the reroll is made after already seeing the success of that roll.
Will a creature be able to use the advantage on any action they want?
No. The spell specifies “the next attack roll, ability check, or saving throw it makes within 1 minute.”
Why won’t my DM let me use this spell?
As mentioned before, this spell is incredibly powerful and some DM’s may ban it from their table.
Can I use this spell just to give an ally advantage?
No. The only mechanical downside to be aware of is that this spell does require something to succeed on an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw. It can not be cast if this condition was not met.
Can I impose the negative effect on an ally to give myself or another ally advantage?
Yes, the spell specifies another creature, not specifically an enemy creature.
How do I use silvery barbs outside of combat?
This is campaign reliant. Any scenario where multiple sides are competing against each other can provide uses for this spell. Some examples are a skill contest such as a race or chase, a social encounter that relies on enemies rolling insight against your party, or a stealth encounter where a guard is using his perception to try and spot a sneaking party member.
Silvery barbs is an incredibly powerful spell, to the point that some DM’s may ban it from their table. Despite limited roleplaying applications, it is very versatile and can be used in just about any build that is able to run it. If allowed, it is a must take spell that is easily worth the spell slot.
Do you agree? Do you think this spell is fair, or should be banned at the table? Do you have any creative uses for this spell? Leave your thoughts in the comments.