A spell is a one-time magical effect. Spells come in two types:
- Arcane (cast by bards, sorcerers, and wizards) and
- Divine (cast by clerics, druids, and experienced paladins and rangers)
Some spellcasters select their spells from a limited list of spells known, while others have access to a wide variety of options.
Most spellcasters prepare spells in advance-whether from a spellbook or through prayers-while some cast spells spontaneously without preparation. Despite these different ways characters use to learn or prepare their spells, when it comes to casting them, the spells are very much alike.
Whether a spell is arcane or divine, and whether a character prepares spells in advance or chooses them on the spot, casting a spell works the same way.
First you must choose which spell to cast. If you’re a cleric, druid, experienced paladin, experienced ranger, or wizard, you select from among spells prepared earlier in the day and not yet cast (see Preparing Wizard Spells and Preparing Divine Spells).
To cast a spell, you must be able to speak (if the spell has a verbal component), gesture (if it has a somatic component), and manipulate the material components or focus (if any). Additionally, you must concentrate to cast a spell.
Once you’ve cast a prepared spell, you can’t cast it again until you prepare it again. (If you’ve prepared multiple copies of a single spell, you can cast each copy once.) If you’re a bard or sorcerer, casting a spell counts against your daily limit for spells of that spell level, but you can cast the same spell again if you haven’t reached your limit.
|Situation||Concentration Check DC|
|Cast defensively||15 + double spell level|
|Injured while casting||10 + damage dealt + spell level|
|Continuous damage while casting||10 + 1/2 damage dealt + spell level|
|Affected by a non-damaging spell while casting||DC of the spell + spell level|
|Grappled or pinned while casting||10 + grappler’s CMB + spell level|
|Vigorous motion while casting||10 + spell level|
|Violent motion while casting||15 + spell level|
|Extremely violent motion while casting||20 + spell level|
|Wind with rain or sleet while casting||5 + spell level|
|Wind with hail and debris while casting||10 + spell level|
|Weather caused by spell||see spell|
|Entangled while casting||15 + spell level|
To cast a spell, you must concentrate. If something interrupts your concentration while you’re casting, you must make a concentration check or lose the spell. When you make a concentration check, you roll d20 and add your caster level and the ability score modifier used to determine bonus spells of the same type. Clerics, druids, and rangers add their Wisdom modifier. Bards, paladins, and sorcerers add their Charisma modifier. Finally, wizards add their Intelligence modifier. The more distracting the interruption and the higher the level of the spell you are trying to cast, the higher the DC (see Table: Concentration Check DCs). If you fail the check, you lose the spell just as if you had cast it to no effect.
If you take damage while trying to cast a spell, you must make a concentration check with a DC equal to 10 + the damage taken + the level of the spell you’re casting. If you fail the check, you lose the spell without effect. The interrupting event strikes during spellcasting if it comes between the time you started and the time you complete a spell (for a spell with a casting time of 1 full round or more) or if it comes in response to your casting the spell (such as an attack of opportunity provoked by the spell or a contingent attack, such as a readied action).
If you are taking continuous damage, such as from an acid arrow or by standing in a lake of lava, half the damage is considered to take place while you are casting a spell. You must make a concentration check with a DC equal to 10 + 1/2 the damage that the continuous source last dealt + the level of the spell you’re casting. If the last damage dealt was the last damage that the effect could deal, then the damage is over and does not distract you.
If you are affected by a spell while attempting to cast a spell of your own, you must make a concentration check or lose the spell you are casting. If the spell affecting you deals damage, the DC is 10 + the damage taken + the level of the spell you’re casting.
If the spell interferes with you or distracts you in some other way, the DC is the spell’s saving throw DC + the level of the spell you’re casting. For a spell with no saving throw, it’s the DC that the spell’s saving throw would have if a save were allowed (10 + spell level + caster’s ability score).
Casting a spell while you have the grappled or pinned condition is difficult and requires a concentration check (DC 10 + the grappler’s CMB + the level of the spell you’re casting). Pinned creatures can only cast spells that do not have somatic components.
If you are riding on a moving mount, taking a bouncy ride in a wagon, on a small boat in rough water, below-decks in a storm-tossed ship, or simply being jostled in a similar fashion, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + the level of the spell you’re casting) or lose the spell.
If you are on a galloping horse, taking a very rough ride in a wagon, on a small boat in rapids or in a storm, on deck in a storm-tossed ship, or being pitched roughly about in a similar fashion, you must make a concentration check (DC 15 + the level of the spell you’re casting) or lose the spell. If the motion is extremely violent, such as that caused by an earthquake, the DC is equal to 20 + the level of the spell you’re casting.
You must make a concentration check if you try to cast a spell in violent weather. If you are in a high wind carrying blinding rain or sleet, the DC is 5 + the level of the spell you’re casting. If you are in wind-driven hail, dust, or debris, the DC is 10 + the level of the spell you’re casting. In either case, you lose the spell if you fail the concentration check. If the weather is caused by a spell, use the rules as described in the spell’s description.
If you want to cast a spell without provoking any attacks of opportunity, you must make a concentration check (DC 15 + double the level of the spell you’re casting) to succeed. You lose the spell if you fail.
If you want to cast a spell while entangled in a net or by a tanglefoot bag or while you’re affected by a spell with similar effects, you must make a concentration check to cast the spell (DC 15 + the level of the spell you’re casting). You lose the spell if you fail.
It is possible to cast any spell as a counterspell. By doing so, you are using the spell’s energy to disrupt the casting of the same spell by another character. Counterspelling works even if one spell is divine and the other arcane.
To use a counterspell, you must select an opponent as the target of the counterspell. You do this by choosing to ready an action. In doing so, you elect to wait to complete your action until your opponent tries to cast a spell. You may still move at your normal speed, since ready is a standard action.
If the target of your counterspell tries to cast a spell, make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + the spell’s level). This check is a free action. If the check succeeds, you correctly identify the opponent’s spell and can attempt to counter it. If the check fails, you can’t do either of these things.
To complete the action, you must then cast an appropriate spell. As a general rule, a spell can only counter itself. If you are able to cast the same spell and you have it prepared (or have a slot of the appropriate level available), you cast it, creating a counterspell effect. If the target is within range, both spells automatically negate each other with no other results.
Metamagic feats are not taken into account when determining whether a spell can be countered.
Some spells can counter other specific spells, often those with diametrically opposed effects.
You can usually use dispel magic to counterspell another spell being cast without needing to identify the spell being cast. Dispel magic doesn’t always work as a counterspell (see the spell description).
A spell’s power often depends on its caster level, which for most spellcasting characters is equal to her class level in the class she’s using to cast the spell.
You can cast a spell at a lower caster level than normal, but the caster level you choose must be high enough for you to cast the spell in question, and all level-dependent features must be based on the same caster level.
In the event that a class feature or other special ability provides an adjustment to your caster level, that adjustment applies not only to effects based on caster level (such as range, duration, and damage dealt), but also to your caster level check to overcome your target’s spell resistance and to the caster level used in dispel checks (both the dispel check and the DC of the check).
If you ever try to cast a spell in conditions where the characteristics of the spell cannot be made to conform, the casting fails and the spell is wasted.
Once you know which creatures (or objects or areas) are affected, and whether those creatures have made successful saving throws (if any were allowed), you can apply whatever results a spell entails.
Many special spell effects are handled according to the school of the spells in question. Certain other special spell features are found across spell schools.
Some spell descriptions refer to attacking. All offensive combat actions, even those that don’t damage opponents, are considered attacks. Attempts to channel energy count as attacks if it would harm any creatures in the area. All spells that opponents resist with saving throws, that deal damage, or that otherwise harm or hamper subjects are attacks. Spells that summon monsters or other allies are not attacks because the spells themselves don’t harm anyone.
Usually, a bonus has a type that indicates how the spell grants the bonus. The important aspect of bonus types is that two bonuses of the same type don’t generally stack. With the exception of dodge bonuses, most circumstance bonuses, and racial bonuses, only the better bonus of a given type works. The same principle applies to penalties- a character taking two or more penalties of the same type applies only the worst one, although most penalties have no type and thus always stack. Bonuses without a type always stack, unless they are from the same source.
Several spells have the power to restore slain characters to life.
When a living creature dies, its soul departs its body, leaves the Material Plane, travels through the Astral Plane, and goes to abide on the plane where the creature’s deity resides. If the creature did not worship a deity, its soul departs to the plane corresponding to its alignment. Bringing someone back from the dead involves magically retrieving his soul and returning it to his body. For more information on the planes, see Environment.
Any creature brought back to life usually gains one or more permanent negative levels. These levels apply a penalty to most rolls until removed through spells such as restoration. If the character was 1st level at the time of death, he loses 2 points of Constitution instead of gaining a negative level.
Enemies can take steps to make it more difficult for a character to be returned from the dead. Keeping the body prevents others from using raise dead or resurrection to restore the slain character to life. Casting trap the soul prevents any sort of revivification unless the soul is first released.
Revivification against One’s Will
A soul can’t be returned to life if it doesn’t wish to be. A soul knows the name, alignment, and patron deity (if any) of the character attempting to revive it and may refuse to return on that basis.
Spells or magical effects usually work as described, no matter how many other spells or magical effects happen to be operating in the same area or on the same recipient. Except in special cases, a spell does not affect the way another spell operates. Whenever a spell has a specific effect on other spells, the spell description explains that effect. Several other general rules apply when spells or magical effects operate in the same place:
What does it mean if a spell tells me it doesn’t stack with another spell or “similar effects” if some of the effects aren’t bonuses?
If you have two spells with effects other than bonuses and those spells or effects are called out not to stack, that means that the effects that apply to the same rules component or situation do not stack, so if they apply different non-bonus effects to the same rules component, the most recent spell takes precedent. For example, aspect of the falcon specifically doesn’t stack with any other effect that expands the threat range of a weapon, such as Improved Critical or keen. This means that the part of aspect of the falcon that applies to criticals doesn’t stack with those effects, but it doesn’t prevent someone with Improved Critical from receiving the competence bonuses on attack rolls and Perception checks. If a character with Improved Critical (light crossbow) cast aspect of the falcon, his criticals would change from 17–20/x2 to 19–20/x3. Similarly, blessing of fervor does not stack with haste, which means that the increased speed, extra attack, and attack roll/AC/Reflex save bonuses wouldn’t stack between the two spells, but if you had both spells active, you could still get those three benefits from haste while choosing to stand up as a swift action or apply metamagic to a low-level spell.
Spells that provide bonuses or penalties on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and other attributes usually do not stack with themselves. More generally, two bonuses of the same type don’t stack even if they come from different spells (or from effects other than spells; see Bonus Types, above).
Different Bonus Types
The bonuses or penalties from two different spells stack if the modifiers are of different types. A bonus that doesn’t have a type stacks with any bonus. See FAQ at right for some additional information.
Same Effect More than Once in Different Strengths
In cases when two or more identical spells are operating in the same area or on the same target, but at different strengths, only the one with the highest strength applies.
Same Effect with Differing Results
The same spell can sometimes produce varying effects if applied to the same recipient more than once. Usually the last spell in the series trumps the others. None of the previous spells are actually removed or dispelled, but their effects become irrelevant while the final spell in the series lasts.
One Effect Makes Another Irrelevant
Sometimes, one spell can render a later spell irrelevant. Both spells are still active, but one has rendered the other useless in some fashion.
Multiple Mental Control Effects
Sometimes magical effects that establish mental control render each other irrelevant, such as spells that remove the subject’s ability to act. Mental controls that don’t remove the recipient’s ability to act usually do not interfere with each other. If a creature is under the mental control of two or more creatures, it tends to obey each to the best of its ability, and to the extent of the control each effect allows. If the controlled creature receives conflicting orders simultaneously, the competing controllers must make opposed Charisma checks to determine which one the creature obeys.
Spells with Opposite Effects
Spells with opposite effects apply normally, with all bonuses, penalties, or changes accruing in the order that they apply. Some spells negate or counter each other. This is a special effect that is noted in a spell’s description.
Two or more spells with instantaneous durations work cumulatively when they affect the same target.
The description of each spell is presented in a standard format. Each category of information is explained and defined below.
The first line of every spell description gives the name by which the spell is generally known.
Beneath the spell name is a line giving the school of magic (and the subschool, if any) to which the spell belongs.
Almost every spell belongs to one of eight schools of magic. A school of magic is a group of related spells that work in similar ways. A small number of spells (arcane mark, limited wish, permanency, prestidigitation, and wish) are universal, belonging to no school.
Abjurations are protective spells. They create physical or magical barriers, negate magical or physical abilities, harm trespassers, or even banish the subject of the spell to another plane of existence.
If one abjuration spell is active within 10 feet of another for 24 hours or more, the magical fields interfere with each other and create barely visible energy fluctuations. The DC to find such spells with the Perception skill drops by 4.
If an abjuration creates a barrier that keeps certain types of creatures at bay, that barrier cannot be used to push away those creatures. If you force the barrier against such a creature, you feel a discernible pressure against the barrier. If you continue to apply pressure, you end the spell.
Each conjuration spell belongs to one of five subschools. Conjurations transport creatures from another plane of existence to your plane (calling); create objects or effects on the spot (creation); heal (healing); bring manifestations of objects, creatures, or forms of energy to you (summoning); or transport creatures or objects over great distances (teleportation). Creatures you conjure usually- but not always- obey your commands.
A creature or object brought into being or transported to your location by a conjuration spell cannot appear inside another creature or object, nor can it appear floating in an empty space. It must arrive in an open location on a surface capable of supporting it.
The creature or object must appear within the spell’s range, but it does not have to remain within the range.
Calling: a calling spell transports a creature from another plane to the plane you are on. The spell grants the creature the one-time ability to return to its plane of origin, although the spell may limit the circumstances under which this is possible. Creatures who are called actually die when they are killed; they do not disappear and reform, as do those brought by a summoning spell (see below). The duration of a calling spell is instantaneous, which means that the called creature can’t be dispelled.
Creation: a creation spell manipulates matter to create an object or creature in the place the spellcaster designates. If the spell has a duration other than instantaneous, magic holds the creation together, and when the spell ends, the conjured creature or object vanishes without a trace. If the spell has an instantaneous duration, the created object or creature is merely assembled through magic. It lasts indefinitely and does not depend on magic for its existence.
Summoning: a summoning spell instantly brings a creature or object to a place you designate. When the spell ends or is dispelled, a summoned creature is instantly sent back to where it came from, but a summoned object is not sent back unless the spell description specifically indicates this. A summoned creature also goes away if it is killed or if its hit points drop to 0 or lower, but it is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it can’t be summoned again.
When the spell that summoned a creature ends and the creature disappears, all the spells it has cast expire. A summoned creature cannot use any innate summoning abilities it may have.
Teleportation: a teleportation spell transports one or more creatures or objects a great distance. The most powerful of these spells can cross planar boundaries. Unlike summoning spells, the transportation is (unless otherwise noted) one-way and not dispellable.
Teleportation is instantaneous travel through the Astral Plane. Anything that blocks astral travel also blocks teleportation.
Divination spells enable you to learn secrets long forgotten, predict the future, find hidden things, and foil deceptive spells.
Many divination spells have cone-shaped areas. These move with you and extend in the direction you choose. The cone defines the area that you can sweep each round. If you study the same area for multiple rounds, you can often gain additional information, as noted in the descriptive text for the spell.
Scrying: a scrying spell creates an invisible magical sensor that sends you information. Unless noted otherwise, the sensor has the same powers of sensory acuity that you possess. This level of acuity includes any spells or effects that target you, but not spells or effects that emanate from you. The sensor, however, is treated as a separate, independent sensory organ of yours, and thus functions normally even if you have been blinded or deafened, or otherwise suffered sensory impairment.
A creature can notice the sensor by making a Perception check with a DC 20 + the spell level. The sensor can be dispelled as if it were an active spell.
Lead sheeting or magical protection blocks a scrying spell, and you sense that the spell is blocked.
Enchantment spells affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior.
All enchantments are mind-affecting spells. Two subschools of enchantment spells grant you influence over a subject creature.
Compulsion: a compulsion spell forces the subject to act in some manner or changes the way its mind works. Some compulsion spells determine the subject’s actions or the effects on the subject, others allow you to determine the subject’s actions when you cast the spell, and still others give you ongoing control over the subject.
Evocation spells manipulate magical energy or tap an unseen source of power to produce a desired end. In effect, an evocation draws upon magic to create something out of nothing. Many of these spells produce spectacular effects, and evocation spells can deal large amounts of damage.
Illusion spells deceive the senses or minds of others. They cause people to see things that are not there, not see things that are there, hear phantom noises, or remember things that never happened.
Figment: A figment spell creates a false sensation. Those who perceive the figment perceive the same thing, not their own slightly different versions of the figment. It is not a personalized mental impression. Figments cannot make something seem to be something else. A figment that includes audible effects cannot duplicate intelligible speech unless the spell description specifically says it can. If intelligible speech is possible, it must be in a language you can speak. If you try to duplicate a language you cannot speak, the figment produces gibberish. Likewise, you cannot make a visual copy of something unless you know what it looks like (or copy another sense exactly unless you have experienced it).
Because figments and glamers are unreal, they cannot produce real effects the way that other types of illusions can. Figments and glamers cannot cause damage to objects or creatures, support weight, provide nutrition, or provide protection from the elements. Consequently, these spells are useful for confounding foes, but useless for attacking them directly.
A figment’s AC is equal to 10 + its size modifier.
Phantasm: a phantasm spell creates a mental image that usually only the caster and the subject (or subjects) of the spell can perceive. This impression is totally in the minds of the subjects. It is a personalized mental impression, all in their heads and not a fake picture or something that they actually see. Third parties viewing or studying the scene don’t notice the phantasm. All phantasms are mind-affecting spells.
Creatures encountering an illusion usually do not receive saving throws to recognize it as illusory until they study it carefully or interact with it in some fashion.
A successful saving throw against an illusion reveals it to be false, but a figment or phantasm remains as a translucent outline.
A failed saving throw indicates that a character fails to notice something is amiss. a character faced with proof that an illusion isn’t real needs no saving throw. If any viewer successfully disbelieves an illusion and communicates this fact to others, each such viewer gains a saving throw with a +4 bonus.
Necromancy spells manipulate the power of death, unlife, and the life force. Spells involving undead creatures make up a large part of this school.
|Creature’s Original Size||Str||Dex||Con||Adjusted Size|
Transmutation spells change the properties of some creature, thing, or condition.
Polymorph: a polymorph spell transforms your physical body to take on the shape of another creature. While these spells make you appear to be the creature, granting you a +10 bonus on Disguise skill checks, they do not grant you all of the abilities and powers of the creature. Each polymorph spell allows you to assume the form of a creature of a specific type, granting you a number of bonuses to your ability scores and a bonus to your natural armor. In addition, each polymorph spell can grant you a number of other benefits, including movement types, resistances, and senses. If the form you choose grants these benefits, or a greater ability of the same type, you gain the listed benefit. If the form grants a lesser ability of the same type, you gain the lesser ability instead. Your base speed changes to match that of the form you assume. If the form grants a swim or burrow speed, you maintain the ability to breathe if you are swimming or burrowing. The DC for any of these abilities equals your DC for the polymorph spell used to change you into that form.
In addition to these benefits, you gain any of the natural attacks of the base creature, including proficiency in those attacks. These attacks are based on your base attack bonus, modified by your Strength or Dexterity as appropriate, and use your Strength modifier for determining damage bonuses.
If a polymorph spell causes you to change size, apply the size modifiers appropriately, changing your armor class, attack bonus, Combat Maneuver Bonus, and Stealth skill modifiers. Your ability scores are not modified by this change unless noted by the spell.
Unless otherwise noted, polymorph spells cannot be used to change into specific individuals. Although many of the fine details can be controlled, your appearance is always that of a generic member of that creature’s type. Polymorph spells cannot be used to assume the form of a creature with a template or an advanced version of a creature.
When you cast a polymorph spell that changes you into a creature of the animal, dragon, elemental, magical beast, plant, or vermin type, all of your gear melds into your body. Items that provide constant bonuses and do not need to be activated continue to function while melded in this way (with the exception of armor and shield bonuses, which cease to function). Items that require activation cannot be used while you maintain that form. While in such a form, you cannot cast any spells that require material components (unless you have the Eschew Materials or Natural Spell feat), and can only cast spells with somatic or verbal components if the form you choose has the capability to make such movements or speak, such as a dragon. Other polymorph spells might be subject to this restriction as well, if they change you into a form that is unlike your original form (subject to GM discretion). If your new form does not cause your equipment to meld into your form, the equipment resizes to match your new size.
While under the effects of a polymorph spell, you lose all extraordinary and supernatural abilities that depend on your original form (such as keen senses, scent, and darkvision), as well as any natural attacks and movement types possessed by your original form. You also lose any class features that depend upon form, but those that allow you to add features (such as sorcerers that can grow claws) still function. While most of these should be obvious, the GM is the final arbiter of what abilities depend on form and are lost when a new form is assumed. Your new form might restore a number of these abilities if they are possessed by the new form.
You can only be affected by one polymorph spell at a time. If a new polymorph spell is cast on you (or you activate a polymorph effect, such as wild shape), you can decide whether or not to allow it to affect you, taking the place of the old spell. In addition, other spells that change your size have no effect on you while you are under the effects of a polymorph spell.
If a polymorph spell is cast on a creature that is smaller than Small or larger than Medium, first adjust its ability scores to one of these two sizes using the following table before applying the bonuses granted by the polymorph spell. (see Table: Ability Adjustments from Size Changes)
Appearing on the same line as the school and sub-school, when applicable, is a descriptor that further categorizes the spell in some way. Some spells have more than one descriptor.
The descriptors are acid, air, chaotic, cold, curse, darkness, death, disease, draconicPPC:LoD, earth, electricity, emotion, evil, fear, fire, force, good, language-dependent, lawful, light, meditativePPC:DA, mind-affecting, pain, poison, shadow, sonic, and water.
Most of these descriptors have no game effect by themselves, but they govern how the spell interacts with other spells, with special abilities, with unusual creatures, with alignment, and so on.
Editor’s Note: The descriptors below have been updated to reflect changes and new descriptors from PRG:UM.
Acid: Acid effects deal damage with chemical reactions rather than cold, electricity, heat, or vibration. This descriptor includes both actual acids and their chemical opposites, called bases or alkalines (such as ammonia and lye).
The connection between the element of earth and the alchemical damage type of acid is not immediately obvious to those unstudied in alchemy and arcane knowledge. A brief explanation of the connection may be useful to those seeking to master the magic of stone. What spellcasters and alchemists simply call “acid” is, in fact, a wide variety of caustic materials able to burn, dissolve, or corrode through chemical reaction.
While liquid acids are well known, and have ties to the elemental plane of water, there are also solid caustic materials with ties to the elemental plane of earth. These include items such as lye (also known as caustic soda, a dry white material used in soap-making) and caustic potash (also known as alkali salt). The exact process by which these caustic solids burn and corrode is not the same as many liquid acids, but the effect on material exposed to them is very similar.
Thus there are two elemental sources with which “acid” may be aligned. Black dragons, for example, are tied to the element of water and call forth a wet acidic breath that is also linked to that element. Sorcerers with an elemental earth bloodline, however, call upon the power of caustic salts and deal acid damage with a connection to elemental earth. Despite the two different elemental and alchemical sources of these caustic materials, for purposes of spells they both qualify as “acid” for game rule purposes.
Source: Adventurer’s Handbook: Genius Guide Volume 1
Air: Spells that create air, manipulate air, or conjure creatures from air-dominant planes or with the air subtype should have the air descriptor.
Chaotic: Spells that draw upon the power of true chaos or conjure creatures from chaos-aligned planes or with the chaotic subtype should have the chaos descriptor.
Cold: Cold effects deal damage by making the target colder, typically by blasting it with supernaturally cooled matter or energy. Cold effects also include those that create ice, sleet, or snow out of nothing. They can cause frostbite, numbness, coordination problems, slowed movement and reactions, stupor, and death.
Additional Curse info from PRG:HA Many spells can place curses on unfortunate victims. Their effects are usually simple and can be ended with the right spell (but never dispel magic). All curse spells have the curse descriptor. The most well-known is bestow curse, which allows the caster to invent her own effect in line with the listed options (no worse than a 50% chance of losing actions, a –4 penalty on checks, or a –6 penalty to an ability score). Effects in line with that power level include the following, though ultimately they are limited only by the caster’s imagination and the GM’s discretion.
- When the victim is adjacent to the area of a damaging spell or spell-like effect (even one he created himself ), the area expands to include the victim.
- The victim can’t heal naturally, and magical healing heals the victim by only half the usual amount (minimum 1 point). The victim’s fast healing and regeneration, if any, are likewise halved.
- The victim is plagued by cacophonous sounds and strobing lights that only she can hear and see. She is distracted (–5 penalty on Perception checks), cannot take 10 on skill checks, and must succeed at a concentration check (DC = 20 + spell level) to successfully cast spells. Any time the victim picks up or retrieves an object (including drawing a weapon or ammunition), there is a 50% chance that she immediately drops it. If she drops ammunition while attempting to make a ranged attack, that particular attack is lost.
Save DCs: The stat block for a curse lists the save DC. For curses that can be created by a spell, this usually represents the minimum DC. If a spell is used to create a curse in your game, calculate the DC using the caster’s ability score and the spell level as normal. Source: PRG:HA.
Darkness: Spells that create darkness or reduce the amount of light should have the darkness descriptor. Giving a spell the darkness descriptor indicates whether a spell like daylight is high enough level to counter or dispel it.
Death: Spells with the death descriptor directly attack a creature’s life force to cause immediate death, or to draw on the power of a dead or dying creature. The death ward spell protects against death effects, and some creature types are immune to death effects.
Disease: Disease effects give the target a disease, which may be an invading organism such as a bacteria or virus, an abnormal internal condition (such as a cancer or mental disorder), or a recurring magical effect that acts like one of the former. Creatures with resistance or immunity to disease apply that resistance to their saving throw and the effects of disease spells. Source: PRG:UM.
Draconic: The draconic descriptor is for spells tied closely to dragons that those with draconic blood can cast them almost instinctually. Spells with the draconic descriptor were created by dragons in ages long past, and still resonate within the blood of true dragons to this day.
Creatures of the dragon type with 5 or more racial hit dice can select a draconic spell as a spell known regardless of the class spell list it’s on. Each time such a creature gains an additional racial hit die, it can select a draconic spell in place of an existing spell known of the same or higher spell level. Source PPC:LoD
Electricity: Electricity effects involve the presence and flow of electrical charge, whether expressed in amperes or volts. Electricity deals damage to creatures by disrupting their biological systems. It deals damage to objects (as well as creatures) by heating the material it passes through, and thus technically many electricity spells could also be treated as fire spells, but for sake of game simplicity, it is better to just let electricity-based spells deal electricity damage. Electricity effects may stun, paralyze, or even kill.
Yes, they do. It should say “fear effect,” and for most descriptors, these wordings are sometimes used interchangeably. For instance, an ability that protects you from effects with the charm descriptor would generally protect you from a harpy’s song (which is a charm effect).
Emotion: Spells with this descriptor create emotions or manipulate the target’s existing emotions. Most emotion spells are enchantments, except for fear spells, which are usually necromancy. Source: PRG:UM.
Evil: Spells that draw upon evil powers or conjure creatures from evil-aligned planes or with the evil subtype should have the evil descriptor.
Casting an evil spell is an evil act, but for most characters simply casting such a spell once isn’t enough to change her alignment; this only occurs if the spell is used for a truly abhorrent act, or if the caster established a pattern of casting evil spells over a long period. A wizard who uses animate dead to create guardians for defenseless people won’t turn evil, but he will if he does it over and over again. The GM decides whether the character’s alignment changes, but typically casting two evil spells is enough to turn a good creature nongood, and three or more evils spells move the caster from nongood to evil. The greater the amount of time between castings, the less likely alignment will change. Some spells require sacrificing a sentient creature, a major evil act that makes the caster evil in almost every circumstance.
Those who are forbidden from casting spells with an opposed alignment might lose their divine abilities if they circumvent that restriction (via Use Magic Device, for example), depending on how strict their deities are.
Though this advice talks about evil spells, it also applies to spells with other alignment descriptors.
In addition, you can move the target 5 feet. This movement doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity. A successful saving throw halves the damage and negates the movement.
An undead creature takes no damage. Instead, you manipulate the undead, forcing it to take an immediate action to either move up to its speed (provoking attacks of opportunity as normal) or make a single attack against a creature of your choice in its reach.
Either of these is the most basic version of the action the creature can take (it doesn’t activate any special abilities that it could apply to the movement or attack, such as grab). A successful saving throw negates this effect. A mindless undead creature doesn’t receive a save against this effect.
Fire: Fire effects make the target hotter by creating fire, directly heating the target with magic or friction. Lava, steam, and boiling water all deal fire damage. Fire effects can also cause confusion, dizziness, exhaustion, fatigue, nausea, unconsciousness, and death. Spells that manipulate fire or conjure creatures from fire-dominant planes or with the fire subtype should have the fire descriptor.
Force: Spells with the force descriptor create or manipulate magical force. Force spells affect incorporeal creatures normally (as if they were corporeal creatures).
Good: Spells that draw upon the power of true goodness or conjure creatures from good-aligned planes or with the good subtype should have the good descriptor.
Language-Dependent: A language-dependent spell uses intelligible language as a medium for communication. If the target cannot understand or hear what the caster of a language-dependent spell says, the spell has no effect, even if the target fails its saving throw.
Lawful: Spells that draw upon the power of true law or conjure creatures from law-aligned planes or with the lawful subtype should have the law descriptor.
Light: Spells that create significant amounts of light or attack darkness effects should have the light descriptor. Giving a spell the light descriptor indicates whether a spell like darkness is high enough level counter or dispel it.
Meditative: Meditative spells fall into an unusual category and share the “meditative” descriptor. Meditative spells are not cast like other spells—they are cast during the period of the day when a spellcaster prepares her spells. A meditative spell must already be prepared at the time when you start your 1-hour spell preparation ritual, and at the end of that time, the meditative spell of your choosing is cast, leaving you with that one spell slot used for the remainder of the day. You can have only one meditative spell in effect on you at any one time. All meditative spells have a range of personal and a target of you, and they can’t be brewed into potions or part of similar one-use items like elixirs. A meditative spell can be placed on a scroll or in a wand, but the act of casting the spell must always be incorporated into the user’s spell-preparation time; it also takes 1 hour for a character who succeeds at an appropriate Use Magic Device check to operate such an item. Source PPC:DA
Many spells within Path of Iron manipulate or create metal in some fashion. However, until now there has been no descriptor to tie these abilities together. This is where the new “metal” descriptor comes in.
Spells with the metal descriptor are those that affect objects made of metal or directly create, utilize, or manipulate metal in some manner. Several of the spells in Path of Iron have the metal descriptor added. Some abilities, feats, and magic items found in Path of Iron, such as the Metal Focus feat, rely on the metal descriptor for their function.
If you use the [metal] descriptor in your games, several existing spells gain the metal descriptor, as listed here:
bullet ward, chill metal, fabricate bullets, heart of the metal, heat metal, iron beard, iron body, mirror polish, molten orb, pellet blast, repel metal or stone, rusting grasp, silk to steel, silver darts, transmute metal to wood, wall of iron, wreath of blades
While these are the only spells that directly utilize metal found within the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game core series, many other supplements not found in these books contain spells that, if included in this book, would likely be given the [metal] descriptor. Consider giving the new metal descriptor to spells featured in your favorite books that utilize metal in some manner to further expand upon this new ability.
Source: Path of Iron
Pain: Pain effects cause unpleasant sensations without any permanent physical damage (though a sensitive target may suffer mental repercussions from lengthy exposure to pain). Creatures that are immune to effects that require a Fort save (such as constructs and undead) are immune to pain effects. Source: PRG:UM.
Poison: Poison effects use poison, venom, drugs, or similar toxic substances to disrupt and damage living creatures through chemical reactions. Technically, acids and poisons are both chemical reactions, but for the purpose of this game, they are categorized as different effects, with acids dealing hit point damage and poisons causing ability damage, ability drain, bleeding, confusion, convulsions, nausea, paralysis, reduced healing, suffocation, unconsciousness, or death. Creatures with resistance to poison (such as dwarves) apply that resistance to their saving throws and the effects of poison spells. Creatures with immunity are immune to poisonous aspects of poison spells, but not necessarily all effects of the spell (for example, a spell that creates a pit full of liquid poison could still trap or drown a poison-immune creature). Source: PRG:UM.
Ruse: The “ruse” descriptor applies to spells that appear to be other, usually more harmless spells in order for the caster to fool her opponents. Spells with the ruse descriptor are easily mistaken for other spells and are intended to confuse even onlookers trained in Spellcraft or Knowledge (arcana). Attempts to identify a ruse spell by its effects, its aura, its components, or other attributes with a skill check treat the spell as though it were a different spell, as indicated in the spell’s description. The one attempting the check can correctly identify the spell only by exceeding the DC by 10. The false spell is typically a level lower than the ruse spell, so skill checks use the DC for the lower-level spell. Even detect magic and most similar spells don’t prevent the caster from being fooled by a ruse spell. Analyze dweomer, greater arcane sight, and similar spells of the same or higher spell level that automatically identify spells reveal a ruse spell for what it is. Ruse spells that mimic harmless spells still list harmless on their saving throw or spell resistance lines; a creature that knows or suspects the true nature of the spell typically chooses to attempt the save. Source: PRG:UI.
Shadow: Shadow spells manipulate matter or energy from the Shadow Plane, or allow transport to or from that plane. Source: PRG:UM.
Sonic: Sonic effects transmit energy to the target through frequent oscillations of pressure through the air, water, or ground. Sounds that are too high or too low for the humanoid ear to detect can still transmit enough energy to cause harm, which means that these effects can even affect deafened creatures. Sound effects can cause hit point damage, deafness, dizziness, nausea, pain, shortness of breath, and temporary blindness, and can detect creatures using batlike echolocation.
The [stone] descriptor is considered a subset of [earth] spells, and all spells with the [stone] descriptor are considered [earth] spells as well. Spells that have the [stone] designator do not deal spell damage, instead the damage they deal is treated as weapon damage. Thus, spell resistance is not effective against such spells and creatures immune to spells (such as many golems) are still affected by them. Because [stone] spells are considered to do weapon damage, they are affected by a creature’s Damage Reduction (if any). Each [stone] spell that does damage lists the effective material the spell is considered to be made of for purposes of penetrating DR. Despite the fact that cold iron is strongly tied to elemental stone, no magic spell can duplicate the effects of cold iron and thus [stone] spells never deal damage as a cold iron weapon. In all other regards, [stone] spells follow the normal rules for spells and spellcasting. Damaging [stone] spells do not penetrate an antimagic shell as the summoned rock winks out of existence when hitting the shell (much as summoned creatures do).
While liquid acids are well known, and have ties to the elemental plane of water, there are also solid caustic materials with ties to the elemental plane of earth. These include items such as lye (also known as caustic soda, a dry white material used in soap-making) and caustic potash (also known as alkali salt). The exact process by which these caustic solids burn and corrode is not the same as many liquid acids, but the effect on material exposed to them is very similar.
Thus there are two elemental sources with which “acid” may be aligned. Black dragons, for example, are tied to the element of water and call forth a wet acidic breath that is also linked to that element. Sorcerers with an elemental earth bloodline, however, call upon the power of caustic salts and deal acid damage with a connection to elemental earth. Despite the two different elemental and alchemical sources of these caustic materials, for purposes of spells they both qualify as “acid” for game rule purposes.
Source: Adventurer’s Handbook: Genius Guide Volume 1
The next line of a spell description gives the spell’s level, a number between 0 and 9 that defines the spell’s relative power. This number is preceded by a list of classes whose members can cast the spell. A spell’s level affects the DC for any save allowed against its effects.
A spell’s components explain what you must do or possess to cast the spell. The components entry in a spell description includes abbreviations that tell you what type of components it requires. Specifics for material and focus components are given at the end of the descriptive text. Usually you don’t need to worry about components, but when you can’t use a component for some reason or when a material or focus component is expensive, then the components are important.
A verbal component is a spoken incantation. To provide a verbal component, you must be able to speak in a strong voice. A silence spell or a gag spoils the incantation (and thus the spell). a spellcaster who has been deafened has a 20% chance of spoiling any spell with a verbal component that he tries to cast.
A somatic component is a measured and precise movement of the hand. You must have at least one hand free to provide a somatic component.
A material component consists of one or more physical substances or objects that are annihilated by the spell energies in the casting process. Unless a cost is given for a material component, the cost is negligible. Don’t bother to keep track of material components with negligible cost. Assume you have all you need as long as you have your spell component pouch.
A focus component is a prop of some sort. Unlike a material component, a focus is not consumed when the spell is cast and can be reused. As with material components, the cost for a focus is negligible unless a price is given. Assume that focus components of negligible cost are in your spell component pouch.
Divine Focus (DF)
A divine focus component is an item of spiritual significance. The divine focus for a cleric or a paladin is a holy symbol appropriate to the character’s faith. The divine focus for a druid or a ranger is a sprig of holly, or some other sacred plant.
If the Components line includes F/DF or M/DF, the arcane version of the spell has a focus component or a material component (the abbreviation before the slash) and the divine version has a divine focus component (the abbreviation after the slash).
A spell that takes 1 round to cast is a full-round action. It comes into effect just before the beginning of your turn in the round after you began casting the spell. You then act normally after the spell is completed.
A spell that takes 1 minute to cast comes into effect just before your turn 1 minute later (and for each of those 10 rounds, you are casting a spell as a full-round action, just as noted above for 1-round casting times). These actions must be consecutive and uninterrupted, or the spell automatically fails.
When you begin a spell that takes 1 round or longer to cast, you must continue the concentration from the current round to just before your turn in the next round (at least). If you lose concentration before the casting is complete, you lose the spell.
A spell with a casting time of 1 swift action doesn’t count against your normal limit of one spell per round. However, you may cast such a spell only once per round. Casting a spell with a casting time of 1 swift action doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.
You make all pertinent decisions about a spell (range, target, area, effect, version, and so forth) when the spell comes into effect.
A spell’s range indicates how far from you it can reach, as defined in the range entry of the spell description. a spell’s range is the maximum distance from you that the spell’s effect can occur, as well as the maximum distance at which you can designate the spell’s point of origin. If any portion of the spell’s area would extend beyond this range, that area is wasted. Standard ranges include the following.
The spell affects only you.
You must touch a creature or object to affect it. A touch spell that deals damage can score a critical hit just as a weapon can. A touch spell threatens a critical hit on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage on a successful critical hit. Some touch spells allow you to touch multiple targets. You can touch up to 6 willing targets as part of the casting, but all targets of the spell must be touched in the same round that you finish casting the spell. If the spell allows you to touch targets over multiple rounds, touching 6 creatures is a full-round action.
The spell reaches as far as 25 feet away from you. The maximum range increases by 5 feet for every two full caster levels.
The spell reaches as far as 100 feet + 10 feet per caster level.
The spell reaches as far as 400 feet + 40 feet per caster level.
The spell reaches anywhere on the same plane of existence.
Range Expressed in Feet
Some spells have no standard range category, just a range expressed in feet.
You must make choices about whom a spell is to affect or where an effect is to originate, depending on a spell’s type. The next entry in a spell description defines the spell’s target (or targets), its effect, or its area, as appropriate.
Target or Targets
Some spells have a target or targets. You cast these spells on creatures or objects, as defined by the spell itself. You must be able to see or touch the target, and you must specifically choose that target. You do not have to select your target until you finish casting the spell.
If the target of a spell is yourself (the Target line of the spell description includes “You”), you do not receive a saving throw, and spell resistance does not apply. The saving throw and spell resistance lines are omitted from such spells.
Some spells restrict you to willing targets only. Declaring yourself as a willing target is something that can be done at any time (even if you’re flat-footed or it isn’t your turn). Unconscious creatures are automatically considered willing, but a character who is conscious but immobile or helpless (such as one who is bound, cowering, grappling, paralyzed, pinned, or stunned) is not automatically willing.
Some spells allow you to redirect the effect to new targets or areas after you cast the spell. Redirecting a spell is a move action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Some spells create or summon things rather than affecting things that are already present.
You must designate the location where these things are to appear, either by seeing it or defining it. Range determines how far away an effect can appear, but if the effect is mobile, after it appears it can move regardless of the spell’s range.
Some effects are rays. You aim a ray as if using a ranged weapon, though typically you make a ranged touch attack rather than a normal ranged attack. As with a ranged weapon, you can fire into the dark or at an invisible creature and hope you hit something. You don’t have to see the creature you’re trying to hit, as you do with a targeted spell. Intervening creatures and obstacles, however, can block your line of sight or provide cover for the creature at which you’re aiming.
If a ray spell has a duration, it’s the duration of the effect that the ray causes, not the length of time the ray itself persists.
If a ray spell deals damage, you can score a critical hit just as if it were a weapon. A ray spell threatens a critical hit on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage on a successful critical hit.
Do rays count as weapons for the purpose of spells and effects that affect weapons?
Yes. (See also this FAQ item for a similar question about rays and weapon feats.)
For example, a bard’s inspire courage ability says it affects “weapon damage rolls,” which is worded that way so <you> don’t try to add the bonus to a spell like fireball. However, rays are treated as weapons, whether they’re from spells, a monster ability, a class ability, or some other source, so the inspire courage bonus applies to ray attack rolls and ray damage rolls.
When you cast a spell that allows you to make a ranged touch attack, such as scorching ray, and an enemy is within reach, do you provoke two attacks of opportunity?
Yes, you provoke two attacks of opportunity, one for casting the spell and one for making a ranged attack, since these are two separate events. As a note, since all of the rays are fired simultaneously (in the case of scorching ray), you would only provoke one attack of opportunity for making the ranged attack, even if you fired more than one ray.
Are spell and other area of effects 2d (as in, they affect a flat grid only) or are they 3d (as in, they affect cubes and spheres)?
Just because things are normally expressed on a flat grid doesn’t mean they’re actually flat. Any effect with a radius affects a sphere, not a circle. A cone is a 3d area. A line is a line, not a plane.
Some effects, notably clouds and fogs, spread out from a point of origin, which must be a grid intersection. The effect can extend around corners and into areas that you can’t see. Figure distance by actual distance traveled, taking into account turns the spell effect takes. When determining distance for spread effects, count around walls, not through them. As with movement, do not trace diagonals across corners. You must designate the point of origin for such an effect, but you need not have line of effect (see below) to all portions of the effect.
Some spells affect an area. Sometimes a spell description specifies a specially defined area, but usually an area falls into one of the categories defined below.
Regardless of the shape of the area, you select the point where the spell originates, but otherwise you don’t control which creatures or objects the spell affects. The point of origin of a spell is always a grid intersection. When determining whether a given creature is within the area of a spell, count out the distance from the point of origin in squares just as you do when moving a character or when determining the range for a ranged attack. The only difference is that instead of counting from the center of one square to the center of the next, you count from intersection to intersection.
You can count diagonally across a square, but remember that every second diagonal counts as 2 squares of distance. If the far edge of a square is within the spell’s area, anything within that square is within the spell’s area. If the spell’s area only touches the near edge of a square, however, anything within that square is unaffected by the spell.
Burst, Emanation, or Spread
Most spells that affect an area function as a burst, an emanation, or a spread. In each case, you select the spell’s point of origin and measure its effect from that point.
A burst spell affects whatever it catches in its area, including creatures that you can’t see. It can’t affect creatures with total cover from its point of origin (in other words, its effects don’t extend around corners). The default shape for a burst effect is a sphere, but some burst spells are specifically described as cone-shaped. a burst’s area defines how far from the point of origin the spell’s effect extends.
An emanation spell functions like a burst spell, except that the effect continues to radiate from the point of origin for the duration of the spell. Most emanations are cones or spheres.
A spread spell extends out like a burst but can turn corners. You select the point of origin, and the spell spreads out a given distance in all directions. Figure the area the spell effect fills by taking into account any turns the spell effect takes.
The rules often assume that creatures are Medium or Small. In the case of a handful of spells or effects with areas that feature a “radius emanation centered on you” such as antimagic field, aura of doom, and zone of silence, as well as some of the spells presented in this section, this can result in an area that is effectively useless when coming from a Large or larger caster. As an optional rule, when a creature casts an emanation or burst spell with the text “centered on you,” treat the creature’s entire space as the spell’s point of origin, and measure the spell’s area or effect from the edge of the creature’s space. For instance, an antimagic field cast by a fire giant would extend 10 feet beyond his space (effectively increasing the emanation’s radius by 5 feet).
Cone, Cylinder, Line, or Sphere
Most spells that affect an area have a particular shape.
A cone-shaped spell shoots away from you in a quarter-circle in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and widens out as it goes. Most cones are either bursts or emanations (see above), and thus won’t go around corners.
When casting a cylinder-shaped spell, you select the spell’s point of origin. This point is the center of a horizontal circle, and the spell shoots down from the circle, filling a cylinder. A cylinder-shaped spell ignores any obstructions within its area.
A line-shaped spell shoots away from you in a line in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that blocks line of effect. A line-shaped spell affects all creatures in squares through which the line passes.
A sphere-shaped spell expands from its point of origin to fill a spherical area. Spheres may be bursts, emanations, or spreads.
A spell with this kind of area affects creatures directly (like a targeted spell), but it affects all creatures in an area of some kind rather than individual creatures you select. The area might be a spherical burst, a cone-shaped burst, or some other shape.
Many spells affect “living creatures,” which means all creatures other than constructs and undead. Creatures in the spell’s area that are not of the appropriate type do not count against the creatures affected.
A spell with this kind of area affects objects within an area you select (as Creatures, but affecting objects instead).
A spell can have a unique area, as defined in its description.
If an area or effect entry ends with “(S),” you can shape the spell. a shaped effect or area can have no dimension smaller than 10 feet. Many effects or areas are given as cubes to make it easy to model irregular shapes. Three-dimensional volumes are most often needed to define aerial or underwater effects and areas.
A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A line of effect is canceled by a solid barrier. It’s like line of sight for ranged weapons, except that it’s not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight.
You must have a clear line of effect to any target that you cast a spell on or to any space in which you wish to create an effect. You must have a clear line of effect to the point of origin of any spell you cast.
A burst, cone, cylinder, or emanation spell affects only an area, creature, or object to which it has line of effect from its origin (a spherical burst’s center point, a cone-shaped burst’s starting point, a cylinder’s circle, or an emanation’s point of origin).
An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least 1 square foot through it does not block a spell’s line of effect. Such an opening means that the 5-foot length of wall containing the hole is no longer considered a barrier for purposes of a spell’s line of effect.
A spell’s duration entry tells you how long the magical energy of the spell lasts.
Many durations are measured in rounds, minutes, hours, or other increments. When the time is up, the magic goes away and the spell ends. If a spell’s duration is variable, the duration is rolled secretly so the caster doesn’t know how long the spell will last.
The spell energy comes and goes the instant the spell is cast, though the consequences might be long-lasting.
The energy remains as long as the effect does. This means the spell is vulnerable to dispel magic.
The spell lasts as long as you concentrate on it. Concentrating to maintain a spell is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Anything that could break your concentration when casting a spell can also break your concentration while you’re maintaining one, causing the spell to end. See concentration.
You can’t cast a spell while concentrating on another one. Some spells last for a short time after you cease concentrating.
Subjects, Effects, and Areas
If the spell affects creatures directly, the result travels with the subjects for the spell’s duration. If the spell creates an effect, the effect lasts for the duration. The effect might move or remain still. Such an effect can be destroyed prior to when its duration ends. If the spell affects an area, then the spell stays with that area for its duration.
Creatures become subject to the spell when they enter the area and are no longer subject to it when they leave.
Touch Spells and Holding the Charge
In most cases, if you don’t discharge a touch spell on the round you cast it, you can hold the charge (postpone the discharge of the spell) indefinitely. You can make touch attacks round after round until the spell is discharged. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates.
Some touch spells allow you to touch multiple targets as part of the spell. You can’t hold the charge of such a spell; you must touch all targets of the spell in the same round that you finish casting the spell.
Occasionally a spells lasts for a set duration or until triggered or discharged.
If the duration line ends with “(D),” you can dismiss the spell at will. You must be within range of the spell’s effect and must speak words of dismissal, which are usually a modified form of the spell’s verbal component. If the spell has no verbal component, you can dismiss the effect with a gesture. Dismissing a spell is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
A spell that depends on concentration is dismissible by its very nature, and dismissing it does not take an action, since all you have to do to end the spell is to stop concentrating on your turn.
Usually a harmful spell allows a target to make a saving throw to avoid some or all of the effect. The saving throw entry in a spell description defines which type of saving throw the spell allows and describes how saving throws against the spell work.
The spell has no effect on a subject that makes a successful saving throw.
The spell has an effect on its subject. A successful saving throw means that some lesser effect occurs.
The spell deals damage, and a successful saving throw halves the damage taken (round down).
No saving throw is allowed.
A successful save lets the subject ignore the spell’s effect.
The spell can be cast on objects, which receive saving throws only if they are magical or if they are attended (held, worn, grasped, or the like) by a creature resisting the spell, in which case the object uses the creature’s saving throw bonus unless its own bonus is greater. This notation does not mean that a spell can be cast only on objects. Some spells of this sort can be cast on creatures or objects. A magic item’s saving throw bonuses are each equal to 2 + 1/2 the item’s caster level.
The spell is usually beneficial, not harmful, but a targeted creature can attempt a saving throw if it desires.
Saving Throw Difficulty Class
A saving throw against your spell has a DC of 10 + the level of the spell + your bonus for the relevant ability (Intelligence for a wizard, Charisma for a bard, paladin, or sorcerer, or Wisdom for a cleric, druid, or ranger). A spell’s level can vary depending on your class. Always use the spell level applicable to your class.
Succeeding on a Saving Throw
A creature that successfully saves against a spell that has no obvious physical effects feels a hostile force or a tingle, but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack. Likewise, if a creature’s saving throw succeeds against a targeted spell, you sense that the spell has failed. You do not sense when creatures succeed on saves against effect and area spells.
Automatic Failures and Successes
A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on a saving throw is always a failure, and the spell may cause damage to exposed items (see Items Surviving after a Saving Throw, below). a natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a success.
Voluntarily Giving up a Saving Throw
A creature can voluntarily forgo a saving throw and willingly accept a spell’s result. Even a character with a special resistance to magic can suppress this quality.
|3rd||Magic helmet, hat, or headband|
|4th||Item in hand (including weapon, wand, or the like)|
|6th||Stowed or sheathed weapon|
|9th||Magic jewelry (including rings)|
|* In order of most likely to least likely to be affected.|
Items Surviving after a Saving Throw
Unless the descriptive text for the spell specifies otherwise, all items carried or worn by a creature are assumed to survive a magical attack. If a creature rolls a natural 1 on its saving throw against the effect, however, an exposed item is harmed (if the attack can harm objects). Refer to Table: Items Affected by Magical Attacks. Determine which four objects carried or worn by the creature are most likely to be affected and roll randomly among them. The randomly determined item must make a saving throw against the attack form and take whatever damage the attack dealt.
If the selected item is not carried or worn and is not magical, it does not get a saving throw. It simply is dealt the appropriate damage.
Spell resistance is a special defensive ability. If your spell is being resisted by a creature with spell resistance, you must make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) at least equal to the creature’s spell resistance for the spell to affect that creature. The defender’s spell resistance is like an Armor Class against magical attacks. Include any adjustments to your caster level to this caster level check.
The spell resistance entry and the descriptive text of a spell description tell you whether spell resistance protects creatures from the spell. In many cases, spell resistance applies only when a resistant creature is targeted by the spell, not when a resistant creature encounters a spell that is already in place.
The terms “object” and “harmless” mean the same thing for spell resistance as they do for saving throws. A creature with spell resistance must voluntarily lower the resistance (a standard action) in order to be affected by such spells without forcing the caster to make a caster level check.
This portion of a spell description details what the spell does and how it works. If one of the previous entries in the description includes “see text,” this is where the explanation is found.
Communal spells function like other spells, except they allow you to divide the duration among multiple targets, treating each target as a subject of the spell. When you divide the duration, you must divide it as evenly as possible among the targets. Furthermore, unless a communal spell’s description indicates otherwise, no target can receive a duration increment smaller than the smallest increment of duration given in the spell description. For example, if you are 5th level, your communal spell’s duration is 10 minutes per level, and you have four targets, then each target must receive 10 minutes of duration. The extra 10 minutes of duration must be assigned to one of the four targets (your choice) or it is wasted.
A number of spells and magic items utilize extradimensional spaces, such as rope trick, a bag of holding, a handy haversack, and a portable hole. These spells and magic items create a tiny pocket space that does not exist in any dimension. Such items do not function, however, inside another extradimensional space. If placed inside such a space, they cease to function until removed from the extradimensional space. For example, if a bag of holding is brought into a rope trick, the contents of the bag of holding become inaccessible until the bag of holding is taken outside the rope trick. The only exception to this is when a bag of holding and a portable hole interact, forming a rift to the Astral Plane, as noted in their descriptions.
A wizard’s level limits the number of spells he can prepare and cast. His high Intelligence score might allow him to prepare a few extra spells. He can prepare the same spell more than once, but each preparation counts as one spell toward his daily limit. To prepare a spell, the wizard must have an Intelligence score of at least 10 + the spell’s level.
To prepare his daily spells, a wizard must first sleep for 8 hours. The wizard does not have to slumber for every minute of the time, but he must refrain from movement, combat, spellcasting, skill use, conversation, or any other fairly demanding physical or mental task during the rest period. If his rest is interrupted, each interruption adds 1 hour to the total amount of time he has to rest in order to clear his mind, and he must have at least 1 hour of uninterrupted rest immediately prior to preparing his spells. If the character does not need to sleep for some reason, he still must have 8 hours of restful calm before preparing any spells.
Recent Casting Limit/Rest Interruptions
If a wizard has cast spells recently, the drain on his resources reduces his capacity to prepare new spells. When he prepares spells for the coming day, all the spells he has cast within the last 8 hours count against his daily limit.
To prepare any spell, a wizard must have enough peace, quiet, and comfort to allow for proper concentration. The wizard’s surroundings need not be luxurious, but they must be free from distractions. Exposure to inclement weather prevents the necessary concentration, as does any injury or failed saving throw the character might experience while studying. Wizards also must have access to their spellbooks to study from and sufficient light to read them. There is one major exception: a wizard can prepare a read magic spell even without a spellbook.
Spell Preparation Time
After resting, a wizard must study his spellbook to prepare any spells that day. If he wants to prepare all his spells, the process takes 1 hour. Preparing some smaller portion of his daily capacity takes a proportionally smaller amount of time, but always at least 15 minutes, the minimum time required to achieve the proper mental state.
Spell Selection and Preparation
Until he prepares spells from his spellbook, the only spells a wizard has available to cast are the ones that he already had prepared from the previous day and has not yet used. During the study period, he chooses which spells to prepare. If a wizard already has spells prepared (from the previous day) that he has not cast, she can abandon some or all of them to make room for new spells.
When preparing spells for the day, a wizard can leave some of these spell slots open. Later during that day, he can repeat the preparation process as often as he likes, time and circumstances permitting. During these extra sessions of preparation, the wizard can fill these unused spell slots. He cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because he has cast a spell in the meantime. That sort of preparation requires a mind fresh from rest. Like the first session of the day, this preparation takes at least 15 minutes, and it takes longer if the wizard prepares more than one-quarter of his spells.
The various character class tables show how many spells of each level a character can cast per day. These openings for daily spells are called spell slots. a spellcaster always has the option to fill a higher-level spell slot with a lower-level spell. A spellcaster who lacks a high enough ability score to cast spells that would otherwise be his due still gets the slots but must fill them with spells of lower levels.
Prepared Spell Retention
Once a wizard prepares a spell, it remains in his mind as a nearly cast spell until he uses the prescribed components to complete and trigger it or until he abandons it. Certain other events, such as the effects of magic items or special attacks from monsters, can wipe a prepared spell from a character’s mind.
Death and Prepared Spell Retention
If a spellcaster dies, all prepared spells stored in his mind are wiped away. Potent magic (such as raise dead, resurrection, or true resurrection) can recover the lost energy when it recovers the character.
To record an arcane spell in written form, a character uses complex notation that describes the magical forces involved in the spell. The writer uses the same system no matter what her native language or culture. However, each character uses the system in his own way. Another person’s magical writing remains incomprehensible to even the most powerful wizard until he takes time to study and decipher it.
To decipher an arcane magical writing (such as a single spell in another’s spellbook or on a scroll), a character must make a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the spell’s level). If the skill check fails, the character cannot attempt to read that particular spell again until the next day. A read magic spell automatically deciphers magical writing without a skill check. If the person who created the magical writing is on hand to help the reader, success is also automatic.
Once a character deciphers a particular piece of magical writing, he does not need to decipher it again. Deciphering magical writing allows the reader to identify the spell and gives some idea of its effects (as explained in the spell description). If the magical writing is a scroll and the reader can cast arcane spells, he can attempt to use the scroll.
A wizard can use a borrowed spellbook to prepare a spell he already knows and has recorded in his own spellbook, but preparation success is not assured. First, the wizard must decipher the writing in the book (see Arcane Magical Writings, above). Once a spell from another spellcaster’s book is deciphered, the reader must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell’s level) to prepare the spell. If the check succeeds, the wizard can prepare the spell. He must repeat the check to prepare the spell again, no matter how many times he has prepared it before. If the check fails, he cannot try to prepare the spell from the same source again until the next day. However, as explained above, he does not need to repeat a check to decipher the writing.
Wizards can add new spells to their spellbooks through several methods. A wizard can only learn new spells that belong to the wizard spell lists.
Spells Gained at a New Level
Wizards perform a certain amount of spell research between adventures. Each time a character attains a new wizard level, he gains two spells of his choice to add to his spellbook. The two free spells must be of spell levels he can cast.
Spells Copied from Another’s Spellbook or a Scroll
A wizard can also add a spell to his book whenever he encounters one on a magic scroll or in another wizard’s spellbook. No matter what the spell’s source, the wizard must first decipher the magical writing (see Arcane Magical Writings). Next, he must spend 1 hour studying the spell. At the end of the hour, he must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell’s level). A wizard who has specialized in a school of spells gains a +2 bonus on the Spellcraft check if the new spell is from his specialty school. If the check succeeds, the wizard understands the spell and can copy it into his spellbook (see Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook). The process leaves a spellbook that was copied from unharmed, but a spell successfully copied from a magic scroll disappears from the parchment.
If the check fails, the wizard cannot understand or copy the spell. He cannot attempt to learn or copy that spell again until one week has passed. If the spell was from a scroll, a failed Spellcraft check does not cause the spell to vanish.
In most cases, wizards charge a fee for the privilege of copying spells from their spellbooks. This fee is usually equal to half the cost to write the spell into a spellbook (see Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook). Rare and unique spells might cost significantly more.
A wizard can also research a spell independently, duplicating an existing spell or creating an entirely new one. The cost to research a new spell, and the time required, are left up to GM discretion, but it should probably take at least 1 week and cost at least 1,000 gp per level of the spell to be researched. This should also require a number of Spellcraft and Knowledge (arcana) checks.
|Spell Level||Writing Cost|
Once a wizard understands a new spell, he can record it into his spellbook.
Time: The process takes 1 hour per spell level. Cantrips (0 levels spells) take 30 minutes to record.
Space in the Spellbook: A spell takes up one page of the spellbook per spell level. Even a 0-level spell (cantrip) takes one page. A spellbook has 100 pages.
Materials and Costs: The cost for writing a new spell into a spellbook depends on the level of the spell, as noted on Table: Spell Level and Writing Costs. Note that a wizard does not have to pay these costs in time or gold for spells he gains for free at each new level.
A wizard can use the procedure for learning a spell to reconstruct a lost spellbook. If he already has a particular spell prepared, he can write it directly into a new book at the same cost required to write a spell into a spellbook. The process wipes the prepared spell from his mind, just as casting it would. If he does not have the spell prepared, he can prepare it from a borrowed spellbook and then write it into a new book.
Duplicating an existing spellbook uses the same procedure as replacing it, but the task is much easier. The time requirement and cost per page are halved.
Captured spellbooks can be sold for an amount equal to half the cost of purchasing and inscribing the spells within.
As written products, spellbooks and scrolls share many of the same composite materials. Both require a writing instrument as well as a suitable writing substance and medium. Although ink, quill and paper are clearly the most widespread materials, a number of other more exotic materials remain in use. Spellbooks & Scrolls Variant Rules provides detailed rules on customized spellbooks and scrolls made from a variety of materials. These rules can be used by GMs and players to create individualized spellbooks, new types of treasures, or flavorful spellbooks for more exotic locales.
Source Ink & Quill by Bastion Press, Inc. Author: Thomas Knauss.
Sorcerers and bards cast arcane spells, but they do not use spellbooks or prepare spells. Their class level limits the number of spells she can cast (see these class descriptions). Her high Charisma score might allow her to cast a few extra spells. A member of either class must have a Charisma score of at least 10 + the spell’s level to cast the spell.
Daily Readying of Spells
Each day, sorcerers and bards must focus their minds on the task of casting their spells. A sorcerer or bard needs 8 hours of rest (just like a wizard), after which she spends 15 minutes concentrating. (A bard must sing, recite, or play an instrument of some kind while concentrating.) During this period, the sorcerer or bard readies her mind to cast her daily allotment of spells. Without such a period to refresh herself, the character does not regain the spell slots she used up the day before.
Recent Casting Limit
Adding Spells to a Sorcerer’s or Bard’s Repertoire
A sorcerer or bard gains spells each time she attains a new level in her class and never gains spells any other way. When your sorcerer or bard gains a new level, consult Table: Bard Spells Known or Table: Sorcerer Spells Known to learn how many spells from the appropriate spell list she now knows. With permission from the GM, sorcerers and bards can also select the spells they gain from new and unusual spells that they come across while adventuring.
The subject of designing spells is touched on only briefly in the Core Rules. While some guidance on cost and time is provided, a GM needs to consider balance and design factors before allowing a PC to introduce a new spell into the game. As a first step, request a detailed write-up of the spell using the standard rules. Based on this write-up, you can determine whether or not the spell is balanced for its level and appropriate for the game.
When considering a new spell, first determine the category into which it fits. Spells can be divided into the broad categories of offensive magic (spells that deal direct damage, enhance combat abilities, or summon allies to fight), defensive magic (spells that protect the caster or her allies, control or impede enemies, or heal damage), and utility magic (spells of general use outside of combat, such as travel magic and most divinations). Some spells fit into multiple categories, such as teleport, with both defensive and utility applications.
Compare the new spell to other spells in the same category and at or near the desired spell level. Pay close attention to “must have” choices like fireball, dimension door, and wall of force. If the spell is more powerful or more useful than other spells of the desired level, increase the level. If it seems weak, consider lowering the level. If there is already a similar spell in the game, pay particularly close attention to the new spell’s relative power.
Saving Throw or Attack Roll
Most spells that are usable against others should require either a saving throw or an attack roll (generally touch or ranged touch). Spells that are quite powerful for their level, like disintegrate or phantasmal killer, may require both, or allow two saving throws. Watch out for spells that effectively take the target out of the fight and are negated by a saving throw. Consider adding a minor effect even on a successful save, and toning down the result of a failed save. Spells that automatically affect the target should be higher level or limited in their consequences.
Unless there’s a particularly good reason, almost all spells should require both verbal and somatic components, and most divine spells should require a divine focus. Spells with no verbal component are particularly rare. If the spell-as-designed lacks them, consider adding material component or focus requirements as a means of adding flavor. Expensive components and foci are a good way to adjust the effective power of a spell without changing the level.
The best spells do something interesting even when the casting isn’t fully successful. They should have fairly simple mechanics without many ambiguities, special cases, or qualifications. If a spell takes a half-page or more to describe, it is probably too complicated and should be rejected or revised.
Watch out for spells that counter or otherwise render useless equal- or higher-level magics. For defensive spells, countering an equal-level spell is fine (like shield negating magic missile), but an offensive spell generally should only overcome lower-level defenses or higher-level spells that duplicate those defenses (like disintegrate destroying both wall of force and forcecage).
Good spells expand upon the existing themes of magic, but in a novel manner. The game doesn’t really need more ways to throw damage around, but a spell that hurls adjacent enemies away from the caster is both interesting and useful. Watch for spells that break the implied limits of the game. Most arcane casters have poor healing abilities, and divine spells rarely excel at direct damage. With rare exception, spells shouldn’t duplicate existing class features or feats.
While as a general rule overly specialized spells are a bad idea, there’s much to be said for researching specialized spells like a brewer’s blessing or a charm to hold a shoe on a horse. If a player is particularly excited about the spell, consider approving it even if it doesn’t have much in-game application.
Successfully researching a new spell requires time and expensive research. An optional system for researching new spells is outlined below.
The research should cost at least 1,000 gp per spell level (or even more for particularly exotic spells) and require both the Spellcraft skill and a Knowledge skill appropriate to the researcher’s class. Wizards and bards use Knowledge (arcana), sorcerers use a Knowledge skill appropriate to their heritage (usually arcana, nature, or planes), druids and rangers use the Knowledge (nature) skill, and clerics and paladins use Knowledge (religion). The actual research process varies by the type of spell, often involving magical experimentation, the purchase and study of moldy scrolls and grimoires, contact with powerful magical beings or outsiders, and extensive meditation or rituals.
For each week of research, the caster makes separate Knowledge and Spellcraft checks against a DC of 20 plus twice the level of the spell being researched, modified according to Table: Spell Research Modifiers. To successfully research the spell, the caster must succeed at both checks. Failure indicates the week was wasted. Spells of 4th-6th level requires 2 weeks of successful research, while spells of 7th-9th level require 4 weeks. The researcher may employ up to two assistants in the research process to assist on the skill checks using the aid another action.
|Caster already knows a similar spell||-2|
|Per material component required||-2 (maximum -6)|
|Focus required||-2 to -5 based on cost and rarity|
|No verbal component||+10|
|No somatic component||+5|
|Additional research materials||-1 per 100 gp per spell level maximum +5)|
Clerics, druids, experienced paladins and rangers, inquisitors, oracles, the adept NPC class, the hunter hybrid class, the shaman hybrid class, and the warpriest hybrid class cast divine spells. Unlike arcane spells, divine spells draw power from a divine source. Clerics gain spell power from deities or from divine forces. The divine force of nature powers druid and ranger spells, and the divine forces of law and good power paladin spells. Divine spells tend to focus on healing and protection and are less flashy, destructive, and disruptive than arcane spells.
Divine spellcasters prepare their spells in largely the same manner as wizards do, but with a few differences. The relevant ability for most divine spells is Wisdom (Charisma for paladins). To prepare a divine spell, a character must have a Wisdom score (or Charisma score for paladins) of 10 + the spell’s level. Likewise, bonus spells are based on Wisdom.
Time of Day
A divine spellcaster chooses and prepares spells ahead of time, but unlike a wizard, does not require a period of rest to prepare spells. Instead, the character chooses a particular time of day to pray and receive spells. The time is usually associated with some daily event. If some event prevents a character from praying at the proper time, she must do so as soon as possible. If the character does not stop to pray for spells at the first opportunity, she must wait until the next day to prepare spells.
Spell Selection and Preparation
A divine spellcaster selects and prepares spells ahead of time through prayer and meditation at a particular time of day. The time required to prepare spells is the same as it is for a wizard (1 hour), as is the requirement for a relatively peaceful environment. When preparing spells for the day, a divine spellcaster can leave some of her spell slots open. Later during that day, she can repeat the preparation process as often as she likes. During these extra sessions of preparation, she can fill these unused spell slots. She cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because she has cast a spell in the meantime. Like the first session of the day, this preparation takes at least 15 minutes, and it takes longer if she prepares more than one-quarter of his spells.
Divine spellcasters do not require spellbooks. However, a divine spellcaster’s spell selection is limited to the spells on the list for her class. clerics, druids, paladins, and rangers have separate spell lists. A cleric also has access to two domains determined during character creation. Each domain gives her access to a number of special abilities and bonus spells.
The character class tables show how many spells of each level each can cast per day. These openings for daily spells are called spell slots. A spellcaster always has the option to fill a higher-level spell slot with a lower-level spell. A spellcaster who lacks a high enough ability score to cast spells that would otherwise be her due still gets the slots but must fill them with spells of lower levels.
Recent Casting Limit
As with arcane spells, at the time of preparation any spells cast within the previous 8 hours count against the number of spells that can be prepared.
Spontaneous Casting of Cure and Inflict Spells
A good cleric (or a cleric of a good deity) can spontaneously cast a cure spell in place of a prepared spell of the same level or higher, but not in place of a bonus domain spell. An evil cleric (or a cleric of an evil deity) can spontaneously cast an inflict spell in place of a prepared spell (that is not a domain spell) of the same level or higher. Each neutral cleric of a neutral deity spontaneously casts either cure spells like a good cleric or inflict spells like an evil one, depending on which option the player chooses when creating the character. The divine energy of the spell that the cure or inflict spell substitutes for is converted into the cure or inflict spell as if that spell had been prepared all along.
Spontaneous Casting of Summon Nature’s Ally Spells
A druid can spontaneously cast summon nature’s ally in place of a prepared spell of the same level or higher. The divine energy of the spell that the summon spell substitutes for is converted as if that spell had been prepared all along.
Divine spells can be written and deciphered like arcane spells (see Arcane Magical Writings). A Spellcraft check can decipher divine magical writing and identify it. Only characters who have the spell (in its divine form) on their class spell list can cast a divine spell from a scroll.
Divine spellcasters gain new spells as follows.
Spells Gained at a New Level
Characters who can cast divine spells undertake a certain amount of study between adventures. Each time such a character receives a new level of divine spells, she learns all of the spells from that level automatically.
A divine spellcaster can also research a spell independently, much as an arcane spellcaster can. Only the creator of such a spell can prepare and cast it, unless she decides to share it with others.
A number of classes and creatures gain the use of special abilities, many of which function like spells.
Can I use a metamagic feat to alter a spell-like ability?
No. Metamagic feats specifically only affect spells, not spell-like abilities. Also, spell-like abilities do not have spell slots, so you can’t adjust the effective spell slot of a spell-like ability.
Can I use a metamagic rod to alter a spell-like ability?
No. Metamagic rods allow you to apply a metamagic feat to a spell, and metamagic feats do not work on spell-like abilities.
Does a creature with a spell-like ability count as having that spell on its spell list for the purpose of activating spell completion or spell trigger items?
No. A spell-like ability is not a spell, having a spell-like ability is not part of a class’s spell list, and therefore doesn’t give the creature the ability to activate spell completion or spell trigger items.
How do I know whether a spell-like ability is arcane or divine?
The universal monster rules for spell-like abilities states: “Some spell-like abilities duplicate spells that work differently when cast by characters of different classes. A monster’s spell-like abilities are presumed to be the sorcerer/wizard versions. If the spell in question is not a sorcerer/wizard spell, then default to cleric, druid, bard, paladin, and ranger, in that order.”
The same rule should apply for all creatures with spell-like abilities, including PC races: the creature’s spell-like abilities are presumed to be the sorcerer/wizard versions. If the spell in question is not a sorcerer/wizard spell, then default to cleric, druid, bard, paladin, and ranger, in that order. Use the spell type (arcane or divine) of that class to determine whether the spell-like ability is arcane or divine.
Usually, a spell-like ability works just like the spell of that name. A spell-like ability has no verbal, somatic, or material component, nor does it require a focus. The user activates it mentally. Armor never affects a spell-like ability’s use, even if the ability resembles an arcane spell with a somatic component.
Spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance and dispel magic. They do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated. Spell-like abilities cannot be used to counterspell, nor can they be counterspelled.
If a character class grants a spell-like ability that is not based on an actual spell, the ability’s effective spell level is equal to the highest-level class spell the character can cast, and is cast at the class level the ability is gained.
These abilities cannot be disrupted in combat, as spells can, and they generally do not provoke attacks of opportunity. Effects or areas that negate or disrupt magic have no effect on extraordinary abilities. They are not subject to dispelling, and they function normally in an antimagic field. Indeed, extraordinary abilities do not qualify as magical, though they may break the laws of physics.
This category includes abilities a creature has because of its physical nature. Natural abilities are those not otherwise designated as extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like.
Source: d20 3.5 System Reference Document.
An antimagic field spell or effect cancels magic altogether. An antimagic effect has the following powers and characteristics.
- No supernatural ability, spell-like ability, or spell works in an area of antimagic (but extraordinary abilities still work).
- Antimagic does not dispel magic; it suppresses it. Once a magical effect is no longer affected by the antimagic (the antimagic fades, the center of the effect moves away, and so on), the magic returns. Spells that still have part of their duration left begin functioning again, magic items are once again useful, and so forth.
- Spell areas that include both an antimagic area and a normal area, but are not centered in the antimagic area, still function in the normal area. If the spell’s center is in the antimagic area, then the spell is suppressed.
- Golems and other constructs, elementals, outsiders, and undead, still function in an antimagic area (though the antimagic area suppresses their spellcasting and their supernatural and spell-like abilities normally). If such creatures are summoned or conjured, however, see below.
- Summoned or conjured creatures of any type, as well as incorporeal creatures, wink out if they enter the area of an antimagic effect. They reappear in the same spot once the field goes away.
- Magic items with continuous effects do not function in the area of an antimagic effect, but their effects are not canceled (so the contents of a bag of holding are unavailable, but neither spill out nor disappear forever).
- Two antimagic areas in the same place do not cancel each other out, nor do they stack.
- Wall of force, prismatic wall, and prismatic sphere are not affected by antimagic. Break enchantment, dispel magic, and greater dispel magic spells do not dispel antimagic. Mage’s disjunction has a 1% chance per caster level of destroying an antimagic field. If the antimagic field survives the disjunction, no items within it are disjoined.
The monstrous four-armed demon spoke in a surprisingly pleasant tenor voice. “And what, pray tell, is it you so desire?” the warrior paused, steeling his resolve. “I wish suffering for my family, ten-fold for each wrong visited upon myself. I wish the lord mayor’s daughter and rank, and his head resting beneath my boot. I wish for such wealth that even a merchant would weep with envy.” The demon’s laugh boomed throughout the cavern. “Is that all, little one? I expected ambition.”
More so than almost any other ability, wish and its cousin miracle have the potential to drastically change a campaign. When your players reach the upper echelons of the game at 15th level and beyond, you should consider whether or not you want to allow your players access to wishes, as even if they can’t buy them, they’ll soon enough be able to cast the wish spell themselves.
The easiest way to control wish is to restrict it to those options listed in the spell description. None of these uses are game-breaking. However, by expanding the boundaries of wish and miracle, you open up roleplaying and story opportunities that can keep your high-level game fresh and exciting for many adventures to come.
Types of Wishes: One of the first boundaries to set is whether or not all wishes are created equal, and have similar constraints. Treating all wishes the same has the virtues of consistency and simplicity, and helps keep your game under control. Having a hierarchy of wishes gives fodder for the story in your game, letting PCs alter their local reality with their wishes, but leaving the option of seeking out higher powers to grant the wishes spoken of in legends. A suggested hierarchy is wishes from spells or magic items, followed by miracle, wishes granted by artifacts and relics, wishes granted by powerful outsiders like the efreet and djinn, and finally those wishes bestowed directly by gods and other entities beyond mortal ken.
Making Good Wishes: The best wishes are short, unambiguous, related to matters immediately at hand, and usually aimed at a simple (if powerful) task. A wish for a sundered mirror of mental prowess to be made whole or a wish to reveal the identity of the thief of the crown jewels is unlikely to go awry.
Making Bad Wishes: Wishes born of greed or vengeance have a way of turning sour. Attempts to guard against mishap with a list of conditions and qualifiers are rarely successful, most often resulting in partial fulfillment of the wish. Wishes that stretch the limits of the power granting them are always ill advised. If the wish is from a spell or magic item, failure or backlash is likely, while if the wish is from an outside source, the granter of the wish may be angered by mortal temerity and twist the wish or otherwise seek retribution against the wisher.
Twisting Wishes: Folklore is filled with tales of wishes gone awry, bringing heartbreak, misery, and perhaps eventually wisdom to the hapless wisher. The wishes most likely to be perverted away from the wisher’s intent are wishes granted by hostile outsiders, wishes from cursed objects, and bad wishes as described above. Evil outsiders in particular are loath to grant wishes that don’t serve evil ends, and take every opportunity to twist them toward harm and suffering. A wish for eternal life may leave the wisher imprisoned in a decrepit yet still undying body. A wish for a powerful magic item can be granted by stealing the item from a powerful and vengeful lord. Wishes are best turned awry by adhering closely to the letter of the wish, but violating the spirit.
Deferred Results: Rather than denying a particularly powerful wish, such as for the throne of a kingdom, the wish can be granted over an extended period. The wish subtly reshapes reality, guiding the wisher through seeming coincidence, good fortune, and the timely appearance of helpful NPCs. Success is not assured unless the PC takes advantage of her opportunities.
Knowledge of a devil’s true name or the ability to inscribe its sigil grants significant power over the fiend. In the cast of the spell planar binding, when a devil’s true name is used to conjure a specific fiend, the target devil takes a -5 penalty on the initial Will save to resist being summoned; if its sigil is inscribed within the magic circle binding it, the devil takes a -5 penalty on all checks to escape the circle. True names and sigils might also be known to have other powers over devils, though most devil summoners keep the discovery of such powers closely guarded secrets.
By studying tomes of dark lore, infernal documents, and tragic histories, one might discover occluded riddles and hints at the names of devils working their will upon mortal kind. A researcher not specifically searching for the true name or sigil of a specific infernal creature might discover either of these details relating to a lesser devil by spending a month doing nothing besides studying in a sizable library of history or arcane lore. At the end of the month, the GM should make a DC 25 Knowledge (planes) check for the researcher, modified by aid from a single assistant and any tomes noted to be of particular value. If this check succeeds, the researcher discovers the type and true name or sigil (one or the other) of a random lesser devil. If the check fails, the researcher discovers nothing of value relating to true names; he may spend additional months researching again in the same library, but each subsequent check there takes a cumulative -2 penalty for that researcher until the penalty is so great it is obvious the place holds no valuable lore. If the researcher fails his check by more than 5, he believes he’s discovered a creature’s true name, but it is in fact a fake, and holds no power.
If the researcher knows of a specific devil, he may attempt to specifically research that creature’s name or sigil. For a lesser devil, researching this information takes a month, while for a greater devil, it takes 3 months. At the end of this time, the GM makes a Knowledge (planes) check for the researcher with a DC equal to 20 + the devil’s Hit Dice. Should the researcher already know the creature’s true name but not its sigil (or vice versa) he gains a +2 bonus on this check in addition to any other bonuses for assistance or worthwhile tomes. Success on this check reveals the details being sought, while failure reveals no information, though the researcher may continue to study in the same library, as noted above. Failing by more than 5 uncovers false information, as previously noted.
One might also attempt to research the name of a diabolical being as powerful as an infernal duke or archfiend, but such can only be done in the libraries of Hell or with a tome of fundamental evil power (like the Book of the Damned). Although such beings can resist as summons that invokes their true names or sigils, they often choose to appear anyway merely to discover who has learned their secrets and how. Such encounters typically end with such brash devil summoners being dragged screaming back to the infernal prince’s domain in Hell.
One might attempt to coax knowledge of a weaker infernal creature’s true name or sigil from a summoned devil. Any devil has a percent chance equal to double its Hit Dice to know the true name of one or more fiends lower than it in the infernal hierarchy– lesser devils typically know 1d4+1 true names and sigils, while greater devils usually know 2d8+2. There are certain exceptions such as lemures that never know any true names, osyluths that usually know as many names and sigils as true devils, and gelugons and certain other highly manipulative greater devils who might know double the typical number.
No devil betrays the true names of its inferiors freely, though. A devil summoned via planar binding or planar ally might be coaxed into revealing such details, but only for a high and often dangerous price. Fiends typically use this opportunity to entice their summoners into performing acts that further their own nefarious schemes or the goals of Hell. In addition, spellcasters employing planar binding still need to engage in a contest of wills to convince the fiend to reveal such a secret, forcing the caster to make an opposed Charisma check as described by that spell. A spellcaster planar ally using must perform a deed and pay his infernal contract for its knowledge in treasures equaling 2,000 gp times the Hit Dice of the devil whose true name or sigil is to be revealed. A devil only reveals one true name or sigil per summoning and returns to Hell upon doing so.
Daemons sense mortal souls like sharks smell the blood of a wounded animal thrashing in the water. Those who fashion such lures find that they will come, streaming from the angles of the summoning diagram to take their prize. Most daemons care absolutely nothing for their summoners, even in the event of a worthy sacrifice. Instead they care only about breaking free and feasting upon the Material Plane’s ripe, waiting harvest—usually starting with their would-be masters.
A daemon’s eagerness to slip Abaddon’s bonds and venture into the feasting grounds of the Material Plane is such that casters often find summoning or calling many daemons proves remarkably easy. With such ease comes danger, however, as a summoned daemon is even less likely than an impetuous demon (and far less likely than devils, who enjoy crafting contracts and bargains) to sit idly by while the caster outlines a proposal. More often, daemons eviscerate their summoners immediately. Such dangers aside, most methods of conjuring daemons contain similar thematic elements, tailored to weaken the boundaries between the mortal realm and Abaddon, and to call out to a daemon’s tastes and desires.
Magic Circle: A magic circle is paramount in daemon-summoning—not to contain the fiend so much as to anchor it in place until it is completely bound by the conjurer. More than one summoner has fallen prey to the ravenous hunger of an uncontrolled daemon, and few live to make the mistake twice. The circle is best engraved so as to avoid smudging or smearing of written symbols, and then outlined in fresh mortal blood (the caster’s own if possible). Recorded examples have even used candles of rendered infant fat burned so that their wax pools into the channels of an engraved circle, or a living circle formed from the twisted or braided entrails of a living, bound victim next to the summoner, acting as a conduit and focus for the binding.
For spells such as planar binding that require the caster to make opposed Charisma checks against the outsider, the use of a sacrifice favored by the daemon—often in some way associated with the manner of death the daemon personifies, and usually in or within view of the summoning circle—provides a benefit for the caster on Charisma checks to bind the daemon.
Some conjurers believe that if they stand in a second magic circle, they are safe from a rebellious daemon. Unfortunately, that spell only prevents bodily contact from summoned creatures, not called creatures. Of course, the circle’s other powers (resistance bonus, saving throw bonus, and protection from possession) still function, but there is nothing to stop a daemon called by planar ally from physically tearing the caster into pieces.
Name: The summoner must also know a daemon’s common name—the name it is known by to its peers and educated mortals—in order to call out to it specifically, or else a random example of its kind will answer. The name must be inscribed at four points on the circle’s exterior, paying homage to the Four Horsemen, and their unholy names must be invoked four times, requesting their permission to summon their servant, and promising Horsemen and the servant alike an appropriate sacrifice for appearing, and a reward after their service, to be bargained ahead of time.
More useful is a daemon’s true name, a unique mystical identifier that perfectly defines the creature when its name is spoken. Discovering a daemon’s true name usually requires at least a month of research and a DC 25 Knowledge (planes) check (at the GM’s discretion). Success means the summoner can speak the true name as part of the conjuring ritual, giving the creature a –5 penalty on its Will save to resist the calling. Most daemons of note hide their true names and plant false names in books so as to trick mortals into a false sense of security when conjuring.
Texts: Many of Abaddon’s daemons are so eager to reach the Material Plane that some of the available texts on summoning their kind contains false information intentionally left to deceive would-be summoners. The material is often grossly flawed, but that is not to say that it doesn’t function. Rather, it functions too well, drawing forth a daemon to the Material Plane. Where the rituals and diagrams often fail is in properly containing the fiend long enough for the summoner to complete a bargain with it. Far too many attempted daemon summonings end with a scorched, broken summoning circle; a summoner shucked of his immortal soul; and a trail of death left in the fiend’s wake.
Numerous books detail the summoning and binding of daemons. Usually suppressed and censored, copies fetch high prices from both those wishing to learn and use their secrets and those eager to secure and destroy them. Of the various daemonic guides and lectionaries, the following examples are some of the most often cited or most eagerly sought after. All of these books are spellbooks, and each description includes a list of spells included in a typical copy of the book; most contain other spells as well, but the listing only includes spells that are common to the majority of copies.
Liber Daemonica: A general exploration of daemons, their desires, and their various castes by an ancient mage. While many of the text’s rituals are suspect (possibly to ensure the death of any would-be rivals who might steal and use his books), its lengthy discussion of appropriate sacrifices and a listing of true names for many lesser daemons remain invaluable for those in possession of a copy. A typical copy of this book includes the following spells: agonize, contact other plane, daemon ward, dimensional anchor, dismissal, lesser planar binding, magic circle against evil, protection from evil, summon cacodaemon (both varieties), summon ceustodaemon.
Asemic Acrostic: Though on the surface this book appears to be a bizarre, highly precise, and informative treatise on herbal potions, hallucinogenic drugs, and poisons, closer examination reveals a complex acrostic in Abyssal, comprising two smaller texts encoded within the first. The first describes devotions to the Horseman of Famine. The second lists the common names of daemons in his service and their preferred sacrifices. From the second list comes the name of the book’s likely author, the meladaemon referred to as “the Lady of Wasting Intoxication”. A typical copy of this book includes the following spells: contagion, greater planar binding, lesser planar binding, plague carrier, planar binding, summon meladaemon.
Chronicle of Nine Despairs: Penned by a mortal conjurer and her erodaemon consort, the book explores the various desires and hungers of many of Abaddon’s more powerful daemonic castes, and an autobiography of its erodaemon coauthor. Highly philosophical, it explores various ideologies regarding daemonic nature and how they relate to mortals, as well as an appendix listing more than a dozen effective wards and bindings to protect summoners. A typical copy of this book includes the following spells: contact other plane, daemon ward, lesser planar binding, overwhelming grief, planar binding, summon erodaemon, symbol of despair.
The Withered Footsteps of the Dire Shepherd: The oldest known source on daemons, this tome also contains expositions on many other soul-devouring creatures, along with exquisite details on summoning or actually creating them. The book avoids the intentional corruption of virtually all other sources—whenever the text is altered, it reverts to its previous (and presumably true) state. This property only applies to complete versions of the book; excerpts and quotations from it may contain errors, lending scholars to seek only complete, bound volumes rather than relying on secondhand or incomplete references. Complete copies exist written in Abyssal and Infernal, though portions of each include passages written in an unknown or dead language. The book’s most eager buyers are daemons themselves, who grant the text an almost religious reverence. A typical copy of this book includes the following spells: banishment, create greater undead, gate, greater planar binding, planar binding, soul transfer, summon derghodaemon, summon thanadaemon, trap the soul.
The might of magic is a great force of change and power, and most adventuring parties count one or more spellcasters among them. Since spells cover an incredible range of possibility, defining “wilderness spells” is a broad subject. In this section, spells accessible to nature-themed classes such as druids and rangers receive special attention. Spells that assist in navigating the less settled regions of the world and those that manipulate weather or terrain are also explored in greater detail.
Low-Level Play (Levels 1–6)
Many wilderness-appropriate spells are available as early as 1st level. These low-level spells are often disregarded, as many of them can be substituted with class abilities, equipment, and skills. Still, low-level spells (those of 3rd level and lower) can remain useful at high levels, especially because high-level characters can cast them far more frequently.
The benefit of many low-level conjuration spells is that they grant a wider range of versatility, letting the characters focus the spending of their hard-earned gold on items with effects that can’t be replicated, rather than on mundane equipment.
Create Food and Water: As a 3rd-level cleric spell, create food and water is one of the most obvious choices for those looking to bypass some of the rigors of wilderness survival. The Survival skill often eclipses the worth of this spell, as succeeding at a simple DC 10 check allows for a character to provide food and water for herself without needing to expend a 3rd-level spell slot. At 5th level, it’s not unlikely that a party member can regularly succeed at the DC 16 Survival check required to feed himself and three other party members. Imposing heavy penalties on Survival checks to get along in the wild is one way of making create food and water more valuable, and such adjustments are entirely appropriate in wasteland environments. There are several other ways to prolong the usefulness of create food and water. Armed with knowledge that the party will be entering a particularly inhospitable region, characters might want to stock up on conjured food and water. Repeated castings of create food and water can provide numerous meals, and by spending a few days, a party can create a stockpile of rations for a trip. Combined with the fact that purify food and water can be cast an unlimited number of times per day, stockpiling food and drink with these castings is an economically savvy way of saving both gold and hunting time.
Mount and Phantom Steed: Few wilderness areas are entirely amenable to or completely inhospitable to mounts. Open groves and wildlife paths where mounts can roam free crisscross dense forests, while deserts often contain escarpments of jagged rocks that confound the most sure footed of creatures. The mutable nature of these wilderness regions makes the ability to summon a temporary mount particularly helpful. For routine journeys, mount can conjure a single mount for a character or be repeatedly cast to provide mounts for a whole party. Higher-level spellcasters benefit more from phantom steed, especially at 8th level, when the steed starts gaining extra movement-related abilities.
Neutralize Poison: First accessible by low-level druids, neutralize poison is useful as both a method of healing poison and a means to prevent poisoning from occurring in the first place. Using the spell as a means of detoxifying a creature is its most efficient application, since one casting of the spell prevents that creature from poisoning targets at all. It’s also possible to use this spell to remove a poison applied to an object or from food or drink. The use of neutralize poison in this manner doesn’t guarantee success, and it can be interesting to keep the DC of the targeted poison unknown, leaving the efficacy of a given casting in question. At a cost of 11,250 gp, a wand of neutralize poison makes for a practical, if unusual, weapon. When added into the arsenal of mobile melee classes, specifically those with ranks in Use Magic Device or supplementary spellcaster levels, such wands can be used to disable the poisons of wilderness-dwelling creatures. The forfeiture of an attack in order to strike a foe with a poison–neutralizing wand could mean the difference between life and death for a character who is facing repeated applications of poison.
There are only a few low-level divination spells specifically related to wilderness environments. Characters often ignore these spells, and instead they rely on class abilities or skills to replicate their effects. Introducing NPCs with access to these spells can highlight their utility to PCs who might otherwise see these spells as extraneous.
Detect Animals or Plants: This spell has a much larger range than detect evil, beginning with a minimum area of a 440-foot cone. This spell also requires thinking of a specific kind of animal or plant, making it very specialized in its application. Further, it grants the caster the ability to see the current condition of a target, rather than just a sense of the creature’s total power. A handy application of this spell is to monitor the health of allies, such as animal companions or plant creatures such as ghorans and vine leshys (as presented in Chapter 1).
Detect Snares and Pits: As a concentration effect, this spell is more useful in low-stress situations. It cuts down on some of the monotony of having PCs attempt repeated Perception checks, but the spell’s specific detection parameters mean that some skill checks are still required.
Low-level enchantment spells that are appropriate for wilderness campaigns most often focus on the manipulation of animal minds. Keep in mind that animals are often simple creatures, with simple thoughts driving their actions—drinking, eating, and sleeping being at the forefront of an animal’s mind. Due to having average or lower Wisdom scores, certain kinds of animals can be especially prone to being affected by these spells.
Animal Messenger: This spell compels a Tiny animal to venture to a designated area, likely with an item in tow. The longer casting time of the spell makes it useless in combat situations but incredibly helpful in other situations. Delivery of an item via animal messenger isn’t guaranteed, as the animal could be waylaid by other creatures or potentially find itself unable to follow directions to the intended area. As with most spells, it’s important to understand that a PC shouldn’t be penalized for the casting of such magic. If you, as the GM, decide to have an animal messenger fail to reach its intended destination, consider rewarding the PCs in another way. For example, the animal messenger might have been consumed by a local predator, and by finding the slain messenger, the PCs uncover the predator’s stash of claimed trophies.
Calm Animals, Charm Animal, and Dominate Animal: Spells that can adjust the attitudes of animals have obvious uses as deterrents when traversing through wilderness environments. Simply calming or charming animals is often sufficient to travel through an area without harassment, while more powerful spells such as dominate animal can be used to deal with more dangerous or more immediate threats. Another insidious use of this magic is to subvert the loyal animal companions of foes. The ability to charm or dominate an animal companion of an opponent can significantly reduce the challenge of an encounter, while simultaneously presenting that foe the moral quandary of how to handle its wayward companion.
The wilderness is a place of constant change, so it’s no surprise that most wilderness-appropriate spells come from the transmutation school of magic. These spells not only mutate the caster and her immediate surroundings but also are highly sought-after ways to control plant life. As plants are universally immune to mind-affecting effects, it falls to transmutation spells to grant a modicum of control over these creatures, providing an analogue to spells commonly found in the enchantment school.
Diminish Plants: This spell controls the vegetation in a specific area. The prune growth option for this spell is an effective counter to spells such as entangle and wall of thorns, granting the caster some combat control in addition to straightforward utility. Using this spell also allows for the creation of open areas more amenable to mounts or other big creatures. The secondary use of diminish plants, the stunt growth option, is most effective as a narrative tool. Spiteful PCs seeking to punish an enemy druid might decide to use this effect on the druid’s preferred territory. Conversely, an enemy druid might wrack the PCs’ homeland with several castings of this spell, potentially leading to starvation in the face of reduced crop yields. PCs who have left their homeland for a prolonged period of time might be drawn back after hearing word that a magically induced famine has taken hold, only to find that the cause was a previous foe from the campaign!
Meld into Stone and Tree Shape: Hiding in blocks of stone or taking the form of a shrub allows for both intrigue and tense moments of avoiding a threat. PCs and NPCs can use these spells to perform highly effective spying on their enemies, with very few effects or spells being able to reveal the presence of a melded or shaped creature. True seeing or a similar effect could spell disaster for a stone-melded creature, and the destruction of the melded stone has immediate—not to mention mortal—repercussions. Be sure to reward the creative use of these spells when used by the PCs, but also make them aware of the dangers of using them, should the PCs come to rely on these spells as a guaranteed means for avoiding detection and spying on foes.
Pass without Trace: This basic 1st-level spell can defeat even the most dedicated of trackers. Pass without trace prevents being tracked by a Survival check or any other non-magical means. Only spells such as locate creature are suitable for tracking creatures that have obfuscated themselves with pass without trace, and such spells aren’t readily accessible until later levels. Due to the difficulty in countering this spell at lower levels, the best point to take advantage of pass without trace is in the 4th- to 6th-level range, when the spell can affect all members of the average party and rangers gain access to the spell. At levels above that, the foes can use magical countermeasures to overcome pass without trace.
Plant Growth and Spike Growth: Control of the battlefield is essential when fighting in a wilderness environment. As many such environments lack manufactured cover and traps, it falls to magic to create such hazards. Plant growth can drastically cut down on targets’ maneuverability on a battlefield, allowing spellcasters to target enemies from afar, or even enhancing the effectiveness of spells such as entangle. Similarly, spike growth creates areas of damaging terrain that are difficult to bypass without some means of flight or levitation. In wilderness-heavy campaigns, these spells can be on par with other control-based magic, while in campaigns with only a smattering of wilderness, these spells operate best when taken in the form of one or more backup scrolls.
Quench: Often forgotten due to its specialized nature, quench can swiftly extinguish fire-based creatures, effects, and spells. The typical use of the spell is to put out non-magical fires in its considerable area of effect (a minimum of 5 20-foot cubes at minimum caster level). A more potent use of the spell is to act as a dispelling effect on fire-based spells in its area. This allows the spell to be reserved and used to counter potent spells such as fireball or wall of fire, though only if a character expects such spells to be used. Using the spell on magic items that create or control flame can change the combat dynamic, especially if the effect is considerable (such as disabling the flaming burst ability from an enemy’s weapon). Creatures with the fire subtype are particularly vulnerable to quench, taking anywhere from 5d6 to 10d6 points of damage without any sort of save—a wand of quench is a potent weapon against such foes.
Stone Shape and Wood Shape: Building a bridge, creating a door, or manufacturing a barricade are all immediate uses for shaping magic such as stone shape and wood shape. The wording of these spells is very open to interpretation, granting a lot of leeway in adjudicating their effects. Unexpected barriers can change the dynamic of combat or wilderness exploration, so be sure to have a basic understanding of the consequences of using these spells in areas primarily made of stone or wood. Just as PCs can use these spells to upturn encounters, their adversaries can use these spells to surprise them in dynamic ways. The PCs might explore a chamber with one entrance only to be ambushed from a stone-shaped wall during their inspection of the area, or an NPC villain might allow half the party to go through an exit door before cutting it off with a well-timed casting of wood shape.
Intrigue in the Wild
Applications of several intrigue-themed spells are also appropriate for wilderness campaigns. In order to focus on spells more specific to wilderness adventuring, this book purposefully avoids spells that were already covered in Ultimate Intrigue. Intrigue-themed spells that are particularly appropriate for wilderness-heavy campaigns but were covered in Ultimate Intrigue include the following: blood biography, commune with nature, create treasure map, detect poison, find the path, locate creature, speak with animals, speak with plants, and stone tell.
Water Breathing and Water Walk: Both of these spells accomplish different things, but they are similar in that they overcome an incredibly common wilderness impediment: water. Watery barriers can include a lake in the middle of a forest, rivers running between mountains, a series of flooded chambers in a cavern, treacherous swamps, and underground oceans. Water breathing can be split among numerous creatures effectively, allowing for long or quick treks underwater. Similar magic, such as aboleth’s lung or air bubble, can function in similar roles to water breathing at a lower spell level, albeit at reduced efficiency. Player characters often come to rely on these spells to traverse difficult environments, sometimes believing in a simple “cast and forget” mantra. Be sure to occasionally remind the PCs of their reliance on these spells, such as directing a casting of dispel magic in their direction. It’s best to give this kind of reminder in a situation where it’s possible to recover so that the potential for a more disastrous situation can loom large in the mind. Dispelling water breathing when the PCs are deep underwater and have no way to escape and no more ways to cast the spell can mean certain death, so you shouldn’t spring this tactic on players often—if ever!
Whispering Wind: While sending requires 10 minutes to cast, whispering wind takes only a standard action. Use of this spell doesn’t guarantee a successful transmission though, as it requires the caster to be knowledgeable of a specific location within range, but even then, there’s no guarantee that the intended recipient is at the designated location. It’s also entirely possible that if the PCs find themselves camping at an easily identifiable landmark, they might become the unintended recipients of a whispering wind message. Mistakenly receiving a message in this manner could spark a new adventure or entire campaign, especially when you consider that whispering wind often revolves around the need to get a message out in a quick and urgent manner.
Mid-Level Play (Levels 7–12)
At the middle tier of spellcasting, many spells with wilderness themes revolve around control effects. While most of them have been previously detailed in Ultimate Intrigue (see the Intrigue in the Wild sidebar) and thus are not covered below, mid-level divination spells are plentiful.
Spells that protect against or repel all sorts of wilderness threats appear in this range.
Antilife Shell and Antiplant Shell: These are notable defensive spells because they don’t allow a saving throw to resist their effects. While spell resistance offers a means of defense against these spells, such an ability is almost nonexistent among plant creatures. Despite the lengthy 1-round casting time, successfully casting antilife shell can buy precious rounds of protection to cast other spells. Antiplant shell has a shorter casting time and a lower spell level, making it more useful when dealing with plant threats.
Repel Vermin: Repel vermin is similar to antilife shell, but it takes up a lower-level spell slot and requires less time to cast. While the field created by this spell can be bypassed with a successful Will save, it still deals damage to vermin managing to traverse it—a particularly powerful effect against large numbers of enemies with few hit points. Perhaps the most enticing use of repel vermin is its ability to diminish the effectiveness of vermin swarms.
Conjuration spells fill a wide array of needs. This school of magic encompasses enhancement effects, teleportation effects, the conjuration of allies, and even the creation of permanent or temporary areas of terrain. Most of these spells really begin to show their usefulness at the middle levels of spellcasting.
Heroes’ Feast: Those partaking in a heroes’ feast receive powerful bonuses in addition to the normal benefits of eating and drinking. The combination of neutralize poison and remove disease in this spell is a particularly useful given the number of long-onset diseases and poisons in the wilderness. The spell does require a long casting time and consumption period to be effective; casting and consuming a heroes’ feast takes at least 70 minutes. The flaws of this spell become apparent when the PCs ambush enemies partaking in this spell or are attacked while consuming their own feast.
Transport via Plants and Tree Stride: A dependable means of transportation within a forested environment, tree stride combines the best of several spells, with temporary protection and stealth akin to meld into stone or tree shape. It also offers a wide array of travel distance, with even coniferous trees allowing for transportation range in excess of dimension door, assuming a suitable tree is within range. Transport via plants is similar to an upgraded tree stride, as it allows for theoretically limitless traveling distance on the same world, and it requires only a suitably sized plant with a matching species at the destination.
Wall of Stone and Wall of Thorns: Both of these spells allow for the creation of walls to divide a battlefield. Walls made of stone have the benefit of adjoining to existing stone—a plentiful terrain feature in most wilderness environs. Since this spell has a duration of instantaneous, wall of stone creates long-lasting defenses. Such walls can cut off tight-knit groups in confined areas, though creatures in the path of a forming wall can attempt a Reflex save to avoid entrapment. Wall of thorns creates a temporary effect, and while it doesn’t block off terrain as dependably as wall of stone, it covers twice the space of a stone wall and doesn’t allow a Reflex save. Wall of thorns can be used to deadly effect when sculpted to cover a larger area. These walls can be combined with area effects, such as cloudkill or insect plague, to devastate foes.
Mid-level transmutation spells produce a variety of effects. Many augment the capabilities of their casters, allowing for otherwise impossible physical feats. Some transmutation spells control nature and, by extension, operate as mind-affecting effects against plants while bypassing plants’ natural immunities to such effects. Other transmutation spells change vast swaths of terrain, allowing their casters to manipulate the wilderness in ways that range from battlefield needs to agricultural changes taking place over thousands of square feet of space.
Air Walk and Wind Walk: Air walk is an effective method of bypassing treacherous terrain. When a caster typically gains access to this spell, the duration of air walk is about only an hour, making it an effective tool for combat encounters but diminishing its utility for long-term travel. Another hindrance of air walk is that it affects only a single target, making it difficult to apply to an entire group without expending several spell slots. Wind walk, however, can grant a group the ability to traverse long distances over open air. As this spell allows for travel of 600 feet per round, it’s over 10 times as effective as spells such as fly and overland flight as a means of long-distance travel. However, wind walkers are particularly vulnerable to attack along the way if their movement can be curtailed with an obstruction. The caster must either dismiss the spell entirely or have everyone in the group to go through lengthy transformations back into their normal forms while being pummeled by attacks.
Command Plants: Similar in many respects to charm person, this spell entreats plant creatures to obey the spellcaster. As plants are normally immune to mind-affecting effects, this spell falls under the transmutation school of magic, meaning that feats such as Spell Focus (transmutation) apply to it. Two important differences between this spell and charm person, aside from the spell level and ability to affect plants, are the increased number of targets and no requirement that the caster has to know a language understood by the target.
Control Water and Control Winds: These spells are both broad in their effect, with uses beyond combat. The ability to control the speed of winds is a useful tool in hampering foes that rely on flight or ranged attacks. Remember that wind speeds can impose penalties on creatures’ Fly checks, with hurricane speed winds inflicting a massive –12 penalty. Manipulating water allows for access to otherwise inaccessible spaces and reveals secrets hidden in exceptionally deep areas of water. Aquatic creatures that rely on water for breathing and maneuverability can be significantly disabled by this magic. As a body of water can be lowered to as little as 2 inches deep, this spell can be a major threat to aquatic foes that don’t have base speeds.
Move Earth: This spell allows for the movement of various sorts of natural terrain, with the express purpose of digging or filling in dips in the earth. While it’s relatively useless once combat has begun, because of its long casting time, this spell is exceptionally handy for flattening terrain or otherwise adjusting it in preparation of combat. A common use for move earth is in the creation or deconstruction of natural cover as part of an ongoing siege.
Passwall: The bane of intrepid dungeon designers everywhere, passwall allows for the disruption of the expected path through a complex structure. Allowing the spell to assist in navigating hazardous terrain is important, but it should not come at the expense of storytelling or allow the characters to bypass important areas of exploration. When designing encounter areas, consider insulating critical areas with stretches of solid matter that extend 20 feet or farther, effectively inhibiting passwall from creating its passage into or out of key locations. Furthermore, as passwall is susceptible to dispel magic, a perfectly timed dispel effect can separate a party, potentially over several (possibly as-of-yet-unexplored) areas of a dungeon.
Reincarnate: The ability to reincarnate a deceased companion is often a mixed affair. Many adventurers see the use of reincarnate as a means of bypassing the costly raise dead (a 5th-level spell). Some even view the ability to return as a different race as a boon, especially in cases where the new race has powerful physical ability modifiers. It’s important to reinforce the monumental changes that a creature undergoes after being reincarnated, though. Former acquaintances and allies won’t recognize the reincarnated person, and depending on the nature of the new race, the reincarnated creature might find itself the subject of discrimination or even attacked on sight.
Repel Wood: This spell is particularly powerful in tight corridors. Wooden objects in the path of the spell are hurled away, moving 40 feet back from their current position. This includes items such as wooden armor, wooden shields, and wood-hafted weapons; these items often carry the wielder along with them. Creatures can opt to drop shields and weapons, but a creature wearing wooden armor (especially darkwood or ironwood-enhanced equipment) doesn’t have the ability to quickly remove the armor and is thus forced back with no saving throw or spell resistance. Note that the spell has no effect on most plants, since they are rooted to the ground, but it can be used to clear wooden blockages such as deadfalls.
Transmute Rock to Mud: Transforming large areas of unworked rock into mud creates effectively impassable terrain. Most creatures trapped in a transmuted area of mud reduce their base speed to 5 feet. Considering the vast area that even a minimum caster can affect, this mud acts as a slowing effect on all creatures without a means of flying or levitating. The most effective, and oftentimes unexpected, use of this spell is when it’s used on the ceiling of a cavern. Along with creating an area of mobility-restricting terrain, the collapsing mud deals a hefty sum of damage to creatures caught underneath the falling deluge. Keep in mind that transmuted mud can be dispelled, with effects similar to a casting of transmute mud to rock.
High-Level Play (Level 13+)
The most powerful of wilderness spells are few but incredibly varied. Some allow for the creation of powerful allies, while others have drastic effects over vast swaths of land.
Animate Plants: From the lowest level that a druid gains access to this spell, she can animate four Large plants or a single Gargantuan plant. Animated plants are simple to command and act as allies and distractions in combat. The alternative entangle effect of this spell is particularly useful, as it not only bypasses spell resistance but also acts as a 7th-level spell version of entangle that lasts for hours.
Changestaff: While animate plants creates a potential host of animated plants, changestaff creates a single powerful treant-like ally that, barring misadventure, lasts for hours. The treant created by this spell is particularly useful in demolishing objects and structures. The transformed treant’s innate rock throwing ability, teamed with its ability to ignore the hardness of structures, makes it particularly effective in laying siege to fortifications in all manner of terrains.
Control Plants: As this is a transmutation spell, it bypasses a plant’s normal immunity to mind-affecting effects. A plant creature can attempt a Will save to avoid being controlled, but the spell is not subject to spell resistance and has no shared-language requirement. As this spell lasts only a few minutes and doesn’t allow for self-destructive commands, it’s best employed as an equalizer when fighting multiple plant foes, enemies that have animated plants of their own, or foes that are plants (such as high-level ghorans or leshys).
Earthquake: Numerous different environment-dependent effects make earthquake an appropriate spell for wilderness-themed campaigns. The effect of this spell in caves is a true killer, as the rules for being trapped in rubble are exceptionally deadly to creatures that do not have high Strength scores or teleportation magic. Many of the aboveground effects have the potential to create rents in the earth that can trap opponents or seal away disarmed objects and other items. Regardless of its application, earthquake is often about sending a message to a foe—the dramatic sights created by this spell capable of awing even those familiar with magic.
Storm of Vengeance: A supernatural representation of nature’s ire, storm of vengeance is a powerful evocation that blankets a wide area in a growing tempest. Though the effects of the storm are potent, there are many things to consider when employing the spell. First, it requires concentration over several rounds to build up its power, which can be difficult to maintain while the caster is engaged in combat, especially since several of the effects of the storm cause damage, such as acid rain and hailstorm. As a result, the ideal application of storm of vengeance is from long range, with the caster far outside the storm’s effects.
Transmute Metal to Wood: An instantaneous effect, transmute metal to wood affects all metal items within a large radius. While the spell doesn’t allow any sort of saving throw, it does treat magic items affected by the spell as if they had significant spell resistance, meaning Spell Penetration and Greater Spell Penetration increase the effectiveness of the spell by a wide margin. This spell also specifies that it affects only objects—so no using it against iron golems! Transmute metal to wood is at its best when employed by druids, as a druid often has few (if any) metal items in her possession, allowing the caster to center the spell on herself if threatened by numerous metal-clad foes. Teaming this spell with the repel wood (see above) is a powerful combo that keeps metal-wielding foes on the defensive.