Player Guide: Designing Your Own Spells

No house rules or things necessary for play live here, just additional helpful reference materials. Basically think of this section as a bonus sourcebook.

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Player Guide: Designing Your Own Spells

Postby Ian » Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:07 pm

I've gotten this question from more than one person recently, as I'm sure the DMs have as well: "How do I research my own spells?"

For those of you who didn't know, we do allow your casters to research their own spells. It can be a spell from a book we don't allow, a spell from another class's list, or even just something pulled completely from thin air. Any class that can cast spells can research a new spell (if you're a ranger, paladin, or member of a similar class, you can research spells once you gain spellcasting).

Side Note! wrote:Warlocks can also use these mechanics to research new invocations. However, they are limited to researching invocations that appear in unapproved books only; the balance issues inherent in a spell usable at will are far more delicate than standard spells, so we only feel comfortable doing so for those that have already had at least a glance with this in mind.

Side Note #2! wrote:Spell research isn't just for PCs. NPCs can likewise be given custom spells for the purposes of adventure usage--and if said NPCs are prepared casters, those spells may wind up in the hands of PCs, who can copy and learn them like any published spell. If you intend to use custom spells in such a way that they can be obtained by PCs, though, you must send details of these spells to DMs beforehand for approval!

Regardless of researcher and source, spell research always uses the same process, a slight variation on the one described on page 198 of the DMG:

- You go to the DMs, shiny new spell idea in hand. Ideally, you'll have a full draft of the spell written already, using the template I'm including below. (That'll make this go faster.)

Bribes are also applied at this stage. Hookers and blow are ideal (just be sure to put air-holes in the box before shipping--dead hookers go in my trunk, not in my mailbox).

- DMs tweak the spell for flavor and balance. Unlike what is suggested by the DMG, they'll work with you during this process, because wasting weeks of real-time blows. During this time, you're on the clock for "spell research." (If you adventure or craft during this time, you'll start the clock over.)

- Once the spell is approved, you need to research the spell for 1 week per spell level (if you haven't been adventuring or crafting, your time during the approval process counts). You also need to spend 1,000 gp per spell level--this covers materials for testing, lab and test-ground rental fees, consultant fees, etc. Yes, new spells are frickin' expensive.

- After dropping the time and materials, you make a Spellcraft check (DC 10 + spell level). You can take 10 on this, and frankly, if you can't take 10 for an auto-success, you shouldn't be doing this anyway. Note that Spellcraft is trained-only, so if you are a gimp-caster, you'll need to put at least a half-rank into that before you can research.

On success, if you're a wizard, you add the spell to your spellbook. (Scribing costs are waived.) If you're a cleric, druid, or other class that automatically knows every spell it can cast, the spell is simply added to your class spell list.

If you're a bard, sorcerer, or other gimp-caster, you can add the spell to your spells known if you have an opening for it--otherwise, you have to wait until you level up, and can either add it as a new spell or swap out an old one for it. (You cannot use spell research to get extra spells known.)

If you're a warmage, you kinda get hosed, because you have a special "Advanced Learning" mechanic that is explicitly the only way you get to add spells from outside your list. So you can research spells, but you only get to add them at an Advanced Learning level, and they have to be Evocations. (Don't blame me--WotC's the one that wrote the mechanic that way.)

So how do you go about building your own spells? Well, here's some pointers...

Template for New Spells wrote:Spell Name
Spell School (Subschool, if any) [Descriptors, if any]
Level: Asn X, Brd X, Clr X, Drd X, Pal X, Rgr X, Sor/Wiz X
Components: V, S, M, F, DF, XP
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal, Touch, Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels), Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level), Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level), or other
Target: "You" if spell is Personal, otherwise list targets; if Area line exists, strike this
Area: List area and shape; if Target line exists, strike this
Duration: Instantaneous, Permanent, etc.
Saving Throw: None/Fortitude, Reflex, or Will/negates, half, or partial
Spell Resistance: Yes/No

Description of spell's manifestation in IC format. (Optional.)

List how the spell works here.

Material Component/Focus/XP Cost: List specifics here.

The various parts of the spell (and some advice in employing them) are as follows:

Spell Name: Duh.

Advice: Make it a good one, but a realistic one. A divine rehash of burning hands should not be named Tyr's catastrophic ruin. If the DMs are rolling their eyes before even getting past this line, you're doing it wrong.

Spell School: One of the eight schools of magic, or Universal. (If you're making it Universal, you'd better have a damn good reason.) If it fits into a subschool, list that in parentheses, like (Healing) or (Summoning). If it most appropriately has a descriptor, such as if it deals damage of a certain type, list that in brackets, such as [Fire] or [Fear, Mind-Affecting].

Advice: Certain schools are best at producing certain effects. If you want to make a spell in school X, but its main effect is most-suited to school Y, you usually can...but it will be either less efficient or a higher level. As an example, a lightning-based Evocation could probably be stretched to perform reanimation of a corpse, Frankenstein-style...but while it could be the same level as animate dead, it'll either be higher level, have a duration, or some other limiting factor.

Level: Mostly, you only care about your own character, but DMs may add to this line for the purpose of other characters that research or learn your spell for themselves. Either way, list the class you think should be able to cast this, and the spell level you think they should cast it at.

Advice: Either do this line first, or leave it for last. Do the former if you absolutely want the spell to be a given level and want to edit later to meet that level, and let DMs know that's your philosophy. Do the latter if you want a specific effect and don't care as much about what level it turns out to be, and let DMs know that's the approach you're taking.

Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material, Focus, Divine Focus (sometimes listed as M/DF or F/DF, if it can substitute for one of the others), or XP points. Every spell has either V or S, usually both. All others are optional.

Advice: Using optional components can make a borderline spell fit better into a given spell level. If you've made a borderline 5th/6th-level spell, and you really want to convince the DMs to make it 5th, adding a material component of sufficient value can sway that. This can also be used to simply make the spell more thematically appropriate.

Casting Time: By far the most common is 1 standard action. 1 full round is sometimes required, and 1 swift action is becoming more common for minor spells. 1 immediate action is pretty rare, but exists on a handful of reaction spells. Odd numbers of actions or rounds are discouraged. Longer casting times exist, and are often best on spells that are clearly not usable in combat (scrying, raise dead).

Advice: This can be another balancing tool if you need one, but 90% of the game's spells are "1 standard action," and unless you really need it to be otherwise, I recommend not changing it. Keep in mind that if the spell is usable as a swift action, it's basically been Quickened, and will be looked at with that in mind.

Range: Other ranges should only be used for spells with an area, specifically one measured as an emanation, line, or cone. Everything else should use one of those listed.

Advice: Just look at comparable spells when setting this. Most summons are Close-range, so your new summon should probably be Close. Most fireball-like spells are Long-range, so you probably ought to make your new pillar of flaming electrified pitch Long-range too. If spells of your type vary a lot, then go nuts.

Target: If the spell isn't personal-range or area, it has this line. Two things need to be indicated by this line:
-- Does it affect one target, or several? (If the latter, usually it's some variation of "One creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart.")
-- We need to know what the spell considers a valid target. Does it affect creatures only, objects only, or both? Does it affect living creatures only, or all creatures? Does it only affect humanoids?

Advice: Be very specific here. This is a very large balance point. Oh, and if your spell affects an area, don't include this line.

Area: If the spell affects an area, it has this line. (Obviously.) All such spells affect a cylinder, line, cone, emanation, burst, spread, or a number of 10-foot cubes. Lines, cones, and emanations affect an area equal to their range. Otherwise, list the radius, and if a cylinder, list the height.

Advice: Again, compare this to similar effects of your desired level.

Duration: Usually measured in rounds/level, minutes/level, (x10) minutes/level, hours/level, or days/level, or in fixed durations like 1 round, 24 hours, Permanent, or Instantaneous.

If the caster can Dismiss the spell at some point while it's still in effect, a (D) should be appended to this line.

Advice: An Instantaneous spell cannot be countered or dispelled, as the magic does its thing and is gone. A Permanent spell can, as the magic remains to continuously generate and reinforce the effect. Keep this in mind when debating between those two.

Beyond that, the following rules of thumb are good to keep in mind, particularly in terms of buffs (for which duration is most important): In/prior to any particular combat, you will usually have time to lay on a single round/level spell. In staggered, quick-repeat combats, minute/level spells will often last long enough to cover both, but often times they fall into the same category as round/level spells. 10Xminutes/level spells and hour/level spells, especially at higher levels, will function as all-day buffs, and you can plan to have all of those at-hand throughout.

That said, if you're making a buff that lasts 1 round/level, it had best be a buff you plan on using first, last, and only. If you're making one that lasts 1 hour/level, you should be planning to have it on all the time or close to it.


Saving Throw: If it allows a save, it usually allows one of the big three (Fort, Ref, or Will), either to negate, for half damage, or for partial effect. You don't need this line for a Personal-range spell.

If a saving throw is allowed for partial effect, or more than one saving throw is allowed (see phantasmal killer), you need to indicate in the spell text specifically what happens on both a failed and a successful saving throw.

Some spells only allow a saving throw for objects, not creatures. These are rare, but may occasionally be appropriate.

Advice: If the spell requires an attack roll, it usually doesn't also allow a save, unless the effect is very large (see disintegrate). If it neither requires an attack roll nor allows a saving throw, there had better be a good reason. If it allows more than one saving throw, it's usually pretty weak, as the odds of ever achieving the spell's full effect are slim.

Spell Resistance: Yes or No. Very simple. You don't need this line for a Personal-range spell.

Advice: Conjuration (Creation) spells and others that create a physical object are usually SR No. Most other things are usually SR Yes. If yours is SR No, have a decent reason for it.

Description: Note how the spell manifests in-character. This line is optional.

Advice: Keeping in mind the level of your spell, be as vivid as you like in describing this spell. Since you're building this spell for your own PC, as opposed to general use, you can if you so choose utilize a character-specific manifestation of this spell.

Spell Effect: Hopefully, by this point you pretty much know what's going in here. Using clear, mechanics-based text, describe what your spell does.

Advice: Be very specific. Be grammatically correct. Both of these matter a great deal, because otherwise it turns into a game of interpretation, and we already have too many spells like that. Likewise, don't get flowery in your text here--not only is that what the description is for, but certain words have certain meanings with regards to the rules, and in the process of describing your spell's awesomeness, you can inadvertently make it do something very different.

If your spell does damage, keep in mind the damage caps based on spell level. For arcane single-target spells, this is 5 dice at L1, 10 dice at L2, and +5 dice every 2 levels after. For multi-target spells and divine single-target spells, offset all figures 1 level. For divine multi-target spells, offset 2 levels. There is some play in these numbers (see Presper's moonbow, meteor swarm) with mitigating factors. Given the general decrepitude of the Evocation school, and the fact that it is designed to deal damage, I am generally open to spells of that school dealing more damage than expected based on caps.

If you can look at this spell as identical to a lower-level spell (thus making a Greater version of that spell), but for a few small changes, then simply say, "This spell works as [insert spell here], except as above and for the following:" You likewise only need to include those of the above lines that differ from the base spell.

If you can look at this spell as similar to another spell with some form of metamagic applied, you might just want to write the spell as if it were that spell with the requisite metamagic applied, with the attendant spell level.

And failing anything else, just look at how other, similar spells are worded, and follow their lead.


Components: If the spell has a material component, focus, or XP cost, you need to list what they are at the bottom. If the material component or focus has a cost of 1 gp or greater, you need to specifically note that component's cost.

Final Thoughts: Once your spell is complete, you are the only one that knows it, and you are the only one that can cast it unless you specifically choose to give it out to others. If you do elect to teach others your spell, let the DMs know!
"Nothing will ever change. That cycle of mediocrity isn't due to some obstacle. It's who you are. The thing standing in the way of your dreams is that the person having them is you."
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Re: Player Guide: Designing Your Own Spells

Postby Ian » Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:50 pm

I felt like writing something both creative and educational, so today we'll look at an example of new spell design in action.

No longer subject to the crippling hangovers he'd been subjected to in the past, thanks to the girl Annika's magic flask, Altair had taken to actually getting some minor amount of work done in the mornings. This morning in particular, he worked on cleaning out his old foot locker...when he came upon a book he hadn't read in years, had in fact nearly forgotten the existence of.

The cover of matte grey steel, embedded with aquamarines and turquoise, bound a book perhaps six by eight inches. Inside, the book was adorned with no title or author page, but the tiny, sharply-angled text was instantly recognizable.

Agrena, erstwhile War Wizard of Cormyr, was likewise a scholar and a scientist with as great a knowledge of and talent with electricity as anyone alive...with a particular talent for making it do things to the human body that few other wizards had even conceived of attempting. While few of her completed spells still survive, the book in the Steelmage's hands was perhaps the most complete remaining copy of her theories and writings. Altair settled back in his chair, and took a long pull from his new flask before steeling himself and beginning to read.

This was hard, and not because of the content. Altair stopped every couple of pages to take a new pull from the flask.

For whatever reason, the Steelmage was feeling nostalgic these days. As he flipped to the chapter entitled "Undeath Without the Negative Plane: The Re-Animation of Biological Systems via Application of High-Intensity Electrical Current," he began to contemplate finishing some of this work Agrena left behind...

Altair's player has decided he wants to get cute with the rules determining which school of magic does what--he not only wants an arcane version of speak with dead, he wants it in the Evocation school instead of in Necromancy.

Though it seems weird, he's already finished several of the most vital steps in this process: There's an existing spell similar to what Altair wants to learn. There's a logical reason for the desired changes, and a unifying theme for them. There's a target school for the effect. With this much information, filling in the blanks will be fairly simple.

As such, Altair's player grabs a blank of piece of paper, and begins to write:

Agrena's Memory Spark

We have a title. Catchy, vaguely witty, not excessively overwrought for what it does. Works.

Agrena's Memory Spark
Evocation [Electricity, Language-Dependent]

As mentioned above, we have a target school, Evocation, and so we'll specify that right now. Because the spell explicitly utilizes electricity to do its work, we give it the appropriate descriptor. (Just about any spell that uses a specific type of energy will have that energy descriptor.) The second descriptor is added due to how the spell will be working--it requires the caster and target to share a language to function.

Agrena's Memory Spark
Evocation [Electricity, Language-Dependent]
Level: Sor/Wiz 4

We arrive at this conclusion for a few reasons: the basis of our comparison, speak with dead, is Cleric 3. A conceptually-similar spell is animate dead, which is likewise Cleric 3, Sorcerer/Wizard 4. So it looks like the arcane version of this sort of spell should be one level higher than its divine equivalent.

We are likewise changing the spell school from Necromancy to one that appears less suited for the effect, but we decide that we will balance that by reducing the spell's potency rather than further increasing the spell level--4th level is all the higher we really want to go with this.

Note that DMs may later decide to make this spell available to other classes. But we as the player don't have to worry about that--we only care about our own character, and frankly we don't think other classes should get this spell anyway.

Agrena's Memory Spark
Evocation [Electricity, Language-Dependent]
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M

The base spell, speak with dead, has as components Verbal, Somatic, and Divine Focus. All spells have V and S (unless they have a good reason to be otherwise), so we leave those alone.

In some cases, when a spell has both arcane and divine versions, a spell with a Divine Focus requirement will likewise have a Materials component for arcanists. The PHB seems to be about 50/50 on this, so it's by no means a hard requirement, and unless the component is worth more than 1 gold piece, all it means is that you have to have a component pouch handy.

It's not a meaningful factor on the spell, so I could leave it off. Because we're into conceptualism on custom spells, though, I'll put it on, and specify something appropriate but cost-free in the spell description.

Agrena's Memory Spark
Evocation [Electricity, Language-Dependent]
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 10 minutes

While many spells are 1 standard action, there are a category of spells that are clearly not intended for use during Initiative-time (combat). These spells, which also include things like raise dead and scrying, are usually indicated by a casting time of either 1 minute, 10 minutes, or 1 hour. This is more or less arbitrary: anything 1 minute or longer falls into the same category, "can't use it in combat." That's a pretty meaningful limitation, mind--don't use it lightly, but if you do do use it, it can be a mitigating factor in determining spell level and the like.

Since the specific timing is an arbitrary decision and we already know we don't care about using this in combat, we decide to just leave it the same as the spell we're using for comparison.

Agrena's Memory Spark
Evocation [Electricity, Language-Dependent]
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Touch

We've made a change from our base spell here, which has a range of 10 feet. This could in other cases be a mitigating factor against our selection of school, but in this case the effect is negligible.

The primary reason we change this is because the spell is not an aura or emanation, so there's no reason to have it deviate from the standard list of range options: Personal, Touch, Close, Medium, Long. We like conformity and uniformity, even when WotC doesn't!
Agrena's Memory Spark
Evocation [Electricity, Language-Dependent]
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Touch
Target: One dead creature

This is unchanged from our base spell. Make note of the fact that even in three words, we are totally specific with what you can use this spell on: it's one target only, that target must be a creature (not an object), and that creature must be dead (not living, not undead, not a construct).

To verify if you've been specific enough, use your entry to answer the questions:
- "I ________ (can/can't) use this on a live human."
- "...a dead human."
- "...an undead human."
- "...a dragon."
- "...a golem."
- "...two or more creatures."
- "...a street light."
- "...a magic street light."
- "...that wench's bra."

If any of the above are "I don't know," you have not been specific enough. And yes, all of those questions are serious.

Agrena's Memory Spark
Evocation [Electricity, Language-Dependent]
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Touch
Target: One dead creature
Duration: 1 round/level

This is where we primarily decide using Evocation over Necromancy bites us. Given the basic concept of our spell, using electricity to revive dead tissue for a time, it makes the most sense that the duration of that effect would be very short--much shorter than the minute-per-level afforded by the more stable negative energy.

From a mechanical sense, it is a meaningful limitation, but without being heavy-handed. The spell is still useful to us, as we can ask all of our allotted questions in the time provided. But it is less useful than the Necromancy version, as the time provided is too short to let us debate with our partymates between questions and let the conversation unfold properly. Using this version, our questions will have to be planned in advance, and will need to be both clear and concise.

This is the sort of limitation you can use to adjust spell school, or even to adjust spell level in some cases: meaningful and logical, with clear purpose and reason, within the structure of basic spell variables.

One other note: We did not put a (D) at the end of the duration, so the spell cannot be ended early--once it's cast, it'll go for its entire length. We could have made it dispellable, but there's not much point for this spell, and it's a minor mitigating factor for/against the spell's rated school and level.

Agrena's Memory Spark
Evocation [Electricity, Language-Dependent]
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Touch
Target: One dead creature
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Will negates (see text)

This spell can produce a result undesired by the target, and does not require an attack roll, so it should require a save (especially given its relatively low level). Because that undesired result is the unwilling compulsion to perform an action (answering a question, in this case), it's a Will save.

Because it's not so cut-and-dried as to immediately negate the entire spell, however, it'll need some clarification in the description (as speak with dead does). Hence, "(see text)."

Lest it need said, make sure you do, in fact, address the saving throw in the text.

Agrena's Memory Spark
Evocation [Electricity, Language-Dependent]
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Touch
Target: One dead creature
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Will negates (see text)
Spell Resistance: No

Evocation almost always allows SR, as do most spells that directly target a creature (with the exception of totally harmless spells and those from the Conjuration (Creation) subschool, which are generating physical objects to attack with). This one doesn't for one simple reason: if you're dead, you don't have SR. (It allows a save because, by the time it's awake and asking questions, it's at least temporarily "not-dead.")

That takes care of all our variables. Now, on to spell description and mechanics!
You attach one end of each electrode to the temples of the dead creature, then twirl the others around your finger as you intone the spell. A bright arc of green lightning leaps through the wire and directly into the creature's brain, and its eyes flare with light as it gives a low, baleful moan, the speech and memory portions of its brain revitalized just long enough to answer your questions...

Probably more detailed than it needs to be, but this section is your chance to really get across what your spell is doing and how from a roleplaying (not mechanical) perspective. If your mechanical section is weak or confusing, a good description here will let DMs figure out what in the hell you're trying to do and suggest edits. (Note that it also references the material components I'll be listing later.)

Try to keep it to just a few lines, though. Rough rule of thumb: if it'd be too long to post in the chat, it's too long for this section.

You attach one end of each electrode to the temples of the dead creature, then twirl the others around your finger as you intone the spell. A bright arc of green lightning leaps through the wire and directly into the creature's brain, and its eyes flare with light as it gives a low, baleful moan, the speech and memory portions of its brain revitalized just long enough to answer your questions...

This spell functions as speak with dead (PHB), except as specified above, and creatures with natural immunity to electricity are immune to this spell.

Here, we can afford to be a little lazy. We've already re-balanced the spell for the alternate school selection, so we don't really need to change anything about how the spell works. Every meaningful limitation of the divine version (only usable on the same corpse 1/week, body must be intact, must have a mouth, etc.) can be easily applied to the arcane version as well, and non-matching alignment is as good a hard-coded line as any to determine when the creature gets a Will save.

The above is the standard verbiage for using a spell's mechanics exactly as written, but with changes to the spell characteristics specified in its first part. Typically, we would then only list those things we changed from speak with dead proper, but that makes for a crappy tutorial.

Because the spell is electricity-based, creatures with immunity can't be affected, which we call out here for the sake of completeness. Note the specification of "native" immunity--when you die, spells go away unless they also affect objects, and the helpfulness of immunity here relies on it being active even when you're dead.

Aside from adding the material component we specified in the spell characteristics above, we're basically done.

You attach one end of each electrode to the temples of the dead creature, then twirl the others around your finger as you intone the spell. A bright arc of green lightning leaps through the wire and directly into the creature's brain, and its eyes flare with light as it gives a low, baleful moan, the speech and memory portions of its brain revitalized just long enough to answer your questions...

This spell functions as speak with dead (PHB), except as specified above, and creatures with natural immunity to electricity are immune to this spell.

Material Component: Two electrodes, attached to the target creature's temples (or closest facsimile thereof, if the creature is non-humanoid), with trailing lengths of copper wire.

No cost is specified, so as long as the caster has a spell component pouch, he's assumed to have these in it.

Agrena's Memory Spark
Evocation [Electricity, Language-Dependent]
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Touch
Target: One dead creature
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Will negates (see text)
Spell Resistance: No

You attach one end of each electrode to the temples of the dead creature, then twirl the others around your finger as you intone the spell. A bright arc of green lightning leaps through the wire and directly into the creature's brain, and its eyes flare with light as it gives a low, baleful moan, the speech and memory portions of its brain revitalized just long enough to answer your questions...

This spell functions as speak with dead (PHB), except as specified above, and creatures with natural immunity to electricity are immune to this spell.

Material Component: Two electrodes, attached to the target creature's temples (or closest facsimile thereof, if the creature is non-humanoid), with trailing lengths of copper wire.

Looking at the above, there appears to be nothing we've left out, and this spell is ready to send off to a DM for approval and research!

For someone as familiar with Agrena's thought process as Altair, carrying forward the research was a trivial task in some respects, but highly difficult in others: they had a tendency to make the same mistakes and gloss over the same aspects of magical law, but they likewise tended to have the same insights, and shared the same tenacity in their work.

The hardest part, at least from a practical standpoint, was in finding subject bodies for testing. Few people were willing to let their loved ones be exhumed for this sort of experiment, and fewer still were willing to subject themselves to the test (for obvious reasons). A connection with knowledge of some brigands on the road to Baldur's Gate was sufficient for the task, though, and a couple teleports and some old-fashioned stabbery later, the Steelmage had some "volunteers."

Who knows, he thinks, this might even come in useful in assisting Jiriki in her investigations. Kill now, ask questions later...sounds like Agrena's kind of thing.
"Nothing will ever change. That cycle of mediocrity isn't due to some obstacle. It's who you are. The thing standing in the way of your dreams is that the person having them is you."
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DD Spell Compendium: Player-Designed Spells

Postby Ian » Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:40 pm

The following spells are those that have been researched by PCs in our game, printed here for reference purposes.

Except where noted, they are not commonly available except to those players that have researched them. Other PCs may learn the spells by approaching those PCs (if they have reason to know or believe the spells exist and who has them) or to research the spells independently (at full research cost).

Spell Index
  • Animus of blood - Sor/Wiz 6; Trans [Earth, Water]
  • Arcane turmoil, greater - Hex 4, Sor/Wiz 5, Spt 4; Abj
  • Chronometer - Sor/Wiz 0; Div
  • Dream oil - Sor/Wiz 2; Trans [Mind-Affecting]
  • Forceplate - Sor/Wiz 3; Abj [Force]
  • Giant size - Sor/Wiz 6, Trans
  • Heart of Arcturus - Sor/Wiz 9, Evo [Acid, Cold]
  • Kelemvor's judgment - Clr 7; Evo [Light, Death]
  • Lifedrain - Sor/Wiz 6, Necro
  • Master's strike - Sor/Wiz 3, Trans
  • Shar's displeasure - Sor/Wiz 3, Necro [Evil]
  • Sheltered vitality, mass - Clr 8, Abj
  • Slay illusion - Sor/Wiz 4, Illus [Shadow]
  • Speaking tome - Sor/Wiz 0, Illus [Glamer]
  • Steel whirlwind - Clr 4, Pal 4; Trans
  • Steelmage's ignition - Clr 0, Drd 0, Sor/Wiz 0; Conj [Fire]
  • Unweave - Brd 4, Sor/Wiz 5; Abj

Full Spell Descriptions
Animus of Blood
Transmutation [Earth, Water]
Components: V, S, M

Laying open your thumb, you smear the blood across your fingers, then wave to your target in a beckoning motion. Blood calls to blood, and your target begins weeping blood from every orifice--eyes, ears, mouth, and pores--in a ghastly and terrifying display of brutality.

As extract water elemental (Spell Compendium p.86), except as above. If the damage dealt to the target is insufficient to kill it, the conjured blood splatters to the ground harmlessly around the target. If the target is slain by the spell, the conjured blood coalesces into a writhing, amorphous form of a size equal to the slain creature (up to Huge): a blood elemental. This spell affects creatures of the fire subtype normally.

Material Component: A small quantity of the caster's blood drawn when the spell is first cast, which deals 1 hit point of damage to the caster (unaffected by damage reduction). Dealing this damage to yourself is part of the spell's somatic components, and thus takes no action.

Note: A blood elemental resembles a water elemental except that its fluid body is composed entirely of red, viscous blood. It oozes and undulates as it moves, leaving streaks of red on any surface it traverses. It has the same statistics as a water elemental, except as follows:
- Bloodbath (Ex): With a successful grapple check, a blood elemental may engulf a creature of up to its own size. An engulfed creature is subject to drowning. The elemental may eject the engulfed creature at any time. A victim that is still alive when it emerges from the blood elemental's body (whether by escaping the monster's hold or by being ejected) takes 1d6 points of Wisdom damage because of the strain on its sanity that the sensation of drowning in blood produced. Furthermore, the victim must make a successful Fortitude save on emerging or be nauseated for 2d6 rounds. A blood elemental gains a +5 racial bonus to grapple checks. This replaces a water elemental's vortex ability.
- Blood Mastery (Ex): A blood elemental gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls against living corporeal creatures. If its opponent is non-living or incorporeal, the elemental takes a -4 penalty to attack and damage rolls. This replaces a water elemental's water mastery ability.

Note #2: If a blood magus (CArc) is capable of learning extract water elemental, she may instead learn this spell without the normal research requirements.

Arcane Turmoil, Greater
Abjuration
Level: Hexblade 4, sorcerer/wizard 5, spellthief 4

This spell functions like arcane turmoil (Complete Mage p. 96), except that the subject of the spell is affected as if by a targeted greater dispel magic.

Chronometer
Divination
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 0
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 24 hours (D)

As you complete the spell's invocation, you begin to hear a faint, regular ticking in the back of your mind. At the top of every hour, you hear a number of soft chimes.

While this spell is in effect, you can accurately measure the passage of time. You know the current time to the minute, regardless of your surroundings or any time-altering effects currently affecting you (such as haste or slow). This spell is only effective on the Material Plane or a plane in which the passage of time is the same as the Material Plane.

Dream Oil
Transmutation [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 2
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 full round
Range: Touch
Target: One willing living creature with Intelligence 3 or higher
Duration: Up to 8 hours (see text)
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

The spell's target summons a memory and upon the casting, falls into a sleep during which they experience a vivid, accurate dream, allowing them to re-live their selected experience as though it was happening again. The memory is subject to the target's perspective, recalled as they experienced it, and the sleep lasts as long as the original experience.

As they sleep, the target exhales a fine oily mist, which can be gathered in a sleeping mask and stored for later use. When the substance is consumed, it will re-play the memory once as a dream for the person who consumes it, allowing them to live the experience of another person for the memory's duration.

Waking someone from the dream is no more difficult than waking them from natural sleep, and if the target chooses to resist after the dream begins, they may wake up normally at any time. Should the spell be cast on a target who is alert and unwilling, it has no effect beyond mild drowsiness. Cast on a target who is asleep or unconscious, they will experience unusually vivid dreams which can be collected in the same manner as the memories, but will be otherwise unharmed.

Material Component: The sleeping mask used to gather the dream oil (not technically necessary to the casting of the spell, but required to preserve the dream oil for later use).

Forceplate
Abjuration [Force]
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 3
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: One creature touched
Duration: 1 hour/level
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes

You concentrate on the armor shard as you complete the spell, and create a warding of pure force in its likeness.

A segment of visible, transparent force surrounds the subject of a forceplate spell as if they were wearing armor, providing a +5 armor bonus to AC.

Unlike mundane armor, forceplate entails no armor check penalty, arcane spell failure chance, or speed reduction. Since forceplate is made of force, incorporeal creatures can’t bypass it the way they do normal armor.

Focus: A shard of metal from a breastplate.

Giant Size
Transmutation
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 6
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 round/2 levels (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes

The smell of copper hangs thick as you rub a bloody arcane sigil on the target's forehead. As you complete the incantation, the sigil flares red with eldritch power, and the target suddenly expands to titanic size!

When you cast this spell, the target grows to Huge, Gargantuan, or Colossal size, depending on your caster level. Its Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, natural armor, size modifier to Armor Class and attack rolls, and space and reach all change as shown on the accompanying table. (You need not have the target assume the largest size you are capable of; you can choose to grow it only to a smaller size if you wish.)

Table: Giant Size
Code: Select all
Min                                                 AC/A  Space and
CL   | Size (Height)      | Str | Dex | Con | NAC | Mod | Reach
11th | Huge (20 ft)       | +16 |  -2 |  +4 |  +3 |  -2 | 15 ft
15th | Gargantuan (40 ft) | +24 |  -2 |  +8 |  +7 |  -4 | 20 ft
19th | Colossal (72 ft)   | +32 |  -2 | +12 | +12 |  -8 | 30 ft

All the target's equipment changes size with it, allowing it to use weapons or magic items effectively in its new form.

Material Component: A vial of blood from a dragon (Large or larger) or giant. (The market price for such an item is approximately 50 gp, though proper adventurers are likely to prefer the "free" method of obtaining the necessary sample.)

Heart of Arcturus
Evocation [Acid, Cold]
Level: Sor/Wiz 9
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area: 20-ft. radius spread
Duration: 2 rounds and 1 round/level (see text)
Saving Throw: Fortitude partial
Spell Resistance: Yes

You conjure forth energy from a planar conjunction on the edges of the realms of Auril, Umberlee, Istishia and Akadi, the mysterious storm-torn wasteland known as Arcturus. Streaming from the vortex you conjure, this swirling cloud of noxious, frigid purple-green vapors scalds those in its wake, freezing them solid even as they are reduced to acid-seared slush!

Creatures and objects in the area take 1d8 points of damage per caster level (maximum 25d8) in the round when you cast the spell. Those in the area at the start of your turn the following round likewise take this damage. Half of this damage is acid damage, the other half is cold damage. Creatures in the area are also slowed for 1 round per caster level. Creatures making a successful Fortitude save are instead sickened for 1 round.

Any creature reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by this spell freezes, then shatters into acid-crusted slush, which functions as if the creature had been disintegrated.

Once the initial duration expires, the area is affected as caustic mire (CMag 98) for 1 round per caster level.

Material Component: One vial each of acid and alchemist's frost.

Kelemvor's Judgement
Evocation [Light, Death]
Level: Cleric 7
Components: V, DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Effect: One creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: See text
Spell Resistance: Yes

Roll 1d8. Target of the spell is effected by the effect rolled on the table below:
1 - 20 points divine damage (Reflex half)
2 - 40 points light damage (Reflex half; damage is doubled vs. undead)
3 - 80 points fire damage (Reflex half)
4 - Halt Undead or dazed 1d4 rounds (Will negates)
5 - As bestow curse (Will negates; 50% chance to lose actions)
6 - As shadow well (SCmp) (Will negates)
7 - Sent to Kelemvor's Judgment Hall (Will negates; death, but affects all creatures)
8 - Roll twice, ignore further results of 8

Lifedrain
Necromancy
Level: Sor/Wiz 6
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One living creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will half
Spell Resistance: Yes

As you complete the spell, you make a snatching motion in the direction of your target. Long, sinuous threads of red-grey energy, your target's life force, tear free and stream towards the target of your choice, infusing it with supernatural vitality.

The target takes 1d6 points of damage per caster level (maximum 15d6), and the life energy is transferred towards you or one ally of your choice within this spell's range. You or the designated ally gain temporary hit points equal to the damage dealt. However, you can't gain more than the subject's current hit points +10, which is enough to kill the subject. The temporary hit points disappear 1 hour later.

If you designate an ally as the recipient of the life-energy, they may choose to reject the transfer with a successful Will save, dissipating the life energy harmlessly. The original target still takes the listed damage, but no temporary hit points are bestowed.

Master's Strike
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 3
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None or Reflex partial (see text)
Spell Resistance: No

You focus your mental energy on achieving one quick, all-powerful strike, magic flooding through your bones and muscles as your reckless blow flies with the power of a falling meteor.

You make a single melee attack, with a competence bonus equal to your relevant casting ability modifier. On a successful strike, your attack deals its normal damage plus 1d6 bludgeoning damage per caster level (maximum 10d6).

If master's touch is not cast defensively, it deals an additional 50% damage, and the target must make a Reflex save or be knocked back 1d4 x 5 feet.

Shar’s Displeasure
Necromancy [Evil]
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 3
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft + 10 ft/level)
Target: One humanoid
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

Reaching out a hand twisted by tension into a grasping claw, you squeeze either your opponent’s heart or throat from afar, stealing their life force, and anticipating the moment of their death.

Magical force grips the subject’s heart or throat and begins crushing it. The victim is paralyzed and takes 1d12 points of damage per round. A conscious victim can attempt a new Fortitude saving throw each round to end the spell. The caster gains one half of the damage done to the victim (rounded down) each round the spell remains in effect. Hit point gain cannot exceed the victim's current hit points +10, which is enough to kill the victim. Hit points gained are temporary hit points that disappear after 1 hour. If the victim dies, either their neck snaps audibly, or their smoking heart appears in the caster’s hand.

Sheltered Vitality, Mass
Abjuration
Level: Cleric 8
Range: Close (25 ft + 5 ft/2 levels)
Target: 1 living creature/level, no two of which are more than 30 ft apart

Holding your holy symbol high in the air, you utter a low chant and a warm glow emanates from the symbol passing into each of the subjects.

As sheltered vitality (Spell Compendium), except as above.

Clarification: Neither this spell, nor its single-target variant, allows a target to ignore any effects already in place. Ability damage or drain already taken remains, and the target continues to suffer the negative effects of fatigue, exhaustion, or negative levels if they were already suffering from these when the spell was cast.

Slay Illusion
Illusion (Shadow)
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 4
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Effect: One illusory creature
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: Will disbelief (if interacted with)
Spell Resistance: No

As you complete the invocation, a terrifying beast out of the darknest corner of your nightmares materializes for all to see. It sprints forward with single-minded purpose, tearing with brutal abandon at the figment that was just moments ago menacing your weaker-minded teammates.

You create a horrifying figment of a creature of Large size that you choose or design: an illusion slayer. The slayer has both visual and audible components, and its appearance is limited only by your imagination. The slayer moves immediately to the nearest illusion within range, and destroys that illusion in a visual display of illusory obliteration. The remnants of the destroyed illusion fade. The next round, the slayer moves to the nearest illusion within range and does the same thing, continuing this pattern until the spell ends. If there are no other illusions in range, the slayer returns to your location and awaits the appearance of another.

The slayer may only detect or affect illusions of this spell's level or lower. If an illusion is not at least partially real, the slayer can detect it without possibility of error, and destroy it without a check. Illusions of the shadow sub-school, being quasi-real, are more resistant to an illusion slayer: a slayer only has a chance to detect these illusions, equal to the percentage of the illusion that is not real (50% for spells that do not specify a specific percentage). This check is rolled only once, when the shadow first enters the illusion slayer's range.

This illusion can charge and double move, but not run, and its movement requires no action on your part. It acts on your initiative count each round, has reach of 10 feet, and moves with a fly speed of 40 feet with perfect maneuverability. If it moves beyond the spell's range from your current location, the slayer disappears and the spell ends. The slayer cannot be killed, but may be dispelled normally, or destroyed by another slay illusion spell cast at equal or greater level.

Speaking Tome
Illusion (Glamer)
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 0
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: Object or objects with writing
Duration: 1 hour/level (D)
Saving Throw: Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: Yes (object)

This spell causes the affected object to read aloud its contents at the rate of up to 250 words (approximately one page of text) per minute, though you may dictate a slower rate if desired. If you wish, you may also designate a specific page or portion of text on which the spell is to begin. At any time during the spells duration you can redirect the magic to begin reciting from another target, or to pause or resume an ongoing recitation.

This spell reads the text exactly as written and does not necessarily help you to understand it (so, for example, a text written in Dwarven will only make sense to someone who normally understands Dwarven). The spell reads only nonmagical text, and makes no attempt to describe illustrations or magical drawings (such as the text of a spellbook, a spell scroll, or a sepia snake sigil). If the target contains normal and magical writing (such as a letter with explosive runes), only the normal text is read, skipping over the magical writing in its entirety. If the targeted object does not contain non-magical text (if it has only pictures or diagrams, for example), this spell fails.

The spell triggers (but does not recite or describe) writing-based magical traps in the text being read.

Steel Whirlwind
Transmutation [see text]
Level: Cleric 4, paladin 4
Components: V, DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Weapon held
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

Holding out your hand and concentrating, the weapon you hold comes to life and begins to act at your direction.

When you cast this spell, you cause one of the weapons in your hands to hover and attack on its own.

The targeted weapon attacks on your turn, with an attack bonus equal to your base attack bonus plus your Wisdom modifier, and deals its base damage. It defeats damage reduction as a magic weapon; if you are good, evil, lawful, or chaotic, the weapon likewise defeats damage reduction as if it shared your alignment, and this spell takes on the appropriate descriptors. The weapon takes a -4 penalty on its attack rolls if you don't have proficiency with a weapon of its kind.

The weapon hovers in your square and moves with you, and so can take the full attack action if you do not move that round.

Controlling the weapon requires no concentration, and you can fight with another weapon at the same time. The weapon can be attacked with sunder or disarm attempts as if you were wielding it, and it uses the above attack bonus to resolve such situations. The weapon drops to the ground if you are reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, and this spell ends if the weapon is disarmed or sundered.

Steelmage's Ignition
Conjuration [Fire]
Level: Cleric 0, Druid 0, Sorcerer/wizard 0
Components: S
Casting Time: 1 swift action
Range: Touch
Target: One creature or object
Duration: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

You rub your thumb and index finger together in a back-and-forth motion, your fingertips quickly growing warm to the touch and glowing faintly red.

While this spell is in effect, you may snap your fingers to produce a brief spark sufficient to light a torch or ignite a flammable material. Creating a spark in this manner is a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

If used against a creature or attended object, a successful melee touch attack is required. The spark itself is far too small to deal any actual damage, but creatures covered in or holding combustible material may take damage when that material is ignited.

Unweave
Abjuration
Level: Bard 4, sorcerer/wizard 5
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level) and 30 ft. (see text)
Target: One spell or creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None and Reflex half (see text)
Spell Resistance: No and Yes (see text)

As you intone the final words of the spell, you pull apart the tattered bit of cloth in your hands and scatter its threads to the winds.

You can use unweave to end a single ongoing spell or spell-like effect, regardless of whether it has been cast on an object, creature or area.

You make a dispel check (1d20 + your caster level, maximum +20) against the highest-level spell currently in effect on the object, creature or area. (If there are multiple spells of the same level and the caster does not specify, roll to determine which is affected). The DC for this dispel check is 11 + the spell's caster level. If you succeed on the dispel check, that spell is unwoven; if it fails, you make dispel checks against progressively weaker spells until you dispel one spell or until you fail all your checks. A creature's magic items are not affected. If the caster has 5 or more ranks in Craft (artistry), she gains a +2 synergy bonus on the dispel check.

A successfully unwoven spell yields spell energy that the caster can redirect as a free action. Choose a creature or object within 30 feet of the original target. You can either provide 5 temporary hit points per level of the spell, or deal 1d6 of damage per level of the spell (Reflex half). Both effects are subject to spell resistance. The temporary hit points disappear 1 hour later.

If you target an object or creature that is the effect of an ongoing spell (such as a creature summoned by a summon monster spell), you make a dispel check to unweave the spell that conjured the object or creature.

You automatically succeed on dispel checks against any spell that you cast yourself.

Material Component: A small piece of loose unfinished weaving or knitting at least 1" in diameter.
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