Heated debate! Broken/Powerful spells [3.5]

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Okay, so I'm going to break from my normal routine here, and ask some opinions about 'broken' spells in 3.5 edition.


Now, as some of you may already know, I don't typically address 'broken' rules in my games until those rules somehow affect my games. If something is broken, but we're still having fun anyways, then I'm not one to mess with it. However, I do want to have a better idea of what to keep an eye out for ahead of time. I'd also like to gather ideas about how to handle different situations before they come up, so I'm not trying to make a ruling on the fly in the middle of combat.


Some 'rules' about this thread, (at least as far as what I'm looking for and what sources I have available to me).


* 3.5 edition. I have the update manuals, so if a broken spell in 3.0 has been fixed by being updated to 3.5 it's not one of my concerns, (such as the 3.0 Heal, Harm or Haste spells). Not every 3.0 rule was updated, so if it's not in the update manuals or reprinted in a later book, then I do use the 3.0 version. I also have all the errata.


* I have PHB2, and intend to use the updated Polymorph rules. If there's an issue with the Polymorph spells that this update fixes, it's not one of my concerns. If there's an issue that this update creates I'd like to hear about it. If you've got a solid argument against the updated Polymorph rules, I'd like to hear it. I have all the Monster Manual books, so the changes made to Alternate Form and related abilities are also in effect.


* Assume I have access to all books, although I don't tend to use material found in campaign setting expansions. I do use the 'core' campaign setting books for Forgotten Realms, Eberron and and Dragonlance, as well as Magic of Faerun and the 3.5 update Players Guide to Faerun.


* Book of Vile Darkness/Exalted Deeds. I do consider strict alignment RP as a prerequisite for all material in those books. I understand that if handed out freely, much of the material in those books is overpowered. In my games, "you'd better have a darn good reason for casting this spell" is a component as much as the verbal, somatic and material components are.


* Pathfinder. I have the SRD bookmarked, but that's it. Spells that can be directly dropped into 3.5 without adapting other rules are great. Spells that reference or require other changes made to the system, (such as Black Tentacles), may be more trouble than they're worth to me.


*House Rules. Currently, I don't have any house rules that directly affect or reference spells or spell casting.


I know I'm calling this thread a 'heated debate' because this isn't my first day on the internet. I full well expect people to disagree about 'broken'. I want to hear both sides of this issue, and I honestly hope that we can keep it civil and prevent from needing the ORCs to intervene.

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Broken: Shapechange, Gate, Astral Projection.


Powerful: Mage's Disjunction, Polymorph.


Broken: Shapechange, Gate, Astral Projection.


Powerful: Mage's Disjunction, Polymorph.




Why do you say that Shapechange is broken, just out of interest.

Hmm. shapechange into a noble djinn, and have one of your friends "capture" you.  Free wishes.

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Broken: Shapechange, Gate, Astral Projection.


Powerful: Mage's Disjunction, Polymorph.




Okay. What about those spells 'breaks' them? How are they abusable? What kinds of 'fixes' would you suggest?

More specifically about Shapechange and Polymorph, do you think the updated rules do anything to address the problems with those spells?.

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I think the updated rules are for the new spells. The subschool of polymorphing doesn't contradict or change the previous spells as Polymorph or Shapechange.


Gate: I houserule a Will Save for calling.


Mage's Disjunction: I houserule it doesn't affect attended items.


Astral projection: I houserule you lost XP if your astral projection dies.

I posted this on the Globe of Invulnerability thread.  Sorry to repeat it here, but I think it's relevant:


The orb spells, in my opinion, are broken.  Here's why:


1. Lightning bolt and other energy damage spells with area do not require a ranged touch, but they do allow a reflex save for half-damage, and SR does thwart such magic.


2. Rays (like ray of enfeeblement, polar ray, and disintegrate) don't allow a reflex save (yes, I know about disintegrate's fort save, which is different) for half damage, though the ranged touch is required, and SR does apply.


*Seems like an even trade-off.  If the spell is ranged touch, no reflex save is allowed.  If the spell is an area, there's no ranged touch, but the reflex save is allowed.  It's either a ranged touch or a saving throw, and in both cases, SR protects against the magic.  Seems balanced to me.


3. Then the orb spells come along (they came along after the PHB creation subschool information was laid out, conveniently).  Ranged touch (rarely a miss depending on the target), no save, no SR.  To me, that's imbalanced.  Force orb is the worst, as it allows no save, no SR, no energy resistance, and it can strike ethereal targets.  Force orb is, most of the time, automatic damage.  Golems and creatures with SR can be taken apart easily with the orb spells.  Since the orb spells, SR is almost obsolete.


I also don't understand the logic behind the orb spells.  Once the spell is cast, apparently the orb remains in orb shape without the aid of magic, which makes no sense to me.  Saying, "It's conjuration/creation magic" doesn't do it for me. 


From the PHB, page 173, Creation magic subschool:


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.


This might be the RAW, but this language was not written with the orb spells in mind (as they came much later).  It's almost as if the orb spells take advantage of the above quote.  Wall of iron and wall of stone are conjuration (creation) spells with instantaneous duration, but in both cases, it's clear how the walls are held together.  Stone and iron don't just break apart and/or dissipate as easily as fire, acid, cold, and electricity.  Nothing but magic could keep these four elements in orb form, as fire would immediately burn out, acid would drop into a puddle on the ground, electricity would spark and burn out immediately, etc.  In the case of force, how is force anything but magic?  Orb of force should most-certainly allow SR, or other force spells like magic missile and Mord's sword would also not allow SR.  The orb spells are shady.


And how are the orbs propelled through the air?  By the strength of the caster's throwing arm?  I don't think so.


Something must be holding that orb in the shape of an orb, or the element would not remain in orb shape.  Something is also propelling that orb through the air.  That something should be magic, and that's why, IMHO, the orb spells should be thwarted by SR.  If magic isn't holding the element together, I don't see how the element can remain in orb form long enough to be hurled at anything.  I'm seriously considering house-ruling that the orb spells are thwarted by SR.

Gate has the potential for abuse, since it's a Calling effect versus a Summoning. I have a vague memory of an abuse involving Solars or something equally powerful...


Ditto for Shapechange. Become a Balor, drop the Vorpal Sword you gain as a (Su) ability, change into another form, change back to a Balor, spawn a new sword, drop it...


 


The Orb spells are mechanically broken because they allow no saving throw and no SR; I suspect the argument for balance is that they require a ranged touch attack, and that they are single-target spells. But massive damage and no SR is just too good. Most DMs house-rule the spells are Evocation, and SR: Yes. (how do you "summon" Force?)


Lahm's Finger Darts (BoVD) is broken. Well, all Corruption costs are a little broken because they're ability damage, which means a Lesser Restoration takes the pain away. Finger Darts is a Dragon-killer of a spell though; at 13th level, dealing 5d4 Dexterity damage at a cost of 5 Strength Damage is sick, but what's really sick is that because it's a 2nd level spell, its fairly cheap to Empower and/or Maximize it. (Corruption spells, and the BoED equivalents work better if the ability score damage is replaced with Ability Burn)


Shivering Touch (Frostburn) is broken unless you're playing in a Frostfel Campaign. 3d6 Dexterity damage with no save on a touch spell at 3rd level is bad, and worse with Empower/Maximize. The 'balancing' element of the spell is that it has no effect on creatures with the [ cold ] subtype. If you're playing in a Frostfel campaign, that's a lot more common than if you're playing in a "standard" D&D campaign, so there's balance.


The house rule to fix both Finger Darts and Shivering Touch is to simply say that all spells 3rd level or lower cause a Penalty to Ability Scores, rather than Ability Score Damage. (which means they cannot lower a score below 1) This puts them in line with Ray of Enfeeblement. It also fixes Ray of Stupidity. It does nerf Ego Whip a bit, so you might consider excluding Psionic Powers from that clause.


Disjunction is a terrible legacy spell, and needs to be taken out behind the barn and shot in the head. My house rule is to replace it with this:


Unravelling (Abjuration), Magic 9 & Wizard/Sorcerer 9

All spells and spell-like effects in the area are immediately dispelled (as per Dispel Magic) if the caster level of those effects is equal to or lower than the caster's level. All magic items in the area with a caster level equal to or lower than the caster's level have their abilities temporarily suppressed for 1d3 rounds, as per dispel magic. (roll once for all item, do not roll individually)  


For spells, SLAs, and magic items with a caster level above that of the Unravelling's caster level, roll a Dispel Check, as per dispel magic, with a limit of +30 to the roll. This also applies to any effect with a caster level of 20 or higher, and for all artifacts.


Unravelling interacts with specific spells in the same way that Disjunction does, unless otherwise noted. (i.e. antimagic field)



Disjunction is bad for several reasons:


*It causes so much panic because it permanently destroys magic items. So this spell does the next best thing: takes most magic items out of the fight for 1d3 rounds. 


*It slows the game to a crawl with multiple dice rolls. Unravelling cuts the number of rolls down to only effects with a higher caster level. 


If Unravelling still feels too powerful, the most amusing fix is to reduce the range to a fixed distance of 40 ft., so the caster is always in the area of effect. < snicker > It will still be used, but with more caution. 


 


Astral Projection gets two minor fixes: first, if your Astral Projection ever enters the plane your physical body is on, the spell ends. Second, only nonmagical equipment is copied; astral projecting characters should make arrangements if they want their equipment brought to their Astral Forms. Alternatively, you can simply say that magic items aren't "copied" as much as they are "mirrored", so that changes to copies affect the original. (charges used, or damage dealt)


 

Re: Orbs


I'm sorry, but I just don't see what the big deal is. A 7th lvl caster will be able to do just under 25 pts of dam., assuming a hit, to a single target, at the cost of a 4th lvl spell. And s/he will only get 3 per day. A 7th lvl non-optimized, two-weapon, rogue will easily do that much every rd., assuming decent flanking skills. Even a maximized Orb will only do 90 pts for a (minimum) 15th lvl caster. Ninety pts at fifteenth lvl really isn't that impressive, not against a single target, and once again, assuming a hit.


As for Orb of Force, don't forget that it's capped at 10 dice. That's a maximum of 60 pts for a 7th lvl spell slot, against a single target. Once again, not impressive. Definitely not broken.

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Re: Orbs


I'm sorry, but I just don't see what the big deal is.



Ranged touch, no saving throw, and no SR.


A 7th lvl caster will be able to do just under 25 pts of dam., assuming a hit, to a single target, at the cost of a 4th lvl spell. And s/he will only get 3 per day. A 7th lvl non-optimized, two-weapon, rogue will easily do that much every rd., assuming decent flanking skills. Even a maximized Orb will only do 90 pts for a (minimum) 15th lvl caster. Ninety pts at fifteenth lvl really isn't that impressive, not against a single target, and once again, assuming a hit.


Wow. Talk about comparing apples & oranges. 


A 7th level rogue, fighting with two weapons and eligible to sneak attack (flanking/flatfooted foe, no Undead/Constructs/Elementals/Concealment) could deal a lot of damage. (against an opponent with a relatively low AC and no Damage Reduction)


A 7th level Wizard with a Sonic Orb will deal their full damage, regardless of the opponent's Type or whether their opponent is (or even can be) flanked, and doesn't have to spend any feats to do so or have special equipment, and deals their damage regardless of the opponent's defenses. The difference between a given monster's Touch AC and their regular AC is much, much larger than the difference between a Wizard's average ranged attack bonus and a Rogue's melee attack bonus. Since the gap between Touch AC & regular AC is bigger than the gap between the Wizard's bonus to hit with Ranged Touch and the Rogue's attack bonus, that means that the rogue will hit less often as levels increase when compared to the wizard using Ranged Touch Attacks.


At 15th level, it's even worse. A 15th level Rogue is going to have to spend more feats, and devote gold to having weapons to overcome DR, and he's still gimped against entire Types of monsters like Constructs and Undead. Meanwhile, our 15th level Wizard gets to ignore the most common defense against spellcasting (SR: No!), and only has to worry about energy resistances. If the wizard wants to invest feats, (Metamagic) or equipment, (metamagic rods) his damage scales up consistently, regardless of whether he's fighting an Ancient Dragon (low touch AC, but high SR! Whoops, SR: no!) or a Lich (potentially high touch AC from spells, but low hit points for being undead, and saving throw: no!) or an NPC rogue or monk (Evasion? Nope) or an Iron Golem (SR: No!) 


The Orb spells are broken because there's nothing at 4th level that's as useful in every possible situation. The Orbs are broken because the only defense is to have a high Touch AC, which is both rare among monsters and difficult for custom encounters due to a lack of means to improve touch AC. 


Let me say that again: No saving throw, no Spell resistance, only an attack roll against the lowest AC type in the game with the least methods of improvement. Find any other spell that lets a caster deal that much damage while ignoring that many defenses. 

And I'll say it again, none of those are any big deal.  You keep saying that Orb spells do "massive" damage when it just isn't so. They do decent damage, require an attack roll, and only affect a single target. Hardly a game breaker. The Orb spells give a wizard/sorceror a chance to be moderately effective when facing creatures with a high SR, but only moderately. And only if s/he uses a precious spell lot to prepare one. Without something to cast that penetrates SR, spellcasting players get very frustrated, which is, I suspect, why the spells are there.


Orb spells, without optimization, simply don't do enough damage to worry about. And if your players are optimized, then the baddies should be as well, further limiting the effectiveness of Orbs.


Bear in mind as well that all reserve feats are Su and therefore not subject to SR. Acidic Splatter with an Orb of Acid as its reserve would deal 4d6 forever and ever, with a ranged touch attack and no SR.


And "every possible situation"? Please. Hyperbole much? Orb spells are useful, nothing more.

MrJake "This forum is madness!" "No! This. Is. WIZSPACE!!!"

Regarding the orb spells, I guess you could imagine the element being encased in a thin layer of magically-created membrane that splits upon hitting the target.  I do believe that the wizard is creating the orb and propelling the orb, perhaps through magically created velocity.


Thus, the fire is magically-created fire and not magical fire; the acid is magically-created acid and not magical acid; etc.  You could toss a vial of acid to do damage to SR creatures, why not an orb of acid?

The orb spells aren't game-breaking like blinding glory (Exalted Deeds).  It's just that they're prone to abuse, and the logic behind them doesn't make sense to me (though some folks have some good explanations).  Wait until you have to deal with an epic arcane trickster who likes using orbs to deal automatic sneak damage.  


My previous campaign ended in epic levels, and Remmy, the male gnome sorcerer 7/rogue 3/arcane trickster 18 used arcane preparation, quicken spell, multi-spell twice, and impromptu sneak attack to deal obscene amounts of damage with orbs of force.  He wasted my advanced gelugon boss in one standard action: move out of hiding --> multispell orb of force (10d6) + impromptu sneak (11d8 vs. evil with the sacred strike feat from Exalted Deeds) + multispell orb of force (10d6) + quickened orb of force (10d6) + regular orb of force (10d6).  I'm certain he empowered one of these orbs.  At the time, I was in awe, knowing full well that these are epic PCs, and they should be icing advanced gelugons.  I did, however, rankle at the denial on SR.  It's force, and force doesn't exist in the natural world.  I can stomach the elemental orb spells denying SR, but not orb of force.


Remmy would also begin battles with a disjunction, then multispell/quicken the orbs of force for the impromptu sneak.  He was really the ultimate wizard assassin, and still serves that role as an NPC in the current campaign.

I usually play a warmage/rainbow servant, and don't recall using an orb even once.  I had better spells to play with.  I like the idea of being able to penetrate a golem's defenses as a magic user, since those have been the bane of my existance as a caster, but I just don't use them.  Shivering Touch is my spell of choice against large creatures. It bypasses hit points.  If not that, then ray of stupidity would also work, provided I can figure out a way to cast it.  I prefer to use ability damage whereever possible.  Smacking things with damage is just so mundane. That's what the monk is for.

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Pathfinder altered spells that shouldn't have been altered.


1) Heroes' Feast.  In Pathfinder, it no longer provides immunity to poison and fear but gives +4 to saves for them.  I don't find immunity to poison and fear a big deal at 11th level.  Yes, it is very nice, but the characters are 11th level!  That's not small fry stuff.  They have other things to worry about than fear and poison. It is not a crime for PCs to be immune to something.


2) Death Ward.  It no longer provides immunity to death spells but gives +4 to saves for them.  Again, this change was not necessary.  It comes in at 7th level.  If that's too early for some people (not for me) make it a 5th level spell.  I will grant that Pathfinder changed most save or die spells to flat damage (10 hit points per caster level, for example, and I'm ok with that change), but "It is not a crime for PCs to be immune to something.".


 

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Re: spells granting immunity, SKR thinks Immunities in general are bad for D&D, especially higher level play. I'm inclined to agree; immunities mean the DM has less tools in their toolbox.  A Colossal Monstrous Spider is allegedly CR 11, but if everyone in the party is immune to poison...  


 


Groveborn: I think it's kind of funny that your favored spells are ones I consider broken. (Ray of Stupidity and Shivering Touch) Would you still use those spells if they inflicted penalties (score cannot drop below 1) instead of dealing ability score damage? I recognize why you like them; it's the same reason why Enervation is nice against classed NPCs and why Wounding weapons are so very deadly in 3.5; except that, of course, those things are all higher level...


 I like the idea of being able to penetrate a golem's defenses as a magic user, since those have been the bane of my existance as a caster,


Well, yes, see... Golems are meant to be the bane of a caster's existence. They're built that way on purpose, the way that Undead vex sneak-attacking rogues, or that creatures with DR are problematic for Monks and dual-wielding Rangers.


On topic: Fleshshiver is really powerful, automatically stunning creatures with fewer HD than the caster, and deal damage one round later. I don't know if it's quite broken (the HD element balances it somewhat) but it's really strong.


 


edit: added golem remarks.

Dok: Nope, I would not use those spells if they provided penalties only.  Maybe ray of stupidity, but not shivering touch. It would be worthless at that point.  I'd tollerate it if it were only 1d6 damage, or a flat 5 or something, so that way I'd have to cast it multiple times, but not if it's a penalty.  It's fine to weaken a broken spell, but to make it completely harmless is also kind of pointless.  Do keep in mind that it's not that useful when dealing with multiple foes, as there is a time limit on that damage.  Perhaps if the time limit was also reduced, that would be less broken...  But still, lots of things immune to cold and abiliity damage.  Can't use it on a lot of things.  Mostly for the really big things that have too many hit points and too high saves to use magic against.  It's pretty worthless against humanoids, since they usually have too high a dex to waste it on.

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I appreciate your response. 



It would be worthless at that point.  I'd tollerate it if it were only 1d6 damage,



Well, the 1st level version (Lesser Shivering Touch) is 1d6 Dexterity damage. Compare that to Ray of Enfeeblement and you see my concern, I hope. 


Do keep in mind that it's not that useful when dealing with multiple foes, as there is a time limit on that damage.


Yes, and Hold Person has a short duration and allows a saving throw every round. All you need is one round to perform a Coup De Gras. 


And about that duration... it's ability damage, how can it have a duration? That's like having a spell that deals hit point damage, but only for a few rounds. It violates the rules of the game. Either it's a penalty (like ray of enfeeblement) with a duration (and a maximum reduction to 1), or it's damage, which is instantaneous. 


But still, lots of things immune to cold and abiliity damage.  Can't use it on a lot of things.


Immunity to Cold doesn't help. Only having the [Cold] Subtype protects against the spell. That's a much smaller subset, and one that can't be gotten through most magical means.


Mostly for the really big things that have too many hit points and too high saves to use magic against.  It's pretty worthless against humanoids, since they usually have too high a dex to waste it on.


The spell itself deals 3d6 Dexterity damage; most of the monsters I saw in the CR 4-6 range have Dexterity scores ranging between 10 & 18; that's not worthless at all. (I used the monster filter www.penpaperpixel.org/tools/d20monsterfi..." title="www.penpaperpixel.org/tools/d20monsterfi...">here, and just started looking) The spell can beEmpowered or Maximized, and as a 3rd level spell, that's a Lesser Metamagic Rod, a bit cheaper. Oh, and Dragons, all Dragons of every size, have Dexterity scores of 10, which is just under the Average Damage of this spell. Which can be delivered by www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/spectralHand.h..." title="www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/spectralHand.h...">Spectral Hand, because it's only 3rd level.


By the way, we're both using "worthless" in this context to mean "does not render completely helpless after one use", but every 2 points of damage happens to equal a -1 penalty to AC, Ranged Attacks, and Reflex saving throws. What you're meaning by "worthless" is "a touch spell with no saving throw that doesn't incapacitate one opponent", when average damage (11 points) is enough to put a -5 on AC and Reflex saving throws. 


 

Perhaps we have differing meanings on worthless.  If I take a dex down to 1, sure, they're easier to hit with a fireball, and it's harder for them to shoot at me (I'm standing right next to them!), but it has done almost nothing to aid in the defeat of that enemy.  As for the cold subtype being required, I sure wouldn't allow anything immune to cold to be "chilled" by shivering touch...though I guess that could be a houserule.


I don't disagree that the spell is powerful, and often even an instant win.  By all means, don't allow the spell outside of a frostfell campaign, or add lots of cold creatures.  That reduces the usefulness down quite a bit.  Completely removing the whole point of the spell is...well, pointless.  May as well have fireball deal non-lethal damage.  Remember, Fireball can kill hordes of goblins, but shivering touch can incapacitate only 1 little creature per casting (if it's rolled well or maximized).

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Hmm. shapechange into a noble djinn, and have one of your friends "capture" you.  Free wishes.




Well, I'm not 100% sure that you can actually do that, at least I wouldn't allow it at my table.

First, since it doesn't state what type of ability the Wish is, I would think it's (sp), which Shapechange doesn't grant.


Second, Shapechange references Polymorph which references Alter Self which states "You are effectively disguised as an average member of the new form’s race". A noble djinn is clearly not an 'avarage' member of that race.


Third, Shapechange also says "You can become just about anything you are familiar with". Nothing aside from the number of HD and the ability to use the Wish spell sets the noble djinn apart from their non-noble counterparts, so it's unlikely that one could become 'familiar' with the noble variety. I'm fairly certain that you can't use Polymorph or Shapechange to turn into an advanced form of a creature, such as granting yourself additional HD, either, so one couldn't simply say 'I Shapechange into a 10HD djinn".



Ditto for Shapechange. Become a Balor, drop the Vorpal Sword you gain as a (Su) ability, change into another form, change back to a Balor, spawn a new sword, drop it...




I'm not sure about this one, either. The vorpal sword is listed under the treasure line for one, and you don't get the treasure of whatever creature you turn into.

Now, as far as why the vorpal sword is a (su) and the info is listed, here's my theory; Supernatural Abilities are magical but not spell-like. Just about all magic items would fall into this category. Now, just about any creature could have magic items in its possession that it could use against the party, the Balor will have a vorpal sword 100% of the time.


It may be a reference for the purposes of SR, since SR states that "Only spells and spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance. Extraordinary and supernatural abilities (including enhancement bonuses on magic weapons) are not", indicating that no matter how cool Gandalf was in LotR, you can't resist getting your head cut off.


I know my theory isn't iron clad, since the astral deva has a +3 mace of disruption, and no mention is made of it in the entry.


In the end, I think the inclusion of the vorpal sword in the entry is just poor editing, and shouldn't be granted via Shapechange.


[EDIT] After a closer examination of the (su) descriptor, it would seem that one can not actually use Dispel Magic to suppress the vorpal ability as you could for a normal magic item. I now believe that this is the reason that the vorpal sword is included in the balor entry, while other creatures with magic items do not. Thus, wielding the sword is a (su), not owning the sword.

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Nondetection is broken. It denies you any sort of insight bonus. If a nondetected person is in the room, run away. If you can.

Glitterdust Bunnies ftw!


Nondetection is broken. It denies you any sort of insight bonus. If a nondetected person is in the room, run away. If you can.




Okay, while I do want to avoid a flame war if it can be helped, I did laugh at that.

Have a Photobucket !

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Thanks Airos! I'm just a lil irked at the moment. But then, that is my usual mood.

Glitterdust Bunnies ftw!

Concerning the Orb spells: We houseruled that the orbs are egg-like magical shells, which contain the energy type. If a monster has SR, the SR might snuff the shell an inch before impact. This reduces the damage of the orb to half, since the contained element does not "impact" into the flesh, but splashes over the skin/armor. We simply introduced "SR may halve the damage". Works fine.


 


Concerning broken spells:


- Time Stop is powerful, up to the point of "I WIN", if you burn the right spells during time stop.
- Shapechange: Allows too many forms with spell-like abilities, including wish/gate; or shapes, which your current foe cannot defend against.
- Gate allows you to call monsters with SL abilities and even command them to cast wishes for you.


We nerfed both Shapehange and Gate it that way, that the caster has to pay the XP cost of any SL ablity, if the SL ability has an XP cost as a spell.


We had problems with spells which completely void complete character builds:
- Wind Wall makes you immune to archers. We assume "cover" and a 50% miss chance. 
- Death Ward gives a +10 to saves vs. negative energy.
- Freedom of movement gives +20 to checks to escape/avoid grapples.
- the 1st level "Protection from X" gives a +10 to saves, not immunity vs. mindcontrols.


 


 


 


 


Thanks Airos! I'm just a lil irked at the moment. But then, that is my usual mood.




You're welcome. I can understand where you're coming from.

Back on topic!


*Orb spells: I have to admit, I'm a bit on the fence about the orb spells in SC. On the one hand, they're the most powerful damage spells in the game. On the other hand, they're damage spells in a pool full of 'I win!' spells.


Sure, it's easy enough to abuse the force/sonic spells for 'automatic' damage, but when put against spells that can cripple or outright kill a target in less than a round, I can't say I'm that impressed.


Now, considering that I've shown an interest in correcting the 'I win!' spells by bringing them down in power a little, that would in turn bring the damage spells a step up.


*Ability Damage: One thing I've never liked about ability damage spells in 3.5 is that they don't jive with the ability buff spells. Going from 3.0 to 3.5 and the buff spells go from 1d4+1 to a flat +4. Now, no matter what your ability score, you always benefit from a +2 bonus to whatever is tied to that score.


Looking at the de-buff spells, there's no such 'benefit'. They can swing from useless to 'I win!' depending on a single die roll. Metamagic breaks it. Without even trying I can get Ray of Enfeeblement to deal 14 str damage as a 6th level spell using only the PHB, which is better than double the effect of Bestow Curse. Outside of core, they get worse. Using Metamagic rods, it's basically free 'I win!' 3 times a day.


I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't be prudent to give the ability de-buff spells the same treatment as the buff spells; make it a flat damage, avoiding the abuse of metamagic feats and minimizing the 'I win!' factor.


*Disjunction: Interesting points about that spell that I hadn't considered before. The Pathfinder version of the spell is about halfway between what dok suggests and the original spell. I may consider using that version of the spell.


*Astral Projection: I can infer from the proposed fixes that the issue with this spell is doubling up on your magic items with each casting; Project, go to your body, drop everything, end spell, rinse, repeat. Wow. Yeah, that needs to be addressed.


Again, the Pathfinder version is midway between the proposed fixes here and the original spell; the copied items vanish when the spells ends, and if you die in your copy physical body you lose 2 levels.


*Fleshshiver: Actually, I don't see anything in the book or the errata that says that the target must have fewer HD to be affected by the stunning effect. However, if the target makes its save, there's no damage and no nausea, which turns it into the worst 5th level spell ever. Even if it fails its save, it's still physical damage which is subject to DR.


Like the orb spells, I'm on the fence about this one. It deals a ton of damage, and has some useful side effects, but I don't know if the ability to deal lots of HP damage mid to late game is 'broken'.


*Gate: Okay, we'll just go ahead and throw out the Pathfinder version of the spell up front. Calling creatures costs 10,000 gold, but drops the XP cost.


I'm liking the idea of adding in a saving throw. If a creature makes its save, it may or may not come through the gate, and even if it does it's not 'controlled'.


Another idea would be that a general command, such as 'help me kill this dragon' would be the 'immediate task', where as a specific command such as 'give me your sword' or 'grant me a wish' would fall under the more 'involved' commands, requiring an exchange of goods or services.


@Mesiola: I think you're misreading the Shapechange spell, as it doesn't grant spell-like abilities. Still a broken spell, yes, but I believe that your house rule is actually making it more powerful than it's written.


Okay, this post has gotten really lengthy, so I'll leave it at this for now. So far this thread has been very helpful and enlightening, so keep the spells and debates coming! Photobucket

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speaking as someone who has relatively little experience in 3.5, why is a spell likeshivering touch any less useful if it only grants penalties instead of damage


speaking as someone who has relatively little experience in 3.5, why is a spell likeshivering touch any less useful if it only grants penalties instead of damage




Damage allows an ability to be reduced to 0. In the case of dex, the target is paralyzed, helpless and can be coup de grace'd.


A penalty can not reduced an ability below 1, and it disappears after the duration is over.


For exemple, deal 10 dex damage to a great old wyrm dragon and you have a kill; deal 10 dex penalty to the same dragon and you have an angry beast with a slightly reduced AC and reflex save.



speaking as someone who has relatively little experience in 3.5, why is a spell likeshivering touch any less useful if it only grants penalties instead of damage




Damage allows an ability to be reduced to 0. In the case of dex, the target is paralyzed, helpless and can be coup de grace'd.


A penalty can not reduced an ability below 1, and it disappears after the duration is over.


For exemple, deal 10 dex damage to a great old wyrm dragon and you have a kill; deal 10 dex penalty to the same dragon and you have an angry beast with a slightly reduced AC and reflex save.





Additionally, a penalty may be dispelled with (Greater) Dispel Magic. Ability damage must be healed with spells of the Restoration line, or with rest.

Create Greater Undead: You could create a lot of shadows and spectres, they create spawn and more spawn, etc. (undead massive destruction weapons)


- Time Stop is powerful, up to the point of "I WIN", if you burn the right spells during time stop.



Please provide examples, or as my teachers used to say "show your work". Most of these arguments tend to rely on mis-understanding or ignoring the rules.


One fix I do require in my games for Time Stop is that it is not subject to Metamagic effects. You cannot Extend, Empower, or Maximize Time Stop to get longer durations. 2-5 rounds, duration rolled by the DM & unknown to the player. (yes, that means these won't work, and neither will www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/metamag..." title="www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/metamag...">these.


 


- Wind Wall makes you immune to archers. We assume "cover" and a 50% miss chance.


Alternatively, give magic ammuntion a 20% chance per +1 of enhancement bonus to pass through the wind wall. (this % overlaps with, and does not stack with the flat 30% larger thrown weapons have to pass through the wind wall) +5 arrows get through just fine, and it gives the wizard a nice defense against 50 kobolds with mundane crossbows.


- Death Ward gives a +10 to saves vs. negative energy.


Not a good fix, because Energy Drain typically don't allow an initial saving throw. The Wight/Vampire/Spectre hits you, and you automatically get a negative level, no saving throw. The saving throw isn't for another 24 hours. So this version of Death Ward actually completely fails to protect you against Negative Levels, which was the original point of the spell.


Two alternative fixes would be to make Death Ward function like Delay Poison regarding negative energy effects, with a corresponding increase in duration. Or, Death Ward allows an initial Fortitude saving throw against Energy Drain effects, and grants a +10 saving throw against Death spells, magical Death Effects, and other negative energy effects. 



- Freedom of movement gives +20 to checks to escape/avoid grapples.


OK, but remember that Freedom of Movement does more than just avoid grapples. It should also include a +10 to all saving throws or ability checks for movement-impeding effects such as Paralysis, Slow, and Web, and it should grant an initial saving throw to avoid movement-impeding effects that normally don't allow saving throws. (i.e. Solid Fog)


- the 1st level "Protection from X" gives a +10 to saves, not immunity vs. mindcontrols.



Sure. And in this case, the other absolute immunity (Summoned creatures can't touch you) should remain intact, because it's conditional.

Without even trying I can get Ray of Enfeeblement to deal 14 str damage as a 6th level spell using only the PHB, which is better than double the effect of Bestow Curse.


...so a spell requiring a 6th level spell slot is more powerful than a 4th level spell using a 4th level spell slot? 


Pardon me for asking, but how is a ray of enfeeblement an "I Win", if the Strength score can't drop below 1, and the opponent won't be rendered helpless? Because that's my beef with Lahm's Finger Darts/Ray of Idiocy/Shivering Touch dealing ability damage versus inflicting a penalty; if you disliked how the 2nd level spell Hold Person was a "save or die" spell, how do you feel about a ranged touch, no save effect?


Don't get me wrong: a Strength score of 1 means penalties to hit & damage, and for NPCs wearing equipment, heavy encumbrance dropping their movement substantially and thus hurting their AC. But Strength 1 isn't "Helpless" the way Dexterity or Intelligence or Charisma 0 is.


Groveborn sez:

I don't disagree that the spell is powerful, and often even an instant win.  By all means, don't allow the spell outside of a frostfell campaign, or add lots of cold creatures.  That reduces the usefulness down quite a bit.  Completely removing the whole point of the spell is...well, pointless.  


So the spell is powerful, and often an instant win, and shouldn't be allowed outside a Frostfell campaign. On that we both agree. I think if you want to allow the spell outside of a Frostfell game, it should be an ability score penalty, not some nebulous "temporary, dispellable Ability score damage". 


And if you think Shivering Touch is powerful and often an instant win, then Ray of Stupidity clearly belongs in the same category, being a level lower, and having the same metamagic options. You said it yourself: you like it because it hits monsters where they have fewer resources; Ray of Stupidity has a 75% chance of rendering any Fiendish/Celestial Animal helpless. That Celestial Dire Tiger (CR 10)? Drops like a sack of meat from 3 Intelligence damage. So does the 12-headed Pyro-Hydra (CR 13) with it's intelligence of 2 and no SR. That's a 2nd level spell we're talking about, with no metamagic applied. I think we disagree on what the point of these spells are. I think Ray of Stupidity should work like Ray of Enfeeblement.  


 


I looked at Pathfinder's Disjunction. It solves one problem (items are suppressed instead destroyed) but still has everyone rolling buckets & buckets of dice for their items, which slows things down to a crawl. (not only are people rolling lots of saving throws, but most people have to look up the Caster Level on their items to determine what the item's saving throw is...)



speaking as someone who has relatively little experience in 3.5, why is a spell likeshivering touch any less useful if it only grants penalties instead of damage




Damage allows an ability to be reduced to 0. In the case of dex, the target is paralyzed, helpless and can be coup de grace'd.


A penalty can not reduced an ability below 1, and it disappears after the duration is over.


For exemple, deal 10 dex damage to a great old wyrm dragon and you have a kill; deal 10 dex penalty to the same dragon and you have an angry beast with a slightly reduced AC and reflex save.



ok i understand now

I think one of the problems I have with some of the comments here is that it seems as if people are looking at powerful spells and spell combinations in a one on one or single encounter type of scenario.  Sure, your group will (hopefully) get a chance to rest before going up against the main antagonist, but that doesn't have to be the case.


The orb spells can cause some decent damage, but there is a limit to how many a caster can create per day.  If your party is cranking through some encounters with relative ease, bump up the CR, or put them in situations where they have to get through several encounters before they get a chance to recouperate.


If you have a high level caster in your party, and you have the ability to expend all your spells/abilities in one encounter without having to worry about any other challenges before resting again, then I would EXPECT that encounter to go much more easily than if it was the last of a series of 4 or 5 challenging encounters that did not give the party a chance to rest.


I look at it like this.  Melee guys can go all day and do their thing, casters have to ration their spells throughout the day.  Sure, some spells might seem overly powerful, but they shouldn't be able to cast them each and every encounter.  If they are doing that, it's kind of the DM's fault, not the spell or caster's fault.

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Re: spells granting immunity, SKR thinks Immunities in general are bad for D&D, especially higher level play. I'm inclined to agree; immunities mean the DM has less tools in their toolbox.  A Colossal Monstrous Spider is allegedly CR 11, but if everyone in the party is immune to poison...  




Then don't use a Colossal Monstrous Spider for a serious threat.  It's not like Colossal Monstrous Spiders are the only possible threat a DM can use against 11th level characters.  It is also a feature, not a bug, for high level characters to be able to mitigate things that were troubling at lower levels.  That's the whole point.  Also, not every combat encounter needs to be threatening.  There's nothing wrong with an 11th level party under Heroes' Feast facing a Colossal Monstrous Spider and need not worry about poison.  They are 11th level characters!  They are great heroes!  They are supposed to be able to handle the big threats, such as Colossal Monstrous Spiders, that the common folk could not.

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Web.  I hate it.  Stupid strength checks.  They're goblins, for cryin' out loud!  How're they gonna make a DC of 20?

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...so a spell requiring a 6th level spell slot is more powerful than a 4th level spell using a 4th level spell slot? 


Pardon me for asking, but how is a ray of enfeeblement an "I Win", if the Strength score can't drop below 1, and the opponent won't be rendered helpless? Because that's my beef with Lahm's Finger Darts/Ray of Idiocy/Shivering Touch dealing ability damage versus inflicting a penalty; if you disliked how the 2nd level spell Hold Person was a "save or die" spell, how do you feel about a ranged touch, no save effect?


Don't get me wrong: a Strength score of 1 means penalties to hit & damage, and for NPCs wearing equipment, heavy encumbrance dropping their movement substantially and thus hurting their AC. But Strength 1 isn't "Helpless" the way Dexterity or Intelligence or Charisma 0 is.




I was using an example of how an ability damage/ability penalty spell can be abused, (in my opinion). The same tactic that I used for Ray of Enfeeblement could be used for any other spell of the sort that uses dice to determine the amount of ability damage/penalty. It can easily go from 'annoyance' to 'cripple' to 'I win' with very little effort. I avoided using the spells Lahm's Finger Darts/Ray of Idiocy/Shivering Touch because they're not OGL, and didn't want to post the mechanics of those spells in my example, but my example can work just as well using those spells instead.


A -14 penalty to str is greater than what a 7th level Limited Wish can do, (going strictly by the listed effects), since that can only impose a single -7 to a single saving throw, (any effect not listed is up to DM discretion and a 'house rule'). Ray of Enfeeblement as a 6th level Empowered, Maximized spell imposes a -7 to hit and damage in melee for 1 minute/level. And that's with only two feats in the PHB. Outside of core, and it can get much worse.


I agree that an ability penalty is less dangerous than ability damage, I just think that the de-buff spells should be in line with the buff spells. The cure spells heal for d8's, the inflict spells hurt for d8's; Slow counters Haste; A 1st level de-buff can do as much as a -11 penalty to str, while a 2nd level buff can only grant a +4 bonus, (without metamagic feats).


My argument is that the de-buff spells should do a flat number, not a random roll that can be abused. As a 1st level spell, Ray of Enfeeblement should only grant a -2 str, maybe -4 since it does require an attack roll and SR does apply.


When dealing with actual damage it's dice versus HP, nothing more. I have no objection to those mechanics. When dealing with ability scores, you're messing with skills, feat pre-req's, PrC pre-req's, attack and damage rolls, spell casting abilities, saving throws, movement rates, encumbrance, hit points, class features and special ability DCs. Almost everything in the game centers on those six scores, and the de-buff spells widely swing in how useful and powerful they are in a given encounter.


Sure, I wouldn't cast my example Ray of Enfeeblement against another wizard, or an incorporeal creature, since in those cases it would be a waste of a spell. However, when the party is engaged in a melee battle, my choices are grant a +4 to one stat to one PC, (or a bunch/all of them if the mass buff spells are used) giving them a +2 bonus on rolls tied to that stat, or impose as much as a -11 to the str of the opponent, giving him either a -5 or -6 to all attack and damage rolls, (depending on if he's got an odd or even str score). In my eyes, that's the same as granting all the party members +5 or 6 to AC and DR 5/- or DR 6/-. I just don't think it's balanced.


But, I think I've ranted enough about that single spell, when really my point is all ability penalty/damage spells. Any one of them can fall into the same problems I'm talking about in my examples. If I'm going to address one of them, I want to address all of them.


You bring up Hold Person. I do think that it's a powerful spell, but I don't know if I'm convinced that it needs to be addressed. It grants a save every round, SR applies, and it's limited by what creatures it can affect. Even the more potent Hold Monster can't target non-living creatures, meaning that Undead and Constructs aren't stopped by these spells. Even if the spell does take hold, there's still the save that a coup de grace allows, assuming that the creature isn't immune to critical hits.


I feel that Hold Person/Monster can be kept in check simply by mixing up combat. Don't make every low level encounter against humanoids, or every mid/high level encounter against living creatures. Undead, Constructs, Oozes and Plants all but shut down the potential for abuse of those two spells.

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Sure, I wouldn't cast my example Ray of Enfeeblement against another wizard, or an incorporeal creature, since in those cases it would be a waste of a spell. However, when the party is engaged in a melee battle, my choices are grant a +4 to one stat to one PC, (or a bunch/all of them if the mass buff spells are used) giving them a +2 bonus on rolls tied to that stat, or impose as much as a -11 to the str of the opponent, giving him either a -5 or -6 to all attack and damage rolls, (depending on if he's got an odd or even str score). In my eyes, that's the same as granting all the party members +5 or 6 to AC and DR 5/- or DR 6/-. I just don't think it's balanced.




I have to disagree with that statement. I guess you could say that it's the same as granting all the party members +5 or 6 to AC and DR 5/- or DR 6/- against a single opponent. But that part in bold is very important. If the party faces 8 or 10 opponents, ray of enfeeblement on one of them is probably less useful than bull's strength on the party's tank. The same can be said if the party faces two encounters with only a few rounds between them. Even though both spells have the same duration, ray of enfeeblement will in fact last only as long as the targeted opponent lives, which sometimes can only be a round or two.


I have to disagree with that statement. I guess you could say that it's the same as granting all the party members +5 or 6 to AC and DR 5/- or DR 6/- against a single opponent. But that part in bold is very important. If the party faces 8 or 10 opponents, ray of enfeeblement on one of them is probably less useful than bull's strength on the party's tank. The same can be said if the party faces two encounters with only a few rounds between them. Even though both spells have the same duration, ray of enfeeblement will in fact last only as long as the targeted opponent lives, which sometimes can only be a round or two.




Good point. Without metamagic feats such as Split Ray, or without Quicken Spell to pop off more than one a round, it does only affect a single opponent.

If the party is facing off against 8 or 10 opponents, however, I would imagine that they're a much lower CR than the party level, (such as 8 or 10 CR 1 or CR 2 creatures against a party of 10th or 11th level PCs). In that instance, I don't think the extra +2 to hit and damage is going to make a huge difference to the fight, either. The wizard could just shut most of them down with Sleep or Deep Slumber instead.


As far as 'back to back' encounters, the spell would be just as useful if two encounters are 2 minutes apart or 2 hours apart. The wizard only usually needs to cast it once per combat to get the most usefulness out of the spell; against a single CR equivalent creature, or against the 'leader' of a mixed CR encounter. As a 1st level spell, the Wizard will almost always have enough prepared for the day to handle the appropriate number of encounters.


In the situations where both Ray of Enfeeblement and Bull's Strength are both useful, I think the Enfeeblement is far, far more powerful. In the situation where you're using Metamagic feats to improve a spell, Ray of Enfeeblement can be exploited far more than Bull's Strength or any other ability score buff spell can.


Again, I've gone off on bit of a rant about this single spell, when my intention is to address the de-buff spells as a whole. The ability to reduce an opponent's ability scores far outweighs the ability to improve the party's ability scores. It's further exasperated by Metamagic feats. I believe the correct action to take is to reduce the power of the de-buff spells.

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If the party is facing off against 8 or 10 opponents, however, I would imagine that they're a much lower CR than the party level, (such as 8 or 10 CR 1 or CR 2 creatures against a party of 10th or 11th level PCs). In that instance, I don't think the extra +2 to hit and damage is going to make a huge difference to the fight, either. The wizard could just shut most of them down with Sleep or Deep Slumber instead.

In the exemple you gave, the EL is way too low for the party and they'll probably wipe out their opponents, no matter what strategies they use. I was thinking more about something like 8 X CR 6 (EL12) vs a 10th level party. That "+2 to hit and damage" is at least as good as a ray of enfeeblement.

As far as 'back to back' encounters, the spell would be just as useful if two encounters are 2 minutes apart or 2 hours apart. The wizard only usually needs to cast it once per combat to get the most usefulness out of the spell; against a single CR equivalent creature, or against the 'leader' of a mixed CR encounter. As a 1st level spell, the Wizard will almost always have enough prepared for the day to handle the appropriate number of encounters.

You missed my point. A single bull's strength casting will last for 2 back-to-back encounters while you would need to use multiple casting of ray of enfeeblement.

In the situations where both Ray of Enfeeblement and Bull's Strength are both useful, I think the Enfeeblement is far, far more powerful. In the situation where you're using Metamagic feats to improve a spell, Ray of Enfeeblement can be exploited far more than Bull's Strength or any other ability score buff spell can.

Again, I've gone off on bit of a rant about this single spell, when my intention is to address the de-buff spells as a whole. The ability to reduce an opponent's ability scores far outweighs the ability to improve the party's ability scores. It's further exasperated by Metamagic feats. I believe the correct action to take is to reduce the power of the de-buff spells.


My point can also be applied to buff vs de-buff spells in general. There is a reason that de-buff spells can lower an ability more that the corresponding buff spell can heighten it: versatility. The buff spell improves the PC for everything the ability is used, in all situations in which the ability is used. The de-buff spell weakens a single opponent (if that opponent is not immune) and that's it. 


In the exemple you gave, the EL is way too low for the party and they'll probably wipe out their opponents, no matter what strategies they use. I was thinking more about something like 8 X CR 6 (EL12) vs a 10th level party. That "+2 to hit and damage" is at least as good as a ray of enfeeblement.


I was going off the top of my head, and not double checking the DMG to see what CRs made what EL. In that instance, yes, a buff spell would be better spent. In a combat of 1-2 opponents, a de-buff spell would be better. I'm not arguing that the de-buff spells are better 100% of the time, I'm saying that they're better in general than the buff spells. They have a greater effect. -1d6+5 strength against a single opponent is greater than +4 strength to a single ally.

Given your proposed combat scenario, an AoE spell would be better than both a buff or a de-buff spell.



You missed my point. A single bull's strength casting will last for 2 back-to-back encounters while you would need to use multiple casting of ray of enfeeblement.


I get your point; a single 2nd level spell versus two 1st level spells. Assuming a back-to-back encounter, that the PCs may not know are going to be back-to-back, that will be a melee combat encounter requiring strength and not a ranged combat encounter requiring dexterity.

My point is that a 1st level spell isn't some huge resource that needs to be hoarded. By the time we're at our theoretical 11th level, a wizard will have four 1st level slots, (+1 for an int of 16 required to cast his 6th level spell slots), and a sorcerer will have six, (+1 for a cha of 16). The game is balanced against 4 encounters a day. They have more than enough 1st level spell slots to be able to use more than one Ray of Enfeeblement and not be at a disadvantage. A single 2nd level spell is not a better value than two 1st level spells if that 1st level spell can 'win' the encounter.



My point can also be applied to buff vs de-buff spells in general. There is a reason that de-buff spells can lower an ability more that the corresponding buff spell can heighten it: versatility. The buff spell improves the PC for everything the ability is used, in all situations in which the ability is used. The de-buff spell weakens a single opponent (if that opponent is not immune) and that's it.



But if improving a PCs ability scores is good because it boosts so many things, then a de-buff spell is equally good because it drops the same number of things.

Move beyond the Monster Manuals for a moment, and look at an NPC with class levels. If that NPC is a spell caster, dropping his spell casting stat removes all of his class features. If that NPC has levels in a PrC with an ability score pre-req, (or a feat pre-req that has its own ability score pre-req), you just took away all those levels in that PrC.


Here's a fun one; Blackguard has the prerequisite of Power Attack, which has the prerequisite of Str 13. A 20th level fallen paladin, (paladin 10/blackguard 10), would suddenly lose 10 class levels if his Str dropped to 12. 10 Hit dice. 10 base attack. +7/+3/+3 to saves. Minor spellcasting. Sneak Attack. Special Mount.


All. Class. Features. Gone.


He goes from a 20th level threat to a 10th level pushover at the whim of a single 1st level spell.


That's the power of a de-buff spell. That is why I have such a problem with them.


I can look at Bull's Strength and say 'this is giving the melee guys +2 to hit and damage in melee, and three skills'. The spell is slightly better than flanking, a climbers kit, a life vest and a pogo stick.


I look at Ray of Enfeeblement and say 'this is either completely useless in some encounters, or insanely powerful against other encounters'. It's slightly better than level loss. It can completely shut down certain combat encounters. No 1st level spell should be that powerful.

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Here's a fun one; Blackguard has the prerequisite of Power Attack, which has the prerequisite of Str 13. A 20th level fallen paladin, (paladin 10/blackguard 10), would suddenly lose 10 class levels if his Str dropped to 12. 10 Hit dice. 10 base attack. +7/+3/+3 to saves. Minor spellcasting. Sneak Attack. Special Mount.

All. Class. Features. Gone.


He goes from a 20th level threat to a 10th level pushover at the whim of a single 1st level spell


It is quite powerful, I'll give you that, but not as powerful as you said. From the FAQ, p30:

"A character who no longer meets the requirements of his prestige class not only can’t advance any further in that class, but he also “loses the benefit of any class features or other special abilities granted by the class.” You retain Hit Dice (and the hit points derived from), base attack bonus, and base save bonuses granted by the prestige class. The rules don’t specifically list skill points (and class skills) as falling into either category; the Sage recommends that the character retain these functions even if he no longer meets the class requirements."


Other than that, we might have to agree to disagree. To me, a spell that is completely useless in some encounters and very powerful in others can still be balanced. To you, it simply can not. Difference of opinions, I guess...

It is quite powerful, I'll give you that, but not as powerful as you said. From the FAQ, p30:

"A character who no longer meets the requirements of his prestige class not only can’t advance any further in that class, but he also “loses the benefit of any class features or other special abilities granted by the class.” You retain Hit Dice (and the hit points derived from), base attack bonus, and base save bonuses granted by the prestige class. The rules don’t specifically list skill points (and class skills) as falling into either category; the Sage recommends that the character retain these functions even if he no longer meets the class requirements."


Other than that, we might have to agree to disagree. To me, a spell that is completely useless in some encounters and very powerful in others can still be balanced. To you, it simply can not. Difference of opinions, I guess...




Ah, okay. I misremembered the rule. That makes a small difference.

I don't think you're being fair in your assessment of my opinions of 'powerful spells' and 'balance'.


Knock is useless unless there's a lock you need opened, then it's insanely powerful in its ability to open any lock. A 750th level wizard could cast Arcane Lock on a door, and a 3rd level wizard with Knock can open it. Not a broken spell.


Shield is useless when a fireball is cast at you. It's insanely powerful when 196 Magic Missiles are cast at you. Not a broken spell.


Neither of those two examples shut down an encounter completely, whereas a well placed de-buff spell can. Both Knock and Shield can swing from 'meh' to 'sweet' depending on the situation, but that doesn't mean I think they're unbalanced.


I feel like you're throwing out broad generalizations about 'thinking powerful spells can't be balanced', and to me it smacks of hyperbole. I'm only talking about this small handful of spells, and I feel they're not in line with what the buff spells do. They should match. If a 2nd level buff spell can only grant a +4, then a 1st level de-buff should not go as far as -11.


But, I guess we're just going to continue to disagree. I'm ready to drop this subject and go back to taking a look at different spells.


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