What spells broke the game?

There is much talk about how casters broke the game in previous editions and ways to cut back on faster dominance. Perhaps it would be easier to look at what casters did that broke the game to make sure these elements do not return.

1. Rope trick. It allowed the caster to choose when to rest and do so unhindered.

2. Summon X: it gave you a monster often as strong as or stronger than the party fighter.

3. Force cage: our party got hit by one and it was a tpk. Nothing we could do about it.

4. Fly plus protection from missiles. Low level wizards can do this pretty easily and become immune to 90% of most low level creatures.

Feel free to add your own.

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The Warblade: A Mythic Fighter

The Hero: A Modular Class

There is much talk about how casters broke the game in previous editions and ways to cut back on faster dominance. Perhaps it would be easier to look at what casters did that broke the game to make sure these elements do not return. 1. Rope trick. It allowed the caster to choose when to rest and do so unhindered. 2. Summon X: it gave you a monster often as strong as or stronger than the party fighter. 3. Force cage: our party got hit by one and it was a tpk. Nothing we could do about it. 4. Fly plus protection from missiles. Low level wizards can do this pretty easily and become immune to 90% of most low level creatures. Feel free to add your own.




It's not that spells like these broke the game. What broke it was that they were taken away or nerfed.    


It's not that spells like these broke the game. What broke it was that they were taken away or nerfed.

What?

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Polymorph is a pretty big one, I'd say. There's a reason that it was split up into multiple spells in Pathfinder.
It's not that spells like these broke the game. What broke it was that they were taken away or nerfed.

What?


*shrugs* I gave up trying to understand pro-godwizard arguments weeks ago.
Define 'broke'? In terms of taking the caster/martial character balance and stomping it into the dirt, early candidates would be alter self, fly, polymorph. In terms of the caster/skill character balance, charm person, spider climb, invisibility, knock, ESP are prime candidates. In terms of making the game pretty much unrunnable, scry and teleport.

It's not that spells like these broke the game. What broke it was that they were taken away or nerfed.    


Yep, damnit, such a pity that they broke "Spell Users and their plucky pet fighters" and replaced it with a game about equals.
Summon X: it gave you a monster often as strong as or stronger than the party fighter.


That's not an indictment of the summoning line of spells. That's an indictment of the fighter.
Hello,

As DM Silence and Invisibility were really frustrating. The theives in the party would literally refuse to go scouting unless the wizard made them invisible and silent. What was frustrating were these theives had really good hide and move silently rolls.

I never found rope trick to be a problem. Usually it only came out when the group was behind enemy lines and had the c*** beat out of them. It let them escape and heal, which was to my GM advantage to keep the story going.

Summon Monster X wasn't actually castable though.  The Spells end at 9th level spells with Monster Summoning 9
I never understood why that list was there in 3.0

If you mean the Summon Monster line of spells.  Mob Caster casts Protection from (X Alignment) Tadaa total immunity to Summoned Monsters with nothing more than a 1st level spell.



As for Rope Trick, sure that works, right up until the Mob casters track you down and dispel it.

Force Cage they need to remove the Bars version I agree with that and they should restrict it to 1 person target regardless.

Dealing with Fly spell is just a matter of changing terrain.  Go indoors or in a cave or something

If you mean the Summon Monster line of spells.  Mob Caster casts Protection from (X Alignment) Tadaa total immunity to Summoned Monsters with nothing more than a 1st level spell.


With a 1 round casting time... not likely to happen when the monster has been summoned right next to them and has started a grapple. It also has no effect on ranged attacks, weapon attacks, or SLAs of the summoned creatures (unless they're trying to possess you or require a melee touch attack). So, by and large, an ineffective defense.
If you mean the Summon Monster line of spells.  Mob Caster casts Protection from (X Alignment) Tadaa total immunity to Summoned Monsters with nothing more than a 1st level spell.


With a 1 round casting time... not likely to happen when the monster has been summoned right next to them and has started a grapple. It also has no effect on ranged attacks, weapon attacks, or SLAs of the summoned creatures (unless they're trying to possess you or require a melee touch attack). So, by and large, an ineffective defense.




Except that it's the Summon Monster spell that has the 1 round casting time not the Protection spell.
Protection from (X) Alignment is 1 standard action.  Even the better Magic Circle vs. Alignment is also 1 standard action.

Player starts summoning
Mob Caster's turn shows up, make a spellcraft to id his spell and summon beastie, cast Protection and and is immune to attack by the time the Player finishes his summoning. 

And the wording of the 3.5 version of Protection from Alignment is such that the Mob need only cast Prot. vs. Good to keep out everything except Evil creatures.



The notion that there are specific spells that 'break' the game is largely erroneous. It is the VAST array of spells and the fact that casters get more and more spell slots and each spell in them mostly increase in potency as you go up in levels. At a certain point the casters simply become uncontainable. They have so many possible options available to them that the DM can no longer even predict what they're going to do, when, how or where. Try writing an adventure for beyond name-level casters. It is at best HIGHLY difficult to do, and if you have really clever dedicated players even 7th-9th level wizards in particular can pretty well screw up any plot or bypass virtually any obstacle that isn't literally specifically customized for no other purpose than to thwart them (and even then 11-13th level wizards played well should be able to pretty well get past any of that garbage).

You can't fix casters by simply giving them slightly weaker versions of spells or removing a few problematic spells. You have to alter the level of agency available overall. 4e did a reasonable job of this by allocating different types of capabilities to specific tiers and then removing key components of those capabilities. Teleport for instance becoming limited to fixed known destinations, or fly becoming a short-range effect. Where more open-ended effects exist other classes can get access to them more easily and they are still limited in some respects. Even so really clever play with wizards in particular can get fairly out there in epic.

Basically if the 5e devs can't understand the root of the issue they're going to make the same mistakes all over again and we'll just keep playing 4e! Maybe they won't do that though. Reducing casters to specialist niches would work quite well. You CAN have awesome spells, but you can only solve a narrow class of problems with any given caster. Meanwhile non-caster classes can have a bit more generality and all the advantages they have had traditionally. A few spells may still have to be toned down, but I think a lot of them can stand. I also think the number of spell slots available to casters should stay a LOT more limited. Having 3-4 dozen spells memorized is really too much (but I guess it sounds like M&M&Crew have figured that one out).

That is not dead which may eternal lie
Game Breaking
These spells trashed things, or at least could, pure and simple.

Planar Binding, Planar Ally, and Gate:  "Hi, I'm 16th level.  I have a pet Balor and a bunch of other middling demons doing my bidding constantly.  They powerful enough to make the party go squish, but I'm good enough that I know they won't.  Tomorrow, I'll bind some devils and force my little puppets to dance at an event I'm calling the "Blood War Ball".  See you there!"

Polymorph and Shapechange: Allowed the Wizard to become better than the fighter while remaining the wizard.

Wish: Ability to do ANYTHING (But, Wish had a massive enough cost that it couldn't be used lightly.  While it could break the game, it rarely did in practice)

Forcecage: Save None, SR: no is a pain.

Problematic
These spells present problems with the system, but don't ruin adventures on their own.

Knock: Removed the name for the Open Lock skill.  But, then, an adamantine dagger could do about the same.

Rope Trick: Lowest level way to get a "safe zone", but you did have to be level 9 in order to recover spells with it, at which point you've had the spell for as many levels than it will take you to reach Mordenkein's Magnificent Mansion.  and, of course, you had to prepare or know Rope Trick.  (You couldn't even get by this one with a wand unless you paid for better caster level)

Charm Person (and similar effects):  Mostly because it was so dang nebulous just how far "Charmed" went.  Suggestion was fine (Well, as fine as a negation spell can be) once you understood it and Dominate was straightforward, but Charm always gave everyone, both sides of the screen, a headache.  Worthy of this tier, trust me.

Annoying
These spells were obnoxious to DM around, nothing more

Teleport Without Error/Greater Teleport: Mostly when combined with the below.  A big offender in the arcane arms race.

Scrying: Largley in combination with the above.  Scrying represented a vital tactic to consider in the arcane arms race.

Fly/Overland Flight: Unlike most of these spells, this one would be fixed with Range: Personal, Targets: You.  (See: the Warlock invocation Fell Flight).  Its main problem was to permit the ENTIRE party to bypass exploration challenges.

Not an Issue
At least in 3rd, these spells are not as bad as they're made out to be

Protection from Arrows: Absorbs a max amount of damage, and does not effect attacks from a magic weapon.  By the time the points of damage absorbed is problematic to chew through or you can recast it without cease, attackers possess a +1 weapon and/or monsters possess DR (so their natural attacks bypass similar DR)

Summon Monster: Long cast time (meaning disruptable), short duration, and calls up comparitive weaklings.  If anything, Summon Monster was always unfulfilling and lame, while the other summonign spells were some of the most broken things out there (see above).

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Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

Except that it's the Summon Monster spell that has the 1 round casting time not the Protection spell.


Hmm... what was I looking at that had the 1 round... (sorry, I am putting together a wizard for a current 3.5 game, and thought I passed on that spell because of the casting time. Now I think I'm going insane).

But, when I'm a summoner, I always take the rapid summoning variant. 1 standard.
Even the better Magic Circle vs. Alignment is also 1 standard action.


That is better. Better to taste the tears of the DM when you beat it I stood next to my summoned fiendish ape and managed to baleful transposition a circled enemy right next to him. Oh dear, I'm afraid the circle has been forced against the creature it was trying to keep out. *POP*

Yeah, all things considered, magic circle is more vulnerable to being dismissed by enemy action than a simple protection from evil. But, it does at least require that the summoned creature have a large reach weapon to hit you, instead of just any old non-natural one. So, that's a plus, I guess.
I've never seen Charm as a problem.

It makes the guy friendly.  You still need to do diplomacy checks to get him to do stuff and he's not going to do anything crazy.  It's just a lot  easier than it would be if he was still Hostile.


Think of it this way.

You are working night shift security.
Your best friend shows up and asks you to let him in so he can use the phone.

Doing so will get you fired

Are you willing to get Fired for your best friend?



Is that Orc willing to get Killed by his Chief for his Best Friend?



The notion that there are specific spells that 'break' the game is largely erroneous. It is the VAST array of spells and the fact that casters get more and more spell slots and each spell in them mostly increase in potency as you go up in levels. At a certain point the casters simply become uncontainable. They have so many possible options available to them that the DM can no longer even predict what they're going to do, when, how or where. Try writing an adventure for beyond name-level casters. It is at best HIGHLY difficult to do, and if you have really clever dedicated players even 7th-9th level wizards in particular can pretty well screw up any plot or bypass virtually any obstacle that isn't literally specifically customized for no other purpose than to thwart them (and even then 11-13th level wizards played well should be able to pretty well get past any of that garbage).

This is complete truth (and matches my own experiences perfectly).  While there were some spells that were frequently problematic due to how they were designed (such as Summon Monster), the bigger problem was just the exponential power growth of casters.  Unless the DM is very well prepared and knows about all of the spells and takes the extra effort to specifically craft plots with all those spells in mind, the plots just sort of fall apart. 


I'm legitamitely surprised people have missed:

Time Stop: I can kill you. I will do it 5 times.
Plane Shift: SoD and escape plan all rolled into one. And hey, you even get your spells back in 1/10th the time!

And, speaking generally:

SoDs: There's a reason dissenters have affectionately called the game "Rocket Tag".

I have to admit the continuous scaling of spells is one thing I dislike in the previous versions of D&D and I am actually glad to hear they are getting rid of it. 

It was one of the things I liked with the Spell Point system from Unearthed Arcana.  All Spells were cast at their base levels only, unless you devoted additional power to them.

A Fireball spells was 5d6.  Didn't matter if you were 5th level of 20th level Fireball was 5d6 unless you willingly put more power into it.

More Powerful spells should require more Resources to cast.


 Reducing casters to specialist niches would work quite well. You CAN have awesome spells, but you can only solve a narrow class of problems with any given caster. Meanwhile non-caster classes can have a bit more generality and all the advantages they have had traditionally. A few spells may still have to be toned down, but I think a lot of them can stand. I also think the number of spell slots available to casters should stay a LOT more limited. Having 3-4 dozen spells memorized is really too much (but I guess it sounds like M&M&Crew have figured that one out).




YES! This idea needs to spread. The idea that the Wizard just has free access to be inter-disciplinary in a profession as tedious and complex as magic for free is just ludicrous! The only way I think the designers can limit godwizard is to force specialization, drastically reduce the spell memory slots, or substantially slow the rate of advancement of the wizard class through levels.
"If it's not a conjuration, how did the wizard con·jure/ˈkänjər/Verb 1. Make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic. it?" -anon "Why don't you read fire·ball / fī(-ə)r-ˌbȯl/ and see if you can find the key word con.jure /'kən-ˈju̇r/ anywhere in it." -Maxperson
Time Stop has a Range of Personal, that makes it a Buff (it's essentially a Haste Spell on Steroids).  That means it can not be stacked with itself

Anyone who was casting Time Stop while still under the effect of Time Stop was flat out breaking the rules.
some spells became broken or nerfed when transitioning from one edition to the next. how long you spend summoning something and how often you can do it are great factors as it whether or not it's overpowered. Limiting wizards to summoning only creatures they've encountered, or random/specific ritual monsters works well. When I'm playing a fighter, I don't grow envious of a wizard who can summon something powerful to help us out, but it would be pretty stupid if they summoned something that looked and acted like a fighter of equal or better level or numbers.

Seeing them (at high levels) summon a phoenix, dragon, demon, angel or elemental  makes good sense - but if they summon a dozen barbarians, I'm going to be insulted, and feel left out. Mages should summon magical stuff, it should be rare, and it should be powerful. Otherwise, let them summon a dancing flame blade, or some kind of Soul Calibur attack.

Frankly I was thinking "at will" wizard spells might be better if the dice value progressed with level, rather than the number of dice or bonuses. For example

level: dice
1: d4
5: d6
10: d8
15: d10
20: d12
25+: d20
Options are Liberating

Time Stop: I can kill you. I will do it 5 times.



From the SRD:
"While the time stop is in effect, other creatures are invulnerable to your attacks and spells; you cannot target such creatures with any attack or spell. A spell that affects an area and has a duration longer than the remaining duration of the time stop have their normal effects on other creatures once the time stop ends.   [...]  You cannot move or harm items held, carried, or worn by a creature stuck in normal time, but you can affect any item that is not in another creature’s possession."

So any targeted or instantaneous spell?  Worthless.  That is basically every instadeath right there (A Symbol of Death would take effect, but it takes longer than 1d4+1 rounds to scribe one).  Time Stop is for buffing or laying down battlefield alteration.  Powerful, but hardly the "kill everyone without the chance of escape" some seem to make it out to be.  3.0's Haste (nerfed in .5) was more dangerous on a regular basis, since it let you fire off two standard-action spells (ANY two such spells) a round.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

Rope Trick was not a problem.  It had a duration of 1 hour per level.  So, at 8th level, the party could finally get a full night's rest in an extradimensional space, which can be detected/dispelled/whatever.  By that same level, they could have also cast Leomund's Secure Shelter, effectively accomplishing the same thing.  And at 5th level, Leonmund's Tiny Hut, both of which spells last for 2 hours per level.  Rope trick is more usefull for hiding a party quickly, such as from a patrol.

Planar Ally and Planar Binding both had a 10 minute casting time.  Planar Ally required you to negotiate with the summoned creature, and reach an accord.  Planar Binding, the creature could break free of your command, which was a Charisma based check, so wizards (who typically had lower charismas) were not well suited to keep a creature bound.

Forcecage was a powerful spell, yes, but it was also a 7th level spell (and why was it evocation and not conjuration?), and when you're dealing with high-level PCs, a DM needs to be prepared for what the casters are capable of.  Are there some level-appropriate encounters that forcecage would make trivial?  Yes, but at that level, the PCs SHOULD be able to trounce monsters occasionally.  But should not have been game-breaking.  It was subject to dispelling, anti-magic fields, disintegration, etc.  At least one or more of which should be available in significant encounters for level-appropriate villains for a party that involves a 13th level wizard or 14th level sorceror.

Shapechange was a big problem, that's why it was errata'd over and over.  After all, a wizard's familiar shares the benefit of any spell the wizard casts on himself, so the familiar becomes the same thing the wizard does.  And lord forbid he take 1 level of druid.  The player of a Wizard 19/Druid1 who had cast shapechange could suddenly be in control of 3 Great Wyrm Shadow Dragons.
I hear, timestop, summon balor, summon balor, summon balor is a rather telling thing.  Is it because summons normally take a while? and this trick gives you 3 somethings capable of fighting ummm substantiall better than several fighters.
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I hear, timestop, summon balor, summon balor, summon balor is a rather telling thing.  Is it because summons normally take a while? and this trick gives you 3 somethings capable of fighting ummm substantiall better than several fighters.



Or Time Stop and cast some Wall of Irons above them if you really want to be a d***
Dimension door, glitterdust, silence, dominate person and polymorph springs to mind.

I hear, timestop, summon balor, summon balor, summon balor is a rather telling thing.  Is it because summons normally take a while? and this trick gives you 3 somethings capable of fighting ummm substantiall better than several fighters.


Main limit on that is that gate costs 1,000 xp. If you don't want to spend xp, summon monster can be nasty, an elder elemental is a solid 'thug' option.
It's been a while since I've played anything before 4e, but wasn't timestop: delayed blast fireball a popular combination?  You could queue those up and have them all trigger at the end of the timestop.  


Anyway, regarding the specialist wizards, I like this a lot.  It'd be interesting if they had staggered progression of what spells they could learn.  Maybe if they can memorize illusion spells of level x, they could learn general spells of level x/2.  You could then also emphasize the synergy of certain schools, so if I can learn illusion spells of level x, I could learn (say) conjuration spells of level x-2 instead of x/2, but maybe evocation is tougher for me, so I can only learn spells of level x/4.  This gives specialist wizards some strong flavor, but also some generality in case they need the "easier" tricks of another school.  
I hear, timestop, summon balor, summon balor, summon balor is a rather telling thing.  Is it because summons normally take a while? and this trick gives you 3 somethings capable of fighting ummm substantiall better than several fighters.


Main limit on that is that gate costs 1,000 xp. If you don't want to spend xp, summon monster can be nasty, an elder elemental is a solid 'thug' option.




i think i'd rather go back to Vancian magic than have to spend experience points. My wife runs games where you can go five weeks without leveling in a game with 1st-3rd level PCs.
Options are Liberating
Improved Invisibility + Flight, particularly at night, allowed you to attack with near complete impunity against targets out in the open. Especially effective with armies. The key - using spells which do not originate from your position (eg. Wands of Cloudkill, Earthquake, Weather Control, Summoned Monsters, Walls of X, Illusions, etc.) Stay out of viewing distance of infravision... nearly impossible to target with dispels.

Shapechange was also used in some... interesting ways in games I ran. One of our players really knew how to abuse the ~200'/side, inorganic matter utility of that spell. Castle you don't like? Teleport 1000' in the air above the castle, shapechange into a 200'-a-side-d6 of solid adamantine... and drop. Rince and repeat as necessary. Never underestimate the utility of a 200' adamantine bowling ball either... Do the monsters in that 40x40 room offend your sensibilities? Shapechange into an adamantine cube of those exact dimensions... or so.

Summon Monster X wasn't actually castable though.  The Spells end at 9th level spells with Monster Summoning 9
I never understood why that list was there in 3.0

If you mean the Summon Monster line of spells.  Mob Caster casts Protection from (X Alignment) Tadaa total immunity to Summoned Monsters with nothing more than a 1st level spell.



As for Rope Trick, sure that works, right up until the Mob casters track you down and dispel it.

Force Cage they need to remove the Bars version I agree with that and they should restrict it to 1 person target regardless.

Dealing with Fly spell is just a matter of changing terrain.  Go indoors or in a cave or something


First of all, the spell use of monsters was a horrid mistake. It broke the game in the sense that the DM had to have tons of spell descriptions at hand.

Unless it is a very specific situation, an enemy I put in the game will not cast spells out of the PHB (like protection from evil) just to have them counter what the PC's do.

Summons were a bit broken, but they are easily fixed when the non-casters are also more powerful.
I hear, timestop, summon balor, summon balor, summon balor is a rather telling thing.  Is it because summons normally take a while? and this trick gives you 3 somethings capable of fighting ummm substantiall better than several fighters.


Main limit on that is that gate costs 1,000 xp. If you don't want to spend xp, summon monster can be nasty, an elder elemental is a solid 'thug' option.


I was inclined to say that paying 3k xp and four 9th level slots [which is all a wizard 20 gets before bonuses for high int or specalist] for the power to wipe one encounter (Gate, calling mode, immediate service) seems... well, a little silly.  At those rates, you might as well prepare Wish and be able to wipe encounters for a few thousand xp multiple times per day.   But, going for the Elder Earth Elementals gets you a few truckloads of hp with great resillance (kind of low damage output and low AC, but that's neither here nor there).

Of course, this is still somewhat a problem with fighters that they can't measure up to a CR 11 monster at level 20

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

Broken really doesn't mean anything...

Almost all the spells I've seen so far that you consider broken are consider a normal part of D&D to me... Of course it would be easier to challenge your players with mundane plots without fly, invisibility or teleport.

There isn't a single individual spell in the game that broke my game. It was more a combination of spells that messed up the math so much that it was a nightmare to prepare adventures.

In D&D 4:
Spells? I probably missed the 150 pages of spells in the PHB. Oh right, they're not in there.

In D&D 3.5:
Alter Self/Polymorph/Permanent Polymorph: ridiculous natural armor bonuses. 12-headed hydra + sneak attack...
Conviction: 10/minute per level moral bonus? Really?
Create Magic Tatoo: more "non standard" long duration buffs 
Plant Body and the others: immunity to sneak attack, immunity to mind-affecting spells, immunity to XXXX. You had long duration buffs that made you immune to pretty much everything.

In D&D 2: 
Stoneskin: this is the only spell that ever bothered me.
It's not the spells that break games.

It's always a combination of poor DMing & the attitudes of the players involved. 

Basically, in 3.5, the problem spells are spells that have some sort of X/level-whether that X be dice of damage, duration, etc-or the spells that are introduced after the Player's Handbook. I will now demonstrate this by going through the list of spells that "break" the game listed previously in this thread.


Alter Self - See Polymorph. Replace Black Lotus with Lion's Eye Diamond.


Charm Person - Saving Throws are so good against spells since the DCs don't scale with level (as an attack bonus does) in 3.x. Beyond that, it's just friendly, it isn't dominated.


Conviction - Not in Player's Handbook. Seems that WotC knows how to playtest suplimental material these days, so hopefully we won't see the likes of this again. (Note: This might not really be broken, I just can't look it up to verify right now.)


Create Magic Tatoo - Not in Player's Handbook.


Dominate Person - Casting time hell. "Against its nature" makes saving rather easy for a low-level spell.


Dimension Door - What? How is this broken?


Fly - Yeah, it doesn't need to be level three. It also has a X/level duration, which hurts. However, does it really do much indoors?


Gate - Yup. X/level sucks. When there's two different X/levels in the power, it makes it really bad.


Forcecage - The baddies I really cared about by level 13 were the ones who could teleport or travel extradimensionally. Note that it doesn't outright kill anything and does cost 1,500 gold. If there's no expected income, that does help things a little.


Glitterdust - Huh? X/level regardless.


Improved (or Greater) Invisibility - X/level nonsense.


Plant Body - Not in Player's Handbook. (Anyone else think a player's handbook is something to help get the ladies?)


Planar Ally - Request, you say? Payment, you say? Experience cost, you say?


Planar Binding - What in the world were you guys doing to make your save DCs high enough for this to matter? Even if that didn't work, there was still Spell Resistance, dimensional travel, and the Charisma check. Was this really reliable enough to risk having another enemy in the battle? There were just too many outs for this to be worth it. 


Plane Shift - Saving throws are the bane of 3.x casters. Barring that, in another plane isn't dead. Creative DMs turn this into a problem for the PCs rather than a Save or Die. I can see how this is good in many gaming groups, but I suppose I was lucky enough to have DMs who wouldn't let players get away with it.  Of all the spells mentioned, this is the most broken (other than Polymorph and kin).


Polymorph - You'll get no argument here, this spell is broken with a capital B. It was banned in orgainzed play, however, so I think WotC knows about the problem. I'm also pretty sure they won't reprint Black Lotus, either.


Protection from Missiles - Not in Player's Handbook.


Rope Trick - As stated, this spell needs to be cst by a level 8 caster for a full rest to occur. Given the proclevity of players to have extradimensional items by that level (Bag of Holding, anyone?) it really isn't a good choice at that point.


Shapechange - See Polymorph. Replace Black Lotus with Blacker Lotus.


Silence - This is a spell that is good against casters. I really don't think it counts given the fact that it's casted by casters. When used to sneak around, it's good at giving away your location to bad guys becuase they notice they can't talk.


Summon X - I'm being punked, right? Seriously, this spell is considered good? When we got to college, we found new players and one of them swore this spell was a good one, so we tried it. If by good he meant "takes up time" then, yeah, it's great. Oh wow, at level three you can create a 2 HD monster for 3 rounds (by giving up a standard action). This was the peak of the power. Beyond that, it summoned monsters that were too low of level to have any meaningful bearing on the fight.


Time Stop - This depends on the brokenness of other spells. It is not broken in its own right.


Wish - I agree this shouldn't be a spell. However, it really isn't all that great considering the penalties and the fact that the DM has final say over any open-ended wish. I would love to see wishes in the game, just not as a spell.

A good sign of a broken spell is one that refers to outside material for potential effects and does not fully state what it can do in its own description.

Polymorph is the classic example of this. In the first PHB lauch of 3e it was not nearly as broken as it was some time later with more and more powerful creatures that still had low enough HD being published.

If you make a spell, decide what it can do, all the limits it can achieve, and set those limits within the spell itself. Some exceptions of course are always possible, like a spell pushing enemies cannot take into account what might be in the area they were pushed into. But for instance if you allow the caster to buff himself (or others) the buff effects should be clearly stated in the spell and not vary according to books published later in the cycle.

Same goes for class features. The druid animal companion got to be more broken only because it was not limited to what should have been already in the game in the first publishing round. Later options should be added only by carefully considering if they are appropriate, which would mean also updating the class feature accordingly.

Think of it this way.

You are working night shift security.
Your best friend shows up and asks you to let him in so he can use the phone.

Doing so will get you fired

Are you willing to get Fired for your best friend?


Yes.  I absolutely would let my best friend use the phone.  He's my best friend.  I'd assume that he was going to be discreet about it and not do something that would be likely to get us caught.  Remember that if we don't get caught, I don't get fired.  

I don't work in security, but I used to work in food service.  A time or two I smuggled out some food that would have gotten thrown away anyway and gave it to a friend that was short on grocery money.  It would have gotten me fired if I'd been caught.   It wasn't even my best friend, just a regular old friend.

So if I were a guard at some place, and my bestest friend in the whole world told me he just needed to run in for a second and grab something he left behind, and no one would have to know, I'd be pretty likely to let him in.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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The notion that there are specific spells that 'break' the game is largely erroneous. It is the VAST array of spells and the fact that casters get more and more spell slots and each spell in them mostly increase in potency as you go up in levels. At a certain point the casters simply become uncontainable. They have so many possible options available to them that the DM can no longer even predict what they're going to do, when, how or where. Try writing an adventure for beyond name-level casters. It is at best HIGHLY difficult to do, and if you have really clever dedicated players even 7th-9th level wizards in particular can pretty well screw up any plot or bypass virtually any obstacle that isn't literally specifically customized for no other purpose than to thwart them (and even then 11-13th level wizards played well should be able to pretty well get past any of that garbage).

This is complete truth (and matches my own experiences perfectly).  While there were some spells that were frequently problematic due to how they were designed (such as Summon Monster), the bigger problem was just the exponential power growth of casters.  Unless the DM is very well prepared and knows about all of the spells and takes the extra effort to specifically craft plots with all those spells in mind, the plots just sort of fall apart. 

 
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Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
If you mean the Summon Monster line of spells.  Mob Caster casts Protection from (X Alignment) Tadaa total immunity to Summoned Monsters with nothing more than a 1st level spell.


With a 1 round casting time... not likely to happen when the monster has been summoned right next to them and has started a grapple. It also has no effect on ranged attacks, weapon attacks, or SLAs of the summoned creatures (unless they're trying to possess you or require a melee touch attack). So, by and large, an ineffective defense.



Not to mentiont the fact that your basically just admiting that in order to beat magic, team monster NEEDS magic. Kinda lame if you ask me.
The essential theme song- Get a little bit a fluff da' fluff, get a little bit a fluff da' fluff! (ooh yeah) Repeat Unless noted otherwise every thing I post is my opinion, and probably should be taken as tongue in cheek any way.
I hear, timestop, summon balor, summon balor, summon balor is a rather telling thing.  Is it because summons normally take a while? and this trick gives you 3 somethings capable of fighting ummm substantiall better than several fighters.


Main limit on that is that gate costs 1,000 xp. If you don't want to spend xp, summon monster can be nasty, an elder elemental is a solid 'thug' option.

Also the use of Gate to summon a specific creature requires you to Target that creature thus putting it in the category of "spells that can't be cast while Time Stopped"

also Wall of Iron like all Walls must be created vertically (so no you cannot create Walls of iron in mid air to crush people) though you do have the option of not anchoring it.  If not anchored in which case it has a 50% chance to tip over in either direction (so you are as likely to crush yourself as the enemy) though a creature may try to push it over in a specific direction by making a DC 40 Strength test. 

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