[3.5] Spell Idea

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Before I begin, I know that you're not my DM - but I have a spell idea and I thought I'd get your input before I submit the idea to him. I hope this is the right forum.

We're playing Red Gauntlet mercenaries in Eberron, and are often in the situation where we'd like to take someone alive. This is often a lot of very dangerous guesswork - how much hp is he at? How much damage will my attack likely do? How many more of his attacks are we willing to endure while we mess around?

To that end, I'm considering trying to invent two spells. I'm not a D&D expert, so I'm sure I'll get some of the format wrong. Please let me know if there are other spells that already do the same or similar things.

Merciful Weapon [Cleric 2]
Duration: 1 minute/level
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Save: Will negates [harmless]
You touch a willing target or an unattended weapon. Until the spell expires, the weapon has the Merciful quality: all normal damage it deals is nonlethal. Any extra damage it deals (e.g. from qualities like Flaming) is not affected. The wielder may turn this quality on and off as a free action once per round.

Merciful Binding [Cleric 4]
Duration: 3 hours/level
Casting Time: 1 round / 1 minute (see text)
Range: Touch / 100 feet (see text)
Save: Special (see text)

This spell functions in two ways.

1) When cast on an unconscoius and/or dying target, the target immediately stabilizes if dying. The target regains HP as normal, but cannot regain consciousness unless the caster permits it. The caster is aware of the target's physical condition at all times. This version of the spell takes one round to cast and has a range of touch. The spell ends if the caster moves more than 100 feet away or falls unconscious, or if the target receives magical healing resulting in a positive HP total. Targets with negative hp totals receive no saving throw; unconscious targets must make a Fortitude save at -5 to resist the spell. If the caster cancels the spell or the duration expires, the effects linger for two minutes after the spell ends, allowing it to be renewed. Otherwise the target is immediately conscious if it would normally be so.

2) When cast on a conscious target, the target falls unconscious and remains so until the spell ends, the caster allows it to awaken, the caster moves more than 100 feet away, or the caster falls unconscious. The caster is aware of the target's physical condition at all times. This version has a casting time of one minute. A fortitude save resists the effect, and the target receives another save every 24 hours or whenever the spell is recast. If the caster cancels the spell or the duration expires, the effects linger for two minutes after the spell ends, allowing it to be renewed. Otherwise the target is immediately conscious if it would normally be so.

For the first function of the second spell, what you actually want is delay death (Spell Compendium). It's a 4th-level cleric spell you can cast when it's not your turn in response to something that happens. It keeps a character from dying at -10 or fewer HP. Just tie them up and heal them before the spell wears off.


For the second function of the second spell, you want hold person (Player's Handbook) or wrack (Spell Compendium). In either case, just tie them up before the spell ends.


Merciful Weapon [Cleric 2]
Duration: 1 minute/level
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Save: Will negates [harmless]
You touch a willing target or an unattended weapon. Until the spell expires, the weapon has the Merciful quality: all normal damage it deals is nonlethal. Any extra damage it deals (e.g. from qualities like Flaming) is not affected. The wielder may turn this quality on and off as a free action once per round.


I don't think this is such a bad concept except I don't believe you should be able to turn it on or off as a free action once per round.  I may make it Dismissable by the caster but otherwise once it gets turned on it will need to stay on.
 
Thanks for the helpful replies!

StevenO, you're probably right.

Maat_Mons, I guess my problem was that Hold Person is way too brief if we need to haul them for a week back to civilization. My group was telling me that, in a session I missed, they had to keep hitting and healing this undead-grafted weretiger (an escaped necromantic experiment) despite having used shackles on it...guess I'll have to ask them why simply tying it up didn't work.
Why not have somebody enter the Bloodhound PrC from CAdv? Its "Bring 'Em Back Alive" class feature should be handy in this type of situation. Or have the wizard (you have a wizard or sorcerer, right?) cast Sleep. There are many options for this... Including just choosing to deal non-lethal damage. It's harder for a rogue, unless he carries around a cosh of some sort, but it is possible.
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I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
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You know, I believe a rogue could use a Sap and get to add Sneak Attack as non-lethal damage.


While I should check to see what it really compares to that Merciful Weapon spell probably could (or even should) be a 1st-level spell.  After all what does it really do?  It just converts lethal damage into non-lethal damage.  The targetting assigned to it makes it hard/impossible to use the spell offensively (unless you can get an opponent's weapon away from him) and I'd say it is no more powerful then the Magic Weapon spell or any of several other 1st-level spells that alter how a weapon works.

The heroics spell (Spell Compendium) gives the target a fighter feat. The subduing strike feat (Book of Exalted Deeds) is a fighter feat and eliminates the normal -4 penalty to attack rolls for using a normally-lethal weapon to deal nonlethal damage. So, a spell that effectively grants the subduing strike feat could probably be 1st level.


A merciful weapon also deals +1d6 damage, so I wouldn't define the spell in terms of it.

A merciful weapon also deals +1d6 damage, so I wouldn't define the spell in terms of it.


Ooops....

I wasn't thinking about that little piece of information but if the spells grants that added damage instead of just turning lethal into non-lethal then it would need to be a higher level spell as I'm note quite sure 2nd-level would be high enough.