Epic Spell Conversions, Part VII. Create Living Vault, Crown Of Vermin, Superb Dispelling, Time Duplicate, Blurred Instant, Thief Of Time, Verdigris, and Verdigris Tsunami.

   To continue with Alzrius’s request, here are a few more epic spells converted to Eclipse high-level spells – including three of the most awkward ones on the list; Create Living Vault, Crown Of Vermin, and Time Duplicate.

   Create Living Vault

   Create Living Vault is pretty absurd. Yes, some of the statistics for that CR 33 Living Vault are quite impressive – 96d10 + 80 HD / 608 HP, Str 80, Dex 7, Wis 12, Cha 1, AC 60, +99 to hit, 10d6+35 Damage, and DR 15/Epic. On the other hand, if you encounter one, under the rules, all you need to do to “kill” it is to (1) throw up a Dimensional Lock – perhaps enlarged a bit with metamagic to make it take more than four rounds for it to drag itself out of the area (presuming you center it on it, it will need to get it’s whole body out of the area of effect before it can go anywhere; magic immunity won’t help it against something that prohibits travel) – and (2) send in enough peasants throwing burning oil to burn it to death. They’ll hit on a 20 – and, like many of the other SRD constructs, a Living Vault has immunity to most magic and damage reduction versus physical attacks – but no protection from nonmagical energy. For that matter, just dropping a lot of large rocks on it will work too.

   Even if your game master doesn’t let you get away with that little exploit, or anything similar, the spell basically creates a big, safe, box in which to hide your stuff – at the cost of a total of 160,000 XP and one hundred days of work by each of eight different epic spellcasters.

   I suspect that eight epic spellcasters can find better things to do with a hundred days than to construct a big safety deposit box that only one of them can get into.

   Still, if you want to summon a CR 33 creature, the base level of spell you need is 18. Making the spell permanent calls for +16 levels of the Persistent metamagic. Of course, we can apply Compact – calling for a one-month working time (-2 Spell Levels), some backlash damage (-1 Spell Level), requiring some expensive components and high level spellcasting assistants during the ritual (say, capable of casting eighth level spells, -2 Spell Levels), and – for the fun of it – owing some extra-dimensional patron a minor favor (-1 Spell Level). That takes it down to +10 levels of built-in metamagic, for a final spell level adjustment of +8 – still a level twenty-six effect.

   On the other hand, that still means that it can be dispelled – which sort of defeats the purpose.

   Given the massive XP cost of the original spell, I think that it would be a more appropriate translation to apply a rarely-used option from the Persistent Metamagical Theorem – Sacrifice.

   That takes it to a base spell level of 18, +3 for Sacrifice, -6 for the same set of Compact modifiers, and a net spell level of fifteen – but, once you summon the thing, it ties up that fifteenth level spell slot permanently, or at least until it’s finally destroyed. Still, with Sacrifice, it cannot be dispelled.

   That would give us…

  • Create Living Vault: Spell Level Fifteen, Conjuration (Creation), Components: V, S, Casting Time: One Month, Area: Creates one Living Vault, Range: Medium, Duration: Instantaneous, Saving Throw: None, and Spell Resistance: No.
  • The caster creates a construct known as a living vault to protect and hide his or her treasures. The vault is attuned to the character, allowing him or her alone entrance and egress in a manner similar to a dimension door spell. When the character desires the vault to hide itself, he or she gives it a simple command. To summon the vault, the character may cast a sending spell or arrange some other manner to contact it. Sadly, once a Living Vault is summoned, it effectively continues to occupy the spell slot used to summon it until it’s destroyed – and casting the spell requires 25,000 GP worth of ritual ingredients, causes 15d6 damage to the caster, and requires the assistance of at least three other spellcasters capable of casting eighth level spells throughout the one-month casting time.

   That works – but I’m not sure that it’s best to convert this thing as a spell; it seems a lot more like it should fall under “constructing a golem”.

   Lets see… A colossal animated object would have 32d10 + 80 hit dice, and a base AC of 11 (-8 Size, -3 Dex, +12 Natural).

   Per the rules in The Practical Enchanter, an especially-constructed huge or larger body made of adamant would provide +44 Hit Dice, +44 Strength, +44 Natural Armor, and DR 20/Harder than Adamant (which would normally translate as Epic) – as well as Resistance/20 to all forms of Energy, which would prevent the flaming oil attack from working.

   It would also be hideously expensive, but at these levels who’s counting?

   Again, per The Practical Enchanter, binding an Elder Earth Elemental into it would provide +24 Hit Dice, +2 Strength, +2 Natural Armor, -2 Dex, -10 Base Movement, Wisdom10, and an inability to run.

   So that would give us… Str 74, Dex 2, Wis 10, and Cha 1. 100d10 Hit Dice, a base AC of 52 (-8 Size, -4 Dex, +58 Natural). I’d give it multiple legs, which will more than make up for the movement penalty.

   Considering the cost of this thing already, three +6 attribute enhancements aren’t going to be a big thing. That will get us to Str 80, Dex 8, and Wis 16. That will get the AC up to 55 too – and, as long as we put the enchantments on before doing the elemental imbuement, they’ll become extraordinary abilities.

   If we want to get the armor class up, giving it some armor plating – and thus an armor bonus – is also pretty cheap and easy; that can get us up to AC 60 (or a bit above that) quite readily.

   It would need to be imbued with Imprisonment (with an area-effect metamagical boost), True Seeing, Sequester, Plane Shift, and a Nullfield (to provide the magic immunity) – but that’s straightforward enchantment. Expensive, but nowhere near the value of 160,000 XP.

   Overall, if I simply wanted a place to keep my stuff, I’d probably go with Torim’s Superlative Porter, at spell level eleven. If I also wanted a portable melee backup/strongpoint, either the golem version or the fifteenth-level Sacrifice based version might be worthwhile.

   Crown Of Vermin

   Back in first edition, there was a seventh-level druid spell called “Creeping Doom” – perhaps better labeled as “army ants attack”. To paraphrase:

   Creeping Doom calls forth a mass of (1d6 + 4) x100 venomous, biting and stinging arachnids, insects and myriapods. The carpet-like mass will swarm in an area and creep around slowly as commanded. The bugs will slay any creature subject to normal attacks, each inflicting one hit point of damage before dying. If the creeping doom moves out of range, it loses fifty bugs per additional scale inch.

   According to the description, “There are a number of ways to thwart or destroy the creatures forming the swarm, all of which methods should be obvious”

   OK, that had some limitations. It took forever to cast, and started out right in front of you. Still, if there was a vulnerable target within the initial area and you could get the spell off, you could pretty well take them out. Go druids!

   Of course, the fact that there were only allowed to be thirteen druids at a time on the entire world who could cast seventh level druidical spells put a bit of a damper on things. Still, third edition’s “Creeping Doom” – and it’s Centipede Swarms – just isn’t the same.

   Crown of Vermin is something of a throwback to that good old first edition spell, but it’s pretty poorly implemented.

   For example:

   “The vermin have damage reduction 1/epic, so the vermin’s natural weapons are treated as epic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. If there aren’t enough vermin to kill all the creatures in the spell’s effect, the creature with the fewest hit points is affected first, then the creature with the second fewest hit points, and so on. After all creatures that can be killed have been killed, any remaining damage is distributed among the survivors equally.”

   OK, so our Crown of Vermin can easily chew up a squad of iron golems or most epic-level monsters and characters – although a reflex save made each round will, if it succeeds, limit the damage to 10d10 points in that round.

   On the other hand, Java Joe, the bathing-free, coffee-powered seventh level barbarian – or anyone else with DR 1/or better (or against an alignment, or type of material, or some such) is entirely immune. Evidently either that layer of dirt is better than being made of iron or Joe is just so used to bugs that they don’t really bother him any more.

   Of course, since Java Joe doubtless has fewer hit points than anything else our epic caster is likely to find in his or her target area, that means that his presence renders everyone else in the area immune as well.

   Er… Yes. Right.

   The spell also includes notes that

   “The vermin make all saving throws to avoid damaging effects using the character’s base saving throw bonuses. They gain the character’s spell resistance, if any, and they get saving throws against spells that would otherwise automatically slay vermin.”

   So is this being treated as a normal swarm? If so, what kind? If it’s a unique swarm, how many hit points and such does it have? If it’s not a swarm – and “the vermin” plural kind of implies that – then, barring spell resistance, a single cheesy fireball can presumably take it out regardless, save or no save, since the individual bugs probably don’t have too many hit points each – and we don’t have much of anything on the qualities of the individual bugs.

   Questions like that make it kind of hard to break this one down. How do you duplicate something when you’re not really sure what it does in the first place?

   I could say that it summons a Ruin Swarm (making it a generic summoning with a base level of thirteen) with an extra +2 level modifier for the secondary effects of concealment, being able to see though it, it being able to penetrate most damage reduction, and being able to suppress it – but the damage is lower and the swarm would not suffer from being depleted by making attacks.

   As it stands, I’d simply peg Crown of Vermin – complete with the mechanical problems that any given game master will have to rule on – at about level fourteen, counting in a -1 spell level for the extended casting time.

   Ergo, we have…

  • Crown Of Vermin: Spell Level Fourteen, Conjuration (Summoning), Components: V, S, Casting Time: One Full Minute, Range: Personal, Effect: Aura of one thousand insects that surround the caster in a ten-foot radius spread, Duration: 20 founds, Saving Throw: None (see text), and Spell Resistance: No.
  • Crown of Vermin calls forth a thousand venomous, biting and stinging spiders, scorpions, beetles, and centipedes from the very air around the caster, forming a living aura around the character with a radius of ten feet. The caster is immune to his or her own crown of vermin. The aura goes where the caster does at his or her speed, even if the character takes to the air or water (though water drowns the vermin after one full round of immersion, unless the spell is cast underwater, in which case aquatic or marine vermin answer the call and cannot leave the water). Each vermin in the crown of vermin bites a creature who enters the area occupied by the effect (or the caster forces the effect into an area occupied by another creature) for one point of damage, and then dies. Each victim takes enough points of damage to kill it, destroying that number of vermin in the process. Victims get a Reflex saving throw each round to avoid the full press, and if successful, take only 10d10 bites (and 10d10 points of damage). A total of 1,000 points of damage can be dealt to those who fall prey to the crown of vermin. The vermin have damage reduction 1/epic, so the vermin’s natural weapons are treated as epic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. If there aren’t enough vermin to kill all the creatures in the spell’s area of effect, the creature with the fewest hit points is affected first, then the creature with the second fewest hit points, and so on. After all creatures that can be killed have been killed, any remaining damage is distributed among the survivors equally. 
  • The caster has complete control over the vermin in his or her aura, and can force them into areas that would normally deter common vermin. The caster can completely suppress his or her vermin aura as a free action so that no vermin are visible at all. The time that vermin are suppressed does not count toward the spell’s duration. Alternatively, the character can roughly shape and move the vermin in any fashion he or she desires within the limits of the ten-foot-radius spread as a move-equivalent action. The vermin cannot be wrested from the character’s control through any means. The vermin make all saving throws to avoid damaging effects using the character’s base saving throw bonuses. They gain the character’s spell resistance, if any, and they get saving throws against spells that would otherwise automatically slay vermin. A character can see through his or her crown of vermin without difficulty, but gains one-half concealment against enemy attacks launched both outside and within the character’s crown of vermin.

   Superb Dispelling

   For this, simply use Great Dispelling, at Spell Level Twelve, from the spell list in Eclipse.

   Time Duplicate

   This is another headache. It supposedly snatches a possible version of the caster from one round in the future, who is – nevertheless – an exact duplicate of the caster as he or she is at the moment of casting. Both versions of the caster act, then version one vanishes (called back in time to help him- or her-self) and version two also vanishes for one round, then reappears with whatever he or she did marked off from his or her reserves.

   The theory is apparently that the caster has a linear existence in time and is taking a part out of it in the future to use in the present – making this spell basically a quick dose of super-coffee. Act twice now, miss next round.

   Of course, anything Version One does in the round after casting this spell does not impact on what happens to Version Two in the future, since the condition of Version Two is set by Version Ones condition just as casting the Time Duplicate spell is completed and what Version Two does in that round – what Version One did with the rest of his or her action after casting Time Duplicate, and what may have happened to him or her, does not matter.

   So it doesn’t matter if Version One is killed. Or if he or she invokes a useful effect – a Wish or similar – with a massive XP or other resource cost even if it’s for the benefit of Version Two. For that matter, if Version One is carrying the Indestructible Artifact of Ultimate Evil, Version Two will have one as well – and if Version Two hands it to Version One, Version One now has an extra; will it vanish with him or her? Could you reduplicate it by going the other way around, or would the old version vanish with Version One? If the caster is a lycanthrope, and Version One infects someone in that round, will that infection vanish too if you rule that the artifact does? If the effects of a Wish vanish, why doesn’t the damage inflicted by another spell? If not, what makes it different? Is the spell a free escape from the inescapable trap of doom, since it lets you position the duplicate just outside it and then vanish?

   OK. I’ll presume that – despite the logic and implications that make no sense – the basic intent of the spell is that the user gets to act twice in a given round and that the resource-management wonkiness is simply bad wording.

   Now THAT’S easy.

   For that take Grand Haste (from The Practical Enchanter). That spell works like Haste, but grants full extra actions – although it is level nine. Of course, we want it to be touch range instead of close, personal only instead of one target per level, and to only last for one round instead of one round per level – so that we’re basically burning a spell to get an extra move action. It provides an extra full action, but we’re using a standard action to cast it… That takes it down to about level five. Making it a Quickened effect (+4 Spell Levels of the Easy metamagic) takes us back up to level nine – and makes it comparable to time stop (no surprise there); you get fewer actions, but can affect other people.

   Now let’s improve that a bit. Lets add Amplify (+4 Spell Levels) to double up the effect, so that the user gets two full extra actions, but add in the bit that it steals time from the future – and thus causes the caster to miss the next round entirely, not even existing during that time – as a limitation (-1 Spell Level). With a -1 Spell Level credit for seven levels of built-in Metamagic, that gives us a net spell level of eleven – and a spell that’s probably slightly better at what it was actually intended to do but evades the resource-management weirdness of the original.

   Alternatively, we could skip the “Quickened” part, and the “Steal time from the future” part and just make “Blurred Instant” – an eighth level spell that you cast as a standard action that lets you immediately take two full actions.

   That’s quite useful, but “I effectively gain one move action and one full action” seems pretty reasonable compared to Polymorph Any Object, Earthquake, or Word of Recall.

   That gives us…

  • Blurred Instant: Spell Level Eight, Transmutation, Components: V, S, M, Casting Time: One Standard Action, Range: Personal, Target: You, Duration: One Round, Saving Throw: None, Spell Resistance: No.
  • Blurred Instant allows the caster to immediately take two full actions as the world around him or her seems to slow to near-immobility.

   And

  • Thief Of Time: Spell Level Eleven, Transmutation, Components: V, S, Casting Time: One Free Action, Range: Personal, Target: You, Duration: One Round, Saving Throw: None, Spell Resistance: No.
  • Thief Of Time allows the caster to immediately take two full actions as he or she steals time from his or her personal future and the world around him or her seems to slow to near-immobility. During the next round, the caster will not exist at all – that potion of his or her personal time has been stolen – but he or she will return to existence at the start of the next round.

   There. That works quite nicely, and provides that burst of extra actions, without allowing “I turn my five epic spell slots for today into an otherwise-free permanent +5 inherent bonus to an attribute”. It might, in fact, be quite reasonably to allow a “wish” with no XP cost as a high-order epic spell – but it tends to upset the game, and so I discourage it.

   Verdigris and Verdigris Tsunami

   This spell is essentially identical to Plant Growth; the area is the same, and the ranges are similar – but the Epic level effect has a twenty-four hour duration instead of being instantaneous, can do 10d6 damage to anything immobile in the affected area and to creatures who fail to save, and doesn’t seem to require existing plant life. On the other hand, while the wording sounds like it OUGHT to entangle and entrap those within it, no such effect is actually listed.

   Ergo, this includes a pair of effects:

   Damage – 10d6 (like any standard level three “ball” attack), but with +5 levels of Area to affect a one-hundred foot radius, +1 level of Elemental Manipulation to change it to physical damage, and +1 level for a level six secondary effect – Plant Growth (Level Three Base) with Elemental Manipulation / Entangled (those who fail to save will be Entangled for +2 Spell Levels) and Amplified / no need for existing plant life (+1 Spell Level). With the -1 Spell Level credit for +7 levels of Metamagic, that gives this an effective spell level of eight. It also lets it entangle people, which certainly seems to fit.

   That gives us…

  • Verdigris: Spell Level Eight, Transmutation, Components: V, S, Casting Time: One Standard Action, Range: Long, Target: 100-foot radius circle, 150-foot radius semicircle, or 200-foot radius quarter circle at the option of the caster, Duration: Instantaneous, Saving Throw: Reflex Half, Spell Resistance: No.
  • Verdigris grows tangled masses of grasses, briars, bushes, creepers, thistles, trees, and vines within it’s area of effect, sweeping over the area like a tidal wave and growing through, around, and under everything in the area as if the plants had been growing for a century or more. The plants entwine to form a thicket or jungle that creatures must hack or force a way through. Immobile creatures and items caught in the area suffer 10d6 crushing damage, although mobile creatures may save to half that. Creatures that fail to save become entangled. In any case, speed through the area drops to 5 feet, or 10 feet for Large or larger creatures. The caster may designate areas within the area that are not affected.

   That’s pretty much as expected; Verdigris is just not an especially impressive epic effect – and, in fact, really doesn’t come out to be an epic level effect at all.

   Verdigris Tsunami is essentially identical to Verdigris, save for the fact that it causes 40d6 damage, expands the radius affected by a factor of ten, and is a good deal more trouble to cast.

   Well, that’s +3 levels of Area for a battlefield scale effect and about +4 levels of Amplify to get the damage cap up into the epic levels. On the other hand, it takes minutes to cast (-1 Spell Level) and has an XP Cost (I’ll set that at 500, for -2 Spell Levels). With a net +11 levels of built-in metamagic, this qualifies for a -2 Spell Level modifier – and winds up with a final spell level of twelve.

   If we dump the extra time and the XP cost, we wind up with a -3 Spell Level modifier for all that built-in metamagic and a final spell level of fourteen. That seems fairly appropriate; after all, at it’s base, this is just a really big Plant Growth spell where the plants grow large and fast enough that people may get hurt.

   That gives us…

  • Verdigris Tsunami: Spell Level Fourteen, Transmutation, Components: V, S, Casting Time: One Standard Action, Range: Long, Target: 1000-foot radius circle, 1500-foot radius semicircle, or 2000-foot radius quarter circle at the option of the caster, Duration: Instantaneous, Saving Throw: Reflex Half, Spell Resistance: No.
  • Verdigris Tsunami grows tangled masses of grasses, briars, bushes, creepers, thistles, trees, and vines within it’s area of effect, sweeping over the area like a tidal wave and growing through, around, and under everything in the area as if the plants had been growing for a century or more. The plants entwine to form a thicket or jungle that creatures must hack or force a way through. Immobile creatures and items caught in the area suffer 40d6 crushing damage, although mobile creatures may save to half that. Creatures that fail to save become entangled. In any case, speed through the area drops to 5 feet, or 10 feet for Large or larger creatures. The caster may designate areas within the area that are not affected.

   OK, that is pretty much identical to Verdigris – but that’s the way it was written.

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2 Responses

  1. That’s a very complete title! I like the ideas too.

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