Eclipse – Magic and Metamagic

Today we have some questions from Alzrius – and a set of responses long enough that I’m going to have to split this response into two parts…

I’m playing a utility mage in my current Pathfinder group, I wanted to ask about feats and spells or other special (Eclipse) abilities that would let me bend or even break some of the usual rules regarding spellcasting. Most of these are things that can’t normally be done with metamagic.

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What would let me cast a spell that’s undetectable both while it’s in effect and leaves no lingering aura? That is, Detect Magic and similar spells wouldn’t pick it up. Presumably, this would also let me craft undetectable magic items.

There are actually a couple of ways to do this sort of thing:

  • The Eldritch series of abilities starts with the Subtle modifier (6 CP), which makes your magic difficult – although not impossible – to detect.
  • The Lacing metamagic includes the option to give spells a built-in illusion effect to hide them. That’s usually applied to spells with audible or visible effects, but you can apply the concealment to other aspects if you wish – such as the magical aura of a spell. Given that all spells have magical auras, but none of them are particularly unusual, that comes in the default space between “already subtle or quiet” at +1 spell level and “flashy or wildly obvious” at +3 spell levels. Ergo, +2 spell levels. Buying Lacing and Glory would conceal your spells very nicely, and would work on any continuously-active items you made as well (it probably wouldn’t work on spell-storing devices, since the stored spell is not active and so the concealment effect wouldn’t be active either). You’d need to upgrade this to deal with True Seeing and similar high-level divination effects that pierce normal illusions, but by the time those become a worry, finding room for an upgrade shouldn’t be too much trouble. Overall, 8-12 CP depending on just what modifiers you apply.
  • If you wanted to get really complicated, you could use Cloaking or an Immunity to protect yourself against divination and then either use another Immunity (to the normal restrictions) or Blessing to extend the effect to your spells and items – but that’s over-convoluted, expensive, and requires special permission from the game master for the use of either Blessing or a natural-law Immunity. More trouble than it’s worth either way.
  • You could try to talk your game master into letting you define your magic as “something else” – such as calling on the mysterious energies of a strange plane – for free. Unfortunately, this cuts both ways; if the forces you’re tapping don’t interact with magic, your “spells” couldn’t be detected or dispelled by the usual spells – but you couldn’t use your own powers to detect or dispel magic either. Given the awkwardness of having two separate-but-near-identical systems in play, I don’t recommend even trying to talk your game master into this.

When you’re asleep, you normally automatically fail all saving throws. How would my character retain the ability to make saving throws against spells and effects even while slumbering?

First up, this depends a bit on interpretation; a sleeping character is considered “Helpless”, and is treated as if his or her dexterity was zero – but the condition listing then goes on to note that this is treated as the character having a “-5″ dexterity modifier – and why note that if it’s automatic failure?

There’s also a SRD bit that says that “Some spells restrict you to willing targets only. Declaring yourself as a willing target is something that can be done at any time (even if you’re flat-footed or it isn’t your turn). Unconscious creatures are automatically considered willing, but a character who is conscious but immobile or helpless (such as one who is bound, cowering, grappling, paralyzed, pinned, or stunned) is not automatically willing.”

Now, while willing targets get no saves, spells that only affect willing targets are helpful spells. This is in there to dodge the notion of unconscious characters having to be awoken BEFORE they can be magically healed or teleported with the rest of the party, and only applies to spells that require willing targets. Being “willing” to accept helpful spells is not the same as renouncing a save against a hostile effect. That’s why unconscious characters quite specifically get saves against spells intended to invade their minds, against catching diseases, to shake off negative levels, and against many other hazards.

Personally, I usually apply a circumstance penalty to will saves for sleeping targets (although the results may not be quite the same on a sleeper; they often mishear commands or simply act things out in their dreams). On the other hand, most fortitude saves don’t rely on being conscious. Even in reality, being bitten by a snake isn’t really much worse if you’re asleep than if you’re awake.

Now, I don’t recall Pathfinder making any major changes there – but presuming that the game is being run this way…

  • The easiest way to do this is to take Opportunist – allowing the user to select a particular situation (being asleep) and a particular type of action which would not normally be permitted in that situation (normal saving throws) and thereafter use that action in that situation. That’s (6 CP).
  • You could do the same thing by taking Immunity/the need to sleep. That’s Very Common, Severe (since remaining permanently awake will have very nasty consequences in time – such as death), Major, Specialized and Corrupted/only to allow the use of inherent defensive abilities while otherwise “asleep”, saving throws only. That’s also 6 CP, but does show a more obvious upgrade path – get rid of the Corruption and you can continue to enjoy your dexterity-based AC bonuses and such in your sleep. Very handy if you take an Accursed/Sleepwalker disadvantage!

Normally, when a person makes a saving throw against a spell, they know that some sort of effect just targeted them, though not what it was or who used it. However, that can still be more information than I’d like someone to have. If my character is alone with someone, and subtly casts Charm Person on them, if they make their save they’ll likely be suspicious.

Ah, that annoying “A creature that succeeds on a saving throw against a spell that has no obvious physical effects feels a hostile force or tingle, but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack” rule.

That’s actually rather hard to get around, simply because there’s not much to work with – and nothing at all to indicate just how it works.

Taking an immunity to other people noticing your spells really stretches the notion of you being immune to something. Not a good route to try to talk your game master into letting you take.

Well, this is making the target aware of some aspect of the environment, which makes it a sense of some sort. Ergo we have some sort of inherent sense that lets creatures know when their magical resistance is being challenged. That’s an obvious game-balance factor, but should be possible to get around; after all, humans have an immune system, but don’t automatically know when it’s being challenged.

  • Ergo, our first possiblity is making spells undetectable by this “magic sense” – most likely by using Lacing again, pretty much as above. If you can conceal a spell from sight, there’s no reason why you can’t conceal it from this “magic sense”.
  • Alternatively, you can add a secondary effect to the spell that makes the victim either forget or ignore what their “magic sense” is telling them. That would mean that the spell would call for a secondary save if the first is made; they’d only realize that a spell or effect had targeted them if they made the second save as well.

Adding this as a secondary effect is a little awkward; normally it would call for researching each spell all over again. You can get around that by buying Immunity/the need to do spell research to create a combination spell with a secondary effect (Common, Minor, Great, Specialized/can only be used to combine spells that you already know and only you can use the combined formula, 6 CP).

Once you have that – and it has a lot of other uses – all you need is the spell-combining rules from The Practical Enchanter and a specialized spell formula; “forget that alert from your magic sense” (probably no more than level one). This will still increase the level of your subtle spells by one, but it’s very flexible; you can add all kinds of secondary effects to your spells.

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