The Burning Wrath of the Terrible Eye

Melting metal in a ladle for casting

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A Practical Enchanter question: I have an idea for a wand of fire that can only harm orcs, nothing else. Would that be a decrease in cost as the target is extremely limited or an increase as the wand won’t cause collateral damage (eg forest fires)?

-Derek

That’s an upgrade. After all, an explosion isn’t very complicated, and it’s the nature of fire to burn whatever it hits – but now you not only need to produce fire, but you have to carefully control it so as to hit only specific targets.

Since that is a fixed effect it’s not as bad as the full Targeting (+3 spell levels) option on the Sculpting Metamagic (from Eclipse), but it’s definitely pretty handy.

  • Surrounded by orcs? Ground-zero fireball.
  • Six orcs piled up on a friend? Fireball those too.
  • Orcs holding hostages? Fireball them all and let the wand sort it out.

Not so useful if you can’t find any orcs of course – but if that’s the case, no one would come up with such a thing.

Perhaps a Phantasm might work better. After all, that’s a very underused type of spell – the SRD only lists Dream, Illusory Script, Nightmare, Phantasmal Killer, and Weird in the basic spells category – and a phantasm spell that only affects creatures who already have a particular set of experiences or cultural beliefs (since it relies on those to work) could reasonably be less complex and require less power. Ergo “Recall the Dark Waters” – a version of Phantasmal Killer which only works on targets who have memories of nearly drowning – might well be a mere second level spell. It’s much less versatile and useful than the generic Phantasmal Killer spell of course.

So… “Burning Wrath of the Terrible Eye” – a phantasm spell which only affects worshipers of the local God of Orcs – might look something like this:

Burning Wrath of the Terrible Eye

  • Illusion (Phantasm) [Fear, Mind-Affecting]
  • Level: Sor/Wiz 3
  • Components: V, S
  • Casting Time: 1 standard action
  • Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
  • Target: All creatures in a 20′ radius who are vulnerable to Phantasms AND who worship the local Orc God or Pantheon.
  • Duration: Instantaneous
  • Saving Throw: Will disbelief if affected, then Fortitude partial; see text
  • Spell Resistance: Yes

Burning Wrath of the Terrible Eye draws on the victims own worship and fear of the terrible powers and anger of the local Orcish Gods, focusing the uncontrolled psychic energies present in every mind through that minds own belief. Only those who worship the Orcish Gods can percieve the terrible manifestation of “their” vengeance, and so only they can be affected. Those who make a successful Will save will resist the spell in the first place, and will see nothing but vague images. Those believers who fail will suffer 8d6 points of damage, although they may make a Fortitude save to halve that damage.

A first level version – “The Lesser Wrath of the Terrible Eye” – only targets a single creature and only does 6d6 (or 3d6 on a successful Fortitude save) damage, but is otherwise be pretty much identical.

Now that will let you make an interesting wand of orc blasting – although you will fail if you’re up against an orc atheist, or one who’s been raised to worship some other set of gods, or something like that – and you may blast the occasional non-orc who’s been raised to worship the orc gods.

Spells like that are never going to become too common – they’re too specialized for that – but they’ll certainly be unusual and interesting when they do pop up.

For a bonus answer, we have Editorial0

It’s an upgrade.

The Practical Enchanter notes that spell levels are controlled by Power AND Complexity. Spells which hunt orcs are more complex, not less. Hitting only orcs is probably a +1 or +2. (I have to double-check some sources on that).

Granted, sometimes you can get away with a cheaper effect based on the “natural” forces of a certain game universe. If fire elementals and similar creatures are actively harmed by water, then a spell which creates some water also functions as an effective combat spell against them and only them. And you can cut the magic which ties an outsider to the world. But generally, focused and discriminate magic is more complex, and more expensive, than otherwise.

There might be some variations, too. You possibly could work on a sickness spell which only creates illnesses which hurt orcs. That’s be uncommon, but at least theoretically possible. And that might be eligible for a cost break. On the other hand, it’s a lot less practical than a Fireball, too.

Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Freeware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion.

The Practical Enchanter can be found in a Print Edition (Lulu), an Electronic Edition (RPGNow), and a Shareware Edition (RPGNow).  There’s an RPGNow Staff Review too.

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