Eclipse – Spellcasting Modification Feats

First up for today, it’s a quick answer to one of the more common Eclipse questions – how a spellcaster can modify how particular groups of spells work.

Sometimes that’s merely special effects, and so doesn’t actually require a power; it simply requires the consent of your game master. You want all your spells to have a “green flame” aspect to them? That doesn’t really do anything? So be it. These are fantasy games. Looking cool, exotic, outright weird, or appallingly evil, is all free.

A lot of characters, however, want something that actually makes a difference.

  • They may want their fire spells to operate underwater – call it Phosphorescent Mastery.
  • They may want their ice spells to briefly paralyze those they damage – call it Glacial Wind.
  • They may want to be able to cast spells that normally require plants to work and have them grow their own plants – call it Green Thumb.
  • They may want their fire spells to actually set things on fire and to leave clouds of smoke – call it Incendiary Mania.

They may want hundreds of different things.

Fortunately, in Eclipse, that’s really, really, easy to set up.

Practically any modification you want on a spell can be produced by one of the Metamagical Theorems. Buying the ability to apply a couple of levels of free metamagic – enough to tweak the spells in a particular category to do something unusual – is straightforward.

Purchase the appropriate Metamagical Theorem (6 CP) and two levels of Streamline (12 CP). Specialize and Corrupt both of those items to reduce the cost; only to apply a specific +2 spell level modifier to a particular – and relatively narrow – group of spells.

That will suffice in the vast majority of cases – and at a net cost of only 6 CP, the same as any normal feat. So go right ahead. Give your spellcaster some interesting specialty or option. Make his or her favorite spells a bit more powerful – and make both him and them thoroughly distinctive. Don’t make playing pieces. Make CHARACTERS.

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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15 Responses

  1. Heh. Some time I am going to have to try this with an idea that I have been playing around with since 2e- damaging spells combined with monster summoning spells. The damage represents the flesh lost to create the creature.

    • I think you get the best creep factor with transmuting your targets flesh into swarms of dangerous bugs or other small menaces. Given that practically all the players will have seen the newer “Mummy” movies, they have some ready-to-go imagery buried in their memories when you describe the effect, and they’re all going to be well aware of how unpleasant it is to be swarmed by bugs.

  2. The problem is Summon Swarm and Insect Plague suck (and don’t get me started on Creeping Doom). They weren’t that great in 1/2e and they weren’t improved in 3e (sort of like pyrotechnics).

    Eh, I will come up with something.

    • Ah well. When you’re inventing your own spells, there’s nothing preventing you from creating a bunch of flesh-devouring, virulently poisonous, scorpion-things that grow to be the size of a horse during the round the spell is cast.

      That’s still just a conjoined set of spells (damage plus summon giant scorpions). The “made from the flesh lost to the damaging spell” and “grows in moments” parts are just special effects, and those are free.

      Of course, you could summon whatever you want and just have it look like giant scorpions – but they aren’t at all a bad choice for their CR. Vermin usually have fairly good combat stats to make up for their general lack of other abilities.

  3. I don’t think you’re looking closely enough at any fo the above. Summon Swarm and Insect Plague were absolute murder against spellcasters, and a Druid could easily play keepaway against most melee enemies while whittling them down with such spells.

    Creeping Doom was the single most deadly spell in the game, mitigated only by the fact that you could avoid the worst with magical armor. This was quite often of no help whatsoever to the Thief, Wizard, or another Druid depending on how generous (or not) the GM was.

    The spells did lose a little in 3rd edition, but honestly, who cares? The Druid was monstrously powerful in the hands of a wise player.

    However, none of that matters now. It’s not a “problem” if you don’t like the aforementioned spells. You’re combining a damage effect and a summon effect. Nothing wrong with either, and you can base them off of any spell you want.

  4. Amen on Druids. Very strong class. A metamagic theorem to allow control over an otherwise uncontrollable spell would be great (ie Swarm, Cloudkill etc)

    Secondly though, I was thinking of a Metamagic Theorem that allows one to modify the target type of a spell.
    Some Psionic Powers have it as an augment (Charm, Psionic for instance allows you to change to animal, fey, etc for 2cp or more)

    Found ‘racial’ spell feat but not quite right.

    My thinking is:
    “Racial Metamagic”
    Change the target type of spell.
    Any other ‘living’ natural target: +1 Spell Level (humanoid, elf, animal, etc)
    Any ‘monstrous’ version: +2 SL (Ie Monstrous Humanoid) – this equaits to Hold Person (Level 2 Cleric) to Hold Monster (Level 4 spell)
    Any non-local: +4 SL (Outsider, Elemental, etc)

    What you think?

    • Well, there are two ways to go about that;

      If you want to increase the range of creatures that can be affected – usually going from ordinary creatures with no special innate magics (“Persons”) to “Monsters”, or expanding a spell that normally only affects Animals to more intelligent or somewhat-magical creatures “Magical Beasts”) you’re upgrading it’s power level to bypass whatever-it-is that normally stops if from affecting such targets. That’s the Lacing Metamagic, with one or more levels of the Bypass option.

      To control an otherwise uncontrollable spell can be tricky, since it depends a lot on what the spell does. Summon Swarm is a summoning, so if you wanted to control what it does you need to influence the creatures which make it up. Given that most Summonings do include some influence, and you just want to expand on that part of the spell, it would probably be simplest to use the Amplify metamagic. Cloudkill simply creates a cloud, but evidently includes some component that keeps it moving in a particular direction rather than with the wind. Ergo, Amplify again – possibly adding a level of Stabilize (the +1 spell level option under Obliging will do) to make it actively chase your enemies or creep under doors and such. Fora third example, a Wall of Fire has some minor component that holds it’s form and makes it’s sides different. Either of those could be amplified – for example, making an Obliging Wall of Fire that opens holes for your friends to shoot and move through.

      If you want to limit a spell to particular groups of targets – say, producing a Fireball that only burned elves – there’s a discussion of doing that over HERE.

      I hope that helps!

  5. The costs there depends greatly on the setting. I see no reason normal d20 magic shouldn’t be able to identify targets – but only hurting specific races is tougher. The key issue is in area-effect magic, where you’d best get creative in explaining why the giant explosion now targets only the goblins and not the party’s orcs or humans. That said, we already have the ability to shape your magical effects in Eclipse, so it’s not impossible.

    I’d be much more willing to allow it on spells which only target living creatures. Further, it would be easier to target only weird creatures like Outsiders than, say, a specific variety of humanoid – I would reverse your chart of costs to start. Note, too, that Hold Monster can afect anything. It isn’t a spell with metamagic to limit it, but a more powerful, more flexible spell straight off.

    • Cool stuff. Thanks Editorial :)

      Mainly thought of it for charms and the like rather than big fireballs and damage.

      Sleep, Hold Person, Charm Person, that kind of thing.

      There are a few spells to that target enemies only which is cool :)

  6. […] Spellcasting Modification Feats. Giving characters signature magical knacks. […]

  7. Hello there^^
    I’ve got a question (well, two) about metamagic and the way it works.

    The first problem I’ve come across was weird wording in a third party book that is in use in the campain. It had a feat-like ability with the following description “You never fail Will saves”. How the PC in question got it? Let’s just say a lot of chaos shuffeling and questioable magical location wording went into it. In any case, the question is: Can this be considered as Immunity and if yes, can I spent 4 spell levels to add an appropriate Lacing effect?

    The second problem I encountered is with a defensive spell, “Hide from Dragons”, that wards him against dragons by making them ignore him. The problem: He, himself, counts as a dragon (due to half-dragon template). Normally, this could be evaded by Sculpting (Personal Immunity), but since the buff needs to affect him (to protect him), is there a way he can ensure not ignoring himself and probably dropping unconscious on the spot by being magically forced to ignore his need for breath or otherwise becoming incapacitated? I already asked the DM if there is a non-metamagical way around this, with exception of becoming a non-dragon (which doesn’t work for various plot-related reasons), but he said that he wouldn’t allow it, which is why I’m here asking.

    I hope you can answer my questions

    Greetings
    Veebs

    • Well that sounds like a spectacularly badly-written bit, even for a third party book.

      You could consider it an immunity. If someone was bringing it into one of my games I’d probably go with the general eclipse statement about unlimited-use abilities “that likely (or should) have limited use; it’s just enough not to have to worry about it during an encounter” and go with Luck with +8 Bonus Uses (Specialized/Only for Saves, Corrupted/Only for Will saves, 6 CP).

      Fortunately it doesn’t really matter; Lacing lets you build a spell that bypasses special defenses, and – like all of the metamagical theorems – the lists of effects are only examples. Given that that feat-like ability is definitely a special defense, all you need is a game master decision on how many extra spell levels it should take to counter it. Personally, I’d suggest +2; it is only a single, highly specific, feat of feat-like ability – even if it is obviously a very powerful one.

      Alternatively, you can use Amplify to add “half effect on a save” and possibly “double effect versus a specific target” to the base effect and simply ignore the target automatically making the save.

      As for “Hide From Dragons”, the character wants personal immunity to specific aspects of the spell. Given that the effect likely radiates from the user but isn’t really intended to affect him or her in the first place, that’s simply a minor variant on personal immunity – likely +2 spell levels if the basic +1 will not do. Alternatively, since “makes them ignore him” is blatantly mind-affecting, protection against mind-affecting spells should work just fine.

      And I hope that helps!

      • The book does have some badly written abilities… One grants literally infinite charisma. It’s called “Ascension” and is somewhat weird in general (especially the font it’s written).

        It’s one of the reasons someone is questing for a personal “The Passing of the Age” spell for the few creatures that could possess that ability beyond the dragons (well, deities). I trust it’s gonna work to ensure that deities don’t immediately crush him (since they can’t affect his destiny anymore and I believe that killing him would pretty much do that). Then again, he has Godfire and counts as a deity… I’ll probably need to apply the same +2 modifier for that special protection (or can I do something different since while it needs to affect him for protection, it could technically exclude all Godfire-based deities for the actual effect?).

        And yes, it does help, especially since the party now won’t immediately loose a party-member when it came to Xorvintaal.

        Sadly, I cannot use the Amplify-Option when it comes to the first problem (there were some bad things happening at our table once when someone streamlined amplify, specialized in “Dominate Person” and the party had no protection against it), but the other optio works just fine (and it’s also good because I really like Lacing… even if it’s existence does hinder constructs like my character sometimes).

        I do still have one question: During our game, we came across a very powerful artifact. It was a Chiljido (seven-branched sword) which had a once per day “Excellent Lore” spell. Given that the spell can only be cast on our skill-monkey (who is a strange combination of an artificer and a bard), we came across a problem: Excellent Lore doesn’t stack with his favorite ability, Action Hero (Stunt). Now we tried to solve this by giving him an Immunity (Very Common, Severe, Legendary) against the Excellent Lore stacking limit, Corrupted and Specialized to increase the effect (Only works if Excellent Lore is cast to grant boni to skills; can only stack with Action Hero (Stunt)), but the problem with it is the high cost (namely 72 CP).

        Now while many of us in the party rely on various immunities (The XP costs of a single Innate Enchantment instance, stat changes via relics not affecting skill and power points, normal bodily needs, immunity against antimagic etc. for everything except actual spells and powers, the additional XP-cost of a wish if it’s used to replicate a spell that has one and even less rare scenarios like time travel, effects bypassing automatic failure on a natural 1 or CP-supression àla Blood Curse), 72 CP are a very heavy burden.

        Is there any sort of metamagic one could use to bypass that limit aside from such an Immunity?

        Greetings
        Veebs

      • Hm… I’m not quite sure what’s going on there. At a glance, it doesn’t look like the Specialization and Corruption you mentioned is actually doing anything; if you use a Legendary immunity in the first place, what effect is being increased and why?

        For metamagic, you’d want Amplify (to boost the effect from “doesn’t stack” to “stacks with these lower level effects”) – probably +2 or +3 levels.

        A much lesser immunity should do though; take Immunity / stacking CP adders. For the cost on that… CP adders are Uncommon, the effect is Minor (since them not stacking is a failure to get a bonus – an inconvenience rather than something that actively hurts you), and Great (effects of up to level seven) (6 CP). Now make that Specialized for Double Effect (effects of up to level fourteen) / only works with stacking a single incidence of excellent Lore and Action Hero/Stunts. That’s a total of 6 CP, which shouldn’t really be that much of a burden.

        And it sounds like you’ve got some interesting characters there.

      • Well… good question, actually… I’m not really sure why it’s this way…

        But taking the Immunity you suggest seems like the better idea (but I’ll make it epic, it’s the SL 18 version, after all). It’s way better than the 72 CP cost we had^^°

        And yes, the other Immunities.
        The XP costs, the stat-change one and immunity to normal bodily needs are pretty self-explaining, an at-will level 5 spell-item was just very expensive XP wise (plus it had a cost of about 91 CP… good thing it was specialized and all), for the relic thing… a few additional PP,+1 Skill point per level and a +1 bonus to all knowledges for 4 CP were just really tempting and the Immunity to bodily needs were very practical for the barbarian when it came to standing watch and having the rest of the party recover PP and spells.

        The others were born from… bad experiences.
        Time Travel came never into play, but our opponent was sufficiently high enough level that one of us decided spending his Unique Training CP on it was worth it.
        CP-Supression/Deduction came into play when we had an unfortunate encounter with a realm spirit… suddenly loosing the ability to cast your highest level spells was bad…

        The natural 1 one was born out of a previous big-bads immunity to fail on natural ones. And since the one taking it had a corrupted + specialized Presence to allow for a level 3 effect and presences didn’t seem to have a save, he took a variant of Bestow Curse from the Book of Vile Darkness to turn opponents 20s into 1s… We survived a lot more vorpal weapons than we normally would have.

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