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All Rules in Designing Spells

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Bonus Type

Source Ultimate Magic pg. 134
There are many types of bonuses in the game. It’s tempting to look at that list of bonuses, find “holes” in the spell list that don’t have spells for certain bonus types, and create a new spell that adds one of those unused bonus types to your favorite statistic or roll. Resist this temptation. Not all bonus types are equal within the game, and many bonus types are only meant for certain things. See Table 2–7: Bonus Types and Effects.

A dash entry (—) in the table indicates there are no common examples of items or spells that grant that kind of bonus. If you’re designing an item or spell and want to include a certain type of bonus to a particular ability or statistic, check Table 2–7 first; if the bonus type doesn’t say it can affect that ability or statistic, use one that does instead. One reason for this table is that some bonuses are better than others (deflection bonuses work against incorporeal creatures and when you are flat-footed, natural armor bonuses do not). A second reason is that allowing any kind of bonus on any roll or statistic makes it really easy to stack many small bonuses more cheaply than a larger bonus, which makes powerful magic items like a ring of protection +5 much less interesting. A third reason is that some of these combinations just don’t make sense, like a deflection bonus to Strength or a shield bonus on Knowledge checks.

Table 2-7: Bonus Types and Effects

Bonus TypeCan AffectSample ItemSample Spell
AlchemicalAbility scores, savesAntitoxin-
ArmorACBracers of armorMage armor
CircumstanceAttacks, checksRobe of blending-
CompetenceAttacks, checks, savesBoots of elvenkindGuidance
DeflectionACRing of protection-
EnhancementAbility scores, AC, attacks, damage, speedBelt of giant strengthMagic weapon
InherentAbility scoresManual of bodily healthWish
InsightAC, attacks, checks, savesDusty rose prism ioun stoneTrue strike
LuckAC, attacks, checks, damage, savesStone of good luckDivine favor
MoraleAttacks, checks, damage, saves, Str, Con, DexCandle of invocationBless
Natural armorACAmulet of natural armorBarkskin
ProfaneAC, checks, damage, DCs, saves-Desecrate
ResistanceSavesCloak of resistanceMind blank
SacredAC, checks, damage, DCs, saves-Consecrate
ShieldACRing of force shieldShield
SizeAbility scores, attacks, AC-Enlarge person
* Spells and magic items should never grant dodge bonuses because dodge bonuses always stack, and it would be a simple matter achieving that AC using the armor, deflection, enhancement, and natural armor bonuses in the game.