Rules | GM Screen

<- Return to All Rules (Group by Source)
<- Return to Magic Basics

All Rules in Magic Basics

+ An entry marked with this has additional sections within it.

Spell Descriptions

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 209
The description of each spell is presented in a standard format. Each category of information is explained and defined below.

Name

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 209
The first line of every spell description gives the name by which the spell is generally known.

School (Subschool)

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 209
Beneath the spell name is a line giving the school of magic (and the subschool, if any) to which the spell belongs.

Almost every spell belongs to one of eight schools of magic. A school of magic is a group of related spells that work in similar ways. A small number of spells (arcane mark, limited wish, permanency, prestidigitation, and wish) are universal, belonging to no school.

Descriptor

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 212
Appearing on the same line as the school and subschool, when applicable, is a descriptor that further categorizes the spell in some way. Some spells have more than one descriptor.

The descriptors are acid, air, chaotic, cold, darkness, death, earth, electricity, evil, fear, fire, force, good, language-dependent, lawful, light, mind-affecting, sonic, and water.

Most of these descriptors have no game effect by themselves, but they govern how the spell interacts with other spells, with special abilities, with unusual creatures, with alignment, and so on.

A language-dependent spell uses intelligible language as a medium for communication. If the target cannot understand or cannot hear what the caster of a language- dependant spell says, the spell fails.

A mind-affecting spell works only against creatures with an Intelligence score of 1 or higher.

Level

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 212
The next line of a spell description gives the spell’s level, a number between 0 and 9 that defines the spell’s relative power. This number is preceded by a list of classes whose members can cast the spell. A spell’s level affects the DC for any save allowed against its effects.

Components

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 212
A spell’s components explain what you must do or possess to cast the spell. The components entry in a spell description includes abbreviations that tell you what type of components it requires. Specifics for material and focus components are given at the end of the descriptive text. Usually you don’t need to worry about components, but when you can’t use a component for some reason or when a material or focus component is expensive, then the components are important.

Verbal (V): A verbal component is a spoken incantation. To provide a verbal component, you must be able to speak in a strong voice. A silence spell or a gag spoils the incantation (and thus the spell). A spellcaster who has been deafened has a 20% chance of spoiling any spell with a verbal component that he tries to cast.

Somatic (S): A somatic component is a measured and precise movement of the hand. You must have at least one hand free to provide a somatic component.

Material (M): A material component consists of one or more physical substances or objects that are annihilated by the spell energies in the casting process. Unless a cost is given for a material component, the cost is negligible. Don’t bother to keep track of material components with negligible cost. Assume you have all you need as long as you have your spell component pouch.

Focus (F): A focus component is a prop of some sort. Unlike a material component, a focus is not consumed when the spell is cast and can be reused. As with material components, the cost for a focus is negligible unless a price is given. Assume that focus components of negligible cost are in your spell component pouch.

Divine Focus (DF): A divine focus component is an item of spiritual signif icance. The divine focus for a cleric or a paladin is a holy symbol appropriate to the character’s faith. The divine focus for a druid or a ranger is a sprig of holly, or some other sacred plant.

If the Components line includes F/DF or M/DF, the arcane version of the spell has a focus component or a material component (the abbreviation before the slash) and the divine version has a divine focus component (the abbreviation after the slash).

Casting Time

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 213
Most spells have a casting time of 1 standard action. Others take 1 round or more, while a few require only a swift action.

A spell that takes 1 round to cast is a full-round action. It comes into effect just before the beginning of your turn in the round after you began casting the spell. You then act normally after the spell is completed.

A spell that takes 1 minute to cast comes into effect just before your turn 1 minute later (and for each of those 10 rounds, you are casting a spell as a full-round action, just as noted above for 1-round casting times). These actions must be consecutive and uninterrupted, or the spell automatically fails.

When you begin a spell that takes 1 round or longer to cast, you must continue the concentration from the current round to just before your turn in the next round (at least). If you lose concentration before the casting is complete, you lose the spell.

A spell with a casting time of 1 swift action doesn’t count against your normal limit of one spell per round. However, you may cast such a spell only once per round. Casting a spell with a casting time of 1 swift action doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.

You make all pertinent decisions about a spell (range, target, area, effect, version, and so forth) when the spell comes into effect.

Range

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 213
A spell’s range indicates how far from you it can reach, as defined in the range entry of the spell description. A spell’s range is the maximum distance from you that the spell’s effect can occur, as well as the maximum distance at which you can designate the spell’s point of origin. If any portion of the spell’s area would extend beyond this range, that area is wasted. Standard ranges include the following.

Personal: The spell affects only you.

Touch: You must touch a creature or object to affect it. A touch spell that deals damage can score a critical hit just as a weapon can. A touch spell threatens a critical hit on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage on a successful critical hit. Some touch spells allow you to touch multiple targets. You can touch up to 6 willing targets as part of the casting, but all targets of the spell must be touched in the same round that you finish casting the spell. If the spell allows you to touch targets over multiple rounds, touching 6 creatures is a fullround action.

Close: The spell reaches as far as 25 feet away from you. The maximum range increases by 5 feet for every two full caster levels.

Medium: The spell reaches as far as 100 feet + 10 feet per caster level.

Long: The spell reaches as far as 400 feet + 40 feet per caster level.

Unlimited: The spell reaches anywhere on the same plane of existence.

Range Expressed in Feet: Some spells have no standard range category, just a range expressed in feet.

Aiming a Spell

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 213
You must make choices about whom a spell is to affect or where an effect is to originate, depending on a spell’s type. The next entry in a spell description defines the spell’s target (or targets), its effect, or its area, as appropriate.

Target or Targets: Some spells have a target or targets. You cast these spells on creatures or objects, as defined by the spell itself. You must be able to see or touch the target, and you must specifically choose that target. You do not have to select your target until you finish casting the spell.

If the target of a spell is yourself (the Target line of the spell description includes “You”), you do not receive a saving throw, and spell resistance does not apply. The saving throw and spell resistance lines are omitted from such spells.

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 f lat-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.

Some spells allow you to redirect the effect to new targets or areas after you cast the spell. Redirecting a spell is a move action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Effect: Some spells create or summon things rather than affecting things that are already present.

You must designate the location where these things are to appear, either by seeing it or defining it. Range determines how far away an effect can appear, but if the effect is mobile, after it appears it can move regardless of the spell’s range.

Ray: Some effects are rays. You aim a ray as if using a ranged weapon, though typically you make a ranged touch attack rather than a normal ranged attack. As with a ranged weapon, you can fire into the dark or at an invisible creature and hope you hit something. You don’t have to see the creature you’re trying to hit, as you do with a targeted spell. Intervening creatures and obstacles, however, can block your line of sight or provide cover for the creature at which you’re aiming.

If a ray spell has a duration, it’s the duration of the effect that the ray causes, not the length of time the ray itself persists.

If a ray spell deals damage, you can score a critical hit just as if it were a weapon. A ray spell threatens a critical hit on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage on a successful critical hit.

Spread: Some effects, notably clouds and fogs, spread out from a point of origin, which must be a grid intersection. The effect can extend around corners and into areas that you can’t see. Figure distance by actual distance traveled, taking into account turns the spell effect takes. When determining distance for spread effects, count around walls, not through them. As with movement, do not trace diagonals across corners. You must designate the point of origin for such an effect, but you need not have line of effect (see below) to all portions of the effect.

Area: Some spells affect an area. Sometimes a spell description specifies a specially defined area, but usually an area falls into one of the categories defined below.

Regardless of the shape of the area, you select the point where the spell originates, but otherwise you don’t control which creatures or objects the spell affects. The point of origin of a spell is always a grid intersection. When determining whether a given creature is within the area of a spell, count out the distance from the point of origin in squares just as you do when moving a character or when determining the range for a ranged attack. The only difference is that instead of counting from the center of one square to the center of the next, you count from intersection to intersection.

You can count diagonally across a square, but remember that every second diagonal counts as 2 squares of distance. If the far edge of a square is within the spell’s area, anything within that square is within the spell’s area. If the spell’s area only touches the near edge of a square, however, anything within that square is unaffected by the spell.

Burst, Emanation, or Spread: Most spells that affect an area function as a burst, an emanation, or a spread. In each case, you select the spell’s point of origin and measure its effect from that point.

A burst spell affects whatever it catches in its area, including creatures that you can’t see. It can’t affect creatures with total cover from its point of origin (in other words, its effects don’t extend around corners). The default shape for a burst effect is a sphere, but some burst spells are specifically described as cone-shaped. A burst’s area defines how far from the point of origin the spell’s effect extends.

An emanation spell functions like a burst spell, except that the effect continues to radiate from the point of origin for the duration of the spell. Most emanations are cones or spheres.

A spread spell extends out like a burst but can turn corners. You select the point of origin, and the spell spreads out a given distance in all directions. Figure the area the spell effect fills by taking into account any turns the spell effect takes.

Cone, Cylinder, Line, or Sphere: Most spells that affect an area have a particular shape.

A cone-shaped spell shoots away from you in a quarter-circle in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and widens out as it goes. Most cones are either bursts or emanations (see above), and thus won’t go around corners.

When casting a cylinder-shaped spell, you select the spell’s point of origin. This point is the center of a horizontal circle, and the spell shoots down from the circle, filling a cylinder. A cylinder-shaped spell ignores any obstructions within its area.

A line-shaped spell shoots away from you in a line in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that blocks line of effect. A line-shaped spell affects all creatures in squares through which the line passes.

A sphere-shaped spell expands from its point of origin to fill a spherical area. Spheres may be bursts, emanations, or spreads.

Creatures: A spell with this kind of area affects creatures directly (like a targeted spell), but it affects all creatures in an area of some kind rather than individual creatures you select. The area might be a spherical burst, a cone-shaped burst, or some other shape.

Many spells affect “living creatures,” which means all creatures other than constructs and undead. Creatures in the spell’s area that are not of the appropriate type do not count against the creatures affected.

Objects: A spell with this kind of area affects objects within an area you select (as Creatures, but affecting objects instead).

Other: A spell can have a unique area, as defined in its description.

(S) Shapeable: If an area or effect entry ends with “(S),” you can shape the spell. A shaped effect or area can have no dimension smaller than 10 feet. Many effects or areas are given as cubes to make it easy to model irregular shapes. Three-dimensional volumes are most often needed to define aerial or underwater effects and areas.

Line of Effect: A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A line of effect is canceled by a solid barrier. It’s like line of sight for ranged weapons, except that it’s not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight.

You must have a clear line of effect to any target that you cast a spell on or to any space in which you wish to create an effect. You must have a clear line of effect to the point of origin of any spell you cast.

A burst, cone, cylinder, or emanation spell affects only an area, creature, or object to which it has line of effect from its origin (a spherical burst’s center point, a coneshaped burst’s starting point, a cylinder’s circle, or an emanation’s point of origin).

An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least 1 square foot through it does not block a spell’s line of effect. Such an opening means that the 5-foot length of wall containing the hole is no longer considered a barrier for purposes of a spell’s line of effect.

Duration

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 215
A spell’s duration entry tells you how long the magical energy of the spell lasts.

Timed Durations: Many durations are measured in rounds, minutes, hours, or other increments. When the time is up, the magic goes away and the spell ends. If a spell’s duration is variable, the duration is rolled secretly so the caster doesn’t know how long the spell will last.

Instantaneous: The spell energy comes and goes the instant the spell is cast, though the consequences might be long-lasting.

Permanent: The energy remains as long as the effect does. This means the spell is vulnerable to dispel magic.

Concentration: The spell lasts as long as you concentrate on it. Concentrating to maintain a spell is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Anything that could break your concentration when casting a spell can also break your concentration while you’re maintaining one, causing the spell to end. See concentration on page 206.

You can’t cast a spell while concentrating on another one. Some spells last for a short time after you cease concentrating.

Subjects, Effects, and Areas: If the spell affects creatures directly, the result travels with the subjects for the spell’s duration. If the spell creates an effect, the effect lasts for the duration. The effect might move or remain still. Such an effect can be destroyed prior to when its duration ends. If the spell affects an area, then the spell stays with that area for its duration.

Creatures become subject to the spell when they enter the area and are no longer subject to it when they leave.

Touch Spells and Holding the Charge: In most cases, if you don’t discharge a touch spell on the round you cast it, you can hold the charge (postpone the discharge of the spell) indefinitely. You can make touch attacks round after round until the spell is discharged. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates.

Some touch spells allow you to touch multiple targets as part of the spell. You can’t hold the charge of such a spell; you must touch all targets of the spell in the same round that you finish casting the spell. Discharge: Occasionally a spells lasts for a set duration or until triggered or discharged.

(D) Dismissible: If the duration line ends with “(D),” you can dismiss the spell at will. You must be within range of the spell’s effect and must speak words of dismissal, which are usually a modified form of the spell’s verbal component. If the spell has no verbal component, you can dismiss the effect with a gesture. Dismissing a spell is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

A spell that depends on concentration is dismissible by its very nature, and dismissing it does not take an action, since all you have to do to end the spell is to stop concentrating on your turn.

Saving Throw

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 216
Usually a harmful spell allows a target to make a saving throw to avoid some or all of the effect. The saving throw entry in a spell description defines which type of saving throw the spell allows and describes how saving throws against the spell work.

Negates: The spell has no effect on a subject that makes a successful saving throw.

Partial: The spell has an effect on its subject. A successful saving throw means that some lesser effect occurs.

Half: The spell deals damage, and a successful saving throw halves the damage taken (round down).

None: No saving throw is allowed.

Disbelief: A successful save lets the subject ignore the spell's effect.

(object): The spell can be cast on objects, which receive saving throws only if they are magical or if they are attended (held, worn, grasped, or the like) by a creature resisting the spell, in which case the object uses the creature's saving throw bonus unless its own bonus is greater. This notation does not mean that a spell can be cast only on objects. Some spells of this sort can be cast on creatures or objects. A magic item's saving throw bonuses are each equal to 2 + 1/2 the item's caster level.

(harmless): The spell is usually beneficial, not harmful, but a targeted creature can attempt a saving throw if it desires.

Saving Throw Difficulty Class: A saving throw against your spell has a DC of 10 + the level of the spell + your bonus for the relevant ability (Intelligence for a wizard, Charisma for a bard, paladin, or sorcerer, or Wisdom for a cleric, druid, or ranger). A spell's level can vary depending on your class. Always use the spell level applicable to your class.

Succeeding on a Saving Throw: A creature that successfully saves against a spell that has no obvious physical effects feels a hostile force or a tingle, but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack. Likewise, if a creature's saving throw succeeds against a targeted spell, you sense that the spell has failed. You do not sense when creatures succeed on saves against effect and area spells.

Automatic Failures and Successes: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on a saving throw is always a failure, and the spell may cause damage to exposed items (see Items Surviving after a Saving Throw, below). A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a success.

Voluntarily Giving up a Saving Throw: A creature can voluntarily forego a saving throw and willingly accept a spell's result. Even a character with a special resistance to magic can suppress this quality.

Items Surviving after a Saving Throw: Unless the descriptive text for the spell specifies otherwise, all items carried or worn by a creature are assumed to survive a magical attack. If a creature rolls a natural 1 on its saving throw against the effect, however, an exposed item is harmed (if the attack can harm objects). Refer to Table 9–2: Items Affected by Magical Attacks. Determine which four objects carried or worn by the creature are most likely to be affected and roll randomly among them. The randomly determined item must make a saving throw against the attack form and take whatever damage the attack dealt. If the selected item is not carried or worn and is not magical, it does not get a saving throw. It simply is dealt the appropriate damage.

Table 9-2: Items Affected by Magical Attacks

Order*Item
<1st/td>Shield
2ndArmor
3rdMagic helmet, hat, or headband
4thItem in hand (including weapon, wand, or the like)
5thMagic cloak
6thStowed or sheathed weapon
7thMagic bracers
8thMagic clothing
9thMagic jewelry (including rings)
10thAnything else

Spell Resistance

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 217
Spell resistance is a special defensive ability. If your spell is being resisted by a creature with spell resistance, you must make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) at least equal to the creature’s spell resistance for the spell to affect that creature. The defender’s spell resistance is like an Armor Class against magical attacks. Include any adjustments to your caster level to this caster level check.

The Spell Resistance entry and the descriptive text of a spell description tell you whether spell resistance protects creatures from the spell. In many cases, spell resistance applies only when a resistant creature is targeted by the spell, not when a resistant creature encounters a spell that is already in place.

The terms “object” and “harmless” mean the same thing for spell resistance as they do for saving throws. A creature with spell resistance must voluntarily lower the resistance (a standard action) in order to be affected by such spells without forcing the caster to make a caster level check.

Descriptive Text

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 218
This portion of a spell description details what the spell does and how it works. If one of the previous entries in the description includes “see text,” this is where the explanation is found.