Tag Archives: spell

Dying Curse

In honor of the RPG Blog Carnival theme of “Curses”, here’s a quick Pathfinder spell…

Dying Curse
necromancy; Level  antipaladin 2, bloodrager 3, cleric/oracle 2, shaman 2, sorcerer/wizard 3, witch 2;
Casting Time 1 immediate action or free action, see below
Components V or none, see below
Range close (25 ft + 5 ft/2 levels)
Target see below
Duration permanent
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes

This spell functions as bestow curse, except that it is triggered by the caster’s death.

If a caster has dying curse prepared (or known, for spontaneous casters, with a spell slot of the appropriate level remaining), it can be activated when the caster drops to 0 or fewer hit points. The decision to activate, or not, must be made upon receiving the lethal damage; the caster cannot drop to, say, -5 hit points and then wait a round or two see how the battle is going before deciding to trigger the spell, nor can they do so if they receive more damage while at negative hit points. The instant the caster drops to 0 or lower, they must decide; if they do not invoke the spell at that point, it cannot be cast until some point when they’ve gone back to positive hit points and then back into negatives. (Nor can it be triggered by self-inflicted damage, including such things as the barbarian’s loss of hit points when a rage ends.)

If the caster is dying, but not yet dead, and is capable of speech (not silenced, gagged, etc.), they can designate the target of the curse (within range) and the specific effect1. This is an immediate action. If the caster is killed instantly (going from positive hit points to dead in a single attack), or cannot speak, the spell still activates, but the target is whoever struck the killing blow, or, if that person is not in range, the nearest enemy in range, and the effect is random. This is a free action.

Upon casting, the caster instantly dies. Dropping dead is a free action. No magical or mundane healing short of raise dead can help; spells or class features or the like which allow for last-second recovery from recent death do not function. The caster expends a portion of their life energy to cast the spell; this makes them really most sincerely dead. Contingent healing spells (regardless of what granted the contingency effect) likewise fail to work. Let’s be clear: There’s no loophole. The intent of this rule is clear: You invoke dying curse, you die, you are no more, you have ceased to be, you have rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible, and only raise dead or more potent spells can bring you back. The fact I cannot possibly list every interaction of every rule in the massive bulk of the collected tomes of Pathfinder should not be an invitation to find an ‘out’ and then exploit it. If a player tries, the GM has my permission to take the Pathfinder Core Rulebook and whap the offender over the head.

1: Ideally, this should be roleplayed, “From hell’s heart, I stab at thee!”, etc.

A Spell For All Time: Acidic Mouth

A Spell For All Time: Acidic Mouth

Dungeons And Dragons Original  Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons  First Edition Dungeons And Dragons Third  Edition Dungeons & Dragons Fourth  Edition

Prior Articles In This Series

Inspired by some guy who was ranting on RPG.net about something. Look, I can’t be expected to remember trivial details like “who said it” and “what was the context”. Anyway…

This is the third in a series of articles showing how the same spell concept can iterate across generations. The first two were created by randomly rolling terms from a sourcebook. This one was, as noted above, inspired by RPG.net. I suppose I could do a whole bunch of those… “Induce Nerdrage”, “Unbias Moderator (Enchantment, Mind Affecting, Yeah Good Luck With That)”, “Greater Topic Drift”, “Celestial Banhammer”… uhm… wait, where was I again?

(Yes, it’s another iteration of Lizard going off an unrelated rant that has nothing to do with the subject at hand, and then pretending he’s talking out loud, not sitting at a keyboard using an editor, which means, he could just edit out stuff he knows is stupid and irrelevant, but he doesn’t, because he thinks it’s funny to pretend he is just writing this into a live feed and so can’t go back and correct things, which he self-evidently can, because he just fixed three typos. This is Overused Internet “Humor” Cliche #781.)

So. Acidic Magic Mouth.Don’t look for some kind of meta-reference in the name; the poster was talking about the limitations of the D&D magic system (basically, he wants Mage: The Ascension, and there’s nothing wrong with M:TA that 10,000 screaming White Wolf fanboys haven’t already written about at great length, but it’s not D&D), and he said something like “What if I want a magic mouth that spits acid?”, which struck me as pretty darn cool. So, here it is, dude whose name I’ve forgotten. In four versions.

Dungeons and Dragons, Original  Edition

Original D&D (“Brown/White Box” + Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry)

(As published in The Dragon’s Review Of Dungeon Strategy, Issue 21, “The Magical Mouths Of Mourdlane The Magical”)

Third Level

Mourdlane’s Acidic Mouth: This spell functions exactly as does magic mouth (Greyhawk, p. 22), and the magic-user must have that spell inscribed in their book to be able to learn this one. In addition to the normal functions of the mouth, this one can spit a gout of acid doing 4-24 points of damage to all creatures within 10′ of the mouth. It can do this either on a specific condition (“When a man in armor approaches”), or if a word is not spoken within 1 round of it delivering its message (often, this is a riddle or “What’s the password?”). It can be made permanent by using permanent spell, otherwise, it acts as a normal magic mouth.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons,  First Edition

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, First Edition

(As published in “Unearthed Arcana II”)

Acidic Mouth (Alteration/Conjuration)
Level: 4

Components: V, S, M

Range: Special

Casting Time: 2 segments

Duration: Special

Saving Throw: 1/2

Area of Effect: One object

In most ways, this spell is identical to magic mouth (Player’s Handbook), in regards to the limitations placed on the number of words spoken, how far the mouth can detect beings, what sort of information it can glean about those beings, and so forth. Indeed, this spell is presented in most magic-user’s books as supplemental to the aforementioned dweomer, and so that spell is required to be scribed in the same book as this in order for the caster to properly memorize it.

Acidic Mouth differs in that a second condition, pursuant to all the same limitations as the first, may be placed upon it, and if this second condition is met, the mouth disgorges a spew of caustic acid, striking all in a 20′ cone in front of it and doing 4d6 points of damage (save vs. magic for 1/2 damage). The second condition may be dependent upon a response or reaction to what the mouth says, or it may be triggered without the mouth speaking. Any conditional response must occur within one round of the speech.

The material component for this spell is a bit of honeycomb and a fresh lemon.

Note To Dungeon Masters: Be strict about the time limits of response. A stopwatch or egg timer can be a useful adjunct to this spell. The acid will burst within one round, so those asked a riddle must respond quickly, without undue chatter and consultation among the group. This can be a useful lesson for those sorts of players who dawdle and dilly-dally over the smallest thing. Also note that their screams of anguish as the caustic fluids eat into their skin may attract wandering monsters.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Second Edition

There was no version of this spell in AD&D 2e, as Lorraine Williams felt it lent itself to vomit jokes, which might offend someone, somewhere, somehow.

Dungeons & Dragons Third  Edition

Dungeons & Dragons, Third Edition, Revised

(As published in “Arcanum Obscurum”, 2007)

Magic Mouth, Mourdlane’s Acidic

School:  Illusion (Glamer)/Conjuration

Level: Assassin 3, Bard 3, Wizard/Sorcerer 3

Casting Time: One standard action

Components: V, S, M (a comb of honey and a fresh lemon)

Range: Close (25 ft.+5 ft./2 levels)

Target: One creature or object

Duration: Permanent until discharged.

Saving Throw: Will negates (object), also Reflex half (see below)

Spell Resistance: Yes (object), No (acid, see below)

This spell is a variant that builds upon magic mouth (q.v.), and if this spell is prepared (or known to a spontaneous caster), they can choose to cast it as a simple magic mouth, as well. All of the normal rules for determining what may trigger the mouth, as described in the base spell, apply. However, there is a secondary trigger that can be added which, if tripped, will cause the mouth to shoot forth a burst of acid doing 6d6 damage, in a 30 foot cone, originating from the mouth’s square. This trigger may be “Fails to hear a specific word after delivering its message”, which is usually a riddle of some sort. However, it is often the case that the need to speak a word or take an action, such as making a particular sign with one’s hands, is not specified by the mouth; those who are “supposed” to be in the area will simply know what to do. The maximum delay between finishing the message and making a response is three rounds; at this point, the mouth will make the attack. Note that the trigger does not have to relate to the message at all; an acidic mouth can be set to speak its message if “any dwarf approaches within 20 feet” and to shoot acid if “any orc or goblin approaches within 10 feet”, for example.

A spellcraft check (DC 18) can determine if a given magic mouth is of the standard or acidic variety. A use magic device check (DC 25) can cause the mouth to perceive the trigger for spitting acid is either passed or failed, depending on the skill user’s choice.

This spell may be made permanent with a permanency spell.

Dungeons & Dragons Fourth  Edition

Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition

As published in Arcane Heroes, 2014

Acidic Mouth

The mouth set into the stone chuckles as the wrong password is given, then spews forth a great wave of acid at the unfortunate adventurers!

Level: 3

Component Cost: 50 gp

Category: Warding

Market Price: 125 gp

Time: 5 minutes, see below.

Key Skill: Arcana

Duration: Until discharged

This ritual must be performed within one hour of performing a Magic Mouth ritual, and on the same object or surface. When completed, the caster can choose a second condition which will, if met, cause the mouth to make an attack (see below for the exact parameters). The second condition may be set to trigger after the mouth has spoken, up to a maximum of three rounds later — this is often done to cause the mouth to ask a riddle, and it will spit acid “if the riddle is not answered correctly”. However, any otherwise legal condition is permissible, including spitting acid without speaking the message, if the two conditions do not overlap.

Arcana Roll Attack
<=8 None. The ritual fails. All components are lost. Really, this should never happen. What kind of schmuck doesn’t have at least a +9 Arcana if they’re casting a ritual in the first place, huh? I mean, you get 5 for training, plus your Intelligence bonus, + 1/2 level, right?
9-12 Close Blast 2, +5 vs. Reflex, 2d6 Acid, Ongoing 2 acid (save ends)
13-20 Close Blast 3, +6 vs. Reflex, 3d6 Acid, Ongoing 3 acid (save ends)
21+ Close Blast 3, +7 vs. Reflex, 3d8 Acid, Ongoing 5 acid (save ends)




On a miss, the acid does half damage and no ongoing. The DM should note the attack roll and damage of any such mouth placed as a trap.

Hoard Contraction

Hoard Contraction


Assassin 3, Bard 3, Sorcerer/Wizard 3; Domain: Metal 3, Trade 2

Casting Time: 1 Standard Action

Components: V, S, M/DF

Range: Touch

Target: Up to 1000 coins per caster level up to 10,000 maximum, coins must all be in a single bag or container.

Duration: Permanent

Saving Throw: None; Spell Resistance: No

This spell, beloved of adventurers who often find themselves with a lot of small change, transmutes coins of one sort into coins of another, ‘rolling up’ their value. It will turn 10 copper pieces into a silver piece, or 50 silver pieces into five gold pieces.

The spell requires a coin of recent mintage, of the highest value desired (for example, a silver coin will allow copper to become silver, but not gold or platinum). Having multiple coins (1 each of silver, gold, and platinum) is ideal. The “target” coin must have been minted in the past year and must be a common coin in an area within 10 miles of the caster; this spell cannot be used to turn copper pieces into antique coins worth far more than their metallic value. Indeed, the coins created by this spell, while of the proper weight and purity, are generally worn, nicked, and otherwise seemingly well-used (this is by design, as a sudden flood of glistening, newly-pressed coins in the hands of disreputable wandering mercenaries is likely to raise eyebrows).

A “tax” of 1% of the total value of coins transmuted is enacted by the spell; this raw material is part of what powers the transmutation.

All coins to be transformed must be in a single container, be it a sack, chest, box, and so on, including extradimensional storage. The spell affects 1,000 base coins per caster level and begins with the cheapest coins, seeking to combine them into the highest value possible. Hence, a fifth level caster with 5500 copper pieces and 100 silver pieces would end up with 4 platinum pieces, 9 gold pieces, 500 copper pieces, and 105 silver pieces. (At fifth level, the spell will “look” only at the first 5000 coins — 5000 of the copper pieces. One percent of this, the spell’s “tax”, is 50 copper pieces, or, five silver pieces. The 4,950 copper coins become 4 platinum pieces (consuming 4000 of the copper), 9 gold pieces (consuming 900 copper), and 5 silver pieces (consuming 50 copper))

False coins (as determined by their metal content, not necessarily their mintage) are not affected by this spell, making this an interesting way to sort out shaved coins, or coins containing admixtures of base metals. The spell can work on small pieces of pure metals not necessarily minted into coins, but cannot affect any piece weighing more than an ounce.

There is a legend that a powerful trickster-mage authored a reversed version of this spell, and tricked a dragon into casting it, thus entombing the dragon under a mountain of copper pieces. This reversed spell, if it ever really existed, has been lost to common knowledge.

Design Notes

This arose from last night’s PF game, where I realized it was a shame to leave low-value coins just lying around because they were heavy and bulky and even a portable hole only holds so much, especially when you dump a petrified mammoth into it. (Don’t ask.) It occurred to me that this would be a useful spell, and so, I wrote it up. Now, any spell that deals with precious metals is an open invite for a clever player to find ways to completely crash your game world’s economy, and so, I tried to find appropriate limits that would keep it at the “handy utility” level, and not the “hyperinflation level”. Many obvious combat uses are nullified by the simple expedient of the spell rolling up, not down — otherwise, you could bring a sack of 10 platinum pieces, cast this, and shower 10,000 copper pieces down on some unsuspecting enemy. The fact it costs 1% of the total wealth imposes, well, a cost on the spell, making it at least a tiny decision to use it or just get bigger bags or more hirelings. (I might kick it up to 5% or 10%, as I think about it.) The need to have local, current, coins is there because the first exploit I thought of is creating coins whose value to historians or collectors greatly exceeds their metal value. The idea that it could be used to “filter” fake or tampered coins was a happy inspiration as I thought about exactly what the magic could and couldn’t do, and how it would react to lead slugs in the coin bag.

Thoughts on other possible loopholes which could/should be capped, or non-exploitative but clever uses, are welcome.

A Spell For All Time: Inaudible Intelligence

A Spell For All Time: Inaudible Intelligence

Dungeons And Dragons Original Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition Dungeons And Dragons Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition

OK, some backstory.

At GenCon, I picked up Matt Finch’s “Eldritch Weirdness”, along with one or two other items. One item included in compilation of interesting bits of magic for retro-clone style games was a random spell name chart, significantly richer in words than most others I’ve seen, which tended to have 25 to 50 entries. This has 8 major columns (A through I, without “H”, not sure why), with each column having 100 adjectives and 100 nouns, for a total of 640,000 combinations, or about one-third as many spells as were published under the OGL in 2002. (Ba-dumb BUM!)

I had a thought. What if, I thought, I rolled randomly on the chart, and then took whatever I got and evolved it forward through successive iterations of D&D?

Well, I think someone said “The thought is father to the deed”, so, here you.

What did I roll? Did it make any sense? Can I pull this off? I don’t know, I haven’t rolled yet — all these things are written live, I hope you knew that.

Read on to find out what happened… as I find out what happens, and write it down!

Inaudible Intelligence

(For those of you being clever and wondering how I knew to write “Inaudible Intelligence” if I’m writing this as I go through the process, it used to say “Put Spell Name Here”. Then I edited it. Nyeah.)

Let’s roll!

There’s eight letters listed, and Mr. Finch basically said “Screw all y’all, I ain’t doin’ no more. Go make up your own shit”, so, this makes it easy. Roll 1d8 for letter. Matt suggests we go for appealing alliteration, and being a fan of the old style of spell names, I conclusively concur. Unless it makes not a scintilla of  sense, in which case I will reroll rapidly.

Hey, you’re not paying for this. Don’t complain.

Anyway, first roll, to determine the letter: 8, or I.

Second roll, adjective: 45, “Inaudible”

Third roll, noun: 50, “Intelligence”.

Hunh. (This needs to be read in a Nathan Fillion voice, the sound he made when he opened the case in the first episode of “Firefly” and saw River.)

There’s two possibilities that come instantly to mind. One is something telepathy like, which plays more off “inaudible”, the other is something more, well, “knowledge” like, playing more off “intelligence”. I think the latter could be more fun.

Dungeons and Dragons, Original Edition

Original D&D (“Brown/White Box” + Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry)

(As published in Supplement VII, “Waterdeep”, 1977)

Explanation Of Spells (Addition): Magic-User Spells

Third Level

Inaudible Intelligence:A spell which allows the magic-user to hear the advice of minor spirits or demons, who will provide him answers to some questions. He does not need to speak the question out loud, and no one else can hear the answer. The spell lasts for three questions at most and is in any event dismissed in an hour. The spirits are usually friendly but are sometimes malevolent or tricky, and they have only knowledge of what may be local to them.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, First Edition

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, First Edition

(As published in “Deeper Arcana”, 1st printing, 1989, Earth-14)

Magic User Spells

Second Level Spells:

Inaudible Intelligence (Divination)

Level: 2

Range: 0

Duration: 10 minutes or three questions

Components: V, S, M

Casting Time: 1 Round

Saving Throw: None

Explanation/Description: The spell of inaudible intelligence allows the magic-user to commune with minor spirits or demons or suchlike beings. These forces often have knowledge of the local area or events they may have seen, and by means of this dweomer, the magic user may ask questions of them. Such questions are both stated and answered silently, so no one knows what the magic user is asking or what is being told to him; this can be quite handy, for example, when asking “Did the thief pick my pocket?” The questions generally must pertain to that which is clear or visible; the spirits may now a trap is present if they’d seen it set off, for example, but not otherwise. In general, the spirits answer as honestly as they are able, but some may be mischievous or even malign.  There is a base 80% chance of an accurate answer, +2% for each point of the magic-user’s charisma above 14 and -3% for each point below 8. Asking the same question twice to see if an answer is identical is impertinent and the spirits will simply be silent and the spell is ended. The longer or more convoluted the question, the more likely it is the spirits will answer inaccurately; brevity is best!

The material component of this spell is a small seashell. The magic-user whispers or mouths the question into the shell and then holds it to his ear to hear the answer.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Second Edition

This spell was not published in Second Edition, because Lorraine Williams thought communing with spirits was “satanic” and could cost them Bible Belt sales. Also, she couldn’t work out a way to tie Buck Rogers into it.

Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition

Dungeons & Dragons, Third Edition, Revised

(As published in “Lost Lore” from Necromancer Games, 2008, a compilation of spells “abandoned” in older editions of D&D and revised for 3.5)

Inaudible Intelligence

School:  divination Level: Bard 2, Sorcerer/Wizard3

Casting Time: One standard action

Components: V, S, M (a polished seashell worth at least 20gp)

Range: Personal

Target: You

Duration: 1 minute/level or special, see below

When you cast this spell, you tap into the knowledge of local spirits, who may be able to answer simple questions and provide guidance. The spell lasts for the listed duration or until three questions are asked, whichever comes first. The spell draws in those spirits which exist in a radius of 25′ +5’/ level of the caster, up to a maximum of 50′ radius, and they cannot answer questions about things which exist outside this range.

You do not need to speak aloud to ask questions, and may ask them as an immediate action. The answers to the questions come into your mind silently, as well, so no one can know what was asked or what the answer was. (This does not in any way protect against mind-reading or other forms of divination which can detect surface thoughts.)

The spirits understand all languages and will answer in your native language.

A question can be no more than 20 words, and must be clearly phrased and not require judgment or evaluation. “Which door is safest for us?” will get a meaningless or possibly false answer, while “Is there a dragon behind the left door?” will get an accurate answer — if the dragon is in range of the spell at the moment the question is asked. (“Does the dragon live behind that door?” or “Have you seen a dragon enter that door?” would be better.)

The spirits are generally benevolent. However, there is a base 20% chance they will lie, increased or decreased by 2% * your Charisma modifier. If you suspect they are lying, you may make a DC 20 Sense Motive check to reveal this. If the check succeeds, they will be forced to re-answer the question honestly. However, making the check (whether they were lying or not, whether the check was successful or not) will terminate the spell and you will lose any remaining questions. You cannot cast this spell in the same general area more than once per day.

DMs who dislike the open-ended nature of this spell and who prefer a more structured system may instead allow this spell to grant a +5 bonus on up to three Knowledge or Search checks made in or regarding the spell’s area of effect, reflecting the spirit’s guidance in seeking answers or finding hidden objects.

Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition

Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition

(As published in Arcane Power IV, 2013)

Inaudible Intelligence (Wizard Utility 16)

You briefly commune with local spirits to enhance your knowledge.

Daily * Arcane, Zone

Minor Action Close burst 10

Effect: Until the end of the encounter (or for a period of 5 minutes),  so long as you are in the zone created by the spell, you may “call upon the spirits” and roll two dice for any Knowledge or Perception check related to things within the zone, choosing which of the dice to keep. The results of these checks, and even the fact you are making them, is not evident to any observers. (You may wish to give the DM a note detailing the check you’re making, and he may send a note back.)

Special: You may do this only three times during the spell’s duration, and only once per turn. If the check you wish to make would normally be a minor action, you can perform it as a free action instead.

If anyone would like to see more in this “series”, let me know.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 22 August 2010 16:19 )

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