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Spell Balance Help: Break Ground

Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew

I'm working on some new spells for my wizard. Solidify is looking pretty solid, so I'm making a new thread for the next spell.

As a GM, would you allow someone to take this spell? As a player, can you think of any way to abuse it? Are there any existing spells/feats/class abilities/etc. that would be cheapened by including this spell?

For comparison, there's the barbarian's ground breaker rage power, the cleric's earth channeling, a stone oracle's shard explosion, and the spells obsidian flow, tar pool and earthquake. I think this may be a little strong as is. I also need to change the wording to make it clearer that Reflex/SR only applies if you target a square with a creature in it.

BTW, I had to look it up, but the biggest threat from difficult terrain is that you can't 5-foot step through it. (The second biggest is that you can't charge through it, I think.)

Break Ground
School evocation [earth]; Level sorcerer/wizard 1
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (a small piece of brittle stone)
Range personal
Effect see text
Duration 1 minute/level
Saving Throw Reflex negates; Spell Resistance yes

As a standard action, while this spell is in effect, you can point to a 5ft square and cause the earth there to shatter into jagged shards. The square becomes difficult terrain and any creature standing there must make a reflex save of fall prone. Every time you do this, the remaining duration of this spell goes down by 1 minute.

You didn't specify the range of the effect, the spell may behave like a charged touch spell but how far does the 'break ground' effect go? As written any piece of ground within line of sight is a valid target, which is a no bueno for a first level spell. I would say close to medium range for the effect, tops.

Also doesn't is cost double the amount of movement to get through difficult terrain? Nothing to scoff at, that.

I would not let my players take this spell, but only for 1 reason: The spell text doesn't say how far away one can cause difficult terrain. Is it within so many feet? Line of sight? Adjacent? Touch? It just says "point." Otherwise it seems like a really cool spell.

EDIT: Ninja'd. I'd advocate adjacent squares, because I think it would look really cool to be able to flavor the spell and punching into the earth and having it shatter into jagged pieces. Close range would also be decent. Medium would be pushing it.

Good catch. Thanks. I think I'll go with close range.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I would make it an area spell (an area of one 5-foot square) with a range, instead of making it personal.

It's currently patterned after produce flame which actually has a range of 0 ft. It might could work as a line spell instead. (It was originally a 10 or 20 foot burst.)

I thought of a better way. I could pattern it after Goodberry (though I thought there was another spell that made berries and acorns into bombs).

So a spell that enchanted a handful (1 + 1 per 2 levels?) of stones that would shatter the ground where they landed.

Edit: Fire Seeds was the other spell.

Break Ground
School evocation [earth]; Level sorcerer/wizard 1
Casting Time 1 round
Components V, S, M (stones)
Range touch
Targets 1 stone plus 1 stone per 2 levels
Duration 1 minute/level or until used
Saving Throw see text; Spell Resistance no

This spell charges a handful of stones with destructive energies. When tossed (with a range increment of 20 feet), these stones shatter the ground where they land and cause boulders and rubble to fill the area. The targetted square becomes difficult terrain for 10 minutes after being hit. Any creature standing in that square must make a reflex save or fall prone.

These rocks only work when thrown onto squares of mostly dirt or stone, though light vegitation does not block the effect.


This has mostly the same effect, but with a bit different flavor. It offers about half as many targets, but can be handed around instead. I can't tell if this works as a level 1 spell or not though.

Also, written this way, the name Break Ground is probably not appropriate any more. (And I'd probably want to change call earth somewhat. The flavor is too similar.)

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Is there an attack roll against the ground, MagiMaster? If not, I see no reason to point out that it has a 20 foot range increment. Ranged increments only matter when there are attack rolls involved. Otherwise, I would just list an absolute range.

I would assume the same as attacking a square with a splash weapon and missing would cause it to hit nearby?

Yeah. It should be treated like a grenade-like weapon. I should mention that in the description. (I'm basing this version on the Fire Seeds spell.)

What happens with the duration at first level? You spend spend a standard to break the ground once and the duration is consumed.

Make the first groundbreaking occur automatically when the spell is cast.

EDIT: this is based on the first version, which I like better.

Yeah. That's one of the reasons I wanted to change it.

I guess I'll change it back. You don't think it's a bit strong as written though? I'm not sure what to compare it to at this point.

Someone in another forum mentioned that Break Ground seems too powerful compared to grease. I kind of agree, but I don't know exactly how to limit it without making it too weak. Any suggestions?

Hmm... The Shifting Sand spell is very similar to this, but is level 3. I may have to rethink this one.

Compared to that, would a single square be roughly a level 1 spell?

So let me ask this way. If I were to cast Break Ground as a 1st level spell as a 5th level caster, how many squares would you expect it to effect? More like 1, 3 or 5?

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