Thevanan Quain

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I absolutely intend to move past the interest check phase; I simply need feedback to tailor the story space and narrative domains for the campaign.

If anyone is wondering where I went for the last month, I fell down a rabbit hole while trying to get religion working. Splicing together the various creation myths of Mesopotamia and the Levant is taxing my creativity to the limit, even after I've decided which city-state's version of a god's familial and marital status to use.

The Google doc now has a better introduction to the deities.

So I'm creating a setting with a deity selection based on a melding of Sumerian, Canaanite, and Hittite religion.

It's a rich and wonderful mythology; it just doesn't really translate well into game terms. Almost everybody has the Weather domain, the Plant domain (a stand-in for a nonexistent Agriculture domain), and the Air domain. Several have the War domain, and almost all of those also have the Weather and Air domains.

Oh hell, I'll just transcribe the list for the gods I've done so far:

Major Divinities:
Adad: Cloud, Plant, Storms, Weather, Wind
Enki: Artifice, Knowledge, Magic, Rune, Trickery, Water
Enlil: Cloud, Destruction, Fate, Glory, Nobility, Plant, Storms, Weather, Wind
Ereshkigal: Caves, Death, Repose
Gibil: Destruction, Fire
Inanna: Charm, Knowledge, Lust, War
Marduk: Cloud, Nobility, Storms, Strength, War, Weather, Wind
Nabu: Knowledge, Law, Rune
Nanna: Knowledge, Moon*
Ninurta: Protection, Storms, Strength, War, Weather, Wind
Ningishzida: Ancestors, Healing, Plant, Repose, Restoration
Ninhursag: Earth, Family, Growth, Healing, Plant
Nirgal: Blood, Death, Destruction, Sun**, War
Ninlil: Charm, Family, Water, Weather, Wind
Shamash: Law***, Liberation, Protection, Sun
*Not an actual domain in Pathfinder for some reason.
**Specifically, the deadly summer sun that brought drought and scorching heat, which isn't the aspect of the sun reflected by the CRB domain.
***More specifically justice, rather than law for law's sake, though there isn't a domain or subdomain specifically for that.

I'm sure that using more subdomains (or converting one of the dozens of 3.5 domains) would add a bit more granularity to this list, but the things that make these deities special are the deeds attributed to them in myth, their relationships with one another, and their conflicting depictions in various sources spanning over a thousand years. As far as game-relevant information, I could only find favored weapons for Enlil (who invented the mattock), Ninurta (who bore a magic, sentient heavy mace), and Marduk, who bore a thunderbolt named Imhullu that could be represented by training his clerics in the javelin.

Now, there were rules in 3.5 for tight pantheons (like the Norse, Olympian, or Egyptian gods), and I suppose I could use those, but what would a setting lose mechanically by getting rid of clerics altogether?

By way of context, the divine spellcasting classes left are the oracle, druid, shaman, hunter, ranger, and warpriest (which also gets the paladin & antipaladin exclusive spells).

Galoria Ginodesa wrote:
In somewhat of a combination of Harakani and Joynt Jezebel's posts, given the breadth of the civilizations in geography and time, how are you planning to handle "races" if at all? It could be simpler to make everyone human, yet there remains the issue of language and party junction at the beginning; unless you're using the supernatural to force a convention or state a particular society in which characters would exist, one would have to get quite creative.

As to races;

Dwarves (kur-kadanu, singular kur-kadu) are the handiwork of Ninurta, who fashioned them at the same time he did the mountains themselves from the bodies of the army of Asag (which included fantastical rock-monsters, the duergar, and others). The dwarves watch over the eastern mountains, guarding them against the Rebel Lands where civilization is unknown and hostile hordes loom.

Some dwarves live on the Great Island in the Western Sea, where they source copper, tin, lead, and antimony under the aegis of Kothar-wa-khasis.

Other races I'm working on include changelings, elves, gillmen (half-kulullû), half-elves, half-orcs, halflings, humans, ifrit, oreads, sulis, sylphs, and undines. A less "Wesley Snipesian" dhampir may also be in the works, along with a strix-like race tied to that old Assyrian staple, the griffon-demon.

As to languages, there will be two or three trade languages, at least one of which almost everyone will have a working knowledge.

Deliverance wrote:

Carved on bone? Lots of surface area and relatively lightweight. Also potentially badass/intimidating.

Like, an ox pelvis that's cracked in half? Because on a femur or skull or other not-flat bone, it's hard to read.

Oh, whatever. Sure.

I'm not opposed to arcanists or wizards being in the game, I'm just trying to get a handle on plausible ways for them to adventure outside their workshop without bringing along an extra donkey. (Though there are a few problematic spells that need changing, and a few thematically appropriate but mechanically garbage spells that also need changing; I'll fill you in on those).

Aldizog wrote:
The wizard and arcanist are appealing due to the spellbook, since "writing=power" is thematically very appropriate for the period. Or perhaps a version of the 3.5 Archivist, a divine caster with a spellbook. Some sort of rune-caster prestige class (like Cyphermage) could also work.

Yeah, I've been trying to figure out how to make it work. The problem is, clay tablets weigh a buttload.

Robert Henry wrote:
What sort of races and classes would you allow?

Regarding classes:

Akkadian/Sumerian class name equivalents:

Alchemist . . . . . . . . . . sha-gabêshu
Antipaladin . . . . . . . . parriṣu
Arcanist . . . . . . . . . . . kakugallu
Barbarian . . . . . . . . . . urshānu
Bard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . nuāru
Bloodrager . . . . . . . . . maḫḫû
Brawler . . . . . . . . . . . umāshu
Cavalier . . . . . . . . . . . mār damqi
Cleric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . sangû
Druid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . nēshakku
Fighter . . . . . . . . . . . . zakkû
Hunter . . . . . . . . . . . . māḫiṣu
Magus . . . . . . . . . . . . multēpishu
Medium . . . . . . . . . . mushshipu
Mesmerist . . . . . . . . . . mupashshir shunāti
Occultist . . . . . . . . . . . . shagammāḫu
Oracle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . shā'ilu
Paladin . . . . . . . . . . . . . qarrādu
Psychic . . . . . . . . . . . . . shabrû
Ranger . . . . . . . . . . . . . dayyālu
Rogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . guzallu
Shaman . . . . . . . . . . . . kāribu
Skald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ṭabbālu
Slayer . . . . . . . . . . . . . ṭābiḫu
Spiritualist . . . . . . . . . kashshāpu
Sorcerer . . . . . . . . . . . kalû
Summoner . . . . . . . . . sha-shipti
Warpriest . . . . . . . . . . arīru
Witch . . . . . . . . . . . . . āshiptu
Wizard . . . . . . . . . . . . ummânu

Don't worry, you won't need to memorize any of those. I just thought it might be neat to have lying around.

As to appropriateness of classes to the setting:

Highly appropriate: barbarian, brawler, hunter, medium, oracle, ranger, rogue, shaman, spiritualist, summoner, witch

Appropriate: bard, cleric, druid, fighter, mesmerist, occultist, psychic, skald, slayer, sorcerer, warpriest

Adjustments/discussion required: alchemist, arcanist, bloodrager, cavalier, magus, paladin, sorcerer, wizard

LOLnope: antipaladin, gunslinger

As to races, I'm still working on that, and debating how much effort to put into de-Tolkienizing them. And of course, the problem of what the hell you're supposed to do with gnomes, the Kato Kaelin of races.

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Bluenose wrote:


Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Don't forget what killed Jesus

Suffocation? Seems slightly irrelevant.

According to the story, he was stabbed in the side with a spear. While crucifixion usually killed by suffocation, it would be hard to "[give] a loud cry and [give] up the ghost" if the guy was suffocating.

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Don't forget what killed Jesus

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Google doc link



"I have a word to tell you,
a message to recount to you;
the word of the tree and the whisper of the stone,
the murmur of the heavens to the earth,
of the seas to the stars.
I understand the lightning that the heavens
do not know,
the word that people do not know,
and earth's masses cannot understand.
Come, and I will reveal it."
--The storm god Baal

These lines were written more than three thousand years ago, when the mystery sang alive still in the water and singing birds. This campaign seeks to recreate the sense of boundless possibility, resonant myth, and familiar strangeness that imbues the oldest stories ever told.

The world of Ashshirru is young. Grandsons of gods sit on the thrones of city-states. The written word, carved in stone and impressed in clay, is a secret known only to magicians, priests, and sages. The great and the noble ride chariots to war, and steel is rarer than gold; Everywhere, battle is lit by the gleam of bronze.

The spirit world is terrifyingly close. Great evil does not dwell beyond a gate, awaiting the chants of cultists to loose it on the world; It is present in dark graveyards, abandoned towns, and wild places, and slinks into homes by night to bedevil mortalkind. No town is afflicted with plague, no well befouled with poison, no child beset with nightmares, save by malign, otherworldly forces.

The greatest magic comes not from within oneself, but by manipulating the demons, ghosts, and spirits that are omnipresent in the world. Some magicians bargain with or even serve those more powerful than they, while others subjugate hordes of lesser spirits and control them through hidden knowledge or by right of birth and blood.

The gods themselves are real, and those who travel to the highest mountains can touch Heaven, or descend into the depths and wander the caverns of Hades. The hierophants of holy sites see gods face-to-face.

By turning back the clock, everything old is new again–literally. Do you want to be the first in the world to do something most campaign settings take for granted? Now is your chance.

Ashshirru draws on (but is by no means bound by) the history and mythology of the Ancient Near East, which includes Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, Elam, Israel and Judah, the Hittites, the Medes, Canaan, Ugarit, Tyre and Sidon, and Old Kingdom Egypt.

Don't let that list scare you! You do not need to be a historian or scholar to participate; you don't even need to skim the Epic of Gilgamesh.

End pitch

I'm sure many of you have questions. If you're interested, tell me! If there are questions you'd need answered before deciding if you are interested, be sure to post them. Even if you're already hooked by concept and description alone, give a sentence or two (or three or four or five or…) about what you expect from such a campaign.

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I've noticed a trend in RPGs (including Pathfinder) where swords get most of the love in terms of magic items, class features, and feats (and in PFRPG, blatant mathematical superiority).

The polearms in the martial weapon category have some neat tricks with the right feats, but when fighting larger monsters those tricks become increasingly hard to pull off.

I ask because I intend to run a Bronze-Age campaign, and by making iron rare and steel almost impossible to acquire, swords and polearms (except the rhomphaia, which looked like a naginata with a slightly shorter haft) are mostly off the table.

It's odd that the rhomphaia sucks so hard, since it was used by the Greeks at the battle of Thermopylae, and is a close cousin to the cheesemaster 9000, i.e. the falcata.

I guess being simple weapons means they have to kind of suck, but I'm surprised there are so few options to make spears viable.

Lady Bluehawk wrote:

Very cool start! Just one little kvetch:


light steel (quickdraw)
light steel
light wooden (quickdraw)
light wooden
heavy steel
heavy wooden
Shouldn't that be bronze instead of steel if we're talking about the usual metal used?

It's mostly for mechanics reference purposes.

I've run into another problem; Namely, that maintaining the distinction between summoners and spiritualists is becoming harder the more I think about it.

Basically, the problem is this: peoples of the Ancient Near East didn't care if an evil spirit used to be alive or not, and supernatural beings regardless of origin didn't come through a magic Stargate from another dimension but rather from worlds very similar to ours, like the Ethereal Plane, Plane of Shadow, or Spirit World.

I like the emotional focus of phantoms; it's more elegant and setting-portable than the outsider race categorization of the unchained eidolon. But the emotional focus seems to determine all the major abilities of a phantom, without the customization of an evolution pool. If you wanted a spiritualist phantom that was half-human/half-scorpion, the existing rules don't really work. If you want a summoner eidolon that's half-human/half-scorpion, but also slightly out-of-phase with the world even when fully present, you're also out of luck.


Thesis Statement: I would like some general feedback (positive or negative) and input on any potential balance issues you see stemming from giving sorcerers a small amount of customization in their bloodline spells.

Background: The sorcerer bloodlines were a needed addition to the class, replacing the neat but flawed Heritage Feats in the latter half of 3.5 edition. Two otherwise-identical Pathfinder sorcerers can play like completely different characters depending on their bloodlines.

But there is one complaint; Namely, that within the bloodlines themselves there isn't much variety.

Of course, sorcerers are a tier 2 class and don't really need any increases in power level, which is why I think something that can only be changed at level-up and doesn't actually offer anything more than what a normal sorcerer could get would be the best solution for the Pathfinder sorcerer (or indeed, the only solution that doesn't break the game; it's far far too late in the development cycle to give sorcerers a different spell list the way 5e did).

Rules: These alternative bloodline spells work exactly like regular bloodline spells; at 3rd, 5th, ..., 17th, and 19th level, the sorcerer gains one bloodline spell of the highest level they can cast and adds it to their list of spells known. This bloodline spell can be selected from any one of those indicated for their bloodline at that spell level. At any level where they could swap a spell known, they can instead swap one bloodline spell for another bloodline spell of the same level.

Only one spell per spell level can be a bloodline spell. For example, if a sorcerer with the undead bloodline knows both energy drain and wail of the banshee, only the one learned as a class feature at level 19 is affected by abilities such as the bloodline intensity archmage mythic path ability.

I took the liberty of replacing bloodline spells that don't fit their bloodline's theme very well (likely because they were released early in the design cycle), such as tongues with monstrous extremities for aberrant sorcerers and shadow walk with dream travel for dreamspun sorcerers.

EDIT: Looking back, those are the only two outright replacements on the entire list.

Wildblooded sorcerer bloodlines aren't included in this list because there are only so many spells in the PFRPG line and I was already repeating myself more than I would have liked.

Some core bloodlines are so specific that there were not enough spells to give two or more options at every level (which I set as the benchmark), so you won't, for example, see the Ectoplasm bloodline on here.

The bloodlines are listed alphabetically. The original bloodline spell Paizo assigned for a given level is listed first.

There are 31 bloodline lists given, representing 28 Paizo bloodlines (Elemental was split into 4).

Half the bloodlines have only two choices at each level, and most of the rest have three (Abyssal, Celestial, Djinni, Dreamspun, Efreeti, Elemental [all], Infernal, Protean, Rakshasa, and Shadow), though one (Fey) has four, although there is at least one dud at each level there (tree shape, unnatural lust, matchmaker, poison, mind fog, green caress, pox of rumors, scintillating pattern, shambler).

Alternative Bloodline Spells:

1: enlarge person, adhesive spittle
2: see invisibility, fleshcurdle
3: tongues, monstrous extremities, countless eyes
4: black tentacles, confusion
5: feeblemind, echolocation
6: veil, acid fog
7: plane shift, insanity
8: mind blank, frightful aspect
9: shapechange, maze of madness and suffering

1: cause fear, protection from good, ear-piercing scream
2: bull's strength, darkness, acid arrow
3: rage, deeper darkness, lightning bolt
4: stoneskin, unholy blight, fear
5: dismissal, possession, telekinesis
6: transformation, acid fog, cruel jaunt
7: greater teleport, hungry darkness, caustic eruption
8: unholy aura, horrid wilting, rift of ruin
9: summon monster IX, storm of vengeance, energy drain

1: ray of enfeeblement, doom
2: touch of idiocy, blindness/deafness
3: ray of exhaustion, accursed glare
4: bestow curse, rest eternal
5: feeblemind, major curse
6: eyebite, flesh to stone
7: insanity, bestow greater curse
8: dimensional lock, prediction of failure
9: energy drain, cursed earth

1: identify, magic missile
2: invisibility, greater detect magic
3: dispel magic, arcane sight
4: dimension door, globe of invulnerability
5: overland flight, teleport
6: true seeing, greater dispel magic
7: greater teleport, greater arcane sight
8: power word stun, prismatic wall
9: wish, time stop

1: bless, bless water, protection from evil
2: resist energy, consecrate, burst of radiance
3: magic circle against evil, daylight, searing light
4: remove curse, holy smite, good hope
5: flame strike, hallow, dispel evil
6: greater dispel magic, true seeing, chains of light
7: banishment, joyful rapture, greater teleport
8: sunburst, holy aura, stormbolts
9: gate, heroic invocation, storm of vengeance

1: ray of enfeeblement, deathwatch
2: touch of idiocy, cup of dust
3: vampiric touch, ray of exhaustion
4: contagion, enervation
5: blight, waves of fatigue
6: circle of death, wither limb
7: waves of exhaustion, plundered power
8: horrid wilting, trap the soul
9: soul bind, energy drain

Deep Earth:
1: expeditious excavation, expeditious construction
2: darkvision, earthbind
3: shifting sand, stone shape
4: stoneskin, earth glide
5: spike stones, hungry earth
6: stone tell, tar pool
7: repel metal or stone, caustic eruption
8: earthquake, wall of lava
9: clashing rocks, imprisonment

1: alarm, moment of greatness
2: blur, embrace destiny
3: protection from energy, gallant inspiration
4: freedom of movement, death ward
5: break enchantment, grand destiny
6: mislead, getaway
7: spell turning, circle of clarity
8: moment of prescience, mind blank
9: foresight, time stop

1: shocking grasp, enhance water, alter winds
2: invisibility, gust of wind, minor image
3: fly, major image, create food and water
4: minor creation, air walk, control winds
5: overland flight, persistent image, major creation (created vegetable matter is permanent)
6: chain lightning, wind walk, heroes' feast
7: plane shift, limited wish, control weather (as druid)
8: greater planar binding, screen, whirlwind
9: wish, resplendent mansion, elemental swarm (air only)

1: mage armor, detect metal
2: resist energy, barkskin
3: fly, suggestion
4: fear, stoneskin
5: spell resistance, cone of cold (matches your dragon's damage type)
6: form of the dragon I, guards and wards, analyze dweomer
7: form of the dragon II, mass hold person, teleport trap
8: form of the dragon III, demand, dimensional lock
9: wish, overwhelming presence

1: sleep, ill omen, auditory hallucination
2: augury, oneiric horror, sense madness
3: deep slumber, minor dream (self only), clairaudience/clairvoyance
4: divination, greater oneiric horror, phantasmal killer
5: dream, lesser astral projection, nightmare
6: shadow walk, dream travel, dream council, prognostication
7: vision, permanent hallucination, insanity
8: moment of prescience, true prognostication, discern location
9: astral projection, microcosm, dream voyage

1: enlarge person, reduce person, produce flame
2: scorching ray, invisibility, pyrotechnics
3: fireball, ash storm, scorching ash form (self only)
4: wall of fire, mass reduce person, mass enlarge person
5: persistent image, fire snake, elemental body II (fire only)
6: planar binding, chains of fire, permanent image
7: plane shift, limited wish, fire storm
8: giant form II, incendiary cloud, wall of lava
9: wish, fiery body, meteor swarm

Elemental (air):
1: burning hands (electricity damage), alter winds, windy escape
2: scorching ray (electricity damage), gust of wind, whispering wind
3: protection from energy, wind wall, air geyser
4: elemental body I, river of wind, air walk
5: elemental body II, control winds, overland flight
6: elemental body III, path of the winds, wind walk
7: elemental body IV, control weather (as druid), fire storm (electricity damage)
8: summon monster VIII (elementals only), whirlwind, stormbolts
9: elemental swarm, winds of vengeance, ride the lightning

Elemental (earth):
1: burning hands (acid damage), expeditious excavation, stone shield
2: scorching ray (acid damage), binding earth, soften earth and stone
3: protection from energy, meld into stone, stone shape
4: elemental body I, earth glide, spike stones
5: elemental body II, wall of stone, transmute rock to mud
6: elemental body III, move earth, flesh to stone
7: elemental body IV, repel metal or stone, rampart
8: summon monster VIII (elementals only), iron body (can speak and drink potions), earthquake
9: elemental swarm, clashing rocks, imprisonment

Elemental (fire):
1: burning hands, touch of combustion, produce flame
2: scorching ray, flaming sphere, pyrotechnics
3: protection from energy, fireball, firestream
4: elemental body I, wall of fire, fire shield (warm shield only)
5: elemental body II, fire snake, lightning arc (fire damage)
6: elemental body III, chain lightning (fire damage), cold ice strike (fire damage)
7: elemental body IV, fire storm, firebrand
8: summon monster VIII (elementals only), stormbolts (fire damage), incendiary cloud
9: elemental swarm, fiery body, meteor swarm

Elemental (water):
1: burning hands (cold damage), hydraulic push, wave shield
2: scorching ray (cold damage), slipstream, ice slick
3: protection from energy, aqueous orb, hydraulic torrent
4: elemental body I, control water, wall of ice
5: elemental body II, alter river, globe of tranquil water
6: elemental body III, freezing sphere, oasis
7: elemental body IV, fire storm (cold damage), vortex
8: summon monster VIII (elementals only), seamantle, stormbolts (cold damage)
9: elemental swarm, tsunami, mass icy prison

1: entangle, tree shape, lesser confusion, ventriloquism
2: hideous laughter, unnatural lust, silence, invisibility
3: deep slumber, matchmaker, displacement, rage
4: poison, sculpt sound, nixie's lure, moonstruck
5: tree stride, lesser entice fey, mind fog, mirage arcana
6: mislead, transport via plants, green caress, flesh to stone
7: phase door, waves of ecstasy, entice fey, pox of rumors
8: irresistible dance, binding, scintillating pattern, screen
9: shapechange, greater entice fey, time stop, shambler

Ghoul Sorcerer:
1: ray of enfeeblement, repair undead
2: feast of ashes, ghoul touch
3: vampiric touch, meld into stone
4: fear, hunger for flesh
5: hungry earth, ghoul army
6: move earth, create undead
7: control undead, mass hunger for flesh
8: unholy aura, deathclutch
9: wail of the banshee, clashing rocks

1: ill omen, anticipate peril
2: augury, detect thoughts
3: harrowing, analyze aura
4: shadow conjuration, divination
5: contact other plane, retrocognition
6: legend lore, prognostication
7: greater harrowing, vision
8: moment of prescience, true prognostication
9: weird, foresight

1: moment of greatness, command
2: eagle's splendor, resist energy
3: heroism, magic vestment
4: threefold aspect, fear
5: greater command, overland flight
6: repulsion, greater heroism
7: greater age resistance, mass hold person
8: prediction of failure, demand
9: overwhelming presence, gate

1: protection from good, charm person, fool's gold
2: scorching ray, minor image, detect desires
3: suggestion, fireball, major image
4: charm monster, wall of fire, damnation stride
5: dominate person, hellfire ray, persistent image
6: planar binding (devils and fiendish creatures only), mass suggestion, chains of fire
7: greater teleport, fire storm, song of discord
8: power word stun, mass charm monster, trap the soul
9: meteor swarm, dominate monster, soul bind

1: ventriloquism, vocal alteration
2: hideous laughter, enthrall
3: suggestion, sculpt sound
4: shout, confusion
5: dominate person, persistent image
6: mass suggestion, music of the spheres
7: power word blind, song of discord
8: greater shout, power word stun
9: wail of the banshee, power word kill

1: obscuring mist, hydraulic push
2: see invisibility, minor image
3: gaseous form, water breathing
4: wall of ice, control water
5: persistent image, oasis
6: elemental body III, freezing sphere
7: plane shift, limited wish
8: polar ray, seamantle
9: wish, tsunami

1: burning hands, enlarge person
2: bull's strength, scorching ray
3: rage, fireball
4: wall of fire, mass enlarge person
5: cloudkill, decapitate
6: transformation, chains of fire
7: delayed blast fireball, giant form I
8: iron body, giant form II
9: meteor swarm, heroic invocation

1: charm animal, itching curse
2: summon swarm, ghoul touch
3: contagion, rain of frogs
4: repel vermin, fleshworm infestation
5: insect plague, greater contagion
6: eyebite, plague storm
7: creeping doom, waves of exhaustion
8: horrid wilting, summon monster VIII (1d3 leukodaemons or 1 meladaemon)
9: power word kill, cursed earth

1: entropic shield, bouncy body, break
2: blur, wood shape, make whole
3: gaseous form, slow, shrink item
4: confusion, stone shape, rusting grasp
5: major creation, transmute rock to mud, polymorph
6: disintegrate, wall of iron, animate objects
7: greater polymorph, reverse gravity, phase door
8: polymorph any object, earthquake, prismatic wall
9: shapechange, greater create demiplane, prismatic sphere

1: charm person, magic aura, sow thought
2: invisibility, detect desires, alter self
3: suggestion, seek thoughts, hold person
4: detect scrying, charm monster, glibness
5: prying eyes, mass charm person, mage's private sanctum
6: mass suggestion, veil, repulsion
7: greater polymorph, mass hold person, spell turning
8: mind blank, screen, greater prying eyes
9: dominate monster, shapechange, etherealness

1: ray of enfeeblement, shadow trap, dancing darkness
2: darkvision, darkness, silence
3: deeper darkness, shadow enchantment, gloomblind bolts
4: shadow conjuration, shadow projection, shadowform
5: shadow evocation, shadow endurance, waves of fatigue
6: shadow walk, greater shadow enchantment, shadow transmutation
7: power word blind, hungry darkness, project image
8: greater shadow evocation, screen, curse of night
9: shades, greater shadow transmutation, polar midnight

1: true strike, magic stone
2: glitterdust, soften earth and stone
3: greater magic weapon, meld into stone
4: stoneskin, stone shape
5: wall of stone, spike stones
6: wall of iron, stone tell
7: plane shift, limited wish
8: iron body, earthquake
9: wish, clashing rocks

1: shocking grasp, ear-piercing scream
2: gust of wind, sound burst
3: lightning bolt, call lightning (bolts always at full power)
4: shout, ball lightning
5: overland flight, call lightning storm (bolts always at full power)
6: chain lightning, path of the winds
7: control weather, stormbolts (cannot exclude creatures or vegetation)
8: whirlwind, greater shout (60-ft-radius spherical spread within long range instead of cone)
9: storm of vengeance, ride the lightning

1: chill touch, repair undead
2: false life, command undead
3: vampiric touch, lesser animate dead
4: animate dead, greater false life
5: waves of fatigue, mass repair undead
6: undeath to death, create undead
7: finger of death, control undead
8: horrid wilting, create greater undead
9: energy drain, wail of the banshee

I've always had a soft spot for the summoner class. But it stems largely from a deep appreciation for the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. Like the summoner, Bartimaean magicians had several minor magical tricks they could perform without needing help from an outsider, but their most powerful abilities by far came from their capacity to command spirits/demons from the Other Place. Skilled magicians could conjure weaker spirits with a snap of the fingers and a few words, but their greatest strength came from spirits/demons that could only be called and controlled with the help of complicated magical diagrams and rituals. A magician's power was most directly measured by the strength of spirit/demon they could call and subsequently control.
If I didn't know that the game was drawing on preexisting traditions, I'd swear the author played D&D or something.
There are a few key differences, though. Namely, a summoner in the Bartimaean mold would have no eidolon. Mostly because, save the rare few who develop Stockholm syndrome, every bound outsider is like the quasit: "[It] serves, yet it watches and waits for mistakes that might cost its master's life, or even better, an error that might let the [spirit] turn against its master."
Also, Bartimaean magicians bargain and negotiate purely with sticks. They never give their slaves gold, goods, or services, and instead rely on the strictures of the binding magic and their ability to magically torture them into compliance. The idea of having a spiritual connection to their slaves beyond that necessary to ensure their compliance would be anathema.

Of course, the Pathfinder summoner derives a great deal of their power from the eidolon, so removing it would change the class significantly.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to implement such an adjustment?

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The gods aren't OGL, so they're "hard" to find "officially."
In 3.0, gods almost always had ability scores in the high 30s at a bare minimum, many going up to the 50s or even 60, and pretty much every single one had 20 outsider Hit Dice and 20 levels each in two base classes (and some prestige class levels for the greater deities) for a total of 50 to 70 HD. Plus maximum hit points per Hit Die. I'm talking thousands of hit points.

Of course, having 40 to 50 class levels in PFRPG would just get unmanageable, so I'm thinking more along the mythic rules.

Also, if the PCs hit level 20, killing a god shouldn't be "badwrongfun"; theomachy was a pretty consistent theme in Mesopotamian folklore. Even YHWH of Israelite religion had traces of Mesopotamian theomachy in His scripture, seen in places like the Song of Moses and Psalm 18.

Psalm 18:7-15 wrote:

Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, for He was angry.
Smoke went up from His nostrils, and devouring fire from His mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from Him.
He bowed the heavens, and came down; thick darkness was under His feet.
He rode on a cherub, and flew; He came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering around Him, His canopy thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before Him there broke through His clouds hailstones and coals of fire.
The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered His voice.
And He sent out His arrows, and scattered them; He flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at Your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

The entirety of the description of the ring of telekinesis is as follows:

Ultimate Equipment, page 175 wrote:
This ring, knotted with metallic tendrils encasing a setting of red and amber gemstones, allows the caster to use the spell telekinesis on command, lifting and manipulating objects at a distance using only her mind.

The spell in question has the following rules text:

Core Rulebook, page 357 wrote:

You move objects or creatures by concentrating on them. Depending on the version selected, the spell can provide a gentle, sustained force, perform a variety of combat maneuvers, or exert a single short, violent thrust.

Sustained Force: A sustained force moves an object weighing no more than 25 pounds per caster level (maximum 375 pounds at 15th level) up to 20 feet per round. A creature can negate the effect on an object it possesses with a successful Will save or with spell resistance. This version of the spell can last 1 round per caster level, but it ends if you cease concentration. The weight can be moved vertically, horizontally, or in both directions. An object cannot be moved beyond your range. The spell ends if the object is forced beyond the range. If you cease concentration for any reason, the object falls or stops.

An object can be telekinetically manipulated as if with one hand. For example, a lever or rope can be pulled, a key can be turned, an object rotated, and so on, if the force required is within the weight limitation. You might even be able to untie simple knots, though delicate activities such as these require DC 15 Intelligence checks.

Combat Maneuver: Alternatively, once per round, you can use telekinesis to perform a bull rush, disarm, grapple (including pin), or trip. Resolve these attempts as normal, except that they don't provoke attacks of opportunity, you use your caster level in place of your Combat Maneuver Bonus, and you add your Intelligence modifier (if a wizard) or Charisma modifier (if a sorcerer) in place of your Strength or Dexterity modifier. No save is allowed against these attempts, but spell resistance applies normally. This version of the spell can last 1 round per caster level, but it ends if you cease concentration.

Violent Thrust: Alternatively, the spell energy can be spent in a single round. You can hurl one object or creature per caster level (maximum 15) that are within range and all within 10 feet of each other toward any target within 10 feet per level of all the objects. You can hurl up to a total weight of 25 pounds per caster level (maximum 375 pounds at 15th level).

You must succeed on attack rolls (one per creature or object thrown) to hit the target with the items, using your base attack bonus + your Intelligence modifier (if a wizard) or Charisma modifier (if a sorcerer). Weapons cause standard damage (with no Strength bonus; note that arrows or bolts deal damage as daggers of their size when used in this manner). Other objects cause damage ranging from 1 point per 25 pounds (for less dangerous objects) to 1d6 points of damage per 25 pounds (for hard, dense objects). Objects and creatures that miss their target land in a square adjacent to the target.

Creatures who fall within the weight capacity of the spell can be hurled, but they are allowed Will saves (and spell resistance) to negate the effect, as are those whose held possessions are targeted by the spell.

If a telekinesed creature is hurled against a solid surface, it takes damage as if it had fallen 10 feet (1d6 points).

So, which ability score is it? I know that the save DC is set by the minimum ability score (15 in this case, for a DC of 17), but does that also apply to things like CMB? The reference to Intelligence checks implies that the user's abilities do indeed have an impact on the utility of the spell. So does the user's ability modifiers apply to the combat maneuver and violent thrust versions of telekinesis when using this ring?

Also, does the violent thrust version use the item user's base attack bonus? Usually these things are based on the creator's caster level, but BAB and caster level have no inherent relation to each other.

bishop083 wrote:
or play a caster that is good for absolutely nothing once the spells are done.

Which would be a fresh and exciting development in the d20 system.

Ventnor wrote:

How involved are the gods going to be in this setting?

If I remember my Ancient Near East epics correctly, there was at least one demi-god living it up as a (literal) king until he pissed off one some of the full gods. And then pissed off the other gods after he killed the monster they sent to kill him in self-defense.

Yep. The gods will need stats.

Inlaa wrote:
I think it was the development of the stirrup, which let you stand up—and thus swing a weapon—that made warhorses definitively replace the chariot. Don't take my word for it, though.
Oh, I'm not saying replace all the chariots with horsemen. I just mean your setting can have both horse riders and chariot riders. I'd just remember to make horses somewhat smaller than the current ones in Pathfinder, since these horses aren't the huge beasts of war we'd assume they are. No heavily-armored destriers smashing through the frontlines yet.


EDIT: Since it's bad form to just have a post one word long, I'll add that the omission of the witch from my "I have some thoughts on the classes" in the OP was accidental. Of course almost all 9-level arcane spellcasters would be witches.

Oddly, the summoner seems more in line with the Mesopotamian conception of wizardly magicians, who would get their power by their command over spirits rather than from their own personal ability.

Of course, it would be less of a "I'm personally linked to my eidolon soul-to-soul" conception and more along the lines of a master summoner/Bartimaeus trilogy magician. Summoners would call upon and command weaker spirits, while witches would commune and bargain with greater spirits.

Alexandros Satorum wrote:
Jesse Heinig wrote:

....I didn't care to read teh whole thread before posting....

After a certain point, that basically becomes the norm, though, doesn't it?

I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

I had ideas for this before I encountered Testament (but I agree, it's a great book, and it does a great job with Wizards as long as they're Egyptian), back shortly after Oriental Adventures came out. A few ideas I had...


The Prophet: A divine version of the Warlock; maybe they could call down the occasional miracle at high levels....


Great minds think alike. It needs polishing, though, obviously.

Inlaa wrote:

On iron: I don't recall it actually being THAT much better than bronze... at first. It's only when you remove the impurities of iron and start creating steel and alloys and stuff that you get to the point where yes, it's outright superior, but early iron weaponry is... Well, comparable to bronze.

I dunno..If I were to do a direct Pathfinder take on Sword and Sandal/Mesopotamian fantasy, I would probably let Clerics be as common in the setting as they are in Pathfinder. If anything, Pathfinder's idea of religion is probably closer to Mesopotamian than Medieval European.

Agreed. Pathfinder mythology is NOT a medieval mythology at all. Actually, I hate how Pathfinder and D&D mythologies are usually done: there's no ambiguity as to whether the deities are real, they simply ARE and they intervene directly sometimes and we know for a fact they grant clerics their powers. Buh.

Making religion a matter of faith seems way more interesting when designing a setting.

Anyway, I'd say that Clerics and Shamans alike have a presence - as do Oracles. Witches can certainly exist, too.

As far as chariots go - horses were first being ridden in, what, 2-3 thousand BC probably? Yes, chariots were dominant for a long time, but there were some CRAZY PEOPLE that decided to take the little bitty horses of yore and try riding them, and that eventually led to the breeding of bigger horses. I think that's reason enough to make horse riding an option - just make horses less sturdy and a little smaller. Maybe horsemen are assumed to take Undersized Mount to make it work and Horses count as medium creatures?

I think it was the development of the stirrup, which let you stand up—and thus swing a weapon—that made warhorses definitively replace the chariot. Don't take my word for it, though.

Also, chariots are badass. More badass than GOD HIMSELF:

The Book of Judges Chapter 1, Verse 19 wrote:
And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; yet He could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, for they had chariots of iron.

Such omnipotent. So majesty.

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Jason Nelson wrote:
Mythic Monsters: Middle East might be relevant to your interests, as might Mythic Monsters: Egypt!

Yeah, yeah, you'll get your money. God.

Kidding. You guys are awesome.

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Mangenorn wrote:
Cyrad wrote:
Lillend azatas are close enough. The only thing I would change is giving them shapechange so they can blend into societies and subtly influence poets and artists without them knowing. Plus,it's easier to inspire when you can change into anything.

There's nothing stopping you from swapping out one of the 2nd level Bard spells Lilends get with Alter Self as a GM.

This works out pretty well, even CR-wise.

That would only last 7 minutes.

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I've been batting this idea around for a while now, and have come here to see if anyone has any thoughts.

Oriental Adventures was obviously a huge success, and Easten culture (primarily Japanese, but with increasing proportions of Chinese, Korean, Indian, Tibetan, Thai, Indonesian, etc.) has been an increasing presence in the RPG sphere. We've transitioned away from ripping off the intellectual bandwagon of a British linguistics nerd and have begun plagiarizing from a much wider variety of sources!

Which has led me to ponder a Bronze Age Mesopotamian setting, especially after the release of Mythic Adventures.

Since records from the Bronze Age are incomplete, and thus focusing on a single culture would be overly restrictive, I've lumped together Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia up through the Achaemenid period, the Hittites, Israel and Judah, Tyre, Sidon, Ugarit, and Old Kingdom Egypt.

There are, of course, several Mesopotamian and similar Bronze-Age monsters in the Bestiaries, some of whom are obvious, but others which I might have missed. After all, cultural references can be subtle. For example, I would never have guessed that the marut inevitable was from Indian mythology, but there you go. Golden helmets and breastplates, association with lightning and thunder. Easy to miss the forest for the lich-hunting robotic trees. So there's no telling what Mesopotamian influences in the core rules I might have missed.


Girtablilu, B3 p 130 (Akkadian)
Humbaba B3 p 151 (Sumerian/Akkadian)
Lammasu B3 p 175 (Sumerian/Akkadian)
Maftet/Mafdet B3 p 188 (Egyptian)
Nephilim B3 p 200 (Hebrew)
Shedu B3 p 243 (Sumerian/Akkadian)
Tophet/Topheth B3 p 271 (Hebrew)

Elohim B4 p 86 (Hebrew)

Ahkhat B5 p 14 (Egyptian)
Anunnaki B5 p 28 (various Mesopotamian)
Apkallu/Abgal B5 p 32 (Akkadian/Sumerian)
Karkadann B5 p 148 (Persian)
Sha B5 p 226 (Egyptian)
Shabti B5 p 227 (Egyptian)
Uraeus B5 p 259 (Egyptian)

And of course divs and ghuls derive from Persian mythology, and Pazuzu/Hzuzu derives from Akkadian and Babylonian mythology.

A few things occur to me:

Wizards and arcanists would be extremely rare, and alchemists only slightly less so. Their spellbooks, formula books, and scrolls would be tablets and cylinders of fired clay.

Perhaps scrolls would, instead of being consumable, function as 1/day items for 10 times the price (spell level * caster level * 250 gp), with the same material and focus component cost adjustments as wands.

Barbarians would vastly outnumber fighters. The lack of heavy armor proficiency would be far less detrimental in a world where iron is extremely difficult to come by and nonmagical full plate does not exist.

The bard would still exist, but would need a new name.

There would be essentially zero monks, but a larger-than-normal number of brawlers.

What cavaliers that do exist would be charioteers.

Clerics would be somewhat rare, with almost all of them being members of priesthoods centered around one of the handful of major city-states. The average divine spellcaster would be a shaman, with a very large proportion of those having the animist archetype. Oracles would be somewhat rarer than shamans but more common than clerics. The druid class need not be any more or less common than normal, but would need a new name.

For fighters and barbarians, there is the problem of iron being almost unknown. It would come mostly from meteorites (which in game terms would be adamantine) or rare nuggets underground (which would usually be cold iron). Using bronze for metal would remove quite a few weapons and armors from the game, at least until later levels. Players would also need masterwork versions of weapons to avoid having them break on a natural 1.

Just to give them a reprieve, I'd say that bronze items are immune to rust, and that spells like magnetic field do not function on them.

To make iron more valuable, I'd rule that all iron has the properties of cold iron (including price, and with the 2,000 gp cost added to the base price rather than paid later for adding magic enhancements), and can also bypass hardness of 10 or less when attacking objects.

Bronze-Age Weapons & Armor:
Light armor:
quilted cloth
lamellar cuirass
studded leather
chain shirt
lamellar (leather)

armored coat
lamellar (horn)
scale mail
agile breastplate
lamellar (steel)
mountain pattern

lamellar (stone)

light steel (quickdraw)
light steel
light wooden (quickdraw)
light wooden
heavy steel
heavy wooden

Simple light:
battle aspergillum
brass knuckles
light mace
punching dagger
spiked gauntlet
wooden stake

Simple one-handed:
heavy mace
mere club

Simple two-handed:
boar spear

Simple ranged:

Martial light:
light hammer
light pick
throwing axe

Martial one-handed:
heavy pick
light flail

Martial two-handed:
earth breaker
heavy flail

Martial ranged:
composite longbow
composite shortbow

Exotic light:
knuckle axe
scorpion whip
swordbreaker dagger

Exotic one-handed:
dwarven waraxe
great terbutje
hooked axe

Exotic two-handed:
bo staff
dwarven urgrosh
gnome hooked hammer

Exotic ranged:
halfling sling staff
rope dart
snag net

There would be essentially no magi that weren't eldritch scions or otherwise free of the need for spellbooks. The class would also need a new name.

Paladins with special mounts would be charioteers.

Rangers, hunters, and slayers would be unchanged.

Apart from the kineticist, the occult classes fit surprisingly well. Mediums and spiritualists are age-old archetypes, as typified by the witch of Endor in the Old Testament. Just replace the tarot decks and ectoplasm with seer stones and tuḫḫu.

The occultist's obsession with the spiritual properties of physical items fits in well with traditional sympathetic magic. The necroccultist and sha'ir also fit perfectly (genies predate Arabic culture).

The mesmerist is also thematically fitting, if you ditch the Victorian trappings (pendulums, "animal magnetism"), and focus on fascination (the technical term for the evil eye) and oneiromancy.

Gunslingers, ninjas, and samurai don't exist for obvious reasons, and inquisitors aren't very thematically appropriate in a world where religious belief is far more fluid, to the point that besieging armies try to bribe a city's tutelary deity to gain entrance, rather than scream that said deity is an abomination.

Class Names (Akkadian/Sumerian):

Alchemist . . . . . . . . . . sha-gabêshu
Antipaladin . . . . . . . . parriṣu
Arcanist . . . . . . . . . . . kakugallu
Barbarian . . . . . . . . . . urshānu
Bard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . nuāru
Bloodrager . . . . . . . . . maḫḫû
Brawler . . . . . . . . . . . umāshu
Cavalier . . . . . . . . . . . mār damqi
Cleric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . sangû
Druid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . nēshakku
Fighter . . . . . . . . . . . . zakkû
Hunter . . . . . . . . . . . . māḫiṣu
Magus . . . . . . . . . . . . multēpishu
Medium . . . . . . . . . . mushshipu
Mesmerist . . . . . . . . . . mupashshir shunāti
Occultist . . . . . . . . . . . . shagammāḫu
Oracle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . shā'ilu
Paladin . . . . . . . . . . . . . qarrādu
Psychic . . . . . . . . . . . . . shabrû
Ranger . . . . . . . . . . . . . dayyālu
Rogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . guzallu
Shaman . . . . . . . . . . . . kāribu
Skald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ṭabbālu
Slayer . . . . . . . . . . . . . ṭābiḫu
Spiritualist . . . . . . . . . kashshāpu
Sorcerer . . . . . . . . . . . kalû
Summoner . . . . . . . . . sha-shipti
Warpriest . . . . . . . . . . arīru
Witch . . . . . . . . . . . . . āshiptu
Wizard . . . . . . . . . . . . ummânu

A more Mesopotamian cosmology would be very different from the traditional Great Beyond.

There would be a Dimension of Dreams, an Ethereal Plane, an Astral Plane, and a Plane of Shadow (whose version of the Underdark would be the destination for the dead). Flying high enough into the sky or climbing mountains of incredible height would bring you to another plane where deities dwell. And portals to demiplanes would exist all over, hidden in remote places and abandoned ruins.

I'm debating how to best try to fit the various supernatural monsters from the bestiaries (fey, outsiders, undead) into the Mesopotamian system of labels (utukku, edimmu, udug, udug hul, asakku, lamassu, shedu, and so on), but boy, does that task look exhausting.

But demons and evil spirits wouldn't be dwelling on a remote plane waiting for a cultist to open a gate; they would be terrifyingly close. Many would dwell on the ethereal plane in remote places and ancient ruins, and come out by night to attack the mortal races through curses, disease, poison, madness, and possession; slipping ethereally into one's very home.

That's about as far as I've gotten in the outline. Any comments, thoughts, or contributions?

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Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
Cyrad wrote:
Lillend azatas are close enough. The only thing I would change is giving them shapechange so they can blend into societies and subtly influence poets and artists without them knowing. Plus,it's easier to inspire when you can change into anything.
Pretty much what I was thinking

Also helps get around the "mermaid problem".

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The incubus has a good equivalent (the gancanagh azata, Bestiary 5 pg 38), but unless it's hidden away in an adventure path or softcover, there doesn't seem to be a good-aligned equivalent to the succubus.

Brief tangent:

Gancanagh, according to W. B. Yeats (1888):

Nicholas O'Kearney, a Louthman, deeply versed in Irish lore, writes of the gean-cánach (love-talker) that he is "another diminutive being of the same tribe as the Lepracaun, but, unlike him, he personated love and idleness, and always appeared with a dudeen in his jaw in lonesome valleys, and it was his custom to make love to shepherdesses and milkmaids. It was considered very unlucky to meet him, and whoever was known to have ruined his fortune by devotion to the fair sex was said to have met a gean-cánach. The dudeen, or ancient Irish tobacco pipe, found in our raths, etc., is still popularly called a gean-cánach's pipe." The word is not to be found in dictionaries, nor does this spirit appear to be well known, if known at all, in Connacht. The word is pronounced gánconâgh.

Now, of course, the gancanagh azata has the change shape ability and can thus adapt to any preference, but unlike, say, the doppelganger, their base form has a set biological gender, and both the description in the Bestiary and the lore on which the monster is based imply that this outsider race is entirely male.

This isn't an inherently bad thing; After all, the incubus is always male. I just find it odd that there is no succubus equivalent of good alignment.

Now, if you're willing to go into the softbacks, the Harrow sorcerer bloodline arcana grants rerolls on percentage dice for divination spells. Thus, contacting a greater deity results in a useful answer 98.56% of the time, and an honest answer 98.96% of the time. Of course, for a sorcerer, a DC 16 Intelligence check is no joke. Since bonuses to ability checks are way rarer than to skill checks, you'll want fox's cunning, good hope, and moment of greatness up. You'll have only a 55% of success, +5% per point of Intelligence bonus.

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I also find it weird that a good-aligned arcane caster that wants long-term aid from an angel has to yank them from the Upper Planes against their will and trap them in a circle smaller than your average solitary confinement cell to do so.

"Haziel the Unbowed, will you protect Lanna's orphanage from the depredations of Belphegor's infernal legions?"
"Yes, I shall. But only because I choose to. You colossal ass."

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Cole Deschain wrote:
Rysky wrote:
... what does Class have to do with running a country?


Well, there's a nice political joke all polished and weaponized and ready to launch...

...It's funny because it's true.

As far as I can see, one of the only benefits that sorcerers have over wizards and arcanists when it comes to being an emperor are their higher Charisma scores, which make them much better at the Ruler role in the kingdom-building rules.

When it comes to the incredibly complicated task of running a state, flexibility and problem-solving skills are of paramount importance.

Note that a 200-hex kingdom is equal in size to Slovenia or Costa Rica.

A half-elf who takes the human favored class bonus and learns the (nerfed) paragon surge spell is certainly in a better spot than most sorcerers, but any other race is at a significant disadvantage.

There are tools, of course, for sorcerers. At only 5,000 gp apiece, an emperor could stock a small closet with mnemonic vestments. The ring of spell knowledge and the page of spell knowledge also expand a sorcerer's repertoire.

Page of Spell Knowledge Abuse:
It's come to my attention that, as a wondrous item, the creator of the page of spell knowledge need not know the spell to be contained in the page for them to create it; they merely have a higher creation DC. While legal, this seems to go against the spirit of the rules. In fact, combining this with a ring of spell knowledge means that a sorcerer could theoretically gain access to any arcane spell of 3rd level or lower––including bard, magus, summoner, and witch spells––without recourse to any other character.

But the ring and the vestments require that the sorcerer have access to the spell from a scroll or spellbook. (Theoretically, I suppose, a sorcerer could use limited wish to duplicate a spell and teach it to the ring, but doing so is rather expensive). Thus, there is nothing they can learn that their court wizards/arcanists do not already know. In which case, why not just be a wizard/arcanist and skip the complicated and expensive item setup? (Again, apart from the higher Charisma giving better returns in the kingdom-building and Leadership departments.)

One thing that might explain the sorcerer-king trope (and especially why empires run by sorcerer-kings are often relics of the past) is the Wild Arcana archmage mythic path ability, but obviously not all mage-emperors can be mythic.

So how would a sorcerer ever run a country?

Actually, I'm wondering why people even bother negotiating with outsiders at all when you can simply cast geas/quest on them. There is no save, and since they are going to be stuck in the circle for a while, the 10-minute casting time is not a problem. If you fail to penetrate their spell resistance, just try again. Sure, it wouldn't necessarily prevent them from murdering you, but you can also put in a backup geas saying "You will not intentionally harm me or [list of allies] until [task] is complete" and "You will report to me, then depart to your home plane when [task] is complete."

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Now obviously, planar binding is one of those things that give GMs headaches when the players get access to it, so making it "easier" is not necessarily the most popular idea in the world...

I'm just asking, from a design standpoint, what other spell requires two other spells to be cast in order to function properly?

In addition, the magic circle spell has an alignment descriptor opposite that of the creature being summoned. Building a trap for an azata is either a lawful or evil act.

I presume the thaumaturgic circle spell from occult adventures is intended to get around that alignment problem, as well as the need for knowing 4 separate spells to have access to the full spectrum of outsiders. But it is considerably more specialized than those other circle spells, so spontaneous casters are still penalized.

Would it not make more sense for the construction of the trap to be part of casting planar binding, rather than requiring a bunch of other spells?

The spell imbue with flight from Pathfinder Player Companion: Mythic Origins is tailor-made for moving large blocks into place.

The druid spell soften earth and stone turns unworked stone into clay that can be chopped away or sprayed away with a decanter of endless water on geyser mode. It turns dry earth into sand that can be blown away with gust of wind or a handy air elemental.

The spell passwall, while not permanent, can be extremely useful. You can turn the temporary passage into a permanent one by collapsing it with earthquake, then letting the expiration of the spell eject the debris. You can release the cave-in version of earthquake at extreme depths, causing fissures that can reach the surface.

Multiple castings of the repel metal or stone spell can be chained together to create a conveyor belt for boulders and slabs up to 500 lbs each. Wizards with the metal elemental school get repel metal or stone as a 9th-level spell.

Huge quantities of glass can be created with the obsidian flow spell. This glass can be carefully removed for use elsewhere or pulverized with shatter or shout before being blown away with gust of wind.

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Jader7777 wrote:
relativemass wrote:
This reminds me of the optimal Guess Who strategy.
I wonder if people play this game at a competitive level. I see no other point for this to exist aside from an extremely good conversational point at parties.

People stack plastic cups at a competitive level.


Plastic cups.


Nothing surprises me anymore.

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Jader7777 wrote:
DrSwordopolis wrote:
Jader7777 wrote:

Sorry Thelemic, but I believe commune would allow me to mess with your head as the nature of questions function the same as twisting a wish. Like for example if you needed to find the big bad who was hiding in a city and you decided to use a Guess Who? style of reductive questioning I would have conflicting answers that were 'true'.

You're basically saying "With this fishing rod I will catch anything!" as you cast into Red Herring lake.

You're basically saying "Divination spells don't work in my game" as your players try to use them. Why not just say it outright?

Also, why not allow the functioning of divination spells in your game?

The spell works, I think it's asinine to think a spell gives you dry technical 'game' information. If you bother to read the rules you'll see that the spell had a lot of conditional modifiers. I'm sorry that "you have to be careful and use you brain about this" instead of "I brute force algorithm my 1800-dial-a-god gimmick" offends your delicate player senses.

This logic is just as bad as "I use magic missile, everything is a glass crater now right, thats how missiles work"

And devising algorithms doesn't qualify as using one's brain for what reason exactly? I can't follow the thread there.

A GM can shut down commune at any time, whether subtly (the god knows misleading information), not-so-subtly (the god doesn't know anything), or very unsubtly ("All communication with the Outer Planes has been severed; put on your adventuring boots).

And instead of a god saying "it's male and female, but not a hermaphrodite," it would answer "unclear" to the first question, or if it is actually trying to help, give a short answer like "They have many faces," which is still vague enough that it could mean either multiple suspects (which changes the search parameters significantly) or a shapechanger/master of disguise/vigilante.

That's the brilliance of Information Theory. Unless your god is ignorant of the answer (in which case contact other plane can serve a similar purpose while contacting other gods), a search tree can be implemented that can eventually find an answer (or, answer space) that is useful, given even an arbitrarily small seed.

DrSwordopolis wrote:
When I'm using commune, I try to limit myself to the intent of the spell and not things like using a binary search tree to determine proper nouns. (5 questions to determine the first letter of the killer's name, 8 questions to determine the exact age in years of a normal human, etc...) Helps to keep the GM's blood pressure down and all that.

That's commendable, and ultimately this is a cooperative game and not a competition. I just think it would be neat to have a thread where we can examine spells like commune (and its close cousin, contact other plane) and devise strategies for it.

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The presence of "Don't know" makes the percent tables on contact other plane somewhat misleading. What matters are the chances that a definite answer is reliable (i.e. true) or unreliable (whether a lie or random).
The percent chances for those are shown in the following table:


Elemental Plane:_______________47.2______52.8
Positive/Negative Energy Plane:___52.7______47.3
Astral Plane:__________________57.1______42.9
Outer Plane, demigod:__________62________38
Outer Plane, lesser deity:________70.6______29.4
Outer Plane, intermediate deity:___79.3______20.7
Outer Plane, greater deity:_______89.8______10.2

As you can see from the chart, there is no reason to visit any entity less powerful than a demigod, and you should shoot for nothing less than an intermediate deity each time.

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TheFinish wrote:

The main problem I see with Commune is that Deities and their agents in Pathfinder aren't omniscient (as far as I know). So in your example, they could very well answer "Unclear" to the first question (because they simply don't know where the birthplace of King Something of Lostrecordslandia is). Not to mention, they may answer Yes or No and be wrong too, which creates a whole host of other problems (after all, the spell does say "The answers given are correct within the limits of the entity's knowledge", emphasis mine.)

But if your deity is indeed omniscient and such, sure, you can find anything playing twenty questions, it's just a question of time (and it will probably take more than twenty questions).

I'm aware that Pathfinder deities are not omniscient, and mentioned that in the post. GMs can almost always shut down divinations in one way or another.

You could always try contact other plane if your god (or your familiar's god) isn't the best. It can be more dangerous and the entities can intentionally lie to you, but there is, believe it or not, a mathematical method for dealing with that.

In the example linked, it discusses optimum strategy for dealing with 1 or fewer lies in a given set of answers. It's technically possible for there to be way more lies (in fact, up to 100% lies) in a given set of 1/2 CL questions, but when you get the spell, you have at most 4, and if you're a wizard or arcanist, a pretty decent shot at making the DC 16 check to ask a greater deity, who is 90% reliable, so you'll almost always be able to use the Rényi-Ulam strategy on a given batch of answers.

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This thread will be a place to discuss the intelligent use of commune.
So, here's what Ultimate Intrigue says about commune:

Ultimate Intrigue on Commune:

Commune: This is a critical spell to note, particularly because some improved familiars can use it earlier than normal and without spending the required gold. Normally, casting commune consumes 500 gp worth of special materials. Remember that commune talks to either a deity or divine agents; there is no guarantee that the spell will contact a god. The spell text includes a reminder that powerful beings of the Outer Planes are not necessarily omniscient, so be sure to think about whether they would know the answer. As a rule of thumb, look at the deity's portfolio and have the contacted agent be particularly knowledgeable in that area. This can also lead the PCs to find a cleric of a more appropriate deity to cast the spell on their behalf. This could add an interesting narrative step and a potential for roleplaying the interaction. In any case, remember that commune calls out that the question has to be one that could be answered with a yes or no, though if the deity or its agent thinks a misleading one-word answer would harm their own interests, they might give up to 5 words to help clarify. Chances are, the PCs were already suspecting something before they cast the commune to begin with. For instance, if they already suspect that Lady Proper-Names-Are-Not-OGL has been replaced by a rakshasa, they could ask if she is, and if it makes sense for the deity or its agent to know the answer, it might say "yes." However, if the PCs know that there is a rakshasa imposter, but not who it is, they couldn't ask "who is the rakshasa" to get the answer "Lady Proper-Names-Are-Not-OGL."

Key points to note and/or assumptions we're here to question are in bold.

Now, commune is basically a game of 20 Questions (or 6 Questions and a feat, or 1 Question per 2 levels and 500 gp), with the added bonus that some actively misleading answers are called out as such and give additional information, and that the spell will answer with "Unclear" if it doesn't know the answer.

You would think that commune would be an incredibly inefficient way to find out information if you don't already have numerous other clues, but it's actually easier than you would think, if you do it right.

Example: Finding a Stationary Location:
As an example, I'll use one that may not be very useful (because find the path can often answer this type of problem instantly), but is a great demonstration because it can be mathematically quantified very easily and any 8th-grader has the mathematical knowledge to follow along.

So let's say you're trying to find a stationary location (say, the birthplace of King Something of Lostrecordslandia), you have an Improved Familiar that can cast commune for six answers per week, and the location of the place or object in question is known to the deity you are asking.

Let's say you have a month or so to find it, and you know what continent it's on, which has an average diameter of about 4,100 miles or less (which, for reference, is an area over four times the size of the continental United States).

Now, here is the incredibly simple procedure by which you can find the location:
Pick two points that are on opposite sides of the continent (or the closest known landmarks to each of those points, if you want to stay in character), which we will call Location A and Location B. (Imagine them as points on the diameter of a circle that encloses the entire continent). Then ask if, say, the birthplace of King Something is closer to Location A than it is to Location B. (If you want to be technical, ask if the distance as-the-crow-flies between Location A and the Birthplace of King Something is less than the distance as-the-crow-flies between the Birthplace of King something and Location B).
Repeat the cycle, with the new point A being whichever of the previous two points the location was closer to, and a point B at the center of the previous circle.

You start with a 13,176,795 square mile area with a radius of 2,048 miles.
After the first question, you have a search area of 3,294,199 square miles with a 1,024 mile-radius.
After the second question, you have a search area of 823,550 square miles in a 512 mile radius.
After the third, you have a search area of 205,887 square miles in a 256 mile radius.
After the fourth, you have a search area of 51,472 square miles in a 128 mile radius.
After the fifth, you have a search area of 12,868 square miles in a 64 mile radius.
After the sixth, you have a search area of 3,217 square miles in a 32 mile radius.

If knowing where it is to within about 60 miles isn't good enough, you'll need either another week or another 500 gp and 5th-level spell slot.

After the seventh question, you have a search area of 804 square miles in a 16 mile radius.
After the eighth, you have a search area of 201 square miles in an 8 mile radius.
After the ninth, you have a search area of 50 square miles in a 4 mile radius.
After the tenth, you have a search area of 12 & 1/2 square miles in a 2 mile radius.
After the eleventh, you have a search area of 3 square miles in a 1 mile radius.
After the twelfth, you have a search area of four-fifths of a square mile in a half-mile radius.

If you don't know what continent it's on and have to start with "Is it closer to the North Pole than it is to the South Pole?", you've only increased the number of questions by 1 or 2. In either case, it only takes three weeks to locate any stationary location on the planet to within 330 feet or less, provided you can identify it unambiguously and are the right religion.

Modified sequence for "I have no idea where to begin":
Start with up to 210,828,714 sq mi search area with a 8,192 mile radius as the crow flies (i.e. ignoring curvature)
(~196,100,000 sq mi = earth's surface area)
After the first question, 52,707,179 sq mi, 4096 mi-radius
After the second, 13,176,795 sq mi, 2048 mi-radius
After the fifteenth, you'll have a search area of a fifth of a square mile in a quarter-mile radius
After the sixteenth, 152,053 sq yds, 660-ft-radius
Seventeenth, 38,013 sq yds, 330-ft-radius
Eighteenth, 9,503 sq yds, 165-ft-radius

If you got through all that, you'll understand the key to the spell: it works just like a binary search tree. If you don't speak computer, that means that if you can word a question in such a way that each answer eliminates half of the remaining possibilities, then the power of simple yes-no answers is exponential. With one casting of commune, an improved familiar could find the single correct answer to any problem with 64 or fewer possible answers. With 2 castings, it could find the single correct solution out of up to 4,096 possible answers. Three? over a quarter million. A month? Over 16 million.

Obviously, this approach is either time-consuming (with the 1 per week limit) or expensive (with the 500 gp per casting cost from the party's divine spellcaster). So there are still plenty of ways that a GM could stop this lunacy even without making a god look stupid: either with a ticking clock in scenario A, or the simple reality of wealth-by-level for scenario B.

I've been trying to come up with a procedure for finding names as easily as locations, but language is a hell of a lot more complicated than basic geometry.

Anyone have any thoughts, either for the example above, for a procedure to find names with commune, or other ideas relating to using commune intelligently?

If you're going to provide an example from a Paizo adventure path, please put it in a spoiler, with the name of the path and the chapter it's in, like so:

Rise of the Runelords, Chapter 1:
No 1st-level character is casting commune, for free or otherwise.

Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Do something with the name... If I add one to my group, I'd feel like I'd be partying with a medical or sanitary implement. Like a Suppository that runs backwards.

Expositor is an official name for "preacher." It derives from the Latin "expositio" (whence "exposition" in English."

Trust me, I'd have preferred to use the Greek, but "exarch" (εξαρχον) has been used to death, and in PFRPG has too much baggage for it to be applied to a 1st-level character.


I've been thinking, and I perhaps have an idea: The expositor chooses one domain/mystery/theme/sphere at 1st, 6th, 11th, and 16th level. Each theme/sphere has abilities for levels 1–20. The expositor gets the abilities from his first theme at his full class level. This second theme is class level –5, third at class level –10, and fourth at class level –15.

That might give more design space, in that daily limits or lack thereof can be individually tailored to a given power.

So, what domains are most integral to a campaign's religious system?

You've got Death, Destruction, Protection, Life, Lore, the four alignments, the four elements, Darkness (partially overlaps with Death and Evil), Light (partially overlaps with Life and Good), Nature (partial overlaps with Life and the four elements), and what else?

I've taken some of your suggestions into account and revised the class document.


  • No Wisdom modifier to blast infidel damage.
  • No additional damage on a natural 1
  • Faith healing and blast infidel are now strictly single-target abilities, and the die size increase is gone.
  • Gnostic revelations has been completely rewritten.
  • Some of the more confusing graces have been rewritten as feats.

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Maybe as levels are gained you allow the character to pick from a list of options that alter/improve how the ability works. Making some or all of them depenant on which domains his deity has would allow customizations. Choosing destructions would ramp up damage or the number of targets. Choosing undeath would ramp up damage against undead. Maybe healing grants some temp hp. They couldn't all have to affect this class feature.

I've been trying for a while to come up with a more domain-based system for abilities, but there are a buttload of domains. I'm working on it, but slowly.

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Investiture is every other level. Every class feature is a constant ability or at-will. Its just too much. I'm not saying too powerful, just too much stuff to choose from. I would trim this all down and focus on making interesting/fun abilities, rather than having so many abilities.

The investitures are gained at the same levels that 3.5 warlocks gained invocations. As to having too many abilities, most of Paizo's classes go on for pages and pages (avg. 10).

Anyone have any thoughts on the investitures?

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The expositor functions similarly to the kineticist and 3.5 warlock, only for divine magic rather than occult or arcane.

It has the wizard BAB, good Fort & Will, 4 skills per level, d6 HD, no armor or shield proficiencies, is proficient with simple weapons and their deity's favored weapon, etc.

In exchange for no armor, they get the monk's Wisdom to AC and level-based AC bonus features.

They get an effect that's essentially the same as a ranged version of the paladin's lay-on-hands and graces, but with more uses per day and the ability to cure more things as they advance in level.

They also get an at-will ranged ability that deals damage and at later levels inflicts conditions. The damage is relatively modest, but the conditions can get nasty.

Then there are their investitures: (mostly) at-will supernatural abilities, many of which duplicate spell effects. (This section is by no means finished).

Does anyone have any design input on what you see? This is a very rough draft.

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Who else is in your party?

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My favorite is using limited wish to duplicate geas, which has no save and is balanced by its 10-minute casting time, which doesn't apply when duplicated by limited wish.

Anybody have any others?

Most people here have English as their first language, or if not, as a second language for a very long time.

The sending spell has a hard limit of 25 words per casting. In English, what counts as a word is pretty simple to define (compound words and contractions notwithstanding).

Just like with real-life communication, casters of sending have a couple of options to fit more information into the same space, like using prearranged code-words for complex concepts.

But not all characters speak Common (and, perhaps more importantly, not all players speak English, or at least, shouldn't have to do so in order to play a game they enjoy).

So, for sending (and similar effects that say "in [X number of] words or fewer"), how does one accommodate different languages, both in-game and out-of-game?

For example:
In English, the only grammatically-correct one-word sentences are commands or imperatives: "Move!"

But in a language with case-endings like Latin, Romanian, Greek (modern and ancient), etc., you absolutely can have one-word sentences. In Latin, "Emovebitur" means "[he/she/it] will be removed," and the conjunction "and" can be rendered simply by tacking the suffix "-que" on the end of another word: "senatus populusque" means "the senate and the people." In addition, prepositions such as "by", "for", "from", "out of", "in", "on", "to", "towards", and "at" can be left out if the case ending of a noun or the prefix of a verb implies it.

Latin and Greek can even use participles to convey complex conditional sentences very succinctly. Some Roman sundials were once engraved with "datam do, negatam nego," which in English is best approximated as "If it has been given, I display [it], [but] if it has been denied, I do not [display it]." (Translated literally, it's the considerably more obscure "I give [the] given [thing]; I [do not] say [the] denied [thing].")

For agglutinative languages like Sumerian and Turkish, the amount of information packed into one word can become absurd:


is the Turkish word for:

"As though you are from those whom we may not be able to quickly make into a maker of unsuccessful ones."

So, if you were speaking Turkish, you could relate:

The school principal, who thinks every teacher can be made quickly into a maker of unsuccessful ones, gets angry. He invites the teacher to his room and says "You are talking as if you were one of those we can not quickly turn into a maker of unsuccessful ones, right?"

(which is 50 words)


Bütün öğretmenleri kolayca muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriverebileceğini sanan okul müdürü bu duruma sinirleniyor, ve söz konusu öğretmeni makamına çağırıp ona diyor ki: "Muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenmişsinizcesine laflar ediyormuşsunuz ha?"

which is only 23 words.

But the word limits of sending and similar spells is a game balance issue. So, should the word limit of a message be determined by the length of its English/Common translation, or by the language of the message?

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TOZ wrote:
Nope. You're just suffering from the paralysis of choice.

And clearly, the paralysis is a feature, not a bug, despite its negative psychological impact.

Yes, there are people who feel the same way.

Does this "anyone" include me?
...Maybe, maybe not.

EDIT: As for "bloat," I'd say that most of that feeling comes from archetypes.

RJGrady wrote:
I don't think I've ever heard that the problem with CoDzilla was that they got to wear full plate. You have this class with medium BAB, two good saves, medium armor, level-based abilities, and 9th level casting. It's like a wizard-fighter gestalt that can't cast, oh, magic missile, except of course when it can.

Cleric spells suck at a ton of things that arcane casters take for granted. The fighter also gets weapon and armor training, which is like getting permanent divine power.

In Ultimate Intrigue, page 161, it says "The most important thing to remember about scrying is that it must scry a creature. It is not able to scry a location. Erroneously allowing the spell to scry a location is a common mistake."

At first, I wondered how on earth people could misread something as simple as "You can observe a creature at any distance", or how a point in space could make a Will save, but then I realized that perhaps this was a result of GMs and players trying to fill a hole in the rules. Because I've looked, and there seems to be no spell in PFRPG that lets you clearly see and hear an arbitrarily distant location without having physically been there before. The symbol of scrying spell requires you to travel to a location and prep it for a future scrying, and clairaudience/clairvoyance has the range of dimension door but without the blind guessing aspect that makes dimension door as useful as it is (occasional Xd6 damage notwithstanding). The closest you can come is putting vicarious view on an object, turning it invisible, and using teleport object to send it to a particular location.

My main question is why there is no means yet released in PFRPG to reliably scry a location without an elaborate setup. I have additional thoughts, which you can comment on, but they are secondary to my main question.

There's always a danger when adding new utility spells, especially divinations, that you will upend the game with unintended consequences, especially when there is no counter or inherent drawback to a particular capability. For example, allowing wish or a 9th-level divination spell to replicate the effect of the Vizier card from a deck of many things would break the game.

But I've thought long and hard, and I can't think of any serious issues with creating a version of scrying that works for locations, if it's done right.

The spell screen seems almost tailor-made as a countermeasure: scrying the screened area gives a false vision with no save. Additionally, if an area is completely surrounded by a thin sheet of lead, scrying magic of all kinds simply fails to create a sensor at the specified location.

For those afraid of scry-and-fry, the lower-level cousins of screen, namely mirage arcana and hallucinatory terrain, can also foil teleport (and even greater teleport.)
For teleport, the key text is: "You must have some clear idea of the location and layout of the destination. The clearer your mental image, the more likely the teleportation works."
For greater teleport, the key text is: "If you attempt to teleport with insufficient information (or with misleading information), you disappear and simply reappear in your original location."

So if you scry a location and see a desert instead of a swamp, or if you see buildings or landmarks that aren't really there, your teleportation magic won't work. For standard teleport, they wind up in a similar area to the illusion they saw, and thus might not realize anything is wrong for quite some time. And for greater teleport, (where false information causes the spell to simply fail rather than send you on a wild goose chase), the failure could be indistinguishable from trying to reach a forbidden or dimensionally locked location. True, they do know that something supernatural is trying to impede them, but they can still come to a false conclusion just as with teleport.

I've thought about it, and this seems like a decent compromise:

Scry Location
School divination (scrying)
Level bard 5, cleric/oracle 7, druid 7, shaman 6, sorcerer/wizard 6, witch 6
Casting Time 1 hour
Components V, S, M/DF (a pool of water), F (silver mirror worth 1,000 gp)
Range unlimited
Effect magical sensor
Duration 1 min./level
Saving Throw None; Spell Resistance No

You can see and hear what occurs at a location which can be at any distance. You must make a successful caster level check to scry a specific location. The difficulty of this check depends on how familiar you are with that location and what sort of physical connection (if any) you have to that place. Furthermore, the difficulty to scry the desired locale increases if the location is extremely far removed, indoors or underground, or on another plane. The DC of this check is 20 + any modifiers related to your knowledge of the area, your connection to it, and the location’s distance, as set out in the following table:

Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DC
None* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +10
Secondhand (you have heard . . . . +5
of the location)
Firsthand (you have been . . . . . . . +0
to the location)
Familiar (you have been to . . . . . . –5
the location often)
*You must have some sort of
connection to a location you have
no knowledge of

Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DC
Likeness or picture . . . . . . . . . . . –2
An object that has been in . . . . . –4
the area for a week or more
within the last year
A plant, mineral, or other . . . . . –10
object taken from the area
within the last year

Location . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DC
Per 1,000 miles away . . . . . +2
Indoors or underground . . . +2
On another plane . . . . . . . . +10

If you fail this check, the scrying attempt simply fails, and you can't attempt to scry on any place within 1 mile of that location for 24 hours. If the caster level check succeeds, you create an invisible magical sensor at any point you desire within the area. Through this sensor you can both see (as clairvoyance) and hear (as clairaudience) as if you were actually at that place, allowing you to make Perception checks as normal. You can rotate the sensor as you wish, seeing in any direction you desire. Once the spell is cast, however, you cannot change the position of the sensor.
The following spells have a 5% chance per caster level of operating through the sensor: detect chaos, detect evil, detect good, detect law, detect magic, and message.

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