Woodland Rune

Rules Questions

I want to make sure I am interpreting the Woodland Rune spell properly in play.

Woodland Rune:

School abjuration; Level druid 3, hunter 3, ranger 3, shaman 3, witch 3
Casting Time 10 minutes
Components V, S
Range 0 ft.
Effect one rune
Duration permanent until discharged (D)
Saving Throw Fortitude negates; Spell Resistance yes
Created by Ghorus as a safety measure to limit his enemies’ movements, this spell allows you to inscribe a powerful rune on any surface. Woodland rune triggers when any non-plant creature (apart from the caster) moves within 30 feet of the rune. When it’s triggered, roots and branches sprout from the ground, catching all creatures within a 30-foot burst of the rune and hindering their movement as if they were moving through heavy undergrowth, though it does not provide concealment. Plant creatures and creatures under the effect of woodland stride or freedom of movement are not affected by this spell. In all other respects, this spell functions as symbol of death.

1a) Is it like Entangle and needs plant life around or can you use it indoors/down an abandoned mine shaft/whatever? I currently believe it can be used wherever, as it doesn't have something like the entangle text "Area: plants in a 40-ft.-radius spread"
1b) What happens if you are on the 2nd story of a building? Does the heavy undergrowth pop out of the floor on the 2nd story, or does it pop up in the basement, 20' below, where the actual dirt is...
2) Is the resulting undergrowth permanent or does it go away? A symbol of death has an active time of " lasting for 10 minutes per caster level or until it has affected 150 hit points' worth of creatures, whichever comes first." Presumably Dispel Magic and so forth will make the undergrowth go away?
3) "In all other respects, this spell functions as symbol of death." Presumably this means you can program it like Symbol of Death, in terms of attuning, passwords, and programmed triggers.

Symbol of Death:

You touched the symbol! Make a fort save, DC 29 or die!

Symbol of Death
Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 355
School necromancy [death]; Level arcanist 8, cleric 8, occultist 6, oracle 8, sorcerer 8, witch 8, wizard 8
Casting Time 10 minutes
Components V, S, M (mercury and phosphorus, plus powdered diamond and opal worth 5,000 gp each)
Range 0 ft.; see text
Effect one symbol
Duration see text
Saving Throw Fortitude negates; Spell Resistance yes
This spell allows you to scribe a potent rune of power upon a surface. When triggered, a symbol of death kills one or more creatures within 60 feet of the symbol (treat as a burst) whose combined total current hit points do not exceed 150. The symbol of death affects the closest creatures first, skipping creatures with too many hit points to affect. Once triggered, the symbol becomes active and glows, lasting for 10 minutes per caster level or until it has affected 150 hit points' worth of creatures, whichever comes first. A creature that enters the area while the symbol of death is active is subject to its effect, whether or not that creature was in the area when it was triggered. A creature need save against the symbol only once as long as it remains within the area, though if it leaves the area and returns while the symbol is still active, it must save again.

Until it is triggered, the symbol of death is inactive (though visible and legible at a distance of 60 feet). To be effective, a symbol of death must always be placed in plain sight and in a prominent location. Covering or hiding the rune renders the symbol of death ineffective, unless a creature removes the covering, in which case the symbol of death works normally.

As a default, a symbol of death is triggered whenever a creature does one or more of the following, as you select: looks at the rune; reads the rune; touches the rune; passes over the rune; or passes through a portal bearing the rune. Regardless of the trigger method or methods chosen, a creature more than 60 feet from a symbol of death can't trigger it (even if it meets one or more of the triggering conditions, such as reading the rune). Once the spell is cast, a symbol of death's triggering conditions cannot be changed.

In this case, “reading” the rune means any attempt to study it, identify it, or fathom its meaning. Throwing a cover over a symbol of death to render it inoperative triggers it if the symbol reacts to touch. You can't use a symbol of death offensively; for instance, a touch-triggered symbol of death remains untriggered if an item bearing the symbol of death is used to touch a creature. Likewise, a symbol of death cannot be placed on a weapon and set to activate when the weapon strikes a foe.

You can also set special triggering limitations of your own. These can be as simple or elaborate as you desire. Special conditions for triggering a symbol of death can be based on a creature's name, identity, or alignment, but otherwise must be based on observable actions or qualities. Intangibles such as level, class, HD, and hit points don't qualify.

When scribing a symbol of death, you can specify a password or phrase that prevents a creature using it from triggering the symbol's effect. Anyone using the password remains immune to that particular rune's effects so long as the creature remains within 60 feet of the rune. If the creature leaves the radius and returns later, it must use the password again.

You also can attune any number of creatures to the symbol of death, but doing this can extend the casting time. Attuning one or two creatures takes negligible time, and attuning a small group (as many as 10 creatures) extends the casting time to 1 hour. Attuning a large group (as many as 25 creatures) takes 24 hours. Attuning larger groups takes an additional 24 hours per 25 creatures. Any creature attuned to a symbol of death cannot trigger it and is immune to its effects, even if within its radius when it is triggered. You are automatically considered attuned to your own symbols of death, and thus always ignore the effects and cannot inadvertently trigger them.

Read magic allows you to identify a symbol with a Spellcraft check (DC 10 + the symbol's spell level). Of course, if the symbol is set to be triggered by reading it, this will trigger the symbol.

A symbol of death can be removed by a successful dispel magic targeted solely on the rune. An erase spell has no effect on a symbol of death. Destruction of the surface where a symbol of death is inscribed destroys the symbol but also triggers it.

Symbol of death can be made permanent with a permanency spell. A permanent symbol of death that is disabled or has affected its maximum number of hit points becomes inactive for 10 minutes, but then can be triggered again as normal.

Note: Magic traps such as symbol of death are hard to detect and disable. A rogue (only) can use the Perception skill to find a symbol of death and Disable Device to thwart it. The DC in each case is 25 + spell level, or 33 for symbol of death.

But what does this mean for the attuned/non triggering persons/successfully saving? Assuming someone else (hostile) triggers it, can they move freely throughout the area as if there was no heavy undergrowth?

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As written, this spell has limited utility. Seems more a defence/trap than an offensive spell. Yes, it can be carried, but it automatically triggers if any non-plant creature moves within 30 feet of you.
Woodland rune triggers when any non-plant creature (apart from the caster) moves within 30 feet of the rune. Think about walking in town with one. It doesn't need to be seen or read. I hope you are not carrying any.
I don't think you can reset triggers with it as the triggering is clearly in the spell. Casting the spell with an extended cast can be done, so as to add more people to the exception list, and passwords as per symbol of death.
I think I will rule that the spell needs vegetation to "abjure", so a second floor or underground use would not be generally possible.
The effects of it are permanent, though could be cleared
This spell needs more information IMO

You don't need vegetation from the look of it. You do need ground for the roots and branches to sprout from. I think that means you get roots/branches coming from the basement floor rather than the 2nd storey floor.

I think the save and SR are to prevent the rune triggering and the roots & branches will get in the way of anyone once the rune is triggered, unless they have freedom of movement etc. There's no reason to think the roots & branches go away IMO.

And yes, passwords etc. to prevent it triggering should be fine. They won't make you able to walk thru the branches if it gets triggered though.

"Once triggered, the symbol becomes active and glows, lasting for 10 minutes per caster level or until it has affected 150 hit points' worth of creatures, whichever comes first"
while the killing part of symbol of death is not happening with this rune. the duration should still apply as in, it won't stop effecting nce it effect creatures with X hp. the 10 min duration per cl should still apply and after that time pass from being triggered the effect should end (plants crumble or disappear etc. like in entangle where the extra growth of the plants ends after the duration).

that being said when it say the plans grow from the ground i believe it is to just point the direction of the effect (as in not the walls, ceiling or in the air\water if no ground is close enough). i would also not have it effect cross line of effect barriers. (it's a burst that instead of effecting creatures effect the ground so replace creature with ground in the burst effect and apply the - not effecting if has full cover)
so in a case of a multi level building the plant would grow from the floor closest to the rune with any floor out of line of effect not being effected.

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