Spellcasting 102 – High Level (5th – 9th)

Here is the second half of the arcane caster’s guide. I was debating whether or not to deal with familiars as well, but for the most part familiars are there to give a minor bonus to the caster. (I mean, seriously, which caster doesn’t take the Weasel for the +2 Reflex saves, or the Rat for its +2 Fort saves?) There’s a whole lot of potential for using familiars tactically, namely because of their ability to confer touch spells from you to a target, but because of their low HP (and massive XP penalty to you if they bite it) familiars are mostly just shoved in the caster’s pockets and forgotten. I’d really like to see some added bonuses to give familiars more survivability, since they currently follow their masters in the “glass cannon” department.

So, spells.

Fifth Level:
Hold Monster: See Hold Person and apply it to everything in the game.
Teleport: If your game involves a lot of jumping around between far-away locales, think of this as fast-travel for the adventurer with little time to spare. Plus, it can get you out of traps that the average Dimension Door can’t get around.
Wall of Force: Divide and conquer. The perfect way to disrupt your enemies’ attack is to drop a Wall of Force in the middle of them. Why take on twenty orcs when you can finish off half of them first?

Sixth Level:
Disintigrate: Pure and simple, this is the ultimate quicktime event: Fort save or die. Also, being Disintigrate, you can use it to blast down doors and walls and the local officers of the law and anything else in your way. Plus, it looks really impressive, until you realize your just evaporated all of the target’s gear, too.
Greater Dispel Magic: See Dispel Magic, and apply all the fourth, fifth, and sixth level buff spells to the list of things your enemies will be wearing while they hand you your head.
True Seeing: Yet another reason See Invisibility is kind of useless; True Seeing is a requirement for dungeoneering parties because it cuts through a lot of traps and GM deception. Think of this as the step up from Glitterdust, without having a name like a Cyndi Lauper album and the ability to blind dumb people.

Seventh Level:
Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion: A step up from the Leomund’s Sliding-Scale Adventurer Housing spell branch, this means you’ll always sleep safe from ambushes, and gives you a nice, purified meal (the Hero’s Feast) to boot.
Prismatic Spray: Think of this as a randomly chosen effect from the grab-bag of the best offensive spells. It can burn things, melt things, bolt things, poison them, turn flesh to stone, cause insanity, or even send the target to another plane, all rolled into one simple spell. And, if you’re lucky, they’ll be hit by two rays. Vancian spell names FTW.
Spell Turning: Never underestimate the usefulness of Spell Turning. Not only does it negate the effects of the countered spell, it also hurls said effects back upon whoever cast them on you in the first place. Cast before combat, because the damn thing lasts forever (10 minutes/level!).
Waves of Exhaustion: Again, read the part about not having a saving throw. The spell effectively gives your enemies a -3 to all attack and damage rolls, and to their Armor Class as well. Even the mightiest foes are a lot more manageable with this one spell.

Eighth Level:
Horrid Wilting: One of the best offensive spells at high-levels, this one can wipe out a large group in one blow. Up to 20d6 damage to any number of living targets, as long as they’re within sixty feet of another target—plus, it’s got a pretty awesome name. Who else remembers Abu Dazim’s Horrid Wilting?
Mind Blank: Even at this level, your combat friends still have bunk for Will saves. Instead of investing in more Protection from Evil spells, just slap some Mind Blank on your warriors and never have to worry about domination or mental control ever again.
Power Word Stun: If you haven’t sensed a pattern, notice that a lot of the spells on this list involve the words “no saving throw.” Like this one, which can knock out whatever’s threatening you at the moment, be it warriors or casters. It’s a requirement.

Ninth Level:
Etherealness: This is another incredibly utilitarian spell; why get bogged down by dead-ends, trapped corridors, and labyrinthine layouts when you can just walk through walls? Plus, it also allows you to bail from combat when it gets too hairy.
Mordenkainen’s Disjunction: This is the top-end version of Dispel Magic, as it also works on magical items and spell-like effects as well. As long as you totally don’t dispel all the magic items, this will mess up a group of high-level enemies faster than you can blink.
Time Stop: While at first it may seem useless because of its inability to allow you to smash things up for 1d4+1 rounds, think of this as allowing yourself the ability to buff and de-buff everything you can in two to five free rounds. In other words, you get two to five free buff or de-buff spells in one round, making your party godlike while the opposition melts.

I’m not going to go into epic level spells, or spells outside the core books–there’s some really, REALLY broken stuff out there. See Stone Bolt in the Relics & Rituals books (what was it, 1d10 per missile, 1 missile per character level–not caster, but character level–plus save for stun, and save for confusion). Or the various Orb spells in the Miniatures Handbook, which do a lot of damage, and have no save or SR because they’re conjurations. (Bullshit. They’re evocations, and have saves for half, don’t let any rules lawyer tell you otherwise. Number one house-rule of mine.)


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