Changes to Spells

Changes to Spells

There are three main reasons that spells may be changed from the standard book description in the Polychotomy:
  1. Replacement of Alignment with Purity and Taint
  2. The Nature of the Soul and Religion
  3. The Shards

This document details all three types of changes.

Replacement of Alignment with Purity and Taint

The first and most obvious effect of the elimination of alignment is that spells with the Law and Chaos descriptors either lose those descriptors or cease to exist.

Deleted Spells:
  • Align Weapon (Law, Chaos versions)
  • Chaos Hammer
  • Cloak of Chaos
  • Detect Chaos
  • Detect Law
  • Dictum
  • Dispel Chaos
  • Dispel Law
  • Magic Circle against Chaos
  • Magic Circle against Law
  • Order’s Wrath
  • Protection from Chaos
  • Protection from Law
  • Shield of Law
  • Word of Chaos

The Good descriptor can be considered synonymous with the Pure descriptor, and similarly, the Tainted descriptor can be considered equivalent to the Evil descriptor. A few additional spells (those that channel positive or negative energy) are also affected.

Casters add their Purity modifier to save DCs when casting Pure spells, and add their Taint modifier to save DCs when casting Tainted spells.

References in spell text to creatures by alignment should be understood in the following manners:
  • evil creatures are those with a positive Taint score
  • good creatures are those with a positive Purity score (note that this means some creatures will be considered both “evil” and “good” – if the spell affects good and evil creatures differently, such creatures suffer both effects)
  • nongood creatures are those with a zero Purity score
  • nonevil creatures are those with a zero Taint score
  • neutral creatures and those described as neither good nor evil are those with zero scores in both Purity and Taint
The following spells have the Pure descriptor:
  • Align Weapon (Good)
  • Bless Water
  • Bless Weapon
  • Consecrate
  • Dispel Evil – “creatures from another plane” are understood to be Outsiders and Elementals not native to the shard they are in.
  • Hallow
  • Holy Aura
  • Holy Smite
  • Holy Sword
  • Holy Word – “extraplanar creatures” are understood to be Outsiders and Elementals not native to the shard they are in.
  • Magic Circle against Evil
  • Protection from Evil
The following spells have the Tainted descriptor:
  • Align Weapon (Evil)
  • Animate Dead
  • Blasphemy – “extraplanar creatures” are understood to be Outsiders and Elementals not native to the shard they are in.
  • Contagion
  • Create Greater Undead
  • Curse Water
  • Death Knell
  • Deathwatch
  • Desecrate
  • Dispel Good – “creatures from another plane” are understood to be Outsiders and Elementals not native to the shard they are in.
  • Eyebite
  • Magic Circle against Good
  • Nightmare
  • Protection from Good
  • Symbol of Pain
  • Unhallow
  • Unholy Aura
  • Unholy Blight
  • Vampiric Touch
The following spells are also affected by the Purity/Taint mechanic:
  • Atonement – see notes on the Purity and Taint page for information about how this spell interacts with Purity and Taint. The alignment-changing aspects of the spell obviously do not work.
  • Detect Evil – “Clerics of an evil deity” is understood to refer to Tainted clerics. Note that Tainted Knights and Tainted Mages count as Tainted clerics for the purpose of this spell.
  • Detect Good – “Clerics of a good deity” is understood to refer to Pure clerics. Note that Pure Knights and Pure Mages count as Pure clerics for the purpose of this spell.
  • Forbiddance – Damage based on different alignment is now based on differences in Purity and Taint status. If you have a positive Purity score and the creature does not (or vice-versa), the creature takes 6d6 points of damage. Similarly, if you have a positive Taint score and the creature does not (or vice-versa), the creature takes 6d6 points of damage. These damages stack.

The Nature of the Soul and Religion

Dungeons and Dragons assumes a simple, monolithic soul. Similarly, the standard game assumes a loose pantheon of gods as the basis for all religions. Neither of these assumptions carry over perfectly, and there are results in the functions of a number of spells.

Spells affected by the nature of the soul are:
  • Astral Projection – the silver cord is an extension of the Ab, while the astral body and the new body formed on a different plane (shard) are temporary Khat.
  • Magic Jar – the gem functions as a temporary Ab, and cannot be moved between shards. The spell only works on those creatures who have a soul (Akh). Creatures that lack Khat and Ab (such as incorporeal undead (Ba)) are taken “bodily” into the gem.
  • Raise Dead – for the spell to function, all components of the person (Khat, Akh, Ab, and Ren) are required. Note that the Ab of a deceased creature will be ethereal, and cannot be moved from the shard on which it without magical intervention. The Ab must be within 5’ of the caster throughout the casting time for the spell to work.
  • Reincarnation – as with Raise Dead, this spell requires the presence of the Ab.
  • Resurrection – as with Raise Dead, this spell requires the presence of the Ab.
  • Trap the Soul – all components of the entity are trapped at the same time. Services can only be demanded of Sekhem.
  • True Resurrection – unlike the other revivification spells, this spell functions even without the presence of the Ab.

Casting any of these spells requires the use of the subject’s True Name (Ren).

Spells affected by the nature of religion are:
  • Commune – the entity you contact, while an agent of your religion, may not be a deity as such, and may in fact be nonpersonal.
  • Divine Favor is sometimes called Devotee’s Favor
  • Divine Power is sometimes called Devotee’s Power
  • Spiritual Weapon – the weapon is not necessarily associated with a deity.

These changes are flavour, not crunch.

The Shards

The existence of the Shards has a noticeable impact on the way that teleportation spells and some divination spells function. According to the Player’s Handbook, many of these spells have their function restricted or completely impeded by cross-planar use. In the Polychotomy, cross-planar activities are common to the point of banality. This requires some adjustments:

The term home plane is to be read as “home shard” – the shard where you either (a) you were born or (b) you have lived for the last year at least. If you haven’t lived on one shard (e.g. maintained a residence there, spent a significant amount of time there) for at least a year, it is the shard on which you were born. For Sekhem, the only home shard is the shard on which they were born/formed.

The term extraplanar creature means a Sekhem – Elemental or Outsider – not on its home shard. All other creatures are considered native for the purpose of reading spell descriptions. Note that all outsiders, including those with the Native subtype, are considered extraplanar creatures if encountered off their home shards.

Summoned Creatures are assumed to come from a distant shard – no one generally worries about where they come from, unless specific individuals are being summoned.

  • Astral Projection is unchanged – see notes on the nature of the soul, above, for details of its functioning
  • Banishment
  • Blasphemy
  • Contact Other Plane ? “Plane contacted” replaced with a metric based on the type of critter contacted
  • Dimension Door – you may use this spell to travel through a portal between shards as long as you can view your destination on the other side of the portal. Note that the range of the spell is reduced by 100 feet for each portal you pass through (if you have line of sight through more than one).
  • Dimensional Anchor is unchanged
  • Dimensional Lock is unchanged
  • Dismissal
  • Dispel Evil/Good
  • Drawmij’s Instant Summons is unchanged
  • Find the Path – if the location is not on the shard you are currently in, the spell shows you the path to the closest portal. Note that this portal will not necessarily lead to the shortest route to your destination.
  • Gate is unchanged
  • Holy Word
  • Leomund’s Secret Chest – note that each shard has its own Ethereal plane – the spell will not summon the Secret Chest from an Ethereal plane different from the one it was stored on, rending this spell less useful for spellcasters who travel a lot.
  • Maze is unchanged
  • Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion
  • Planar Ally
  • Planar Binding
  • Plane Shift – the specific focus for the spell depends on the shard you wish to shift to. The foci for some shards are easy to come by, others are much more difficult. You can create the focus for any shard you happen to be on if you have the appropriate raw materials (included in a spell component pouch) and succeed at a DC 15 Craft (blacksmithing) check. If you have at least 5 ranks in Knowledge (shards), you get a +2 bonus from synergy.
  • Refuge – the spell can transport a character through one portal, and only if that portal leads directly to your abode. The spell does not create such a portal, and if one does not exist, the character cannot reach your abode.
  • Scrying – note the +5 modifier to the target’s Will save if she is on another plane. This applies to all targets not on the same shard as the caster.
  • Scrying, Greater – see above
  • Shadow Walk – using this spell to travel between shards requires a portal between the two shards, and also the access to Planes of Shadow from both shards.
  • Summon Monster
  • Summon Nature’s Ally
  • Teleport – Travelling between shards is possible, but the distance you can teleport is reduced by 100 miles for every portal you must use. As such, when traveling between shards, your path becomes a series of straight lines connecting portals. Each use of a portal adds 5 to the d% check to see if you miss your target.
  • Teleport, Greater – Traveling between shards is possible, but you can only use one portal per caster level.
  • Teleport Object – see notes on Teleport
  • Teleportation Circle – see notes on Greater Teleport
  • Word of Recall
Additionally, not all shards have access to a Plane of Shadow. As such, the following spells only function some of the time:
  • Shades
  • Shadow Conjuration
  • Shadow Evocation
  • Shadow Walk

Some spells require access to the Etheral Plane. As every shard has a coterminous and coexistant ethereal plane, these spells function normally. Note that each shard’s Ethereal Plane is only connected to that shard. Travel to another shard requires a gate or portal as usual.

Other Changes

The spell Mordenkainen’s Lucubration does exist, but is completely useless, owing to the absence of Wizards.

Spells from non-core books

Spells from non-core books are addressed on the pages dealing with those books, but may refer back here for general notes.

Using True Names

this entire section is under threat of revision to bring it more in line with the True Name mechanics presented in the Tome of magic

As noted elsewhere, True Names can be used as extra Verbal components in spells. They are subject to the following rules:

  • In order to correctly pronounce a True Name, the caster must be able to speak Draconic
  • Due to the conflict with the caster’s own True Name, any use of a True Name causes the caster one point of Constitution damage and costs the caster 200 XP per level/hit die of the target. Casters with no Constitution score take a point of Charisma damage instead.
  • The True Name is inherently verbal, and must be spoken aloud. As such, they cannot be used in the area of a silence spell or similar effect. The Silent Spell feat cannot be used to get around this requirement.
  • The caster may apply one of the following effects to the Named person:
    • Any one metamagic feat for free
    • Automatic failure of save or spell resistance (but not both)
    • The Named person may be the recipient of spells that have a range of Personal – this requires skin-to-skin contact throughout the casting; somatic components must be performed with a different hand.
    • Access to the Named person’s soul (Akh) – this is necessary for revivification magic.
    • Subject familiarity:
      • Legend Lore: the subject is considered to be “at hand”
      • Scrying: the caster is considered to have a body part/lock of hair/bit of nail of the subject
      • Teleport: the subject’s current location is considered to be “Studied Carefully”
    • To apply any of the above effects, the Named target must be the sole recipient of the spell. True Names cannot be used on area effect spells.
  • It is possible to learn a character’s True Name in two ways:
    1. Anyone present when a True Name is spoken can attempt a Listen check against DC 20 to hear and remember the name. If the True Name is part of a spell, the DC is increased by the level of the spell being cast, but listeners may apply ranks in Spellcraft on the check as well. If the spell normally has no verbal component (i.e. the only verbal component is a Truename), listeners gain a +2 circumstance bonus on the Listen check.
    2. A bard can learn a creature’s true name by making a special bardic knowledge check against DC 30 while scrying the individual. This check is part of a ritual which lasts at least 10 minutes, and requires special incense and other materials costing 100 gp per level of the target creature. In order for this check to work, the bard must already have fairly detailed knowledge of the subject – a name will not suffice, and the scry spell must remain in effect for the duration of the ritual. Creatures without access to bardic knowledge can substitute one of the following:
      • A cleric can substitute Divination – check for a correct result as normal, and then make a d20 check against DC 20+creature’s level/hit dice, modified by the cleric’s class level and wisdom modifier.
      • A sorcerer can substitute Legend Lore – once the spell has been cast, make a d20 check against DC 30, modified by the caster’s class level and charisma modifier.
  • A True Name cannot be transmitted telepathically from one person to another – the only way to transmit it is by speaking/hearing or reading/writing it.
  • A True Name can only be written on one object at any one time. If anyone else attempts to write down a True Name that is already written, they will find themselves unable to form the characters until such time as the current writing is erased or destroyed. True Names can only be written with the Draconic alphabet.
  • The spell Modify Memory can be used to erase a True Name from someone’s memory.
  • Any conscious creature whose True Name is spoken is aware of the event, and if the Name is spoken in its hearing, it can tell who spoke it.
  • Note that creatures do not automatically know their own true names.

Changes to Spells

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