One of the innovative new ideas in the Eberron campaign is that of the living spell—a spell giving permanent form and semblance of life during the terrible battles of the war that eventually created the Mournland. This unique use of the template mechanic applies a template to a spell rather than an existing creature, opening up a vast number of possibilities for new creatures. In this series we'll create stat blocks for various "common" living spells (saving you the work of doing so) and explore the boundaries of the living spell template by applying it to unusual spells or those that don't quite fit its requirements. The end result for you is a series of useful living spells, some of them less predictable than others. In this article we'll create a living antimagic field, a living disintegrate, and a living whirlwind.
Few spells are more horrifying to adventurers and soldiers alike than the disintegrate spell. Seeing an ally or commander vanish into dust and vapor is incredibly demoralizing and the sign that a powerful enemy spellcaster is on the battlefield, and anyone with any sense knows to take cover as soon as those thin green rays make their appearance. The Cyrran mage Talgus the Deathbringer was greatly feared, for not only did he know the disintegrate spell, he frequently used his staff of transmutation in battle to lash out with additional disintegrations as needed. He fell to a greater earth elemental and his staff was shattered, though rumors have it that three splinters remain, each with the power to unleash a single disintegrate spell before they crumble. This living spell was formed by a disintegrate spell with caster level 12.
Variant: A less deadly but possibly more vexing version of this living spell doesn't kill creatures who fail their saves, it merely disintegrates one magic item carried by the target (determined by Table 10-1: Items Affected by Magical Attacks on page 177 of the Player's Handbook). This should happen every time a target fails a save, not just when the target rolls a 1 for the save. This variant is worth -2 CR compared to the creature fully described below.
Dozens of green streaks race in all directions within this amorphous shape, like shooting stars the color of horrible magic. Tiny puffs of dust form wherever a streak ends, and the ground under it is pockmarked with tiny craters.
Living Disintegrate CR 12
Disintegrate (Su) A creature hit by a living disintegrate or engulfed by it is affected by the disintegrate spell at caster level 12.
Engulf (Ex) A living disintegrate can flow around a Large or smaller creature as a standard action. It cannot make a slam attack during a round in which it engulfs. The living spell merely has to move over the opponents, affecting as many as it can cover. Opponents can make attacks of opportunity against the living spell, but if they do so they are not entitled to a saving throw against the engulf attack. Those who do not attempt attacks of opportunity must succeed at a DC 19 Reflex save or be engulfed; on a success they are pushed back or aside (opponent's choice) as the spell moves forward. Engulfed creatures are subject to the full normal effect of the disintegrate spell (see above) each round on the living spell's turn, and are considered to be grappled.
In large battles, various "crowd control" spells are very useful for clearing paths to specific foes, opening up lines of escape for allied troops, holding back enemy forces to allow your soldiers to regroup, and so on. One of the more interesting choices for high-level divine casters is the whirlwind spell, as it can affect a large number of opponents, can be programmed to act on its own while you perform other tasks, and can even be used to carry yourself or others if you're willing to damage the "passengers." Though there are few living whirlwinds in the Mournland, all of them are very powerful and greatly feared. They move erratically, and because of their speed and powers they have been known to hurtle through a group and carry off one or more people, depositing them (or their corpses) miles away. The living spell presented here was formed from a whirlwind spell with caster level 16.
Variant: You can create interesting and deadly variants by assuming the living spell is based on multiple spells. Add solid fog and the PCs have a much harder time escaping (increase CR by +2). Add incendiary cloud and the living spell is a firestorm (CR +4). Cloudkill (CR +2), lightning bolt (CR +1), and enervation (CR +2) are all good ways to make the creature less predictable and more of a threat.
This swirling mass of air carries the fragments of several corpses, some fleshy and some not. The pieces spin at maddening speed.
Living Whirlwind CR 16
Whirlwind (Su): A creature hit by a living whirlwind or engulfed by it is affected by the whirlwind spell.
Engulf (Ex): A living whirlwind can flow around a Huge or smaller creature as a standard action. It cannot make a slam attack during a round in which it engulfs. The living spell merely has to move over the opponents, affecting as many as it can cover. Opponents can make attacks of opportunity against the living spell, but if they do so they are not entitled to a saving throw against the engulf attack. Those who do not attempt attacks of opportunity must succeed at a DC 22 Reflex save or be engulfed; on a success they are pushed back or aside (opponent's choice) as the spell moves forward. Engulfed creatures are subject to the full normal effect of the whirlwind spell each round on the living spell's turn, and are considered to be grappled. (Unlike the whirlwind spell, a creature trapped within a living whirlwind can attempt grapple checks to escape.)
Living Antimagic Field
In a world of magic, magic will be used in warfare. Whether used directly on enemies or as a means to protect your own forces, magic and counter-magic are critical elements to warfare in Eberron. Some armies even employed sorcerers specializing in magic-negating spells, charging them with doing nothing but counterspelling enemy casters every battle or shielding allied commanders. Given this heavy use of countering magic, it is not surprising to find many living antimagic field spells roaming the Mournland. Though only somewhat dangerous as a physical threat, a living antimagic field is a bane to adventurers in this tortured land, blasting apart magical defenses with a touch. Though sages speculate that all living spells survive on ambient magical energy in the Mournland and do not actually need to feed, a living antimagic field tends to seek out opponents with many active spells, as if its antimagical nature requires a greater amount of sustenance than a typical living spell. This living spell was formed by an antimagic field spell with caster level 12.
Note: The range of the base spell determines the living spell's spell, but in this case the spell doesn't fit the close/medium/long range model of most spells. For simplicity, the creature's speed is 20 ft., the same as a close range spell.
Variant: While this living spell is based on antimagic field, you can build a weaker version based on a targeted dispel magic with similar effects. Though a targeted dispel magic normally can't be used with the template, it is a more interesting encounter (and annoying to the PCs) if the living spell has a chance to negate all spells on a target instead of just one per hit. An even weaker variant of this creature would function like the area dispel magic, attempting to dispel the effect with the highest caster level.
Variant: An antimagic field spell is normally completely invisible. By default living spells should be visible, but an interesting variant is an invisible living antimagic field. This variant would be naturally invisible (like an invisible stalker) and its invisibility would not be subject to spells like invisibility purge, and see invisibility probably wouldn't reveal anything either. The only way to pinpoint such a creature is through the use of ongoing area effects such as fog cloud or even glitterdust, which would have a "hole" in them as long as the living spell remained in the area (even if the golden particles from glitterdust stick to a living antimagic field, the living spell would automatically snuff them out). This variant is worth +1 CR compared to the creature fully described below.
Variant: A more difficult encounter is if the living spell itself radiates an antimagic field out to a 10 ft. radius (from its center point, so 5 ft. greater than its actual Space). This means it is immune to almost all magic (a Mordenkainen's disjunction might temporarily negate this effect), and thus its SR entry is irrelevant. Its damage reduction changes to DR/-- (or perhaps it can be overcome by adamantine or one of the Eberron special materials). This variant is worth +1 CR compared to the creature fully described below.
Note: Following the rules to the letter, a creature struck by a living antimagic field would have all of its spell effects suppressed for an instant, and then they'd resume, which basically has no effect. Thus, it’s slam attack is not listed with the spell effect. To avoid confusion about the ongoing effects of this ability, it makes more sense for the living spell to attempt to engulf its target every turn so it can maintain its antimagic field on that target. This is not an action based on the creature's intelligence (it has none) but just a way to make the encounter easier for the DM and to make sure the creature is utilized to the full extent of its CR (as turning your magic off and then on again has no real effect, it handicaps this monster to play it that way and makes it weaker than its CR would indicate).
A faint haze in the air suggests the presence of something unnatural. The haze moves about and sometimes flings barely-visible ropelike extensions of itself in different directions.
Living Antimagic Field CR 12
Antimagic Field (Su): A creature hit by a living antimagic field or engulfed by it is affected by the antimagic field spell.
Engulf (Ex): A living antimagic field can flow around a Large or smaller creature as a standard action. It cannot make a slam attack during a round in which it engulfs. The living spell merely has to move over the opponents, affecting as many as it can cover. Opponents can make attacks of opportunity against the living spell, but if they do so they are not entitled to a saving throw against the engulf attack. Those who do not attempt attacks of opportunity must succeed at a DC 19 Reflex save or be engulfed; on a success they are pushed back or aside (opponent's choice) as the spell moves forward. Engulfed creatures are subject to the full normal effect of the antimagic field spell (see above) each round on the living spell's turn, and are considered to be grappled.
About the Author
Sean K Reynolds lives in Las Vegas and develops worlds for Upper Deck as well as running his own small press d20 company. His D&D credits include the Monster Manual, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, and Mysteries of the Moonsea. You can find more game material at Sean's website.
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