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View Full Version : [3.X]Epic-Anyone ever used epic magic in an actual campaign?



Oslecamo
2010-02-24, 01:01 PM
One of the few things that people seem able to completely agree in D&D discussions is that epic magic is simply ba-roken. Either it's stupidly overpriced and not that strong or you're abusing the rules to churn out mighty custom epic spells for almost free, with little or no middle ground.

However, I've heard of several people who go into epic levels, and I've also personaly played a few characters above lv 20. myself. But we didn't knew the epic handbook by then, so we just kept stacking levels of other classes.

So, has anyone ever used epic magic in an actual campaign?

In a similar note, how do you people deal with PCs over lv20? Do you use any other epic rules at all or just keep stacking new levels and Prcs and/or making up custom epic class progressions as you go? If you take out epic spells, the rest of the epic handbook doesn't look that bad. And stuff like the epic warloc from wotc here (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ei/20061027a) seem just like the kind of thing epic D&D should be. I wouldn't mind trying them out if I had the chance.

Aharon
2010-02-24, 01:05 PM
Used it, but only as scenery - Epic elven mage used transform seed to transform himself in a Genius Loci, than cast silent stilled Prismatic sphere to have a huge safe place for elves. (I know it's a bit roundabout, but it was more fun that way :smallbiggrin:)

It's useful in situations where the absurdly large corpus of other rules doesn't have the effect you want.

PCs in my campaigns didn't come far enough till now to actually use it.

arguskos
2010-02-24, 01:39 PM
I've used it twice. I used the Mythal seed once (Lost Empires of Faerun) to create a safe haven over this one city my party had built. It took the entire population of the city contributing a spell or two for me to actually cast the Mythal, but it worked alright. I burned all my spells, as did the whole party, everyone in the city cast at least one spell (it was a city of spellcasters), and I managed to roll pretty well, so it worked.

Further, I managed to create a super meteor swarm effect once, blending energy types, dealing some absurd amount of damage, and raising anything killed by the spell as a horde of undead under my command. Mitigation was achieved by asking my DM if I could sacrifice creatures for XP during spell creation, and use that XP to mitigate the DC of the spell. He agreed, and I rounded up like 20,000 commoners and used their life force to reduce the DC to something in the 80s or 90s (which I could actually cast at that point). It worked well the one time I used it (we were storming Celestia and I used it to weaken the angelic battle lines).

Oslecamo
2010-02-24, 01:48 PM
Storming Celestia? Now that's some epic play! Mind if I ask what level you were? Also those were one shot stuffs right? Your DM allowed some superior stuff, but kept you in check to prevent auto-wins whitout being impossible to pull off if I understand correctly. Guess that works too.

Closak
2010-02-24, 01:49 PM
Oh sure, the BBEG's uses it ALL. THE. FREAKING. TIME.

280d6+200 force damage to the whole party suckers (Courtesy of BBEG)
A direct assault was clearly not a good idea against that guy.

Or...CITY SIZED BLACK HOLE IN UR FACE! (Courtesy of Elder Evil)


"We do not believe creating a black hole would be a good idea"
"Not you again"

Oslecamo
2010-02-24, 01:52 PM
Oh sure, the BBEG's uses it ALL. THE. FREAKING. TIME.

280d6+200 force damage to the whole party suckers (Courtesy of BBEG)
A direct assault was clearly not a good idea against that guy.

Or...CITY SIZED BLACK HOLE IN UR FACE! (Courtesy of Elder Evil)

Ouch, that's nasty.:smalleek:
But are you still pre-epic? If you're epic you have the chance to develop your own epic spells or are you too busy trying to survive the black holes?

Eldan
2010-02-24, 01:54 PM
Once, but, to be honest, not as written. I've used it mostly as a background thing: the player can have an epic spell, but I told him that it's subject to DM approval, and mostly intended to be an interesting change to the campaign world, not a combat thing. The player was an elf and used it to move a city to Arvandor for a week to evade an attacking army.

Closak
2010-02-24, 01:58 PM
To busy trying not to be killed.

Seriously, a black hole the size of New York just appearing like five feet away from you...Just ouch.

Thank god for Planeshift.
To bad the Elder Evil can planeshift too and keeps following us around everywhere we go.

What is it with Eldritch Abominations from beyond reality always deciding to target us over the rest of the universe?


"We hyphotize that maybe it is because you are just that annoying"
"Did i say you could speak?"

Zanatos777
2010-02-24, 02:17 PM
Yes, I have but it is always one or two NPCs who have the power not the players. I always make a big deal, the people who wield it are always the most powerful characters in whatever the setting and it leaves everyone else in awe of their power.

The players even treat any NPC who throws it down with more respect. I think I've only had...two NPCs use it and only three or four others who have the capability (in two different settings).

arguskos
2010-02-24, 02:25 PM
Storming Celestia? Now that's some epic play! Mind if I ask what level you were? Also those were one shot stuffs right? Your DM allowed some superior stuff, but kept you in check to prevent auto-wins whitout being impossible to pull off if I understand correctly. Guess that works too.
We were... lessee... I was a Dread Necromancer 20/Enchanter 5/Pale Master 10 (advancing the Enchanter). I was pretty high up there. We had a Fighter/Barbarian/Warrior of Darkness/Frenzied Berserker in the party too, along with some other characters, all of whom were in the 30s. This was the final capstone of a long running, deeply disturbing and evil campaign, so no, it wasn't a one-shot. We had already taken over our crystal sphere, and decided to try our hands at godhood by slaughtering the current pantheon (good and evil alike) and taking over. We did too, or well, I did. I betrayed the others to the remaining gods ASAP, then ambushed and killed them too. :smallamused: End result: I was the only deity remaining, ruling over a crystal sphere filled with nothing but undead. It was a glorious ending for my character, since it's just want he wanted.

Also, we all sorta assumed that if we tried serious cheesy stuff the DM would smack us. Oh, and our op skill wasn't so amazing at the time. I mean, Dread Necromancer into Enchanter into Pale Master? Terrible character build. Fun to play though. :smallamused:

The Mythal was also not a one-shot game either. It was in another campaign where I was a Sun Elf Evoker 3/Master Specialist 5/Divine Oracle 2/Magelord 10/Cleric [Corellion Latherian] 5. He was dedicated to the protection of his people, and developed the Mythal to prevent a disaster such as that of Myth Drannor from occurring ever again. He also had hunted down the Gatekeeper's Crystal and kept it personally, so it couldn't be used to shatter his new Mythal. This was obviously in Faerun, by the way. :smallwink: We actually played more past this point, up the point that we eventually died on the front lines of a war between the Seldarine and the orcish pantheon. I personally slew two lesser orcish gods (Baghtru and Yurtrus, if you want to know) before being struck down by Grummsh himself. Corellion avenged me though, so it was all good. :smallbiggrin:

Those were a long time ago though, I haven't played epic levels since.

Remmirath
2010-02-24, 03:36 PM
Yeah, all the time.

With our house rules (which there are a slew of) - and even possibly without - epic magic is weaker than using epic feats on non-epic magic. The only two spells per round thing really hurts after a while, compared to someone who writes their own non-epic spells and can do upwards of ten per round.
Plus the backlash can get pretty annoying.

Of course, the character I've mainly used it for is currently 66th level, and most of the other characters in that campaign are around the same level, so that's a bit higher than than usual.

I can't think of any specific examples of using it, since I end up using it in pretty much every fight with that character. Perhaps oddly, I've never used it for any sort of static or on-going effect. There usually isn't time for that in the campaign - if there's something we need to do that an epic spell might work for, it usually has to be done in a few hours, not a few months.

Various NPCs and villains have used it in that way quite a bit, however, such as the gates or patches on the multiverse we're currently trying to stop the villains from exploiting.

We do basically use the epic rules, unless we come across something that none of us like, at which point we make a house rule. I believe the majority of the epic rules have remained intact, however.

Akal Saris
2010-02-24, 03:41 PM
arguskos: those both sound like seriously epic and fun campaigns to me :)

Blackfang108
2010-02-24, 03:44 PM
No, but I've had it used against my party.

Specifically, two of us got Nailed To The Sky.

Out of campaign, I recognized the spell immediately. I started swearing.

Zeta Kai
2010-02-24, 03:54 PM
Yes, I've used epic magic. I DMed a campaign that went to level ~80-ish. It got pretty crazy, as the PCs slowly became a group of superheroes, essentially. They bounced around the multiverse, right wrongs all over the place, including wrongs that they had accidently created in previous attempt to fix things. The gods on all sides kept manipulating them in order to keep them busy & out of their divine hair.

The mages were using EM under the caveat that I had to approve every epic spell that they attempted to cast. It was... difficult, at times, to keep things from going out of control. I liken it to sitting in the passenger seat of a car, on the highway, steering it while the driver is having violent siezure & has their foot stuck on the gas pedal. Maintaining a game with EM in it for any length of time is a challenge to any DM's skill. I have ran much more manageable campaigns without EM, at comparable levels.

The THEORY of EM is great, but the implementation (especially the mitigation factors & restrictions) are atrocious.

Oslecamo
2010-02-24, 04:17 PM
Lots of great histories here. So it seems like either only the DM uses it to spice up the challenges, or the players also get to use it, but under DM carefull vigilance/homebrewing.

Relvinar:Wait, what, you were designing your own non-epic spells? Are there rules for that that I missed or was it an homebrewed sysem? Well, guess that at 66th level characters deserve to develop their own magic.

Zeta Kai:80sh? That's even higher than the gods of the epic handbook! How can the deities still manipulate them? Guess you designed your own gods stats. I do remember once seeing a 3rd party Asmodeus around CR 87.

arguskos
2010-02-24, 04:26 PM
Lots of great histories here. So it seems like either only the DM uses it to spice up the challenges, or the players also get to use it, but under DM carefull vigilance/homebrewing.

Relvinar:Wait, what, you were designing your own non-epic spells? Are there rules for that that I missed or was it an homebrewed sysem? Well, guess that at 66th level characters deserve to develop their own magic.

Zeta Kai:80sh? That's even higher than the gods of the epic handbook! How can the deities still manipulate them? Guess you designed your own gods stats. I do remember once seeing a 3rd party Asmodeus around CR 87.
Rules for making non-epic spells can be summed up as:
-Takes 1000 gp and one week per level of the spell.
-Makes a Spellcraft check (DC 10+spell level) to learn it.
-DM has to approve it.

These are from the DMG, pg 198.

Masaioh
2010-02-24, 04:53 PM
When I made my first epic character, also my first epic caster, I had this craptacular energy spell that only did 10d8 damage. My DM didn't allow other casters to contribute spell slots.

Since then I've made a house rule that, at the time you create an epic spell, you must be able to fail the spellcraft check without a natural 1.

Kaiyanwang
2010-02-24, 04:59 PM
I had a long campaign from level 1 to level 40th. We used Epic Spells and the retrieving of the Forges of the Old Ones, specific Epic XP components, was a great part of the campaign (actually, that and "discuss" with the Nine Hells of Baator).

We simply didn't abused that. I used the guidelines of to allow a spell: if is good looking, is probably good. Few Examples:



Drago di Fulmini: a giant thundering lightnining animated spell to wreakc havoc, cast by the sorcerer

Smisurata Preghiera: a sort of mass-ress used in massive epic battles (hundreds of races vs hundred of races) cast by the death-related cleric

Fine della Bellezza: a spell ending the life of Elementals, Giants and Fey in the area, used to befoul and unmake wilderness, made by my Evil NPC

Annentamento, an Hellfire Storm by Mephistopheles (so my evil NPC)

Ripristino, Druid's res in combat

Abbaraccio del Maestro: a massive int buff for the wizard and the younger psion

Meteora: ritual lead by the wizzie to nuke a place

Guardia del Castello: a massive mythal lead by the Exorcist cleric to ward the headquartier

Pi in l c' il Muro: the final magic wall made by the sorcerer. It wards a lot of things.

Furia Primordiale: Druid's Massive stenght buf for meleers

and so on



We had a blast. 5 years long, 11 people. I had to eyeball alot of things, but is fun spend an afternoon for plotting,planning and buiding, one for RPG, and the third for a 3 round combat. I cannot even start with anecdotes, because I've too many.

Just remember: CRs are even more eyeballed, in doubt, beat them more, and expect they are able to do anything. Accept this, and nothing, NOTHING, can match the pure awesomeness of 3.x Epic Levels.

Grumman
2010-02-24, 05:02 PM
Since then I've made a house rule that, at the time you create an epic spell, you must be able to fail the spellcraft check without a natural 1.
That's horribly arbitrary, you know. What happens when you level up, and you don't meet that requirement on a spell you've already wasted tons of gold and xp researching?

Masaioh
2010-02-24, 06:37 PM
That's horribly arbitrary, you know. What happens when you level up, and you don't meet that requirement on a spell you've already wasted tons of gold and xp researching?

I don't get it. How would you lose a bonus to spellcraft? Wouldn't you keep any items that give bonuses?

Edit: Only matters at the time you create the spell.

Grumman
2010-02-25, 12:03 AM
I don't get it. How would you lose a bonus to spellcraft? Wouldn't you keep any items that give bonuses?
The problem isn't losing bonuses, it's gaining bonuses. Lets say you have a character with a +30 bonus to Spellcraft. Under your rule they can't create any spell with a DC less than 33. They level up and put a point in Spellcraft, and they can now no longer create DC 33 spells, only DC 34 or higher spells. Thus as they level up they become less capable at developing spells.

Masaioh
2010-02-25, 12:13 AM
The problem isn't losing bonuses, it's gaining bonuses. Lets say you have a character with a +30 bonus to Spellcraft. Under your rule they can't create any spell with a DC less than 33. They level up and put a point in Spellcraft, and they can now no longer create DC 33 spells, only DC 34 or higher spells. Thus as they level up they become less capable at developing spells.

They would have more GP that they could put toward developing better spells.

Either that or I could put a limit on what percentage of the DC you can mitigate. Would that be better?

Knaight
2010-02-25, 12:22 AM
Yes it would be.

Back to topic. I've never GMed epic, but have played it. My conclusion is that when you hit level 21, its time for an exalted conversion. Or Scion, that works too. Nobilis and Amber really don't, even if they do simulate absurdly powerful beings well.

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-02-25, 02:41 AM
Last campaign, the BBEG's right-hand-necromancer went epic just as the PCs hit level 16 or so. This necromancer was the "knowledge and power before anything else" type, so the few times he'd run into the PCs, he'd ignored them unless they directly interfered with them (as in, a few of them walked two feet in front of him while he was invisible, talking about how they were planning to overthrow his brother's empire, and he just told them to keep it down so he could read). When they heard he went epic, the PCs had an "Ohhhh crap" moment, thinking he'd finally go after them.

Instead, he determined that the one thing he didn't have was free time, as his brother the emperor kept bugging him to make new and improved magical toys to help them win the war with the PCs' nation. So he worked up an epic spell that would shunt a land mass the size of Europe into an alternate time stream within a shell of opaque force, such that for every day that passed outside the shell a full year passed inside it. The PCs spent a week trying to figure out a way to take it down, at which point the shell came down on its own, the necromancer having become bored with epic spellcasting and using another epic spell to invent psionics and grant every creature within the shell a level of wilder, allowing the empire to go all Warhamer 40K on the PCs' nation.

Runestar
2010-02-25, 03:43 AM
Hmm...dragons technically qualify for epic spellcasting...:smallamused:

tcrudisi
2010-02-25, 04:34 AM
So he worked up an epic spell that would shunt a land mass the size of Europe into an alternate time stream within a shell of opaque force, such that for every day that passed outside the shell a full year passed inside it.

It seems to me that this would be a bad idea. Let's pretend the spell had gone on longer, like perhaps 3 years passed outside the bubble and so 1 century passed within it. For every ~3 years that pass outside, a whole century passes inside. This means that the people inside are making technological advances (although slower since they don't have any trading partners, but still faster than every 3 years with trading partners), their population would grow faster (until it reached the cap), and they could probably find ways to keep producing weapons to prepare for the war that they are obviously still in. If nothing else, use the level 16 PC's as errand boys to go fetch the raw materials necessary.

absolmorph
2010-02-25, 06:17 AM
...the necromancer having become bored with epic spellcasting and using another epic spell to invent psionics and grant every creature within the shell a level of wilder, allowing the empire to go all Warhamer 40K on the PCs' nation.
Dude.
I would crap my pants if I was on the receiving end of this. That's really high levels of apathy. Like, stereotypical TO wizard levels, where you're encouraged to just sit in you demi-plane.

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-02-25, 05:04 PM
This means that the people inside are making technological advances (although slower since they don't have any trading partners, but still faster than every 3 years with trading partners), their population would grow faster (until it reached the cap), and they could probably find ways to keep producing weapons to prepare for the war that they are obviously still in.

And why would this be a bad thing...? In case it wasn't clear, the necromancer was using this on his own nation--they were being beaten badly and he was constantly being pestered to buy them more time, buy them more time, buy them more time, etc., so his response was "Screw this; you have seven years to do whatever, congrats, now leave me alone!"


Dude.
I would crap my pants if I was on the receiving end of this. That's really high levels of apathy. Like, stereotypical TO wizard levels, where you're encouraged to just sit in you demi-plane.

Yep! Wonderful, isn't it? :smallbiggrin:

The background of the war was that you had the totally-not-Roman-Empire developing arcane magic, binding, shadowcasting, and clockwork/golem tech in an attempt to conquer totally-not-Europe while the PCs' nations of totally-not-Scandinavia-and-the-British-Isles and totally-not-Arabia were relying on the growing divine/nature power of the Faerie lords and their respective gods to defend themselves and their allies, so while at the start of the campaign 3rd-level spells were the best in the world, over the course of the campaign and several in-game years the PCs and their adversaries were racing to find/steal/invent/etc. the most powerful techniques and magics that they could.

Where the PCs' patrons were the "stop the war and use our newfound power to help the world" types, this necromancer was the archetypal selfish power- and knowledge-hungry wizard, and his goals were pretty much first, become all-powerful and second, turn the Empire into a quasi-Tippyverse. He invented a bunch of new varieties of undead soldiers by massacring captured towns for the corpses, mutilated people and sewed them back up with other parts to perfect his grafting techniques, and just generally showed a complete disregard for the lives and desires of anyone but himself. My aim was to present a totally evil, remorseless "bad guy" (who wasn't at all behind the war) to cover for the real, more sneaky BBEG, and trust me, it worked perfectly.