View Full Version : Spell Within a Spell

2014-11-28, 04:42 AM
Hey guys, I've got kind of a pan-edition question for you. A long time mainstay of Dungeons and Dragons is magical weapons. What I want to know is if any version of the game has ever had enchantments inside of enchantments.

This is relevant because the BBEG of a quest I'm working on is planning the following: He's distributing unusually high quality magic weapons at extremely low prices. These things are at least +3 and often deal more then one element of damage. However, his secret is that all these "surface" enchantments "lock together" in order to form a hidden spell that he can cast at the moment of his choosing to facilitate the completion of his master plan.

Now, I realize its in my power as a DM to simply homebrew up the spells, but I ask if something like this has ever happened before because I frequently give my players hints in the form of obscure references to older fluff and splat relevant to the ongoing mystery, alongside more conventional clues inside the game. A short reference to get their thought process down the right road, so to speak.

Jay R
2014-11-28, 12:26 PM
In the 2E modules Five Shall Be One and Howl from the North, the five Blades of Corusk are each magical items, but when brought together they could call forth the Great God.

Also, in the artifacts section of original D&D, in the supplement Eldritch Wizardry, there were a Crown, an Orb, and a Sceptre for each alignment. Each had powers, but there were more powers if you owned two, and even more if you owned all three. Also, the Rod of Seven Parts needed to be assembled, each part adding more abilities.

2014-11-28, 12:43 PM
I don't think it needs to be an enchantment within an enchantment...I've seen numerous references to magic items with more than one ability rather frequently. A +2 shocking sword that also allows the user to cast Darkvision twice a day, etc. etc. Detect Magic isn't a precision tool, after all, and I would rule as a DM that some of the anti-scrying/anti-divination spells could be revised to obscure the results of Identify so the secret enchantments aren't revealed but the cool 'selling point' ones are.

2014-12-03, 05:13 PM
Most versions of the game have intelligent items whereby the intelligence within the item has some agency.

Possession is also a thing, but that's more one person inside another. 3.0/3.5 has the Fiend of Possession which is a PrC which allows you to posses items so casters can be inside intelligent items even, possibly several casters in one item.

Mental control of a caster is an indirect Spell Within a Spell.

2014-12-04, 02:59 AM
You should totally make the items actually be psionic sandwiches. The longer you hold off on them screwing with the party, the more hilarious it'll be (for you at least) when it happens.

Lord Torath
2014-12-04, 08:43 AM
The closest I can think of for spells within spells are Contingency and Chain Contingency. There are also spell triggers and spell sequencers, but I'm only familiar with those from Baldur's Gate II, so I'm not certain if those are actual spells in the Table Top games.

2014-12-05, 03:09 PM
In the same line as the Rod of Seven Parts, the Magic Item Compendium has a lot of "item sets" that have additional powers when multiple pieces are in use.

Also, intelligent items can, and usually do, have additional powers beyond the basic enchantment. What might work is having the item be known to be intelligent, but it appears to only have a very rudimentary ego (communicates just using emotions, demonstrates only minor abilities). But actually, it's much stronger than that, and will demonstrate that when the time is right.

Or, for the situation that the items really aren't that powerful when separate, what if the items were barely intelligent, but could form a hive-mind when together? So low ego, only power is Telepathic Bond. Enough of them connect, and you get a hive mind (see Cranium Rats or Hellwasps for example) that's much more powerful.

Cool idea, OP; it reminds me of one I had for a "Memetic Lich" that embedded the seed for their return inside a new spell they created and distributed as widely as they could. Anyone casting the spell became a potential host to possess, more-so the more often they cast it.

2014-12-05, 03:15 PM
In D&D, this is largely the purpose of spells like Hallow (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/hallow.htm)/Unhallow (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/unhallow.htm). Contingency also does this, though that's generally more of a one-shot affair.

The Grue
2014-12-06, 11:19 PM
I get the feeling that a lot of posters in this thread did not actually read the OP.

2014-12-07, 04:05 PM
Indeed. In fact this is a common thing, and secondary hidden effects are rather uncommon but not rare. WotC had a suggestion to use items of scrying; a party gets a magic weapon and the bad guy can scry it with aplomb even through the party's wards because it's a beacon. Or two weapons which interact with each other to create greater effects. Or hidden masterslaying embedded under a magic aura enchantment so only the basic powers were available for casual scrutiny.

Do your thing, homie. You got this. :smallsmile:

2014-12-07, 04:42 PM
It was actually the rule within 3.0 that items could be like this. The identify spell would only tell you the lowest level enchantment on an item when cast. You needed to use analyze dweomer to fully ID an item. One former DM I had told me he used this against a group. The BBEG they were working against arranged for them to have a ring which could cast augury at will. However, it actually also had the same enchantment as an amulet of inescapable location which they didn't realize because they never tried analyze dweomer on it later. Since it was such a useful spell they never sold the ring, but it meant the BBEG could always keep track of their plans.

Arguably even analyze dweomer wouldn't work though as the original item it was based on can't be detected as not working via magical analysis.