View Full Version : D&D 3.x Other Balefire as an Epic Spell

2017-05-15, 06:34 AM
Recently, a friend of mine requested my help developing an epic spell for Balefire, from Wheel of Time. Having not read Wheel of Time, I looked it up and now have no idea how to convert it to an epic spell. The properties of Balefire that I found were that it could be targeted through time and that it removes from space-time anything it touches.
The second property, I believe, is solvable by changing the destroy seed to work like unname (Tome of Magic), but for the first, I have no idea. Would it use something similar to teleport through time? I once read something about D&D time streams only being fixed for 5 rounds, so would any results change 5 rounds before the casting of Balefire? Would the player (or DM) be required to announce the casting of the spell 5 rounds beforehand (because of the changed memories)? Or would the changes occur all along, and would the player be required to announce the casting of Balefire hours, even days, before the spell is actually cast? Please help!

2017-05-15, 11:15 AM
The properties of Balefire that I found were that it could be targeted through time and that it removes from space-time anything it touches.

Balefire doesn't really target through time. It burns the target's thread from the weave. The more powerful the Balefire, the further back in time the thread is burned. This makes it so that some actions that happened are changed to have not happened.

2017-05-15, 11:30 AM
I'd suggest using some method to change spells descriptors to Force. That should solve some issues, but other than epic spells, I don't really think there's much to meet what you're looking for other than shenanigans and cheese, as much as I like both!

2017-05-15, 11:46 AM
As depicted in the books:
Balefire is not announced in advance. You use it on the spot whenever you like. You target it at what you want to hit in the present.
Whatever it hits - in the present - retroactively ceases to exist some time earlier. How far back the retcon goes depends on how much power was put into the shot.
The present instantly changes to account for the target not having been there or done anything during the retcon time, though it's unclear whether and how much memories are altered to match.

Implementing it in a game, whenever it was cast you'd have to think about what the target did in the past X amount of time, and do your best to extrapolate the consequences of those things not happening. The simplest and most obvious effect would be combat damage and effects being undone, but it could potentially go far beyond that.

In the ancient history background of the books, in the War of Power that ended the Age of Legends, there were occasions where a single balefire blast hit an entire city and undid the past three days of the city's events. This caused enormous ripple effects, to the point where the world itself threatened to unravel because it couldn't handle the amount of retconning needed.

"On page" in the books, there is one instance where a major bad guy is hit with enough balefire to undo about 30 minutes of activity. This results in, among other things, several important characters coming back to life because they'd been killed by him in that time.

The ancient history events were done with large groups of individually extremely powerful magic users also using extremely powerful magic items to amplify their power. The on page event was done by the most powerful magic user of all time using all the power he could muster.

To make it easier to resolve, you could declare that such power is beyond what your players' characters have, at least for now, and restrict it to short term combat, perhaps undoing 5 rounds or so of actions.

Morphic tide
2017-05-18, 07:51 AM
So, given that the past-based destruction scales with power, I'd have it use some form of time-travel for the targeting mechanism, possibly taking the base DC of the seed as twice the level of Teleport Through Time, or just a flat 20, and increasing the DC by 4-8 for each round further than Teleport Through Time's thing, with an explicit decrease of 2-10 DC for applying it as a means of targeting things in the past and future. Really big DC decrease for targeting the future, small for targeting the past, because, mechanically, targeting the future is an undetectable Delay effect. Not that bad, all things considered. While targeting the past is an utter nightmare scenario for the DM if it's farther back than the current combat encounter, and is a mess even then.

From there, Destroy or Slay seeds can do the killing, or you can use the Energy seed if you want it to be actual Fire damage. The retcon stuff is a simple fact of "you killed a thing in the past, so everything it did between then and now, it didn't do because it was dead"

2017-05-27, 08:38 AM
Whatever it hits - in the present - retroactively ceases to exist some time earlier. How far back the retcon goes depends on how much power was put into the shot.
Sort of like that epic spell Tolodine's killing wind (PGtF) which allows you to increase its save DC on the fly by spending extra XP?
Except instead, the beam goes back through extra time depending on how much XP you sacrifice... Interesting!

2017-05-27, 11:24 PM
The extra power use is more analogous to using a higher level spell slot, really. There's no permanent toll on the caster, and all it takes to recover from even the most extreme uses of it is a bit of rest, perhaps sleeping overnight if you really overdid it. Also, this variable power thing isn't unique to balefire, it's an integral part of the world's magic system - any spell can be made more powerful by putting more effort into it.

At the low end of things, it just goes back some fraction of a second, functioning as little more than a nearly unblockable instant kill spell.

Speaking of blocking it: in the books, balefire cannot be blocked by any protective spell or any ordinary material. The only thing that can survive a hit from balefire is a legendary and very rare material called cuendillar, or heart stone, which is well known for being absolutely immune to everything. Incidentally, the knowledge of how to make cuendillar was lost long ago. Balefire also has no save or partial effect or any other means of resistance. If you're hit by balefire, you die. The only question is how far back the retcon goes.

So, for a 100% completely faithful-to-the-books version of balefire, it would be a ray with a ranged touch attack, completely ignore any and all magic that would block or negate it (Ray Deflection, Friendly Fire, Antimagic Field, etc.), automatically kill the target no matter how tough it is, and reverse the effects of the target's actions within the past X amount of time, with X varying depending on how much of some per-day resource you put into it.

...yeah, I think that's rather overpowered even for an epic spell in D&D. There's a reason it's considered the ultimate weapon in the series. The only reason it's not used all the time by everyone who can use it is the risk of damaging reality beyond repair with all the retconning. Following its first discovery during the War of Power, it was used with abandon by both sides for one year. Then both sides, without negotiation, discussion, or communication of any kind, simultaneously stopped using it and even declared it forbidden. Neither side wanted reality itself to literally come apart, and there were lots of signs everywhere that exactly that was very close to happening.

For a (somewhat) more balanced approximation:
I'd start with a save-or-die (so, the Slay seed)
add some of the effects of the Destroy seed for the ability to affect energy fields and force effects and such (discount the spellcraft DC cost for not using the damage part of the effect). Include in this the ability to target anything rather than the Slay seed's restriction of living creatures.
make it a ray of course
add the Ward seed with either a list of specific defenses or an ad hoc assessment of a category, to make it ignore magical defenses
change its school, I think evocation is the best fit
add some ad hoc adjustments for ignoring all immunities
and add something, perhaps the Transport seed in a manner similar to Time Duplicate, to send the effect back in time.
Let a fortitude save reduce it to just damage, and spell resistance negate it, as normal.

If you want to incorporate the scaling, you'll have to come up with something ad hoc for it. Maybe let the character dump extra normal spell slots into it on the fly for a longer time effect, similar to ritual casting with other casters contributing spell slots but less efficient because it's all him.

2017-05-27, 11:34 PM
Are we going to ignore that there are already d20 rules for Balefire to model the Epic version off of? It's in the Wheel of Time d20 book.