View Full Version : spell resistance

2007-12-04, 03:15 AM
When I read the core rules for D&D 3.5, one of the many, many things that comes up is spell resistance. Specifically, it seems to me that spell resistance is designed to be a defensive mechanism against certain types of spells, one that provides a measure of uncertainty in determining whether or not these spells work. The baseline assumption for the average monster with spell resistance seems to require your party spellcaster to roll around an 11 on the d20 to affect these monsters, giving them, in essence, a 50/50 chance to deflect spells.

This is a vast oversimplification, but it does seem to be the core mechanic for SR. Now, taking two feats allows you to reduce the target number you need to roll, but other than that, not much exists, and what does exist is somewhat hard to come by (archmage, orange ioun stone, hierophant, and prayer beads). None of these will more or less remove SR from the game as a meaningful mechanic, except maybe a full hierophant with prayer beads and an ioun stone, but that's a fairly gimped build that only does one thing well.

However, this all changes with splatbooks. The Spell Compendium has a lot of spells that, for whatever reason, just ignore the existing SR mechanic. The orb spells allow you to deal direct elemental damage without allowing for SR, something that was previously only allowed by certain spells (acid arrow, acid splash, acid fog, fire seeds). They also, incidentally, allow characters that have banned evocation to do so at almost no cost, losing only a few key spells (forcecage, contingency, wall of force, resilient sphere, and tiny hut). The Spell Compendium also has assay spell resistance, which allows a caster to virtually ignore spell resistance at almost no cost to themselves.

There's no question that these changes fundamentally change the game. Spell resistance is basically a non-existent mechanic in games where these spells are allowed. My question is, do you allow these spells in your game? If so, do you think it changes the game for the better?

My thoughts are that spell resistance is an often frustrating mechanic for players to deal with. If they roll low on the d20, their entire action is wasted, and they lose the spell slot. Spell resistance is also not a standard ability, only coming attached to certain creatures. This makes the situation seem like a deviation from the normal rules, and manages to annoy players. WotC has printed these spells because they know that they will appeal to players that don't want to deal with spell resistance, but in my opinion, assay spell resistance is only slightly less broken than an ability that would apply the same bonus to attack rolls for the same kind of action. I ban it from all games I run, and move all of the supplemental conjuration spells to the evocation school, changing them to allow for spell resistance.

2007-12-04, 03:28 AM
I disagree on conceptual grounds with re-allocating the orb spells, but assay spell resistance does look like a 'make this mechanic go away' spell, which is annoying.

In terms of power, um, compare it to true strike. I'm not sure which way that leans, with nulti-round duration on the one side, doubled effect on the other, and level 4 pre-quickened vs. level 1 standard action (quickenable with a rod). The fact that it's a wizard casting both seems to be more of an issue. Hitting armor classes is not usually a major wizard problem. Beating SR is presumably meant to be.

Shhalahr Windrider
2007-12-04, 08:00 AM
Regarding the orb spells.

They ignore Spell Resistance because they are conjured energy and, as such, the orb itself is not magical, just the part of the spell that brought it in. (There's the conceptual "whatever reason for ya.")

As to usefulness against SR: The caster does pay for that ability. After all, as damage dealing spells, they really aren't that impressive. Short range, attack roll required (sure, not a big deal vs. touch AC, but that nat. 1 can be annoying at times), only one target with damage that scales as per area of effect spells of lower levels, and secondary effects that aren't really worth the 4th level slot either.

Yeah, the ignore SR, but that's about all they got going for them.

2007-12-04, 08:43 AM
They ignore Spell Resistance because they are conjured energy and, as such, the orb itself is not magical, just the part of the spell that brought it in. (There's the conceptual "whatever reason for ya.")

Nonmagical "cold?" A ball of nonmagical sound? An orb of nonmagical force?? Transdimensional force, at that. I am aware of the concept, but I don't think it makes any sense.

As for their underwhelming power, they're not really all that bad. They scale well for their level (dice cap of 15, which evocation spells don't reach until level 5 with cone of cold), and forcing a touch attack and limiting to one target is about equal in power to allowing a Reflex save, but affecting multiple targets, as far as damage-dealing spells go. The side effects are a nice bonus, though nothing to write home about.

That also doesn't really address the fact that they are highly aberrant when compared to other spells. They behave exactly like evocation spells, only they're not, they're superior. They cheapen the school of evocation even more than it already has been, and they trivialize encounters with creatures that have great defenses, but low hit points. They allow arcane casters to take on their greatest foes, golems, with ease (or moreso at least, with less resource expenditure). And they really add very little to the game in a positive way, as elemental damage spells are already a dime a dozen.