View Full Version : A Brief History of Magic in the Kobold Wars (Spells)

The Demented One
2008-03-08, 12:42 PM

Critical Acclaim:

“Professer Keegan has done it again! His history is perhaps the most accurate ever of the great Gnome-Kobold conflicts, and his tactical analysis of the use of magic is superb. Most notable, perhaps, are his appendices, were he has somehow managed to compile the ancient spells used by the kobold dungeon-sorcerers, a feat never before achieved by any man or gnome!”
-The Saltmarsh Sentinel

“Gripping...Keegan remains a master, and any mage in his right mind should buy a copy just for the appendix.”
The Borderland Review

“A historical masterpiece that ought to be read by any wizard.”
-The Greyhawk Gazetteer

Appendix IV: Spells of the Kobold Wars

The most renowned of the Kobold war mages were the dungeon-sorcerers, spellcasters armed with a formidable repertoire of spells perfect for use in the narrow tunnels and dungeons the war was fought in. By interviewing the few surviving dungeon-mages (assisted by a few charm spells), I have been able to compile the following list of spells used in the wars:

Animated Sentinel
Abjuration and Transmutation
Level: Sorcerer/Wizard 1
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Touch
Target: Melee weapon touched
Duration: 1 day/level or until discharged.
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

Keegan’s Note: “When the kobolds found themselves short on soldiers, they devised this spell to make up for it. It was not uncommon to see entire tunnels filled with weapons with the animated sentinel spell cast on them–which quickly led the gnomes to invest in summoning spells.”

The animated sentinel spell turns a single melee weapon into a trap. Whenever any creature other than you comes within 10 ft. of the affected weapon, the weapon is suddenly animated, flies up to the intruder, and makes a single attack against it, after which it falls at that creature’s feet. The weapon uses your caster level as its base attack bonus, and your primary casting score in place of a Strength score. When you cast this spell, you may choose a password for the animated sentinel. Any creature that says the password may come in range of the weapon without triggering it.

Magic traps such as animated sentinel are hard to detect. A character with the trapfinding ability can use the Search skill, DC 26, to find an animated sentinel.

Instant Pitfall
Level: Sorcerer/Wizard 2
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One 5 ft. square
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Reflex negates (see text)
Spell Resistance: No

Keegan’s Note: “Many a gnome found himself dropped down an instant pitfall during the Kobold Wars. Dungeon-sorcerers would hold it in reserve until the gnomes charged, at which point they would cast it right under the gnomes’ feet, halting them and trapping them.”

The instant pitfall spell disintegrates a section of the floor or ground beneath your feet, creating a pitfall within one 5 ft. square. Floors made up of most substances–wood, stone, dirt, even iron–can be disintegrated, though floors made up of tougher or rarer substances, such as adamantine, cannot be affected.

The pitfall is up to 10 ft./level deep, max 50 ft.; however, it is never so deep as to go straight through the floor without having a bottom. Any Medium or smaller creature standing in the square when you cast the spell may attempt a Reflex save to move into any adjacent square. If he fails the save, he instead falls into the pitfall, taking falling damage as normal. Any Medium or smaller creature that moves into the square must also save or fall.

A fallen creature can climb out with a DC 15 Climb check. Large and larger creatures are not affected by the pitfall.

Phantom Caltrops
Illusion (Figment)
Level: Sorcerer/Wizard 2
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Area: One 10 ft. square/level
Duration: 1 minute/level
Saving Throw: Will disbelief, then Will negates (see text)
Spell Resistance: Yes

Keegan’s Note: “One of the first spells every dungeon-sorcerer learned was phantom caltrops, which summoned up a figment of caltrops that could cause great pain to any gnome that walked through them–wholly in the poor fool’s head of course, but just as real to him. The kobolds were fond of using this spell to cut off retreats, or to cast it between them and a foe to prevent a charge.”

The phantom caltrops spell creates an illusion of caltrops, seeming to be wholly real. Any creature that enters an area filled with the caltrops may make a Will save to disbelieve it. If it fails, then it takes 1d4 damage for each affected square it moves through, and has its speed reduced by half for 24 hours, or until it receives magical healing. One minute after the creature has been damaged, it may make another Will save to negate the slowing effect and undo the damage, as its mind realizes their illusory nature.

Magic traps such as phantom caltrops are hard to detect. A character with the trapfinding ability can use the Search skill, DC 27, to find phantom caltrops. Phantom caltrops cannot be disabled with a Disable Device check.

Material Component
A single caltrop.

Reaving Blade
Conjuration (Creation)
Level: Sorcerer/Wizard 3
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Effect: Levitating blade
Area: 15 ft. line
Duration: 1 round/2 levels
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

Keegan’s Note: “A particularly nasty spell: many a gnomish regiment was mowed down by a single reaving blade while fighting in tunnels. It eventually became customary to send a single heavily-armored gnome at the front of any line, in the hopes he would stop such spells.”

The reaving blade spell covers a blade that levitates three feet off the ground, which immediately flies straight away in a 15 ft. line. Any creature whose space it passes through is attacked by it: it uses your caster level for its BAB, your primary casting score in place of a Strength score, and deals 1d8 damage/2 levels, max 5d8. At the end of the round, it remains in the square it stopped. In the next round, it returns to where it started, again attacking any creatures in its way, and comes to a stop, and so forth. If it misses an attack against a creature, then it is knocked out of the air, and the spell ends.

Shattering Sphere
Evocation [Sonic]
Level: Sorcerer/Wizard 3
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 60 ft.
Area: 30 ft.-radius burst
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude half
Spell Resistance: Yes

Keegan’s Note: “Originally used in mining, the shattering sphere spell was quickly adapted for warfare. The gnomes tendency to file down tunnels single file made them particularly vulnerable to it, and kobolds today still play a popular children’s game involving knocking down tin gnome figurines lined up in a row with a large glass marble.”

This spell creates a sphere of sonic energy, which is lobbed off at a foe. You aim the spell not at a creature, but at a single square. You must make a ranged touch attack against AC 20 to hit the square you selected. If you fail the attack roll, the spell still works, but the sphere instead hits a randomly chosen square adjacent to the square you targeted. When the sphere impacts, it deals 1d8 sonic damage/level to all creatures in the square it hit, 1d6 sonic damage/level to all creatures in squares adjacent to the square it hit, and 1d4 sonic damage/level to all other creatures in the area of the spell. It can deal a maximum of 10 damage dice of damage, regardless of the size of the damage dice.

Symbol of Summoning
Conjuration (Summoning)
Level: Sorcerer/Wizard 4
Saving Throw: None

Keegan’s Note: “Kobold dungeon-sorcerers made frequent use of all the symbol spells, many of which are known to magedom in general. However, they also had a few such spells they’d worked up themselves, like the symbol of summoning, which could easily turn the tide of battle.”

This spell functions like symbol of death, except that instead of affecting the creature that triggers it, it instead summons a creature when triggered, as the summon monster III spell. You choose which creature or creatures is to be summoned when you cast this spell.

Magic traps such as a symbol of summoning are hard to detect. A character with the trapfinding ability can use the Search skill, DC 29, to find a symbol of summoning.

Trapsmith’s Hand
Level: Sorcerer/Wizard 1
Components: S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: 1 trap
Duration: Instantaneous or 1 minute (see text)

Keegan’s Note: “A simple variation of the basic mage hand spell, the trapsmith’s hand nevertheless proved to be devastating when used cunningly, allowing the kobolds to spring all matter of traps on the gnomes.”

A highly specialized telekinesis spell, the trapsmith’s hand has two uses. It can be used to trigger a trap with a location, proximity, or touch trigger. If the trap triggered requires a target, then you may choose any creature within its range as the target. However, it cannot trigger traps with location triggers that lack a mechanical element, such as pit traps or razor-wires, even if they otherwise satisfy the requirements. Alternatively, the spell can be used to reset any trap with a manual reset, though it takes a minute to do so. This spell is too specialized to be used to perform any other kind of telekinetic functions.

Conjuration and Evocation (Creation) [Force]
Level: Sorcerer/Wizard 3
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./level)
Effect: Tripwire of force, 5 ft. long/3 caster levels
Duration: 1 minute/level
Saving Throw: Reflex negates (see text)
Spell Resistance: No

Keegan’s Note: “A simple but frustrating spell, tripwires were a favorite of dungeon-sorcerers when fighting in larger caverns and caves. Records show as many as twenty tripwires being used at the same time in the Battle of the Chasm, turning the battlefield into a spiderweb of traps.”

The tripwire spell creates a thin strand of almost invisible force. The tripwire must be anchored to a solid, stationary surface, primarily a wall, on each end. In addition, the tripwire must be perfectly straight: it cannot be situated diagonally. Any creature that moves through a square which the tripwire runs through must make a Reflex save or fall prone.

Magic traps such as a tripwire are hard to detect. A character with the trapfinding ability can use the Search skill, DC 28, to find a tripwire. A tripwire cannot be disabled with a Disable Device check.

2008-03-08, 03:28 PM
very cool. i like ambush-style spells in particular. nice touch on the narration.

instant pitfall: seems like it should be higher level. it permanently removes a large chunk of substance, making it possible to breach defenses (granted, only if able to do so from the top down, but in a subterranean environment, that is not too hard to fathom) and accomplish other tasks that i am certain were not the original purpose of the spell.

reaving blade: i think the blade should be able to keep going if it completely missed an opponent. if it hits the armor and still does not penetrate, i can see sending it ricocheting to the floor, but if the creature manages to duck or dodge, i think it should be able to keep going. especially as a 3rd level effect that requires attack rolls. other than that, cool stuff.

tripwire: i know this makes it more comlicated, but i like the idea of allowing the rest of the tripwire-required booby traps of the trapsmith in this spell. maybe as you cast it, you pick which variant you want, an alarm tripwire, a *tripping* tripwire, a crossbow trigger, etc. maybe the other variants become availible at higher levels.

the rest, superb. nice job.

2009-01-26, 10:40 AM
I wish I'd found these before running my last kobold encounter, very cool stuff.

Magnor Criol
2009-01-26, 12:59 PM
Great work as usual, Demented. These are great, especially the flavor. Are you planning on making gnome-themed spells as well?

One thing of note - there's a spell in the Spell Compendium (and, I suppose, somewhere else before that) called "Caltrops" that creates a small area of actual caltrops, and it's a 0-level spell. Yours do more damage - 1d4 for yours versus a straight 1 for the SpC version - but they don't allow a save and I don't believe they go away, either. I don't recall the area; yours may cover more.

Point is, there's a spell that does something similar to Phantom Caltrops, without a save, at a lower level. Maybe it's worth bumping down to level 1?

On that note, Tripwire at level 3 seems high, less for mechanical reasons than fluff ones - it doesn't seem like it'd take a 5th- or 6th- level caster to simply string a static line of force across 5 or 10 feet. Mechanically, though, a 3rd-level spell that simply trips an opponent does seem a tad underwhelming. Also, the phrase 'cannot be diagonal, must be straight' seems out of place, somehow, though I can't place my finger on precisely why.

Does the trip wire go away when someone trips on it, or does it persist and continue tripping until its duration expires? Can characters who know it's there take care to move through the square without tripping (making the square cost double movement, perhaps) or does the tripwire actually animate itself and move to try and trip opponents? Does it have to be placed low to the ground? I can see someone casting this and specifying that it's placed at neck-level and making an argument that instead of tripping, the tripwire chokes someone (perhaps causing them to fort save or lose a round?) If it has to be placed low to the ground, what determines the height? A tripwire appropriate to trip a gnome or kobold could hardly be expected to be effective against a giant - unless it;s the animated tripwire option, I suppose.

Question barrage, go! =p

2009-01-26, 08:06 PM
Interesting set of spells. I like the flavor built into them, and overall nice job. However there are a few comments I'd like to make.

Instant Pitfall: Seems like this should be a 3rd level spell. The actuall falling damage isn't much, and one Reflex save negates the whole thing. However if a creature does fall in, they are seriously trapped. Most likely, the character won't be able to climb very well, and it'll take a while. Then, you can just "shoot fish in a barrel" while they're down there. So the penalties need to be slightly less to be a 2nd level spell for me. Maybe a time limit on how long the pitfall exists before filling back up.

Phantom Caltrops: Way too underpowered, especially for a 2nd level spell. There is a spell in the Spell Compendium that summons real caltrops in 5ft/2 Level squares as a 0 Level Spell. Yours do slightly more damage, but can be disbelieved, twice, for no penalties. Needs some major improvements. Damage and probably only one will save to disbelieve, and also probably down to 1st Level.

Tripwire: This one also seems underpowered for a 3rd level spell. All it does is trip and can only be in a straight line, with anchors, and it's only 5ft/3 Levels. I say doesn't need anchors and you could lay multiple, seperate, or even one long wire over several squares. That would help out quite a bit. Even then, I'd need to compare because it still seems weak as a 3rd level spell.

That's all my constructive criticism. Nice work and great ideas.

2009-01-28, 08:35 AM
Symbol of Summoning requires 5,000 gp in materials as currently written... that is a bit much, 200 gp maybe??? Other than that, as an arcane and limited version of Glyph of Warding I guess it works, and I guess making it one level higher is ok, but actually you could probably get away with making it level 3 calling the longer casting time and expensive material component the balancing factors.

Baron Corm
2009-01-28, 10:16 AM
Agreed on bumping tripwire down to level 2. There should be some way of just jumping over the tripwire once you see your buddy fall from it, too. Makes sense. People would say their characters do that anyway and the DM would have to make something up.

Also, instant pitfall should have an immediate action casting time, to fit with both the Keegan's note and the name.

Edit: And shattering sphere... all of the flavor text says it should be a ball of sonic which mows down gnomes in a line. I'm not sure how the burst area fits with this theme. The spell seems quite a bit better than fireball, as well. The damage should be changed to /2 levels. I also don't quite understand why any old square is 20 AC, including yours, and the one next to you... perhaps 5 AC, plus 5 AC per square away.

Not that missing the AC does much to the spell's power anyway, though due to the way it does damage it does add an interesting aspect. I still don't understand why it does damage in that way, or why it's a burst, according to the flavor... something about how this setup is useful for mining should be mentioned.