The (Even More) Hidden Book

So, I had an article of spells published in Dragon® magazine #324 (October 2004) called "The Hidden Book". The article focused on illusions and phantasms created by a gnomish illusionist that had been hidden in a book sitting on a library shelf. But here's the thing: it was edited to hell and back before it saw print. More than half the spells that I originally wrote never saw print. Generally, I think they nixed all the spells that were a little too complicated for "kick in the door" style play, which is a shame since I think they were some of the more interesting spells. But I asked the editors to make sure, and I can now publish those spells here for the first time. So consider this an "unofficial" web enhancement to Dragon #324

Illusion (Phantasm) [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Assassin 4, Sor/Wiz 5, Brd 4
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
Area: 400 ft. + 40 ft./level emanation centered on you or object touched.
Duration: 10 min./level (D)
Saving Throw: Will partial
Spell Resistance: No
----You cloud the minds of all creatures in the area, causing them to see you as dull, inconsequential, and unappealing. You do not know what others see specifically, however; everyone sees their own personalized image of absolute blandness appropriate to your surroundings. For example, while standing in the king’s court, onlookers might see you as just another courtier, but while passing through an orcish village, anyone looking would see yet another unwashed orc grunt. This has two direct effects:
  • Any creature in the area suffers a –5 circumstance penalty to any Spot checks opposed to your Hide or Disguise skill checks, and you can use the Hide skill with regard to such creatures even when they are directly observing you. They also suffer a –5 circumstance penalty to any Listen check to hear you, as their befuddled mind rationalizes any sounds you make as being normal ambient noise.
  • Any opponent attempting to strike or otherwise directly attack you, even with a targeted spell, must make a Will save (with a +4 circumstance bonus if you have made a physical attack against that opponent during the current encounter). If successful, they may attack normally and need make no further Will saves to attack you for the remainder of the spell (though they are still affected by the first effect). If the save fails, the opponent is fooled into believing you are too insignificant to waste the energy required to attack you. The opponent cannot follow through with the attack, though they do not realize that this decision has not been made of their own volition. They are still free to use the action they would have employed against you to take any other course of action, including attacking a different creature. They are also free to attempt a new Will save on any subsequent round if they wish to attack you.

----You may also cast this spell on an unattended object, which causes it to appear exactly as any other nearby object of the same type. Creatures affected suffer a –10 circumstance penalty to their Search and Spot checks to locate an object emanating banality. This form of the spell can be made the subject of a permanency spell by an 11th level or higher caster who spends 1500 XP.

False Trail
Illusion (Glamer)
Level: Sor/Wiz 2
Components: V, S, M
Range: Touch
Target: One creature/level
Duration: 1 hour/level; see text. (D)
Saving Throw: Will disbelief (if interacted with)
Spell Resistance: No
----The subjects leave behind an illusion covering their footprints as they travel, causing any creature following to misidentify their tracks. Each subject’s tracks will appear to have been left by another kind of creature (up to one size larger or smaller than the subject) with which you are familiar. You may cause different subjects to leave different tracks as desired; for example, you might cause a group of five humans to leave tracks resembling three ogres and two dire wolves. The illusion also contains an olfactory component and can thus fool creatures that track with scent as easily as those that use their eyes.
----Finding tracks left behind by a creature under the effects of this spell is not inherently more difficult than normal, though the Survival skill check DC is based on the size of the creature whose tracks are being imitated. Any creature interacting with the false trail (either by touching or smelling the tracks) gets a Will saving throw to recognize them as false. The illusion on the tracks themselves lingers for 1 day/caster level, during which time they radiate magic and can be dispelled.
----Material Component: A few hairs from a skunk’s tail.

Illusion (Glamer)
Level: Sor/Wiz 9
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 10 min./level (D; see text)
----You become undetectable to all senses save touch, even those that are heightened or magically enhanced. You are invisible as if under the effect of greater invisibility, and cannot be seen even by creatures using see invisibility or true seeing. Any object of Fine size or smaller that touches you is turned invisible as well, preventing you from being discovered by glitterdust, dust of appearance, or similar methods and negating any penalty to you Hide checks from such a source. You remain invisible in the area of any spell that would cancel or reveal it, such as invisibility purge, and are immune to faerie fire. Discovering your location is more difficult as a result of these subtle improvements; while the Spot DC for noticing your presence remains the same, observers must beat the DC by 30 in order to pinpoint your location (rather than by 20 as normal).
----The spell masks all sounds (including sonic effects) from leaving the space you occupy, but does not prevent sounds from entering. This makes you effectively silent to others but does not prevent you from listening to your surroundings. It also does not prevent you from speaking, such as to cast spells with a verbal component, though your voice cannot be heard by any creature not occupying the same space. You cannot be sensed by blindsense, blindsight, or tremorsense, and neither do you register as a “blank spot” to creatures with these abilities. Your odor is completely neutralized, and you cannot be sensed or tracked by a creature using the scent special ability. You leave no footprints or tracks at all, as if under the effect of pass without trace.
----Your imperceptible nature allows you to be ignored by all forms of divination spells and effects that would detect your presence or any information about you, including all detect spells, arcane eye, arcane sight, clairaudience/clairvoyance, discern location, locate object, scrying or any similar spell lower than 9th level. You do not trigger any magical effect that would normally react to your presence, such as alarm or glyph of warding, though you can still activate spells that trigger when read (such as explosive runes or symbol of pain).
----At any point, you may temporarily suppress the effects of this spell as a free action. As long as the spell’s duration has not expired, you may subsequently return to your imperceptible state as a standard action.
----Material Component: The eyeball of a creature capable of using true seeing, either as a spell or spell-like ability. The eyeball is swallowed during the casting of the spell.

Phantasmal Bane
Illusion (Phantasm) [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Bard 5, Sor/Wiz 5
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Target: One creature
Duration: 1 min./level
Saving Throw: Will disbelief
Spell Resistance: No
----You create the false impression in the mind of one creature that the melee weapon you are holding is crafted from the most deadly and baneful substance it can imagine. The subject gets a Will saving throw to recognize the illusion the first time anyone attacks it with the weapon. If it fails the save, all attacks with the weapon are treated as if they were made by an attack form to which the creature is particularly vulnerable, allowing those attacks to deal full damage to most creatures with damage reduction. To a creature that believes the illusion, the phantasmal bane can inflict wounds as if was magical, was crafted of any given substance (silver, cold iron, or adamantine), dealt any type of weapon damage (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing), or was dedicated to any given alignment. The weapon cannot overcome damage reduction that has no vulnerability (such as that of an elemental or high-level barbarian), and cannot overcome the damage reduction of creatures vulnerable only to Epic weapons (such as that of a solar). Phantasmal bane has no effect against creatures without any form of damage reduction.
----Because the illusion exists entirely in the target’s mind, you gain no knowledge about what sort of weapon to which the target might otherwise be vulnerable. Any specific creature can only be under the effect of one casting of phantasmal bane at any time.
----Focus: A single melee weapon, held during casting. You may pass the weapon to another creature after the spell is cast.

Sensory Overload
Illusion (Figment)
Level: Sor/Wiz 6
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets: One creature/level, no two of which can be more than 60 ft. apart
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Will partial
Spell Resistance: No
----You fill the target creatures’ senses with a kaleidoscope of colors, a cacophony of sounds, and a pungent swirl of odors. Overwhelmed with these impressions, each subject must make a Will saving throw or be stunned and unable to act. Even if a subject sees through the illusion, it is still sickened by the sensory overload for the duration of the spell.
----This spell has a particularly insidious effect against a creature using true seeing at the moment it is targeted. Rather than allowing it to ignore the sensory overload, the true seeing actually magnifies the effect, causing the subject to see the truth about everything, all at once. If a subject using true seeing is stunned by this spell, it must make a second Will saving throw or be driven permanently insane by the experience (as the spell insanity).

Looking Back…
Since no one who was an editor for the magazine back then still is today, I don’t mind saying that I thought they absolutely butchered some of the spells that did make it into print. In particular, there was a cantrip called chalkboard that was originally conceived as a phantasm that only the caster could see, allowing him to write notes in midair that appeared in his field of vision but were invisible to anyone else. The editors changed that to a visible chalkboard illusion, and then added that it provided concealment for anyone standing behind it. So the spell went from a handy note-taking aide to a spell that provided a powerful (and unintended) combat advantage at a ridiculously low level. And my name was the sole credit on it.

At any rate, the spells here hold up pretty well as written, though I would now specify that banality’s ability to make Hide checks while being observed should only apply when there are at least three other creatures of the same type within range (the same type as each other, not as you).