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    Default Is spell resistance terrible?

    A while back I posted about making an natural weapon fighter that had the half-dragon template and I had originally planned on taking the "Awaken Spell Resistance" feat. But after talking to a friend about SR, it seems that if you had any equally leveled caster vs someone with SR based on their level is basically just useless? A level 20 Half-Dragon (lets say they have no LA for the purpose of this thread) with the SR feat would have 22 SR. But unless I am misunderstanding the rules, a level 20 Wiz gets to add 20 to his roll against my SR? Which means if he rolls a 2 or higher he makes it through. Perhaps the playground has some light to shed on this subject or maybe a way to improve SR on a character.
    Last edited by LoyalPaladin; 2014-12-18 at 03:53 PM.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    my understanding is that creatures with spell resistance usually have their hit dice+around ten. the drow, for instance, have SR 11+HD. so unless your half dragon has spell resistance 2+HD, it should be closer to thirty something.
    in other words, an equal level caster should have to roll a ten or more to get through.
    Last edited by commander panda; 2014-12-18 at 04:00 PM.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    The real problem with spell resistance is that it applies against the beneficial spells you party may want to cast on you as well. Dying is bad enough - dying because the clerics healing spell didn't penetrate your spell resistance is worse. (You can choose to lower your spell resistance, but it takes a standard action on your part to do so.)
    Last edited by Jeraa; 2014-12-18 at 04:03 PM.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by commander panda View Post
    my understanding is that creatures with spell resistance usually have their hit dice+around ten. the drow, for instance, have SR 11+HD. so unless your half dragon has spell resistance 2+HD, it should be closer to thirty something.
    in other words, an equal level caster should have to roll a ten or more to get through.
    Maybe I am figuring this out wrong then. It looked to me like Half-Dragons have no natural SR and the feat just provided HD+2... Maybe someone has a better feat?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeraa View Post
    The real problem with spell resistance is that it applies against the beneficial spells you party may want to cast on you as well.
    That is a valid fear too...
    Last edited by LoyalPaladin; 2014-12-18 at 04:05 PM.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Yeah, unfortunately SR is just another thing Spellcasters can bypass.
    They make a d20 roll and add their caster level plus other modifiers (feats, Assay Spell Resistance, etc) and there are ways to just shred it away or ignore it (Trait Removal, Factotum's Cunning Breach, Orb of X, etc).
    So like, Armor Class, if you are going to depend upon it, you need to find ways to make it stronger. And unfortunately it's also one of those things that if from a racial, class, or template based source is harder to make stronger.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    I found that most ways to get spell resistance for PCs weren't worth it. If based off level, it was too low, and by the time I could afford any magic item that granted it, the amount granted was too weak to be worth buying. It might help, but the SR would be so low that most casters would beat it easily.

    The only exception I found that was worth it was a level 7-9 spell (forget which) which gave something like 18+level SR. That was worthwhile (at least, it was worthwhile when my War Weaver casted it on our party of tier 1 classes with several other buffs; might not be worth the action economy for one person).
    It's been a while since I played high-level D&D, but I think the spell was in the Player's Handbook; could be wrong, though.

    EDIT: another thing that's bad about SR is, if I remember correctly, it takes an action to suppress it. And maybe to restore it? I'm fuzzy on these rules. We houseruled that away, but by the books it can make it hard to get buffed by your allies.
    EDIT 2: a lot of folk said what I said with more precision while I was typing it. Excellent
    Last edited by JeenLeen; 2014-12-18 at 04:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by commander panda View Post
    so unless your half dragon has spell resistance 2+HD, it should be closer to thirty something..
    That is indeed what Awaken Spell Resistance does.

    And yes, this is a very legitimate problem for the Awaken Spell Resistance feat. It gets even worse when you realize that real threats to your character will have an even higher level... which means they'll be able to pass the check every time, even if they roll a 1. Meanwhile, your equally leveled allies may sometimes cast a friendly spell and have it fail.

    Of course, a spellcaster that really wants to get past resistance has a multitude of other ways to either boost their check absurdly (assay resistance) or just get around the issue altogether (spells that offer no SR, or things like summons and battlefield control), so I can't even recommend getting more substantial SR either.

    Its not always terrible but it isn't really worth spending much on.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    A Half-Dragon would in almost all cases have no SR at all, as it exclusively works on racial hit dice. You would have to apply it to a monster with racial HD, and then it would be even less useful. Honestly, the feat is just a monster feat, and completely useless for PCs.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by MilesTiden View Post
    A Half-Dragon would in almost all cases have no SR at all, as it exclusively works on racial hit dice. You would have to apply it to a monster with racial HD, and then it would be even less useful. Honestly, the feat is just a monster feat, and completely useless for PCs.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeenLeen View Post
    I found that most ways to get spell resistance for PCs weren't worth it. If based off level, it was too low, and by the time I could afford any magic item that granted it, the amount granted was too weak to be worth buying. It might help, but the SR would be so low that most casters would beat it easily.

    The only exception I found that was worth it was a level 7-9 spell (forget which) which gave something like 18+level SR. That was worthwhile (at least, it was worthwhile when my War Weaver casted it on our party of tier 1 classes with several other buffs; might not be worth the action economy for one person).
    It's been a while since I played high-level D&D, but I think the spell was in the Player's Handbook; could be wrong, though.

    EDIT: another thing that's bad about SR is, if I remember correctly, it takes an action to suppress it. And maybe to restore it? I'm fuzzy on these rules. We houseruled that away, but by the books it can make it hard to get buffed by your allies.
    EDIT 2: a lot of folk said what I said with more precision while I was typing it. Excellent
    It's a standard action to lower SR for 1 round until the start your next turn. Which makes it quite awkward if you, say, wanted to UMD a Wand of Healing on yourself.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    SR is kind of a double-edged sword. It protects against a lot of magic, but there's also quite a few SR:no effects, some of which are rather strong (and thus, popular).
    Also, SR doesn't care if a spell is helpful or harmful. You can ignore your own SR, but your party members will have to roll even if they're trying to buff or heal you. You can voluntarily lower your SR but it takes a standard action every round, so it's not really feasible in combat (or when your incapacitated for some reason).

    As for your question, you are correct. You roll 1d20 + casters CL vs. your SR, so you need at least CL +2 to even make a difference. This also means that your SR gets less useful the more you need it (against strong casters), which is obviously not optimal.
    The only way to boost already existing SR that i know of is Dazzik's Vest (DMG2), which increases SR by 5 iirc. but is on the expensive side. There may be a feat or two that add 2-3 to SR but that's a horrible waste of a feat slot.

    Awaken Spell Resistance is pretty much monster-only, because those often have HD in excess of their CR so it actually has a measurable effect.
    Last edited by sleepyphoenixx; 2014-12-18 at 04:12 PM.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyphoenixx View Post
    As for your question, you are correct. You roll 1d20 + casters CL vs. your SR, so you need at least CL +2 to even make a difference. This also means that your SR gets less useful the more you need it (against strong casters), which is obviously not optimal.
    I guess I will just pick up rapid strike instead... :( stupid casters and their stupid sparkly magic.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by AmberVael View Post
    That is indeed what Awaken Spell Resistance does.

    And yes, this is a very legitimate problem for the Awaken Spell Resistance feat. It gets even worse when you realize that real threats to your character will have an even higher level... which means they'll be able to pass the check every time, even if they roll a 1. Meanwhile, your equally leveled allies may sometimes cast a friendly spell and have it fail.

    Of course, a spellcaster that really wants to get past resistance has a multitude of other ways to either boost their check absurdly (assay resistance) or just get around the issue altogether (spells that offer no SR, or things like summons and battlefield control), so I can't even recommend getting more substantial SR either.

    Its not always terrible but it isn't really worth spending much on.
    The feat is generally fine for the monsters it's designed for (i.e. dragons) as they have way more HD than they have CR higher up so it tends to actually lead to a fairly significant Spell Resistance. It can also be stacked somewhat efficiently (+2 per feat as opposed to +1 and Dragons, again, have a lot of HD and thus a lot of feats) so it can be used to make them somewhat difficult to affect. Of course, the general issue with all this is that spellcasters have plenty of means to scale their checks against spell resistance (Assay Resistance [Spell Compendium] lowers target's resistance by 10 basically automatically, True Casting [Complete Mage] gives +10 on a single spell, and level 20 casters generally operate at a much higher caster level than their class level due to various bonuses from classes, spells, feats and magic items increasing their caster level anyways), few to outright ignore it even with spells that normally allow it (Dweomerkeeper's Supernatural Spell [Complete Divine Web Enhancement], Factotum's Cunning Breach [Dungeonscape], a handful of others) and there are spells that don't allow it that can be plenty harmful too. This is all in addition to the issue of protecting vs. positive spells (due to action economy considerations higher up especially for big monsters, even Reactive Spell Resistance [Drow of the Underdark] does little to alleviate this).

    As such, for spell resistance to be worth it, it needs to be way higher than the level of the characters it's supposed to be useful against. This basically means the only ways to achieve reliable Spell Resistance are having absurdly high values by default, HD-based spell resistance with an absurd amount of HD (not an option for PCs) or using something else, such as the Spell Resistance-spell combined with caster level buffing (which, again, is fairly useless against equally buffed caster level from an equal level caster due to the other mentioned considerations).


    Even in Core, I'd assume casters to be a couple of caster levels ahead of their level (Orange Prism Ioun Stone, Archmage/Thaumaturgist, though I don't especially recommend the latter in any significant quantity) and with access to both Spell Penetrations, we can easily look at high level casters slinging spells with penetration rolls of their Character Level + 6 as a baseline without using Beads of Karma or Limited Wish go way higher (that is, every spell cast by a level 20 caster with no preparation is essentially looking at +26 spell penetration roll with just PHB, DMG and MM).
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Yeah, pretty much. Non-scaling sources of SR are quickly completely trivial, and most scaling SR only manages to make itself useful for a bit before falling behind again. And its very hard to find different version of it that stack. So far, for SR-building, I've looked at Spellwarped (LA+3, SR 15+hd), a dip in Forsaker (11 SR, stacks with others), and a vest from the DMG2 that increases SR by 5 (bought as a prestige race to avoid forsaker vow issues). Effective, but it better be for all the XP you dumped into it (your pretty much abusing 'xp is a river' as your modus operandi, assuming LA buyoff).

    Honestly, it's easier to just become a galf-golem for outright Spell Immunity (avoid the LA - by becoming one in-game, the process is pretty clearly described.)

    Add to the above that there are plenty of SR:no attacks that can mess up your day, a whole ton of SR: yes buff spells to try and help you, and getting SR is really an uphill battle.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Necroticplague View Post
    Honestly, it's easier to just become a galf-golem for outright Spell Immunity (avoid the LA - by becoming one in-game, the process is pretty clearly described.)

    Add to the above that there are plenty of SR:no attacks that can mess up your day, a whole ton of SR: yes buff spells to try and help you, and getting SR is really an uphill battle.
    If you want to do nothing quite so drastic, just use the Shapechange spell to assume a magic-immune form. Reversible with a free action, gives you much of the defense the trait offers anyways and acts as SR: infinite. Best of both worlds, minimal resource expediture, Shapechange is cool.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    I think as long as the party isn't crazy optimized, it's okay to entirely scrub SR from play. It has a scaling importance based on optimized character concepts that seek to exploit certain weaknesses, and if you allow those types of players to ignore spell resistance, they'll abuse the hell out of it.

    But if you have players that go "hey I want to make a neat character that does some neat things and doesn't suck too hard," I think spell resistance is trivial.

    One of my big gripes with 3.5 is that there is too much dice rolling for every little thing and having saves and SR for spells is just nutty, combine them in some way or get rid of one.
    Last edited by StoneCipher; 2014-12-18 at 05:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by StoneCipher View Post
    I think as long as the party isn't crazy optimized, it's okay to entirely scrub SR from play. It has a scaling importance based on optimized character concepts that seek to exploit certain weaknesses, and if you allow those types of players to ignore spell resistance, they'll abuse the hell out of it.

    But if you have players that go "hey I want to make a neat character that does some neat things and doesn't suck too hard," I think spell resistance is trivial.
    I think I was hoping to mostly have a character that shrugs off spells. I guess I still have uncanny dodge and a ridiculous amount of HP.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by LoyalPaladin View Post
    I think I was hoping to mostly have a character that shrugs off spells. I guess I still have uncanny dodge and a ridiculous amount of HP.
    Well if that's where you were going, Spell Resist is definitely not going to get you much farther. It will block some things, but as others have mentioned, there's plenty of other things that are not SR based that can ruin your day.

    If you wanna shrug off spells, you'll want some sort of AMF build. Even then it can be bypassed, but its a much easier fit to your idea.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Yes, Spell Resistance is terrible to have from a PC perspective.

    In the specific case of Awaken Spell Resistance (Draconomicon), it's "You gain innate spell resistance equal to your racial Hit Dice" (+2 for every additional iteration of the feat). And that's... well, 0 for most PC's. Ignoring that, if you get it up to 'reasonable' levels (SR=10+level), then... you're still not doing so good. Most of the time when you're fighting enemy spellcasting creatures, they're higher level than you are. So at 10th level, you'll likely be fighting something like a 12th level Sorcerer, who needs to roll an 8 on SR penetration... actually, less than that, due to things like Assay Spell Resistance (Swift action, +10 to SR penetration) and the Spell Penetration feat pair. Meanwhile, you're forcing the party to waste resources - it takes a standard action to lower your SR for one round, or they need to invest in Assay Spell Resistance or Spell Penetration feats to get through your SR to lay buffs and/or healing spells on you (forget wands).

    So... yeah. Nature of the game means SR is something you put on monsters and nowhere else.
    Of course, by the time I finish this post, it will already be obsolete. C'est la vie.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack_Simth View Post
    Yes, Spell Resistance is terrible to have from a PC perspective.
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    Last edited by LoyalPaladin; 2014-12-18 at 06:13 PM.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Yeah, another way to illustrate how bad SR is: Monk's get it, at level 13.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeraa View Post
    The real problem with spell resistance is that it applies against the beneficial spells you party may want to cast on you as well. Dying is bad enough - dying because the clerics healing spell didn't penetrate your spell resistance is worse. (You can choose to lower your spell resistance, but it takes a standard action on your part to do so.)
    Of course, we can make house rules to avoid this problem. Indeed, I believe we are justified in doing so, because I believe a simple mistake has persisted, uncorrected, in every edition of the Player's Handbook, right up to the final edition.

    To make my case, let me start with "Chapter 10: Magic," section Spell Descriptions / Saving Throw / (harmless), which appears on page 177 of the Player's Handbook v. 3.5 (2008). If you prefer, refer to the SRD.

    (harmless): The spell is usually beneficial, not harmful, but a targeted creature can attempt a saving throw if it desires.
    I used to wonder why the rule writers ever added this seemingly superfluous information to the "Saving Throw" line of any spell's statistics block. Can't we figure out for ourselves whether a spell is harmless or not?

    Then I read this passage again, and it dawned on me: This is an exception to the general rule, which is that every creature affected by a spell that allows a saving throw makes a saving throw against it, as a reaction that requires no action. In contrast, if a spell that allows a saving throw is also explicitly identified as "(harmless)," the default is that the affected creature gets no saving throw at all. A creature affected by a "harmless" spell makes a saving throw only if it "desires," that is, only if it consciously chooses to do so. This is the opposite of the normal case. Normally, when a creature is affected by the usual kind of spell, the kind that is not explicitly identified as "harmless," the creature can forfeit its saving throw only if it consciously chooses to do so.

    Enlightened by this new knowledge, I re-read the following passage from "Chapter 10: Magic," section Spell Descriptions / Spell Resistance, which appears on the same page of the PH, page 177. If you prefer, refer once again to the SRD.

    The terms "object" and "harmless" mean the same thing for spell resistance as they do for saving throws. A creature with spell resistance must voluntarily lower the resistance (a standard action) in order to be affected by a spell noted as harmless.
    In this passage, I argue, the second sentence stands in open, unresolved conflict with the first.

    • As we have just read on the same page, a spell explicitly identified as "harmless" does not provoke the saving throw of an affected creature unless the creature consciously chooses to resist the spell. By default, the harmless spell simply takes effect.
    • Now, if the term "harmless" really does mean the same thing for spell resistance as it does for saving throws, then a spell explicitly identified as "harmless" should not provoke the spell resistance of an affected creature, either, unless the creature consciously chooses to resist the spell. By default, the harmless spell should simply take effect.

    I conclude that there must be a mistake here. I believe the passage quoted above should read as follows, with my recommended correction in boldface type.

    The terms "object" and "harmless" mean the same thing for spell resistance as they do for saving throws. A creature with spell resistance must voluntarily lower the resistance (a standard action) in order to be affected by a spell not noted as harmless.
    Doesn't this re-write make much better sense (in addition to having an outcome that most of us would prefer anyway)?

    • It should be necessary to lower your spell resistance only when it is engaged against a spell, as it is in the normal case, for example when the spell that targets you is something like the Veil spell or the Seeming spell.
    • It should not be necessary to lower your spell resistance when it is disengaged, as it ought to be, by default, with respect to a spell "noted as harmless."


    In this case, I argue, common sense should prevail over the RAW, which I believe in this particular case is a Rule As Mistakenly Written and Somehow Never Corrected.

    I submit this argument here for everyone's consideration.

    EDIT: I replaced a bad example with a better one.
    Last edited by Duke of Urrel; 2014-12-18 at 10:31 PM.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duke of Urrel View Post
    [*]Now, if the term "harmless" really does mean the same thing for spell resistance as it does for saving throws, then a spell explicitly identified as "harmless" should not provoke the spell resistance of an affected creature, either, unless the creature consciously chooses to resist the spell. By default, the harmless spell should simply take effect.
    This would be an equivalence if foregoing saving throws took actions, which it does not. The creature with SR is made aware that the spell is harmless, but SR is a special case and cannot be ignored without being lowered first.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    This would be an equivalence if foregoing saving throws took actions, which it does not. The creature with SR is made aware that the spell is harmless, but SR is a special case and cannot be ignored without being lowered first.
    The equivalence lies not in what an affected creature does to a "(harmless)" spell. The equivalence lies in what a "(harmless)" spell does to all creatures, by default. What it does is switch off all creatures' saving-throw reflex, which otherwise is always active by default.

    If "(harmless)" spells work the same way for an affected creature with spell resistance, they should simply switch off the spell-resistance reflex. There should be nothing that the affected creature has to do, because it's the "(harmless)" spell that does it.

    Moreover, there is never any awareness involved here on the part of the affected creature. Spells that are not "(harmless)" activate the saving-throw reflex by default. Spells that are "(harmless)" switch off the saving-throw reflex by default. In neither case does the affected creature have to be aware of anything. It's just the effect that a "(harmless)" spell has because it is "(harmless)."

    If it is the same with spell resistance, as the rule states, then by default, a "(harmless)" spell should simply switch off this reflex, too, without the affected creature having to be aware of anything.
    Last edited by Duke of Urrel; 2014-12-19 at 09:45 AM.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duke of Urrel View Post
    The equivalence lies not in what an affected creature does to a "(harmless)" spell. The equivalence lies in what a "(harmless)" spell does to all creatures, by default. What it does is switch off all creatures' saving-throw reflex, which otherwise is always active by default.

    If "(harmless)" spells work the same way for an affected creature with spell resistance, they should simply switch off the spell-resistance reflex. There should be nothing that the affected creature has to do, because it's the "(harmless)" spell that does it.

    Moreover, there is never any awareness involved here on the part of the affected creature. Spells that are not "(harmless)" activate the saving-throw reflex by default. Spells that are "(harmless)" switch off the saving-throw reflex by default. In neither case does the affected creature have to be aware of anything. It's just the effect that a "(harmless)" spell has because it is "(harmless)."

    If it is the same with spell resistance, as the rule states, then by default, a "(harmless)" spell should simply switch off this reflex, too, without the affected creature having to be aware of anything.
    SR is not a reflex. SR is a passive property. Imagine that someone was trying to punch you in the face, but your head was turned around so they were punching the back of your head. If they suddenly stopped punching you and started applying make-up, you would still have to turn around in order to properly receive the benefit (or hope that their arms are long enough to reach around to the front of your head) even though you know that the make-up is beneficial.

    By contrast, if you were already facing them, you would be dodging the punches, but as soon as they pull out the mascara you can just stop dodging.
    Last edited by Flickerdart; 2014-12-19 at 10:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quite frankly, it's kind of an NPC thing. Because it's not often NPCs get healed, but PCs... well, they kind of need it. I'd recommend instead giving it this as a SQ:

    Improved Spell Resistance (Ex): Treat this ability as Spell Resistance equal to 13 + the character level, except it can be lowered and raised as a free action.
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    It can be decent.

    No, most SR builds won't stop casters around your level... but you can become very good vs items (scrolls/wands etc) and lower level casters. In some campaigns and with some DMs that won't matter much, but with others it can be absolutely brilliant. If you invade a temple, it can be pretty neat to shrug of half the spell arsenal of its lower level denizens. Also, in my campaign the ancient lich is hardly going to just stand around alone in its lair waiting for your barbarian to come around. It would like also be aware that its magical hoard of 12 evocation wands could be put to good use in the hands of some lowly skeletal mages.

    So, I would say it is situational.
    Last edited by Scipio_77; 2014-12-19 at 10:48 AM.

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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by atemu1234 View Post
    Quite frankly, it's kind of an NPC thing. Because it's not often NPCs get healed, but PCs... well, they kind of need it. I'd recommend instead giving it this as a SQ:

    Improved Spell Resistance (Ex): Treat this ability as Spell Resistance equal to 13 + the character level, except it can be lowered and raised as a free action.
    Maybe I am looking at the wrong feat... but that doesn't look right to me. Is that a homebrew thing or another feat?
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by LoyalPaladin View Post
    Maybe I am looking at the wrong feat... but that doesn't look right to me. Is that a homebrew thing or another feat?
    It is homebrew. He's saying "the official thing isn't very good, you should probably replace it with this instead".
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    Default Re: Is spell resistance terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Necroticplague View Post
    It is homebrew. He's saying "the official thing isn't very good, you should probably replace it with this instead".
    Gotchaaaa. Maybe I will talk to my DM about that.
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