Author Topic: Metaspells: Spells About Magic  (Read 3277 times)

Offline Toptomcat

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Metaspells: Spells About Magic
« Topic Start: July 30, 2013, 05:09:17 PM »
METASPELLS: SPELLS ABOUT MAGIC

We all know about metamagic, the process by which spells can be modified through feats. This is an area that has been the subject of intensive study, and I feel its potential has been quite thoroughly explored.
However, there is another way to modify how spells work that, while known to the D&D 3.5 Min/Maxing community, has received relatively little formal study: spells that modify, interfere with, or otherwise deal with other spells, and more generally, spells that deal with magic itself, as opposed to some direct effect like damage, communications, rampaging bears from nowhere, etc. I propose the term 'metaspells' for this unusual kind of magic. Because, as is widely acknowledged, spellcasting in general is one of the most flexible and powerful capabilities in Dungeons and Dragons, metaspells are some of the most interesting spells.

Here I am attempting to gather a registry of all published metaspells and develop a taxonomy of different types. I welcome suggestions for sources to scour/spells to include, suggestions for categories to put them into, and as much feedback as you can muster on the many, many rough edges the idea still has. There are discussion questions, even. They are marked in red, because red is the color of questions to discuss. Here's the discussion thread.

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What isn't a metaspell?

First, a brief discussion of what probably doesn't belong here. I think that spells that grant a general bonus to some statistic often useful for something other than spellcasting/resisting spells shouldn't go here, even though attack-roll boosters like True Strike can enhance spells requiring an attack roll, damage-boosters like Frost Weapon might enhance spell-created weapons like a Blade of Pain and Fear or arguably Spiritual Weapon, normal AC-boosters like Mage Armor can protect you against spells that require a regular attack roll like Thunderlance, touch AC-boosters like Shield of Faith can protect you against ray spells, save-boosters like Superior Resistance can protect you from spells that require saves, skill check boosters like Moment of Prescience can keep you from blowing a Concentration check, reroll generators like Benediction or Choose Destiny can help with most of the above...it's simply too broad. Ditto anything that forces Concentration checks to cast simply by producing motion, entangling, dealing instantaneous or continuous damage, or grappling.

Also, I'm not particularly interested in listing spells that interact with other spells purely by virtue of their school, subschool or descriptor, like the way abjurations create visible interference with each other after being active within 10 feet of each other for 24 hours, and the way virtually every light spell counters and dispels virtually every darkness spell, and vice versa.

Essentially, what I'm interested in is spells that derive a good chunk of their power and interestingness in their interaction with other spells. And also possibly those that interact uniquely with other manifestations of magic, like the various non-Vancian magic systems, magical creatures and the supernatural abilities they boast, and magical environmental effects.

But mostly spells that are about other spells.

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A Proposed Taxonomy

Spell Boosters

Spell Boosters solve problems with MORE POWER.

These spells boost the power, speed the casting, or otherwise straightforwardly aid the use of spells. If it  fits the song, this is where it goes. I'm also putting SR reducers in this category, as well as any spells that impose a save penalty that's specifically spell-related. And stuff that lets you prepare more spells than normal.

Different Kinds of Spell Boosters
(click to show/hide)

Spell Simulators

Spell Simulators solve problems the right way- by having the right tool for the right job.

These spells can simulate or recreate other spells, usually multiple other spells. They're very useful if you're a spontaneous caster working on a limited budget of spells known, a prepared caster who wants to retain some flexibility throughout the day, or are looking to bypass a barred-school or class restriction. Proper use of spell simulators can permit a spellcaster to dazzle with their versatility, laughing at the limits of your spell list just as Weird Al laughs at the limits of polka.

Discussion question: Mirror Move 'allows you to reproduce any general feat with an obvious physical effect that you observed another perform within the past 10 rounds, providing you meet the prerequisites for that feat.' Many spells have obvious physical effects. Complete Arcane's Extra Spell is a [General] feat. How hard should I be smacked for coming up with this?

Different kinds of Spell Simulators
(click to show/hide)

Spell Mutators

Spell Mutators solve problems by changing the rules.

These spells don't make other spells straightforwardly better, faster, or more powerful. What they do is make them more flexible, or simply different. Spell boosters make the spells they modify harder, better, faster, stronger: these make the spells they modify sneakier and smarter, breaking the rules to win. If you're a thinking spellcaster, these are my candidate for the strongest and most generally useful metaspell.

List of Spell Mutators
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 05:55:15 AM by Toptomcat »

Offline Toptomcat

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Re: Metaspells: Spells About Magic
« Reply #1: July 30, 2013, 05:11:19 PM »
Anti-Magic

Anti-Magic keeps the other guy from magically solving the problem he's got with you.

Many spells are designed to hinder other spells, or other sorts of magic. It goes way beyond a simple AMF or dispel.

Different Kinds of Anti-Magic spells
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: August 01, 2013, 11:52:22 PM by Toptomcat »

Offline Toptomcat

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Re: Metaspells: Spells About Magic
« Reply #2: July 30, 2013, 05:11:50 PM »
Magic Analyzers
These spells, almost always divination spells, give the caster additional information on inherently magical phenomena, often but not always spells.

Different kinds of Magic Analyzers
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Weird, Specific Interactions
These spells interact with specific others in a fashion explicitly specified in the spell's description. These are the corner-casiest metaspells, frequently a bit complex to adjudicate in play. That's exception-based design for you.

Discussion questions:
Do these belong here at all?
What about the specific case of debuff or 'curse' spells that can only be reversed by some specific other spell or list of other spells? Listing them all could be a bit of a pain.
Can Compel Breath force the casting of something like Palarandusk's Fire Breath or Dragon Breath, if the caster knows it/has it prepared?

List of Weird, Specific Interactions
(click to show/hide)


Interaction with Other Magic Systems
These spells enable interaction with alternative magic systems by those who are still casting from the classic Vancian paradigm. Whether it's psionics, Incarnum, or pact magic, there are a couple of good old fashioned spells that smoothing the way when dealing with them. Even the sad, inbred cousin of the magic systems, truenaming, can play a pretty good duet with classic Vancian spells.

List of spells that interact with other magic systems
(click to show/hide)
Magic Item-Affecting
These spells are those which interact with magic by affecting magic items. Plenty of spells can interact with objects in general, of course: this list is for those which specifically interact with magic items' magicness- either facilitating their use or hamstringing them.

List of Magic Item-Affecting Spells
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: August 03, 2013, 08:47:03 PM by Toptomcat »

Offline Toptomcat

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Re: Metaspells: Spells About Magic
« Reply #3: July 30, 2013, 05:14:24 PM »
Magical Creature-Affecting
These spells affect magic by affecting supernatural creatures.

Discussion questions:
Do these belong here at all?
Should attack spells that have some uninteresting, minor additional effect on a class of supernatural creatures, like the classic slight damage increase vs. undead or evil outsiders, be listed? I think probably not.
Should attack spells that can *only* attack a certain class of supernatural creatures, like Disrupt Undead, be listed?

Different Kinds of Magical Creature-Affecting Spells
(click to show/hide)

Magic Environment-Affecting
These spells affect or are affected by specific magical environmental phenomena, like earth nodes, other planes, or dead magic zones.

List of Magic Environment-Affecting Spells
(click to show/hide)

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Thus far this list is overwhelmingly biased towards Sorc/Wiz spells, because this whole idea started as a character concept and rapidly spiraled out of control, and the character in question was an Ultimate Magus: I am absolutely not discouraging the community from finding clerical and other metaspells. I suspect that Forgotten Realms material will be a rich vein of such spells, due to the central role of Mystra, god of magic, in that setting. Also, basically three-quarters of the artificer infusion list ought to qualify. Please help find me non-sorc/wiz stuff if you find the idea interesting.

Places I've Looked
(click to show/hide)

I THINK that's all either native 3.5 stuff or stuff that's gotten an official or semiofficial 3.5 update document from WOTC. If not, let me know.

Stuff I've incorporated material from without a good once-over, on others' recommendations:
(click to show/hide)

Places Catharsis Cat has looked in a quick-and-dirty look for divine metaspells:
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 07:52:39 PM by Toptomcat »

Offline Toptomcat

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Re: Metaspells: Spells About Magic
« Reply #4: July 31, 2013, 10:45:44 AM »
Master List
After a number of questions of the 'I haven't looked through absolutely everything, but have you got Spell X?' type, I've decided to have a general list of every spell I've put here, along with every category it's in- one that isn't spoiler-divided, so anyone can quickly text-search for a specific spell they had in mind. No absolute guarantees about its accuracy or completeness, but I think it's good.

0th through 4th

(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: August 01, 2013, 08:21:56 PM by Toptomcat »

Offline Toptomcat

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Re: Metaspells: Spells About Magic
« Reply #5: August 01, 2013, 08:20:04 PM »
5th through 9th, Wiz Only, Sorc Only, Sanctified, Cleric, Druid, Spell Domain
(click to show/hide)

Acknowledgements
Everyone who contributed anything gets a thank-you here.

Thanks to:
brujon, for making me realize I had two different versions of Spell Enhancer listed twice at 4th and 5th, when all printed versions are 4th level. They are now merged.
Fyermind, for informing me that I'd made the embarrassingly basic mistake of listing Fox's Cunning, Owl's Wisdom, and Eagle's Splendor at 1st level instead of 2nd, where they belong. Also for suggesting that each individual spell include a book source- maybe next draft.
Catharsis Cat, for the first batch of divine metaspells (Eagle's Splendor and Owl's Wisdom at Cleric 2, Imbue with Spell Ability, Assay SR, and Spell Vulnerability at Cleric 4, Mass Eagle's Splendor and Owl's Wisdom at Cleric 6, Miracle at Cleric 9, Eagle's Splendor and Owl's Wisdom at Druid 2, Owl's Insight and Sirene's Grave at Druid 5, Spellstaff and Mass Eagle's Splendor/Owl's Wisdom at Druid 6, and Anyspell, Rary's Mnemonic Enhancer, Greater Anyspell, and Limited Wish from the Spell Domain)
X-Codes, whose abortive attempt at a comprehensive list of awesome spells from all possible sources made me aware of the existence of some very interesting spells: Ability Rip and Trait Removal from Serpent Kingdoms, Dweomer Vortex and Mystic Shield from Anauroch: Empire of Shade, and Friendly Fire from Exemplars of Evil.
Captnq, whose authoritative THE SPELL BOOK project has been helpful in double-checking much. (And brujon again for pointing me to it.)

To-dos for development:
(click to show/hide)

Here's the discussion thread.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 08:30:27 PM by Toptomcat »