Magic Theory 101: The Novice's Guide to How Magic in NWN (Aenea) Works!

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Magic Theory 101: The Novice's Guide to How Magic in NWN (Aenea) Works!

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:15 pm








Spell Casting and Magic Theory 101
A Player’s Guide to Magic in NWN (Aenean Edition)

This guide is to help the novice player understand the more complicated set of mechanics within NWN: Magic. This is not a "mage's strategy guide to maximize your BOOMage”, this is the “how does this all work?” guide. Several topics are very basic and meant for a new player completely unfamiliar with spell-casting and magic in general., so feel free to skip over the “newbie” parts of course. This guide will be updated as necessary.


Quick Links to Topics:

The Spell Book Basics
The Basic Spell
Scrolls and Other Magical Devices
The Use Magical Devices Skill (UMD)
The Mechanics of a Spell
Mechanics of Casting a Spell
Meta Magic Madness
The Player Item Enchanting System (PIES)
The Aenean Epic Magic System (AEMS)
Counter-Spelling and Spontaneous Casting
The Spell Casting Classes
Immunties, Resistances, ect., the stuff that makes your spells "not werk so gud".
Conclusion and Other Miscellaneous Errata




Introduction

First we’ll start with the basics. What is a spell? A spell is a one-time effect a magic casting character may use. The effect depends on the spell cast by the magic user. A magic user will have several “spell slots” depending on his or her class level. Each slot could be a different spell, or it could be several instances of the same spell.

What kind of spells are available to a caster depends on his or her class. The primary spell-casting classes are Wizard, Sorcerer, Cleric, and Druid. Bards are a secondary spell-casting class. Rangers and paladins are a tertiary spell-casting class. Other classes offer “spell like abilities”, which will be covered in their own section within this guide. Each class has it’s own spell list from which it may draw it’s spells known.

Of the spell-casting classes, there are two types of casters; arcane casters and divine casters. The primary difference between arcane and divine comes into play with spell failure incurred by armor and shields. There are also differences with how each class gains, and utilizes their spells known. This will be covered later on.


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The Spell Book Basics

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:15 pm


First we will look at the “Spell Book” (default hotkey: “B”).



The screenshot shows the spellbook for Agamemnon, a bright gnome wizard. There are two windows to the spell book. The “Spells Memorized” and “Spells Known” window. All spell casting classes will have these two windows, except for sorcerers and bards, who will only have the “spells known” window.

First, the spells known window:
The three buttons at the top of the window are access windows to your spell casting classes. As Agamemnon’s only spell casting class is wizard, only one button has an icon, in this case, the “wizard” icon. Were Agamemnon to have another spell casting class in addition to Wizard, the second button would have the icon for that respective class. A third spell casting class would occupy the third and final button. Clicking on one of the three icons will display the spells known for that particular spell casting class.

The next row of buttons are the “spell levels”, ranging from level 0 to level 9 spells. Clicking on one of these icons will display the spells known for that particular spell level. As we can see from the screenshot, Aga’s spell book is displaying the spells he knows from the level 0 wizard spell list, also known as cantrips.

Click on the “known” button will collapse the list. Clicking on it again will expand the list. Should there be any available meta-magic spells for that spell level, there will be additional collapsible menus displaying the type of meta-magic, and the spells known for that particular spell level. In the screenshot, we see the spells for Agamemnon’s 6th level wizard spells, with the “known” and several meta-magic lists collapsed. The “maximize” list is open. Meta-magic will be discussed in detail later on.

Clicking on the spell icon will highlight the spell. A small button with a question mark icon will appear as well. Clicking on the question mark icon will bring up the spell description window. Question-mark icons on the “meta-magic” menu lists will display information about that type of meta-magic.

For wizards, clerics, druids, rangers, and paladins, clicking on the small arrow botton at the left side of the line will set that spell into an open spell slot in the “memorized” window. Sorcerers and bards do not have to memorize spells, so they do not have the memorized window.

The Memorized window:
This window is divined into several collapsible lists, except the lists are spells by level, not by known and/or metamagic. As seen in the screenshot, the 6th level spells are expanding, and displaying the slots available for Agamemnon to make use of. Agamemnon has seven “spell slots” for 6th level spells. Each icon represents a spell memorized.

When a memorization caster uses one of those spells, the icon remains in place, but becomes “greyed out”, indicating that it has been used for that day. In the screenshot, Agamemnon has several spells memorized, three of which are “Flesh to Stone”. He will be able to cast all of those spells one time, and cast “Flesh to Stone” three times.

To “erase” the spell from the memorized list, simply drag the spell icon out of the slot. Doing this will remove the spell from the memorized list (but NOT from the spells known list). “Rearranging” spells by dragging one icon into the spot of another will not remove the spell from the memorized list, but it WILL negate the use of that spell until the caster rests again or drinks a potion of magical renewal.


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The Basic Spell Description

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:16 pm



This section will cover the basic spell description.



In the screenshot, we see the spell-description for “Fireball”, a 3rd level arcane spell available for wizards and sorcerers. There are several lines of information that make up a description for a spell. Here’s what they mean:

Caster Level(s): Not to be confused with “caster level” as used when describing spell power, this line of information simply states what classes have access to the spell, and what spell level the spell is for that class. Some spells are shared between multiple spell lists, such as “cure minor wounds”, which is available to bards, clerics, and druids. To make it less confusing, this line should rather be called simply “Spell Level” rather than “Caster Level”.

Innate Level: This bit of information is generally irrelevant. “Innate level” simply means the lowest common level the spell is available to all classes with access to that particular spell. Often (but not always), magical devices that have the spell in question will use the “innate” level as the “caster level” for determining the power of the spell.

School: Magic spells are divided into several schools of magic. Schools of magic will be discussed in detail later on. This line of the spell description will state what school the spell belongs to.

Descriptors: For spells “Descriptors” are used to narrow down what type of magic the spell is. This is relevant for such things as immunities and saving throws. A spell with the “Death” descriptor, for example, would be blocked by “Death magic immunity”. For the spell in the screenshot, the “Fire” descriptor tells you that saves vs the spell will be “Save vs fire”.

Components: Spell casting has three components… verbal, somatic, and material components. For NWN in general, only two of those are used, the two being “verbal” and somatic”. Aenea has an *optional* material system. What these tell you is what is required to cast the spell on a very basic level. Spells with verbal components require that you be able to speak (ie, not “silenced”, not “speak” as in typing stuff into the chat bar). Spells with a somatic component require that you be able to gesture freely. This comes into play primarily with arcane casters with armor and shields. Somatic and material components will be discussed in more detail later on.

Range: This line tells you have far away you have to be from the target of the spell to cast the spell on said target. For spells with a range of “Personal”, the spell is only usable only on oneself, not on any other target.

Area of Effect: Some spells are “single target” spells, and will only affect a single target. Others are “AoE’s, and will affect several creatures within a certain range. There are three types of AoE’s; sphere, cone, and cylinder. Cylinder AoE’s cover a 3 meter wide path from the caster to the target. Cone AoE’s start from the caster, and spread out in a cone shape with an angle of 60 degrees. How far the cone fans out depends on the range of the spell in question. Sphereical AoE’s spread out a given distance from a point of origin. The spherical AoE sizes are “small” (about 2 meters from point of origin), medium (about 3 meters from point of origin), large (about 6 meters from point of origin), huge (about 7 meters from point of origin), gargantuan (about 8 meters from point of origin), and colossal (about 10 meters from point of origin)

Duration: Some spells are “instantaneous”, meaning once they’re fired off, that’s it. Others have durations that last over time, anywhere from several seconds to hours per caster level. For reference, 1 “round” is 6 seconds. 1 “turn” is 10 rounds (60 seconds), and 1 “hour” in game time is 2 minutes real-time. Some durations will state “1 minute/Level”… this means 10 rounds per level, or quite literally, 1 real time minute per caster level.

Additional Counter Spells: Spells can be countered. Counter spelling will be covered in detail later on.

Save: Some spells have saves. When affected by a spell with a save, the target makes a saving throw to reduce, or flat out ignore the spell effect. This line tells you the type of save (fortitude, reflex, will), and the effect of succeeding the saving throw. In this case, making a successful save vs a fireball spell results in taking half damage from the spell. Some spells have multiple saves, in which case, this line will read “Special” or otherwise make a note to examine the description for more details.

Spell Resistance: Some spells are subject to “spell resistance”. Similar but not the same as saving throws, spell resistance allows a target to ignore the effects of a spell. If the spell is not subject to spell resistance, this line will say “no”. Spell resistance will be discussed in more detail later on.

The Spell description proper: The body of text beneath the basic mechanics information tells you what the spell does, and any special considerations for the spell. In the case of the screenshot above, we see that fireball dishes out damage at the rate of 1d6 per caster level to a maximum of 10d6 dice.


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Scrolls and Other Magical Devices

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:16 pm



First we’ll look at scrolls, the basic magical device, and also the magic device with the most information for a player to examine.



The description window for spell scrolls is almost exactly the same as a “spell known” description window. There are two important differences though.

The “components” requirements are disregarded. You can freely use scrolls in any circumstance.

The bottom section listing the “Special properties” lists the effect of the scroll, in the case of the screenshot, “Minor Globe of Invulnerablility (7)”. The number in the parenthesis is important to take note of. That is the “caster level” of the scroll. In this instance, the spell cast from the scroll will have the same duration and effect as if cast by a 7th level wizard or sorcerer.

Scrolls are also unique in that they are “one shot” use items. Once you use the scroll, it’s gone for good. If you have a stack of scrolls, the stack’s count is reduced by 1 when you use that particular scroll.

Also note, some scrolls are restricted to certain classes. For the scroll in the screenshot, the scroll is restricted to wizards, sorcerers, and bards. Characters with “use magical devices” skill, such as rogues or assassins may make a skill check to use the scroll as well. Use Magical Devices (UMD) will be discussed later on.

There are other types of magic items as well with “cast spell” properties. They often will NOT have the detailed spell information in their description as scrolls do, but they WILL have the spell listed under the “special properties” line. Such items could be single use, like scrolls. Use it once, and the item is gone.

Or they could be “Use per day” items, which will have 1, through 5 uses per day. Once you use all the uses per day, you must rest to restore their uses.

Some items are “unlimited uses per day”. You may activate them as many times per day as you wish.

Some items are “charge” items. Such items will have “charges” on them, and the spell properties on them will use 0, 1, 3, 4, or 5 charges per use. These items you may use repeatedly, until there are no more available charges for use. When the charges on the item reaches 0, the item disappears, destroyed forever. For spell properties that use 0 charges, no charges are deducted from the item’s store of charges on use… effectively making that particular property “unlimited use”.

A number of “charge” items can be “recharged” with a scepter of magical reinvestment. The “Scepter of magical reinvestment” is a magic item that can “destroy” one magic item in order to “charge” up another one. In default NWN, this item is referred to as a “magical electrifier”.

The mechanics of the scepter are this: The scepter has two “spell” properties on it. One labeled “destroy”, the other “charge”. You select the “destroy” option and use it on a magical item you wish to burn up. That magic item is destroyed, and it’s value is added to the scepter. When the scepter has a positive value, you use the “Charge” option on an item you wish to “recharge”. Depending on the target item’s value, your scepter will restore either a partial charge, or several charges. The more expensive the item being recharged, the more value on the scepter will be required to restore a single charge to the target item. In Aenea, this mechanic is different than the default NWN “magical electrifier”. The default version will not be discussed here.

Take note, certain items, while they have charges, cannot be recharged by the scepter of magical reinvestment.

Other notes on magic items…. Some items will have several magic spell effects on them. These can be in any given combination of “charges/use”, “use per days”, “single use” or “unlimted uses per day” properties. However, take note that as with other items with charges, if an item’s charges falls to 0, the entire item is destroyed and disappears from your inventory, regardless of the other properties on the item.

All such properties will be listed under the “Special Properties” line at the bottom of the item’s description.


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The Use Magical Devices Skill (UMD)

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:17 pm



The UMD skill is a skill available to Bards, Rogues, and Assassins. This skill allows those classes to make use of items otherwise restricted to them via special properties. The UMD skill cannot allow a character to physically equip items they do not have proficiencies for however. This skill is only called upon when the item is restricted to the character.

For an example, we’ll use Agamemnon again. Agamemnon is a Bright Gnome wizards/animator/rogue. He has all the relevant armor and weapon proficiencies for those classes, plus the martial weapons proficiency. Agamemnon finds two magical shields. One is a magical tower shield that is restricted to Paladins and Champions of Dalix. The other is a small shield also restricted to Paladins and champions of Dalix. Aga may use shields via his shield proficiency, but he lacks the paladin or champion levels required by the item. He may use his UMD skill to equip such items though. For this example, we will assume he has enough UMD skill to do such. Agamemnon is however still unable to equip the tower shield, despite his UMD skill because a gnome, he is too small to use tower shields. He may equip the small shield however.

Agamemnon also finds two daggers. One is restricted to wizards and sorcerers, and one is restricted to barbarians. Agamemnon may equip daggers in general via his weapon proficiencies. He may use the first dagger freely because he already has one of the required classes, wizard, to use the dagger. For the second dagger however, Agamemnon must pass a UMD check, as he does not have any barbarian levels.

The UMD check for equipping restricted items is a static skill check, meaning the character does not roll any dice, their skill is simply compared to a target DC. If their skill matches or surpasses the DC, they may wear the item. If not, they cannot equip the item.

The DC is determined by the value of the item, and the type of “emulation” the UMDer is attempting. Attempting to wear an item with a racial restriction will have a +5 to the DC needed to beat. Attempting to wear an item with an alignment restriction will incur a +10 to the DC. The table of values and race/alignment modifications can be found here on the NWNWiki.

UMD is also used to utilize scrolls otherwise restricted by class. The UMD check for scroll use is 1d20+ your UMD skill + charisma modifer VS a DC 25+ level of the spell on the scroll. A level 0 spell will have a DC 25. A 9th level scroll will have a DC 39. If the UMDer passes the check, they cast the scroll. If they do not, the scroll is used up, but the spell effect does not fire off.

The UMD check for using scrolls does NOT apply to scrolls with no class restrictions (such as scrolls of Raise Dead of Ressurection), nor do they apply to characters with at least one level of Wizard, Sorcerer, or Bard.

On Aenea, there is also the Custom ILR (Item Level Restriction) system. This system restricts item usage by race/alignment/deity/character level, much like the default Bioware system, however it CANNOT be bypassed with UMD, regardless of how much UMD skill a character possesses. These custom restrictions will not be listed under the “Special Properties” line, but rather right above it at the end of the item’s description proper. The restrictions will be clearly described within square brackets, declaring the requirements to use said item.


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The mechanics of a Spell

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:17 pm

“Ok… now what does all that gobbledygook mean?”

This section will describe several aspects of magic that are touched upon in the earlier sections, but not really explained.  Primarily, this section will cover “Caster levels”, “DCs”, and “Spell Resistance’.  This most "mysterious" part of the magic system that a new player and even veteran players can get confused on.

Caster Levels.

Not to be confused with the “caster level” (spell level) as used in a spell’s description, “Caster levels” are the raw power behind the spells a spell caster uses.  Caster levels are determined by the number of class levels in the spell-casting class.  A 10th level wizard/10th level fighter will be a 20th level character, but his wizard spells will only have the caster level of 10.  Caster levels play several roles in spell casting.  They determine how much damage some spells do (such as the Fireball spell in the earlier screenshot).  Caster levels also determine how easily a spell caster can bypass spell resistance.  And of course, caster levels determined how many spell slots a character has per day.  The caster level is counted as *only* levels in that class.  A 10th level wizard/10th level sorcerer character will only have 10 caster levels for spells cast from his spells known, even though both sets of spells come from the same overall spell list.  An exception regarding Prestige classes such as Palemasters may become live in the future, in which case this section will be updated with the specifics.

Spell DC’s.

The DC for a spell’s saving throw is determined by the spell level of the spell, and the ability modifier of the caster’s “casting stat”.  The “Casting stat” is determined by the class of caster.  For wizards, the casting stat is Intelligence.  For sorcerers and bards, it’s charisma.  For clerics, druids, rangers and paladins, it’s wisdom.  Caster levels do NOT influence spell DCs.

The calculation for a spell’s DC is:  10 + Spell Level + Casting Stat modifier + Feat bonuses.  The feats that modifier DC’s are spell focus, greater spell focus, and epic spell focus.  These feats modifier spells from the selected school.

For spells cast off items, the calculation is slightly different, regardless of the item user’s classes.  For DC’s of spells cast from items, such as scrolls, wands, staves or such, the DC is 13 + spell level.  The character’s spell focus feats or ability modifier do not modify the DC’s from spells cast from items.

For making saves against spells, the target may apply a bonus from their modified spellcraft skill at the rate of +1 per 5 spellcraft..  For example, Agamemnon casts a spell against a target that calls for a reflex save.  The DC for his spell is 30 after all modifications.  The target has a reflex save of 5.  Even if the target rolled a 19, the target would not succeed on the saving throw (note, a roll of 20 is auto success).  However, if the target had a modified spellcraft score of 50, the target adds +10 to his saving throw vs Agamemnon’s spell, for a roll of 15+1d20 on it’s saving throw.  Still decent chance it will fail the save, but the target is not counting on rolling a 20 anymore to make the save.

A negative spellcraft score can impose a penalty to your saves as well.  However, this is *only* if you have invested at least 1 point into the spellcraft skill.  If you have invested no points into the skill, you do not impose a penalty should your spellcraft score be negative.

DC’s for spell-like abilities.  Some classes offer abilities which mimic spells.  An example are blackguards and their inflict spells.  These abilities are granted as feats, but act as just as spells with the exception of the DC.  The DC for spell-like abilities is 10 + class level + ability modifier.  The class level is the class that grants the spell-like ability, and the modifier is determined by the spell-like ability itself.  Example, for blackguards, their inflict spell uses constitution for the ability modifier, while Shadowdancers use dexterity for their shadowdaze ability.

Monster Abilities.  For monster abilities, such as auras, that force a character to make a saving throw, the DC is 10 + innate level + charisma modifier.  The innate level is determined by the ability in question.


Spell Resistance.

Spell resistance in Aenea can range from 1 to as much as 70. This number represents the target’s ability to “ignore” spells subject to spell resistance checks.

The check to beat spell resistance is 20 + caster level + feats.  The feats that modifier this check are the spell penetration feats, adding up to +6 to the check with epic spell penetration.  If the caster does not beat the spell resistance check, their spell is expended without having any effect on the target.

The sources of spell penetration vary… they can come from items (in which case the spell resistances offered will be from 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, or 32), subrace or reincarnation/ascension bonuses (ranging from 1 to 47), from Monk Diamond Soul (which can range from a minimum of 12 to a maximum of 70) or from the bard song Mundane Melody, which can grant up to a maximum of 58 spell resistance.  Spell resistances do not stack.  Only the highest source of spell resistance is used.

Spell resistance is also used for resisting beholder eye rays, but the specific caster check of the eyebeams is not known, and the amount required to successfully resist eye rays is up to debate.


So, to run down what all this means… Let’s use Agamemnon as an example again.  Agamemnon is a 40th level bright gnome wizard/animator/rogue.  He has 29 wizard levels.  He also has the epic spell focus feats for illusion, evocation, and transmutation, as well as epic spell penetration.  His modified intelligence score is 46, granting him a +17 intelligence modifier.  He is battling an enemy spell caster who has spell resistance of 40, a modified spellcraft of 50, and all three saves listed as 20.

Agamemnon casts the spell Weird.  It’s a 9th level spell.  The target(s) of the spells must make first a will save to disbelieve the illusion of the spell, and if they fail that save, they must then make a fortitude save or die.

First Agamemnon makes his check to penetrate the target’s spell resistance.  Aga’s spell penetration check is 1d20 + 35 (caster level + spell penetration feats).  Agamemnon rolls a 10, he can bypass spell resistance of 45, more than the required amount to bypass his target’s spell resistance.

The target then makes his save vs the spell.  Agamemnon’s Weird spell has a DC 44 (10 + spell level + int modifier + epic spell focus illusion).  His will save is 1d20 + 30 (20 will save + 10 from spellcraft bonus).  The target rolls a 2 on his will save for 32..  The target fails the will save and now must make a fortitude save.  The target rolls a 19 on this save, for a total of 49 (again, 1d20 + 20 fort save + 10 from spellcraft bonus).  He succeeds in the save vs death and survives.

Agamemnon then casts “Color Spray” to stun the target.  Again, Agamemnon must first bypass the target’s spell resistance.  Agamemnon rolls a 2 on his check, for a total of 37.  Agamemnon fails to bypass the target’s spell resistance, and the spell has no effect.

Agamemnon attempts the same spell again, this time rolling a 15 on his check to bypass spell resistance, for a total of 50.  Agamemnon bypasses the target’s spell resistance, and now the target must make a saving throw vs the spell.  Color spray is a 1st level spell.  Agamemnon’s DC for this spell is 34 (10 + spell level + int modifier + illusion spell focus).  The target rolls a 2 on his saving throw, for a final save of 32 (again, the 1d20 roll + 20 will save + 10 spellcraft bonus).  The target fails his save, and is stunned by the spell.


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The Mechanics of Casting Spells

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:17 pm



To cast a spell, a spell caster must have the spell memorized (or available spell slots for said level if they are a sorcerer or bard). After an appropriate target for the spell is picked, the caster will begin a two step process in casting the spell. In the combat log, you will see these two steps. For example, Agamemnon casts the spell Teleport. In the combat log, I, and others around me, would see “Agamemnon is casting Teleport.”, and then a moment later, “Agamemnon casts Teleport”. After the second line, the “casts X” part, Agamemnon would whisk away in a flash of green light as per the teleport spell effect.

Now, why two steps? Well, spells take a moment to cast, a moment for the caster to waggle their fingers and chant their mumbo jumbo. This step is also precarious for an unprepared spell caster. First, casting spells can invoke an “Attack of Opportunity”, the caster is distracted enough for anyone within range to take a free shot at them. Besides the joy of being poked by sharp objects, the caster also risks their spell being interrupted. Spell interruption can also occurred from ANY damage the caster takes while in the process of casting the spell, not just from (if any) attacks of opportunity from enemies within poking distance.

Spell interruption is dictated by a concentration check. The DC for this check is 10 + level of the spell being attempted + damage received. If you fail this check, your spell is interrupted, and is wasted.

There are ways to reduce the chance you will have your spells interrupted.

First, there is Defensive Casting Mode. While this still entails a concentration check, casting while in defensive casting mode does not incur any attacks of opportunity. However, you STILL have to make a concentration check for any damage you take while in the process of casting the spell. The DC for casting in defensive casting mode is 15+ level of the spell being cast. There is also a -4 penalty to the caster if there are enemies within 4 meters of the caster. The concentration check for taking damage is the same as that for not being in defensive casting mode. Defensive casting mode simply negates the chance that you will suffer attacks of opportunity.

This is a trade off of course. In defensive casting mode you *always* make a check, but it’s a fixed check (16 to 24). Without defensive casting mode, you might not have to make a DC check at all if the attacker misses on their AoO… or you could take a hit, and the DC could be as low as 12… or, the DC could be as high as… well… however hard that bad guy is hitting you! Either way though, if you get hit, you make a concentration check.

There are also two feats to help a caster with this process as well. Combat casting, and Improved Combat casting. Combat casting removes the -4 penalty for defensive casting if there are enemies within 4 meters of the caster. Improved Combat Casting, an epic feat, removes the attack of opportunities for casting spells entirely, without the need to go into defensive casting mode. Neither feat will remove the concentration check required when you take damage while casting however.

The quicken meta-magic feat can also avoid attacks of opportunities, however, quickened spells can still be interrupted by taking damage. Quicken meta-magic will be covered later on.

For the Arcane casters, there is one more consideration. Armor and Shields.

Armor and shields will incur a spell failure percentage on the caster wearing them. This will be as little as 5% for an arcane caster with a small shield or padded armor, to as much as 95% for an arcane caster wearing full plate and holding a tower shield. The spell failures from armor and shields are cumulative. This spell failure affects ONLY spells that have a somatic component, as per the spell’s description. Also, spells cast off items do not take armor into consideration…. Spell failure is only in regards to spell cast by the character him or herself, while wearing armor.

How does this work? It’s a percentage of course. Every time you cast a spell and you are wearing an item that incurs an arcane spell failure penalty, you roll a 1d100 vs the DC, which is the spell failure percentage. Beat the percentage, your spell fires off normally. Don’t beat it, and your spell is wasted. Bummer.

However, all is not hopeless for an arcane caster who desires a tin-tuxedo!

There are two options available for such a wizard, sorcerer, or bard. First, there is the “still spell” meta magic. This will be covered in the meta-magic section. There is also armor with reduced spell failure properties. Let’s take a look at an example of such a piece of armor:



This is Aurora’s armor. Aurora is a Drow sorceress/blackguard, able to cast spells and wear heavy armor. Wearing heavy armor doesn’t go too well with spell casting for arcane casters though. The base item of Aurora’s armor is heavy plate (AC8 armor, with 45% spell failure). However, under special properties, we see the property “Arcane spell failure -45%”. The spell failure for wearing that full plate armor is completely negated. Aurora can cast somatic spells just like she was wearing a plain old black witch’s robe!

Other such armors are the Dinosaur armor, the Mithril shirt, and chitin armor, as well as some magical force shields which have no spell failure penalties. And, just as penalties are cumulative, bonuses are as well. For example, there is a magic staff in Aenea which grants -20% spell failure bonus. This bonus will negate the arcane spell failure from one’s armor, even if the armor itself does not have any reduced spell failure bonuses. Reduced spell failure bonuses can be applied to other items as well, such as helmets.

However, just as there are reduced spell failure bonuses, there are increased spell failure penalties. There are a select number of items in Aenea that increase the arcane spell failure penalty a character must contend with.

Now, this is not the end of the spell failure woes.

Even divine casters must contend with spell failure. However, when they do, it’s not failure incurred from wearing armor, as divine casters do not suffer that particular penalty. There are sources of spell failure that will prevent any and all spell casting. Beholders and their antimagic (AM) eye, the spell failure incurred by drinking an elixir of power. These sources of spell failure however are 100% failure states, no chance to beat the DC to get your spells off. The status icon for this effect is a red and black diamond. Just wait until the status effect goes away, and you will be able to cast your spells again.


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Meta-Magic Madness

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:17 pm


What is Meta-Magic? Meta-magic are feats that can be used to modify spells, either their effects or how they are cast. The meta magic feats are Still Spell, Silent Spell, Extend Spell, Empower Spell, Maximize Spell, and Quicken Spell. The modifications are not free however, besides the cost of taking the feat itself. Spells modified by the meta magic feats require higher level slots. For example, spells affected by the still spell meta magic feat must be cast as a spell one level higher than the regular unmodified spell. This modification does not affect the DC for those spells. While that empowered fireball must be cast from a 5th level spell slot, it’s save DC is still 10 +3 + ability modifier + feat modifiers.

Another limitation, only one meta-magic may be applied to a given spell at a time. The exception to this is the automatic-meta-magic feats discussed later on.

So what are the advantages? That depends on the meta-magic feat applied.

Still Spell: This feat will remove the spell failure incurred by wearing armor and shields. This feat is available for divine casters, but is not useful to them beyond gaining more casts of a particular spell. Spells applied with this meta-magic are prepared/cast as spells 1 spell level higher than normal.

Silent spell: This feat allows spells with a verbal component to be cast even while silenced. Spells applied with this meta-magic are prepared/cast as spells 1 spell level higher than normal.

Extend Spell: This feat will double the duration of affected spells. Spells with a duration of “instantaneous” cannot be extended, and there are a few exceptions of duration based spells which also cannot be extended. Spells applied with this meta-magic are prepared/cast as spells 1 spell level higher than normal.

Empower Spell: This feat will increase the dice variable of spells by 50%. For example, a spell that normally does 10d6 damage for a caster will do (10d6)*1.5 more damage, and a spell such as Bulls Strength will grant (1d4+1)*1.5 strength bonus. Spells applied with this meta-magic are prepared/cast as spells 2 spell levels higher than normal.

Maximize Spell: This feat will cause all dice rolls for the affected spells to be maximized. For example, a caster who’s fireball spell does 10d6 fire damage will do a guaranteed 60 fire damage with the spell (before considerations such as saving throws, damage resistance/immunities). Also, if number of targets for a given spell is a variable dice roll, this number will also be maximized. A spell applied with this meta-magic is prepared/cast as a spell 3 spell levels higher than normal.

Quicken Spell: This feat causes the affected spell to be cast instantaneously, allowing two spells to be cast within the same round. What this actually means is different from the feat’s description, which can be somewhat misleading. Quickened spells can still fail due to a failed concentration check; however, quickened spells do not suffer attacks of opportunity, so the chance of taking damage the instant you are casting the spell is extremely slim. Quickened spells can indeed be countered spelled normally, and in fact, the caster can have both casts countered by a non-hasted/non-quicken caster. However, if the caster with quicken is also hasted, the counter-spelling caster must also be hastened to counter the quicken caster. Spells applied with this meta-magic are prepared/cast as spells 4 spell levels higher than normal.

The Auto-meta-magic feats. There are three sets of “Automatic” meta magic feats. Automatic Silent Spell, Automatic Quicken Spell, and Automatic Still Spell. Each automatic set is divided into 3 feats (Auto-still 1, auto-still 2 and auto-still 3 for example). To qualify for these feats, the caster must have the base meta-magic feat, be able to cast 9th level spells, and meet a certain spell craft requirement specific to each set. The three feats cover different levels of spells. The first of the automatic feats covers spell levels 0 to 3. The second automatic feat covers spell levels 4 to 6. The third and final automatic feat covers spell levels 7 to 9. The benefit of these feats is one does not need to prepare spells at a higher spell level to benefit from the meta-magic (as long as they have the appropriate level of the automatic feat to cover the spell level of a given spell). This allows for “combined” meta-magic applications. A caster with automatic Silent spell II for example could empower a fireball spell, and have it cast as both empowered and silenced. That same caster however could not empower a 7th level and have it also cast as a silenced spell until he or she also acquired the Automatic Silent Spell III feat. Without that final feat, 7th and 8th level spells would still have to be prepared as silenced spells before hand, and the 7th level spells could only be silenced or empowered, not both at once.


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The Player Item Enchantment System (PIES)

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:18 pm

PIES: This section will cover the Player Item Enchantment System once I get around to writing it.


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The Aenean Epic Magic System (AEMS)

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:18 pm

AEMS: This section will cover the Aenean Epic Magic System once I get around to writing it.


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Counter Spelling And Spontaneous Casting

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:19 pm

This section will cover counter spelling and spontaneous casting once I get around to writing it.


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The Spell Casting Classes

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:39 pm

This section will cover spell casting class information not appropriate for other sections


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Immunties, Resistances, ect., the stuff that makes your spells 'not werk so gud".

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:39 pm

The Spell Mechanics section covered two major hurdles for a spell caster to overcome, DC's and spell resistance. There's more however that can make your spells less than effective, or even nullify them. Resistances, Immunities, damage reductions, and evasion.

Damage Resistance
Damage resistance is a property that will reduce the damage your targets take. Each resistance is specific to a damage type. This property will appear on your items as "Damage Resistance: Acid 10 / -" for example. This means that the target will ignore up to 10 points of acid damage. If your spell does less than 10 acid damage, the target will not be hurt at all. If you spell does 14 acid damage, the target will only take 4 damage.

The types of resistances that can be encountered are acid, fire, cold, electrical, sonic, slashing, bludgeoning, piercing, divine, positive, negative, and magical. In Aenea, magical damage is used for many 'behind the scenes' mechanics, such as 'damage' from sleeping in armor, sunlight damage for drow, shadowchildren, and vampires. Players are not allowed to have damage resistance to magical type damage for this reason.

Damage Reduction
Damage reduction works much like damage resistance, but with some important differences. Damage reduction can by bypassed, for one. For another, it applies only to physical damage. Damage reduction reads on items as "Damage Reduction: +1 soak 10 damage", as an example. This property has two elements. The enhancement bonus required to bypass the damage reduction, and the damage reduced should the attack not have enough enhancement to bypass the reduction.

For the "+1/soak 10" damage example, the damage to the target will be reduced by 10 points, unless the damage is dealt by a weapon or other attack that has a +1 enhancement bonus or +1 attack bonus. The values can come in many combinations; +5 soak 5 damage, +5 soak 50 damage, ect.

Some spells will have an "enhancement" value to them for the purpose of bypassing damage reduction. If the spell has such, it will be noted within the spell's description.

Damage reduction can be granted by an item, or even a spell. Several spells that grant damage reduction can only absorp so much damage before becoming inactive. For these spells, they "reduce" a given amount of damage specified by the spell description. After that damage total is met or exceeded, the spell becomes inactive.

Damage Immunity
Damage immunity does the same basic thing as reductions and resistances. However, how it does it is different from either resistance or reduction. Damage immunity applies to a specific type of damage, like resistances. On items, this property can be seen as reading "Damage immunity: Slashing 50%" for example. What damage immunity does is reduced the damage received by the percentage listed on the property. If a target has 50% slashing immunity, and takes a hit from a weapon or spell that deals 10 points of slashing damage, the target would instead take 50% of that, or 5 points of slashing damage.

Like resistances, each immunity property applies only to the specified damage type, be it the elementals (fire, acid, cold, electrical, sonic), or energy (divine, positive, negative, magical), or physical (bludgeoning, piercing, slashing). As with resistances, for players in Aenea, magical immunity is not an available property as magical damage is used for several behind the scenes mechanics.

There is also the opposite of damage immunity increases; the damage immunity decreases. These work as immunity increases do, but obviously in the opposite direction of immunity increases. For example, if you deal 10 points of sonic damage against a target with 50% sonic damage immunity decrease, the end result will be the target taking 15 points of sonic damage.

Spell Immunities
While damage resistances, reductions, and immunities can defend a target against all forms of attack, not just a caster's spells, there are defenses which will protect specifically against a caster. Spell school immunities, and specific spell immunities.

The two are slightly different, but accomplish the same thing. They stop your spells from affecting a target outright. No saves to beat, no spell resistances to overcome, the spells will simply not work.

School immunities are very powerful, broad immunities. "Spell School Immunity: Illusion" will block any spell that belongs to the illusion school of spells. Each school will have it's own school immunity, which apply only to spells from that specified school.

It would be worth noting that this type of immunity *only* blocks spells. It will not block a spell like ability that has a similar effect as a spell from the school in question. For example, a gorgan's breath will petrify a target on a failed save, much like the spell Flesh to Stone will petrify a target on a failed save. Immunity to Transmutation (the school Flesh to Stone belongs to) will not prevent a gorgon from making you into a statue though.

A lesser form of school immunity is "specific spell" immunity. This property will block the specified spell from affecting the target. Each instance of this property handles a single spell only. If the spell happens to be from a "line of spells", such as the Bigby's line of spells, this property will not block ALL bigby's hands spells, only the spell listed in the immunity. IE, immunity to "Bigby's grasping Hand" will not grant immunity to "Bigby's Interposing hand" as well.

Typically, when you cast a spell on a target that is immune to your spell, be it from a specific spell immunity or from a school immunity, you will notice a brief flash of a white-globe around the target.

There is "spell immunity by level" as well. This is much like school and specific spell immunity, but rather it blocks spells by level, rather than specific spell or spell school. An immunity to 3rd level or lower spells will block any magic spell of level 3 or lower. This immunity can range from immunity to level 1 spells and lower (level 1 and level 0(cantrip) spells), to level 8 and lower spells.

And the final spell blocker.... spell mantles.

Spell mantles will block ALL harmful magic and spell like abilities. However, this is a temporary effect that can be eroded by absorbing spells, or dispelled/stripped. A mantle will absorb a given number of "spell levels" before collapsing. For example, the spell "Lesser Spell Mantle" will absorb 1d4+6 spell levels before collapsing. "Spell Level" is the number level of the spell. Higher level spells will erode more spell levels than lower ones, naturally. When the mantle is collapsed, there mantle will disappear, and the target will become vulnerable to magic again.

It should be noted that as long as the mantle has 1 spell level worth of absorption left, it will block any single spell cast at it, even if the level of the spell exceeds the spell level absorption left on the mantle.

Let's assume Agamemnon casts this spell, and rolls a 4 on the 1d4. His mantle can absorb 10 spell levels before collapsing. An enemy mage casts "fireball" on Agamemnon. Fireball is a 3rd level spell. It will erode 3 spell levels, leaving Agamemnon's mantle with the ability to absorb 7 more spell levels before collapsing. If the enemy mage then casts Wail of the Banshee, a 9th level spell, the spell is still blocked, even though there are only 7 levels worth of absorption left on the mantle; the mantle will collapse after that spell however, leaving Agamemnon vulnerable again.

In Aenea, there are two iouns which grant a hybrid effect of "spell immunity by level" and "spell mantle effects". These iouns will grant a virutal spell mantle, but they will only block spells up to a given level. The lesser ioun will only block up to level 4 spells, while the great ioun will grant immunity to level 8 and lower spells. After the ioun has absorbed a given number of "spell levels", it will collapse just like a standard spell mantle.

And then, there's one more obstacle keeping you from killing your targets with all your flashy kaboomy spells....

Evasion and Improved Evasion
These two feats are a bane to casters. These feats reduce, or flat out negate, damage from your spells that have a reflex save component to them.

With "Evasion", a target that succeeds in it's reflex save will take no damage, rather than half damage (which is typical for reflex save spells). If the target fails the save, they still take full damage however. Improved Evasion works just as evasion, however, even if the target fails their saving throw, they only take half damage. This of course makes blowing up that pesky rogue with fireballs very difficult.

Stacking
Now that we know the several elements to reduce your spell's kaboom power, it helps to know how they all work together to make your spells less than spectacular.... stacking.

With only a few exceptions, properties in NWN do not stack with themselves. Only the "Highest" value of each is used in any instance. A target with one item that grants "damage resistance: fire 10 / -" and a second item that grants "damage resistance: fire 20 / -" will only have 20 fire resistance, not 30.

Damage reduction doesn't stack with itself. However, in cases where a target has multiple damage reduction sources, the one that absorbs the most damage will be used. For example, a target has two sources of DR, one that grants +2 soak 20 damage, and one that absorbs +3 soak 10 damage. Should the target take damage from a +1 weapon, 20 points of that damage would be ignored. If the target should take damage from a +2 weapon, it will bypass the +2/20 DR, but still be reduced by the +3/10 DR. Now, if a target had +5 soak 10 damage reduction and +5 soak 50 damage reduction, the +5/50 would be used.

Damage Immunity will stack with itself, and is one of the exceptions. If you have an item that grants 50% slashing immunity, and a second that grants 10% slashing immunity, you would have a total of 60% slashing immunity.

Damage immunity decreases also "stacks" with immunity increases. If you have an item granting 15% damage immunity decease, and cast the spell Fire Shield (which grants 50% immunity increase vs fire and cold), you will have a net total of 35% fire immunity increase (50 minus 15 = 35).

Now...

Since all three properties are "separate" as far as the game engine is concerned, they will "stack" with eachother, or more accurately, work together. They are applied in a specific order however. Immunities and evasion also are factored into this in a specific order.

The order is 1) Spell/school immunity, 2) Damage immunity increases/decreases, 3) damage resistances, 4) damage reduction, and finally 5) evasion/improved evasion.

Let's look at an example. A 15th level Druid casts the spell "Grim Harvest" on three targets. Grim harvest is a 4th level evocation spell that does 1d4 slashing damage per caster level (to a max of 15d4), with half damage on a successful save. The spell can deal damage as if it were a +4 weapon for the purpose of bypassing damage reduction.

Target 1 is a rogue with improved evasion, 10/- slashing resistance, 10% slashing immunity decrease, no damage reduction, and no spell or school immunities.

Target 2 is a mage with Greater spell mantle, no damage resistance or immunity, and +5/15 damage reduction.

Target 3 is a fighter with a magic amulet that grants evocation school immunity, but no other resistances, immunities, reductions, or evasion/imp. evasion.

The druid casts his spell, and it hits all three targets at once, doing 20 points of slashing damage.

Target 1 has no spell immunity, so the spell hits him. He has a 10% slashing immunity decrease, so that 20 slashing damage becomes 22 damage. Target 1 has 10 slashing resistance, so that 22 now becomes 12. As the target has no damage reduction, no change is made. Target 1 has improved evasion however, and even though he fails his save, he only takes half damage... Target 1 takes 6 damage in total.

Target 2 has a spell mantle going, but it only has 1 spell level left. 1 spell level is all it takes. The spell is blocked by the mantle. No further considerations need to be made.

Target 3 has a magic amulet with evocation school immunity. Grim Harvest is an evocation spell. The spell has no effect, no further considerations need to be made.

So far, our druid is not having a good day!

Now the druid casts Grim Harvest again. This time he deals 30 points of damage.

Target 1: again... no spell immunities. The damage increases by 10% from the damage immunity decease for 33 damage total. Resistance reduces that to 23. No damage reduction... still 23 damage. This time the rogue makes his reflex save... no damage.

Target 2: The spell mantle is gone, so there are no spell immunities in place protecting the mage. The mage has no immunity or resistances to consider, so the damage to consider is still 30 damage. The mage however has +5 soak 15 damage reduction. Grim harvest counts as a+4 weapon, which is not enough to penetrate +5 DR... so the mage only takes 15 damage, or if he makes his save, 7 (half) damage.

Target 3: Still has his immunity amulet... so he's still unaffected.

As we can see, a rather nice spell can be negated down to near nothing by a host of immunities.


Last edited by MannyJabrielle on Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:03 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Added the info)
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Conclusion, and Other Miscellaneous Errata

Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:49 pm

Conclusion, and Other Miscellaneous Errata
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Re: Magic Theory 101: The Novice's Guide to How Magic in NWN (Aenea) Works!

Post by The Amethyst Dragon on Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:56 pm

Splat! Stickified!

Very, very nice work here, MannyJabrielle.

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Re: Magic Theory 101: The Novice's Guide to How Magic in NWN (Aenea) Works!

Post by MannyJabrielle on Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:11 pm

Thankya Smile
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Re: Magic Theory 101: The Novice's Guide to How Magic in NWN (Aenea) Works!

Post by Eric of Atrophy on Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:46 pm

MannyJabrielle wrote:AEMS: This section will cover the Aenean Epic Magic System once I get around to writing it.
That's what I wanted to know about ... any plans on it yet? I have an epic spellcaster, but don't know for the life of me how to start getting epic spells ... and no one has yet to reply to my in-game pms (I know, y'all are busy, and I don't blame ya ...) ...
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Re: Magic Theory 101: The Novice's Guide to How Magic in NWN (Aenea) Works!

Post by MannyJabrielle on Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:27 pm

I'll try to update that section sometime this week if I have enough spare time
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Re: Magic Theory 101: The Novice's Guide to How Magic in NWN (Aenea) Works!

Post by ColdWind on Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:11 pm

MannyJabrielle wrote:
Spell resistance is also used for resisting beholder eye rays, but the specific caster check of the eyebeams is not known, and the amount required to successfully resist eye rays is up to debate.
sr 18 for avoiding beholders and most of beholder mages' spells (there is a cloak with sr20, not that hard to find, but only for sor/wiz classes or sufficient umd). But beholder elders would still be able to desintegrate or petrify you. sr24+ needed against all elders' rays.
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Re: Magic Theory 101: The Novice's Guide to How Magic in NWN (Aenea) Works!

Post by MannyJabrielle on Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:02 pm

Yes, that's around right.  I found my PC's were pretty much immune to beholder elders with 28+ SR.  My mouseblood's currently at level 22 with ascended SR (SR=character level), and the elders can still zap her now and then, but the mages and regular beholders she's immune to.
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Re: Magic Theory 101: The Novice's Guide to How Magic in NWN (Aenea) Works!

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