View Full Version : Empowering a spell question (3.5/PF)

2010-06-13, 11:03 PM
Basically a repeat of this question, as I still can't find an answer. I always thought it was "no, only the dice." Is this in a FAQ anywhere, or anything else?

Bonus points if you can find a reference in PF.

I asked this one in the Simple Q&A thread, but had slightly differing opinions on the answer (not surprising, as it's quite confusing).

When using the Empower Spell metamagic feat on a spell, which bits get multiplied by 1.5?

Empower Spell's text reads:

Quote:All variable, numeric effects of an empowered spell are increased by one-half. Saving throws and opposed rolls are not affected, nor are spells without random variables. An empowered spell uses up a spell slot two levels higher than the spellís actual level.

So how does this apply to a spell like, say, Ray of Enfeeblement cast at CL 10? Does the +5 from caster level get multiplied by 1.5 as well, or not?

If yes, the result is (1d6+5) * 1.5 = an average of ~13 or so.
If no, the result is (1d6*1.5) + 5 = an average of ~11 or so.

Argument in favour of yes: The PHB 3.5 entry for Empower Spell gives Magic Missile as an example, and says that you multiply each missile, 1d4+1, by 1.5. This includes the +1.

Argument in favour of no: Any +x value isn't variable, since you're not rolling a dice (though it is numeric).

If you rule yes, Empower Spell becomes more powerful than Maximise Spell for a lot of effects. For Ray of Enfeeblement, under the first interpretation, an empowered version is significantly more powerful on average than a maximised version. Ditto for False Life: maximised at CL 10, it gives 20 HP; empowered, an average of 23. The same applies for all the Cure spells, assuming you're casting them at maximum caster level. This leads to particularly weird effects with prestige classes like Radiant Servant of Pelor, which has the ability to automatically empower and later maximise healing spells - they actually get worse at healing as their class features upgrade!

The Magic Missile example makes me think the rules support the 'yes' answer, but this seems to make Maximise Spell significantly worse than Empower, which is a bit odd. I'm wondering if there's an official ruling on this anywhere in the FAQ or Sage Advice columns. Since it's a core-only issue, it must come up quite a bit.

What does everyone think?

- Saph

2010-06-13, 11:07 PM
At the time of casting, your caster level is not a variable. Therefore, you cannot apply Empower to caster-level-dependent numbers. In my understanding of the Empower and Maximize feats, I simply look for the 'd' letter indicating dice and apply the feat to that.

Other DMs may think different, which leads to massively overpowered magicians. Imagine what would happen if your Empower affected Holy Word.

2010-06-13, 11:13 PM
As the example in the book clearly indicates, you take the variable numeric value (i.e. 1d4+1, 1d6+5, 10d6, or whatever) and multiply it by 1.5.

The key is to understand that we're talking about the entire value. The entire value is a random number. You don't just multiply the random part of the number. You multiply the random number.

1d6+5 isn't a random number from 1 to 6 plus a constant value of 5, it's a random number from 6 to 11. The empowered version is a random number from 9 to 16.

I don't get why this is even a question. :smallconfused::smallsigh:

EDIT: An Empowered holy word would deafen, blind, and/or paralyze the creature for 1.5 times as long. Why shouldn't it? It's effectively a 9th level spell at that point.

2010-06-13, 11:16 PM
Caster level itself isn't a variable, but it can contribute to a variable number, which I think is the point of the original question. Is the constant component included in the variable for the purpose of empowering, or isn't it?

Every example of Empower Spell I've ever seen calculates the total damage/effect, then multiplies it by 50%, so I'm leaning to that interpretation.

2010-06-13, 11:19 PM
I was always under the impression that the entire result gets multiplied by 1.5, for the reasons Saph mentioned about the example including the +1.

When it mentions "variable, numberic effects," it (imo clearly) means you take the result (the variable) and multiply by 1.5.

2010-06-13, 11:47 PM
The empower spell feat entry in the PHB already gives a fairly good example (it states that for empowered magic missile, you first roll 1d4+1, then multiply the final result by 1.5). I don't see how this can be subject to any other interpretation.

What you are asking is not so if it really is the case, but whether it ought to be the case, as it appears that empower is situationally superior to maximize for certain spells.

For that, you will find opinions to be quite evenly divided. :smallamused: