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View Full Version : A Hidden Stairway of Light (3.5 shadow spell, PEACH)



TuggyNE
2012-06-16, 04:40 AM
This was inspired by an example from RACSD, oddly enough, but also by various stories I've read.


Faithstep
Illusion (shadow)
Level: Clr/FvS 3, Sor/Wiz 4, Drd 4
Components: V, S, SF/DF
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./levels)
Effect: Invisible walkway, bridge, stair, or ladder, up to 4 5 ft. sq./level (S)
Duration: Permanent
Saving Throw: Will belief (if interacted with)
Spell Resistance: No

You call into being an intangible stairway or other surface to walk on, formed of shadow-stuff; you can shape it into up to four 5 ft squares per level. It is invisible and unable to support weight until a character succeeds on a Will save to accept its presence. There is no specific weight limit for such a believing character, or for any attended objects they carry or drag.

If a character has previously succeeded on their save, they receive a +4 bonus on their new saves, as though communicating proof of the spell's nature. Additional saves are not required while remaining in contact with the surface, or while the character is able to see the invisible, glimmering stairs. However, leaving the general area of the spell for any substantial length of time requires saving for it again.

This spell can be made more resilient with permanency, at the cost of 1000 xp and a minimum caster level of 10. This option causes the shaped staircase to reform after 10 minutes if dispelled; only disjunction or a similarly powerful effect can destroy the staircase.

This spell reverses the usual mechanism of Will saves, in order to better suit the idea of only unusually wise, inspired, lucky, or stubborn characters being able to walk on what is normally invisible. Suggestions on a better mechanism would be appreciated, as well as other critiques, as usual.

Also, I added another weird mechanic: upgrading a permanent spell to let it reform after dispelling. Not sure the XP cost is reasonable, though.

madock345
2012-06-17, 03:14 AM
I like the Idea alot, but it needs more detail.
for instance:
How long can it be?

if you belive it exists, how much weight can it hold?

how do you know it's there?

Do you have to make a save everytime you use it? or only the first?

Could someone else make a check to convince you that it's there if you fail yours?

does it reform if it's dispelled?

Do you have to make a will save if you are the one who created it?

why does it take an hour to cast?

I like the Idea of reverse will saves though, you could use those for alot of things. (Does this have anything to do with the Keys to the Kingdom?)

TuggyNE
2012-06-17, 06:41 PM
I like the Idea alot, but it needs more detail.
for instance:
How long can it be?

if you belive it exists, how much weight can it hold?

Do you have to make a save everytime you use it? or only the first?

does it reform if it's dispelled?

Good questions. I'll edit in some clarifications.


how do you know it's there?

See invisible, guessing, being told of its location, etc; even a very high spot check would do it (using standard +40 mod for immobile invisibility).


Could someone else make a check to convince you that it's there if you fail yours?

Do you have to make a will save if you are the one who created it?

These both fall under standard illusion rules; yes, and no, respectively.


why does it take an hour to cast?

It's intended to be a strictly non-combat, preparation spell — the sort of thing only used for significant plans.


I like the Idea of reverse will saves though, you could use those for alot of things. (Does this have anything to do with the Keys to the Kingdom?)

Heh, not sure exactly what that is, so not really.

Gamer Girl
2012-06-18, 03:18 PM
It's generally a bad idea to mess around with spell effect and saves this way. You need to make a will save to believe the effect? And no matter what you believe is the shadow stairway solid or not?

You just open a huge can of worms, such as object will always ignore the shadow stairway as they can't make the save. So if you threw an object at the stairway it would fall right through it. Right? So if you threw a flask of acid at someone standing on the stairway it would just fall away. Or does the fact that you personally think the stairs are real alter time and space and surround the flask with a special energy field that allows it to break on the shadow stairs?

And you could go on for ever with stuff.....say you make your shadow stairway over a massive never-ending pillar of flame. So if you believe the staircase is real you can walk over it and the flames won't burn you as they will be blocked by the shadow stairs..that you think are real and then you tell the fire that they are real and the fire then acts like they are real. Or does something like fire ignore the illusion and just 'burn right through it?'


And 'Faith step' should be a cleric spell.....oh, spell idea.

TuggyNE
2012-06-18, 10:27 PM
It's generally a bad idea to mess around with spell effect and saves this way. You need to make a will save to believe the effect? And no matter what you believe is the shadow stairway solid or not?

I thought it was, at least, fairly clear that the shadows are only able to support any weight at all on a successful save.


You just open a huge can of worms, such as object will always ignore the shadow stairway as they can't make the save. So if you threw an object at the stairway it would fall right through it. Right? So if you threw a flask of acid at someone standing on the stairway it would just fall away. Or does the fact that you personally think the stairs are real alter time and space and surround the flask with a special energy field that allows it to break on the shadow stairs?

Unattended, non-magical objects are unable to make their saves, yes, so indeed an acid flask would just pop right on through.

Note that this aspect is not a new mechanic; illusion (shadow) spells already work this way (modulo the details of the save mechanic). In fact, shadow conjuration specifically mentions that objects always succeed on their Will saves, meaning that they always consider shadow walls of stone only 20% real. Shadow evocation goes a bit further, to state that non-damaging spells have no effect on disbelieving subjects at all; a shadow evoked wall of force, therefore, could not affect an object in the slightest.

Note, though, that attended objects use your own save, so you can drag something up a faithstep ramp, walk without your boots falling through, and so forth.


And you could go on for ever with stuff.....say you make your shadow stairway over a massive never-ending pillar of flame. So if you believe the staircase is real you can walk over it and the flames won't burn you as they will be blocked by the shadow stairs..that you think are real and then you tell the fire that they are real and the fire then acts like they are real. Or does something like fire ignore the illusion and just 'burn right through it?'

An interesting question. I suspect the source of the fire (non-magical objects — namely branches or oil — for ordinary fire, or a magical trap for magical fire) would have to fail its save in order to ignore the presence of the shadowstuff. Mundane objects would always fail their saves, but the trap might not. Naturally, an enemy caster would be able to willingly fail their save in order to affect you better through it.

In short: illusions are weird and somewhat unintuitive, and the shadow subschool is even more so. However, I think there's enough existing rule support that it shouldn't be a major problem.

TheWombatOfDoom
2012-06-19, 08:55 AM
So once someone loses contact with an item, it falls through? Say I'm dragging a chest across, and I pause a moment to take a breather...would it fall through should I put my hands on my hips while I wheeze? (I apparently sacrificed STR for a different ability...)

This spell fits fairly well into a magic system I've developed for a novel I'm working on. It also reminds me very much of indiana jones, save that one cannot throw dirt on it to assure themselves it is real (which made me judge Indy, I must say).

Would I be able to spend permanents of this to build a stairwell or other structures? I know they couldn't hold any furniture, but it would be interesting for escaping someone.

Circumstance bonuses might want to be thought about, such as- I see someone standing on this, it should be easier to know it's there, and believe it is there (maybe treated as if had succeeded the save before and get a +4). Aditionally, detect magic might show a magic user where the thing was. Would it be an automatic save? High bonus to save?

If one automatically believes it's there with detect magic, an opposing caster could potentially use that to their advantage: Say a party is going through a passage in pursuit of this opposing spell caster through a prepared passage. If a caster in the party casts detect magic, they then are aware of the wall and can't pass, where as the rest of the party can. The converse of this of course is a cliff with a shadowbridge across, that only the caster can see. Fun for dividing the party!

What kind of friction does the shadow bridge have? When I drag it across, is it smooth like polished marble? Rough like hewn stone? Would it be slippery if I had cloth shoes on it? This is flavor, I know, but I'm curious of your thoughts.

Does it have to be a 10ft square? Can I stretch it to account for different areas of size, so elongate it for 20ft, or shrink it to account for a smaller area? I assume since objects pass through it, shrinking isn't needed, it just exists within that area despite, but the former question still stands.

TuggyNE
2012-06-19, 05:21 PM
So once someone loses contact with an item, it falls through? Say I'm dragging a chest across, and I pause a moment to take a breather...would it fall through should I put my hands on my hips while I wheeze? (I apparently sacrificed STR for a different ability...) Yes. (Insert moralistic admonishment to taste. :smalltongue:)


Would I be able to spend permanents of this to build a stairwell or other structures? I know they couldn't hold any furniture, but it would be interesting for escaping someone. Yes, this is one of the intended uses; in fact, a single casting should be fine.


Circumstance bonuses might want to be thought about, such as- I see someone standing on this, it should be easier to know it's there, and believe it is there (maybe treated as if had succeeded the save before and get a +4). Aditionally, detect magic might show a magic user where the thing was. Would it be an automatic save? High bonus to save? Both of these situations would use the standard rules for illusions; +4 in each case.


If one automatically believes it's there with detect magic, an opposing caster could potentially use that to their advantage: Say a party is going through a passage in pursuit of this opposing spell caster through a prepared passage. If a caster in the party casts detect magic, they then are aware of the wall and can't pass, where as the rest of the party can. The converse of this of course is a cliff with a shadowbridge across, that only the caster can see. Fun for dividing the party!Heh, yeah. A known trick with existing shadow spells is to make a shadow bridge that a caster is likely to disbelieve, conveniently ridding you of one of your more dangerous foes. Combining these in alternation would drop various party members in isolated spots... remarkably useful, and rather brutal.

Although note that this is intended to be only flat or sloping horizontal surfaces, not vertical planes. I may need to rephrase a bit to clarify.


What kind of friction does the shadow bridge have? When I drag it across, is it smooth like polished marble? Rough like hewn stone? Would it be slippery if I had cloth shoes on it? This is flavor, I know, but I'm curious of your thoughts. You know, I'm not sure; I suspect the shadowstuff is flexible enough to allow for variation. I'll probably include a note to that effect.


Does it have to be a 10ft square? Can I stretch it to account for different areas of size, so elongate it for 20ft, or shrink it to account for a smaller area? I assume since objects pass through it, shrinking isn't needed, it just exists within that area despite, but the former question still stands. Well, keep in mind that it's a square per level, so you'd stick squares adjacent to each other in order to construct the desired shape. Also, there are various ways of reducing minimum shapable dimensions, e.g. Archmage's Mastery of Shaping, which effectively gives you four 5' squares per level.

For example:

__
__
____
____
__
__
______
______
____
____

TheWombatOfDoom
2012-06-20, 09:49 AM
Not sure about the Xp cost either, but otherwise I'm a fan of this spell. :smallsmile: You've got the Doom-proval!

TuggyNE
2012-06-20, 07:35 PM
Another small tweak to the permanency option.


Not sure about the Xp cost either, but otherwise I'm a fan of this spell. :smallsmile: You've got the Doom-proval!

Awesome! :smallsmile:

137ben
2012-06-21, 11:59 AM
One thing I really like about this is that it is a case in which it might be benificial to intentionally fail your saving throw, but that other times it might not be. This is in contrast to most other spells, against which you either always want to make your save (e.g. fireball) or always want to fail (e.g. cure _ wounds).

TheWombatOfDoom
2012-06-21, 12:10 PM
One thing I really like about this is that it is a case in which it might be benificial to intentionally fail your saving throw, but that other times it might not be. This is in contrast to most other spells, against which you either always want to make your save (e.g. fireball) or always want to fail (e.g. cure _ wounds).

Good thing you can't intentionally fail a save, otherwise there would be a gamebreaker parade. :smallbiggrin:

TuggyNE
2012-06-21, 07:03 PM
So, I've been thinking a little more about the intended level range for this spell, and I think 4 is a little high; going to turn it down to 3.


One thing I really like about this is that it is a case in which it might be benificial to intentionally fail your saving throw, but that other times it might not be. This is in contrast to most other spells, against which you either always want to make your save (e.g. fireball) or always want to fail (e.g. cure _ wounds).

Heh, yeah. That was more or less the reason I changed the usual save mechanism for this; I wanted the flexibility of failing if desired, combined with the inability to automatically use it without a save.


Good thing you can't intentionally fail a save, otherwise there would be a gamebreaker parade. :smallbiggrin:

You can intentionally auto-fail a save, but not intentionally auto-pass one. Therefore, you can always ignore this spell's effects if you like, but you can't make use of it without passing your save.


Voluntarily Giving up a Saving Throw

A creature can voluntarily forego a saving throw and willingly accept a spell’s result.

TheWombatOfDoom
2012-06-21, 11:35 PM
You can intentionally auto-fail a save, but not intentionally auto-pass one. Therefore, you can always ignore this spell's effects if you like, but you can't make use of it without passing your save.

My bad. I must have been mistaken. Thanks for this.

137ben
2012-06-22, 11:18 AM
Yes, in some ways, this is a weakened Air Walk, so level 3 suits it better (as I already said on the other thread for the rip-off of your spell).

TuggyNE
2012-07-14, 11:53 PM
I happened to wonder today whether the spell's range was actually enough, at higher levels, to contain the full length. It wasn't. So I've updated the range, and also added a free Sculpt Spell effect, cutting the minimum dimension to 5' instead of 10'.

TheWombatOfDoom
2012-07-16, 07:12 AM
I happened to wonder today whether the spell's range was actually enough, at higher levels, to contain the full length. It wasn't. So I've updated the range, and also added a free Sculpt Spell effect, cutting the minimum dimension to 5' instead of 10'.

Good thinking!

TuggyNE
2012-08-01, 07:15 PM
I decided that, since I support removing all free material components as a houserule, I should probably remove them from my spells. (This one used to require an angel feather or fiend scale, in case you're curious.)

TuggyNE
2013-01-10, 10:27 PM
Small adjustment: added Divine Focus requirement for clerics etc.

bobthe6th
2013-01-10, 10:39 PM
no assassin? would make a nice spell to make an exit with... or with some planning a good ambush point.

TuggyNE
2013-01-11, 12:09 AM
no assassin? would make a nice spell to make an exit with... or with some planning a good ambush point.

The one-hour casting time does a number on that, not to mention the thematic weirdness of having a strongly belief-powered spell on the list of a prestige class that is generally cynical in the extreme. If they want it, they can UMD a scroll.

Eurus
2013-01-11, 12:11 AM
The only part I don't like is that a powerful spellcaster will generally have a higher DC for his spells than a weaker one, making it harder to use the bridge.

TuggyNE
2013-01-11, 01:03 AM
The only part I don't like is that a powerful spellcaster will generally have a higher DC for his spells than a weaker one, making it harder to use the bridge.

Harder for the spellcaster, or for others? I was actually just thinking about the special case of the caster using it for the Assassin suggestion; auto-success on spells you cast yourself, which normally messes up shadow spells, is here quite useful.

It's true, though, that others will have a harder time using it; that was partially intended (i.e., it's a test, not for the weak of spirit to use willy-nilly). Your party members will get a +4 on the save if you're there or if they've used it before, so that's something.

Eurus
2013-01-11, 03:46 AM
Hm, fair enough. It's good enough for what it is, but the casting time makes it *very* niche.

TuggyNE
2013-01-11, 04:15 AM
Unrelatedly, I was looking back through the discussion, and thought of an amusing possibility: towing magic items up and leaving them on the walkway unattended, retrying as needed until they make the save, and then just leaving them there indefinitely.



Hm, fair enough. It's good enough for what it is, but the casting time makes it *very* niche.

Yeah, it's basically designed to be very nearly a "plot"-level spell; it has some adventuring uses, but not many. As such, and in a bit of a reaction against 3.x's "oh sure you can reshape the world however in <<6s, have fun!" attitude, I gave it a nice long casting time.

C'nor
2013-05-30, 06:44 AM
Hm... What if the caster is guiding someone who can't see up the stairs/over the bridge/etc.? (For those who find that unlikely, this situation, albeit with mundane terrain, has actually come up in one of the games I'm in; one of the other characters ended up blind, so mine volunteered for the job of telling her where all the stairs, turns, and other potentially hazardous terrain features.)

It seems like the second character ought to get an automatic success, as the fact that they can't see the formation is nothing new, and it's entirely possible for them to never be told they're not... So why wouldn't they believe the stairs are there?


If a character has previously succeeded on their save, they receive a +4 bonus on their new saves, as though communicating proof of the spell's nature.

You're still not very clear on when those would come into play, though. Do you have to make one even if you only came out of contact for a moment, such as by, say, jumping - or even tripping, for that matter? New instances of the spell (which personally is how I'd run it, since you know you can walk on those stairs there, but these over here, not so much)? After you've left the immediate area - in that case, see above about jumping or tripping; what's the immediate area defined as? For that matter, as it's written, since it's 'when interacted with', you could have to make one at each step, or even every round you're in contact with it...

Also, assuming my interpretation above was correct, it's fairly pointless the second time if your party includes someone whose job it is to be the 'point-man'. After the first, he'll probably have some sort of vision items, and as soon as he sees somewhere crossed by an invisible bridge, he'll just go back and tell everyone to wear blindfolds, then get someone else to carry him, or make his check with the modifiers from three or four other people already being on it.

Speaking of which, I'm sort of confused about why the Will saves should be needed at all, as, seeing as these are most likely going to be found either by seeing others walking across it, or See Invisible, why on earth would people from a universe in which magic is common not just assume it was a normal bridge someone made invisible for some reason, thereby negating the need for a Will save as they'd never believe it wasn't really there in the first place?

mystic1110
2013-05-30, 08:24 AM
Is this inspired by the Keys to the Kingdom series?

C'nor
2013-05-30, 09:32 AM
Heh, not sure exactly what that is, so not really.

His previous answer. :smalltongue:

TuggyNE
2013-05-30, 06:23 PM
Hm... What if the caster is guiding someone who can't see up the stairs/over the bridge/etc.? (For those who find that unlikely, this situation, albeit with mundane terrain, has actually come up in one of the games I'm in; one of the other characters ended up blind, so mine volunteered for the job of telling her where all the stairs, turns, and other potentially hazardous terrain features.)

It seems like the second character ought to get an automatic success, as the fact that they can't see the formation is nothing new, and it's entirely possible for them to never be told they're not... So why wouldn't they believe the stairs are there?

Hmm. I think the key thing is that the stairs aren't completely there; it's possible to just walk right through if you fail your save. In other words, they're condensed into existence, or only available, or whatever, by force of will/active belief. A blind character would reasonably get a bonus to their save in such circumstances, but they wouldn't necessarily have sufficient confidence when attempting to put their foot on something that is not, in fact, all there.


You're still not very clear on when those would come into play, though. Do you have to make one even if you only came out of contact for a moment, such as by, say, jumping - or even tripping, for that matter? New instances of the spell (which personally is how I'd run it, since you know you can walk on those stairs there, but these over here, not so much)? After you've left the immediate area - in that case, see above about jumping or tripping; what's the immediate area defined as? For that matter, as it's written, since it's 'when interacted with', you could have to make one at each step, or even every round you're in contact with it...

It's intended to be mostly "after you leave the immediate area", so if you walk out of sight of the stairs, or teleport away and back again, or something, then you'll have to make the save again to be sure just where they are.

I'll see if I can't clarify that somewhat.


Speaking of which, I'm sort of confused about why the Will saves should be needed at all, as, seeing as these are most likely going to be found either by seeing others walking across it, or See Invisible, why on earth would people from a universe in which magic is common not just assume it was a normal bridge someone made invisible for some reason, thereby negating the need for a Will save as they'd never believe it wasn't really there in the first place?

See above; it's not only hidden in the sense of being invisible, it's hidden in the sense of being intangible and not entirely existing until pulled into service.

Or, put another way, it's an Illusion spell made specifically to make see invisible not an auto-win. (That's not necessarily why I wrote it, but it's a fair enough idea from an in-character standpoint.)

TuggyNE
2013-10-06, 07:35 PM
A few minor wording tweaks (in Effect and the first paragraph) and, of course, adding school focus.