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New Spell – Missile Attack Spell

28 September, 2009

I have a confession to make, I dislike the iconic D&D spell magic missile.  No, dislike is too mild, I hate that spell, the autohit, the ‘force damage ignores all defenses’, the fact that it is the default (and bland) choice for arcane casters.   For my campaign, I have gone so far as to ban it entirely.

But I do have a replacement:

Missile Attack Spells
School evocation [see below]; Level Sor/Wiz 1
Components V, S
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Target Up to five creatures, no two of which can be more than 15 ft. apart
Duration Instantaneous
Saving Throw None; Spell Resistance No

This spell is comprised of the minor elemental and magical attack spells that are the basic attack spells that almost all wizards learn and all sorcerers manifest.

When this spell is first learned, the character may choose a number of  forms that the spell may be cast in equal to their bonus in the statistic that determines their spellcasting (minimum 2).  A spontaneous caster gains an additional form for each 3 ranks of Spellcraft she attains.  A caster that must prepare his spells gains an additional form for each 5 ranks of Knowledge (arcana) and another for each 4 ranks of Spellcraft.  Additional forms may be learned from other wizards spellbooks or researched as normal.  For characters that prepare spells, the particular form that is prepared must be noted.

All of the various forms of the missile attack spell are ray spells, requiring a successful ranged touch attack.  For every two caster levels beyond 1st, you gain an additional missile – two at 3rd level, three at 5th, four at 7th, and the maximum of five missiles at 9th level or higher. If you shoot multiple missiles, you can have them strike a single creature or several creatures. A single missile can strike only one creature. You must designate targets before you make attack rolls, check for spell resistance or roll damage.

When the secondary effect of a spell requires a save to be made, only one save is made with the DC of the save increased by 1 for each missile beyond the first that hits the target.

The various forms, and their descriptors, are:

-Aquaspherics [water], each causes 1d6+1 points of non-lethal damage (1d3 points of bludgeoning damage to non-living targets) and the target must make a Fortitude save or be knocked down from the impact.  Large creatures get a +4 save to resist being knocked down and huge or larger creatures cannot be knocked down by the effect.

-Bolts of Blue [electricity], each causes 1d6 points of electrical damage and the target must make a Will save or suffer a -1 circumstance penalty to attack until the end of the next round.

-Bright Globes [light], each causes 1d6 points of light damage (+1 point to creatures of Darkness and the Undead) and the target must make a Reflex save or be dazzled the next round.

-Clout, a magical impact causes 1d6+1 points of bludgeoning damage.

-Fighting Words [sonic], each causes 1d4+1 points of sonic damage and the target must make a Fortitude save at or be dazed the next round and deafened for 1d3 rounds.  The daze only effects creatures with a maximum of 4 hit dice with 2 additional hit dice effected for each word beyond the first that hits.

-Fire Darts [fire], each causes 1d6 points of fire damage and flammable objects hit may be ignited.

-Ghost-Slaying Needles, each inflicts 1d4 points of piercing damage (+2 against undead), this damage has the ghost touch ability and ignore 5 points of the damage reduction of any undead targeted by this spell.

-Ice Blades [cold], each causes 1d6 points of cold damage plus a point of bleeding damage in the next round.

-Mage Arrow, magical arrows that each inflict 1d6+1 points of piercing damage.

-Shards of Ebon [darkness], each causes 1d6 points of darkness damage and must make a Fortitude save or be dazed the next round from the otherworldly chill.  The daze only effects creatures with a maximum of 4 hit dice with 2 additional hit dice effected for each shard beyond the first that hits.

-Snow Burst [cold], each causes 1d6 points of cold damage and a the target must make a Fortitude save or be at -2 Dex for the next round from the extreme cold.

-Stones [earth], each causes 1d4+1 points of bludgeoning damage and the target must make a Fortitude save or be knocked down from the impact.  Large creatures get a +4 save to resist being knocked down and huge or larger creatures cannot be knocked down by the effect.

-Thorns [earth], each causes 1 point of piercing damage plus 1d8 points of poison damage, a Fortitude save reduces the poison damage by half.

-Whirling Disc, summons bladed discs that each inflict 1d6+1 points of slashing damage.

-Words of Unmaking [sonic], each causes 1d4 points of sonic damage (+1 against construct and objects), ignoring hardness.

-Wind Knives [air], each causes 1d4+1 points of slashing damage plus a point of bleeding damage next round, and a the target must make a Will save or suffer -1 circumstance penalty to attack and -2 Dex next round from the stinging and buffeting wind.

Notes: While more flexible and interesting, it is still weaker than magic missile due to not being force damage and requiring an attack roll.  That is why most of the spells do more damage than a magic missile or have a useful secondary effect (or both).

But, on the upside, as the missile attack spells require an attack roll it is possible to score a critical hit with them and the weapon focus (ray spells) feat becomes much more attractive for spell casters.  It also makes it easier to build elemental (or other) themed wizards.

Updated to conform to Pathfinder spell templating.

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5 comments

  1. It’s funny that you should mention this, in my game session last night (we play Labyrinth Lord) one of the fighters was pelted by multiple magic missiles from a number of third level mages and was robbed of most of his hitpoints in a single round! It taught him that even an AC of -2 won’t protect you from enemy magic…


  2. Some strange mechanics regarding which types of damage you gain access to and as far as I know there aren’t any official spells dealing pure light or darkness damage, however I do like the flavor of this spell and the mechanics seem fairly balanced.


    • Light/Darkness are (semi)campaign specific, partly as replacement for negative/positive energy and partly because they are interesting.


      • I see; reminds me of the holy/shadow spells from the Final Fantasy games actually. Guess one could just change them to negative energy and force damage or something for regular Campaigns, although they don’t seem unbalanced in any way.


  3. [...] New Spell – Missile Attack Spell from Sea of Stars RPG Design Journal (seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com) [...]



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