High-level Play, Part 5
by, 07-03-2013 at 11:48 AM (1480 Views)
Stop Instant Transportation before It Happens
This is really hard. If Team Antagonist’s uses a spell from scrying subschool to scout an area, and Team Protagonist doesn’t know, only previously installed preventative measures stop the incoming teleport ambush.
The problem with the spell zone of respite [abjur] (Spell Compendium 244) is duration. While the spell prevents teleport effects from working within the area, even with the staff of extended zone of respite (20th) (45,000 gp; 4 lbs.) a charge lasts only 400 minutes. Two charges does mean both a good night’s sleep and peaceful breakfast, though. The simpler minor schema of zone of respite (9th) (18,000 gp; 0 lbs.) makes a zone once per day, and the more versatile staff of zone of respite (9th) (17,175 gp; 4 lbs.) makes zones until charges are exhausted, but both make zones that last only 90 minutes.
The spell dimensional lock [abjur] (Player’s Handbook 221) has a duration measured in days per level, which is an improvement. Unfortunately, the staff of dimensional lock (15th) (45,000 gp; 4 lbs.) is expensive.
The spell forbiddance [abjur] (Player’s Handbook 232) is complicated and expensive, but prevents teleport spells into, out of, and within the warded area permanently; the spells just fail. Case closed. But even at its most basic level (creating 11 60-ft. password-protected cubes per charge) the staff of forbiddance (11th) (1,525,050 gp; 4 lbs.) isn’t even up for discussion. In fact, when totally pimped out to use every charge to maximum effect (creating 20 60-ft. password-protected cubes per charge) the staff of forbiddance (20th) (2,670,300 gp; 4 lbs.) is among the simplest most expensive pre-epic items available, over twice the price of the staff of wish (17th) (1,307,675; 4 lbs.).
The spell Halaster’s teleport cage [abjur] (City of Splendors: Waterdeep 155) is also permanent and bounces anyone attempting to use a teleport spell to enter the warded area from outside the warded area to a random location within the teleport spell’s range—so if a caster tries to use a greater teleport spell from outside a Halaster’s teleport cage spell to enter an area warded by a Halaster’s teleport cage spell, the caster arrives at a random destination anywhere on the plane. The Halaster’s teleport cage spell also bounces anyone attempting to use a teleport spell from within the warded area to a random location within the teleport spell’s range that’s still within the area warded by the Halaster’s teleport cage spell.
This makes the Halaster’s teleport cage spell the biggest dick move in the history of anti-teleport defenses. While someone’s outside the cage spell, he’s not getting in, and while someone inside the cage spell, he’s not getting out. Period. With a teleport spell, anyway. The dispel magic spell can take down the cage spell, and the cage spell’s a 9th-level spell and costs 1,000 gp per casting, but it’s the best anyone can do. The staff of Halaster’s teleport cage (20th) (117,800 gp; 4 lbs.), while less expensive than any useful staff of forbiddance, still isn’t really an option.
If lighting gp on fire is an option, a weirdstone (Player’s Guide to Faerûn 124-5) (250,000 gp; 0 lbs.) is a manly way to tell a 12-mile-diameter sphere to screw off.
A spell turret (Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 45) is badass way to make intruders regret intruding. It employs a true seeing effect for targeting and blazes away when it spots a baddie. It’s dirt cheap, with a price of 500 gp × spell level × caster level and XP of 1/50 that amount. Putting retractable guns in your stronghold’s walls has never been easier. Many important structures have cheap spell turrets (500 gp; 10 XP) scattered throughout, keyed to attack nothing but incorporeal undead (e.g using the spells magic missile, true strike, ray of clumsiness, and summon monster I).
Quit the Prime
Spells from the scrying subschool aren’t restricted to the same plane unless a specific spell says it is, and the scrying and greater scrying spells in particular can cross planes. So when Team Antagonist uses the scrying spell to learn Team Protagonist’s location, that location can be on a totally different plane—or an extradimensional space—and Team Antagonist won’t necessarily know that. When Team Antagonist whips out the teleport spell to ambush Team Protagonist and the teleport spell fails, Team Antagonist will be all, “Wha-at?”
So, in ascending order of awesome, there’re the spells rope trick [trans] (Player’s Handbook 273), pocket cave [conj] (Champions of Ruin 33), Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion [conj] (Player’s Handbook 256), Mordenkainen's capable caravel [conj] (Stormwrack 119), and pavilion of grandeur [conj] (Spell Compendium 153). Long-term residence in a rope trick spell is like living in college dorm in Calcutta, so don’t do that. Long-term residence in a pocket cave spell is actually pretty okay, but long-term residence in a mansion, caravel, or pavilion spell is infinitely better.
The minor schema of pocket cave (9th) (18,000 gp; 0 lbs.) lasts 9 hours and is usable once per day; although many items I’ve mentioned assume the owner has a pretty good Use Magic Device skill bonus, this item will probably require the DC 29 Use Magic Device check to make it go. (Are you an initiate of Gruumsh? I think not.) If that Use Magic Device check’s failed, the minor schema is unusable for 1d6 days; days are long, and minor schemas are jerks.
Each charge of the wand of extended rope trick (12th) (13,500 gp; 0 lbs.) and the staff of extended pocket cave (12th) (27,300 gp; 4 lbs.) last 24 hours, of the staff of extended pocket cave (20th) (45,300 gp; 4 lbs.) lasts 40 hours, of the staff of extended Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion (20th) (60,305 gp; 4 lbs.) lasts 80 hours, and of the staff of extended Mordenkainen's capable caravel (20th) (68,300 gp; 4 lbs.) or the staff of pavilion of grandeur (67,500 gp; 4 lbs.) lasts 20 days.
Living in a portable hole (Dungeon Master’s Guide 264) (20,000 gp; 0 lbs.) or the more expansive enveloping pit (Magic Item Compendium 159) (3,600 gp; 0 lbs.—which is an absolute steal) is still Calcutta dorm room territory, but at least the posters tacked to the walls stay there. If only sleep is necessary, a portable foxhole (Magic Item Compendium 169) (5,000 gp; 0 lbs.) is funny, but it works.
Although the rope trick spell says, “It is hazardous to create an extradimensional space within an existing extradimensional space or to take an extradimensional space into an existing one,” nothing supports this except stuffing a bag of holding into a portable hole and vice versa, so don’t worry about any other interactions.
Discover Instant Transportation Happened
At its most basic level, the spell alarm [abjur] (Player’s Handbook 196) alerts the caster when a creature touches the area or if a creature enters the area by just about method including instant transportation. Published alarm spells are myriad, as are other magical and nonmagical effects that maim or kill intruders; those are beyond the scope of this. Hideouts and campsites should be secured. Team Antagonist is going after Team Protagonist anyway, and Team Antagonist isn’t stupid. Team Antagonist waits until those defenses are at their weakest—like when Team Protagonist is almost ready to pitch camp for the night.
Through luck, skill, and careful selection of opponents characters can do without the anticipate teleportation spell until about level 12. At level 13 when Team Antagonist is casting the greater scrying spell—maybe from a staff of greater scrying (13th) (34,425 gp; 4 lbs.) solely to spam the greater scrying spell—Team Protagonist needs to make only a single mistake for a teleport ambush to leave Team Protagonist slaughtered in its sleep.
A tightly knit party could get away with just one member having one anticipate teleportation spell available per day, but that party must cleave closely to that one member; he’s all that stands between the party and Team Antagonist, and a lucky dispel magic spell renders the party totally vulnerable.
So first thing is to find a means of anticipating teleportation. The eternal wand (Magic Item Compendium 159-60) of anticipate teleportation [abjur] (Spell Compendium 13) (5th) (10,900 gp; 0 lbs.) or the minor schema (Magic of Eberron 122) of anticipate teleportation (6,000 gp; 0 lbs.) is a career-spanning investment; make the DM assume its used every day when preparing spells. Even better—but more expensive—is a staff of extended greater anticipate teleportation [abjur] (Spell Compendium 13) (34,425 gp; 4 lbs.) or a minor schema of greater anticipate teleportation (11th) (26,400 gp; 0 lbs.).
The DM must keep this in mind with his NPCs. The Ftr14 or whatever the party encountered must have a way to employ the spell anticipate teleportation or greater anticipate teleportation, whether that’s because a Wiz5 buddy casts the anticipate teleportation spell on him daily, the Ftr14 has cross-class ranks in Use Magic Device and a wand of anticipate teleportation (5th) (5,625 gp; 0 lbs.), or whatever.
The spell Otiluke’s impressing field [abjur] (Complete Mage 112) shuts down an entire school of magic, forcing those within to make caster level checks (DC 11 + the field’s caster level) to use any effect from that school. The field is a 20 ft. emanation centered on the caster. A wand of Otiluke’s impressing field (7th) (10,500 gp; 0 lbs.) doesn’t have a lot of oomph, but throw more money at a wand of Otiluke’s impressing field (20th) (30,000 gp; 0 lbs.) and it becomes painfully difficult to conjure in the area. This means a single casting of the anticipate teleportation spell combined with a wand of Otiluke’s impressing field can potentially quash all but at-will teleport effects before they happen—simply use the latter wand when the teleportation’s anticipated and hope the teleport user rolls low on the caster level check.
Stop Instant Transportation after It Happens
The spell dimensional anchor [abjur] (Player’s Handbook 221) is designed for this. Hit the bastard with a ranged touch attack and—no saving throw—he’s stuck. He gets his Spell Resistance though, so this can be a problem, but the wand of dimensional anchor (3rd) (5,625 gp; 0 lbs.) shuts down the loser lacking Spell Resistance for 3 minutes—plenty of time to kill him.
Tossing out a zone of respite or dimensional lock spell shuts down the teleport escape route, too. Hitting the dude with the spell desert diversion [conj] (Sandstorm 113) is hilarious but temporary, much like the spell maze [conj] (Player’s Handbook 252)—these spells don’t really stop the foe from using teleport so much as delaying its use until the foe’s return.
A single casting of the spell hallow [evoc] (Player’s Handbook 238) or unhallow [evoc] (Player’s Handbook 297) can put a dimensional anchor effect throughout an entire site (“regardless of [the hallow or unhallow spell’s] normal… area effect” according to the spells), preventing teleporting out of a site—selectively, even, if the hallow or unhallow spell is jiggered that way. A Clr9 can be paid 1,450 gp to cast this, but the dimensional anchor effect must be renewed yearly. This option is so cheap that even if an occupied structure of minor importance has no other defenses, it will have this.
The weapon special ability binding (Magic Item Compendium 29) (+1 bonus) makes a stabbed fool unable to teleport. The soul anchor (Magic Item Compendium 185-6) (10,000 gp; 3 lbs.) is for shoving right in some fool’s face. The dimensional shackles (Dungeon Master’s Guide 255) (28,000 gp; 5 lbs.), however, are overpriced and fragile (the baddie’s out if if he can make a DC 30 Str check or Escape Artist skill check).
Be Aware of Bullshit Instant Transportation
The spell master earth [trans] (Spell Compendium 139) would be seriously messed up if it could penetrate creature-built structures. The spell lookingglass [trans] (Masters of the Wild 90) has two as ifs, one about clairvoyance and another about teleport without error (i.e. Dungeons and Dragons 3.5’s greater teleport spell)—I’m ruling that these as ifs actually are the effects they name, so this spell needn’t make everyone in the universe mirror-paranoid (like the Planar Handbook didn’t do that already) about druidic invasions.
Next: Death--a less severe status effect than stunned.