Breaking D&D 3.5: Item Familiars, Incantatrix, Elves, and Casting 25th Level Spells at 9th Level

The next time you build a wizard, consider building an elf Incantatrix with an item familiar. Why? Because 25th level spells, that’s why. Items Familiars, gained through a feat in Unearthed Arcana, are magic items bonded to you that can grant things like bonus XP, extra spells and actions, and a particularly exploitable bonus. Elves make great wizards already: it’s a favored class, many elves get a racial bonus to Intelligence, and it’s thematically classic. Incantatrix is an arcane prestige class from Forgotten Realms that focuses on metamagic, and the class is potentially very strong. Metamagic is quite balanced. Free metamagic is quite unbalanced. Though the class’s capstones are free metamagic twice per day and a reduction in the cost of all metamagic feats you use all the time, Incantatrix is very good much sooner than its last levels. Elves have a few racial substitution levels that are quite useful, and when combined with an Item Familiar, the puzzle pieces fit so well they break Incantatrix wide open. Let’s take a look at Lilly, a Wizard 5/Incantatrix 4, a level 9 mage who can cast 25th level spells.

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Homebrew D&D Rule #1

No base class is restricted by alignment. How can you allow a rogue to be whatever alignment they want, but say that all barbarians must be non-lawful? Same with paladins. Clerics are allowed to be whatever alignment, as it depends on their god, but paladins are supposed to be lawful good. That seriously restricts the players and stretches credibility a little too far for my liking.

Also, “lawful” is described as implying “honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability.” But then monks are described as being incredibly disciplined because they follow their own spiritual path. Therefore, a monk would not be able to be lawful, because if an authority commanded them to stop following that spiritual path, their discipline wouldn’t allow it. So that’s a load of bull, too.

I knew my players would be too plot-focused and intelligent to ignore that sort of foolishness, so I just went ahead and allowed anyone to be any alignment. However, once we get to certain prestige classes, I’ll make up my mind as to whether I want alignment restrictions or not.

Epic Skill Checks in 3.5 D&D

Roll high enough, and the miraculous (and hilarious) is possible! Which can you do?

It takes a Balance check of…

90 to balance on liquid
120 to balance on a cloud

It takes a Bluff check of…

50 higher than an opposed Sense Motive check to instill a suggestion in someone without their realizing, Inception style.

It takes a Climb check of…

70 to climb a perfectly flat, smooth vertical surface
100 to climb a perfectly flat, smooth ceiling or overhang

It takes a Diplomacy check of…

150 to turn someone hostile into a fanatic who will give his or her life for you, zealous enough to get morale bonuses to Strength, Constitution, and Will saves; devoted enough to throw themselves in front of an oncoming dragon to save you, loyal enough to fight to the death against overwhelming odds; and immutably worship you for days equal to your Charisma score + 1

When Disguised as someone with different height and/or weight take a penalty to your check of…

-50 for someone 26-50% different from you

The epic Escape Artist needs a…

80 to escape a space tinier than your head
120 to pass through aWall of Force

Handle Animal lets you train other creatures, with a check of…

40 + hit dice to train a Magical Beast in 2 months
75 + hit dice to train Vermin in 1 month
160 + hit dice to train a Dragon in 1 minute

A Heal check exceeding…

50 heals hit points in an hour as if receiving long-term care for a whole day
100 heals hit points in an hour as if receiving long-term care for a week

A Listen check of…

80 defeats an illusion with auditory components or pinpoints invisible creatures

If you Ride like a boss you can, with a check of…

40 stand on your mount
60 instantly drop down and ride on the side of your mount, using it as cover

With a Sense Motive check of…

100 you can detect surface thoughts

With a Sleight of Hand check of…

50 you can remove someone’s sheathed weapon up to your size and hide it on your person
75 you can remove someone’s pants without them noticing
80 you can make a willing person or object “disappear” from in plain view

A Spellcraft check of…

70 + caster level identifies all properties of a magic item
93 casts 25th level spells at level 9, using this

With Spot checks of…

20 notice active and living invisible presences
40 notice invisible unmoving and nonliving creatures, or invisible inanimate objects
80 defeat illusions
+20 to the DC for reading lips, you can pronounce an unfamiliar language

Be Bear Grills with a Survival check of…

60 to automatically make all fortitude saves against severe weather,get along normally in the wild and provide food and water for yourself and 10 people, ignore overland movement penalties for terrain, or use the Track feat to identify the race that made observed tracks
120 to find the direction towards a location you’ve only heard a description of from anywhere on the same plane

You can be Michael Phelps with a Swim check of…

80 to swim up a waterfall or tsunami

It takes a Tumble check of…

35 to stand from prone as a free action
40 to take a 10-foot step instead of 5-foot step
50 to climb a vertical surface
100 to ignore falling damage from any height

With a Use Rope check of…

80 you can animate a rope you hold, and command it as though it were alive

If you can make an Autohypnosis check of…

60 you can gain temp hp, DR 2/–, get a second save against a mind-affecting spell you failed a first save on or get a save against a mind-affecting spell that doesn’t allow for one

The V12 is a 60 degree V12 pertrol engine. It was first put in production in 1963,  as 3.5 version for the Lamborghini 350 GT. So far it's available as a 3.5, 4.0, 6.2, and a 6.5. If I had a choice, it would be the 6.5 in the Aventdor. Let me know, which one would you pick? And why?

Breaking D&D 3.5: AC 50 and Higher for 9th Level Characters; or, the Best Offense is a Good Defense

Warning: The information in this post will piss off your DM. Use at your own risk!

When I first started playing D&D, my least favorite part about being a mage was how low my AC always was. Now one of my favorite parts about being a mage is how high my AC can get. I just had a DM actually request my wizard character lower his AC for party balance (which I will do to avoid an arms race), and I wanted to write about it. I’m only ECL 9, but a Mature Adult Red Dragon (CR 18) barely hits me on a natural 20. With a little more than half a dozen buffs, your AC too can be inappropriately high!

As a 9th level wizard, you can use the following buffs to shoot your AC through the roof, and still have plenty of spell resources left over for blasting, battlefield control, offensive buffs, winning initiative, or whatever else you want.

Broken down by level, I usually use these for my AC.

1st level: Shield (A +4 Shield bonus. minutes/level)
2nd: Cat’s Grace (A +4 Dex. minutes/level); Scintillating Scales (deflection bonus to AC equal to your Con modifier, but decreases natural armor by half that much. Rounds/level)
3rd: Haste (+1 to attack rolls, AC, reflex saves, and 1 extra attack during a full attack at your highest BAB! What’s not to love? Rounds/level)
4th: Greater Luminous Armor (+8 armor bonus to AC, melee attacks incur a -4 penalty if enemy is sighted (must be good-aligned to use, and take strength damage when the spell ends). Hours/level); Ray Deflection (immune to rays. minutes/level).
5th: Bite of the Wereboar (+4 to Strength, +6 to Con, +8 to natural armor, a bite attack, and the Blind-Fight feat. rounds/level); Draconic Polymorph into a Cave Troll (Sets Strength to 37, Dex to 13, Con to 29, and natural armor to +11. Also comes with 2 claw attacks, a bite, large size, and the Dazing Blow, Improved Grab, Pounce, Rake, and Rend abilities you get by Polymorphing. On it’s own, enough of a buff to make you horribly ferocious! minutes/level)

Those 8 spells don’t tax your daily resources or spells know slots too much. If done in the right order (Hours or minutes per level spells, then Bite of the Wereboar, followed by Scintillating Scales, and finally Haste), you wind up with stats like these:

Abilities: Str 41, Dex 17, Con 35
AC: 50 (–1 size, +8 armor, +4 shield, +13 natural armor, +3 Dex, +12 deflection, +1 haste), touch 25, flat-footed 47

Remember Greater Luminous Armor’s -4 to melee attacks for sighted opponents, so most often AC will be effectively 54. Ray Deflection isn’t actual AC, but your biggest weakness AC weakness is ranged touch attacks, and Ray Deflection shores up that vulnerability very well. Few if any ranged touch attacks won’t be rays. This set of spells not only gives you great AC, but makes you a powerhouse in melee combat as well. Indeed, the 9th level fighter or barbarian won’t come close to those stats without magical help.

Protecting yourself beyond AC

There are of course other things you can do with just 5th level spell resources (and Prestige Class abilities; see Abjurant Champion!) to boost AC even higher, but it’s important to remember that enemies can harm you via more than just your AC. A wizard can keep him or herself reasonably well protected with spells like Resist Energy/Protection From Energy to fend off energy damage, Greater Invisibility and Greater Blink to avoid getting hit or targeted altogether, Ice Shield for DR/15–, and Superior Resistance to shore up your saves by a hefty +6. But there is only so much one arcane caster can do on his or her own.

Having a buddy who is a 9th level divine caster gets you even more access to amazing defensive buffs like Divine Agility for +10 to Dexterity, and a potent protective suite in Favor of Il Mater, Death Ward, Sheltered Vitality, and Freedom of Movement–which together grant you immunity to nonlethal damage, charm and compulsion effects, attacks that function specifically by causing pain, effects that would cause you to be dazed, exhausted, fatigued, nauseated, sickened, staggered, or stunned, all death spells, magical death effects, energy drain, any negative energy effects, ability damage and ability drain, magic that usually impedes movement such as paralysis, solid fog, slow, and web, plus you automatically succeed on all grapple checks and escape artist checks to avoid or escape being grappled or pinned, and you can even move and attack normally underwater.

Combining those five divine spells with the five arcane spells–Greater Invisibility, Greater Blink, Superior Resistance, Resist Energy, and Ice Shield–will compliment the AC spells listed at the beginning of the article. Bundle them all together and toss in other modes of movement and the rare Planar Tolerance or Endure Elements when traveling to hostile environments, and you’ll be nigh invulnerable for a 9th level character! Your biggest weakness will be dispelling, and without blowing significant character wealth on components for Create Magic Tattoo, or persisting Suffer the Flesh, or using up feats for things like Elder Giant Magic and Reserves of Strength, or having a psion hit you with a Dispelling Buffer, you’ll have a hard time at 9th level keeping caster level high enough to stave off a good dispel. Granted, you can do all those things and have a very respectable caster level nearing 30 against dispels at 9th level, but you have to build for it.

Remember to always clear things with your DM when you are going to be ridiculously powerful!