RPG Design – Sunday Spell: Binding of Arach

Binding of ArachBinding of Arach

School conjuration; Level magus 4, sorcerer/wizard 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft. per 2 levels)
Components V, S, M (spider web)
Target creature
Duration 1 minute/level
Saving throw: reflex negates, see text; Spell Resistance: no

This spell creates masses of sticky strands that bind a creature’s arms and legs to a solid surface, holding them in place. The target creature must make two Reflex saves, one for its legs and another for its arms, or the nearest equivalent. If either save fails and there is a solid surface adjacent to that part of their body, the creature becomes entangled. If the Reflex save for its arms fails, the creature  cannot cast spells with a somatic component and cannot use its arms for any task. If the save for its legs fails, the creature is held in that space and cannot move. The creature can take a full-round action to make a Strength or Escape Artist check against the DC of this spell to break free of the strands holding either its legs or arms. Otherwise, the strands function like webs from the web spell. Creatures without anything resembling legs or arms are immune to this spell.

Deep within a dark forest there dwells the wizard Arach, a mad loner. They say he is a sworn hermit, spending his days and nights in the study of strange texts and stranger magic. Spiders lurk about his decrepit castle, and the trees for miles around are shrouded in the grey webbing of their kind, as they wait and plot and decide when they will turn on Arach and devour him. Once, so they say, a brave sorceress ventured into the forest to seek knowledge. She emerged days later covered in webs, but bearing a scroll with the Binding of Arach inscribed on it. She gibbered for weeks of poisons and creeping, crawling, darting things in the shrouded woods, but when she came to her senses she was able to teach the powerful spell to her students. 


I like spells that come in a series, and web is one of the coolest and most evocative spells in the caster’s arsenal. Let me know here if you use the binding of Arach spell in your game!

– Max Porter-Zasada

RPG Design – Sunday Spell: Storm of Tricks

Storm of Tricks

School universal; Level bard 2, sorcerer/wizard 3
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft. per level)
Components V, S
Target, Effect, or Area see text
Duration 1 hour per level
Saving throw: see text; Spell Resistance: see text

This spell works similarly to prestidigitation, but includes a number of more powerful effects. For the duration, you can perform a number of minor tricks simultaneously,  up to one per caster level. You can also make minor changes to a creature or object, such as causing their ears to grow longer or cause makeup to appear on their face, although the target stays recognizable and this spell cannot be used to create a disguise. In the case of directly affecting a target, the creature gets a save, and spell resistance (if any) applies. Additionally, any 0-level spells you cast while a storm of tricks is active appears to be part of the show, and viewers must succeed on a Spot check to realize that such a spell is being cast (DC is equal to 15 + your caster level). Add +4 to the DC of the Spellcraft check to for other creatures to identify the spell being cast.

Hidden within caravans and groups of performers traveling the countryside are tricksters and fortune-tellers who want to do more than delight and amaze their audience. These magic folk want to evoke a sense of wonder, or of awe. However, their tricks are frowned on by the authorities, and so they must hide their little magics. 


I like the idea of hiding magic, and of mixing spells and skill checks. It helps bring back a sense of wonder to spellcasting, and keep it from getting rote or predictable. Plus, haven’t you always wanted a higher-level version of prestidigitation?

– Max Porter-Zasada

RPG Design – Sunday Spell: Absorb Blast

Absorb Blast

School abjuration; Level cleric 2, sorcerer/wizard 2
Casting Time 1 immediate action
Range personal
Components V, S, F/DF (a gold talisman worth 100 gp)
Target self
Duration instantaneous
Saving throw: none; Spell Resistance: none

When you are targeted by a spell or spell-like ability that deals hit point damage and you have the proper talisman in hand, you can cast this spell to reduce some of the damage you would otherwise take, although you still suffer any other effects of the spell. Make a caster level check against the caster. For every point by which your check defeats your opponent’s, reduce the incoming damage by 3. If you absorb all the damage, you get a damage bonus on the next damaging spell you cast equal to the absorbed spell’s level if you cast such a spell within 1 round.

Created by the warmages of the north for their spell duels, this spell has become a signature of elite and erudite spellcasters. It is said that to venture into one of the northern warmage academies without this spell is tantamount to suicide…


I love abjuration spells in principle, but I think it’s very hard to get excited about them, especially the 2nd-level options. Making the school of abjuration as dramatic and cool as evocation is something I would like to do.

– Max Porter-Zasada

Sunday Spell: Lifetree


School Conjuration (healing, summoning); Level Cleric 4, Druid 4
Casting Time 1 round
Range close (25 ft +5 ft. / 2 levels)
Components V, S, DF (a willow branch)
Effect One summoned tree with 30-ft healing aura
Duration 1 minute/level
Saving throw: none; Spell Resistance: no

This spell summons a magic willow tree (5-foot-diameter trunk, 60-foot height, 40-foot top diameter) that appears where you designate. The tree sheds an aura of healing magic, granting allies within the area fast healing 2. Additionally, when one of your allies within the aura would be reduced to -1 hit points or lower, they instantly receive the benefits of a cure light wounds spell as if cast by a 1st-level spellcaster. A creature can only benefit from this effect once per day.


I’ve always thought that spells should do wondrous, magical things, and not always do small, specific things. This spell combines powerful healing with a terrain feature.

-Max Porter Zasada

Pathfinder RPG Design – Sunday Spell: Consume Magic

Consume Magic

School Necromancy; Level sor/wiz 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range medium (100 ft +10 ft./level)
Target 1 spellcaster, creature, or object
Duration instantaneous and 1 hour
Saving throw:  None or Will negates (see text); Spell Resistance: no

This spell functions like dispel magic, except that it allows a saving throw if used to target a spellcaster or an object held by a creature (in which case the creature’s will save is used), and when you successfully dispel an effect you gain temporary hit points equal to the caster level of the effect. These temporary hit points last for  1 hour. However, within this duration you can convert these temporary hit points (or whatever remains of them if you take damage) into bonus damage on a damaging spell you cast. Converting your temporary hit points in this way is a free action.

Created by the mad sorcerer Asarl, this spell wreaked havoc on the mage-soldiers sent to arrest him. He would follow it up with a blast of dark magic that left bones cracking and flesh turned to dust. They eventually gave up the mission, as the mad sorcerer always seemed too difficult to take down even when he wasn’t turning them all to undead slaves. 


I really wanted there to be a spell like this one. A necromancer plays with life forces and strange magics, and should always seem to be gaining benefits even as dark magic billows. I think the fact that it is higher level and allows a save is plenty to keep the standard abjuration version viable, while allowing the necromancers with Spell Focus and so on to deal with the save and seem special, unique, and deadly dangerous.

-Max Porter Zasada

Sunday Spell: Hardy Hunter | Pathfinder RPG Design

Hardy Hunter

School Transmutation; Level Ranger 2
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range close (25 ft +5 ft. / 2 levels)
Components V, S
Target your animal companion
Duration 10 minutes/level
Saving throw: Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance: yes (harmless)

Your animal companion gains the benefits of your Favored Enemy ability for a time. If it has scent, the animal companion can also sense enemies at twice the normal distance and gets a +4 enhancement bonus to Survival checks to track using scent.


It’s always annoying to play a ranger and wonder why your animal companion has to lag behind a druid’s. There are some hidden balance issues at play here, but I’ve always believed that rangers should have spells that are useful and important, and buffing your animal companion fits the bill. Enjoy!

-Max Porter-Zasada





This spell is an attempt to make an interesting and effective second-level illusion spell for bards that uses a DC and contributes to the party in a significant way.

Also, welcome back to your regularly scheduled dose of Gaming Mage! Hopefully we shall proceed with fewer interruptions from now on.

-Max Porter Zasada

Sunday Spell: Death’s Breath

Death’s Breath

School Necromancy [death]; Level sor/wiz 5, witch 5
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range close (25 ft +5 ft. / 2 levels)
Components V, S, M (a bit of fog in a vial)
Target 1 creaturet
Duration 1 round/2 levels
Saving throw: none or Fortitude negates; Spell Resistance: yes

You curse a creature with weakness to death, causing an eerie greenish mist to hover around them and granting that creature concealment (20% miss chance). However, each round that the creature remains in the mist it must make a Fortitude save or have its spirit weakened, taking 1d8 damage/4 levels, and gaining a -4 penalty on saves against spells with the death descriptor and negative energy effects for one round.


I love combining spells to powerful effect. It’s a bit less cool when spells are specifically designed to work together (like this spell and finger of death), but I still think that makes me feel smart and powerful as a spellcaster. This is a very nasty spell for a necromancer player or villain!

Don’t forget the alternate use of this spell, which is a buff for undead minions! Enjoy overthrowing your enemies with the power of death.

Also: Yes David, you can add this to the Dread Necromancer spell list.

-Max Porter-Zasada