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Protection from Evil. Leaving all alignment/moral/whatever issues aside, this spell rocks. Hard. Maybe…too hard. As Sean K. Reynolds said in a delightful series of rants about absolute effects:

Protection from evil blocks any attempt to exercise magical mental control over the subject. This means that a 1st-level commoner with this spell is immune to the mental influence of the most powerful advanced aboleth in the world using its enslave ability. He’s immune to the influence of Dracula’s vampire domination ability. He’s immune to Satan trying to possess him.

Disgusting, isn’t it? Here you have this cool badass vampire lined up to be the big bad of your carefully crafted campaign, with all of her dominate powers and such, and the party throws a first-level spell and kills that avenue of pleasure stone dead. At 12th level. With an absolutely effective first level spell.

You will feel my mustachioed EEEVILLLL.

Yeah, okay, it’s not that bad. And there are issues with enslaving PCs (they don’t like it, and get their knickers in quite a twist). But still remains the fact that PfE is very good at higher levels. Maybe you’d like to make it less…absolute, less of an unimpeachable defense and more of a good idea that doesn’t stack with cloaks of resistance +2 and such. It would still be the best choice, but not the perfect choice. How about this?

Protection from Chaos/Evil/Good/Law

  • School abjuration [good]; Level cleric 1, paladin 1, sorcerer/wizard 1
  • Casting Time 1 standard action
  • Components V, S, M/DF
  • Range touch
  • Target creature touched
  • Duration 1 min./level (D)
  • Saving Throw Will negates (harmless);
  • Spell Resistance no; see text

This spell wards a creature from attacks by [evil] creatures, from mental control, and from summoned creatures. It creates a magical barrier around the subject at a distance of 1 foot. The barrier moves with the subject and has three major effects.

First, the subject gains a +2 deflection bonus to AC and a +2 resistance bonus on saves. Both these bonuses apply against attacks made or effects created by [evil] creatures.

Second, the subject immediately receives another saving throw (if one was allowed to begin with) against any spells or effects that possess or exercise mental control over the creature (including enchantment [charm] effects and enchantment [compulsion] effects, such as charm person, command, and dominate person. This saving throw is made with a +2 morale bonus, using the same DC as the original effect. If successful, such effects are suppressed for the duration of this spell. The effects resume when the duration of this spell expires. While under the effects of this spell, the target receives a +2 resistance bonus per caster level (maximum +10) against any new attempts to possess or exercise mental control over the target. This spell does not expel a controlling life force (such as a ghost or spellcaster using magic jar), but it does inhibit them from controlling the target. This second effect only functions against spells and effects created by evil creatures or objects, subject to GM discretion.

Third, the spell prevents bodily contact by [evil] summoned creatures. This causes the natural weapon attacks of such creatures to fail and the creatures to recoil if such attacks require touching the warded creature. Summoned creatures that are not [evil] are immune to this effect. The protection against contact by summoned creatures ends if the warded creature makes an attack against or tries to force the barrier against the blocked creature. Spell resistance can allow a creature to overcome this protection and touch the warded creature.

Now, all griping aside, the spell was not actually some game-breaking monster. The issue I have with the spell is the absolute protection it affords, particularly in regards to its level. Since the spell is defensive, and thus reactive and situational in essence, the defense should be stronger than the attack. But absolute? Not in this case. A +2 bonus per caster level (topping off at +10 at 5th level, keeping this spell in line with other 1st level spells) seems more than adequate. A 5th level Wizard or Cleric has access to Magic Circle against whatever, the much improved version of this spell, which I’ll take a look at some other time.

Reasons not to change the spell? Plenty. It’s faster to not have saving throws at all. It’s one less exception to the rules to remember. Tradition. And who want’s to roll a “1” when, mathematically, you can’t fail even with a “1”?

The issues, if they can be called that, really only rise at higher levels, when Satan attempts to possess your character and is blocked by a 1st level spell cast by an apprentice. Not cool. Of course, it’s also not cool to have Satan possess 1st level characters, so there’s that. It’s a real question as to whether the spell does, in fact, need any changes. So use the version you prefer, and let me know what you think.

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