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SSShadowcat7
Pie
(12/5/02 8:07:37 am)
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Am I cheating my players?
I know we've been over this topic before more than once, but I'd like to dredge it up again to gain a few more opinions from this great group.

This concerns the various protection spells (prot. evil, good, law, etc.). The wording of these spells states that they block physical contact by summoned outsiders & elementals.

My problem (and here is where this relates to the module) is that there are a huge number of outsiders & elementals in this adventure. I have ruled that, unless the creature is specifically summoned this part of the protection spell does not work against them.

In my mind, summoned is not the same as called. If a creature is summoned it will vanish when it dies to return to wherever it came from. Only a portion of its essence, or whatever you want to call it, has been brought to this plane for the use of the spellcaster who summoned it.

A called creature, however, is physically brought to this plane. It will not disappear when killed. It's entire being has been transported and I think it should not be hedged out by those spells.

A final choice I have made is that maybe some of these outsiders (such as the howler) may have come here through various gates or were born here and have just wandered to the temples over the years. Again, these (IMO) should not be hedged out by a protection from evil spell.

So finally, my question. Am I cheating my players by ruling this way?

For the most part they accept this because I made the ruling early on in the game. We are now at the point where they are beginning to breach the Outer Fane and things are beginning to become much tougher.

I killed 3 PCs last session with the Earth Elemental guarding the Earth Door. Again the debate has come up that a protection from evil spell should have warded it since it was an elemental.

My defense? It has been called here as a guardian. If it was summoned it wouldn't be here very long. The duration on a summoning spell is measured in mere rounds. But my defense of called creatures is starting to wear thin, it seems. Should I change my ruling? Again, am I cheating them out of the use of a fairly benificial spell? The module is hard enough without me adding another obstacle on top of it.

Any thoughts? Help would be appreciated.

Killiak
Pie
(12/5/02 8:13:01 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
Elementals are not always Outsiders.
Just check page 4 of the MM at the bottom.

And read the spell description REALLY REALLY well. It's a nice spell, but quite frankly; your players don't have a leg to stand on in this debate.

Trithereon
Pie
(12/5/02 8:47:53 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
The definition of an Outsider, from pg 6. of the MM, states:

Quote:
"An outsider is a nonelemental creature that comes from another dimension, reality or plane.


IMO, I think that if its not summoned and it doesn't have the (Outsider) descriptor then its not hedged out of the various "protection from" spells. Now, is it fair to say that every outsider in the CRM/Fanes are "native" outsiders - probably not, but neither is it sensible to assume that none are.

I don't know what the gaming concensus, or official WotC ruling, is on the concept of "native outsiders" as I don't own anything to do with the Forgotten Realms but I'd guess there are some serious issues concerning Protection from X and Raise Dead spells. Personally, I figure anyone willing to accept the benefits of these forms (including a 20th level Perfect Self monk) should accept the drawbacks as well.

[edit: forgot to include "if its not summoned" as obviously any summoned creature is hedged out by the protection spell"]

Edited by: Trithereon at: 12/5/02 8:59:43 am
Trithereon
Pie
(12/5/02 9:13:58 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
Ugh. Ignore me. I can't ever get this "Protection from ..." right. Everytime I think I do. I just don't. Argh! I should never write after being up all night battling Ol' man winter.

Anyway. Here's the problem. The spell Protection from Evil has that phrase: "Third, the spell prevents bodily contact by summoned or conjured creatures."

Summoning magic is a subset of the Conjuration school of magic. You'd think that the sentence should read either "contact by conjured" creatures which would include summoned, called and created creatures; or it should read "contact by summoned creatures" which would include creatures only summoned, not called or created.

I'll search around in some old Dragon and on the internet but is there some industry consensus on just how powerful, or limited, the spell was intended to be? It may just have to be a judgement call for each game Master.

Edited by: Trithereon at: 12/5/02 9:18:03 am
Andorax
Orc
(12/5/02 10:15:21 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
There are a fair number of creatures for whom the protection does indeed apply. Any of the altar-summoned elementals. Any of the caster-summoned "summon monster" critters, as well as any of the Called "Planar Ally/Binding" critters, up to and including the ever-so-dreaded Bebilith.

As a guideline, if something is described in the module as having been summoned or called (such as the Bebilith), I assume that it's here as a result of Conjuration magics, and thus should be hedged out.

If something is not otherwise mentioned, but has "outsider" or "elemental" in it's stat block, I presume that it came through a gate, wandered in on it's own, or is some variety of "native outsider", and do not subject it to the hedging portion of a PFE.

It still does have it's uses, but taken to apply against ANY Outsider or Elemental creature, it is imbalanced and overpowered.

"Whadda ya mean, Orcs get levels too?!?"

Infiniti2000
Pie
(12/5/02 11:18:01 am)
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ezSupporter
Re: Am I cheating my players?
This is one of the iffy things. IMO, any outsider that is permanently here is not hedged out. Protection from XX spells only keep out very temporary creatures, such as those from Summon Monster or Summon Nature's Ally spells, not from Planar Ally, Gate, or other called spells. After all, it is only a first level spell. It should not provide absolute immunity from all spells, just ones of a specific type. Don't forget, however, that if the person/people protected attack the summoned creature, it breaks that part of the spell.

I think that the elementals are called from the altars, not summoned, so they should not be hedged out. The belith I think is summoned. In any case, it is vague enough that you should consider tailoring specific monsters to suit your campaign (i.e. if you're players are really struggling, perhaps the next monster is "summoned", if they are breezing through it, the next monster is "called").

ZansForCans
Pie
(12/5/02 11:48:42 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
The Main D&D FAQ has a few questions related to this as well (especially about outsiders), if you want some more 'official' words on it. In addition to what Infin said about attacks, remember that if they use the protection to trap the creature somehow (in a corner, etc), it has the same effect--the protection is gone. Remember that SR also can defeat protection, so higher level creatures have some chance of ignoring it outright.

However, unlike Infin's interpretation, I think there is good evidence in the PHB that the spell does indeed affect called (not just summoned) beings. Note the huge section on Calling in Chapter 10 (pg. 157) that talks about how to use magic circle spells on these Conjured creatures. In the description, magic circle is identical to protection except for the size, duration, and the ability to turn it inward.

However, I agree with Andorax that unless there's an obvious reason in the text that points to an Outsider or Elemental being summoned or called, you probably shouldn't allow protection against them.



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SSShadowcat7
Pie
(12/5/02 8:55:02 pm)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
Quote:
As a guideline, if something is described in the module as having been summoned or called (such as the Bebilith), I assume that it's here as a result of Conjuration magics, and thus should be hedged out.


I guess this is where the root of the problem lies, and where my disagreement comes in.

I have no problem allowing the spell to hedge out a summoned creature. But if a creature is called, such as by planar ally, then I believe it is totally, physically brought to this plane, and should be unaffected by the hedging aspect of the spell. The deflection bonus to AC and prevention of mind control still work fine, of course.

I agree that the elementals brought forth from the alters are considered summoned, and as such they have been hedged out by these spells. So the PCs have benefited from using the spells...just not as much as they'd like.

I just think that summoning and calling are two very different things. Sure, both are subsets of the Conjuration school, but they go off in very different directions from there.

ZansForCans
Pie
(12/5/02 9:56:22 pm)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
Quote:
I have no problem allowing the spell to hedge out a summoned creature. But if a creature is called, such as by planar ally, then I believe it is totally, physically brought to this plane, and should be unaffected by the hedging aspect of the spell.


To reiterate what I mentioned in the post above yours though...

If you rule this way (unless you change their spell descriptions) then realize that magic circle spells won't work as advertised since, BTB at least, their effects are identical to protection. MCaE explictly mentions hedging in Called creatures.



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Trithereon
Pie
(12/6/02 2:26:08 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
Ahhhh, I knew I was missing something really basic here. Of course, the use of magic circle to capture summoned and called extra-planar beings! That was I was looking for to complete the logic of this spell.

So, it comes down to this ... Protection from evil is a very useful spell as it hedges out all conjured (summoned and called) beings. The only extraplanar being not affect are those who willfully pass through a gate (but not called through a gate), which means either the extraplanar can cast Gate or one was opened for him at a pre-arranged time and location on his plane for which he could then walk through.

I suspect since Gate is a 9th level spell, that the vast majority of evil extraplanar beings are subject to Protection from Evil. On the other hand, to balance this out, I think I'll make the general assumption that a majority half-extraplanar beings (D'gran and Oomkaan) are actually born on the material plane and therefore not subject to the "hedging" effect of the spell.

Thanks for clarifying that for me, finally. You guys rock!

madfox
Orc
(12/6/02 2:46:45 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
Personally I let the protection from evil spell only stop summoned creatures. Those creatures are not completely on the world since they also cannot truly die. Called outsiders are fully on this plane and hence there is no real difference between a being called by planar ally or who volluntarily stepped through a portal. It simply makes an already powerful spell even more powerful, because suddenly you should let it block all outsiders except native outsiders. Comparing the circle spells with the1st level variants do not work. The circle spell specificly mentions that it can keep a called being imprisoned, hence it functions differently then the simple protection from evil spell.

Personally, I like the White Wolf explantion for Darkworld on why the circles protect the summoner. When a summoner calls an outsider the spirit of the outsider is only partially on the material plane. The circle protects it from being sucked back into the dimension from which it came. Once the deal is made though the outsider is transported completely to this world and hence the circle does not block the creature anymore. Now though the deal should protect the summoner.

Whether this a house rule or not is a matter of opinion as this thread points out. A thread which should be placed in the FAQ, since I think this discussion surfaces about once every two months now ;) I think protection from evil is powerful enough as it is though. Not to mention that I don't like the idea that I suddenly have to determine how an outsider came to the plane even when it is not important to the story.

Edited by: madfox at: 12/6/02 2:49:27 am
Trithereon
Pie
(12/6/02 3:39:49 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
The spell description for magic circle against evil says in the first paragraph: As protection from evil, except that it encompasses a much larger area and its duration is longer.

IMO, the second part about turning the spell's effect inward instead of outward means that anything that it hedges out (when directed outward) it also hedges in (when directed inward). I don't think it means that magic circle against evil hedges out only summoned beings while hedging in summoned and called beings.

My players may revolt if I told them that protection from evil only hedges out summoned beings (not called) but an outward directed magic circle against evil hedges out summoned and called beings. They'd direct my attention to that first paragraph of magic circle against evil and ask if that's a house rule.

I wouldn't blame someone for making it a house rule with the logic that magic circle against evil is a third level spell and therefore has extra "hedging" powers.

As far as deciding when and where extraplanar beings are free-willed gate travellers: it should be rare and part of some overarching plotline. I must assume that the majority of extraplanar beings encountered by PCs are either summoned or called. I'll just have to make sure all the NPC clerics make use of this very nifty spell. What's good for the goose ...

Trithereon
Pie
(12/6/02 4:29:31 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
Quote:
If something is not otherwise mentioned, but has "outsider" or "elemental" in it's stat block, I presume that it came through a gate, wandered in on it's own, or is some variety of "native outsider", and do not subject it to the hedging portion of a PFE.

It still does have it's uses, but taken to apply against ANY Outsider or Elemental creature, it is imbalanced and overpowered.


I almost have an opposite thought on this. The spell gate should be rare, as it requires a minimum of a 17th level caster. Permanent gates should be even rarer. Even so, how often does a 17th level wizard or cleric open a gate and just hope something walks out ... it probably is used more often to call a being, thus its a called creature.

Just wandering onto the material plane means that it managed to get access to the Astral or Ethereal planes. This is easier than gate, as it requires a plane shift spell which can be cast by 9th level clerics, 13th level wizard, 14th level sorcerer, 16th level bard or any creature with access to wish (planatar, pit fiend, djinni, efreet). Indeed, a look at the random encounter chart for the Astral and Ethereal planes in the MotP book shows a large number of demons and devils lurking around. Because of the "godly might" factor, one could assume that there may be many permanent gates in the Outer planes which lead to the Astral, Ethereal and Material planes. However, since the Material plane has not been overrun by Outsiders then there must be some divine pact that keeps celestrials and infernals from popping into the Material plane without being invited.

IMO, native outsiders should be rare with a majority of them being the half-outsider variety.

Unfortunately, following this logic leads to protection from evil being "imbalanced and overpowered". But, I'll have to accept this without changing the protection spells or altering my concept of how hard it is for Outsiders to enter the Material plane.

madfox
Orc
(12/6/02 4:37:05 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
Ah, but you are not running a Planescape or FR campaign now are you? Portals are actually quite common in both type of campaigns, which means that a randomly encountered outsider could be the result of both a calling and a free wanderer. Personally I discussed my interpretation of the protection from spells with my players -and I do think it is more a matter of interpretation then a houserule- and they agreed with me completely. You might be surprised by your players when discussing this subject.

Quote:
I'll just have to make sure all the NPC clerics make use of this very nifty spell. What's good for the goose ...


There is a slight problem with this kind of argument. The NPCs are not the same as the PCs and hence the rules will have a different impact. The most important cause of this difference is the fact that most NPCs only make an appearance once. Besides the fact that there is a difference between NPCs and PCs, it also does not solve the problem.

Trithereon
Pie
(12/6/02 5:08:46 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
"Ah, but you are not running a Planescape or FR campaign now are you?"

This does make a big difference. I run a World of Greyhawk campaign and there is only one resident cleric (a cleric of Rao) and one resident wizard (Master of the wizard's guild) in the City of Greyhawk that can cast 9th level spells. That's the City of Greyhawk, I assume that a places like Verbobonc have even less magical might.

In terms of game mechanics, my concept of Protection spells and extraplanar beings do favor PCs over NPCs. However, my players are using the summoning spells quite regularly now and I suspect that they'll use planar ally spells as soon as they have access to them. I'll just alter the spell lists of NPCs to give more of them access to the Protection spells, since they are pretty darn useful under my interpretation.

Infiniti2000
Pie
(12/6/02 6:45:13 am)
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ezSupporter
Summoned, Conjured, or Called
The Protection spells provide protection from summoned or conjured creatures, meaning they are similar in function if not identical (I don't think anything uses the term conjured except in reference to the school of magic). This is not the same as called, from which the Protection spells offer no "hedge" protection. Of course, you always get the saving throw bonus and the protection from domination.

I think madfox hit the nail on the head with the key point. One way to easily determine the difference between summoned and called is whether the outsider can be killed. If so, the outsider is called and is not hedged out.

This puts the spells on par with their level because they will not provide unlimited protection (i.e. near immunity except for indirect effects) against beings called by higher level spells like gate and planar ally. It's also important to note that a called creature summons additional creatures (I'm referring to the normal demon ability of summoning others of its ilk, though it may have more powerful spell-like abilities of course).

Trithereon
Pie
(12/6/02 7:42:51 am)
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Re: Summoned, Conjured, or Called
"This is not the same as called, from which the Protection spells offer no "hedge" protection. Of course, you always get the saving throw bonus and the protection from domination."

However, the PHB is clear in that under the section for Calling that the simplest trap is a magic circle spell. When focused inward, magic circle spell binds a called creature. If a magic circle can affect called creatures by focusing it inward then is it not reasonable to deduce that it also affects called creatures when focused outward?

For the logic of protection from x not hedging out called creatures you have to assume that magic circle against evil when focused outward doesn't hedge out called creatures and that, as a unique property of using the spell in a different way, magic circle only affects called beings when focused inward.

However, it seems more intuitive to me that the magic circle spells should maintain the property of which type of creature it affects whether focused inward or outward. I'll admit that "only if focused inward" interpretation would put a damper on what is a very useful spell. I guess it comes down to how broken you believe the protection from x spells are. I could, as a player, accept it either way.

As a DM, I'd better settle the issue one way or another. I am hedged by some previous rulings in my RttToEE campaign, as I have allowed the protection from evil spells to work against pretty much everything that appeared to be extraplanar. Specifically, it has come into play only a few times as I can remember: the air elemental, monster summoning spells, the howler, and the xorns.

Infiniti2000
Pie
(12/6/02 8:14:05 am)
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ezSupporter
Re: Summoned, Conjured, or Called
"When focused inward, magic circle spell binds a called creature."

Perhaps the wording is different the PHB, but I don't have mine with me right now. The SRD mentions nothing about called creatures, only summoned. So, my argument above still holds.

Relevant part of Magic Circle Against Evil from the SRD:
Quote:
Unlike protection from evil, this spell has a special function that the character may choose when casting the spell. A magic circle can be focused inward rather than outward. In this case, it serves as an immobile, temporary magical prison for a summoned creature. The creature cannot cross the circle’s boundaries.


As to your current campaign, I can understand your dilemma. You want to build consistency in the campaign and not undermine it. I have no other advice than to discuss it with your players. Let them know what you think and therefore if you wish to make a ruling change, it will be a group decision and the inconsistency will be more easily swallowed. I've done this myself a couple of times in the past (different issues) and it was generally favorably viewed because everyone realized it made sense and worked better for both sides.

Tristan DArque
Pie
(12/6/02 8:25:13 am)
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Re: Summoned, Conjured, or Called
Quote:
Perhaps the wording is different the PHB, but I don't have mine with me right now.


I don't think the wording of the spell is different, but there's a long section about calling (as distinct from summoning) in the Magic chapter, which makes it very clear that the inward-focused versions of magic circle work on called creatures.

Infiniti2000
Pie
(12/6/02 8:39:25 am)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: Summoned, Conjured, or Called
Thanks for pointing that out. I guess I missed that part. It clearly states a function of the spell outside the spell description. As incongruous as it seems (as Trithereon pointed out) I would rule Magic Circle hedges out summoned and conjured, but not called, and hedges in any of them.

According to the section on magic, however, the creature can still teleport/dim door out of the circle and can still make ranged attacks outside the circle. So, I don't think this is unbalancing for a 3rd level spell, especially considering some of the extra precautions you must take and the amount of time that could be involved.

Trithereon
Pie
(12/6/02 8:39:29 am)
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Re: Am I cheating my players?
Here's the relevant portion of the SDR

Quote:
Spells that call powerful extraplanar creatures are most useful when the conjurer has a magical trap to hold the summoned creature. The simplest type of trap is a magic circle spell (magic circle against chaos, magic circle against evil, etc.). When focused inward, a magic circle spell binds a called creature for a maximum of 24 hours per caster level, provided that the character casts the spell that calls the creature within 1 round of casting the magic circle.


Upon reading it over again I can see some strength for the arguement that "magic circle inward is significantly different from magic circle outward". A magic circle focused outward lasts only 10 minutes per level but a magic circle focused inward lasts 24 horus per level. That's a significant duration difference. But is it enough to then stretch it into ruling that magic circle focused outward only affects summoned creatures?

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