Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Minor Creation

In the world of Dungeons & Dragons, spellcasting is king. Nothing can stand up to a being who increases their caster level with each HD, except for a higher-level spellcaster. While roaring infernos and rays of enervation all have their place on the battlefield, perhaps the most powerful - and most versatile - thing a spellcaster can do is to create. Sometimes you're creating an entire mansion with a single spell, other times you're creating a small puddle of bacon grease on the ground. In terms of creation for creation's sake, then, there's no spell more versatile than the aptly named minor creation.


Conjuration (Creation)
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: 0 ft.
Effect: Unattended, nonmagical object of nonliving plant matter, up to 1 cu. ft./level
Duration: 1 hour/level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
You create a nonmagical, unattended object of nonliving, vegetable matter. The volume of the item created cannot exceed 1 cubic foot per caster level. You must succeed on an appropriate skill check to make a complex item. Attempting to use any created object as a material component causes the spell to fail.
Material Component
A tiny piece of matter of the same sort of item you plan to create with minor creation.


This level 4 spell lets you make just about anything you want, so long as it's made of plant matter. A limit, certainly, but it's still pretty open when you consider that includes all sorts of wood - including all of the sundry pseudo-magical variants that exist in D&D - as well as many poisons, herbs and alchemical substances. A whole lot of doors open up for the creatively-minded spellcaster at level 7.

Don't want to wait that long? Well, if you're playing as a Shaper, psionic minor creation is a level 1 power. Yes, level 1. Different classes getting some spells one level earlier is fairly common, but three levels? Goodness. Being able to make whatever you like might feel par for the course as a level 7 wizard, but having that capability at level 1 is basically unrivaled. Plus, as a power, it has no need for material components - you can literally conjure up anything on demand out of thin air. Take the Linked Power feat and you can even manifest it in 1 round, rather than 1 minute. Now You're Playing With Power.

So now you have the ability to make anything the player looked up beforehand your character can think of, but what's worth actually making? What's good to know you can pull out on demand, and... well... how far can we bend the rules with this?


Mundane Items

  • Food - yes, any sort of edible veggies can sustain your party indefinitely, especially at one cubic foot per level. Coconut water might help combat dehydration, too. Not so impressive for wizards considering the level they get it, but great for psions.
  • Twine/rope, in case you lose your silk rope or it's not long enough (or you're just too cheap to buy one.) Poles, ladders and other 'reach-extenders' are also options.
  • Hemp tarps for cover in bad weather, concealment in a fight, or to cover a pit trap for the more devious among you. Coat it in linseed oil (from flax) and it can be made waterproof! Wrap your equipment to prevent it from getting wet, collect rainwater, smother a small fire, or maybe even rig a float bladder. Linen or cotton will also be on the table.
  • A big ol' block of wood. This can give you a boost to reach a high ledge, fill a doorway, provide cover, bypass/trigger traps, and maybe even block detection spells. Why bother preparing blockade again?
  • A plane. No, not an aeroplane - I mean a flat wooden plane to serve as a crude raft or bridge. Might let you sequence break if your DM is a video game. Don't forget that minor creation is dispellable at will, to pull a fast one on enemies trying to pursue you over your makeshift bridge.
  • Flour. Mark an invisible creature, leave a trail through a labyrinth, or completely take your DM by surprise.
  • Oil... no? Maybe? Your DM might not allow it, but seeing as petroleum is made up of plant material, it could arguably qualify. Prepare to go all science-y if you start having to figure out all the things you can do with pitch, coal and bitumen. (Read: blowing things up.)
  • Delayed trigger - this one is a little devious, using a shortcoming of the spell to your advantage. Created items only lasting for an hour per level is definitely a balancing factor, but why not capitalize on that fact? If you set up a trap (an explosive one, most likely) you can keep a weight off of its trigger with a board created by minor creation. In however many hours, the created item will vanish, triggering the trap while you're long gone. Plus, since minor creation is dispellable, you can also trigger the trap at will before it expires.

Superior Items

Crude squares made of various plant materials can only get you so far, but fortunately you can create something with a little more detail than that. Remember, however, that "complex" items require a Craft check to successfully make. The DC for said checks are outlined as follows:

Armor or Shield - Armorsmithing, DC 10 + AC bonus provided
Longbow or shortbow - Bowmaking, DC 12
Composite longbow or composite shortbow - Bowmaking, DC 15
Composite longbow or composite shortbow with high strength rating - Bowmaking, DC 15 + (2 × rating)
Crossbow - Weaponsmithing, DC 15
Simple melee or thrown weapon - Weaponsmithing, DC 12
Martial melee or thrown weapon - Weaponsmithing, DC 15
Exotic melee or thrown weapon - Weaponsmithing, DC 18
Very simple item (wooden spoon) - Varies, DC 5
Typical item (iron pot) - Varies, DC 10
High-quality item (bell) - Varies, DC 15
Complex or superior item (lock) - Varies, DC 20
To make an item masterwork, you must make an additional, separate DC 20 craft check.

So the specifics are mostly to do with making arms and armour, the avenue I imagine most characters will be using the least. It's useful to have, sure - you never know when you'll be captured and stripped of your equipment - but generally speaking, you'll be buying or finding your weapons. That said, bluewood is superior to normal steel and can be used to make breastplates, banded mail, splint mail, half-plate, and full-plate. It can also be used to make "metal" weapons, so you aren't limited to just clubs and quarterstaffs. This lets you essentially replicate ironwood at two spell levels lower (or five, if you're a Psion) but without the long duration or ability to make +1 weapons/armor.

Asides from armour, you could make chameleoweave clothing, which provides a bonus to disguise checks. There's also the forester's cloak from the Arms & Equipment Guide, which improves your hide checks.

General equipment is made available if you can make some moderate craft checks. Containers, musical instruments, backpacks, blankets, nets, ink, clothing, canoes, oars, sleds, holy symbols, battering rams... and that's just using what's already in the Player's Handbook. Anything made of plant fiber qualifies, but thanks to the likes of bluewood and bronzewood, you can presumably make just about any item that's normally metal, too - manacles, a barred cage, you name it.

The DCs aren't too high, but it's unlikely you're going to be wanting to invest any ranks in Craft, especially if there are several kinds you'd like to make use of. Your intelligence modifier and Aid Another checks only go so far - how do you make sure you hit those DCs? Here are a few quick ways to help those craft checks:

Divine Insight (CA): This level 2 Cleric spell gives you an insight bonus of 5+CL (maximum +15) to any one skill check. You could cast this through a minor ring of spell storing or some such workaround.
Guidance of the Avatar (web): This level 2 Cleric spells gives you a +20 competence bonus to any one skill check, rather obsoleting divine insight if both are one the table. Plus, it's "Target: Creature touched," meaning an ally could cast it on you.
Improvisation (SC): You get two 'luck points' per level, and for a number of rounds per level, you can spend up to half of your level's worth of said points to improve a skill check by an equal amount. Basically, you get a luck bonus equal to half your level on four Craft checks. Being a level 1 bard spell, you'll need to spell store this one as well.
Artifice Domain (ECS): Grants you a +4 competence bonus on all Craft checks, and you even cast creation spells at +1 caster level. Can be had with a Cleric dip or by taking Planar Touchstone (Catalogues of Enlightenment.)
Masterwork Artisan Tools (PH): 55 gp for a +2 circumstance bonus to Craft checks. Consider it an inexpensive spell focus.
Third Eye Improvisation (MIC): Once per day, you can get a +5 competence bonus on a single skill check for a skill in which you have no ranks. Not bad for 1000 gp, considering you don't always have to use it just for Crafting.
Artiste Psicrystal (XPH) - Grants a +3 untyped bonus on all craft checks - a no-brainer if you're a shaper. Plus, your psicrystal can use Aid Another on your checks.


Building Materials

While more thoroughly covered in an earlier article, being able to make any sort of wood you want, regardless of how supernatural its effects are, is something that deserves a little research beforehand to ensure you're getting the most bang for your buck. Here is a quick reminder of the fancy woods available in D&D, plus one or two other plant materials useful in crafting.

Bluewood (UE): Magically-treated wood that is as strong as steel but weighs 50% less. Can be made into weapons or armor, and all bluewood items are automatically considered masterwork. The hardness and HP of a bluewood item are the same as what it's replacing.
Bronzewood (ECS): A hardwood that is as strong as steel but weighs 10% less. Can be made into weapons or armor. Bronzewood armor offers no penalty to hide checks in wooded areas. Hardness 10, 20 HP/inch.
Darkwood (DMG): Darkwood weighs half as much as normal wood, and reduces the armor check penalty by 2 when made into a shield. Hardness 5, 10 HP/inch.
Densewood (ECS): A very sturdy wood that weighs twice as much as normal, but adds +5 to the break DC. Hardness 8, 20 HP/inch.
Duskwood (MoF): Another wood that weighs half as much as normal. Can be made into weapons or breastplates, which will count as light armor and have reduced penalties. Hardness 10, 30 HP/inch.
Livewood (ECS): Wood that continues living even after being cut or fashioned into an object. Spells that affect plants can be used on it. For those of you who always wanted a sentient, mobile house. Hardness 6, 10 HP/inch.
Serren (BoED): Wood from the plane of Arborea. If made into arrows or bolts, it grants them the ghost touch ability.
Soarwood (ECS): Weighs 25% less than usual, and the speed of boats or ships made from it is doubled. If you're unfortunate enough to be in Eberron, it's required to make an airship. Hardness 5, 10 HP/inch.
Weirwood (MoF): A wood favored for creating musical instruments, it glows like a candle for 1d4+1 rounds after leaving an area of magical illumination. Living weirwood has fire resistance 20, but it loses this quality after being harvested. Hardness and HP are undefined.
Wildwood (RotW): This wood weighs 25% less than usual and is nearly as strong as steel. When made into armor, the armor class bonus is reduced by 1 but armor check penalties and maximum Dexterity are likewise improved. While exposed to sunlight it heals 1 HP per hour, and if immersed in water as well it heals five HP per hour. Hardness 6, 10 HP/inch.


Poisons

While its use may constitute an 'evil act,' the real barrier making poison use unattractive is the cost, which isn't so bad per dosage but adds up fast. Being able to make any plant-based poison on demand (particularly at a rate of roughly 7.5 gallons per level) suddenly makes it a lot more tenable. Plus, since poison can be pricey and you're making it for free, you might even be able to turn around and sell it for a profit (cough cough, black lotus extract.)

Do poisons count as 'complex items' and thus necessitate a Craft check? We really aren't sure. If your DM decides they do, the Arms & Equipment Guide introduces Craft (poisonmaking) for creating the various poisons out of their raw materials. The Craft DC for each poison (where provided) is included in case you need to make such a check.
         
Battasss smoke (SK): Inhaled, DC 15, initial damage 1d4 Wis, secondary damage sleep 1d4+2 rounds. 1000 gp, Craft DC ?
Belladonna (MM): Ingested, DC 13, initial damage 1d6 Str, secondary damage 2d6 Str. Cost and craft DC are unspecified. (Presumably nil, seeing as it's a raw plant.)
Black Lotus Extract (DMG): Contact, DC 20, initial and secondary damage 3d6 Con. 4500 gp, Craft DC 35
Bloodroot (DMG): Injury, DC 12, initial damage 0, secondary damage 1d4 Con + 1d3 Wis. 100 gp, Craft DC 15
Blue Whinnis (DMG): Injury, DC 14, initial damage 1 Con, secondary damage Unconsciousness. 120 gp, Craft DC 15
Cave Terror (UD): Ingested, DC 20, initial damage confusion, secondary damage 1d4 Int. 200 gp, Craft (Alchemy) DC 25
Cretel Leaf Residue (A&EG): Ingested, DC 14, initial damage 1d4 Con & gain +2 Dex bonus, secondary damage 1d6 Con. 150 gp, Craft DC 20
Crippling Vine (A&EG): Contact, DC 13, initial damage 1d4 Str + 1d4 Con, secondary damage 0. 180 gp, Craft DC 15
Duthlah’hass smoke (SK): Inhaled, DC 16, initial damage feeblemind 2d6 minutes, secondary damage 2d4 Dex. 2000 gp, Craft DC ?
Ektharisss smoke (SK): Inhaled, DC 11, initial damage 1d6 Str, secondary damage 1d4 Str. 1250 gp, Craft DC ?
Goodbye Kiss (CS): Ingested/Injury, DC 15, initial damage Exhaustion for 1 hour, secondary damage Exhaustion for 1 hour or unconsciousness for 1 hour if the initial save was also failed. 350 gp, Craft DC 15
Gray Whinnis (A&EG): Injury, DC 20, initial damage 1d4 Con, secondary damage Paralysis. 3000 gp, Craft DC 20
Greensickness (MM3): Inhaled, DC 33, initial and secondary damage 2d6 Str + 1d4 Con. Cost and Craft DC are unspecified.
Haluroot (A&EG): Injury, DC 13, initial damage 1d2 Wis, secondary damage 1d2 Wis. 150 gp, Craft DC 15
Horror Weed Extract (A&EG): Contact, DC 20, initial damage 1 Wis, secondary damage 2d4 Wis. 600 gp, Craft DC 25
Id Moss (DMG): Ingested, DC 14, initial damage 1d4 Int, secondary damage 2d6 Int. 125 gp, Craft DC 15
Malyss Root Paste (DMG): Contact, DC 16, initial damage 1 Dex, secondary damage 2d4 Dex. 500 gp, Craft DC 20
Nitharit (DMG): Contact, DC 13, initial damage 0, secondary damage 3d6 Con. 650 gp, Craft DC 20
Psychotropic Rot (DotU): Ingested, DC 15, initial damage 1d4 Wis, secondary damage 3d18 hp. 125 gp, Craft DC 17
Redek Vine Extract (A&EG): Injury, DC 17, initial damage 2d6 Dex, secondary damage 0. 1500 gp, Craft DC 25
Rill Leaf (A&EG): Injury, DC 14, initial damage 1d2 Cha, secondary damage 1d4 Cha. 120 gp, Craft DC 15
Sassone Leaf Residue (DMG): Contact, DC 16, initial damage 2d12 hp, secondary damage 1d6 Con. 300 GP, Craft DC 20
Sinmaker's Surprise (MoTP): Injury/Ingested, DC 24 (injury)/18 (ingested), inital damage 2d6 Con, secondary damage 2d6 Con. Also deals 1d6 points of acid damage per round for 3 rounds with no save. 4400 GP, Craft DC ?
Sleep Poison (SK): Contact, DC 17, initial damage unconsciousness 1d3 rounds, secondary damage unconsciousness 1d3 hours. 300 gp, Craft DC ?
Sleeping Weed (A&EG): Contact, DC 13, initial damage slowed, secondary damage 1d4 Dex. 500 gp, Craft DC 15. The duration of the slowing effect is unspecified.
Spotted Toadstool Venom (PGtE): Injury, DC 16, initial damage 1d6 Str, secondary damage 1d6 Con. 350 gp, Craft DC ?
Striped Toadstool (DMG): Ingested, DC 11, initial damage 1 Wis, secondary damage 2d6 Wis + 1d4 Int. 180 gp, Craft DC 15
Stun Gas (UD): Inhaled, DC 12, initial damage Stunning (1 round), secondary damage Stunning (1d4 rounds.) 40 gp, Craft DC unspecified
Taxine (web): Ingested, DC 13, initial damage 1d2 Con, secondary damage 2d6 Con, 100 gp. Each subsequent exposure increases the DC by 2 and adds +1d2 Con damage to the secondary damage. No Craft check necessary for raw bark and leaves, surely!
Terinav Root (DMG): Contact, DC 16, initial damage 1d6 Dex, secondary damage 2d6 Dex. 750 gp, Craft DC 25
Vapid Leaf Extract (A&EG): Injury, DC 16, initial damage Dazed (eurphoric), secondary damage 2d6 Int. 250 gp, Craft DC 20


Drugs

Introduced in The Book of Vile Darkness, drugs are variants of poison... which is pretty accurate. They have initial and secondary effects over the course of a minute. The main difference is some folks want to take these here poisons. Further, one can become addicted if they fail a Fortitude save, which results in ability damage while the character goes through withdrawal. Best of all, multiple doses within a period of time results in an overdose, which can be extremely debilitating. Most of these are best weaponized against your foes, as any poison, but some have effects beneficial for the PCs to make use of.

Devilweed: Inhaled, DC 15, initial damage 1 Wis and shaken, secondary damage +2 alchemical bonus to Str for 1d3 hours. 6 gp, Alchemy DC 20
Dreamlily (SoS): Ingested, DC 12, initial damage immunity to fear effects, not disabled until at -5 hit points and not dying until at -6, secondary damage 1d4 Wis. Users can take only partial actions while under the effects. 1 gp, Alchemy DC unspecified. A DC 10 Will save must be made against overdosing, which deals 2d4 damage. A separate DC 14 Fortitude save must be made against addiction, for which withdrawal causes a -2 penalty to Will saves and a loss of 1d6 Dex, 1d6 Wis and 1d2 Con. A new save can be made every day, and two consecutive saves shakes off the addiction.
Luhix: Injury, DC 25, initial damage 1 point in all abilities, secondary damage +2 alchemical bonus to all abilities for 1d2 hours. 2000 gp, Alchemy DC 30. Note that "Users who take more than one dose of luhix in 24 hours must make a Fort DC 25 save or die in indescribable agony," making this possibly the most effective poison there is.
Mordayn Vapor/Dreammist: Inhaled, DC 17, initial damage 50% chance to lose action for 1d20+10 minutes, secondary damage 1d4 Con + 1d4 Wis. 200 gp, Alchemy DC 20. Might have interesting applications in when a dose wears off, the user must succeed at a DC 17 Will save or be compelled (similar to the effects of a suggestion spell) to do whatever is necessary to obtain another dreammist dose. This compulsion lasts for 1d4 hours before fading. Note that if raw mordayn is ingested, it becomes a deadly poison (Ingested, DC 17, initial damage 1d10 Con, secondary damage 1d10 Con.)
Mushroom Powder: Inhaled, DC 15, initial damage +2 alchemical bonus to Int and Cha for 1 hour, secondary damage 1 Str. Also gives a -2 alchemical penalty to Wis for 1d4 hours, and -2 to Str and Con for 2d4 hours. 100 gp, Alchemy DC 25. If more than one dose is taken in a 12-hour period, the user takes 2d6 points of damage. Using it more than three times in any 24-hour period deals 4d6 points of damage and paralyzes the user for 2d4 hours.
Redflower Leaves: Ingested, DC 10. As a move-equivalent action, the user may focus total attention on a single target. If this action is followed by an attack against the target, then the user gains a +4 competence bonus on the next attack roll. This ability lasts for 10 minutes. 300 gp, Alchemy DC 27. Taking a second dose before the effects of the first has worn off causes the user to be nauseated for 1d4 x 10 minutes.
Vodare: Ingested, DC 13, initial damage +2 Intimidate and saves against fear for 1d4 hours, secondary damage -4 Bluff and Diplomacy for 2d4 hours. 40 gp, Alchemy DC 15. If more than one dose is taken in a 4-hour period, the user becomes catatonic unless a DC 15 Fort save is made.


Alchemical Extracts

Magic of Faerun introduced alchemical extracts: dispensable, nonmagical substances with small effects, many of them plant-based. For the average character, I don't think any of them are worth using, but when you can create vast quantities for free with Minor Creation, then they're certainly at least worth considering.

Air Plant (Storm): This plant stores pockets of air. Placing a fist-sized lump of it in one's mouth provides enough air for 5 minutes. 25 gp
Bloodflower Salve (SK): This is a weird one. After rubbing it on one's body, anytime thereafter, anyone within 25 feet may speak a command word specified when the salve was created to deliver a cure minor wounds effect. Still not magical, though. 10 gp
Darkberry (MoF): A berry that, when broken or crushed, creates a 5 foot diameter circle of blackness for 2 rounds. 5 gp
Felsul Flower Oil (MoF): A perfume that provides a +1 competence bonus to Charisma-based checks to persuade another for 10 minutes. One ounce of the stuff contains ten doses and is worth 100 gp
Grayflower Perfume (PGtE): This perfume actually masks your scent, adding +5 to the DC for a creature with Scent to track or detect you. One vial has enough for two hours. 100 gp
Herb, Cassil (FRCS): A male humanoid who ingests a teaspoon of this powder is rendered infertile for 3d4 days. 1 gp
Herb, Nararoot (FRCS): Tea brewed from this root renders women infertile for 1d4+2 days. Chewed raw, it lasts for 2d4+4 days. I can't imagine you'll have much use for these substances, unless 1. You're performing ye olde political intrigue, or 2. You're playing a Corruption of Champions campaign, in which case please stop. 2 sp
Icewild Lichen Paste (SoS): One dose confers immunity to fatigue or exhaustion from running, forced march, altitude or temperature for 2d4 hours, after which you feel fatigued for 2d4 minutes. Taking more than one dose in a day results in an overdose, dealing 1d4 points of Constitution damage without granting the usual benefit. 50 gp
Lodret Leaf (PGtE): Chewing on this leaf gives you a +5 alchemical bonus to Fortitude saves against natural diseases for one hour. 75 gp
Mule Pollen (MoF): Inhaling this pollen gives +2 Str, -2 Int and -2 Wis for 1d4 x 10 minutes. Each use also forces a DC 12 Fortitude save against being addicted, failure meaning you're fatigued whenever you're not under the pollen's effects. A casting of neutralize poison negates the addiction. 50 gp
Red Helmthorn Berry (MoF): If you cast goodberry on one of these, it lasts for one day longer than usual. Um... listed here only for the sake of completeness. 1 sp
Shadowtop Torch (MoF): A torch made of shadowtop wood burns for 2 hours and gives off very little smoke. 1 sp
Silverbark Sap (MoF): A natural antitoxin, consuming one ounce provides a +2 alchemical bonus to saves vs. poison for 1 hour. 20 gp
Sleepwood Pod (MoF): A dried pod that releases spores when broken. A ranged touch attack (range increment 5 feet) can force a Will save (DC 12) against sleep for 1 minute. 50 gp
Tashana Lichen Paste (SoS): This one's a bit of a mess. Basically, it's a type of lichen paste that can replicate the effects of any potion or oil. Yessir, you name it, you can make it out of ground lichen. The entry notes that lichen pastes have all the same requirements to make as regular potions (spellcasting ability, Brew Potion feat, XP and gold costs,) so it's pretty easy for a DM to put his foot down, but doesn't minor creation circumvent that? After all, it states that it only needs skill checks to make any sort of item. Who knows! In terms of balance issues, I can imagine him not wanting you to create over 52 gallons of oil of magic weapon +5 with a single spell, but maybe you can use this as a point of compromise after black lotus extract is disallowed.


Other Materials

So there are plenty of plants useful in raw form, but don't forget that all sorts of useful substances - many still used today, and more importantly, most of them used in a historical capacity - can be created from them. Nothing listed here has any write-up in any of the D&D books, so their general capabilities are up for your DM to determine. Ditto the DC to craft any of these, though I'd personally lean towards Alchemy DC 15 - 20, depending. Here's just a short list of examples, as it's truly staggering just how many substances are made of modified plant matter in some form.

Amber: An honest-to-goodness gem made of plant material (fossilized tree resin,) amber can be sold as any other gem. It might be easier to store and sell than valuable spices and substances like saffron, pepper, tobacco and cloves. Amber also has electrostatic properties, if you're into that sort of thing.
Copal: Amber that isn't fully formed; it can be used as incense.
Dammar Gum: A resin from trees that can be used to caulk wood, preserve food, varnish paintings, create torches and make incense.
Opium: For combating pain-based penalties... or just passing the time.
Rosin: A pine resin that can be made into ink, sealing wax, soap, adhesive and wax for bowstrings. In powdered form it has friction-increasing capabilities, and could arguably give a bonus to climb checks.
Sandarac: A tree resin that can be made into varnish or incense.
Turpentine: Combustible, a solvent, a cleaning agent and lice treatment.


Creation by Proxy

A djinni can cast major creation once per day, with the very important addendum that any vegetable matter they create is permanent. You can summon a djinni with summon monster VII, though it would be quite a feat indeed to have a long enough summon duration for it to complete the 10 minute casting time of major creation. Planar binding would be a better way to put one to work. In such a case, you can think of more long-term applications of Plants On Demand: a cabin is no longer just temporary shelter from the elements but a permanent domicile. Black lotus extract can be stored indefinitely while you furtively seek out buyers. Those, uh, red helmthorn berries can patiently wait for their devastating power to be unleashed.

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