Unpredictable Spells

April 6th, 2015

Joshua Zaback

Obscure Arcana Archive

Magic is dangerous and unpredictable, or so the theory goes. Actually, magic tends to be very straightforward, and in many cases is more predictable than purely physical actions. For example, a summon monster spell always summons the appropriate creature for a set amount of time, and it behaves in a predictable way, but climbing a rope requires a Climb check that may or may not work out, depending on (among other things) the outcome of a random dice roll. This week’s Obscure Arcana seeks to explore a more unpredictable and dangerous side of magic, with three spells that force the caster to take a risk and live or die by the fickle hands of fate.


School evocation [fire]; Level bloodrager 4, magus 4, sorcerer/wizard 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S,
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Area one 10-ft.-radius burst/3 caster levels
Duration instantaneous
Save Reflex half; Spell Resistance yes

You create a number of fiery explosions, though you have only loose control over where they appear. When you cast this spell, you create one 10-foot-radius spread of fire for every 3 caster levels (to a maximum of 5 at 15th level). Characters in any of these areas suffer 5d6 points of fire damage, with a Reflex save for half damage. Characters caught in multiple areas suffer an additional 2d6 points of fire damage for each additional area after the first they are caught in. You choose where to place the first area within the spell’s range, but the next areas appear randomly. Roll 1d8 to determine direction of the next area; the next area is centered 1d10 x 5 feet in the direction indicated from the point of origin of the first area. Repeat this process for any subsequent areas of fire, using the last created area’s point of origin to determine direction and distance.


School conjuration (creation); Level psychic 7, sorcerer/wizard 7
Casting Time 10 minutes
Components V, S, M (diamond dust worth 1,000 gp)
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Effect one magical double
Duration 24 hours
Save none; Spell Resistance no

You create a magical double of yourself that generally obeys your commands and serves your interest. This magical simulacrum has identical statistics to yourself, including any permanent bonuses provided by magical items (such as that provided by a headband of intellect), and possesses mundane replicas of your gear. The magical double has all of your memories and skills, and though it cannot cast spells on its own, it can cast spells on your behalf, allowing it to cast any spell you are able to cast by expending one of your spell slots. The double acts independently and on its own initiative, although it obeys your commands to the best of its ability.

Every hour, there is a small chance that the double will lose some of its magical connection to you, becoming unstable and potentially dangerous. Each hour, roll 1d20. If the result is a natural 1, roll a second d20. If the result of this second roll is odd, the double crumbles to ash. If the result of the second roll is even, the double becomes evil (if it was not already) and attacks you. A double that has turned in this way gains its own spell slots, identical to the spell slots you have remaining, and can cast any spell you had prepared or were able to cast at the time it turned. A turned double returns to normal after 1 hour.


School transmutation; Level alchemist 4, antipaladin 4, bard 4, cleric 5, druid 5, inquisitor 4, magus 4, medium 4, mesmerist 4, paladin 4, psychic 5, ranger 4, shaman 5, sorcerer/wizard 5, witch 5
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (a vial of quicksilver worth 50 gp)
Range personal
Target you
Duration 1 hour

You invoke primal energies of transformation in order to alter your form, granting you greater physical or mental abilities. When you cast this spell, you randomly assume the form of the champion, the form of the scholar, or the form of the thief. The assumed form remains until the spell ends, and each grants unique abilities as outlined below.

Champion: You gain a +4 enhancement bonus to your Strength and Constitution scores, proficiency with all weapons (including exotic weapons and siege weapons) and may make an additional attack at your highest base attack bonus as part of a full-attack action. While in the form of the champion, you may not cast spells, except those with a range of personal or a range of touch, and may cast spells with a range of touch only on yourself.

Scholar: You gain a +4 enhancement bonus to your Intelligence and Wisdom scores and treat your caster level as 4 higher than it actually is. You may also take 10 on all Intelligence- and Wisdom-based skill checks. While in the form of the scholar, you become exceptionally frail and fragile, and suffer twice as much damage as you normally would from non-spell sources.

Thief: You gain a +4 enhancement bonus to your Dexterity and Charisma scores, gain a competence bonus on all skill checks equal to 1/2 your caster level, and gain the ability to find and disable magical traps. While in the form of the thief, you lose proficiency with martial weapons, except for the shortbow, longsword, short sword, and rapier, and cannot cast spells with a saving throw entry denoted as other than harmless.