Behind the Spells: Spiritual Weapon
Welcome back to Behind the Spells, the series that provides a historical background, secret effects, and related material to classic spells of the world’s most famous fantasy roleplaying game. The rules (presented after the “Spell Secret” header) are compatible with any 3.5/OGL fantasy game, and the background weaves the spell into the lore of the game’s previous three editions. Each Behind the Spells release is narrated by an ancient gold dragon named Maxolt Alberiim.
How is faith measured? You will find that the answer differs from culture to culture. For some, faith is measured by how often an individual attends worship services. For others, faith is measured by how much coin a person feeds into a church’s coffers. But is either method a valid one? In this dragon’s opinion: no.
Faith is best measured by works—specifically, works which best promote those qualities that define the deity in question. For this discussion, the deity is that of the dwarves, referred to back in the day as the Forge-Father. Most powerful of the dwarven gods, the Forge-Father valued community, loyalty, and the strength of both steel and character. The symbol by which all dwarves knew him was that of a warhammer within an unbroken gray circle. [More…]
The legend of Ivik Graygem is a well-known among the dwarven people. Neither expert craftsman nor accomplished leader, Ivik held the same status of many dwarves—accomplished fighter and stalwart friend. But Ivik was forced into legend, as so often happens, by events out of his control. When a coordinated duergar attack caught Ivik’s clan by surprise, most of the fighters and clerics were dispatched to the entrance tunnels to fend off the assault. As is customary, a handful of dwarves were left behind to guard the clan’s non-combatants (the infirm and children) and Ivik was one of those warriors.
This duergar attack, however, was not like many of the others. With the bulk of its force engaged by the good dwarves, a duergar squad punched the final hole through a secret passage it had been carefully constructing for years—a passage that led directly into the clan’s residential areas.
Ivik was one of the first to hear the duergar’s arrival and met the enemy with his magic hammer raised high, though only a few companions at his side. The defense was well-executed but the enemy proved too many to stop. Ivik ordered his fellows to take the non-combatants into the escape tunnels and to warn the main force of the duergar’s flanking. The structure of the dwarves’ home in this area forced the enemy into a bottleneck and Ivik planned to make his stand in that gap while his orders were executed. Under protest, the other dwarves fell back while Ivik, despite numerous injuries, fought on.
The lone dwarf needed to buy enough time for his people to escape and refortify and so made a heartfelt plea to the Forge-Father to give him enough strength to outlive any mortal injury until that time had passed. The dwarven deity was so impressed with Ivik’s faith and self-sacrifice that he not only granted the request but offered the warrior’s spirit an even higher honor.
Word of the Forge-Father
The Forge-Father revealed that Ivik’s clan would have to flee their home, but one day they would return to oust the duergar invaders using the same secret tunnel the enemy had carved. Until that day, Ivik’s spirit would remain to guard that area against settlement by the gray dwarves. The dying dwarf agreed without hesitation and within moments Ivik’s spirit merged with the magical power of his blood-spattered warhammer.
The Forge-Father’s words proved true and the duergar conquered the dwarven halls. But the area around the secret tunnel remained empty as the gray dwarves refused to go near the chambers that were haunted by a floating, glowing hammer. Decades passed and, when Ivik’s clan returned to retake their home, Ivik’s spirit was prepared to fulfill the next part of his destiny. When sorely pressed during the attack, a familiar glowing hammer at a critical moment appeared and helped Ivik’s people. The lead priest of the Forge-Father recognized the weapon as Ivik’s and realized the missing dwarf’s fate. After the dwarves retook the halls, Ivik’s spirit was able to finally at peace and his hammer was laid to rest in a special tomb with full honors.
To honor the dwarf, the priest who recognized the hammer decided to immortalize the dwarf’s sacrifice in the form of a new spell—spiritual hammer—which he called upon the Forge-Father to create and disperse throughout the priesthood. As dwarves used the spiritual hammer spell over the centuries, it inevitably came to the attention and general use of all deities and their clerics. It has only been during the last few decades that clerics have learned to tweak the spell to better reflect their own deity’s sacred weapons. Naturally, with a new way of using a spell comes a new name—spiritual weapon.
By the same token that spiritual weapon is based on a cleric’s deity so too can the domains associated with that deity affect the spell. Clerics that successfully attempt this spell secret find themselves with one more tool for a given situation. The spell secret of the domain a cleric chooses is not applicable to every situation but it will eventually prove useful at a critical time.
If you succeed a Spellcraft check (DC 17) while casting spiritual weapon, you choose one (and only one) of your domains to be linked to the spell for the duration. Failure of the Spellcraft check means the spell is cast normally. Success affords you one bonus effect depending on the domain chosen (in addition to the weapon’s normal force damage unless noted).
Cleric Domain Effect
Air Normal damage also counts as electrical damage
Animal Struck target has its scent range reduced by one-half for 1 hour
(duration is cumulative for multiple strikes)
Chaos Add 1d4 damage against lawful targets
Death Struck target is shaken for 1 round
Destruction Critical threat range of the weapon is doubled
Earth Struck non-aquatic target cannot use tremorsense for 1 round
Evil Add 1d4 damage against good targets
Fire Normal damage also counts as fire damage
Good Add 1d4 damage against evil targets
Healing Add 1d4 damage against undead targets
Knowledge Critical multiplier of the weapon increases by 1 (x2 becomes x3 for example)
Law Add 1d4 damage against chaotic targets
Luck Weapon gains +2 to attack rolls
Magic Weapon is unaffected by spell resistance
Plant Normal damage also counts as acid damage
Protection Damage inflicted is nonlethal
Strength Weapon gains +2 to damage rolls
Sun Struck target is coated in faerie fire for 1 round
Travel Struck target moves at one-half speed for 1 round
Trickery Struck target takes no damage but is flat-footed for 1 round
War Weapon gains +1 to both attack and damage rolls
Water Normal damage also counts as cold damage
The unnamed cleric who created the predecessor spell to spiritual weapon was not the only dwarf to be inspired by Ivik’s dangerous hammer. One of the gray dwarves who survived when the good dwarves retook their home had desires of his own for a new spell. This lucky duergar priest had once encountered the floating hammer of Ivik but lived to tell the tale. Once secure in a hidden shrine to his dark goddess, the duergar asked for a spell quite similar to spiritual weapon but, of course, on a grander scale. The result is the variant spell given below. Greater spiritual weapon is slowly coming into widespread use as it was, until recently, unknown to most surface dwellers and shunned by good-aligned dwarven clerics due to its duergar origin.
Note: The spell secret given above may be used on this variant but a Spellcraft check (DC 24) must be succeeded for each created weapon. If more than one weapon is affected, each may be attributed a different bonus effect subject to the number/type of domains the cleric possesses.
Variant Spell: Spiritual Weapon, Greater
As spiritual weapon but with the following exceptions…
Level: Clr 4
Effect: One magic weapon of force/2 caster levels
You create one weapon made of pure force for every two caster levels you possess. Up to four weapons can attack a single target. This spell functions in all other ways as spiritual weapon.
Behind the Spells: Spiritual Weapon is the seventh in a series produced for KoboldQuarterly.com by Tricky Owlbear Publishing, Inc.