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Old Screeds

The Arcane Tank [28 Feb 05] (Extra part four of three)

In a recent screed, I suggested checking out the many excellent game-related message boards scattered across the Web. Well, taking my own advice, I stumbled over a magic item design contest at the Giant In The Playgroundís site. I was inspired to think about items designed to be used by an Arcane Tank. I wanted to devise items that were obtainable by low and moderately powered characters, so I put together a package that could be afforded by a mid-level character. Here is what I came up with.

Sirrus the Storm Mage is as famous for her piety as for her cowardice. Emulating the Skylords she worships, she likes nothing better than keeping aloof and hurling her attacks from afar. So great is her caution that she insists on wearing heavy armor, even though that limits her to casting spells without complex movements or gestures. Her peculiar strategies have proven effective, however, especially since Sirrus has obtained several magic items that suit her nature perfectly.

Forked Bolt: This +1 large returning shock trident has a jagged forked head and is designed for throwing. When used outdoors under a cloudy sky, the user can choose to subtract a number up to 5 from all thrown attack rolls and add the same number to all thrown damage rolls -- if the weapon is thrown with two hands, the damage bonus is doubled. Note that the rules for throwing an inappropriately sized weapon still apply to medium size users: -2 to hit, and throwing it is a full-round action that requires two hands. As a large weapon, the trident weighs 8 pounds and inflicts a base 2d6 + Str bonus on a successful attack, plus 1d6 electrical damage.
--> Moderate Divination; CL 9th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Martial Weapon Proficiency, True Strike, Telekinesis, Lightning Bolt; Price: 28,330 gp.

Plate Armor of Guidance: Blessed by the Skylords, this +1 meteoric iron full plate is magically enhanced for ease of use. Buckles and ties fasten and unfasten themselves as appropriate, and the suit is covered with small glyphs that glow and fade to indicate when and how to put on each piece. If the user is not proficient with heavy armor, then this suit can be worn with no non-proficiency penalty. If the user is proficient, then this suit can be put on without help in four minutes, donned hastily in two, and removed in one. With a helper, these times are all cut in half. Being crafted of meteoric iron, this armor also bestows lesser electrical resistance upon the user, absorbing the first five points of electrical damage per attack that the wearer would normally take.
--> Faint transmutation; CL 9th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Armor Proficiency (Heavy), Arcane Mark, Open/Close, Unseen Servant, Resist Energy; Price: 15,650 gp.

Megaphone of Thunder: Using this item while casting a Shout or Greater Shout spell boosts the range of the spell (and thus the size of the cone created) by half again. A Shout spell is boosted from 30 feet to 45 feet. A Greater Shout is boosted from 60 feet to 90 feet. This item can be used once per day. When using the item with a Shout spell, there is a 1% chance that the spell will shatter the megaphone; with Greater Shout, the chance doubles to 2%.
--> Moderate Evocation; CL 7th; Craft Wondrous Item, Shout; Price: 7,000 gp.

Ring of Shield Storage: With a quick command word, the wearer of this ring can store a readied or held shield in the ring (like a Glove of Storing) as a free action. With another command, the shield emerges in the ringed hand, but it requires a normal move action to then ready the shield. Only a single shield can be stored in the ring at one time, and a stored shield must be retrieved before a second shield can be stored. When a shield is stored, a tiny shield can be seen on the ring, like a signet; when no shield is stored, the ring is a plain silver band.
--> Faint Transmutation; CL 5th; Craft Wondrous Item. Shrink Item; Price: 4,000 gp.

Phylactery of Sacred Whispers: This Phylactery, in the shape of a holy symbol, gives an arcane caster access to a limited number of divine spells each day, using arcane spell slots to cast the spells. The whispers from the Phylactery reveal the verbal component of a divine spell to the mage if he is a follower of the god. After wearing a Lesser Phylactery of Sacred Whispers for 24 hours, sacred words of magical power whisper in a devout wizardís ear, letting the wizard prepare Command as a first level spell using a wizard spell slot. The whispers let a pious sorcerer or bard spontaneously cast Command using a sorcerer or bard slot. Only one Command per day can be prepared or spontaneously cast. The more powerful Phylactery of Sacred Whispers lets the arcane mage prepare or spontaneously cast a first level Command and a fifth level Greater Command, once per day each. The Greater Phylactery offers Command, Greater Command, and one of the following seventh level spells: Holy Word, Blasphemy, Dictum, or Word of Chaos, depending on the god. So long as the arcane spell caster is a devout follower of the god, then the Phylactery of Sacred Whispers lets the mage use one of his spell slots to prepare or spontaneously cast each of the divine spells. The user cannot use a whispered spell unless he can cast a spell of the appropriate level: Command requires a first level or higher slot; Greater Command, a fifth level or higher slot; and Holy Word, Blasphemy, Dictum, or Word of Chaos, a seventh level or higher slot.
--> Faint, Moderate, or Strong Evocation; CL 15th; Craft Wondrous Item, Command, Greater Command, Holy Word, Blasphemy, Dictum, or Word of Chaos, Imbue with Spell Ability; Price: Lesser Phylactery of Sacred Whispers: 400 gp. Phylactery of Sacred Whispers: 18,400 gp. Greater Phylactery of Sacred Whispers: 54,800 gp.

For an example of using these items in play, here are the stats and tactics for Sirrus.

Sirrus, female human sorcerer 11: Size M (5 ft., 3 in. tall); HD 11d4+22; hp 47; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 20 ft. (30 ft. with overland flight); AC 21 (27 with shield); Base Attack +6 melee, or +6 ranged; SV Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +9; AL CN; Str 12, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 17. Language Spoken: Common.

Skills and feats: Concentration +16, Knowledge (Arcana) +4, Knowledge (Religion) (cross class) +2, Spellcraft +2

Feats: Martial Weapon Proficiency (trident), Point Blank Shot, Far Shot, Precise Shot, Heighten Spell, Still Spell.

Thrown weapon attack with +1 large returning shock trident, True Strike, and Greater Magic Weapon:
within 20 feet -- +29 attack for 2d6+4+1d6 electrical
20 to 30 feet -- +27 attack for 2d6+4+1d6 electrical
30 to 40 feet -- +26 attack for 2d6+3+1d6 electrical
(-2 to hit for each extra 20 feet)
Under cloudy skies, impose -5 attack penalty and +10 damage bonus.

Sorcerer Spells Known: 0th -- Arcane Mark, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Flare*, Ghost Sound, Light*, Mage Hand, Mending, Prestidigitation, Read Magic. 1st -- Alarm, Endure Elements, Feather Fall*, True Strike*, Ventriloquism*. 2nd -- Arcane Lock, Blindness/Deafness*, False Life, Knock*, Protection from Arrows. 3rd -- Greater Magic Weapon, Lightning Bolt, Suggestion*, Tongues*. 4th -- Dimensional Door, Leomund's Secure Shelter, Shout. 5th -- Overland Flight, Teleport.
-- Note: With Lesser Phylactery of Sacred Whispers, Sirrus can spontaneously cast Command* once per day.

*Asterix marks verbal-only spells that can be cast freely in armor.

Sorcerer Spells Cast Daily: 6/7/7/7/6/4

Familiar: Weasel


Forked Bolt (28,330 gp)
Plate Armor of Guidance (15,650 gp)
Megaphone of Thunder (7,000 gp)
Tower Shield +2 (4,180 gp)
Ring of Shield Storage (4,000 gp)
Cloak of Resistance +2 (4,000 gp)
Ring of Protection +1 (2,000 gp)
Potion of Cure Serious Wounds (750 gp)
Lesser Phylactery of Sacred Whispers (400 gp)


After her morning meditations and prayers, every day Sirrus casts Overland Flight, False Life, and Protection from Arrows on herself, shared with her familiar. She casts Greater Magic Weapon on her Guided Bolt. Then she dons her Plate Armor of Guidance and readies her +2 Tower Shield.

She typically travels clad in her Plate Armor of Guidance and +2 Tower Shield. She carries her Forked Bolt in her other hand, although she needs two free hands to throw it. Mainly she flies above enemies and uses attack spells, like Heightened Still Lightning Bolts, Shouts, and Blindness/Deafness.

Against lesser foes, or when she wishes to conserve her magic, she casts True Strike in one round, and then in the next round she stores her shield in her Ring of Shield Storage (a free action) and uses both hands to throw her large trident (the Forked Bolt). The following round she retrieves her trident and shield (two free actions), readies her shield, and casts True Strike again. The next round she throws again, her second toss in four rounds. She loves to use throw her forked bolt under cloudy skies, when she can take a -5 penalty to hit and gain +10 damage.

This is the last in a four-part series on Arcane Tanks:

  • Part one - List of spells with no somatic components.
  • Part two - Picking the best race, class, and otehr options for your arcane tank.
  • Part three - Best-practice strategies for your arcane tank.
  • Part four - A few custom magic items for your arcane tank.

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