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Old Screeds

In Their Tiny Hands [24 June 06] What other gamers think about the Shrink Item spell.

After mapping out my recent screeds on the Dungeons and Dragons Shrink Item spell, I wondered what other folks around the Internets thought of it. Here are some of the more interesting things I found.

This Wizards Community Thread suggests using Shrink Item to carry around a forge, unshrinking it when needed, for example, to fix sundered weapons, etc. The thread also points out the danger of enemy anti-magic causing that forge to unshrink while it's in your pocket.

Here's a forum discussion talking about casting Wall of Iron, then shrinking the plates so created. If you have trouble getting your hands on iron plates otherwise, it's a good idea. The discussion also suggests using a Glove of Storing to store the shrunk Walls of Iron, which is like my suggestion of using Quickdraw to pull them out as needed. But since a Glove of Storing works by shrinking, I personally would not let a Glove store shrunk items, since then you are reducing an item already reduced, and reduction magics should not stack, IMNSHO.

In this description of a gaming session, a mage uses Shrink Item to transport the body of a dead comrade.

In this story of a game session, the PCs use Shrink Item to make off with some very heavy artwork treasure.

This fellow uses Shrink Item in one of the methods he offers to kill the Tarrasque! To wit, lace a sacrificial goat with lots of shrunk iron weight, get the beast to eat the goat, then trap it in a deep pit of water ... unshrink the metal to weigh the monster down so that it drowns! I think his methods use the 3.0 rules ... several things he suggests are illegal under the 3.5 ruleset. For example, under 3.5, there is a hit dice limit on the Simulacrum spell. Amusing reading nonetheless.

Here's a discussion at EnWorld on how to use magic to create a doomsday device, or at least a nuclear weapon equivalent. One idea is to shrink as many blocks of stone as you can, contain them all in a forcecube, expand them, and wait for the forcecube to end, at which point the tremendous energy of all those compressed blocks of stone will be released ...

On this thread, one person warns about a PC who makes "hundreds of bottles of alchemist's fire or acid (cheaply with the fabricate spell), shrinking them fifty at a time into fist sized lil' holocaustic bundles of joy, keeping them safe in a Quiver of Elhonna or handy haversack, and using the bundles for every single attack." Once you lick the problem of unshrinking them all at the same time (Dispel Magic, maybe), the possibility of abuse certainly becomes a danger.

Here's a really good discussion on the Paizo message boards. Mostly around throwing a shrunk boulder and expanding it as it approaches the enemy, doing 20+ dice of damage. Plus some good thoughts on the spell in general, especially its power level and game balance.

Final Thoughts: Well, any spell that you can use to kill the Tarrasque, or create a fantasy-world nuke, especially a third-level spell, is clearly broken. But to simply declare the Shrink Item spell broken and to toss it out would be a shame ... a needless shame. Instead, let's take a brief look at all the ways you can use the spell and consider restricting particular uses.

From Part 1 of this series:

  • Equip to excess. No restriction needed, other than the volume limit built into the spell.
  • Lift large loot. No restriction needed.
  • Play pranks. I would rule that activation requires a drop or a touch with that command word. So if you want to plant items and then unshrink from afar, you have to use Dispel Magic to do so (or wait for the duration to expire).
  • Delay decay. No restriction needed.
From Part 2 of this series:
  • Pillboxes. I suggest using total volume, not volume of walls, for pillboxes. That would rule these out. I would allow traditional cages, though, if they provide no cover (see below for caging in a foe).
  • Platforms. You can always climb or jump on top of a cage. I would also allow a platform on stilts, but keep in mind that taking out legs is not that hard. I might allow one battlement-type wall, but not more, on volume grounds.
  • Walls. These are fine, but keep im mind that thin walls have few hit points and are easy to breach.
  • Cages (for containing foes). I would not allow the kind that put a roof over a target's head. But if you use a wall or two to contain a foe, I see no problem with that.
  • Tricksy terrain. I see no problem with this. But be wary of total volume if you add impediments to your terrain.
From Part 3 of this series:
  • Bottle that boat. No restriction needed.
  • Use while shrunk. I have no problem with using items while they are shrunk, and I would allow them to keep their hardness and hit points, so that they are harder to break. But cloth-like shrunk items lose their hardness, and I would grant no special bonuses to shrunk armor.
  • Fuel for animation. No restriction needed.
  • Tension is your friend. I think that I would not allow expanding items to exert pressure on themselves or other things. Why not look at the Blink and Dimension Door spells. There are rules for when two objects try to occupy the same space. I say let the expanding object take 1d6 damage and be shunted off to the nearest open space big enough for it.

I think that with a little common sense, Shrink Item retains its versatility and value -- and does not break the game. And I guess that makes this Part 5 of this Four Part Series! Now get out there and start shrinking!

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