Excerpts 12/02/2005

Spell Compendium Excerpt
By Matthew Sernett, Jeff Grubb, Mike McArtor

Magic and mayhem, healing and hindrances, astonishing displays of the arcane and soul-touching demonstrations of faith await within the Spell Compendium. Allow your characters a huge range of options in this compilation of spells both arcane and divine -- plus see illustrations and read descriptive text that gives some more life to your character's magic. The excerpts below include information from the introduction, renamed spells, two sample spells, the assassin spell list, and some domains. To learn more about what you'll find within this tome, the Introduction (see below) is a great place to start.


Pockets full of bat guano, incomprehensible speech, and twisted hands making bizarre gestures -- it sounds crazy, but in the Dungeons & Dragons game, these are the earmarks of power, for they are the signs of spellcasting. Spells and spellcasters form a cornerstone of fantasy, and Spell Compendium builds on that cornerstone by presenting over a thousand spells in one place.

This introduction describes the features of this book and how to use them. After reading it, open this book to any page; you'll find something magical on every one.

Using This Book

This book puts over a thousand spells at your fingertips. That fact might be a little intimidating, but Spell Compendium is easy to use. It works just like Chapter 11: Spells in the Player's Handbook. When selecting spells for your character, simply open and place Spell Compendium next to your Player's Handbook and use both books' spell lists for your character's class to make your spell selections. Use the same spellcasting rules presented in the Player's Handbook when casting spells from Spell Compendium, and look to Chapter 10 of the Player's Handbook for explanations of elements of the spell's descriptions.

Spell Compendium presents spells slightly differently from the Player's Handbook format.

Descriptive Passages: The first thing you're likely to note is a descriptive passage in italics. This serves much the same purpose as the italicized descriptions of monsters in the Monster Manual: It lets you know what the spell looks like, sounds like, or feels like to cast. The text in this section presents the spell from the spellcaster's view and describes what it's typically like to cast the spell. The descriptive passages shouldn't be considered to be binding rules. A grand gesture indicated by a spell's descriptive passage is unnecessary if you use the Still Spell feat to cast it, and even though a descriptive passage describes you casting a spell on another creature, it might be possible to cast the spell on yourself, depending on the spell's target entry and the rules for spellcasting in the Player's Handbook.

References to Other Books: When Spell Compendium mentions a spell, monster, or some other rule element from one of the three core rulebooks, that mention is frequently accompanied by an abbreviation (PH, DMG, MM) and a page number in parentheses, so you can find the necessary information quickly. On occasion, a spell in this book mentions or makes use of material from a D&D supplement, such as Complete Arcane or Planar Handbook. Those mentions are accompanied by parenthetical cross-references as well.

Deities for Domains: The domains presented in this book do not include lists of deities that provide these domains to their clerics. You can assign the domains to deities as you see fit, or leave the domains as options for generalist clerics who don't devote themselves to a particular deity.

Introducing Spells

The simplest way to introduce the spells in this book to your character or your campaign is to have a character choose them and cast them in play. You can assume that spellcasters always possessed the ability to cast the spells but they simply hadn't been cast in the presence of the PCs before. Alternatively, spells might be discovered in lost books of lore or newly created by a PC or NPC. Wands, scrolls, and other magic items also present great ways to introduce the spells you want your character to cast or you want to see cast by your players' PCs. Whichever way you choose to introduce Spell Compendium spells, don't hesitate or wait for the perfect moment; the best way to get the most from this or any rules supplement is to put it into play right away.

Other Spellcasting Classes

Spell Compendium deals exclusively with spells used by the classes and prestige classes introduced in the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide, but even if you're playing a different spellcasting class, you can still use this book. The advice below should help you decide how to adopt spells for your character. If the spellcasting class or prestige class you're playing isn't mentioned here, find a similar class and follow its advice. Also, many new classes and prestige classes reference the spell lists of existing classes. If your spellcaster uses the spell list of a character class mentioned in Chapter 2, your character gains access to all the spells presented for that class.

When deciding if other classes should have spells added to their spell lists, consider the advice below.

Demonologist (Book of Vile Darkness): The demonologist's spell list is intentionally narrow. Carefully consider the consequences of expanding the list. If you chose to expand the spell list, the spells you select should emphasize the demonologist's focus on demons and demonic abilities.

Disciple of Thrym (Frostburn): The disciple of Thrym's spell list is intentionally narrow. Carefully consider the consequences of expanding the list. If you choose to add spells to the disciple of Thrym's spell list, add cold spells.

Fatemaker (Planar Handbook): The fatemaker's spell list is intentionally narrow. Carefully consider the consequences of expanding the list. If you choose to expand the spell list, the spells you add should focus on personal empowerment as opposed to defense or smiting foes from afar.

Healer (Miniatures Handbook): Add spells concerned with healing, removing affliction, providing protections, and providing for needs. In particular, add higher-level versions of spells the healer can already cast, such as mass restoration.

Maho-Tsukai (Oriental Adventures): The maho-tsukai's spell list is intentionally narrow. Carefully consider the consequences of expanding the list. When adding spells to the maho-tsukai's spell list, add mainly spells with the evil descriptor.

Mortal Hunter (Book of Vile Darkness): The mortal hunters's spell list is intentionally narrow. Carefully consider the consequences of expanding the list. Examine the assassin, blackguard, and ranger spells in this book for likely additions to the mortal hunter's spell list.

Prime Underdark Guide (Underdark): The prime Underdark guide's spell list is intentionally narrow. Carefully consider the consequences of expanding the list. When adding to the spell list, look for spells that emphasize survival and exploration.

Spellthief (Complete Adventurer): The spellthief can learn sorcerer/wizard spells from several specific schools. Thus, spells in this book from those schools are available to a spellthief to learn.

Shaman (Oriental Adventures): Shamans have a spell list that is a blend of druid and cleric, but they should not get all the spells clerics and druids do. Examine the spell lists of both those classes for good choices. Also, consider using the cleric domains presented in this book as shaman domains.

Shugenja (Complete Divine): Add spells with strong elemental or weather themes. The druid spell list is a good place to look.

Sohei (Oriental Adventures): The sohei spell list is intentionally narrow. Carefully consider the consequences of expanding the list. If you choose to do so, add spells that deal with personal protection and martial ability.

Warmage (Miniatures Handbook): Expanding the warmage spell list isn't recommended. The warmage has a limited list of spells to balance its power and adding spells might tip that balance. If you'd like to add to the list anyway, try replacing access to spells rather than simply giving the warmage a wider range of spells to choose from. Of course, when a warmage gains the advanced learning class feature, the evocation spells in this book offer many options.

Wu Jen (Complete Arcane): Add spells with element (except air), wood, and metal themes.

What You Need to Play

Spell Compendium makes use of the information in the three D&D core books -- Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual. Other books might increase your enjoyment of this product, most notably Complete Arcane and Complete Divine, but they are not strictly necessary.

Swift and Immediate Actions

Some spells in this book have a casting time of "1 swift action" or "1 immediate action." These action types, not described in the core rulebooks, are defined and explained below. Swift Action: A swift action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. You can perform one swift action per turn without affecting your ability to perform other actions. In that regard, a swift action is like a free action. However, you can perform only a single swift action per turn, regardless of what other actions you take. You can take a swift action any time you would normally be allowed to take a free action.

Casting a quickened spell is a swift action (instead of a free action, as stated in the Quicken Spell feat description in the Player's Handbook).

Casting a spell with a casting time of 1 swift action does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Immediate Action: Much like a swift action, an immediate action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. However, unlike a swift action, an immediate action can be performed at any time -- even if it's not your turn. Casting feather fall is an immediate action (instead of a free action, as stated in the spell description in the Player's Handbook), since the spell can be cast at any time.

Using an immediate action on your turn is the same as using a swift action, and counts as your swift action for that turn. You cannot use another immediate action or a swift action until after your next turn if you have used an immediate action when it is not currently your turn. You also cannot use an immediate action if you are currently flat-footed.

Magic Items: Activating a spell completion item, activating a spell trigger item, or drinking a potion is a standard action even if the spell from which the scroll, potion, or item is made can be cast as a swift action. In other words, it takes a standard action to drink a potion of quick march(page 164), even though casting the spell itself requires only a swift action.


This book includes spells from many sources, including Dragon magazine, web articles previously published on the Wizards of the Coast website, and supplements such as Complete Arcane and Manual of the Planes. Most of the spells are presented with little change, but some material has been revised to v.3.5 based on feedback from thousands of D&D players comparing and debating the strengths and weaknesses of spells at gaming conventions, on message boards, on email lists, and over the counters of their friendly local gaming stores. We hope you like the changes we made to some of these spells.

If you have been playing with a spell we've picked up and revised for this book, you should strongly consider updating your character or campaign to the new version. The simplest way to do this is simply offer a "mulligan" to any character who needs tweaking. It's pretty easy to note that a spell has a different duration or that another class can now cast the spell.

Most of the changes we made to previously published material we made to create an improved version of that material -- to help out spells that were formerly suboptimal choices, to adjust spells that were simply too good, or take whatever steps the D&D 3.5 revision made necessary. Of course, if you're playing with older material and it's working fine in your game, you shouldn't feel compelled to change. It's your game, after all.

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