Spell Mantles Then And Now (also Spell Baldrics, sort of)

Spellmantles.

Love them or hate them all you want, Spellmantles are iconic-to-the-Realms elements of magic that are totally awesome to read about in novels, and almost never work in play at the gaming table.

Here’s something that deflected spells, blocked spells, drank spell energy, consumed the power of worn magic items, modified cast spells, carried and unleashed hanging spells in a fusillade of arcane power, and did a whole host of other things–again, real cool to read about, but a devil of a thing to make work during play.

2nd Edition tried hard–really hard–to simultaneously portray Spellmantles in the rubric of the AD&D rules while getting them right vis-a-vis the novel descriptions, and (in my not so humble opinion) what we got were overpowered mechanics that were very complicated.

3rd Edition took a step in the right direction. Spellmantles were far less complicated, but not as flavorful. You had one spell that did something spellmantle-ish, and it worked as well as it was intended to (at least in my Realms campaign).

4th Edition…what?

As for 5th Edition, well I guess it’s all up to me. And just to keep things interesting, my Cormyr sourcebook is set in 1479 DR–firmly in the time frame of 4th Edition D&D, but my book is written with the 5th Edition D&D rules.

Confused? Good, let’s get started.

1. The K.I.S.S. rule applies (see the post above this one): All the properties of the classic Spellmantle should be broken down into their own unique pieces. Regardless of the form those pieces take, they will allbe explained clearly and with as few words as possible.

2. The “pieces” should be both spells and magic items.

3. There should be no one single Spellmantle, as in no single spell called “Spellmantle”. Ditto for magic items that create Spellmantle-type effects.

4. Each spell version should be filed under its own name in the spells section of your sourcebook. Ditto magic items. But you should also include a sidebar titled “Where is Spellmantle?” that goes on to list all the spell and item versions you’ve come up with, and then explains that practitioners of the Art have made numerous versions of the classic Spellmantle down the centuries–and lately have had to rebuild their Spellmantles from the ground up, thanks to the Spellplague severely damaging the Weave. Then go on to say that functioning examples of both are listed in the sourcebook.

5. All spell versions of Spellmantle should be more powerful if cast as a ritual, provided the caster uses certain extra material components (that are of course expensive and hard to find; see Volo’s Guide to All Things Magical for examples), or if the caster is aided by other casters in some form of cooperative spellcasting (and cooperative spellcasting is itself a topic for another day). You’ll have to go back through each spell version and think of how cooperative casting might change/alter its effects.

6. A basic spell version of Spellmantle should do something like the following:

Laspeera’s Simple Spellmantle
3rd-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, F (any single item worn or held by the caster which must be at least 300
gp in value; for every spell slot above 3rd used to cast this spell, the value of the item material
component is increased by 100 gp)
Duration: 1 day, or until just before the end of your next long rest (whichever comes first)

A brilliant blue field of magical energy appears just above your skin and clothing, and then becomes invisible. This field remains for the duration.
Any spell of 1st level or lower cast from outside the field can’t affect you or any worn or held item on your person, even if the spell is cast using a higher level spell slot. You are excluded from the areas affected by such spells.
Whenever a spell is prevented from affecting you in this way, fill in one spell slot on your character sheet of equal or higher level to the spell that was prevented. If you do not have an available spell slot, the incoming spell affects you as normal.
This spell ends if all of your spell slots become full; if you drop the material component; if the material component is destroyed; if the material component is removed from your person.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a 4th level spell slot, it protects you from spells of 2nd level or lower. A 5th level spell slot protects from 3rd level spells, and so on up to the use of a 9th level spell slot, which protects you from spells of 7th level or lower.

7. A basic magic item version would be something like this:

Wendieria’s Wand Shield
Ring, uncommon (requires attunement)

This ring is made to fit over any wand; it automatically resizes and stays firmly in place until it is removed by whomever is attuned to the ring. Placing the ring on a wand in this manner suppresses the wand’s normal magical properties.
Whenever you hold the wand this ring is placed on, you have advantage on saving throws against spells. Additionally, the hand that is holding the wand is considered to be “free” for the purposes of making Somatic gestures while spellcasting.
This ring may be worn on a finger like any other ring, but it confers no helpful magic to your person.

8. Cycling up the power level, another magic item version might be:

Crown of Arcane Defense
Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)

This ornate crown is studded with rare gems, and covered over in fine etchings of arcane runes and depictions of legendary wands, staves and rods.
While wearing this crown you have advantage on saving throws against spells.
Whenever you wear this crown while holding a wand, staff or rod that allows you to cast spells, you may use your Reaction to draw power from the held magic item to prevent a spell from affecting you.
Preventing a spell in this way requires you to use enough charges from the held item to power one of its spells that is of equal level or higher than the incoming spell. There must be sufficient charges in the item, or this property of the crown may not be utilized.
The Crown automatically alerts you to an incoming spell, even if you are not yourself aware that a spell has been cast, and informs you of the name of the incoming spell.
If you succeed in preventing an incoming spell, then if there are any other targets they are not affected by the spell either.
For example: While you are wearing this crown and are holding a Staff of Fire, a foe uses a 6th level spell slot to cast Lightning Bolt at you. The crown alerts you to the incoming spell and identifies it by the spell’s name. Because the incoming spell is 3rd level, you choose to react by utilizing the Crown to draw sufficient charges from your staff to power one of its 3rd Level spells (Fireball), and the crown takes those charges and uses them to prevent the incoming Lightening Bolt from harming you.

9. Here’s another spell version:

Handrazzur’s Spellhate
5th-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, F (any one gemstone worth at least 1,000 gp)
Duration: 1 day, or until just before the end of your next long rest (whichever comes first)

When you cast this spell, select one school of magic from the Player’s Handbook (sidebar; PHB 203). For the duration of this spell, no spell of that school may affect you. Likewise, for the duration of the spell you may not cast any spell belonging to the school you selected, nor may you cast spells belonging to the selected school from a magic item.
If you drop the material component, if the material component is destroyed, or if the material component is removed from your person in some way, the spell ends immediately.
At Higher Levels. If you use a 7th level spell slot to cast this spell, you may select two schools of magic. If you use a 9th level spell slot, you may select three schools of magic. In either case, you must have one additional gemstone of at least 1,000 gp per school selected.

10. And finally, another magic item:

Wand of Spell Parrying
Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)

This wand has 7 charges. While you hold this wand, you may use your Reaction and expend a certain number of charges to prevent a spell from affecting you, whenever you see a creature within 60 feet attempt to cast a spell at you.
Make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level. On a success, the creature’s spell has no effect on you (though it affects any other targets normally).
Preventing a spell in this way requires one charge per level of prevented spell.
Your hand that holds this wand is considered “free” for the purposes of making Somatic gestures.
This wand regains 1d6 + 1 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the wand’s last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the wand crumbles into ashes and is destroyed.

********

Alright then. That’s a start.

Reminder: I’m no 5th Edition spell expert. These are all off the top of my head. Just like everything else I come up with, I’ll refine and revise this material until it’s ready for publication.

If you decide to take some of these spells or magic items for a test drive, please let me know in this thread what worked, what didn’t, and what failed spectacularly.

Take care and thanks for reading.

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