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I need help with a specific piece of a problem in a game I'm running, which generalizes to the question title.

Specifically, there is a big bad dracolich somewhere that the players want to be. They have a cunning plan to simply wish the dracolich away to a different place. They have access to wish through an essentially homebrewed acquired template that one of them has gained (a spiffier version of Smoking Eye Creature, from the Shackled City campaign path). The template is tied to a demiplane, and the wish effect works once/year, and the demi-plane eats the xp cost.

I have existing houserules that say wish can essentially only be used for the explicitly listed uses (it does those things without issue, and is actively malicious about perverting or failing any off-label wishes). However, this is one of the listed effects:

A wish can lift one creature per caster level from anywhere on any plane and place those creatures anywhere else on any plane regardless of local conditions. An unwilling target gets a Will save to negate the effect, and spell resistance (if any) applies.

This is where it breaks down: I haven't specified a caster level or save value for the wish ability. What would be the most standardized way to determine those?

I'm really looking for a textual basis for this. I know there are not exact rules to cover this situation (are there?), so a good answer will probably explain how this matches some existing pattern, and have a clear method for finding caster level (for SR) and saving throw DC.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have ready access to that template; does it already have SP/SU abilities that specify an effective CL, spell level, and/or key ability mod? \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Nov 8 '20 at 20:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @minnmass the printed version does not. I did not specify any when I modified it. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Nov 8 '20 at 20:11
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The standard rules for Spell-Like and Supernatural abilities have you covered:

For Spell-Like Abilities:

If no caster level is specified, the caster level is equal to the creature’s Hit Dice. The saving throw (if any) against a spell-like ability is: 10 + the level of the spell the ability resembles or duplicates + the creature’s Cha modifier.

(source)

For Supernatural Abilities:

Unless otherwise noted, a supernatural ability has an effective caster level equal to the creature’s Hit Dice. The saving throw (if any) against a supernatural ability is: 10 + ½ the creature’s HD + the creature’s ability modifier (usually Charisma).

(source)

There are templates (and creatures) that offer SP and/or SU that don't key of of Cha (eg., a dragon's breath weapon is SU, but the save is Con-based), but they're the exception.

Also, note that an SP "has no verbal, somatic, or material component, nor does it require a focus or have an XP cost" and that an SU is "not subject to spell resistance, counterspells, or to being dispelled by dispel magic" (same sources). So, RAW, the Wish ability can either cost XP or offer SR, but not both. Since the ability duplicates a spell, I believe it should default to being a Spell-Like ability.


This GM's advice, beyond simply answering the question.

Both SP and SU default to being Cha-based (and the rules strongly indicate that SP are always Cha-based). However: if the rest of the template leans towards other mental stats, keying the Wish ability off of that stat would make sense. If the quick Googling I've done is correct and "+1 caster level" is one of its key features, I'd lean towards letting the creature use its caster stat (especially since its use is so restricted).

While specific rules can override general rules, this GM would advise against the Wish ability both requiring an XP cost and offering SR: with the once-a-year limitation, spending XP only for the spell to fizzle because of SR would (in my opinion/experience) ... frankly, as a player, it'd suck. This GM would generally recommend that the Wish ability be treated fully as an SP, including the lack of an XP cost: an ability that can only be used once a year, in my experience, means it's going to be used once (maybe twice) in a campaign; piling an XP cost on top of that seems punitive for using something that is already extremely restricted. Of course, YMMV and all that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think here may be a better reference. (In essence, Spell-like Abilities says that since they "are not spells[, spell-like abilities] have no verbal, somatic, material, focus, or XP components" (also MM 315). And, as supernatural abilities aren't spells either, they also shouldn't have any verbal, somatic, material, focus, or XP components. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 8 '20 at 21:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this is the right answer. I’ll leave it open a little longer, but this hits every point I asked for. As an aside, I had already hand-waved away the xp cost as something powered by planar energies instead, but making it Spell-like is is by-far the cleaner way of doing the same thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Nov 8 '20 at 22:21

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