I have a character with a reach of 20-25 feet depending on the buffs I have operational, with a specialty in grappling. The goal is to grab enemies and drag them to my space—and have my space, or better spaces near me, be very unpleasant places to be. For example, I have a blackguard’s aura of despair, and I’m considering Focalor’s aura of sadness and the enlightened spirit’s aura of menace.

But beyond those save-nuking auras, I’m kind of coming up short on how to most make “near me” be the worst possible place for an enemy to be. I’m looking for passive effects so I can focus my actions on just dragging in as many foes as possible. I figure spells or powers are probably my bet on this front, but I’m not coming up with much:

D&D 3.5e:

  • Acid sheath—2 acid damage per round to creatures in a grapple with me
  • Aura of the sun—1d6 positive energy damage to undead around me each round
  • Aura of cold—comes in lesser and greater varieties, which do 1d6 or 2d6 cold damage, respectively, per round to creatures within 10 feet.
  • Babau slime—1d8 acid damage per round to grappled creatures.
  • Balor nimbus—6d6 (as a 2nd-level spell) fire damage per round to grappled creatures.
  • Body of the sun—1d4/2 levels fire damage per round to creatures within 5 feet.
  • Corona of cold—1d12 cold damage per round, and applies a −2 penalty to Strength and Dexterity and halves speed, to creatures within 10 feet.
  • Negative energy aura—1 damage per 3 levels, or 2 healing for undead creatures, each round, in 10-ft radius.
  • Positive energy aura—1 healing per 3 levels, or 2 damage for undead creatures, each round, in 10-ft radius.
  • Pulse of hate–2d6 “unholy” damage per round in 10-ft radius.


  • Cape of wasps—described as a wasp swarm sharing your space, which means other creatures sharing your space (e.g. creatures you’ve grappled under 3.5e rules, which we are using) arguably take the 2d6+poison swarm damage of the wasp swarm each round. The spell doesn’t come out and say that, though, and sharing a space with someone is a lot harder in Pathfinder than it is in 3.5e, so it’s unclear if this was intended functionality.

So what I’m looking for are official spells or powers from D&D 3.5e (all WotC-published sources as well as Dragon and Dungeon magazine issues, including 3.5e-legal 3e material) or Pathfinder (all Paizo-or-Dreamscarred-Press-published sources) that introduce some kind of emanation or aura that extends from my space, out to 20 feet or less (if it’s larger, I have no need to drag them into it). The emanation must last for some period of time, the longer the better. I would restrict this more (class, level, effects), except that I’ve already done a bunch of research and come up with nearly nothing. My character is a psion egoist, but adaptation or multiclassing might be possible. However, Epic and Mythic material are both banned.

For this question, I’ll hear out answers that include polymorph, but know that I view polymorph pretty dimly and also that it would conflict with some of the things that my character is already doing (i.e. various character features would be lost), so polymorph options rate pretty poorly in my estimation—I’d appreciate it if we’d restrict mentions of it to truly stand-out effects you couldn’t get elsewhere.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused about the 20 feet or less requirement? Wouldn't having a 15-foot aura and a 25-foot aura be better than just a 15-foot one because when they are within 15 feet, the effects would stack? Make the latter aura 20-foot instead and not much has changed, at least not to me, though perhaps I'm just missing something? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 1:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Well, the general assumption here is that things that are broader are also weaker and/or cost more (same thing), and because this was the metric I used in my own research. I would likely be happy to accept answers with somewhat-larger effects that are still valuable, as a kinda-sorta frame-challenge? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 1:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have to be naturally immune, or are you interested in any spell/power than can be centered on you as an emanation/aura-type effect (with the assumption that you can figure a way to make yourself immune) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 4:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is the Big Stupid Fighter okay with you stealing his job? \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Mini
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WannabeWarlock That can be left as an exercise to the reader. I’ve collected a number of immunities already and am happy to get more. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 14:30

2 Answers 2


A few more options, mostly similar to the ones in the question:

  • Smoking weapon enhancement (Lords of Darkness, p. 180): +1 cost equivalent. Makes a tiny Stinking Cloud effect in your space. Nauseated is a very good condition to apply (prevents taking most actions, including escaping a grapple), and you're already investing in save debuffs. Usefulness probably falls off at high levels as monsters' saves get better.
  • Heart of Flame soulmeld, bound to Waist or Totem chakra (Magic of Incarnum, p. 70): 1d6 (Waist) or 1d4 (Totem) fire damage/round per point of invested essentia, applied at the end of your turn to anything you're grappling.
  • Wreath of Flames (Dragon Magic, p. 75): 3rd level Druid/Sorc/Wiz/Wu Jen spell, 1d6 fire damage/round around you, similar to Body of the Sun. This old post suggests combining it with Energy Substitution (Complete Arcane, p. 79) and Born of Three Thunders (Complete Arcane, p. 76) to force saves against stun every round, which would also work with several other spells from both this answer and the question.
  • Ring of Blades (Complete Arcane, p. 121): 3rd level Cleric/Warmage spell, 1d6+clvl (max +10) damage/round around you, another similar effect.
  • As the Frost (PHBII, p. 101): 7th level Druid/Sorc/Wiz spell, 2d6 cold damage/round around you, plus immunity to cold and some DR. Pretty high level for what it offers.

Iffy fit for your question (not restricted to your space):

  • Icy Glare (Tome of Magic, p. 25): Ability granted by Balam, the Bitter Angel (5th level Vestige), gives a gaze attack that deals 2d6 cold damage. Gaze attacks automatically happen to any creature that can see you, making them work kind of like passive auras, but creatures can protect themselves by averting or closing their eyes, so not entirely reliable.
  • Acidic Gaze (Tome of Magic, p. 32): Ability granted by Geryon, the Deposed Lord (5th level Vestige). Another gaze attack, this time for 2d6 acid damage. This one is limited to a 30 foot range.

You probably want to be an Uttercold Assault Necromancer.

From K's Revised Necromancer Handbook -

The ultimate goal is to cast spells with the Cold Subtype that do half negative energy damage, while you and all your undead minions are immune to cold and healed by negative energy damage. Basically, this is done with Energy Substitution[cold] (a prereq for Lord of the Uttercold) and the feat Lord of the Uttercold. Then you put up Walls of Fire(uttercold) and you and all your minions dance around in them like Homer Simpson at the American Embassy regaining all your hit points every round and inflicting real evocation-style damage on your enemies. It’s hilarious. You can burn lots of feats and be a blaster mage at high levels, or take Beckon the Frozen to get cold-subtyped undead with Summon Undead that you heal with uttercold, but the essential build is two feats (though you are required to be undead or take Tomb-tainted Soul if you want in on the fun).

Wall of Fire is a top tier 'making a zone really awful' spell, and other evocations (with that metamagic feat that makes them hit each turn - it's not lingering or persistent but it's a similar word and the name escapes me) that you can safely stand in with Uttercold and cold/negative immunity/healing, on top of Mailman style damage+++ metamagic will result in a real 'hellhole'.

Now the big problem is that none of this moves with you. However you can have a wall of fire/energy be pretty damn long, providing quite a zone for you to move around in without losing your 'oh god no get me out of this' effect when you noodle-arm over and grab people. Having an entire class of minion that is largely immune to the effects of the walls/healed by them gives you options for 'handing off' people you've grabbed to some zombie whose whole job is just 'dance back and forth through the wall with them', which is additional utility on top of the potential healing.

There's all the usual utility of trapping people in your Cold Pants as well with solid fog and black tentacles and the like. Like there's a lot of options to improve your hellhole and make it tougher to dispel and more awful to be in, a lot.

But in general if you want it to move with you your options are significantly fewer and less interesting. So i'd suggest using stealth and planning to set up a stationary hellhole and drag people into it to dance with the zombies.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a damn good frame-challenge, +1. Undead minions was an angle I hadn’t considered at all but it does have some merit. Getting healing from negative energy might be difficult with my character (who is warforged), but the question didn’t get into that. Even as it is, I can still try to work with some of this. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 4:22

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