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The target of the spell Sympathy is a location or object which will attract creatures, so I assume the spell's range ('Close' in this case) refers to how far from the caster the target area or object can be. First off, is this assumption correct?

If so, this leaves the question of how far the attraction effect reaches. That is, if I cast sympathy and choose e.g. "ettin" as the target creature kind, which ettins will be affected? Thos within Close range of the area/object? Those who can see the area/object? All those on the same plane? All ettins in the multiverse?

I wasn't able to figure this out from the spell description. Am I missing something obvious, or is this information absent? Is there a ruling on how the spell actually works?

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Let's Break Down The Spell

Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)

Assuming you are at least 18th level you could cast this and have it effect an object or area 65 ft. away from you. (25 ft. + 40 ft.).


Target: One location (up to a 10-ft. cube/level) or one object

Assuming you are at least 18th level the location you targetted could be up to a 180 Ft. cube or the one object. Note, if you choose a cube, you will be standing within that cube just because...


Creatures of the specified kind or alignment feel elated and pleased to be in the area >or desire to touch or to possess the object. The compulsion to stay in the area or >touch the object is overpowering. If the save is successful, the creature is released >from the enchantment, but a subsequent save must be made 1d6×10 minutes later. If >this save fails, the affected creature attempts to return to the area or object.

Wait a sec... What is the area? The area I selected? So they will just stand there?


It Is Vague: Make A DM Ruling

Many DM's, including myself, allow different things for different purposes. I even had one DM state that all creatures on the same plane felt the urge for the X amount of hours to travel to that area.

Another DM stated that all creatures within the 10 ft./level cube just had to pick up that object, and would fight each other to try to be the one to hold it.

Different Strokes For Different Folks

This is a powerful spell. It is either an 8th or 9th level spell depending on your class. It will need some interpretation from a DM just like a Wish Or Miracle. Your DM could say all creatures within the cube try to grasp the object. Your DM could say all creatures everywhere try to move to the area. Your DM could say all creatures within the cube just stand there with their warm fuzzy ignoring the world while they are in bliss.

That is the beauty of D&D. Talk it over with your DM. Have some fun with it. After all, you are crushing essentially a pearl necklace that you could have given your female Bard cohort.

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Range refers to "casting distance"

As you say, the range of a spell is supposed to refer to the distance from the caster at which it can be positioned or targeted. It is not supposed to refer to or be inferred as a range of effect unless the spell specifies otherwise ("if this goes beyond the range...").

Sympathy is a powerful spell effect

...as can be inferred by the cost - 1500 gp to attract creatures is steep, especially in comparison to antipathy, its less sociable counterpart, which costs nothing. Theoretically, its effective reach when it comes to tempting creatures to approach should exceed Close range. However...

Rules that would define the area of sympathy and antipathy are absent from both spell descriptions

...which works well enough for antipathy, since you're just avoiding the defined object or area, but has nebulous and potentially far-reaching (no pun intended) ramifications for sympathy. However, RAW, sympathy has no defined reach when it comes to attracting creatures toward the area or object.

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It doesn't say.

But...

This spell talks about creatures in the same area:

Creatures of the specified kind or alignment feel elated and pleased to be in the area or desire to touch or to possess the object. The compulsion to stay in the area or touch the object is overpowering. If the save is successful, the creature is released from the enchantment, but a subsequent save must be made 1d6×10 minutes later. If this save fails, the affected creature attempts to return to the area or object.

Emphasis mine. Check this out:

First:

creatures of the specified kind or alignment feel elated and pleased to be in the area.

If there are creatures in the same area of the target, they get the funny feelings. What is, however, this "area"?

The spell's description don't say out loud, but I presume this refers to the immediate vicinity of the target - the same room, hall, or clearing. I would assume that the creature must even see the target, at least once, to become attracted to it (or at least, detect it using it's senses). If the creature is able to detect the target, it is affected. If it can't, it is not.

Second:

If this save fails, the affected creature attempts to return to the area or object.

This spell have no effect on something that is outside the area defined by the first clause. If the area on which the target is in is a room, people outside the room won't be affected, however once they enter it, they will feel the effects of this spell.

This is, in a way, not really different from Bardic Music. Bardic Music works on everybody¹ that can detect the bard's performance - can hear him if he sings, or can see him if he dances. Creatures must "detect" the bard's perfomance to be affected.

I would rule that this spell would work on a similar fashion. Cast Simpathy on a animated harp, and everybody that can hear it would be affected. Cast it on a paiting, and everybody that can see the paiting would become affected.

Anyway, this is fertile ground for DM Fiat, so YMMV. Check it with your DM to be sure! If you are the DM, well... this spell is one of those open-ended rules that have the potential to become really, really fun. Use it wisely!

¹ Not really everybody, but you get the point.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The "area" refers to the use of the spell to affect a location as opposed to an object. This location is defined as an area of up to one 10 ft. cube/level. \$\endgroup\$ – afroakuma Oct 8 '14 at 21:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Considering the narrative function of the spell might help with GM adjudication: This is the spell that, when you find a mysterious artefact glistening in the underground chamber you just fell into, provides the whispered voiceover going "Touch me... Touch me..." that only the audience can hear. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 9 '14 at 3:06
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If you choose 'area' only those within the area (10ft cube/level) are affected, and the effects are:

Creatures of the specified kind or alignment feel elated and pleased to be in the area.
The compulsion to stay in the area is overpowering. If the save is successful, the creature is released from the enchantment, but a subsequent save must be made 1d6×10 minutes later. If this save fails, the affected creature attempts to return to the area.

If you choose 'object' there is no distance limitation (to the same plane or otherwise) and the effects are:

Creatures of the specified kind or alignment feel desire to touch or to possess the object. The compulsion to touch the object is overpowering. If the save is successful, the creature is released from the enchantment, but a subsequent save must be made 1d6×10 minutes later. If this save fails, the affected creature attempts to return to the object.

The lack of range limitation means that the spell affects all creatures of the type, because spells have to specify any general limitations to the powers they give themselves. Creatures with special defenses, such as those on a Dead Magic plane or in an Anti-magic Field, will still not be affected, because specific beats general.

This is almost certainly non-intentional, particularly as the spell hearkens back to less legalistic versions of D&D, but the spell's effects are otherwise vastly below par for an eighth-level spell so it's possible this is intended.

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