In one of my groups, there is an evil cleric. He constantly uses the 'harm' spell to greatly reduce the enemies hp (after several buffs and debuffs). The thing is, since he is playing with an evil cleric, and i'm with a good character (a cleric!), I'm concerned he might backstab me or the group, so i'd like to be prepared for anything.

Now, I know that one can counter it with spells like Antimagic Field, but I'd like to know if there's any other cheaper alternative/strategies. As a matter of fact, it'd be good to know if there are any strategies regarding countering necromancy spells in general, not just 'harm' and other 'inflict wound' type spells, since he constantly uses yet another powerful spell, 'wrack' (a 3rd-level spell which leaves the target defenseless for many rounds in case it fails a fortitude check).

It is also important to notice he's got a magic item: some sort of flying glove that can carry one of his spells, and use it's touch spells for him, a few times per day, from great distances.

we're both currently at the 11th level. my domains are protection, good and strength, and his are death and treachery.

How can I protect myself from his sudden and inevitable betrayal?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If the other cleric is using the 3rd-level version of the spell wrack, he's using the one from the Book of Vile Darkness that was changed by the Spell Compendium to a 4th-level cleric spell. I don't know the campaign's house rules, so that might be totally legit, but, officially, one's supposed to used the most recently published version of a thing. It very well might not make any difference, but it's a thing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 9:13

5 Answers 5


Persistent Death ward can protect you from harm. Persistent spell allows the spell to last all day, and Death ward makes you immune to, among other things, negative energy.

Find a very high level paladin or archivist and get an item enchanted with "Favor of the Martyr" (spell compendium) which explicitly protects against Wrack, and all of the status effects that wrack causes.

Unfortunately, these will do nothing against the modal cleric betrayal: "I sneak into his tent, cast hold person on his helpless, sleeping form, and continue onto the rest of the camp. Then I sacrifice them all to my deity." Have a chat out of game about whether PvP is OK, and what form of PvP is a) fun, and b) right for the group.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, persistent Death Ward is invaluable for any adventurer, not just this situation. It's one of the single best defenses in the game. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 4:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Persisting Death Ward can be difficult if you didn't specifically build for it - and those builds that can persist mid-level spells usually have other priorities. Getting the effect by investing in Soulfire armor (Book of Exalted Deeds) should be easier. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ernir
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 8:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ernir, I'd recommend turning that into its own question/answer as "sources of death ward" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ The spell death ward doesn't have a personal range and most don't consider a range of touch a fixed range; without shenanigans, death ward is probably not a valid choice for the metamagic feat Persistent Spell. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 10:10

There's plenty of mechanical solutions (which other answerers are better equipped to provide, and I hope they do), but there are always other things the evil cleric can use against you. This quickly turns into an escalating arms race which takes the focus off the rest of the game. I'm going to suggest that you start by looking away from the mechanics and look instead at the social dynamics of your group:

Talk to the players, together as a group, about the kind of game you're playing.

Some groups like intra-party conflict and PC vs PC betrayal, while other groups consider it unthinkable. There's no objectively right or wrong answer: what matters is that everyone in your group is comfortable with the decision. If your group hasn't talked about this yet, different players may have very different assumptions about what is and isn't okay within your game. If that's the case then when those different ideas clash it'll be bad for the friendship of the players as well as for the game itself.

If the evil cleric's player doesn't think party betrayal is allowed, you're spending time and resources for nothing by preparing for his attack. If he is planning on it, the players should all be on the same page so you can make it work in-game without incurring real-life problems.

When you do this, it'll probably re-frame the kind of mechanics you need to prepare for: For example, some groups encourage infighting but discourage outright killing of PCs by other PCs. That'd majorly change the sort of spells and items you want to have when it goes down.



After a certain level, getting soulfire1 on armor or shield is just... something almost2 everyone should do. It provides immunity to a large range of extremely nasty effects, like [Death], negative levels, and negative energy.

It’s somewhat expensive (+4-equivalent, so a +1 soulfire armor or shield is a minimum of 25,150 gp), but the gold is a pittance compared to the costs associated with not having the protection it provides. If the other cleric can cast harm, he is a minimum of 11th level, which means you should have a net worth of approximately 66,000 gp – and roughly 17,000 gp should be from the last level alone, and by next level you should have another 22,000 gp. You are right about at the point where soulfire becomes eminently affordable, and the dangers it protects against are becoming too frequent to ignore.

This will shut down any backstab attempts by the evil cleric that revolve around harm, but more importantly, it will protect you against all manner of truly devastating attacks favored by undead and fiends. Thus, it is a good investment even if you never are betrayed.


As for wrack, that one is harder. Favor of the martyr3 protects against it explicitly, but it’s a 4th-level paladin spell. You’re going to need a high level paladin (or a mid-level archivist4 who has worked with a high-level paladin in the past and gotten it into his prayerbook), and when cast as a spell it lasts only 1 minute/level, which is not the sort of protection you need. Thus, it’s going to have to be used to make a custom magic item – something that is going to need the DM’s explicit assistance.

Luckily, there are other options! On the low end, a ring of counterspells is typically filled with greater dispel magic, to prevent you from being dispelled, but using yours for wrack would be a solution – it only prevents one use of wrack, but it means your foe has alerted you to his backstabbing, and used up his turn. Now it’s yours, and you should have something pretty nasty to respond with.

Note that, if you can get the custom-item of constant favor of the martyr, that is the superior option. Like soulfire, favor of the martyr provides a lot of very nice protections, plus it will stand up to multiple wrack attempts.

But while we’re on the subject of rings, consider a ring of spell-battle5 – they are excellent at providing you with awareness of what magic is going on around you, and, once per day, they allow you to redirect a spell. Dude tries to nail you with wrack? You’re automatically alerted to the spellcasting, given the opportunity to make a Spellcraft check, and if you succeed, you get to wrack him, instead.

And again, the ring of spell-battle is a great general-purpose item, worthwhile even if you are never betrayed.

1 Book of Exalted Deeds

2 Undead should skip soulfire, having immunity or better to everything that soulfire provides protection against.

3 Spell Compendium

4 Heroes of Horror

5 Complete Arcane


Let's not forget one of the easiest ways to provide some small protection from an evil cleric: Protection from Evil. Evil clerics do register as 'evil', and an object charged with an evil spell registers as 'evil'. Protection from evil gives you bonuses to your AC against the touch attack AND a bonus to your save against the spell effect itself. Plus the benefit of protection from several categories of spells other than the ones you reference.


Protection from the spells harm and wrack with the least investment

  • The 2nd-level Clr spell shroud of undeath [necro] (SpC 189) says, "You are treated as if you were undead for the purpose of all spells and effects that specifically affect undead creatures." The spell harm says, "If used on an undead creature, harm acts like heal," which is pretty specific. The spell shroud of undeath, although coming with some issues, is not an evil spell and has a duration of 10 min./level, sufficient if expecting betrayal. Against unexpected betrayal, the feat Persistent Spell (CAr 81) can be applied to the spell shroud of undeath by any cleric capable of casting 8th-level spells.

    The feat Extend Spell (PH 94) is a prerequisite for the feat Persistent Spell, and two feats is a pretty serious investment. Further, the side effects of the spell shroud of undeath can't be ignored. So if that's too much trouble yet constant protection is still necessary, it's probably either the aforementioned armor special ability soulfire (Book of Exalted Deeds 112) (+4 bonus) or the likely-more-expensive ring of death ward (Dragon #342 68) (60,000 gp; 0 lbs.), which as a constant effect provides the protection of the spell of the same name.

  • Seriously, I'm not making up the slotless item nipple clamp of exquisite pain (Book of Vile Darkness 115) (8,000 gp; 0 lbs.), which, among other effects, specifically protects constantly against the spell wrack. It's not an evil item, but don't show it to your good-aligned buddies anyway lest they know what you've been reading.


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