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I am working on a martial character which happens to have a high Fortitude score and the Steadfast Determination feat (Player's Handbook II, p. 83):

Benefit: […] You do not automatically fail Fortitude saves on a roll of natural 1.

As a result, I am wondering if the Soulfire armor enchantment (from Book of Exalted Deeds, p. 112) is still useful for this character. For reminder:

Soulfire: This armor’s wearer is immune to all death spells, magical death effects, and energy drain, and any negative energy effects (such as from chill touch or inflict spells).

I do not remember reading about death/negative energy effects which do not allow a Fortitude save, and therefore I have the feeling Soulfire would be useless here, however I might very well be digging my own tomb...

... so, does Soulfire provide any benefits for such a character?


Note: the character will have a high Fortitude and Steadfast Determination, because it's a tough cookie, even if it may not be optimal.

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The special ability soulfire remains useful even if the wearer has a great Fortitude save

As KRyan mentions here, one of an optimized arcane caster's go-to spells is enervation, which doesn't allow a saving throw at all (much like the similar Complete Champion spell retributive enervation and Spell Compendium spell enervating breath, but these are far rarer).

Further, the combination of a high fortitude saving throw and the feat Steadfast Determination can't save a creature from the effects of inflict spells—including the spell harm—, which require Willpower saving throws, and the combination is meaningless in the face of the spell power word kill.

A high-level character should always somehow have access to an effect like the spell death ward, and the magic armor special ability soulfire is the most reliable form of this for a character who can't simply employ the spell death ward.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I intend to shore up the Will save too (Steadfast Determination being part of it), but negative levels and Power Word Kill are indeed something that I had not foreseen. Well, Death Ward/Soulfire it goes then. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Oct 4 '15 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interestingly, while “Fort” is short for “Fortitude” and “Ref” is short for “Reflex,” “Will” is not short for anything; the game never refers to a “Willpower” saving throw, it always uses “Will” saving throw, even in contexts where it would write out “Fortitude” or “Reflex.” \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 21 '16 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Huh. It appears you are correct, sir. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 21 '16 at 16:12
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Undead creatures such as wights and vampires can inflict negative levels on you. It's certainly true that a fortitude save will let you remove these, but that doesn't happen until 24 hours later, and in the meantime the negative levels can kill you if you get enough of them.

This is of course in addition to spell effects such as Enervate.

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Enervation exists

Enervation applies negative levels as a ranged touch attack; it does not offer a Fortitude saving throw. Not sure that it’s the only one, but even if it is, it’s good enough: enervation is one of the best attacks on the Sor/Wiz spell list, and quite a lot of those have turned to it as their primary weapon.


Note: high Fortitude and Steadfast Determination is a great idea, quite close to optimal; it’s just not enough to justify skipping soulfire.

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