I'm trying to take the crazy mage-guy down, and I want to have my PC go out in a blaze of glory doing it. I'm thinking of something like a spell or attack that uses all my spell slots or attacks, something that charges up or just only usable rarely like once a week. The important thing is that it will generate a really big boom.

We are starting at level 10 with point-buy system 48 points, 3 feats every third level, double wealth per level, No books banned, every means to achieve the end goal is justified, we are not below sacrificing 100 souls for an apple here.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! That gives plenty of information. I can't guess whether a useful answer is possible, but I've cleaned up the comments and reopened it, and now we'll see what the community has to offer. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2016 at 22:49

4 Answers 4


Let me start with a small frame challenge. Your question as written says: "No books banned, every means to achieve the end goal is justified". A literal answer to your question would involve playing a broken theoretical character such as Pun-Pun or the Omniscificer. These builds aren't really playable, so I'll assume that you meant to exclude builds with this level of cheese.

Here's another small frame challenge. The problem with fighting mages is that they have a wide variety of defensive spells. They could be flying or blinking or mirror imaged or invisible or dispaced or have super-high spell resistance; they could use contingency dimension door or abrupt jaunt to teleport away if you're about to hit them hard. Even if you kill a mage, the mage could be a lich with a hidden phylactery, or could have a clone prepared. If you're seriously setting out to kill a mage, you need to sit down and think about all the defenses the mage might use, and have a plan for getting past each of them. (Frequently the solution is to use an antimagic field or lots of castings of dispel magic. Dimensional anchor also couldn't hurt.)

But in this question, you've asked how to deal a very large amount of damage. I'll assume that you've solved the problem of identifying the real mage, and that you're confident the mage won't teleport away when you attack. How can you reliably deal lots of damage?

I think your best choice is to cast a whole lot of explosive runes spells. When someone reads this spell, it blows up and deals 6d6 force damage in a ten-foot area, with a Reflex save for half damage for anyone who wasn't "close enough to read" the paper. Normally these spells trigger only when read, but if you cast a low-caster-level dispel magic on them, all the ones that aren't dispelled will blow up simultaneously.

The unique thing about this spell is that it lasts forever, so you can stack lots and lots of them -- the only limit is the number of pieces of paper you can carry. One might imagine playing a sorceror with exploding runes as a third-level spell; before sleeping each night, you convert most of your unused spell slots into exploding runes papers. In practice you'll probably be playing a wizard for the added flexibility.

Presumably you're collecting all of these exploding runes papers together, perhaps as a book or in a folder or even just in a ball. When the time is right, you run up to the villain and cast a very weak dispel magic, which blows up roughly 75% of the spells.

Let's think briefly about the ways that a mage might survive this attack. Someone with very high spell resistance might not be affected by most of the runes; someone with a globe of invulnerability spell could ignore them. You can help with the former by taking feats like Spell Penetration; you can help with the latter by using Heighten Spell and casting the spell using your fifth-level spell slots. Or you could just cast a bunch of targeted dispel magic spells first.

The only way for you to survive this blast is to not be standing in it. Try getting one of your friends to throw the papers at the villain like a grenade; then you can dispel them with a readied action.

Oh, and by the way: if you're holding this ball of exploding runes and someone uses a dispel magic on you, you're going to be super dead. Consider keeping it in a bag of holding when you're not about to use it.


According to Table 5–1: Character Wealth by Level (DMG 135) a creature possessing double typical wealth for a level 10 PC means that creature has 49,000 gp to spend and still function like a typical PC. I'm going to assume the PC wants to, like, actually also have adventures rather than devoting all his gp to exploding, despite that being a perfectly valid lifestyle choice. (Also note that, traditionally, one doesn't survive a blaze of glory, so, here, I don't either.)

Make monsters that explode

A necromancer can spend that 49,000 gp animating explosive undead creatures. A skeleton retains the original creature's elemental subtypes (in 3.5 this is air, cold, earth, fire, and water; 3e also had acid and electricity). Any creature with an elemental subtype meets the prerequisite for the feat Final Strike (Savage Species 34), which causes a creature that dies to deal 1d6 points of some kind of damage to everything within 60 ft.; other creature can make Reflex saving throws (DC = 10 + ½ the creature's Hit Dice) with success meaning half damage. With the feat Graveborn Warrior (Dragon #312 38), a creator can give an animated dead a bonus feat for which it meets the prerequisites by paying a flat extra 25 gp per creature.

(That such undead creatures count as having one additional Hit Die for control purposes is unimportant if the controller is controlling mindless undead creatures with, for example, the 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell command undead [necro] (PH 211). Also there's the small issue of the feat Final Strike specifying that the creature must be killed (as living creatures are) instead of destroyed (as undead creatures are). I've no idea why the feat is so specific (okay, maybe this is why), but ask the DM to waive that specificity because, seriously, dude, exploding skeletons! C'mon!)

Ideally, to make the most impressive mess, you'll want a creature with the earth subtype because when such a creature is killed it creates an effect like the spell earthquake (PH 225-6). (I'm not even kidding. This is probably the lowest-level way to get an effect like the spell earthquake.)

So, in short, take the feat Graveborn Warrior, animate a few skeleton stone giants so they possess the feat Final Strike, control beyond standard capacity using the spell command undead, carefully whittle away the creatures' hp so they're easy to destroy, and store them all in an enveloping pit (Magic Item Compendium 159) (3,600 gp; 0 lbs.).

When the time is right, empty the pit, cast the 5th-level spell mass cure light wounds [conj] (PH 216) and pick appropriate explosive skeleton stone giants so as to make them all explode when a few do, and watch everyone die spectacularly: Each explosive skeleton stone giant, when it dies (again), to everything with 60 ft., deals 14d6 points of damage that's a (maybe irresistible?) "blast of rock shards" (Reflex save DC 17 for half) plus that earthquake effect.

Each such explosive skeleton stone giant costs 375 gp. Minus the pit's cost, about 120 can be created.

(Note that a lone pit should be sufficient for any number of such creatures: order all the skeletons to deal nonlethal damage then order one skeleton to grapple another then have other skeletons join the grapple. Because the creatures all enter one creature's space, they collectively form a 10-ft.-by-10-ft. Big Ball of Violence that fits neatly in the pit. They're also mindless undead creatures, so they don't breathe, don't get tired, and don't get bored—a definite plus when pointlessly grappling for hours or days in an enveloping pit. This may be for the DM—who's been a real sport so far—the last straw, though, so save some extra gp for more pits.)

This excellent answer includes two methods I also appreciate. Here's some more information on those from a different perspective.

Explosive Runes

The 3rd-level Sor/Wiz spell explosive runes [evoc] (PH 228) says that it's cast "upon a book, map, scroll, or similar object bearing written information," so it's possible that the DM may prohibit casting the spell on each page of a book to create a book of boom and rule against trying to bind into a single unit scrolls or whatever after they've been the subject of the spell explosive runes. (Maybe the DM's savvy enough to see where this is going.)

Similarly, unless the DM rules otherwise, the feat Quick Draw (PH 98) likely doesn't apply to non-weapons like books, maps, and scrolls. And keeping a batch of scrolls, each the subject to the spell explosive runes, in a conventional scroll case means at least some scrolls will be unaffected when it's time for a dispel magic to fail to affect the runes (causing them to explode) because other scrolls or the scroll case itself blocks line of effect from the dispel to the boom scrolls!

It's possible a generous DM would allow a caster simply to tie into a big pile the loose boom scrolls and retrieve the whole pile as a move action, but, unless the DM also allows doing likewise with, for example, flasks of acid, there's no guarantee. This makes the spell explosive runes perhaps an imperfect—or, if not, at least subjective—weapon not because it lacks punch but because the boom scrolls may be too difficult to disperse during battle. Talk to the DM before taking this route lest disappointment result.

But not much disappointment: Since the spell explosive runes has no particular cost but time, paper, and ink, a caster could do this anyway and hope for the best.

Necklace of fireballs

I endorse spending most of this gp on five necklaces of fireballs (type VII) (DMG 263) (8,700 gp; 0 lbs.). The difficulty, though, is in getting the necklaces to fail their Reflex saving throws, and that requires a high-level spell to fail against. While an attuned gem or spellworm of fireball heightened to a 9th-level spell is probably sufficient (save DC 23), if the necklaces' possessor's dying anyway (and he likely is), a spellworm of apocalypse from the sky (BV 85) (9th-level spell at caster level 20) (Dragon #343 80-1) (9,000 gp; 0 lbs.) is probably the most spectacular way to enable also dealing 290d6 points of fire damage in a 30-ft. radius spread, the apocalypse itself having dealt 10d6 points of (in this case) fire damage in 200-mi. radius, centered on the caster. (The apocalypse spell's typically overlong casting time is accelerated by the spellworm to either a standard or full-round action (the rules are unclear).)

(Note that Book of Vile Darkness FAQ explains that the artifact material component listed for the spell apocalypse from the sky instead should be a focus component, so that issue's addressed. Also note that upon the conclusion of the apocalypse spell the spellworm's host suffers the spell's corrupt cost of 3d6 points of Constitution damage and 4d6 points of Wisdom drain. I suspect this is of secondary concern.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think necklaces of fireballs are pretty easy to trigger. If any of those type VII necklaces fails its first save, it delivers nine secondary fireballs, each of which has a dc14 save. Each necklace has a +7 to saves, so that's nine 30% chances for each necklace to blow up each other necklace. Chain reactions are likely. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Oct 12, 2016 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanB O, I agree, but it's still good to be sure. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2016 at 16:05

If you can use any DnD 3.5 book, and you have 10 levels, you can totally go the path of Pun Pun:


That will give you something that can do literally anything you want. Now, for the part of going down with a really big boom, you can throw a baseball at nearly the speed of light (which you can do as Pun Pun) and this will happen:


You, the BBEG, and anything in a several mile radius will go out in a blaze of glory.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that Pun-Pun can be made at level 1 (sell your spellbook, buy a custom item of knowledge: the planes to justify knowing the ritual for asking free wishes to Pazuzu, wish for a candle of invocation and summon a djinn for infinite wishes). But yes, I understand people doesn't want to involve demon lords and wish spells (two very dangerous things to mess with). \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Oct 11, 2016 at 17:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 but I would add "(But you won't die, because you're Pun-Pun.)" \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Oct 11, 2016 at 17:27

There is this interaction of portable hole + bag of holding that I remember being rather disastrous.

If a portable hole is placed within a bag of holding, it opens a gate to the Astral Plane: The hole, the bag, and any creatures within a 10-foot radius are drawn there, destroying the portable hole and bag of holding in the process

Is sending them to the astral plane enough?

Or go the magic traps on sheets of paper way. Before the fight you cast explosive runes on a lot of sheets of paper. During the fight you dump all of them besides the BBEG (move action?) and cast dispel magic on them at minimum CL. If you fail the dispel attempt all the runes go off.* Say you prepare 100 pages of paper each with explosive runes on it the resulting explosion deals 600d6. The explosion has 10ft radius.

*It works in PF and I think it does in D&D 3.5, too.

Yet another option: There is one class/prestige class that, on a melee hit can convert spell slots into bonus damage (I think it was 1d4) with no limit on the number of spell slots converted. It was some spell blade or something. Perhaps someone else can give the name.


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