Bye, Bye Benevolent Spell

As part of my continuing effort to remove old house rules from the game that could be at odds with Pathfinder, I turn to a feat that was created many moons ago during our first year playing D&D third edition. It is the metamagic feat Benevolent Spell. The text goes a bit like this:

You can cast spells that normally only affect yourself on other people.

Benefit: You can cast a spell that normally has a range of “personal” as if it was a touch spell. You are therefore able to cast such spells on another recipients. A benevolent spell uses up a spell slot two levels higher than the spell’s actual level.

Now it seems on the face of it, a completely logical metamagic feat. After all there are metamagic feats that let you turn touch attacks into ray attacks; there are metamagic feats that allow you extend spells and widen spells… so why shouldn’t you be able to turn a Personal spell into one you can cast on other people? At least that’s what I though then.

The truth is that Personal spells in D&D and Pathfinder are Personal for a reason. The mechanics of the game start to break down if you allow magic-users to cast them on other characters. Spells like True Strike and Shield are not supposed to be cast willy-nilly around a group of adventurers.

Now, we can argue whether or not a feat is over-powered until the cows come home, but I think there’s one incontrovertible point that backs up my decision to remove Benevolent Spell  from the game. The idea behind the feat is not revolutionary: it is very, very obvious. It’s the simplest and most logical extension of a metamagic feat I can think of… BUT in eleven years of 3.0, 3.5 and Pathfinder supplements an official version of this feat has never appeared.

That tells me there’s something wrong with the feat. And that’s why we’re going to be discretely putting it to bed.

HOWEVER, I am not (after all these years) going to force Ravenna to give up Benevolent Spell. She is such an established character, and she has used this feat so often that it just seems unfair to force this change. So Ravenna is the only character in the entire campaign world who can do this, and the secret dies with her!


5 thoughts on “Bye, Bye Benevolent Spell

  1. Eh, i can think of a lot of better things to do with 2 levels of metamagic than turn a personal spell into a touch spell. There’s a few nice tricks, but there are better things to put those metamagic levels to use to in my opinion.

  2. As the player of Ravenna – I disagree with you Will.
    I promise you it has been vital.
    (Let me say – spectral hand/true strike (BS) on a monk)
    works a treat when they are “quivering hand!” for example.

    BUT – also as the player of Ravenna – if you want Neil – I am happy to “lose” the feat to make the world balanced. It can easily be one of the things that the reworking of “magic” touches.

  3. That’s very good of you, Jon. I will definitely consider that offer. Particularly as the party reaches higher and higher levels, there are certain spell and class-ability combinations that we should be actively trying to avoid. Of course, as Ravenna is semi-retired at present, it’s not going to be an immediate problem.

  4. There are far, FAR more powerful things that a Wizard can do than give a +20 bonus to a Monk using Quivering Palm. I’ll take a Stinking Cloud, Hold Person or over using 2 standard actions and a weekly ability to get a mediocre fort-based Save or Die any day of the week.

    Besides which, the Monk only needs to burn 6000 GP to get a use-activated True Strike magic item or double that if he wants it to be slotless; well within the reach of a level 15 monk.

    If you’re operating in a low magic\low money setting then that would make it a lot more useful, but then you’re operating outside the core rules and WBL so what balance there was has gone down the drain anyway.

    Like i said, i can think of a few nice tricks, but nothing that cannot be accomplished by something else or which is significantly gamechanging in general.

  5. To be honest, I agree with Will. I have never even been close to taking Benevolent spell as I just don’t think it is good enough. Thus I have no objections to Neil removing it as I would never take it anyway.

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