Glossary of Special Abilities

Special abilities are extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural.

Extraordinary Abilities (Ex): Extraordinary abilities are nonmagical. They are however, not something that just anyone can do or even learn to do without extensive training (which, in game terms, means to take a new character class). A monk's ability to evade attacks and a barbarians uncanny dodge are extraordinary. Effects or areas that negate or disrupt magic have no effect on extraordinary abilities.

Spell-Like Abilities (Sp): Spell-like abilities, as the name implies, are spells and magical abilities that are very much like spells. Spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance and dispel magic. They do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated (such as an antimagic field).

Supernatural Abilities (Su): Supernatural abilities are magical but not spell-like. This far-reaching category includes the basilisk's petrifying stare, the monk's ki strike, and the ghoul's paralytic touch. Supernatural abilities are not subject to spell resistance or dispel magic. However, supernatural abilities still do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated (such as an antimagic field).

Special Ability Types
Spell ResistanceNoNoYes
Antimagic FieldNoYesYes
Attack of OpportunityNoNoYes
Dispel: Can dispel magic and similar spells dispel the effects of abilities of that type?
Spell Resistance: Does spell resistance protect a creature from these abilities?
Antimagic Field: Does an antimagic field or similar magic suppress the ability?
Attack of Opportunity: Does using the ability provoke attacks of opportunity the way that casting a spell does?

Ability Score Loss

Various attacks cause ability score loss, either temporary ability damage or permanent ability drain. Points lost to temporary damage return at the rate of 1 point per day (or double that if the character gets total rest) to each damaged ability, and the spells lesser restoration and restoration offset temporary damage as well. Drains, however, are permanent, though restoration can restore even those lost ability score points.

While any loss is debilitating, losing all points in an ability score can be devastating.

Keeping track of negative ability score points is never necessary. A character's ability score can't drop below 0.

Having a 0 score in an ability is different from having no ability score whatsoever. A wraith has no Strength score, not a Strength score of 0. A clay golem has no Intelligence, not an Intelligence score of 0. The wraith can move, it just can't act physically on other objects. The golem is not in a stupor or helpless, but it has no thoughts or memory.

Some spells or abilities impose an effective ability score reduction, which is different from ability score loss. Any such reduction disappears at the end of the spell's or ability's duration, and the ability score immediately returns to its former value.

If a character's Constitution score drops, then he loses 1 hit point per Hit Die for every point by which his Constitution modifier drops. For example, at 7th level, Tordek is hit by poison that causes his Constitution to drop from 16 to 13. His bonus falls from +3 to +1, so he loses 14 hit points (2 per level). A minute later, the poison deals another 8 points of temporary Constitution damage, dropping his score to 5 and his modifier from +1 to -3. He loses another 28 hit points - for a total of 42 hit points lost because of an overall 6-point drop in his Constitution modifier.

A full hit point score, however, can't drop to less than 1 hit point per Hit Die. At 7th level, Mialee has 22 hit points. Even if her Constitution score drops to 5 or below, she will still have at least 7 hit points (less any damage she's taken).

The ability that some creatures have to drain ability scores (such as shadows draining Strength or lamias draining Wisdom) is a supernatural one, requiring some sort of attack. Such creatures do not drain abilities from enemies when the enemies strike them, even with unarmed attacks or natural weapons.


An antimagic field spell or the main eye ray of a beholder cancels magic altogether. This spell-like effect is extremely powerful - the ultimate defense against magic.

Blindsense (Ex)

Using nonvisual senses, such as acute smell or hearing, a creature with blindsense notices things it cannot see. The creature usually does not need to make Spot or listen checks to pinpoint the location of a creature within range of its blind-sense ability, provided that it has line of effect to that creature. Any opponent the creature cannot see still has total concealment against the creature with blindsense, and the creature still has the normal miss chance when attacking foes that have concealment. Visibility still affects the movement of a creature with blindsense. A creature with blindsense is still denied its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against attacks from creatures it cannot see.

Blindsight (Ex)

This ability is similar to blindsense, but is far more discerning. Using nonvisual senses, such as sensitivity to vibrations, keen smell, acute hearing, or echolocation, a creature with blindsight maneuvers and fights as well as a sighted creature. Invisibility, darkness, and most kinds of concealment are irrelevant, though the creature must have line of effect to a creature or object to discern that creature or object. The ability's range is specified in the creature's descriptive text. The creature usually does not need to make Spot or Listen checks to notice creatures within range of its blindsight ability. Unless noted otherwise, blindsight is continuous, and the creature need do nothing to use it. Some forms of blindsight, however, must be triggered as a free action. If so, this is noted in the creature's description. If a creature must trigger its blindsight ability, the creature gains the benefits of blindsight only during its turn.

Breath Weapon (Su)

A breath weapon attack usually deals damage and is often based on some type of energy (such as fire). Such breath weapons allow a Reflex save for half damage (DC 10 + 1/2 breathing creature's racial HD + breathing creature's Con modifier; the exact DC is given in the creature's descriptive text). A creature is immune to its own breath weapon unless otherwise noted. Some breath weapons allow a Fortitude save or a Will save instead of a Reflex save.

Charm And Compulsion

Many abilities and spells can cloud the minds of characters and monsters, leaving them unable to tell friend from foe - or worse yet, deceiving them into thinking that their former friends are now their worst enemies. Two general types of enchantments affect characters and creatures: charm and compulsion.

Charming another creature gives the charming character the ability to befriend and suggest courses of actions to his minion, but the servitude is not absolute or mindless. Charms of this type include the various charm spells. Essentially, a charmed character retains free will but makes choices according to a skewed view of the world.

Compulsion is a different matter altogether. A compulsion overrides the subject's free will in some way or simply changes the way the subject's mind works. A charm makes the subject a friend of the caster; a compulsion makes the subject obey the caster.

Regardless whether a character is charmed or compelled, he won't volunteer information or tactics that his master doesn't ask for. If a 1st-level wizard happens to have a wand of fire tucked into his boot, the vampire that is compelling him doesn't know that the wand is there and can't tell the wizard to give him the wand or use the wand on his former friends. The vampire, however, can say, "Hand over your most powerful magic item."


A "cold" creature, such as a frost giant, is immune to cold damage. It takes double damage from fire unless the fire attack allows a saving throw for half damage, in which case it takes half damage on a successful save and double damage on a failed save.

Damage Reduction

The arrow sticks into the vampire, but she just pulls it out and laughs as the wound instantly heals. "You'll need to do better than that," she hisses.

Some magic creatures have the supernatural ability to instantly heal damage from weapons or to ignore blows altogether as though they were invulnerable.

Damage Reduction Rankings
Power RankWeapon Type
Best+5 enhancement bonus
2nd best+4 enhancement bonus
3rd best+3 enhancement bonus
4th best+2 enhancement bonus
5th best+1 enhancement bonus
WeakestSilver, mithral, or other special material


Darkvision is the extraordinary ability to see with no light source at all, to a range specified for the creature.

Death Attacks

The bodak's abyssal eyes kill with a glance. The dreaded power word, kill spell can slay without even allowing the victim a saving throw. A single arrow of slaying can fell a dragon. Even a fighter with 100 hit points can be killed by a single death attack. In most cases, death attacks allow the victim to make a Fortitude save to avoid the affect, but if the save fails the character dies instantly.


When a character is injured by a contaminated attack, touches an item smeared with diseased matter, or consumes disease-tainted food or drink, he must make an immediate Fortitude saving throw. If he succeeds, the disease has no effect - his immune system fought off the infection. If he fails, he takes damage after an incubation period. Once per day afterward he must make a successful Fortitude saving throw to avoid repeated damage. Two successful saving throws in a row indicate that he has fought off the disease and recovers, taking no more damage.

You can roll these Fortitude saving throws for the player so that he doesn't know whether the disease has taken hold.

Blinding sicknessIngested161d6 days1d4 Str*-*
Cackle feverInhaled161 day1d6 Wis
Demon feverInjury181 day1d6 Con**
Devil chills*Injury141d4 days1d4 Str
Filth feverInjury121d3 days1d3 Dex, 1d3 Con
MindfireInhaled121 day1d4 Int
Mummy rot*Contact201 day1d6 Con
Red acheInjury151d3 days1d6 Str
ShakesContact131 day1d8 Dex
Slimy doomContact141 day1d4 Con**
*Successful saves do not allow the character to recover. Only magical healing can save the character.
**When damaged, character must succeed at another saving throw or 1 point of temporary damage is permanent drain instead.
*-The victim must make three successful Fortitude saving throws in a row to recover from devil chills.
*-*Each time the victim takes 2 or more damage from the disease, he must make another Fortitude save or be permanently blinded.

Disease Descriptions

Diseases have various symptoms and are spread through a number of vectors. The characteristics of several typical diseases are summarized on Diseases.

Disease: Diseases in italic are supernatural in nature. The rest are extraordinary.

Infection: The disease's method of delivery - ingested, inhaled, via injury, or contact. Keep in mind that some injury diseases may be transmitted by as small an injury as a flea bite and that most inhaled diseases can also be ingested (and vice versa).

DC: The DC for the saving throws to prevent infection (if the character has been infected), to prevent each instance of repeated damage, and to recover from the disease.

Incubation Period: The time before damage begins.

Damage: The damage the character takes after incubation and each day afterward. Ability score damage is temporary unless otherwise noted.

Types of Diseases: Typical diseases include the following:

Blinding Sickness: Spread in tainted water.

Cackle Fever: Symptoms include high fever, disorientation, and frequent bouts of hideous laughter. Also known as the "shrieks."

Demon Fever: Night hags spread it.

Devil Chills: Barbazu and pit fiends spread it. It takes three, not two, successful saves in a row to recover from devil chills.

Filth Fever: Dire rats and otyughs spread it. Those injured while in filthy surrounding might also catch it.

Mindfire: Feels like your brain is burning. Causes stupor.

Mummy Rot: Spread by mummies. Successful saving throws do not allow the character to recover (though they do prevent damage normally).

Red Ache: Skin turns red, bloated, and warm to the touch.

The Shakes: Causes involuntary twitches, tremors, and fits.

Slimy Doom: Victim turns into infectious goo from the inside out.

From the Book of Vile Darkness

While all diseases are terrible, these are particularly malign and vile, spawned from the corruption and influence of evil outsiders, gods, or evil emotions.

Characters who come into contact with one of these diseases (through proximity to someone who acts as a carrier, injury by a contaminated attack, touching an item smeared with diseased matter, or consuming tainted food or drink) must make an immediate Fortitude saving throw. On a success, the disease has no effect because the immune system fought off the infection. Characters who fail the save take the damage given on the table below after the disease's incubation period. Once per day afterward, a diseased character must succeed at a Fortitude saving throw to avoid repeated damage. Two successful saving throws in a row indicate that the character has fought off the disease and recovers, taking no more damage.

All the diseases below are supernatural. As such, none of them are available for use with the contagion spell.

Vile Diseases
Acid feverInjury181d3 days1d6 Str2
Blue gutsSpecial141d3 days1d4 Str
DeathsongContact251 day1d8 Str, 1d8 Dex, 1d8 Con
Faceless hate*Injury201d4 days1d6 Str, 1d6 Con***
Festering angerSpecial22VariesSpecial
Fire taintInhaled181 day1d6 Wis**
Frigid ravagingInjury181 day1d6 Con**
Iron corruptionInjury241d3 days1d4 Con
Life blindnessInhaled211 daySpecial
Lightning curseContact181 day1d6 Int**
Melting furyContact161d6 days1d4 Str, 1d4 Dex, 1d4 Con
Misery's passageInjury15Varies1d6 Str
Possession Infection*Contact171 day1d6 Wis, 1d8 Cha
Sound sicknessContact181d3 days1d6 Dex**/****
Soul rotSpecial231d8 days1d6 Wis, 1d8 Cha
Vile rigidityContact191 daySpecial
Warp touch 1Contact20ImmediateSpecial
*Successful saves do not allow the character to recover. Only magical healing can save the character.
**When damaged, character must succeed at another saving throw or 1 point of temporary damage is permanent drain instead.
***The victim must makes three successful Fortitude saving throws to recover.
****With each failed saving throw, a second saving throw must be made. If at any time the second save fails, the victim becomes permanently deafened.

Acid Fever: When a character takes more than 30 points of acid damage and is at the same rime exposed to great evil (such as the presence of an evil outsider or a desecrated area), she risks contracting acid fever. Festering boils cover the victim's flesh, and the skin blackens and withers.

Blue Guts: This disease comes from eating the flesh of particularly disgusting creatures such as otyughs, gibbering mouthers, and gray oozes. It results in a bluish complexion, particularly around the creature's intestines (hence the name). Many (but not all) predatory magical beasts, aberrations, and other creatures are immune to this disease, but no humanoids are.

Deathsong: One of the worst diseases known, this terrible plague has laid waste to entire communities in less than a week. Victims of deathsong can do nothing but shriek and howl as their bodies wither and blacken. Once the incubation period expires, the progress of the disease is so fast that a victim can hear his skin crackle and his bones grow brittle and break.

Faceless Hate: When a victim of this disease takes enough Strength or Constitution damage to reduce the ability score to 0, the infection disappears. The character's ability scores are immediately restored to what they were before the onset of the disease, but he becomes a monster with no face. The character loses his ability to see (and scent, if he has that ability), but gains blindsight with a range of 60 feet. He loses the ability to speak, but gains the Silent Spell feat if a spellcaster. The victim's alignment changes to neutral evil, and he becomes intent on killing all those who were his friends and family. When the victim has hunted down everyone dear to him, he turns his ire against all other living things. These changes are permanent, and remove disease has no effect. A wish or miracle spell restores the character, but nothing else will. If the victim dies and a remove disease spell is then cast on the corpse, a resurrection or true resurrection spell restores the character to life and to his original form. Raise dead won't work.

Festering Anger: Brought upon by long-term, intense fury and hatred, this disease manifests as dark boils across the skin. The incubation period - in this case, the amount of time during which a character must be angry - varies, but it usually takes at least a year for festering anger to erupt. Each day after the onset of this malady, the character takes 1d3 points of Constitution damage, but she gains a cumulative +2 enhancement bonus to Strength.

Each day, the victim must succeed at an additional Will saving throw (DC 22) or attack whatever has made him so angry The victim is obsessed with taking action against the focus of his anger, but isn't completely heedless of danger. If the focus of the victim's anger isn't readily available, the victim will instead attack allies, minions, or symbols that remind him of the reason for his hate. For example, a farmer suffering from festering anger directed at the king won't necessarily match toward the palace after failing a Will save. He might instead attack the royal guards in the marketplace, pick a fight with the local tax collector, or vandalize the king's statue in the city square.

Fire Taint: When a character rakes more than 30 points of fire damage and is at the same time exposed to great evil (as with acid fever, above), she risks contracting fire taint. Her flesh reddens and her insides seem to burn. The victim vomits bile during the worst of the disease.

Frigid Ravaging: When a character takes more than 30 points of cold damage and is at the same time exposed to great evil (as with acid fever, above), she risks contracting frigid ravaging.

Iron Corruption: This disease comes from prolonged exposure to iron worked in conditions of extreme toil and misery. Iron corruption often spreads from a stab wound or an arrowhead lodged in one's flesh for too long. The victim is gripped with terrible chills. Her skin turns a dull metallic hue.

Life Blindness: The infected victim loses all ability to perceive living creatures, even plants. All such beings are treated as invisible, silent, and odorless. The loneliness and alienation eventually drive the victim to be completely antisocial, suffering effects similar to the emotion (despair) and emotion (hate) spells.

Lightning Curse: When a character rakes more than 30 points of electricity damage and is at the same time exposed to great evil (as with acid fever, above), she risks contracting lightning curse. As her blood vessels burst, the victim is covered in blue and black bruises. Her muscles ache and she cannot think straight.

Melting Fury: Caught by characters who handle undead flesh, this disease is as horrific to watch as it is to contract. The victim's flesh slowly liquefies and "melts" off his body until he is dead.

Misery's Passage: Brought upon by long-term, intense emotions of sadness and despair, this disease manifests as dark boils. The incubation period varies just as for festering anger. In addition to the damage, the victim must succeed at an additional Will saving throw (DC 15) every day or be treated as stunned for that day. Even moving takes too great an effort.

Possession Infection: This malady occurs only after an evil spirit, outsider, or other dominating force (including the effect of dominate person cast by an evil caster) has possessed the victim. The victim slowly becomes despondent and lethargic, apparently mentally affected by the alien presence that was within her soul.

Sound Sickness: When a character takes more than 30 points of sonic damage and is at the same time exposed to great evil (as with acid fever, above), he risks contracting sound sickness. Given to fits of shouting, the victim of this disease shows no visible illness, but he staggers about, barely able to keep to his feet.

Soul Rot: Creatures that eat the flesh of an evil outsider can contract this horrible malady. Soul rot eats at the victim's mind and soul until she dies a horrible, agonizing death full of pain and misery

Vile Rigidity: This infection at first seems a boon. The victim's skin roughens, granting a +1 natural armor bonus to AC 24 hours after the infection starts. On the second day, this becomes a +2 bonus. On the third day the natural armor bonus improves to +3, but the victim takes a -2 penalty to Dexterity. Each day thereafter, the victim's skin becomes thicker and thicker, adding a cumulative +1 natural armor bonus and a -2 penalty to Dexterity. This lasts until the victim's Dexterity reaches 0, indicating that his ever-thickening flesh has entrapped him. At this point, the victim dies of suffocation.

Warp Touch: One of the worst effects of raw chaos and dissolution, the malady known as warp touch has a random set of effects that manifest immediately. Once it takes hold, no more saving throws are needed: The malady gets neither better nor worse. A remove disease accomplishes nothing. When a character falls victim to this disease, roll on following table.

Warp Touch
01-10Body turns to formless jelly; character dies.
11-15One arm becomes useless; 1d6 Str, Con, and Dex drain.
16-20One leg becomes useless; 1d6 Str, Con, and Dex drain.
21-23Eyes fall out; permanent blindness.
24-28Huge lump grows on head; 1d8 Int and Wis drain.
29-32Fingers twist into tangles; 1d8 Dex drain.
33-36Become very thin; 1d6 Str and Con drain.
37-38Mouth seals forever; cannot speak.
39-40Legs become snake tails; speed reduced by half.
41-42Skin turns random color.
43-44Eyes turn random color.
45-46Hair turns random color.
47-48Tongue grows very long.
49-50Lose all hair.
51-52Skin forms blotches of different colors.
53-54Body covered with tufts of hair.
55-56Grow vestigial wings.
57-58Grow extra, useless arm.
59-60Grow vestigial tail.
61-62Skin withers.
63-64Back curves, grows hump.
65-66Arms become tentacles; character cannot hold objects, but gains improved grab.
67-68Grow extra eye; +2 deformity bonus on Spot checks.
69-70Legs grow more muscular; speed increases by +10 ft.
71-72Head swells; +4 deformity bonus to Int.
73-74Grow claws that deal 1d8 points of damage.
75-76Grow a very wide mouth; bite deals 1 d6 points of damage.
77-78Grow snakelike arm; attacks of its own accord as Medium-size viper.
79-80Grow horns; gore attack deals 2d4 points of damage.
81-82Grow thick skin; +2 natural armor bonus.
83-84Grow scales; +3 natural armor bonus.
85-86Grow longer legs; +2 deformity bonus to Dex.
87-88Arms grow freakishly muscular; +2 deformity bonus to Str.
89-90Become freakishly stout; +2 deformity bonus to Con.
91Grow working wings; fly 10 ft. (clumsy).
92Petrifying eyes; gain gaze attack as medusa.
93Form oozing pustules; uncontrollable poison touch; Fort DC 15; initial damage 1 Int, secondary damage 1d6 Int.
94Form steaming pustules; uncontrollable stench in a 5-foot radius centered on victim; make Fort save (DC 15) or take -2 morale penalty on attacks, saves, and checks for 10 rounds.
95-100Roll twice.

Healing Disease

Use of the Heal skill can help a diseased character. Every time the diseased character makes a saving throw against disease effects, the healer makes a check. The diseased character can use the healer's result in place of his saving throw if the Heal result is higher. The diseased character must be in the healer's care and must spend most of each day resting.

Characters recover points lost to ability score damage at a rate of 1 per day, and this rule applies even while a disease is in progress. That means that a lucky character with a minor disease might be able to withstand it without accumulating any damage.

Energy Drain

An undead wight bashes an adventurer, and she feels cold and weak, while the wight moves with greater vigor than before. When the wight strikes her again, she grows weaker, as if her life force were slipping away Her friends see her face drain of color and her flesh shrivel slightly With the third strike, the adventurer falls to the ground, a desiccated husk. A fellow adventurer, also struck by the wight, survives the encounter. Over the next day his spirit rallies, and he throws off the hungry force that clawed at his very soul. Some horrible creatures, especially undead monsters, possess a fearsome supernatural ability to drain levels from those they strike in combat. The creature making an energy drain attack draws a portion of its victim's life force from her.


Out of nowhere, a spider the size of a horse appears and bites Mialee. Lidda wheels to stab it, but it's gone. The adventurers know the phase spider is somewhere nearby lurking on the Ethereal Plane, watching them and waiting.

Phase spiders and certain other creatures can exist on the Ethereal Plane, which lies parallel to the Material Plane (the normal world). While on the Ethereal Plane, a creature is called ethereal.

Evasion & Improved Evasion

The blue dragon's lightning breath blasts Tordek, Mialee, and Lidda. They all twist and duck to escape the worst of the attack, but Tordek and Mialee are still burned. Lidda is merely sweaty.

These extraordinary abilities allow the target of an area attack to leap or twist out of the way Rogues and monks have evasion and improved evasion as class features, but certain other creatures have these abilities, too.

Fast Healing

As Tordek fights the red slaad, the wounds he has already given it heal before his eyes.

The creature has the extraordinary ability to regain hit points at an exceptional rate. Except for what is noted here, fast healing is just like natural healing.


A young adult green dragon charges the adventurers. Tordek feels a twinge of fear but grits his teeth and ignores it. Lidda doesn't stand up as well to the charge. She holds her ground, but fear takes the edge off her skill. The cohort who had recently joined them, however, drops her sword and flees recklessly, her screams fading in the distance.

Spells, magic items, and certain monsters can affect characters with fear. In most cases, the character makes a Will saving throw to resist this effect, and a failed roll means that the character is shaken, frightened, or panicked.

Shaken: Characters who are shaken suffer a -2 morale penalty to attack rolls, saves, and checks.

Frightened: Characters who are frightened are shaken, and in addition they flee from the source of their fear as quickly as they can, although they can choose the path of their flight. Other than that stipulation, once they are out of sight (or hearing) of the source of their fear, they can act as they want. However, if the duration of their fear continues, characters can be forced to flee once more if the source of their fear presents itself again. Characters unable to flee can fight (though they are still shaken).

Panicked: Characters who are panicked are shaken, and in addition they have a 50% chance to drop what they're holding, and they run away from the source of their fear as quickly as they can. Other than running away from the source, their path is random. They flee from all other dangers that confront them rather than facing those dangers. Panicked characters cower if they are prevented from fleeing.

Becoming Even More Fearful: Fear effects are cumulative. A shaken character who is made shaken again becomes frightened, and a shaken character who is made frightened becomes panicked instead. A frightened character who is made shaken or frightened becomes panicked instead.


Red-hot boulders fly out of an inferno, striking the unexpecting adventurers. Looking closely, they can see the figure of a fire giant in the roaring flames, laughing.

A "fire" creature is immune to fire damage. It takes double damage from cold unless the cold attack allows a saving throw for half damage, in which case it rakes half damage on a successful save and double damage on a failed save.

Gaseous Form

The characters have the vampire cornered, when suddenly her form gets blurry. In an instant, she and her gear, including the signet ring that the adventurers need, have turned into a mist, which floats out through an arrow slit in the stone wall.

Some creatures have the supernatural or spell-like ability to take the form of a cloud of vapor or gas.

Gaze Attacks

The medusa looks around, throwing dangerous glances everywhere, and focusing its eyes on specific victims. Lidda closes her eyes and tries to aim her arrows by ear. Jozan averts his eyes but tries to watch the creature with peripheral vision so he knows where to project his searing light spell. Tordek trusts fate and looks the thing in the eye as he swings his mighty axe. Magic washes through him, and he shrugs it off. Jozan, however, accidentally catches the thing's eye, and he's not strong enough to resist. His body hardens and turns to stone.

While the medusa's gaze is well known, gaze attacks can also charm, curse, or even kill. Gaze attacks not produced by a spell (such as eyebite) are supernatural.


Lidda spots a translucent face poking forth from a wall, but it's gone by the time she alerts her companions. The party starts to back out of the ruined throne room they're exploring, when suddenly several ghostly figures fly out of the walls toward them. Tordek raises his magic shield to fend off a spectre's attack, but the incorporeal hand passes through the shield and through his magic plate armor. It touches his heart, which grows suddenly cold.

Spectres, wraiths, and a few other creatures lack physical bodies. Such creatures are insubstantial and can't be touched by nonmagical matter or energy. Likewise, they cannot manipulate objects or exert physical force on objects. However, incorporeal beings have a tangible presence that sometimes seems like a physical attack (such as the touch of a spectre) against a corporeal creature.


An invisible quasit is spying on the adventurers when Lidda gets a strange feeling. "There's something here," she whispers, and signals for silence as she tries to locate it by ear.

The ability to move about unseen is wonderful, but it's not fool-proof. While they can't be seen, invisible creatures can be heard, smelled, or felt.

Level Loss

A character who loses a level instantly loses one Hit Die. The characters base attack bonus, base saving throw bonuses, and special class abilities are now reduced to the new, lower level. A 2nd-level rogue, for example, normally has the evasion ability, but when she is drained to 1st level, she loses that ability. Likewise, the character loses any ability score gain, skill ranks, and any feat associated with the level (if applicable). If the exact ability score or skill ranks increased from a level now lost is unknown (or the player has forgotten), lose 1 point from the highest ability score or ranks from the highest-ranked skills. If a familiar or companion creature (such as a paladin's mount) has abilities tied to a character who has lost a level, the creature's abilities are adjusted to fit the character's new level.

The victim's experience point total is immediately set to the midpoint of the previous level. For example, a character drained from 2nd to 1st level would drop to 500 experience points.

Low-light Vision

Lidda hears something stalking through the trees beyond the circle of light thrown up by rho campfire, but she can't see it. She nudges Mialee and points. Mialee looks into the darkness and says, "Displacer beasts."

Characters with low-light vision have eyes that are so sensitive to light that they can see twice as far as normal in dim light. Thus, if a group of adventurers passes down a dark passage with a torch illuminating a 20-foot radius, an elf with low-light vision can see everything within 40 feet of the torch. Low-light vision is color vision. A spellcaster with low-light vision can read a scroll as long as even the tiniest candle flame is next to her as a source of light.

Characters with low-light vision can see outdoors on a moonlit night as well as they can during the day.

Paralysis And Hold

A cleric of Hextor brandishes his unholy symbol at Tordek, gestures with it, and speaks unintelligible words. Suddenly Tordek feels his body freeze up, and he can't will his limbs to obey. He stands rigid and helpless. He hears a fight raging around him and sees whatever passes in front of his eyes, but he can't turn to see how his friends are faring. The sound of his own breath and the beating of his heart fill his ears. Then he hears someone behind him, and all he can do is hope it's a friend.

Some monsters and spells have the supernatural or spell-like ability to paralyze or hold their victims, immobilizing them through magical means. (Paralysis from toxins is discussed in the Poison section below.)


A giant scorpion grabs Jozan in its pincers and stings him. The wound burns like fire, and pain spreads through his body, bringing a strange weakness with it. Jozan struggles to free himself from the pincers, but his arms have become weak, and the scorpion just stings him again. Mialee uses polymorph other to turn the scorpion into a carp, so Jozan is safe from further harm, but the poison still courses through his veins. Soon it overcomes him, and he falls helpless to the ground.

When a character takes damage from an attack with a poisoned weapon, touches an item smeared with contact poison, consumes poisoned food or drink, or is otherwise poisoned, he must make a Fortitude saving throw. If he fails, he suffers the poison's initial damage (usually ability damage). Even if he succeeds, he typically faces more damage 1 minute later, which he can also avoid with a successful Fortitude saving throw. One dose of poison smeared on a weapon or some other object affects just a single target. A poisoned weapon or object retains its venom until the weapon scores a hit or the object is touched (unless the poison is wiped off before a target comes in contact with it). Any poison smeared on an object or exposed to the elements in any way - if the vial containing it is left unstoppered, for instance - remains potent until it is touched or used. Although supernatural and spell-like poisons are possible, poisonous effects are almost always extraordinary Poisons are described on Poisons.

Perils of Using Poison

A character has a 5% chance to expose himself to a poison whenever he applies it to a weapon or otherwise readies it for use. Additionally, a character who rolls a 1 on an attack roll with a poisoned weapon must make a Reflex saving throw (DC 15) or accidentally poison himself with the weapon.

Poison Immunities

Wyverns, medusas, and other creatures with natural poison attacks are immune to their own poison. Nonliving creatures (constructs and undead) and creatures without metabolisms (such as elementals) are always immune to poison. Oozes, plants, and certain kinds of creatures (such as tanar'ri) are also immune to poison, although conceivably a special poison could be concocted specifically to harm them.

PoisonTypeInitial DamageSecondary DamagePrice
Small centipede poisonInjury DC 111d2 Dex1d2 Dex90 gp
Greenblood oilInjury DC 131 Con1d2 Con100 gp
Medium-size spider venomInjury DC 141d4 Str1d6 Str150 gp
BloodrootInjury DC 1201d4 Con 5-1d3 Wis100 gp
Purple worm poisonInjury DC 241d6 Str1d6 Str700 gp
Large scorpion venomInjury DC 181d6 Str1d6 Str200 gp
Wyvern poisonInjury DC 172d6 Con2d6 Con3,000 gp
Blue whinnisInjury DC 141 ConUnconsciousness120 gp
Giant wasp poisonInjury DC 181d6 Dex1d6 Dex210 gp
Shadow essenceInjury DC 171 Str 52d6 Str250 gp
Black adder venomInjury DC 1201d6 Str120 gp
Deathblade InjuryDC 201d6 Con2d6 Con1,800 gp
Malyss root pasteContact DC 161 Dex2d4 Dex500 gp
NitharitContact DC 1303d6 Con650 gp
Dragon bileContact DC 263d6 Str01,500 gp
Sassone leaf residueContact DC 162d12 hp1d6 Con300 gp
Terinav rootContact DC 161d6 Dex2d6 Dex750 gp
Carrion crawler brain juiceContact DC 13Paralysis0200 gp
Black lotus extractContact DC 203d6 Con3d6 Con2,500 gp
Oil of taggitIngested DC 150Unconsciousness90 gp
Id mossIngested DC 141d4 Int2d6 Int125 gp
Striped toadstoolIngested DC 111 Wis2d6 Wis + 1d4 Int180 gp
ArsenicIngested DC 131 Con1d5 Con120 gp
Lich dustIngested DC 172d6 Str1d6 Str250 gp
Dark reaver powderIngested DC 182d6 Con1d6 Con+1d6 Str300 gp
Ungol dustInhaled DC 151 Cha1d6 Cha + 1 Cha*1,000 gp
Burnt othur fumesInhaled DC 181 Con*3d6 Con2,100 gp
Insanity mistInhaled DC 151d4 Wis2d6 Wis1,500 gp
Type: The poison's method of delivery - ingested, inhaled, via an injury, or contact - and the DC needed to save.
Initial Damage: The damage the character takes immediately upon failing his saving throw against this type of poison. Ability score damage is temporary unless marked with an asterisk (*), in which case the loss is a permanent drain. Paralysis lasts for 2d6 minutes.
Secondary Damage: The amount of damage the character takes 1 minute after exposure as a result of the poisoning, if he fails a second saving throw. Unconsciousness lasts for 1d3 hours. Loss marked with an asterisk is permanent drain instead of temporary damage.
Price: The cost of one dose (One vial) of the poison. It is not possible to use or apply poison in any quantity smaller than one dose. The purchase and possession of poison is always illegal, and even in big cities it can only be obtained from specialized, less than reputable sources.


Lidda thought that the captain of the guard was acting a little strangely but she put it down to stress. When she turned away, however, she heard a strange squishing sound behind her. She spun around to see that the man had turned into a 10-foot-tall blue-skinned monster, complete with a greatsword - an ogre mage.

Magic can cause creatures and characters to change their shapes - sometimes against their will, but usually to gain an advantage. Polymorphed creatures retain their own minds but have new physical forms.


The mind flayer turns its alien visage toward the adventurers, and the air seems to ripple as a wave of psychic force cascades toward them. Mialee resists the attack, but her friends are stunned. She casts hold monster on the thing, and it becomes rigid. Nevertheless, she feels the creature's mind enter her own as it tries to win her allegiance by psychic force.

Telepathy mental combat and psychic powers-psionics is a catchall word that describes special mental abilities possessed by various creatures. These are spell-like abilities that a creature generates from the power of its mind alone - no other outside magical force or ritual is needed. The most well known of the psionic creatures is the dreaded mind flayer, which blasts its prey's mind and then devours the brain of the prey while it lies stunned. Each creature's description in the Monster Manual contains details on its psionic abilities (if it has any).

Psionic attacks almost always allow Will saving throws to resist them. However, not all psionic attacks are mental attacks. Some psionic abilities allow the psionic creature to reshape its own body, heal its wounds, or teleport great distances. Some psionic creatures can see into the future, the past, and the present (in far-off locales) as well as read the minds of others.

Variant: Nonmagical Psionics

Psionics aren't magical at all, but a different sort of extraordinary power altogether. Antimagic fields have no power over psionics (and likewise, most psionic abilities cannot interfere with magic). A creature's special immunities or resistances to magic do not protect it from psionic abilities.

The danger of this variant is that, without the traditional checks that exist for magic, psionic abilities quickly threaten to become overwhelmingly powerful. Since conventional magical defenses don't work, psionic defenses need to be added to the treasure tables and spells.


A thin, green beam leaps from one of the beholder's eyes and streaks across the chamber at Mialee. She twists to avoid it (as she would move to avoid an arrow or a sword), but the beam flies true and connects. Green energy encompasses her in a flash, trying to disintegrate her. Her face contorts as she struggles to resist the spell. In an instant, the green energy is gone, and Mialee is safe. The beholder then projects a second eye beam at her.

All ray attacks, whether from a ray of enfeeblement spell or a beholder's eye ray, require the attacker to make a successful ranged touch attack against the target. Rays have varying ranges, which are simple maximums. A ray's attack roll never suffers a range penalty. Even if a ray hits, it usually allows the target to make a saving throw (Fortitude or Will). Rays never require a Reflex saving throw, but if a character's Dexterity bonus to AC is high, it might be hard to hit her with the ray in the first place.


The trolls' wounds kept healing up as Tordek fought them, until Mialee dropped a fireball on all of them (and hoped that Tordek could take the heat).

Creatures with this extraordinary ability recover from wounds quickly and can even regrow or reattach severed body parts.

Resistance To Energy

Mialee's fireball singed the janni, but mostly the spell just made it angrier.

A creature with resistance to energy has the ability (usually extraordinary) to ignore some damage of a certain type (such as cold, electricity, or fire) each round, but it does not have total immunity


This extraordinary ability lets a creature detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell.

Variant Rule: Characters with Scent

Half-arcs and gnomes, as well as many types of NPC humanoids such as orcs and gnolls, can take Scent as a feat. The feat's prerequisite is Wisdom 11+. Scent is more powerful than many feats, however, and this option may make these characters and creatures too good.

Spell Resistance (Su)

Mialee's fireball engulfs the ogre mage. It flinches reflexively but it doesn't try to avoid the blast. When the flames dissipate, the ogre mage is untouched.

Spell resistance is the extraordinary ability to avoid being affected by spells. (Some spells also grant spell resistance.)

When Spell Resistance Applies

Each spell described in the Player's Handbook includes an entry that indicates whether spell resistance applies to the spell. In general, whether spell resistance applies depends on what the spell does:

Spell resistance can protect a creature from a spell that's already been cast Check spell resistance when the creature is first affected by the spell. For example, if an ogre mage flies within 10 feet of a wall of fire, the caster must make a caster level check against the ogre mage's SR of 18. If the caster fails, the wall does not damage the ogre mage.

Check spell resistance only once for any particular casting of a spell or use of a spell-like ability. If spell resistance fails the first rime, it fails each time the creature encounters that same casting of the spell. Likewise, if the spell resistance succeeds the first time, it always succeeds. For example, a succubus encounters Jozan's blade barrier spell. If the cleric makes a successful roll to overcome the spell resistance of the succubus, the creature rakes damage from the spell. If the succubus survives and enters that particular blade barrier a second time, the creature will be damaged again. No second roll is needed. If the creature has voluntarily lowered its spell resistance and is then subjected to a spell, the creature still has a single chance to resist that spell later, when its spell resistance is up.

Spell resistance has no effect unless the energy created or released by the spell actually goes to work on the resistant creature's mind or body If the spell acts on anything else (the air, the ground, the room's light), and the creature is affected as a consequence, no roll is required. Creatures can be harmed by a spell without being directly affected. For example, a daylight spell harms a drow elf because draw are sensitive to light. Daylight, however, usually is cast on the area containing the drow, making it bright, not on the drow itself, so the effect is indirect. Spell resistance would only apply if someone tried to cast daylight on an object the drow was holding.

Spell resistance does not apply if an effect fools the creature's senses or reveals something about the creature, such as minor illusion or detect thoughts does.

Magic actually has to be working for spell resistance to apply. Spells that have instantaneous durations but lasting results aren't subject to spell resistance unless rho resistant creature is exposed to the spell the instant it is cast. For example, a creature with spell resistance can't undo a wall of stone that has already been cast.

When in doubt about whether a spell's effect is direct or indirect, consider the spell's school:

Abjuration: The target creature must be harmed, changed, or restricted in some manner for spell resistance to apply. Perception changes, such as nondetection, aren't subject to spell resistance. Abjurations that block or negate attacks are not subject to an attacker's spell resistance - it is the protected creature that is affected by the spell (becoming immune or resistant to the attack).

Conjuration: Those spells are usually not subject to spell resistance unless rho spell conjures some form of energy, such as Melf's acid arrow or power word, stun. Spells that summon creatures or produce effects that function like creatures are not subject to spell resistance.

Divination: These spells do not affect creatures directly and are not subject to spell resistance, even though what they reveal about a creature might be very damaging.

Enchantment: Since enchantment spells affect creatures minds, they are typically subject to spell resistance.

Evocation: If an evocation spell deals damage to the creature, it has a direct effect. If the spell damages something else, it has an indirect effect. For example, a lightning bolt cast at a resistant creature is subject to spell resistance (which would protect only the creature but would not affect the spell itself). If the lightning bolt is cast at a chamber's coiling, bringing down a rain of debris, it is not subject to spell resistance.

Illusion: These spells are almost never subject to spell resistance. Illusions that inflict a direct attack, such as phantasmal killer or shadow evocation, are exceptions.

Necromancy: Most of those spells alter the target creature's life force and are subject to spell resistance. Unusual necromancy spells, such as spectral hand, don't affect other creatures directly and are not subject to spell resistance.

Transmutation: These spells are subject to spell resistance if they transform rho target creature. Transmutation spells are not subject to spell resistance if they are targeted on a point in space instead of on a creature. Transmute rock to mud and entangle change a creature's surroundings, not the creature itself, and are not subject to spell resistance. Some transmutations make objects harmful (or more harmful), such as magic stone. Even these spells are not generally subject to spell resistance because they affect rho objects, not the creatures against which rho objects are used. Spell resistance works against magic stone only if the creature with spell resistance is holding the stones when the cleric casts magic stone on them.

Successful Spell Resistance

Spell resistance prevents a spell or a spell-like ability from affecting or harming the resistant creature, but it never removes a magical effect from another creature or negates a spell's effect on another creature. Spell resistance prevents a spell from disrupting another spell.

Against an ongoing spell that has already been cast, a failed check against spell resistance allows the resistant creature to ignore any effect the spell might have. The magic continues to affect others normally.


The red-hot thoqqua lunges unexpectedly from hiding, closing in unerringly on Tordek even though it couldn't see him before it attacked.

A creature with tremorsense locates other creatures by sensing vibrations in the ground.

Turn Resistance

The cleric brandishes his holy symbol and commands a vampire to be gone, but the creature merely sneers and closes in for the kill.

By virtue of superior strength of will or just plain unholy power, some creatures (usually undead) are less easily affected by clerics or paladins.

Turn resistance is an extraordinary ability.

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