Symbol of Fear

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NameSymbol of Fear
SchoolNecromancy [Fear, Mind-Affecting]
LevelArc 6, Clr 6, Sor/Wiz 6, Wuj 6
ComponentsV, S, M
Casting Time10 minutes
Recharge TimeGeneral
Range0 ft.; see text
EffectOne symbol
DurationSee text
Saving ThrowWill negates
Spell ResistanceYes
SourcesSystem Reference Document on page 290
Short Description

Triggered rune panics nearby creatures.


Mercury and phosphorus, plus powdered diamond and opal with a total value of at least 1,000 gp.

Living GreyhawkOpen

This spell allows you to scribe a potent rune of power upon a surface. When triggered, a symbol of fear panicks for 1 round per caster level one or more creatures within 60 feet of the symbol (treat as a burst) whose combined total current hit points do not exceed 150. The symbol of fear affects the closest creatures first, skipping creatures with too many hit points to affect. Once triggered, the symbol becomes active and glows, lasting for 10 minutes per caster level or until it has affected 150 hit points worth of creatures, whichever comes first. Any creature that enters the area while the symbol of fear is active is subject to its effect, whether or not that creature was in the area when it was triggered. A creature need save against the symbol only once as long as it remains within the area, though if it leaves the area and returns while the symbol is still active, it must save again.

Until it is triggered, the symbol of fear is inactive (though visible and legible at a distance of 60 feet). To be effective, a symbol of fear must always be placed in plain sight and in a prominent location. Covering or hiding the rune renders the symbol of fear ineffective, unless a creature removes the covering, in which case the symbol of fear works normally.

As a default, a symbol of fear is triggered whenever a creature does one or more of the following, as you select: looks at the rune; reads the rune; touches the rune; passes over the rune; or passes through a portal bearing the rune. Regardless of the trigger method or methods chosen, a creature more than 60 feet from a symbol of fear can't trigger it (even if it meets one or more of the triggering conditions, such as reading the rune). Once the spell is cast, a symbol of fear triggering conditions cannot be changed.

In this case, reading the rune means any attempt to study it, identify it, or fathom its meaning. Throwing a cover over a symbol of fear to render it inoperative triggers it if the symbol reacts to touch. You cant use a symbol of fear offensively; for instance, a touch-triggered symbol of fear remains untriggered if an item bearing the symbol of fear is used to touch a creature. Likewise, a symbol of fear cannot be placed on a weapon and set to activate when the weapon strikes a foe.

You can also set special triggering limitations of your own. These can be as simple or elaborate as you desire. Special conditions for triggering a symbol of fear can be based on a creatures name, identity, or alignment, but otherwise must be based on observable actions or qualities. Intangibles such as level, class, Hit Dice, and hit points dont qualify.

When scribing a symbol of fear, you can specify a password or phrase that prevents a creature using it from triggering the effect. Anyone using the password remains immune to that particular runes effects so long as the creature remains within 60 feet of the rune. If the creature leaves the radius and returns later, it must use the password again.

You also can attune any number of creatures to the symbol of fear, but doing this can extend the casting time. Attuning one or two creatures takes negligible time, and attuning a small group (as many as ten creatures) extends the casting time to 1 hour. Attuning a large group (as many as twenty-five creatures) takes 24 hours. Attuning larger groups takes proportionately longer. Any creature attuned to a symbol of fear cannot trigger it and is immune to its effects, even if within its radius when triggered. You are automatically considered attuned to your own symbols of fear, and thus always ignore the effects and cannot inadvertently trigger them.

Read magic allows you to identify a symbol of fear with a DC 19 Spellcraft check. Of course, if the symbol of fear is set to be triggered by reading it, this will trigger the symbol.

A symbol of fear can be removed by a successful dispel magic targeted solely on the rune. An erase spell has no effect on a symbol of fear. Destruction of the surface where a symbol of fear is inscribed destroys the symbol but also triggers it.

Symbol of fear can be made permanent with a permanency spell. A permanent symbol of fear that is disabled or that has affected its maximum number of hit points becomes inactive for 10 minutes, then can be triggered again as normal.

Note: Magic traps such as symbol of fear are hard to detect and disable. A rogue (only) can use the Search skill to find a symbol of fear and Disable Device to thwart it. The DC in each case is 25 + spell level, or 31 for symbol of fear.

Source Copyright: System Reference Document Copyright 2000-2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins, David Noonan, Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, John D. Rateliff, Thomas Reid, James Wyatt, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

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