Legendary Spell Rules

Creating legendary spells is not much more difficult than making any other spells. Due to the magnitude of the effects one can achieve, however, it requires some guidelines to help keep a relative amount of balance.

Finding the Base Spell

It's generally best to find a "base spell" first – a spell (or spells) that covers the base effect. Many legendary are simply bigger and better non-legendary spells, or combinations thereof – animus blast/blizzard, hellball, etc. The trick is to find the spell(s) that most closely matches the base effects, then follow the steps below to modify it appropriately.

You can apply more than one spell as a "base spell", but the levels don't add up normally. Instead, you add them similar to pricing a staff: use 100% of the highest level spell, 75% of the second-highest, and 50% of any other spells. For example, demise unseen uses finger of death, create undead, and seeming. Since finger of death is highest, you count 100% of its level; create undead is next, so you count 75% of its level (+4); seeming is the lowest, so it only adds 50% of its level (+2).

Applying Metamagic
As mentioned above, a good number of the epic spells are nothing more than nonepic spells with metamagic tacked on, which makes it very easy to convert them to the legendary system. Hellball, for example, is fireball with Energy Admixture and Widen Spell.

Something I've noticed when doing these spells: Admixture and Widen are a level too high - the first should be +3, and the second +2. For example, hellball gets Admixture x3, but it's a L14 spell, not L18.

If you apply metamagic to a single spell, use the spell's adjusted level when you calculate the highest, second-highest, etc. as noted above. For example, if animus blast used a widened fireball instead of a standard one, that spell would be the highest (L5) vs. animate dead at L4 (note: because animate dead appears at L3 for clerics and L5 for wizards, I split the difference with L4).

Applying Other Factors

The most common factors applied to legendary spells are as follows:

Contingent spell: +3.

Greater spell: +3. Greater spells are always 3 levels higher than their normal counterparts.

Mass spell: +4. Same thing here.

Permanent spell: Variable. Permanency really depends on the scope of the spell; a single-target spell should be no more than +2 (it's a very small effect), while a large-scale spell like control weather would be +6. The permanency factor also relies on the duration of the base spell effect - spells with a short duration are generally made that way for a reason; thus, it should cost more to make them permanent (as it does with magic items). Spells with a duration of less than 1 round/level cannot be made permanent.

A good rule of thumb is:

Single target, or 1 hour/level or more: +2

Multiple targets (up to 5) or a small area (up to 40 ft. radius or 1,000 cu. ft.), or 10 minutes/level: +3

Multiple targets (up to 10) or a medium area (up to 100 ft. radius or 50,000 cu. ft.) or 1 minute/level: +4

Many targets (11-20) or a large area (up to 1,000 ft. radius or 100,000 cu. ft.) or 1 round/level: +5

Anything that exceeds +5: +6.

Spells with modifiers of +2 or +3 can be made into rituals; in this case, reduce the modifier by 1. Any spell that has a modifier of +4 or +5 is usually a ritual; they can be done as single-caster spells, but this requires a much greater casting time (at least one hour), and (usually) the addition of ability burn (see mitigating factors). A spell with a modifier of +6 is always a ritual.

Ritual spell: Large-scale, permanent, or heavy-duty spells (dragon strike, pestilence, etc.) should be rituals. If you want to make a ritual out of a spell that isn't one of the above (say, rain of fire), drop the level by 3.

Casting times for rituals vary – a good rule of thumb is that personal or single-target spells take one to ten minutes. Spells that cover a large number of targets (up to 50) or a wider area (a 1- to 2-mile radius) take 1 hour to 1 day. Spells that affect a large number of people (100+) or cover a large area (say, a small city) take several days.

Summoning creatures: +1 level/2 points of the creature's ECL above 12 (round up). Drop the level by -5 for a very specific creature (an adult red dragon or an elder earth elemental, e.g.), by -3 for a specific group (a behemoth, elemental, or an adult dragon, e.g.) or -1 for a specific type (aberration, elemental, etc.). -4 and -2 are for monsters that don't quite fit into the other groupings – an adult chromatic dragon, e.g. (-4), or a specific list of monsters (-2). Add +1 level per extra creature to be summoned. If the summoning is a ritual, halve the modifier from extra creatures or the ECL, whichever is higher.

For example, dragon fire summons an adult red dragon. It is ECL 28 (16 points over 12), and is a very specific creature (-5) so the level would be 9 + 8 - 5 = 12.

Undead (and other creature) creation: The factors for the undead are based on the creature's CR, like the create undead and create greater undead spells. I use Upper Krust's CR system – it's a good deal more accurate than WotC's CRs, especially at high levels, though the guys who did the PHB came pretty close to the proper caster levels for the undead creation spells (they tweaked them a little to better fit the create undead spells). If you really want to use WotC's CRs, more power to you, but be advised that anything above 15 HD or so is suspect.

In order to find any undead's caster level (CL), use these formulae:

Unintelligent undead: CL = ECL (for skeletons) or ECL +2 (for zombies).

Intelligent, corporeal undead: CL = ECL +9.

Intelligent, incorporeal and/or templated undead: CL = ECL +12.

This works for all undead at all levels, from CR 1 to 1 million. For those of you who want to see the math behind the numbers, I've posted the methodology in the discussion section.

Material Components

I though it was totally ridiculous that epic spells didn't require (or even have!) material components, and even more so that expensive components mitigated the cost. Legendary spells are beyond the pale - they should have rare and expensive material components. They should be hard to cast. That's why they're legendary spells. The components I applied are, for the most part, unusual and sometimes hard to acquire, as they should be, and they add a bit to the flavor of the spells. Casting a pestilence ritual is kinda cool, but casting a pestilence ritual that uses the ashes of 100 plague victims as a material component is just evil, and much more memorable.

This is not to say that legendary spells must have components. In this, at least, legendary spells are like their non-legendary counterparts. If you think the spell should have components, then give it some. If it's a single-action or full-round spell that just blasts someone to smithereens, chances are it doesn't need one. If, on the other hand, it's a large-scale spell that requires a good bit of work, it should probably have some. When you do apply components, try to make them fit the spell. They should be rare, expensive, and/or hard to acquire or make.

The Eyeball Factor

Sometimes you there is no base spell for what you want to do, and no metamagic fits. In this case, you just have to eyeball it and apply a rough level, based on the power level of similar spells (much like you do with non-legendary spells). The guidelines above should help a bit in this.


The tables below were adapted from the epic spell creation system. Since many of the factors can be duplicated with feats, they were taken out; others were removed simply because they didn't fit in the new system.

Table 1: Legendary Spell Factors

Factor Level
No verbal component +1
No somatic component +1
No material component1 +1
Casting Time
Reduce casting time by one increment2 +4
Increase duration by one increment3 +3
Change from personal to area (pick area below) +8
Change from personal to touch or ranged touch +2
Change from touch to area +6
Change from touch to target +4
Change from touch to ray +2
Change from target to area (pick area below) +5
Change from target to touch -3
Change from target to ray (Medium range) -2
Change from ray to area (pick area below) +4
Change from ray to touch -1
Change from target, touch, or area to personal -4
Change from touch or ranged touch to target +4
Change area to line (5 ft. x 300 ft.) +1
Change area to cylinder (10-ft. radius, 40 ft. high) +1
Change area to 60-ft. cone +2
Change area to four 10-ft. cubes +4
Change area to 20-ft. radius +2
Set area to level-dependent +4

1 An arcane or divine focus can be used in place of a material component.

2 Casting time goes thus: quickened action (limited one quickened spell/round), 1 action, 1 round, 1 minute, 10 minutes.

3 The duration increases from 1 round to 1 minute to 10 minutes to 1 hour to 1 day; no spell can be greater than one day per level without making it permanent or contingent, and no spell can be increased from instantaneous. Reducing the duration reduces the spell level the same way: -1 per increment reduced, down to instantaneous from 1 round/level.

Mitigating Factors

Mitigating factors are drawbacks that are added to a spell to lower its level - things like a longer casting time, shorter duration, or less damage. If you have or want to create new ones, just use the table below as a guide. Expensive and/or rare components should never be used as a mitigating factor.

Table 2: Mitigating Factors

Factor Level
Increase casting time by one increment2 -2
Set duration to concentration (1 round/level) -2
Reduce duration by one increment3 -1
Caster takes one point of ability burn4 -3
Decrease damage die by one step (d4 minimum) -1
Limited circumstances -2 to -205

1 The level of a legendary spell cannot be adjusted below 10.

2 Increments of casting time go: free action, standard action, 1 round, 1 minute, 10 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day. Each step up (1 minute to 10 minutes to 1 hour to 1 day) lowers the spell level by -1. Each day added to the casting time thereafter (to a maximum of 100 days) further lowers the casting time by -1.

3 A spell's duration increment (rounds, minutes, hours, etc.) cannot be lowered below one round.

4 The caster cannot lose enough points to reduce any score below 1. If he cannot pay the cost of the spell, it fails, though that ability score is reduced to 1 and all other components are consumed in the casting. Ability drain cannot be reversed by any means short of a wish or miracle.

5 Limited circumstances are conditions that limit the casting of the spell. Typical limited circumstances include: the spell can only be cast…

at a specific place and/or time;

by a specific class or number of people;

under certain conditions (such as the caster being grappled);

on a specific being (a creature with SR, one creature type, etc.).

Depending on the degree of limitation applied to the spell, adjust the level accordingly. This factor should not be any less than -2 (can only be at night, e.g.), and should be no more than -20 (can only be cast at sunrise of the summer solstice by a circle of 10th+ level druids led by a 10th level Gaia's Warden, e.g.). When in doubt, find a factor in an existing spell that is closest to the one you wish to apply and use that as a guideline.

Spell Progression

Spellcasters automatically gain higher-level slots, which they can use for metamagicked non-legendary spells or legendary spells, as they choose. Table 3 shows the spell progression for spell levels 10+; Table 4 shows the bonus spells for those same levels.

Table 3: Legendary Spell Progression

Level 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
21 1
22 1
23 2
24 2 1
25 3 1
26 3 2
27 4 2 1
28 4 3 1
29 5 3 2
30 5 4 2 1
31 6 4 3 1
32 6 5 3 2
33 6 5 4 2 1
34 6 6 4 3 1
35 6 6 5 3 2
36 6 6 5 4 2 1
37 6 6 6 4 3 1
38 6 6 6 5 3 2
39 6 6 6 5 4 2 1
40 6 6 6 6 4 3 1

Table 4: Ablity Score Modifiers and Bonus Spells

Score Bonus 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
28-29 +9
30-31 +10 1
32-33 +11 1 1
34-35 +12 1 1 1
36-37 +13 1 1 1 1
38-39 +14 2 1 1 1 1
40-41 +15 2 2 1 1 1 1
42-43 +16 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
44-45 +17 2 2 2 2 1 1 1
46-47 +18 3 2 2 2 2 1 1
48-49 +19 3 3 2 2 2 2 1
50-51 +20 3 3 3 2 2 2 2
54-55 +22 4 3 3 3 3 2 2
56-57 +23 4 4 3 3 3 3 2
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