Thunderlance

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Thunderlance has always been one of my favorite spells, mostly because I just loved the image and feel of the spell. However, it's not without its problems. The original version is rather tight-lipped about the actual mechanics of the lance, to the point that it never mentions whether or not the thunderlance is actually a weapon. I decided to rewrite the spell, both to clarify its wording and rules interactions, as well as to shift a few mechanics and make it a bit more usable and accessible in all aspects.

Contents

Thunderlance

Evocation [Force]

Level: Duskblade 3, sorcerer/wizard 3, warmage 3, wu jen 3 (metal)

Components: V, S

Casting Time: 1 standard action

Range: 0 ft.

Effect: A spearlike beam

Duration: 1 round/level (D)

Saving Throw: None

Spell Resistance: No

A brilliant, shimmering spear of force springs to your hand as you prepare for battle.

Upon casting this spell, you create a deadly weapon made completely of force that appears in your hand. The thunderlance can be wielded in one or two hands, and counts as either a one or two-handed melee weapon whenever most beneficial to you. It has no weight and has a base critical range of 20/x3. The weapon appears in the size of your choice, with base damage as appropriate, and you can increase or decrease its size as a free action (see table below for how size affects base damage). It is bonded to you, meaning only you can wield the weapon, and dropping the thunderlance or getting it disarmed (or destroyed; see below) causes the item to vanish and the spell to end.


Thunderlance size and base damage comparison
Weapon Size: Fine Diminutive Tiny Small Medium Large Huge Gargantuan Colossal
Base Damage: 1d6 2d6 2d6 3d6 3d6 4d6 5d6 6d6 8d6


The thunderlance is made of force, and cannot be sundered or destroyed except by effects that would destroy a wall of force. Unlike a wall of force, the weapon is still suppressed by an antimagic zone and can be dispelled by greater dispel magic (though a normal dispel magic is not strong enough to dispel it). It automatically penetrates all damage reduction, and it can hit creatures on the ethereal plane as well as incorporeal creatures without miss chance due to incorporeality.

The thunderlance is extendable and counts as a reach weapon, doubling your natural reach on all attacks, though unlike other reach weapons you can make attacks into any square within your reach (including adjacent squares). In addition, the thunderlance provides another bonus to weapon reach on top of this, granting +5 ft of reach on attacks per 4 CL (max +20 at CL 16). This bonus applies after the doubling of natural reach due to reach weapon (so a CL 12 caster with 5 ft natural reach ends up with 25 ft reach on thunderlance attacks).


Total reach based on caster level and natural reach
CL 1 to 3 CL 4 to 7 CL 8 to 11 CL 12 to 15 CL 16+
0 ft 0 ft 5 ft 10 ft 15 ft 20 ft
5 ft 10 ft 15 ft 20 ft 25 ft 30 ft
10 ft 20 ft 25 ft 30 ft 35 ft 40 ft
15 ft 30 ft 35 ft 40 ft 45 ft 50 ft
20 ft 40 ft 45 ft 50 ft 55 ft 60 ft
25 ft 50 ft 55 ft 60 ft 65 ft 70 ft
30 ft 60 ft 65 ft 70 ft 75 ft 80 ft


When making attacks with the thunderlance, you can choose to use the highest of your mental ability scores in place of Strength to determine your bonus on attack and damage rolls. An attack with the thunderlance deals double damage when made on the back of a charging mount. You are always proficient with your own thunderlance, and you may have feats, abilities, and effects treat your thunderlance as a wielded lance. Thus, feats that refer to lances (like Weapon Focus [Lance]), effects that work on melee weapons in general (like the Power Attack feat or the magic weapon spell), and similar abilities all apply to the thunderlance.

If you successfully strike a force effect of 3rd level or lower (like spiritual weapon) or a creature affected by a force effect of 3rd level or lower (like mage armor), you may attempt to dispel that single effect as if by greater dispel magic. If you succeed in a caster level check against the effect's caster, the effect is dispelled. Your thunderlance remains whether you succeed on the check or not. You may only attempt to dispel a single force effect this way each time you strike with thunderlance, so you must hit multiple times to dispel more than one force effect from a creature. Even force effects that cannot normally be dispelled by greater dispel magic (like wall of force) can still be dispelled this way, as long as those effects have low enough effective level to be dispelled by this spell (normally only 3rd level or lower effects, but this can be changed with Heighten Spell).


Metamagic and Thunderlance

Some metamagic affect thunderlance differently than usual. All metamagic feats mentioned here can be applied to thunderlance and affects the spell as listed rather than with their usual effects. Other metamagic feats not mentioned affect the spell as usual. These changes apply even if the spell gains the metamagic by something other than the feat itself (such as with Sudden Metamagic or Metamagic Spell-Like Ability feats) and only apply to the benefits of the metamagic; its spell level adjustment and interactions with different classes and feats (such as the fact that spontaneous casters require full-round actions to cast spells with metamagic) remain the same.

Energy Substitution:
Converts all of the untyped damage of thunderlance to damage of the chosen energy (including extra damage from sources such as Power Attack or Sneak Attack).
Enlarge Spell:
Increase the base critical range to 18-20/x3. This stacks before all other critical-changing effects, like Keen (so a Keen enlarged thunderlance has 15-20/x3 crit).
Extend Spell:
Increases the duration of thunderlance to 1 minute/level (so a CL 9 extended thunderlance lasts 9 minutes instead of 9 rounds).
Fell Weaken:
Each living creature dealt damage by your thunderlance takes a penalty to Strength equal to your highest mental ability modifier for 1 minute. This penalty does not stack with itself.
Fortify Spell:
For each level fortified, the thunderlance gains the ability to ignore 2 total points of armor and natural armor AC in any combination (so a thunderlance fortified by 4 levels can ignore a total of 8 points of armor and natural armor AC on attack).
Heighten Spell:
Has its normal effect. In addition, for each level heightened, increase the maximium level of force effects you can dispel by 1 and you gain a +1 bonus to those dispel attempts (so a thunderlance heightened by 5 levels can dispel 8th or lower force effects and gets a +5 bonus to caster level checks to dispel them).
Nonlethal Substitution:
Applies to thunderlance regardless of energy type chosen. You can choose to have all untyped (and energy substituted/admixtured) damage from thunderlance deal nonlethal damage, without taking the normal -4 penalty for nonlethal attacks.
Reach Spell:
Once per 5 rounds, as a free action that may be performed even if it's not your turn, you may increase your reach with thunderlance to twice its normal value. This increased reach lasts until the end of the current turn, and only affects what and where you may attack; it does not change your threatened range, so it does not allow you to flank enemies or make attacks of opportunity beyond your normal capacity.
Retributive Spell:
Whenever a creature hits you with a melee or ranged attack, you may strike back with your thunderlance as an immediate action as long as that creature is within your reach (if you choose to make a melee attack) or your range (if you are able to and choose to make a throwing attack with the thunderlance). You may only attack as an immediate action this way once every 5 rounds.
Smiting Spell:
You may freely imbue your thunderlance with touch spells for its duration. Whenever you cast a touch spell, you may choose to place its charge inside your thunderlance rather than elsewhere, causing the weapon to discharge that touch spell the first time it strikes a creature. You may still cast spells as normal while the thunderlance holds the charge, but you may only have a single spell carried this way at a time. The charge remains in your thunderlance until discharged (by dealing damage to a creature) or until the spell itself ends.
Transdimensional Spell:
Your thunderlance attacks are transdimensional. In addition, your thunderlance attacks ignore all miss chance from concealment.
Empower Spell:
Increase the base damage of the thunderlance by 1d6 per 3 CL.
Total base damage based on weapon size and caster level
Fine Diminutive Tiny Small Medium Large Huge Gargantuan Colossal
CL 1 to 2 1d6 2d6 2d6 3d6 3d6 4d6 5d6 6d6 8d6
CL 3 to 5 2d6 3d6 3d6 4d6 4d6 5d6 6d6 7d6 9d6
CL 6 to 8 3d6 4d6 4d6 5d6 5d6 6d6 7d6 8d6 10d6
CL 9 to 11 4d6 5d6 5d6 6d6 6d6 7d6 8d6 9d6 11d6
CL 12 to 14 5d6 6d6 6d6 7d6 7d6 8d6 9d6 10d6 12d6
CL 15 to 17 6d6 7d6 7d6 8d6 8d6 9d6 10d6 11d6 13d6
CL 18 to 20 7d6 8d6 8d6 9d6 9d6 10d6 11d6 12d6 14d6
Fell Drain:
Each living creature dealt damage by your thunderlance gains a negative level, which goes away after 1 hour per CL (max 15; this never results in level loss).
Split Ray:
Upon creating the thunderlance, you may create a second, smaller thunderlance that appears in your other hand, allowing you to two-weapon fight with them. This smaller weapon is in all ways the same as the larger thunderlance, except it is treated as a light weapon and its base damage dice is expressed in d4s rather than d6s, including additional base damage dice from empower (so the smaller half of a medium split thunderlance has 3d4 base damage, or 8d4 base damage if empowered at CL 10). Dropping or being disarmed of the smaller thunderlance causes it to vanish, but the spell itself ends prematurely if and only if the larger thunderlance is gone.
If your thunderlance is fell animated and you choose to create a smaller thunderlance alongside it, you may either have the smaller thunderlance stay in your hand or be animated as well. If it stays in hand, the animated thunderlance is the same as usual and you can still use the smaller thunderlance as a light weapon. If the smaller thunderlance is animated as well, it acts separately from the first and has the same properties, except it has reduced damage as noted above and it is a light weapon, receiving only 1x your highest mental attribute modifier on its damage rolls. The spell continues even if the smaller thunderlance is lost regardless of its form, but the loss of the larger animated thunderlance ends the spell immediately.
Chain Spell:
The thunderlance can split itself into linked segments not unlike a chain. You gain the ability to trip using the thunderlance, and may substitute your highest mental attribute for Strength on the trip. In addition, you gain a bonus to trip and disarm checks with the thunderlance equal to one half of your caster level, and the defender cannot react to trip or disarm you when you fail a trip or disarm attempt. Finally, you may have feats, abilities, and effects treat your thunderlance as a spiked chain just as you can treat it as a lance. You cannot gain a bonus twice from the same ability or feat because of this (so having Weapon Focus [Lance] and Weapon Focus [Spiked Chain] still only gives you +1 to attack with thunderlance).
Fell Animate:
Upon casting the spell, you may choose to animate your thunderlance so that it has a life of its own. The weapon flies at a speed of 40 ft (perfect) and must always remain within 100 ft of you (if it goes out of range, it vanishes and returns to your location in 1 round). It has all of the same characteristics as your thunderlance, except it is made for a creature of your size (this cannot be changed), does not need to be held by you, and it attacks enemies on its own, using your caster level as its base attack bonus and your highest mental attribute in place of its Strength to determine attack and damage bonuses. The weapon always attacks as a two-handed weapon, thus gaining 1.5x your highest mental attribute bonus to damage rolls. It does not have access to any of your feats or class features (like Power Attack) and cannot make combat maneuvers (like trips), threaten squares, or flank enemies, though any of your class features and feats that modify thunderlance still apply to the animated weapon (such as the Tempered Force class feature of the tempest dragoon).
Starting on the round that you summon it and continuing each round on your turn, the weapon moves up to 40 ft at the closest enemy and attacks once if the enemy is within reach. After the first round, it will full attack on any round in which it does not move more than 5 ft. The weapon has blindsense to within 100 ft of your location, and will simply move towards you if it cannot sense any enemies. The weapon cannot attack any enemies outside of 100 ft, even if its reach would otherwise allow it. You may spend a move action to mentally direct the weapon to go after a subject, to stop an attack, to move a particular place, or similar. An animated thunderlance is not a creature and cannot be harmed by physical attacks, though it is still vulnerable to the things that would destroy wall of force and it is now more vulnerable to dispelling, allowing it to be dispelled by both dispel magic and greater dispel magic. Its touch AC is equal to 10 + its size modifier, and its save bonuses are equal to your own. The spell ends if the thunderlance is destroyed/dispelled. You may only have one fell animated thunderlance active at one time, though you may have other thunderlance spells active if you wish.
Maximize Spell:
Maximize the base damage dice of the thunderlance, including additional damage from empower.
Empowered and maximized base damage based on weapon size and caster level
Fine Diminutive Tiny Small Medium Large Huge Gargantuan Colossal
CL 1 to 2 6 12 12 18 18 24 30 36 48
CL 3 to 5 12 18 18 24 24 30 36 42 54
CL 6 to 8 18 24 24 30 30 36 42 48 60
CL 9 to 11 24 30 30 36 36 42 48 54 66
CL 12 to 14 30 36 36 42 42 48 54 60 72
CL 15 to 17 36 42 42 48 48 54 60 66 78
CL 18 to 20 42 48 48 54 54 60 66 72 84
Widen Spell:
Doubles the additional reach of the thunderlance beyond the normal increased reach of a reach weapon.
Total widened reach based on caster level and natural reach
CL 1 to 3 CL 4 to 7 CL 8 to 11 CL 12 to 15 CL 16+
0 ft 0 ft 10 ft 20 ft 30 ft 40 ft
5 ft 10 ft 20 ft 30 ft 40 ft 50 ft
10 ft 20 ft 30 ft 40 ft 50 ft 60 ft
15 ft 30 ft 40 ft 50 ft 60 ft 70 ft
20 ft 40 ft 50 ft 60 ft 70 ft 80 ft
25 ft 50 ft 60 ft 70 ft 80 ft 90 ft
30 ft 60 ft 70 ft 80 ft 90 ft 100 ft
Energy Admixture:
Adds damage of the chosen energy type to each attack equal to the untyped (or energy substituted) damage that attack would deal (including extra damage from sources such as Power Attack or Sneak Attack; a fire admixtured thunderlance that would deal 27 untyped damage normally would deal 27 untyped + 27 fire damage instead). You may further apply Energy Substitution to thunderlance, either beforehand to change only the untyped damage of thunderlance, or afterward to change both untyped and admixtured energy damage (so a thunderlance that normally deals 27 untyped damage would deal 54 fire if fire substituted then fire admixtured, 27 acid + 27 fire if acid substituted then fire admixtured, and 54 acid if fire admixtured then acid substituted).
Twin Spell:
Once per round, when you make an attack with the thunderlance, you may immediately make an extra attack with it at the same base attack modifier. If the last attack missed and the extra attack is aimed at the same target, you get +4 to the attack roll. This bonus attack does not require an additional action to perform and stacks with all extra attacks, including those granted from haste. A fell animated twinned thunderlance will always choose to make the extra attack after its first attack each round as long as there is an enemy in its reach to attack.


Supporting Homebrew

Prestige Classes

Tempest Dragoon - An arcane gish PrC built around using and improving the power of thunderlance.

Feats

Aspects of Thunder - A tactical feat that provides several new options for a caster who uses thunderlance.

Invocations

Tempest Chant - An invocation that allows the warlock to shape his eldritch blast into a thunderlance.

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