Hunting for Humanoids

September 14th, 2018

Alex Riggs

Obscure Arcana Archive

Favored enemy is a fun and flavorful mechanic, in that it allows you to pick a particular type of opponent to specialize against, giving you a chance to shine when fighting that type of opponent. I’ve always wished that there were a few more specialized spells that let a well-prepared caster shine in a similar fashion, and this week’s Obscure Arcana takes three different types of humanoids that one might choose as a ranger’s favored enemy, and imagines a spell for each of them that is specifically designed to be more effective when cast against that type of foe.


School necromancy [curse]; Level antipaladin 3, bard 4, cleric 5, mesmerist 4, ranger 3, sorcerer/wizard 5, witch 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (a sliver from a boomerang)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target one creature
Duration permanent
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes

Rumored to have been created by a halfling who wanted to teach a lesson to a giant who crushed his home with an errant thrown boulder, this spell causes any object that the target throws to hurtle back through the air and strike them. Whenever the target makes a ranged attack with a thrown weapon, the attack automatically misses its target, and is instead redirected towards the attacker, as though he were the intended target, applying the result of the attack roll to his AC to determine if it hits. The same effect applies to thrown objects that do not count as attacks, as well, but in such cases, the target is not damaged in the event that he is hit.

The spell is particularly effective against creatures of the giant subtype, who suffer a –4 penalty to AC against attacks redirected against them by this spell. Additionally, such attacks deal twice as much damage to the giant as they otherwise would.


School evocation [cold]; Level druid 2, magus 2, ranger 3, shaman 2, sorcerer/wizard 2
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (a pinch of powdered garnet)
Range 20 feet
Area 20-foot-radius emanation, centered on you
Duration instantaneous; see text
Saving Throw Fortitude half; Spell Resistance yes

Developed by a famous tropical explorer, this spell creates a ring of frost that damages foes and also causes reptilian opponents to become sluggish and slow. Each creature in the spell’s area suffers 1d6 points of cold damage per 2 caster levels (to a maximum of 6d6, at 12th level). A successful Fortitude save halves this damage.

Creatures of the reptilian subtype (and, at the GM’s discretion, other reptilian creatures, such as giant snakes, basilisks, dragons, and so on), are affected particularly hard by this spell, which takes advantage of their cold-blooded nature to rob them of their energy. Any such creature that fails its saving throw to resist the spell is exhausted for 1 minute. Even if the creature succeeds on its saving throw, if it takes any cold damage from the spell, it is still fatigued for 1 minute.


School evocation [force]; Level antipaladin 2, bloodrager 2, magus 3, paladin 2, ranger 2, sorcerer/wizard 3
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range 30 feet
Area 30-foot line, 10 feet wide
Duration instantaneous; see text
Saving Throw Reflex half, Will partial; see text; Spell Resistance yes

Devised by a man who devoted his entire life to hunting down and slaying goblins, this spell would ultimately become one of his signature techniques. Although useful against any foe, it is particularly effective when turned against goblins. You cause brilliant silvery energy to coalesce into the form of a translucent, shimmering herd of wild and proud stallions, which charge across the spell’s area, crushing all Medium or smaller creatures in their path. Such creatures suffer 1d4 points of trampling damage per caster level (to a maximum of 10d4 at 10th level), and are knocked prone. A successful Reflex save halves the damage and negates the prone condition.

The spell is particularly harsh to creatures of the goblinoid subtype, who suffer 1 additional point of damage per caster level, and who must succeed on a secondary Will saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute. Even goblins that succeed on their saving throws becomes shaken for 1 minute.