Friday, 23 March 2012

Antimagic and 4e: AM Grenades

Dominic Matte

Looking for a fast and dirty way to test out antimagic in your 4th edition game? Try throwing this power onto one or two monsters in an encounter, or simply using the hazard:

Antimagic Grenades (3/encounter, standard action)                     
Choose a square within 10 squares of this creature. Those squares and each adjacent square become antimagic zones until the end of the encounter.

Antimagic Zone
Creatures within the zone cannot use powers with the Arcane / Divine / Primal / Psionic / Shadow  keywords. *

Continue reading after the break for tips on how to use them effectively.

The grenades take a standard action to use because an antimagic zone is an incredibly powerful hazard.  Since it's so powerful, it should be used as an encounter or daily power on a monster. Optionally, you could have your creature throw one grenade per turn as a minor action, but limit the number of grenades it can use in an encounter -- if the entire battlefield becomes an antimagic zone, you risk both ruining the combat for magic users, and creating a ridiculous imbalance instead of interesting tactical elements.

Alternately, instead of the grenades, you could have antimagic zones as a terrain feature in a particular area. Maybe a rare mineral has magic-deadening properties, or an ancient civilization left behind wards to protect some of its greatest treasures. Perhaps the area exists outside the normal properties of the universe and magic doesn't exist there.

You can also choose for the zone to affect fewer power sources. When I ran antimagic in a 4e game, I only had it affect arcane and divine powers, both for plot reasons and to ensure that the entire party wouldn't be affected -- there are only three martial classes in 4e, after all.

Important note here: monsters tend not to have keywords like "arcane" or "divine" attached to their powers. This means that you'll either have to use these AM grenades with monsters that are obviously non-magical, or judge on a case-by-case basis which powers and abilities are affected. Of course that shouldn't be a problem if you're just testing out the grenades in a single encounter -- if most of the goblins are using axes, but the shaman can shoot lightning from his fingertips, it's probably safe to say that counts as a spell.

Remember: don't cover the whole battle map -- or even more than half of it -- in antimagic zones. You want to make positioning important, not cripple your party. Throw in some monsters with push or slide abilities to send the players into the zones occasionally, or have them toss grenades directly at the spellcasters, forcing them to move aside. But never completely take away the ability of your players to cast spells.

What do you think of antimagic grenades as a way to spice up a combat? Let me know in the comments.


  1. Most creatures do not have powers with power source keywords, even NPCs described as priests or wizards. So this requires you to ad hoc determine which creature powers are affected. Is a beholder's eye beams affected? An angel's powers? Does the beholder stop floating? Is the dragon crushed under the weight of square-cube law? Why exclude martial powers (particularly from the paragon and epic tiers) that clearly accomplish impossible things?

    1. I wrote about how antimagic in 4e would affect monsters in the first article in the series -- basically exactly as you described. You'd have to judge it on a case-by-case basis, meaning you should either use these AM grenades with monsters that are obviously non-magical, or manually designate specific powers on a per-monster basis that are magical. I'll edit that into the post to clarify, thanks for reminding me.

      In any case, when I ran my game where I used antimagic, I decided that it would only affect powers with the relevant keywords, meaning that if a creature has a fly speed that's unaffected. It's a bit watered down from 3e.