1)          The spell’s basic statistics are amended as follows: Area of Effect = Caster; Duration = 1 day/level or until all charges are removed, whichever comes first.

2)          Multiple stoneskin spells placed on a single creature are not cumulative – only the first casting is effective.

3)          The caster does not know how many attacks the spell can shield him from – the DM rolls the variable component and doesn’t inform the caster.

4)          Stoneskin only protects against blows, cuts, pokes, and slashes directed at the recipient. It does not protect against falls, magical attacks, touch-delivered special attacks (such as touch-delivered spells, energy draining, green slime, etc.), or non-magical attacks that do not involve blows (such as flaming oil, ingested or inhaled poisons, acid, overbearing/wrestling type attacks, constriction, and suffocation). If an attack has a “blow” component and a “magical attack” component (eg a javelin of lightning, a vampire’s claw etc.), then the blow damage is blocked but the magical effect still applies, although only one charge is removed from the spell for such an attack.

5)          A character protected by a stoneskin that is hit while casting a spell will still have the spell interrupted due to jostling/loss of concentration, even if the damage is blocked.

6)          A critical hit from an attack is ineffective if the attack form used is blocked by the stoneskin.

7)          Physical damage caused by large scale events that conceivably involve a “number of blows” (eg, an avalanche, a hailstorm, a collapsing roof etc.) are blocked by the spell, but remove a number of charges based on the number of damage dice that would be normally applied. For example, an avalanche causing 4d6 points of damage would remove four charges from the spell. If the character doesn’t have enough charges to block the full effect, the remaining damage is taken normally. For example, if a protected character was hit by the avalanche noted above, but only had three charges left on the spell, 3d6 point of damage would be blocked and the last 1d6 points of damage would be rolled and applied to the character as per normal.

8)          Multiple objects thrown as part of a single attack (eg a handful of pebbles) will only remove one charge, regardless of the number of missiles used, as only one attack roll is made. However, individual missiles fired multiple times in a round (eg. due to numerous opponents or because of a high rate of fire for the weapon), will remove one charge for each individual missile as an attack roll has to be made for each one.

9)          An icestorm spell is treated as a single attack for the purposes of removing charges from a stoneskin. In the case of a magic missile, each individual missile removes one charge from the spell.

10)       The granite and diamond dust material component for this spell costs a minimum of 100 gp.


1. Ref: 2nd Edition Player’s Handbook

Description of the 2nd Edition version of the Stoneskin spell

Stoneskin (Alteration)

Level: 4th

Range: Touch                                                           Components: V, S, M

Duration: Special                                                     Casting Time: 1

Area of Effect: 1 creature                                       Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast, the affected creature gains a virtual immunity to any attack by cut, blow, projectile, or the like. Even a sword of sharpness cannot affect a creature protected by stoneskin, nor can a rock hurled by a giant, a snake's strike, etc. However, magical attacks from such spells as fireball, magic missile, lightning bolt, and so forth have their normal effects. The spell's effects are not cumulative with multiple castings.

The spell blocks 1d4 attacks, plus one attack per two levels of experience the caster has achieved. This limit applies regardless of attack rolls and regardless of whether the attack was physical or magical. For example, a stoneskin spell cast by a 9th-level wizard would protect against from five to eight attacks. An attacking griffon would reduce the protection by three each round; four magic missiles would count as four attacks in addition to inflicting their normal damage.

The material components of the spell are granite and diamond dust sprinkled on the recipient's skin.

2. Ref: 1st Edition Unearthed Arcana

Description of original 1st Edition version of the  Stoneskin spell

Stoneskin (Alteration)

Level: 4th

Range: Touch                                                           Components: V, S, M

Duration: Special                                                     Casting Time: 1 segment

Area of Effect: One creature                                  Saving Throw: None

Explanation/Description: When this spell is cast, the affected creature gains a virtual immunity to any attack by cut, blow, projectile, or the like.  Thus, even a sword of sharpness would not affect a creature protected by stoneskin, nor would a rock hurled by a giant, a snake's strike, etc.  However, magic attacks from such spells as fireball, magic missile, lightning bolt, and so forth would have normal effect. Any attack or attack sequence from a single opponent dispels the dweomer, although it makes the creature immune to that single attack or attack sequence. Attacks with relatively soft weapons, such as a monk's hands, an ogrillon's fist, etc, will inflict 1-2 points of damage on the attacker for each such attack while the attacked creature is protected by the stoneskin spell, but will not dispel the dweomer. The material components of the spell are granite and diamond dust sprinkled on the recipient's skin.

3. Ref: 3rd Edition Player’s Handbook

Description of 3rd Edition version of the  Stoneskin spell

Stoneskin (Alteration)

Level: 4th (Sorceror/Wizard), 6th (Earth and Strength Cleric Domains)

Range: Touch                                                           Components: V, S, M

Duration: 10 minutes/level or until discharged    Casting Time: 1 action

Area of Effect: One creature                                  Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)

The warded creature gains resistance to blows, cuts, stabs,  and slashes. The subject gains damage reduction 10/+5. (It ignores the first 10 points of damage each time it takes damage, though a weapon with a +5 enhancement bonus or any magical attack bypasses the reduction.) Once the spell has prevented a total of 10 points of damage per caster level (maximum of 150 points), it is discharged.

Material Components: Granite and 250 gp worth of diamond dust sprinkled on the target’s skin.

4. Ref: Dragon Magazine, November 1993 (Issue No. 199, pgs 72-76)

“Forum” readers respond to the “stoneskin threat” in AD&D® games - Compiled by the editors

In response to Robert J. Letts’ “Forum” letter in DRAGON® issue #189, in which he described the difficulties his AD&D® campaign was experiencing because of the use of one spell by the player characters, a large volume of mail was received at our offices. Readers from around the world came up with comments and solutions to the problem. We’ve assembled some of the most interesting letters here; we hope Dungeon Masters everywhere will find much of use here for their campaigns. To reiterate, the player characters in Letts’ group included two 7th-level wizards, each of whom had access to the stoneskin spell. As a result of their over- use of this spell, the whole PC group became indestructible, shrugging off attacks by bandits and drow warriors alike. The responses we received struck us as especially clever and varied. Often a point was restated by other writers, who added twists to it or expanded it, giving yet more options. And, as one writer pointed out, the suggestions given here can be used to control situations in which other spells are overused or abused. This is a rich article indeed! We congratulate everyone who responded. Robert Letts asked for opinions, comments, and solutions, and here they are:

Ø      This letter extends to Robert J. Letts a few possible solutions to his campaign’s stoneskin problem.

First, I assume that the offending PC wizards are not transmuters, and therefore unable to memorize more than one stoneskin at a time. Further, let’s assume an average party size of six members. Spending 40 minutes to memorize the spell, then, each wizard would have to spend 120 minutes of game time to protect each PC with stoneskin. A lot can happen in two hours; if the party’s rest period is interrupted, obviously not everyone will gain the spell’s invulnerability benefit. If either of the wizards is incapacitated, there will be few or no stoneskins for anyone. Since the party seems to cast multiple stoneskin spells only during rest periods, steps should be taken to insure that the PCs rest less often. As the party’s need for rest is often presented by waning hit points or a lack of low-level spells, supplying the PCs with a few potions of healing or low-level spell scrolls might remove their need to stop frequently. Of course, if the party is racing against the clock during a particular quest, it might not have the time to rest at all.

Chipping away at the spell’s protective value by attrition is a valid option, but the party need not be attacked by “hordes of bandits” for this to work. The spell description simply states that immunity against attacks “by cut, blow, projectile, or the like” is provided. The last category— “or the like” — is subject to interpretation. For example, falling damage could be included, as could being hit by a rockfall, a torrent of large hailstones, or a mechanical trap. Since any attack cuts away at the spell’s duration, the DM has tremendous latitude in this respect. Some creatures — behir, carrion crawlers, chimerae, trolls, and sahuagin, for example—will quickly negate the stoneskin through their multiple attacks per round. A vampire cactus or needleman will dispel a stoneskin just as fast. Throwing ineffective attacks against PCs with stoneskins is just as viable an option. Imagine a party of stoneskinned PCs being ambushed by kobolds with blowguns; it won’t be long before the stoneskins fade. Then the DM can usher in the drow warriors or undead warrior lords. The PCs will quickly realize, to their chagrin, that the stoneskins were wasted.

Beyond the above, there are other, more manipulative solutions, though DMs are encouraged to adopt the following methods with care— they are bound to cause dissent, since each necessitates a retroactive ruling. The spell’s duration may be changed to two rounds per level of the caster, regardless of whether the recipient is attacked or not, for example. This would also prevent every member in the party from receiving stoneskin, since the spell’s duration would expire before a wizard could memorize and re-cast it. If the campaign makes use of the optional material component rules for spell-casting, it may be necessary for the powdered diamond used in stoneskin to have a minimum value-say, 500-1,000 gp or more. Unless the PCs are loaded with cash, no more stoneskin for everyone. Another option is to reduce the number of attacks the stoneskin will negate. As the rules read, stoneskin is effective against 1d4 attacks, plus one attack per two levels of the caster. A reasonable benefit reduction rule might be to ignore the variable 1d4 attacks or the one attack per two caster levels. Of course, a character protected by stoneskin might also have to deal with inconvenient side effects. It may be that stoneskinned skin is heavy and rigid, providing protection at the cost of restricted movement or a lowered Dexterity. Movement rates might be cut by one-third, and Dexterity scores could be lowered by 1d3. Rogues with stoneskin would therefore receive penalties to their thieving abilities, and no Jumping, Mountaineering, Running, Tightrope Walking, or Tumbling nonweapon proficiencies could be attempted by any class. It may even be that the PCs, who have been so frequently altered by the stoneskin, have cultivated some physiological immunity to the spell’s temporary protection in exchange for some permanent effect. This may be a tad extreme, but it could happen (after all, people can develop immunity to a certain poison by ingesting small quantities of the toxin frequently). In game terms, this immunity might cause the stoneskin to be ineffective, but the would-be recipient might enjoy a permanent +1 or +2 AC bonus (still making him vulnerable to attack, but giving him a bonus nonetheless).

The above suggestions are just that— suggestions. They haven’t been playtested, nor do they necessarily reflect the style of Letts’ individual campaign. But, like any other aspect of the game, stoneskin must mesh with the campaign’s unique balance. If this is not the case, the DM is free to implement any plausible contingency to reestablish campaign balance, so long as it is consistent, fair, and reasonable to the players.

Erin D. Smale

Hellertown PA

Ø      I am writing in response to Robert J. Letts’ letter in issue #189. . . . At any rate, here are some flaws with this [stoneskin] tactic that you, as the DM, should be able to exploit:

1. Stoneskin does not work against magic. Every magical attack against a creature affected by stoneskin not only has its full normal effect (the Player’s Handbook, page 163, states that “magical attacks from such spells as fireball, magic missile, lightning bolt, and so forth have their normal effects.”), but eliminates one of the creature’s protected attacks! Magic missile spells from high-level casters are excellent, because each individual missile eliminates one protected attack. The PCs might not laugh so hard at drow if their precious stoneskin protection is eroded away by volleys of magic missiles from the drow fighter/mages. Note also that any creature with the spellcraft non-weapon proficiency (including any NPC wizard) will recognize the effect of a stoneskin spell as soon as he sees swords and arrows bouncing off his enemies, and that person will know how to deal with it.

2. Stoneskin is a fourth-level spell, These PCs are seventh-level, which means that in the worst case (if both are specialist transmuters), they can cast only four stoneskin spells during a given rest period. I doubt that there are only four people in the party, so likely everyone cannot have a stoneskin spell “refreshed” at every rest period. Be sure to enforce this. Since it is likely that the wizards are both mages or other specialists, it is probable that only two stoneskin spells can be cast in a given rest period, intensifying this problem. Further, if the wizards insist on always taking stoneskin as their fourth-level spells, they are losing the opportunity to memorize and cast other fourth-level spells. Imagine your glee as you hear this exchange:

Priest: “I pick up the unholy book of Myrkul and read it.”

Fighter: “You idiot!”

DM: “He seems to be suffering from some sort of acute and horrible magical disease!’

Fighter: “Quick! Cast remove curse!”

Mages (in unison): “Uh oh.”

I think you get the point. I would also like to point out that page 81 of the PH states that in order to memorize spells, “a wizard must have a clear head gained from a restful night’s sleep.” A person can only have eight hours (or one night) of “restful sleep” in any given 24 hours, so a wizard can memorize spells only once a day. While you did not say anything, I suspect your players have been abusing this rule by “recharging” and casting multiple stoneskin spells. If so, enforce this rule rigidly.

3. Who says they should get so many rest periods? It sounds like you’re allowing them to rest after every major encounter, rememorize spells and replace their stoneskin spells. Just because the PCs unroll their sleeping bags doesn’t mean they should have a restful night’s sleep. Wandering monsters can wreak havoc with the best-laid plans, and any night in which a wizard must wake up and engage in serious combat should not count as “restful.”

4. Any attack at all reduces the affected creature’s resistance by one. This occurs “regardless of attack rolls” (PH, page 163), so every attack against an affected character whittles away his protection, even if it would have missed normally. Some monsters get three or more attacks a round, which can degrade this spells effectiveness substantially.

5. The spell protects only against attacks by “cut, blow, projectile, or the like.” Acid, burning oil, cold, and electricity work perfectly normally against a protected creature and eliminate attacks, too! Most importantly, those drow with the poison-tipped crossbow bolts still represent a grave threat: if the poison works as a contact poison, any bolt that hits will deliver a normal poison attack. For that matter, the spell gives only “virtual immunity” to weapon attacks. It would be reasonable to say that while a poisoned bolt does not do any hit-point damage, it still leaves a tiny scratch or cut, through which the poison can enter the bloodstream.

6. Turnabout is fair play. NPC wizards are just as likely to use the spell on all of their companions before a large battle. Also, if the party’s opponents realize that the PCs are using this spell, the NPCs need only concentrate all of their attacks on one person. This quickly overcomes the spell and can lead to serious injuries. Once that character is out of the way, the NPCs move on to the next PC, and so on.

7. One arrow is one attack. You mentioned that “surprise attacks by marauding brigands are cynically giggled at” by your players. Forty bandits with short bows can eliminate all of the protection on five individuals protected by stoneskin, and injure or kill each of them, in one round. Remember, even arrows that miss take away a level of protection, and 40 archers can shoot 80 arrows in one round. They won’t be laughing once you turn the PCs into pin cushions!

8. News travels quickly. As the PCs use this tactic for a long time period, other people will learn of it. Intelligent monsters will prepare for your group, if they know the group is approaching. Other parties will emulate the tactic, resulting in more encounters with bulletproof NPCs. Honorable people such as knights, paladins, and some priests may well feel that this sort of conduct is cowardly, and might refuse to associate with the characters. In fact, if any of the PCs are paladins, knights, priests, or followers of a god who values honor (e.g., Tyr, Torm, and Helm) or has another reason for not liking the constant use of the spell (e.g., Ilmater or Tempus), you may consider penalizing the PCs’ experience awards if they do not refuse the spell except in dire emergencies. I hope this letter helps you keep these troublesome players in line.

Scott Isaacs

Calgary, Alberta

Ø      This is in response to Robert J. Letts’ “Forum” letter. Two general groups of solutions present themselves. Rather than restrict a player’s freedom of action, both would change the mechanics of the spell itself. First, restrictions can be placed on how the spell works. For example, make the spell non-permanent, losing one immunity every four hours (thus becoming useless after about one day). Or, set a limit to the damage that can be absorbed; perhaps really powerful attacks also use up multiple immunities. However, the second solution is, in my opinion, by far the better (and by far the least arbitrary). Simply break out a copy of the Unearthed Arcana (page 57) and use the AD&D 1st Edition game’s stoneskin, which only stops one attack or attack routine (like a claw/claw/ bite). If your half-dozen or so players are then beset by a half-dozen or so trolls, everyone has about one round of comparative safety. More so than presently, the 1st Edition version of this spell is exactly what it’s supposed to be: an edge, and little more. Best of luck.

Jason Papadopoulos

Olney MD

Ø      Mr. Letts’ letter (issue #189) really opened my eyes to the innate problems with the use of the stoneskin spell. After reading it, I went through the Player’s Handbook, and noted that other spells (such as invisibility and armor) could also be misused in this way, though not as flagrantly as the stoneskin spell. Here are solutions I have come up with for this problem:

1. Simply assign a limited duration to the spell in question (maybe it was changed during the FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign’s Avatar crisis, or another magical catastrophe).

2. According to the spell description, diamond dust is needed as a component. It seems that the PCs have been using up diamonds at a great rate. This should be jacking up the price of diamonds considerably—two, five, or even 10 times the original cost. And what if the mines supplying diamonds were shut down or taken over by a force from the Underdark, a dwarven rebellion, or a wizard needing great amounts of the precious stone for an experiment? The PCs must try to regain control of these mines, while carefully hoarding what little diamond dust they still possess.

3. If these tactics don’t work, say that only a mage has the proper training to hold the magical energy of a spell for any great length of time. Any other character who has the same long-term spell cast on him each day for more than a week undergoes some sort of physical discomfort. Maybe the character’s skin turns .gray or loses Dexterity as his joints stiffen due to the influences of the stoneskin. Maybe that thief who keeps receiving invisibility spells starts to blink in and out of visibility, causing problems interacting with those he meets (“That little rogue just tried to turn himself invisible! Grab him!“)

Daniel Harms

Somerset KY

Ø      In issue #189, Robert J. Letts mentioned some problems he is having with the spell stoneskin in his campaign and asked for solutions. In my own campaign, I have had similar difficulties, which I dealt with as follows:

1. I charge the PCs 1,000 gp to 5,000 gp for the material component per casting.

2. The first time the spell is cast on someone, it provides the listed number of protections from physical attacks (i.e., 1d4 + 1 per two levels of the caster). Additional castings, however, provide only one such protection each.

3. The spell is intended to protect against attacks only and provides no protection vs. spells, fire, acid, other non-combat-based damage (e.g., from falling, being caught in an avalanche, etc.), undead special attacks (paralysis, level draining, etc.), or anything similar to any of the above. The PCs still lose a protection each time something of the sort happens, perhaps several if (for example) the PCs are hit by several falling rocks.

4. In my campaign, we use a critical attack table for natural 20 rolls. Each critical attack eliminates 2-4 stoneskin protections; if it takes four of them off, the PC takes damage as well, in spite of the stoneskin protections.

5. Magical weapons and the like do damage equal to the magical damage bonus of the weapon at the very least, even to stoneskin protected individuals.

This is how I’ve dealt with the unbalancing aspects of the spell. It doesn’t matter if the core rules don’t say anything about these rules; after all, it says on page 7 of the AD&D 2nd Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide to “break the rules . . . if doing so improves your game.” And don’t forget the DM’s motto: “My world, my way.”

Mae Tanner

Juneau AK

Ø      In reply to the Forum letter by Robert J. Letts (DRAGON issue #189): Don’t worry, Robert! Your adept and inventive wizards can be subjugated. The spell stoneskin is from the school of alteration, and wizards who cast too many alteration spells are subject to a number of debilitating afflictions. These afflictions can be found in The Complete Wizard’s Handbook (PHBR 4, pages 109-112). Often the sting from one of these afflictions will turn a wizard’s head and keep him from casting his spells habitually. Also, stoneskin spells require two of the hardest spell components to acquire. Diamond dust, although rare, can be found in most dungeon treasure chests. Granite dust is not as easily found. Only a few mountain chains in the FORGOTTEN REALMS setting contain this valuable substance. Because the rock is so hard, it must be quarried by giants, and giants can be difficult to deal with (better a hoard of giants than a marauding band of brigands to curtail a wizard looking for one of his most important spell components). I suggest the mountain chain between Eastern Shaar and Raurin (as per the FORGOTTEN REALMS Atlas, pages 10-11). In this part of the Realms, the region and its people can be very harsh. This area also holds some of Abeir-Toril’s oldest history and greatest ancient secrets (as per the Old Empires setting). It’s a magnificent place for a campaign. If these two problem-solvers do not work out for you, it is time for old reliable: Mystra, goddess of magic, who sends an avatar to investigate the wizards misuse of the protection sphere. A feeblemind spell, cast along with a permanency spell, can generate one explosive campaign. This teaches the wizard that spells come from more than straight science. I hope this may help to solve your dilemma. Well met.

“The Baron”

Boynton Beach FL

Ø      Have the PCs’ opponents use some tactics. Even the dimmest creatures change tactics (or at least retreat) when they see attacks have no effect. As small as kobolds are, I figure eight could surround and attack each of your PCs at once. Or what about a horde of normal rats? Smarter creatures use their heads. Giants throw rocks before engaging in melee. Humans, demi-humans, and humanoids alike nearly always use spellcraft and ranged weapons before melee whenever possible. A dragon might use its breath, grab a PC or two, then drop him from 1,000' up, or whip up a really nasty wind storm with its wings. Think of it: wings capable of lifting a dragon, used instead to propel sand, glass, rock, or even its own treasure. That would exhaust the stoneskin spell, still inflict damage, blind your PCs, knock them back a few feet, and be a proper introduction to one of the most destructive forces in the universe - an angry dragon. Also, use more mental puzzles - stoneskin won’t help the PCs solve a mystery.

Jason A. Goode

No address

Ø      The financial gap: Are the wizards paying the cost of the diamond dust out of their own funds? Are the other characters reimbursing the wizards for the cost of the diamond dust? How much income do the PCs have each game year? Don’t the jewelers or the apothecaries ever run out of diamond dust? Our campaign settled on the value of a pinch of diamond dust needed for the stoneskin spell as 1,000 gp, after comparing this spell to the wall of force spell, which needs a pinch of diamond dust worth 5,000 gp. Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalog gave a suggested price of 150 gp for a 1/8th-carat diamond, so a crushed 7/8th- carat diamond would provide enough dust for one stoneskin. If Mr. Letts’ players insist on casting this spell willy-nilly, perhaps they should find a diamond mine, work it, and try to hold it against all comers. Are none of the opponents able to cast spells such as charm person, charm monster, hold person, or hold monster at the party? Is none of the opposition able to cast a dispel magic spell? Are none of the monsters able to cast a slow spell against the party or a haste spell on those monsters who do melee combat against the PCs? Some monster attacks are unaffected by the stoneskin spell:

1. the gaze attack of a vampire, medusa, or basilisk;

3. the fear effect of a mummy;

4. the shock of seeing a ghost;

5. the magic jar attempt by a ghost;

6. the stench of a ghast or troglodyte;

7. the song of a harpy; and

8. the breath of a dragon.

The alternative spells gap: If these players are using stoneskin as their major fourth-level spell, then Mr. Letts should equip any eligible monster with the minor globe of invulnerability spell. With this spell, the monsters can rain spells upon the party while the party’s spells bounce off the globe. In conclusion, it is no big deal if players try to overuse the stoneskin spell, because the following three events will happen:

1. They will bankrupt themselves and thus be unable to afford casting stoneskin;

2. The local thieves will loot their diamond-dust stockpile or the caravan with the new diamond-dust shipment; or

3. The weak monsters will be replaced by smarter, more cunning monsters who will fight, retreat, regroup, return, and trash the party.

Thomas B. Knoedler

Springfield IL

Ø      Even with a lack of magic powers, this spell can be overcome. Brigands could use lassos and hooked or tarred nets to entangle the party. Poisonous gases or contact poison would render the party unconscious. A devious solution would be to have one or more of the nonmagic-using PCs feel a stiffening sensation while the spell is in effect. After a few more castings of stoneskin on this person, he would be turned to stone. Any subsequent castings on him (once he is restored to flesh) would petrify the character again. Your explana- tion, if you felt you had to give one, would be that a build-up of residual magical radiation from the excessive castings had an adverse effect on the person’s DNA.

Mark Macedo

Fresno CA

Ø      According to the Wilderness Survival Guide, hail will remove all stoneskins, so the debris from a cave-in should do likewise. Going by this logic, a cat-o-nine-tails will no doubt hit a character several times, each hit counting as one physical attack and removing one stoneskin. Monsters may carry darts (three attacks per round when thrown) for the specific purpose of removing stoneskins. My players promptly invented “anti-stoneskin” pouches full of pebbles which mimic these effects. To give my “single, final, most powerful un- dead guardian” a chance (and he’s usually very large, too), I have ruled that any physical attack which hits half the character’s body takes away half the stoneskins, and any attack which hits more than half of the character’s body takes them ALL away (but inflicts no damage). Thus, my huge guardian’s fist will take out half the stoneskins, and a fall from several feet in the air will take away all the character’s stoneskins (unless he landed on his feet).

Michael Tresca

No address

Ø      I read the letter about the party with stoneskins with a bit of amusement. I made the mistake once of putting my players up against a party of NPCs that were equipped with that spell. It was probably one of my greatest mistakes. Having found what a fantastic defensive spell stoneskin was, my adventurers immediately sought it out and stockpiled on components. My campaigns have not been the same since. As was pointed out, once a party is equipped with this spell, normal attacks are initially easily ignored. I have had to develop a number of ways to deal with this spell in order to prevent it from causing my campaigns to become lopsided. First off, I feel that if this spell is available to the group, don’t try to take it away. If the party doesn’t have it yet, you don’t have to make it available, This is easy if the group is in a remote area where spells are hard to come by. If your group gets to a city where spells are easily found, you may want to make it difficult but not impossible to find the stoneskin spell. When the PCs do get hold of it, you need to make some adjustments to your battle tactics to compensate for this. The first thing that I did to even things out in my campaigns was to increase the number of monsters appearing in random encounters. This works especially well with smaller creatures such as giant ants, rats, spiders, and the like. With creatures such as these, I would often double the amount appearing. Be careful not to overdo it, though. You’re not trying to kill the PCs off; just make the battles more exciting. You may want to start off by increasing the number of opponents gradually to see what your group can handle. Sooner or later, you will find the point at which the battle becomes serious enough that the stoneskins now appear a necessity and not a luxury. When working with larger monsters and increasing the number appearing is unreasonable, I recommend increasing the number of hit points the creatures have. I have all my AD&D game information on computer and use the computer as my combat sheet. I have it set to calculate the monster’s hit points by taking the number of hit dice and multiplying it by eight. Any pluses a creature has are added to each hit die, so that a 5+5-HD creature would have 65 hp. I know that at first this may sound a bit unreasonable, but I have found that with the changes made in the AD&D 2nd Edition game, fighters are more powerful and have considerably more bonuses to their attacks than in the AD&D 1st Edition game. Any party equipped with stoneskins that has two or more fighters specialized in any one fighting style and any single weapon can inflict a tremendous amount of damage in a single round (even if the fighters have no bonuses from Strength).

Rick Hood

Fresno CA

Ø      As stated in the spell description, the spell makes the mage immune to all physical attacks. This includes any/all touch spells that require a to-hit roll. During combat, friendly clerics trying to touch a protected PC with a healing spell (hit AC 10 to touch) should miss, and the stoneskin should block one less attack. If a protected PC is currently casting a spell and is attacked, we still make a to-hit roll. If the PC would have normally been hit without the stoneskin, the attack still does no damage, but interrupts the spell-caster and ruins the spell.

John Gartner III

Gaithersburg MD

Ø      While [in the Realms] a dead magic zone usually can be detected by the headaches that spell-casters get, wild magic zones give no warning at all. You might want to be real careful where you camp out when you cast those stoneskins. You can either use the table provided in the FORGOTTEN REALMS® Adventures book, or you can make up something insidious and irreversible on your own. The most evil stroke of all: Stoneskin does not protect items carried or clothing worn from the ravages of outside forces. The name of the spell is “stone skin,” after all. Your party might survive falling off the cliff or being crushed by large stones, and they might walk through a non- magical conflagration with impunity, but that doesn’t mean that their gear will make it. Specifically, I direct your attention to the Item saving throw table, You may not want to kill your characters, but you can certainly make them wish they were dead.

Peter B. Sears

Lexington KY

Ø      Nowhere in the rules does it say that attacks on a stoneskin-protected creature have to be successful in order to count against the 1d4- plus-one-per-two-levels limit. On the contrary, according to the description of the spell, “[a]n attacking griffon would reduce the protection by three each round.” This seems to imply that attacks do not have to hit in order to reduce protection from stoneskin, which is in fact the ruling in the campaigns that I know of. However, if you’re feeling nice, you could rule that any stoneskin- reducing attacks should hit AC 10 (modified for Dexterity and magic) in order to get rid of the protection.

Soren Thustrup

Copenhagen, Denmark

Ø      Even after the PCs are victorious in battle, you can arrange it so they don’t have enough time to rest and regain the stoneskin spell between encounters. A sense of urgency can be integrated into the campaign by using any number of plot devices which force the players to think and act rather than merely rely on their charac- ters’ spells. A good example of this may be found in TSR’s AD&D® module C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. In this particular adventure, the players have a limited amount of time to find their way out of a ruin before they become asphyxiated by a poisonous gas.

Timothy J. Pudoff

La Mesa CA

Ø      Attrition is probably one of your best options. A person specialized in darts, for example, could take out a stoneskin in two rounds (if he wins surprise, he might even live to tell about it). A pit trap (with spikes) might do the job, or a spear or darts trap. Have an evil character throw a vial of acid at your PCs (the vial counts as a physical blow, and the acid causes damage!).

J. R. Katzman

Bristol CT

Ø      Let me say first off that I have had exactly the same problem as Robert J. Letts, not only with stoneskin but also with several other aspects of the AD&D game. I think it is a matter of individuality whether certain things will work or not within the confines of your campaign. I stay with the philosophy that has been presented since the beginning of AD&D gaming: these rules are guidelines and should be changed if they will work better another way. I have had trouble not only with spells, but also with other rules, and my group and I have changed them and fleshed them out until we felt comfortable with them. (Actually, as DM, it was quite often what I felt comfortable with. For example, with the stoneskin spell, I reduced it so that it worked only on the caster and deflected only one attack for every three levels of the wizard. My players were less than overjoyed.)

Scott Brownlee

Regina, Saskatchewan

Ø      Weaken the spell for each extra time it is cast. For example, the first time it is cast it covers 4-7 attacks; the next time, 2-3 attacks, and the last time, 1-2 or whatever suits you. You could also disallow mages to memorize the spell multiple times, throw in enemy mages with the spell, making it less effective, or modify the spell to suit your needs, perhaps changing the spell’s effects to lowering armor class or enemy THAC0. Finally, you could simply eliminate the spell from your campaign. I’m sure your players will whine, but you are the final authority.

Nathaniel Deily

Delmar NY

Ø      In response to Mr. Letts’ comments about the fourth-level spell stoneskin in issue #189, a slight modification of spell rules may solve your problem. In the campaign in which I play, stoneskin can affect only the caster. Stoneskin other, a rare and much sought after sixth-level spell, functions as the stoneskin described in the PH.

Lev Osherovich

Walnut Creek CA

Ø      I would like to address Robert J. Letts’ problem of PC mages’ overuse of protective spells, such as stoneskin. I have run across the same problem and have found what I believe to be a fair solution. Any mage (or priest) employing a spell of extended duration may not recast that spell again until the duration of the first has expired. Therefore, it prevents the repeated casting of spells such as stoneskin, glyph of warding, and others. Of course, characters are free to buy scrolls which have no such restrictions, but scrolls do cost time and money.

Alfredo M. Cunha

No address

Ø      The effect of this is the mage must memorize a stoneskin spell as one of his daily spells, to maintain a stoneskin in effect. This limits the number that can be in the party at any one time. The mage will most likely save the spell for himself, as mages tend to be the most vul- nerable to melee attack. The spell is still useful and powerful, but the limits on it seem to work to balance things out. Our party also experienced this problem, and we agreed on a limiting rule. The stoneskin spell still works as given in the Player’s Handbook, but with the following limitation: It is in effect until it has blocked the number of attacks as specified, or for a period of 24 hours, which- ever comes first.

Roger Rhodes

North Kingstown RI

Ø      Really nasty opponents in search of a more permanent solution may want to corner the market on diamond dust, focus their attack on certain traveling spell books, or lay a level-draining attack or two on certain wizards. (Afterward, the victims might not be able to relearn the spell. This sounds like the work of a frustrated and vindictive game master. But if the party has been living long and happily off these stony skins, it can also be described as the work of a frustrated and vindictive Worthy Opponent in Toril. You could even describe it as a visit from the far reaches of the Realms by a mercenary adventurer who makes a specialty of melting stony skins.

Alan Lauderdale

Englewood NJ

Ø      Remember this: You can never overuse any form of anti-magic spells or items. Dispel magic, Mordenkainen’s disjunction, dispelling fields, etc. are a DM’s best (and often, only) friends. One of your players told you that the two wizards are not stupid. Well, neither are the party’s opponents. When faced with a group of adventurers that are magic-happy, the bad guys will use anti-magic magic to excess.

Jay Knioum

Corpus Christi TX

Ø      According to the description of the spell, certain magical attacks have normal effect. Try using spell-casters as enemy NPCs. (Rakshasa work great, as they are immune to all spells under eighth level. Let one cast a fireball at point-blank range and walk away unscathed!). Even a couple of low- to mid-level clerics would have little trouble dispatching characters protected by stoneskin.

S. Morgan

Overland Park KS

Ø      Never, ever underestimate the power of psionics to screw up magic. If your campaign allows psionics, almost any attack available to the psionicist will render stoneskin (and many other abjuration spells) laughable. Chemical Simulation, Life Drain, Molecular Agitation, all telepathy (including Psychic Crush, which does real damage) - all of these and more pass through stoneskin undiminished. If your campaign doesn’t use psionics, maybe it’s time to start.

Sean Miner

College Point NY

Ø      Remember that PCs should have no way of knowing the number of attacks blocked by each casting [because of the 1d4 roll]. You, as DM, should roll the number and keep track of it yourself. The stoneskin spell is a powerful tool for players, but can be kept in balance if planned for.

Paul Wrider

Guilford CT

Ø      Allow bookworms to find the mage’s spell book. This idea would allow you to have the mage find a new spell book. In this new book, conveniently forget to include the stoneskin spell.

Wade Hoover

Emporia KS

Ø      Another way to combat stoneskin abuse is to introduce stoneskin-effective magical items. With all those wizards running around with all those stoneskins, someone must have come up with a magical item that can penetrate the spell. Farfetched? “[M]agical attacks from such spells as . . .magic missile . . .and so forth have their normal effects” (page 163, PH, stoneskin spell description). The spell description goes on to state that a magical attack reduces the protection: “[F]our magic missiles would count as four attacks.” A “frozen” magic missile shaped into a crossbow bolt and fired from a crossbow would ruin the stoneskin’s day. I also made a nasty weapon called Magebane. It is a barbed dagger that penetrated stoneskins and casts silence in a 5’ radius when unsheathed. For added fun, I made the dagger unremovable until the stoneskin is dispelled or its protection used up.

William S. Hickey

Pescadero CA

Ø      While it is not stated under the spells descrip- tion, it can be argued that stoneskin has a visible effect. In my campaign, that particular spell turns the skin of the recipient a dark gray. This is almost universally recognizable by intelligent beings. It causes penalties to reaction rolls and the like. I also make that spell illegal in cities and towns. After all, the watch would like to be able to effectively combat potential law- breakers.

Aaron R. Smith

Chico CA

Ø      Simply don’t award experience for the encounters involving the use of stoneskin: none is gained, as the PCs hardly break into a sweat during fights. Develop a counter-spell, if you want, to balance things out, or even enchanted weapons specifically against stoneskin warriors. After all, outlaws always evolve faster than the law.

No name given

Ø      Granite is naturally radioactive. If the PC mages handle the stuff over a long period of time, then all sorts of problems could start occurring - like rashes, illnesses, or mutation.

David Goodwin

Petersfield, Hants, U.K.

Ø      Have you ever thought of dropping your group through a dimensional gateway to a world that doesn’t have magic? You don’t have to keep them there, but maybe they would start to use their minds instead of relying on that spell.

Michael T. Scott

Front Royal VA

5. Ref: Dragon Magazine, January 1994 (Issue No. 201, pg 45)

Is there any limit to the number of stoneskin spells that can be cast on a single character? Our PC group was recently set upon by a horde of foes, each protected by more than 100 stoneskins. Will stoneskin protect a character from falling damage? How may “attacks” will a protected character lose if an opponent hurls a handful of small objects (rocks or gems) at her from close range?

The spell description doesn’t give any limit to the number of stoneskin spells a creature can enjoy at once. This, however, can lead to tremendous abuse. (One hundred stoneskins each? Give me a break!) I strongly suggest that you roll only once for the number of attacks a stoneskin spell negates and that this number applies no matter how many spells subsequently are cast on the recipient. For example, if a 20th-level wizard casts three stoneskin spells on a fighter, roll 1d4 + 10 for the number of attacks negated. If the roll is a “2” the fighter is protected from 12 and only 12 attacks. Once 12 attacks negate the spell the fighter can receive a fourth spell and can make a new roll. I also recommend that you give stoneskin a maximum duration of one day. This prevents a wizard with time on her hands from casting stoneskin on every soldier in an army.

Stoneskin protects against physical attacks in which something is hurled or struck against the victim: cuts, slashes, blows, bites, claws, tail slaps, etc. Magical and energy attacks are not negated. One could make a case for treating a fall as a blow, but I recommend against it. The recipient becomes something like a big statue, which is generally immune to blows, but it still can shatter if it’s pushed out a window and falls to the ground. Note that the character is protected from cave-ins and avalanches, as these are situations where objects are hitting the character. Note also that magical attacks work against the character no matter how the spell delivers damage; magic missiles, lightning bolts, ice storms, and the various Bigby’s hand spells go right through stoneskins.

Generally speaking, one of a stoneskin’s protections is negated for each attack roll made against the character. A reasonable DM is going to call for one roll if a handful of pebbles is thrown at a target because all the pebbles are released at about the same time and all hit at about the same time, so this kind of attack should count against a stoneskin spell only once. Otherwise, a character could blow down a stoneskin by hurling handfuls of sand or dust. Likewise, an avalanche or cave-in negates one attack. Arrows, on other hand, come at their targets one at a time.

6. Ref: Dragon Magazine, August 1998 (Issue No. 250, pgs 20 & 22)

Several issues ago, you said that one attack drains a charge from a stoneskin spell, hit or miss. If a giant throws a boulder or a wizard casts a fireball a group containing a character using stoneskin, does the character still lose a charge from his stoneskin?

If the recipient of a stoneskin spell is caught in an area-effecting attack, the creature loses a charge from the stoneskin no matter where the attack was actually aimed.

In the standard AD&D rules, a giant’s boulder-throwing attack is not an area attack, and a giant’s boulder would not drain a stoneskin charge unless actually aimed at the stoneskin recipient. If you treat giant-hurled boulders as area effects in your campaign, however, the boulder will drain a stoneskin charge if the recipient is in the boulder’s area of effect. Also, if you treat giant-hurled boulders as grenade-like missiles, and a boulder bounces onto a stoneskin recipient, the spell loses a charge and negates whatever damage the recipient might have suffered.

7. Ref: Dragon Magazine, February 1996 (Issue No. 226, pgs 89-90)

If someone punches a person who is protected by a stoneskin spell, does the attacker suffer damage? Does the recipient of a stoneskin spell look different in any way? The Player’s Handbook seems to suggest that a charge of a stoneskin is lost even if an attacker rolls a miss when fighting, is this so? If this is so, what is the reasoning behind it?

A stoneskin spell never damages an attacker. The spell description does not specify any change in appearance for the recipient of a stoneskin spell, but that doesn’t mean the DM can’t specify one. A spell loses one “charge” each time the recipient is subjected to an attack, that’s just the way the spell works. Note that an attack roll usually isn’t necessary, just mark off a charge from the spell. The only time you need to make a roll is when the attack can damage the recipient in spite of the stoneskin spell. Note also that an attack that bypasses the spell and damages the stoneskin recipient still negates a charge.

8. Ref: Dragon Magazine, October 1997 (Issue No. 240, pgs 14)

Will a stoneskin spell protect the recipient from the effects of non-spell critical hits?

Yes. If the spell negates the basic damage from a hit, it negates any addi- tional physical effects involving cuts, pokes, or impact from that hit. Touch-delivered spells are not negated, nor are magical effects, such as the electrical damage from a javelin of lightning (though the 1d6 hp physical damage from the javelin is). Stoneskin never negates damage that does not involve cutting, piercing, or striking. Damage from a flask of burning oil or damage from acid harms creatures protected by stoneskin.

What happens when the recipient of a stoneskin spell also uses a fire shield spell? How much damage would an assailant suffer if the stoneskin spell negated all the damage from his attack?

If the stoneskin spell negates the damage from a blow, the attacker who delivered the blow suffers no damage at all. Note that the fire shield spell still makes the recipient more susceptible to certain forms of attacks (see spell description).

9. Ref: Dragon Magazine, October 1994 (Issue No. 202, pg 93)

Although the “Forum” readers responded to the “stoneskin problem” in droves, as reported in issue #199, I’d like to throw in my thoughts on the subject.

In my campaign several years ago, I had exactly the same problem, with every PC being loaded with stoneskin spells so as to be untouchable. My first step to fixing the problem was to restrict a stoneskin spell to the mage casting it; i.e., he couldn’t cast it upon anyone else. It isn’t so bad when mages alone have the spell, as they aren’t usually in melee, and they really do need the protection. Even so, there are several ways to take down a stoneskin quickly, and stay within the game rules:

·       a flock of 30 or 40 stirges.

·       a school of up to 100 or so piranhas.

·       an insect plague or ice storm (hail version) spell.

I always ruled that each insect bite counted as one attack, even if it took several bites to do 1 hp of damage.

    While a fighter’s sword can’t damage a mage with a stoneskin, there is nothing to stop that burly fighter from grabbing the puny mage, covering his mouth and nose, and smothering the mage to death. Another useful rule is that even if an attack is negated by a stoneskin, the attack disrupts any spell the mage is trying to cast, even if the attack did no damage. The final point is that the DM should not allow one mid-level spell to disrupt a campaign; if need be, change the spell so it is not so damaging.

David Howery

Caldwell ID

10. Ref: Dragon Magazine, October 1994 (Issue No. 210, pg 96)

Will a stoneskin spell protect a character against energy draining? Will it protect against touch- delivered spells such as cause serious wounds?

Stoneskin does not protect against magical attacks of any kind - even touch- delivered spells - or against special attacks that do not involve cuts, stabs, blows, or the like. Stoneskin prevents a giant snake or spider from injecting venom with its fangs, but it won’t prevent green slime from dissolving the character or an undead creature from draining life energy.

11. Ref: Dragon Magazine, June 1998 (Issue No. 248, pg 20)

Would a stoneskin spell protect a character from an ice storm?

A character protected by a stoneskin spell is immune to an ice storm’s impact damage but still subject to its cold. (An ice storm also drains one “charge” from the stoneskin.)

12. Ref: Dragon Magazine, February 1990 (Issue No. 154, pgs 7 & 94)

Will a stoneskin spell protect a creature from the hailstones produced by an ice storm spell?

An ice storm will affect a creature protected by a stoneskin spell. Although the hailstones are projectiles of sorts, they are a magical attack just as are magic missiles. An ice storm or other attack that damages the protected creature does not end the stoneskin spell, as the dweomer lasts until it foils a physical attack (see Unearthed Arcana page 57).

13. Ref: Dragon Magazine, January 1991 (Issue No. 165, pg 91)

If a wizard casts a stoneskin spell on himself, then is struck in melee while casting another spell, is the second spell disrupted or is the wizard able to maintain concentration because the stoneskin’s protection negates damage?

The second spell is disrupted, as a successful hit ruins a spell in progress (Player’s Handbook, page 85). Note that a successful attack - not damage - is the critical factor here. Game logic assumes that even a non-damaging hit can disrupt concentration. It’s tough to keep your mind focused on something as complex as a spell when someone’s using your head for batting practice, even if the blows aren’t hurting you. Many kinds of non- damaging hits can disrupt spellcasting: a hand clamped over the mouth, an arm- lock, or just being knocked down. However, damage always breaks concentration. If, for example, a spell-caster takes damage from a fireball or breath weapon, any spell in progress is lost even if the caster made his saving throw and took only half damage.

These distinctions also are important to game balance. Spell-casters are intended to be vulnerable to physical attacks during spell-casting, and their opponents must be given a chance to anticipate the spell and disrupt it before it goes off. Spell-casters can’t get around this limitation by using spells such as stoneskin. Likewise, spell-casting monsters that are immune to normal weapons (such as liches and vampires with character abilities) can have their spells ruined by any successful attacker. Some DMs even allow “attack” bonuses when characters make attacks specifically to disrupt a spell. The reasoning here is that a non-damaging jostle or cross block is easier to make than a potentially lethal blow. While this sort of ruling tends to be an equalizer when the target spell-caster is a high-level evil patriarch with an armour class in the negative numbers, it can be unreasonably tough on a 1st-level wizard with AC 10. Apply such bonuses carefully, if at all. I suggest that bonuses be limited to +4 or less, and you might consider applying them to the target’s armour class rather than to the “to hit” roll. If you use the armour class adjustment method, do not allow an armoir class to be adjusted to worse than 10.

14. Ref: Internet Sites

Stoneskin seems too unbalancing. What can I do?

If the DM thoroughly reads the spell description, and uses a bit of imagination, the spell is actually quite balanced, as there are many ways to damage and/or quickly remove layers of protection from a character with stoneskin. Some examples:

·       Damage: any magical (i.e. spell) attack, such as Fireball, Lightning Bolt, or Magic Missile, drowning, noxious gas, being buried alive, psionics, and Pick of Earth Parting. Many of these also remove layers of protection; especially notable on this regard are Magic Missile and Melf's Minute Meteors, which have the possibility of removing multiple layers of protection per spell casting.

·       No damage, but still affect the character with stoneskin: lasso, net, mancatcher, and bolas. Once the character is tied up, netted, or otherwise occupied, he is nowhere near as much of a problem.

·       Quickly remove layers: unarmed combat, burning, darts & other missile weapons with high ROF's, contact poison, acid, overbearing, multiple attackers, multiple attacks (especially creatures with more than four attacks per round), falling down a steep incline, missed attacks. Missed attacks do indeed remove layers of protection, as per the spell description's use of the words "regardless of attack rolls" instead of "successful attacks." Many people also include handfuls of thrown pebbles, with each pebble removing one layer, but this is better left up to individual DM's, as it has a good potential of getting obnoxious.

However, if the spell still seems to unbalance your campaign, there are many things you can do to tone it down a bit, any one of which should be sufficient for your purposes.

1.     Be doubly sure to follow the spell description where it states that repeated castings of this spell on the same individual are not cumulative.

2.     Be sure to follow the official errata for the spell--which is also the way the spell is described in the High Level Campaigns book--which changed the duration to 24 hours or until the requisite number of attacks is reached, whichever comes first.

3.     Make it Range: caster

4.     Designate it as a specialist Transmuters-only spell.

5.     Use the 1st ed. version of the spell (from UA); it is dispelled after one attack or attack sequence.

6.     Have the caster's skin change to the color of stone so that it is painfully obvious that he is wearing a stoneskin.

7.     Ban it altogether.

8.     Enforce the material components option for this spell; diamond dust is going to be very hard to come by at best, and may often be completely unavailable. Even if it is available, it will be extremely expensive, anywhere around 200 gp-1000 gp per casting is possible. Also, the mage in question becomes a good target for pickpockets if it gets around that the mage in question carries a bag of diamonds, albeit in dust form.

9.     Have every NPC mage wearing it as well.

Okay, this is my third try to respond to this, as my computer has crashed on me twice already while I typed my response, thus wasting over 2 hours of my time. So if my responses are a bit hurried and curt, you'll know why:

First off, allow me to quote Skip Williams, the sage himself, from the "Dungeonmaster's Option: High Level Campaigns" sourcebook that he released. In it, he provides some errata regarding the Stoneskin spell in an attempt to alleviate some of the ambiguity in its description.  Words that are italicized will appear /like this/. Stoneskin:  This spell is subject to considerable abuse by player characters.  Multiple /stoneskins/ placed on a single creature are not cumulative.  If two or more /stoneskin/ spells are cast on the same creature, roll normally for the number of attacks each spell protects against.  If a new spell protects against more attacks than the present spell does, the recipient gets the benefit of the increased protection;  otherwise there is no effect.  The caster does not necessarily know how many attacks the spell can shield him from.   /Stoneskin/ protects only against blows, cuts, pokes, and slashes directed at the recipient.  It does not protect against falls, magical attacks, touch-delivered special attacks (such as touch-delivered spells, energy draining, green slime, etc.), or nonmagical attacks that do not involve blows (such as flaming oil, ingested or inhaled poisons, acid, constriction, and suffocation). /Stoneskin/ last for 24 hours or until the spell has absorbed its allotment of attacks.

You may not use the above ruling in your own campaigns, which is fine. However, these rulings ARE official, and are to be considered an amendment to what is written in the 2E PHB.  They reflect the rulings I use with this spell, with the one caveat that I do not allow multiple castings at all -- casting the spell on someone who already has it on him will dispel both of them.  But that is a personal ruling that I use in my games, and this is something that I apply to several other spells as well, so Stoneskin is not unique in this respect IMC.