The Seven Most Important Immunities in NWN

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  • #893
    Orion

    Iron golems are immune to critical hit, death magic, disease, level drain, ability drain, mind-affecting, paralysis, poison, and sneak attack. (Source: NWN EE, Pretty Good Character Creator module)

    Immunities are special in NWN. They prevent a character from being affected by certain spells, spell-like abilities and combat feats 100% of the time. In contrast, saving throws will always have a ‘1 roll’ (unless this setting is turned off), that means whenever a 1 is rolled, a character will always fail their roll, and this roll might be against some mind affecting ability rending one helpless, or even dying. Immunities are especially important for solo characters and defensive characters drawing the attention of enemies from the party, and can be valuable to protect weaknesses in the players character, such as a poor will save.

    In a module where one can save and reload (and re-roll) or play on settings where a 1 roll is not an autofail this may not matter so much. However if you play on harder settings, without the intention of reloading, or are unable to pause / reload because one is playing in a multiplayer environment, this is a matter of great import.

    There are in my opinion, five very important immunities in NWN:

    • Mind Immunity
    • Fear Immunity
    • Death Immunity
    • Freedom
    • Knockdown Immunity

    And two additional important immunities, but of lesser importance:

    • Level/Ability Drain Immunity.
    • Negative energy immunity

    I believe each of these immunities should be considered on every player character in a challenging environment. Here is why reasoning why each immunity is so important.

    The fabled golden circlet. This item is available for sale in Act 2 of the Original Campaign.

    Mind Immunity

    Why Mind Immunity is important is fairly straightforward. If a character is affected by a mind affecting spell or ability, they are rendered helpless and unable to participate in combat, or confused and lashing out randomly, even worse, dominated by the enemy and forced to battle their companions.

    I’ve had a situation where a player with a powerful very high sneak attack dual wielding elven rogue (that I had actually designed), was dominated by an enemy NPC boss, an undead necromantic wizard. While I was fighting this wizard, my teammate was turned and backstabbed my character for massive amounts of sneak attack damage, killing my character rapidly. I was fortunate to have another teammate rectify the situation by resurrecting me, but that was certainly quite an experience.

    Not all mind affecting spells or abilities are made equal. Certain mind effects such as Daze, can be cancelled by drinking a Potion of Clarity, as the player, while dazed, can still drink potions. However nearly all mind effects remove the player’s control from the character. So saving yourself, if you are affected by a mind affecting ability is unlikely. Secondly, the fear effect is something that cannot be removed by clarity spells, or lesser mind blank, the only way fear can be removed is with a remove fear spell. So sometimes even your teammates, if one is in a party, cannot reverse the mind effect.

    Mind effects last can a very long time. Hold monster (which works on human and humanoid races as well) lasts 1 round / level, so up to 11 to 80 rounds, depending if it is extended. A Dragon’s Fear Aura can last up to 20 rounds, for example, on Hardcore DnD difficulty or higher. Being hit by a dragon four times a round, for 20 rounds… I think one gets the idea… Thankfully on Normal difficulty or less this duration is reduced, however on DnD Hardcore or higher (which I believe all players should aspire to), this duration is very long.

    Mind affecting spells or abilities usually target the Will save of characters however some spells such as Stinking Cloud, affect the Fortitude save instead. Certain classes have terrible Will saves. These include fighters, rogues, barbarians, rangers – most combat classes apart from Monks, Paladins, Blackguards and Bards. Rogues can take the Slippery Mind feat to re-roll a failed will save, however if the will save is poor to begin with, it is likely to fail again. So mind immunity is essential on Hardcore difficulty or higher to protect ones self if the will save is poor, and still valuable on lower difficulties.

    Classes with high Will saves on Hardcore difficulty will still want mind immunity. As mentioned previously, rolling a 1 leads to an automatic failed saving throw, so a 5% chance of failure, minimum. These throws can happen so often if one is facing many enemies with fear/stun circles or mages with mind affecting spells, that eventually a 1 is rolled.

    Imagine rolling the dice once – a 5% chance doesn’t sound like much. Now roll the dice twenty times or fifty times – 64% chance and 92% chance of failing at least one save doesn’t sound so good anymore.  And the consequences of failing the save are so substantial as described previously, it can much lead to the demise of the character and affect the chance of the party surviving. Imagine one fights a battle against 10 undead mummies -> that’s 10 saves right there, possibly more if one goes inside and outside the fear auras more than once.

    Protection against alignment – a simple way to obtain mind immunity

    How does one obtain mind immunity? It is funnily enough, devilishly simple in most cases. Many modules will feature a battle between good and evil, good being the side of the player, evil being that of the NPCs the player fights. There is a level 1 spell called Protection versus Alignment, which provides Mind Immunity (along with a few other features). Cast Protection versus Alignment (Evil), and voila, a player’s character is mind immune against evil enemies, and that Rogue who was scared of all those fear auras surrounding all those enemy undead mummies in the crypts of the dead… is no longer scared, with the Use Magic Device skill and a cheap scroll. As one can suddenly appreciate, the Use Magical Device skill (UMD) becomes one of the most valuable skills in the game for a large number of combat characters who have to adventure solo.

    It sounds too simple, and a player would be correct in noting there are some caveats.

    • The enemy must be evil – neutral or good enemies can still use mind affecting abilities on the character.
    • This spell can be dispelled (but not breached). So if that rogue fighting undead mummies suddenly gets his buff dispelled, he might be in big trouble.
    • The character must be able to cast the spell, or use an item allowing the spell to be cast, or have a teammate who can do that for them.

    With the first two points, other spells such as Lesser Mind Blank or Mind Blank can provide mind immunity. Mind Blank, a level 8 wizard spell, is far harder to dispel than Protection versus Alignment, when both are cast from scrolls . However both Lesser Mind Blank and Mind Blank can be removed with breach spells, namely lesser spell breach, greater spell breach and Mordenkainen’s Disjunction, with potentially 100% effectiveness regardless of the original spellcaster’s prowess.

    The most powerful situation, is in fact, to have a high level spellcaster cast this Protection versus Alignment spell on themselves or teammates who require mind immunity. It can therefore make the players character mind immune which can only be dispelled (hopefully with a chance of failure) by a high level wizard or sorcerer’s Mordenkainen’s Disjunction, with the spell being unable to be breached to be removed. Therefore this level 1 spell has incredible value, even for a high level spellcaster.

    Beyond Protection versus Alignment – other mind immunity sources

    There are other sources of mind immunity other than Protection versus Alignment:

    • Clarity potions, scrolls or spells (which have a short duration)
    • Lesser Mind Blank/Mind Blank (as discussed)
    • Monk’s Perfect Self feat (obtained with 20 or more monk levels)
    • Polymorphing into mind immune creatures, such as Druid’s Water Elemental form, or Shapechange: Iron Golem
    • Equipment, such as the fabled Golden Circlet

    Spell sources of mind immunity (top row – protection versus alignment, protection versus evil. middle row – magic circle versus alignment, magic circle versus evil. bottom row – clarity, lesser mind blank, mind blank)

    Mages often enjoy casting area of effect mind affecting spells such as Color Spray and Stinking Cloud. These sadly are not party friendly, and the mage’s teammates and summons, even the mage him/herself can be affected by these spells, unless they have mind immunity. If the mage is evil, then Protection versus Evil can be cast on the mage or teammates to protect them from the effects. Likewise if the mage is of good alignment, then Protection versus Good can be cast instead. Having a good or evil aligned mage rather than neutral aligned can be a significant advantage, by making this level 1 protection against alignment spell extremely high value to protect allies. The downsides is enemies can use the same strategy against the mage by obtaining mind immunity from Protection versus Good/Evil spells, and the mage becomes vulnerable to Smite Evil or Smite Good attempts.

    Three mind affecting abilities can bypass mind immunity. They are Monk’s Stunning Fist stun, Assassin’s Death Attack paralysis and Barbarian’s Terrifying Rage fear effect. Stunning fist has no immunity but the duration was nerfed to a single round, rending it of limited value. Death attack can be countered with Freedom. Terrifying Rage can be countered with Fear immunity (see next section).

    Fear immunity

    Fear immunity is usually considered a weaker version of mind immunity. Because it covers only fear, one mind effect, while mind immunity covers so many including daze, stun, confusion, dominate.

    Fear immunity tends to be easier to obtain, from equipment, or Paladin’s Aura of Courage feat (with two levels of Paladin). If mind immunity spell buffs can be easily dispelled then fear immunity is often the final protection for characters with poor will saves. While mind immunity usually will protect one against fear effects, there is one fear ability which is not affected by mind immunity, and that is Barbarian’s Terrifying Rage.

    Interestingly, the spells Phantasmal Killer and Weird, which are will save then fort save or die are not considered death magic, but rather fear magic abilities – fear and mind immunity can protect against instant death against these spells while death immunity will not.

    Spell sources of immunities. Death magic immunity: Death Ward, Shadow Shield. Freedom: Freedom of Movement. Negative Energy Immunity: Shadow Shield, Undead’s Eternal Foe, Negative Energy Protection.

    Death magic immunity

    Immunity to magic that could kill a character instantly is very valuable, even for characters with high fortitude saves. As mentioned there is always the automatic ‘fail on 1 roll’ feature, in addition, some death magic targets the will save, such as a Bodak’s death gaze.

    Death immunity can be obtained from spells such as Death Ward and Shadow Shield and items such as a Belt of Guiding Light.

    Death magic immunity does not protect a player from:

    • Cleric’s Implosion spell
    • Phantasmal Killer and Weird (as discussed)
    • Devastating Critical
    • Petrification (ie Flesh to Stone) which is almost like death, but isn’t.

    Death Ward is special in that it cannot be breached, so a high level cleric or druid can provide extremely powerful defences against death magic to their party.

    Freedom

    Freedom is a special effect in Neverwinter Nights which is provided by equipped magical items and the spell “Freedom of Movement”. It provides a large number of immunities. It is one of the most powerful properties in the game.

    The immunities it provides are:

    • Paralysis immunity
    • Slow immunity
    • Entangle immunity
    • Movement speed decrease immunity

    Freedom negates the paralysis effect from Assassin’s death attack, it stops Druid’s Entangle and Stonehold spells from functioning, it stops acid blob and frost traps from paralysing the character. Paralysis is the most terrifying effect of the lot, mind immunity thankfully covers paralysis (except Death Attack), however other features described such as entangle and slowed movement speed can lead to a characters demise, if they are caught, surrounded and defeated.

    One special feature from freedom is that the character can never be made to move slower than walking speed. This means that non-elf rogues can activate both stealth and detect mode together, and move at walking speed whereas normally movement speed would be slowed to a crawl. Likewise a character with freedom can be heavily encumbered and still move at normal walking speed. However do note such a character will not be able to run.

    Freedom does not protect a character against the grasping effect Bigby’s Grasping Hand or Bigby’s Crushing Hand – the best defence against these spells is a very high AC (or ultra high spell resistance from being a monk).

    Knockdown immunity

    Characters that are knocked down cannot do anything, they cannot move, they cannot fight, they cannot use items, and they lose their Tumble, Dodge and Dexterity AC (with uncanny dodge, only the Tumble and Dodge AC is lost). They are therefore more likely to be hit, receive critical hits, and be defeated.

    Knockdown immunity can only be obtained from items. Usually boots are the source, such as Boots of Sure Footing. Helmets can be a source as well for characters with Rogue levels or UMD, with the Thieves Hood item.

    Without knockdown immunity, one relies on armor class, concealment and the Discipline skill. One can always be hit if the enemy rolls a ’20’. How much discipline is required to protect one against an enemy knockdown attempt is not completely known to me. The combat log does not state this. My best guess is the attack roll of the enemy’s knockdown attempt +1d20 is put against the discipline skill of the player +1d20, however without the combat log or adequate testing I haven’t been able to discern this. Regardless I have found discipline underwhelming to protect one completely against knockdown, and in a difficult and challenging environment, knockdown immunity is can be valuable against these attempts.

    There is big elephant in the room, and that is the Bigby’s Forceful Hand spell. The knockdown duration of this spell is extremely high, 1 round / caster level. So a player might be knocked down with this spell for 11 – 80 rounds depending on the caster level and whether it is an extended Bigby’s Forceful Hand. Discipline does not protect against this spell, in fact, it is a strength check without a touch attack component (ie it automatically hits if spell penetration is sufficient). For a normal player character, they very likely to fail the strength check, even if they are a red dragon discipline. This is simply because it is such a difficult check. Knockdown immunity is essential to counter this spell, but even beyond that, mind immunity is valuable to prevent the daze effect of Bigby’s Forceful Hand. I believe strength is not enough, I have had my sorcerers knockdown Dragons with enough of these spells cast.

    One final spell knockdown immunity protects characters against, is the Grease spell. Smart players will simply move out of the grease spell radius, however sometimes players will want to intentionally stand in their own grease spells they have cast, and knockdown immunity is essential. Grease is special in that the knockdown effect ignores spell resistance. Discipline also does not protect one against the knockdown effect of grease, it is a reflex save. Druids can be immune to grease without knockdown immunity. Freedom does not protect the character against the knockdown effect of grease.

    Level/Ability Drain Immunity

    Level and Ability Drains can be frustrating, certain enemies will remove a player characters strength statistic for example a rogue with crippling strike, making them unable to run, fight, mobbed and defeated, or have such low HP from constitution score damage. Level drain can stop a player or character from casting spells. In some modules, lowering a character’s statistic score less than 3 will lead to the character dying.

    Immunity to level/ability drain can be obtained by the Negative Energy Protection spell (which can be breached) or from items, such as a Bone Ring.

    Negative energy immunity

    I find this valuable as it protects one against the Harm spell, which can essentially kill a player by reducing their hitpoints to 1hp. Negative energy damage immunity is obtained through the Negative Energy Protection spell, and Shadow Shield spell.

    Other immunities 

    Other immunities can be valuable, such as sleep immunity from Elven race (especially low levels armed with wand of sleep), disease immunity from Paladin 1, poison immunity from Druid 9, fire immunity from RDD 10, but tend to be nice rather than essential.

    Summary

    Immunities can protect a player, especially a solo player from death.

    The five most important immunities are mind immunity, fear immunity, death magic immunity, freedom and knockdown immunity.

    Other important immunities include Level/Ability Drain immunity and Negative Energy immunity.

    Further immunities tend to be nice in my opinion.

    #1005
    grom

    Very nice.  Lots of good info here, thanks Orion.

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