[D&D 3.5] What exactly is the proper calculation for an Empowered Spell with static modifiers?


First Post
Hi, everyone!

Apologies for asking such a decade-old question, when there are numerous threads on the net about this, but it is exactly because of those threads that I am making this one as well.

Many users whose replies I've read on many various forums just can't come to an agreement on how Empower Spell should be interpreted when it comes to static modifiers.

Either they conclude that Empower Spell's calculation includes static modifiers in the calculation process, or that only the variables are multiplied, and static modifiers are added on top of the result.

As someone who is trying to create custom spells for the game Neverwinter Nights, I have to bring some closure to this to know which ruling should I use, and how should I interpret this feat's calculation.

This is because the metamagic damage (from Empower Spell, Maximize Spell, etc.) is done via scripting, meaning you calculate the damage manually into the spell you're trying to create, depending on the metamagic the spell uses.

For a refresher, here is the feat's description directly taken from the PHB:


All variable, numeric effects of an empowered spell are increased by one-half. An empowered spell deals half again as much damage as normal, cures half again as many hit points, affects half again as many targets, and so forth, as > appropriate.

For example, an empowered magic missile deals 1.5 times its normal damage (roll 1d4+1 and multiply the result by 1.5 for each missile)

Saving throws and opposed rolls (such as the one you make when you cast dispel magic) are not affected, nor are spells without random variables.

An empowered spell uses up a spell slot two levels higher than the spell's actual level.
~ PHB p.93

So far the ruling seems pretty straightforward, if you have an XdY variable spell (e.g. Fireball), all you need to do is roll the die X amounts of times, and multiply the result by 1.5 (e.g. 10d6 on a Fireball, let's say I rolled a 36, then all I need to do is multiply it by 1.5 and the final result from the empowered fireball (36 x 1.5) = 54 damage), simple right?

But the problem comes when we add static modifiers to the mix here. For example, let's use Cure Light Wounds whose numeric variable cures 1d8 hit points +1 static point per caster level (max. +5), and in this case, let's assume we're CL 5

Now, the main question comes. Is the proper Empower Spell calculation something like this:
(1d8 x 1.5) + 5
or like this:
(1d8 + 5) x 1.5
and the results from these two examples are pretty different.

Let's say I rolled an 8. In the first example, the final result ((8 x 1.5) + 5) would be = 17, whereas, in the second example with the same roll, the final result would be (13 x 1.5) = 19 (19.5 to be exact).

The higher the static modifier is, the bigger the difference between these two methods are.

If we use another example, this time: Cure Critical Wounds which heals for 4d8 +1/CL (max. +20), and let's assume we're at CL 20, and have rolled an average of 4d8, which is 18.

The first example calculation would yield a result of 47 (18 x 1.5 + 20 = 47), whereas the second calculation's example would be 57 ((18 + 20) x 1.5 = 57), an entire 10 points difference.

According to the PHB's definition, I'm more inclined to believe that the second method of calculation is the correct way of calculating the Empowered spell, but some people are adamant that the first method IS the ONLY way to calculate it, and that the feat's description can be misinterpreted to believe that the second example is the right one.

So, in your opinion, which is the correct way, and why?

Thanks in forward, and I apologize for such a long post, I just wanted to get closure on this, so I wanted to present as much info as possible.

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I was about to say that only the dice are altered, but it seems pretty clear from the magic missile example that the final result is what's altered, not just the dice. So with your cure wounds examples, you'd roll the dice, add the bonus, and then multiply the total by 1.5.

Usig the Magic Missle example, (1d4+1) is the variable. 2-5 is the variable damage, thats what that means. A non variable spell would be Sleep where the 4hd is static.

With CLW, the variable is 1d8, so:
(1d8 * 1.5) + 1/CL

Or in the example of a 5th level caster rolling 8:
(8*1.5) +5 = 17

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