Protection from Evil

My group has several casters who can cast Protection from Evil. It is fast becoming their favorite spell (after Force Choke - er… Choking Grip), as they use it to totally dominate undead encounters.

Recently, they found a hill where the dead came to life, and dozens of zombies began to shamble their way. In stead of running for their lives, they cast Protection from Evil, and proceeded to take shots at the zombies from the safety of the spell…

This seems odd. From what I read, the zombies won’t be able to cross the spells’ barrier, and since they have no ranged weapons, they can’t hurt the characters either. This also effectively stops wights, ghasts etc, making a trek through an undead infested dungeon more a case of casting a first level spell over and over.

Now, I have nothing against my players using their spells and tools to overcome problems. Good for them, really. But it does leave me wondering how to have the undead be the unholy threat they should be.

Obviously, the zombies could just wait out the spell. More intelligent undead could leave and try gain later. And some undead have access to ranged weapons, which will pass the barrier. But am I mising something here? Not reading it correctly?

How do other judges handle this?

Oh crap, now I see it!

“The spell’s protection against contact by enchanted creatures ends if the caster or any protected creature makes an attack against, casts a spell on, or tries to force the barrier against a blocked creature. The protection lasts as longs as the caster remains stationary and concentrates on it.”

Okay, that changes things.

Sorry! Can I delete the double (quadruple) posts?

the trick still works, but only in very specific dungeon areas.

Suppose you open a door and the room is filled to the brim with skeletons or other undead/summoned creatures that use a natural attack (keep in mind that undead using weapons are just up against an AC bonus).

First, you get your burly front liners (or anyone, really) to block the passageway.

Next, your spellcaster casts protection from evil. It is now not possible for the undead to get to the caster or anyone behind your front liners, nor is it possible for them to attack the front liners with natural attacks.

Now, your archers and other ranged attackers stand behind the caster OUTSIDE of the range of the circle of protection and they shoot THROUGH the area of the spell at any undead not engaged with the front liners, which should be most of them.

Depending on how shrewd your DM thinks mindless skeletons and zombies should be, you can rack up quite a few kills in these specific situations.

A ruleslawyer’s reading of the spell also suggests that turning undead and deploying military oil onto areas not occupied by hostiles may also be permitted (not attacks, not spells, not forcing the barrier).

Okay, that’s a good trick. Shooting through the barrier would work, although you’d have to be very careful not to hit the cleric… Thinking more about it, Protection from Evil was probably originally meant as Protection against Level Draining - those are usually touch effects.

And the non-shrewdness of zombies is why I found the whole situation a bit frustrating. Intelligent undead would just wander off and come back once the spells ran out. Zombies, not so much.

I’d allow turning (by a second caster, naturally), as that’s also defensive. As soon as you light the oil, that’s an attack, though.

Is it? No to-hit is rolled for deploying oil to the ground within reach or igniting it; you’re just making a change to the environment. Would you allow protected players to deploy caltrops, ball bearings, web spells, or banana peels into part of the (enemy-free) area under protection, and then retreat back away from the obstacle to lure mindless undead in? If you catch the undead on a lever-controlled trapdoor while under Protection, can you pull the lever without breaking the spell? Again, not an attack, not a spell, not forcing the barrier, just using the environment in an offensive capacity. What if they’re blocking the line of fire from a dart trap to the party, who happen to be jumping up and down on the pressure plate that triggers it? In this case, the party isn’t making an attack, but is causing the undead to come under attack; is it substantially different from the cleric telling a henchman archer who is outside the protected area to fire (which we’ve already accepted is valid)? If the party retreats off the pressure plate and lets the undead trigger it themselves (which seems perfectly valid to me), is that substantially different from letting them shamble through a wall of fire? What about shooting an arrow into a mountainside to trigger an avalanche? It’s an attack, but not an attack against the creatures being blocked.

(This is all the sort of thinking I like to encourage in my players; I’d probably allow all of these, as terrain denial is a double-edged sword, causing avalanches and triggering traps are both pretty risky, and oil and spells are limited resources)

(For the retreat examples, consider ProtEvil Sustained)

Also if you summon a monster outside of the protected area, can it attack without breaking the spell?

Haha, oh goodness… I like it! If you ever find yourself in my neighbourhood, you’ll have a seat of honour at our gametable.
Plus, if you can trigger an avalanche in a dungeon, you have positively deserved everything that happens next. :slight_smile: