Spell Resistance Thread [Notes from the Artificer]
Spell resistance is the extraordinary ability to avoid being affected by spells. (Some spells also grant spell resistance.)
To affect a creature that has spell resistance, a spellcaster must make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) at least equal to the creature’s spell resistance. (The defender’s spell resistance is like an Armor Class against magical attacks.) If the caster fails the check, the spell doesn’t affect the creature. The possessor does not have to do anything special to use spell resistance. The creature need not even be aware of the threat for its spell resistance to operate.
Only spells and spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance. Extraordinary and supernatural abilities (including enhancement bonuses on magic weapons) are not. A creature can have some abilities that are subject to spell resistance and some that are not. Even some spells ignore spell resistance; see When Spell Resistance Applies, below.
A creature can voluntarily lower its spell resistance. Doing so is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. Once a creature lowers its resistance, it remains down until the creature’s next turn. At the beginning of the creature’s next turn, the creature’s spell resistance automatically returns unless the creature intentionally keeps it down (also a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity).
A creature’s spell resistance never interferes with its own spells, items, or abilities.
A creature with spell resistance cannot impart this power to others by touching them or standing in their midst. Only the rarest of creatures and a few magic items have the ability to bestow spell resistance upon another.
Spell resistance does not stack. It overlaps.
When Spell Resistance Applies
Each spell includes an entry that indicates whether spell resistance applies to the spell. In general, whether spell resistance applies depends on what the spell does:
Spell resistance applies if the spell is targeted at the creature. Some individually targeted spells can be directed at several creatures simultaneously. In such cases, a creature’s spell resistance applies only to the portion of the spell actually targeted at that creature. If several different resistant creatures are subjected to such a spell, each checks its spell resistance separately.
Spell resistance applies if the resistant creature is within the spell’s area. It protects the resistant creature without affecting the spell itself.
Most effect spells summon or create something and are not subject to spell resistance. Sometimes, however, spell resistance applies to effect spells, usually to those that act upon a creature more or less directly, such as web.
Spell resistance can protect a creature from a spell that’s already been cast. Check spell resistance when the creature is first affected by the spell.
Check spell resistance only once for any particular casting of a spell or use of a spell-like ability. If spell resistance fails the first time, it fails each time the creature encounters that same casting of the spell. Likewise, if the spell resistance succeeds the first time, it always succeeds. If the creature has voluntarily lowered its spell resistance and is then subjected to a spell, the creature still has a single chance to resist that spell later, when its spell resistance is up.
Spell resistance has no effect unless the energy created or released by the spell actually goes to work on the resistant creature’s mind or body. If the spell acts on anything else and the creature is affected as a consequence, no roll is required. Creatures can be harmed by a spell without being directly affected.
Spell resistance does not apply if an effect fools the creature’s senses or reveals something about the creature.
Magic actually has to be working for spell resistance to apply. Spells that have instantaneous durations but lasting results aren’t subject to spell resistance unless the resistant creature is exposed to the spell the instant it is cast.
When in doubt about whether a spell’s effect is direct or indirect, consider the spell’s school:
The target creature must be harmed, changed, or restricted in some manner for spell resistance to apply. Perception changes aren’t subject to spell resistance.
Abjurations that block or negate attacks are not subject to an attacker’s spell resistance—it is the protected creature that is affected by the spell (becoming immune or resistant to the attack).
These spells are usually not subject to spell resistance unless the spell conjures some form of energy. Spells that summon creatures or produce effects that function like creatures are not subject to spell resistance.
These spells do not affect creatures directly and are not subject to spell resistance, even though what they reveal about a creature might be very damaging.
Since enchantment spells affect creatures’ minds, they are typically subject to spell resistance.
If an evocation spell deals damage to the creature, it has a direct effect. If the spell damages something else, it has an indirect effect.
These spells are almost never subject to spell resistance. Illusions that entail a direct attack are exceptions.
Most of these spells alter the target creature’s life force and are subject to spell resistance. Unusual necromancy spells that don’t affect other creatures directly are not subject to spell resistance.
These spells are subject to spell resistance if they transform the target creature. Transmutation spells are not subject to spell resistance if they are targeted on a point in space instead of on a creature. Some transmutations make objects harmful (or more harmful), such as magic stone. Even these spells are not generally subject to spell resistance because they affect the objects, not the creatures against which the objects are used. Spell resistance works against magic stone only if the creature with spell resistance is holding the stones when the cleric casts magic stone on them.
Successful Spell Resistance
Spell resistance prevents a spell or a spell-like ability from affecting or harming the resistant creature, but it never removes a magical effect from another creature or negates a spell’s effect on another creature. Spell resistance prevents a spell from disrupting another spell.
Against an ongoing spell that has already been cast, a failed check against spell resistance allows the resistant creature to ignore any effect the spell might have. The magic continues to affect others normally.
The first and best way to overcome spell resistance is to get a larger bonus on your caster level check. Apart from gaining more levels, a few options exist.
The most obvious are the Spell Penetration and Greater Spell Penetration feats. With +2 on your spell penetration roll from each, these feats can prove invaluable over time in a campaign that features many spell resistant creatures. These do stack for a +4 affect.
Certain cleric domains also help out: the alignment domains (Good, Evil, Law, Chaos) and the Healing domain all grant +1 caster level to a small subset of spells, but some of those spells can be used to great effect. While the Healing domain power might come into play only when blasting a nightwalker with a heal spell, holy smite and holy word are two mid-to-high level spells of the Good domain that are very likely to be used against spell-resistant creatures. Sure the bonus is only +1, but every little bit helps.
From above: caster level check (1d20 + caster level)
orange prism ioun stone - +1 caster level
robe of the archmagi - +2 enhancement bonus on caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance.
Vest of the Arch Magi – MIC pg145 - +2 enhancement bonus on caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance.
Practiced Spell Caster[Feat]: Your caster level for the chosen spellcasting class increases by +4.
Wand Mastery - wand’s effective caster level is increased by 2.
Caster Level Increase [Notes from the Artificer] - also has some relevant data for increasing CL.