dnd 3.5e – Can the continuous effect of Power Word Pain be negated?

As this fine answer explains, a dispel magic effect may end a power word pain effect, but the earliest such an effect’s available is typically the 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell dispelling touch (abjur) (Player’s Handbook II 110). This makes a potion of dispelling touch (300 gp; 0.1 lbs.) or an arcane scroll of dispelling touch (150 gp; 0 lbs.) (both created using a 2nd-level spell at caster level 3) a reasonable purchase for anyone in a party that—so far—has only been watching the spell power word pain be used against foes.

Any effect that renders a creature immune to mind-affecting effects likewise renders a creature immune to the effects of power word pain as all spells of the school of enchantment are mind-affecting. However, immunity to such effects is typically a high-level effect (e.g. the 8th-level spell mind blank (abjur) (Player’s Handbook 253), the face slot magic item third eye conceal (Magic Item Compendium 141) (120,000 gp; 1 lb.)).

A DM that’s struggling to challenge a group that’s decided to run away after opening every encounter with a power word pain spell—letting the spell do the killing for them—might find the game more interesting if he confronts such PCs with more creatures of the types construct, ooze, plant, undead, vermin, and so forth as such creatures are, by default, immune to mind-affecting effects.

Note that even the handful of things that should prevent the effects of a power word pain spell often, in fact, don’t. For instance,—and I’m not making this up—the nipple clamp of exquisite pain (Book of Vile Darkness 118) (8,000 gp; 0 lbs., and let’s thank heavens for that) that makes “(t)he wearer… immune to debilitating pain effects” also says that the wearer “is not immune to actual damage described as pain,” which should likely include the damage dealt by a power word pain spell’s effect. Similarly, the 2nd-level Clr spell ease pain (conj (Book of Exalted Deeds 97) says, “If the target creature is under some effect that causes continuing damage, the pain is eased only for a moment,” and so the power word pain spell’s effect would be briefly abated… then start up again! It’s almost like the power word pain spell was written to bypass such effects deliberately.

In short, the spell power word pain kills creatures… and PCs. If the PCs are using it in every fight, then enemy wizards should be just as willing to use it in return… as should clerics that pick the domain Magic and anyone with sufficient ranks in the skill Use Magic Device, an arcane scroll of power word pain costing a mere 25 gp. The spell’s big limiter at low levels is its range, so wizards—or those mistaken for wizards—should remain the obvious target in any group of foes if the spell is common in the campaign. And any foe affected by a power word pain spell should behave like a PC who knows that he’s going to die anyway: by extravagantly expending all of his resources to kill the dude who has already killed him, especially since his death will be—in terms of combat rounds—slow and, of course, painful.

Also, although the spell power word pain lacks the descriptor evil, the spell is, by any measure, cruel, and this DM has many folks treat with contempt and hatred those dishonorable casters that employ the spell against intelligent creatures. Your campaign, of course, may vary.

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dungeons and dragons – Where can I find more lore on the Lady of Pain?

D&D 5e lore has precious little to say about the Lady of Pain. A search of DNDBeyond yields only 3 references in the entire 5th Edition corpus.

From the Dungeon Master’s Guide:

The city is the domain of the inscrutable Lady of Pain, a being as old as gods and with purposes unknown to even the sages of her city. Is Sigil her prison? Is she the fallen creator of the multiverse? No one knows. Or if they do, they aren’t telling.

From Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, in a section describing how the Raven Queen is thought to visit the souls of dead adventurers:

The Raven Queen’s reason for communing in this way is a matter of some dispute. Some sages posit that she is using people as pawns in an inscrutable game, the rules of which are known only to her and the Lady of Pain.

From a sidebar quote of a gnome living in Sigil, City of Doors, found in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, in the section on the Gnomish pantheon:

Who forged the chains that bind Tiamat in Avernus? Why do the modrons go on the Great March? Who is the Lady of Pain, really? I can’t tell you, but the answers lie in the Golden Hills. And if Garl and his gang don’t know, it can’t be known.
— Griballix, gnome of Sigil

This is every reference to the Lady of Pain in 5th Edition Material.

What resources from earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons have more detailed exposition on the Lady of Pain?

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technical debt – How to prioritize maintenance work and tech tebt with something like User Pain?

What criteria would you suggest for ranking such tasks in order to create something like “Maintenance Pain” or “Developer Pain”, so that one can then just pick the ticket with the highest pain score?

I believe you are looking at this from the wrong direction. You basically have N tasks labeled maintenance or technical debt and you want to compare them together to figure out which one is the biggest issue, fix that first, then continue down the list until all things are fixed.

But you are forgetting something.

Technical debt and messy code affect not just the maintenance but your current work and new features. Technical debt means you decide to make a mess now to gain some benefit or profit form an opportunity and fix it later once things are “more chill”, so to speak. If you don’t repay the debt, your code gets messier and messier and adding new things or changing existing things becomes harder and harder. That’s when you need to think about repaying technical debt or do some long overdue modification that’s sitting in the backlog.

To provide an example, say you decide to take on technical debt in some part of the application to chase an opportunity. The code is such a mess that you can’t look yourself in the mirror anymore. So you create a backlog task of “Clear up the mess and write a proper implementation” to clear up your conscious later. But with the mess you take advantage of the opportunity. And then you discover that you don’t need to touch that part of the application anymore and it doesn’t affect adding new features or changing existing ones. What do you do? This is really a huge mess compared with other technical debt tasks in the backlog. So do you work on this or on something else? Put another way, do you clear up the mess or leave it like that?

And most of the times the answer is, you leave it like that. It’s isolated in one part of the application you won’t work on. It’s not something that slows you down on the things you are doing next.

To give an analogy, unpayed technical dept is like walking out into the sea. The first feet are OK, the ground is solid, water is up to your knees. But go further along and your feet are no longer on solid ground, water is up to your head, you struggle to take a breath. You can walk in the sea with water up to your knees indefinitely, but when you are in over your head that’s the point you need to turn back. It’s the same with technical debt. At that point you need to repay it. Look at what’s preventing you from making progress and you will then know what to fix now, and what can wait for later.

In ending, I want to make a distinction between technical debt and plain mess of the code. Taking on technical debt is a (mostly business) decision, to sacrifice something now for a gain, and fix it later when you have nothing else to loose. Technical debt is not a mess caused by bad practices, incompetent developer, lack of skills, etc. That’s just a mess. And it’s not solved by prioritizing tasks and fixing them, it’s solved by using good practices, working on improving everyone’s skills, doing code reviews, etc.

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