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How do you use Battlefield Control?


Advice

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I don't mean to be an idiot, but I thought I'd come for clarification on a topic that has been really bothering me. I am a ten-year veteran of D&D and Pathfinder, starting from the release of third edition. I know the rules of the game cold, I make effective characters, and I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how to use battlefield control. I fully accept that I'm an idiot, sure, but my group doesn't know how to use them either. I don't think I've ever played with anybody who used these spells in a decisive way.

There's this whole class of spells and effects that are supposed to be godly. Indeed, I'm currently playing a conjurer, using the idea of a God wizard, as set down in Treantmonk's wonderful guides. I see this bunch of spells that are light blue, and that means the best. So, if you take them... what do you do with them?

Let's take Black Tentacles. People say this spell ends an encounter. Now, I've never seen it cast, but I can certainly see how that would drag an encounter to a halt. Here's my question. How does Black Tentacles end the encounter in a way that is interesting? You don't want to trap your allies in the spell. Do your fighters just use bows while the tentacles have their way with the enemies that stay trapped? Does everyone wait out the duration and hope the tentacles make the enemy much softer?

Grease. Apparently so good, for a first level spell. Where do you put it so that it's relevant? Once both PC and NPC are next to each other, they don't tend to move, so the Acrobatics check and the flat-footed thing don't really come up.

Web. Where do you put this so that it doesn't just apply the same penalties to everybody?

Walls. Separate the enemies, that I can see. That's useful. What else do these things do that makes them so good?

Sleet Storm. Okay. You've made the area where the enemies are dark, and you make them slower. What do you do when they emerge from the spell effect 5-10 rounds later?

Please help me and my group understand how to use these spells.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

flamethrower49 wrote:
Grease. Apparently so good, for a first level spell. Where do you put it so that it's relevant? Once both PC and NPC are next to each other, they don't tend to move, so the Acrobatics check and the flat-footed thing don't really come up.

There are lots of options with Grease. Grease the ceiling where the spider is hiding 30ft up. Grease the hallway that the enemies need to come through to get to you while you pepper them with arrows. Grease the guy's weapon so he has to save each time he attacks, or drop it (and picking it up provokes).

Quote:
Web. Where do you put this so that it doesn't just apply the same penalties to everybody?

You cast this before you're in the thick of combat: when the enemies are over there and you're over here. You then have a round or two to get buffs going while ranged characters pelt the immobilized characters. It's also great for making a spellcaster's life difficult. You can also keep someone from getting away.

Quote:
Walls. Separate the enemies, that I can see. That's useful. What else do these things do that makes them so good?

Put a Wall of Stone over the top of a Spiked Pit with an enemy in it. Wait for the Pit's duration to expire. Squish.

Quote:
Sleet Storm. Okay. You've made the area where the enemies are dark, and you make them slower. What do you do when they emerge from the spell effect 5-10 rounds later?

Anything you want, because you've just had 5-10 rounds to heal/buff/whatever, or even just LEAVE.

Just gotta be creative! :D

Dark Archive

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Grease I put in hallways; many keys are that it stops 5 foot steps and makes any movement dangerous. I keep a lesser metamagic rod to widen it out.

Black Tentacles you try to cut people off; or set it up where the "line" puts the people at the front, where allies can get at them. Wait it out is silly. Summoners can use lesser extend wands on these to make them take up a large area. As it is only one roll it can be hit-or-miss; and +12 at 7th level (no modifier for high stats) is not a terribly impressive BAB. But it also stops charging, 5 foot steps, and can be dangerous to move around.

Web I'm not a huge fan of; I'd grease first. It doesn't make it easy to cut down the caught enemies.


Battlefield control does not mix well with a melee-heavy party. I learned this the hard way. In a party with few melee that is willing to take out that bow, yes, it's quite splendid. Your party ends up shooting fish in a barrel w/ spells and arrows, with you providing the "barrel."

Usually in order to keep enemies in the "mire of suck" you need to stack movement penalizing effects and grappling/entangling type effects to the point where even if they make all their saves and checks, it will take them some time to get out. This obviously requires combining a few spells. I find squeezing out more actions (quickened spells; 3E items for extra actions; etc...) to help a lot. Having another PC or cohort or even an improved familiar w/ a wand or scroll can help. Having a bull rush oriented PC or one who is otherwise adept at moving people back into bad spots (reposition won't work) is a very nice synergy, but something so niche that you can't really expect to ever have such an ally.

At higher levels, it is very difficult to keep battlefield control (BFC) relevant, in my experience. Due to flight and teleportation. The latter just kills it all. You can counter with Dimensional Anchor or Lock, but that gets very costly, both in actions and spell slots. Flight is in some ways even more problematic, since its even more common and there's nothing like Dim. Lock/Anchor in pathfinder to specifically negate it (a few things will blow them down, but are often defeated by an easy fly check). Many BFC spells only work on the ground or don't work nearly as well in 3 dimensions. So in my view, people over rate BFC spells, they fall apart completely in high level play. They can still crush nonflying nonteleporting enemies. But if you're playing optimized at high levels, anything that can do neither of those pretty much auto-loses anyway, by any other number of means (even the humble, otherwise mundane, flying archer brigade).

Grease is specifically useful because it's low level and makes the ground difficult terrain regardless of save DC (so great wand spell for the familiar to combo with you) and it has numerous versatile functions.

All the other BFC spells you listed tend to be used not so much to kill enemies as they are to separate the forces. If you have an enemy force of 10 and your spell makes it so only 2 can immediately attack, then 3 more, then 5 more, then the last 2, in waves like that, you've made the battle MUCH easier than it would have been if you had to face all 10 of them right from the start simultaneously. "Divide and Conquer." It fails against enemies smart enough to know to hold back / fall back until more allies get out of the mire of suck so as to attack with greater combined strength, though the delay that causes before hostilities may alone be worth it just to buy time for buff spells.

That's another important note, albeit probably obvious. BFC is used on large groups of foes. Its value over blasting or other effects is that it lasts and affects an area, so it's an utter waste to use it if there's only 1 or 2 foes, unless you don't expect any more encounters that day and are just looking to blow through spell slots anyway.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
flamethrower49 wrote:


Let's take Black Tentacles. People say this spell ends an encounter. Now, I've never seen it cast, but I can certainly see how that would drag an encounter to a halt. Here's my question. How does Black Tentacles end the encounter in a way that is interesting? You don't want to trap your allies in the spell. Do your fighters just use bows while the tentacles have their way with the enemies that stay trapped? Does everyone wait out the duration and hope the tentacles make the enemy much softer?

Ranged attacks are ofcourse an option, but idealy what you want to do is catch your enemies at the edge of the black tentacles. The idea here is they are traped in the tentacles and your allies attack them from without. Placement is key when dealing with battlefield control.

Also keep in mind, if there are multiple enemies even if you catch some portion of the enemy in the middle of this spell, you can focus on the remaining ones until the others either get loose or the spell ends. The big thing about battlefield control is controlling the flow of hte encounter. If the dm designed the encounter for the party to fight 6 wargs, and you make it so you only have to fight 3 for a couple rounds, and then the other 3, you have made the encounter alot easier.

Quote:

Grease. Apparently so good, for a first level spell. Where do you put it so that it's relevant? Once both PC and NPC are next to each other, they don't tend to move, so the Acrobatics check and the flat-footed thing don't really come up.

First of all they have to make the initial save if you place it under their feat, and if they are on the ground they are easier for your enemies to hit. It also provides anchors in the battlefield, what I mean is unless they are particularly acrobatic, enemies will try to go around that. Use spells like this to funnel enemies to your front line pcs and not let them get around to the squishies (you in particular)

Quote:

Web. Where do you put this so that it doesn't just apply the same penalties to everybody?

Same thing as black tentacles, try to catch enemies in the edge of your wedge, and like grease you can use it to funnel enemies in a particular direction.

Quote:

Walls. Separate the enemies, that I can see. That's useful. What else do these things do that makes them so good?

See above about funneling enemies, especially if you can funnel them to concentrate them, then drop a negative area effect on them (say glitter dust, or acid pit, that sort of thing or even a fireball).

Quote:

Sleet Storm. Okay. You've made the area where the enemies are dark, and you make them slower. What do you do when they emerge from the spell effect 5-10 rounds later?

This one ive never really been a fan of except as a delaying tactic.

Quote:


Please help me and my group understand how to use these spells.

Another thing to consider in your group is if your martial guys always go first its gonna cause a controller problems. You should have a good dex and pick up improved initiative at first opportunity.

Also if your dm tends to put you against lots of single monster encounters, control spells wont work as well, as they are far more likely to save, and the funneling and splitting up the enemy doesnt work to your advantage much.


The point of Crowd Control is to hinder your enemeys while giving your party an advantage in combat. This takes more then simply picking the right spells. You have to plan with your teamates. In game this means setting you fighters down and explaining what you can do and how they can avoid it. Lets go over your list for instance.

Black Tentacles - 20-ft.-radius spread. 1 round/level.
Causes all creatures within the radius to be subject to a grapple. If successful the grapple does a small amount of damage and they are grappled.

Small amount of Damage
Cannot move
Loose Dex to AC
Can be the target of a Sneak Attack. (SA works within 30ft btw)
For the duration of the spell the area is considered difficult terrain.

This spell is an amazing way to stop enemies in their tracks. Even if they resist... they are still standing on difficult terrain. Ways to use effectivly - To combat pouncers, charge builds, or anything trying to make its way to YOU or your other squishy friends. Ways melee can use - The best answer to this is for them to purchase a Ring of Freedom of Movement... or have it cast on them. Rogues will love you if you have them in the party. Fighers and such will have the choice of who to attack on the battle field. If Freedom of Movement doesnt work... take a look at your second spell. Grease.

Grease - one object or 10-ft. square. 1 min./level

1. Covers a solid surface with a layer of slippery grease. Any creature in the area when the spell is cast must make a successful Reflex save or fall. A creature can walk within or through the area of grease at half normal speed with a DC 10 Acrobatics check.
2. Material objects not in use are always affected by this spell, while an object wielded or employed by a creature requires its bearer to make a Reflex saving throw to avoid the effect. If the initial saving throw fails, the creature immediately drops the item. A saving throw must be made in each round that the creature attempts to pick up or use the greased item.
3. A creature wearing greased armor or clothing gains a +10 circumstance bonus on Escape Artist checks and combat maneuver checks made to escape a grapple, and to their CMD to avoid being grappled.

This spell has 3 main uses. Not just one... 3.
1. You can again stop the big ugly from charging you or your party. A 10ft square is convently the same width of most hallways... imagine that.

2. You got that barbarian orc with a huge greataxe tearing your fighter to pieces. How about you take bets on if he has unarmed combat and grease his axe. How many orcs you know carry multiple greataxes. Low refex classes (AKA most fighters) will be hardpressed to hold on to their weapons while its greased.

3. Hey remember how your fighter wanted to go run into your Black Tentacles... grease his armor and tell him to go have fun.

Web - 20-ft.-radius spread. 10 min./level

See Black Tentacles. However this spell is more effective against low reflex characters. Even if they save however still realize they have rough terrain again. No charging. Thats usually a very good thing. One advantage this has. If you are fighting large creaturs you can place the spell above the ground where it doesnt affect medium size creatures but still hinders large creatures. Situational but its there. Also fantasic for stoping fleeing creatures.

Wall of bla - 5-ft. square/level. Range - Medium

I believe you get the point for this one. To keep them from you. Good when you need to heal the party. Ready and have the party retreat afterwared you cast and then the party can heal up. But as for other uses.If you desire, the wall can be created vertically resting on a flat surface but not attached to the surface, so that it can be tipped over to fall on and crush creatures beneath it.Take a look at the Create Pit spells. Want to keep them in the pit of acid.... here you go. A top for your jar of death.

Sleet Storm-40-ft. radius,20 ft. high.1 round/level Range long.

1.Driving sleet blocks all sight (even darkvision) within it
2. and causes the ground in the area to be icy. A creature can walk within or through the area of sleet at half normal speed with a DC 10 Acrobatics check.
3. The sleet extinguishes torches and small fires.

Again 3 uses.

1. Blocks the vision of creatures with darvision. Helpful
2. Again. Rough Terrain. No charging. Keeping them away from you.
3. You can extinguish flames... situational... not why you memorize this spell... but if you need it... you got it.

So there you go.... Also as a conjuror you can make for some great combinations with summons...Grease, Then summon Infernal Dire Crocs(That still viable in PF?) who grapple. follow it by lighting the Grease on fire. You have to see what works... different situations.

Experiment. Plan with your Party. Dont for get Debuffing and Buffing to augment your CC. Hope this helped.

Edit: Im slow! ... there where zero responses when I wrote this lol.


For example use one of the slowing effects on HALF of a group of enemies. That way the fighters get to deal with them in two nicce, small portions. As for grease, use it on the weapon of the BBEG if he happens to be a fighter type, combine it with the pit spell or bullrush enemies into the greased area. Protect your fighters from being effectively surrounded by using the wall spells, get your party a much needed healing break by splitting the room with stone wall, there are countless ways to use that stuff. Your fighter types need to cooperate well with you though. telepathy or whisper helps a lot.


Dragonamedrake wrote:


Black Tentacles - 20-ft.-radius spread. 1 round/level.
Causes all creatures within the radius to be subject to a grapple. If successful the grapple does a small amount of damage and they are grappled.

Small amount of Damage
Cannot move
Loose Dex to AC
Can be the target of a Sneak Attack. (SA works within 30ft btw)
For the duration of the spell the area is considered difficult terrain.

The grappled condition does not cause you to lose Dex bonus to AC.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Instead of thinking of Battlefield Control as casting "I Win" spells, consider they are "Help the Party Win" spells.

Slow absolutely destroys low-will, high-damage, multi-attack characters. TWF Rogues, Archer Fighters, and Pounce type critters are the proper targets here. Spellcasters or similar characters who can use good Standard Action abilities are the wrong targets.

Black Tentacles, Web, Grease are all fantastic for channeling the enemies into your pre-determined kill zones. Sure, if you're encountering flying, teleporting, freedom of movement buffed enemies on a flat open plain, you're screwed. But, in an urban or dungeon environment this works exceedingly well; block off one area of the room/hallway/alley so the enemies have to fight through your delay-spell. All three examples block charges (due to difficult terrain at least) and web not only blocks LoS, but is also flammable.

Wall spells work great in similar situations, or if you need/want to retreat. Say you kicked the door/wall in to engage your foe. You encounter stiff resistance and need to pull out in order to survive (or have successfully obtained your primary objective and want to exfiltrate safely). Everyone runs through the convenient hole in the wall, wizard-guy then slaps a wall o' xyz up, blocking the enemies from following.

TL;DR: use battlefield control to make the enemies fight you on your terms, capitalize on existing terrain features, or facilitate infiltration/exfiltration safely.


Thank you guys for the feedback. Please keep the ideas coming! One problem I've certainly experienced is something of a lack of creativity in my stale tactics, but this is a great stepping stone to letting me do the job I want to do. Call it God Wizardry 101.

Kolokotroni wrote:
Another thing to consider in your group is if your martial guys always go first its gonna cause a controller problems. You should have a good dex and pick up improved initiative at first opportunity.

My god, this strikes a nerve. I have a high dex, and I already took Improved Initiative. Well, so did everybody else, and they don't have the sense to wait for me when they roll higher, no matter how much I suggest it. High initiative is a badge of honor with them, not a tactical tool. Highly aggravating.

Anyway. I might be starting to get it, but we'll see if any of these ideas carry over to practical situations. These spells do their job if my side has success while theirs has to wade through my effect. You Sleet Storm or Black Tentacles the mass of enemies over there, and deal with the ones right here. Up against one enemy, Grease his weapon. (Though a problem I have with that one is that when I'm thinking of it, none of my opponents seem to carry weapons! Be more vigilant.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Its all about adapting to circumstances. If you are having trouble getting to go first, consider a few more targeted spells, like the pit line of spells from the APG. They serve a similar purpose but are far smaller in their area.


One of the main ideas is to split up your opponents. Your initial goal should be to keep half your opponents from engaging effectively, then the other players can deal with half as many threats at a time gaining you a lot of action economy.

If everyone is engaged in melee before you get a spell off then this will be very difficult, I would suggest going with a buff/debuff strategy if that happens all the time.

Silver Crusade

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Another good first level control spell from Advanced Players Guide (which didn't exist yet when Treantmonk wrote his guide) is Expeditious Excavation. You create 5 foot pits in the middle of the battlefield that everyone has to maneuver around. Create one under an enemy, and even if they make the save to avoid falling prone inside it, they're still forced to move to an adjacent square.

Use it on one of the rogues trying to flank your melee allies, and you're taking away squares they can use for their flanking. Or use it to force them into position so your allies (especially allied rogues) can get a flank.

As for the problem with initiative in your group, I suggest printing out cards that say something like "Initiative is a tactical tool, not a badge of honor. The party is most effective when the person with area of effect spells has a chance to use them. Please delay." Print 50 of them and hand them out every time a melee type gets a higher initiative roll than you. Maybe include the address to this thread. Eventually, they'll get the hint.


Handing out cards is a bit snide. Try just saying that you're going to cast an AoO spell no matter what happens. That way, when the fighter goes BOOM or gets caught behind a wall, you're being a lot snide. ;)


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Initiative is like the coin toss at a sporting event. It means you get to CHOOSE who goes first. It is often tactically advantageous to wait and react.

Also, yes, battlefield control is not an I win button, but a filter. They control who/what can threaten your party at once. Some will make the saves/have higher CMD/whatever. But not all. It allows you to divide and conquer.

Silver Crusade

Here's a battlefield use of a basic 1st level spell that I only just thought of. Can Silent Image be used to create an illusory flanker for your allies? ie Create an illusion of a halfling rogue attacking the bad guy from behind, while the real halfling rogue of your group attacks the same bad guy from the front, to get the sneak attack from flanking.

My group doesn't have any pure arcane casters who go for this sort of control stuff (they're either blasters or debuffers), so I've been trying to come up with my own ideas like this, and the type of stuff in Treantmonk's guide and this thread, for a sorcerer character I'm building.


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"Battlefield control" is one of the most liberally interpreted terms in the game. It just doesn't mean the same thing for different people.

The spells you've listed, and others such as "entangle" or "hydraulic push" or many, many more are important because they help you manipulate the battlefield. How and why you manipulate the battlefield is extremely situational, meaning that it is very hard to say "Here's how you use 'grease'!"

The concept of battlefield control isn't that you defeat your enemy through the use of a spell or technique (caltrops are battlefield control tools) the concept is that you make the enemy meet you on your terms.

So if you are a party with a lot of ranged attack ability, then creating difficult terrain, walls, entanglement, ice or grease, etc. can keep the enemy from reaching you as quickly, giving you more time to full attack with your bows.

If you are a party with a lot of melee ability then walls, pits, spells which push or pull, all of those can force the enemy to choke points where your biggest, baddest melee members can take advantage of full attacks on them while avoiding being surrounded or flanked by them.

When I think about battlefield control, I think of my controller as a field marshall whose job is to arrange the battlefield so that my teammates either get a significant tactical advantage, or else the enemy pays a heavy price for avoiding doing what I want them to do.

There really is as much art as science in battlefield control. Good controllers are very, very hard to find. That's why when the military discovers a soldier who knows how to manipulate battles to their advantage, those soldiers advance rapidly.

Such skills truly are rare. Even amongst players of wargames.


The secret to Battlefield Control is to

  • make the fight extra inconvenient for the enemy.
  • make the fight extra convenient for allies.
  • create choke points against superior numbers, turning "outnumbered and surrounded" into "target rich environment"
  • Force the enemy to waste actions, while keeping allied actions effective.

Black Tentacles
Combat, plus debuff, plus battlefield control. This turns a floor into a zone of "yikes". It can ruin the day of those caught in the zone, and force enemies to go around it.
- turn a 45'+ wide room into a choke point, leaving limited avenues for enemies to safely approach, and that's where your melee goons will be waiting as they use ranged weapons
- plop it onto a group of enemies and those who survive are forced to scatter, yielding the boon of "divide and conquer"
- use it to cover an escape route, forcing enemies to surrender or die

Grease
My favorite use of Grease is to exploit the benefits of Barbarians and Rogues. Y'see, they have Uncanny Dodge, which means they can keep their Dex bonus to AC even when flat-footed or forced to balance (via Acrobatics). Not so much for others. So if you happen to have a Barbarian in the group, grease the ground around enemy in melee with your barb, who can now hit em that much easier (especially if prone). To your Barb, stepping into that zone is of little consequence, thanks to Uncanny Dodge.
Other than that, creating dangerous terrain to ruin enemy charge lines is a wonderful thing.

Web
Like "black tentacles lite"... same idea, just less powerful or intimidating. Bonus: If you have enemies caught in Web, drop a Fireball in there and they each take an extra 2d4 damage.

Walls
- provide partial cover by giving a 5' high wall between friend & foe. Covers a retreat.
- Create a 5' high obstacle around your archers or ranged attackers.
- Create choke points for your party to filter out superior numbers.
- Divide the enemy and conquer the bite sized groups.
- Provide total cover to an ally who finds himself badly hurt, allowing a retreat or heal or buff.


When I ran a 3.5 warmage, almost all of my spell slots every combat were of the battlefield control variety, with a few choice ranged touch attacks in there.

What I did was shape the flow of combat to ensure our other ranged attackers had time to wittle down the enemy and that our melee beaters were able to focus on just 1 or 2 targets at a go.

Battlefield control is sort of my specialty, at least in gaming. I have to keep pulling back now that I DM all the time. I've nearly TPK'd my PCs on multiple occasions by splitting them up with an NPC caster.


flamethrower49 wrote:
I don't mean to be an idiot,

You are not. BFC are good if you have the right spell at the right time. That is not going to happen all the time.

You all reaady been given som good advive.

Black Tentacles or web: Once the enemy is in there you can blast them or cast stuff like cloud kill. If your tanks want to enter just have the Divine caster cast freedom of movemnet on the fighter/melee dude.

Another fun thing is Black Tentacles or web + stinking could :-), then blast with arrows or lightning ball or Fireball, flamestrike or whatever.

If order to take advatage of BFC, you as a group must help each other.

Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Fromper wrote:
Here's a battlefield use of a basic 1st level spell that I only just thought of. Can Silent Image be used to create an illusory flanker for your allies? ie Create an illusion of a halfling rogue attacking the bad guy from behind, while the real halfling rogue of your group attacks the same bad guy from the front, to get the sneak attack from flanking.

Here's how I would run it if I were DMing it (and since you are posting it here, Aroden knows I will be at some point)- To get a flanking bonus, the defender must be "threatened" by another creature or enemy on the opposite side... my vote is that at least at first the illusion could create a feeling of being threatened provided the target fails it's will save and would give a flank on the very first round that it is used.

However, it would become readily apparent to the person being attacked that weapons/claws/prehensile-appendages etc. are not connecting or being caught by parries. The Silent Image is not on the level of Phantasmal Killer or some other illusion that causes damage, so between it's ineffectual nature (and lack of sound) would likely cause it to be discovered when subjected to the scrutiny provided by close combat.

To simulate this, each subsequent round I would give the target a cumulative +2 circumstance bonus on the disbelief roll at the start of their turn. If they still believe they are threatened, the flank bonus will hold.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Fromper wrote:
Another good first level control spell from Advanced Players Guide (which didn't exist yet when Treantmonk wrote his guide) is Expeditious Excavation. You create 5 foot pits in the middle of the battlefield that everyone has to maneuver around. Create one under an enemy, and even if they make the save to avoid falling prone inside it, they're still forced to move to an adjacent square.

Another way to use it is to create a fox-hole for yourself.

From inside the little 5ft hole:
Move action to stand up.
Standard to activate your wand of magic missile (or whatever).
Free action to go prone, denying your enemies line of sight/effect until they're right next to you.

Rinse and repeat.

I actually discovered this tactic when one of my players tried to use the spell offensively against my wand-wielding baddie. Talk about a backfire. ;)


alientude wrote:
Dragonamedrake wrote:


Black Tentacles - 20-ft.-radius spread. 1 round/level.
Causes all creatures within the radius to be subject to a grapple. If successful the grapple does a small amount of damage and they are grappled.

Small amount of Damage
Cannot move
Loose Dex to AC
Can be the target of a Sneak Attack. (SA works within 30ft btw)
For the duration of the spell the area is considered difficult terrain.

The grappled condition does not cause you to lose Dex bonus to AC.

oops. You are correct. You only receive a Dex penalty...

A grappled creature is restrained by a creature, trap, or effect. Grappled creatures cannot move and take a –4 penalty to Dexterity. A grappled creature takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks, except those made to grapple or escape a grapple.

So I suppose that means a being grappled doesn't cause you to be open to Sneak attack. Was that changed in Pathfinder? Either way thanks for the clarification.

Sovereign Court

Zark wrote:
Another fun thing is Black Tentacles or web + stinking could :-), then blast with arrows or lightning ball or Fireball, flamestrike or whatever.

One caveat to the Black Tentacles+Stinking Cloud combo is the secondary effect of the cloud. The spell functions just like Fog Cloud, obscuring vision beyond 5'. Our group learned that last session as we realized we couldn't just pew-pew away from outside the cloud/tentacle zone.

Silver Crusade

Jiggy wrote:
Fromper wrote:
Another good first level control spell from Advanced Players Guide (which didn't exist yet when Treantmonk wrote his guide) is Expeditious Excavation. You create 5 foot pits in the middle of the battlefield that everyone has to maneuver around. Create one under an enemy, and even if they make the save to avoid falling prone inside it, they're still forced to move to an adjacent square.

Another way to use it is to create a fox-hole for yourself.

From inside the little 5ft hole:
Move action to stand up.
Standard to activate your wand of magic missile (or whatever).
Free action to go prone, denying your enemies line of sight/effect until they're right next to you.

Rinse and repeat.

I actually discovered this tactic when one of my players tried to use the spell offensively against my wand-wielding baddie. Talk about a backfire. ;)

Yeah, this spell is obviously most effective offensively against melee combatants. I like the foxhole idea defensively, though.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Stumble Gap is kinda fun too, if you time it right by readying an action.

Sovereign Court

@Fromper: I don't think illusions can threaten regularly, because there's a feat that lets you do it: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/metamagic-feats/threatening-illusion-metamagi c

Prerequisites: Spell Focus (illusion), gnome.

Benefit: You can use this metamagic feat only on illusion (figment) spells.

A threatening illusion spell causes one target to believe your illusion is a threat. Choose one 5-foot square within the area of your illusion; that square threatens the target as long as it is adjacent. Thus, if you or an ally is on the opposite side of the target, it is considered flanking. Normally the area must contain an illusory creature of Small or Medium size. However, you can select one square of a larger illusory creature to threaten the target. For example, an illusory Large ogre takes up four 5-foot squares; you select one square to be the source of the threat, and its other three squares do not threaten anyone. If the target has reason to believe there is an invisible creature in the vicinity, even an auditory illusion with no visual elements (such as ghost sound) is sufficient to convince the target that the selected square contains an actual threat. As long as you maintain the illusion, you can change the location of the threatening square as a swift action. When you threaten a target with this spell, the foe may make a Will save to disbelieve (DC 10 + threatening spell’s level + your spellcasting ability score modifier). If the target makes this save, the threatening effect of this feat no longer applies to it.

Level Increase: +1 (a threatening illusion takes up a spell slot one level higher than normal.)

Normal: Illusion spells do not threaten squares.

Silver Crusade

Reynard_the_fox wrote:

@Fromper: I don't think illusions can threaten regularly, because there's a feat that lets you do it: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/metamagic-feats/threatening-illusion-metamagi c

Prerequisites: Spell Focus (illusion), gnome.

Benefit: You can use this metamagic feat only on illusion (figment) spells.

A threatening illusion spell causes one target to believe your illusion is a threat. Choose one 5-foot square within the area of your illusion; that square threatens the target as long as it is adjacent. Thus, if you or an ally is on the opposite side of the target, it is considered flanking. Normally the area must contain an illusory creature of Small or Medium size. However, you can select one square of a larger illusory creature to threaten the target. For example, an illusory Large ogre takes up four 5-foot squares; you select one square to be the source of the threat, and its other three squares do not threaten anyone. If the target has reason to believe there is an invisible creature in the vicinity, even an auditory illusion with no visual elements (such as ghost sound) is sufficient to convince the target that the selected square contains an actual threat. As long as you maintain the illusion, you can change the location of the threatening square as a swift action. When you threaten a target with this spell, the foe may make a Will save to disbelieve (DC 10 + threatening spell’s level + your spellcasting ability score modifier). If the target makes this save, the threatening effect of this feat no longer applies to it.

Level Increase: +1 (a threatening illusion takes up a spell slot one level higher than normal.)

Normal: Illusion spells do not threaten squares.

Thanks for pointing this out. It sucks that to do this, you need to invest two feats and have to be a gnome. This would only be worthwhile in a campaign where you're intentionally coordinating with a rogue ally to provide him with flanks regularly. Now that I know the cost, I won't bother trying this with a Pathfinder Society character.

Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Fromper wrote:
Now that I know the cost, I won't bother trying this...

Shew. Bullet dodged... now I have to watch out for fox-hole, bounding over-watch wand use though. :-P

Sovereign Court

Oh, here's a fun one, btw: Stinking Cloud (either yourself or from a Dretch summoned by Summon Monster III, so you can do both on the same turn), plus Web. Nauseated -> limited to only a move action, but it's a standard action to try to break free of a web. So if they fail their will save (and since the whole place is difficult terrain, there's a good chance they'll have to make multiple will saves) they're just stuck in the web doing nothing until Stinking Cloud's time runs out. And remember, they're nauseated for a few rounds after getting out of the cloud, too.


Zark wrote:
flamethrower49 wrote:
I don't mean to be an idiot,
You are not. BFC are good if you have the right spell at the right time. That is not going to happen all the time.

Unless of course you play the God Sorcerer. All the right spells. All the time. :)

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Reynard_the_fox wrote:
Oh, here's a fun one, btw: Stinking Cloud (either yourself or from a Dretch summoned by Summon Monster III, so you can do both on the same turn), plus Web. Nauseated -> limited to only a move action, but it's a standard action to try to break free of a web. So if they fail their will save (and since the whole place is difficult terrain, there's a good chance they'll have to make multiple will saves) they're just stuck in the web doing nothing until Stinking Cloud's time runs out. And remember, they're nauseated for a few rounds after getting out of the cloud, too.

On a related note, a potion of remove sickness isn't very good for removing nausea. :P

I guess you could instead make it an oil and just tell everyone which pocket it's in.

Sovereign Court

Jiggy wrote:
Reynard_the_fox wrote:
Oh, here's a fun one, btw: Stinking Cloud (either yourself or from a Dretch summoned by Summon Monster III, so you can do both on the same turn), plus Web. Nauseated -> limited to only a move action, but it's a standard action to try to break free of a web. So if they fail their will save (and since the whole place is difficult terrain, there's a good chance they'll have to make multiple will saves) they're just stuck in the web doing nothing until Stinking Cloud's time runs out. And remember, they're nauseated for a few rounds after getting out of the cloud, too.

On a related note, a potion of remove sickness isn't very good for removing nausea. :P

I guess you could instead make it an oil and just tell everyone which pocket it's in.

Lol, good point! Nausea is a hell of a status ailment.

For battlefield control, though, nothing beats a good Pit spell. Cast it as a readied action when someone moves, use earth elementals or spells to bull rush people into them then knock them down when they try to get out, put some monkeys or other summoned critters in the pit to keep them company, find a way to drop large boulders down the hole after them, seal off the top with a wall so it squishes them when it ends, Grease the walls when they try to climb out, or just get a friendly archer to stand at the top. The good times never end. (Until all your opponents are flying or teleporting, that is)


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Reynard_the_fox wrote:
The good times never end. (Until all your opponents are flying or teleporting, that is)

Someone recently pointed out on another thread that since the create pit line of spells actually create extra-dimensional spaces, rather than an ordinary hole in the ground, normal teleportation may not work to get out, since teleport cannot cross planar boundaries. Its rather like trying to teleport into or out of a bag of holding, or trying to teleport through a planar portal. Even if you can see what's on the other side, it technically isn't possible; you'd actually need to step through the portal, then teleport.

Same with the pit spells. I can totally just see a GM giving you "the look" and saying "NO" though...

Silver Crusade

So while we're on the subject, how do you do battlefield control against flying/teleporting creatures? Can black tentacles fly?


Fromper wrote:
So while we're on the subject, how do you do battlefield control against flying/teleporting creatures? Can black tentacles fly?

Its much harder obviously. If your group runs with the above interpretation on create pit vs. teleport, that's the obvious choice for those types (along with dimensional anchor type effects in conjunction w/ BFC).

As for flight, it can actually be more difficult to control flyers, especially if they favor casting or ranged combat in general. You'll need a method to force them to close the gap with your group. Fog spells and wind wall are good options for this (or at least somewhat neutralizing them until you've dealt with their friends). If they're a fly-by attacker, that'll take care of itself.

But basically, you'll need to ready a 3D BFC spell for when they get within vulnerable range. For example:

1. Do something to force them to fly down between a couple surfaces onto which you can cast a Web.
2. Ready to cast Web for when they get where you want them.
3. ???
4. Profit.

Stuff like that works well enough.

Note also that Hold Person/Monster and similar spells are especially potent against flyers, as it'll often cause them to fall (least if they use wings).


One very important thing in battlefield control is: know what you are facing. That way you get to pick the spell that messes them up the most. Knowledge skills are crucial for this. So is good scouting, whether by stealthy PCs, minions, or useful spells.

At the bare minimum, know which save you should be targeting.

Also, never depend on just one tactic. Have several ways of messing with the enemy or buffing your friends. If you get predictable the enemy may mess you up a lot.


Against tiny or small flying creatures, a wind wall could work. Control Winds is even more effective for making flying creatures blow away, or force them to land. Against teleporting creatures, Dimensional Anchor will do the trick, though that's not really a BFC spell.

You also have the option of throwing down fogs and stuff. While black tentacles can't fly, I remember reading a thread here which argued that, since they occupy a 20' radius spread, they should be able to reach 20' in the air, as well. Basically, if the spell doesn't need to be on the ground, you can use it against flying creatures. It might not be as effective against flying foes compared to grounded ones, but it will get in their way.


Malignor wrote:

WebLike "black tentacles lite"... same idea, just less powerful or intimidating. Bonus: If you have enemies caught in Web, drop a Fireball in there and they each take an extra 2d4 damage.

I wouldn't recommend using fireball on a web. It destroys the functional purpose of a web since fire removes the web. If you're looking to pick up extra damage the spark cantrip works nicely. It's effectively a 2d4 fire damage with no save for the price of a cantrip which makes it nearly as good as magic missile at early levels.

Web + Spark to create a source of fire followed up by pyrotechnics is pretty brutal.

Both choices on Pyrotechnics are functionally sublime. Smoke Cloud negates ranged attack against you while they're in your web and imparts a -4 penalty to STR/DEX making it harder for them to avoid being grappled each round and thus stuck. Fireworks can effectively blind those that aren't even stuck in your web due to the 120ft area effect; just be sure to tell your comrades to break line of sight to the fire in a language they'll understand that the enemy likely wont before hand. The DC 10 acrobatics check to move faster than half speed or fall prone plus the -4 penalty to STR/DEX and the 50% concealment given to everyone from attacks is nice when combined with web.

While, I love black tentacles I find myself using web more often if I have spark and pyrotechnics memorized.


Nebelwerfer41 wrote:
Zark wrote:
Another fun thing is Black Tentacles or web + stinking could :-), then blast with arrows or lightning ball or Fireball, flamestrike or whatever.
One caveat to the Black Tentacles+Stinking Cloud combo is the secondary effect of the cloud. The spell functions just like Fog Cloud, obscuring vision beyond 5'. Our group learned that last session as we realized we couldn't just pew-pew away from outside the cloud/tentacle zone.

obscuring vision beyond 5 is not a problem when you use spells like lightning ball or even fireball.

Using arrows is up to the DM, but If the foes was grappled before you cast the stinking cloud you know where to aim, but you suffer 50 % mischance.


.


Last week one of my group's players used Black tentacles to rock a hit and run vampire (rogue spring attack with 45foot movement +stealth while moving full speed build). The wizard readied the action to stop the vampire in his tracks when he moved away...then paladin steps up and goes squish. No more vampire (well, now vampire is mist moving towards coffin).

Battlefield control spells...even large area ones like Black tentacles can be awesome against solo monsters too. - Gauss

Silver Crusade

Gauss wrote:

Last week one of my group's players used Black tentacles to rock a hit and run vampire (rogue spring attack with 45foot movement +stealth while moving full speed build). The wizard readied the action to stop the vampire in his tracks when he moved away...then paladin steps up and goes squish. No more vampire (well, now vampire is mist moving towards coffin).

Battlefield control spells...even large area ones like Black tentacles can be awesome against solo monsters too. - Gauss

There are some focused control spells for individual targets, too. Anything that trips or entangles an enemy can set up your allies to attack them more easily. Or you can use walls, fogs, or illusions to make the bad guy go where you want, or stay where you need them to be.

In fact, last week in a PFS game, my sorcerer managed to trip the final bad guy of the adventure, and he was surrounded by 4 allies while he had the -4 AC for being prone. He didn't survive the round, but if he had, I'm sure the AoOs when he stood up would have done him in on his turn.

I think the biggest key to battlefield control is making sure you have allies in position to take advantage of the controlled enemies. A party of 4 control wizards isn't going to kill anything. But one control wizard in a group with at least 2 melee types and other allies can be a huge asset to the team.


A party I was GM for had great success using wall spells as battle field control.

For instance, they were crossing a wide plain and see a large creature approaching in the distance. As it gets closer they realize it is not just large, or huge, but gargantuan. It starts to get close and charges. The wizard dropped a Wall of Force right in front of it. The creature being not very intelligent and the wall being invisible, the creature doesn't wonder why a bunch of little creatures make no effort at all to run away and slams right into the wall and bounces off. Flying archer goes over the top, melee characters go around the left and right for a flank and the creature goes down in a round without getting off a single attack.

Another time a dozen stone giants pop out of holes they had dug in the ground and start pelting the party with boulders. Wizard throws a Wall of Stone on the left, the cleric on the right and all of a sudden no one is taking damage any more. The giants start smashing the walls with their stones, but that is damage that is not being done to the party. Everyone pulls ranged weapons, wizard throws a haste and they fire back, now with cover. Some giants closed for melee, but now they ran around to go through the openings that the casters had left on either side, which funnelled them into the melee types. Again it changed the battle from one where they would be taking tons of damage, to taking no damage. For a while at least.

As for dealing with flying archers. Wall of Stone, make a little stone hut with arrow slits. Done.


Here's the whole point of Battlefield Control.
Imagine the two sides, both with X total offensive potential and some Y damage absorption capacity.
Both sides are going to try to limit the fraction of X that the opposing side can bring to bear. They can do this by battlefield control--that is by working range, concealment, line of sight, physical barriers, summoned monsters, or the like so as to maximize their own fraction of X while minimizing that of their enemy.
If you're in the mood for a geeky treat, I'll provide one
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanchester's_laws
Check out Lanchester's laws of combat..
Grok those and battlefield control will make lots more sense.


Battlefield control is one of those concepts that doesn't seem very easy and isn't. So far, I'm struggling with my own wizard to make it work at our table. It doesn't help that our DM has very good luck rolling saving throws which make many of the Save or Suck spells much less effective then I hoped.

A few blast spells don't hurt when the control fails. Over all, it seems to me that a mix of control and blast might be a better formula then total control, given how a few good saves by the bad guys render many control spells a wasted round.

Dark Archive

Well, save or suck is best if not saving works too. Most of the battlefield control spells also add difficult terrain, which prevents opponents from moving around. Put a caster on grease and life starts to suck, save or not.


Here was a battlefield condition I wasn't expecting to happen. The caster of the group slowed down some cultists with black tentacles but missing the cleric. However the combat guys got up and the druid's companion bull rushed and knocked the cleric back and prone.

So the question is as the GM of this game I ruled it that the black tentacles got another grapple attempt and got +4 on it's grapple due to being prone. Is this the correct ruling?


Jiggy wrote:
Fromper wrote:
Another good first level control spell from Advanced Players Guide (which didn't exist yet when Treantmonk wrote his guide) is Expeditious Excavation. You create 5 foot pits in the middle of the battlefield that everyone has to maneuver around. Create one under an enemy, and even if they make the save to avoid falling prone inside it, they're still forced to move to an adjacent square.

Another way to use it is to create a fox-hole for yourself.

From inside the little 5ft hole:
Move action to stand up.
Standard to activate your wand of magic missile (or whatever).
Free action to go prone, denying your enemies line of sight/effect until they're right next to you.

Rinse and repeat.

I actually discovered this tactic when one of my players tried to use the spell offensively against my wand-wielding baddie. Talk about a backfire. ;)

THIS IS AWESOME...

..but my 3 foot tall (4 Feet if including Hair) Female Gnome Druid can not use this Spell in this way because of the 5 foot hole is too TALL..

Yes my DM would rule it that way.....

FYI.. I guess I could carry a 2 foot step stool and maybe get away with this..


SolidHalo wrote:

Here was a battlefield condition I wasn't expecting to happen. The caster of the group slowed down some cultists with black tentacles but missing the cleric. However the combat guys got up and the druid's companion bull rushed and knocked the cleric back and prone.

So the question is as the GM of this game I ruled it that the black tentacles got another grapple attempt and got +4 on it's grapple due to being prone. Is this the correct ruling?

I would say you did... bull rush is most fun when there is something horrible to knock someone into.

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