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Toppling Magic Missile Spell sucks!


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've used traits like Magical Lineage and feats like Preferred Spell to be able to cast toppling magic missiles all day, every day from level one up, and...it totally sucks!

I've used it approximately 20 times in actual play and I have not been able to trip a SINGLE creature yet! Everything with an appropriate CR seems to have too many legs, happens to be flying, or otherwise has an unbeatable CMD! The 1d20+caster level+casting stat mod just doesn't keep up with the scaling of creatures' and characters' CMD values!

I can't believe I've wasted so many resources on a trap recommendation from these forums. Forums, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER!!!

EDIT: Sorry. Just needed a place to vent.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

CMD is borked.

It's the same reason Tumble is suicide.

People think a system based on a creature's size, str, and BAB somehow accurately represents "martial skill" as if monsters didn't have giant piles of HD for their CR and super high str in return for no class features.

Liberty's Edge

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Yeah, you've pretty much summed up all of my problems with Toppling Spell.

It works okay if you're mainly fighting humans or Medium-sized humanoids, but in every campaign I've played in, we pretty much graduate to mainly opponents who can't be Toppled by mid-levels.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The only way I see it as being good is if (1) you are fighting creatures much weaker than yourself* or if (2) your GM allows one trip attempt PER magic missile bolt against the same creature (mine certainly doesn't).

* At which point one must ask why you are making the investment in the first place.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Target multiple creatures? Would that give you a trip attempt against each of them?

Edit: Ah, won't help if all the enemies are practically untrippable.


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Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:

The only way I see it as being good is if (1) you are fighting creatures much weaker than yourself* or if (2) your GM allows one trip attempt PER magic missile bolt against the same creature (mine certainly doesn't).

* At which point one must ask why you are making the investment in the first place.

As I read the RAW, I'd think each missile gave the attempt, regardless of target.


If it helps, at least as a spellcaster you have plenty of other methods of inflicting penalties / status effects on enemies. Melee classes are far less fortunate.


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Magic users, in my opinion, shouldn't be as good at fighter things as fighters. Not at first level, at any rate.

Here is the bonus for Toppling Spell:

Benefit: The impact of your force spell is strong enough to knock the target prone. If the target takes damage, fails its saving throw, or is moved by your force spell, make a trip check against the target, using your caster level plus your casting ability score bonus (Wisdom for clerics, Intelligence for wizards, and so on). This does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If the check fails, the target cannot attempt to trip you or the force effect in response.

I read it as gaining a trip if a target takes damage, so it would only apply once per hit. Magic missile's schtick is that it hits multiple times, so you would get multiple tries. If I were in a bad mood, I would say once per target, but even then you could point out specific targets for each missile.

Edit: That's why I never post here... I get ninja'ed while I'm trying to make my point of view make sense. :D


blahpers wrote:

Target multiple creatures? Would that give you a trip attempt against each of them?

Edit: Ah, won't help if all the enemies are practically untrippable.

blahpers wrote:
As I read the RAW, I'd think each missile gave the attempt, regardless of target.

I respectfully disagree. The RAW refers to making "a" trip check if the target is damaged, fails its saving throw, or is moved by your force "spell". Nothing about making a check for each effect of the spell.

And it would absolutely help to target multiple creatures. Even in the worst-case scenario where you only succeed on a nat 20 and you only have two missiles, if you're hitting two different critters each time, then you'd expect to get a trip once every ten castings instead of once every twenty.

Edit: I'm assuming that you roll the dice again for a separate trip check against each target.


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Magic users are actually better at it than fighters. Just look at the things being added.

BAB vs. CL
Not all martials have full BAB, all casters basically will have full CL. And there are things like Orange iuon stone to boost CL above your HD; there is no such thing for BAB.

Casting stat vs. attacking stat (usually str)
Martials are more multiple ability dependent and seldom have their attack stat jacked up quite as high as a caster does his casting stat.

Yeah, there's feats to help...that give a cruddy +2 each at best. And the caster can take those himself if he wants, too. And the caster w/ Magic Missile gets to trip up to 5 foes "at highest BAB," the martial won't have that many attacks and only his first is at highest BAB.


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Martials will have + maybe 1/3 to 1/2 level due to weapon focus, magic weapon, rage/favored/smite/weapon training.

10th lvl wizard 10 cl +8 stat maybe = +18.
10th lvl fighter 10 bab + 6 str +2 weapon training +2 wf +3 weapon = +23 (+25 if improved trip).


StreamOfTheSky wrote:

Magic users are actually better at it than fighters. Just look at the things being added.

BAB vs. CL
Not all martials have full BAB, all casters basically will have full CL. And there are things like Orange iuon stone to boost CL above your HD; there is no such thing for BAB.

Casting stat vs. attacking stat (usually str)
Martials are more multiple ability dependent and seldom have their attack stat jacked up quite as high as a caster does his casting stat.

Yeah, there's feats to help...that give a cruddy +2 each at best. And the caster can take those himself if he wants, too. And the caster w/ Magic Missile gets to trip up to 5 foes "at highest BAB," the martial won't have that many attacks and only his first is at highest BAB.

I'm gonna agree with String here.

Martial fighters who typically focus on tripping will have the advantage, simply because in order to make the caster able to trip like a fighter, he has to spend resources (Magical Lineage + Metamagic Feat). Mind you, that's just to get to the same level as the Fighter (True, a generic fighter won't have a 30' reach, but he will be able to trip all day long. This won't often come into play, but still...). The fighter will get to spend that feat and trait on something else, quite possibly something to help improve his ability to trip.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You mean a trip build failed in the long run, like almost every single other trip build does? Shocking.

Also, martials can add their bonuses to-hit from weapons to their trip attempts. Wizards can't. So, you know, any bonus to weapon rolls.

Silver Crusade

to be honest I just bought Bolas for my cleric, the -4 to hit didn't matter much in the long run.
anyways I've seen a trip build done fantasticly with a monk (their built for stuff like that) but I can't quite remember how Joe pulled it off build and feat wise.

I do remember it went somthing like- he runs right at the monster, it swings, he gets to attack as an interrupt, if he scores a hit, he (actually she, a female drow noble) makes a trip attempt which the character almost never failed (buffed up by trip Imp.trip and monk stuff)and on the way down makes an attack of opportunity, it this combo succeeds then the monster does not get to attack.
then the drow monk takes her actual turn, and it usually dies.
there is somthing to say playing beside a powergamer like that who can Solo a Beholder though the character was really hurt afterwards because her trippy combo didn't work.

Silver Crusade

I have a Deep Earth Sorcerer for Pathfinder Society, which gets the Tremor bloodline power at 1st level that does the same trip attack based on sorc level and cha bonus. The advantage is that the sorcerer doesn't have to invest a feat, trait, and spell into it. The disadvantages are the shorter range and the fact that there's no auto-damage from the Magic Missile even when the trip fails.

I've only played him once so far, and at 1st level with 19 cha, I think I succeeded in the trip attempts 2 out of 7 times that adventure. Given how often martial types miss their attacks at 1st level, and given how my dice were rolling that day, I'd say I probably would have hit with a fighter swinging a sword exactly the same number of times with those rolls. When the fighter hits, he does damage. When the sorcerer hits, his allies on the front line have an easier time of it.

So I'd say I got unlucky on the dice that day, but it seems to be worthwhile so far. I'll be curious to see how it scales at higher levels, and how effective it is when I roll better than average instead of having a below average day on the dice like I did. I figure by the time I reach a point of not being able to successfully trip anything, I'll have enough higher level spells per day that I won't have to fall back on this 1st level bloodline power, anyway.


Ravingdork wrote:

The only way I see it as being good is if (1) you are fighting creatures much weaker than yourself* or if (2) your GM allows one trip attempt PER magic missile bolt against the same creature (mine certainly doesn't).

* At which point one must ask why you are making the investment in the first place.

I would add:

...or (3) your campaign involves fighting a lot of humanoid-type enemies.

It's usually the non-humanoid types that have big CMDs (due to size/Str) or outright immunity to tripping (at least at the higher end of CRs).

Silver Crusade

hogarth wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

The only way I see it as being good is if (1) you are fighting creatures much weaker than yourself* or if (2) your GM allows one trip attempt PER magic missile bolt against the same creature (mine certainly doesn't).

* At which point one must ask why you are making the investment in the first place.

I would add:

...or (3) your campaign involves fighting a lot of humanoid-type enemies.

It's usually the non-humanoid types that have big CMDs (due to size/Str) or outright immunity to tripping (at least at the higher end of CRs).

I think this may be why it works for Pathfinder Society, since most of your enemies are either human or undead.

So are things with more than 2 legs untrippable? I didn't know that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Fromper wrote:


So are things with more than 2 legs untrippable? I didn't know that.

They are not immune, but they get a +2 to CMD against bull rush and trip attempts for every leg past two. That can make it extremely hard.


Not untrippable, but they get a massive bonus (I think either +4 or +8 per doubling of legs) that makes them ridiculously hard to trip.

EDIT: Ninja'd by RD, with more accurate information.


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This thread got me thinking..
Would a Sorcerer with the havoc of the society trait (which adds 1 point of force damage to every damaging spell he casts) be able to cast toppling fireballs?

Or better even the often mentioned Sorc 1/wiz x as havoc only has sorc as prereq. but applies to every spell cast?


Crafting a wand of toppling magic missile and a wand of true strike, giving the magic missile one to the familiar and spamming true strike on him ?
Would it work ?

As a side note I would make the attack roll for the 5 missiles once, same as black tentacles.


Ravingdork wrote:

I can't believe I've wasted so many resources on a trap recommendation from these forums. Forums, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER!!!

EDIT: Sorry. Just needed a place to vent.

It's seems mostly to be matter of GMs choice of monsters. Any kind of spells can be trap if the GM uses lots of opponents resistant/immune to specific conditions. Want to play Enchanter? Out of luck, constructs and undeads everywhere. Enervation overpowered? Ouch, constructs and undeads again. Scorching ray sorcerer dealing 2 x 4d6+9 fire damage on 5th level? Small fire elementals.

That said, it's true that the toppling magic missile build is mos effective at lower levels as its CMB scaling if generally worse than CMD scaling. You should have get decent use out of it before 10th level, however, unless your GM really delights in opponents that are hard to trip. Or you just plainly have bad rolls with tha build, like when I send enemies against my party - I have problems of rolling more than 8 when attempting combat maneuver against some of them.


Would it be any better if it was a Fort Save? 10th Level caster with a 22 Int. versus Bestiary I CR 10 creature. Average Fort save is +13

Base 10
Int +6
Spell Focus (Evo) +1
G. Spell Focus (Evo) +1
Magic Missile 1

DC 19 vs +13 Fort Save

Better than a trip attempt. If it was a Reflex save, even better.

I've never been a fan of CMB/CMD, but them the dice we roll with in Pathfinder.


Although the magical lineage/magic missile/trip build looks great on paper. It does not scale well (CMD outpaces it just as Ravingdork described). I would also like to point out that although most of the posts have been positive about this combo, there have been some negative posts and even one guide explaining this exact situation. The better combo is to go for dazing spell with snapdragon fireworks (although this can be completely negated by just a little fire resistance).

My overall feeling is that there is no be all end all combo for a 1st lvl spell with magical lineage. They all have problems.


Umbranus wrote:
Would a Sorcerer with the havoc of the society trait (which adds 1 point of force damage to every damaging spell he casts) be able to cast toppling fireballs?

Clever, but no. Toppling Spell requires the [force] descriptor. Havoc of the Society adds 1 force damage, but does not change the descriptors of the spell in any way.

Highglander wrote:
Crafting a wand of toppling magic missile and a wand of true strike, giving the magic missile one to the familiar and spamming true strike on him ?

I doubt it. Consensus seems to be things like Toppling Spell only use what is specified, not other modifiers. If True Strike's insight bonus worked, then so should morale, circumstance, and other bonuses. It would actually make abilities like this much more interesting and useful as options if that was the case, but I don't think it is.

Grand Lodge

My PFS-Sorcerer has been making great use of the Toppling Spell with his magic missiles. I guess YMMV.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Great use against what targets?

Silver Crusade

As others have said, it may be campaign dependent. It seems to me that Pathfinder Society might favor this combination more than some other campaigns, just because it's a low-mid level campaign, and you face a whole lot of humanoid opponents.

Scarab Sages

StreamOfTheSky wrote:

CMD is borked.

It's the same reason Tumble is suicide.

People think a system based on a creature's size, str, and BAB somehow accurately represents "martial skill" as if monsters didn't have giant piles of HD for their CR and super high str in return for no class features.

This is a very good point.


Morale and circumstance bonuses should add, right? I was unaware of any consensus otherwise. Is there a thread on it? What is the wording of the feat?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've played this character from level 1 (and am now 6th). I've used it numerous times and have not tripped anyone. Not even humanoids. So I don't think it's a scaling issue in my case, at least not level scaling.


Ravingdork wrote:
I've played this character from level 1 (and am now 6th). I've used it numerous times and have not tripped anyone. Not even humanoids. So I don't think it's a scaling issue in my case, at least not level scaling.

Is it a thedicehateyou issue?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Once or twice that seemed to be the case. Doesn't account for 20+ attempts though.

Silver Crusade

Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
I've played this character from level 1 (and am now 6th). I've used it numerous times and have not tripped anyone. Not even humanoids. So I don't think it's a scaling issue in my case, at least not level scaling.
Is it a thedicehateyou issue?

Sounds like it.

Like I said, my sorcerer has the Tremor bloodline power that works the exact same way (CL + casting stat bonus vs CMD), and it worked 2 out of 7 times in my first adventure at level 1, despite rolling below average overall.


I find this type of thing happens quite often....usually in the case of builds and the such that involve CMs. A good part of it does, as people stated, have to do with how your GM runs. I mostly use monsters from the Beastiery...and at higher level most of them are tough to trip and the such. However, if I was using a campaign with a lot of enemy NPCs, it would probably work a lot better.

So, I have started allowing changing of talents for a cost. :) That has kept a few of my players from deciding to reroll out of pure frustration.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I was in Carrion Crown 1, and now half way through 2. For those of you in the know, this should give you an idea of the things I've been facing.


Wow! My Friday campaign is part way through 2, as well. How are you liking it? We are about ready to do the 2nd day of court.

Liberty's Edge

Ravingdork wrote:
I was in Carrion Crown 1, and now half way through 2. For those of you in the know, this should give you an idea of the things I've been facing.

same for me too. I took a trait for cl, preferred spell for +2,and tattoo +1. we just finished book 2 and i may have tripped 2-3 creatures. In part it is the nature of the AP, that cant be helped.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

JCServant (cool handle by the way!, We just finished up the third trial.


We are still in part 1 of Carrion Crown and we have an Evoker among us. I guess I'll have to suggest him that he shouldn't take Toppling Spell at level 5. What metamagic feat should he take instead?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Maerimydra wrote:
We are still in part 1 of Carrion Crown and we have an Evoker among us. I guess I'll have to suggest him that he shouldn't take Toppling Spell at level 5. What metamagic feat should he take instead?

Ectoplasmic Spell


Good call!

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:

I've used traits like Magical Lineage and feats like Preferred Spell to be able to cast toppling magic missiles all day, every day from level one up, and...it totally sucks!

I've used it approximately 20 times in actual play and I have not been able to trip a SINGLE creature yet! Everything with an appropriate CR seems to have too many legs, happens to be flying, or otherwise has an unbeatable CMD! The 1d20+caster level+casting stat mod just doesn't keep up with the scaling of creatures' and characters' CMD values!

I can't believe I've wasted so many resources on a trap recommendation from these forums. Forums, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER!!!

EDIT: Sorry. Just needed a place to vent.

You whole approach is the problem. You've based your strategy on being a one trick pony with a first level spell. That's fine for lowbie casters but it's not a long-term career option. What may be a great BBEG option at first level, becomes something that at best is for the mooks later on.

It's also what you get for relying on people who theorycraft more than they play.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's not the only trick I intend to learn. At 7th I intend to take dazing spell and start using snap dragon, eventually I'll get Spell Perfection in some other spell. If anything, I think I'll be fairly versatile.

It's just that I'm only 6th at the moment, so I only have so many resources to invest. I'm not a one trick pony, I'm just low level (though I can see how you might get the two confused).

The Exchange

CC and TotB are rediculous and many builds are not very effective. I'm starting book 3 this week so I can't comment on it..


We're currently 1/2 way through Council of thieves and I just got around to taking toppling spell. I had a success rate of 50% but mostly due to high roles. I think it's actual success rate is around 25% for an average roll, against creatures that can be tripped.

Since 2nd level spells suck for the most part, I figured I'd just use the spell slots for toppling MM. I don't expect it to hold up much longer. It's still a fun effect when you add Phantasmal Web to the mix.


Ravingdork wrote:
It's not the only trick I intend to learn. At 7th I intend to take dazing spell and start using snap dragon, eventually I'll get Spell Perfection in some other spell. If anything, I think I'll be fairly versatile.

And once you get Quicken Spell (I assume you will take it?) that Magical Lineage (magic missile) will start to shine. Swift action to deal 5d4+4 damage is nice icing on the cake if you happen to have nothing else to do with 4th level spells.


Ravingdork wrote:
Maerimydra wrote:
We are still in part 1 of Carrion Crown and we have an Evoker among us. I guess I'll have to suggest him that he shouldn't take Toppling Spell at level 5. What metamagic feat should he take instead?
Ectoplasmic Spell

What about Rime Spell? It seems like Undeads are no longer immune to cold in Pathfinder.

Rime Spell + Ice Storm seems like a good 5th-level lockdown spell (with no save).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Unless an entanglement effect prevents movement altogether, I find it rarely worthwhile.


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Entangled wrote:

The character is ensnared. Being entangled impedes movement, but does not entirely prevent it unless the bonds are anchored to an immobile object or tethered by an opposing force. An entangled creature moves at half speed, cannot run or charge, and takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and a –4 penalty to Dexterity. An entangled character who attempts to cast a spell must make a concentration check (DC 15 + spell level) or lose the spell.

A -2 penalty on attacks, half speed movement inability to charge, -4 on Dexterity (meaning a -2 on reflex saves and AC) as well as forcing concentration checks doesn't seem like a bad deal to me.

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