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Can a monster without hands cast spells with somatic components?


Rules Questions


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

Can a monster without hands cast spells with somatic components, such as by pawing at the ground or by substituting other kinds of bodily movement appropriate to their form?

It is my understanding that creatures with innate spellcasting (such as dragons or nagas) can do so. However I am not referring to those, but rather to monsters with spellcasting class levels, such as a hell hound cleric, a giant eagle ranger, or a blink dog sorcerer.


Not a rule-encyclopedia myself but I would say yes, based on this;

PRD wrote:

Natural Spell

You can cast spells even while in a form that cannot normally cast spells.

Prerequisites: Wis 13, wild shape class feature.

Benefit: You can complete the verbal and somatic components of spells while using wild shape. You substitute various noises and gestures for the normal verbal and somatic components of a spell.

The emphasized part seem to indicate that such a thing exist within the rules, but that humanoids must rely on a feat when they change their dextrous hands and elaborated larynx/tongue/lips for something more animal-like. I would think that an animals/creatures with the intellect for learning magic would learn how to use their own body as substitution without having to rely on a feat, unless they change into another form different from their "natural" shape.


So they would need an Unnatural Spell feat to complete the verbal and somatic components of spells while in a form with speech and hands?


Ravingdork wrote:

Can a monster without hands cast spells with somatic components, such as by pawing at the ground or by substituting other kinds of bodily movement appropriate to their form?

It is my understanding that creatures with innate spellcasting (such as dragons or nagas) can do so. However I am not referring to those, but rather to monsters with spellcasting class levels, such as a hell hound cleric, a giant eagle ranger, or a blink dog sorcerer.

RD we had this discussion before when the blink dog came out. The answer is that yes, they can. I remember you getting upset because some of the posters were mocking you for a strict adherence to the rules. SKR, IIRC, had to come in to say they could before you let it drop. If it was not him then it was another dev.


Yes, I know the developers' intent on the matter. However, this thread is meant to discern the RAW the supports that intent (which is why I put it in the rules forum).

If RAW doesn't support the intent of the rules, then doesn't it stand to reason it could use a FAQ or small errata to bring it all into line?


Quote:
To cast a spell, you must be able to speak (if the spell has a verbal component), gesture (if it has a somatic component), and manipulate the material components or focus (if any). Additionally, you must concentrate to cast a spell.
Quote:
When you cast a polymorph spell that changes you into a creature of the animal, dragon, elemental, magical beast, plant, or vermin type, all of your gear melds into your body. Items that provide constant bonuses and do not need to be activated continue to function while melded in this way (with the exception of armor and shield bonuses, which cease to function). Items that require activation cannot be used while you maintain that form. While in such a form, you cannot cast any spells that require material components (unless you have the Eschew Materials or Natural Spell feat), and can only cast spells with somatic or verbal components if the form you choose has the capability to make such movements or speak, such as a dragon.

It seems that according to these two quotes you only need to be able to gesture, and that as long as the form can move the gesture should be possible.

While most humanoids use their hands for the gesture, and the book is written from a humanoid perspective it seems that the rules do account for other forms also.

edit:The only restriction by RAW is not being able to use material components, but Eschew Materials takes care of that.


Thanks Wraithstrike. That's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

Do you know if there is any other supporting rules?


Back in 3.5, I made up a villain out of a manticore sorcerer. The first time the party encountered him, I made sure to describe him making all sorts of weird gestures with his paws and his tail. They actually appreciated the creativity going into it.

Thing is, it's magic. Yes, humanoids gesture a certain way with what they've got, but it stands to reason there's more than one way to skin a cat. And so, non-humanoids might be able to produce the same effects with their own natural gestures.

Just like there are different languages in the world. Or the way two differently formatted keyboards can be used to produce the same words.


v3.5 rules clearly stated you had to have humanoid hands, unless you were casting spells innately, in which case you could substitute other forms of body movements. Those rules, along with the intent behind them, seem to have gone in Pathfinder.

I'm considering statting out a giant eagle druid, and am simply curious to know what kind of feats he may need in order to maintain spellcasting.


That is all I could find, unless some of the dev quotes in the other thread also support it.


As far as I can ascertain from the Dev quotes, you do not need hands unless you are a humanoid. Other creatures can substitute different movements appropriate to their form. However, if said creature or character shifted forms (say a humanoid to a snake, or a blink dog sage to a humanoid) than they would need a feat or similar ability to pull off somatic spellcasting (such as Natural Spell).


Eschew materials for one. The information I posted should cover the somatic components. Once you get to level 5 natural spell should cover you. Now you are thinking "natural spell" only cover me when I am using wild shape. To that I say "use it to change into a giant eagle" since the wildshape version of you can use the feat.


Ravingdork wrote:
As far as I can ascertain from the Dev quotes, you do not need hands unless you are a humanoid. Other creatures can substitute different movements appropriate to their form. However, if said creature or character shifted forms (say a humanoid to a snake, or a blink dog sage to a humanoid) than they would need a feat or similar ability to pull off somatic spellcasting (such as Natural Spell).

In that case I would go by what the book says...:)

Paizo Employee Developer

Ravingdork wrote:

Can a monster without hands cast spells with somatic components, such as by pawing at the ground or by substituting other kinds of bodily movement appropriate to their form?

It is my understanding that creatures with innate spellcasting (such as dragons or nagas) can do so. However I am not referring to those, but rather to monsters with spellcasting class levels, such as a hell hound cleric, a giant eagle ranger, or a blink dog sorcerer.

You brought this up a while back. There are over 200 posts on the original thread (before it got locked) and the question was answered back then.


Adam it is easier if you just say yes. :)


You seemed to have missed the point of this thread, dear Adam. We are discussing RAW, not RAI. Totally different subject matter.


Ravingdork wrote:
As far as I can ascertain from the Dev quotes, you do not need hands unless you are a humanoid. Other creatures can substitute different movements appropriate to their form. However, if said creature or character shifted forms (say a humanoid to a snake, or a blink dog sage to a humanoid) than they would need a feat or similar ability to pull off somatic spellcasting (such as Natural Spell).

So is that a yes? (Enough about you, what about me.)


RAW it seems to be a yes, but there is some GM Fiat involved as the GM will have to decide if a creature is capable of making the gestures.


I'm referring to my question, not his. Ergo my little joke. ;)

Fredrik wrote:
So they would need an Unnatural Spell feat to complete the verbal and somatic components of spells while in a form with speech and hands?


Well if you want to take a really literal RAW interpretation (something I'm usually against but this is your party), page 213 of the Core Book says:

"A somatic component is a measured and precise movement of the hand. You must have at least one hand free to provide a somatic component."

By that definition: no hands, no spell. In that light, even Natural Spell specifically lets those who normally use hands not use them.

One other thing that might be worth considering is that if you're giving non-humanoids class levels they still have to abide by things like material components and focus components. While there's nothing RAW that says they can't manipulate these things, it might stretch suspension of disbelief. That might seem trivial but the RAW at least imply the accepted laws of physics where some things would be difficult, if not impossible without opposable thumbs. Of course, Eschew Materials could be a big help.


I think for the purposes of our own games I am going to assume that the Core rulebook was written with humanoids in mind and that bestial spellcasters may need Eschew Materials unless casting innately (rather than through class levels).

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