Flat-footed and Reflex


Rules Questions


Does anyone know why if you're flat-footed/prone/paralyzed you don't get a penalty to your Reflex save?

Seems weird. I mean if you're paralyzed you have an effective Dex score of 0. So you have a -5 penalty instead of your normal modifier. I guess that's a penalty but IMO you shouldn't even be able to make the save - how can you have reflexes if you can't move???

Liberty's Edge

Reflex saves also represent luck, to a certain extent. At least, that's what I seem to remember from god know's where. The best you're going to get in most cases is half (since evasion doesn't work at 0 dex).


StabbittyDoom wrote:
evasion doesn't work at 0 dex.

well that at least makes sense.


Since paralysis specifically says the character can only take purely mental actions, if I were the GM I'd rule they automatically fail any Reflex save. Seems kind of hard to dodge out of the way when you can't move. However, I'm a bit of a hard nose sometimes.

As far as RAW, I don't think it actually calls this out specifically.


A character can never be denied a saving throw. Situational penalties {for having an effective 0 dexterity, for instance} may apply, and certain effects may cause the saving throw to automatically fail {and they will specifically say so}, but the saving throw is never denied. {An automatic failure, while effectively the same, is not actually the same as a denied saving throw.}

Saving throws represent many types of resistance, including luck {as previously mentioned}, mental toughness {even in the case of reflex and fort saves} and other mitigating factors. It is possible to resist that fireball while you're lying on the ground paralyzed. Perhaps you happened to fall under your shield or behind that big rock. Doesn't matter really.

You can modify a saving throw... you can even have an automatic failure, but you can never take the saving throw away completely.

At least, this is how I have always interpreted it.


Ezh Darkstrider wrote:
{An automatic failure, while effectively the same, is not actually the same as a denied saving throw.

"You don't get a saving throw."

"You get a saving throw, but no matter what, you'll fail."

Not really seeing the difference.

:)


In case it matters, a character can willingly give up a saving throw and accept the consequences. So, never say never.


By RAW, the only time you cannot make a saving throw (by either definition) is when the RAW explicitly says so.

Flat-footed does not say so.
Paralysis does not say so.

Therefore neither of those conditions prevents you from attempting a normal Reflex save. And neither of those conditions even cause a penalty to the save (although the reduced DEX comes with a built-in penalty).

That's RAW.

On the other hand, evocation magic (or more generally, magic that does HP damage and usually allows a REF save) is pretty much the weakest kind of magic in the game. In 1e, the biggest toughest dragon could be slain by a high level wizard in 2-4 lightning bolts that beat the magic resistance. Today in Pathfinder, it would take about 20-40 lightning bolts to kill that same dragon. HP inflation has killed direct-damage spells.

So I wouldn't object to any houserules that let those poor worthless evokers get their maximum damage more often; they need all the help they can get.


knightofstyx wrote:
In case it matters, a character can willingly give up a saving throw and accept the consequences. So, never say never.

Hah, comedian Hal Sparks has a good response to people who say "never say never" but it's not really repeatable on these forums...

(if you have HBO, look for his 1-hour special called Charmageddon)


DM_Blake wrote:
knightofstyx wrote:
In case it matters, a character can willingly give up a saving throw and accept the consequences. So, never say never.

Hah, comedian Hal Sparks has a good response to people who say "never say never" but it's not really repeatable on these forums...

(if you have HBO, look for his 1-hour special called Charmageddon)

I'm all about some good stand-up. I'll check that out.


I thougt I`d weigh in here,
that firstly I agree with reasonable measures when Paralysis is in play.

The main problem I see with ¨Flatfooted¨ is that it applies at the beginning of any encounter,
and more importantly, would seem to apply when you encounter a Trap of some sort.
I think penalizing Reflex Saves in that case would be going against the intent of the game, since the DC of Reflex Save Traps is assuming the Core Rules, i.e. there not being a penalty to Reflex Saves just for being Flat-Footed.

If you DID implement such a rule, the DCs for Reflex Save Traps should logically be adjusted down by some amount (¨average¨ expected DEX mod for PCs) to keep the difficulty similar.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yeah; you still get Reflex saves pretty much always. Even if you're tied up and staked to the ground you'd get a Reflex save. The GM is perfectly within his rights to assign some significant penalties to the save in situations like this, of course, and lots of pre-existing conditions and situations like that have Reflex save penalties built in. But there's not really any condition or situation that automatically denies a Reflex save. Denying that would be weird, like saying "this attack is SO accurate that it never misses, or SO deadly that it automatically reduces you to negative hit points." Allowing a Reflex save is part of how the game keeps things balanced and fun.

Now, as for the concept that evocation magic is the "weakest magic in the game," I fundamentally disagree. I see this opinion pop up often, and in my opinion it's hardly the weakest magic in the game... especially given the right situation. Evocation magic is weird—it's effects are VERY dramatic, with bolts of lightning and fiery explosions and all sorts of really "expensive special effects" style things going on. To the extent that I think that folks get a bit overexcited about anticipating how much damage that should do. In fact, evocation is VERY effective at doing damage, but it's MOST effective at doing lots of damage spread out among multiple foes. It's better to have a fireball handy when you're facing a dozen weaker targets than one big target. Evocation isn't really intended to be the type of magic you should specialize in if what you want is to be the "hero/star" of the show that really takes the big damage totals to the single boss monster. Evocation is more like "damage support" than focused damage, in other words. Being the guy who clears out the annoying pest minion type monsters and NOT being the guy who steps up and takes down the giant boss monster is more the evoker's role, honestly, and a lot of people don't seem to realize that.

And that said, evocation can be FURTHER nerfed by poor GM habit, in the same way in 3rd edition you could nerf a rogue by using too many constructs and undead against the party. Evocation relies VERY heavily on energy damage, and there's a lot of monsters with SR, energy resistance, or energy immunity out there. And since the evoker's spells are so flashy and attention-getting, they really easily attract the GM's attention and, I think, cause the GM to overcompensate. If you have an evoker in your game and you keep throwing monsters built to resist or even negate that evoker's primary damage dealing capabilities, that's poor GMing. You need to vary things out a bit if you know you have a fire wizard in your group. Hell; give him some creatures with fire vulnerability now and then to give him a chance to shine! The game is as much about giving your friends some fun times as it is about challenging them, after all.

Liberty's Edge

*points out that this is a fantasy game*

*points out that people are trying to use our-world logic*

*points out that saving throws are a balancing factor for the game*

*thanks everyone for reading his post*

*leaves*


@James Jacobs:

Second Darkness Campaign:
Air elemental sorcerers are next to useless in this AP. It seems like everything is immune/resistant to electricity.

@Austin Morgan: Why so pointy?


There have always been a few things in the RAW that make for a fun, exciting, and quickly-played game, but when analyzed under the microscope of "reality" don't make a lick of sense. Part of that is to keep the game...well, fun, exciting and quickly played, but part of that is because "reality" is NOT fantasy and reality can't be very well summed up in a set of rules and dice rolls.

That said, it really doesn't make sense for someone to get a Reflex save "if you're tied up and staked to the ground." Nor does it make sense for someone to fall 10 miles out of the sky onto solid concrete and take an average of 70 HP damage (20d6). Nor does swinging a sword only once every six seconds. Nor does standing and fighting in full strength a 1 HP, taking 2 pts damage, falling unconcious, receiving 2 pts healing, and jumping back up into the fight at full strength.

Meh...since I just got ninja'd, I'll simply repeat: 1)it's a fantasy game, 2) RL logic doesn't always apply, and 3) saving throws are a balancing factor.


Let's talk about that a bit

James Jacobs wrote:
Now, as for the concept that evocation magic is the "weakest magic in the game," I fundamentally disagree. I see this opinion pop up often, and in my opinion it's hardly the weakest magic in the game... especially given the right situation.

Well, to be fair, just about anything is useful "given the right situation". Unfortunately, the right situation is rare for the damage spellcaster.

James Jacobs wrote:
Evocation magic is weird—it's effects are VERY dramatic, with bolts of lightning and fiery explosions and all sorts of really "expensive special effects" style things going on. To the extent that I think that folks get a bit overexcited about anticipating how much damage that should do.

Maybe.

But that's not how I evaluate it. I'm not a mage fan-boy who wants wizards to one-shot everything because they're flashy (I know, you didn't say that I was).

What I want is a good deal of game balance. I don't want my players advising each other not to prepare evocation spells because they are weak. I want my bad guys to put evocation spells to good use. I want to feel like casting a direct-damage spell is a good way for an enemy spellcaster to spend his turn in combat.

Currently, I want those things but damage spells don't work that way.

James Jacobs wrote:
In fact, evocation is VERY effective at doing damage, but it's MOST effective at doing lots of damage spread out among multiple foes. It's better to have a fireball handy when you're facing a dozen weaker targets than one big target.

Fireball is the quintessential damage spell. It's the top dog, the Little Boy and the Fat Man of evocation. And as you said, given the right situation, it can be both spectacular and useful.

But I must say, in several APs, several more separate adventures, and much homebrew games, I've hardly ever faced "a dozen" weaker targets at once. When I have, they're hardly ever all grouped into a handy 40' circle. Even then, many of them save for half and survive and someone has to spend their round mopping them up - or I use a 2nd fireball next round.

Let's face it, 5d6 is sweet against a dozen orcs, but how many 5th level characters face a dozen orcs? 5d6 against a dozen gnolls or a dozen hobgoblins might leave a few still standing. And it's possible that 5d6 against a dozen bugbears will leave them all standing if the damage dice come out just a little below average.

And fireball is the spell to beat. Other damage spells fall way short. Lightning bolt does the same damage but it's almost impossible to get more than three enemies at once without the mage sticking his neck into the front lines to find the perfect shot, exposing him to severe retailiation - even then he won't ever get a dozen monsters to line up in single file, unless "given the right situation" in a long, straight, narrow dungeon corridor.

Sadly, spells like Haste (unless you're a solo wizard with no allies to group with) are infinitely more useful.

James Jacobs wrote:
Evocation isn't really intended to be the type of magic you should specialize in if what you want is to be the "hero/star" of the show that really takes the big damage totals to the single boss monster.

No, of course not. I wholly agree. It's extremely difficult for a wizard to be the rock star of a boss battle no matter what he does, which is fine because I would prefer a team effort to a one-man-show when taking down bosses.

But sadly, evocation is no way to fight the boss monster at all. Everyone else in the group will do more damage each round than the wizard, no matter which evocation spells he chooses. If a wizard uses nothing but evocation in a boss fight, will not only fail to be the rock star, he will be the red-headed step child of the group, the guy who contributes the least.

James Jacobs wrote:
Evocation is more like "damage support" than focused damage, in other words. Being the guy who clears out the annoying pest minion type monsters and NOT being the guy who steps up and takes down the giant boss monster is more the evoker's role, honestly, and a lot of people don't seem to realize that.

I completely agree. This is the role of the evoker. But even at that, if he's not "given the right situation" it will take him several rounds to achieve that. Any other class can likely do it in the same number of rounds, especially if the wizard supports them with spells like Haste, Enlarge Person, Bull's Strength, etc. Even better, those spells will still be in effect when the pest minions are gone, and the group will be more successful against the boss with those still in place.

James Jacobs wrote:
And that said, evocation can be FURTHER nerfed by poor GM habit, in the same way in 3rd edition you could nerf a rogue by using too many constructs and undead against the party.

I fully agree with this. DM's should not single out any character and design adventures around a concept that marginalizes that character.

James Jacobs wrote:
Evocation relies VERY heavily on energy damage, and there's a lot of monsters with SR, energy resistance, or energy immunity out there.

All the more reason that non-evocation spells are much more desirable. There is almost never a requirement for "given the right situation" for a Haste spell.

James Jacobs wrote:
And since the evoker's spells are so flashy and attention-getting, they really easily attract the GM's attention and, I think, cause the GM to overcompensate.

Not any GM I know of (we have 3 in my current group, plus several more I've gamed with recently).

In fact, it's the SOD/SOS spells that get the DM's attention. I personally know a couple GMs that I refuse to prepare such spells in their campaigns, because in important "boss" fights, the enemies always save (behind the DM screen). Always. Some DMs just hate to see a well-placed Hold Person take down their lovingly-created arch-villain on the first round...

James Jacobs wrote:

If you have an evoker in your game and you keep throwing monsters built to resist or even negate that evoker's primary damage dealing capabilities, that's poor GMing. You need to vary things out a bit if you know you have a fire wizard in your group. Hell; give him some creatures with fire vulnerability now and then to give him a chance to shine! The game is as much about giving your friends some fun times as it is about challenging them, after all.

Agreed wholeheartedly.

With a side caveat: Some DMs really like the no-prep approach. Buy an AP, run the group through it. In fact, to some degree, that's Paizo's bread and butter. You make more money off of those DMs than you do off of Homebrew DMs. Sure, some of them tweak those pre-gen adventures, but some don't. Maybe that's still bad DMing, but it is out there, so I thought it worth a footnote.


There`s also Evocation spells that do more than just HP damage...


Quandary wrote:
There`s also Evocation spells that do more than just HP damage...

Yes, yes, that's why I tried to use terms like "direct-damage" and "damage spells" and not make my post about "evocation" or "evokers" since other classes can use damage spells too.


I should point out that in 1st Edition, a huge ancient red dragon was only an 11 HD creature, with 88 HP, no MR, but made it's saves as a 22HD creature. However, since monsters made saves as fighters, and the table for fighters topped out at level 17, that still leaves you needing a 6 or better.

What does all this mean? That comparing 1st edition to today's game is pretty pointless. Classes don't compare, levels don't compare, monsters don't compare, and even the table to use when rolling your d20 is long gone.

But if you check p80 of your DMG, you will find a nice little section addressing the issue of getting a save against red dragon breath, even though you are chained to a rock. The answer - "Why not?".

Comparing the numbers with OG D&D= pointless.
Comparing the theory with OG D&D= perfect.

PS If you can't make good use of spells like shocking grasp, scorching ray, fireball and disintegrate (trans), then, "you're doing it wrong." Not to mention evocation like gust of wind and that sphere spell that traps people.

Sovereign Court

One has to look at direct damage dealing spells, especially evocation as Heavy Artillery. You use artillery to soften targets, then its the job of infantry to clean up. If the meat shields are in comabat and a wave of new monsters appears, calling in a Fireball or Lightning Bolt strike as the front line pulls back is about working tactically as a team.

It really easy for players to nerf their Evoker teammates by not coordinating tactics during a fight. If the heavy fighter doesn't want to pull away from the front line to allow a well placed spell than he's the one to blame for the Evoker in the group not shining. Of course in my group we quite often call in strikes on top of characters with evasion like the monk or rogue, or PC's with the Ring of Evasion.

--Vrocket Launcher tag


Thanks for all the responses, and to JJ for throwing in.

I appreciate that it's a 'balancing factor' and yes, it is a fantasy game, but that doesn't mean that the rules of gravity don't apply (and differently depending on the plane you're on) or that people magically evade a fireball whilst being unable to move. I simply can't concile with that kind of logic. In my games if you can't move you don't get a Reflex save (or auto-fail, if you prefer).

As to the issue of Evokers being 'worthless', I've seen this a lot lately, and i agree that the prevalence of energy-resistant creatures dampens the ability to deal damage.

Council of Thieves Spoiler:
Last game, however our party (Crusader/Cleric, Rogue/Swordsage, and myself, a Master Specialist Evoker; average character lvl 11) took on an army of thieves, ogres, ogre magi, and fire, stone and cloud giants.

I wiped them. It cost some gold in scrolls (I bought 2 Meteor Swarms) but in 6 rounds they were gone. And the resistance thing goes both ways, too. Okay, Fire Giants are immune to fire, so I didn't use the Meteor Swarms on them, instead using Cone of Cold knowing that if they're immune to fire, they have vulnerability to cold. 6 rounds later I still had 80% of my spells left, hadn't been hit, (I had Greater Invisibility on while I flew overhead) and they were decimated. So...worhtless? I don't think so, but every mage has their place, IMO.


Tanis wrote:


** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:

Our GM didn't change that encounter.

We had an evocation wizard, a sorceror, an oracle with wall of fire and an artifact.

I think the arcanists killed maybe 80% of that encounter in three rounds. 5% was from the melee, 5% was from the oracle's wall of fire, and 10% was from finally being able to outrange the Morrowfall's sunburst area of effect and using it for the first time.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Rules Questions / Flat-footed and Reflex All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.