Invisible combat


Rules Questions


Okay, so I've read through the rules and I've tried browsing through some of the threads around here but I'm not sure on how to rule on invisibility in my game. Here is the situation: An 8th level sorcerer with greater invisibility walks up to a group of 4 lvl 12 guards sitting in fron tof a 20 ft wide gate and lobs a fireball in the middle of them. He then takes a move action at half speed to move over to the side and attempts to stealth while moving. His stealth modifier is 4 (3 ranks, 1 dex). He rolls a 10, so the DC for the guards to even notice him is 10 + 4 + 20 = 34 and the DC to pinpoint the square he is in, they would need a 34 + 20 = 54. A couple of the guards, who are well trained for guard duty have a 17 perception check (12 max ranks + 3 class + 2 wisdom) - the others are less trained and have a 13. So the two guards with the best perception check would need to roll above a 17 to even NOTICE the presence of a creature in the area and have no chance of pinpointing the sorcerer, and the other 2 guards are completely useless. What is to prevent the sorcerer from doing this for the next 4 turns lobbing more fireballs into the area with impunity?

I would like to rule that the sorcerer is ruled as "in combat" so he takes a -20 penalty, bringing his DCs to 14 and 34 to notice and pinpoint... but the player argues that the sorcerer is no longer casting or doing anything obvious at the end of the round, so the biggest penalty he would take is the -5 for moving half speed, leaving his DCs at 29 and 49...

Help! I'm not sure how I can prevent a single 8th level sorcerer from wiping the floor with an encounter worthy of a group of lvl 14 adventurers.

Additionally, I'm a big fan of turning around player tactics and doing the same thing back to them, but I have a feeling everyone is going to cry foul as soon as they realize they're getting wrecked by a single sorcerer several levels below them.


Does he have silent spell?


1) What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If the sorcerer can use greater invisibility to nuke people, so can enemy sorcerers. Turnabout is fair play. If they cry, that's fine. Maybe they'll learn an important lesson: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And the sorcerer declared he wanted to be blasted with random fireballs by unseen sorcerers out of nowhere.

2) To the larger issue: I'd say that combat started. Damage was rolled, saves were rolled. The initial fireball could be considered to have occured in the surprise round. After that, the guards could actively search the area (making Perception checks), go get help, move apart to minimize the effects of further attacks, etc. I mean, seriously, the guards just got injured by what anyone would guess is a spell effect. How ISN'T it combat? What the sorcerer is doing has become moot.

Yes, he's protected with greater invisibility. But again, fireballs are freaking obvious. People would immediately be looking for the source of the attack, so he should be taking some penalties as the guards are now extra-alert (and crispy).

My main question: why are there 4 12th level guards with no means to detect invisibility?


vip00 wrote:
He rolls a 10, so the DC for the guards to even notice him is 10 + 4 + 20 = 34 and the DC to pinpoint the square he is in, they would need a 34 + 20 = 54.

I don't see how invisibility makes him harder to HEAR.

Likewise if he's moving I don't see how invisibility is giving him a -40 to his stealth check as you are imposing.

I think that the DC is 34 to pinpoint the square that he's in, but I haven't double checked everything so I could be wrong here.

Towards the level 8 defeating the group of level 12s.. what gear do the 12s have? The spread out so only one can be fireballed at a time, ready actions to fire at the location the fireball comes from/or where they pinpoint hearing the casting. That's without gear.. with it they of course do much better.

-James


He does not have silent spell and we have established that the guards automatically identify the square that the spell was cast in, but they would need those checks that I described to figure out where the sorcerer could have gone afterwards. This is the crux of the player's argument... If the guards try to find him by focusing on his "combat noise" they would identify the square from which he cast his spell, rather than the square he ended up in. I found nothing in the rules to contradict that, and it seems to make sense from a reasoning point of view... "Hey, I heard some noise coming from this square! A fireball came out of it! Quick! Get it!"

This is a relatively low magic campaign, and these guards are guarding a trade road that happens to get raided a lot by orcs and brigands, neither of which tend to use a lot of invisibility, so they don't have a wizard sitting around or large quantities of dust of appearance.

My concern for the turnaround is that I don't want to "punish" the rest of the party for one person's tactics. Realistically, it's a valid tactic to start with, so if I wanted to, I could wipe out a lvl 12 party by sending 2 lvl 9 sorcerors with fly and see invisibility precast, who cast greater invisbility and then ambush the party, one casts black tentacles, other casts fireball. Both fireball in the second round (fireball's radius matches black tentacles nicely and grappled drops reflex save by 2), then clean up any survivors with a couple scorching rays. I doubt the party would even get a chance to TRY and find the attackers. (EL would be about 13: 11 for the 2 lvl 9 sorcerors + 2 for favorable terrain/ambush element), but I don't see that as being very sporting. I'm just looking for reasonable ways to deal with the situation.


I really don't think it matters where she is or what she does 6 seconds later to have noticed her being there, seeing as where the fireballs come from they might have a fairly good idea where she was just before.

pinpointing is nearly impossible though, especially with the range of attack fireball affords, Lathiira makes a good point though, but I am assuming it is a hypothetical question.

honestly the level 12 guards can't do anything, many creatures wont be able to do anything against a flying caster either, take things like this into account and prepare counters to common tactics.. though I am not sure why the sorcerer would want to cast fireballs repeatedly at guards that dont even see her, it seems they have little trouble sneaking past them instead, needlesly killing guards in blasts of flame will be at least a little evil.


james maissen wrote:
vip00 wrote:
He rolls a 10, so the DC for the guards to even notice him is 10 + 4 + 20 = 34 and the DC to pinpoint the square he is in, they would need a 34 + 20 = 54.

I don't see how invisibility makes him harder to HEAR.

Likewise if he's moving I don't see how invisibility is giving him a -40 to his stealth check as you are imposing.

I think that the DC is 34 to pinpoint the square that he's in, but I haven't double checked everything so I could be wrong here.

Towards the level 8 defeating the group of level 12s.. what gear do the 12s have? The spread out so only one can be fireballed at a time, ready actions to fire at the location the fireball comes from/or where they pinpoint hearing the casting. That's without gear.. with it they of course do much better.

-James

Well here's the basic rules from the invisibility table: Using Stealth - Stealth check +20. Additionally, "It's practically impossible (+20 DC) to pinpoint an invisible creature's location with a Perception check." So there's the Stealth + 40 calculation.

The guards have gear just like you'd expect... They're lvl 12 warriors with 16,350 gp worth of gear as per table 14-9 in the core rulebook. They have +1 or +2 weapons, +3 or so armor or shields, belts of str/dex/con, a few relatively useful potions, and some basic food and similar gear.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Whats the ground like? Could you use survival to track him since the guards knew where the fireball was cast from? How about having the guards throw around sand or marbles? Mundane answers to your magical problems! :D Also, as a prepared action the guards can throw sand or something similar when he casts his next fireball setting it off prematurely, maybe you can burn the caster with his own spell.


vip00 wrote:

Well here's the basic rules from the invisibility table: Using Stealth - Stealth check +20. Additionally, "It's practically impossible (+20 DC) to pinpoint an invisible creature's location with a Perception check." So there's the Stealth + 40 calculation.

The guards have gear just like you'd expect... They're lvl 12 warriors with 16,350 gp worth of gear as per table 14-9 in the core rulebook. They have +1 or +2 weapons, +3 or so armor or shields, belts of str/dex/con, a few relatively useful potions, and some basic food and similar gear.

I don't think that it's Stealth +40, rather that it's Stealth+20 as stated in the table that you're taking it from. You're mixing and matching here is the problem imho.

As to the gear.. they quaff potions and deal with the caster.

Two fan out drawing ranged weapons and ready attacks into the square that they hear the casting come from...

Depending upon the distance involved, the other two can ready to charge (partial charge) on hearing casting or do as their compatriots with ranged weapons.

They all sound the alarm that the town is under attack. They let loose the dogs who's scent pinpoints the sorcerer's square. The fighters and dogs surround that square, the fighters' blindfight feats gives them each a 75% chance to hit each time with grapple attempts and then the 8th level sorcerer wishes that he had chosen dimension door rather than greater invisibility as his 4th level spell known.

Now all that said, why are their 12th level guards?? Make them like 3rd level and all die in the fireball.. now the alarm happens and the sorcerer gets a few rounds of being invisible while the high level leaders prep and search for him.

I guess I don't see the problem. If you have high level NPCs doing low level tasks, don't give them resources to deal with mid level obstacles then yeah things are going to be out of whack. You made them out of whack, so why complain?

-James


reasonable is just to have them die, run away, hide or seek cover from something they can't fight, this is a problem with casters in a low magic campaign, if the ability to counter magic is rare it becomes so much more powerful.

I am curious as to why the player feels the need to fireball some guards..

I do not see a problem with having the player win this if it is a fair tactic according to you, neither would I think it is much of a challenge so not really worth much exp, they likely do not have alot of wealth to loot with them either and presumably no or nearly no magic with them and some of what they might have will be burned to crisps.

Anyone posting the 4 guards there will not be happy finding a fireball ravaged landscae and 4 of his best soldiers dead, so that might get the players into trouble of their own, just flow with it.

In mechanics, best chance is to spread out and ready action to charge or shoot whenever they hear the sorcerer.

You are right with the DC of 54 for perception, however when the sorcerer is casting he is not using stealth, have the guards ready an action and get their bows out. The DC when she starts casting will be DC 20 + 20 to pinpoint + 1 for every 10 feet further away than 30 feet - 20 for combat / speaking which will set the dc at 20 + the distance modifier for that one shot 100 feet away will give you dc 27, though you still have a 50% misschance even then.

Note, it is still close to a hopeless fight unless the sorcerer makes a bad mistake, with silent spell the guards would have had no chance to pinpoint her.


Is the sorcerer waiting for his turn in the initiative order to make another attack? Did the sorcerer just make an attack in the initiative order? Yes, and yes, right? This sorcerer is clearly IN COMBAT. I don't think his argument holds and water. He cannot simply declare that because he is no longer casting and no longer moving that he is now 'not in combat'.

'Not in combat' was that state that existed before his first attack, when he was sneaking up on them unaware. The guards were guarding, moving around, perhaps being a little bored. Now that they are clearly under attack, their senses are honed and they are bending there entire will to finding this invisible creature that is killing them. This is what results in the 20 modifier. Keep in mind that casting a spell with a verbal component can be heard fairly easily at close ranges, and that the spell effect itself {which originates from his current square} is NOT invisible, and seasoned {12th level} guards will know that there is only SO FAR a caster can move after he drops the fireball on them.

Your ruling was, in my opinion, correct. It just makes sense; after all, one improved invisibility spell should not, in and of itself, be that over-powering. One 8th level sorcerer should not be able to wipe out 4 12th level guards without even the threat of reprisal. Let common sense prevail. You have it right; even without the fact that you are the GM.

If you want to eliminate this argument in the future, I would suggest that you clearly define the term 'In Combat' as you and your players are concerned. For instance, any time initiative is being counted, and characters are waiting for their turn to take an action, they are considered 'In Combat', but you will know what will work best for your group.

<This post was lost, but miraculously came back to me, so I thought I would post it. It was written before anyone else had responded to the OP.>


Thank you, Ezh Darkstrider, that was the kind of reasoning I was looking for. Mundane solutions is essentially what the situation in the game reverted to (throwing sand, readying actions against casting), but in the end the guards ran after they realized that with a 50% miss chance even if they could pinpoint the sorcerer, it would take a few rounds to take down the caster and they did not know what level she was.

For everyone asking for motivation, etc... the problem is that the situation is more complicated than I explained, I misrepresented it to make it simpler. The guards were hired and posted by one of the players in the game to defend a bridge on a key trading route against orcish raids which were being provoked by a rival nation - aiming to cripple the economy in the area. The sorcerer trying to sneak in and fireball the place was an agent of the rival nation (NPC played by the GM). So my concern as a player was the fact that the GM could just as easily try and wipe out the party as he did with the guards and I am looking for ways to prevent it. We do not have an arcane caster in the party, so our options are somewhat limited.


Just to let you know about what one of my former characters did (mind you this was waaaay back in 2nd edition, but it still applies for situations like this).

I had a character with no magical abilities and who got rocked a couple times by magicians with tricks and I came up with ways around it. My character had Cooking, which now you could take as Profession (chef) or whatever sounds interesting as a backstory. She constantly carried pepper, salt, flour, water and other stuff around with her. Cast iron skillets are good emergency weapons. Flour is one really good way to find invisible stuff. If you can figure out about where they are, explode a bag of flour and they'll suddenly be visible. Pepper is a good backup distraction. Blow it in somebody's face and they'll be annoyed usually long enough to get away with something small (breaking a captive situation, make them sneeze, gets in their eyes, etc). And never forget how useful water can be besides drinking. If you can make an earthen surface really wet and somebody moves through it, you'll see footprints and they may leave a trail for you.

Hope that comes in handy at some point in the future.


Yeah, unfortunately our DM has ruled it thusly: If you ready an action against someone casting a spell or attacking (in combat or speaking), you get a perception check as soon as the invisible creature casts or attacks and you are entitled to the "in combat or speaking" -20 to perception DC modifier making the DC to notice 0 and the DC to pinpoint 20 while the invisible creature is casting/attacking. However, if you wish to search for the creature, we use the default 20/40 with movement/stealth modifiers as listed on the table based on what the invisible creature did during its last round. So it's typically around 25 to notice, 45 to pinpoint the invisible creature if you want to try and find it during your own round (untrained stealth check for an average of 10 - 5 for moving half speed + 20 for invisible and another +20 to pinpoint). For level 12 party members, even the ones with the keenest senses (around +18) will never be able to pinpoint them on their round.

Maybe I'm just whining unnecessarily and invisibility is supposed to be this hard to combat, but it just seems like a single 4th level spell means you're suddenly essentially untouchable, which is a little unbalanced. Mundane methods are great, but as far as flour and sand and water go, they're great but unfortunately, it seems like you're going to be dead by round 3 or so of the encounter anyway if you're facing a caster of your own level, so if you don't get it exactly right, you're probably rolling up a new character!


We ran into this issue of the invisible mage in one of our games an NPC, its in one of the Adventure paths and the DM used the spells he was given.

Basically The guards will have alot of problems Spotting him unless one of them is a Ranger. They basically need to Draw Bows with the Reaction 'i shot when i hear spells cast'

When the sorcer starts casting they make their perception checks if they make it they can shoot and disrupt the spell. Level 12 guards shold not really be /that/ helpless in this fight.

The sorcerr Gets +40 to his stealth if al he does is stand there and do nothing. or +20 if he casts or moves.

it is /much/ harder for them to identify his location though really if he casts and mves and bes tif they try and identify him when he is casting.

anyhow hope this helps our Dm found the relevant info in the guuild pretty qyuicky but i only remeber it in a general fashion.

In our Case we had an NPC ranger wth Favord Enemy of the NPC's type and a PC with the same and their abilty to make perception checks at like +18 helped alot.

Dark Archive

vip00 wrote:
Additionally, I'm a big fan of turning around player tactics and doing the same thing back to them, but I have a feeling everyone is going to cry foul as soon as they realize they're getting wrecked by a single sorcerer several levels below them.

This trick only normally comes into being at 8th level Sorcerer/7th level Wizard. You would also expect a 12th level party to have more and varied resources than similar level NPCs. You would expect there to be several ways to cope with this (see invisible, blindsight or other senses plus say glitterdust, summon any level creature with see invisible or scent, energy resistance, spell absorption, improved/evasion, etc)

A low magic campaign will make the arcane classes relatively more powerful as they will be harder to defend against. Your campaign will likely present many opportunities to exploit the imbalances of arcane class power vs low magic defense.

Also you would hope they wouldn't all stand around within Fireball blast radius of each other and take cover instead. Fireballs don't go around obstacles in Pathfinder - line of effect only.

Note that a visible 8th level Sorceror could stand 720ft away and do this every round if people just stand together in the open and take it.
With say mirror image and seven or more range increments he would be essentially be in the same position.

Also an 8th level fireball does 28 damage average before energy resistance or saving throws. You would expect to live through several rounds of that. Especially with tactically healing the unlucky ones.

It is also part of the implicit GM contract that you don't present them with an encounter they can't handle. The low magic setting with arcane classes is one you will have to keep an eye on for such possibilities.


I'm playing a Shadowdancer in one campaign, and my natural Stealth is 28. I can hide, even while being observed, in shadows and dim light (aka anywhere). It's really not overpowered, and hopefully I can help you see why not.

1 - The character doesn't get +40 Stealth. They get +20. I believe that you're adding the +20 from invisibility twice. And I'm not sure where you read that noticing and pinpointing are different DCs, because as far as I know they aren't. You either see something or you don't. So to begin with, his total modifier while invisible is +24. It only takes a move action to actively search the area. You can even do it twice per turn using a double move. The trained guards with 17 Perception will eventually find him. 17 - 24 is not even close to impossible and believe me, rolling stealth checks every round can be your undoing.

2 - The guards can't (per RAW) hear the character any more easily than they can see him. Spot and Listen are 3.5 skills. Perception is a 3.75 skill. But finding the character is altogether irrelevant because of...

3 - Readied Actions. Ready some crossbow bolts or better yet a trip attack on the condition that the guards see a fireball forming. They will be 100% sure where to attack, although they will still suffer a 50% miss chance from total concealment.

4 - Carried items become invisible while Stealthing, but attached creatures do not. No joke, use weasels. They have scent which automatically alerts them to the presence of a Stealthed creature, and they know the exact location when they're within 5 feet. How expensive are rodents? Even guards can afford several. Swarm the place. Once they find the target, they can either scream or attach themselves, thereby revealing the target's location.

5 - Use smart terrain. Water and doors will reveal the sorcerer's location to anyone on the lookout for an invisible character. In my opinion you should use immobilizing traps, nothing magical, just to pick on his Reflex save and remind him that he's not a rogue.

If you need more suggestions, let me know. Invisibility is not as powerful as it may seem. Just like any other feature, you have to use it intelligently to be successful, and it's pretty clear that your sorcerer isn't getting into any thieves' guilds yet :D


Oh and I forgot to add that without Hide in Plain Sight, you can't Stealth while being directly observed. So unless the character wants to take assassin or shadowdancer levels, a successful Perception check is relatively permanent.


With Club Sauce wrote:
Oh and I forgot to add that without Hide in Plain Sight, you can't Stealth while being directly observed. So unless the character wants to take assassin or shadowdancer levels, a successful Perception check is relatively permanent.

Some good points, however the DC for invisibility is +20 to pinpoint the DC is another +20 stated clearly in invisibility condition back in the core book.

This gets offset by the -20 penalty you get while in combat, unfortunately arcane casters in general have it quite easy to get some points in stealth, with a decent dex and no armor. Also distance is a factor, you make a good point about being observed, once they manage to pinpoint the caster they will not have to make another check, unless the caster retreats first.

I suppose a few guard could aid another and take 10 for a single result of 16 + 17 = 33. As long as they haven't pinpointed the sorcerer he could still use stealth in my opinion though. By taking 10 the sorcerer will still stealth at DC 34 + 1 for every 10' beyond 30'.


Remco, you're absolutely right. After reading it again, Invisibility turns out to be very different than Stealth. But the DC to find the sorcerer is still 24 + 1d20.

You can't take 10 in combat. Not unless you're a level 10+ rogue with the advanced talent Skill Mastery.

So without crunching the numbers too hard, each 17 Perception guard has roughly a 30% chance to find the sorcerer on any given turn. Make 2 checks per turn and that number goes up. Account for both guards and that number goes up even higher. Don't forget that shouting a few terse words is considered a free action. 1 bad roll and all hell breaks loose.

If the +1 distance bonus becomes an issue, block line of effect. It's not hard to force casters to get close. Posting the guards in a small stone building seems like the easiest solution.


Improved invisibility is a darn good spell. For such an encounter I would let the sorcerer enjoy the moment. Fighting an invisible opponent without see invisibility is an extremely difficult task and should be so. Go sorcerer. Spellasters only has so many spells, let them be badass when the situation deserveres it, like blowing up a bunch of guards. I am sure there will be many more encounters.


I have a question about being greater invisible. Do your weapons that your carrying also become invisible until dropped and do they become covered in blood when attacking which would be visible and able to be seen by the enemy?


you can hold their actions until they identify where the spell is coming from or have one of the guards be an half orc with the keen scent ability

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