"At Will" Abilities


Rules Questions


Devils have abilities that are listed as 'At Will'

Are there any rules I am missing that cover exactly how that fits in the bigger picture of how many and what type of actions can be taken in a round?


They are usually standard actions, at will just means it can be used an unlimited number of times per day.


That would be a huge reductrion in power for Devils. Can you point me to the section of the rules where this is definied? I cannot find it anywhere.

Maybe I should be looking in the beastiary?


I don't know where this is defined, it's just one of those things I think I know, hehe :p


Scrogz wrote:

Devils have abilities that are listed as 'At Will'

Are there any rules I am missing that cover exactly how that fits in the bigger picture of how many and what type of actions can be taken in a round?

PSRD - Special Abilities wrote:
Spell-like abilities, as the name implies, are magical abilities that are very much like spells. Spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance and dispel magic. They do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated (such as an antimagic field). Spell-like abilities can be dispelled and counterspelled as normal.

Spoiler:
The above information can be found in your Core under Special Abilities, near the back. (or in the PSRD)

Essentially it means the devil is capable of performing an effect that is exactly like the spell "fireball" complete with casting time, this effect is completely magical and with a sufficiently knowledgeable caster, can be counteracted using similar energies generating a similar effect. It does not however involve gestures and chanting and whatnot, the devil just picks it's nose and flicks a fireball at you because it can.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Scrogz wrote:

Devils have abilities that are listed as 'At Will'

Are there any rules I am missing that cover exactly how that fits in the bigger picture of how many and what type of actions can be taken in a round?

I believe "at will" means that the ability can be used an unlimited times per day, but doesn't change the action type normally associated with the ability. For example, a Pit Fiend can use blasphemy at will, but he still has to use blasphemy as a Standard Action.

As far as I know, that hasn't changed from 3.5 (unless I played 3.5 wrong for the last 10 years ;) ).

-Skeld


With special abilities there are 2 things you need to know. First is the type of ability (ex., sp., su.) and 2nd is number of uses per day. If an ability is at-will, that is NOT the number of uses per round. If you apply that to nearly any creature, let alone a devil, you cause mass havoc on the best of days. Tell me: if a fiend unleashes blasphemy at-will, how many times does it go off in one round? Do all those uses happen on the creature's initiative? If so, that means it may effectively have infinite actions on its round. So it can annihilate anything even slightly weaker, anytime?

That said, at-will abilities still take actions to use (often standard actions, as most spell-like abilities duplicate spells that require standard actions and supernatural abilities default to standard actions).


Ok, I looked it up for you. The rule is on page 304 in the Bestiary, and yes it it a standard action.

Only constant spells can be reactivated as a free action unless otherwise noted


Use of Special Abilities (including spell-like, supernatural and extraordinary abiilties) is in the Combat section:

Use Special Ability
Using a special ability is usually a standard action, but whether it is a standard action, a full-round action, or not an action at all is defined by the ability.

Spell-Like Abilities (Sp)
Using a spell-like ability works like casting a spell in that it requires concentration and provokes attacks of opportunity. Spell-like abilities can be disrupted. If your concentration is broken, the attempt to use the ability fails, but the attempt counts as if you had used the ability. The casting time of a spell-like ability is 1 standard action, unless the ability description notes otherwise.

Using a Spell-Like Ability on the Defensive: You may attempt to use a spell-like ability on the defensive, just as with casting a spell. If the concentration check (DC 15 + double the spell's level) fails, you can't use the ability, but the attempt counts as if you had used the ability.

Supernatural Abilities (Su)
Using a supernatural ability is usually a standard action (unless defined otherwise by the ability's description). Its use cannot be disrupted, does not require concentration, and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Extraordinary Abilities (Ex)
Using an extraordinary ability is usually not an action because most extraordinary abilities automatically happen in a reactive fashion. Those extraordinary abilities that are actions are usually standard actions that cannot be disrupted, do not require concentration, and do not provoke attacks of opportunity.


Man, if this is the case have I ever been cheating against my players.

In 2nd edition "At Will" meant instant and in additon to other actions so the Devil 'Teleport at will' was literally a free teleport each round for free, in additon to all other attacks. As a GM I placed realistic limits on the ability but it was still very powerful.

I know in the Dieties and Demigods back in the day they talked about the 'teleport at will' ability as explaining how a god could be anywhere at any time. For game purposes I remember it being definied at 1 "at will" per round.

I did not GM a game in 3.0 or 3.5 so I never had the issue there.

Edit: Several responses as I was typing this. Bummer, Devils nerfed. Think I will still house rule it.

Dark Archive

Scrogz wrote:

Man, if this is the case have I ever been cheating against my players.

In 2nd edition "At Will" meant instant and in additon to other actions so the Devil 'Teleport at will' was literally a free teleport each round for free, in additon to all other attacks. As a GM I placed realistic limits on the ability but it was still very powerful.

I know in the Dieties and Demigods back in the day they talked about the 'teleport at will' ability as explaining how a god could be anywhere at any time. For game purposes I remember it being definied at 1 "at will" per round.

I did not GM a game in 3.0 or 3.5 so I never had the issue there.

Edit: Several responses as I was typing this. Bummer, Devils nerfed. Think I will still house rule it.

As long as you allow players with "at will" abilities the same...


Happler wrote:
Scrogz wrote:

Man, if this is the case have I ever been cheating against my players.

In 2nd edition "At Will" meant instant and in additon to other actions so the Devil 'Teleport at will' was literally a free teleport each round for free, in additon to all other attacks. As a GM I placed realistic limits on the ability but it was still very powerful.

I know in the Dieties and Demigods back in the day they talked about the 'teleport at will' ability as explaining how a god could be anywhere at any time. For game purposes I remember it being definied at 1 "at will" per round.

I did not GM a game in 3.0 or 3.5 so I never had the issue there.

Edit: Several responses as I was typing this. Bummer, Devils nerfed. Think I will still house rule it.

As long as you allow players with "at will" abilities the same...

Not quite. Most PC's have very, very, very modest 'at will' abilities, things that for the most part aren't even worth wasting table time with earlier even if they could do it for free once per round.


Scrogz wrote:
In 2nd edition "At Will" meant instant and in additon to other actions so the Devil 'Teleport at will' was literally a free teleport each round for free, in additon to all other attacks.

At will abilities have never been free actions that you can do in addition to anything else in a round in any version of D&D. Even in first and second edition they were simply unlimited per day use but using them used your 'action' for that round.

For example if a devil wanted to use Pyrotechnics every round he could but it would count as using a spell like ability that round and he would not be able to melee attack or cast an actual spell.

The wording sadly has not changed in 30+ years and this question has come up over and over again in those thirty years, even having been answered many times in 'Pages from the Mages' and 'Sage advise' in Dragon Magazine over it's run.

So yes you have been seriously messing with your players, although unintentionally.

Scarab Sages

Gilfalas wrote:
Scrogz wrote:
In 2nd edition "At Will" meant instant and in additon to other actions so the Devil 'Teleport at will' was literally a free teleport each round for free, in additon to all other attacks.
At will abilities have never been free actions that you can do in addition to anything else in a round in any version of D&D. Even in first and second edition they were simply unlimited per day use but using them used your 'action' for that round.

Not necessarily true. Assuming that the 'at will' power is an innate ability, my 2E AD&D DMG says, on page 64:

"Unlike spells, innate abilities are natural powers and do not require casting times or any components (although there is an initiative modifier)."

The section goes on to say that innate abilities are "activated by the merest mental command of the creature".

That sounds pretty clear to me.


"Unlike spells, innate abilities are natural powers and do not require casting times or any components (although there is an initiative modifier)."

The section goes on to say that innate abilities are "activated by the merest mental command of the creature".

That sounds pretty clear to me."

Yes, this is what we have used as a reference since 2ed edition.


azhrei_fje wrote:
Gilfalas wrote:
Scrogz wrote:
In 2nd edition "At Will" meant instant and in additon to other actions so the Devil 'Teleport at will' was literally a free teleport each round for free, in additon to all other attacks.
At will abilities have never been free actions that you can do in addition to anything else in a round in any version of D&D. Even in first and second edition they were simply unlimited per day use but using them used your 'action' for that round.

Not necessarily true. Assuming that the 'at will' power is an innate ability, my 2E AD&D DMG says, on page 64:

"Unlike spells, innate abilities are natural powers and do not require casting times or any components (although there is an initiative modifier)."

The section goes on to say that innate abilities are "activated by the merest mental command of the creature".

That sounds pretty clear to me.

I still don't see anything in the qouted text that would lead me to believe that the ability still didnt require an action. They even point out that it has an initiative modifier.


meanwhile in Pathfinder rpg it states on page 304 of the bestiary that this is a standard action. Different game, different rules.


Morain wrote:
meanwhile in Pathfinder rpg it states on page 304 of the bestiary that this is a standard action. Different game, different rules.

+1 for getting us back from the past

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