How fast is my Magic Missile?


Rules Questions


Had a quickling PC in a recent campaign, and the sheer speed of the character brought up some interesting questions. Can a really fast creature outrun a magic missile?

Magic missiles (almost) always hit their targets: "The missile strikes unerringly, even if the target is in melee combat, so long as it has less than total cover or total concealment."

Could a sufficiently fast target dart behind cover to avoid the magic missile?

I have this vision of a quickling running around the battlefield chased by a couple glowing force balls...


I'd say speed of light so no it can't.

The Exchange

Not by RAW but it would be a very funny scene anyway.

Scarab Sages

There's no way to do what you're suggesting RAW, simply because you wouldn't be able to move away after it was cast. But the speed of a magic missile? Depends on the level.

At 1st level, it's range is 110 ft, which means it's capable of moving that distance in a single round (6 seconds) putting it at 18.3 fps.

At 20th level, the range is 300 ft, which is 50 fps.

Since Pathfinder doesn't cut combat rounds into shorter time increments, you can't use this in any way, but there ya go.


AFAIK anyone close enough could probably ready an action to make a move to behind cover when someone casts a spell, but that would take some forethought


Assuming that the speed of spells is constant across all caster levels, and that 20th level is the cap, a normal magic missile covers 300 feet in 6 seconds, while an Enlarged Magic Missile covers 600 feet in 6 seconds. That would put the minimum speed of the missiles at 100 feet per second.

However, the spell hits as soon as you cast it. You can cast MM, hit the opponent, then perform a move action after it hits. That means that spells hit their targets within their casting time. That drops the time to 3.5 seconds (Roughly. 6 seconds per round could mean a 3.5 second standard, and a 2.5 second move; 2 move actions would be 5 seconds, with the extra second wasted. Also explains why you can't get 2 standard actions, as that would be 7 seconds of action in a 6 second round.)

So that is now 600 feet traversed in 3.5 seconds, or 171.5 feet per second.

Quicken spell makes it a swift action, or pretty much instantly. However, you could also say Quicken spell, well... quickens the missiles as well.

But for ease of use, I would just say all spells hit instantly (or pretty much instantly), unless a specific spell says otherwise.


The quickling moves fast enough to prevent you from interupting his action so he could avoid magic missile but only by preventing you from casting it.

Once you have line of effect to cast the spell it hits him before he can react, unless he has a readied action to move out of line of sight in which case you wouldn't have a target for your spell and it would simply fail.

However i now have an idea for a huge magical construct on the astral plane made up of ancient magic missiles that never got discharged...


If the Quickling readies an action to move behind cover when the caster begins his spell, then I would say that since the caster no longer has a visible target when the spell is finished then yes. However, remember Line of Sight vs Line of Effect! If the caster can see the target as soon as his standard action is completed and the spell is loosed, the magic missile will find its target even if that target is running through a forest and ducking behind trees.

Brings to mind the visual of the demon chasing Ash in Army of Darkness.

Or "Mind Your Manners - with Billy Kwan"...

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