Need Help Challanging a Magus, w / o Killing Everyone Else


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Dark Archive

Our party is doing ok for the most part, but the Magus is breezing through each fight with barely a scratch on him. Everyone else seems reasonably challenged, so I'm not sure what to do.

Here's what we have:

Orc Barbarian 10 (Titan Mauler)
Human Ranger 10 (Urban Ranger)
Human Oracle 10 (Life)
Sylph Magus 10 (Kensai)

Part of the problem is that he has the one of the two best AC's in the party, stacked with Blur & Mirror Image, making it nigh impossible for the monsters I throw at them to hit him. I need some suggestions.


Ambush the party so the Magus doesn't have time to cast his buffs until after he has been engaged. Or drop a fireball on him and pop all the images. Have enemies with multiple attacks target the Magus to take out several images at a time.


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Grapple, sunder, trip, touch attacks, reflex saves, no save spells, silence, anti magic, swarms, aid another monsters...

Shadow Lodge

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Does he walk around with Blur and Mirror Image up? How long does it take to get them up?

I'd just start with a grapple or swarms, myself.


Make a claustrophobic combat againts larger creatures with reach weapons while there is a nasty spellcaster in cover behind them.. It is important that it is claustrophobic, as it makes their ability to move around and make the fight theirs impossible.

Magus has a low reflex save.. So maybe hit him on that.. See what his weakness is.. Can he swin? No? Make a fight in water.
Can he be athletic? No? Make a fight on rooftops where they have to catch an enemy before he runs off with an important item/person.

The weakest but most used defense is AC.

Dark Archive

They're in a dungeon at the moment, so these spells are pre-cast. Area-effect spells aren't a bad idea, but they wouldn't effect Mirror Image. The multiple attacks isn't a bad idea, but with Blur and a high AC, even that hasn't been effective.

Grappling, sundering, tripping, touch attacks are all subject to Blur & Mirror Image. The silence and anti-magic would look too much like they were designed to pick on him.

Swarms could work, are there any good swarms for 10th level PCs?

Less than tactics, I was hoping for specific monster suggestions. I have Bestiaries 1-3, ISWG, and the 3 Books of the Damned.


There is always the choice to make level drain and screw him up from the inside


Throw a puzzle at them that makes them take time out of combat. The spells will go down.

Dark Archive

Cheapy wrote:
Throw a puzzle at them that makes them take time out of combat. The spells will go down.

Won't work, he'll just re-cast. He has back up wands and scrolls for this purpose.


You're still draining resources :)

Hmm, with wands he'll have 3 minutes of this, and 1d4+1 mirror images. Any creature with Blind-Fight should do the trick. Or a creature with an ability to dispel things. Rogues at this level could have dispelling strike, which would work well if they could hit.


He spent 12k on two wands? Wow.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Make up some custom monsters with custom abilities.

Or, work in some noncombat challenges, like mazes, mysteries, tracking, diplomacy, etc.

Use some traps and environmental situations.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Oozes or any other blind creature will not be affected by the blur or the mirror image.

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The spell Mad Monkeys seems like it would be a good use for this.

It's a 3rd lvl spell that summons a monkey swarm that attempts a disarm/ steal comabt manuever every round. Just take away the wand ;-)

Also, traps don't care about mirror images or blur.

I like the silence idea. It's a low-level spell and with 2 other spell casters in the party it shouldn't be seen as picking.


A magus with truestrike?


what are they up against in the dungeon?

Dark Archive

I like the ooze/blindsight suggestion.

I want to focus on ways around his abilities, rather than ways to take them away. So it is more of "Oh that doesn't help me here" situation than a "The DM nerfed my character" one.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

what's his damage output like? if he's that defensively minded it's probably not great... what about an encounter where he gets separated from the barb/rngr and has to slowly kill something that's slowly killing him? or maybe a fight where the damage dealers get paralyzed, panicked, or even dominated (thanks to their crappy will saves) and he sees the drawback of being set up so defensively (as he slowly tries to kill things without them)?

honestly though, i wouldn't worry about it unless it seems disruptive to your game. the rules allow you to make very defensive guys so that if that's what you want to be good at you can. he's probably not a damage-superstar, so if he can get things to waste attacks on him that could be chipping away at the barb or ranger, and is happy about it, more power to him- he's successfully built a magus-tank :)

even if his damage output is high too, i still wouldn't worry about it unless other players are feeling frustrated/jealous/pointless- if they're happy with their concept it shouldn't bother them too much, and if they do have effectiveness-envy you could always try suggesting some magic items which would help them or feats they could work toward (or even just point out that they could also benefit from blur if they asked him to cast it on them).

Dark Archive

Tagion wrote:
what are they up against in the dungeon?

The story is that the Four Horsemen want to set loose their captive patron, the Oinodaemon, and destroy the world. A cult of serpentfolk are serving them in exchange for being left as the only remaining sentients.

The dungeon is an abandoned temple, being used as a storing place for the first piece of a macguffin item needed to bring back the Oinodaemon. This is the Pestilence portion of the campaign, so their foes have been diseased undeads, demons, oozes, wererats, etc.


It seems like he's invested a lot of resources to be very hard to hit. How is that causing a problem for the fun of the game? I usually don't mind that some party members are built with very good defenses; if he's having fun with that...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

You could also use Deeper Darkness to create a fun encounter where everyone is blind and then have creatures/villains with blindsight attack. It would affect everyone in the party, but the Magus more, also it is a great tactic for an intelligent enemy to use. If Deeper Darkness doesn't do the trick, give one of the demons the ability to generate a more powerful version of the spell.

Dark Archive

nate lange wrote:
what's his damage output like?

Decent, his melee isn't stellar, but his spells are still good.

nate lange wrote:
even if his damage output is high too, i still wouldn't worry about it unless other players are feeling frustrated/jealous/pointless-

It's only been a small issue so far, but I can see it becoming more and more of an issue as we progress, so I'm trying to nip it in the bud now.

For that matter, I know the player and I don't want him to get too bored with never being threatened with something that can hurt him. If every fight is a cakewalk, he'll get bored with the game. So this is for his benefit too.

Shadow Lodge

Blur and Mirror Image are 1 minute/level spells. So, at level 10, that's 10 minutes per casting. That's six castings per hour, each. Over 8 hours, that's 48 castings each. A wand has 50 charges.

This guy should be going through a wand a day of each spell.

If he wants to do that, more power to him. But that's the truth of the situation with those spells.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

A Druid with the Blight archtype would fit in really well with this section of your campaign. This would provide an opportunity for lots of summoned critters to chew through the images.


hmmm....How about a high level witch with the plague patron ( just so she fits in ) and an imp via improved familar. You can have the imp use a wand of vomit swarm while invisible and have her and her 2 ochre jelly minions fight.

The jellys and swarms dont care about those kind of defences and the witch is a really powerful debuffer and disabler

Edit - plus if your magus is like the one in my game his main dps comes from intensified shocking grasps and a piercing or slashing weapon. Those jellies will do a number on him.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

You could use hellwasp swarms from the Bestiary 3. I think they are CR 8.

You might also try golems, which have various magic immunities.

Dark Archive

Tagion wrote:

hmmm....How about a high level witch with the plague patron ( just so she fits in ) and an imp via improved familar. You can have the imp use a wand of vomit swarm while invisible and have her and her 2 ochre jelly minions fight.

The jellys and swarms dont care about those kind of defences and the witch is a really powerful debuffer and disabler

Edit - plus if your magus is like the one in my game his main dps comes from intensified shocking grasps and a piercing or slashing weapon. Those jellies will do a number on him.

Nice idea, and they have fought ochre jellies before, so there is a sense of continuance there.

Mike Kimmel wrote:

You could use hellwasp swarms from the Bestiary 3. I think they are CR 8.

You might also try golems, which have various magic immunities.

I'll have to check them out.

Their last fight was actually a stone golem, unfortunately it made the Oracle completely useless, except for healing.


Mike Kimmel wrote:

You could use hellwasp swarms from the Bestiary 3. I think they are CR 8.

You might also try golems, which have various magic immunities.

Add to that, anything with spell resistance, which brings us back to demons with deeper darkness.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Demon with Deeper Darkness which summons a BoneStorm and laughs as everyone stumbles around in the dark trying to flee.


My first response is to ignore it and let him do it, he'll own the days encounters. I'd be sure to take precise stock of what he has and ask him if he's just keeping things up forever. At the end of one day he's going to be shot.

How did he get these wands? Did you hand them out? If so, you're dealing with a very expensive bleed off for the party here I guess

The non adult response:
I'd slow down the encounter pace drastically with doors that are locked and also take time to open (such as an odd large cypher lock that takes entire minutes to turn on each door)I'd add in some dispel magic traps, then I would enjoy watching 12k gold get eaten up.

I'd be sure to throw in an encounter with several badguys buffed exactly the same as the magus so it's perfectly clear how frustrating and annoying that is.


Lastoth wrote:

My first response is to ignore it and let him do it, he'll own the days encounters. I'd be sure to take precise stock of what he has and ask him if he's just keeping things up forever. At the end of one day he's going to be shot.

How did he get these wands? Did you hand them out? If so, you're dealing with a very expensive bleed off for the party here I guess

The non adult response:
I'd slow down the encounter pace drastically with doors that are locked and also take time to open (such as an odd large cypher lock that takes entire minutes to turn on each door)I'd add in some dispel magic traps, then I would enjoy watching 12k gold get eaten up.

I'd be sure to throw in an encounter with several badguys buffed exactly the same as the magus so it's perfectly clear how frustrating and annoying that is.

I wouldn't go quite that far, but I think bleeding off wand charges, and making him pay for constantly keeping up short duration buffs is perfectly acceptable. Eventually he will have to decide if keeping those spells up non-stop is really worth 240 gold a pop. Short duration buffs are powerful because they are not expected to be kept up all the time.


If he's spent that much of his resources on those two items more power to him. There's some great ideas floating around here but don't overdo it. One or two are more than enough. But one thing that always always irked my players was when the bad guys ran away - especially if they couldn't immediately give chase (i.e. ye olde portcullis in the face trick).

The only thing they hated more than that was when a hated death-deserving enemy surrendered to the Lawful Good knight (3.5 at the time). Her code of conduct mandated the acceptance of the surrender (and another player was playing a Lawful Good samurai/Vassal of Bahamut - an exalted option). Try having a hated enemy surrender to them in order to infiltrate the party

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Gururamalamaswami wrote:
The only thing they hated more than that was when a hated death-deserving enemy surrendered to the Lawful Good knight (3.5 at the time). Her code of conduct mandated the acceptance of the surrender (and another player was playing a Lawful Good samurai/Vassal of Bahamut - an exalted option). Try having a hated enemy surrender to them in order to infiltrate the party

This is why my only LG character is a follower of Ragathiel, god of vengeance.

Bad guy: "I surrender!"

Me: "Too late." *splortch!*


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The biggest issue with magi is time to prepare (ambushes) and fights per day. If you have a magus in the party you should be stretching their daily resources. The magus can nova like no ones business if you dont keep them worried about keeping resources for the next fight.

Liberty's Edge

CrackedOzy wrote:
Cheapy wrote:
Throw a puzzle at them that makes them take time out of combat. The spells will go down.
Won't work, he'll just re-cast. He has back up wands and scrolls for this purpose.

Heheheheh...

A squad of four 1st-level halfling rogues who snipe at extreme range with crossbows, then run. 1d8+4 rounds later, they do it again. And they can keep it up all day.

-- It'll drive your "18minute-day" types insane.

Shadow Lodge

Mike Schneider wrote:
CrackedOzy wrote:
Cheapy wrote:
Throw a puzzle at them that makes them take time out of combat. The spells will go down.
Won't work, he'll just re-cast. He has back up wands and scrolls for this purpose.

Heheheheh...

A squad of four 1st-level halfling rogues who snipe at extreme range with crossbows, then run. 1d8+4 rounds later, they do it again. And they can keep it up all day.

-- It'll drive your "18minute-day" types insane.

Like I said, the guy should be smoking 2 wands a day. That's an expensive habit.


As others have said throw several mobs of trash at him to eat up spells and get rid of the wands unless he is paying for them. That or you can also hit him traps and more traps.


Ya , unless hes making 12k a day this problem is going to solve itself. In the meen time you can through in two or three encounters like the ones mentioned above to challenge him.


Definitely let it be useful; the player has gone to a lot of expense and effort. However, make it apparent that there ARE situations where the tactic doesn't pay off, many of which are listed above.

Grand Lodge

So, specific monster recommendation: hydra. Trick it out half-dragon or half-fiend or something, toss a few more heads on that sucker and you are pretty well ready to go. It has scent, which a pretty good argument could be raised will negate the mirror image, as many attacks per round as it has heads, combat reflexes, fast healing, and if it is half-dragon it has at least a 5d6 breath weapon (for each head).

Throw a couple of the suckers at them, they aren't too hard to kill, and with the sheer output of attacks, odds are you'll hit him a couple of times. One of the nastiest encounters I ever saw was five twelve-headed half-dragon hydras (not that I encourage this kind of behavior). Plus, they are kind of thematically appropriate.

Dark Archive

Stop worrying about how he's managing to keep up with the cost, I have some house rules that change that way wands work, they are 3/day use in my games. Also the dungeon is being explored at a fairly fast pace, so duration isn't an issue either. None of these are a problem, as far as I am concerned.

Swarms, blind-sight and area effects are all great ideas.

Spell resistance is ok, but really that's going to limit his offensive effectiveness, which is not the idea.

-

All I wanted was encounter suggestions that would help occasionally let me get through his defenses. I don't want to penalize him for good strategy or a well built character, I just want to be able to give him a decent challenge.


Sounds like he's merely burning gold instead of hitpoints.
The problem will work itself out, especially if an NPC tags along, notices how the group dynamic works and asks...

"Isn't that expensive? I mean, they're working as hard as you and you're burning up everyone's spoils to maintain your cowardice. Not very fair if you ask me."

EDIT: Okay, nevermind. He's just exploiting your houserules. Carry on.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Lots of good suggestions already, but some additional thoughts...

* Dispel and counterspell. Someone mentioned a blight druid, and there are other spellcaster themes (and outsiders with SLAs) that could fit with the dungeon.

If they dispel his defenses and he spends a round or two re-buffing, that's a round or two he is not dealing damage to other things---that's a round you should be using to your advantage to hinder him farther.

* Spellcaster harrying warrior-types and creatures. That's a CR 10 party, so a monster or enemy warrior with the Disruptive feat is not out of the question. Combine with feats like Stand Still or Step Up to keep him from making 5 foot steps backward to cast safely. So if he wants to cast spells, he's going to have to cast defensively and it shouldn't be easily.

* Disarm him of the wands if he pulls them out to cast. That's better than sunder--that takes the wands away from him for the fight or for part of it, not forever. So it's a temporary challenge, not something that makes him feel like you're nerfing him.

Other stuff--love the pestilence theme, maybe weaken him in other ways like an inhaled poison or disease.

Some specific stuff along with that theme --

You asked for good swarms -- how about a few leech swarms? In the pestilence dungeon, there's got to be a room/corridor with ankle-deep water where a pile of bloodsucking ickies can surge forward and slowly pop away his images. Maybe something like 4 leech swarms and some CR 6 baddie sitting in the background using ranged attacks of some kind.

Or a cockroach swarm. Not because it's a good CR, but just because ew.

Add 4 character levels (fighter or spellcaster or rogue) to a morlock (that should be about CR 5). Have 6 of them attack, working on flanking the magus--remember that two of them can occupy the same square and if both of them can attack the target, they are considered flanking. They'll still have to deal with blur's concealment, but should be able to take out his images pretty quickly if they can get him surrounded. It would be good if they can be stealthed/invisible at the start of the fight so they can get a surprise round in.

And.... 2 leukodaemons. Fits into your theme perfectly, good CR for the group, their fly breath will hurt him regardless of blur and mirror image, they can cast dispel magic at will, and if they start to take a lot of damage if they get too close, they can greater teleport themselves back and fire at the magus and his party with their bows (after the magus's mirror images are down, hopefully).

You could also do this with 1 leukodaemon and a lot of very low level fodder--there's where you could throw in some cockroach swarms and other little beasties that won't really do a lot but distract, wear down, and get rid of those images while the leukodaemon stays far away, dispelling buffs before shooting.


An enemy with True Sight in effect... Blur and Multi-Image = nullified.

Enemy warrior with Great Cleave and Blindfight... multi-images all go *poof*, Blur is negligible.

Create Pit. Grease. Tanglefoot bags. Web.

To justify countering his tactics, all you need is one enemy to get away and share his observations with other enemys.


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Tick swarm is another good swarm. Non leathal traps are always a option. Wave of exhaustion and Dispel magic work well. These just to randomly throw in or are you looking for a bbeg for temple? Maybe a sub boss?


Instead house-ruling 3/day castings at a regular wand price, give him Eternal Wands from 3.5 Magic Item Compendium. They are 2/day wands and are (if memory serves) fifty percent more expensive than regular wands (only up to third level spells).


Use hit an run tactics for your monsters

They burst into the room make a couple of rounds of attacks and then flee in multiple directions to heal up and regroup only to attack again 10+ minutes later

have them lay traps in other rooms should the party try and chase them down.

effectively make it one long drawn out encounter that will leech the party resources the Magus in particular.

blur and mirror image won't save a Magus from trap damage.

Create a massive BBEG illusion monster that will draw the Magus to use his prime spells on it only to find he's wasted his best spells not on the BBEG who is still waiting for them.

and do not let them rest if its a dungeon, if they leave the dungeon to rest up, restock the dungeon with more monsters as the BBEG would surely take the time to reinforce his lair.

btw perfectly reasonable to give some of your monsters the disruptive feat to make those concentration checks harder

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
CrackedOzy wrote:


Swarms could work, are there any good swarms for 10th level PCs?

Try Chatterer Swarms. I ran 3 swarms of them against a group of tenth level characters. Since they had already burned through a lot of their area effect magic it was a very challenging encounter that almost had a couple of deaths. A swarm with solid elemental resistances/immunities, high reflex saves, and the ability to possess people is a foe to be respected.

Dark Archive

DeathQuaker wrote:
And.... 2 leukodaemons. Fits into your theme perfectly, good CR for the group, their fly breath will hurt him regardless of blur and mirror image, they can cast dispel magic at will, and if they start to take a lot of damage if they get too close, they can greater teleport themselves back and fire at the magus and his party with their bows (after the magus's mirror images are down, hopefully).

Funny you should mention, that's the next room.

magikot wrote:
Instead house-ruling 3/day castings at a regular wand price, give him Eternal Wands from 3.5 Magic Item Compendium. They are 2/day wands and are (if memory serves) fifty percent more expensive than regular wands (only up to third level spells).

By the book, for the same price as they are now, you could have a wand usable 2 1/2 times per day. It was decided that as a balance against being able to burn through extra charges in an emergency, that 3/day was reasonable. You don't have to agree with me, we're happy with our rule. This is part of why I didn't explain this in the OP, I didn't want to derail the discussion.

Dark Archive

Malignor wrote:
Enemy warrior with Great Cleave and Blindfight... multi-images all go *poof*, Blur is negligible.

Cleave doesn't work on Mirror Image. I looked into that already.

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