What are the nastiest spells in Golarion / Pathfinder


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion


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I'm hoping this goes here as it's more of an opinion then rules question, but -- in your humble opinion, what are the creepiest, nastiest spells in the setting? I don't necessarily mean the biggest and most destructive evocation or the like, but the ones that probably make the Avistani and Garundi (and gamers) shudder and think, "That's got to be the worst thing you can do to someone?"

I'd say that two Urgathoan spells, Ghoul Hunger and Vampiric Hunger, are certainly in the running, given that both of them turn your opponent into a cannibal for a brief period of time. Just imagine how someone must feel when they recover and see that they're been chewing on their dying friend.

Liberty's Edge

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Unnatural Lust (making people want sex with objects or people they never would normaly has to result in some trauma), Murderous Command (Kill your wife. Now.), and Terrible Remorse (Mind-shattering, suicidal remorse for no reason) are all surprisingly vicious, psychologically speaking.

Mind control ala Dominate Person is no picnic to contemplate either (powerful Rakshasa have Dominate Monster...and often Angels or other Celestials in their harems. Think it through.)

Honestly, though, Soul Bind (and other soul-trapping stuff) is by far the worst if you considr the implications of the ability to imprison a soul so it can never be released. Or, y'know, sell it to a daemon and watch it be devoured.

Indeed, the Daemon based soul-eating stuff in general is so hideous to contemplate I'm really a little feaked out about it. In any reality that has souls, an other fate is temporary, it may be awful, but it can be escaped somehow, and some part of you will live on. Having your soul devoured? Not so much.


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>Vomit Swarm
>Skinsend
>Blood Biography


Deadmanwalking -- yeah, you've made some great points there. I'd add Vengeful Outrage to your list of emotion-manipulating spells as well; just imagine what it must feel like to awake from a berserker rage and find that you've hacked your lover/spouse/best friend limb from limb.

Silver Crusade

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Boneshatter is pretty nasty.


Charm Person. Any arcane caster can use it. You can't trust your emotions around them, you never know if its your real feelings....

Silver Crusade

Hellfire Ray

Damning people you've killed with it to Hell, regardless of their actual nature, has got to be some major bad karma.

Silver Crusade

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Unnatural Lust (making people want sex with objects or people they never would normaly has to result in some trauma), Murderous Command (Kill your wife. Now.), and Terrible Remorse (Mind-shattering, suicidal remorse for no reason) are all surprisingly vicious, psychologically speaking.

Mind control ala Dominate Person is no picnic to contemplate either (powerful Rakshasa have Dominate Monster...and often Angels or other Celestials in their harems. Think it through.)

Honestly, though, Soul Bind (and other soul-trapping stuff) is by far the worst if you considr the implications of the ability to imprison a soul so it can never be released. Or, y'know, sell it to a daemon and watch it be devoured.

Indeed, the Daemon based soul-eating stuff in general is so hideous to contemplate I'm really a little feaked out about it. In any reality that has souls, an other fate is temporary, it may be awful, but it can be escaped somehow, and some part of you will live on. Having your soul devoured? Not so much.

All of this too. There's a reason angels, devils, and demons actually work together sometimes. Those guys are the worst of the worst.

And what was that old quote? "Magic roofies are still roofies"?


Yeaaah, deadman got the best ones listed.


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Mikaze wrote:

Indeed, the Daemon based soul-eating stuff in general is so hideous to contemplate I'm really a little feaked out about it. In any reality that has souls, an other fate is temporary, it may be awful, but it can be escaped somehow, and some part of you will live on. Having your soul devoured? Not so much.

Om Nom. >:)

Liberty's Edge

Tegresin the Laughing Fiend wrote:
Om Nom. >:)

I keep my soul in a box. It is well protected from the likes of you. ;P


FallofCamelot wrote:
Boneshatter is pretty nasty.

I must have missed this one. Which book is it from?

Silver Crusade

Boneshatter is in Osirion: Land of the Pharaohs. Basically it's a 4th level single target spell that does d6/level and either exhaustion if you fail your save or fatigue if you pass.

The reason I post it here is that what it actually does is shatter your bones. I take great pleasure in describing in excruciating detail the horrible crunching sound that occurs when the spell is used. Nasty.

Silver Crusade

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I do like that the NE fiends are the worst. In previous editions far more attention was paid to the Blood War. Pure evil should be the nastiest IMHO.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Also, Blood Transcription.

Wizard: "That was a nice spell he used. It was almost the end of us. I'll have to learn that."
...
*unsheaths dagger*
*hack, slash, stab, cut, cut*
Wizard: "Pardon me, Mr. Paladin. Do you mind lifting this corpse up so I can funnel a pint of his blood into my mouth?"
Paladin: "..."

Silver Crusade

I'm going to toss up a weird reply: Feeblemind. It's a spell-level 5 choice whose counter, Heal, is spell-level 6. That's a pretty big gap. A big gap in which one could be reduced to a barely-sentient twit. Potentially a nearly-useless twit if one is a spellcaster.

That's the sort of spell that, if I were faced with the threat of it in real life, would make me shudder at the implications. Do Not Want. The overwhelming majority of my characters Do Not Want, either.

Sczarni RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

I love all the suggestions here but I am surprised that one spell in particular is missing.

Lipstitch is a nasty spell, and one that, while it can't really mess someone up, has the flavor to really creep out and make people afraid of the caster.

What does it do? It stitches the target's mouth shut. The stitches stay in until they are ripped or cut out, and even doing that causes some bleed damage and spell failure chance. You can use it to shut down bite attacks as well, but really you want to use it on spell casters.


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Celestial Pegasus wrote:

I'm going to toss up a weird reply: Feeblemind. It's a spell-level 5 choice whose counter, Heal, is spell-level 6. That's a pretty big gap. A big gap in which one could be reduced to a barely-sentient twit. Potentially a nearly-useless twit if one is a spellcaster.

That's the sort of spell that, if I were faced with the threat of it in real life, would make me shudder at the implications. Do Not Want. The overwhelming majority of my characters Do Not Want, either.

I did once have this idea of a high-level sorcerer who hit someone with a couple of energy drains, then followed that up with feeblemind, then Ultimate Magic's prediction of failure (which causes you to remember every single mistake and failure you ever made all at once, leaving you sickened and shaken for the rest of your life), and then ended it all with a binding that left their enemy trapped in a gemstone, and unaging for as long as they were trapped.

So you basically had someone on the mental level of a five-year-old, locked in a jar, and being psychologically tortured for the rest of their life -- a life that would last forever.

Silver Crusade

How delightfully cruel and twisted! I'll have to remember that setup sometime in case I ever feel li... er, I mean, uh...

...Th... that's not very Sarenite, mister... please don't be mean. :(
(And that's how you roll a Natural 1 on Perform: Bluff checks on a forum!)


Insanity. The chance of the brightest and best of characters being inflicted with a mind changing pyschosis for the rest of their life is kind of horrific. No more adventuring when you're haunted by your own monsters, forever. (At least until someone can direct the Insane character to someone with Heal)
Also, in game terms, having to roll a continous Confusion effect reduces the game to a round by round crawl and makes it quite likely that the character either
A) Is permenantly subdued until access to a Heal is available
b) Injures or even kills off other PCs/ NPCs
c) Abandoned if the PC in question is particularly lethal to his party and they have no answer at the time to a continous Confusion effect.
Pretty destabilizing if you think about it.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Celestial Pegasus wrote:

I'm going to toss up a weird reply: Feeblemind. It's a spell-level 5 choice whose counter, Heal, is spell-level 6. That's a pretty big gap. A big gap in which one could be reduced to a barely-sentient twit. Potentially a nearly-useless twit if one is a spellcaster.

That's the sort of spell that, if I were faced with the threat of it in real life, would make me shudder at the implications. Do Not Want. The overwhelming majority of my characters Do Not Want, either.

Feeblemind is really good when you combine it with Handle Animal. You can use it on any creature with an Intelligence of 1 or 2 (albeit with a +5 to the DC). I've only used it as a GM but my PCs had a major freakout when a monster ally got turned into a pet and attacked them.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

It wasn't OGL, so it's not in Pathfinder, but the spell from 3.5 that absolutely terrified me the first time I read it was programmed amnesia from Complete Arcane. It was a 9th-level enchantment spell that you could only cast on a helpless target.

The subject's mind becomes completely transparent, and you can see all of its memories in full detail. You can erase the subject's memories of loved ones, plant memories of events that never happened or actions never taken. You can bestow negative levels and remove class abilities. You can plant fear, hatred, or enmity between the subject and people he or she knows. You can even do a full personality re-write. And you can program a trigger to delay the onset of the effects until a specific event happens.

The duration is "permanent," but cannot be dispelled by means other than greater restoration, miracle, or wish.

When the spell was first published in the Book of Vile Darkness, it was called mindrape. 'Nuff said.

This was, in my opinion, the darkest spell WOTC ever published, and I'm very glad that it never came to PF. If it appeared in my campaign world, it would most definitely have the [Evil] descriptor.


Haladir wrote:

It wasn't OGL, so it's not in Pathfinder, but the spell from 3.5 that absolutely terrified me the first time I read it was programmed amnesia from Complete Arcane. It was a 9th-level enchantment spell that you could only cast on a helpless target.

The subject's mind becomes completely transparent, and you can see all of its memories in full detail. You can erase the subject's memories of loved ones, plant memories of events that never happened or actions never taken. You can bestow negative levels and remove class abilities. You can plant fear, hatred, or enmity between the subject and people he or she knows. You can even do a full personality re-write. And you can program a trigger to delay the onset of the effects until a specific event happens.

The duration is "permanent," but cannot be dispelled by means other than greater restoration, miracle, or wish.

When the spell was first published in the Book of Vile Darkness, it was called mindrape. 'Nuff said.

This was, in my opinion, the darkest spell WOTC ever published, and I'm very glad that it never came to PF. If it appeared in my campaign world, it would most definitely have the [Evil] descriptor.

I do have to agree with this assessment of that spell, though I think it'd be perfect for the aforementioned infernal bloodline sorceress whp did that casting I mentioned earlier (if I ever ran her, my idea would be someone evil who brags that she's never killed needlessly -- because she uses spells like this instead).

Though I can see the spell being used more benevolently to remove horribly traumatic memories from someone that they just can't handle any other way.


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I'm surprised no one has mentioned Magic Jar. This is an extremely effective and frightening spell on so many levels. Barriers don't hinder its use and, if the saving throw is failed, your soul is ripped from your body and imprisoned in a gem from which nothing can be perceived while somebody else parades around in your body to do with as they please for the better part of a day. If you do fail the initial saving throw, there's nothing stopping an unseen assailant from casting the spell again and trying to usurp your body a second, third, fourth time... and there's little to nothing you can do to prevent it besides running around desperately in an attempt to get out of range of someone you likely can't even see.

What's worse, is that a single casting of this spell is an army killer since one can leap from body to body for hours. With proper preparation and positioning, a caster could cast magic jar within a castle or village during the night when most of its inhabitants are asleep, leap into a body to quietly commit suicide and move on to the next victim, over and over and over again... Come morning, there'd be little left of the populace but decaying bodies; each dead by its own hands and a handful of desperate and terrified survivors (those who made their saves). Even if someone discovers what's happening and sounds the alarm, there's little anyone can do to prevent the disembodied suicidal plague slowly killing everyone besides fleeing. Entire settlements, armies or even kingdoms could de devastated by a sufficiently dedicated and relentless "angel of death". It's truly biblical in scope.

Or, perhaps even worse, imagine the turmoil which could be caused by supplanting various officials, nobles or monarchs with the spell. For good or ill nations could redirected, empires could be created or destroyed and history irrevocably altered.

So yeah, Magic Jar may be the single most powerful/frightening 5th level spell in Pathfinder.


Ambrus wrote:

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Magic Jar. This is an extremely effective and frightening spell on so many levels. Barriers don't hinder its use and, if the saving throw is failed, your soul is ripped from your body and imprisoned in a gem from which nothing can be perceived while somebody else parades around in your body to do with as they please for the better part of a day. If you do fail the initial saving throw, there's nothing stopping an unseen assailant from casting the spell again and trying to usurp your body a second, third, fourth time... and there's little to nothing you can do to prevent it besides running around desperately in an attempt to get out of range of someone you likely can't even see.

What's worse, is that a single casting of this spell is an army killer since one can leap from body to body for hours. With proper preparation and positioning, a caster could cast magic jar within a castle or village during the night when most of its inhabitants are asleep, leap into a body to quietly commit suicide and move on to the next victim, over and over and over again... Come morning, there'd be little left of the populace but decaying bodies; each dead by its own hands and a handful of desperate and terrified survivors (those who made their saves). Even if someone discovers what's happening and sounds the alarm, there's little anyone can do to prevent the disembodied suicidal plague slowly killing everyone besides fleeing. Entire settlements, armies or even kingdoms could de devastated by a sufficiently dedicated and relentless "angel of death". It's truly biblical in scope.

Or, perhaps even worse, imagine the turmoil which could be caused by supplanting various officials, nobles or monarchs with the spell. For good or ill nations could redirected, empires could be created or destroyed and history irrevocably altered.

So yeah, Magic Jar may be the single most powerful/frightening 5th level spell in Pathfinder.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like you to meet my next campaigns villain!


Ryuko wrote:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like you to meet my next campaigns villain!

I'm your next campaign's villain? Excellent! I promise I won't disappoint... BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!


Ambrus wrote:
Ryuko wrote:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like you to meet my next campaigns villain!
I'm your next campaign's villain? Excellent! I promise I won't disappoint... BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!

Hmmm... actually Ambrus isn't a bad fantasy name. Dragons are cool.

I'm thinking misguided copper dragon wiping out villages to convince the local king to bring in adventurers to hunt down a cult who's killing people for a ritual to bring the spirit of a demon lord which will give him lots of power. Dragon doesn't believe the king will react quickly enough to a warning, so he starts slaughtering villages, "for the greater good".

Go Ambrus!


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Ryuko wrote:
Hmmm... actually Ambrus isn't a bad fantasy name.

Thanks. It's Hungarian and means "Immortal". Seemed appropriate for a dragon.

Ryuko wrote:
Dragons are cool.

They are at that.

Ryuko wrote:
I'm thinking misguided copper dragon wiping out villages to convince the local king to bring in adventurers to hunt down a cult who's killing people for a ritual to bring the spirit of a demon lord which will give him lots of power. Dragon doesn't believe the king will react quickly enough to a warning, so he starts slaughtering villages, "for the greater good".

Interesting, if somewhat deranged for a good dragon. If it were me, I'd likely have the dragon target the hidden cult members along with their secret allies instead. The king could ask the adventurers to investigate the mysterious deaths of seemingly random individuals throughout the realm, including some of his most trusted advisers! As the PCs plunge ever deeper into the mystery and start uncovering secret ties between the victims and the details of the conspiracy to summon the demon lord, the dragon might erroneously begin suspecting the PCs of being cultists as well and erroneously target them for death. Only by possessing a party member and secretly spending time observing the group does the dragon learn that they may in fact be unwitting allies of his. He could then feed them information and so steer them against the lead cultists while maintaining a position as their mysterious but beneficent patron/mentor; perhaps only revealing himself near the end to team up with them for the epic end battle.

Ryuko wrote:
Go Ambrus!

Go me!


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Ambrus wrote:
Ryuko wrote:
I'm thinking misguided copper dragon wiping out villages to convince the local king to bring in adventurers to hunt down a cult who's killing people for a ritual to bring the spirit of a demon lord which will give him lots of power. Dragon doesn't believe the king will react quickly enough to a warning, so he starts slaughtering villages, "for the greater good".

Interesting, if somewhat deranged for a good dragon. If it were me, I'd likely have the dragon target the hidden cult members along with their secret allies instead. The king could ask the adventurers to investigate the mysterious deaths of seemingly random individuals throughout the realm, including some of his most trusted advisers! As the PCs plunge ever deeper into the mystery and start uncovering secret ties between the victims and the details of the conspiracy to summon the demon lord, the dragon might erroneously begin suspecting the PCs of being cultists as well and erroneously target them for death. Only by possessing a party member and secretly spending time observing the group does the dragon learn that they may in fact be unwitting allies of his. He could then feed them information and so steer them against the lead cultists while maintaining a position as their mysterious but beneficent patron/mentor; perhaps only revealing himself near the end to team up with them for the epic end battle.

Ryuko wrote:
Go Ambrus!
Go me!

I thank you. You have entirely written my new adventure. Now I wish I had enough time to run another game. Perhaps after Kingmaker.


Ryuko wrote:
I thank you. You have entirely written my new adventure.

My pleasure. I'm glad I could be of help.


Yeah, I have to say, the idea of an "angel of death" that systematically possesses and murders via suicide an entire castle's worth of people is an absolutely fantastic idea for a campaign concept.


alientude wrote:
Yeah, I have to say, the idea of an "angel of death" that systematically possesses and murders via suicide an entire castle's worth of people is an absolutely fantastic idea for a campaign concept.

Thanks. Though its important to keep in mind that strategy can easily be employed by a single PC as easily as an NPC antagonist.

My PC used this very strategy to clear out an enemy fortress in our Rise of the Runelords campaign; a total of 58 unyielding stone giants, trolls and ogres were felled over a period of a few hours with two castings of Magic Jar.


Quite possibly implode.

Order of the Stick made it look nasty. I mean, you just collapse in on yourself.

Also frankly, I think I wondered into the wrong section of the Paizo forums again...

Liberty's Edge

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Summon Monster (any number). Imagine if you will; You're just sitting at home in another plane of existence, minding your own business when suddenly you're thrust into combat on a different plane. Some guy with a pointy hat is telling you to fight and you have to do it. Even if you're just a riding dog, and your opponent is a certified fire-breathing dragon. Or maybe he just wants to see what happens when a trap is set off. Maybe he wants to give the fighter a few practice swings with his sword? He might just even wanna "hug". Who knows? Not you.

Not scary enough you say? You can never truly die from this, meaning that you've basically just disappeared from your home and showed up a min or so later with the stuff of nightmares... and it can happen again and again at ANY time. When you are asleep, spending time with a loved one, in the shower, comforting a friend, at your job etc. Anywhere, anytime. And it might not be from the same summoner.

Try living like that for a while.

Liberty's Edge

Gonn wrote:
Summon Monster (any number). Imagine if you will; You're just sitting at home in another plane of existence, minding your own business when suddenly you're thrust into combat on a different plane. Some guy with a pointy hat is telling you to fight and you have to do it. Even if you're just a riding dog, and your opponent is a certified fire-breathing dragon. Or maybe he just wants to see what happens when a trap is set off. Maybe he wants to give the fighter a few practice swings with his sword? He might just even wanna "hug". Who knows? Not you.

This...isn't quite how Summoning works in Golarion (well, non-Planar Binding summoning anyway). It calls up more a kind of idealized image of the creature than any real individual. Indeed James Jacobs has said as much. If you want to change that for your games, cool, but as this thread is discussing how the spell officailly works...

Gonn wrote:
Not scary enough you say? You can never truly die from this, meaning that you've basically just disappeared from your home and showed up a min or so later with the stuff of nightmares... and it can happen again and again at ANY time. When you are asleep, spending time with a loved one, in the shower, comforting a friend, at your job etc. Anywhere, anytime. And it might not be from the same summoner.

Even assuming the first part were true, we have no indications that this is. It would be more likely that, like Doctors who need to be on call, there'd be a rotating schedule of who responds to this kind of thing. Especially on the Good and/or Lawful aligned Planes.

Gonn wrote:
Try living like that for a while.

Well, as mentioned, in many ways doctors and other people who are 'on-call' to deal with problems do live that way, as do people in the military. It's stressful and potentially unpleasant, but not the end of the world.

Liberty's Edge

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Gonn wrote:
Summon Monster (any number). Imagine if you will; You're just sitting at home in another plane of existence, minding your own business when suddenly you're thrust into combat on a different plane. Some guy with a pointy hat is telling you to fight and you have to do it. Even if you're just a riding dog, and your opponent is a certified fire-breathing dragon. Or maybe he just wants to see what happens when a trap is set off. Maybe he wants to give the fighter a few practice swings with his sword? He might just even wanna "hug". Who knows? Not you.

This...isn't quite how Summoning works in Golarion (well, non-Planar Binding summoning anyway). It calls up more a kind of idealized image of the creature than any real individual. Indeed James Jacobs has said as much. If you want to change that for your games, cool, but as this thread is discussing how the spell officailly works...

Gonn wrote:
Not scary enough you say? You can never truly die from this, meaning that you've basically just disappeared from your home and showed up a min or so later with the stuff of nightmares... and it can happen again and again at ANY time. When you are asleep, spending time with a loved one, in the shower, comforting a friend, at your job etc. Anywhere, anytime. And it might not be from the same summoner.

Even assuming the first part were true, we have no indications that this is. It would be more likely that, like Doctors who need to be on call, there'd be a rotating schedule of who responds to this kind of thing. Especially on the Good and/or Lawful aligned Planes.

Gonn wrote:
Try living like that for a while.
Well, as mentioned, in many ways doctors and other people who are 'on-call' to deal with problems do live that way, as do people in the military. It's stressful and potentially unpleasant, but not the end of the world.

Ok, I hadn't seen that post, so I was under a different impression as per how it worked.

However, if it were I would feel that it's not quite like being a doctor on call as that's your choice. You decided to become a doctor/soldier/etc VS you just get pulled to a different plane of existence to fight a battle that isn't yours. You have no idea who you're fighting for or why this is even happening. A doctor gets a message, and then drives to the hospital. The idea is a difference of control, a summon is forced without warning. A doctor/soldier trained for quite some time (and had plenty of chances to back out) and then was told when they could be on call.

And if you think that being pulled into a different dimension (at any time) in order to fight the social equivalent of a cthulhu, I'll keep that in mind. :) lol

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Most of the good ones have been mentioned, but sometimes simplicity is frightening.

For instance, inflict wounds spells are a touch spell that causes unspecified damage. Think about it this way. You come into town to see a priest, who shakes your hand and greets you with a "prayer" (in reality the incantation needed), and suddenly, you're coughing up blood and feel awful. At which point the priest could tell you anything you want. You're possessed. Diseased. Anything. Or he could tell you nothing and let you draw your own conclusions.

Oftentimes, the human imagination is a hundred times more terrifying than reality, so not knowing why you suddenly suffered the pain and injury equivalent to a sword across the back for no adequately explored reason could really mess with someone...

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