Break Enchantment vs. Vampire's Dominate (SU)


Rules Questions


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Hi,

I am debating with a player whether Break Enchantment works against a vampire's Dominate effect.

Here are some links:
Vampire template, with Dominate (SU) described
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/templates/vampire

Dominate Person, Spell:
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/d/dominate-person

Break Enchantment, Spell:
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/b/break-enchantment

Description of Supernatural Ability:
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/special-abilities#TOC-Supernatural-Ab ilities-Su-

I argue that it doesn't, since Vampire's Dominate is a Supernatural ability. He argues that it does, since Dominate works like Dominate person, and since Break Enchantment can break spells level 5 and lower even if they are not normally dispellable by Dispell Magic.

I have asked him to give his argument in this thread, to ensure accuracy.

What is RAW on this topic?

Your help is apreciated.


Tandriniel wrote:

I have asked him to give his argument in this thread, to ensure accuracy.

My argument is:

•"A supernatural ability's effect cannot be dispelled", "Dominate (SU)" - To begin with, it can't be dispelled.
•Break Enchantment - "This spell frees victims from enchantments, transmutations, and curses. Break enchantment can reverse even an instantaneous effect." and "If the spell is one that cannot be dispelled by dispel magic or stone to flesh, break enchantment works only if that spell is 5th level or lower"
•Since Dominate (SU) works as "Dominate Person" a spell of lvl 4/5, Break Enchantment will work, if you pass a CL check d20+1/lvl vs 11+CL.
•Since it's the effect of Dominate (SU), which works as the spell Dominate Person, it can be dispelled by following the rules for non-dispellable spells.

Your help, to settle this debate, is appreciated :)


The Bottom Line

You're both wrong in different ways, but the break enchantment spell does in fact work on a vampire's Dominate special attack. The reason is because break enchantment works on the very broad category of a "spell, curse, or effect", and specifically "even an instantaneous effect".

The Explanation

Tandriniel: You're wrong about your conclusion, since break enchantment by RAW* works on effects in general. Note in particular how they call out "effects" as separate from "spells" or even "curses".

Mithras: You're wrong about why your conclusion is right, since it doesn't matter how break enchantment deals with spells when you're talking about non-spells. Your argument was complicated, confusing, and didn't make sense. Just say that break enchantment works on enchantments, transmutations, and curses in general (even if they're instantaneous), and that a vampire's Dominate special attack is an enchantment effect (due to working like dominate person), and you're done.

*:
"Break enchantment can reverse even an instantaneous effect."
"Success means that the creature is free of the spell, curse, or effect."


Well, at least now we know it does work.


Fredrik wrote:

The Bottom Line

You're both wrong in different ways, but the break enchantment spell does in fact work on a vampire's Dominate special attack. The reason is because break enchantment works on the very broad category of a "spell, curse, or effect", and specifically "even an instantaneous effect".

I respectfully disagree with your reading.

The text does not say what you quoted:

This spell frees victims from enchantments, transmutations, and curses. Break enchantment can reverse even an instantaneous effect. [b]For each such effect, you make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level, maximum +15) against a DC of 11 + caster level of the effect. Success means that the creature is free of the spell, curse, or effect. For a cursed magic item, the DC is equal to the DC of the curse.

If the spell is one that cannot be dispelled by dispel magic or stone to flesh, break enchantment works only if that spell is 5th level or lower.

If the effect comes from a permanent magic item, break enchantment does not remove the curse from the item, but it does free the victim from the item's effects.

There is no seperate category called effects.

The line I believe should be interpreted that Break Enchantment can break enchantments, transmutations, and curses... even if one of those is an instantaneous effect. The wording marked with bold supports this view, as I read it.

I agree that it is like an Enchantment (since "like" is the word used in dominate person, or perhaps even is an enchantment, but nevertheless it is a Supernatural Ability, which cannot be dispelled or broken, like you cannot dispell a Dragons Breath, or a Pixies Irresistable Dance or Balefull Polymorph.

If the designer want those monster effects to be dispellable, all it takes it to mark them as Spell Like Abilities, which changes exactly that feature.


This spell frees victims from enchantments, transmutations, and curses. Break enchantment can reverse even an instantaneous effect. For each such effect, you make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level, maximum +15) against a DC of 11 + caster level of the effect. Success means that the creature is free of the spell, curse, or effect. For a cursed magic item, the DC is equal to the DC of the curse.

The bolded area is telling which things caused by spells that break enchantment affects. The fact that you need a caster level check pretty much restricts it from not working against SU's. There is no separate line saying how it works against anything that does not use a caster level. The reason why it mentions instantaneous affects is because they can not normally be dispelled, and the spell is proving an exception to what dispel magic says.

edit:ninja'd by Tan..


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Point by Point:

Break Enchantment frees victims from enchantments...

Is the Vampires Dominate Person an enchantment? - Yes, it is, as it works like the spell.

So it should work.

But...

If the spell is one that can't be dispelled...

Is this a spell? No, so the line is irrelevant.

Therefore Break Enchantment should work.


MicMan wrote:

Point by Point:

Break Enchantment frees victims from enchantments...

Is the Vampires Dominate Person an enchantment? - Yes, it is, as it works like the spell.

So it should work.

But...

If the spell is one that can't be dispelled...

Is this a spell? No, so the line is irrelevant.

Therefore Break Enchantment should work.

That reasoning is invalid. Being an enchantment does not make it a spell any more than a monster that has a supernatural death effect makes it a count as a death effect based spell. RAW and RAI, break enchantment won't work because the dominate ability is not a spell, and is not subject to being dispelled or countered by any sort of caster level. Not only that the ability has no instructions on how to use it against non-spells*. Now if break enchantment did not specifically call out spells and/or caster levels then it probably would work. One might want to argue that the devs did not intend to write it in that manner, but I think it was written that way on purpose. Right now the only option is to start a thread asking for errata so that it will work against anything that is enchantment-like, and not just spells, it one believes the writing is in error.

*The first sentence is telling you what it does. Everything else is telling you how it is done.


But Dominate (SU) does have a caster level - why would it need that, if you can't dispell it?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
PRD wrote:

This spell frees victims from enchantments, transmutations, and curses. Break enchantment can reverse even an instantaneous effect. For each such effect, you make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level, maximum +15) against a DC of 11 + caster level of the effect. Success means that the creature is free of the spell, curse, or effect. For a cursed magic item, the DC is equal to the DC of the curse.

If the spell is one that cannot be dispelled by dispel magic or stone to flesh, break enchantment works only if that spell is 5th level or lower.

If the effect comes from a permanent magic item, break enchantment does not remove the curse from the item, but it does free the victim from the item's effects.

a) This spell frees victims from enchantments, transmutations, and curses.

Enchantments are only the spell effects or all the abilities or effects that affect the mind?
In the first pagers of the CRB we find: "[Elves] get a +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells and effects.", there is a similar text for a few other abilities, like the Gillmen Enchantments resistance, so we can assume that the category Enchantments include supernatural abilities, not only spells.

b) Break enchantment can reverse even an instantaneous effect.

Self explanatory, no problem here, I hope.

c) For each such effect, you make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level, maximum +15) against a DC of 11 + caster level of the effect. Success means that the creature is free of the spell, curse, or effect. **

The dominate ability of a vampire has a caster level (12th) and a duration dependant from it (12 days). The SU effect can be dispelled by break enchantment, as: it is an Enchantment, as requested by a) and it is a effect as requested by c). *

d) For a cursed magic item, the DC is equal to the DC of the curse.

Not a cursed magic item

e) If the spell is one that cannot be dispelled by dispel magic or stone to flesh, break enchantment works only if that spell is 5th level or lower.[i]

If, and only if the [i]enchantments, transmutations, and curses is a spell and [it] cannot be dispelled by dispel magic or stone to flesh then [/i]break enchantment works only if that spell is 5th level or lower[/i].
The dominate ability of a vampire don't fulfil any of those conditions. It isn't a spell and the equivalent spell can be dispelled.

f) If the effect comes from a permanent magic item, break enchantment does not remove the curse from the item, but it does free the victim from the item's effects.

Again, not relevant and self explanatory.

Just to add a bit of historical prospective, the one of the main functions of break enchantments in 3.x was to reverse the petrification effect of the medusa and basilisk gaze attacks.

* Note that as it is a SU power it can be cancelled by Break enchantments but not by dispel magic.

** Note the text: it don't say "dispelled", it say "free of the spell, curse, or effect".


To me, it is pretty clear that RAW is that Break Enchantment does not affect any Supernatural Ability.

I am however going to allow it at my table, for vampires below CR 15. Extreme case scenario is a CR 1 Orc + Vampire => an effect that basically takes out a PC pr round, save or suck (eventually die). I realize that there is a number of situations that give a new saving throw, but there should be a way for mid level characters to counter the effect.

Well, Vampires suck...


Actually, I will house-rule that for this specific module, Dominate is SLA until the Vampire is CR 15... A bit easier to handle.


Tandriniel wrote:
To me, it is pretty clear that RAW is that Break Enchantment does not affect any Supernatural Ability.

I disagree entirely. It's pretty clear imo that RAW the effect can be broken with the Break Enhancement(BE) spell. It's an Enchantment firstly, so it's the type of effect that BE can take. It can't be dispelled since it's a (Su), but BE even has a line explicitly stating that it works on spells that cannot be dispelled if they're under 5th level(which Dominate person is). It has a caster level(In the template, defaulted to 12th level) so mechanically there is no snag in it's use. Face it, BE should work on it going by RAW.

Also I'd just like to point out that, the casting time is a minute versus a standard action. In combat, it would diminish the value of BE if it didn't work after casting the damn thing only to have it not work after you make the check. However I suppose it's all moot since you're "allowing" this at your table anyways.

Sovereign Court

It seems like we have specific text of Break Enchantment trumping the general rule of supernatural abilities.


It's not a spell being removed therefore the section on removing spells does not apply.


Since no consensus was reached, I have FAQed this thread.


Mithras wrote:
But Dominate (SU) does have a caster level - why would it need that, if you can't dispell it?

No it doesn't. SU's never have caster levels. It says "as though". That is there because the ability works like a spell. As an example the monk's abundant step has similar language so you can know the limits of it since it references dimension door. For dominate the pseudo caster level lets you know how long the affect last.

When an ability says "as if" or "as though", it means you don't really have the attribute that follows. Improved natural attack is an example of that. You are not actually bigger. You just hit "as if" you were larger. By your logic the monster is actually bigger, but we know that is not the case.


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We don't need a consensus. I am right and the others are simply wrong.


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No, I am! (WTH, I FAQ'd it anyway.)


wraithstrike wrote:
We don't need a consensus. I am right and the others are simply wrong.

I would tend to agree.


I'd say the game is overall more enjoyable and playable if Break Enchantment works on a vampire's Dominate. A Vampire's Dominate is obnoxious enough in combat, having to keep a character incapacitated for a week or more after staking Fangface is just being a jerk on the GM's part if he rules BE doesn't work.

Destroying the Vampire doesn't work, almost no effect works like that. Dispel Magic doesn't work because of the Supernatural ability clause, and I can understand that. But seriously, what do some of you think it should take to remove a Dominate Gaze effect. Heal? Limited wish? Wish? Sometimes RAW has to take a backseat to playability and I'd say the Mid level, undo most nasty status effects including petrification spell is a pretty damn good place to say "...Eh, Close Enough."!


Can't you just cast protection from evil and give him a second chance to roll a saving throw? I only suggest this since Protection from evil says it works against a Ghosts magic jar effect which is a SU. So by that logic it should work against a vampires SU dominate ability.

Building on that the word "effect" in the "protection from evil" spell suggests that a SU is an effect. Which would lend credence to the idea that break enchantment is a valid counter to the vampire dominate.

But that's just my interpretation and I wouldn't mind a FAQ


Mage Evolving wrote:

Can't you just cast protection from evil and give him a second chance to roll a saving throw? I only suggest this since Protection from evil says it works against a Ghosts magic jar effect which is a SU. So by that logic it should work against a vampires SU dominate ability.

Building on that the word "effect" in the "protection from evil" spell suggests that a SU is an effect. Which would lend credence to the idea that break enchantment is a valid counter to the vampire dominate.

But that's just my interpretation and I wouldn't mind a FAQ

This interpretation, if you ask me, is RAW.

Being able to break an effect (which the Dominate ability actually is) means that Break Enchantment (which is specifically written to be able to do so) can be used to remove it. Even supernatural abilities have effects, they are not untyped changes made to a character sheet after an action is resolved. If they were, then any and all racial resistances to certain effects (like those of Elves and Gillmen mentioned above) would be absolutely useless, and Supernatural abilities would just skyrocket in power to the point of being cheesy.


Tandriniel wrote:

I respectfully disagree with your reading.

The text does not say what you quoted:

What I quoted is in the text -- but what you quoted actually supports my position better. In the PFRPG, an "effect" is basically anything. It's easier to say what it isn't: an effect does not include an alternate racial trait. So that's why I read the text the way I do.


Frankthedm wrote:

I'd say the game is overall more enjoyable and playable if Break Enchantment works on a vampire's Dominate. A Vampire's Dominate is obnoxious enough in combat, having to keep a character incapacitated for a week or more after staking Fangface is just being a jerk on the GM's part if he rules BE doesn't work.

Destroying the Vampire doesn't work, almost no effect works like that. Dispel Magic doesn't work because of the Supernatural ability clause, and I can understand that. But seriously, what do some of you think it should take to remove a Dominate Gaze effect. Heal? Limited wish? Wish? Sometimes RAW has to take a backseat to playability and I'd say the Mid level, undo most nasty status effects including petrification spell is a pretty damn good place to say "...Eh, Close Enough."!

This more or less matches my thinking. Dominate is too powerful at lower levels...


If BE would only work on spells it should have said as such instead of simply mentioning enchantments and effects.

The fact that a SU is not dispellable is irrelevant to the discussion wether BE can target enchantment effects created by SUs.

The only thing debatable is wether the Vamipre Dominate (and the Meduas Gaze) are indeed enchantment/transmutation effects as these do not state as much in their descriptions.

RAI I think the case is clear anyways, BE has always been the method of choice to remove adverse effects and I do not see a reason why this should have changed in Pathfinder.

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