Feather Falling and You.


Rules Questions

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Is a DC 21 Concentration check required in order to cast Feather Fall after, say, a pit opened up beneath you?

start: Can't cast spell while falling unless it's for longer than 500 feet or an Immediate Action --> Feather Fall is an immediate action and directly mentioned by the paragraph (p.443 of my book which seems to be the same as on d20pfsrd verbatim)

Falling: 20 + spell level Concentration check required to cast while falling --> is this specifically in reference to the attempt to cast a different spell while under the effect of Feather Falling, or does it mean that a level 1 Wizard would have to beat a DC 21 Concentration check to cast a level 1 spell which is meant for use specifically in such emergencies?

I notice the conspicuous absence of the line from D&D 3.5 which said

Quote:
You can cast this spell with an instant utterance, quickly enough to save yourself if you unexpectedly fall.

So how about it? What's going on here? The RAW would seem to indicate a non-functional spell, or at least one that would be unworthy as a cantrip, let alone a full level 1. This is clearly not how such a spell is intended to behave, but then why would Paizo omit the single sentence which allows it to function? Is there some word from the writers themselves about this that I haven't been able to dig up?


You don't have to roll a concentration to cast feather fall. It's a corner case.


Karlgamer wrote:
You don't have to roll a concentration to cast feather fall. It's a corner case.

So instead of simply responding with [citation needed], I guess I have to ask if this is just supposed to be somehow understood via legacy from version 3.5? Because without a reference to actual Pathfinder rules about this, it's basically just some schmuck who came in to answer my thread, and that doesn't really hold any water with anyone.


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Since you can cast Feather Fall as an immediate action and that you can use immediate action out of turn, just like when a pit is opening beneath your feet, the line from 3.5 is not required anymore. There's no concentration check required because you can use your immediate action to cast the spell before you start to fall, unless you want to cast the spell on the defensive to prevent provoking one or more AoO. However, I guess you can't cast this spell if you fall when being flat-footed.

P.S.: You have been rude toward Karlgamer, you should apologize.


That line from 3.5 has nothing to do with not needing a concentration check. It just let you cast the spell as an immediate action, which, as Maerimydra notes, is no longer needed in Pathfinder.

The reason you don't need a concentration check is that that would be stupid.


Roberta Yang wrote:

That line from 3.5 has nothing to do with not needing a concentration check. It just let you cast the spell as an immediate action, which, as Maerimydra notes, is no longer needed in Pathfinder.

The reason you don't need a concentration check is that that would be stupid.

Again, says who? Just because I've played 3.5 and am familiar with the system doesn't mean that the GM has to take my advice or the opinions of random forum posters.

Essentially, if a pit opening beneath you makes you flat-footed, then it would still be incorrect to roll Concentration simply because Immediate Actions can't be taken while flat-footed. The definition of flat-footed describe it only as the condition of "not having acted yet during the first round of combat". Since when does an unexpected fall count against your initiative? I mean, because if that's the case, then the Wizard should get to roll Initiative to determine whether he is actually flat-footed against the pit trap -- and isn't that what the Reflex save is supposed to be for? So are you saying that, in order to cast a spell, a character has to succeed on a save simply to think to take the action? Because I've always thought that it was the player who decided what the character does.

What if, say, instead, the caster deliberately leapt off a ledge. Could he cast Feather Fall then without a Concentration check? What about a Quickened Teleport? Does the character land at the end of his Move action or at the end of his turn? Because, if the latter, then there's still time to attempt to cast both the Quickened Teleport and a normal Teleport spell before landing. If the former, then what sense would it make that a character couldn't perform an essentially instantaneous action in the span of roughly three seconds, even though he planned to do exactly that.


Maerimydra wrote:
You have been rude toward Karlgamer, you should apologize.

No, I will not apologize for replying succinctly to a post which did not respond to the problem I posted. Unless you care to apologize for the attempt to verbally abuse me about the perceived slight against someone who isn't yourself in the very first place?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Bottom of your screen wrote:
The most important rule: Don't be a jerk. We want our messageboards to be a fun and friendly place

Grand Lodge

Aunt Tony wrote:


Is a DC 21 Concentration check required in order to cast Feather Fall after, say, a pit opened up beneath you?
KarlGamer wrote:


You don't have to roll a concentration to cast feather fall. It's a corner case.

I would say that to everyone else it would appear he answered the question fast (2 minutes after your post) and succinct.

If it is only the second part of your post you want answers for then please formulate them better instead if turning off posters who try to help

edit: third attempt to get the quotes right, stupid phone


Aunt Tony wrote:
Again, says who?

Says absolutely everybody who has ever cast Feather Fall in the last twelve years.

Aunt Tony wrote:
Just because I've played 3.5 and am familiar with the system doesn't mean that the GM has to take my advice or the opinions of random forum posters.

Do you actually have such a GM insisting that Feather Fall is incapable of doing its job, or is this just one of those hypothetical GMs who need five pages of fine print to accompany every single rule because otherwise they will twist them into absurd misinterpretations?


Thod wrote:

I would say that to everyone else it would appear he answered the question fast (2 minutes after your post) and succinct.

If it is only the second part of your post you want answers for then please formulate them better instead if turning off posters who try to help

Aunt Tony wrote:
"is it just supposed to be somehow understood via legacy from version 3.5?"
blackbloodtroll wrote:
It was for everyone. Not everything is about you.

Then stop making it about me and allow the thread to get back on topic, would you kindly.


It's not about legacy from 3.5; the 3.5 version didn't have any more wording on the subject of concentration checks than the PF version does. (The line you quote is about using it as an immediate action, not about concentration checks.) It's about... reading the spell and understanding what it does.


Roberta Yang wrote:
Do you actually have such a GM insisting that Feather Fall is incapable of doing its job, or is this just one of those hypothetical GMs who need five pages of fine print to accompany every single rule because otherwise they will twist them into absurd misinterpretations?

I really hate to admit that my fear is that I have a bit of both on my hands.

His first time GMing, and I'm afraid that he's ridiculously suspicious of spellcasters in general, has only a passing understanding of the action economy of a turn, and has a tendency to do his "homework" the night before and then bring in a snippet of only half-understood rules that he suddenly wants to implement everywhere. One of those "I finally read the section about Concentration and now -- Concentration! All the time! But only spellcasters because they don't do the single-attack action that I'm familiar with!"


Roberta Yang wrote:
It's not about legacy from 3.5; the 3.5 version didn't have any more wording on the subject of concentration checks than the PF version does. (The line you quote is about using it as an immediate action, not about concentration checks.) It's about... reading the spell and understanding what it does.

I quoted that line with the understanding of specific > general. The idea being that the spell's description itself stated the most important part of its mechanic explicitly in a way that Pathfinder's version simply does not. I would be completely in agreement that it should be understood Feather Fall should prevent a low level Wizard from an almost certainly fatal fall (otherwise, what good is it? as was covered), but ... It just doesn't seem to be stated unambiguously enough to make insecure GMs feel comfortable allowing a party to narrowly avoid the railroad...

The worst part is that the RAW actually seems ambiguous even to me! I'm willing to put up with a new GM, he's got heart, bless him, but starting out on the wrong foot and with a lot of kludged-together and frustrating dice rolls is accomplishing exactly what he's expressed his interest in avoiding: bogging down action with a search through books. Maybe the thread's title should actually be "How to make my GM comfortable accepting advice".

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

If you cannot lead him here, to the official Paizo PRD, then I would print it out, and show him.


blackbloodtroll wrote:
If you cannot lead him here, to the official Paizo PRD, then I would print it out, and show him.

The problem seems to be that "suddenly falling" became interpreted to mean "extremely violent motion while casting".

The question is probably then whether this interpretation was intended by Paizo.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Feather Fall allows you to fall around 10ft per second.

The whole point of the spell is to fall softly and gently.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

Feather Fall allows you to fall around 10ft per second.

The whole point of the spell is to fall softly and gently.

Well, it might still do that for a higher level character, and if the fall were planned... That's what he's thinking.

But he believes that a concentration check is required to cast the Feather Fall spell itself while falling, not to cast a different spell while "falling like a feather", as it were.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

So, using the spell as intended is a punishable offense?


blackbloodtroll wrote:
So, using the spell as intended is a punishable offense?

If the intention isn't clearly stated by the book, it's not really something that a player has any, uh, solid ground to stand on.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

At this point, you might as well ask your DM what doesn't require a concentration check.

At least you will have that.


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While I am firmly in the no-concentration-needed camp, the spell is indeed pretty much unable to do much of its job, RAW-wise.

In other queries, it has become pretty much established that a trap that surprises you catches you flat-footed (hence attacking flat-footed AC in case of a dart trap, for instance)

Thus, it is safe to assume that a pit trap, or a surprising fall, will catch the character just as flat-footed as well.

Which means that casting Feather Fall, being an immediate action (which by definition, cannot be taken while flat-footed), will have to be postponed until after the character's Initiative in the first turn after having been caught by surprise.

Which, due to the instant-falling rules, will be long after impact.

Now, all GMs I have encountered so far will allow the spell to be cast, as this situation is pretty much a poster child of when it should be used... but strictly RAW, you're pretty much screwed.


Point blank: whatever the GM insists is law. You can try to appeal but if he/she reaffirms then that's what stands. Show him how immediate actions work. If you want dev feedback hit the James Jacobs thread in the morning EST - PST.

I'll also echo others: don't be a jerk.


While I don't agree with the blame game going on, Aunt Tony is right, there is no clause saying that you don't need to make a Concentration to cast.

It falls under the category of "unwritten rule".

However, it is my belief and interpretation, that a pit opening under you does not fall under Violent or Vigorous action....

Hold the phone,
Immediate Actions

Much like a swift action, an immediate action consumes a very small amount of time but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. However, unlike a swift action, an immediate action can be performed at any time—even if it's not your turn. Casting feather fall is an immediate action, since the spell can be cast at any time.

Using an immediate action on your turn is the same as using a swift action and counts as your swift action for that turn. You cannot use another immediate action or a swift action until after your next turn if you have used an immediate action when it is not currently your turn (effectively, using an immediate action before your turn is equivalent to using your swift action for the coming turn). You also cannot use an immediate action if you are flat-footed.

Quickened Casting

You can cast a quickened spell (see the Quicken Spell metamagic feat), or any spell whose casting time is designated as a free or swift action, as a swift action. Only one such spell can be cast in any round, and such spells don't count toward your normal limit of one spell per round. Casting a spell as a swift action doesn't incur an attack of opportunity.

So you wouldn't provoke an AoO, however the precedent for no concentration check isn't there.

However the spells purpose is to react to a falling danger, hence the Immediate casting time, so to not be able to react to a pit opening under to you with a quick verbal shout. then the spell really doesn't serve it's major purpose.


Aunt Tony wrote:
So instead of simply responding with [citation needed], I guess I have to ask if this is just supposed to be somehow understood via legacy from version 3.5? Because without a reference to actual Pathfinder rules about this, it's basically just some schmuck who came in to answer my thread, and that doesn't really hold any water with anyone.

Sorry for being a schmuck.

I have no rules I can cite. As I said "It's a corner case"

It's a problem or situation that occurs only outside of normal operating parameters.

I would love for feather fall to have some text in its description so this was clearer.

RAI is that Feather fall can be used whilst falling without a concentration check.

RAW it requires a concentration check like every other spell.


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If your GM is going to be this difficult over something as simple as Feather Fall, find a new GM. Or at least don't play a spellcaster. It's only going to get worse from here.


Roberta Yang wrote:
If your GM is going to be this difficult over something as simple as Feather Fall, find a new GM. Or at least don't play a spellcaster. It's only going to get worse from here.

I think there's a misconception here. This situation hasn't actually occurred in-game, it was used an illustration while discussing Concentration checks and how, when and why to make them. So, while it was definitely a topic for debate, the debate was strictly out-of-game and the illustrative scenario of pit opening -> do you fall and die just never happened.

Other shennanigans have gone on, though, like requiring a Concentration to float upwards while Levitating because "you are affected by a spell".

Keep in mind that his NPCs will have to abide by his interpretations, too, and there's still nothing he can do to force the Wizard to set foot outside the party's safehouse. Then again, I would doubt a pouty, passive-aggressive player would help him learn to GM ... in the short term, that is! And I doubt it would be fun for the Wizard player to sit at home, cowering in terror of the harsh Paizo Concentration checks. Not much fun to be an NPC.

Karlgamer wrote:
Sorry for being a schmuck.

Apparently it wasn't clear enough: you aren't necessarily a schmuck, that's just the status of you, as a stranger on the interwebs, relative to the GM. From his point of view, he doesn't know who you are, doesn't read these forums (as far as I know), and has no motivation to take player-generated advice given here with any degree of seriousness.

But at this point, I am extremely, extremely disappointed with Paizo. This isn't the first time I've run into one of these little "unwritten rules that clearly don't work as written", and I'd pretty much bitterly demand an official errata be released on specifically this spell.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Direct conversation is the best.

Avoid passive-aggressive tactics should be avoided.

Dark Archive

I'm considering trying this next time someone casts feather fall just to see the looks on the player's faces. :p

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Seriously.

Print out the concentration rules, and keep them on hand.


You should just call him a hypothetical [insulting name like schmuck] - unless he's got a huge Will save, that level of charm should bring him round to your point of view immediately :)

But seriously, why's this guy GMing? It sounds like you've played before - I would have thought it natural for anyone to at least observe or play in a game, and see how mutual levels of trust are fairly intrinsic and important to the game, before running it. Seeing someone model good GMing could do wonders for this guy.

Or has he observed this kind of petty, adversarial GMing already? Why is his level of trust so low?

But, nice work finding a hitherto unnoticed gap in the rules that needs attention.


I don't see any gap in the rules. Not being able to cast feather fall when flat-footed does make a lot of sense and this is how I would rule it. However, one has to understand that if someone cast a pit spell to open a pit under your feet, or if someone bull rush you into a pit, it doesn't make you flat-footed, so you can cast Feather Fall as an immediate action before falling into the pit (thus without making a concentration check) unless you are flat-footed. Even then, I would hardly describe a free fall as an "violent motion", unlike the sudden stop at the bottom of the pit.

I don't understand what the fuss is all about. Feather Fall is only a first level spell afterall.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

Seriously.

Print out the concentration rules, and keep them on hand.

That's exactly what he did...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Tell him you are actually having less fun.

Remember, having fun is the entire point.

Needless concentration checks impede your fun, and his bias towards spellcasters is helps no one.

If he refuses, ask if you can switch PCs, so you can play a class he won't needlessly pick on.


Maerimydra wrote:
I don't see any gap in the rules... I don't understand what the fuss is all about. Feather Fall is only a first level spell afterall.

As I understand it, Aunt Tony's main gripe is that the devs have presented feather fall poorly, so that RAW doesn't actually specifically and concretely support what we all know is RAI. This leaves it open to GM interpretation where it shouldn't. This makes it possible for a GM to basically destroy much of the functionality of the spell. It would be a cantrip if it couldn't save you from sudden fatal falls. As it is it's rather circumstantial.

I think this needs attention. If you don't, cool :)


My $.02

While I agree that it goes against the flavor of the spell totally, and it makes the spell less useful by like 100000x, it seems that by pure RAW (this is the rules forum) he is right.

To cast while falling there would be a conc check.

I'll admit I never thought about it before, nor will I enforce it in my games. but he has a point.

If someone can quote a rule that says otherwise I would love to see it, but sure as hell cant find one.


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Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

I rather thought that your immediate actiion, being used in reaction to some trigger, worked like a readied action or an AoO in that it "goes off" just BEFORE the trigger or provoking action. Thusly, you cast "feather fall" in reaction to beginning to fall, not in reaction falling some significant distance (note that a RING of feather falling does actually require you to fall some small distance before it activates). You don't have to make the "vigorous motion" concentration check because you haven't moved any further than enough to sense that you're beginning to fall. Now, this would be different if you knew you were falling from a great height and wanted to wait until you got closer to the bottom because otherwise your spell duration would expire before you reached the bottom. Then, yes, make that concentration check to cast while free-falling.

I'm not addressing the contention that you can't cast feather fall because you're flat-footed if you stepped on a concealed pit.


Seriously if the way your GM runs Feather Fall displease you so much, why don't you just pick another spell to memorize? The other party members probably do not have access to Feather Fall and something tells me that they won't all end up dead at the bottom of a pit (but I could be wrong). Furthermore, if you're the spellcaster, you should not be the one walking in front of the party, triggering all the pit trap by walking on them. Even if your GM requires you to make a concentration check, it's not that hard to succeed and Feather Fall is still a good first-level spell since it can mitigate the effects of what I would describe as contenders for the title of most powerful low-level spells in the game: pit spells.


Maerimydra wrote:
Seriously if the way your GM runs Feather Fall displease you so much, why don't you just pick another spell to memorize? The other party members probably do not have access to Feather Fall and something tells me that they won't all end up dead at the bottom of a pit (but I could be wrong). Furthermore, if you're the spellcaster, you should not be the one walking in front of the party, triggering all the pit trap by walking on them. Even if your GM requires you to make a concentration check, it's not that hard to succeed and Feather Fall is still a good first-level spell since it can counter what I would describe as the most powerful low-level spells in the game: pit spells.

You're completely right, it's hardly the end of the world.

Still, it's an interesting example of how a restrictive and/or inexperienced GM can miss the point of a mechanic because of the rules failing to specifically outline an underlying assumption.


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littlehewy wrote:
Maerimydra wrote:
Seriously if the way your GM runs Feather Fall displease you so much, why don't you just pick another spell to memorize? The other party members probably do not have access to Feather Fall and something tells me that they won't all end up dead at the bottom of a pit (but I could be wrong). Furthermore, if you're the spellcaster, you should not be the one walking in front of the party, triggering all the pit trap by walking on them. Even if your GM requires you to make a concentration check, it's not that hard to succeed and Feather Fall is still a good first-level spell since it can counter what I would describe as the most powerful low-level spells in the game: pit spells.

You're completely right, it's hardly the end of the world.

Still, it's an interesting example of how a restrictive and/or inexperienced GM can miss the point of a mechanic because of the rules failing to specifically outline an underlying assumption.

Or it could be another underlying assumption that is flat out wrong.

The fact that all of us thought it worked one way does not make it correct, just look at "flury as TWF" to see that 95% of players (and about 50% of writers) can be totally wrong about how a rule works.


Thefurmonger wrote:

Or it could be another underlying assumption that is flat out wrong.

The fact that all of us thought it worked one way does not make it correct, just look at "flury as TWF" to see that 95% of players (and about 50% of writers) can be totally wrong about how a rule works.

Sure it could.

Either way, I would appreciate any clarification :)

Contributor

Removed some posts. Please keep it civil, thanks!


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See I don't see how it would qualify for a concentration check.

Having actually fallen a number of times from high places for being a generally unlucky individual, the first few seconds you're fine. It's like being in free-fall till you hit the ground. So I don't see why you can't cast in that juncture.

Now, hitting something on the way down, like a branch, a ledge jutting out, or falling long enough for wind to affect enough to generate spin(like Fearless Felix's jump for example), all would require a check. That makes sense to me.

However as the OP does point out the rules for falling seem to disagree.

Quote:
A character cannot cast a spell while falling, unless the fall is greater than 500 feet or the spell is an immediate action, such as feather fall. Casting a spell while falling requires a concentration check with a DC equal to 20 + the spell's level. Casting teleport or a similar spell while falling does not end your momentum, it just changes your location, meaning that you still take falling damage, even if you arrive atop a solid surface.

Seeing how it specifically addresses feather fall as an exception to the rule for casting spells while falling; but then doesn't specify that immediates are exempt from the concentration check... Seems to me that they have to make one and that's the actual intent of the designers.

Granted, it's not that hard at higher levels, especially when your mods get nuts, but a level 1 wizard with the spell with a +3 int mod will have +4 to the check... and have to roll 17 or over to actually make that check. That doesn't seem particularly right to me.


If Concentration checks prove to be an ongoing issue in the OP's game, I would like to point out the feat Uncanny Concentration, which makes you auto-succeed on Concentration checks incurred due to motion or weather, and gives you a +2 on all other concentration checks.

It does have Combat Casting as a prerequisite, which makes it moderately less attractive. But it could prove helpful.


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Darth Grall wrote:
Granted, it's not that hard at higher levels, especially when your mods get nuts, but a level 1 wizard with the spell with a +3 int mod will have +4 to the check... and have to roll 17 or over to actually make that check. That doesn't seem particularly right to me.

Granted, but tossing 1st-level character into a deadly pit while they are flat-footed is not particularly right either, right?


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Aunt Tony wrote:
Apparently it wasn't clear enough: you aren't necessarily a schmuck, that's just the status of you, as a stranger on the interwebs, relative to the GM. From his point of view, he doesn't know who you are, doesn't read these forums (as far as I know), and has no motivation to take player-generated advice given here with any degree of seriousness.

Since I don't have anything official to give you, and my experience with rules isn't valued.

I asked:

me wrote:
Does Feather Fall require a concentration check if your falling?

James Jacobs responded:

James Jacobs wrote:
Nope. Does falling normally require a concentration check? I'd say probably not, since as a general rule, you fall too fast to have a chance to cast most spells.

This is a surprising yet typical James Jacobs response.


Karlgamer wrote:
me wrote:
Does Feather Fall require a concentration check if your falling?

James Jacobs responded:

James Jacobs wrote:
Nope. Does falling normally require a concentration check? I'd say probably not, since as a general rule, you fall too fast to have a chance to cast most spells.
This is a surprising yet typical James Jacobs response.

Well, seems he's wrong since the falling sections says what it says. But hey, it's an ignore I'm gonna ignore.

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