Spell Resistance and rolling a "1".


Rules Questions

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Silver Crusade

10 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Staff response: no reply required.

It states that Spell Resistance is like Armor Class in that it defends against magical attacks. Now since you fail on a 1 and succeed on a 20 when attacking Armor Class, would the same apply to Spell Resistance?


Nope, although I can see why you'd think that. That's a description to frame it in your mind, and is not binding.

Sections of the rules that fall under the auto-fail and auto-succeed rules explicitly list themselves as such. This includes weapon attack rolls and saving throws.


Good to know


Just to confirm, the 1's auto fail and 20's auto succeed rule only applies to Attack rolls and Saves.


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mplindustries wrote:
Just to confirm, the 1's auto fail and 20's auto succeed rule only applies to Attack rolls and Saves.

The claim (from ciretose) is that caster level checks to overcome spell resistance are treated as attack roles for this purpose, but not for any other purpose. He hasn't explained what exactly determines when they are and aren't treated as attack rolls, though the general heuristic appears to be "whatever makes it marginally easier for me claim wizards aren't overpowered compared to fighters".


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The rules state that spell resistance is like an armor class, not an attack roll. It then goes on to explicitly state that overcoming spell resistance is a caster level check. Caster level checks do not have any language that makes them fail on a natural 1. So the spell resistance is the target DC (like an Armor Class) that you have to equal or exceed with your caster level check (which doesn't fail on a 1 or succeed on a 20).


Roberta Yang wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
Just to confirm, the 1's auto fail and 20's auto succeed rule only applies to Attack rolls and Saves.
The claim (from ciretose) is that caster level checks to overcome spell resistance are treated as attack roles for this purpose

Wow, that's a ridiculous argument. Lots of things are like other things without being those other things.

The rules on 1s and 20s are very clear--they apply only to attack rolls and saves. The very fact that the caster level check to overcome SR is a caster level check is all you need to know--it is neither an attack nor a save.

SR can be "like" AC all you like, but the rule for rolling 1s and 20s doesn't care about AC, only about attack rolls and saves.

Silver Crusade

I'm hoping a dev will come in and give an official ruling.


Several people have given official answers. There will not be a dev answering because there is no need for a dev to answer. The answer is obvious and clear.

I really can't stand it when people have received the correct answer, don't like it, and then defiantly claim they need a dev answer.

If I were a dev, I'd specifically look for those threads and shove their faces in the rule. So aggravating.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
mplindustries wrote:

Several people have given official answers. There will not be a dev answering because there is no need for a dev to answer. The answer is obvious and clear.

I really can't stand it when people have received the correct answer, don't like it, and then defiantly claim they need a dev answer.

If I were a dev, I'd specifically look for those threads and shove their faces in the rule. So aggravating.

No they haven't. They've given their opinion.

I really can't stand it when people get mad when other people don't accept their opinion as fact.


There is no need for an official ruling.

Silver Crusade

Lakesidefantasy wrote:
There is no need for an official ruling.

Who gave you the authority to decide?


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I see this sort of thing a lot. The issue is that different people are interpreting the RAW differently. Each is convinced that they are interpreting it correctly, but the two readings are in direct contradiction to each other.

It is my opinion, in this case, that the ciretose interpretation is stretching the RAW beyond the breaking point and that mplindustries' interpretation is more directly in line with Rules As Written.

But that's just my opinion.

My issue in these things is that all too frequently the developers will look at a thread like this and will decide that they don't need to weigh in since SOMEONE has identified the rule properly and they assume that means it's just an argument at that point.

Unfortunately sometimes the rule actually could benefit from final clarification and because it would be so easy to say "mplindustries has the right of it" and move on, it frustrates me that so many of these things are extensive arguments because of the decision not to get involved.

TL:DR, I agree with mplindustries but I still wish the devs would weigh in.

Liberty's Edge

I agree. There is no need for a ruling. The rules for auto-fail and auto-succeed on a nat 1 and nat 20 respectively quite explicitly only apply to attack rolls and saves, and the caster level check to overcome SR is never declared as either, so therefor it is neither and does not fall under that rule.

The "like AC" argument holds no water because it doesn't matter what SR is like, it matters what the caster level check is like.

Silver Crusade

Why should bypassing SR be any different than CMB vs CMD or saves?

You are attacking someones mystical defense with a spell which is still a weapon.

Silver Crusade

StabbittyDoom wrote:

I agree. There is no need for a ruling. The rules for auto-fail and auto-succeed on a nat 1 and nat 20 respectively quite explicitly only apply to attack rolls and saves, and the caster level check to overcome SR is never declared as either, so therefor it is neither and does not fall under that rule.

The "like AC" argument holds no water because it doesn't matter what SR is like, it matters what the caster level check is like.

What are you afraid of?

Afraid they are going to rule the opposite of what you think?

Liberty's Edge

shallowsoul wrote:

Why should bypassing SR be any different than CMB vs CMD or saves?

You are attacking someones mystical defense with a spell which is still a weapon.

Do you mean via crunch of fluff?

Fluff: The SR check is there to determine whether you were able to form your spell solidly enough to stand up against the spell-shredding power of SR. You are not rolling to "attack" when making an SR check, you're rolling to see if your spells are stable enough.

Crunch: The rules never call it an attack roll, nor does it call it a save. It's a caster level check. The 1/20 rule only applies on attack rolls and saves. Therefor, the 1/20 rule does not apply to the check to overcome SR.

Note: Many spells will STILL be subject to the 1/20 rule, sometimes on multiple fronts, due to the rules on attack rolls and saves. A spell like disintegrate, for example, has a 5% chance to auto-fail due to the attack roll, and a 5% chance to automatically use its reduced damage due to the save.

Liberty's Edge

shallowsoul wrote:
StabbittyDoom wrote:

I agree. There is no need for a ruling. The rules for auto-fail and auto-succeed on a nat 1 and nat 20 respectively quite explicitly only apply to attack rolls and saves, and the caster level check to overcome SR is never declared as either, so therefor it is neither and does not fall under that rule.

The "like AC" argument holds no water because it doesn't matter what SR is like, it matters what the caster level check is like.

What are you afraid of?

Afraid they are going to rule the opposite of what you think?

Honestly, I don't care. If I'm "afraid" of anything, its people seemingly willingly confusing those on the boards looking for the actual rules advice. If it takes a dev coming down from the ivory tower to say "shut up and go home", so be it, but I doubt they'll come down for something that's basically like asking if a skill check auto-fails on a nat 1 because it can sometimes attack something formed via 10 + ? + ability score, which looks sort-of like an AC.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

shallowsoul wrote:
Why should bypassing SR be any different than CMB vs CMD or saves?

Because they're not written the same. That's all it takes.

Quote:
You are attacking someones mystical defense with a spell which is still a weapon.

No, spells are not always weapons. Some types of spells are treated like weapons for certain purposes. That does not NOT mean CL checks carry over all the rules of attack rolls.

If I have cover, do I get +4 to my SR? If I'm engaged in melee with someone, does a caster take -4 to their CL check to overcome my SR?

Where exactly do you draw the line, and what text are you using as a basis for drawing it where you do?


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shallowsoul wrote:
Why should bypassing SR be any different than CMB vs CMD or saves?

Because it's a caster level check and not an attack roll or save? I don't understand this question. Why should purple be any different than blue? Things are what they say they are. You bypass SR with a caster level check. A caster level check is not an attack roll. Problem solved.

shallowsoul wrote:
You are attacking someones mystical defense with a spell which is still a weapon.

You are not attacking anything, because an attack roll is a defined thing in the system. You are making a caster level check, which is not an attack roll or a save.

And most spells are not weapons, actually. Only rays are explicitly weaponlike (touch spells and ranged touch spells are probably not weaponlike, but it is still arguable that they are).

shallowsoul wrote:

What are you afraid of?

Afraid they are going to rule the opposite of what you think?

I get great joy from having arguments like this in which an actual dev does step in and give the answer I've been giving all along.

The problem, though, is twofold:

1) It's not going to happen because there is absolutely zero ambiguity here--all the ambiguity you're experiencing is manufactured by you. The rules are clear, it's the fluff that you are claiming is not (which is irrelevant).

2) Even when devs come in and speak up on issues like this, the response is never "Oh, I guess you were right" or anything else satisfying or even reasonable. The response is always either twisting their response to suit your needs, or immediately starting 10 threads about how stupid and wrong this "brand new rule" (that's existed all along) is.


From Spell Resistance :
To affect a creature that has spell resistance, a spellcaster must make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) at least equal to the creature's spell resistance. The defender's spell resistance is like an Armor Class against magical attacks. If the caster fails the check, the spell doesn't affect the creature. The possessor does not have to do anything special to use spell resistance. The creature need not even be aware of the threat for its spell resistance to operate.

As opposed to

Attack Roll

An attack roll represents your attempt to strike your opponent on your turn in a round. When you make an attack roll, you roll a d20 and add your attack bonus. (Other modifiers may also apply to this roll.) If your result equals or beats the target's Armor Class, you hit and deal damage.

Automatic Misses and Hits: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on an attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit. A natural 20 is also a threat—a possible critical hit (see the attack action).

Saving Throws

Generally, when you are subject to an unusual or magical attack, you get a saving throw to avoid or reduce the effect. Like an attack roll, a saving throw is a d20 roll plus a bonus based on your class and level (see Classes), and an associated ability score. Your saving throw modifier is:

Base save bonus + ability modifier

Saving Throw Types: The three different kinds of saving throws are Fortitude, Reflex, and Will:

Fortitude: These saves measure your ability to stand up to physical punishment or attacks against your vitality and health. Apply your Constitution modifier to your Fortitude saving throws.

Reflex: These saves test your ability to dodge area attacks and unexpected situations. Apply your Dexterity modifier to your Reflex saving throws.

Will: These saves reflect your resistance to mental influence as well as many magical effects. Apply your Wisdom modifier to your Will saving throws.

Saving Throw Difficulty Class: The DC for a save is determined by the attack itself.

Automatic Failures and Successes: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on a saving throw is always a failure (and may cause damage to exposed items; see Items Surviving after a Saving Throw). A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a success.

As you can see both Saves and Attack rolls specifically state 1's are autofails and 20's are successes. Spell Resistance does not contain that disclaimer. "is like" is not the same as "exactly the same as". Viewing things partially and not in total context does not make a any specific stance accurate. This seems pretty clear cut to me.

I've seen this done as a simple oversight (not everyone can remember everything) to from my POV laziness or contentious where they only read to what suits their needs. Mind you, I don't think the OP is either of these, just uninformed.

Silver Crusade

There is nothing wrong with me asking the devs for a ruling on something thats not clear. If you don't like it then don't post, just sit back and see what happens.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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shallowsoul wrote:

What are you afraid of?

Afraid they are going to rule the opposite of what you think?

Sean K Reynolds has reduced his involvement in "messageboard rulings" and the writing of FAQ entries specifically because people would claim something was less clear than it really was, then try to twist his answer when he gave it so he had to shut down their twisting, and then when they'd finally been cornered into admitting that SKR was NOT agreeing with them, they'd yell at him for making a stupid "change" to the rules.

Even aside from threads like this being so ridiculous that it actively discourages the devs from getting involved, there's also the fact that when the devs spend some of their limited time sifting through the queue of FAQ-flagged posts, they now have to wade through post after post after post of completely asinine questions in order to dig up the rare thread where something legitimately needs attention.

To put it simply, threads like this are the reason FAQs and rulings are as rare as they are. Thus, there is plenty reason to dismiss a thread as not needing a dev response besides being scared of the result.


shallowsoul wrote:
There is nothing wrong with me asking the devs for a ruling on something thats not clear. If you don't like it then don't post, just sit back and see what happens.

The problem with this is that it is clear to everyone but you. It had been explained, classified, clarified and documented by multiple people, although some of those sources could have been more polite about it, but you still insist on the devs giving a ruling on something that is clear to everyone else. It's not going to happen because there is no need for it to happen. Sorry if that annoys you, but it won't change the way the world works.

Silver Crusade

Joex The Pale wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
There is nothing wrong with me asking the devs for a ruling on something thats not clear. If you don't like it then don't post, just sit back and see what happens.
The problem with this is that it is clear to everyone but you. It had been explained, classified, clarified and documented by multiple people, although some of those sources could have been more polite about it, but you still insist on the devs giving a ruling on something that is clear to everyone else. It's not going to happen because there is no need for it to happen. Sorry if that annoys you, but it won't change the way the world works.

So the 5 or so people that posted a response represents everyone while I supposedly represent the only one?

Sorry but not everyone reads a rule or phrase the same way. The fact that two others have requested a FAQ debunks your everybody else statement.

If the devs rule nay then so be it, if they say yay then at least we know.


Joex The Pale wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
There is nothing wrong with me asking the devs for a ruling on something thats not clear. If you don't like it then don't post, just sit back and see what happens.
The problem with this is that it is clear to everyone but you. It had been explained, classified, clarified and documented by multiple people, although some of those sources could have been more polite about it, but you still insist on the devs giving a ruling on something that is clear to everyone else. It's not going to happen because there is no need for it to happen. Sorry if that annoys you, but it won't change the way the world works.

You're probably right, and I'm sort of sorry, but this issue actually came up in another thread where the same points were made and, yet, this thread was created anyway...

Liberty's Edge

To sum up Jiggy, though possibly less politely: Making threads about obviously-incorrect rules "ambiguities" only makes it harder for us to get answer to questions that are actually ambiguous. Please do not make and continue to argue threads just because it sort-of looks like in a weird vague way that maybe this part of the rules works a way that you assumed it did before reading the rules, even though it has never and will never work that way.


shallowsoul wrote:
There is nothing wrong with me asking the devs for a ruling on something thats not clear. If you don't like it then don't post, just sit back and see what happens.

What isn't clear here?

The rules are [b]TRYING[/i] to be clear, to have you understand them. Sure, there are slips, but generally, the writers call things out explicitly as often as they can, and try not to leave simple things muddied when they can avoid it.

Now, given that failing on a 1, and succeeding on a 20, is specifically called out for attack rolls and saves (and mentioned as such in a few places), don't you think they would have included a line about this, or drawn a stronger parallel between making an attack roll and making a caster level check to bypass SR if those rules applied here?

Don't you think they would have mentioned SOMEWHERE in all the text in several places in the CRB and additional materials that CL checks to bypass SR used these rules if they did? We're not discussing something that's poorly worded, or left unclear. It's kind of obnoxious to read/listen to people who appear to be trying to misinterpret the rules, or find problems with them. There are some people I game with in RL that do this, and it frustrates the hell out of me. You may not think it's a problem to hammer the FAQ button every time you glance at a page, but as others have indicated, doign so just gums up the works for the things that ACTUALLY need to get FAQ'ed, and make the people who work on, and reply to, such things less eager to delve into the FAQ'ed threads for the same reason--because they're frustrated as heck with reading stuff like this.


mplindustries wrote:
Joex The Pale wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
There is nothing wrong with me asking the devs for a ruling on something thats not clear. If you don't like it then don't post, just sit back and see what happens.
The problem with this is that it is clear to everyone but you. It had been explained, classified, clarified and documented by multiple people, although some of those sources could have been more polite about it, but you still insist on the devs giving a ruling on something that is clear to everyone else. It's not going to happen because there is no need for it to happen. Sorry if that annoys you, but it won't change the way the world works.
You're probably right, and I'm sort of sorry, but this issue actually cae up in another thread where the same points were made and, yet, this thread was created anyway...

No worries. I understand frustration with having people ask the same question repeatedly, then arguing with the answer when they get it. I just find that staying polite, or not responding at all, robs them of their power to annoy. (Or makes it amusing to watch them go apoplectic with impotent fury.) ;-)

Dark Archive

shallowsoul wrote:
It states that Spell Resistance is like Armor Class in that it defends against magical attacks. Now since you fail on a 1 and succeed on a 20 when attacking Armor Class, would the same apply to Spell Resistance?

I can find nothing stating that it is an attack roll, and since only attack rolls and saving throws are auto succeed/auto fail, I would think that the caster level check to by-pass SR would not auto-succeed/fail.

Making it an attack roll, ( as your wording appears as you are reading it as), would make for some odd rulings.

For example:

  • Could you use "True Strike" to add +20 to your chance to by-pass SR?
  • Would you have the chance of a 50% "miss" vs an invisible opponent?

    these are just two things that can happen with other "attack rolls" but would make no sense on by-passing SR.


  • shallowsoul wrote:
    There is nothing wrong with me asking the devs for a ruling on something thats not clear. If you don't like it then don't post, just sit back and see what happens.

    How is it not clear? The rules specifically state you make a caster level check. Where in the rules does it say caster level checks fail on a 1?

    As others have said, Devs probably aren't going to respond to rules that are plainly stated as to how they work....asking them to is wasting their time.

    Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

    Alright everyone, I think we've reached the point where an innocent newbie finding this thread later while honestly looking for answers will no longer be confused. Thus, I think it's safe now to stop repeating each other, as going further will serve no purpose other than to "rub shallowsoul's face in it", which is not necessary.

    This thread can be left to rest in peace now, okay guys?


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
    Joex The Pale wrote:
    The problem with this is that it is clear to everyone but you. It had been explained, classified, clarified and documented by multiple people, although some of those sources could have been more polite about it, but you still insist on the devs giving a ruling on something that is clear to everyone else. It's not going to happen because there is no need for it to happen. Sorry if that annoys you, but it won't change the way the world works.

    I've played the part of lone rules lawyer before, only to have designers come in and tell everyone that they were wrong and I was right.

    It happens.


    From d20pfsrd (emphasis mine)

    Combat Maneuvers wrote:

    When you attempt to perform a combat maneuver, make an attack roll and add your CMB in place of your normal attack bonus.

    ...
    Rolling a natural 20 while attempting a combat maneuver is always a success (except when attempting to escape from bonds), while rolling a natural 1 is always a failure.

    In the case of combat maneuvers, it is made very explicit that you're making an attack roll, so it stands to reason that auto-success/failure applies. Even so, however, it is specifically called out that this is the case.

    I think it's more than reasonable to assume SR checks do not auto-succeed/fail, given that A) rolls against Spell Resistance are called out as being a caster level check, rather than an attack roll and B) the rules explicitly call out that it applies to CMB rolls, even though that is understood implicitly since it is an attack roll.

    Regardless of SR being "like AC", AC does not have the property that rolls against it succeed or fail on a natural 20 or 1; that is a trait of attack rolls.

    Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

    shallowsoul wrote:
    If some of you are so right then how about FAQ it and lets see what happens.

    We've already been over this.

    If you honestly believe what you're saying, then present your case. Respond to people's claims. Rebut their arguments.

    If you can't refute what's been said, then the mature course of action would be to consider the possibility that you might simply be wrong.

    Liberty's Edge

    To be clear as to the case for (It is amazing how many Devs are on the thread...)

    Spell Resistance

    ""Spell resistance is a special defensive ability. If your spell is being resisted by a creature with spell resistance, you must make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) at least equal to the creature's spell resistance for the spell to affect that creature. The defender's spell resistance is like an Armor Class against magical attacks. Include any adjustments to your caster level to this caster level check."

    Under Armor Class

    Armor Class

    "Your Armor Class (AC) represents how hard it is for opponents to land a solid, damaging blow on you. It's the attack roll result that an opponent needs to achieve to hit you."

    And finally
    "Attack Roll

    An attack roll represents your attempt to strike your opponent on your turn in a round. When you make an attack roll, you roll a d20 and add your attack bonus. (Other modifiers may also apply to this roll.) If your result equals or beats the target's Armor Class, you hit and deal damage.

    Automatic Misses and Hits

    A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on an attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit. A natural 20 is also a threat—a possible critical hit (see the attack action)."

    If you are confident the Devs will agree with you, click the FAQ button, however stating it is obvious just kind of makes you look like a jackass.

    And I would know :)

    Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

    So shallowsoul and ciretose, if the chain of connection spelled out by ciretose is sufficient cause to apply the "1/20 rule" from attack rolls to CL checks to overcome SR (let's just call them "SR checks" for brevity), do any other rules about how attack rolls work carry over to "SR checks"? Why or why not?

    I asked this upthread, before ciretose got here, and since shallowsoul didn't answer it, I thought I'd bring it up again.

    Liberty's Edge

    I think a lot of people house rule skill checks, but as far as I know there is no rules citation on that. I can't think of anything else in the game described as working "like armor class" but I would say that anything described that way would presumably be adjudicated "like armor class"

    As I said in the other thread, I'm open to citations saying I'm wrong, I'm FAQing it because there is clearly disagreement, but I can't see any reason why you wouldn't adjudicate it the same way as you would attacks against Armor Class if the intent of Spell Resistance is literally stated to be "an Armor Class against magical attacks".

    Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

    There was a previous thread?

    Liberty's Edge

    Jiggy wrote:
    There was a previous thread?

    This was a derail from Lemmy's Wizard options thread. It didn't get very far before we moved it, as it was clearly devolving into baiting and was off topic.

    I suggested someone open an FAQ to discuss it, Shallow did, and here we are :)

    Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

    ciretose wrote:

    I think a lot of people house rule skill checks, but as far as I know there is no rules citation on that. I can't think of anything else in the game described as working "like armor class" but I would say that anything described that way would presumably be adjudicated "like armor class"

    As I said in the other thread, I'm open to citations saying I'm wrong, I'm FAQing it because there is clearly disagreement, but I can't see any reason why you wouldn't adjudicate it the same way as you would attacks against Armor Class if the intent of Spell Resistance is literally stated to be "an Armor Class against magical attacks".

    My question remains unanswered: What other rules about armor class/attack rolls port over to CL-versus-SR checks, besides the auto-succeed/fail on a 20/1 rule?

    Silver Crusade

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    It doesn't say that CL checks are like attack rolls.

    It says that SR is like AC.

    AC doesn't auto-fail on a 1, or auto-succeed on a 20. AC isn't rolled. SR isn't rolled. SR being 'like' AC does not equal CL checks are, or are 'like', attack rolls.

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