100 spells that step on mundane toes


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I dont understand the topic. The whole *point* of magic is to do things better than by mundane means. I don't hear anybody complaining that Cure Light Wounds is way too good when compared to the heal skill.

OF COURSE IT IS. IT IS MAGIC.


alter self (yay, better than disguise)

polymorph (better than disguise)

mage hand (what better tool for an immature college student to steal undergarments in a college dorm raid with?)


awp832 wrote:

I dont understand the topic. The whole *point* of magic is to do things better than by mundane means. I don't hear anybody complaining that Cure Light Wounds is way too good when compared to the heal skill.

OF COURSE IT IS. IT IS MAGIC.

The point is that some classes can use magic to outdo other classes in certain areas, despite the non-mage classes specializing in that area. That can be neither fair nor balanced. The game shouldn't just come down to parties of wizards and their PC assistants.

On the heal thing: I'd like to see that the amount of hit points healed by a spell is dependent on a heal skill check.


If you counted prestidigitation once for each potential use, it would have filled the thread in the first post.

1. Make fire.
2. Flavor food.
3. Mildly adjust temperature.
4-95. Preform countless minor tricks.
96. Make minor objects.
97. Clean stuff.

Can you fill in 3 more? :P


@ Screaming headband: 3 more uses for Prestidigitation

1. move objects 1# or less slowly
2. create a minor puff of smoke
3. generate a middling sound effect

I know all 3 are covered in "perform countless minor tricks" but I wanted to point them out specifically.

Prestidigitation and Wish are the 2 extremes of the magic spectrum that, together, allow a 20th level arcanist to essentially do EVERYTHING.

I don't know about all of you but 1 monster with a good stealth skill and line of sight can keep even a mid-level party on their toes with Prestidigitation if I'm running. (Zeke the Mite, I'm looking in your direction buddy!)


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Anzyr wrote:
The Quite-big-but-not-BIG Bad wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:
That's because they do have it all, once they get to a certain level.

A handful of times per day, IF they prepare for it in advance and can spare the spell slots, unless they dish out quite a bit of money on one-use items like scrolls.

Even high level wizards are starved for spell slots in prolonged periods of activity.

Common misconception. As a Wizard advances in level with the help of long duration spells, their available spells actually begin to accumulate at a quadratic rate. Eventually 1/hour level buffs can be cast every two days (allowing you to alternate each day to get more buffs). Spells that are permanent until discharged are even better as they can be accumulated until you have more such effects then there are rounds in a day (I'm a big fan of explosive runes). Minion creating/calling spells are another way that a Wizard can save on slots as they advance in level. Animate Dead gets you a number of spell slot free damage, while even used completely intended Simulacrum provides access to even more spells when you make a half-hd copy of your self.

All of this also discounts the fact that a high level Wizard will almost certainly have access to a permanent demiplane with the double time flowing time trait allowing them get two days of spell preparation out of every one day of "normal time" and allows for 4 hour "normal time" spell preparation and extremely accelerated crafting (which can also save you spell slots).

Of course all of that is on top of the well over 70 (20 or so 7th to 9th level spells) spells per day a Wizard with the appropriate INT bonus gets. If that is a handful of spells to you, I have to ask if you are a Hecatoncheires.

This is why I liked Monte Cook's Spell Maintenance rule. A Spellcaster can only maintain a number of non-instant, non-concentration spells equal to his Primary attribute Modifier.

So a Wizard with 20 Int can only have 5 Duration based spells running at one time. If he casts a 6th he has to let one of the other ones go.


Stealing that. Thanks.


Every spell steps on mundane toes. All spells replicate mundane things but often take them to the extreme.


Has anyone mentioned Fabricate yet? AKA How to break a local economy.


Spark: Could be done with survival

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
awp832 wrote:

I dont understand the topic. The whole *point* of magic is to do things better than by mundane means. I don't hear anybody complaining that Cure Light Wounds is way too good when compared to the heal skill.

OF COURSE IT IS. IT IS MAGIC.

casters are not gods nor are they magic. They are limited even if magic is not. Spells in PF don't seem to care about that to much though.

#x Blend, hide in plan sight at lvl 1
#y endure elements - behold the power of the sun....oh nvm
#z Jump...actually monks still win here!


awp832 wrote:

I dont understand the topic. The whole *point* of magic is to do things better than by mundane means. I don't hear anybody complaining that Cure Light Wounds is way too good when compared to the heal skill.

OF COURSE IT IS. IT IS MAGIC.

Thing is in every fantasy setting Magic has Rules. Not so much Game rules but it's own set of limits and boundaries.

Additive/Subtractive magic from the Sword of Truth
Channeling from Wheel of Time
Order/Chaos
True Names
Equivalent Exchange
etc...

the "I don't gotta explain S$#@, It's Magic" is the fall back of poor writers using magic as a Deus Ex-Machina.

D&D/Pathfinder magic generally falls back to Vancian magic but most people don't actually go back and read what the Dying Earth Setting rules of that magic were.

Vance had a grand total of 100 spells, Each Spell did a single specific thing. it was implied that Magic was actually ancient science that the spells were mathematical in nature, Wizards had to "load" spells by memorizing the formulas, again suggesting the scientific link and they were wiped from memory when used. Spellbooks seem to be 1 spell per book. Spells are much more difficult (master wizard can hold about 4)and they didn't seem to be able to memorize the same spell more than once.
These were the Rules Vance laid down for his setting which is what inspired the D&D system for magic.
But the game rules didn't remain locked to the setting rules. They simply became a mechanic for spellcasting. Cutting magic free of any setting rules makes it pretty much up for grabs and you get all kinds of build up and bloat.

Imagine Pathfinder with only 100 Spells. Or if a wizard needed to carry a separate Book for every single spell he wanted to memorize. If he could not have more than 1 copy of a spell prepared at a time.

http://talesoftheramblingbumblers.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/ad-vance-to-a-mo re-vancian-magic/

Having setting rules for magic is as important as having game mechanic rules for magic.
Setting rules define it, give it life and balance it against the rest of the world.

In Terry Pratchette's discworld series Magic is alive. The Spell Books are dangerous and can eat you, they distort space if you put too many of them in one place. The main character of his early books is a Wizard that had one of the most powerful spells in the world force itself into his head and now he can't memorize any other spells cause they are too afraid of the one already there. He has no idea what it does but under times of stress it often tries to get itself said.
For all he knows it could blow up the world.

The Setting gives magic rules and that sets the limits.

If you want to balance Magic and Martial characters try figuring out what the rules of your world's magic are.


The Quite-big-but-not-BIG Bad wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:
That's because they do have it all, once they get to a certain level.

A handful of times per day, IF they prepare for it in advance and can spare the spell slots, unless they dish out quite a bit of money on one-use items like scrolls.

Even high level wizards are starved for spell slots in prolonged periods of activity.

Don't forget that any wizard who gets a pearl (of power) necklace has many more effective spell slots. A wizard with a strand of ten level one pearls of power (5,000GP if self-crafted) can cast charm person or hold portal (was the wittle fighty-wighty going to wedge that door shut) eleven times/day for only one spell slot of level one.


Oh as for the original question,

arcane eye makes scouting rogues/monks unneeded
alarm makes a camp guard redundant
acute senses is worth 10-30 ranks of perception
alter self is an even better disguise
animate objects means you don't need a barbarian to move that statue for you
animate rope replaces the grapple builds
ant haul is a substitute for the porter duties martial types wind up with
arcane lock is a superior wedge for doors


Greylurker wrote:

This is why I liked Monte Cook's Spell Maintenance rule. A Spellcaster can only maintain a number of non-instant, non-concentration spells equal to his Primary attribute Modifier.

So a Wizard with 20 Int can only have 5 Duration based spells running at one time. If he casts a 6th he has to let one of the other ones go.

I'd rather not I think. That punishes casters who aren't interested in pushing their save DCs higher and higher, and punishes casters who are hybrid casters (such as bards or rangers) who enjoy a long of long duration buffs but frequently have low key ability modifiers since casting powerful spells is not their main shtick.

Meanwhile it has basically no impact on full casters who are going to be pushing their key ability modifier into the +10-13 range anyway. It just means they'll be exactly as they've always been, with room to spare, while the lesser casters, multiclass casters, or off-casters get crapped on.


Ashiel wrote:
Greylurker wrote:

This is why I liked Monte Cook's Spell Maintenance rule. A Spellcaster can only maintain a number of non-instant, non-concentration spells equal to his Primary attribute Modifier.

So a Wizard with 20 Int can only have 5 Duration based spells running at one time. If he casts a 6th he has to let one of the other ones go.

I'd rather not I think. That punishes casters who aren't interested in pushing their save DCs higher and higher, and punishes casters who are hybrid casters (such as bards or rangers) who enjoy a long of long duration buffs but frequently have low key ability modifiers since casting powerful spells is not their main shtick.

Meanwhile it has basically no impact on full casters who are going to be pushing their key ability modifier into the +10-13 range anyway. It just means they'll be exactly as they've always been, with room to spare, while the lesser casters, multiclass casters, or off-casters get crapped on.

+10 to 13 range...wow I don't think I've ever seen them go that high in our games


Greylurker wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Greylurker wrote:

This is why I liked Monte Cook's Spell Maintenance rule. A Spellcaster can only maintain a number of non-instant, non-concentration spells equal to his Primary attribute Modifier.

So a Wizard with 20 Int can only have 5 Duration based spells running at one time. If he casts a 6th he has to let one of the other ones go.

I'd rather not I think. That punishes casters who aren't interested in pushing their save DCs higher and higher, and punishes casters who are hybrid casters (such as bards or rangers) who enjoy a long of long duration buffs but frequently have low key ability modifiers since casting powerful spells is not their main shtick.

Meanwhile it has basically no impact on full casters who are going to be pushing their key ability modifier into the +10-13 range anyway. It just means they'll be exactly as they've always been, with room to spare, while the lesser casters, multiclass casters, or off-casters get crapped on.

+10 to 13 range...wow I don't think I've ever seen them go that high in our games

i had a 14th level witch whom due to being drastically overgeared, getting a +1 int tome and a +6 headband type item, and a celestial boon from some kind of angel. had 32 INT

20 Int at level 1

+3 untyped for 12 levels for 23

+1 inherent for tome for 24

+6 enhancement for comb/headband (took headband slot)

+2 sacred for celestial boon

she had enough funds to get a 36 by getting a better tome. but chose to be fine with a 32.

she dumped STR though and had middling wis and cha

her INT was abusrdly high

combine that with Ability focus (Hex) and her Hexes were DC 30


Greylurker wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Greylurker wrote:

This is why I liked Monte Cook's Spell Maintenance rule. A Spellcaster can only maintain a number of non-instant, non-concentration spells equal to his Primary attribute Modifier.

So a Wizard with 20 Int can only have 5 Duration based spells running at one time. If he casts a 6th he has to let one of the other ones go.

I'd rather not I think. That punishes casters who aren't interested in pushing their save DCs higher and higher, and punishes casters who are hybrid casters (such as bards or rangers) who enjoy a long of long duration buffs but frequently have low key ability modifiers since casting powerful spells is not their main shtick.

Meanwhile it has basically no impact on full casters who are going to be pushing their key ability modifier into the +10-13 range anyway. It just means they'll be exactly as they've always been, with room to spare, while the lesser casters, multiclass casters, or off-casters get crapped on.

+10 to 13 range...wow I don't think I've ever seen them go that high in our games

I've had a few games go past 20th level, but you can get +10 to a score much earlier and +12-13 if you're really pushing it.

If you begin with merely a 15 (IE - basic elite array high stat, without a racial bonus) you get +5 inherent modifiers for 20, +6 from items for 26, and then 4 from levels for 30 (+10). If you were actually pushing it, you could get higher (18 after racials, +5 inherent, +5 levels, +6 items = 34 or +12). Counting special modifiers that you may have on top of that (such as lichdom or a monstrous race or anything of that sort) you can hit +13-15.

My friday group is only playing 1/week for a few hours at a time and we're already 5th level. Due to a plot-buff in the AP we're playing in my psion is sitting at Int 22 at the moment. I could theoretically have +10 by mid levels if I wanted it, and I just might since I tend to do a lot of support for the party so having power to burn is a plus.


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Stinking Cloud, Cloudkill- no matter how many cloves of garlic I eat. I can't do what these do.


Aristin76 wrote:
Stinking Cloud, Cloudkill- no matter how many cloves of garlic I eat. I can't do what these do.

Try not showering or eating nothing but Mexican.


Aristin76 wrote:
Stinking Cloud, Cloudkill- no matter how many cloves of garlic I eat. I can't do what these do.

Ask around at a Con, someone will know the secret.


They have it as a SLA. No verbal, somatic, or material components. Just a standard action and a funny glare.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

That means that those spells don't actually do something that could be done in a mundane way!

Same for Alter Self. There's no mundane way to actually change your race.


Petty Alchemy wrote:

That means that those spells don't actually do something that could be done in a mundane way!

Same for Alter Self. There's no mundane way to actually change your race.

Ah but you could appear to be another race with sufficient disguise skill, if you need to appear to be a goblin for some reason then alter self spell does a much better job of creating that appearance (because you actually become a goblin) than disguise skill can.


98 Secure Shelter (competes with Survival)
99 Ride the Waves (competes with Swimming)
100. Poison (competes with Alchemy)
101 Neutralize Poison (competes with Heal)
102 Locate Creature (competes with Survival/Tracking)
103 Discern Lies (competes with Sense Motive)
104 Detect Scrying (should be Arcane Knowledge and/or Perception)


cnetarian wrote:
Petty Alchemy wrote:

That means that those spells don't actually do something that could be done in a mundane way!

Same for Alter Self. There's no mundane way to actually change your race.

Ah but you could appear to be another race with sufficient disguise skill, if you need to appear to be a goblin for some reason then alter self spell does a much better job of creating that appearance (because you actually become a goblin) than disguise skill can.

Well alter self gives you actual things like low-light and darkvision, and movement forms of the creature you transform into (merfolk and strix for swim/fly speeds). At first I wasn't sure about the fly speed, but I checked the core polymorph rules in the Magic chapter and you automatically get natural attacks and movement forms of the creature you turn into with any polymorph subschool spell.

With the swim speed you get a +8 racial on swim checks and can take 10 on swim checks even when rushed or distracted. That pretty much means you have a positive bonus if in heavy armor with a shield.


To quibble alter self doesn't actually change your race. It gives a +10 to disguise checks an increase to a statistic might change your size and can grant or remove a number of form related abilities. You still count as your own race. It does a lot of things but individually all of those things are based off mundane abilities. If we look at reverse gravity for example it lets you change relative gravity in an area, it isn't doing something that doesn't occur in nature it's just allowing you to do it in an unnatural way.

As to nature I mean as far as pathfinder is concerned. There is a lot of crazy stuff that can be accomplished without spells as far as the game is concerned.


Petty Alchemy wrote:

That means that those spells don't actually do something that could be done in a mundane way!

Same for Alter Self. There's no mundane way to actually change your race.

Plastic surgery?


Mark Hoover wrote:
Plastic surgery?

No matter how much you make yourself look like a kobold, your still biologically a human.

Unless you do this anyway.


Wow, alter self into a strix for a fly speed. That witch hex is so much better than I thought. (And the spell itself, but that almost goes without saying)


Aioran wrote:
Wow, alter self into a strix for a fly speed. That witch hex is so much better than I thought. (And the spell itself, but that almost goes without saying)

Which witch hex are you talking about? There's one that gives disguise self, but that's something else entirely.

Alter self can't give fly speed. Only swim.


It's surprising how useful mundane stealth is at high levels. When every second enemy has constant See Invisibility, or True Seeing, your base +30 to stealth starts to look more and more useful.


Mekkis wrote:
It's surprising how useful mundane stealth is at high levels. When every second enemy has constant See Invisibility, or True Seeing, your base +30 to stealth starts to look more and more useful.

I'm not terribly familiar with high level monsters, but aren't things like Blindsense, Blindsight, and Tremorsense also increasingly common? Those screw mundane stealth just as surely as See Invis and True Seeing screw invisibility.

Mundane high mundane Disguise though... that's some pretty cool stuff. Screw you True Seeing, ain't no illusion or polymorph here!


MrSin wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:
Plastic surgery?

No matter how much you make yourself look like a kobold, your still biologically a human.

Unless you do this anyway.

Though I suspect you're joking, the greatest time limit you can have on that is permanent, not instant.

Permanent means it's a polymorph effect and you're still human (or whaterver the base thing is).

If you find a spell that changes you with an Instant duration, than you're actually that new creature.


MrSin wrote:

Which witch hex are you talking about? There's one that gives disguise self, but that's something else entirely.

Alter self can't give fly speed. Only swim.

Oh right, yeah, it's disguise self. :/

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