Are the Communal versions of spells worth it?


Advice


So I'm about to start playing a 7th level Wizard in a campaign where most of the PC's have started from 1st level.

There's "Communal" versions of a lot of spells out there, and I'm wondering whether people who've used them have found them practical or not. Here's my pro-and-con thinking :

They're one spell level higher, but if I think I'll need to cast it on more than one party member, I don't have to use up extra per-day slots with multiple copies of the regular spell.

And since I'm starting at 7th level, I could "start out" having the Communal versions available to cast right now. In other words, I don't *have* to grab the regular version of the spell at level X to have it available until I can grab the Communal version at level X+2.

I'm thinking that quite often only a single person in the melee might need to be protected at a time (uh-oh, that PC is up against X, they could use some protection from that), but that's highly up to the DM and the circumstances.

I'm afraid I must re-open the "how does Communal Touch work" can-o-worms, because if I can only cast Communal spells on my comrades when they're standing around me before the battle, that would practically kill Communal spells for me. We don't often know beforehand when a melee is about to erupt.
Please see Paizo thread "How to Touch 6 Friends" for a good, short discussion. I think the relevant RAW for most spells is : "You can touch up to 6 willing targets as part of the casting, but all targets of the spell must be touched in the same round that you finish casting the spell."

So if my comrades are spread out over a battlefield when I decide I need to cast a protection spell on them, I can't see that the Communal version is any good at that point.

On the THIRD hand, however : the metamagic Reach Spell feat turns Touch spells into Close-range spells. So couldn't I use Reach Spell on a Communal Touch spell, and then go (point) "touch", (point) "touch", (point) "touch" to all my comrades in the same round that I cast it?
If I can do that, then the Communal versions would be *really* handy!

Again, this is less of an "RAI" question than a "how has your experience using them been" question. But I'll take theoretical answers as well. :)

Thanks!


Using Resist Energy Communal + Lesser Rod of Reach is very handy in combat, assuming that's actually legal (and I don't see why it wouldn't be).
Without Reach, it's still fairly useful, if you can affect two or three people in a round (including yourself).


I think Communal spells are overpowered. Degrades a lot of monsters,

Oh we see a red dragon, poff everyone communal prot vs fire, bye dragon

Or yikes undead poff everyone Death ward....


In my game the party faced a vilkacis (werewolf-themed undead that possesses people and can cause them to spread lycanthropy while possessed) and the party cleric cast Communal Protection From Evil and was able to get everyone but the party fighter with Protection from Evil in one casting of the spell.

The fighter just got very very lucky when the vilkacis tried to possess him. He made his save with a very high roll. (His save modifier was awful.)

If the cleric hadn't had Communal PfE, he would have had to spend multiple rounds casting Protection from Evil in that fight and by then someone might have already been possessed.

So are Communal spells good? Yes, but it's situational.


So, Matthew : it's precisely the "if you can affect two or three people" part that I'm trying to figure out - how often will that happen when maybe everyone's spread out over the battlefield?

Wolf : can you describe the battlefield when the Cleric "got everyone"? Does that mean they all happened to be standing adjacent to the Cleric?

Thanks!


The communal spells are useful when everyone's going to be facing the same problem. Which does, in fact, come up a fair bit.

Communal tongues, communal water walk, and communal resist energy have all come in handy for my characters at one time or another.


Kyrademon : I can see that Tongues, Water Walk, etc. wouldn't happen in melee, and so could be cast Communally very easily ("everyone gather round...").

So I guess it's just the melee-helpful Communal spells like Resist Energy (and others) that I'm asking about.

I just realized I think I can boil this down to 2 questions :

Does "Communal Touch" mean you can only affect those party members in squares adjacent to yours?
If so, I see no point in melee-helpful Communal spells. Unless...

Can Reach Spell be used with Communal Touch spells to affect up to 6 people within Close range in the same round you cast the spell?
If so, then I see great utility with melee-helpful Communal spells.


ZenFox42 wrote:
So, Matthew : it's precisely the "if you can affect two or three people" part that I'm trying to figure out - how often will that happen when maybe everyone's spread out over the battlefield?

To affect two people, all you need to do is stand next to another character and cast it to affect you and them.

If there are two allies ten feet apart you can stand between them and affect three.
If they're riding a companion animal, you can get them too without any extra effort.
If the party know you use non-reach communal spells they can make it easier by not spreading out, knowing that if they run off and charge the dragon, they'll miss out on the spell.
Note the value of high initiative here. If you all stand next to one another, but don't get the spell off before the attack you're trying to protect against, you're making the whole party an easy area-effect target.


The communal spells for me are the backbone of a character that knows he is a supporting role. Outside of a known supporter/buffer I would always recommend u have at least one in ur arsenal for saving a teammates life. If u are able to investigate what u will face u can tell how useful they will be more often than not.


Often you'll have some idea that you're about to be in melee, as well as some idea of what you'll be facing.

Communal spells last quite a while, so it's not necessary to wait until you're standing in the dragon's lair after having awakened it from its dream-filled slumber. You can cast it before entering the area that's rumored to hold a dragon's hoard.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

ZenFox, is your group spread out the entire time, or do you spread out during the combat?

My groups tend to start the fight clumped together (usually due to terrain--if the group is entering a room in a dungeon they don't get much time to disperse before fighting happens), and then spread out in the first couple of rounds.

Also, in fights with one or two powerful enemies, the fighter types will usually bunch up around the single target, making it fairly easy to hit them with a communal spell.

So communal spells are great in the first or second round when everyone is bunched up, but then get harder to use as the fight goes on or when large numbers of enemies are present.


Designating a familiar as the toucher for communal spells helps in many combat situations.


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They trivialize many encounters so I personally have banned them. YMMV.

I don't see any reason why the rod of reach tactic shouldn't work however.


I agree with the posters who said they're OP... sort of. I don't like that you can make an entire party resistant to an element, but there's some communal spells I like: Ant Haul, Darkvision, Endure Elements, and others that support the "exploration pillar".


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

FYI: communal water walk is broken/useless, since normal water walk can already be broken up into multiple targets.

As it stands, i like the Communal spells much better then the 3.x Mass versions, which did everything the communal does but allowed at range target inclusions similar to Haste at the same level as the Communal.


Never underestimate the power of Mount - Communal.

Instant Cover, Instant Bait for Monsters, Fast Movement for Riders...

Silver Crusade

Communal spells are most useful if cast before battle. If you suspect what is coming, and have the appropriate communal buff, it can be extremely helpful.

This happened to me once, playing a mid level cleric. We were in a fire-themed dungeon.

Me: Hey guys, it's about time to buff everyone with Communal Resist Fire, don't you think?

Others: Not yet, let's scout ahead.

[Scout reports multiple fire-themed threats dead ahead]

Others: OK! Let's get that Communal Resist Fire going. We all bunch up and wait for it.

To the people who consider them Over Powered: I disagree. They can be very nice, but they are easy for the GM to defeat. It's totally up to the GM whether or not to warn PCs what's coming. Also, it can be fun to use communal buffs against the PCs: "What, I fireballed the orc patrol and shaman, and they aren't even singed?"


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Walter Leeuwen wrote:

I think Communal spells are overpowered. Degrades a lot of monsters,

Oh we see a red dragon, poff everyone communal prot vs fire, bye dragon

Or yikes undead poff everyone Death ward....

It is not like there they did not have Mass Death Ward and Mass Resist Elements in 3.5.


Magda Luckbender wrote:

Communal spells are most useful if cast before battle. If you suspect what is coming, and have the appropriate communal buff, it can be extremely helpful.

This happened to me once, playing a mid level cleric. We were in a fire-themed dungeon.

Me: Hey guys, it's about time to buff everyone with Communal Resist Fire, don't you think?

Others: Not yet, let's scout ahead.

[Scout reports multiple fire-themed threats dead ahead]

Others: OK! Let's get that Communal Resist Fire going. We all bunch up and wait for it.

To the people who consider them Over Powered: I disagree. They can be very nice, but they are easy for the GM to defeat. It's totally up to the GM whether or not to warn PCs what's coming. Also, it can be fun to use communal buffs against the PCs: "What, I fireballed the orc patrol and shaman, and they aren't even singed?"

If you know you're going up a red dragon...

More to the point, spending a single turn on a buff is a valid strategy, especially if (say, against a red dragon) the buff will protect from a lot of damage and you don't want to spend a standard action on an emergency heal. Even if you know you're going up against a red dragon, it might also know you're coming and spring out.

Seriously, dragon breath weapon damage is scary, but IME that's by far the most frightening part of fighting one. They fly, they get lots of attacks that deal decent damage, and that's just not as scary as the fiery breath.


Thanks everyone for the opinions and ideas, but it just seems to me that lately our group hasn't so much been "wandering in" to known situations so much as we have had the bad guys (or hungry animals) jump in on us.

So I haven't heard anyone contradict my understanding that basically you can only Communally Touch those adjacent to you, right?. Altho I'm curious about Benchak's comment, "the fighter types will usually bunch up around the single target, making it fairly easy to hit them with a communal spell" - in my mind's eye, I'm seeing (B=bad guy, C=characters, _=empty square) :

_C_
CBC
_C_

or even

_C_
CB_
CC_

Even if you have 4 comrades around a single target, how can someone with Communal Touch get more than 2 of them in any of these scenarios?

Anyone know of any RAW reason (or RAI even) why using Reach Spell with Communal Touch can't work? That sounds like a powerful combination! I *can't* be the first one to have thought of this???

Thanks!


The communal spells are good for when you have an idea of the upcoming threat. That may depend on your GM though, and how well your party does research. It also help to save spell slots, but you don't get to use the spell as long so that is another cost, but overall they are generally worth it.

In the first scenario a character can only touch 2 allies.

In the 2nd scenario the character to the left of B should be able to touch everyone, but the other 2 characters would be more limited.

There is also no reason why reach(metamagic feat) would not work in these cases.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yes, they are too good and were a bad idea to implement by Paizo.


Kimera757 wrote:
I agree with the posters who said they're OP... sort of. I don't like that you can make an entire party resistant to an element, but there's some communal spells I like: Ant Haul, Darkvision, Endure Elements, and others that support the "exploration pillar".

In combat the party is not likely to be close enough to use them without a reach rod, and if the spell did not exist the party could just buy extra scrolls to get the same effect if they use divination spells to get an idea about what is coming up. So whether one spell is cast or several lower level spells the affect is not much different. The communal spells just make things a little easier.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Read the CRB about touch spells. It merely says they have to be touched in the same round. So cast, then move 30ft touching them as a free action. If haste is up you have 60ft of movement.


Walter Leeuwen wrote:

I think Communal spells are overpowered. Degrades a lot of monsters,

Oh we see a red dragon, poff everyone communal prot vs fire, bye dragon

Or yikes undead poff everyone Death ward....

And thats why alter self is one of my favorite spells for a dragon to have handy: Why is that white dragon breathing fire!!! OMGWTFBBQ!!!


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rat_ bastard wrote:
And thats why alter self is one of my favorite spells for a dragon to have handy: Why is that white dragon breathing fire!!! OMGWTFBBQ!!!

Alter self changes you into a medium/small humanoid. Not exactly helpful.

Communal spells, OTOH, are fantastic. Communal Phantom Steed makes fast overland travel actually practical, especially if combined with Extend Spell.

Though I think that Communal should have been a Metamagic, not a separate series of spells. It would probably be difficult to make the wording work to prevent abuse/strangeness in application, though if you limited it to spells with (harmless) in the save/SR category it would probably work.


Communal spells can negate a dragon's breath weapon or a caster's Scorching Rays and Fireballs with a single low level spell, so they cause some disappointment on both sides of the DM screen (I don't know why I use that phrase since nobody I know uses a DM screen). I'm not sure if the spells are exactly overpowered, but they're certainly powerful. When a dragon shows up or the enemies start spamming Fireball having a Communal Resist handy can really save your bacon. It can be helpful for environmental hazards too. I think it is good that Paizo makes you split up the duration between the recipients. In 3.5 it was too easy for higher level parties to get blanket immunity against energy damage for an entire dungeon crawl.

Playing tactically sometimes means being patient enough to wait for the casters to use some spells before everybody charges off in different directions to inflict some megadamage. There's also the fact that letting enemies come to you can often result in you answering their single attack with a full attack. It helps if you have sufficient ranged attack power to encourage the enemies to close for melee, but many monsters function in melee only and therefore really have little choice.


rat_ bastard wrote:
Walter Leeuwen wrote:

I think Communal spells are overpowered. Degrades a lot of monsters,

Oh we see a red dragon, poff everyone communal prot vs fire, bye dragon

Or yikes undead poff everyone Death ward....

And thats why alter self is one of my favorite spells for a dragon to have handy: Why is that white dragon breathing fire!!! OMGWTFBBQ!!!

Assuming dragons have created a draconic version of alter self, the location is still going to be some indicator. White dragons prefer arctic tundra, brass the deserts, fire mountains and volcanos, etc. Location isn't a perfect indicator, but with a fairly low knowledge roll i'd be suspicious of a "red" dragon in the arctic tundra. Then again, who would ever expect it. Might be a smart move.


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
rat_ bastard wrote:
Walter Leeuwen wrote:

I think Communal spells are overpowered. Degrades a lot of monsters,

Oh we see a red dragon, poff everyone communal prot vs fire, bye dragon

Or yikes undead poff everyone Death ward....

And thats why alter self is one of my favorite spells for a dragon to have handy: Why is that white dragon breathing fire!!! OMGWTFBBQ!!!
Assuming dragons have created a draconic version of alter self, the location is still going to be some indicator. White dragons prefer arctic tundra, brass the deserts, fire mountains and volcanos, etc. Location isn't a perfect indicator, but with a fairly low knowledge roll i'd be suspicious of a "red" dragon in the arctic tundra. Then again, who would ever expect it. Might be a smart move.

Or extremely foolish, because of it's vulnerability to cold. No, I'm fairly certain theres a problem there.


Scavion wrote:
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
rat_ bastard wrote:
Walter Leeuwen wrote:

I think Communal spells are overpowered. Degrades a lot of monsters,

Oh we see a red dragon, poff everyone communal prot vs fire, bye dragon

Or yikes undead poff everyone Death ward....

And thats why alter self is one of my favorite spells for a dragon to have handy: Why is that white dragon breathing fire!!! OMGWTFBBQ!!!
Assuming dragons have created a draconic version of alter self, the location is still going to be some indicator. White dragons prefer arctic tundra, brass the deserts, fire mountains and volcanos, etc. Location isn't a perfect indicator, but with a fairly low knowledge roll i'd be suspicious of a "red" dragon in the arctic tundra. Then again, who would ever expect it. Might be a smart move.
Or extremely foolish, because of it's vulnerability to cold. No, I'm fairly certain theres a problem there.

Good point.


If you're dealing with a particularly tricky dragon or your party is all color blind you might consider casting Communal Resist Energy 4 times. Dragons can be pretty dangerous in melee too though.

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