Spells not to use as GMs


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

1 to 50 of 278 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | next > last >>

So, this is a question regarding GMs. What spells do you guys believe are spells that GMs just shouldn't/don't use? The reason why I ask this is because I was talking with a buddy of mine and he brought up how OP broken the Wish spell becomes in the hands of the GM because in order to do any of the other random or crazy things that are just not covered in any spell requires GM fiat, but seeing as you ARE the GM you, pretty much by default, fiated yourself. Therefore allowing the Wish spell to literally do ANYTHING you want. So that got me thinking, what are other spells that get a little crazy in the hands of the GM or spells that GMs don't/shouldn't cast for whatever reason (like charm spells on PCs)


Simulacrum for most purposes besides "Quick army" or "Body double" should be left alone.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Firstly, I generally consider anything the PCs are willing to use is fair game. These are spells I dont use, and dont allow others to use:

-Dominate and other mind control: that is just annoying for a player.
-Wish/limited wish/miracle: too unpredictable, only allow it for "basic" uses (IE inherent bonuses, reproducing lower level spells).

I also houserule a number of spells, but that's neither here nor there.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Dotting for interest. I believe the full arsenal of spells and abilities should be open for consideration for GMs. I'd like to see the argument against that.

Re: wish, the GM is greater than the mightiest god. Pharasma bows beneath his heel. A GM lynchpinning something with wish doesn't realize the arsenal they have.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'd be very hesitant to have a bad guy cast disjunction and destroy all of a group's magic items - at high levels, a lot of your power comes from magic, and that seems too mean to just destroy them all.

Other than that, not much is out of bounds to me. I wouldn't let a wish do more than I normally would, and by the time a villain can cast that they're mostly at GM-fiat levels of power anyway.

Other than that, I can't think of anything that I'd avoid. Maybe effects that prohibit resurrection, like a disintegrate that's likely to kill its target.


Mage's Disjunction, unless you intend on distributing new gear.

besides, why wouldn't the bad guys want YOUR stuff too?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Mage's Disjunction only has a 5% chance per magic item to destroy it, unless you target only a single magic item.


Perhaps thinking of the 3.5 Disjunction. The spell got a major buff during the Pathfinder conversion to make it less likely to destroy your treasure (though bad dice luck can still have pretty painful end results).


I hope none of you play or run Shattered Star. It breaks every 'no' rule I've seen so far.


Coriat wrote:
Perhaps thinking of the 3.5 Disjunction. The spell got a major buff during the Pathfinder conversion to make it less likely to destroy your treasure (though bad dice luck can still have pretty painful end results).

Yeah, I was still going off that. Didn't realized it was changed. So it's no longer the Nuclear Option it was? I'm good with that.

In that case I recommend against using planar binding against outsider(native) PCs except as a 1-time plot hook or as a reason to explain a character's absence.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My personal philosophy is that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and as such do not limit my options if the PCs have access to it. That being said I take my ques from the people that I play with as we know some plays are more sensitive than others.

The only spells that I consciously avoid are those spells that kill players outright (I kept the 3.5 versions of death spells) and charm/dominate spells. I have only had one player that could be trusted to actually role play a charmed dominated character honestly; the rest of the group would act like an efreet and twist my instructions against me then complain when I take over their characters actions.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

I don't think any spells should be completely off-limits.

A good GM will, however, ensure they don't do anything that oversteps the bounds of fairness. Quite where those bounds are will vary from group to group, and it's the GM's responsibility to either work out where those bounds are with their players, or to make it clear before the game starts where they're going to be. Sometimes you may find a spell you think should only be used as a plot device.

Once you know your group, you should be able to make a decent judgement call about where the line lies, and when you're stepping over it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Just thinking back to my time as a player over 28 years (there were GMing spates in there too, but you know what I mean), the things that ticked me off the most as a player were:

1) Having magic items taken away
2) Having to deal with level loss
3) Having to deal with save or die mechanics

Consequently, I can't really think of a scenario where I'd ever personally make use of Mage's Disjunction unless a player was blatantly exploiting a loophole in the rules and being a jerk about it.

Level loss isn't as much of an issue anymore, nor are save-or-die mechanics. Level loss would impact things too much these days anyway, with everything being so intimately tied into APL mechanics. If it were to hit at crucial levels (say, a 17th level Wizard being dumped to 16th level, and all of a sudden losing their 9th level spell), that's just far too demoralizing.

To me, a GM has no real call for ever taking a player's magic items away. If the GM let the player have the item, it's up to the GM to find ways to deal with it without punishing the player with its loss. The GM let the player have it. There's no way around this, and it's no one but the GM's fault.


12 people marked this as a favorite.

*Writes entries down on a list marked "KC's List Of Spells To Use As A GM"*


Feeblemind.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Man Feeblemind is the best spell.

Our RotRL group has a "zoo" full of Feebleminded and captured spellcasters kept on a Bountiful Demiplane.


15 people marked this as a favorite.

So far, most of these spells are something that either makes players genuinely afraid (save or die) or makes them role-play their character differently (dominate).

Personally, I find those situations to be awesome.

Personal Anecdote time.

This last weekend my character was the victim of nearly all of the pet peeves in this thread so far.

1) I ended up with a total of six negative levels (enervate and a hit from a spectre). All of a sudden I'm down my saving throws and one more spectre hit away from dead and coming back as a spectre..

2) I was Dominated by a Vampire during a fight (failed the save because of those negative levels), which turned me against my allies. I'm a martial-type built as a zone-controller. In one round I caused two casters to lose their spells, hit two other people with movement AoOs and used my own action to Sunder the paladin's magical sword.

The "oh s&$#" factor went through the roof. The whole party was suddenly completely focused and on their toes. The drama of the situation was fantastic.

3) The wizard managed to Dispell the Dominate, and we retreated after knocking the vampire to mist form. We needed to rest up for a rematch and find a backup weapon for the paladin. That night, an invisible Babau demon teleported into the room where we were resting and Coup de Graced me (classic scry-and-die tactic). I died. The cleric managed to hit me with Relentless Healing and bring me back, but we weren't sure she was going to make it to me in time.

This one session, full of all the things everyone in this thread as said they hate, was unanimously declared the most intense and awesome session of the game so far.

The moral of the story is, all that stuff players claim to hate, it's all Drama Fuel. If you treat the situation with the right attitude and drop any sense of "PC entitlement" those situations that hinder your character the most can make for some amazing stories.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Doomed Hero wrote:


2) I was Dominated by a Vampire during a fight (failed the save because of those negative levels), which turned me against my allies. I'm a martial-type built as a zone-controller. In one round I caused two casters to lose their spells, hit two other people with movement AoOs and used my own action to Sunder the paladin's magical sword.

The "oh s~#%" factor went through the roof. The whole party was suddenly completely focused and on their toes. The drama of the situation was fantastic.

That WOULD be fun.

Sadly, that's never how Dominate works when I get hit by it.

Since you get another save to break it for doing something against your nature (like, say, attacking your allies), most people who Dominate my Barbarian (I need like a 4 to pass most times. So far every time someone's thrown a Dominate at him I've rolled a 1. =/) just say "Sit in the corner and don't help anyone".

That's not drama fuel.

That's "Well don't mind me I'ma go browse on the internet or watch a video since I'm out of the session for an hour or two" Fuel.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Anything is an appropriate action by the GM.

If I have a player who is "readying an action to shoot an arrow when it looks like he's casting a spell" every round, I cast a cantrip that gets interrupted then cast a Quickened Disintegrate.

If I have a wizard player who is using dominate monster a bunch then I may or may not use the same tactic against his meatshield.

If I have a fighter or barbarian who gleefully arms themselves to the teeth with only magic items (and nothing as a backup) then they night find themselves on the wrong end of a mage's disjunction or antimagic field.

But that would only happen with a table where we've developed trust or has expressed interest in a killer game.


My general rule is this: there's no specific tool the GM should not use (well, except maybe Energy Drain), just behaviors that are rude. Above all else you shouldn't do something that makes it so that a player cannot play the game. All-flying encounter? Don't dispel the fighter's boots. That sort of thing.


What Prince said. It's more behavior than specific spell. As a player I get frustrated when GMs use spells they're not familiar with...but I get frustrated with anyone who uses spells they're not familiar with, then end up spending time looking up each detail, only to shut the book right after that detail.

If an NPC in my game really truly hates a character, they'll destroy their items, use death effects, coup de grace them, whatever. Not every single character capable of doing so is going to be motivated to do so however.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
DM Pendin Fust wrote:

Anything is an appropriate action by the GM.

If I have a player who is "readying an action to shoot an arrow when it looks like he's casting a spell" every round, I cast a cantrip that gets interrupted then cast a Quickened Disintegrate.

This is absolutely terrible GM behavior. Period.

Spoiler:
You should quicken the cantrip, dummy. Don't waste such a high slot quickening a whole disintegrate!

But on a serious note, that is a liiiittle bit harsh. How does the caster know what the archer is watching for? Does he make a Sense Motive check?


Can't really disrupt a quickened spell anyway.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Save or dies are pretty frustrating.

ONE ROLL. LIVE OR DIE! "Alright I got this, I have a +14 Fort save. *1* F+@+ing b@+@+*!~!"

So I tend to not throw Suffocations, Icy Prisons, Dominate spells, or Disintegrates at my players.

It's one of the reasons high level play is so annoying. A lot of save or dies and eventually one is going to stick.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
DM Pendin Fust wrote:

Anything is an appropriate action by the GM.

If I have a player who is "readying an action to shoot an arrow when it looks like he's casting a spell" every round, I cast a cantrip that gets interrupted then cast a Quickened Disintegrate.

This is absolutely terrible GM behavior. Period.

** spoiler omitted **

The archer knocks an arrow and points it at the caster, but doesn't fire. Myself with my 26 Intelligence thinks, "Hmm, it looks like he's going to try and disrupt my concentration. Let's trick him."


Fair enough.

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Pretty much anything save or die makes the game less fun unless it's done really, really well.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
DM Pendin Fust wrote:

Anything is an appropriate action by the GM.

If I have a player who is "readying an action to shoot an arrow when it looks like he's casting a spell" every round, I cast a cantrip that gets interrupted then cast a Quickened Disintegrate.

This is absolutely terrible GM behavior. Period.

** spoiler omitted **

Wait, isn't disintegrate 6th level? So a quickened spell makes it 10th and therefore uncastable?


DualJay wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
DM Pendin Fust wrote:

Anything is an appropriate action by the GM.

If I have a player who is "readying an action to shoot an arrow when it looks like he's casting a spell" every round, I cast a cantrip that gets interrupted then cast a Quickened Disintegrate.

This is absolutely terrible GM behavior. Period.

** spoiler omitted **

Wait, isn't disintegrate 6th level? So a quickened spell makes it 10th and therefore uncastable?

Metamagic Rod.


Oh, right.


Tels wrote:
DualJay wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
DM Pendin Fust wrote:

Anything is an appropriate action by the GM.

If I have a player who is "readying an action to shoot an arrow when it looks like he's casting a spell" every round, I cast a cantrip that gets interrupted then cast a Quickened Disintegrate.

This is absolutely terrible GM behavior. Period.

** spoiler omitted **

Wait, isn't disintegrate 6th level? So a quickened spell makes it 10th and therefore uncastable?
Metamagic Rod.

I'm pretty sure that's incorrect. If I remember the lastest FAQ on the subject, the level of the metamagic rod must be for the level at which you raise the spell. A greater metamagic rod cannot go past a 9th level spell slot.


Oh snap, I was actually right about something. But seriously, the only spell that strikes me as just plain mean is imprisonment, because it takes a ninth-level spell which I'm willing to bet most people won't have to reverse.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
DualJay wrote:
Oh snap, I was actually right about something. But seriously, the only spell that strikes me as just plain mean is imprisonment, because it takes a ninth-level spell which I'm willing to bet most people won't have to reverse.

If baldur's gate II has taught me anything, it's to randomly cast scrolls of freedom everywhere.


Well, that's weird. I thought a lesser metamagic rod could quicken spells of levels 1-3, not raise spell levels from 1-3 (which would make no sense).


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Quote:
Lesser and Greater Metamagic rods: Normal metamagic rods can be used with spells of 6th level or lower. Lesser rods can be used with spells of 3rd level or lower, while greater rods can be used with spells of 9th level or lower.

If it can't raise a spell above ninth, then the only greater metamagic rod would be merciful, so I guess it can.


Sorcerers and wizards have native metamagic reducers that make the quickening possible.

...But it's still better to just quicken the cantrip.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Well, that's weird. I thought a lesser metamagic rod could quicken spells of levels 1-3, not raise spell levels from 1-3 (which would make no sense).

Well, I've seen it run this way:

Intensify a level 1 spell (thus to 2) use a lesser; intensify a level 3 to 4, use a normal, a level 6 to 7 use a greater. I've yet to see 9, but the impression I've gotten is that you cant metamagic it. Here's the FAQ:

Metamagic: At what spell level does the spell count for concentration DCs, magus spell recall, or a pearl of power?

The spell counts as the level of the spell slot necessary to cast it.

For example, an empowered burning hands uses a 3rd-level spell slot, counts as a 3rd-level spell for making concentration checks, counts as a 3rd-level spell for a magus's spell recall or a pearl of power.

In general, use the (normal, lower) spell level or the (higher) spell slot level, whichever is more of a disadvantage for the caster. The advantages of the metamagic feat are spelled out in the Benefits section of the feat, and the increased spell slot level is a disadvantage.

Heighten Spell is really the only metamagic feat that makes using a higher-level spell slot an advantage instead of a disadvantage.

My understanding from that (even though it doesnt mention metamagic rods specifically) is that a intesified spell counts as one higher for deciding the appropriate rod.

Edit: although you do raise a point Dr death, why greater metamagic quicken?


williamoak wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Well, that's weird. I thought a lesser metamagic rod could quicken spells of levels 1-3, not raise spell levels from 1-3 (which would make no sense).

Well, I've seen it run this way:

Intensify a level 1 spell (thus to 2) use a lesser; intensify a level 3 to 4, use a normal, a level 6 to 7 use a greater. I've yet to see 9, but the impression I've gotten is that you cant metamagic it. Here's the FAQ:

Metamagic: At what spell level does the spell count for concentration DCs, magus spell recall, or a pearl of power?

The spell counts as the level of the spell slot necessary to cast it.

For example, an empowered burning hands uses a 3rd-level spell slot, counts as a 3rd-level spell for making concentration checks, counts as a 3rd-level spell for a magus's spell recall or a pearl of power.

In general, use the (normal, lower) spell level or the (higher) spell slot level, whichever is more of a disadvantage for the caster. The advantages of the metamagic feat are spelled out in the Benefits section of the feat, and the increased spell slot level is a disadvantage.

Edit: although you do raise a point Dr death, why greater metamagic quicken?

Heighten Spell is really the only metamagic feat that makes using a higher-level spell slot an advantage instead of a disadvantage.

My understanding from that (even though it doesnt mention metamagic rods specifically) is that a intesified spell counts as one higher for deciding the appropriate rod.

That's not how it works, otherwise a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Quicken literally cannot function as it would raise all spells to 4th level at minimum (0 + 4 = 4th level).

What it's saying is that if you have an intensified burning hands prepared, it requires a second level Pearl of Power to recall. If you intensify a fireball, (a 4th level spell) it requires a normal metamagic rod (4 - 6) to be used.

If you use a lesser Quicken Rod on just a regular Fireball, it's a 3rd level spell and can still be applied.


DualJay wrote:
Oh, right.

AAAH!

It's joined the general populace!


Glutton wrote:
Can't really disrupt a quickened spell anyway.

Close, it doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. ANY spell going off, or any spell-completion item for that matter, can be disrupted with the caster taking damage. A quickened spell may go off in a 1.5 seconds, but a flying arrow doesn't need that long to cover 100 ft.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Rynjin wrote:

Man Feeblemind is the best spell.

Our RotRL group has a "zoo" full of Feebleminded and captured spellcasters kept on a Bountiful Demiplane.

In 3rd d&D I had my Psion get feebleminded and his psicrystal was telling what to do.

Psicrystal "Attack it with your crossbow"

Psion runs up to badguy and tries to club it with the crossbow

Psicrystal "No, you dummy use the bolts."

Psion keeps attacking with "club"

To be fair the GM did say he was sorry, and the character wasn't out of it for long.


This actually came about from RotRL with Mokmurian...

Spoiler:
he has quickened disintegrate listed in his statblock. And the point above about a high Int caster getting the point after 2 or 3 times is how it happened. I actually forgot to roll half the damage dice so he didn't disintegrate.

Point is, taught my player that good tactics happens on both sides of the table.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
DM Pendin Fust wrote:
This actually came about from RotRL with Mokmurian...

Hey! That's one of the guys in our zoo! =)


DM Pendin Fust makes what I think is the most important point - there should be good tactics on both sides of the table. (Roleplayed accordingly - goblin good looks different than high level mage good.) It makes things much more interesting for the players.

I think it's much more satisfying for players to beat an opponent who didn't hold anything back.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Any spell that would make the game worse.

What spell that is is going to change depending on the situation.


Rynjin wrote:
Doomed Hero wrote:


2) I was Dominated by a Vampire during a fight (failed the save because of those negative levels), which turned me against my allies. I'm a martial-type built as a zone-controller. In one round I caused two casters to lose their spells, hit two other people with movement AoOs and used my own action to Sunder the paladin's magical sword.

The "oh s~#%" factor went through the roof. The whole party was suddenly completely focused and on their toes. The drama of the situation was fantastic.

That WOULD be fun.

Sadly, that's never how Dominate works when I get hit by it.

Since you get another save to break it for doing something against your nature (like, say, attacking your allies), most people who Dominate my Barbarian (I need like a 4 to pass most times. So far every time someone's thrown a Dominate at him I've rolled a 1. =/) just say "Sit in the corner and don't help anyone".

That's not drama fuel.

That's "Well don't mind me I'ma go browse on the internet or watch a video since I'm out of the session for an hour or two" Fuel.

yeah, that's awful.

Whenever we find something like that where the "smart" thing to do ends up basically cutting a player out of the game for a while, we just house rule it towards something that keeps the player engaged, even if it is arguably worse.

When the Vampire told me to help it kill the party, I completely forgot I was allowed a second save. I just went with it.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Maybe it wasn't all that against your nature after all :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
K177Y C47 wrote:
So, this is a question regarding GMs. What spells do you guys believe are spells that GMs just shouldn't/don't use?

I think it's more "KNOW the impact of these spells" than "never use them!"

Charm Person can really piss people off as losing control of your character feels worse than just being killed in heroic combat... though thematically the succubus is a good vehicle 'cause at least it's a sexy sexy lady charming you.

But if you're going to use Save or Die spells, know the impact of life and death on a single roll in your games. It could mean a player sitting out of an hour long combat 'cause he got unlucky.


I tend to follow wealth by level for NPCs. That puts limits on spells that have costly material components such as wish or simulacrum.

I don't like to use Euphoric Tranquility on the players. I tend to not use spells that provide no save or means to counter during a combat.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I dont use Save or Die spells. I avoid using Save or Suck spells that keep a player from playing (Hold person is an example) unless its a quick combat (2-3 rounds).

Other than that I just make sure I dont use spells that would keep others from having fun. Its a kind of a broad answer but there it is. I am there to make sure the group is having fun. Throwing AOE and CC over and over would probably keep the group from having fun.

Its a delicate balance between "Challenging" and "Frustrating"

1 to 50 of 278 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / General Discussion / Spells not to use as GMs All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.