How would you rule on this...the casting failed...does the caster know?


GM Discussion

Silver Crusade

I've asked this in the Rules section and unfortunately there's only ambivalent (sort-of) consensus that the caster might not know his spell failed. I had this happen in a recent scenario run.

Situation: Caster casts Stabilize on comrade 25 feet away. The spell will fail if the comrade is already dead. But, does he actually know either way somehow that his casting failed or not? The rules seem to be silent as to what casting failure really means. Perhaps the caster finished casting the spell and just can't tell what happened? Or, some mystical feeling returns to the caster letting them know if the casting succeeded?

3/5

Well the casting didn't fail, it just had no effect, so the caster may not know.
What casting failure really means, is the spell does not work, like armor interfered with the casting, or caster could not make the concentration check. The magic doesn't manifest right and just doesn't work, the caster would know when this happens.
I hope this helps

Dark Archive 4/5

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I generally give that to the PC. Otherwise, they're flailing about not knowing what to do. They are well trained spellcasters, so I would think they know.

Especially with Witch Hexes, since they have to know when to Cackle. I tend to err on the side of player enjoyment, and they can't really enjoy the class if they're always guessing as to what to do.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Well I'm not sure about beneficial spells in general, but the PRD does have this to say:

Quote:
Succeeding on a Saving Throw: A creature that successfully saves against a spell that has no obvious physical effects feels a hostile force or a tingle, but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack. Likewise, if a creature's saving throw succeeds against a targeted spell, you sense that the spell has failed. You do not sense when creatures succeed on saves against effect and area spells.

It's not airtight by any means, but I'd say you would know.

Silver Crusade

The rule book states that if the requirements for the spell to succeed aren't met, then the casting will fail. Maybe it's semantics. But, it makes me wonder if there's a difference between the casting failing and the casting succeeding but you just fail to get any results.

And, I totally understand from a player perspective how that might feel. But, I also think from a flavor perspective, it might be cool (challenging?) to say, Yeah...you just fired it off, but you have no clue if your comrade was already dead or not until you do an informal heal check.

Now, that said, would I pull that in a situation where the party is in a very endangered situation and knowing that piece of information might help them survive an encounter they might otherwise not....probably not...I'd probably let them know either way.

Silver Crusade

I did not see that previously. Now, THAT makes me think the caster would definitely know that his casting/spell failed.

zefig wrote:

Well I'm not sure about beneficial spells in general, but the PRD does have this to say:

Quote:
Succeeding on a Saving Throw: A creature that successfully saves against a spell that has no obvious physical effects feels a hostile force or a tingle, but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack. Likewise, if a creature's saving throw succeeds against a targeted spell, you sense that the spell has failed. You do not sense when creatures succeed on saves against effect and area spells.
It's not airtight by any means, but I'd say you would know.

Dark Archive 2/5

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With this specific example I'd say that the Caster starts to cast the spell but doesn't feel that the spell 'latches on' at all ie. he does not have a valid casting target with it being an inanimate object and not a person.

He is aware that the spell has 'failed' although he was unable to target it in the first place.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

I'm going to generalize it and say that any time the caster casts on something that is not a legitimate target, the caster knows that the spell has failed to find a target.

This does however bring up an interesting method of demon detection... Break out a wand of enlarge person. Get everyone in the room to agree to be enlarged. Enlarge everyone. Beat the crap out of everyone in the room who is smaller than you :)

Now if he cast some sort of area effect spell that stabilized the character, he would not know if the character had been stabilized (and is now alive) or not (because they were already dead.)

The above method of demon detection is brought to you by Neil Markey, Gnome Barbarian Blight Druid, Worshiper of Groetus, and Totem warrior of the World Serpent. It only slightly reflects the opinions of the player. Yes, he is insane. He also feels that the fact that this method will also result in people beating up celestials, Aasimars, and teiflings is a feature, not a bug. :)


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Prethen wrote:

I've asked this in the Rules section and unfortunately there's only ambivalent (sort-of) consensus that the caster might not know his spell failed. I had this happen in a recent scenario run.

Situation: Caster casts Stabilize on comrade 25 feet away. The spell will fail if the comrade is already dead. But, does he actually know either way somehow that his casting failed or not? The rules seem to be silent as to what casting failure really means. Perhaps the caster finished casting the spell and just can't tell what happened? Or, some mystical feeling returns to the caster letting them know if the casting succeeded?

Perhaps another way to approach this question is to consider how you'd have NPC's act? As the GM, would you have an NPC continue to guess at whether a spell worked or would you allow the NPC to know?

There's a lot of meta-gaming that goes on by GMs and my opinion is that it should work both ways in situations like this. So if the GM wants PC's to be wasting actions based on not knowing outcomes of spells or skill checks, then the same should happen with NPCs. I've yet to witness an NPC act as if it didn't know the outcome of one its spells.

Sczarni 4/5

Hi Prethen,

The spell Stabilize would fail because it requires a living target. Dead person is therefore invalid target for the spell and spell would fail with caster gaining input "that he couldn't use the spell on target". Why couldn't he use the spell, well, you can give a player Wisdom check or let them conclude themselves why.

Adam

Silver Crusade

Adam, my problem wasn't questioning if the spell would fail. I was questioning, how the caster would know that it failed. But, that seems to be answered above for me....he would know.

Adam Mataja wrote:

Hi Prethen,

The spell Stabilize would fail because it requires a living target. Dead person is therefore invalid target for the spell and spell would fail with caster gaining input "that he couldn't use the spell on target". Why couldn't he use the spell, well, you can give a player Wisdom check or let them conclude themselves why.

Adam

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Watches the group beating the snot out of the aasimar paladin and laughs

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

FLite wrote:

I'm going to generalize it and say that any time the caster casts on something that is not a legitimate target, the caster knows that the spell has failed to find a target.

This does however bring up an interesting method of demon detection... Break out a wand of enlarge person. Get everyone in the room to agree to be enlarged. Enlarge everyone. Beat the crap out of everyone in the room who is smaller than you :)

Now if he cast some sort of area effect spell that stabilized the character, he would not know if the character had been stabilized (and is now alive) or not (because they were already dead.)

The above method of demon detection is brought to you by Neil Markey, Gnome Barbarian Blight Druid, Worshiper of Groetus, and Totem warrior of the World Serpent. It only slightly reflects the opinions of the player. Yes, he is insane. He also feels that the fact that this method will also result in people beating up celestials, Aasimars, and teiflings is a feature, not a bug. :)

I had a similar thought regarding magic missile and creatures/objects. Attempt to cast magic missile (which can only target creatures) at a treasure chest. If it fires, you've found yourself a mimic. ;D

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

That is awesome. I will need to remember that. I should go look if there are any creature specific / humanoid specific / undead specific cantrips. Then I can spam the room with them at regular intervals.

Sure enough: Message
Targets one creature/level

cast it once per item you want to test. If the spell goes off, the item is alive / undead. No save, no SR, no ambiguity.

I recommend starting with the message "I see you" followed by "come on, you aren't fooling anyone. Followed by mass damage from everyone else in your party, who you just whispered to that the chest in the corner is a mimic.

Silver Crusade 2/5

FLite wrote:

That is awesome. I will need to remember that. I should go look if there are any creature specific / humanoid specific / undead specific cantrips. Then I can spam the room with them at regular intervals.

Disrupt Undead might be a good one for this.

Silver Crusade

The spell will fail no matter what unless the subject is below 0 hit points.

DesolateHarmony wrote:
FLite wrote:

That is awesome. I will need to remember that. I should go look if there are any creature specific / humanoid specific / undead specific cantrips. Then I can spam the room with them at regular intervals.

Disrupt Undead might be a good one for this.

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