(Sp) touch attack at reach / range... how?


Rules Questions


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By (SP) touch attacks I mean things like the Sorceror's Undead Bloodline's "Grave Touch" or the Cleric's Death Domain "Bleeding Touch".

To my knowledge, as these aren't actual spells, the main issue is that with spectral hand "For as long as the spell lasts, any touch range spell of 4th level or lower that you cast can be delivered by the spectral hand" and these (Sp) abilities don't have a spell level.

This means, I think, I can't use the common go-tos of spectral hand or familiars to use these abilities at a distance, forcing mycharacter to get into close melee to use them and thus provoking AoOs.

Is there any easy or at least universally accessible way to use these at range? by this I mean ways that aren't just locked to one race (like grippli-only agile tongue feat or the Lunge feat, which is pretty hard to get for a sorcerer/wizard 1/2 BAB type).


SLA's have an effective spell level of the lowest spell list level they duplicate. In other words, let's say you have an SLA that gives you "Fly", per the spell. Let's also say that "Fly" is only on the Fighter spell list and the Barbarian spell list. As a Fighter spell, it is a 2nd level spell, but it's a 7th level spell on the Barbarian spell list. The "Fly" SLA would therefore have an effective spell level of 2 since that is the lower level of the two spell lists.

I'm not 100% sure what the rules are for SLA's that do not duplicate an existing spell, but my guess would be that they have an effective spell level of a comparable existing spell.

The description for Grave Touch (Sp) looks very similar to the description for Chill Touch, which is also a 1st level spell. Also, Grave Touch (Sp) is a 1st level ability, so I would argue that it has an effective spell level of 1, which means you should be able to use it with Spectral Hand. I would also argue that the Domain ability Bleeding Touch (Sp) also has an effective spell level of 1 since it is a 1st level cleric ability.

edit: also, when you compare spell lists for the level an SLA is, i believe you're supposed to give rule adjudications priority to classes with 9th level spells > 6th level spells > 4th level spells. in other words, if a spell appears on the Wiz/Sor list as level 3, but on the Ranger list as level 1, you should treat a potion of that spell as though it were made by a Wizard (unless the DM says otherwise), and the SLA works like a 3rd level Wiz Spell (unless used by a ranger who has an ability that let's him use a 1st level class spell 1/day as an SLA).


These abilities aren't spells so Spectral Hand won't work. For the same reason metamagic rods and feats won't work either.

So that leaves house rules. Or use something else. It's not as if clerics and sorcerors are too nerfed by the game system...


I don't know, under the current rules paradigm, whether you can use a SLA through spectral hand, but as to the spell level:

Quote:


If a character class grants a spell-like ability that is not based on an actual spell, the ability's effective spell level is equal to the highest-level class spell the character can cast, and is cast at the class level the ability is granted.


That quote just tells you how to figure out the spell level. It has nothing to do with an SP being used for everything a spell can do.


The RAW is super weird for SLA's though, Grady. Take for instance Grave Touch (Sp) from the Undead Bloodline:

Grave Touch (Sp): Starting at 1st level, you can make a melee touch attack as a standard action that causes a living creature to become shaken for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your sorcerer level (minimum 1). If you touch a shaken creature with this ability, it becomes frightened for 1 round if it has fewer Hit Dice than your sorcerer level. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier.

Per RAW, for a 10th level sorcerer who uses Grave Touch should be a 5th level spell that only lasts for 1/round level, and since you get it as a 1st level sorcerer that means it only lasts for 1 round. I know that specific rules trump general rules, so Grave Touch doesn't actually last only 1 round at level 10. BUT, I also know there is so much FAQ & Errata for SLA's that I take RAW with a grain of salt and use other, similar rules when "how exactly it works" is not clearly defined.


laarddrym wrote:

The RAW is super weird for SLA's though, Grady. Take for instance Grave Touch (Sp) from the Undead Bloodline:

Grave Touch (Sp): Starting at 1st level, you can make a melee touch attack as a standard action that causes a living creature to become shaken for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your sorcerer level (minimum 1). If you touch a shaken creature with this ability, it becomes frightened for 1 round if it has fewer Hit Dice than your sorcerer level. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier.

Per RAW, for a 10th level sorcerer who uses Grave Touch should be a 5th level spell that only lasts for 1/round level, and since you get it as a 1st level sorcerer that means it only lasts for 1 round.

You're confused.

It's a 1. level spell equivalent, because a sorcerer gets it at sorcerer level 1, where his highest level of available spells is 1. level. At tenth level, it's still a 1. level spell equivalent, and it lasts for 5 rounds, half your level.


I agree that Grave Touch (Sp) is equivalent to a 1st level spell, I actually stated as much twice already in this thread. I was pointing out that the "general rule" RAW for how SLAs work is worded so poorly that we have to have rules questions as to the effective spell level of an SLA that characters can get at 1st level.


laarddrym wrote:

The RAW is super weird for SLA's though, Grady. Take for instance Grave Touch (Sp) from the Undead Bloodline:

Grave Touch (Sp): Starting at 1st level, you can make a melee touch attack as a standard action that causes a living creature to become shaken for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your sorcerer level (minimum 1). If you touch a shaken creature with this ability, it becomes frightened for 1 round if it has fewer Hit Dice than your sorcerer level. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier.

Per RAW, for a 10th level sorcerer who uses Grave Touch should be a 5th level spell that only lasts for 1/round level, and since you get it as a 1st level sorcerer that means it only lasts for 1 round. I know that specific rules trump general rules, so Grave Touch doesn't actually last only 1 round at level 10. BUT, I also know there is so much FAQ & Errata for SLA's that I take RAW with a grain of salt and use other, similar rules when "how exactly it works" is not clearly defined.

How are you getting that it would be 5th level per RAW? Yes I understand you know that is it the equivalent of a 1st level spell, but my question is waiting for an answer. :)


"the ability's effective spell level is equal to the highest-level class spell the character can cast"

That means to me that if you can cast 4th level spells, the SLA is equivalent to a 4th level spell. If you can cast 2nd level spells, the SLA is equivalent to a 2nd level spell.

" [comma] and is cast at the class level the ability is granted. "

This makes no sense to me at all. I know what a spell level is. I know what a caster level is. I know what a character level is. I know what a class level is. I do not know how a class level equates to being a spell level, because nothing else in the rules works that way at all. Whenever class levels are tied to caster levels, it always says something like:

Shadowdancer:
Shadow Call (Sp)

At 4th level, a shadowdancer can create creatures and effects out of raw shadow. This ability functions as shadow conjuration, using the shadowdancer's level as the caster level. A shadowdancer can use this ability once per day at 4th level... The DC for this ability is Charisma-based."

I've also never seen an SLA in the description say what the equivalent spell level is of the SLA when it does not duplicate the effect of an existing spell. Anywhere.

I *believe* the intent is that the SLA is cast as though it were a spell level equal to the level at which the class grants the SLA. However, the wording in the general rule doesn't actually say that, and at face value it's confusing as hell. Also, what if you gain at SLA at There also isn't an example after the rule as to how to figure it out. Something like this after the single, "General How SLAs Work Rule" would be super helpful:

"Example: If you gain an SLA at level 3 in a class, that SLA is always equivalent to a 3rd level spell. If you gain an SLA at level 15, it is always equivalent to a 15th level spell".

15th level spell, you say? Oh yes!

Stormborn Bloodline:
Ride the Lightning (Sp): At 15th level, as a full-round action you can become a living lightning bolt and move in a straight line up to 10 times your speed......

15th level spells exist? So if I want to use Ride the Lightning defensively, I have to make a DC 40 concentration check? There isn't even post-20/epic level support for Pathfinder, let alone support for meta-magic'ing 9th level spells without a metamagic rod (that I'm aware of).


wraithstrike wrote:
laarddrym wrote:

The RAW is super weird for SLA's though, Grady. Take for instance Grave Touch (Sp) from the Undead Bloodline:

Grave Touch (Sp): Starting at 1st level, you can make a melee touch attack as a standard action that causes a living creature to become shaken for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your sorcerer level (minimum 1). If you touch a shaken creature with this ability, it becomes frightened for 1 round if it has fewer Hit Dice than your sorcerer level. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier.

Per RAW, for a 10th level sorcerer who uses Grave Touch should be a 5th level spell that only lasts for 1/round level, and since you get it as a 1st level sorcerer that means it only lasts for 1 round. I know that specific rules trump general rules, so Grave Touch doesn't actually last only 1 round at level 10. BUT, I also know there is so much FAQ & Errata for SLA's that I take RAW with a grain of salt and use other, similar rules when "how exactly it works" is not clearly defined.

How are you getting that it would be 5th level per RAW? Yes I understand you know that is it the equivalent of a 1st level spell, but my question is waiting for an answer. :)
Quote:


If a character class grants a spell-like ability that is not based on an actual spell, the ability's effective spell level is equal to the highest-level class spell the character can cast, and is cast at the class level the ability is granted.

So, at 10th level, it's a 5th level spells, yet has a caster level of 1 and lasts 5 rounds. Technically.

I think it would make a lot more sense if those two things were reversed, where it was cast at your spellcasting level, and its spell level were the highest level spell you could cast at the level you gained it. But currently, that's not what it says.


I agree Grady, I think you and I are on the same page with how we interpret it and what the RAI probably is (or at least should be). It's just a really badly written rule.

The joke at my gaming table is that 90% of Pathfinder is FANTASTIC, great flavor, cool rules, awesome world building... but the 10% that's written badly is *really* hard to interpret and get a consensus on.


So from my understanding a Sorcerer would be able to use Grave Touch via his Spectral Hand up until level 9 (as the highest spell he can cast is a level 4 spell, making GT a SLA with a spell level of 4), at which point should he ever get one more Sorc level, GT becomes a level 5 spell (as our Sorceror gains level 5 spells) and is ineligible for being SH'ed.

Oh Pathfinder... you so crazy. :P

Anyways, thanks a lot for the replies! This helps clear up a few questions I had with touch-range & SLA's not based off actual spells!


laarddrym wrote:

"the ability's effective spell level is equal to the highest-level class spell the character can cast"

That means to me that if you can cast 4th level spells, the SLA is equivalent to a 4th level spell. If you can cast 2nd level spells, the SLA is equivalent to a 2nd level spell.

" [comma] and is cast at the class level the ability is granted. "

This makes no sense to me at all. I know what a spell level is. I know what a caster level is. I know what a character level is. I know what a class level is. I do not know how a class level equates to being a spell level, because nothing else in the rules works that way at all. Whenever class levels are tied to caster levels, it always says something like:

** spoiler omitted **

I've also never seen an SLA in the description say what the equivalent spell level is of the SLA when it does not duplicate the effect of an existing spell. Anywhere.

I *believe* the intent is that the SLA is cast as though it were a spell level equal to the level at which the class grants the SLA. However, the wording in the general rule doesn't actually say that, and at face value it's confusing as hell. Also, what if you gain at SLA at There also isn't an example after the rule as to how to figure it out. Something like this after the single, "General How SLAs Work Rule" would be super helpful:

"Example: If you gain an SLA at level 3 in a class, that SLA is always equivalent to a 3rd level spell. If you gain an SLA at level 15, it is always equivalent to a 15th level spell".

15th level spell, you say? Oh yes!

** spoiler omitted **...

Ok, I see what you mean, but that is not the intent.

What they mean is the highest level spell you can cast at the point you gain the SLA. The SLA level does not increase as you level up.

edit: As an example if I get SLA X and I can cast 5th level spells then that SLA is a 5th level spell for the purpose of its spell level. When I can later cast 8th level spells SLA X is still counted as a 5th level spell.


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At no point does a class level get equated to a spell level. If you have an SLA that is not based on a spell, it's got an effective spell level of the highest level of spell you could have cast, and an effective caster level of the class level at which you got it. So if you get an ability at level 8, and it's a spell-like ability not mirroring a spell, and you're a wizard, it's effectively a "4th level" ability for purposes of setting DC, and will always have caster level 8.

If you get Grave Touch at first level, it is always a "first level spell" for purposes of things like setting DCs or other things that depend on the spell level of an ability, and if I understand the FAQ correctly, it stays caster level 1 (??).

The point is, you assign the "spell level" of the ability when you get the ability. It doesn't change as you level up. The point is that this is a determination you need to make when you get the power, so at that time, the highest level of spell you can cast is what's going to determine the effective "level" of the ability.


seebs wrote:

At no point does a class level get equated to a spell level. If you have an SLA that is not based on a spell, it's got an effective spell level of the highest level of spell you could have cast, and an effective caster level of the class level at which you got it. So if you get an ability at level 8, and it's a spell-like ability not mirroring a spell, and you're a wizard, it's effectively a "4th level" ability for purposes of setting DC, and will always have caster level 8.

If you get Grave Touch at first level, it is always a "first level spell" for purposes of things like setting DCs or other things that depend on the spell level of an ability, and if I understand the FAQ correctly, it stays caster level 1 (??).

The point is, you assign the "spell level" of the ability when you get the ability. It doesn't change as you level up. The point is that this is a determination you need to make when you get the power, so at that time, the highest level of spell you can cast is what's going to determine the effective "level" of the ability.

Exactly.. :)


Again, thanks for the further clarification.


wraithstrike wrote:


What they mean is the highest level spell you can cast at the point you gain the SLA. The SLA level does not increase as you level up.

Makes sense. If only the CRB worded it that clearly & concisely, or gave an example. Oh well, glad I understand the rule now at least.


That does make sense... but sadly, the RAW doesn't say that. It would need one more comma.


And SLAs still can't be used with Spectral Hand because they're not spells.

Unless anyone knows a rule that supercedes this?


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Gilarius wrote:

And SLAs still can't be used with Spectral Hand because they're not spells.

Unless anyone knows a rule that supercedes this?

There is no rule as of now. They recently expanded SLAs to count as spells for magic item creation and then later on to qualify for Prestige Classes, but they still dont count for every situation.


The problem is that "cast a spell" has been used in a much more general way as of late, and it's not clear how explicit that phrase is, anymore. Like, once upon a time, using a trigger item was not "casting a spell" and neither was a SLA.

It makes sense to me that "able to cast dimension door" might mean, "by means of a SLA," but the rest seems much too broad to me. I don't feel confident in stating would the rule would be now, because I don't know what "cast a spell" means under the current FAQ.

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