Potions can't contain Personal Spells? Why?!


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Self-explanatory title. And if it isn't obvious enough, it's a question of RAI.

As it was pointed out to me some time ago, the RAW says that potions cannot use spells with a range of Personal. Over the 2 years I've ran with my group, this made me realize that we have been running potions wrong this entire time.

However, after I've examined the concepts and ran the numbers, I've found no good or reasonable intent as to why this RAW is in place.

If Potions ran all the way up to 9th level, I could see problems arising, but stuff like this would be more present in Staves and Scrolls, and by the time these issues became relevant, the party and the GM should be able to play with these options without breaking the game (hopefully).

Since Potions only run up to 3rd level spells (and Wands up to 4th level spells), there aren't many game-breaking spells (if any) available there, and several of these "game-breaking spells" have equally dire consequences for choosing them (such as forgoing full attacks, leaving yourself open to getting killed/wasting your turn, personal costs, etc).

So since I am unable to find a reasonable intent behind this ruling (which I'm tempted to not say anything to the GM so as to keep the game sensible and therefore enjoyable), hopefully the community here can expose something that I might have overlooked.

Silver Crusade

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I think the idea is to keep barbarians away from mirror image, shield, and the like.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Talos the Talon! wrote:
I think the idea is to keep barbarians away from mirror image, shield, and the like.

Barbarians, Fighters, and Martials in general. They have defenses in the names of armor class, Fort saves, and Heighthened Hit points. They can shrug off two hits that would cleave a mage in half. They can also pretty much laugh at a mage's armor class on the primary hit, and frequently the secondary as well.


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do you really want the low level 2-h fighter baddie to down a Potion of Shield, getting his huge Armor AC & a Shield bonus without actually using a Shield?


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The restriction is a holdover from DnD 3.5 and isn't a new inclusion into Pathfinder. The original intention was so that there could be wizard-only buffs from level 1-3 such as true strike, shield, blink etc that could not easily be used by other classes without some form of character resource investment. It wasn't so much to nerf martial types as it was a way of trying to give casters more of a niche in terms of buffs.

Remember that 3.5 was balanced around the (obviously naive) notion that casters would be primarily blaster types and that save or die/control/utility spells were mostly worthless. The game made a lot of concessions to casters to ensure that they wouldn't be 'too weak', as laughable as that idea is now.

Unfortunately, pathfinder's short dev cycle meant that a lot of these minor issues were never considered and thus ended up being ported wholesale into the PF ruleset. There's no 'reasonable intent' for it to be included in pathfinder, it's just what ended up happening.

As for your DM, that's your perogative. I would never recommend deception. Why not just point it out and give your opinion on the matter? If he doesn't agree with you.. well, you did what you could.

*edit*

As you can see, plenty of people still have this weird idea that martials don't deserve the slightly stronger buffs, as if it would somehow make them demigods stronger than a full caster. It's a weird world, but in a poorly optimised game you can at least understand the precedent I guess. Most people play poorly optimised games, after all.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The same reason they are personal rather than target person spells to begin with. When designing spells restricting the target to personal only allows the designer to put a little more power into them. Notably with regard to martial enhancing abilities.

That said, I can't tell you how many martial's I see walking around with cracked vibrant purple ioun stones to circumvent this restriction.


You might even claim the ioun stones are a way of paizo stepping around the potions issue without stepping on purist toes or contradicting their original core text (which is set in stone now regardless of how well thought out). So, don't hate on the devs too much for the questionable rule conservation from 3.5 :-)


in the long run it probably wouldn't make much difference, giving shield potions to your main tank means he doesn't NEED to buy a shield most of the time, also makes the tank less likely to be the recipient of Magic Missile other spells...who knows, players can be inventive. But remember that whatever the PC's use the enemy can use too.


Here's what I don't get, do you have a problem with personal spells in general? It's logically consistent that there are no potions of personal spells; after all they are intentional restricted to certain types of caster. So would you suggest that restriction be removed? Then, of course, wizards are going to spend a lot of resources giving out the best buffs. The game would slow down a ton if frontliners had mirror image and shield. You'd have to up encounter levels just to deal with this.


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Because the man doesn't want you stinking martials getting personal spells.


Dolanar wrote:
do you really want the low level 2-h fighter baddie to down a Potion of Shield, getting his huge Armor AC & a Shield bonus without actually using a Shield?

Yes, I want the fighter spending his actions on buffing rather than killing things. At least when the fighter is not in my party.


Shield lasts hours, he may not have to waste a turn.


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Personal spells only apply to the caster. If you could put one in a potion and pass it around, that would no longer be true.

P.S. Dolanar - Mage Armor lasts hours. Shield lasts minutes.


I knew one of them lasted hours, my mistake lol.


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Create Mr. Pitt wrote:
Here's what I don't get, do you have a problem with personal spells in general? It's logically consistent that there are no potions of personal spells; after all they are intentional restricted to certain types of caster. So would you suggest that restriction be removed? Then, of course, wizards are going to spend a lot of resources giving out the best buffs. The game would slow down a ton if frontliners had mirror image and shield. You'd have to up encounter levels just to deal with this.

Which is why, of course, the best frontliners are those who can naturally access personal buffs anyway (codzilla, gishes etc), and why most optimised martials go with an ioun stone or UMD as discussed above... so you're only widening the disparity here, not preventing an exploit.

More on topic, being able to share personal spells as a renewable vs consumed resource is a very different kind of debate. You can believe personal spells should be potionable without thinking they should be targetable out of the box. One doesn't naturally lead to the other. You're committing a slippery slope AND a false dichotomomy fallacy here.

As an aside, i'm all for anything which helps wizards contribute more to a team. Isn't that what roleplaying games are about? I'd much rather the wizard was preparing mirror image potions for the fighter (or casting it on the fighter himself even!) than ending the encounter with glitterdust.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


As it was pointed out to me some time ago, the RAW says that potions cannot use spells with a range of Personal. Over the 2 years I've ran with my group, this made me realize that we have been running potions wrong this entire time.

I didn't know it for some time, took the cauldron hex with my magus and after realizing I could not make personal potions, not even for myself asked my GM to let me exchange the hex because it was more or less useless for me.

I'd wanted it to have some spells with me without needing to memorize them. And most of them happened to be personal.
Among them was Read magic. A spell that is sometimes important but not enough to always block a cantrip slot with.


Blakmane wrote:
Create Mr. Pitt wrote:
Here's what I don't get, do you have a problem with personal spells in general? It's logically consistent that there are no potions of personal spells; after all they are intentional restricted to certain types of caster. So would you suggest that restriction be removed? Then, of course, wizards are going to spend a lot of resources giving out the best buffs. The game would slow down a ton if frontliners had mirror image and shield. You'd have to up encounter levels just to deal with this.

Which is why, of course, the best frontliners are those who can naturally access personal buffs anyway (codzilla, gishes etc), and why most optimised martials go with an ioun stone or UMD as discussed above... so you're only widening the disparity here, not preventing an exploit.

More on topic, being able to share personal spells as a renewable vs consumed resource is a very different kind of debate. You can believe personal spells should be potionable without thinking they should be targetable out of the box. One doesn't naturally lead to the other. You're committing a slippery slope AND a false dichotomomy fallacy here.

Actually it's neither of those. Rather it's based on the framework of the game generally. I can't think of a reason they would allow potions of personal spells, but not remove the personal category entirely unless potions of personal spells were only allowed for individuals with those spells on their spell list.

But really, how much would CR need to change to accommodate early level fighters having mirror image and shield up?


maybe +1 cr at best

Scarab Sages

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bah! just get an Alchemist to do it with an Infusion (so he can hand out extracts of Shield that work like potions...)


Dolanar wrote:
do you really want the low level 2-h fighter baddie to down a Potion of Shield, getting his huge Armor AC & a Shield bonus without actually using a Shield?

It's not like the street is a one-way. It isn't? Okay, I guess you can fight fire with fire on this one, so okay, you got a BBEG using Potions of Shield? So do the Martial PCs. Not sure how this is really an issue when the solution of leveling the playing field is very simple to implement.

@ Talos the Talon: For a Barbarian, Mirror Images might be a minor defense, but Barbarians won't have that much AC, and if they do, chances are they have to sacrifice their offensive capability for it, so there is compromise there. Tacking on Shield only removes a splinter from the otherwise gaping wound left from a sharpened wooden spear impaled into a human being, so it's hardly gamebreaking in that respect. A Two-Handed fighter is the same way, and the inverse is true for those who build tankey; if they're already almost impossible to hit, making them even harder to hit has a hard cap that cannot be surpassed, making AC investments at a certain point fruitless.

It's also an important reminder that they are one-shots. It's not like a permanent item being made for 1,000 gold. Once they're used, it's done, and when they run out, they gotta get more from somewhere, and not all combats will give them the opportunity to buff up.

@ LazarX: Hit Points aren't reliable in games that use average hit dice (gaining only 10 hit points per level as a Barbarian isn't much when I'm power-attacking with full Strength for that much by level 1, gaining more damage and attacks only dwindles that useful amount, and we aren't even talking about blasters, or save/die spells that bypass this "defense" entirely).

Optimizers can burn through AC like it's nothing, and given that there are several kinds of AC, it will be hard to bring them all up to snuff to combat the other issue, not to mention it suffers the same bypass problems as Hit Points.

Nothing targets Fortitude saves, and everything in the game has good Fortitude saves, or ways to circumvent the need for it, either of which are easily available for Casters as well as Martials.

If you got other subjects you think can be useful, please list them, I'll happily refute them, though it doesn't really provide a helpful answer to the question I proposed...

@ Maezar: And I get that; it prevents them from simply buffing others willy-nilly with spells otherwise more powerful. What I don't get is why potions aren't somehow a means to circumvent that restriction, especially when the given rules written for them would otherwise follow the same exact procedure for running Personal spells. I mean, they have a cost, and require crafting feats and the specific spells to make them.

@ Create Mr. Pitt: From a PFS standpoint, given the precedent that Crane Wing has set up, Paizo would remove those kinds of spells from the game entirely; while I personally wouldn't have a problem with it, the same problem that PFS GMs ran into with Crane Wing follow the same solution that was presented at that scenario; to adjust the encounters to fit the party.

From a home game or casual game standpoint, it's a non-issue, or an issue that can very easily be fixed. That being said, I'm not saying to remove the restriction from the spell itself; some buffs shouldn't apply to others willy-nilly. What I'm asking is why there is a restriction of personal spells from single-use consumables like potions when it's not something that's granted or created willy-nilly.

@ Blakmane: I suppose that makes sense; if it really is leftover from 3.X material, then I think that either the group I've played with has come to this issue and houseruled it already, or they've been playing it wrong for longer than I've been with them. In any case, I'd rather not say something unless it somehow becomes an issue. It's probably the best answer I'm going to get, since everybody else seems to think this thread is a martial/caster-disparity issue I have with this. Hint, it's not.

Of course, Paladin Alignment, "Rogue/Fighters Suck", and "Can I do [random thing that's most likely impossible to do by the book but I want to try it anyway]?" threads are the only threads that get traffic on these forums anymore, so no surprise on that...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Do not a number of published Adventures, Modules, and PFS Scenarios contain Personal Spell Potions?

I know they are not allowed, via RAW, and yet, they exist.

Now, an Alchemist can make Infused Personal Spell Extracts, so that's an actual RAW option.


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Create Mr. Pitt wrote:


Actually it's neither of those. Rather it's based on the framework of the game generally. I can't think of a reason they would allow potions of personal spells, but not remove the personal category entirely unless potions of personal spells were only allowed for individuals with those spells on their spell list.

But really, how much would CR need to change to accommodate early level fighters having mirror image and shield up?

You just did them again :P.

a) The reason is because potions are a non-renewable resource that costs money and/or build investment to produce cheaply, especially beyond first level spells. They also have caster level restrictions unless you are willing to pay even MORE money. Spell slots are much less valuable. Giving personal spells to potions would also give potions an actually useful niche beyond the first few levels where they quickly become obsolete. By your logic, wands, rings of spell storing or x/day magic items that can cast personal spells should also not exist. You can have personal potions and still have personal spells: there is no dichotomy.

b) As for fighters: no change to CR. I'd rather face a fighter with a potion of shield than a druid or battle cleric or a summoner or colour spray oracle or a slumber witch or one of a million other much stronger choices at low levels. Past level 2 everyone has access to shield with the ioun stone anyway, and at higher levels UMD or magic items covers everything else. There's no slippery slope here. By allowing personal spells you give weaker classes a bit of a boost and that leads to.... well, not much at all really.


Wands and scrolls are still an option for personal spells. The BBG could use Use magic device to activate a personal spell. There is no real mishape (the item couldnt be used this day again and a secound or third scroll could fix this). Ok this isnt a great option in combat but it still works on combat preparation.


Ring of spell storing, also.


Dolanar wrote:
Shield lasts hours, he may not have to waste a turn.

Where do you get your shield spells? Where I get mine they only last minutes.


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Black Market...I thought everyone knew about John Shieldtower the Gnome scientist.

Sovereign Court

It's not so much that a fighter with a Shield spell appals me. But for the sword and board fighter it's a bit sour to see the already-easier-in-feats 2H fighter chugging a Shield potion. Because the tradeoff for 2H fighting is having less AC than S&B.

I suppose Beast Shape 1 potions might also be nasty, especially as consumed by barbarians. Right now wildshaping druids are pretty powerful, but consider one with full BAB and Rage?

That said, with the Magus some "squishy only" spells are already in the hands of a real melee class, with decent action economy to boot.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

blackbloodtroll wrote:
Do not a number of published Adventures, Modules, and PFS Scenarios contain Personal Spell Potions?

They exist because of two things:

  • The write didn't know the rules on Potions
  • The editor didn't notice it.

Or

  • It was a cool special exemption for this combat

I've had three players this week try to use a Potion of Shield. I'm not sure if something happened recently that people saw them and thought hey cool or what. But I don't normally see more than 1 a year or so.


Think of it in terms of the Potion being the Spellcaster.


Personal spells tend to, in theory at least, be stronger than other spells of their spell level, since the author can be certain of certain criteria: namely who is casting it, and who it can affect.

Potions bypass this design paradigm.

As best I can tell, that's the primary reason why the PDT considers the use of infusions to bypass this to be a loophole.


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Here is a better question:

Why do you believe martials should get nice things?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Divine favor and true strike... mostly true strike, IMO: 50 gp for a +20 on your next attack roll.

Also mirror image.


Dragonchess Player wrote:
Divine favor and true strike... mostly true strike, IMO. 50 gp for a +20 on your next attack roll.

If you waste a move action an Provoke an AOO... and if it wait and try to full attack next turn, it applied a +20 to your first attack... i.e. the one that had the most probability to succeeding ANYWAY. So it actually is not all that useful for the fighter...

The exception is if you are doing something like a CMB or something... then its a bit better.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

5 ft step (if threatened; no longer threatened, no AoO), retrieve stored item (move action), drink potion (standard action).

5 ft step or move/charge (depending on enemy placement), attack with +20 bonus.

Most useful in the first round, while the casters are throwing out mass buffs like blessing of fervor and haste. Makes the first attack (especially for a character that optimizes for charges or one big hit) pretty much an auto-success, even against blur effects (no miss chance because of concealment). For 50 gp.


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Yea, but the first hit is usually going to hit anyways, since it is at your full BAB. And you gave up a full round's worth of actions to get a probably-inconsequential bonus.


^^^ Pretty much this.

In order to avoid an AOO, you are limiting yourself down to a single attack ( assuming you have quick draw) (Attack, 5 ft step, drink).

Additonally, this only works on things like 5 ft reach... as soon as you get into large creatures, this plan fails.

Additionally, as I pointed out, you are losing effectively a full turn to pretty much go from a 85% chance of success to 97.5% chance (pretty much Not a Nat 1). That boost is not worth what you gave up to do it...

Sovereign Court

It would give the first-level barbarian access to Beast Shape 1, or the wildshaping druid access to Shield.

It's not just martials that get cross-casting-list nice stuff this way.


I'm pretty sure it's just an oversight. If their intent was to keep Personal spells away from non-casters why would they create a class that can create up to 6th level potions basically for free.

As early as 2nd level an Alchemist can create, at 0 extra cost, any extract that's usable by another character, and once they hit level 8 they can make two-for-ones.


Dolanar wrote:
do you really want the low level 2-h fighter baddie to down a Potion of Shield, getting his huge Armor AC & a Shield bonus without actually using a Shield?

I know I don't want that, but alchemists either can abuse this, or three of our players were breaking the rules.

Dannorn wrote:

I'm pretty sure it's just an oversight. If their intent was to keep Personal spells away from non-casters why would they create a class that can create up to 6th level potions basically for free.

As early as 2nd level an Alchemist can create, at 0 extra cost, any extract that's usable by another character, and once they hit level 8 they can make two-for-ones.

I don't consider the alchemist a good class. For every good class, there's a bad one out there.


Kimera757 wrote:
Dolanar wrote:
do you really want the low level 2-h fighter baddie to down a Potion of Shield, getting his huge Armor AC & a Shield bonus without actually using a Shield?

I know I don't want that, but alchemists either can abuse this, or three of our players were breaking the rules.

Dannorn wrote:

I'm pretty sure it's just an oversight. If their intent was to keep Personal spells away from non-casters why would they create a class that can create up to 6th level potions basically for free.

As early as 2nd level an Alchemist can create, at 0 extra cost, any extract that's usable by another character, and once they hit level 8 they can make two-for-ones.

I don't consider the alchemist a good class. For every good class, there's a bad one out there.

You're welcome to your opinion (I loves mah bombs), my point was less that the Alchemist is a good class and more why would Paizo intentionally build a class contrary to the intent of their established rules? They probably wouldn't, so it's likely the Alchemist demonstrates that either A) They've reconsidered their position on Personal range potions or B) the original restriction was an oversight.


Dannorn wrote:
You're welcome to your opinion (I loves mah bombs), my point was less that the Alchemist is a good class and more why would Paizo intentionally build a class contrary to the intent of their established rules? They probably wouldn't, so it's likely the Alchemist demonstrates that either A) They've reconsidered their position on Personal range potions or B) the original restriction was an oversight.

Extracts aren't actually potions. They're similar, but not quite the same thing. You not only can make personal-only extracts, but you can't make an extract for someone else without a discovery.

Looking at this...

Quote:

Can I use the infusion discovery to create an infused extract of a personal-range formula (such as true strike), which someone else can drink?

Yes, you can. The design team may decide to close this loophole in the next printing of the Advanced Player's Guide.

From what I see, alchemists have to use an infusion to "break the rules". Someone at Paizo decided that being able to do something different with potion-like items was cool. To do that Paizo had to create a new set of rules.


Dannorn wrote:
Kimera757 wrote:
Dolanar wrote:
do you really want the low level 2-h fighter baddie to down a Potion of Shield, getting his huge Armor AC & a Shield bonus without actually using a Shield?

I know I don't want that, but alchemists either can abuse this, or three of our players were breaking the rules.

Dannorn wrote:

I'm pretty sure it's just an oversight. If their intent was to keep Personal spells away from non-casters why would they create a class that can create up to 6th level potions basically for free.

As early as 2nd level an Alchemist can create, at 0 extra cost, any extract that's usable by another character, and once they hit level 8 they can make two-for-ones.

I don't consider the alchemist a good class. For every good class, there's a bad one out there.
You're welcome to your opinion (I loves mah bombs), my point was less that the Alchemist is a good class and more why would Paizo intentionally build a class contrary to the intent of their established rules? They probably wouldn't, so it's likely the Alchemist demonstrates that either A) They've reconsidered their position on Personal range potions or B) the original restriction was an oversight.

Actually the class restriction further demonstrates the general rule. Creating extracts an infusing them into others is a unique alchemist ability. Not something is allowed as a general rule, nor proof that PF is okay with this as a general rule.

Scarab Sages

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kyrt-ryder wrote:
Because the man doesn't want you stinking martials getting personal spells.

The Man gave martials UMD and cracked vibrant purple ioun stones.


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Artanthos wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
Because the man doesn't want you stinking martials getting personal spells.
The Man gave martials UMD and cracked vibrant purple ioun stones.

Say hello to the new boss... he's similar to the old boss...

Pathfinder gives all characters easy access to skills, through full skill ranks and talents, not the double cost and just about requiring multiclassing to get additional skills, like 3.0/3.5. The cracked version is just a cheaper version of something you get later, so that's not truly radical. It's nice to have more magic items for low level play. Even PFS is (usually) geared for (only) up to level 12 as I understand it. Just considering the porting of things from the previous version, you still had the potion limit AND the work around. It just takes place at a higher level when those bonuses would matter less.


A fighter with mirror image on is too powerful. They use armour, casters use magic.


Fighters have high strength and full bab - they don't need true strike, casters might depending on build.


Houserule it if it's an issue for your group.


Kimera757 wrote:
Dolanar wrote:
do you really want the low level 2-h fighter baddie to down a Potion of Shield, getting his huge Armor AC & a Shield bonus without actually using a Shield?

I know I don't want that, but alchemists either can abuse this, or three of our players were breaking the rules.

Dannorn wrote:

I'm pretty sure it's just an oversight. If their intent was to keep Personal spells away from non-casters why would they create a class that can create up to 6th level potions basically for free.

As early as 2nd level an Alchemist can create, at 0 extra cost, any extract that's usable by another character, and once they hit level 8 they can make two-for-ones.

I don't consider the alchemist a good class. For every good class, there's a bad one out there.

Beastmorph Vivisectionist would like to have a word with you xD


Going by the Infusion FAQ, I'm reasonably sure that "no personal-target potions" are an intentional limitation and that personal range infusions was an oversight:

FAQ wrote:

Alchemist and infusions: Can I use the infusion discovery to create an infused extract of a personal-range formula (such as true strike), which someone else can drink?

Yes, you can. The design team may decide to close this loophole in the next printing of the Advanced Player's Guide.

For what it's worth I've had infusion alchemists handing out Personal-range extracts in several parties and so far I haven't had any issues - imho it's a nice little feature that helps make alchemists stand out compared to other buff classes.

That said, there are also other ways to sidestep the limitation. Cracked vibrant ioun stones have already been mentioned - there's also the Cloak of the Hedge Wizard, which offers Shield, True Strike, or Expeditious Retreat - all spells that normally have a range of Personal.

There's quite a few items like these.


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Kudaku wrote:

Going by the Infusion FAQ, I'm reasonably sure that "no personal-target potions" are an intentional limitation and that personal range infusions was an oversight:

FAQ wrote:

Alchemist and infusions: Can I use the infusion discovery to create an infused extract of a personal-range formula (such as true strike), which someone else can drink?

Yes, you can. The design team may decide to close this loophole in the next printing of the Advanced Player's Guide.
. . . .

I'm going to disagree. That sounds more like a personal interpretation.

Just because the one person responding views it unfavorably, they refer to it as a loophole, even though it seems an example of a specific class ability trumping a general general rule, which is not uncommon.

I hope the design team as a whole sees it for what it is. An interesting and relatively balanced feature.

stuart haffenden wrote:
A fighter with mirror image on is too powerful. They use armour, casters use magic.

Martials use magic swords, magic shields, magic armor... sometimes they invest in UMD to use scrolls or wands in case it hits the fan and they can help in other ways, which could easily spill over into combat. A martial with mirror image still gets hit with area of effects spells, and past a certain point, armor class doesn't do the job anymore as your enemies have reach and much higher strength scores. Martials need magic, at least in some form, in this game.

stuart haffenden wrote:
Fighters have high strength and full bab - they don't need true strike, casters might depending on build.

I'll keep that in mind when a melee spec'ed martial has to pick up a bow to take on flying enemies with a good armor class, or a fighter with no buffs lowers his chance to hit by %5, 10%, 15%, or 20% to power attack. And in this edition, you can't vary the amount.

And depending on the build, casters need to hit buffs less, as many spells they can choose to use are ranged touch.

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