Breaking up Planar Binding


Homebrew and House Rules

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This is spun off of some of the discussion of Pathfinder Unchained.

As written, planar binding has issues.

  • The reliance on magic circle (and dimensional anchor) creates a Spell Known tax on spontaneous casters, and creates problems for aligned casters.
  • It treats all outsiders the same, regardless of alignment or ethos: There is only a minimal difference between binding a demon and an angel.
  • 'Unreasonable', 'impossible', and 'cannot complete though its own action' are vague, leading to wide table variation, especially if the GM tries to use these clauses to reign in the spell
  • Even lesser planar binding is a 5th level spell, meaning that characters who want to make such deals don't actually 'turn on' until 9th or 10th level.
  • It has jagged cuttoffs determined by spell level, not caster level, making evaluating bound outsiders an exercise in system mastery and corner-cases.
  • And the big one, it is a poorly-bounded spell (HD is a poor indicator of potency) that gets bigger with every Bestiary, and as a result exhibits loopholes, like making wish into a 6th level spell if you're not in a hurry.

At the same time, it's easy to see why errata hasn't been issued - I have hard time imagining errata that would fit on the page, and address things like the wish loophole in a way that doesn't either arbitrarily limit some SLAs that are ok, or become an itemized list 'per monster'. And you'd still have the problem of a future book possibly breaking the spell.

In comparison, the summon monster (and summon nature's ally) spells use a curated list of monsters, checked for general power level and early access to spell-like abilities. The list doesn't get bigger with later monster books: instead new, different spells like eagle aerie, summon minor monster, or summon elder worm are necessary.

Likewise, Polymorph effects had similar problems in the 3.0 era. They were streamlined somewhat in 3.5, but was a monumentally flexible spell that got better and more flexible with every Monster Manual.

Pathfinder solved the problems with the polymorph spell by breaking it up like Ma Bell. It became a series of spells that granted access to specific forms, with clearly delineated powers. Beast shape i made simpler transformations like turning into a wolf possible at lower than 7th level, but eventually obsolesces like most spells (compared to 3.5 polymorph, which scaled smoothly up to 15th level). New monster books no longer inflated the powers of these spells unless specifically added and evaluated as a new spell. Individual powers could be evaluated on a better basis than 'how many HD does the critter have'. It was a much better paradigm for everyone but sorcerers, who now had to invest in more spells if they wanted to turn into many different shapes. I think that's fine: 'anyspells' should be limited for exactly that kind of reason, and it makes the 'shapeshifter sorcerer' invest in parallel spells in the same way that a 'fire sorcerer' or 'beguiler sorcerer' does. It promotes the ability to actually know what your spells do, instead of bringing the game to a halt to flip through 5 monster books in case there is one with <12 HD that would happen to solve the problems none of your other available spells can.

So, my proposal is this: break planar binding (and possibly planar ally) into a series of spells. Bind genie i could be lower-level and bind a janni, while bind genie iv (or whatever) could get an efreeti, and require 17th caster level to actually get a wish. Bind devil i could be limited to imps and lemures. You can mirror fantasy tropes and make it easier to bind demons/devils than angels, reducing the team red/team blue thing some alignment-based spells have now.


I find that for the most part I agree with a lot of points made in this thread. If I wasn't on my phone I'd go into more detail.

I think that while techically unneccessary that maybe in the apropriate bestiary/setting book or even in planar binding itself it be explained that binding intelligent/community dwelling outsiders is generally a bad thing, especially if you mistreat the outsider.

Even though such a thing is obvious to many players I have seen a lot of people say that having those consequences is "GM backlash"

Also something needs to be done to deal with duration compared to cost. Compared to Planar Ally you can use planar binding to create a secondary adventuring party to quest with you. At a certain level a very crafty Wizard can have enough things bound at once to trivialize any encounter and his initiative becomes a circus act.

I don't think Planar Ally is as much a problem.

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Planar ally is better balanced because it requires cash, which minimizes the ability to recast it repeatedly to abuse a loophole. And because it requires an outsider already predisposed toward your cause, instead of letting you cherry-pick one with the right powers, or implying that with a good Charisma check you can force an angel to burn down an orphanage. But it still has the 'gets better every monster book' problem, just to a lesser degree, and leads to odd constraints like all the Heralds in Inner Sea Gods having exactly 18 HD, so they can be used with greater planar ally, instead of having something like a call herald spell that calls the herald of your deity.

Duration/cost could possibly be handled in a similar manner to undead creation, where there is a cap on the number of simultaneous binding spells. Or possibly a secondary rule like keeping that spell slot tied up until the creature's mission is completed, so that there is a long-term cost to open-ended by still technically completable tasks like 'wipe out this bloodline'.


Ross Byers wrote:


Duration/cost could possibly be handled in a similar manner to undead creation, where there is a cap on the number of simultaneous binding spells. Or possibly a secondary rule like keeping that spell slot tied up until the creature's mission is completed, so that there is a long-term cost to open-ended by still technically completable tasks like 'wipe out this bloodline'.

this stuff i like...the HD cap only so so. it fits undead better...

but i really like locking up a spell slot to keep an outsider bound.

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It works out to 'if you couldn't re-bind them all this morning, they can't all work for you'.


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While I don't really have problems with planar binding, I like a lot of these ideas. Definitely would like a "bind X Outsider" spell. I'd homebrew it myself, but that seems like a daunting task.

Although, with planar binding and clerics, I felt that was the reason they had planar ally? So they didn't need the magic circle and dimensional anchor.

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I think it's because of the assumption that if a Good cleric wants to call himself and angel to smite the forces of darkness, he shouldn't have to stick it in a cage and negotiate. Also, to give clerics less flexibility when picking outsiders (because the deity/GM pick it), e.g. a Sarenrae cleric will only get angels, an Asmodean cleric will only get devils, a Kutite cleric will primarily get kytons...

(When NPCs cast them, there is no meaningful difference between ally and binding.)

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You could make it like the summon monster with a specific list of outsiders. You could also add a clause that a summoned creature cannot cast a spell of a level greater than the highest spell level you can cast.

Sovereign Court

I think it's important to preserve the element of risk to the caster. This line of spells should enable you to summon things that really, you shouldn't be summoning, because you can't really keep them under control.

Dark Archive

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IMO, the problem with planar binding spells is the same problem that rears up when a creature becomes a cohort, or a 'monster' becomes a PC, or certain types of monsters get dominated, undead-created, rebuked/commanded, diplomancered / intimidated into cooperation, or run as if they had the brains the gods gave a turnip.

Monster design allows for abilities that nobody with a shred of sanity would give a player, such as granting wishes or creating spawn or infinite self-replication, and since there are a dozen different ways that a player can get their hands on those creatures and bend them to their will (or a creature with a 'broken' or unrestricted ability can just flat out choose to laugh at game balance and destroy the world), the 'oh, that will never be a problem because it's not a class ability, just a monster power' logic flies right out the window.

Pathfinder re-arranged a single deck chair on this Titanic by making animal companions and wild shapers and polymorphers use a meager helping of vaguely related abilities, instead of 'monster stats,' so that if you turn into any sort of creature, you have pretty much the same stats of any other creature of that size, and wonkiness like polymorphing into a *rat* allows you to breath underwater, because, reasons, but those issues (ooh, the Str 6 Druid turned into a dire bear and ignored her dump stat! Apocalypse!) were a drop in the bucket compared to what you can do with a commanded shadow or a called efreeti.

It's not a problem with commanding undead or dominating monsters or calling efreet, it's a problem with those monsters having powers that are wildly inappropriate, and trying to 'fix' planar binding or planar ally (or gate, or command undead, or simulacrum, or shapechange, or monster cohorts, or monsters-as-PCs, or coercion/compulsion spells, or Diplomacy) are putting bandaids on a person who is being dragged behind a truck. The truck needs to be stopped.

The answer to questions like 'why haven't shadows overwhelmed the world' or 'why haven't the Worldwound demons teleported all over the world' or 'why haven't the Korvosan imps, explicitly immune to anything the local pseudo-dragons could do to them, wiped them out yet' shouldn't be 'they haven't tried yet,' or, worse, 'they have a Plan, and it involves Katie Sackoff and if you stick around to the very end, you still won't know what it was...'

TL;DR The problem, as I see it, isn't with planar ally/planar binding, it's with 'monsters' having stupidly unbalanced powers and options all out of proportion to what PCs should be allowed to have.

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Set wrote:
...The answer to questions like 'why haven't shadows overwhelmed the world' or 'why...

I do think you have a point here. I don't mind if monsters get higher powered abilities, but it does feel really strange that a 10 HD creature can warp the fabric of reality on his whim...three times per day. I could understand if he could do it once a year or once a month. Then if he's binded, there's a high chance he already used it or would pretend he did.

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Ascalaphus wrote:
I think it's important to preserve the element of risk to the caster. This line of spells should enable you to summon things that really, you shouldn't be summoning, because you can't really keep them under control.

I agree. Otherwise they're just variants on summon monster, with a longer duration but less powerful creatures.

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Set wrote:
Pathfinder re-arranged a single deck chair on this Titanic by making animal companions and wild shapers and polymorphers use a meager helping of vaguely related abilities, instead of 'monster stats,' so that if you turn into any sort of creature, you have pretty much the same stats of any other creature of that size, and wonkiness like polymorphing into a *rat* allows you to breath underwater, because, reasons, but those issues (ooh, the Str 6 Druid turned into a dire bear and ignored her dump stat! Apocalypse!) were a drop in the bucket compared to what you can do with a commanded shadow or a called efreeti.

Why does turning into a rat give you water breathing? And Pathfinder fixed the thing about the Str 6 gnome druid turning into a bear, because the polymorph spells give strength adjustments, not flat values like the 3.5 spells. (Synthesist summoners ignored this, and it is part of what makes them broken.)

Quote:
It's not a problem with commanding undead or dominating monsters or calling efreet, it's a problem with those monsters having powers that are wildly inappropriate, and trying to 'fix' planar binding or planar ally (or gate, or command undead, or simulacrum, or shapechange, or monster cohorts, or monsters-as-PCs, or coercion/compulsion spells, or Diplomacy) are putting bandaids on a person who is being dragged behind a truck. The truck needs to be stopped.

I disagree. Monster should have unique and awesome powers, both to reflect their places in folklore (genies grant wishes. It's what they do.), and to give them powers that make fighting them different than, for instance, just fighting a humanoid NPC of the same CR. If that truck doesn't keep on trucking, the game gets a lot less interesting.

I think the right answer is to cut the rope. The problematic effects are always the open-ended ones: planar binding, simulacrum, 3.X polymorph, command undead (and Command Undead), even wish itself, if you go off script.
Spells like summon monster and the assorted polymorph spells give curated access to powers deemed safe. As do class abilities like animal companions. Heck, even the create undead spells only give access to a fixed list (even if it is one that is assumed for NPCs instead of PCs).

While I do support the idea that monsters run on the same basic rules as characters (instead of being a handful of numbers with only an arbitrary connection to each other), I think this is more for convenience than anything else: it just means that when you have a monster that is the subject of a an effect the enhances or reduces its strength, for instance, the result is easy to figure out. It also makes it simpler to do things like create advanced monsters with more HD or class levels. But it isn't a two-way street: Monsters can use classes, spells, and magic items from Player books, but the inverse isn't really true. To quote myself, "The rules WORK the same for Monsters and PCs. That doesn't mean they BEHAVE the same."
Even then, it only works halfway: It's easy to figure out what the stat block of a Will o' the Wisp Wizard 6 looks like. It's a lot harder to figure out how dangerous it is.

To wit, it isn't broken that trolls have regneration, because they're monsters, they still die quickly. It gives them an identity as a monster and makes a troll something different than a bigger ogre. On the other hand, PCs shouldn't be able to get regeneration cheaply. Giant form i is a 7th level spell. That's probably a safe point for PCs to get access.

Quote:
The answer to questions like 'why haven't shadows overwhelmed the world' or 'why haven't the Worldwound demons teleported all over the world' or 'why haven't the Korvosan imps, explicitly immune to anything the local pseudo-dragons could do to them, wiped them out yet' shouldn't be 'they haven't tried yet,' or, worse, 'they have a Plan, and it involves Katie Sackoff and if you stick around to the very end, you still won't know what it was...'

I'm not sure why Shadows are always the example here. They don't present a bigger self-replicating threat than vampires, for instance.

And I think if demons and devils and the like were being redesigned today, they'd get dimension door instead of greater teleport.

(As for Korvosan imps, or other things like villagers being able to drive off a golem in Savage Tide, I try to remind myself that stat blocks are for on-screen action, with the PCs there. They aren't simulationist in an absolute sense. I have to put it aside the same way I have to put aside that two Huge giants, when fighting each other, are limited to 5-foot steps, even though they should be able to treat each other the same way two humans would.)


Ross Byers wrote:

As written, planar binding has issues.


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  • It has jagged cuttoffs determined by spell level, not caster level, making evaluating bound outsiders an exercise in system mastery and corner-cases.
  • And the big one, it is a poorly-bounded spell (HD is a poor indicator of potency) that gets bigger with every Bestiary, and as a result exhibits loopholes, like making wish into a 6th level spell if you're not in a hurry.

Conceptually, planar binding attempts to recreate a staple of fantasy culture/literature, that is, controlling otherwise uncontrollable entities or forcing them to act in accordance to your will. Typically (still according to this fantasy trope), binding dangerous entities involve certain part of risk that the bound creature might break free, exert revenge or otherwise ruin your plans.

Except that in Pathfinder/D&D, there are plenty of ways to control powerful entities (via spells that gate, summon , dominate, command and the like) or if you can't control them, you can often manage to become one yourself.

Therefore the only niche that's left to planar binding is basically the ability to perform all kind of shenanigans that other spells prevent. IMO, the raison d'être of planar binding is always going to be able to perform things that a spellcaster can't do with other spells. Perhaps it would help to define those things and codify them, like what has been done for the wish spell.


Ross Byers wrote:
As written, planar binding has issues.
  • The reliance on magic circle (and dimensional anchor) creates a Spell Known tax on spontaneous casters, and creates problems for aligned casters.
  • It treats all outsiders the same, regardless of alignment or ethos: There is only a minimal difference between binding a demon and an angel.
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Still according the the fantasy trope, binding powerful entities is not a quick affair and is usually the culmination of many preparations. D&D represented that with the requirement of casting magic circle (and dimensional anchor) with a spellcraft check to top it off.

Personally I'm not a fan of spells that do all kinds of things simultaneously. I find it not only acceptable that planar binding relies on two other spells (and potentially assistants casting suggestion as a third spell), I find it immersing. If it were up to me, it wouldn't be a spell, but rather the result of several spells/steps as follow

A spell (or series of spells) that makes a magical prison.
An other spell (or series of spells) that somehow locates and brings the entity to the prison.
A final spell (or series of spells) that completes the binding.

Planar binding shouldn't be a spell to be cast in a hurry, or often, or lightly. If planar binding is going to give you something more than summons/controls of comparable levels, than it should also be more complicated to cast. Scrolls should be able to fix the spell tax issue, and aligned casters typically have planar ally to rely on, and perhaps it's a good thing that aligned casters cannot easily imprison the planar forces of their enemies.


Laurefindel wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:
As written, planar binding has issues.
  • The reliance on magic circle (and dimensional anchor) creates a Spell Known tax on spontaneous casters, and creates problems for aligned casters.
  • It treats all outsiders the same, regardless of alignment or ethos: There is only a minimal difference between binding a demon and an angel.
  • (skip)
  • (skip)
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Still according the the fantasy trope, binding powerful entities is not a quick affair and is usually the culmination of many preparations. D&D represented that with the requirement of casting magic circle (and dimensional anchor) with a spellcraft check to top it off.

Personally I'm not a fan of spells that do all kinds of things simultaneously. I find it not only acceptable that planar binding relies on two other spells (and potentially assistants casting suggestion as a third spell), I find it immersing. If it were up to me, it wouldn't be a spell, but rather the result of several spells/steps as follow

A spell (or series of spells) that makes a magical prison.
An other spell (or series of spells) that somehow locates and brings the entity to the prison.
A final spell (or series of spells) that completes the binding.

Planar binding shouldn't be a spell to be cast in a hurry, or often, or lightly. If planar binding is going to give you something more than summons/controls of comparable levels, than it should also be more complicated to cast. Scrolls should be able to fix the spell tax issue, and aligned casters typically have planar ally to rely on, and perhaps it's a good thing that aligned casters cannot easily imprison the planar forces of their enemies.

Gotta agree with Laura here. While simplifying the spells is good, it's still going to be a permanent (well, more permanent than summon monster) called creature.

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Laurefindel wrote:
Perhaps it would help to define those things and codify them, like what has been done for the wish spell.

That is largely what I am suggesting. Breaking it into smaller spells makes it more manageable to do so, and lets those effects reside at a more fair spell level.

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Laurefindel wrote:
Still according the the fantasy trope, binding powerful entities is not a quick affair and is usually the culmination of many preparations. D&D represented that with the requirement of casting magic circle (and dimensional anchor) with a spellcraft check to top it off.

I don't really object to requiring the extra spell slots: planar binding is a powerful effect, and the heavy tax it places on binding sorcerers could be considered fair, given that having Cha as a casting stat gives sorcerers an innate advantage at binding. My objection to those is more aesthetic: I would prefer my infernal-blooded sorcerer not have to learn magic circle against evil to get use out of his bloodline-granted planar binding, and the requirement of dimensional anchor reeks of a DM/player arms race of "Nope, teleports out of your summoning circle."

Quote:

Personally I'm not a fan of spells that do all kinds of things simultaneously. I find it not only acceptable that planar binding relies on two other spells (and potentially assistants casting suggestion as a third spell), I find it immersing. If it were up to me, it wouldn't be a spell, but rather the result of several spells/steps as follow

A spell (or series of spells) that makes a magical prison.
An other spell (or series of spells) that somehow locates and brings the entity to the prison.
A final spell (or series of spells) that completes the binding.

Planar binding shouldn't be a spell to be cast in a hurry, or often, or lightly. If planar binding is going to give you something more than summons/controls of comparable levels, than it should also be more complicated to cast. Scrolls should be able to fix the spell tax issue, and aligned casters typically have planar ally to rely on, and perhaps it's a good thing that aligned casters cannot easily imprison the planar forces of their enemies.

I find that long casting times and Spellcraft checks are enough to reflect that a spell is long, complicated, and has multiple steps. I even suggested such a thing in the other thread I linked: breaking planar binding into planar calling and bind outsider. I am not suggesting that something like bind devil i would be perfectly safe to cast, or something that could be cast in a hurry.

But that isn't super relevant here: the major problem is that while planar binding is relatively fair if you just want to do something like accrue a Bearded Devil entourage for your infernal sorcerer: you've invested much of your spell selection and feats into making it work, and it can still backfire. The things that make it break are things like Efreet that turn a successful binding into three wishes. And I think smaller, specialized binding spells (that may or may not still require magic circles and dimensional anchors) are the best way to do that. It's safer to whitelist approved creatures than blacklist problems, especially when more outsiders are being created all the time.


To be fair, you probably don't want to get wishes from an efreet. They are known for twisting your wishes in a "be careful what you wish for" manner. But, yeah I get what you are saying.


People don't grab dimension door as soon as they can naturally? How do you kill Wizards> level 9? In my experience a high level spell caster will always teleport away when their life is in actual danger and their is nothing more valuable than their life at stake.


Ross Byers wrote:
Laurefindel wrote:
Still according the the fantasy trope, binding powerful entities is not a quick affair and is usually the culmination of many preparations. D&D represented that with the requirement of casting magic circle (and dimensional anchor) with a spellcraft check to top it off.

I don't really object to requiring the extra spell slots: planar binding is a powerful effect, and the heavy tax it places on binding sorcerers could be considered fair, given that having Cha as a casting stat gives sorcerers an innate advantage at binding. My objection to those is more aesthetic: I would prefer my infernal-blooded sorcerer not have to learn magic circle against evil to get use out of his bloodline-granted planar binding, and the requirement of dimensional anchor reeks of a DM/player arms race of "Nope, teleports out of your summoning circle."

Quote:

Personally I'm not a fan of spells that do all kinds of things simultaneously. I find it not only acceptable that planar binding relies on two other spells (and potentially assistants casting suggestion as a third spell), I find it immersing. If it were up to me, it wouldn't be a spell, but rather the result of several spells/steps as follow

A spell (or series of spells) that makes a magical prison.
An other spell (or series of spells) that somehow locates and brings the entity to the prison.
A final spell (or series of spells) that completes the binding.

Planar binding shouldn't be a spell to be cast in a hurry, or often, or lightly. If planar binding is going to give you something more than summons/controls of comparable levels, than it should also be more complicated to cast. Scrolls should be able to fix the spell tax issue, and aligned casters typically have planar ally to rely on, and perhaps it's a good thing that aligned casters cannot easily imprison the planar forces of their enemies.

I find that long casting times and Spellcraft checks are...

Actually, re-reading this, there is one thing I don't like about the summon monster spells. They are limited to monsters in the Bestiary 1. Despite all the additions of outsiders since then, by the rules, you really cannot summon any outsider from the Bestiary 2-4 with summon monster. I'd hate to see that happen to Planar Binding/Ally, where you cannot call aeons, asuras, or daemons because they aren't in the Bestiary 1. That'd honestly be really lame.

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I think the proper way to handle that is to introduce new spells, the same way as has been done for summoning, or shapeshifting. (I still wish there were more summoning spells.)

This also means that the exact details of each calling/binding spell can vary based ont he type of outsider. Making a deal with an Inevitable is going to be different than trying to bargain with a Protean.

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Insain Dragoon wrote:
People don't grab dimension door as soon as they can naturally? How do you kill Wizards> level 9? In my experience a high level spell caster will always teleport away when their life is in actual danger and their is nothing more valuable than their life at stake.

You mean dimensional anchor? It is an excellent spell, if a unitasker, but if you consider a sorcerer who wants to start binding as soon as possible, at 10th level, that's a 3rd level spell (for a magic circle, a 4th level spell (for dimensional anchor) and a 5th level spell (for lesser planar binding).

That's every spell learned since 8th level.


Idk about that. I mean, it'd certainly work with monsters in hardcovers. But what about outsiders in Adventure Paths, Campaign Settings, and Modules? Like the angels in the Chronicals of the Righteous, versus those found in APs and modules? It'd be difficult to make a spell fit for those angels when there are more of them being published, scattered about the Paizo products. It feels like a really inelegant solution.

I think what would be better is to have a Summoning Rating. Each "Bind Monster" spell would allow you to bind monsters within a certain Summon Rating. So like, elementals would have a relatively low rating while a solar or efreet would have a fairly higher one. That way, whenever a new outsider is published, you could also publish its Summoning Rating in its profile and it would be a more accurate telling of summoning power than its hit dice. Thoughts?


Ross Byers wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:
People don't grab dimension door as soon as they can naturally? How do you kill Wizards> level 9? In my experience a high level spell caster will always teleport away when their life is in actual danger and their is nothing more valuable than their life at stake.

You mean dimensional anchor? It is an excellent spell, if a unitasker, but if you consider a sorcerer who wants to start binding as soon as possible, at 10th level, that's a 3rd level spell (for a magic circle, a 4th level spell (for dimensional anchor) and a 5th level spell (for lesser planar binding).

That's every spell learned since 8th level.

Also, ranged attacks and spells from a called outsider can still hit a person. And I don't see why some powerful outsiders wouldn't dispel the dimensional anchor if they have dispel magic.

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The dimensional anchor specifically becomes part of the magic circle. It isn't applied separately.

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Odraude wrote:

Idk about that. I mean, it'd certainly work with monsters in hardcovers. But what about outsiders in Adventure Paths, Campaign Settings, and Modules? Like the angels in the Chronicals of the Righteous, versus those found in APs and modules? It'd be difficult to make a spell fit for those angels when there are more of them being published, scattered about the Paizo products. It feels like a really inelegant solution.

I think what would be better is to have a Summoning Rating. Each "Bind Monster" spell would allow you to bind monsters within a certain Summon Rating. So like, elementals would have a relatively low rating while a solar or efreet would have a fairly higher one. That way, whenever a new outsider is published, you could also publish its Summoning Rating in its profile and it would be a more accurate telling of summoning power than its hit dice. Thoughts?

New constructs have to spend words on Construction rules. Maybe it could become custom with new outsiders to describe either a new spell or how it can be summoned with an existing spell. (Sometimes new undead do that, by specifying which create undead spell is needed with what caster level and other conditions.)


Ross Byers wrote:
The dimensional anchor specifically becomes part of the magic circle. It isn't applied separately.

Good point. I didn't realize that.

Ross Byers wrote:
Odraude wrote:

Idk about that. I mean, it'd certainly work with monsters in hardcovers. But what about outsiders in Adventure Paths, Campaign Settings, and Modules? Like the angels in the Chronicals of the Righteous, versus those found in APs and modules? It'd be difficult to make a spell fit for those angels when there are more of them being published, scattered about the Paizo products. It feels like a really inelegant solution.

I think what would be better is to have a Summoning Rating. Each "Bind Monster" spell would allow you to bind monsters within a certain Summon Rating. So like, elementals would have a relatively low rating while a solar or efreet would have a fairly higher one. That way, whenever a new outsider is published, you could also publish its Summoning Rating in its profile and it would be a more accurate telling of summoning power than its hit dice. Thoughts?

New constructs have to spend words on Construction rules. Maybe it could become custom with new outsiders to describe either a new spell or how it can be summoned with an existing spell. (Sometimes new undead do that, by specifying which create undead spell is needed with what caster level and other conditions.)

Yeah, that's exactly what I'm thinking. Have the necessary restrictions within the stat block of the new outsider. Whether it's Summoner Rating or whatnot, I think that would be the best and most elegant way to do this.


Ross Byers wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:
People don't grab dimension door as soon as they can naturally? How do you kill Wizards> level 9? In my experience a high level spell caster will always teleport away when their life is in actual danger and their is nothing more valuable than their life at stake.

You mean dimensional anchor? It is an excellent spell, if a unitasker, but if you consider a sorcerer who wants to start binding as soon as possible, at 10th level, that's a 3rd level spell (for a magic circle, a 4th level spell (for dimensional anchor) and a 5th level spell (for lesser planar binding).

That's every spell learned since 8th level.

Dimensional Anchor would be one of the first, if not the first 4th level spell I would take in almost every campaign. What's worse than a strong Spellcaster? A strong Spellcaster who teleports away and comes back for vengeance. That and a dead spellcaster has a loot, a teleported spellcaster only leaves shame.

Sovereign Court

Some thoughts, still in the random-and-disorganized stage;

  • Right now Summon Monster works reasonably well, but it's a bit annoying to only use Bestiary I stuff. My dream solution would be to introduce more focused spells, like Summon Animal or Summon Aberration, that draw from more books, but in a stricter theme. These lists don't need to be enumerated; they could instead say "Summon Animal I will summon any animal with SQR <= 3".

  • A Summon Quality Rating is actually a good idea. Especially if we get an article explaining how the SQR is determined, so that we can also determine it for homebrewed monsters. I imagine SQR will be based on how many utility abilities the monster has (which isn't normally all that visible in CR) and how well the monster can be used as a foot soldier (more in line with CR). Obviously creatures with powers that shouldn't easily fall into players' hands (such as wish-granting efreeti) would get a very high SQR.

  • Regarding binding circles and suchlike. I think that a generic game mechanic for circles to trap outsiders would be good. Not just for called monsters; also for luring that devil that's been chasing you into a circle you've drawn for that purpose. Planar Binding would then use the standard containment circle, rather than its own unique little mechanic.

  • Regarding the mechanics for compelling called creatures. We need to be very clear about what the mechanics represent. If you can use a Charisma check to make an angel murder its way through an orphanage, is that magical mind control, or is the angel just tired of your whining? The difference is important for flavor, but also for Atonement, Sense Motive to detect freewill-compromised characters etc.

  • "Spells": I think planar binding is an ideal fit for Incantations. Incantations are basically long rituals that do magic stuff. You don't have to be a spellcaster to do an incantation (although it often helps), you don't even have to be high level. However, if you mess up the checks, bad stuff happens. Incantations were first introduced in Unearthed Arcana (3.5), and haven't been officially introduced in mainsteam PF (yet).

    Incantations would be a good fit because they allow low-level desperate/insane/greedy/overconfident NPC villains to summon powerful monsters. That means you can have a level 3 adventure that revolves around an escaped summoned demon (CR 5 or so), without requiring a level 9 BBEG wizard to summon that demon in the first place.

    It's also a way around the Spells Known Tax.

    Incantations are also inherently risky; they involve multiple checks that you can fail. Fail too many and the summoned monster gets out...

    Also important: since you don't need to be a spellcaster, you can also have a fighter BBEG who's bound an outsider to provide magical backup. Currently casters tend to dominate the BBEG role; this could actually alleviate that a bit.

  • NPC-only rules vs. PC rules. One of the things that quite a few people like about PF is that the same rules are used for PCs and NPCs. Especially if you're using humanoid NPCs relying on class levels, this does make things more consistent. A PC could try to learn the same abilities as the villain and suchlike.

    NPCs should certainly have access to unbalanced summoning, if only to be able to get in over their head. However, that means players can also do this. While NPCs are scripted into messing up once in a while (because that happened to be the plot of the current adventure), players will probably go to the limit in controlling risk. If risk can be excluded completely, they'll do it.

    To some degree, this is acceptable. If a level 9 PC is binding some CR 4 monsters, it's probably fine that he can shut off the risk. If they escaped he'd be able to kill them easily enough anyway.

    But at higher levels, it's not okay. There should always be monsters that a player thinks "I could summon that, but it might get out, and there'd be trouble. I'm not doing that unless I'm desperate". (NPCs tend to be this desperate much more than PCs. Those wascally desperate NPCs!)

  • So, Risk. Risk is probably best done with "a roll of X always breaks the binding" mechanics. Alternatively, with "each day there is a cumulative Y chance of the monster finding a way out". This part of the rules needs the attention of someone with a good understanding of Probability. Risk should be balanced just right; not so much that the spell becomes worthless, but not so much that people become complacent.

  • Scaling. The nightmare is that the PC wizard will just keep on binding more and more monsters into service. I think the proposed solution - requiring locked spell slots - is promising. It has a few problems though.

    1) what spell slot to use? Wizards have nine levels of spell slots, Summoners only six. Both classes deserve to be planar binders now and then.

    2) if we want to use Incantations, we have non-casters binding monsters as well. They don't have spell slots to lock.

    I think we need some different Lock Price. I propose using Temporary Negative Levels. They affect most classes equally, you don't want too many of them, and they're well-defined in the game system.

    These wouldn't actually be negative-energy related, and normal immunities don't apply (can't use an immunity to avoid a Cost). But if you ever reach a sum total of negative levels that equals or exceeds your HD - both through Binding and energy draining attacks - then AUTOMATICALLY some of the magical bindings are released to stave off death. Ooops, now you have unbound angry outsiders running around...

  • Negotiation. The current paradigm is about the fear of players forcing bound monsters into submission through pure stat ownage. I think there should be more emphasis on making bargains instead. You COULD bind a devil, but that's hard. Devils might be willing to make a bargain instead. Devils are interested in tempting casters. Other outsiders might have no interest in that and refuse to bargain on principle; that's a nice dash of variety. Means that a would-be binder really needs to know his stuff.


  • Ross Byers wrote:
    This also means that the exact details of each calling/binding spell can vary based on the type of outsider. Making a deal with an Inevitable is going to be different than trying to bargain with a Protean.

    Yes, the bargaining will be quite different, but the method to call it, trap it and bind it until it is coerced to help doesn't have to be different. Unless the flavour of the spell is changed to a deal/no deal type of summoning, but then it may be simpler to add planar ally to the wizard/sorcerer's list, or create some kind of lesser gate spell since it already has that "do you accept this in exchange for" without the somewhat messy "otherwise you'll be trapped forever" mechanics.

    As for the infernal sorcerer, why can't he/she purchase a scroll of protection from evil for that one time? The prospect of planar binding being cast frequently enough for this to become an issue is a bit frightening. While we're at it, why should abjurations of the sort be aligned spells? It only leads to settings were evil can't fight evil properly and perhaps more importantly, good has no weapon against good.

    I'd rather see planar binding like wish; a single, high-ish level spell with a list of things it can do and of things it won't (or could at a cost), rather than a dozen of scattered spells (which annoy me more as a spell tax than having to know the requisite spells to conduct the ritual).

    [edit]however, splitting planar binding in [subtype] binding I, II, II as standalone spells would be more coherent with the methods used by Pathfinder in the past, even if it pleases me less.

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

    Laurefindel wrote:
    As for the infernal sorcerer, why can't he/she purchase a scroll of protection from evil for that one time? The prospect of planar binding being cast frequently enough for this to become an issue is a bit frightening. While we're at it, why should abjurations of the sort be aligned spells? It only leads to settings were evil can't fight evil properly and perhaps more importantly, good has no weapon against good.

    Because it is silly o have to purchase magic items to get use out of a class feature. Especially when that feature is something like a sorcerer's spells known - You're supposed to be able to use them repeatedly.

    As for the magic circles, one option might be to make it a single spell (instead of four similar spells), with a summon monster-type rider that it takes on the opposing descriptor of the alignment chosen. That is, make it more like resist energy. That preserves its interaction with clerics and detect spells, but means that it isn't a counter-intuitive spell selection for a demonologist or diabolist to learn.

    Shadow Lodge

    Ross Byers wrote:
    As for the magic circles, one option might be to make it a single spell (instead of four similar spells), with a summon monster-type rider that it takes on the opposing descriptor of the alignment chosen. That is, make it more like resist energy. That preserves its interaction with clerics and detect spells, but means that it isn't a counter-intuitive spell selection for a demonologist or diabolist to learn.

    This is exactly how Neverwinter Nights handled it - these spells were listed as "Protection from Alignment" and "Magic Circle against Alignment" and when casting there was a submenu that let you select whether to be protected from Good or Evil. (I think Law and Chaos were also added in NWN2, but I didn't play it very long.)


    The way I play it, djinn can only grant wishes 3 times a day, and not to themselves. A sphinx can answer any question, but only as a riddle, and they can't solve their own riddles. A sphinx summoning spell will get you 1 answer/riddle per 5 levels, and the monster can hang around till they are answered. In my ritual topic, yeah, you can summon broken things at low levels, but one noob mistake and the only thing broken is you!


    I think Ascalaphus has the right of it in terms of incantations and negotiations. I have long thought that different types of outsiders should be more inclined to certain types of tasks. Daemons don't care what they kill as long as the killing is good. A caster should be able to summon one easily to "go kill those orcs", but the real problem is what happens when the orcs are dead. I don't see devils fighting for anyone, but I can see them offering information or magic items (preset to reward LE behavior).

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

    Frankly, what I'd like to see is that binding a devil has a contract, always. Binding an Angel should pretty much always resemble planar ally. Binding a demon should be more about bullying and control - A geas-type effect, maybe. Inevitables should only be able to be bound to do things that fit within their model's role. And so on.

    One-size-fits all does not fit well.


    dotting


    i don't see why binding an angel needs to be like planar ally...
    call and bind the angel, ask the angel to do something...if the angel refuses and decides its better for the universe if it sacrificially sits in your circle forever enduring torture etc...

    geas/curse/dominate=Angel slave

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

    Because I'd rather an evil spellcaster prefer to call a demon to do his bidding, rather than bind an angel and force it to commit atrocities for s!&$s and giggles.


    Ross Byers wrote:
    Because I'd rather an evil spellcaster prefer to call a demon to do his bidding, rather than bind an angel and force it to commit atrocities for s*~#s and giggles.

    I'm actually more of the opposite on this one. I've played in a campaign where an evil lich bound and forced an angel to do terrible things. The resulting fight had us free the angel and after he helped us fight the lich, we went on a quest to redeem the angel back to his celestial glory. So I think that we shouldn't limit evil creatures to evil people, since it would close off cool storylines like the one I played through.

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

    I guess what I'm really objecting to is that the current paradigm lets you bind an angel to carry out some task merely with a sufficient Charisma check (unless the GM decides it is an 'impossible request' to ask an angel to do such things.)

    Which in turn implies it is equally easy to make an angel do Evil as to make a Devil do good, with which I disagree. Good and Evil are opposite, but they are not symmetrical.

    I would be fine with an option that lets an angel outright refuse to complete an obviously Evil action, but which can be overridden with secondary magic like dominate monster, which is something with a shorter duration that the angel can attempt to fight.


    Idk, making an angel do evil feels like it would fall under the impossible request section. So I think the rules already cover that.


    I think this discussion misses the mark a bit.

    The problem with planar binding is the wording in the spell, not the stuff around it.

    It has great flavor, great amount of additional resources, it requires preparation, it's a multi step process and has a big risk attached to it.

    PlanarBinding wrote:
    You can attempt to compel the creature to perform a service by describing the service and perhaps offering some sort of reward.

    The word "service" is not defined.

    PlanarBinding wrote:
    demands or unreasonable commands are never agreed to.

    Again, "Impossible demands" and "unreasonable commands" are not defined anywhere.

    PlanarBinding wrote:
    If you assign some open-ended task that the creature cannot complete through its own actions, the spell remains in effect for a maximum of 1 day per caster level

    What is a "open-ended task" specifically?

    If those portions where better defined and explained, perhaps with a few examples, than the spell would become instantly usable without creating a s$*$ ton of discussions. You could fix a bunch of loopholes (infinite wishes) by simply declaring those instances examples of "unreasonable commands" and be done with it.

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

    Why should 'service' be defined? It's an English word.

    Likewise for 'open ended task': it is something with no defined end, that the creature can't cause an end to under its own power. E.g. "Kill Bob" is never open ended - The Outsider gets its freedom when it kills Bob or Bob dies. "Guard my house" is open ended, because there is no end to the task (though I suppose a crafty demon could get out a few days early if it burned the house down, making it so there is nothing to guard.)

    I agree that "unreasonable" and "impossible" could use some guidance, but I don't think rigid lists are the right solution. Called or bound outsiders are still unique NPCs, and the GM should have the ability to interpret their motives. Likewise, what a demon considers 'reasonable' or will accept as payment differs from what a devil considers.

    And I'm not sure how wish is innately 'unreasonable' from the Efreeti's point of view. Even if you implement a rule that, for instance, says that SLAs that duplicate spells with expensive material components are off limits (ignoring the potential unintended side effects of such a rule), then you're still not solving the problem of what happens when Bestiary 5 comes out and has a 11 HD Outsider with a power called "Alter Reality" instead and you're back in the same place.


    Oh boy, you haven't given this enough thought.

    Look at the definition of service: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/service

    With a definition like that, I can make almost everything sound like a service. The word "service" needs to be better defined in the context of this spell. The question is also how long can the "description" of this service be?

    Am I limited to "Walk from one side of the continent to the other." Single sentence single job, or can I add on to it?

    "Walk as fast as possible, on your feet, whole only sleeping 2 hours a day, without interacting with any other living creature from one end of the continent to the other."

    Same with open ended task.

    "Guard me for the next 5000 years."

    How do you like that? It's not open ended, it's got a set end. Some people argue "you can't make the task take longer than CL/day". While that is not supported any where in the spell, it opens up another problem. What if a single task you give the creature with a set end that it can cause. Something like "collect all the leafs from this forest in a huge pile". That's gonna take a long time if the forest is big enough, but it's still doable.

    It's not unreasonable, but one could argue it's unreasonable to grant a wish without payment.

    You also seem to think that wishing is easily countered because an efreet can twist it? Nope.

    Cast Geas on that sucker and force it to actually be nice.

    What I know is that you can argue till the cows come home what qualifies at a service and what doesn't, what open ended really means and what which creature would consider unreasonable.

    It's not fun for the players or the gm, there is no official word on this.

    Maybe the smart thing to do is to break the spell up in to 2 spells. One for short term single target services, one for long term multi target services which would be considerably harder to cast.

    I mean you have to realize that this spell is completely and utterly broken. Even if you put the strongest regulations imaginable on it (without actually changing the RAW but going with a very harsh RAI). A level 13 Sorcerer can force Glabrezus to simply raze the HQ of the BBE.

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

    Quote:
    You also seem to think that wishing is easily countered because an efreet can twist it? Nope.

    I've said nothing of the kind.

    Quote:
    I mean you have to realize that this spell is completely and utterly broken.

    Which is why I'm advocating for breaking it into smaller, more rigorously defined spells, instead of a big, broad, exploitable one.


    >I've said nothing of the kind.

    Sorry, must have been somebody else :)

    I guess you need to split the spell up in at least 2 versions, one for single tasks and one for long term services. Simply so you can properly balance every version.

    It's too late for me to invest much brain power in to this, but what you'd have to do is keep the flavor, turn down the power, define the spells a lot better and do it all without sucking the fun out of it. After all we want to bind outsiders, demons, devils, angels, aliens, to our will. We want to force them to do our bidding.

    Just gotta do it in a way that doesn't break the game balance in half and turns the game table in to the argue zone.

    Pretty steep hill.


    Mavael wrote:

    >I've said nothing of the kind.

    Sorry, must have been somebody else :)

    I guess you need to split the spell up in at least 2 versions, one for single tasks and one for long term services. Simply so you can properly balance every version.

    It's too late for me to invest much brain power in to this, but what you'd have to do is keep the flavor, turn down the power, define the spells a lot better and do it all without sucking the fun out of it. After all we want to bind outsiders, demons, devils, angels, aliens, to our will. We want to force them to do our bidding.

    Just gotta do it in a way that doesn't break the game balance in half and turns the game table in to the argue zone.

    Pretty steep hill.

    That was me that said that. I've had a player that was killed by an efreet it forced into servitude with Quest. Though he certainly enjoyed the service while it lasted ;)

    Probably the best way is to model it after the Animate Dead spells. A lesser, normal, even greater planar binding that has a ranking system for each outsider. I also don't even mind players bypassing control with dominate monster or geas, but I'd love to keep the "come back for revenge" aspect of planar binding.


    Odraude wrote:
    Ross Byers wrote:
    Because I'd rather an evil spellcaster prefer to call a demon to do his bidding, rather than bind an angel and force it to commit atrocities for s*~#s and giggles.
    I'm actually more of the opposite on this one. I've played in a campaign where an evil lich bound and forced an angel to do terrible things. The resulting fight had us free the angel and after he helped us fight the lich, we went on a quest to redeem the angel back to his celestial glory. So I think that we shouldn't limit evil creatures to evil people, since it would close off cool storylines like the one I played through.

    but again, since binding an angle is technically a GOOD spell, your depraved EEEEEvil aligned caster can't summon it.

    @ Ross

    scroll isn't an elegant option because the aligned caster actually knows the spell but can't use it for this purpose; got it.

    Isn't this more an issue with aligned spells than planar binding however? Evil cleric can't ward itself from demons or undead, sounds a bit off "fantasy logic"

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

    That's not true. Wizards are perfectly capable of casting spells with any alignment subtype. Only divine spellcasters have that limit, and they get planar ally instead.

    If they weren't, you wouldn't be able to bind aligned outsiders at all. (Because the magic circle required is always the opposite subtype of the outsider being bound.)

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