Illuminate spell and attack trait?


Rules Questions and Gameplay Discussion


Illuminate says something close to "add 1d8 to a Ranged check" but makes no mention of altering your combat itself (that is, no "for your combat check..."). Up to now, all attack spells (that I can think of) are combat spells ("for your combat check..."). It doesn't seem any more attack related than cards like Aid. Should the attack trait indeed be there?

EDIT: Of course I post this and THEN remember that the cloud spells (Toxic Cloud and co) have the attack trait and don't determine your combat skill. Still, it seems odd to me.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Swipe has the Attack trait, even if you only use it to reduce the difficulty.


Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Swipe has the Attack trait, even if you only use it to reduce the difficulty.

But that's because you can use it as a combat spell (I would assume).

Guidance doesn't have it, even when you help out a combat check. :3


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

It seemed odd to me, too, when Damiel picked it up. Not a big deal, since Damiel has better uses for his few spell slots, but I was surprised. Makes sense when viewed with Toxic Cloud as stuff that augments a combat check.


Dave Riley wrote:
It seemed odd to me, too, when Damiel picked it up. Not a big deal, since Damiel has better uses for his few spell slots, but I was surprised. Makes sense when viewed with Toxic Cloud as stuff that augments a combat check.

I'm getting into the dangerous zone of fluff vs gameplay again here, but the clouds make sense - they're attacking the enemy - but just allowing the character to see better doesn't make sense to me.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Interestingly, since it says add 1d8 to a ranged check, as opposed to a ranged combat check, it would be the first card I can think of that allows you to give the Attack trait to a non-combat check...

This would allow Zarlova (Theurge) to get a bonus +2/+4 on non-combat ranged checks with Illuminate.

Arabundi (Nature Adept) can get a +2/+3 on non-combat ranged checks if you Illuminate him.


All of the cloud spells also have the attack trait, as do some evasion spells like enfeeble and dominate. I think fear does as well, but I can't remember off the top of my head.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Ok. So I just got my cards. My Illuminate says "Ranged combat check". Are you sure yours doesn't say "combat" in there?


nondeskript wrote:

Interestingly, since it says add 1d8 to a ranged check, as opposed to a ranged combat check, it would be the first card I can think of that allows you to give the Attack trait to a non-combat check...

This would allow Zarlova (Theurge) to get a bonus +2/+4 on non-combat ranged checks with Illuminate.

Arabundi (Nature Adept) can get a +2/+3 on non-combat ranged checks if you Illuminate him.

It doesn't give the trait unless it says so. Just like how Guidance doesn't make checks have the magical trait, this card doesn't grant the attack trait.

Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Ok. So I just got my cards. My Illuminate says "Ranged combat check". Are you sure yours doesn't say "combat" in there?

I am not sure (assuming you're not aiming that specifically at nondeskript), but I feel that it doesn't really matter to my question. I'll look when I go to lunch in half an hour.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Ah... I was just going off what Orbis wrote. I haven't gone through the Deck 1 cards yet. Waiting to play until I get some sleeves, since my RotR cards got fairly worn from unsleeved play. That's less interesting then. :-\


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Orbis Orboros wrote:
It doesn't give the trait unless it says so. Just like how Guidance doesn't make checks have the magical trait, this card doesn't grant the attack trait.

You're totally right. I was thinking of the rule that said your roll gets all the traits of the card you play, but that only applies when the card defines the skill you will use, which this card couldn't do.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I wasn't directing it at anyone in particular. Just wanted to make sure there wasn't something really strange going on there.


Orbis Orboros wrote:
Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Swipe has the Attack trait, even if you only use it to reduce the difficulty.

But that's because you can use it as a combat spell (I would assume).

Guidance doesn't have it, even when you help out a combat check. :3

Guidance, however, can apply to any kind of a check, Illuminate is always a combat check. There is an important difference in that, and I'm pretty sure that's going to be the motivation behind it having the Attack trait.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Deekow wrote:
Guidance, however, can apply to any kind of a check, Illuminate is always a combat check. There is an important difference in that, and I'm pretty sure that's going to be the motivation behind it having the Attack trait.

Interestingly, though, Black Spot and Magic Weapon are both only for combat checks and I don't believe either of them have the Attack trait. And, flavor-wise, they both seem more Attacky than Illuminate. I'm not saying they should have it or Illuminate shouldn't. Just seems like a curious design decision.


It does indeed say combat check, Hawk.

nondeskript wrote:
Deekow wrote:
Guidance, however, can apply to any kind of a check, Illuminate is always a combat check. There is an important difference in that, and I'm pretty sure that's going to be the motivation behind it having the Attack trait.
Interestingly, though, Black Spot and Magic Weapon are both only for combat checks and I don't believe either of them have the Attack trait. And, flavor-wise, they both seem more Attacky than Illuminate. I'm not saying they should have it or Illuminate shouldn't. Just seems like a curious design decision.

Actually, interestingly enough, Black Spot specifies "check to defeat a monster," not "combat check." Most of the time that doesn't matter, but when you find that Satyr or Dance with the Squealy Nord...

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Developer

The Attack trait is added to spells that directly target an opponent, like lighting them on fire or making them glow so it's easier to shoot them. Guidance and Magic Weapon empower your friends/stuff. Black Spot is the classic "alter the surroundings and circumstances, but not directly the enemy" ability to indirectly hinder your opponent.

For those with an RPG background, Attack works more or less like "should spell resistance or immunity apply to this spell?". As with RPG design, there are some effects specifically designed to avoid the issue (i.e. Black Spot), although they generally have a reduced effectiveness compared to Attack effects at the same level.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Orbis Orboros wrote:
EDIT: Of course I post this and THEN remember that the cloud spells (Toxic Cloud and co) have the attack trait and don't determine your combat skill. Still, it seems odd to me.

Wasn't there discussion of removing the attack trait from those spells anyway?

I agree, though, I see no reason Illuminate should have the attack trait.

Edit: Just saw Chad's reply. Black Spot in the RPG is literally putting a curse on your enemy, right? I don't see how that's less of an attack from making them brighter.


Yeah, it sounds almost like Chad has Black Spot and Illuminate mixed up. Illuminate makes there be more light around the target whereas Black Spot is a Curse/Disease/whatever that actually puts a black spot on their flesh.

Mechalibur wrote:
Orbis Orboros wrote:
EDIT: Of course I post this and THEN remember that the cloud spells (Toxic Cloud and co) have the attack trait and don't determine your combat skill. Still, it seems odd to me.
Wasn't there discussion of removing the attack trait from those spells anyway?

I thought so too. There's no mention of it in the FAQ, though, so it never got changed.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I think Chad is saying, they intentionally designed some spell cards to not have the attack trait to avoid the issue of resistance/prohibition of the Attack trait. And that those cards are generally less effective than spell cards that have the attack trait from the same level.

I don't think he was saying that Black Spot in the RPG doesn't apply spell resistance.


I just don't see a need for it to be there. Especially since, generally speaking, it would make this already just okay card a little better to remove it.


Orbis Orboros wrote:
I just don't see a need for it to be there. Especially since, generally speaking, it would make this already just okay card a little better to remove it.

Why do you see a need to remove it? How would removing it make it better?


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Some banes have checks or restrictions that can prevent you from using spells with the Attack trait. Of course for some characters the Attack trait on a spell is a benefit, such as Damiel getting Arcane and Divine, which may let him recharge... haven't looked at it closely enough to understand how that works yet...


That explains how it's different, but now why it's better. I understand that certain characters/powers/monsters key off of this trait; that's not my question.

Chad said that some spells (like this one, specifically) were given the Attack trait by design and others were not. Why would this card be better if it did not the Attack trait? (Why are the developers wrong?)


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
nondeskript wrote:
Some banes have checks or restrictions that can prevent you from using spells with the Attack trait. Of course for some characters the Attack trait on a spell is a benefit, such as Damiel getting Arcane and Divine, which may let him recharge... haven't looked at it closely enough to understand how that works yet...

I just realized that I read Damiel's power backwards. It works when the spell lacks Attack. Oh well.


Flat the Impaler wrote:

That explains how it's different, but now why it's better. I understand that certain characters/powers/monsters key off of this trait; that's not my question.

Chad said that some spells (like this one, specifically) were given the Attack trait by design and others were not. Why would this card be better if it did not the Attack trait? (Why are the developers wrong?)

It is better or worse because of what keys off of this trait. In an utter vacuum, it woudn't be any better or worse, but that's not how cards are intelligently evaluated.

There are many situations that crop up that prevent a player from playing spells with the attack trait. These situations are nearly all designed to prevent the player from using her spell to determine her combat check, forcing her to rely on weapons or some other form of combat. The attack trait is how the game lumps these spells together, saving space in card text over saying something like "you cannot play spells that determine the skill you use for your combat check." Furthermore, these cards are not exactly uncommon - most cards (to the best of my knowledge; I haven't counted, maybe I just encounter these more) that prevent spell-casting actually only prevent attack spell casting. Regardless, I cannot think of a single instance where attack spells are allowed and non-attack spells are not. Also, there is at least one character (Damiel) who can only cast spells without the attack trait (and have the Divine skill for the spell, anyway).

Compared to all that, there is one solitary upside to it having the attack trait: IF the caster is Zarlova, she can place it on top of her deck instead of on the bottom when she recharges it.

If I missed anything, let me know, but I think that's it.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Orbis Orboros wrote:

Compared to all that, there is one solitary upside to it having the attack trait: IF the caster is Zarlova, she can place it on top of her deck instead of on the bottom when she recharges it.

If I missed anything, let me know, but I think that's it.

Alahazra can get a +2/+4 to recharge Attack spells.

Seltyiel needs spells with the Attack trait to use his +xd6 power. He can also get a power to discard Attack spells to get bonus d6 to defeat barriers & ships.

Lini [S&S] can get a power to recharge Attack spells to the top of her deck.

Valendron can get a power to automatically succeed at recharges on Attack spells.


nondeskript wrote:
Orbis Orboros wrote:

Compared to all that, there is one solitary upside to it having the attack trait: IF the caster is Zarlova, she can place it on top of her deck instead of on the bottom when she recharges it.

If I missed anything, let me know, but I think that's it.

Alahazra can get a +2/+4 to recharge Attack spells.

Seltyiel needs spells with the Attack trait to use his +xd6 power. He can also get a power to discard Attack spells to get bonus d6 to defeat barriers & ships.

Lini [S&S] can get a power to recharge Attack spells to the top of her deck.

Valendron can get a power to automatically succeed at recharges on Attack spells.

Wow, I missed several.

Valendron can't ever recharge Illuminate, and Seltyiel shouldn't be grabbing one, but I'll concede that there are more than I realized for sure.

Still, I feel these are all more situational and that on the whole a spell is better without the attack trait.

But I guess it's more opinion based than I thought.

I still don't think it should have the trait though, whether that makes it better or not.


Orbis Orboros wrote:


Valendron can't ever recharge Illuminate, and Seltyiel shouldn't be grabbing one, but I'll concede that there are more than I realized for sure.

Marauder Seltyiel could get Ranged: Intelligence +2.

And yes, this is my turn to reach.


Joshua Birk 898 wrote:
Orbis Orboros wrote:


Valendron can't ever recharge Illuminate, and Seltyiel shouldn't be grabbing one, but I'll concede that there are more than I realized for sure.

Marauder Seltyiel could get Ranged: Intelligence +2.

And yes, this is my turn to reach.

He shouldn't get it because he doesn't have Divine, not because he doesn't have Ranged. XD

(Your second sentence made me grin, BTW)


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I agree that not all of those characters should take the spell, just pointing out that the trait has more than one positive. I also agree that on average it is more of a negative trait than a positive trait, but I think that is the case for most traits. Mental, for example. Yes there is a character that can get a benefit from mental traits but that is more than outweighed by characters that are immune. The only traits that I think are universally positive are maybe Magic & Animal. Maybe I'll make a list of boon traits in RotR one day and compare them to immunities/benefits and see where it all shakes out...

None of this means that the spell shouldn't have the Attack trait, though.


I would say that Fire and Magical are good to have.

I can only think of one bane from RotR that was immune to fire, and a bunch that needed fire to be killed.

I can only think of one downside period to magical (Ghoulbats, I think it was), but lots of banes that required magical to be defeated.

EDIT: And I agree that Attack being a downside doesn't mean it shouldn't have it, that was just an after thought (it would make a mediocre spell better). I don't think it should have it because it soesn't seem right. Look at Aid (similiar ability) and Black Spot (more attack-y, yet lacking the trait).


Orbis Orboros wrote:

It is better or worse because of what keys off of this trait. In an utter vacuum, it woudn't be any better or worse, but that's not how cards are intelligently evaluated.

There are many situations that crop up that prevent a player from playing spells with the attack trait.

By that same logic, adding/removing any trait(s) would make any card better.

If I add the "Foo" trait to the Longsword, and have a power that utilizes that trait, is the card better or worse? (Note that I didn't mention what that power does...)

I don't need a description of how traits interact with powers. I know that removing the Attack trait means certain characters don't get to use certain powers, while others do. I know it may cause you to interact with situations differently, such as banes that react to this trait.

What I don't get it why you think this card would be better without it. It seems like a preconceived notion of how you think the card should operate versus how the developers have already said they want it to operate.

Orbis Orboros wrote:
These situations are nearly all designed to prevent the player from using her spell to determine her combat check, forcing her to rely on weapons or some other form of combat. The attack trait is how the game lumps these spells together, saving space in card text over saying something like "you cannot play spells that determine the skill you use for your combat check."

"Nearly all" is the same as "not all", and where have the designers ever said this is the their definition of the Attack trait? In fact, Chad's comment above directly contradicts this.

To say that "all spells that define the die in your combat check also have the Attack trait" means "all spells that have the Attack trait also define the die in your combat check" is a false equivalency.

All cards that have the Tool trait are items, but not all items have the Tool trait. All bows are weapon cards that have the Ranged trait, but not all weapon cards that have the Ranged trait are bows.


Flat... ? Maybe I'm reading you wrong, but your post seems very aggressive compared to a simple statement. Orbis just said that in the majority of situations, this card will provide more benefit without the Attack trait than with it. Thus, better. He also provided flavor reasons (i.e. why he thinks it should be).


Flat the Impaler wrote:
Orbis Orboros wrote:

It is better or worse because of what keys off of this trait. In an utter vacuum, it woudn't be any better or worse, but that's not how cards are intelligently evaluated.

There are many situations that crop up that prevent a player from playing spells with the attack trait.

By that same logic, adding/removing any trait(s) would make any card better.

If I add the "Foo" trait to the Longsword, and have a power that utilizes that trait, is the card better or worse? (Note that I didn't mention what that power does...)

I don't need a description of how traits interact with powers. I know that removing the Attack trait means certain characters don't get to use certain powers, while others do. I know it may cause you to interact with situations differently, such as banes that react to this trait.

What I don't get it why you think this card would be better without it. It seems like a preconceived notion of how you think the card should operate versus how the developers have already said they want it to operate.

Orbis Orboros wrote:
These situations are nearly all designed to prevent the player from using her spell to determine her combat check, forcing her to rely on weapons or some other form of combat. The attack trait is how the game lumps these spells together, saving space in card text over saying something like "you cannot play spells that determine the skill you use for your combat check."

"Nearly all" is the same as "not all", and where have the designers ever said this is the their definition of the Attack trait? In fact, Chad's comment above directly contradicts this.

To say that "all spells that define the die in your combat check also have the Attack trait" means "all spells that have the Attack trait also define the die in your combat check" is a false equivalency.

All cards that have the...

[Note: Slightly embarassing, but I didn't realize until now that Chad was a dev, I just thought he was another forum goer.]

On the "Foo" trait thing: without knowing what that power does, you're basically evaluating the card in a vacuum. There's no telling whether or not it's better. But if EVERY power in the game reacts negatively to the Foo trait, then the Foo trait is a downside. If EVERY power in the game reacts positively, than it's an upside. By logical extension, if MOST abilities react negatively, it can be said to generally be a downside, and so on.

I told you why I think it's better. On the whole, the frequency that the attack trait is a downside is more than the frequency at which it is an upside. At least, that is my assertion. It has nothing to do with how I think the card should operate - Unless you are a character specifically aiming to use a power that is better with spells using the attack trait (most characters don't even have this in the first place), it is straight up worse for any card to have the attack trait than to not have it. And, in my opinion, even factoring the quantity of abilities on characters that do benefit from the attack trait, when evaluating a card on the whole, I still say that, in general, it is better not to have the attack trait than to actually have it. The same can be said for the mental trait, for instance (although not for all traits - the healing trait, for instance, is always good and never bad at this point in the game).

I wasn't saying that this was their definition. It was simply an observation on how the game works looking purely at gameplay. That's how they deny the player the ability to play combat spells. Whether or not this is intended or a side affect, or whether or not it causes side affects that are intended or not, it is true.

And you are ascribing a logical fallacy to my argument which isn't there. Of course not all items are tools. I didn't say all spells are attacks. But you can't deny there is a pattern to spells with the attack trait. Some fall outside this pattern, like the clouds and Illuminate, but it's still there.

And even with all that aside, I still don't see why Illuminate needs to have the attack trait. What wizard in their right mind is going to fight against spell resistance and try and make the target light up when they just have to get light onto the target? Light up the floor, a wall, a tree, something. It is certainly less attack-y than putting a black spot on the target's flesh.

Still, I'm just arguing my side. Now that i realize that Chad's a dev, I see that things are as intended, answering my original question. It has the attack trait and that's that.


Majuba wrote:
...Orbis just said that in the majority of situations, this card will provide more benefit without the Attack trait than with it. Thus, better. He also provided flavor reasons (i.e. why he thinks it should be).

This is exactly my intent. You put it much more succinctly than I, though. :)


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

It reads like they are talking pas one another. Orbis is talking about it being better meaning more powerful (in general) but it sounds like Flat is asking if it would be better from a much more subjective design perspective.

Of course there is also the fact that the entire discussion is based off of knowledge of cards from RotR and character sheets. Without knowledge of the banes we will encounter over the next 6 months, it is hard to say for sure what is better. For the longest time in RotR the Cold and Fire traits were basically useless. Until they weren't.


nondeskript wrote:
Of course there is also the fact that the entire discussion is based off of knowledge of cards from RotR and character sheets. Without knowledge of the banes we will encounter over the next 6 months, it is hard to say for sure what is better. For the longest time in RotR the Cold and Fire traits were basically useless. Until they weren't.

This is true. Just about any card can become better or worse depending on future releases.

If they release a couple dozen banes that say "if any player plays a spell with the attack trait on a check made against this card, that character may recharge one card from her discard pile" then I will immediately reverse my position.

Lacking said knowledge, however, I draw conclusions based on the available evidence, rather than the potential for evidence that disproves my conclusion.


I see Orbis's statement about not realizing Chad was the (lead) designer for the game, so his stance makes a lot more sense now.

Here is how I was reading the conversation before (paraphrased):
Orbis: "Should this card do this or have this trait?"
Dev: "Yes, and here is why."
Orbis: "I don't like that answer; my interpretation is better."

I acknowledge that I was a bit overly aggressive, and I'm sorry. It just seemed like a total (and repeated) disregard of the designer's intent, which tends to get me fired up.

My apologies to Orbis and to everyone else.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Regardless of the benefits/drawbacks of the attack trait, I still don't feel like it thematically makes sense for Illuminate to have the attack trait while Black Spot doesn't. Chad mentioned one way of looking at it is that attack spells are like ones that are subject to spell resistance, but I don't really think that's the case here.

In RPG terms, Black Spot is a curse where you directly have to touch someone (and get past their SR). It's not manipulating the environment, it is directly interacting with a monster, and should therefore (in my opinion, of course) have the attack trait.

Illuminate doesn't directly correlate to any Pathfinder spells as far as I'm aware. However, just based on the art and its ability, it feels like thematically it's way closer to altering the environment rather than attacking your opponent directly. The closest spells I can find to it are Faerie Fire (which is affected by SR), and Daylight (which is not).

I guess overall I'm okay with it having the attack trait, but I feel like the same should be extended to Black Spot. I just can't imagine it being less deserving of the trait than Illuminate.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Card Game / Rules Questions and Gameplay Discussion / Illuminate spell and attack trait? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Rules Questions and Gameplay Discussion