Need help making mechanism to boost CMB / CMD Spells to be more effective in the later levels.


I really like a lot of the spells that use CMB~CMD as a game mechanic in lieu of saving throws. Especially a lot of the early-to-mid level spells like Black Tentacles, Ice Spears, Mad Monkey, Hydraulic Push, etc.

Unfortunately (as you all know), those spell types tend to become useless or diminished to niche use as anti-mook spells at higher level play.

So I was looking at the Heighten Spell metamagic feat. This feat is terrific for breathing renewed life into low-level spells and giving them an opportunity to compete at higher levels. Yes, while it's kind of a joke that a Heightened Color Spray would see action at 15th level. It still *can* be a SoD threat if a spellcaster had the resource means and the proper tactical employment.

Which lead me to think .... why is there not a Heighten Spell feat-equivalent for CMB~CMD spells? One that is not overpowered - but that has balanced resource cost and effect. A feat (or perhaps a magic item or an boosting/buff/accessory spell) that gives a respectable boost to these spell types and makes them viable against level-appropriate threats.


So that's why I'm coming to you. I'd like to create something like this. But I'm not sure how and where to start. I'd also like to model it based on existing game mechanic structures and balances.

Any ideas? Thanks!

I've been thinking about that too. similar to that DC saves for a 1st lvl spell, cast by a 20th lvl cast are still just 10+spell_lvl+Attrib_bonus.

Was thinking something like the higher of spell_lvl or 1/3 Caster Level. haven't done any kind of number crunching but might be worth a caster taking it as a feat.

Thanks, GM 1990. Your post spawned some ideas on how I can possibly go about this. I think the solution should be either:

1. Feat
2. A Swift-Action "preparatory" spell that will boost the CMB spell that is cast right after it.

Or possibly both. Although for my own sake, I think a spellcaster would prefer to have the prep spell so as not to use the more limited resource (a feat slot) and be forced to have a spellcaster who over-emphasizes CMB/CMD spells in order to get their value's worth.

Granted, CMB/CMD spells are pretty popular and a lot of fun. More examples are Telekinesis, Hydraulic Torrent & Strangling Hair. Coupled with the spells I mentioned in the first post, all those spell could make for some cool and effective spellcaster archetypes for those who would like to specialize their resources to boost them.


Okay, as for GM 1990's idea that he gave me ... I'm thinking of a Swift-Action cast prep spell that adds +(X) CL to the next cast CMB spell (in this round only) for every (Y) CL's of the spellcaster. Perhaps this prep spell is a 1st or 2nd level spell of the Universal type. Where (X) is maybe 1, while (Y) is maybe 2? Here's where game mechanic balance comes into play and I could use some help.

Over in the Homebrew forum, I posted this custom spell:

.... which is intended to be a way for you Black Tentacles, Strangling Hair and Telekinesis fans to have your fave CMB/CMD spells have a longer life.

Please feel free to post any suggestions for improvement to that thread ... as I'd really like the make this booster/prep/accompaniment spell one that players would actually use.

I haven't gotten any comments on my home brew spell solution yet. :-(

With some further thought, any spellcaster who wants to seriously optimize these type of spells will probably prefer to have a feat option as well. So I'll work on that today.

The other option is a magic item. From an illustration in the 1st ed DMG: "Either it's a +2 backscratcher or it assists in casting the Bigby's hand spells..."

First of all, Fox's Cunning (and Owl's Wisdom and Eagle's Splendor) will help boost the saves of all of your spells - the only reason I have ever found to use them. By modifying these, you could create a spell that would have little effect besides boosting your saves.
I don't know what the exact amounts would be for that spell, but I'm guessing it would be third level, would boost one mental ability score by 4, with an additional bonus of 1 for every two levels beyond fifth. Something like that.

As for the feat, I like the idea of a Strengthen Spell metamagic feat. I looked at black tentacles and telekinesis and both already scale based on your level... but a monster's CMD is going up almost twice as fast, according to page 198 in Pathfinder Unchained. Therefore, I would start testing the Strengthen Spell feat like this: treat your CMB as 1/2 your level + your Intelligence/Wisdom/Charisma score. Not the modifier. As long as you can keep your ability score greater than half your level (which should be fairly easy), this will greatly strengthen your spells.
I haven't actually tested either of these, but if you have players willing to put up with possibly unbalanced rules, these should be a good starting point. Good luck!

Try not to reinvent the... Just let the improved combat feat work with the spell .

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Quickened truestrike is pretty effective at higher levels for some of the CMB spells, like hydraulic push. Not so much for "area" CMB spells, like black tentacles.

Maybe some way to add a Size modifier somehow? Or maybe a feat that lets you keep a spell slot open, and you gain a bonus on spell CMB equal to the level of the spell slot left open?

This is my current solution for boosting these spells


Although I'll be working on a feat solution shortly as well.

As SmiloDan pointed out, some CMB spells will only need 1 CMB roll (Hydraulic Push, Pilfering Hand etc.) and some might need a bunch of them (Black Tentacles, Telekinesis, etc.). So a spell may not be the ideal way to address this scalability issue.

I don't see any way this works.

CMD bonuses just get too high.

You literally need to start talking about +10 bonuses to give them a chance to work. Maybe spells that can force a save or the like every round would benefit, but if it is a one shot kind of spell you need some serious amplification to how it works.

Well, my custom "support" spell (linked above) does have a scalability feature. I'm testing him out on a 12th level Wizard-Diviner chassis right now. And based on a number of combinatorial setups I have to boost his CL ... I can get certain spells at certain times up to CL 17. Meaning that I can get this support spell to grant a +8 Enhancement bonus to CMB. At 12th level. Which is not bad so far for a number of these spell types.

Meaning that +10 you mentioned to be achievable in a fairly reasonable fashion.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tom S 820 wrote:
Try not to reinvent the... Just let the improved combat feat work with the spell .

Considering that 1.... the only thing that the improved feats let you do is not provoke AOOs and 2. Almost all the spells, like Strangling Hair have a good range on them.... the feats simply aren't needed.

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