Can a vampire hide deep in the soil in gaseous form?

Rules Questions

The PCs in my game have a vampire in a monastery on the run. Can he go gaseous, seep through the presumably sufficiently porous stone walls of the monastery basement, and then hide out in the soil until nightfall? Or just move underground through the soil?

On that same note, it seems to me the vampire can move through the walls and floors/ceilings of the monastery virtually at will, as an ancient monastery will have cracks everywhere.

Basically, this gives the PCs pretty much no chance of catching the vampire (whose location they don't presently know) -- right? Is any of the above incorrect?

I'd love some input before my game tonight!!

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

If you intend to make the porous walls a thing, then make sure the players are made aware of it early on, or there may be some ruffled feathers.

I'd simply go with cracks, made obvious by drifting dust or waving cobwebs rather than simply saying the walls are old and porous.

From the rules text:

It can pass through small holes or narrow openings, even mere cracks, with all it was wearing or holding in its hands, as long as the spell persists.

I believe the general intent of the spell is "not through solid things, but if there's anything that could reasonably be considered an opening, then yes, they can go through it". For example, I don't think you could go through solid stone, but you COULD escape through a crack in a window/vent of said monastery (especially if it has an air vent up by the ceiling (quite common in basements).

For the rest of the monastery, it's your call as GM. If you say it has cracks the vampire can move through, then it does.

As for soil, I would say usually not - not unless it's ESPECIALLY loose soil, since soil is usually too compact to let you go down very far. So I probably wouldn't do that one.

It is true that one of the big challenges of vampires is actually being able to kill them. A common strategy is "Unless you can find it in its coffin and stake it there, you can't actually kill it for good". If possible, and you plan to have the vampire escape, try to drop some hints to your players so they know that beating it might not be as easy as stabbing it. This helps avoid the feeling that you're "taking away" their victory, and instead encourages them to overcome the real challenge of the enemy. ^^

Well, we're pretty much past the point of any foreshadowing. My thinking is that the "even mere cracks" language seems incredibly permissive to me. I just can't imagine old stone buildings not having thin cracks everywhere -- that's how insects and rodents move around and in and out. And if soil is porous enough for water and worms to move through, then why not a gaseous form. Of course, it's all my call, but I don't want to be too unreasonable. Frankly, the PCs may not even have any way in game of finding out what happened to the vampire.

While gaseous form indeed makes the vampire a gas, it is limited by two things: it must remain in a single piece, and it must retain the same volume. There would need to be an actual crack for a vampire to escape. For ground, I could see an argument for loose gravel, but anything else is probably a no-go.

Ok. So I agree moving through ground might be hard, but it seems like the basement of an old stone monastery would have a ton of cracks that would allow passage to the outside -- that's why old basements have bugs and rodents. And then, even if the vampire could not move through the ground, it seems it could remain along the seam of the stone foundation and the surrounding soil/rock and wait for nightfall. It seems like if the vampire followed along the seam, it could find some kind of air pocket and hang out as long as it wants.

Do folks agree or disagree with any of that?

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No go... IMHO Crack is for cracks under door type of thing.
Hairline fractures in rock is not an 'opening'.
Soil porosity is no go, for the reason that people buried alive die of suffocation.
(things like poison gas effects also are blocked by stone walls/solid dirt, hypothetical porosity aside)

As said, you don't change size meaning you still need to fit in a 5x5' square (roughly).
A <1mm hairline crack/channel basically being a 1 dimensional line thru that 5x5' square is not remotely enough volume.
If the ability was meant to function like Earthglide, it would say so.

Well, I'm convinced now about soil, but if the spell allows you to move through "mere cracks", it seems it must allow you to move through spaces that insects can pass though. Gas could move through such a space, just like gas can escape a super thin fracture in a pipe. I'm unconvinced about the volume issue -- if you can go through a crack, then you can spread your form out however thin it needs to be to fit the available space it seems. The vampire might move more slowly passing though a thin crack, but I don't see how it is prohibited under the RAW.

Liberty's Edge

You do seem to be set on the vampire escaping. Just be ready for a lot of player anger if you let it get away through the solid ground. Perhaps it could escape through a small floor grating that leads to a thin pipe, or a chimney. Perhaps its lair could have many trapped holes in the wall and only one is the real emergency exit. Perhaps the coffin contains an illusory vampire; but the real one is in a coffin/secret compartment below the assumed coffin. Strictly interpret the solid ground rule but be creative in the use of trickery to mislead the players if you intend for the vampire to escape. Vampires are quite cunning and can be used as a continuing nemesis.

Gaseous Form wrote:
The subject and all its gear become insubstantial, misty, and translucent. Its material armor (including natural armor) becomes worthless, though its size, Dexterity, deflection bonuses, and armor bonuses from force effects still apply.

Unlike a normal gas, the density of a creature in gaseous form cannot change because it must remain the same size, and therefore volume.

If the crack goes all the way through, yes the vampire could fit.

But as Martin says, you're clearly less interested in the actual rules and more interested in making sure your vampire can escape. Have the vampire use cunning tactics and strategy to escape, not bad rules lawyering.

You can pass thru a crack under a door, because your entire unchanged volume is easily within 5x5 at all times.
Squeezing to 1/2" thick to pass under the 2" depth of the door does not have large effect of remaining 4'-11-1/2" of the 5x5' space,
because you are free to occupy more or less the same volume on either side of the 2" thick door.
If the entire 5x5' (or more) space is at most 1/2" thick, then how to deal with volume does become problematic,
and you can't take up substantially more than one 5x5' square, give or take, and limited to max of 1/2" (or less),
you would need several DOZEN of 5x5' squares to approximate the same volume, which is no go.

Even ancient privies or outhouses were vented for smell

A 2" vent is more than adiquaet for your needs

Soil with 7% moisture content ( that is really dry) will effectively prevent air permentation past about 24"

Thanks folks. I'll give it thought. I don't want to force the rules to make the vampire escape, but it is cunning and I don't want to err on the side of disadvantaging it either.

Dark Archive

I have always set up my vampire lairs with numerous 1" pipes running throughout the complex, the vampires use these as their mode of safe and secure travel through out their lair.

Druids have been known to shape shift into air elementals or mice, or other small creatures to travel through them an explore.

Wizards have many ways to also travel through them.

Logically vampires would have something to this effect to protect valuables or coffin room. They want something secure that they have an easy means to get to.

An engineering check to know about the soil type (not clay) and water table level (low) would warn the party that the vamp could hide or travel through some soils.

Shadow Lodge

To the OP, this is where you can find the answer: Can a Gas Permeate the Soil?

If water could trickle through something, then gaseous form certainly should be able to, as there must be a continuous open path large enough for any common gas molecules to pass through without breaking up the shape/volume of the gaseous creature. Reasonably, even more things a powered/sentient gas could move through, but this is an easy test I think for things that should CERTAINLY qualify that is easy to think about.

So soil: yes.
walls broken down enough that they would leak in a storm: yes. (but that would not necessarily be all / any amount of cracking. Some may not go all the way through. Just throw visible leaking in as an excuse / in-game cue.)
the place where a door hits the jamb: yes unless it has a perfect or gasketed seal or something.


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