Game Altering (or Game Breaking?) Spells: Intro and List


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Since GMs are 1 person, and often playing with 3-6 people you can often be faced with ideas, interpretations, or other things you just didn't think of or have time to read up on. Spells in particular may seem to have the ability to give an unfair edge to a player or the group. Since new players and GM's are picking up PF all the time, and many come to Paizo.com to look for answers to their questions it seems like this would be a good place to have a thread on some of the spells that players and GMs see creating trouble at their table.

This is just an intro thread, what I'd propose is a new thread dedicated to each spell in order to make searching easier - IE if you typed "teleport", you'd be able to find a thread called:

"Game Altering(or Game Breaking?) Spells: Teleport"

It would be helpful if examples of how a particular spell is creating trouble in your specific game. Please no rhetoric about how its just a broken spell, rather describe how its being used in your game and the problems as you see it. The thread then can be built on by other players and GM's who can respond with how they interpret the spell's rules at their table, how they use in game consequences, or encounter design to keep the game balanced and fun for everyone. Ideas might also just give you a second thought about if what your seeing is really a problem.

Since I've seen Teleport listed in a few other places as broken, I'm actually going to start a thread on it. Other spells can go into new threads and so on.

this initial thread might be a good place to add to the list - or people could just start their own thread using the same title structure with the spell name at the end.


I am not sure this is going to be pleasant for anyone.


Create Mr. Pitt wrote:
I am not sure this is going to be pleasant for anyone.

haha - perhaps. There's always hope right?

If someone is seeing a spell being used in a specific way at their table, then at least there is a possibility of adult conversation and analysis in the context of that event. If it really happened at your table, then other GMs have either seen it or probably will, so a great opportunity to read the spell description again and think about its application in the context of the whole game world and its mechanics such as weather, politics, other higher level wizards, etc.


I'd love to see adult conversation. I may even participate in some. For instance, I think teleport is a classic wizard spell and doesn't necessarily break the game.

I am just not looking forward to threads about hold person or glitterdust going crazy. But it's a conversation worth having. I don't think there are many spells that truly if ever break the game, if handled well as GM.

See you on a couple of threads (thought it would be more convenient if if it could be one thread in sections, but this forum is not capable of that).


Seconded to the wish that these could be lumped together in some way. I doubt they'll decide it's important enough for it's own sub forum, though I feel like that would be my decision if I was a mod. A subforum with this thread stickied and a bunch of other spells marked below it.

I'd have to say that shenanigans with Create Demiplane and similar spells would be my first choice. It feels like all the "I'm immortal because I'm just an Astral projection and my body is heavily guarded in a timeless plane" comes from that region. At least if they had to find a way to stop aging normally they'd be somewhat weaker for the trade in most cases, or be undead and deal with what they became. There's also a lot to do with crafting and planning time, getting all of your spells back way more often than you should, and similar. It's a thing I've seen a lot of talk about. I'm curious to know if anyone has any real *table* experience with this kind of exploiting, or if it's all been theory build and laughing at the loopholes while knowing they themselves would neither perform nor allow as dm to be performed, these tactics.


I feel like you might want to have a Google Doc for this, given Paizo's lock on how long things can be edited for.

Shadow Lodge

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Create Mr. Pitt wrote:
I don't think there are many spells that truly if ever break the game, if handled well as GM.

Absolutely agree! Yet it might be instructive to show the new/inexperienced GM how to handle the spell well. Sometimes it's not so obvious.


Think blood money is worth a mention? I've seen it used earlygame to not only save money, but make money by turning daggers into masterwork daggers. The wizard has a pretty high strength score since he goes the EK route so not only could he afford to do it a lot in a day, lesser restoration was easy enough to grab with a druid and alchemist in the party, and it gets even easier when the oracle joined the part.

At the very least you can't use it that well in or before combat.


Well I think there's a big difference between "game breaking" and "game changing". For new GMs a discussion of game changing spells is useful. For instance, Fly is a game changing spell. Before players have access to it, flying enemies are much more of a threat. Climbing and difficult terrain challenges are much less an issue. When the group gains Teleport, those treks in the wilderness between towns are practically non-existant. These don't "break" the game but definitely change how the group approaches things and what the GM should put in front of them.


Simulacrum, Geas, anything with Dazing Spell.

[Paging Dr Ashiel. Dr Ashiel to the operating room, please.]


Shiroi wrote:

Seconded to the wish that these could be lumped together in some way. I doubt they'll decide it's important enough for it's own sub forum, though I feel like that would be my decision if I was a mod. A subforum with this thread stickied and a bunch of other spells marked below it.

I'd have to say that shenanigans with Create Demiplane and similar spells would be my first choice. It feels like all the "I'm immortal because I'm just an Astral projection and my body is heavily guarded in a timeless plane" comes from that region. At least if they had to find a way to stop aging normally they'd be somewhat weaker for the trade in most cases, or be undead and deal with what they became. There's also a lot to do with crafting and planning time, getting all of your spells back way more often than you should, and similar. It's a thing I've seen a lot of talk about. I'm curious to know if anyone has any real *table* experience with this kind of exploiting, or if it's all been theory build and laughing at the loopholes while knowing they themselves would neither perform nor allow as dm to be performed, these tactics.

Hopefully, if we have some good "by spell" discussion the mod's might be convinced to create some kind of sub-forum for it. I think step one is demonstrating the dialogue can actually result in some shared table experience from players and especially GMs that could be scanned over and you'd have immediately usable solutions for your table ranging from some possible mechanical and in-game options to simply "talk it over with your players and decide what is most fun for your group".

I tend to wonder the same thing, but am hoping to generate some actual "at my table this is what has happened" and either "and this is how we as a group decided to adjust fire to keep things fun" or "its never happened at my table, but if it did here are some things I'd consider as a GM". Concrete examples are easier to start with and should help new and experienced GMs alike. That's why I'm hoping that with the going in position of "how have you seen it used" we'll avoid death spiraling into "what if's and rhetoric", many of which if it happened at your table as a new GM the best advice you could get is "ask that player not to come back". Since about 90% of my experience is as a GM (or sys-mod for online gaming) I tend to look to GM's to lead the table through the wilderness of unclear or poorly written (or poorly interpreted) rules and develop house rules or collective agreement at the table to ensure fun for all; as well as handling problem players if required.

So far so good. the Teleport thread (and this one) went 24 hours and hasn't erupted into a flame war :-) - in fact, some good stuff IMO.


Kage_no_Oukami wrote:
Well I think there's a big difference between "game breaking" and "game changing". For new GMs a discussion of game changing spells is useful. For instance, Fly is a game changing spell. Before players have access to it, flying enemies are much more of a threat. Climbing and difficult terrain challenges are much less an issue. When the group gains Teleport, those treks in the wilderness between towns are practically non-existant. These don't "break" the game but definitely change how the group approaches things and what the GM should put in front of them.

This is a great point, and which is why I labeled the thread the way I did. And fly is another good spell to maybe go after earlier vs later (started with teleport).

What I think will be interesting is getting some GM and player collaboration on things the GM can do to continue to create fun and challenging situations even as these spells start entering the game, as well as provide some food for thought about if the utility spells are really destroying the story you're trying to tell by the time they are castable; as well as how GMs have actually dealt with players who were stealing the spotlight with how they used some spells. That kind of info, IMO would be GM gold and would result in more fun at more tables regardless of PC levels and the spells available.

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