Game Altering (or Game Breaking?) Spells: Simulacrum


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Anzyr wrote:
Snowlilly wrote:
Anzyr wrote:
Zhangar wrote:

It's more that the GM has complete discretion as to what the simulacrum critter has.

If the GM wants simulacrum efreetis to keep wish, then they do so.

If the GM thinks the ability should be downgraded to limited wish or removed completely, then that's what happens.

If anything, wish isn't an appropriate ability for a CR 8 critter, but this is a circumstance where mythology actually gets to trump game balance =P

(I.e., genies get to grant wishes because they're genies, even if by regular monster construction standards genies are far too weak to have access to 9th level spells).

It appears to be the same as the original, but it has only half of the real creature's levels or HD (and the appropriate hit points, feats, skill ranks, and special abilities for a creature of that level or HD).

I see nothing about GM discretion here. Unless you intend to argue the GM gets to determine "appropriate hit points, feats and skill ranks" instead of you know what the rules dictate are appropriate.

GM approval of all abilities is implicit in the bolded word. If the GM rules an ability inappropriate for the reduced HD, it is removed.
It is not asking for GM approval. It is asking for the appropriate abilities of a given HD. As Wish is not HD dependent is is very literally appropriate. Does the GM get to arbitrarily pick the HP and skills to? No. There are rules for that. And following those rules, Wish is appropriate. Please cite evidence to the contrary.

You can choose your definition of the word appropriate, and the context in which it is applied, at the tables you GM.

If you join another GM's game, be prepared to be disappointed.

First definition in the dictionary:

ap·pro·pri·ate

adjective

adjective: appropriate

/əˈprōprēət/

1.

suitable or proper in the circumstances.
"a measure appropriate to a wartime economy"

synonyms: suitable, proper, fitting, apt, right; More


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What should a simulacrum spell do?

Simulacrum basically costs:
7th level scroll 2275gp
7500gp gem dust for 13HD
wizards lab 250 gp
12 hours.

So, basically 10,000 gp worth of benefit. This is about equal to a bronze griffon or ebony fly figurine of wondrous power, a headband or belt that increases 2 ability scores by +2, or gloves of storing.

Given the permanence, the loyalty, and the whole body double thing, I would say that simulacrums should probably not be able to cast spells, use spell like, supernatural, and probably even EX abilities, make magic items, or do any other highly complex tasks.

Really, this whole thing seems a lot closer to a type of construct you could make (6 HD Humonunculus are also ~10,000gp), not a spell that is cast. If it is going to stay a spell, it should be fairly cheep, and last hours/level or something.

EDIT: If you spend a day casting the spell and it lasts till the end of time, it should be an item like a golem manual, not a spell.


Simulacrum are more readily compared I think to hirelings or followers than most constructs.


RAW I have to agree with Anzyr. Appropriate is defined by the advancement rules. Racial abilities are always kept unless there is special advancement, as with dragons.

That every potentially vague distinction must be defined in terms of other less ambiguous rules is a pretty fundamental precept of good game design. If you don't do this you don't have rules, you just have an argument generator.

Personally, I'd just as soon see the spell axed. I think low level wish access is important to smooth the stat gain progression, but Planar Ally/Binding efreeti is at a more appropriate level with more appropriate limits and more appropriate costs.


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Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
Gilarius wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Gilarius wrote:
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
I always liked having to have a piece of the creature. It severely limits what you can make.
Yes. I'd apply that if any PC ever wanted to try it.
Yeah, that is one of the things listed in the currently-still-in-draft-stage simulacrum blog FAQ.
I'd like to see any additions/clarifications to Simulacrum to explicitly state that special abilities/spells/powers/etc/etc are at the GM's discretion and all need to be approved or the default position is that the simulacrum doesn't have them.
Also in the draft, with examples of one GM going through the process.

Shouldn't simimulacrum just be a template, similar to animated objects? I think that would be a fine way to both clarify what it does, how it behaves, and keep the balance in check.


Rhedyn wrote:
Anzyr wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:

Is this the part where we talk about how vague the "cannot increase power" phrase in simulacrum is?

There is no RAW way to run the spell. Using that spell turns the game into narrative story time. You can't use the spell in a clever way because it is a Fiat. All accomplishments with the spell are things the GM did.

"But my RAW..." Isn't actually a valid line of critique. This spell is garbage.

Sure lets talk about it:

A simulacrum has no ability to become more powerful. It cannot increase its level or abilities.

The first sentence by itself is indecipherable. "No ability to become more powerful" is incredibly vague and by itself no one could discern the RAW. Luckily, if we keep reading the spell it tells us exactly what that means. "It cannot increase it's level or abilities." Now it's very easy to determine the RAW. RAW, a Simulacrum cannot become more powerful, since it cannot increase it's level or abilities.

Case in point.

You have to do things like pretend rules text is flavor text (randomly removing lines from the spell) to even attempt a RAW interpretation.

That's not what I did. I'm not pretending it's flavor text. I'm using a thing in the English language called context. By itself, you yourself admit that it is impossible to determine what the first sentence means. Reading things RAW doesn't mean we ignore everything outside of the given sentence we are discussing. So we look to the immediately following sentence which defines and clarifies the first. That's how English works. For example:

The door would not open. It was locked and barred.

Taken by itself we have no idea why the door will not open. We have no context, by itself the door is unable to be opened by any and all forces! Unless we read the immediately proceeding sentence, which clarifies why the door won't open. That's English.

So by itself, yes the first sentence is unfathomable. With the second it becomes significantly clearer. No making things flavor text. Just reading it RAW.

Ravingdork wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Gilarius wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Gilarius wrote:
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
I always liked having to have a piece of the creature. It severely limits what you can make.
Yes. I'd apply that if any PC ever wanted to try it.
Yeah, that is one of the things listed in the currently-still-in-draft-stage simulacrum blog FAQ.
I'd like to see any additions/clarifications to Simulacrum to explicitly state that special abilities/spells/powers/etc/etc are at the GM's discretion and all need to be approved or the default position is that the simulacrum doesn't have them.
Also in the draft, with examples of one GM going through the process.
Shouldn't simimulacrum just be a template, similar to animated objects? I think that would be a fine way to both clarify what it does, how it behaves, and keep the balance in check.

In particular, I recall Ashiel having a template I rather liked. Much agreed though +1. That being said that's the other issue with this tangled web of internet topics. All of us for whom this topic is old news already know about things like Ashiel's template, we've proposed fixes and pointed out flaws. Then someone new comes along and we have to rehash the whole thing over again for their benefit. *Sigh*


Abandon Thread!

This one is about to sucked into a vortex of debating what appropriate means, with the same back and forth arguments to justify whichever opinions one happens to hold. Sarcasm, lathered with scorn. Every time someone posts live and let live, someone else will post "yeah as long as you know you're homebrewing" and all sense of the original thread is lost.

I'm moving on to the next spell.

[Edit] The purpose of the thread was to talk about in game examples of the spell, and how it had been handled. Because the original theme has been lost and the thread is derailed it now has no purpose. Up to that point it was actually quite interesting. There are more spells to be examined but can i ask, if the 'overpoweredness' of these spells has already been discussed in other threads, can we keep future threads on track?


You can tell when someone is debating more from needing to be right than discussion when they cite English as their justification for an unpopular opinion.


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Rhedyn wrote:
You can tell when someone is debating more from needing to be right than discussion when they cite English as their justification for an unpopular opinion.

Which is what everyone claiming that "appropriate for their HD" does not refer to the rules for HD progression is doing. Rules text can always supply its own definitons. The folks at Paizo are really bad about doing so implicitly, but definitions given within the corpus of rules always supersede outside definitions. Anzyr is absolutely correct that the definition for level appropriateness is given implicitly in the advancement rules and nowhere else. That implicit definition is still in the rules and the definition is absolutely clear even if the application to the word appropriate is left implicit because Paizo are terrible at rules.

Anzyr said English, but context is a thing in every real human language and most machine languages. The Pathfinder rules are not written in an obsessively functional computer language or in Assembler and readers must account for context. If they're honest with themselves and have sufficient reading comprehension they'll come to the same reading in any language the Pathfinder rules have been faithfully translated into. They may not like that conclusion and think that the people at Paizo couldn't possibly mean what they wrote or are otherwise incompetent at either designing or writing rules, but they wrote what they wrote.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Cevah wrote:
Part of the problem with SLAs is that some are not tied to level, and so are not halved.
I'm not even sure how to respond to this. There literally are no rules about what is halved and what isn't, so saying "such and such is not halved" is only true if you, the game master, want it to be true.

The rule is "it has only half of the real creature's levels or HD" and then parenthetically lists things affected by HD/levels: "hit points, feats, skill ranks, and special abilities". Not mentioned are stat points, but those have clear rules also.

The monster advancement and creation rules spell out hit points, feats, and skill ranks quite clearly. However, it does not say anything abour special abilities other than the GM can add as desired when gaining HD.

Without no guidance there, you need to go to the Bestiary description. There, some special abilities are called out as tied to the HD. Some are not. If those not called out, I think it is reasonable to take any SLA cast at CL=HD or CL=HD+Levels or CL=Levels can be deemed tied to HD/Levels. A genie's Wish does not align with any of those. That is why people argue RAW it is kept. I agree, but am of the opinion that using it in a game breaking way is not appropriate. Using it in a story way is fine.

My own sights are on a different target: the hag. They run from 4HD to 18HD. Every one has the coven ability. That ability lets them get potent spells. A trio of Sea Hags, at CR4 each is essentially a CR6 encounter. The coven gets Mind Blank as a SLA at will. That is a 8th level spell at will. Is this more power than getting 3/day 9th level Wish? It gets a pair of 7th level SLAs at will also. It gets reincarnate with no components at will. All in a CR4 package of 4HD. Since over half the hag type have 8HD or more, you can easily make a 4+ HD hag with all those abilities that the lowly Sea Hag also has.

So what abilities would you take away from the hag's coven ability? I argue none, since it is clearly not HD/level dependent.

The elemental lords are somewhat similar. Djinn do not have the wish ability, but nobles do. That is 7HD is not enough but 10HD is sufficient. Efreet have 10 HD and grant wishes. Marid at 12 HD grant wishes, but at the rate of 1/year rather than 3/day. Shaitan at 9HD cannot grant them, but the nobles at 18HD can. Janni cannot grant, and have 6 HD. At least here, the elemental lords can be divided into granters at 10+ HD, and non-granters at 9- HD. It is this that can justify ruling out the snow cone wish machine. A resonable GM won't let you make something not in the GM's universe, which means they are free to say no to a templated elemental lord to bump up the HD before halving. With 18 HD being the cap, giving a 9 HD result, your snow cone just does not have enough juice for a wish. [At least using the usual wish fodder.]

Of the other creatures that are listed with wish: Glabrezu, Contract Devil, Hawanar Genie, Basileus, Basileus, Lilitu, Solar, Hastur, Geryon, Pazuzu, Cthulhu, Pazuzu, Orcus, and Lucifer; all are at least 10 HD.

Control can be an issue as well. If the creature's natural desires is against the caster, they will try to weasel out of any command. Including being "deaf" or not to be found when a command is given. Your first command should be "never try to avoid being commanded by me". Next should be "always work to support me" or some such. Then get into alignment boundaries and such.

/cevah


Atarlost wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
You can tell when someone is debating more from needing to be right than discussion when they cite English as their justification for an unpopular opinion.

Which is what everyone claiming that "appropriate for their HD" does not refer to the rules for HD progression is doing. Rules text can always supply its own definitons. The folks at Paizo are really bad about doing so implicitly, but definitions given within the corpus of rules always supersede outside definitions. Anzyr is absolutely correct that the definition for level appropriateness is given implicitly in the advancement rules and nowhere else. That implicit definition is still in the rules and the definition is absolutely clear even if the application to the word appropriate is left implicit because Paizo are terrible at rules.

Anzyr said English, but context is a thing in every real human language and most machine languages. The Pathfinder rules are not written in an obsessively functional computer language or in Assembler and readers must account for context. If they're honest with themselves and have sufficient reading comprehension they'll come to the same reading in any language the Pathfinder rules have been faithfully translated into. They may not like that conclusion and think that the people at Paizo couldn't possibly mean what they wrote or are otherwise incompetent at either designing or writing rules, but they wrote what they wrote.

Of course the rules clearly state that spellcasting of any form is tied to HD increase.

I'm pretty sure ENGLISH doesn't help you assume that spell casting is unrelated to HD decreases, especially when the devs them-self have alluded that it is relater.

As for "no ability to become more powerful" that is the phrase that prevents Simulacrum from restoring HP normally and why a special lab is needed. If that phrase means nothing, then there is no point for using a lab to recover HP, because the snowcone could just rest or drink CLW potions.

Like it or not "A simulacrum has no ability to become more powerful." is a rule for the spell and has actual mechanical consequence and is critical to enable the need for certain things like a complex lab process to restore HP.


Rhedyn wrote:

Of course the rules clearly state that spellcasting of any form is tied to HD increase.

I'm pretty sure ENGLISH doesn't help you assume that spell casting is unrelated to HD decreases, especially when the devs them-self have alluded that it is relater.

spellcasting =/= special abilities (i.e. SLAs)

Rhedyn wrote:

As for "no ability to become more powerful" that is the phrase that prevents Simulacrum from restoring HP normally and why a special lab is needed. If that phrase means nothing, then there is no point for using a lab to recover HP, because the snowcone could just rest or drink CLW potions.

Like it or not "A simulacrum has no ability to become more powerful." is a rule for the spell and has actual mechanical consequence and is critical to enable the need for certain things like a complex lab process to restore HP.

A special lab is not needed.

Simulacrum wrote:
A complex process requiring at least 24 hours, 100 gp per hit point, and a fully equipped magical laboratory can repair damage to a simulacrum.

Note the word is can and not is required.

For the wizard without cure spells, that is how he repairs the creature faster than normal healing. A regenerating creature works as well. Regular healing only changes power level when going from below zero to above zero. That is the difference between a character having no action and being able to do anything a character can normally do. [Zero is a special case, as some get staggered, others get unconscious, and so on.] As soon as you have 1 hp, you can do everything you are capable of doing. Being at full hp does not change a thing in that regard.

/cevah

PS: unpopular =/= wrong.


Quote:
Control can be an issue as well. If the creature's natural desires is against the caster, they will try to weasel out of any command. Including being "deaf" or not to be found when a command is given. Your first command should be "never try to avoid being commanded by me". Next should be "always work to support me" or some such. Then get into alignment boundaries and such.

No they wont, because you tell them not to

No alignment issues as well, they do what you tell them to


The rules were poorly written decades ago and fall hard into the 'realm of never having been worked out for play'. As I am bearing down on Sims in one game, our GM is building a really hard framework. I already have the lesser version and he just plopped down several more. each has significant differences, but all require material components, knowledge checks, labs (well, one doesn't) and such what not.

All create an actual 'creature' along the 'half' guidelines and might be made of different materials (different effects). If he let's me, I'll post them and let everyone butcher them. The version I have allows only half power, NPC classes and 'common' races, but I have given my character's brother forge assistants made of bronze already (iron messes up magic in campaign).


GM 1990 wrote:
I suppose if the GM allowed it with enough GP you could create a whole army of these clones in the arctic, and try to take over the world? Maybe a great 1 on 1 campaign idea, not as much fun in a group IMO.

There's an adventure in early dungeon magazine where you encounter several simulacrums in an arch wizards lair.

I always wanted to design a mystery scenario with an arctic monastery inhabited by simulacrums only of a former school of ice mages.

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