Devil's Summon SLA


Rules Questions


I am getting ready to run an encounter that involves an advanced Bearded Devil in the Hell's Rebels AP. I want to run down a couple questions I had to make sure I run this encounter correctly because it could be a tough one.

Regarding its summon ability, if it uses it to summon another bearded devil, this is a full round action. Every time it gets hit during that round, it has to make a concentration check (DC 10+spell level [5]+dmg dealt) or lose the spell. Once the spell is done it only has a 50% chance of working. For its concentration check, I'm rolling 1d20+12(CL)+2(for advanced).

If it's holding its glaive while casting the spell, does it get an attack of opportunity against anyone who comes within 10 feet, or does being in the middle of casting a spell negate that?

It might be smarter for the devil to teleport away (but still nearby) and then summon, then return for them with its ally if successful. The book doesn't say he'd use that kind of tactic, and he's supposed to be guarding a door. Does that seem like too much or just good use of a monster's abilities?


Unless otherwise noted a SLA has a cast time of a standard action.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Sennje wrote:
Unless otherwise noted a SLA has a cast time of a standard action.

This is a common misunderstanding.

The Summon does indeed take 1 full round to cast.

If all SLAs defaulted to Standard Actions, there'd be quite a few upset Sylphs out there.

Part of the "unless otherwise specified" includes the casting time of the spell that the SLA is mimicking.


Nefreet wrote:
Sennje wrote:
Unless otherwise noted a SLA has a cast time of a standard action.

This is a common misunderstanding.

The Summon does indeed take 1 full round to cast.

If all SLAs defaulted to Standard Actions, there'd be quite a few upset Sylphs out there.

Part of the "unless otherwise specified" includes the casting time of the spell that the SLA is mimicking.

My memory agrees with Nefreet, but when I go to back it up the rules text agrees with Sennje.

A spell-like ability usually has a limit on how often it can be used. A constant spell-like ability or one that can be used at will has no use limit; unless otherwise stated, a creature can only use a constant spell-like ability on itself. Reactivating a constant spell-like ability is a swift action. Using all other spell-like abilities is a standard action unless noted otherwise, and doing so provokes attacks of opportunity. It is possible to make a concentration check to use a spell-like ability defensively and avoid provoking an attack of opportunity, just as when casting a spell. A spell-like ability can be disrupted just as a spell can be. Spell-like abilities cannot be used to counterspell, nor can they be counterspelled.


Since all the good old devilish tricks are gone (illusions and invisibility), his best bet is to sit in the dark (beggar's invisibility) and wait till he spots a glimmer of light somewhere in the area. Then he can decide to spend a round and summon his minion, but in combat it is a bit too late.

When it comes to spell-like abilities, the rule says it costs a standard action, unless the ability says otherwise. I assume that it takes 1 round to cast the summon, because Summon Monster does, but that might be wrong and really cost only a standard action. The wording could be clearer instead of giving us a choice. Why not just say that it takes as long as the spell?

The glaive is a 2H weapon. That means you can do nothing with it, if not holding it with two hands. Using a SLA doesn't require a free hand, as it has no S components, so he can hold it as required - check. The rule about attacks of opportunity says merely that you can do so in all squares you threaten (and threaten itself doesn't say that you have to be fighting), but doesn't list stuff when you cannot do so. Under Spellcasting is also no mention about that. Given no rule to the contrary I'd say he can do an AoO while using his SLA.
Maybe there is a FAQ about that, because I'm sure it has come up before, when someone passed a casting cleric or magus in battle.

He may have INT 6, but I am sure even the dumbest barbarian knows Valhalla draws nigh when he is faced with odds of 4:1 and that getting help is surely the better part of valor. He certainly knows how to use his teleport ability, since he was born with it and can do so at will. If attacked by bad odds he will certainly not make a heroic last stand when he has the means to get away (and come back with help).
If he is not using his abilities, he is not much of a challenge, too. There isn't much he can do offensively with his variety of teleport, but he should use it to advantage if possible.


I thought it was a full round action because of this from the Bestiary:

Bestiary wrote:


Summon (Sp) A creature with the summon ability can summon other specific creatures of its kind much as though casting a summon monster spell, but it usually has only a limited chance of success (as specified in the creature's entry). Roll d%: On a failure, no creature answers the summons. Summoned creatures automatically return whence they came after 1 hour. A creature summoned in this way cannot use any spells or spell-like abilities that require material components costing more than 1 gp unless those components are supplied, nor can it use its own summon ability for 1 hour. An appropriate spell level is given for each summoning ability for purposes of Will saves, caster level checks, and concentration checks. No experience points are awarded for defeating summoned monsters.

Format: 1/day—summon (level 4, 1 hezrou 35%); Location: Spell-Like Abilities.

Summon monster spells require full round actions. But if the SLA itself should say that it's a full round and I should not infer from the spell it's mimicking, then that makes sense.


The trouble is that the rule about SLAs is badly written.

Consider this: if they say that a SLA takes normally a standard action, but all default to their spells casting time, then for what spell(s) is that rule meant?

For that reason you can make a case for either option. Or you can go by the other clause and use all as standard actions, unless an exception is noted in the SLA itself.

But we are getting a bit off-topic here - best to pre-summon his helper than messing around in melee.


Vatras wrote:
Since all the good old devilish tricks are gone (illusions and invisibility), his best bet is to sit in the dark (beggar's invisibility) and wait till he spots a glimmer of light somewhere in the area. Then he can decide to spend a round and summon his minion, but in combat it is a bit too late.

Thanks! The one thing about this devil that the AP kinda ties my hands on is that it explicitly says that it doesn't attack unless they attack it or they try to go through its door. It'll even shoot the breeze with them if neither of those two criteria are met. I think that is to keep it from getting the drop on them and making things too hard. It is CR 7 and the party is APL 5 when this is slated to occur.

So, it isn't supposed to summon as soon as it sees them. My concern then is if doing so once a fight begins is a waste of its action.


SLAs that are not a spell use a standard action unless the ability says otherwise. SLAs based on a spell use the spell casting time. This is clearer in the Magic section of the core rule book, the monster rules are written more opaquely.


This keeps coming up. It doesn't cause a lot of big arguments, but it probably needs an FAQ.


Vatras wrote:
The glaive is a 2H weapon. That means you can do nothing with it, if not holding it with two hands. Using a SLA doesn't require a free hand, as it has no S components, so he can hold it as required - check. The rule about attacks of opportunity says merely that you can do so in all squares you threaten (and threaten itself doesn't say that you have to be fighting), but doesn't list stuff when you cannot do so. Under Spellcasting is also no mention about that. Given no rule to the contrary I'd say he can do an AoO while using his SLA.

How?

Core, under Combat wrote:
Concentration: You must concentrate to cast a spell. If you can't concentrate, you can't cast a spell. If you start casting a spell but something interferes with your concentration, you must make a concentration check or lose the spell.

Surely, making an AoO would break someone's concentration! At best, you could do it but have to make a concentration check to not lose the spell. I tend to go with common sense (which I thought I was within the RAW to supply) and say that you don't threaten at all -- you're busy!

~~~

Shaun wrote:

Thanks! The one thing about this devil that the AP kinda ties my hands on is that it explicitly says that it doesn't attack unless they attack it or they try to go through its door. It'll even shoot the breeze with them if neither of those two criteria are met. I think that is to keep it from getting the drop on them and making things too hard. It is CR 7 and the party is APL 5 when this is slated to occur.

So, it isn't supposed to summon as soon as it sees them. My concern then is if doing so once a fight begins is a waste of its action.

I'm learning to balance CRs for Jade Regent -- there's several threads on the Advice board you might find useful. Short answer: fiddling with the printed material is just fine. The authors knew how depleted the party was likely to be when they reached the door, and what awaits them on the other side (boss monster or treasure vault). But you know if your players are experienced and if your PCs are well-optimized. And what your players think is fun -- getting through the door quickly, or a "we almost died there, but we triumphed" memory.

So if you think the PCs will need an easier fight, the door-guard should be stupid, and think, "I just follow orders. Those folks don't try to go through my door or hurt me, I've got no problem with them." If you want tougher, "Hey, that looks like it might be adventurers coming this way! Adventurers are thieves and brigands!" might be a better response. The devil is still going to be lawful about its evil, but summoning a pal preemptively isn't outright attacking the potentially innocent...


bitter lily wrote:
Core, under Combat wrote:
Concentration: You must concentrate to cast a spell. If you can't concentrate, you can't cast a spell. If you start casting a spell but something interferes with your concentration, you must make a concentration check or lose the spell.
Surely, making an AoO would break someone's concentration! At best, you could do it but have to make a concentration check to not lose the spell. I tend to go with common sense (which I thought I was within the RAW to supply) and say that you don't threaten at all -- you're busy!

While I agree logically that making an AoO while casting would be a reasonable time to call for a concentration check, the book does not call it out. Only the listed: Cast defensively, Injured while casting, Continuous damage while casting, Affected by a non-damaging spell while casting, Grappled or pinned while casting, Vigorous motion while casting, Violent motion while casting, Extremely violent motion while casting, Wind with rain or sleet while casting, Wind with hail and debris while casting, Weather caused by spell, and Entangled while casting are the RAW reasons to call for a concentration check.


Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
SLAs that are not a spell use a standard action unless the ability says otherwise. SLAs based on a spell use the spell casting time. This is clearer in the Magic section of the core rule book, the monster rules are written more opaquely.
wraithstrike wrote:
This keeps coming up. It doesn't cause a lot of big arguments, but it probably needs an FAQ.
If you want to FAQ it, the issue is the conflict between this highlighted part of the core rulebook (do a control-f for "spell-like ability"):
Quote:

Spell-Like Abilities: Usually, a spell-like ability works just like the spell of that name. A spell-like ability has no verbal, somatic, or material component, nor does it require a focus. The user activates it mentally. Armor never affects a spell-like ability's use, even if the ability resembles an arcane spell with a somatic component.

A spell-like ability has a casting time of 1 standard action unless noted otherwise in the ability or spell description. In all other ways, a spell-like ability functions just like a spell.

Spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance and dispel magic. They do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated. Spell-like abilities cannot be used to counterspell, nor can they be counterspelled.

If a character class grants a spell-like ability that is not based on an actual spell, the ability's effective spell level is equal to the highest-level class spell the character can cast, and is cast at the class level the ability is granted.

And the monster rules for SLAs:
Quote:
A spell-like ability usually has a limit on how often it can be used. A constant spell-like ability or one that can be used at will has no use limit; unless otherwise stated, a creature can only use a constant spell-like ability on itself. Reactivating a constant spell-like ability is a swift action. Using all other spell-like abilities is a standard action unless noted otherwise, and doing so provokes attacks of opportunity.

However, I think it's pretty clear that the broader explanation in the Core magic rules controls and isn't inconsistent with the monster rules. The monster rules are ambiguous, the overall SLA rules are not.


@bitter lily:
I didn't say it makes sense - and I think it doesn't, since you are concentrating on something else - but as Tarantula says, there is no rule forbidding it or calling for a check.

I even looked it up, if there is anything under "threaten", like that you have to be fighting to threaten a square, but there is nothing at all. I checked the spellcasting section, but it doesn't forbid it either under "casting a spell".
By common sense you are right, but by RAW it is allowed.

Dark Archive

Tarantula wrote:
bitter lily wrote:
Core, under Combat wrote:
Concentration: You must concentrate to cast a spell. If you can't concentrate, you can't cast a spell. If you start casting a spell but something interferes with your concentration, you must make a concentration check or lose the spell.
Surely, making an AoO would break someone's concentration! At best, you could do it but have to make a concentration check to not lose the spell. I tend to go with common sense (which I thought I was within the RAW to supply) and say that you don't threaten at all -- you're busy!
While I agree logically that making an AoO while casting would be a reasonable time to call for a concentration check, the book does not call it out. Only the listed: Cast defensively, Injured while casting, Continuous damage while casting, Affected by a non-damaging spell while casting, Grappled or pinned while casting, Vigorous motion while casting, Violent motion while casting, Extremely violent motion while casting, Wind with rain or sleet while casting, Wind with hail and debris while casting, Weather caused by spell, and Entangled while casting are the RAW reasons to call for a concentration check.

Bolding done by myself, obviously. I would say a combination of this and the next two, certainly show that attacking while casting would warrent some form of a concentration check.


I don't see an attack as vigorous motion. You can throw a punch or stab with a sharp object and barely move.
There is no rule directing supporting an attack requiring a concentration check.


Quote:


Vigorous Motion: If you are riding on a moving mount, taking a bouncy ride in a wagon, on a small boat in rough water, belowdecks in a storm-tossed ship, or simply being jostled in a similar fashion, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + the level of the spell you're casting) or lose the spell.

An attack is not similar to a bouncy ride or a storm tossed ship.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
While casting a spell, you don’t threaten any squares around you.


AHA! That's where it is. I thought I remembered a line like that but I couldn't find it. No AoOs while spellcasting.


So with that part of it well defined, is there a true concensus that the SLA in question is a standard vs a full round?

Does one section supercede the other?


I think Plausible Pseudonym got it above and it's full-round.


If the Summon SLA was a standard round then Feather Fall SLAs would have to be standard rounds as well. It's definitely a full round, the Core rule is clear, you use the spell casting time, standard action is if it's not based on a published spell and no action is otherwise specified.


Its a bearded devil.

First hint of trouble, teleport somewhere else, summon a buddy safely. Both of you teleport back.

Make it a non issue.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Problem with that is the summoned Devil can't use Teleport (or its own Summon SLA).

But if the first one just teleported to the next room over, that'd be close enough.


Shaun, how did it go?

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