Why does planar binding require so many spells?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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Now obviously, planar binding is one of those things that give GMs headaches when the players get access to it, so making it "easier" is not necessarily the most popular idea in the world...

I'm just asking, from a design standpoint, what other spell requires two other spells to be cast in order to function properly?

In addition, the magic circle spell has an alignment descriptor opposite that of the creature being summoned. Building a trap for an azata is either a lawful or evil act.

I presume the thaumaturgic circle spell from occult adventures is intended to get around that alignment problem, as well as the need for knowing 4 separate spells to have access to the full spectrum of outsiders. But it is considerably more specialized than those other circle spells, so spontaneous casters are still penalized.

Would it not make more sense for the construction of the trap to be part of casting planar binding, rather than requiring a bunch of other spells?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

With great power comes great responsibility.

<g>

Seriously, messing with planar binding is one of the surest ways to lose your character. Just below using a Deck of Many Things. Note that I say this even though I'm seriously contemplating taking a character down that Planar Binding path.

And I'd suggest having a lot more than two spells planned for your first attempt. A contingent teleport might be a handy thing to have, for when that outsider decides you aren't nearly as clever as you thought you were.


Actually, I'm wondering why people even bother negotiating with outsiders at all when you can simply cast geas/quest on them. There is no save, and since they are going to be stuck in the circle for a while, the 10-minute casting time is not a problem. If you fail to penetrate their spell resistance, just try again. Sure, it wouldn't necessarily prevent them from murdering you, but you can also put in a backup geas saying "You will not intentionally harm me or [list of allies] until [task] is complete" and "You will report to me, then depart to your home plane when [task] is complete."


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Could be, IDK, that you are essentially getting almost another PC, definitely at least the equivalent of a pet or class feature for a song...er spell.

Really it may have been a holder over of action economy ruling, or maybe even because "because it's always been that way.". Good question though.


To make it really difficult.

That's about it. The designers want planar binding to be really difficult, as in many ways it should be. It reinforces that this is a task that ought to be difficult and that it is easy to make mistakes with. It also provides a mechanical explanation as to why it's so easy to screw up.


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Some rules are based on fantasy tropes. The evil trapped demon bound by magic is one of them.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Exactly. The idea of drawing a magic circle to trap your summoned devil inside goes way back, to Faust and medieval sources at the very least, if not even further back to early Christian and Jewish demonology, which may have been inspired by earlier sources.

Ideally, you'll want to invest some money in that magic circle, and make it permanent, with just the right material for your target mindslave.
Be sure to ward yourself as well. And keep some muscle on hand for the inevitable moment when a summoned nasty beats your preparations.

You know what? Just read this thread from 2013 DMDM covers it all nicely.

But yeah, a lot more than 2 or 3 spells, to do it right.

Scarab Sages

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The better question is why do archetypes that grant Planar Binding and are fluffed to be callers also tend not to include the required spells... or disallow their use due to alignment restraints? Since you must use an aligned circle opposite of the creature you call.


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... thus requiring them to recruit assistants, or use other called or summoned creatures to do part of the job.


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I also find it weird that a good-aligned arcane caster that wants long-term aid from an angel has to yank them from the Upper Planes against their will and trap them in a circle smaller than your average solitary confinement cell to do so.

"Haziel the Unbowed, will you protect Lanna's orphanage from the depredations of Belphegor's infernal legions?"
"Yes, I shall. But only because I choose to. You colossal ass."

Grand Lodge

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Thelemic_Noun wrote:
I also find it weird that a good-aligned arcane caster that wants long-term aid from an angel has to yank them from the Upper Planes against their will and trap them in a circle smaller than your average solitary confinement cell to do so.

Well, I generally got the sense that they don't. You just need to convince them that the job on Prime Material will do more good than what they had going at the time, or give them enough resources for whatever they normally do to make it worth their while (the second should work on Evil outsiders, usually).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Thelemic_Noun wrote:

I also find it weird that a good-aligned arcane caster that wants long-term aid from an angel has to yank them from the Upper Planes against their will and trap them in a circle smaller than your average solitary confinement cell to do so.

"Haziel the Unbowed, will you protect Lanna's orphanage from the depredations of Belphegor's infernal legions?"
"Yes, I shall. But only because I choose to. You colossal ass."

Ha! That's very funny, and very appropriate. That's exactly what I indend to do, with the True Name arcane exploit. I agree that it leaves something to be desired, but we can only work with what we're given.

Grand Lodge

I wonder if other planes could call those from the material and then bind them.


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Lorewalker wrote:
The better question is why do archetypes that grant Planar Binding and are fluffed to be callers also tend not to include the required spells... or disallow their use due to alignment restraints? Since you must use an aligned circle opposite of the creature you call.

Probably a design oversight. I conversed with the designer of the Sha'ir and they pretty much admitted as much, likewise re issue of "Good" aligned Sha'irs not wanting to do non-consensual stuff.

re: Thread topic: Because it is very powerful long duration tool, so multiple spell requirement effectively makes it more of a "downtime" thing than a mid-adventure type of thing.


Jader7777 wrote:
I wonder if other planes could call those from the material and then bind them.

The 1st Edition AD&D Monster Manual II has an Ultrodaemon, of which supposedly more powerful examples can do exactly this, in addition to their other abilities. I haven't found an equivalent in D&D 3.x/Pathfinder, though.


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Thelemic_Noun wrote:

I also find it weird that a good-aligned arcane caster that wants long-term aid from an angel has to yank them from the Upper Planes against their will and trap them in a circle smaller than your average solitary confinement cell to do so.

"Haziel the Unbowed, will you protect Lanna's orphanage from the depredations of Belphegor's infernal legions?"
"Yes, I shall. But only because I choose to. You colossal ass."

Heh.

But yeah, good-aligned casters summoning angels is an odd case. You can argue that a good-aligned caster shouldn't do that, because (1) compelling creatures to serve against their will is pretty close to slavery, (2) it's even worse when you're compelling an *angel*, for goodness' sake, and (3) there's a perfectly good spell (Planar Ally) whereby you pay the angel to serve, no compulsion required.

But if you want to game it out, then (1) Planar Ally is only available to clerics, and hey -- only rich people are allowed to ask the Higher Heavens to help them? and (2) arguably it's cool if you're calling a creature that's on the opposite corner from you on the law-chaos axis. I mean, you're a lawful good caster? Get that azata to stop fluttering around babbling about poetry and do something useful for a change. You're CG? Hey, that uptight archon needs to be pulled out of its comfort zone.

And, as always, repeated use (and abuse) of this spell is likely to attract attention. YMMV, but if you're calling angels to save the orphanage, perhaps Heaven may be willing to accept it as an unusually loud and insistent call for help. But if your justification is "we need more firepower for this level of the Emerald Spire -- a CR 11 angel should do nicely", then your DM would IMO be perfectly justified to say something like "the night after leaving the Emerald Spire, you wake up find three beings standing by your bed. Tall, winged, glowing and gorgeous, they are gazing at you more in sorrow than in anger. One of them holds out a shining parchment towards you. You see that it is a summons to explain your actions before the Merciful But Very Lawful Celestial Court of High Justice. 'Will you come peacefully?' asks the one in the center, while the one on the left hefts a sword whose blade dances with silver flames, and the one on the right raises its slender hands in a gesture of perfect grace and beauty, ready to cast..."

Doug M.


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Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Actually, I'm wondering why people even bother negotiating with outsiders at all when you can simply cast geas/quest on them. There is no save, and since they are going to be stuck in the circle for a while, the 10-minute casting time is not a problem. If you fail to penetrate their spell resistance, just try again.

1) There's nothing to stop the creature from teleporting or plane shifting away and finding a suitably powerful caster with Remove Curse. Yes, it'll have to pay that caster, or owe it a favor, but that's probably preferable to being compelled by you.

2) There's also nothing to stop the creature from teleporting etc. to the nearest Magic Shoppe and picking up a couple of wands of lesser restoration. At 4500 gp each they're not cheap, but they'll fend off the effects of the geas until its duration expires.

3) If it comes to that, there's nothing to stop the creature from teleporting etc. to a safe quiet place and then just gritting its teeth and eating the ability score damage. -12 to all stats is pretty brutal, but the damage can't reduce its stats below 1 or kill it, and the spell only lasts day/level, and after the end of that period it will heal the damage normally. For an immortal outsider that's probably the equivalent of a couple of work days lost to a really nasty flu.

Now, here we may go down the still-unresolved rabbit hole of whether a creature under a geas MAY choose to refuse and eat the ability score damage, or whether it MUST try to comply, only taking the damage if it is prevented from compliance. AFAIK this has never been FAQed or otherwise resolved. Someone asked James Jacobs and he replied, "Perhaps". So it's a more or less official area of doubt and uncertainty!

Speaking for myself, I think geas is pretty OP to begin with. Yes, it has a ten minute casting time, which means it's not a combat spell. But extremely powerful effects + no hit dice limit + no component costs or other limiting factors + ***no saving throw*** = cheese with a side order of extra cheese, IMO. So in the absence of an official ruling, I think the course of wisdom would be to go with the interpretation that makes this spell slightly less fromage-tastic.

Quote:
Sure, it wouldn't necessarily prevent them from murdering you, but you can also put in a backup geas saying "You will not intentionally harm me or [list of allies] until [task] is complete" and "You will report to me, then depart to your home plane when [task] is complete."

It's an open question whether you can lay multiple geases on a single target. The RAW doesn't seem to forbid it, but at high levels it can lead to pretty absurd results, and then of course there's the contradicting-geases problem: I geas you to save the princess, and then geas you a second time to absolutely refrain from saving the princess! Bam, no matter what you do you're going to end up with -12 on all your stats, no save. Even for a sixth level spell that seems a bit much. Again, there's no formal ruling on this AFAIK. I'd say that brings us to the "when in doubt, don't make the cheese cheesier" principle cited above.

Still, let's say okay, sure, you can multi-geas. You'll want to lay at least three geases -- don't hurt me or my friends (gotta do that one first), do this task, and then report-and-depart. That's three slots burned and three rolls to overcome SR, so success at one go is by no means assured. Remember that a called creature gets a chance to break loose from your circle once/day, and has a flat minimum 5% chance of success. So, unless you have Fast Study or are willing to burn a bunch of scrolls, you're running a small but real risk of it busting loose and ruining all your careful preparation.

How this plays out becomes a minigame depending on the intelligence, temperament and resources of the called creature. If you're 15th level and you're calling up a couple of barbed devils to keep an eye on your penthouse while you're out of town I'd say, sure, go for it. If you're calling something right around your own CR? I can think of three or four different ways to make this potentially problematic for a PC (and I'm sure you can too).

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Now, here we may go down the still-unresolved rabbit hole of whether a creature under a geas MAY choose to refuse and eat the ability score damage, or whether it MUST try to comply, only taking the damage if it is prevented from compliance. AFAIK this has never been FAQed or otherwise resolved.
Quote:

The geased creature must follow the given instructions until the geas is completed...

If the subject is prevented from obeying the lesser geas for 24 hours, it takes a -2 penalty to each of its ability scores. Each day, another -2 penalty accumulates, up to a total of -8.

It seems fairly clear to me that the creature must attempt to obey the wording of the geas and it's only if someone else takes it upon themselves to prevent the creature from following the geas that the ability penalties kick in. Where does the other interpretation come from?

Also, it refers to 'penalties' to stats, not attribute damage, so wands of lesser restoration wouldn't help.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Also, it refers to 'penalties' to stats, not attribute damage, so wands of lesser restoration wouldn't help.

From the PFSRD:

The PFSRD wrote:

Ability Score Penalties

Some spells and abilities cause you to take an ability penalty for a limited amount of time. While in effect, these penalties function just like ability damage, but they cannot cause you to fall unconscious or die. In essence, penalties cannot decrease your ability score to less than 1.

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Actually, I'm wondering why people even bother negotiating with outsiders at all when you can simply cast geas/quest on them. There is no save, and since they are going to be stuck in the circle for a while, the 10-minute casting time is not a problem. If you fail to penetrate their spell resistance, just try again.

1) There's nothing to stop the creature from teleporting or plane shifting away and finding a suitably powerful caster with Remove Curse. Yes, it'll have to pay that caster, or owe it a favor, but that's probably preferable to being compelled by you.

2) There's also nothing to stop the creature from teleporting etc. to the nearest Magic Shoppe and picking up a couple of wands of lesser restoration. At 4500 gp each they're not cheap, but they'll fend off the effects of the geas until its duration expires.

3) If it comes to that, there's nothing to stop the creature from teleporting etc. to a safe quiet place and then just gritting its teeth and eating the ability score damage. -12 to all stats is pretty brutal, but the damage can't reduce its stats below 1 or kill it, and the spell only lasts day/level, and after the end of that period it will heal the damage normally. For an immortal outsider that's probably the equivalent of a couple of work days lost to a really nasty flu.

Now, here we may go down the still-unresolved rabbit hole of whether a creature under a geas MAY choose to refuse and eat the ability score damage, or whether it MUST try to comply, only taking the damage if it is prevented from compliance. AFAIK this has never been FAQed or otherwise resolved. Someone asked James Jacobs and he replied, "Perhaps". So it's a more or less official area of doubt and uncertainty!

Speaking for myself, I think geas is pretty OP to begin with. Yes, it has a ten minute casting time, which means it's not a combat spell. But extremely powerful effects + no hit dice limit + no component costs or other limiting factors + ***no saving...

Repeated will saves against spell DC at some period of time to resist the geas for that period?


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I think it requires so many spells because it's thematic/dramatic/cool.

Otherwise, planar binding would either consolidate other spell effects in it (like Magic Circle vs. Alignment does with Protection vs. Alignment), or explicitly states the limitations (does not prevent planar travel, etc.)


Dot.


Wheldrake wrote:
Thelemic_Noun wrote:

I also find it weird that a good-aligned arcane caster that wants long-term aid from an angel has to yank them from the Upper Planes against their will and trap them in a circle smaller than your average solitary confinement cell to do so.

"Haziel the Unbowed, will you protect Lanna's orphanage from the depredations of Belphegor's infernal legions?"
"Yes, I shall. But only because I choose to. You colossal ass."

Ha! That's very funny, and very appropriate. That's exactly what I indend to do, with the True Name arcane exploit. I agree that it leaves something to be desired, but we can only work with what we're given.

As kind of a tangent, the Dresden Files novel Changes has a great take on this very circumstance. The basic thrust of it, though, is that divine casters who use Planar Ally get to use their connection to their god to ask extraplanar allies for help.

Wizards, on the other hand, don't have a convenient pipeline to the Powers That Be, so they have to make due with the tools they have available to them. Sometimes that means risking your life insulting an angel because you need to get something important done, by any means necessary.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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I generally figure the answer to why the angel might not want to defend the orphanage is that they have more important things to do. It's not like the angels are sitting around the upper planes sipping lattes while they watch evil spread across the multiverse.

"Yes, I'll help defend this orphanage as you compel me to do so. But know this, due to my absence from a world you've never heard of, billions will now suffer under the malevolent reign of Crutark the Undying, for I was not there to aid their Chosen One in his hour of need. But this one orphanage is now safe from a threat you could have handled yourself. Well done."


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Calling creatures really should be an occult ritual (which varies from outsider to outsider), but we didn't have occult ritual rules back then.

Geas is a compulsion effect. They have to attempt the task given them. The penalties only apply if some external force prevents them from doing so, not if they simply choose not to do it (they don't have that option).


Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Actually, I'm wondering why people even bother negotiating with outsiders at all when you can simply cast geas/quest on them. There is no save, and since they are going to be stuck in the circle for a while, the 10-minute casting time is not a problem. If you fail to penetrate their spell resistance, just try again. Sure, it wouldn't necessarily prevent them from murdering you, but you can also put in a backup geas saying "You will not intentionally harm me or [list of allies] until [task] is complete" and "You will report to me, then depart to your home plane when [task] is complete."

The problem, at least with one of my current characters, is that the desired task would have no end.

Very little effort on the demon's part, but no ending.

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