Geas + Cunning Caster


Advice


Geas + Cunning Caster = cheese.

Geas is pretty OP to begin with, if not outright broken. It's a sixth level curse / compulsion that can make a target do or abstain from doing almost anything. It has no HD limit, no expensive components, and ***no saving throw***. Depending on how tightly you interpret it (it's vaguely written and not in the FAQ), it's either kinda OP or potentially game-breaking.

The only thing that limits it is its casting time: 10 minutes. (Okay, its casting time and the fact that it's language-dependent. At 11th level or higher that's unlikely to be a serious problem.) This prevents it from being a combat spell, and mostly restricts it to situations where the target is a captive or otherwise unable to flee.

But! Cunning Caster lets you get around that.

Now, CC is one of my favorite feats -- it's useful, plugs an important hole in the game system, and is mostly balanced. But in this case, it combines with a bad spell to make it even worse. The Bluff penalty on Geas is a feeble -4 (verbal only), or at most -8 (if the geas will cause an immediate and obvious effect on the target). An 11th level wizard who has thrown a trait at Bluff will get (+1 trait +4 Deceitful +3 class +11 ranks) +19, and that's before adding Cha bonuses, items, or buffs. With a very modest investment in spells and items, the wizard should have no trouble getting his Bluff up around +25 or so. Unless the target is a high-level Perception monkey, the wizard's casting is very unlikely to be detected.

So, ten minutes of casual conversation --> NPC is zapped with a geas. And since geases do not allow saving throws, cost nothing, and last days/level, you can spam them until pretty much everyone in town with a Perception under +10 is walking around doing your bidding without anyone ever having any clear idea just what happened.

I think this can be easily house-ruled away by saying that Cunning Caster only applies to spells with a casting time of less than 1 minute. I mean, it's not going to apply to Planar Binding, right? Ten minutes of chanting, weird circles drawn on the ground, knife raised over the sacrifice... "Oh, it's this cool new party game" no I don't think so. But: that would be a house rule. Under strict RAW, there's no time limit, so you can apply CC to any spell. And that means that with a very little bit of effort, you can geas people all day long.

Am I missing something?

Doug M.


I mean, even without Cunning Caster, you could always just cast geas on someone while they're sleeping, right?

Silver Crusade

Avoron wrote:
I mean, even without Cunning Caster, you could always just cast geas on someone while they're sleeping, right?

Seeing as the spell is language dependent the person your geasing probably needs to be awake for it to take effect.

EDIT: yep.

Language-Dependent wrote:
A language-dependent spell uses intelligible language as a medium for communication. If the target cannot understand or hear what the caster of a language-dependent spell says, the spell has no effect, even if the target fails its saving throw.


Yeah, they have to be awake.

Doug M.

Silver Crusade

As for the OP, I guess it would depend if you're allowed a verbal break in the casting such as if you're having a conversation with you and the other person talking. Otherwise I don't think someone is going stand there and let you monologue at them for 10 whole minutes lol

Giving a speech to standing crowd however...


Rysky wrote:
I don't think someone is going stand there and let you monologue at them for 10 whole minutes

The spell has a range of "close". So if the target starts walking away, just walk after them.

Silver Crusade

VRMH wrote:
Rysky wrote:
I don't think someone is going stand there and let you monologue at them for 10 whole minutes
The spell has a range of "close". So if the target starts walking away, just walk after them.

Then they're just gonna hit ya and the spell fails.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Cunning caster doesn't say you have to take actions to mask your spellcasting (there are other feats and abilities that do that, such as Conceal Spell, Improved Conceal Spell, or Subtle Enchantments), it merely suppresses any outward signs that you are casting the spell. You could sit quietly at a bar, drink your ale, and geas the waitress with Cunning Caster.

Here is a thread that goes over the differences in these abilities in detail. Pay especially close attention to post #52.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

Yeah, they have to be awake.

Doug M.

Not necessarily. They just need to be able to understand you. Spells like dream or nightmare might make communication possible even while they are asleep.

Silver Crusade

Ravingdork wrote:

Cunning caster doesn't say you have to take actions to mask your spellcasting (there are other feats and abilities that do that, such as Conceal Spell, Improved Conceal Spell, or Subtle Enchantments), it merely suppresses any outward signs that you are casting the spell. You could sit quietly at a bar, drink your ale, and geas the waitress with Cunning Caster.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

Yeah, they have to be awake.

Doug M.

Not necessarily. They just need to be able to understand you. Spells like dream or nightmare might make communication possible even while they are asleep.

Dream and nightmare specifically are about affecting people when they're sleep. Otherwise if you're asleep, you can't understand anyone.

And Cunning Caster doesn't remove the Language Dependent part of the spell. So sitting quietly at the bar won't work, you actually have to communicate with the person you're trying to Geas.


Rysky wrote:
you actually have to communicate with the person you're trying to Geas.

Communicate at the person. There's a difference. ;)

Silver Crusade

VRMH wrote:
Rysky wrote:
you actually have to communicate with the person you're trying to Geas.
Communicate at the person. There's a difference. ;)

Language dependent.

The person has to hear and understand you. You talking about me across the room with me none the wiser would not trigger geas.


I usually have the evil imagination to think of every possible abuse. This seems like a major over-investment in a very situationally specific ability...

...a wizard is going to specialize in bluffing for 11 levels, spend two of their precious limited feats, blow a trait (or two) and 11 skill points, so they can find someone with a low Perception check who will stand still and be talked at for 10 minutes straight so they can make them do stuff or waste away--and this person will somehow be worth the effort?

Alternatively, you subdue them and shackle them up and then cast geas.

I can't really think of a situation I've ever seen where this particular chain of feats and skill points this wouldn't be a Rube Goldbergian method of accomplishing your goals. Who exactly is going to be (a) powerful enough to do interesting stuff for the PC and (b) simultaneously willing to be droned at for 10 minutes without interruption while (c) having an abysmal Perception check?

I mean, I guess if you were an evil vizier who had the ear of a king and 11 levels of wizard... nah, even then, you could just convince the monarch to do stuff via Diplomacy or Bluff.

Not to mention: "If the instructions involve some open-ended task that the recipient cannot complete through his own actions, the spell remains in effect for a maximum of 1 day per caster level. A clever recipient can subvert some instructions."

So if you're trying to bind someone to your will, you have to get them to listen to you for 10 minutes straight... but if they're already that well disposed to you...


Not to mention, what is the difference between a target's likely Will save against dominate person or dominate monster cast by a dedicated enchanter, and likely Perception against a dedicated Bluffer? Probably some, sure, but enough to justify dedicating your build to this one trick?

"Overpowered" seems a bit overstating the case.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
And Cunning Caster doesn't remove the Language Dependent part of the spell. So sitting quietly at the bar won't work, you actually have to communicate with the person you're trying to Geas.

I can easily see it argued both ways. One might argue that Cunning Caster removes ALL outward components of the spell, including speaking/communicating. Cunning Caster is quite clear in that it conceals the spell, and the spell still functions.

How that is specifically accomplished with in-game flavor is wholly up to the players and GM to decide I suppose.

I could also see your point being made, and with the limited information provided in the rules on the matter, it would be just as valid an interpretation.

However, it's not like it's overpowered to allow this particular combo or anything. It takes so much investment, poses so much risk already, and has a number of better alternative options (as described by others above), that there really is no reason not to go with the favorable interpretation of the rule in this case.

Just my 2 copper.

Silver Crusade

Cunning Castor deals with components, not the actual makeup of the spell.

You can't use Silent Spell metamagic on Language Dependent spells, can't do the same with Cunning Castor.

Language-Dependent wrote:
A language-dependent spell uses intelligible language as a medium for communication. If the target cannot understand or hear what the caster of a language-dependent spell says, the spell has no effect, even if the target fails its saving throw.

And removing the need to communicate with the target and simple hang around them in order to geas them, no save, IS overpowered.

Silver Crusade

quibblemuch wrote:

Not to mention, what is the difference between a target's likely Will save against dominate person or dominate monster cast by a dedicated enchanter, and likely Perception against a dedicated Bluffer? Probably some, sure, but enough to justify dedicating your build to this one trick?

"Overpowered" seems a bit overstating the case.

Geas doesn't allow a save.


Rysky wrote:
quibblemuch wrote:

Not to mention, what is the difference between a target's likely Will save against dominate person or dominate monster cast by a dedicated enchanter, and likely Perception against a dedicated Bluffer? Probably some, sure, but enough to justify dedicating your build to this one trick?

"Overpowered" seems a bit overstating the case.

Geas doesn't allow a save.

I know.

My point was to compare the Will save of just dominating the target vs. the Perception check (and feat/skill/situational cost) against a cunningly cast geas (those being rolls a target of the respective spells would get to make). It's going to vary significantly, of course, but the argument is that cunningly cast geas isn't overpowered by not allowing a save, simply because it is so situationally dependent.

There is a tendency to think only of the best possible outcome for a PC when assessing power levels--but the likelihood of that outcome needs to also be considered.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rysky wrote:

Cunning Castor deals with components, not the actual makeup of the spell.

You can't use Silent Spell metamagic on Language Dependent spells, can't do the same with Cunning Castor.

Language-Dependent wrote:
A language-dependent spell uses intelligible language as a medium for communication. If the target cannot understand or hear what the caster of a language-dependent spell says, the spell has no effect, even if the target fails its saving throw.
And removing the need to communicate with the target and simple hang around them in order to geas them, no save, IS overpowered.

You've proven that they have to be able to understand and hear you, not that you necessarily have to communicate anything DURING the casting of the spell.

This would not work with Cunning Caster if you both spoke different languages, true. However, if you do speak the same language and can make yourself heard, then you qualify for your little rule, and it should work, even if you don't happen to talk during the casting of the spell.

There's simply nothing preventing you from communicating your desires after you've cast the spell. I could even argue that you CAN'T talk while casting the spell, since you are (usually) too busy with the verbal components of the spell. Just like how you can't (usually) use your hand to make an attack with a weapon if it is being use to fulfill the somatic component of a spell.

Silver Crusade

Ravingdork wrote:
Rysky wrote:

Cunning Castor deals with components, not the actual makeup of the spell.

You can't use Silent Spell metamagic on Language Dependent spells, can't do the same with Cunning Castor.

Language-Dependent wrote:
A language-dependent spell uses intelligible language as a medium for communication. If the target cannot understand or hear what the caster of a language-dependent spell says, the spell has no effect, even if the target fails its saving throw.
And removing the need to communicate with the target and simple hang around them in order to geas them, no save, IS overpowered.

You've proven that they have to be able to understand and hear you, not that you necessarily have to communicate anything DURING the casting of the spell.

This would not work with Cunning Caster if you both spoke different languages, true. However, if you do speak the same language and can make yourself heard, then you qualify for your little rule, and it should work, even if you don't happen to talk.

There's simply nothing preventing you from communicating your desires after you've cast the spell.

How you are you communicating and casting geas without talking?

It's not "my little rule", it's a part of being a Language Dependent Spell.

You have to communicate as part of the spell, just because we both speak common and I'm not deaf doesn't mean you can sit silently nearby and have the spell go off.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
How you are you communicating and casting geas without talking?

You discreetly cast geas, then when you're done with casting and it has taken hold, then you communicate your desires, after the fact.

The requirement is that they are able to understand and hear you, not that they ARE understanding and hearing you at the moment of casting.

I cast suggestion, it takes hold, then I make my suggestion. I cast geas, it takes hold, then I stipulate the conditions.

If I am unable to communicate my desires, the spell fails (since without instruction, they would just act normally).

I have edited my above post for clarity.

Rysky wrote:
You have to communicate as part of the spell, just because we both speak common and I'm not deaf doesn't mean you can sit silently nearby and have the spell go off.

Perhaps, but no one has proven that. I've already offered a few thinking points that may well refute that interpretation (see my above posts).


Well, you don't even pick a target until the end of the casting time. So it seems like you could just stand there innocuously for ten minutes mumbling to yourself while you cast the spell, then pick a target within range to talk to at the end of that period to fulfill the requirements of the language-dependent descriptor.

Silver Crusade

Avoron wrote:
Well, you don't even pick a target until the end of the casting time. So it seems like you could just stand there innocuously for ten minutes mumbling to yourself while you cast the spell, then pick a target within range to talk to at the end of that period to fulfill the requirements of the language-dependent descriptor.

Where does it say anywhere that you can cast the spell and then pick the target?


quibblemuch wrote:
I usually have the evil imagination to think of every possible abuse. This seems like a major over-investment in a very situationally specific ability...

I would disagree. Bluff is useful to everyone, always. And Cunning Caster is a good-to-excellent feat that has proven quite popular; judging from these boards, it's being used regularly by both players and GMs. Being able to disguise the fact that you're casting something is really solid. CC goes particularly well with illusion and enchantment specialists, and of course it's better for Cha-based casters, but it's a worthwhile feat for pretty much everyone.

Quote:
...a wizard is going to specialize in bluffing for 11 levels, spend two of their precious limited feats, blow a trait (or two) and 11 skill points, so they can find someone with a low Perception

Throwing one of your seven or eight ranks/level at Bluff is not exactly "specializing in Bluffing". And, really, what else are you going to throw skill ranks at? Once you've maxed out Spellcraft, Arcana, and maybe Perception, most wizards just spray skills at Knowledges. Throwing two feats is about the only thing that matters here. And while that's no small thing, neither is being able to cast, right out in the open, without anyone realizing you're casting. That's just huge.

Someone with a low Perception: no, anyone with a perception under +15 or so is vulnerable to this. (That's at 11th level. It'll get much worse as you level up.) That's pretty much everyone except the occasional rare Perception monkey. Said occasional monkey may roll well and notice that you're casting, but then they probably won't have Spellcraft and so won't have any idea what you're actually trying to do.

Quote:
check who will stand still and be talked at for 10 minutes straight so they can make them do stuff or waste away--and this person will somehow be worth the effort?

In an urban or social campaign? Hell yes. Try playing through CotCT or Hell's Rebels or Hell's Vengeance with this. You'll be able to geas pretty much every NPC in the last couple of modules. "Get someone to chat with you for ten minutes" is not a very high bar.

Doug M.

Silver Crusade

Ravingdork wrote:
Rysky wrote:
How you are you communicating and casting geas without talking?

You discreetly cast geas, then when you're done with casting and it has taken hold, then you communicate your desires, after the fact.

The requirement is that they are able to understand and hear you, not that they ARE understanding and hearing you at the moment of casting.

I cast suggestion, it takes hold, then I make my suggestion. I cast geas, it takes hold, then I stipulate the conditions.

If I am unable to communicate my desires, the spell fails (since without instruction, they would just act normally).

I have edited my above post for clarity.

That's nonsense.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Avoron wrote:
Well, you don't even pick a target until the end of the casting time. So it seems like you could just stand there innocuously for ten minutes mumbling to yourself while you cast the spell, then pick a target within range to talk to at the end of that period to fulfill the requirements of the language-dependent descriptor.
Where does it say anywhere that you can cast the spell and then pick the target?

It's the last paragraph under Casting Time in the Magic chapter.

You make all pertinent decisions about a spell (range, target, area, effect, version, and so forth) when the spell comes into effect.

This further supports the points I made above, since the spell cannot come into effect until after you conclude casting. The desires that you choose to communicate to your victim are among the decisions you make after having cast the spell.

Rysky wrote:
That's nonsense.

You're welcome to think that if you wish, but if you are not going to agree, or refute my stance with evidence, rules quotes, or any sort of logical dialogue, than I see no point in continuing debating the matter with you.

Silver Crusade

*reads said paragraph*

Wow, that's actually f~#*ed up when applied to spells with longer casting times.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Figuring out how this spell interacts with other things involved a lot of... geaswork.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
*many good points*

I agree--building a Bluff-focused wizard is not a waste of time. I do think that if your only goal is this cunningly cast geas trick, it's overkill. There are, as you point out, plenty of other interesting things such a character can do, however. And I wasn't suggesting that Cunning Caster was a poor choice either--on the contrary, it's nice to see an option that removes the short shrift illusion/enchantment casters get by the "everyone knows you're casting when you cast" rule.

That said, I am running Hell's Rebels. I can't think of a single point in either where it would BREAK the campaign if the party managed somehow to get this feat/spell combination to work. They would just get an NPC to do something for them. They're pretty good at that already.

My point isn't that the tactic won't work. I think it can work and I think if it did work it would be a good solution to the problem of making someone do something for you. My point is just that "overpowered" or "game-breaking" are a bit hyperbolic when describing it.

It's no more difficult, I suspect, than subduing and binding the prospective target so you can geas them at your leisure without a Bluff check. And probably a little more difficult than some of the other ways of getting someone to do stuff for you. And a little less difficult than others.


QuidEst wrote:
Figuring out how this spell interacts with other things involved a lot of... geaswork.

*table slips from stunned grasp*


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
...You'll be able to geas pretty much every NPC in the last couple of modules. "Get someone to chat with you for ten minutes" is not a very high bar.

I'm pretty sure it's not just "chatting." Chatting involves give and take, it involves pausing to let the other person talk. The way I interpret the description of the feat and geas (which is V component only), you'd have to be continuously talking for 10 minutes, while the other person didn't wander off. There aren't many people in Hell's Rebels who are willing to let you do that. Heck,

Spoiler:
Even at the big party scene, how many times at a large social gathering do you get to talk continuously at one person for ten whole minutes? Nobles have people whose whole job it is to rescue them from such tedious social encounters... not to mention everyone in the room would get a Perception check and you bet some of those people would realize what you were up to.

EDIT: Thinking about it, this raises an interesting question. How could you move around, if the target started to walk away? Doesn't a 10 minute casting time preclude any movement (except maybe a 5-foot-step)? So your geas can be thwarted by the person deciding to go use the loo and you losing line of effect.

EDIT 2: I guess you pick the target at the end, so that might not happen. But they could wander off and not come back, leaving you stuck geasing a nearby peasant...


This begs the question: How does a 10 minute casting time interact with Concentration?

If any of the listed effects are there, of course, you have to make a LOT of concentration checks. But are there other situations (e.g., being in a loud, crowded tavern or constantly having the other person try to speak while you're going on and on) that could conceivably require such a check.

Thoughts?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

When casting a long duration spell, you need to spend a full round action each round for the full length of the casting. That means you could at least move 5 feet each round. Not going to help much if they are actively trying to escape from you, but it might be enough in a contained party atmosphere or something. The fact that they only need to be in range at the completion of the casting also helps.

Concentration checks would likely be unnecessary unless you got severely jostled or something. The Magic chapter is fairly clear on what it takes to force a Concentration check.


That's the list I was referring to in my post, yes.

What I do not know, and what is probably subject to table variation, is whether that list is an exclusive and complete set of conditions that force a Concentration check.

Also, wouldn't the target potentially have to make a Perception check to hear your instructions at the end of casting, if it were a loud room?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I imagine the scene of a person discreetly using dominate person, geas, or mass suggestion with Cunning Caster or the like would end up looking very much like Killgrave from Jessica Jones (though possibly with the longer casting time beforehand; spoiler warning on the clip).

An understandably terrifying prospect for some.

quibblemuch wrote:

That's the list I was referring to in my post, yes.

What I do not know, and what is probably subject to table variation, is whether that list is an exclusive and complete set of conditions that force a Concentration check.

Also, wouldn't the target potentially have to make a Perception check to hear your instructions at the end of casting, if it were a loud room?

It is unclear if the list is exhaustive. I suppose that's up to the players and GM to decide on. I suspect that it isn't exhaustive, but I would be wary about making concentration too delicate a thing.

Perception check at the end of the casting in certain situations would be entirely up to the GM (as are nearly all such situations involving calls for Perception).


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


The only thing that limits it is its casting time: 10 minutes.

I'm going to cite Anzyr as a reference for this one, as one of his replies to a different thread brought this fact up. I forget what specific reply, but this was his point.

Geas *CAN* be a combat spell.

Limited Wish.

D20PFSRD wrote:


Casting Time 1 standard action

DESCRIPTION
A limited wish lets you create nearly any type of effect. For example, a limited wish can do any of the following things.

Duplicate any sorcerer/wizard spell of 6th level or lower, provided the spell does not belong to one of your opposition schools.

So...yea.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

However, using limited with to sub for geas adds an additional cost to make up for it, so it's still balanced in my book.


Ravingdork wrote:
However, using limited with to sub for geas adds an additional cost to make up for it, so it's still balanced in my book.

Only 1k diamond dust though. If the dust and/or funds are limited then that's one restraint, but are there other 7th level spells with Save:No that's comparable?

That being said, it's not valuable for THAT fight....more of a hit and run tactic I guess.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is a terrible idea for a player character, but I now have an idea for a legendarily effective bureaucrat NPC. Literally no one in the land is better at delegating.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Huh. I thought it was 2,500gp.

*looks it up*

It's 1,500gp.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
quibblemuch wrote:
And that's why there are no longer any diamonds worth exactly 1,500 gp in the world today.

In addition to putting max ranks in bluff, the wizard in question will also need to take max ranks in Profession: Lapidary so that they can take diamonds and cut them until they are worth exactly 1500 gp.


I bet there are strict gem laws. All diamonds must be worth no more than 1,499 gp or no less than 1,501 gp. And black onyxes must never be worth a multiple of 50...


I find myself disagreeing on this. Don't look at the exact technical words, but rather the intent.

It takes 10 minutes, the target has to be able to understand you. That says to me that you're communicating with them during that casting time. I would say that it's obvious to the target that you are trying to compel something of them.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

According to the random treasure tables of Ultimate Equipment, diamonds worth 25,000gp for wish spells simply don't exist. ;)


It's not as if cunning caster would be useless for the first 10 levels of a wizards career. Sneaky spells are still useful at lower levels.

I wonder how many perception checks you'd get to recognise that someone was casting a spell over 10 minutes? Would people around effectively be able to take 20 on those checks?


Ravingdork wrote:
According to the random treasure tables of Ultimate Equipment, diamonds worth 25,000gp for wish spells simply don't exist. ;)

Well, you see, the only way to get a 25,000 gp diamond is to cast a wish spell to ask that prior to the casting of the spell, you were the possessor of a diamond worth 25,000 gp...

...the past subjunctive is really a key part of wish.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
avr wrote:

It's not as if cunning caster would be useless for the first 10 levels of a wizards career. Sneaky spells are still useful at lower levels.

I wonder how many perception checks you'd get to recognise that someone was casting a spell over 10 minutes? Would people around effectively be able to take 20 on those checks?

Stage Show Magician: Stare all you want ladies and gentlemen, but I assure you fine people, there is no magic here; simply feats of engineering and parlor tricks!


avr wrote:
I wonder how many perception checks you'd get to recognise that someone was casting a spell over 10 minutes? Would people around effectively be able to take 20 on those checks?

Under RAW, no. It's a single Bluff vs. Perception, no matter how long the casting takes. And yes, I agree, that gets kind of weird when we're talking about ten minute casting times, but that's RAW.

Note that combining this with the "pick your target on the final round" rule makes it way more powerful. You stroll around the party for ten minutes murmuring to yourself, and then in the last 15 seconds you walk across the room to where the Prince is standing...

Doug M.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Geas + Cunning Caster All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.