Favorite out-of-combat utility abilities?


Advice


What would be everyone's favorite non-combat abilities/classes/spells? I don't mean just "best at rolling skills", but actual neat class features or spells.

Bonus points if they're not prepared-casting spells, for being able to pull them out at a moments notice.

Personally I'm a big fan of Telekinetic Haul, especially once you start spending burn on it. Hard to beat being able to float around things weighing up to 1000 pounds per level. Telekineticist gets a lot of my favorite utility abilities, really.


Basic Telekinesis+Telekinetic Finesse and Telekinetic Haul is the most fun I've had with an out of combat utility. Possibly with Telekinetic Invisibility all masked behind Conceal Spell for true trickstery goodness.


It's a basic one, but prestidigitation is a must on adventures that pass through the sewers to prevent regularly ruining your boots.


I'm a big fan of mage hand, I've had characters use it to cheat at gambling games, to just mess with NPCs (I had a guy that once was playing look out while his buddies were pulling a heist, got bored and used major image and mage hand to convince a couple of unrelated guards from across the street that the house they were guarding was haunted, major imaged up a dude to go over start up some small talk and seemingly walk through the door behind them while it was closed, then the more skittish one got tapped on the shoulder with mage hand, used mage hand to throw a rock down the street, etc.).


I think Authoritative Vestments are cool - expend one use of Channel Energy and they they allow you to make a Diplomacy check as a swift action (instead of one minute) and affect everyone within 60 feet. And they don't take a magic item slot. Great item for diplomatic clerics.


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On my Archivist Bard and on my Paladin, I found plenty of spells and abilities that were brilliant out-of-combat. I'm mostly going to list lower-level stuff, as I enjoy levels 12 and below most.

ABILITIES

Lay-on Hands (Fatigue Mercy) - Keep watch all night without sleeping at all, wear heavy armor the whole time, wave away the penalties in the morning with Lay on Hands. Warning: might develop hallucinations if you do this every night for a month, Mr. Paladin.
Loremaster - Bards take 10 on knowledge skills. Wanna be a mega-nerd? This is the key.
Fascinate - It may not come up often, but in urban campaigns this is a brilliant Bardic ability to have.
Inspire Competence - Bonuses to skills are always good.
Wildshape - It's a veritable toolbox of abilities. Druids are amazing.

FEATS

Unsanctioned Knowledge - Playing a Paladin? Wish you had the cool spells of other divine casters or bards? This feat lets you grab a few, which I recommend should include a solid utility spell or two.
Breadth of Experience - Playing a knowledge monkey? Rolling an elf, dwarf, or gnome? Take this feat and get +2 to all knowledge rolls. Alternatively, worship Irori and take his Deific Obedience instead.
Well-Prepared (Halfling) - Why, yes, I just happened to bring a ball of woolen string. Now we can certainly escape this maze!

SPELLS

Prestidigitation - When cleaning yourself is too much effort, when you need more time for killing and less time for cooking, bring this cantrip. It's got a ton of uses, not least of all making that giant centipede you're eating taste good. Speaking of the giant centipede...
Purify Food and Drink - Best cantrip ever. Out of rations? Just killed a super poisonous monster? Purify it and eat it! Found a rotting foot? Purify it and eat it! Oh, and definitely spice it up with a cast of Prestidigitation; it's all the craze in the cooking world lazy adventurer world. (My party nuked a crab swarm with alchemical fire and nasty magic and just stuff you'd never eat - and then I used my Racial SLA to purify it. Demz good eatz!)
Detect Magic - Your wizard better have it up any time you're walking through new rooms.
Spark - Another amazing cantrip. Setting things on fire has never been easier!
Heroism - It's not just a great combat spell, but a great bonus to everything you do. +2 to all skill checks and saves for 10 min/level makes this a very nifty boon.
Self-Only Polymorph Spells in General - Very handy. Turning into an animal can be a great disguise, or a means of escaping danger; turning into an air elemental for cheap flight is pretty cool; turning into an undead creature doesn't give undead immunities, but later levels of Undead Anatomy get pretty close; and in general I consider polymorph spells to be a brilliant toolbox. Bonus points if you're a Brown Fur Transmuter who turns the party fighter into whatever form is best.
Glibness - +20 to bluff? As a 2nd level spell? Sure!
Honeyed Tongue - Better diplomacy is always good.
Aspect of the Nightingale - Ditto.
Disguise Self - Appearing as someone else is always good when you're a wanted gnome.
Touch of the Sea - In games with lots of watery situations, this is a must have.
Invisibility - Always a great thing to have.
Obscuring Mist - Assuming your party is on the same page as you, this can be useful for making escapes, or for forcing enemy archers to come to you, or for stopping enemy archers from helping their buddies locked in melee combat... Etc. Admittedly, this isn't an out-of-combat spell to me, but it's definitely what I'd consider a utility spell. You COULD fill a room with fog, too.
Darkness - See above. Darkvision functions in it.
Greater Darkness - See above, and Darkvision doesn't work in it if I recall correctly.
Summon Monster Spells - In general, these are handy, especially if the summons are intelligent. You can have a monster go scout the next several rooms ahead, or have a monster kick a dungeon door in for you, or use a monster as a trap detection device (many ponies died via a wand of Summon Monster I in a trap-heavy dungeon I played in). They can also make great distractions: "WHAT'S A BEAR DOING IN THE STREETS" "CATCH IT, MEN, BEFORE IT RAVAGES THE TOWNSFOLK"

MAGIC ITEMS

Hat of Disguise - Appearing as someone else is always good when you're a wanted gnome.
Traveler's Any-Tool - Now you don't need to carry a dozen different tools!
Handy Haversack - Good for storing the sheet you jacked.
Pearls of Power - Great when you need spell slots back on a sorcerer or bard and you actually have utility spells known.
Horn of Fog - Okay, this may not seem that useful at first, but it actually has several uses. For one, note that the cloud will continue traveling unless blocked by something substantial - so it will visibly pass through illusions. Since it acts as Obscuring Mist, it can be blown toward pursuers in a hallway so they can't see what you're doing through the mist (such as casting an illusion that LOOKS like you). You can probably imagine other uses - it's not something I'd actively buy, normally, but I'd keep it for several levels if I happened to find it at a low level.

MUNDANE ITEMS

Flint + Tinder - Fire. Fire? FIRE!
Bullseye Lantern - Great for seeing your enemy when you're standing at the front of the party without revealing your party to your enemy. Also great for sticking two of them on your horse's head. Headlights, yo.
Rope - Just bring it. Rope gets used for everything. Grappling hooks might be useful, too.
Dagger - Also just bring it. Cut things, skin animals, have a backup weapon when everything goes to Hell... Just bring it.
Chalk - F+@&ing bring it. Make maps on the floor and leave marks on walls and such. Also, play tic-tac-toe in-character when bored.
Charcoal - See above. F#~*ING BRING IT.
String - I SAID F#&+ING BRING IT! String has tons of uses. I used it in an Emerald Spire campaign along with bells to make a makeshift alarm at the door whenever we camped in the dungeon.
Marbles - Situational, but great for making a "trap" when resting, or for making your escape a bit easier. Mix them with...
Caltrops - Because while DC10 reflex is fun at low levels, it's better when dumped in a pile with caltrops, too.
Smokesticks - Uh-oh! We're in a ten foot or five foot wide hallway and an archer has us pinned! Smokestick, bam, easy escape at low levels. Similarly, consider the Horn of Fog. Smokesticks have the added benefit of being handy signals in the wilderness: follow the smoky trail to get back to your ally.
Animals: Always useful to bring a pack mule or a guard dog or a combat-trained dire rat or a cow to detect traps for you by walking on them.
Hirelings: Always useful to bring a pack mule or a wilderness guide or a sacrificial lamb peasant trap detector valued ally.
Soap: What are you, a barbarian? Bring soap. Oh, right, you're an adventurer. Cast Prestidigitation instead.


Thats a very useful list!


Thanks. It's not comprehensive, note, but it should give you a place to start from.


Also, I goofed when I said Pearl of Power. Yes, those are useful, but those are for prepared casters. There's an equivalent for spontaneous casters - I just can't remember the name.

EDIT: Also, in general, Bards are the masters of utility. Tons of skills via Versatile Performance, lots of useful spells, bardic abilities like Fascinate and Suggestion and Inspire Courage, buffs of all sorts... If you want class abilities that encourage utility, look at Bard.

Also: Aid Another is an action everyone should be willing to use to boost important skill checks.


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Feather fall. It's not just for emergencies, it's for dropping silently into a castle from an airship.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
avr wrote:
Feather fall. It's not just for emergencies, it's for dropping silently into a castle from an airship.

Also useful for arresting the momentum of siege catapult stones, and the occasional giant tossing rocks.


Spell Sunder.


The Occultist has so many focus powers.

Divination implement gives Future Gaze (standard action Augury with no expensive material component), Mind Eye gives you an invisible 60' perfect flight spy that can travel up to a mile away and lasts minute/level, Object Seer is a plot device solving Commune question that can be applied to any items you come across.

Illusion gives Masquerade for a boost to disguise checks of 10+CL renewable 10 min/level duration and you can switch who you're imitating during the duration. But the greatest (also in combat) is Shadow Beast, a standard action cheap Summon Monster V that scales as you level up to SM IX. Fail your saves and accept the benefits of whatever SLAs you need out of combat.

Necromancy provides Psychic Curse, which can make someone forget the last hours/CL for days/CL. It also has Soulbound Puppet, a summonable 10 min/level familiar that can be customized to any type of creature and you can swap your familiar archetype every time you summon it. Need a Sage? Make one. A Valet or Infiltrator? Same. Something to break the monotony of the Mauler/Protector in combat.

Transmutation has a couple useable as utility, but they mostly imitate run of the mill spells, nothing really special.


i use hide in plain sight ALL the time.
(ranger X \ shadow dancer 1).
i stalk people. i listen . i burgle in and out.


A couple more neat-o things:

SPELLS

Shadow Conjuration - This is one of those amazing "I cast whatever I want" spells. Sure, it's only 20% real, but you can cast things on the fly, or cast spells you normally don't have access to at all (as a Bard, say). Great spell.
Shadow Evocation - See above, though this is largely used in-combat because it's evocation.
Shadow Enchantment - See above...
Shadow Transmutation - See above. And note, all these Shadow spells have Greater versions available at higher levels. Fun spells, and they're great for illusion specialists!
Recharge Innate Magic - Okay, this is a fun 1st level druid spell that needs some explaining. You can cast this spell to recharge all your Racial SLAs. Now, certain core races will find this useless (no SLAs), but others can take a bunch of cool ones. For instance: as a gnome, you could have Fey Magic and Faerie Dragon Magic at the same time, and use a mish-mash of great SLAs, so you're already able to cast several spells a second time because you used this first level spell. But if your GM is either really lenient or super into RAW interpretations, you could take Fey Magic (on multiple races, note) and then choose your 1st level druid SLA to be Recharge Innate Magic. Suddenly, you have an infinite loop of rechargeable spells - though obviously this has limited uses, and you're not going to have much better than 1st level spells, but it's cool. (Although, a Gnome with Faerie Dragon Magic and Fey Magic could have infinite casts of Silent Image and Grease this way, so that's actually pretty good.)

ABILITIES

I'm going to try to avoid listing ones others have already noted, but...

Camouflage - Similarly to Hide in Plain Sight, this helps rangers immensely. If you have this ability AND HiPS, you can hide while being observed with no cover whatsoever (in your favored terrain). Neat-o.
Rogue's Edge - Skill unlocks are great. Free skill unlocks are better. You can do some neat stuff, and it's not just "I roll better." It's "I do things with a given skill I normally couldn't do otherwise," in some cases.
Pageant of the Peacock - One of the more fascinating Bardic masterpieces, this lets you spend Bardic performance to use Bluff in place of any Intelligence-based skill. Spellcraft, Knowledge, Appraise, Linguistics - just fake it 'til you make it! It lasts 10 minutes per round of performance used, and grants a +4 circumstance bonus to the bluff checks you make in that time. With enough investment in the skill (a skill-boosting item, Skill Focus (Bluff), Deceitful) you could actually make a pretty impressive skill setup using just one skill.

ITEMS

Sleeves of Many Garments - Kind of a poor man's Hat of Disguise. Still handy - changing your clothes on the fly for 100g isn't bad. You can fancy yourself up for a noble's ball in one instance ("Just add jewelry!"), then be wearing an off-duty guard uniform the next.

Grand Lodge

One of my absolute favorites is a Kitsune with the Fast Shifter alternate racial trait and the Realistic Likeness feat. (Works best on a character with good social skills.)

Walk around a corner and turn into anyone you have ever met before.

Pair it with a Hat of Disguise, Sleeves of Many Garments, and some ranks of Bluff and you can impersonate anyone...

It can straight up break a game if you abuse it.


Recently looked into Psychic Sensitivity respectively Occult Skill Unlocks.

Decent stuff for one feat, if you want to play a high level Gypsy style character (some of those DCs are awefully high). I like it especially on a Psychometrist Vigilante that usually does not cast, but can pump their skills up nicely with Social Grace and thus gains a lot of Utility.

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