So how bad is a low will save?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I have this idea for a brawler (snakebite striker)/VMC rogue with the snake style feats, the greater weapon spec. line, pin down, shadow strike and greater feint. This uses up the feats. For traits, I would take criminal, bullied and martial manuscript (and the meticulous drawback). This is just to set the stage for saying I have used up all the feats and traits.

Why is this relevant? Well, it means I have no space to improve my bad will save with feats and traits (without changing the character concept such that I would no longer want to play the character). And unlike the rogue or the monk or even the fighter, there are no class abilities that help with the will save or aspects of it (like a second chance vs. enchantments, or a bonus vs. fear spells).

So I would be joining a party with a bad will save progression. How bad is this? I know that I could be more easily charmed, frightened, held, fooled by illusions, etc. Can the party find ways around this? Should my character not be played?


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There’s this proverb I’ve heard used on these boards before. It goes like this:

“A failed Reflex save hurts you.
A failed Fortitude save kills you.
A failed Will save kills your party.”


It depends on the type of campaign, but it probably isn't unworkable, unless the campaign focus is taking out enchanters and illusionists. Though I would definitely work in items to boost your will save if possible. If the party has someone able to cast magic circle v. evil you might get a 3rd level Pearl of Power to convince them to cast it on you, which fixes a lot of the most dangerous will save problems (kill your party effects). Or buy a wand of protection from evil for the same effect. Similarly a wand of remove fear/1st level pearl pof power could be valuable to defend against being frightened. And of course, invest in a cloak of resistance. If race isn't tied to your character, Half-Elf with Dual Mind gives another +2, though I'm guessing you want to be human instead for feats.

As a side note, you might look into the Venomfist brawler archetype (Ult Wilderness). It won't help your will save, but stacks with Snakebite Striker and seems to fit the snake motif.


Ventnor wrote:

There’s this proverb I’ve heard used on these boards before. It goes like this:

“A failed Reflex save hurts you.
A failed Fortitude save kills you.
A failed Will save kills your party.”

And to add to that thought, the proverb gets more true the higher level you reach. On the other hand, if your party knows about the problem, there are ways to compensate. For example, all protection from <alignment> spells make you immune to mind control for the duration, and can potentially suppress existing ones. There are other spells that can help depending on what spells are involved.


It's pretty bad. Pretty much, any spellcaster who wants to turn you into a puppet has free reign to do so. Not to mention a number of monsters who target the mind.


Paradozen wrote:

It depends on the type of campaign, but it probably isn't unworkable, unless the campaign focus is taking out enchanters and illusionists. Though I would definitely work in items to boost your will save if possible. If the party has someone able to cast magic circle v. evil you might get a 3rd level Pearl of Power to convince them to cast it on you, which fixes a lot of the most dangerous will save problems (kill your party effects). Or buy a wand of protection from evil for the same effect. Similarly a wand of remove fear/1st level pearl pof power could be valuable to defend against being frightened. And of course, invest in a cloak of resistance. If race isn't tied to your character, Half-Elf with Dual Mind gives another +2, though I'm guessing you want to be human instead for feats.

This is good advice. Magic Circle vs. Evil is likely to be your main defence, but don't just leave it to the party spellcasters. Do what you can to facilitate matters, by e.g. buying pearls of power.

If the other players don't think you're doing anything about your will save they may hang you out to dry when you do get dominated. The last time a dominated PC tried to kill me I stunned him with Waves of Ecstacy. Unfortunately for him the BBEG had cast Polar Midnight and he found himself encased in ice and unable to breathe.


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Depends on how often you want to sit out the action because you got charmed, hold person'd, feared, confused, mazed, etc.


Playing with a high will save is not a must.


A pretty big weakness lots of monster effects are based on will and like things like horrific appeance or confusion.


First few levels a low will save is survivable. You'll want to invest into a cape of free will ASAP though. Other sources to boost saving throws are good, such as a luck stone, lucky horseshoe, four-leaf clover, etc.


I normally use Deathtouched trait if my Will save is bad. Myself, I'd be tempted to replace criminal with Deathtouched. Better someone gets away from you than YOU get dominated and start smacking down your party.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
bishop083 wrote:
For example, all protection from <alignment> spells make you immune to mind control for the duration, and can potentially suppress existing ones.

This isn't true, it only protects you from spells cast by spellcasters with a matching alignment. Against a non-evil spellcaster, protection from evil is completely useless. This is a common misunderstanding, because it did work that way in 3.5 but got changed in Pathfinder to be more restricted.

Protection from Evil is still a great spell because most games fall into a good-vs-evil narrative. However, if you can't make presumptions about the alignment of your enemies it's rather unreliable. I'm currently running some houserules that make true neutral a significantly more common alignment, and my experience has been the protection from <alignment> spells are pretty niche in such circumstances.

On topic, I agree that will save is the most important save. Effects that cause will saves tend to be significantly more harmful than other effects. In addition, many high-level monsters have passive aura effects that will hit the entire party, so a botched will save can take you out of the battle without the monster even having to take an action. It's just really nasty, and definitely the worst saving throw to be weak in. I very rarely recommend Great Fortitude or Lightning Reflexes, but Iron Will is something I recommend slapping on just about any character with bad or even just mediocre will saves.


If you're going human, consider swapping out your skilled racial trait for fey magic and fey thoughts. In addition to low-light vision and some bonus class skills, this gives you several druid spells as spell-like abilities usable once per day in your chosen terrain. If you make one of these rite of centered mind, then any day when you spend some time in that terrain you get an immediate action reroll after a failed Will save against a mind-affecting effect. It's basically a better version of Improved Iron Will, and without the feat cost.


Avoron wrote:
If you're going human, consider swapping out your skilled racial trait for fey magic and fey thoughts. In addition to low-light vision and some bonus class skills, this gives you several druid spells as spell-like abilities usable once per day in your chosen terrain. If you make one of these rite of centered mind, then any day when you spend some time in that terrain you get an immediate action reroll after a failed Will save against a mind-affecting effect. It's basically a better version of Improved Iron Will, and without the feat cost.

That won’t work as published. It’s a preparation ritual that has to be performed as part of preparing spells. It’s not really a valid choice as an SLA.


My solution is half elf with dual minded. That is a straight +2 on will saves, and you still have elven immunity for a +2 vs mind affecting effects (a wonderfully wide term that covers things like vampires trying to dominate you with supernatural charm).

Get 12 wis (easy to get if you are playing a class without mental stats, like a fighter; just dump cha to 8), a will boosting trait, and maybe iron will at higher levels when you run out of good feats... and you can make the party cleric jealous of your will saves. A lot of this is front loaded too.

Overall, you really, really want to get rid of the 'murder your party liability'- the key problem is that it turns your opimtization into a problem with the party. If you are built to one shot any caster with a full attack... then getting mind controlled when next to the party wizard is not a good thing.


Depends on your DM. Some DMs don't use many illusions or charms. I myself try to avoid fear effects, but like illusions and charms, as a DM.

As a player, nothing's more fun than getting a chance to go after your party because you've been charmed or dominated. It's awesome fun. Like reading Versus comic books or those Hulk vs. Thor battle scenes in Marvel movies.


Xenocrat wrote:
Avoron wrote:
If you're going human, consider swapping out your skilled racial trait for fey magic and fey thoughts. In addition to low-light vision and some bonus class skills, this gives you several druid spells as spell-like abilities usable once per day in your chosen terrain. If you make one of these rite of centered mind, then any day when you spend some time in that terrain you get an immediate action reroll after a failed Will save against a mind-affecting effect. It's basically a better version of Improved Iron Will, and without the feat cost.
That won’t work as published. It’s a preparation ritual that has to be performed as part of preparing spells. It’s not really a valid choice as an SLA.

I don't see anything in the [meditative] descriptor prohibiting use with spell-like abilities. A character can UMD a wand of rite of centered mind without actually being able to prepare spells, and I don't see any reason why a spell-like ability wouldn't work the same way. You'd still have the 1 hour casting time, of course.


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You also have to pay for the 100 gp of Incense . . . .


Bad Will Saves are terrible if you have a GM who targets that sort of thing. But it's not really a big deal if you have a GM who does not like the whole concept of "mind control" as a threat to players. So it depends on your GM.

Like my group strongly dislikes the whole "you are denied the ability to choose" so they don't cast, or use when they GM, those types of spells.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

You also have to pay for the 100 gp of Incense . . . .

Nope, spell-like abilities don't have material components.


You would if you were using a Wand of this, because whoever made the Wand would have to pay for the Incense, and would pass the cost on to you.

Oh, I see I read your previous post wrong -- I thought you meant to use a Wand of Rite of Centered Mind instead of acquiring the Spell-Like Ability.


It can be made to work. Mainly by investing sizable amount of your money to minimize the weakness. Still like above messages shows it is a major weakness for any character.


I rarely use effects that make the party target each other. I can think of nothing worse in a social game
So yeah, very very GM dependent. It does mean you have to alter an awful lot of published adventures


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Imagine this. Cause Fear is a level 1 spell. If you fail the check, it's 1d4 rounds running away from the spellcaster and another 1d4 to come back to your party.

And thats a level 1 spell.


Or say a monster with an ability like a yellow musk creeper failing a a will save and having tendrils inserted into your brain.


*rolls a d20* oooh, i am your bestest friend ever or at least for the next hour in game!

LoL, just 'cause your PC failed a charm save isn't the end of the world... nor does it mean you will murder hobo your party...


Well there is also murderous command in ultimate magic but that is only one swing really.


doctor_wu wrote:
Well there is also murderous command in ultimate magic but that is only one swing really.

Well that really depends on how good your 'one hit' is and how low the hp's of your target is. ;)

Silver Crusade

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A Suggestion like: "the camp is under attack — it's vital that you go and defend it!", is enough to completely remove you from a fight.

doctor_wu wrote:
Well there is also murderous command in ultimate magic but that is only one swing really.

You might provoke several AoOs while moving to attack your party member.


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I once had a dwarven slayer who was potentially the deadliest m+*#@#@~@*!& to ever walk the earth from 1st to 5th level. He killed so many creatures with a single stroke of any weapon he held, you’d think he was some kind of master swordsman of legend, rather than an extremely emotional young man with little empathy for people who got in his way. The fact that his backstory involved potentially killing his charge, the party dwarven bard/skald and nominally weakest party member outside of his niche, had sort of doomed him to what followed. While his will saves weren’t actually that low at all (They were bolstered by his decent Wisdom and dwarven innate bonus against spells and Iron Will), he still failed the only will save that mattered.

Dominate Person.

He proceeded to down the party Cleric in a single blow, and instantly killed her mini-gelatinous cube bonded companion (another player), while narrowly dealing too little damage to kill the skald as he retreated, hastily dragging the cleric’s body through the door and sealing it behind him so he could quickly ram a CLW potion down the clerics throat, She lifted him over her shoulder and run them the hell out with expeditious retreat + travel domain.

My slayer managed to make his save eventually and bluff that he was still mind controlled, but the damage had been done.

Basically, if you are a murdering badass like my character, always make sure your spellcasters are constantly applying protection from evil. It WILL (haha, get it) save your lives.


I'll second all the advice here that protection from Evil (and/or possibly Law/Chaos depending) makes it tolerable, if still tough. Note that you can use the money that may have been spent on a Ring of Protection to get the resources to help keep it up, since you will usually have the +2 deflection from protection.


Another thing to note is that one of the most dangerous mind control spells, dominate person, has a 1 round casting time which means it is easily disrupted by damage. You also have a round to get out of range/somewhere you can't be targeted (like another party member's protection from evil or in a fog cloud where you have total concealment) if you can't expect to target the enemy in time.


Paradozen wrote:
Another thing to note is that one of the most dangerous mind control spells, dominate person, has a 1 round casting time which means it is easily disrupted by damage. You also have a round to get out of range/somewhere you can't be targeted (like another party member's protection from evil or in a fog cloud where you have total concealment) if you can't expect to target the enemy in time.

Yeah, but vampires can do it as a standard action.

There are various ways to make spell times shorter, and some creatures just have them shorter by default as SLAs and such. Such opponents are often high level boss characters controlling big beasties as well.

It is not a good idea to have a weakness specifically against common boss characters.


Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:

I once had a dwarven slayer who was potentially the deadliest m&@&+@$##**@ to ever walk the earth from 1st to 5th level. He killed so many creatures with a single stroke of any weapon he held, you’d think he was some kind of master swordsman of legend, rather than an extremely emotional young man with little empathy for people who got in his way. The fact that his backstory involved potentially killing his charge, the party dwarven bard/skald and nominally weakest party member outside of his niche, had sort of doomed him to what followed. While his will saves weren’t actually that low at all (They were bolstered by his decent Wisdom and dwarven innate bonus against spells and Iron Will), he still failed the only will save that mattered.

Dominate Person.

He proceeded to down the party Cleric in a single blow, and instantly killed her mini-gelatinous cube bonded companion (another player), while narrowly dealing too little damage to kill the skald as he retreated, hastily dragging the cleric’s body through the door and sealing it behind him so he could quickly ram a CLW potion down the clerics throat, She lifted him over her shoulder and run them the hell out with expeditious retreat + travel domain.

My slayer managed to make his save eventually and bluff that he was still mind controlled, but the damage had been done.

Basically, if you are a murdering badass like my character, always make sure your spellcasters are constantly applying protection from evil. It WILL (haha, get it) save your lives.

Wow, your slayer must have either been a complete a*%&@!*, or failed the second save too, or the GM conveniently forget to mention the second save.

"Subjects resist this control, and any subject forced to take actions against its nature receives a new saving throw with a +2 bonus. Obviously self-destructive orders are not carried out."

This part really balances out the spell when the monster commands you to kill your party, only to have the spell instantly broken, possibly without even having to make a save, if the action would result in self-destruction.


Paradozen wrote:
Another thing to note is that one of the most dangerous mind control spells, dominate person, has a 1 round casting time which means it is easily disrupted by damage. You also have a round to get out of range/somewhere you can't be targeted (like another party member's protection from evil or in a fog cloud where you have total concealment) if you can't expect to target the enemy in time.

Dominate Person is not the most dangerous of effects, largely due to its casting time making it very hard to get off.

The biggest party killer is confusion and protection from alignment/magic circle wont do anything at all to protect you.


My ENTIRE PARTY once managed to fail their Will saves against a monster spamming Charm Person at us. Four of the five characters had good Will saves, too - we just could not roll above a 4 to save our lives.


Arbane the Terrible wrote:
My ENTIRE PARTY once managed to fail their Will saves against a monster spamming Charm Person at us. Four of the five characters had good Will saves, too - we just could not roll above a 4 to save our lives.

Well yeah, nothing can save you if RNGesus decides that rocks fall, everybody dies.

But still, it is better to stack the odds in your favor- that way, you might only need to roll a 5 in order to note murder your friends.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dominate Person is an all-in gambit. It's easy to disrupt, targets a single creature, and is completely negated by a save (and in many if not most circumstances it will allow two saves), but if it succeeds then it can turn an otherwise one-sided combat encounter into a TPK. It's one of those things I only put in the hands of NPC's when it has a strong narrative purpose for being there, because as a tactical combat spell it's very much "TPK or bust" material. However that doesn't mean it's the only dangerous will save effect out there, and it's really just one of a plethora of threats that make will such an important save.


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+1 for the "Don't dump your will save in Pathfinder" crowd.

I had an unchained rogue fail a Dominate Monster save from an aboleth in my last campaign. Fearing that he'd make a second save if it asked him to attack his friends, the aboleth simply told him to sit on his hands. Since the Aboleth was hiding behind an illusory wall the party didn't realize the danger, and were unable to break his concentration. They were busy fighting a mix of illusions and dominated monsters at the time (and having a hard time telling one from the other) and had zero chance of dispelling the Aboleth's CL 16 Dominate Monster effect.

The fight dragged on for a while, so the rogue player spent a good hour or so browsing reddit. Because of one failed will save he completely missed out on an otherwise really fun fight. :-/

I was already hesitant to use domination effects, but that experience cemented my opinion that effects like this are actively anti-fun and should be avoided if possible.


low will saves....
to answer your question if you have not gotten the gist of it by now, it can be very bad.

might be one of a few reasons why I dont like:
dump stat
weighted point buy( that is the -2 at 15 and -3 at 17)
rolled stats to a lesser degree

if your saves are low, obtain feats and items to compensate .

( if anyone asks, I prefer 3.x unwieghted point buy, no - 2 or -3 just all -1, just dont bother telling me that it can be abused.... nobody ever said you had to take all the points...)


Dasrak wrote:
It's one of those things I only put in the hands of NPC's when it has a strong narrative purpose for being there, because as a tactical combat spell it's very much "TPK or bust" material

And that kind of weights things in the GM's favor, if they are feeling like a jerk.

The GM can easily decide to bust with any fight. His characters are monsters designed to be canon fodder.... or rather canon target practice.

A player character can go through 100's or 1000's of fights over his career. A GM controlled monster is lucky to survive 1 fight. So he might as well go all in, eh?

And if it fails? Whoops- the evil wizard had a twin brother that was in the bathroom during the fight. Now he has come back and he is already casting dominate.

That is the real fear, isn't it? Bad, vindictive GMs. Will saves make juicy targets for that type.


Unfortunately, I've played with my share of "me against the players" DM's over the years who love to turn the PCs against each other.

Therefore, when designing my latest murderhobo I always ask myself this question. How quickly and easily could this PC kill the toughest/most badass member of my party?
If the answer is 1 round or less, I pump that Will save. Even if it means that my murderhobo awesomeness is delayed a couple of levels due to now needing an additional feat or 2.

If the answer is 2-3 rounds, I'll probally let the dice fall where they will, 'cuz that's enough time for the rest of the party to intervene in some way.


As someone who has killed his party multiple times I would say very important. The really nasty ones pop up at least once in a campaign and usually more. Give the party members a way to subdue you in case you roll poorly


As a GM, I have only killed a player character once. And that was thanks to the party's high damage samurai failing a will save and then being instructed to turn the party bard into sushi.

Sure, players are vulnerable when casting dominate person. Full round cast. Damage to interrupt. But monsters don't care about that! They have all sorts of will-save-or-suffer effects that only take a standard action. Or none at all. The best you can do is not dump wisdom, keep your cloak up to date, and realise how important it is for noncasters to take Iron Will.


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WhiteMagus2000 wrote:


Wow, your slayer must have either been a complete a*$#~*!, or failed the second save too, or the GM conveniently forget to mention the second save.

"Subjects resist this control, and any subject forced to take actions against its nature receives a new saving throw with a +2 bonus. Obviously self-destructive orders are not carried out."

This part really balances out the spell when the monster commands you to kill your party, only to have the spell instantly...

Yes and no. He actually grew to like his charge and decided not to kill him and confess the reasons for why he was going to attempt it in the first place in the hope that he could help him see his side of a family conflict the two were embroiled in, and he liked the cleric a lot and thought she was good company despite being a bit ‘sun-sick’ and ‘undwarflike’. His guilt after this event pushed him from LE to LN, in fact.

He sadly failed his second saves, both for the cleric and skald. He didn’t save to not attack the cube because he hated that thing. He and the cube didn’t get along at all, and the player knew this and used this knowledge to force an attack of opportunity from me (both of us and the GM accepting that there wouldn’t be a save) to save the skald and give him a chance to get away. I outright killed the cube in a single blow, but I think he was prepared for that.

A combination of bad rolls, bad prep (it was a serpentfolk, and we had no idea what she was until we walked into the room and the spell had been cast), and my immensely optimal slayer shredding the PCs was our downfall that fight.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

That's actually a really interesting story. ^_^


Two basic options:

The party martials all invest in Will Saves:
take Indomitable Faith trait, take Iron Will feat, wear a high enhancement Cloak of Resistance, invest in Wisdom (or at least do not dump it).

The party caster[s] learn the level 2 spell Suppress Charms & Compulsions, and when someone is controlled, cast it and then perform no subsequent standard actions except prevent the charmed/compelled character [who elects to fail the save vs. the Suppress] from attacking your side:
http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2usnn?Suppress-Charms-Compulsions-and-volunteer ing#1 {Oh, and if you decide to pre-cast it ahead of fights to also give a +4 morale bonus to the save, have [another] caster use the level 1 wand/spell Moment of Greatness to double that bonus to +8}

In a game where you cannot rely on synergy with other people (like a random table of PFS players), I suggest both (martials invest in defense, and casters invest in mitigation). In a home game, the martials could rely on the casters for Suppress Charms & Compulsions. That seems the more efficient way to go.

Protection from Evil grants a lesser save bonus and only for 1 target. Generally in our games, but the time there are enemy casters who charm (and at the same time that you get Communal Protection from Evil), the party has level 2 spells. With Suppress Charms & Compulsions, there is no risk of failure when using the Suppress option.


Failed will saves usually lead to many interesting roleplaying opportunities, which just don't happen if you make the will save. Atleast will saves tend to keep you alive in some form or another, unlike the other 2 saves.

I remember when one of my characters are safe from like all saves in a dungeon and my participation became that of a referee that just watched as others acted out their many ills and woes.


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Envall wrote:

Failed will saves usually lead to many interesting roleplaying opportunities, which just don't happen if you make the will save. Atleast will saves tend to keep you alive in some form or another, unlike the other 2 saves.

9_9

Don't be silly - just think of all the ROLEPLAYING you can do if you get mummy rot! DROP that Fort save!


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Friend turns into sand in my hands...

“I can’t believe I’ve missed out on this great roleplaying experience.”

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