Strategic Counters to Low-level divination


Rules Questions


I am currently running a game in which one of the players (we shall refer to him as Victor) is playing a smart/strategic character that is also attempting to keep his family secret, so as to protect them from being sought after by those who might do them harm.

However, it stands to reason that the moment he shows up on the villain's radar (and he technically has since before the campaign even officially began), the villain or one of his underlings might attempt to learn more about Victor through various means, including magic.

Now, this would mean that through the usage of spells such as Discern Next of Kin would instantly put Vincent's family at risk. Because the player behind Vincent is relatively unaware of the full extent of what Pathfinder has as far as spells are concerned, I figured I would first alert him to the spell's existence and let him find his own way after that.

With that being said, so as to prevent myself from having to do a ton of research at a later date, what are some possible counters to Low-level divination spells like that? Most magic items I have been able to find are incredibly expensive or only temporary. Are there any ways to counteract such divinations staticly?

Discern Next of Kin:
School divination [mind-affecting]; Level bard 1, psychic 1, shaman 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, witch 1

CASTING

Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, F (a copper piece)

EFFECT

Range 60 ft.
Target one creature
Duration concentration, up to 1 minute/level (D)
Saving Throw Will negates (see text); Spell Resistance yes

DESCRIPTION

You can scan the thoughts of one individual and learn the names and locations of the target’s living relatives, as well as the attitude of the target toward those relatives (and vice versa). You learn about one relative per round you concentrate on the target. For example, you might learn the target’s father’s name, that the father lives on a nearby farm, and that the target and his father don’t get along. Since this spell reads the target’s mind, you can learn only what the target knows or believes.


My question is, are you targeting this character only? It seems to me, that you think by targeting him, and this bit of backstory, you are in a way, targeting that character directly. Do you normally scan your characters to find their relatives? Why would a bad guy know to specifically target this character? I'm not accusing you of anything, but it can/may come across as a targeted attack on the character, not the party, which usually imo ends quite badly.

Now as to your question, if the player is made aware of it, then they should realize it only has a range of 60 feet, and requires concentration, so unless its silenced, stilled, and or quickened, it should be pretty obvious said person is casting a spell, and since they need to concetrate, the counter is almost built in. Boost your will saves, and pummel anyone casting a spell at you that seems to be targeting you without permission.

There are several items that block mental intrusion, I do not have the time to look them up now, any of those would stop it. There are also spells that make you untargetable via divination spells, I dont see this being a big issue personally.

If you are just trying to bring the players backstory into play, rather than using spells, I would just use more of an investigator type of npc, maybe he hears rumors someone is looking into him, maybe they catch some one asking around, but that is just my opinion, as a player that has absolutely been targeted by a GM, I'mn a bit more aware of its potential pitfalls.

I played a game as a rogue, where EVERYTHING even mindless undead, and animals, kept their backs to walls, and never allowed flanking. I quit several sessions in. Unless the character is one of those super rare, love the gritty near impoossible rp stuff, i would shy away from the magic in regards to this. Either way, end goal, make sure both have fun!


Not necessarily targeting him as several characters have families, and it would probably be much later on that the villain might check to find weaknesses that the party members might have. Victor here is just the only one who is presently trying to hide this fact, and I wouldn't want such a low level spell to destroy that secrecy right away (hence the looking in advance for counters to the spell).

Given who the villain is, Vincent (who in story is the leader of the party) would have to be prepared for anything. As I said, I'm going to make him aware that the spell is a possibility long before I have the villain's minions use it. This is near end game type of plays, just trying to figure out how he can counter that far ahead of time if at all possible.

The range and concentration aspect is important, thanks for pointing that out.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Quote:
Saving Throw Will negates (see text)

The text actually doesn't say anything about the save, so I will read that as: "Saving Throw Will negates".

So the basic tactic is to have a high Will Save.

Then, as a minimum, questioning everyone that cast an unrequested spell on him. Spellcasting is obvious (see FAQ)and Discern Next of Kin target a creature, so he will be capable of noticing its use as the caster need LOS and LOE.

Misdirection is a 2nd level spell and it last 1/hour level, so a low-level counter to low-level divinations. If the PC is evil he can target a villager or even an influential person for maximum mayhem and confusion. If good or he doesn't want mayhem he can target a dog or some other animal. Finding that the character father is called Tramp, has no fixed residence, his mother name is Lady and she lives in a quaint Midwestern town and the PC love them will direct the villains in some seriously wrong direction.


I'm fairly certain that Misdirection, as a spell that specifically counters aura revealing divination, wouldn't work against Discern Next of Kin.

Although pointing out the physical manifestations of spells was very helpful, thank you!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It looks to me that the simplest way to defeat that spell is to not know where your family is. If you have someone take them into hiding, and not tell you where, they can't be located in this manner. They would still get the names of course, but for most people that wouldn't be terribly hard to find out anyway, and of course if they are using a false name while in hiding wouldn't particularly help.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kidlat Jäger wrote:

I'm fairly certain that Misdirection, as a spell that specifically counters aura revealing divination, wouldn't work against Discern Next of Kin.

Although pointing out the physical manifestations of spells was very helpful, thank you!

Right, I hadn't used it for a long time, and I had forgotten that part.

Nondetection has limitations too. You need something that block telephaty or all divinations.

Mind blank, but that is an 8th level spell.

The Ring of Mind Shielding should work, but it was printed for the CRB and
Discern Next of Kin was printed in a way later product, so it is not cited as one of the things that the ring blocks.
It should work as it blocks detect thoughts and Discern Next of Kin read the target mind, but RAW it doesn't.


Discern Next of Kin would be easy to defeat, just don't be near the bad guy.

Spell casting is easily noticeable, so Vincent would be aware if someone where casting spells near him.

And ultimately, as Dave Justus points out, just have him tell his family to go into hiding and not tell him where they've gone. He can set up a non-family member to interact with to act as an information relay.


Thanks! That actually helps a lot.


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Carry a lead plate for cultural reasons.


One thing to do if you are worried about spell casting is to make sure someone you trust is an expert at Spellcraft so they can identify what spells are being cast.

Someone in a bar casts Detect Poison, you don't even question why. Someone in a bar casts Detect Next of Kin...I wouldn't even question why. And nobody should wonder why the Next of Kin caster disappears never to be seen again.

If you are extremely worried about it pick up a level of Vigilante. The dual identity class feature makes it very easy to hide your past from your enemies.


Dave Justus wrote:

It looks to me that the simplest way to defeat that spell is to not know where your family is. If you have someone take them into hiding, and not tell you where, they can't be located in this manner. They would still get the names of course, but for most people that wouldn't be terribly hard to find out anyway, and of course if they are using a false name while in hiding wouldn't particularly help.

I think this is a solid solution and while I wouldn't agree with the following, particularly given the spell is 1st level, I will point out nothing says you only learn the Next of Kin's location if the target knows it. The spell may reveal it regardless (get an idea if not a ruling from the GM on how they think it works). Even if it does then the answer is to have the Kin keep moving or live in a mobile home ... wagon, boat etc.. Any answer would at least have a expiration on its utility.

Keep away from the villain until necessary (and move to a new safehouse(s) ASAP when an encounter is over). Even if you have all sorts of magical defenses you are one Dispel (followed by divination spells) from the information getting out. Plan on it getting out before hand not after it occurs.

Mundane Disguise to keep the Villain from recognizing who or what he's looking at. He presumable doesn't go around casting it on everyone he meets. Don't use magic to aid in disguise unless you have to, the magic aura is likely to draw attention if detected.

A Ring of Counterspells is 4000gp not especially expensive and it will block the first attempt to target you with the chosen spell.
Likewise a Ring of Mind Shielding is relatively inexpensive protection against several intrusive divinations.

Nondetection is an excellent choice for protection.

While it won't prevent Discern Next of Kin, Detect Scrying is invaluable for clueing you in when someone is attempting to scry your location or a scrying sensor is around, lasts 24 hours per casting, and is an emanation that moves with the caster.

Sending doesn't require you know the targets location so can be used to communicate with your Kin without revealing anything about their location. Likewise neither does Telepathic Bond. Sending can with a chance of failure be used across planar boundaries. Telepathic Bond cannot. Be aware if the Villain does become "familiar" with a Kin he can use Demand without knowing their location (a Sending with an implanted Suggestion) which if your Kin can't resist or aren't protected against could prove disastrous. But hopefully Victor has stopped his villain before Demand might come into the picture ... it's an 8th level spell.

Learn as much as you can about the capabilities of the Villain (good idea in any case of course) but will certainly be important as to what sort of magic and divinations they can use against Victor and what besides Discern Next of Kin Victor needs to be wary of.


The Nameless One feat is very good at keeping enemies from digging into your past, but its RP requirements may be a bit steep.


Kayerloth wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:

It looks to me that the simplest way to defeat that spell is to not know where your family is. If you have someone take them into hiding, and not tell you where, they can't be located in this manner. They would still get the names of course, but for most people that wouldn't be terribly hard to find out anyway, and of course if they are using a false name while in hiding wouldn't particularly help.

I think this is a solid solution and while I wouldn't agree with the following, particularly given the spell is 1st level, I will point out nothing says you only learn the Next of Kin's location if the target knows it. The spell may reveal it regardless (get an idea if not a ruling from the GM on how they think it works). Even if it does then the answer is to have the Kin keep moving or live in a mobile home ... wagon, boat etc.. Any answer would at least have a expiration on its utility.

Keep away from the villain until necessary (and move to a new safehouse(s) ASAP when an encounter is over). Even if you have all sorts of magical defenses you are one Dispel (followed by divination spells) from the information getting out. Plan on it getting out before hand not after it occurs.

Mundane Disguise to keep the Villain from recognizing who or what he's looking at. He presumable doesn't go around casting it on everyone he meets. Don't use magic to aid in disguise unless you have to, the magic aura is likely to draw attention if detected.

A Ring of Counterspells is 4000gp not especially expensive and it will block the first attempt to target you with the chosen spell.
Likewise a Ring of Mind Shielding is relatively inexpensive protection against several intrusive divinations.

Nondetection is an excellent choice for protection.

While it won't prevent Discern Next of Kin, Detect Scrying is invaluable for clueing you in when someone is attempting to scry your location or a scrying sensor is around, lasts 24 hours per casting, and is an emanation that moves with...

Read the spell again. It points out right at the bottom that because it only reads the mind, it only tells you what the know or believe. If they don't know the location of their family, the spell won't tell them the location of the family.


8 hour ritual, 200 gp in rare oils, a mask and a feat. done.


*Slaps self upside head*

Completely missed that obvious sentence somehow, duh.


Meirril wrote:

One thing to do if you are worried about spell casting is to make sure someone you trust is an expert at Spellcraft so they can identify what spells are being cast.

Someone in a bar casts Detect Poison, you don't even question why. Someone in a bar casts Detect Next of Kin...I wouldn't even question why. And nobody should wonder why the Next of Kin caster disappears never to be seen again.

If you are extremely worried about it pick up a level of Vigilante. The dual identity class feature makes it very easy to hide your past from your enemies.

Someone in a bar starts casting a spell at someone else unprompted, the bouncer generally responds with a club to the face. Most folks don't have Spellcraft, so magicking strangers is considered rude at best and an act of war at worst.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
blahpers wrote:
Meirril wrote:

One thing to do if you are worried about spell casting is to make sure someone you trust is an expert at Spellcraft so they can identify what spells are being cast.

Someone in a bar casts Detect Poison, you don't even question why. Someone in a bar casts Detect Next of Kin...I wouldn't even question why. And nobody should wonder why the Next of Kin caster disappears never to be seen again.

If you are extremely worried about it pick up a level of Vigilante. The dual identity class feature makes it very easy to hide your past from your enemies.

Someone in a bar starts casting a spell at someone else unprompted, the bouncer generally responds with a club to the face. Most folks don't have Spellcraft, so magicking strangers is considered rude at best and an act of war at worst.

"Dear friends, now I will bless our food." Cast Purify food and drink at his table. Reasonably common (1st level spell), target your table food and is used by clerics. A bouncer (and the bar owner) that attack a cleric doing that will see a step increase in the cost of his future cure disease spells.

Attacking a party with a spellcaster when you are a common NPC isn't too smart. The bar owner will probably call the guards if he thinks they will care and he thinks that it is an offensive spell, but fighting? No way. Unless in your world all the bouncers are level 7 or more.

Without spellcraft it is hard to say if a spell without a visible effect target someone or not.


Diego Rossi wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Meirril wrote:

One thing to do if you are worried about spell casting is to make sure someone you trust is an expert at Spellcraft so they can identify what spells are being cast.

Someone in a bar casts Detect Poison, you don't even question why. Someone in a bar casts Detect Next of Kin...I wouldn't even question why. And nobody should wonder why the Next of Kin caster disappears never to be seen again.

If you are extremely worried about it pick up a level of Vigilante. The dual identity class feature makes it very easy to hide your past from your enemies.

Someone in a bar starts casting a spell at someone else unprompted, the bouncer generally responds with a club to the face. Most folks don't have Spellcraft, so magicking strangers is considered rude at best and an act of war at worst.
"Dear friends, now I will bless our food." Cast Purify food and drink at his table. Reasonably common (1st level spell), target your table food and is used by clerics. A bouncer (and the bar owner) that attack a cleric doing that will see a step increase in the cost of his future cure disease spells.

A known local cleric with ties to the community is likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. Rando McAdventurecleric is not.

Quote:
Attacking a party with a spellcaster when you are a common NPC isn't too smart. The bar owner will probably call the guards if he thinks they will care and he thinks that it is an offensive spell, but fighting? No way. Unless in your world all the bouncers are level 7 or more.

A club to the face by a thewsy thug drops the vast majority of spellcasters the bouncer is likely to come across. They don't know that you just happen to be the Party of Chosen Ones. If the caster's buddies draw steel, then the guards enter the mix.

Quote:
Without spellcraft it is hard to say if a spell without a visible effect target someone or not.

You're right--better safe than sorry. Just bludgeon anybody who starts making with the flashy manifestations. It's the only way to be sure.

Seriously, any tavern that doesn't have "NO SPELLS ON PREMISES ON PAIN OF CLOBBERING" hanging on the outer and inner walls deserves to be persistent mass charm person'd.

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