Suffocation Question


Rules Questions


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The description of the spell Suffocation says the following:

"If the target fails, he immediately begins to suffocate. On the target’s next turn, he falls unconscious and is reduced to 0 hit points."

My question is, does this happen at the start of the target's next turn? I think so, because if the target succeeds, they are staggered and that is in effect at the start of their next turn. It thus makes sense to me, that on a failed saving throw, the resulting condition would also be in effect at the start of the target's next turn.


pjrogers wrote:
My question is, does this happen at the start of the target's next turn?

Yes. "On the target's next turn" means as soon as that turn begins.


this spell is hard to understand without getting one point - the saves against it are done like any other save, on the caster's turns. but like bleeding and other long going effects the effect of saving or failing the roll start on the target's turn.

spell last 3 rounds
-even if save on first. he is staggered for one round, but as the spell state it last 3 rounds and nothing say it stops with the 1st save so a round later new saves must be done.

it goes like this: (C= caster's turn. T = target's turn.)

C1 - cast spell, target roll fort save y/n ?
T1
if save in C1 = yes => staggered for 1 round.
if no => goes down on the suffocation ladder one step (see below)
C2 - target make 2nd save
T2
if save in C2 = yes => if saved on c1 as well => staggered for 1 round.
if failed C1 but saved at C2 => stay at that stage but doesn't go down more for 1 round
if no => goes down on the suffocation ladder one step (see below)
C3 - target make 3rd save (note if using extended metamagic to make this into 6 rounds this will continue on for 3 more rounds).
T3
if save in C3 = yes => if saved on C1 & C2 as well => staggered for 1 round.
if failed C1 or C2 => stay at that stage but doesn't go down more for 1 round
if no => goes down on the suffocation ladder one step (see below).

suffocation ladder go from nothing(start) > unconscious at 0 hp > at -1 hp and dying > dead.
every time the target fail his save he goes down a step. if he save them all he is just staggered for that round. saving some after failing some will keep him at the stage he's at, keep in mind that he will be ether unconscious or dying at the time.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Thanks for these responses. I used it for the first time as a character in a game last week, and I had never come across it as a GM. Over the weekend, I ended up creating a table very similar to the one from @zza ni and come to the same conclusions about saving throws and how the spell potentially plays out over its three round duration.

The only thing I was not totally sure about was the timing of the initial unconscious effect upon the target, and @blahpers has helpfully confirmed my tentative understanding of this part of the spell.


zza ni wrote:

spell last 3 rounds

-even if save on first. he is staggered for one round, but as the spell state it last 3 rounds and nothing say it stops with the 1st save so a round later new saves must be done.

What? "The target can attempt to resist this spell’s effects with a Fortitude save-if he succeeds, he is merely staggered for 1 round as he gasps for breath." The whole 3-round-stuff with multiple saving throws is "this spell’s effects", and is resisted on a successful save, i.e. doesn't happen. That's also the only time the staggered effect can happen.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Derklord wrote:
zza ni wrote:

spell last 3 rounds

-even if save on first. he is staggered for one round, but as the spell state it last 3 rounds and nothing say it stops with the 1st save so a round later new saves must be done.
What? "The target can attempt to resist this spell’s effects with a Fortitude save-if he succeeds, he is merely staggered for 1 round as he gasps for breath." The whole 3-round-stuff with multiple saving throws is "this spell’s effects", and is resisted on a successful save, i.e. doesn't happen. That's also the only time the staggered effect can happen.

I saw this interpretation in some of the earlier discussions of this spell, but I'm afraid I don't agree with it. Further along, the spell description states

"Each round, the target can delay that round’s effects from occurring by making a successful Fortitude save, but the spell continues for 3 rounds, and each time a target fails his Fortitude save, he moves one step further along the track to suffocation."

This makes it pretty clear to me that the target is always going to have to make three saves, one for each round of the spell's duration. If the target saves three times, then they're only staggered for three rounds. If they fail three times, they're dead, and there are a variety of other outcomes depending on the target's mix of successful and failed saving throws.


I've never heard that interpretation, and it isn't terribly convincing given the "merely" language.


@pjrogers: That doesn't make sense. If the staggered effect would be for every save, the respective part would be at the end, not the beginning. The effects are described afterwards precisely because that is "this spell’s effects" just mentioned.
"resist this spell’s effects", not just for one round, you resist the effects.
"staggered for 1 round" - not "for that round".


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

While I agree that the spell could have been written a little more clearly, I do think it is clear enough. The spell lasts for three rounds, and the target has to save three times, once per round on the caster's turn.

If you look at the description of the 9th level spell Mass Suffocation which lasts for one round per level, there is the following text:

"Note that the duration of this spell is much longer, forcing those suffering from the effect to make far more Fortitude saves to stave off eventual suffocation."

This clearly supports the position that suffocation requires a save for each round of its duration, regardless of whether the target failed or succeeded at one or more earlier saves.


You keep using the word "clear", but I'd suggest gathering a few more sets of eyes before making that assumption.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Based upon some research I did over the weekend where I find several threads on suffocation, I think more than a few eyes have been over it. While there is not unanimity, there is substantial support for my interpretation (and it also appears to be the interpretation of @zza ni above). The GM and other players at my game agreed with this view of how the spell operates also. If there is errata, a FAQ, or an otherwise authoritative statement from a member of the design team, then I'd be happy to change my mind. Barring that, I do think it is clear that the spell lasts for three rounds and each round the target needs to make a save.


If it was "clear", there'd be little disagreement. *shrug*


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Actually, I do think I may have gotten it wrong. I tried another approach to searching for information on the spell and found some discussions I hadn’t seen it earlier. I’m going to take another gander in the morning after I’ve had a double espresso to get my brain going.


pjrogers wrote:
I do think it is clear that the spell lasts for three rounds and each round the target needs to make a save.

Of course the spell lasts for three rounds and each round the target needs to make a save - that is, unless it succeeded on the initial save. The concept of a partial save is that the target suffers a specific thing on a successful save, but not the full effect. Normally, you don't suffer any effect from the spell if you made the saving throw, but for spells with partial saves, you still suffer some (specified) effect. The description even says you resist "this spell’s effects", not "the effects of that round" or something.

What zza ni is saying is that you suffer the full duration on a successful save, meaning it would not be a "partial"-save spell, but a "see text"-save spell.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

OK, after a significant quantity of espresso and apple strudel, I am prepared to admit that my previous understanding of the spell was flawed.

I now think I was mistaken about the impact of an initial successful Fort save and that other folks are correct in asserting that an initial successful save does result in the target being staggered for one round after which the spell comes to an end.

Anyhows, thanks to all for prodding me to think more about this spell.

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