Why the Magus gets that extra attack (and why your GM should be okay with it)!


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In this post I will explain how Spellstrike grants a Magus an extra attack, with references, and also touch on why GMs do--and should not--rule against this in official play.

For the purposes of this explanation I will be referring to the default Magus only, with no archetypes or multiclassing.

1. WHAT DOES A MAGUS DO?

A Magus is designed to do one thing only: deal a lot of damage in combat with a combination of weapons and magic. They (a) do not have the HP or AC to handle front-line combat without magic, (b) do not have the breadth of magical utility one would have with a full caster, (c) do not have enough class skills or skill ranks to be a reliable skill monkey, and (d) do not have the Charisma to be the party face.

While the Magus can be quite powerful, it's not the best at anything it does and is mainly used by players who enjoy the fluff or have a specific concept in mind.

2. SPELL COMBAT

The first of the class features that define the Magus is Spell Combat. Spell Combat allows a Magus to wield a weapon in one hand while casting spells with the other. This operates as Two-Weapon Fighting, including the penalties to attack. In other words, where another character with TWF would get a main hand attack and an off hand attack, the Magus gets a main hand attack and an off hand spell. Please note that this means a 1st Level Magus can make two "attacks" per round as long as the second "attack" is a spell.

3. SPELLSTRIKE

Spellstrike is not an ability. It is not an action. It is not an attack. It doesn't cost anything to use. It is a class feature, which means it is "always on". And, most importantly, it does not affect Spell Combat in any way. A Magus can use Spellstrike and Spell Combat together or independently however they please.

To paraphrase Spellstrike... the Magus can choose to deliver a touch spell through any weapon they are wielding as part of a free melee attack.

When you choose to combine that with Spell Combat, you can make a normal melee attack, cast a touch spell, and then attack with your weapon a second time, dealing both weapon damage and spell damage. In addition, the spell has the chance to deal critical damage according to the weapon's critical range.

This is where the hangup is. Some GMs believe that you don't get that extra attack. Instead, they believe that Spellstrike only gives you the option to apply the spell damage to your first attack.

4. BUT WHY?

Well, put simply, that's a lot of potential burst damage for a 2nd Level character. Enough to one-shot certain bosses. At first glance this appears broken, so even though the Rules As Written (RAW) clearly state that you get an extra attack, the GM may claim that the wording is vague and your damage output should be lower per Rules As Intended (RAI).

In a home game, a GM is fully within their rights to nerf a class for any reason if they don't like it, but official games are a different beast. Your character is meant to play the same way regardless of which table you're playing at, and that doesn't work if GMs are second-guessing RAW. We want a consistent experience, and we also don't want players getting conflicting information from multiple GMs.

So here's why the GMs who say you don't get that extra attack are wrong.

5a. TWO WEAPON FIGHTING

You get two "attacks", even if one of them is technically a spell. When using normal TWF, you don't deal your off hand damage as part of your main hand attack. You roll for it separately. Since your touch spell is, for all intents and purposes, your off hand attack, you roll for it separately. Your main hand attack should in no way influence or be influenced by your off hand.

5b. MELEE TOUCH ATTACKS

Melee touch attacks from spells all function the same way, regardless of which class is casting them. First, you cast the spell (we'll say it's Shocking Grasp). Your hand is now wreathed in electricity. Second, you reach out and touch an enemy. This is your attack roll against your target's Touch AC, and it is defined in the rules as a free melee touch attack. If you succeed, they get zapped. If you fail, your hand is still wreathed in electricity and you get to try again on your next turn, unless you choose to dispel it. This is how melee touch spells are balanced against spells that don't require an attack roll to deal damage.

Spellstrike allows the Magus to substitute that free melee touch attack with a free melee attack using their weapon, rolling against your target's normal AC instead of their Touch AC, and dealing weapon damage in addition to the spell's effects if it hits.

5c. FREE ATTACKS

"Free attack" is a term that is well defined in the rules. For example, an Attack of Opportunity is a type of free attack. It means exactly what it says: you get a free attack regardless of what actions you took on your turn. Many abilities put limitations on how many free attacks you can have (you only get one attack of opportunity per round by default). Spellstrike does not. If you are casting a melee touch spell, you get a free attack.

6. WHY YOUR GM SHOULD ACCEPT THIS

Simply put, it's not broken at all. It's all burst damage. Your standard 2nd Level Magus can only do this once, maybe twice per day unless they use all of their spell slots for Shocking Grasp. After they've used them up, they're stuck in melee combat with a d8 hit die, light armor, no shield, only one weapon, and an attack bonus that's roughly half of a well-built Fighter's.

Magus damage progression also slows down somewhat rapidly. At 5th Level, that well-built Fighter gets two attacks with at least eight bonus damage each and a decent chance to hit with them, while the Magus still only gets their regular attack and one free attack from Spellstrike.

That burst damage is the only real advantage a Magus gets at low levels. Knee-jerk reactions to that damage only serve to halt combat for an extended period while the rules get referenced and argued, and may also result in character death.

Not to mention, Jason Bulmahn himself has stated it's an extra attack, and is designed to be a bonus. While he made this statement during the Magus' testing phase, said statement was never altered, redacted, or expanded and can therefore be considered the official response. (Jason Bulmahn's Post)

In conclusion, be excellent to each other, and if you absolutely must call any of this into question, please wait until the session is over. Your Magus came prepared to play Pathfinder, not defend their thesis.

Thank you.


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Bad day at the PFS?

Sovereign Court

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I've never once seen someone rule that Magus didn't work exactly the way everybody knows it works, and has known for years.

Sounds like you had a GM make a bad call. Sorry to hear it.
If this sort of poor rules understanding persists with this particular GM, I recommend taking it up the chain. Have a talk with your local VL or, failing that, VC.


I’ve seen this question come up a handful of times on the boards. So, obviously some people are getting it wrong. But I feel most of us understand it pretty well without a wall of text.


Huh. I've had a Magus player who didn't realize they got a bonus attack, and I hadn't read the class well enough to correct them. Good to know!


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yeah, this Monday was the second time in our PFS group that a GM ruled the wrong way on Spellstrike, and they spent all of yesterday and some of this morning arguing about it in our Facebook chat.

So I made this and sent it to them.

Both times, the problem devolved into the GM accepting nothing less than a devpost that it was an extra attack. This last time, the GM's response was that the Bulmahn post was written during testing and therefore didn't count.

I had enough and decided that since these GMs weren't taking any forum posts seriously, I would write one that walked through everything logically, hence the wall of text. I had to break everything down to its basics and build up from there or else it would just cause more arguments, and I hope that anyone else who has a similar problem finds this post.


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For the most part people take it as being so self-evident that there’s not a lot of discussion or commentary to support the universally accepted interpretation.

One thing I could suggest to support your view in the eyes of anyone with a shred of rationality would be to look up discussions on Magus / Arcane Mark. This ‘combo’ has been widely discussed on the internets and at times debated. Through all of the 10,000,000 or however many posts you can find on it, however, you won’t see anyone suggesting that the Magus wouldn’t get an extra attack when spell striking. The legality of the extra attack is implicit in all of those discussions tho, because if it didn’t give the extra attack no one would ever Spellstrike arcane mark. All it would do in that scenario is give you a -2 on your one attack, and that only if you made your concentration roll.

Scarab Sages

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Funny. I posted a little while back about how an example from Paizo of what a Magus attack sequence looks like would have cleared this very issue up years ago. Obviously, there’s still a need for that. I really hope we get more examples in general for 2nd edition, especially if there are any complicated mechanics like this. Sorry your GMs have been ruling like that. You seem to have the rules correct.

EDIT: “this issue” being that new GMs and players come to the game and either don’t understand the interaction between spell combat and Spellstrike, or believe it’s too good to be right. Players who have been around the game like Melkiador generally know, but new players/GMs not so much. Having an example from Paizo to point them to would make it much easier to explain, as I expect the issue will continue to come up as long as PF1 continues to be played.

Grand Lodge

Shouldn't have needed a wall of text to make these GMs understand, just using comparisons. Even without explaining all the details of it (and I play two magi in PFS), it is not even close to be broken, should it be Spellstrike or Spell Combat. Other things are way worse, won't give specific examples because it would be slightly offtopic then. Being a new player or GM can be a part of this misunderstanding, but only until a point.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The the OP, you seem to have missed a couple of small details in your wall'o'text that you may like to also make your GM aware of. When using Spell Combat, the Magus can cast his spell either before or after the 'normal' melee attack. By casting a touch attack spell prior to the first attack, the magus then effectively gets two attempts to apply the spell as a spellstrike, one from the free attack generated by the spell, and one from the normal melee attack (albeit, both at -2 to hit). Combined with a spell such as Chill Touch gives potentially multiple successful spellstrikes on one turn.

Also important to note is that if you touch anything other than what is already already in hand, you discharge a held touch spell. You also discharge a held touch spell if you cast any other spell. These two limitations apply even to a magus, so it is quite difficult by default to combine spellstrike with normal two weapon fighting, or to change spells if you miss your target.


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this faq
explain that the spell's touch attack, even while being transferred with a weapon, is a free action in the round it is cast:
"So, just like casting a touch spell, a magus could use spellstrike to cast a touch spell, take a move toward an enemy, then (as a free action) make a melee attack with his weapon to deliver the spell."
- the attack roll from the spell is a free action beside what ever attacks he has from other stuff he does.

also @YogoZuno, just wanted to make a small edit to your remark. as the same link also mention, touching anything but a weapon would discharge the held spell. so the magus could cast, get disarmed and then draw a new weapon or pick the older one up and not lose his spell.


This will be handy when I finally play my own Magus. Although I will need to actually build a second Magus as my first is a homebrew race and has feats that reflect what that race can do. (Not homebrew feats, just feats that some races can take and others can't.)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

While I've never seen these objections in actual gameplay, what I read on the forums is that GMs object not so much to the Magus class, but to the specific combo of Magus + those metamagic reducing traits + casting Shocking Grasp over and over again.

If people in your area dislike this combo, why not mix things up a bit? You're a prepared caster, you can use different spells each day, so why not experiment? Surprise your GM by casting zero shocking grasps during a session!

Because... the OP says that a Magus can only do one thing (i.e. damage) and that is really not true. You have very good debuffing and battlefield control; you can use spell combat to buff your allies; Magus mobility is unmatched; you get numerous "skill spells" like Monkey Fish and Invisibility; and there's even a few ways to make it a party face. Here, have a guide.


While Kurald's guide is good (and it is good, you should read it), I ways recommend THIS GUIDE for players (or GMs) new to the Magus. It's simply a guide to how Spell-Combat and Spellstrike work.

To back this up, also ask them to read the text for Eldritch Archer:

At 2nd level, whenever an eldritch archer casts a spell that calls for a ranged attack, she can deliver the spell through a ranged weapon she wields as part of a ranged attack. Instead of the free ranged attack normally allowed to deliver the spell, an eldritch archer can make one free ranged attack with a ranged weapon (at her highest base attack bonus) as part of casting this spell. The attack does not increase the spell’s range.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Dont go to your GM and say: "You were wrong and here's why ..." - This will just make them angry (seriously it won't help).

Instead go to them and say: "I'm sorry I couldn't say this clearly, here's someone who could say it better than I could ..."

It's fun to be right, but it's more fun to be friends with the GM, trust me (and for the record, I'd spend time with the GM before bringing a Magus to the table, this is a complicated set if rules to follow).

Grand Lodge

MrCharisma wrote:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Dont go to your GM and say: "You were wrong and here's why ..." - This will just make them angry (seriously it won't help).

Instead go to them and say: "I'm sorry I couldn't say this clearly, here's someone who could say it better than I could ..."

It's fun to be right, but it's more fun to be friends with the GM, trust me (and for the record, I'd spend time with the GM before bringing a Magus to the table, this is a complicated set if rules to follow).

Not everybody can have that level of tact. And sometimes it is just the case of correct explanation being given, but the GM still refusing it regardless of any evidence. The message could be given in either way, that it would not be listened to.

I am not saying taking a "in-the-face" approach, more like the fact, without a conscientious approach to be diplomatic (it has to feel natural and not forced, in the latter case it can backfire). Or taking time to assess the said approach in order to adapt. It is impossible to be friends with everybody, and there's no need to. More important is that everyone reaching a balance and behave like "professionals" (using the " " because it is a hobby, but I lack of a better word in the context)


Philippe Lam wrote:
MrCharisma wrote:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Dont go to your GM and say: "You were wrong and here's why ..." - This will just make them angry (seriously it won't help).

Instead go to them and say: "I'm sorry I couldn't say this clearly, here's someone who could say it better than I could ..."

It's fun to be right, but it's more fun to be friends with the GM, trust me (and for the record, I'd spend time with the GM before bringing a Magus to the table, this is a complicated set if rules to follow).

Not everybody can have that level of tact. <SNIP>

Why thank you ;)

But seriously ...

Absolutely, say it in your own words - not mine. The take-away from that paragraph is to approach them from a humble perspective.

You're right the GM should accept the rules if shown correctly, but it's very hard for me to influence the GM from here. What I can do is try to influence the OP instead (and while you don't have to be friends, moving from "hostile" to "unfriendly" is a step in the right direction).


Endrak wrote:
Simply put, it's not broken at all. It's all burst damage. Your standard 2nd Level Magus can only do this once, maybe twice per day unless they use all of their spell slots for Shocking Grasp. After they've used them up, they're stuck in melee combat with a d8 hit die, light armor, no shield, only one weapon, and an attack bonus that's roughly half of a well-built Fighter's.

At low level, they can still use touch spell cantrips every round, casting them purely for the free melee weapon attack. So as long as they can pass their Concentration check, they get to do two-weapon fighting with a single one-handed weapon, which is pretty powerful (and kinda weird).

At high level, they can do a lot of damage for a lot of rounds per day with low-level spells, metamagic, Pearls of Power, etc.

It's not inherently broken, but it has the potential to do enough damage to upset the GM or a fellow player with a less optimized martial PC who can't keep up.


Matthew Downie wrote:
At low level, they can still use touch spell cantrips every round, casting them purely for the free melee weapon attack.

Unless I missed something, the base magus doesn't have a touch cantrip, except for Arcane Mark, which will probably get a stink eye from a lot of DMs, if you try to use that for a free attack.


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Melkiador wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
At low level, they can still use touch spell cantrips every round, casting them purely for the free melee weapon attack.
Unless I missed something, the base magus doesn't have a touch cantrip, except for Arcane Mark, which will probably get a stink eye from a lot of DMs, if you try to use that for a free attack.

There is a FAQ expressly permitting cantrips. Arcane Mark is the only cantrip the magus gets by default that meets the requirements, though he could add Touch of Fatigue to his class list with a trait.

Two World Magic wrote:
Benefit: Select one 0-level spell from a class spell list other than your own. This spell is a 0-level spell on your class spell list (or a 1st-level spell if your class doesn’t have 0-level spells). For example, if you are a druid, you could select mage hand and thereafter prepare it as a 0-level druid spell; if you are a sorcerer, you could select know direction as a 0-level sorcerer spell known.


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I bleeping knew it. I distinctly remember years ago the first time I tabled with a level 2 Magus and they declared "I'm defensively casting SG through my rapier to do my melee damage and the spell damage through spell strike" when I, a lowly 1st level Inquisitor on his first character, said "I looked at magus when I was deciding what to play and I *think* you get to attack, cast your spell, and attack again..." and everyone looked at me like I was dumb. I was right. I've been watching players do it wrong all along.


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It's really, really simple. You do the exact same thing you do when normally casting a touch spell, except instead of getting a free touch attack you get a free melee weapon attack.

* Wizard casts shocking grasp as a standard action.
* Because wizard cast a touch spell, wizard gets a free touch attack to deliver the spell.
* Wizard gets a move action some time before, during, or after all of that.

* Magus casts shocking grasp as a standard action.
* Because magus cast a touch spell, magus gets a free touch OR melee weapon attack to deliver the spell.
* Magus gets a move action some time before, during, or after all that.

Magus also gets spell combat, which means that instead of the above, a magus can do this:

* Magus uses spell combat, making all of magus's iterative attacks and casting shocking grasp.
* Because magus cast a touch spell, magus gets a free touch OR melee weapon attack to deliver the spell.

Bottom line: It's exactly like any other casting of a touch spell. You just get to swing your damn sword instead of poking the enemy with your finger. Both are free as part of casting the spell.


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Back in 2012, we had Grick's A Guide to Touch Spells, Spellstrike, and Spell Combat to spell this all out to us (pun intended). I guess nowadays it is buried too deep in the forum for most people to find.

A player played a magus in my Iron Gods campaign. At 1st level he tried Spell Combat and gave up on it. The -2 penalty to hit was too hard on a 1st-level character with mediocre strength. Several levels later, he would use Spell Combat to cast a defensive spell along with his attack, but he never cared for taking a -2 penalty merely to gain an extra attack. When he spellstriked, he preferred to hit on the first swing.

Grand Lodge

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From the PFS role play guide:

Quote:

As a Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild GM, you

have the right and responsibility to make whatever
judgments, within the rules, that you feel are necessary
at your table to ensure everyone has a fair and fun
experience. This does not mean you can contradict rules
or restrictions outlined in this document, a published
Pathfinder RPG source, errata document, or official
FAQ on paizo.com. What it does mean is that only you
can judge what is right for your table during cases not
covered in these sources.

A PFS GM cannot prevent a character from utilizing all their class abilities to their fullest potential, and cannot change how RAW works regardless of personal beliefs about how powerful or cheesy a build is.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Syries wrote:


A PFS GM cannot prevent a character from utilizing all their class abilities to their fullest potential, and cannot change how RAW works regardless of personal beliefs about how powerful or cheesy a build is.

Maybe, but the GM may have an honest if incorrect interpretation of how something works. If a player can't convince the GM of that and get them onto the right interpretation in a short amount of time, then I think themetricsystem is on point. Drawing out a rule argument just wastes time that can be spent productively playing the game, potentially undermining everyone at the table's chances of completing the scenario further.

You may find a particular tree important, but don't lose track of the forest because of it.

Grand Lodge

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Bill Dunn wrote:
Syries wrote:


A PFS GM cannot prevent a character from utilizing all their class abilities to their fullest potential, and cannot change how RAW works regardless of personal beliefs about how powerful or cheesy a build is.

Maybe, but the GM may have an honest if incorrect interpretation of how something works. If a player can't convince the GM of that and get them onto the right interpretation in a short amount of time, then I think themetricsystem is on point. Drawing out a rule argument just wastes time that can be spent productively playing the game, potentially undermining everyone at the table's chances of completing the scenario further.

You may find a particular tree important, but don't lose track of the forest because of it.

But that's not what happened.

Endrak wrote:
Both times, the problem devolved into the GM accepting nothing less than a devpost that it was an extra attack. This last time, the GM's response was that the Bulmahn post was written during testing and therefore didn't count.

The GM is forcing the player to find evidence that may or may not even exist on rules that have already been spelled out pretty clearly. Rules on delivering touch spells already exists. TWF already exists. This GM is willfully misinterpreting the rules on multiple sessions on the basis that Spellstrike+Spell Combat is too powerful (on that note: it's not)

Grand Lodge

The case of honest but incorrect interpretation is not what is talked about there (this can be detected and dealt far more easily). It's a clear case of a GM disagreeing with the mechanics of it, and trying to use GM fiat to force the player into not using. Which is not ok at all for Organized Play purposes, which is the point there (and not home games). The class is out on the open since enough years that there should have been no debate about it, no GM can use the "not knowing" as an excuse. There are things far worse than that.

Themetricsystem is adjudicating bringing out personal beliefs even when the setting is standardized and rules existing about this kind of problems. Game-altering misrulings and clear errors are the case when someone has legitimacy to make the game stop to check without appearing as a jerk. One time can pass as temporary frustration, on a constant basis the GM should be questioning self on whether PFS is the right fit. GM infaillibility ? Doesn't exist there. Burden of proof is not on the player there only, also on the GM.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Philippe Lam wrote:

The case of honest but incorrect interpretation is not what is talked about there (this can be detected and dealt far more easily). It's a clear case of a GM disagreeing with the mechanics of it, and trying to use GM fiat to force the player into not using.

You don't know that. You're making an assumption. There are plenty of people on these boards who behave the same way with even lower stakes than actually running a game at the PFS table on a Monday night. They have their interpretation of a rule and you'll need to move heaven and earth in order to get them to budge even if their interpretation is wrong.

And, frankly, there's no point in bogging down a PFS session over it whether it's about the magus's attacks, making multiple ranged attacks from the back of a horse, or whether unconscious is equivalent to being comatose.


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Themetricsystem wrote:
My only reply to you all is that you're WAYYYY to invested in the RAW if you think letting a player stop a game dead-middle of a session to argue with them over some rule is ever acceptable. You're literally committing self-sabotage and regardless of if the GM was wrong you have your choice, walk away from the table or swallow your pride.

Endrak described the argument as, "they spent all of yesterday and some of this morning arguing about it in our Facebook chat." That was the two days AFTER the game. It does not sound like they stopped the game session to argue.

Themetricsystem wrote:

From what I gather there are lots of folks around here who clearly have no idea what it means to have to actually RUN a game and how destructive even a single argumentitive player who HAS to have "his way" can be. It doens't just destroy the pace of the session, it can shatter a whole playgroup.

Philippe Lam wrote:
Yhe GM has no agency to forbid anything out of personal beliefs, unless the players directly complained about being left out of sorts.
Yeah... that's totally wrong in just about every way. The GM has the every, in fact I'd say the ONLY right to do this.

I agree with Themetricsystem that the GM has the power to alter the rules for the betterment of the game. I have a boatload of houserules for my games. For example, for the magus in my game, I allowed a homebrew magus arcana that let him use spellstrike with a spell cast from a wand. The magus could not cast spells if he accepted the skald's ragesong, and the skald was willing to learn Craft Wand to make wands for it, so it was a good compromise between two classes that did not work well together. I like my players working together, even though I had to upgrade the challenges against their teamwork.

However, nerfing Spell Combat has 4 problems with it.
1) The GM described it as rules as intended. If he reworked it as a houserule, then he ought to use his authority rather than defending a wrongful interpretation.
2) The GM has less authority to create houserules in PFS. I never ran nor played PFS, so I don't know the details.
3) Nerfing a major flavorful ability of a class cuts out some of the fun of experiencing the class as Paizo intended it. The GM could have found another way to rein in the burst damage from the magus, such as an encounter against a crowd of minions against which the magus will conserve his spells.
4) Spell Combat is not the main source of the magus's burst damage. The arcane pool is.

I remember a time at 8th level when the magus in my campaign had a spectacular run of critical hits (after he enhanced his crit range to 15-20 via his arcane pool) and cut through 3 gearsmen robots at one per turn. That saved the party from a lot of damage, since the gearsmen's hardness 10 made them hard to take down. But that display had a price: he had stepped ahead of the rest of the party to keep up the damage and became the primary target for the other opponents. His Mirror Image spell and half his hit points were gone, so he had to retreat and let the rest of the party finish the combat. The burst damage of a magus has several build-in prices. And he was moving during that combat, so he could not use the full attack required for Spell Combat.

By the way, I belatedly noticed that MrCharisma provided a link to A Guide to Touch Spells, Spellstrike, and Spell Combat before I did. Glad to see that MrCharisma knows the classics.

Grand Lodge

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Mathmuse wrote:
I agree with Themetricsystem that the GM has the power to alter the rules for the betterment of the game.

But that's precisely the problem. This is a PFS game, and in PFS you as a GM are explicitly NOT allowed to do that (see my post with the quote above)

RAW is law in PFS, and it's set in stone. Incorrectly interpreting, misremembering, or flat out not knowing the rules is one thing, and that can usually be resolved peacefully, but trying to force a GM house rule in PFS is a no-go and can actually get you banned from being able to GM (it's crazy rare for that to happen but I've heard stories)

Scarab Sages

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There are a couple of things involved here. If, during a game, a PFS GM rules counter to a player’s understanding of a rule, that’s ok. If the player can quickly present their argument and a quick discussion can be had, great. If the GM is still not convinced, they can make the call based on their best judgement in the moment, even if it ends up not being the correct reading of the rule. A player should generally accept that and continue the game in the interest of everyone having fun at that session.

After the game, discussion can continue, more citations can be provided, and the forums can be consulted.

What a PFS GM should not do is decide they don’t like a rule or character option when it becomes clear how it works and rule otherwise. Some rules aren’t clear, and thus will have table variation, and that’s ok to an extent. The Magus Spell Combat/Spellstrike rule can be difficult to unravel only looking at the rules in the book. It’s understandable that someone might think it’s off, because that’s happened many, many times since it was released.

But the community has a good sense of how it works now. That combined with the Jason Bulmahn post and the FAQs that we do have should be enough. If it’s not, and the GM indicates they intend to keep ruling that it doesn’t work, and that’s causing a problem for you as a player, then contact your Venture Officer and let them know the situation. If the GM is your Venture Officer, or you don’t have one locally, contact the nearest or next highest VO. Don’t approach it as trying to complain or get your GM in trouble. Just explain the situation and that not being able to play your Magus the way that the community agrees that it works is causing a problem for you. Then leave it up to the VO to talk it through with your GM.

I wish that there was a better option and that there was a way to get more direct answers on some of these types of questions. The PDT is busy, so it’s unlikely they’ll respond. The PFS campaign staff is busy, so it’s unlikely they’ll respond. In the absence of any other options, escalating to a VO or the next highest VO is the only thing we’re left with.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Let it be known that "PFS requires RAW" does not mean that GMs are not allowed to make judgements based on their best understanding of the rules and then act on those judgments. The game needs to keep moving forward and if there are two interpretations of a rule and a clear answer can't be found within a reasonable amount of time, the GM needs to be able to pick the answer that best matches their understanding of the rules, make their ruling known to the table, and keep the game moving forward. A proactive GM should ideally then try to find clarification on the rule after the game is over so that they can be sure they're adjudicating it correctly going forward. If the player feels that the GM's ruling was erroneous and severely impacted the result of the session (such as causing the PC to die), the player should bring the issue to their volunteer leadership (typically a VA, VL, or VC) for resolution.

As to the number of attacks, Spellstrike + Spell Combat at level 2 can grant you two weapon attacks as part of your full-round action: your "normal" attack plus the free attack granted in place of the melee touch attack from your spell.

My personal perception is that this is spelled out pretty clearly in the rules, so I don't expect that it's something likely to see a lot of additional dev or designer commentary beyond the FAQs and statements already posted.

Hopefully this helps.


Re: "THE GM DID IT WRONG!"

Yes they did, but nothing in the OPs post makes me think this is a deliberate misinterpretation.

This rule-set is NOT easy, you have to look at 2 class features unique to the Magus class (so probably never-before-seen in this case), and the overly-complicated and often-unkown rules for touch spells. Then you have to combine those rules (which - again - you're probably seeing for the first time). The "2 attacks" only work when you combine all 3 rules, so it IS tough to get your head around.

I know we all know it like the back of our hands, but there's a reason Grick wrote a 10000 word essay to help people understand it, and there's a reason Blaphers' "simple" explanation was ~170 words (even though it was in dot points and missing auxiliary words) ... there is a lot of information needed to understand this.

I haven't played PFS, but it's my understanding that if you're going to use any material besides the CRB you're required to bring the source material with you, exactly so that these mix-ups don't occur. While not a "requirement", it seems like a good solution is to go through any complicated rules with the GM before the game to avoid the exact scenario we're discussing.

For everyone talking about the argument disrupting the game, the OP said they had an argument on facebook chat, so again there's no reason to think he overly disrupted the session.

@Endrak: You are in the right, the GM has misinterpreted the rules. If you can't convince them you can (and should) make a complaint. I hope it works out for you.


And we can make it more complicated! I STILL don't know if channeling Shocking Grasp through a weapon gets the hit bonus if the opponent is wearing metal armor. No? Yes?

Grand Lodge

To be clear, I was not insinuating that every rule in the game has a definite and singular interpretation, and I apologize if I gave that impression. An example of table variation in PFS that pops in my head is Greater Skald's Vigor feat and Amplified Rage - when I sat down at a table with my bloodrager/skald I asked before the game started what their ruling was - do i give the bonus to Str that I get as fast healing, or do they get fast healing based on the amount of Str the ally gets? It's gone both ways for me and I totally accept their ruling either way, regardless of my personal interpretation.

BUT, when the community as a whole generally accepts a particular interpretation of the rules, such as the case for spellstrike and spell combat, it's a pretty clear indicator of how a GM in organized play should rule.

Grand Lodge

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JiaYou wrote:
And we can make it more complicated! I STILL don't know if channeling Shocking Grasp through a weapon gets the hit bonus if the opponent is wearing metal armor. No? Yes?

I didn't realize people were interpreting that differently. I've never seen someone rule that they don't get the +3 if the enemy has metal. Is there any part of Spellstrike that would suggest a magus doesn't receive that bonus?

Shocking Grasp wrote:
...When delivering the jolt, you gain a +3 bonus on attack rolls if the opponent is wearing metal armor (or is carrying a metal weapon or is made of metal).

There's no mention that the attack bonus is only if it's a melee touch attack.

So if a 2nd level Magus does Spell Combat+spellstrike with Shocking Grasp and casts the spell first, then delivers the spell to a valid target, they would get the +3 bonus to that first attack. If the first attack lands, the spell discharges, and the second attack with the weapon would NOT receive that bonus as the spell is no longer there. But if the first attack misses, and the spell is still charged, the 2nd attack would also have that +3 bonus (and the attack would continue to have that bonus until the spell is discharged)

Scarab Sages

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Michael Sayre wrote:

As to the number of attacks, Spellstrike + Spell Combat at level 2 can grant you two weapon attacks as part of your full-round action: your "normal" attack plus the free attack granted in place of the melee touch attack from your spell.

My personal perception is that this is spelled out pretty clearly in the rules, so I don't expect that it's something likely to see a lot of additional dev or designer commentary beyond the FAQs and statements already posted.

Hopefully this helps.

Thanks, Michael!

I agree that it’s spelled out well in the rules, but it is still a complicated interaction, and this same misunderstanding of it seems to pop up every few months on the boards. I’m glad (for PFS at least), there’s now a post to point people to!


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There are most certainly times when a player can and should halt play to argue a point. For example, if a GM made my druid destroy all their gear while transforming into a bear, I would have a big problem with that and it would either get resolved then and there or I would just leave.

A magus being unable to get free attacks with spellstrike is pretty darn close to that point.


Syries wrote:
JiaYou wrote:
And we can make it more complicated! I STILL don't know if channeling Shocking Grasp through a weapon gets the hit bonus if the opponent is wearing metal armor. No? Yes?

I didn't realize people were interpreting that differently. I've never seen someone rule that they don't get the +3 if the enemy has metal. Is there any part of Spellstrike that would suggest a magus doesn't receive that bonus?

Shocking Grasp wrote:
...When delivering the jolt, you gain a +3 bonus on attack rolls if the opponent is wearing metal armor (or is carrying a metal weapon or is made of metal).

There's no mention that the attack bonus is only if it's a melee touch attack.

So if a 2nd level Magus does Spell Combat+spellstrike with Shocking Grasp and casts the spell first, then delivers the spell to a valid target, they would get the +3 bonus to that first attack. If the first attack lands, the spell discharges, and the second attack with the weapon would NOT receive that bonus as the spell is no longer there. But if the first attack misses, and the spell is still charged, the 2nd attack would also have that +3 bonus (and the attack would continue to have that bonus until the spell is discharged)
Spellstrike(SU) wrote:
Instead of the free melee touch attack normally allowed to deliver the spell, a magus can make one free melee attack with his weapon (at his highest base attack bonus) as part of casting this spell. If successful, this melee attack deals its normal damage as well as the effects of the spell.

"as well as the effects of the spell." I find it a reasonable argument that the spell effect is separate from the weapon strike. Personally I'd allow the effect from shocking grasp to stack on, but if another GM ruled differently I wouldn't argue about it.

Grand Lodge

Meirril wrote:


Spellstrike(SU) wrote:
Instead of the free melee touch attack normally allowed to deliver the spell, a magus can make one free melee attack with his weapon (at his highest base attack bonus) as part of casting this spell. If successful, this melee attack deals its normal damage as well as the effects of the spell.
"as well as the effects of the spell." I find it a reasonable argument that the spell effect is separate from the weapon strike. Personally I'd allow the effect from shocking grasp to stack on, but if another GM ruled differently I wouldn't argue about it.

Like I said, I've never seen it ruled that you DON'T get the +3 to hit on an applicable target. I suppose I see where you're coming from, but at the end of the day you're using the attack roll for both the weapon attack and the spell attack, essentially. It seems weird to me that you wouldn't get that bonus. It's a fringe case anyway; I'm not familiar with any other spell that give a bonus to attack rolls like that, other than maybe True Strike, and even that isn't the same because True Strike affects your next attack roll.


In all honesty a call like this is like a GM saying a wizard doesn't get spell slots...


Understanding the rules is a responsibility, those who cannot meet it are not fit to GM in PFS.

If the given individual/s wilfully refuse to correctly engage with the rules, they are violating Organized Play terms. Work with leadership by proper channels to have them removed from PFS.

The plain fact of the matter is if you don't want to follow the rules established for Organized Play, then don't play the campaign.

Some with more opinion than influence may growl and snarl at this. The law above PFS GMs however, as laid out by Michael Brock, makes exactly this point without ambiguity.

Michael Brock wrote:
If you don't want to follow the rules we have established for Organized Play, then don't play our campaign.

Link.

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