Power Word: Kill


Rules Discussion


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This isn't a rules question.

My friends and I were going over the books last weekend. I was flipping through the spells and was reading some out loud at random. I read PW:K. You speak a word - stuff dies. Essentially.

My friend didn't like that. He was looking at it from a player's perspective. No saving throw and your character is dead.

Which got me to thinking and wondering. Has Paizo ever put out a monster that had PW:K on it's spell list?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Yes, power word kill has been a staple spell of the copper dragon since Bestiary 1.

Granted it is a deadly joke, copper dragon functions as power word kill.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, I'm kind of surprised they kept similar rules for the Power Word spells in PF2E, where there's just no save allowed. In PF1, Death Ward always let you get a save on death spells even if they otherwise didn't allow for one, but that functionality seems to be gone in PF2.


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Well it's a 9th level spell, so it's not very likely that you'll run into it until a level where it doesn't kill you instantly.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Considering power word spells have always been a "no save" thing since 3.5, I'm imagining Paizo (probably correctly) guessed that changing it would be as anathema to some people as making magic missile require an attack roll.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Alyran wrote:
Well it's a 9th level spell, so it's not very likely that you'll run into it until a level where it doesn't kill you instantly.

Yeah, hopefully. It's not *too* out there, since casters learn level 9 spells at 17th level, and fighting an enemy 3 levels above you isn't unheard of. But hopefully most GMs would realize that it's not exactly a fun situation for players to die with no save.


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Mogloth wrote:

This isn't a rules question.

My friends and I were going over the books last weekend. I was flipping through the spells and was reading some out loud at random. I read PW:K. You speak a word - stuff dies. Essentially.

My friend didn't like that. He was looking at it from a player's perspective. No saving throw and your character is dead.

Which got me to thinking and wondering. Has Paizo ever put out a monster that had PW:K on it's spell list?

1) If you are level 14 and fighting something with PWK, it's a very difficult boss that might murder you anyway

2) If you are level 14 or above, you should have access to Raise Dead, Resurrection, etc.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Even if you have access to resurrection, it would still suck if your character died on the first action of a fight with no save allowed.


Yeah, it's definitely a tool to be careful with. The level range where it can instakill you while having the caster still be a level that's a fair challenge is small, but it's there. This is really a GM common sense thing in the end. But yeah, there's a reason it's an Uncommon spell, I suppose. XD


Mechalibur wrote:
Even if you have access to resurrection, it would still suck if your character died on the first action of a fight with no save allowed.

It would suck. But it's also scary as hell. So I think it's fine, when used sparingly.


It's another one of those spells that sounds impressive until you realize, it is targeted mostly for mooks. At 17/18th level spending a precious 9th level slot, you are doing 50HP dmg against 1 foe of your level *if* it is affected by magic/auditory/mental/enchantment - the Ftr17 is probably doing that with one swing anyway, with a better than 50% hit chance.

Granted, if a level 14 PC (who left his ear plugs at home LOL) encounters this it sucks, but that should not happen. I suspect that alot of things 3-4 levels above PC level can one-shot a PC.

As an aside, it's tricky to tell what level anything is, especially a PC - so I wonder how DMs will handle the NPC caster: does he cast on the Ftr14 PC or the other Ftr16 PC - they would look identical in skill to a Wiz I would think (does PF2E have a skill to detect 'level'?)


I think the problem is that the used character levels instead of HP like the PF1 version.

Power Word Kill was actually a weak spell in PF1 because enemies that you were really worried about killing were usually immune because of HP.

Now it just instantly kills anyone level 14, and takes someone to 0 hp and dying 1 if they're level 15.

Really it's just not an appropriate spell to use against PCs (in my opinion) because they have no chance to react to it and some "appropriate" level challenges can use it as an opening move in combat and just knock an entire party unconscious or dead.

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MaxAstro wrote:
Considering power word spells have always been a "no save" thing since 3.5,

They've been no-save since 1st edition D&D. It was also an innate 1/day power of a Death Knight in 2nd Edition. I can't remember if the 1st edition Fiend Folio death knight had it, because I don't recall really noticing the Death Knight until Dragonlance.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Christopher Dudley wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:
Considering power word spells have always been a "no save" thing since 3.5,
They've been no-save since 1st edition D&D. It was also an innate 1/day power of a Death Knight in 2nd Edition. I can't remember if the 1st edition Field Folio death knight had it, because I don't recall really noticing the Death Knight until Dragonlance.

Good to know. I avoid referencing anything older than 3.5 because that's where my own experience starts. :)


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Claxon wrote:
Really it's just not an appropriate spell to use against PCs (in my opinion) because they have no chance to react to it and some "appropriate" level challenges can use it as an opening move in combat and just knock an entire party unconscious or dead.

I'm confused here - what "appropriate" level challenge for 15th level PCs can cast PWK 4-5 times in one round?

Dataphiles

You have to be able to hear it. In theory, you could get hints and warnings about a big bad that uses Power Word something. So, just have your magic user deafen the whole party before going into the fight and then cure it after the fight is over.


Alright that's fair. That was hyperbole.

But being able to take out 1 PC out a 4 person party without having any ability to stop it is incredibly strong.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Claxon wrote:

Alright that's fair. That was hyperbole.

But being able to take out 1 PC out a 4 person party without having any ability to stop it is incredibly strong.

Hm... to be fair, I kind of took this as a challenge, and technically speaking two level 17 casters is not out-of-range for a level 15 party. Said casters could each prepare PWK 2 times and quicken one casting of it to get four off in one round.

But I think we can all agree that GM is trying to kill his players. :P


PWK is actually a 1-action cast, so no Quickening needed. XP

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