Magic Missile and Concealment


Rules Discussion

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graystone wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

Step 2 occurs before checking to see if something hits or misses, magic missile doesn't skip this step.

You don't roll to hit, then roll the flat DC, you do the flat DC directly after determining a target before hit/miss is determined. Ergo auto hitting is irrelevant.

You roll to see if you can roll the d20: that's a moot point for the magic missile as the spell works without the roll. Magic missile skips the check required for most actions which is what the flat check is rolled for: to see if you can roll your d20 or not.

Say you still say I have to roll the DC5? Ok I failed and can't roll... So no d20 check for effect. Seeing as there is no roll in the spell, I move to the next step, damage...

The concealed condition doesn't say anything about whether it determines if you roll a d20. It only states that it happens before that step in the general rules for spells.

Nothing in magic missile says you skip that step, there's just nothing to interact with. Concealment adds an interaction that does affect the spell and says nothing about directly interacting with the "roll to determine your effect". It just happens before that step would in the general resolution of spell casting. Concealment then states "If you fail, you don’t affect the target." It doesn't say you don't get to roll to hit, or that it automatically critically fails. You don't affect the target.


Yeah, I think you're all reading way too much into the "before you roll to determine your effect" part. That's just telling you the order things happen in. That way, for example, if you have an attack that deals damage on a miss, you can't argue that even though concealment made you miss you should still get the rider damage. It calls out here that you roll first for concealment, so no secondary effects occur if concealment causes the miss, because the target is flat out not affected, so you don't even roll for effects.

As an additional data point, the conditions list in the appendix doesn't mention roll for effect. That's because it isn't part of the concealed condition, it was just added up there to explain the order things happen.


Pathfinder the Gathering


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MM: You send a dart of force streaking toward a creature that you can see.

Concealed: While you are concealed from a creature, such as in a thick fog, you are difficult for that creature to see.

Seems clear enough to me.


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graystone wrote:

You roll to see if you can roll the d20: that's a moot point for the magic missile as the spell works without the roll. Magic missile skips the check required for most actions which is what the flat check is rolled for: to see if you can roll your d20 or not.

Say you still say I have to roll the DC5? Ok I failed and can't roll... So no d20 check for effect. Seeing as there is no roll in the spell, I move to the next step, damage...

Area effects aren’t subject to this flat check. If the check fails, the attack, spell, or effect doesn’t affect you.

The bolded text element is talking about the flat DC check. Otherwise concealment wouldn't do anything ever in any circumstance.

Nothing in magic missile says you avoid making this check, the check if it fails means you don't get the effect of the spell. The effect of Magic Missile is its damage.

Again,

- Ted the magician cats magic missile at a creature in dim light, the creature is concealed.

- DC5 flat check, rolls a 4 (the check fails)

- Spell Auto hit kicks in

- Spell has no effect, because the damage of the spell is in the effect section of the spell and failing the concealment check negates this entire section.


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Yeah, the intention might have been to have Magic Missile ignore concealment, but I'd have to agree with those in the thread that say by RAW it doesn't :-/.


I just want to quote this:

The Gleeful Grognard wrote:


- DC5 flat check, rolls a 4 (the check fails)

- Spell Auto hit kicks in

"Flat check fails. Spell auto-hit kicks in. Spell does not hit."


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
mrspaghetti wrote:

MM: You send a dart of force streaking toward a creature that you can see.

Concealed: While you are concealed from a creature, such as in a thick fog, you are difficult for that creature to see.

Seems clear enough to me.

But if it turns out you can't see the target, you can't expend the spell, right? Because the only valid target is a creature "that you can see."

If you have to roll a check to find out if you can see a creature, that step has to come before you can choose to cast magic missile; otherwise, you don't have a target. By RAW, you can't cast magic missile unless you can see the target. So if you fail the flat check, you might waste your action but you can't expend the spell slot.


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Joana wrote:
mrspaghetti wrote:

MM: You send a dart of force streaking toward a creature that you can see.

Concealed: While you are concealed from a creature, such as in a thick fog, you are difficult for that creature to see.

Seems clear enough to me.

But if it turns out you can't see the target, you can't expend the spell, right? Because the only valid target is a creature "that you can see."

If you have to roll a check to find out if you can see a creature, that step has to come before you can choose to cast magic missile; otherwise, you don't have a target. By RAW, you can't cast magic missile unless you can see the target. So if you fail the flat check, you might waste your action but you can't expend the spell slot.

My interpretation of this, given this is a qualification for a lot of spells, is that you can sorta see the target, so you start casting, but then you finish and the target's concealment means you can't see them any longer so the spell fizzles.

EDIT: Note, there may, at some point, have to be rules about what happens when a target becomes invalid prior to a spell being finished casting. I could see reactions potentially allowing for this to happen. MTG had pretty well-defined rules for this, so yeah, given "interrupts" it should be possible here.


Joana wrote:
mrspaghetti wrote:

MM: You send a dart of force streaking toward a creature that you can see.

Concealed: While you are concealed from a creature, such as in a thick fog, you are difficult for that creature to see.

Seems clear enough to me.

But if it turns out you can't see the target, you can't expend the spell, right? Because the only valid target is a creature "that you can see."

If you have to roll a check to find out if you can see a creature, that step has to come before you can choose to cast magic missile; otherwise, you don't have a target. By RAW, you can't cast magic missile unless you can see the target. So if you fail the flat check, you might waste your action but you can't expend the spell slot.

That's a whole lot of rules-lawyering for my taste. If a target is difficult to see, you might miss, even if you think you can see it. If you shoot an arrow, a bullet or a magic missile at something and you miss, you also certainly lose whatever you shot.


Joana wrote:
By RAW, you can't cast magic missile unless you can see the target. So if you fail the flat check, you might waste your action but you can't expend the spell slot.

Except we know that's not 'By RAW', because you roll the check after you choose your target.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber
tivadar27 wrote:


EDIT: Note, there may, at some point, have to be rules about what happens when a target becomes invalid prior to a spell being finished casting. I could see reactions potentially allowing for this to happen. MTG had pretty well-defined rules for this, so yeah, given "interrupts" it should be possible here.

From Targets section:

“ If a creature starts out as a valid target but ceases to be one during a spell’s duration, the spell typically ends, but the GM might decide otherwise in certain situations.“


The ShadowShackleton wrote:
tivadar27 wrote:


EDIT: Note, there may, at some point, have to be rules about what happens when a target becomes invalid prior to a spell being finished casting. I could see reactions potentially allowing for this to happen. MTG had pretty well-defined rules for this, so yeah, given "interrupts" it should be possible here.

From Targets section:

“ If a creature starts out as a valid target but ceases to be one during a spell’s duration, the spell typically ends, but the GM might decide otherwise in certain situations.“

Thanks! I didn't know a rule for this already existed, and it helps justify the whole MM missing thing...


The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
stuff...

I'm just going to agree to disagree here: we clearly aren't on the same page and I don't see either of use changing our minds so I don't see a point going around in a circle. As such, unless someone brings up something new I think I'm done until/unless we get some clarity from something official.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber
tivadar27 wrote:
The ShadowShackleton wrote:
tivadar27 wrote:


EDIT: Note, there may, at some point, have to be rules about what happens when a target becomes invalid prior to a spell being finished casting. I could see reactions potentially allowing for this to happen. MTG had pretty well-defined rules for this, so yeah, given "interrupts" it should be possible here.

From Targets section:

“ If a creature starts out as a valid target but ceases to be one during a spell’s duration, the spell typically ends, but the GM might decide otherwise in certain situations.“

Thanks! I didn't know a rule for this already existed, and it helps justify the whole MM missing thing...

I remember that rule standing out to me because I have a GM that likes to use darkness or fog spells to end full round casting spells in PF1 by denying you a target for the spell. Debatable in PF1 but they seem to have made it clear in this edition.


graystone wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
stuff...
I'm just going to agree to disagree here: we clearly aren't on the same page and I don't see either of use changing our minds so I don't see a point going around in a circle. As such, unless someone brings up something new I think I'm done until/unless we get some clarity from something official.

I would just like you to try and explain why your reading makes sense.

How does the auto hit come into play? You make claimes to do with damage not being an effect, I prove it is.

You talk about auto hitting, I point to multiple examples where the flat DC check occurs before that point.

You can argue RAI but there is no wiggle room here RAW.


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The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
I would just like you to try and explain why your reading makes sense.

graystone's position here as far as I understand it is that because the rules for concealment mention that they trigger before you roll for effect, they're irrelevant when dealing with spells that don't contain such a roll.

Essentially, something that happens before you make your attack roll or force a save can't apply to something that never requires an attack roll nor save to begin with.


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The confusion here rests entirely in the decision to make magic missile target an enemy you can see vs an enemy who is observed, but there is absolutely no reason to believe that difficult to see = not seen, especially when the clearly intended language was to establish an understanding of whether or not the target falls into the specified and more useful categories of "observed," "hidden," "undetected," and "unnoticed." Concealed does not affect whether a character is observed, hidden undetected or unnoticed. The language for magic missile should be changed to state that it requires a line of effect and for the target to be observed, for maximum clarity, but that is still how I would interpret the spell to work in PF2 even though the spell was not rewritten after the point where the rules for senses and targeting were formalized.

There are unfortunate and ableist consequences to the decision to have the general rules for sensing apply to "precise" and "imprecise" senses, but then the specific language of magic missile not using this language and resulting in really absurd situations where a wizard/creature with precise scent or hearing or tremor sense or even some psychic sense defined as precise, but not having the ability to "see," would still never be able to use the spell magic missile, or technically any spell that requires line of sight.

PF2 got close to getting this right with changes to perception, senses and detecting creatures, but let it fall apart in not utilizing this same language across the board with targeting.

Note: This is not to say that spells should not be able to call out specific senses for how they work. Invisibility absolutely should say that it makes the target undetectable to all creatures relying on precise sight. Silence, and hide sent should equally target other precise senses and the game would be more robust for having players be aware of what their specific character's precise, imprecise and vague senses are.

It would be cool for ancestries to come along that rely on senses other than sight and for the rules to be able to handle that without having to awkwardly address every specific spell or feat that unintentionally doesn't interact correctly with the rules for sensing and detection.

But the ship might have sailed of fixing this one in pathfinder 2e, unless the developers are willing to really commit to going through the book with a fine tooth comb and fixing all targeting rules to work with their otherwise pretty great model for handling senses, leaving only those exceptions where the intention was for the spell, feat or ability to interact explicitly with one particular sense.

At my table, I will do my best to let this principle be the rule of the day, which would mean that the auto-targeting of Magic Missile is dependent upon the target being observed, which is not overridden by concealment.

When I GM, for other effects and abilities, I will try to make sure that the conditions for concealment specify which precise senses the specific source of concealment apply to: stinking clouds would clearly effect/block scent, Auditory illusions or evocations could interfere and block precise hearing, etc.


The rule-book says "as long as you can precisely sense the area (as described in Perception on page 464) and it is not blocked by a solid barrier (as described in Cover on pages 476-477), you have line of sight" so no, there is no prevention of a non-sight precise sense filling in for sight in spell casting.

There's also a sidebar that mentions things like being concealed in a noisy room if what is looking for you is relying on a precise sense of hearing to find you.

So I think the choice of target wording in magic missile is deliberate - and deliberately lacks language to prevent concealment from applying.


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thenobledrake wrote:

The rule-book says "as long as you can precisely sense the area (as described in Perception on page 464) and it is not blocked by a solid barrier (as described in Cover on pages 476-477), you have line of sight" so no, there is no prevention of a non-sight precise sense filling in for sight in spell casting.

There's also a sidebar that mentions things like being concealed in a noisy room if what is looking for you is relying on a precise sense of hearing to find you.

So I think the choice of target wording in magic missile is deliberate - and deliberately lacks language to prevent concealment from applying.

2 points:

1. So the language of magic missile intends only for targets which "you can see?" As in it is only usable by creatures with sight? I don't believe that was an intentional choice.

And even if it were, the inclusion of the word "can" actually makes the effect of concealment void, because whether the target is perceived clearly or not, because they are observed, "you can see" them. Hidden on the other hand, rather than giving a DC11 flat check for targeting, would prevent magic missile form working entirely.

2. The language of "Line of sight" as default for "ability to sense" is both ableist language and inaccurate, and is easily avoided within the structure for sensing as established within the rules for perception of second edition. Line of sight and ability to hear, or echo locate or tremor sense, or smell are absolutely not the same things, and create all kinds of weirdness that goes away immediately if the stipulation for targeting is line of effect and ability to sense precisely.


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You're really reaching with your accusations of prejudice here.

Sovereign Court

In my house rules, I wrote the following:

If the target has Concealment that enables Hide and Sneak, the missiles are affected by the miss chance. If it can’t affect Hide and Sneak, like the Blur spell, they hit automatically.

I kind of wish there were 2 different names for them, not all "Concealment", but it is what it is. So Blur-style, hit automatically, Hiding Concealment, roll the miss chance and if can see them, then it hits automatically.


swoosh wrote:
You're really reaching with your accusations of prejudice here.

I started a new thread here:

https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42rnh?Avoiding-ableism-by-consistently-applyin g-the#1

if you wish to continue a specific conversation about why I find "line of sight" unsuitable as a stand in for "ability to observe," and how using the later would improve the game, so as to not further derail this threat about concealment and magic missile.


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Squiggit wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
I would just like you to try and explain why your reading makes sense.

graystone's position here as far as I understand it is that because the rules for concealment mention that they trigger before you roll for effect, they're irrelevant when dealing with spells that don't contain such a roll.

Essentially, something that happens before you make your attack roll or force a save can't apply to something that never requires an attack roll nor save to begin with.

For a similar reason that you don't roll for concealment on an area of effect spell, you don't roll for magic missile. If you can target with magic missile, it auto-hits.

Sovereign Court

There's a lot of things in PF2 where they changed the language by leaving something out, like the "ignores concealment" bit in Magic Missile in this case. Each time, I'm wondering:

A) They really meant to drop a requirement or functionality, and thought that if they just left it out, we would understand that was intentional.
B) This is just an oversight, it still works the old way, it's just some text that got lost/mangled.

Handling these things in an FAQ (an honest to God actual FAQ, not errata disguised as FAQ) would be helpful.


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RexAliquid wrote:
For a similar reason that you don't roll for concealment on an area of effect spell, you don't roll for magic missile. If you can target with magic missile, it auto-hits.

For a similar reason? You don't roll for concealment on an area of effect spell because the rules directly say that you don't.

There's no such "similar" language about magic missile.

Ascalaphus wrote:

There's a lot of things in PF2 where they changed the language by leaving something out, like the "ignores concealment" bit in Magic Missile in this case. Each time, I'm wondering:

A) They really meant to drop a requirement or functionality, and thought that if they just left it out, we would understand that was intentional.
B) This is just an oversight, it still works the old way, it's just some text that got lost/mangled.

Your problem is that you keep talking about "the old way" or "changed the language."

When what you really mean to say is that it worked differently in an entirely different game and you want it to function the same here.

Regardless of whether or not magic missile ignores concealment, "it did it in a different game!" is a dumb position and fundamentally irrelevant to discussing the rules of this game.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

There's a lot of things in PF2 where they changed the language by leaving something out, like the "ignores concealment" bit in Magic Missile in this case. Each time, I'm wondering:

A) They really meant to drop a requirement or functionality, and thought that if they just left it out, we would understand that was intentional.
B) This is just an oversight, it still works the old way, it's just some text that got lost/mangled.

Or

C) They really meant to drop a requirement or functionality because the related mechanics detailed elsewhere were thought sufficient and the language was no longer necessary (except that they were wrong and now its ambiguous).

Eg. they figured that the language "automatically hits" and "can be precisely located" (going to use that language to avoid the "sight vs. tremor-sense" issue) was sufficient to make it clear that concealment didn't apply...but didn't consider the fact that concealment forces a roll to see if you can even target at all.
Or eg. they upgraded what everyone got for free and didn't update the Alchemist's paths to make sure that they all did someething.
Or eg. they changed how dents on shields work and forgot to make adamantine do anything at all.
Or eg. they added "requirements: N hands" to various consumable and tool items and forgot to make sure to notate that "hey, if you're applying the effect to an item and you've already got that item in your hand, you only need one additional hand" (see: oil of potency. It takes "2 hands" to apply it to a weapon...presumably it would be "one hand for the oil and one hand for the weapon" but they didn't include that language, so you can only apply the oil to an item sitting on a table because the oil flask needs both hands (I guess its like 2 feet across and weighs a lot?)).
Or...


mrspaghetti wrote:
Joana wrote:
mrspaghetti wrote:

MM: You send a dart of force streaking toward a creature that you can see.

Concealed: While you are concealed from a creature, such as in a thick fog, you are difficult for that creature to see.

Seems clear enough to me.

But if it turns out you can't see the target, you can't expend the spell, right? Because the only valid target is a creature "that you can see."

If you have to roll a check to find out if you can see a creature, that step has to come before you can choose to cast magic missile; otherwise, you don't have a target. By RAW, you can't cast magic missile unless you can see the target. So if you fail the flat check, you might waste your action but you can't expend the spell slot.

That's a whole lot of rules-lawyering for my taste. If a target is difficult to see, you might miss, even if you think you can see it. If you shoot an arrow, a bullet or a magic missile at something and you miss, you also certainly lose whatever you shot.

Upon further consideration, I can see validity in ruling that if the flat check fails you lose the action but not the spell. Interpreting that both the action and the slot are lost would also be fair, IMO.


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Squiggit wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
I would just like you to try and explain why your reading makes sense.

graystone's position here as far as I understand it is that because the rules for concealment mention that they trigger before you roll for effect, they're irrelevant when dealing with spells that don't contain such a roll.

Essentially, something that happens before you make your attack roll or force a save can't apply to something that never requires an attack roll nor save to begin with.

That isn't mentioned in the condition text and requires the reader to ignore said condition text, the actual rules text meant to be used in play that contain less flavour and more specifics.

As I said, someone may call for it to be an errata topic. But as written it works one way and that way cancels out magic missile.

Furthermore, if we don't use the condition readings there is a clear knock on effect to touch and save spells against concealed, hidden, undeteced and by extension invisible. As the flat check would now be unaffected by any touch that auto hits (most) and any save... because it says before "you" roll.

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