Is Phantom Pain the Most Unstoppable Force in the Game?


Rules Discussion


Range 30 feet; Targets 1 creature
Saving Throw Will; Duration 1 minute
Illusory pain wracks the target, dealing 2d4 mental damage and 1d4 persistent mental damage. The target must attempt a Will save.

Critical Success: The target is unaffected.
Success: The target takes full initial damage but no persistent damage, and the spell ends immediately.
Failure: The target takes full initial and persistent damage, and the target is sickened 1. If the target recovers from being sickened, the persistent damage ends and the spell ends.
Critical Failure As failure, but the target is sickened 2.
Heightened (+1) The damage increases by 2d4 and the persistent damage by 1d4.
______________________

This means on average, you can do 5 dmg to almost any foe on a successful save, and that plus 2.5 persistent per spell level on a fail.

At 9th level, your 5th level Phantom Pain does 25 dmg / 25 persistent. If this is all you cast against your BBEG, it seems devastating the moment you catch your first failed save. Actions to stave off persistent damage, sickened, and up front damage. Is this mega or what?


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If the BBEG fails his initial save against a 5th level version he takes 10d4 damage immediately, which is less than he would take from a Cone of Cold (12d6) or a 5th level Magic Missile (9d4+9).

If he's really worried about the 5d4 Persistent damage he can try to shake it by taking an action to try get rid of the Sickened before he would take the damage, and even if he fails he still gets a DC 15 Flat check to shake it after taking the 12 or so damage.

It seems an okay spell, but not amazing. Obviously if your target keeps taking actions to get rid of Sickened and failing then that works out to be super effective, but it seems unlikely for that to be the case with a powerful higher level enemy.


Cold resistance is not uncommon, and shield counters MM. What's the defense against mental?

Scarab Sages

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Being a robot


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Mental Resistance is a thing now. Several monsters have it, generally aberrations or those tied to Occult magic or insanity.
And cold resistance isn't nearly as common as in PF1. The fact Cone of Cold does more damage, and to more people, makes it superior against most encounters. Plus some popular creatures have Weakness to it while I don't recall any with a Weakness to mental damage.

Plus, Shield only works once if the BBG used an action and then a reaction to block. Alone that makes the MM quite worthwhile (vs. a BBG at least), and the Shield is a defense your party has to punch through at some time if anybody uses weapons.

I'm glad there's a competitive mental damage spell, especially for use in cities or where you don't want mass destruction, but I don't think Phantom Pain is the game-changer you're painting it as.
Cheers


Also, mental resistance is a feature of the blink spell and common in incorporeal creatures. Not to mention mindless creatures are immune.


I'm thinking BBEG specifically. Using a magic item or casting a spell can get you cold resistance, so it's attainable. Some creatures have a cold weakness. Definitely true. That's an outlier though. Nothing in core currently protects against mental. Mindless creatures aren't commonly powerful enough to warrant boss status, are they? Not looking for outliers here. I'm wondering if this is an almost all purpose mega spell. Nothing will be the best all the time, but this seems top. It's unblockable, and it affects almost everything.


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Yes.

I love that little spell. It's creepy, deals damage, adds penalties and burns actions.

A staple for all my mind-affecting villains.


What are some incorporeal creatures with mental resist?


The DM of wrote:
What are some incorporeal creatures with mental resist?

All of them.


The DM of wrote:
What are some incorporeal creatures with mental resist?

All of the ones I've seen. It's usually resist all damage except force and positive.


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The DM of wrote:
I'm wondering if this is an almost all purpose mega spell.

Can't be all that 'all purpose' if you keep having to redefine your criteria.

But yes, against this hypothetical big bad who resists everything except mental damage and has a low will save it's a really good spell.


swoosh wrote:
The DM of wrote:
I'm wondering if this is an almost all purpose mega spell.

Can't be all that 'all purpose' if you keep having to redefine your criteria.

But yes, against this hypothetical big bad who resists everything except mental damage and has a low will save it's a really good spell.

Restate maybe, but not redefine if you read the first post:

The DM of wrote:
If this is all you cast against your BBEG, it seems devastating the moment you catch your first failed save.

I'm looking for discussion on it, and people are chipping away at it which is great, or providing supporting reasons. Both valid. So far it looks like there are other more damaging spells. In my mind they have counters, so I'm giving them lower weight. Some monsters aren't affected. If those aren't typical big baddies, also not going to get weighted as high. That's open-minded discussion, not redefining the post so I "win the internet." Thanks though.


The DM of wrote:


... Both valid. So far it looks like there are other more damaging spells. In my mind they have counters, so I'm giving them lower weight. Some monsters aren't affected. If those aren't typical big baddies, also not going to get weighted as high. ...

I'm watching Knight of Everflame on the Geek and Sundry channel. Jason used three Zombie Hulks and one Skeletal Hulk as big bad guys in a city assault. This is for level 5 characters. I admit these are not the end game NPC leading it all, but it's a significant encounter.

The value of the spell will vary on the campaign. In a campaign where undead are a majority of the enemy the spell will feel like a bad choice. In a campaign that takes place in the frozen North, it'll feel much more powerful than cone of cold.

Dark Archive

That depends on whether they are mindless undead or not, 2e undead with minds don't get blanket immunity to mind affecting effects anymore, so only mindless creatures are immune to mental effects.


While this is a good spell for a low level spell, especially based on the fact that they still take the full base damage on a fail (other first level spells, as far as I can tell, usually don't do that). But yeah, I don't think it's THAT great.

Yes, some BBEGs are going to resist Cold, but WAY less than in PF1 and a good number, including the Balor (arguably the biggest of the BBEGs as far as basic monsters go) are weak to it.

Sickened is not the worst condition out there, although it is "good" especially if you're up against a spellcaster since it lowers their spell save DCs.

The thing is, at higher levels the damage just...isn't a huge amount. Comparing it to Cone of Cold (just because other people are, so why not?). Phantom Pain upcast to 5th level actually does out-damage Cone of Cold on successful save on average, doing 25 (10d4) to 21 (12d6 / 2). However this is to be expected since Phantom Pain targets only one creature.

On a failed save, it becomes a bit more interesting, since now CoC out-damages PhP, but only on the initial turn, comparing 37.5 to 42. But PhP now has a rider effect that is not bad at all, as they will continue to take that 12.5 persistent damage if they don't get rid of the sickened condition, so it will quickly outpace CoC against a BBEG (unless said BBEG has even 1 minion that you can also hit and thus double the output of CoC).

On a crit fail save though, CoC now comes out quite a bit ahead, as it now does 84 damage compared to PhP's...still 37.5. It will take a decent few turns for PhP's persistent damage to come out ahead and it'll almost certainly be gone before then. That said, it could still be extremely useful if the lessened checks and DCs from sickened are a big part of the BBEG in question. Now of course, we're not expecting a BBEG to crit fail their save, but it CAN happen, and the difference in damage here is HUGE when it does.

But honestly...Cone of Cold is a poor comparison, because CoC is MEANT to be crowd control and hit multiple enemies. It would be better to compare PhP to a single target spell. Unfortunately there aren't any 5th level single target attack spells, so lets jump to 6th level.

Well there are a couple options here. Disintegrate is one, but that spell is so complex that I'm not sure anyone really knows if it is "good" or not yet, and might actually be badly underpowered, so instead I'll go for another spell that is also on the Occult spell list, Spirit Blast!

It does 16d6 Force with a basic Fortitude, and it directly attacks the spirit, which means it can harm things that are astral projections, or if you see someone being possessed it can harm the thing possessing them without harming the body of the one being possessed. The rider effect isn't likely to come up all that often, but it is still cool. A level 6 PhP does 12d4 damage normally, plus 6d4 persistent damage.

That means that SB does 28 Force on a successful save, compared to 30 Mental from PhP. The number difference is tiny, but notable. However while there are some things which can ignore Mental effects and damage (not a whole lot, but some) as far as I know, nothing at all resists Force. So lets say equal. On a failed save, that's 56 Force damage vs. 45 Mental and sickened. And on a Crit fail that is 112 Force vs. 45 Mental and sickened 2. And then depending on how things go, PhP can potentially add another 15 per round if the persistent damage isn't shaken off.

Again, while certain enemies are going to be really hurt by that sickened effect, some can basically ignore it and the persistent damage doesn't say that it persists as long as the target remains sickened, just that it goes away when they are no longer sickened. So personally, I'd say that at this point Spirit Blast is better. Not HUGELY better, since on a regular failed save the damage difference isn't that much, but I personally would rather use it.

And honestly that is saying a LOT for a low level spell that is upcast, so I don't think you're wrong to praise it. But I also don't think it's the be all and end all. It's good. But just good.


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Why are we still here? Just to suffer? Every day I can feel my leg...

The most powerful thing about this spell is that you get an excuse to make memes at the table.


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That was effective. I took 25 mental damage just thinking about it.

Shadow Lodge

The DM of wrote:
Cold resistance is not uncommon, and shield counters MM. What's the defense against mental?
Shield isn't really much of a counter to Magic Missile spell anymore: You can use your reaction to Shield Block the spell, but unlike previous editions:
  • You need to spend an action each round to use the spell,
  • Assuming both casters are the same level, it only reduces the damage taken from 3d4+3 to 3d4-2 per four caster levels, and
  • You can't use the Shield spell again for 10 minutes after blocking anything.
Given that the +1 AC bonus is pretty valuable by itself, most casters would be unlikely to actually use the Shield Block option until either it was necessary to survive or the it's obvious you probably won't be needing it for another 10 minutes (your opponents are nearly defeated or you are unlikely to be attacked again the way things are going).


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Angel Hunter D wrote:
Being a robot

Always be a robot. Robot batman specially.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Artofregicide wrote:
Angel Hunter D wrote:
Being a robot
Always be a robot. Robot batman specially.

Botman it is.

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