Do potions heal through Cursed Wounds from Clay Golem without rolling?


Rules Discussion


I have a couple of characters who had the misfortune of encountering a clay golem and getting cursed with Curse Wound. The wording is clear that treat wounds or overnight rest isn't going to help and any spells will have to counteract the curse before being effective. One of the players is insisting that potions are both magic and not spells, so they should work without having to roll. Luckily we were at the end of the session anyway, so I have time to do some research.

I am leaning towards allowing it to bypass the roll, but it does seem to violate the spirit of the curse. Potions aren't clearly spells in a bottle anymore and there is no requirement to use a Heal spell to make a potion.

Cursed Wound (divine, curse, necromancy) A creature hit by the clay golem’s fist must succeed at a DC 29 Fortitude save or be cursed until healed to its maximum HP. The cursed creature can’t regain HP except via magic, and anyone casting a spell to heal the creature must succeed at a DC 29 counteract check or the healing has no effect. The golem’s counteract level is equal to its creature level.


Potions are magic because they have the magical trait. A cursed character can't be healed by magic. It's that easy.

Note that it's different for alchemical Elixirs. Those are by definition non-magical.


Yes, as currently worded the clay golem's cursed wounds are most easily overcome by use of items which restore hit points without casting spells.

There's a fairly solid chance that the text of that trait will be errata'd in the future though, because a DC 29 attached to a counteract level 10 doesn't make sense - either the DC is too low for characters that can bring a counteract level of their own that can compete with the golem's 10, or the counteract level should be 5 so that characters around the same level as the golem can actually have a chance to counteract it's curse.


Blave wrote:
Potions are magic because they have the magical trait. A cursed character can't be healed by magic. It's that easy.

According to the text, a character can only be healed by magic. The question is whether the potion, which should work since it is magical, should be subject to the DC 29 check, since it's not a spell.


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I think it's a gap in the rules.

But as written the potions are magical and an heal a cursed character, but no one is casting a spell, so it doesn't face the check.

Probably that's an overly strict reading of the rule, and should more generally be read as "any magic effect that would heal a cursed character must overcome a DC 29 check".


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theservantsllcleanitup wrote:
Blave wrote:
Potions are magic because they have the magical trait. A cursed character can't be healed by magic. It's that easy.
According to the text, a character can only be healed by magic. The question is whether the potion, which should work since it is magical, should be subject to the DC 29 check, since it's not a spell.

I completely mis-read the ability. You are of course correct.

As written, you can be only be healed by magic. In addition, anyone trying to heal you with a spell must roll a check.

Since potions are no longer spells in a bottle, you can be healed by Healing Potions without the need for any check.


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Claxon wrote:
Probably that's an overly strict reading of the rule, and should more generally be read as "any magic effect that would heal a cursed character must overcome a DC 29 check".

Notably, if the potions are subject to the rule, the next sentence makes them auto-fail. And, well, everyone else too.

Quote:
The golem’s counteract level is equal to its creature level.

All effects--other than the golem--have a counteract level equal to half its level:

Quote:

What you can

counteract depends on the check result and the target’s
level. If an effect is a spell, its level is the counteract level.
Otherwise, halve its level and round up to determine its
counteract level.
If an effect’s level is unclear and it came
from a creature, halve and round up the creature’s level.

Keeping in mind that "spells == level" already takes the halving into account (due to spell level 3 requiring creature level 5: half of 5 rounded up is 3).

Unless the counteract level isn't relevant to the DC 29 counteract check because you're "just trying to heal, not counter the curse." To which I say, "Its a counteract check, if you roll a success, you succeed only if 'its counteract level is no more than 1 level higher than your effect’s counteract level'"


Inflicting wounds which are difficult to heal is one of the Clay Golem's shticks. And by difficult I mean very difficult/wait for downtime.

In one of the PFS specials one of the first monsters is a Clay Golem (and its friend) and I had to roll a 17 or thereabouts to heal the Barbarian (which very thankfully I did w/ a great roll on the amount too!) I can imagine most groups having to go through w/ wounds throughout the whole gauntlet.

The very high requirements harken back to classic Clay Golems:
"Damage inflicted upon living matter by a clay golem is only repairable by means of a healing spell from a cleric of 17th or greater level."
-AD&D Monster Manual
Essentially you had to pay the Pope to get healed.
And there was a level 4-7 module out far from cities where there's a Clay Golem early on. Gulp. (Intelligent play avoids it thankfully.)

I'm not voicing an opinion (mainly because mine fluctuates on this topic), but rather saying that the counter-intuitively high difficulty may be intentional.


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Castilliano wrote:
I'm not voicing an opinion (mainly because mine fluctuates on this topic), but rather saying that the counter-intuitively high difficulty may be intentional.

I've got nothing against that, just that any clay golem with a level of 14 or higher could inflict wounds that cannot be healed, not even by the pope (you'd need a 21st level caster).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Draco18s wrote:
Unless the counteract level isn't relevant to the DC 29 counteract check because you're "just trying to heal, not counter the curse."

It's precisely this.

A case of specific over general.


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Rysky wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
Unless the counteract level isn't relevant to the DC 29 counteract check because you're "just trying to heal, not counter the curse."

It's precisely this.

A case of specific over general.

Except that it doesn't replace the 4 degrees of success chart. It says "go do a counteract, here's the DC."

Sovereign Court

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Yeah, looks like a gap. The intention seems clear that the potion is not an easy run-around of this ability.

Don't let players bully you with technicalities that obviously ignore the intent of the rules.


Ascalaphus wrote:

Yeah, looks like a gap. The intention seems clear that the potion is not an easy run-around of this ability.

Don't let players bully you with technicalities that obviously ignore the intent of the rules.

I'm not sure it is intentional or obvious. The Clay Golem's ability is potentially campaign derailing in how effective and difficult to remove it is.

Potions serve as a stopgap way to keep someone up and active, but in a much more limited way than they normally could if they could heal properly, rather than simply being forced to semi-retire the character until they can find a cure.

Given that PF2 has gone out of its way to mitigate 'one bad roll' type scenarios in general, having a way to deal with the curse in some limited capacity seems a lot more obvious to me than not.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Draco18s wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
Unless the counteract level isn't relevant to the DC 29 counteract check because you're "just trying to heal, not counter the curse."

It's precisely this.

A case of specific over general.

Except that it doesn't replace the 4 degrees of success chart. It says "go do a counteract, here's the DC."

For counteracting, for just healing damage that's why it has the specific DC listed.


Rysky wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
Unless the counteract level isn't relevant to the DC 29 counteract check because you're "just trying to heal, not counter the curse."

It's precisely this.

A case of specific over general.

Except that it doesn't replace the 4 degrees of success chart. It says "go do a counteract, here's the DC."
For counteracting, for just healing damage that's why it has the specific DC listed.

If the DC 29 is just for healing, not the DC to counter the curse, I have two questions for you:

1) What are the effects of success, critical success, failure, or critical failure of this non-counteract check, and what modifier does the caster apply?

2) What is the DC to actually counteract the curse?


Rysky wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
Unless the counteract level isn't relevant to the DC 29 counteract check because you're "just trying to heal, not counter the curse."

It's precisely this.

A case of specific over general.

Except that it doesn't replace the 4 degrees of success chart. It says "go do a counteract, here's the DC."
For counteracting, for just healing damage that's why it has the specific DC listed.

I quote, "...anyone casting a spell to heal the creature must succeed a DC 29 counteract check or the healing has no effect. The golem's counteract level is equal to its creature level."

A success on a counteract check requires that we head to page 458 and 459, whereupon we find, "Success: Counteract the target if its counteract level is no more than 1 level higher than your effect's counteract level."

Success only does something if your spell's level is no more than 1 lower the golem's level.

Additionally, there is no need to state the golem's counteract level in this passage unless it applied to the check being made.

Sovereign Court

Squiggit wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

Yeah, looks like a gap. The intention seems clear that the potion is not an easy run-around of this ability.

Don't let players bully you with technicalities that obviously ignore the intent of the rules.

I'm not sure it is intentional or obvious. The Clay Golem's ability is potentially campaign derailing in how effective and difficult to remove it is.

Potions serve as a stopgap way to keep someone up and active, but in a much more limited way than they normally could if they could heal properly, rather than simply being forced to semi-retire the character until they can find a cure.

Given that PF2 has gone out of its way to mitigate 'one bad roll' type scenarios in general, having a way to deal with the curse in some limited capacity seems a lot more obvious to me than not.

Clay golems are kind of a traditionally nasty monster; in PF1 the Caster Level Check to overcome the cursed wound was DC 26, which is really high for a CR 10 creature. Keep in mind that you might run into one as a CR+2 encounter (dumb golems that can't do a monologue aren't obvious candidates for CR+3 bossfights). So they've always been that nasty.

PF2 makes counteracting bad stuff done by bosses pretty hard. But you're right that it does give eventual ways to overcome most bad stuff. So this monster seems on the extreme side for PF2 design.

But I don't believe potions were intended as the way around it. If they were then it'd be written in the description somehow, not a "if you're really clever at parsing the rules you'll notice this technicality".

And as a stopgap technicality, they're a bit too good, because healing someone to full HP ends the curse.

But on close reading, the curse is worse than in PF1, because in PF1 it was only the damage inflicted by the golem that couldn't be healed. In PF2, you simply can't be healed while cursed.

Sovereign Court

Draco18s wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
Unless the counteract level isn't relevant to the DC 29 counteract check because you're "just trying to heal, not counter the curse."

It's precisely this.

A case of specific over general.

Except that it doesn't replace the 4 degrees of success chart. It says "go do a counteract, here's the DC."
For counteracting, for just healing damage that's why it has the specific DC listed.

I quote, "...anyone casting a spell to heal the creature must succeed a DC 29 counteract check or the healing has no effect. The golem's counteract level is equal to its creature level."

A success on a counteract check requires that we head to page 458 and 459, whereupon we find, "Success: Counteract the target if its counteract level is no more than 1 level higher than your effect's counteract level."

Success only does something if your spell's level is no more than 1 lower the golem's level.

Additionally, there is no need to state the golem's counteract level in this passage unless it applied to the check being made.

My take is that you can do one of two things:

1) Heal someone to full HP, which triggers a built-in end to the curse. This goes against the DC 29 that's explicitly listed.

2) Use magic to directly remove the curse. This is a regular Counteract check using the golem's creature level as a higher than normal Counteract Level. (Clay golem cursed wounds are traditionally unusually hard to remove for their level.) After you've removed the curse, you can heal someone normally.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

But I don't believe potions were intended as the way around it. If they were then it'd be written in the description somehow, not a "if you're really clever at parsing the rules you'll notice this technicality".

And as a stopgap technicality, they're a bit too good, because healing someone to full HP ends the curse.

In your opinion, how would the text be worded if potions (and other magic items which restore HP without casting spells) were intended as a way around the curse?

I ask because I don't think that parsing "except via magic" as including potions and "casting a spell to heal the creature" as not including potions is really clever parsing, nor a technicality.

Also, looking at the amounts of damage a clay golem inflicts (2d10+12, plus maybe 1d8) compared to the amounts of healing done by potions (1d8, 2d8+5, or 3d8+10 being available around the level this beastie could show up) and the number of consumables suggested by the treasure guidelines... it looks like it wouldn't exactly be a situation the party didn't feel had significant cost to them to patch somebody up with potions to clear the curse.

Sovereign Court

thenobledrake wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

But I don't believe potions were intended as the way around it. If they were then it'd be written in the description somehow, not a "if you're really clever at parsing the rules you'll notice this technicality".

And as a stopgap technicality, they're a bit too good, because healing someone to full HP ends the curse.

In your opinion, how would the text be worded if potions (and other magic items which restore HP without casting spells) were intended as a way around the curse?

I ask because I don't think that parsing "except via magic" as including potions and "casting a spell to heal the creature" as not including potions is really clever parsing, nor a technicality.

Also, looking at the amounts of damage a clay golem inflicts (2d10+12, plus maybe 1d8) compared to the amounts of healing done by potions (1d8, 2d8+5, or 3d8+10 being available around the level this beastie could show up) and the number of consumables suggested by the treasure guidelines... it looks like it wouldn't exactly be a situation the party didn't feel had significant cost to them to patch somebody up with potions to clear the curse.

Well look at the pedigree of the monster:

AD&D 2.5: A Heal spell cast by a 17th level cleric is needed.
D&D 3.0: A healing spell of 6th level is needed.
Pathfinder 1: Caster Level Check of DC 26 is needed
Pathfinder 2: Counteract check of DC 29 is needed, against a counteract level of 10 (the monster's level). This then requires a spell no lower in level than 7 (with a crit), or 9 (with a regular success). So you basically need a level 13+ caster.

The common thread of all of these is that it takes intervention of someone of higher level than the party typically is at that level to deal with the wound.

Cosmic Captive anecdote - spoilers:
In one of the first encounters, my players ran into a clay golem. It dealt about 20 damage to one of the PCs (who had about 90 HP) before they destroyed it. The level 11 cleric tried five times to get rid of the wound but failed every time. The wounded player is a normally pretty gung-ho guy but he was a bit shaken by this.

Near the end of the scenario, when the whole house achieves some success, there is a blast of healing that affects all tables and it's done at caster level 30. So that instantly overcame the caster level check. Also a handsome illustration of just what the players are dealing with...

To answer your question: how would it be worded if non-spell things were intended as a workaround? Something like this:

possible text wrote:
Cursed Wound (divine, curse, necromancy) A creature hit by the clay golem’s fist must succeed at a DC 29 Fortitude save or be cursed until healed to its maximum HP. The cursed creature can’t regain HP except via magic, and anyone casting a spell to heal the creature must succeed at a DC 29 counteract check or the healing has no effect. Other magic that restores hit points, such as potions, heal only half the normal amount. The golem’s counteract level is equal to its creature level.

So should potions be usable at all? Well, just like spells they provide healing. The question is, do they have a counteract level and score? Normally healing potions don't need to do that, but other items that remove afflictions do get a counteract level, usually item level / 2, round down. So I'd say potions should use a counteract check too. Looks like you'd need a level 18 healing potion to have a chance of counteracting the wound.

---

Well, I have to say, stone golems are well and truly nasty. I'm not sure they thought this through entirely when writing it. Maybe it should get a warning sticker for GMs.

Also let me present another ability by contrast:

Bestiary p. 88, Bearded Devil wrote:

Infernal Wound (divine, necromancy) A bearded devil’s glaive Strike also deals 1d6 persistent bleed damage that resists attempts to heal it. The flat check to stop the bleeding starts at DC 20. The DC is reduced to 15 only if the bleeding creature or an ally successfully assists with the recovery.

The DC to Administer First Aid to a creature with an infernal wound is increased by 5. A spellcaster or item attempting to use healing magic on a creature suffering from an infernal wound must succeed at a DC 21 counteract check or the magic fails to heal the creature.

It's a sort of similar ability. Unlike the golem's cursed wound, you don't get an initial save to avoid it, but you can heal the wound after combat with Treat Wounds. Notice that this one says "spellcaster or item attempting to use healing magic". In that case we'd explicitly have potions make counteract checks (using stats we'd have to guess). But it still leaves unresolved what you'd do with a magical healing class ability of a non-spellcaster class.


Ascalaphus wrote:

My take is that you can do one of two things:

1) Heal someone to full HP, which triggers a built-in end to the curse. This goes against the DC 29 that's explicitly listed.

While I agree with you here, there's one thing you're intentionally glossing over. The DC 29 that is listed is also listed next to the type of check that you make.

Which is a counteract check.


Ascalaphus wrote:
Well look at the pedigree of the monster:

I get the precedent of this trait, but the DC doesn't make much sense for the counteract level assigned in my opinion.

The DC seems fair for a level 10-ish character, which means it's on the too easy side for a character that can use a high enough level spell to match the counteract level.

Perhaps that's what was intended - it taking a higher level character but it being quite easy for that character - but it sticks out as an oddity alongside the rest of the system wherein DCs only get "easy" if it's a thing you don't automatically get better at and you've chosen to get to get better at it.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Draco18s wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

My take is that you can do one of two things:

1) Heal someone to full HP, which triggers a built-in end to the curse. This goes against the DC 29 that's explicitly listed.

While I agree with you here, there's one thing you're intentionally glossing over. The DC 29 that is listed is also listed next to the type of check that you make.

Which is a counteract check.

Specific beats general.


Rysky wrote:
Specific beats general.

Again, nothing in the golem's description replaces the four-outcome-chart. It states you need a success, but it doesn't replace the text of the success.


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We had to use potions and healer's gloves hiding out in the jungle for a week or so. At 8th level we did not have spells to make a lvl 10 effect counteract check.

According to the reading of the rules, potions and healer's gloves work. Magical trait ok to have, casting spells not so much.

Sovereign Court

thenobledrake wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Well look at the pedigree of the monster:

I get the precedent of this trait, but the DC doesn't make much sense for the counteract level assigned in my opinion.

The DC seems fair for a level 10-ish character, which means it's on the too easy side for a character that can use a high enough level spell to match the counteract level.

Perhaps that's what was intended - it taking a higher level character but it being quite easy for that character - but it sticks out as an oddity alongside the rest of the system wherein DCs only get "easy" if it's a thing you don't automatically get better at and you've chosen to get to get better at it.

I think this is one of those cases where the "let's keep it short" writing style of PF2 can trip you up.

Looking back at clay golems in previous editions, you've always needed a MUCH higher level healer to get rid of the wound, compared to how strong the golem is in a fight. But it was explicitly called out in the text.

In PF2, it's implied by the counteract level being that high; if you follow the consequences of that, you'll need a high-level caster to stand a chance. But it's far, far from immediately obvious. If you're not familiar with this monster's pedigree, it just looks like an error because no other monster causes wounds that are this hard to heal. So they should have put in a bit more text to make clear that "yes, this is really what we mean".

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