Scare to Death: Is it odd that a skill is better at killing things than a spell?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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I witnessed Scared to Death used against lower level monsters and it is devastating. Much better at killing things than a spell for 1 action.

The high charisma paladin at lvl 16 was able to annihilate some level 13 elite Calikangs with ease using Scare to Death.

16th level + 5 charisma + 8 Legendary Charisma + 2 Circumstance intimidating Prowess +2 item Demon mask = +33 Intimidation.

Will save Elite Calikangs +22.

9 or better on dice roll a critical success on intimidation.

DC 43 Fortitude save or die.

+25 fortitude save elite Calikangs.

So a skill is far better than magic at killing things than a spell like finger of death. That seems odd.

Anyone have experience with this skill feat?

What I'm seeing at lvl 20 with a fully developed intimidate character, you could Scare to Death balors. Your Intimidate skill would be +39 against a DC 44. So on a 15 or better you can Scare to Death a Balor and force them to make a DC 49 Fort save or die. They have a 45% chance of outright dying.

Pretty nasty. Much more dangerous than a spell.

Dataphiles

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The fighter and rogue in my AoA game both took this feat and just started scaring to death the numerous level- creatures there are in book 4-5 and onwards. Definitely one of the strongest skill feats out there, perhaps a little bit too strong. Dealing effectively 200+ damage for 1 action and no MAP.

Though fear (3rd) can essentially shut out a lot of level- monsters in a similar way. Weird can be an AoE scare to death, etc.


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Yeah, I don't like it. It's really anticlimactic. And I really don't like the huge power jump for intimidation when they get scare to death.


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I don't believe Intimidating Prowess effects Scare to Death RAW, as it mentions Demoralize and Coerce, while Scare to Death is a different action. Even without the Intimidating Prowess bonus, it is better at actually killing the target than a Phantasmal Killer cast by an equal level caster, which is a little odd for intimidate focused sorcerers and oracles as they get a mundane option that is better at killing people with fear than a spell that kills people with fear.


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It does seem pretty overpowered, considering you can use it as often as you want whereas spell casters only x number of spells per day. I think part if it is more a case of death spells being underpowered, i.e Finger Of Death only does a measily 70 damage on a failed save, whereas this just kills them outright.


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Finger of Death:
- Doesn't have the incapacitation trait (which applies on both the check and save for Scare to Death)
- Doesn't require two saves
- Does damage
- Has a basic save (and as such does half damage)
- Doesn't make the target immune for 1 minute / can be used in succession
- Doesn't require you to have a shared language to avoid a -4 penalty
- Doesn't require the target to sense or observe you
- Doesn't require you to get to legendary in intimidation
- Isn't effected by fear immunity or other traits that make something immune to fear or mind effecting abilities
- Is obtained at level 13 rather than level 15

Scare to Death is a good intimidation feat. But it comes with a lot of downsides too.

EG. A level 15 character targets an Ice Devil (level 13) with scare to death. They have an intimidation bonus of +30.

There is a 25% chance of it being a crit success, a 30% chance it succeeds its fortitude saving throw. 17.5% chance of instant death with no real chance of repeating the roll if it fails.

That is a damage average of what, 37.625 per action against Ice Devils. Not a particularly useful number and very white roomy though given the "success or failure" element.

FoD at level 15 will be a DC37 (crit success 5%, 35% success, 45% failure,15% crit failure)

Cast in a level 8 slot, an average of 74 damage, vs two scare to deaths being 75.25 assuming you had two targets. But with far easier averages to reach than scare to death if you are just thinking about it from a damage potential perspective.

Again, not going to say that scare to death is bad. It is far from it, but both it and finger of death have differing design goals and investments required.


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And an 8th level Confusion would incapacitate up to 10 creatures within 30 of you. Based on dice odds probably half of them for a minute and the rest for up to a minute... So again since they need to succeed a DC 37 with a 22, unlikely they get out by the end of that minute.

Or a Weird next level could kill a third of the entire encounter with the same parameters, and do a boatload of damage besides.

Or it's not a race and there is no Pf2elogs parsing your run so it's fine to play whatever.


Deriven Firelion wrote:
What I'm seeing at lvl 20 with a fully developed intimidate character, you could Scare to Death balors. Your Intimidate skill would be +39 against a DC 44. So on a 15 or better you can Scare to Death a Balor and force them to make a DC 49 Fort save or die. They have a 45% chance of outright dying.

As people have said earlier, your computation is off by 6 points. Intimidating Prowess only applies to Demoralize and -4 against all monsters who don't understand your language (well, for this one you can do something, but it's not a given).


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's interesting to think that such a character could potentially kill every man, woman, and child in a village simply by looking at them.

Legendary indeed!


So if you are a level 20 bard going all at scare to death you get these bonus.

20(level) +8(legendary) +7(cha)+3(item)+3(status herorism)=+41

So 41 vs dc 44 so a 13 or better then a save with a DC of 51.

If you really wanted it to stick you would probably bon mot. Then scare to death.


Deriven Firelion wrote:
What I'm seeing at lvl 20 with a fully developed intimidate character, you could Scare to Death balors. Your Intimidate skill would be +39 against a DC 44. So on a 15 or better you can Scare to Death a Balor and force them to make a DC 49 Fort save or die. They have a 45% chance of outright dying.

If you share a language (telepathy doesn't grant understanding)

+37 (since intimidating prowess doesn't apply) 20% crit success rate, 65% chance of it succeeding its fort save vs a DC47 intimidation dc. That is a 7% chance of scaring it to death.

Even with your original numbers it is a 16.5% chance with no repeat attempt, far from 45% chance of dying outright.

Keep in mind that this is an ideal situation where you share a language, not sharing a language pushes it down to +33 5%, DC43 fort 75%, which results in a 0.75% chance of it working against a balor.

Don't use finger of death against balors either though, fort is their best save. And always debuff an opponent first if possible.

It ends up being 43.5 average damage (level 7 slot) with 25% of the time you doing nothing. Not awful but certainly not exciting at level 20.

siegfriedliner wrote:

So if you are a level 20 bard going all at scare to death you get these bonus.

20(level) +8(legendary) +7(cha)+3(item)+3(status herorism)=+41

So 41 vs dc 44 so a 13 or better then a save with a DC of 51.

If you really wanted it to stick you would probably bon mot. Then scare to death.

That is still a 18% chance of death for a balor (not counting bon mot) but now it has taken a level 9 spell slot as well. And assumes it understands your language.

Against a creature who has its lowest save as will.

Vs an Ancient Gold Dragon instead of a balor that 18% drops to 5.25% (again sans bon mot)

Amazing if scare to death comes off, you feel super cool. But not reliable enough for me to be that concerned balance wise.


It's really good, but we have also to consider what's on the other side.

A character with scare to death might be dominated by the balor, which orders him to scare to death x3 on its party members.

Suffering from a tk the first round might suggest either the party or the dm to riconsider some builds.

Personally, wouldn't allow it.
Intimidate is way enough ( a frightened 2 for 1 round would be enough for a 1 action skill ).


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I will have to recall that Scare to Death is a specific action that doesn't work with Intimidating Prowess. It isn't a Demoralize check. It's a very specific action. That will adjust it some.


The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
What I'm seeing at lvl 20 with a fully developed intimidate character, you could Scare to Death balors. Your Intimidate skill would be +39 against a DC 44. So on a 15 or better you can Scare to Death a Balor and force them to make a DC 49 Fort save or die. They have a 45% chance of outright dying.

If you share a language (telepathy doesn't grant understanding)

+37 (since intimidating prowess doesn't apply) 20% crit success rate, 65% chance of it succeeding its fort save vs a DC47 intimidation dc. That is a 7% chance of scaring it to death.

Even with your original numbers it is a 16.5% chance with no repeat attempt, far from 45% chance of dying outright.

Keep in mind that this is an ideal situation where you share a language, not sharing a language pushes it down to +33 5%, DC43 fort 75%, which results in a 0.75% chance of it working against a balor.

Don't use finger of death against balors either though, fort is their best save. And always debuff an opponent first if possible.

It ends up being 43.5 average damage (level 7 slot) with 25% of the time you doing nothing. Not awful but certainly not exciting at level 20.

siegfriedliner wrote:

So if you are a level 20 bard going all at scare to death you get these bonus.

20(level) +8(legendary) +7(cha)+3(item)+3(status herorism)=+41

So 41 vs dc 44 so a 13 or better then a save with a DC of 51.

If you really wanted it to stick you would probably bon mot. Then scare to death.

That is still a 18% chance of death for a balor (not counting bon mot) but now it has taken a level 9 spell slot as well. And assumes it understands your language.

Against a creature who has its lowest save as will.

Vs an Ancient Gold Dragon instead of a balor that 18% drops to 5.25% (again sans bon mot)

Amazing if scare to death comes off, you feel super cool. But not reliable enough for me to be that concerned balance wise.

28% = (13+)35%*80(17+)

With bon mot its

45% and I am sure that I am missing a few more circumstantial modifiers that you could get.

But yes powerful but very situational.


siegfriedliner wrote:

28% = (13+)35%*80(17+)

With bon mot its

45% and I am sure that I am missing a few more circumstantial modifiers that you could get.

But yes powerful but very situational.

Oopse what I get for doing it in my head.

+41 intimidate vs 54 will(for a crit) meaning a 13+ on a dice, 40% chance of crit success.

+39 fort vs DC51 intimidate 12+ on a dice, 55% chance of target failing their save.

0.4*0.55 = 22%

With a bon mot success

+41 vs 52 will, 11+ on a dice, 50% chance

+39 vs DC51 again, same 55% chance of hitting

0.5*0.55 = 27.5%

Unless I am doing something wrong here? Keep in mind the target doesn't gain the frightened 2 from scare to death until after it makes both saves.

edit: using a heropoint on the intimidate roll can be worth it. 35.2% standard, 41.25% with bon mot success. Throw on a frightened condition before hand and get a circumstance bonus (inspire competence? Gm dependant on whether aiding someone with scare to death requires scare to death though)

Again though, the balor is an example of a soft target for scare to death and even then it requires a lot of prep.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

What are the odds at 15?

siegfriedliner wrote:
If you really wanted it to stick you would probably bon mot. Then scare to death.

His puns were so bad, some say select audience members perished. XD

The bard's poetry was even worse, taught to him by mysterious creatures from beyond the black called Vogons.


Ravingdork wrote:
What are the odds at 15?
siegfriedliner wrote:
If you really wanted it to stick you would probably bon mot. Then scare to death.

His puns were so bad, some say select audience members perished. XD

The bard's poetry was even worse, taught to him by mysterious creatures from beyond the black called Vogons.

DMG has the moderate saves at level 15 monster as +26

LEvel 15 maximised onuses should be legendary proficiency for 15+8= 23, +5 Cha, and a +2 item, so +30 to your check.

So, assuming the monster understands your language, Vs a moderate Will/moderate Fort, you should need a 16 on the roll followed by monster getting lower than 14.

so around 16% ish.


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I'm kind of confused as to why we are comparing Scare to Death to Finger of Death, a spell which is, despite its name, just a big blast of negative energy, not a death effect, rather than to, say, Power Word Kill (since we're talking about level 20) or Phantasmal Killer (for level 15, when characters can get Scare to Death, and for an effect that is very similar, giving the frightened condition, potentially an instant kill and having the incapacitation trait, though with the added benefit of damage). I'm aware it's way easier to boost a skill dc than a spell dc, which does kind of bother me, but at least, if the problem is the discrepancy in save dcs, compare things that have similar potential effects, no?

Of course, Power Word Kill won't kill a Balor unless it's already significantly injured, but for the scenario against lower level creatures, it does that job without any saves. Then again, it's a 9th level spell, so that might not be the most awesome use of those very limited spell slots.

Let's look at Phantasmal Killer instead. If the only thing we are looking for is the conditions and death effect (since that's all Scare to Death does), you can do that as a 4th level spell, which means you can start using it much earlier, and if the caster wants just that and doesn't mind lower damage, they can have a whole lot of Phantasmal Killer spells ready when they reach higher levels. The DC is still going to be a few points lower due to not gaining an item bonus, but it's a decent spell that you can get earlier than Scare to Death and which does basically the same effect with extra damage in case you don't manage to kill the target, on top of similar conditions. It's also not affected by a lack of shared languages which makes it better against some enemies. Mindless enemies can't be targeted with that, however.

In the end, is Scare to Death too strong? Maybe, but I think spellcasters do get to compete, and meanwhile they don't have to invest skill increases, stat increases and feats into that, so they can do some other amazing things with their own skills.


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Scared to Death is an unlimited use resource usable as often as you you have actions per round that can be supported by casters that can make it easy to kill monsters, especially level -2 or more monsters, quite easily.

The paladin in question used this ability to kill 4 elite calikangs at lvl 16 with ease at the rate 2 per round with average rolls. It was quite an eye opener. More effective than any lvl 8 spell or a crit from a weapon to eliminate 4 255 hit point creatures.

I would even say that Scare to Death may well be the most effective 1 action offensive ability against living creatures of your level or lower in the game.


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Ravingdork wrote:
What are the odds at 15?
siegfriedliner wrote:
If you really wanted it to stick you would probably bon mot. Then scare to death.

His puns were so bad, some say select audience members perished. XD

The bard's poetry was even worse, taught to him by mysterious creatures from beyond the black called Vogons.

What bonus does the poetry appreciation chair give?


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In my AOA campaign the rogue loves to Intimidate/Demoralize, so he picked Scare to Death, one of the highlights of one session was seeing he using it for the first time, and yes that elite Calikang just died...
I don't see it as overpowered, some monsters will be immune, some bad guys will benefict from the incapacitation trait, and when it works it is a moment to remember and fun at the table.
I as a GM loved seeing that elite Calikang went down with a Boooooo, or in the case of the Goblin Rogue, he says he lifts his kilt and show what is under that to the monsters...
I don't wanna to know...


Deriven Firelion wrote:
Scared to Death is an unlimited use resource usable as often as you you have actions per round

Except the 1 minute immunity ofc.


The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Scared to Death is an unlimited use resource usable as often as you you have actions per round
Except the 1 minute immunity ofc.

You can still try it once every target. The paladin took out four elite calikang with ease.

It's an easy minion killer.


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wait does that mean a character with that feat could kill entire armies of low level characters without even fighting wow

Liberty's Edge

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ArchSage20 wrote:
wait does that mean a character with that feat could kill entire armies of low level characters without even fighting wow

I mean, at a rate of three per round maximum, yes.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
ArchSage20 wrote:
wait does that mean a character with that feat could kill entire armies of low level characters without even fighting wow
I mean, at a rate of three per round maximum, yes.

This is a little comical to imagine. I just watched the boys so I’m imagining this is kinda close to emulating homelander in a way. Reskin it as heat vision.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Scared to Death is an unlimited use resource usable as often as you you have actions per round
Except the 1 minute immunity ofc.

You can still try it once every target. The paladin took out four elite calikang with ease.

It's an easy minion killer.

..isn't a fifteenth-level character an easy minion killer in and of itself?

Liberty's Edge

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Qaianna wrote:
..isn't a fifteenth-level character an easy minion killer in and of itself?

Yep. By the time you're actually killing with this most of the time, you'd probably also auto crit on your first attack or two.

It probably does speed the process of minion killing up a bit, though.


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Qaianna wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Scared to Death is an unlimited use resource usable as often as you you have actions per round
Except the 1 minute immunity ofc.

You can still try it once every target. The paladin took out four elite calikang with ease.

It's an easy minion killer.

..isn't a fifteenth-level character an easy minion killer in and of itself?

No. Not one action easy.

Each of the Elite Calikangs had 255 hit points. Even a critical hit with a greater striking d12 weapon would not kill them doing maximum damage.

84+70+21 (3 energy runes)=175 damage maximum with a crit.

A 9th lvl power word kill could snuff a lvl 13 elite calikang. A 17th level wizard could cast that 3 times a day.

A weird could have a chance of snuffing them all.

Scare to Death is a very low cost, efficient way to massacre creatures up to your level. Much better than a weapon attack.


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kinda of sounds like a cantrip to me that + focus spells and abilities like legendary survivalist that lets you outright forgo food and water indefinitely maybe a sign that we are ready to try something different from the vancian casting system (who im a kidding this is would be too good to be true)


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ArchSage20 wrote:

kinda of sounds like a cantrip to me that + focus spells and abilities like legendary survivalist that lets you outright forgo food and water indefinitely maybe a sign that we are ready to try something different from the vancian casting system (who im a kidding this is would be too good to be true)

Vancian definitely has to go. We're LONG past the expiration date on that magic system.

I've been planning a variant magic system for any PF2 adventures I run that basically swaps spell slots for a "spell pool", similar to the focus pool and focus spells.


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I believe they said they'll have an optional alternate system in Secrets of Magic.


Should this have the auditory trait?


krobrina wrote:
Should this have the auditory trait?

if it had that trait, then when the enemy couldn't hear he wouldn't be affected.

now, you can use it in such occasions but you have a -4.

(unless i totally misread your post and you meant it as a direct nerf to the feat instead of an observation)


shroudb wrote:
krobrina wrote:
Should this have the auditory trait?

if it had that trait, then when the enemy couldn't hear he wouldn't be affected.

now, you can use it in such occasions but you have a -4.

(unless i totally misread your post and you meant it as a direct nerf to the feat instead of an observation)

A visual trait might be fun.

It reminds me of the Janitor Evil Eye scene from Scrubs.


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So wait, you're telling me, essentially, that skill checks are more effective than spellcasting in 2e? What amazement and wonder!

Scare to death is hilarious, but doubly hilarious when you realize that a high level character can be more effective in combat by hurling scary threats and the stinkeye than using actual magic?

Truly, this is the height of high fantasy!


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Artofregicide wrote:

So wait, you're telling me, essentially, that skill checks are more effective than spellcasting in 2e? What amazement and wonder!

Scare to death is hilarious, but doubly hilarious when you realize that a high level character can be more effective in combat by hurling scary threats and the stinkeye than using actual magic?

Truly, this is the height of high fantasy!

pathfinder martial edition

in all seriousness i don't dislike it at all i much prefer these permanent reliable powers sadly they didn't do the same for spell casters

maybe i will try making o a scaromancer at some point

imagine a party of 4 people with this skills killing 12 enemies each turn just by looking at them

Silver Crusade

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Huh, Legendary things are Legendary, who'd a thought?


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Rysky wrote:
Huh, Legendary things are Legendary, who'd a thought?

now we just need to improve the rest of them so they can match this level

Silver Crusade

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Immune to Fall damage and Hide in Plain Sight are nice, and is being able to remove ill effects caused by artifacts.


Acrobatic is really good.

It has 2 skill feats which also work with legendary skill ( Cat Fall and Nimble Crawler ) and also has Steady Balance and Kip up which are great. Given the acrobat dedication you might be able to have a parallel progression and unlock the lvl 15 features by lvl 15 and also a different one.

Athletics is also really good, but invalidates part of its feats with the 15th ( like wall jump and water sprint ).


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I wonder how my players will react if I use this feat on them by a level+2 creature. I imagine they would be extremely unhappy to be killed with 1 action against a very hard save.

I find it amusing that some on here think it is balanced. I wonder how balanced they will feel it is when their characters are going against an enemy that Critically succeeds on an 8 or better and forces them to roll a 16 or higher to avoid death even at maximum hit points.

I always like to test abilities on the players to see if they find them balanced.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:

I wonder how my players will react if I use this feat on them by a level+2 creature. I imagine they would be extremely unhappy to be killed with 1 action against a very hard save.

I find it amusing that some on here think it is balanced. I wonder how balanced they will feel it is when their characters are going against an enemy that Critically succeeds on an 8 or better and forces them to roll a 16 or higher to avoid death even at maximum hit points.

I always like to test abilities on the players to see if they find them balanced.

And why do these things need to be equivalent at all? There's a big difference between a player losing the character they've been building up for 2 years to a death effect and the GM losing their minion #3197. The game already established in many ways that PC and NPC rules and capabilities do not need 1-1 equivalency.


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PCs are valid NPCs. This isn't starfinder.


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because there is an easy to use tool for gms to make npcs on the fly, doesnt mean that you cant have an npc with full pc rules made (it's just harder).

that said, i would prefer to have my npcs using that instead of 8th levels phantasmal killers and power word stuns.

if the boss is level+2, then that means that stun would be a no save 1d6 rounds stun, which basically takes a character out of a fight for the majority of the combat, and if it's killer then even if it saves the outcomes are much more devastating compared to if you save vs Scare to Death.

The reason why Scare is so good for a PC isn't because it's "Better" than spells. It is because you can use it a lot more often than spells.

NPCs, especially BBEGs don't care about preserving resources and having to face multiple battles per day. They can nova all their good stuff in that 1 battle.

Liberty's Edge

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Deriven Firelion wrote:
I wonder how my players will react if I use this feat on them by a level+2 creature. I imagine they would be extremely unhappy to be killed with 1 action against a very hard save.

As shroudb notes, this is true of any Save or Die effect you give a boss. Indeed, Scare To Death is worse than most of them since it involves both a check and a Save being necessary, and the Save is not at a higher Save DC than on-level creatures would have anyway. Sure, it's one action, but some other SoD effects can hit a whole party.

The big advantage of Scare To Death is, again as shroudb notes, that it costs nothing to use...an advantage that verges on complete uselessness for an NPC.

Deriven Firelion wrote:
I find it amusing that some on here think it is balanced. I wonder how balanced they will feel it is when their characters are going against an enemy that Critically succeeds on an 8 or better and forces them to roll a 16 or higher to avoid death even at maximum hit points.

The odds of dying to Phantasmal Killer can easily be around equal to those of dying to Scare To Death, and that's a 4th level spell, not an ability only available at 15th. Dominate is much more likely to be at least failed, and often worse for the party than that character dying, while just a little bad luck can result in a whole 6th or 7th level party being paralyzed vs. a Mummy Pharaoh, which is in some ways even worse than that (especially if the Mummy has minions or there are two Mummy Pharaohs...that last one is horrifying).

Really, boss monsters getting incapacitation SoD effects is just horrifying whatever those effects are, and always something to be careful of.

Deriven Firelion wrote:
I always like to test abilities on the players to see if they find them balanced.

This is a good instinct, IMO, but you also need to compare them to other abilities such creatures already have access to. Enemies exist with Phantasmal Killer, Dominate, and Baleful Polymorph. Scare To Death just isn't that big a deal to add to that list.

Scare To Death is something you should be careful about giving bosses, but so is any SoD effect.


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Scare to Death is a 1 action Intimidate Check. So let's say a high level sorcerer NPC with an Intimidate check of +38 against a lvl 18 PC. A balor has a +38 intimidate.

He can cast a phantasmal killer or a weird possibly killing or lowering the saves of PCs.

Let's take a high level fighter lvl 18 as an example with a 16 wisdom and major resilient. His Will save will be 20 + 6 Master + 3 wisdom +3 item for a +32 Will save.

The +38 Intimidate has to roll a 14 or better to force a DC 48 Fortitude save or die.

So he hits the character with a phantasmal killer against a DC 44. So the fighter has to roll a 12 or better to save to get only a -1 on his saves, which lowers Scare to Death to 13 or better improved if the phantasmal killer save.

If he succeeds at that 14 or better, the fighter then has to roll a DC 48 fortitude save with possible minuses or die regardless of hit points or healing or what not. The fighter's chance of succeeding with an 18 Con is 20 + 6 master +4 Con + 3 item + 33. He needs to roll a 15 or better or die.

All of this for 1 action. It's an excellent 3rd action option that has a great chance of taking a character completely out.

Why precisely are you attempting to paint this as replacing power word stun or phantasmal killer when it's best use is in conjunction with such abilities which increase its effectiveness?

I see no reason that every single boss with a high intimidate would not take this skill feat given its low cost, high effectiveness, and extremely effective use in combination with other powers.

Just as it worked incredibly effectively for the paladin against the elite calikang, it would be incredibly effective against a group of PCs as a 3rd action to try on each one at least once.

It is probably the highest value feat in the game for a charisma user. Scare to Death is better than most spells. It's an incredibly powerful and useful feat that trivializes encounters where minions are present moreso than most spells.

Liberty's Edge

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Deriven Firelion wrote:

Scare to Death is a 1 action Intimidate Check. So let's say a high level sorcerer NPC with an Intimidate check of +38 against a lvl 18 PC. A balor has a +38 intimidate.

He can cast a phantasmal killer or a weird possibly killing or lowering the saves of PCs.

Let's take a high level fighter lvl 18 as an example with a 16 wisdom and major resilient. His Will save will be 20 + 6 Master + 3 wisdom +3 item for a +32 Will save.

The +38 Intimidate has to roll a 14 or better to force a DC 48 Fortitude save or die.

So he hits the character with a phantasmal killer against a DC 44. So the fighter has to roll a 12 or better to save to get only a -1 on his saves, which lowers Scare to Death to 13 or better improved if the phantasmal killer save.

Why not 18 Wisdom? It's probably more likely since it only involves a starting Wisdom of 12. But yes, this is certainly possible if you arbitrarily add powerful abilities to existing creatures.

Deriven Firelion wrote:
If he succeeds at that 14 or better, the fighter then has to roll a DC 48 fortitude save with possible minuses or die regardless of hit points or healing or what not. The fighter's chance of succeeding with an 18 Con is 20 + 6 master +4 Con + 3 item + 33. He needs to roll a 15 or better or die.

Right, so even assuming no Wis 18, this is less than a 25% chance, even assuming the Fighter lacks additional ways to resist (which most will have...indeed, a Hero Point alone drops it to 17% or so).

Their chance of dying vs. a DC 47 Phantasmal Killer (an entirely reasonable thing to run into at that level) while under the effects of Dirge of Doom is something like 22.5% and within just a couple of percent. Which is rather my point.

Deriven Firelion wrote:

All of this for 1 action. It's an excellent 3rd action option that has a great chance of taking a character completely out.

Why precisely are you attempting to paint this as replacing power word stun or phantasmal killer when it's best use is in conjunction with such abilities which increase its effectiveness?

Because NPCs are not built like PCs? There's no points allocation, no limit to their number of skills, and no prohibition against loading them up with literally every Skill Feat in the game, every spell, and full martial level attacks.

The guidelines suggest not doing that, and do so for a reason.

Which is why I'm painting it as replacing spells that do the same thing: Because, in a monster design sense, it generally will. Few monsters are going to be designed with both, since that really escalates the chance of a PC getting killed. You can do that, but you probably shouldn't.

Deriven Firelion wrote:
I see no reason that every single boss with a high intimidate would not take this skill feat given its low cost, high effectiveness, and extremely effective use in combination with other powers.

Bosses don't 'take' anything. They are given things by the GM to serve a particular mechanical and thematic role in the game. If the GM wants to load them up specifically to maximize their chance of killing PCs, there are honestly much better ways to do it than this. Auras leap immediately to mind, and there are several nasty ones around.

Deriven Firelion wrote:
Just as it worked incredibly effectively for the paladin against the elite calikang, it would be incredibly effective against a group of PCs as a 3rd action to try on each one at least once.

Totally true if you make a villain to do this. Of course, you can easily make a villain to kill PCs in all sorts of ways. Nothing really prevents you from making player killing NPCs except losing all your players.

Deriven Firelion wrote:
It is probably the highest value feat in the game for a charisma user. Scare to Death is better than most spells. It's an incredibly powerful and useful feat that trivializes encounters where minions are present moreso than most spells.

It's a very good Feat...but minions tend towards winding up as speed bumps even without it. It shortens the time it takes to fight minions, and maybe reduces the resource cost, but vs. a whole party minions were seldom gonna be a problem anyway.

It's specifically very good in fights where the PC is alone vs. a number of lower level enemies, but that's an extremely niche circumstance likely to come up only once or twice a campaign.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
minions tend towards winding up as speed bumps even without it. It shortens the time it takes to fight minions, and maybe reduces the resource cost, but vs. a whole party minions were seldom gonna be a problem anyway.

I really disagree with this assessment. At high levels minions are threatening. Especially since this works against equal level foes...

A well build fighter is going to do <20% an equal level foes hp a round. <30% a level-2 foes hp a round. Sure AoE will help a lot, a high level blast will do a similar amount to as many as you can target, but that's so much worse than the huge chance with 1 action to take out a target completely...

It's such a relatively minor investment compared to the sorcerers blasting or the fighters striking, but it is much more effective against equal level below targets.

The minons don't need to by themselves either, they can be supporting a higher level foe, and scare to death will be broken in how effective it is in those situations too.

It's broken.

I think a good fix would be to give frightened 4, and if they are your level-5 or lower save or die.


Scare to Death is definitely very good, but, in my opinion, the -4 because of language makes it quite niche. It's like Bon Mot, it's super strong in very limited situations.

At level 15, it's quite easy to design auto-TPK encounters. Dealing more than 1000 AoE damage in one round is doable. Scare to Death on monsters is far from scary.

And at level 15, minions are the real danger. Especially spellcaster minions, thanks to the 4 levels of successes. Bosses are no more a threat as they don't have the damage output to be a danger. A Cleric easily heals more than a boss inflicts.

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