Can a lethal spell be made nonlethal?


Rules Discussion


Rules wrote:

You can make a nonlethal attack in an effort to knock someone out instead of killing them (see Knocked Out and Dying). Weapons with the nonlethal trait (including fists) do this automatically. You take a –2 circumstance penalty to the attack roll when you make a nonlethal attack using a weapon that doesn't have the nonlethal trait. You also take this penalty when making a lethal attack using a nonlethal weapon.

Spells and other effects with the nonlethal trait that reduce a creature to 0 Hit Points knock the creature out instead of killing them.

1. Nonlethal spells knocking creatures to 0 does the same thing as nonlethal weapons knocking creatures to 0.

2. Lethal weapons can be made nonlethal.

3. The first sentence does not qualify "attack" with "melee attack" or anything that suggests spells can't be treated the same way.

4. On the other hand, there are no provisions made for adjusting spells without an attack roll, e.g., Electric Arc, which seems like a pretty big omission if it were intended for lethal spells to be cast nonlethally.

It seems to me like RAW is yes and RAI is no.

Are there any other passages I'm missing that could shed light on this?

If it matters, this is for PFS, so I can't just apply Rule #1.

Liberty's Edge

This is a good question. Watching to see what people say.


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I would say that the paragraph implies that you can only make nonlethal attacks with an attack with the "nonlethal" trait. The -2 for lethal weapons being the exception to the general rule.


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It's a special rule for Agents of Edgewatch that all attacks can be made non-lethal at no penalty.

I'm told some GMs implement this with an item like a magic police badge, or a ritual spell cast at police enrolement.


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There's a metamagic feat to make spells non-leathal. That alone should be proof enough that spells can't be made non-leathal by default, no?

Liberty's Edge

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The metamagic feat Nonlethal Spell gives the answer. Unless you use it, spells without the Nonlethal trait deal lethal damage. It is a Wizard's feat only though.

Ninjaed :-)


Dr A Gon wrote:
It's a special rule for Agents of Edgewatch that all attacks can be made non-lethal at no penalty.

[strike]What rule is this??

/snip

Found it in the Player's Guide!

Agents of Edgewatch Player's Guide, Page 5 Sidebar 'Special Rules for this Campaign' wrote:

First, as city guards, your party’s player characters are

all assumed to be trained in nonlethal conflict resolution.
This means that, during combat encounters, your character
is always dealing nonlethal damage; you are never allowed
to deal lethal damage. You take no penalty to attack rolls
for dealing nonlethal damage, and all types of damage
you deal (whether from weapon attacks, spells, or even
poisons) are nonlethal unless you're attacking a creature
immune to nonlethal damage. You gain no bonuses or
added benefits for making attacks using weapons with
the nonlethal weapon trait. As usual for nonlethal damage,
when you reduce a creature to 0 Hit Points using nonlethal
damage, the creature falls unconscious instead of dying.

Liberty's Edge

iNickedYerKnickers wrote:
Dr A Gon wrote:
It's a special rule for Agents of Edgewatch that all attacks can be made non-lethal at no penalty.

What rule is this??

My group is playing AoE and while we've been granted access to nonlethal weapons (bola, monkey's fist, and nightstick), we have not been given any special ability to ignore the penalty for making nonlethal attacks with lethal weapons. The Investigator in our group took Takedown Expert and a fighter went Bounty Hunter Archetype and took Tools of the Trade, so they don't take that penalty, but otherwise we've been relying on the nonlethal weapons or Stabilize / First Aid to stop dying bad guys from dying.

Did our GM overlook something?

Yes. It is found in the Player Guide in the side bar "Special Rules for this Campaign" on page 5.


iNickedYerKnickers wrote:
Dr A Gon wrote:
It's a special rule for Agents of Edgewatch that all attacks can be made non-lethal at no penalty.

What rule is this??

My group is playing AoE and while we've been granted access to nonlethal weapons (bola, monkey's fist, and nightstick), we have not been given any special ability to ignore the penalty for making nonlethal attacks with lethal weapons. The Investigator in our group took Takedown Expert and a fighter went Bounty Hunter Archetype and took Tools of the Trade, so they don't take that penalty, but otherwise we've been relying on the nonlethal weapons or Stabilize / First Aid to stop dying bad guys from dying.

Did our GM overlook something?

Page 5 of the AoE Player's Guide under special campaign rules:

First, as city guards, your party’s player characters are
all assumed to be trained in nonlethal conflict resolution.
This means that, during combat encounters, your
character is always dealing nonlethal damage; you are
never allowed to deal lethal damage. You take no penalty
to attack rolls for dealing nonlethal damage, and all types
of damage you deal (whether from weapon attacks, spells,
or even poisons) are nonlethal. You gain no bonuses or
added benefits for making attacks using weapons with
the nonlethal weapon trait. As usual for nonlethal damage,
when you reduce a creature to 0 Hit Points using nonlethal
damage, the creature falls unconscious instead of dying


Gary Bush wrote:
Yes. It is found in the Player Guide in the side bar "Special Rules for this Campaign" on page 5.

Ack!

You posted while I was editing. Thanks!!!


Blave wrote:
There's a metamagic feat to make spells non-leathal. That alone should be proof enough that spells can't be made non-leathal by default, no?

That is perfect, thanks!

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