Is it really intended that personal staves lock you out of traitless spells?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


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Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The rules for Personal staves say that you must picks spells along a common theme, as defined by the traits that they possess.

But what about spells that have no legally selectable traits, such as warding aggression? Surely it's not intended that such spells be completely omitted as a possible option. Right?

If that was not intended, then by what criteria should we classify them? I'm certain that going to the opposite extreme and having a bunch of disparate traitless spells devoid of any theme at all on the same staff wasn't intended either.

As this is a discussion about intent, rather than the rules, I'm placing it in General. Please feel free to move it to Rules Discussion if that is a better fit.


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Yeah, the intent is to avoid having an eclectic assortment of the best spells a particular caster would want. It isn't thematic, it isn't flavorful, it isn't fun. It would just be another point to minmax.

For Warding Aggression, perhaps a staff theme of 'offensive protection'. Spells that target an enemy, but don't do damage. They instead hinder them from attacking your or your allies.

Cantrip: Forbidding Ward
1st: Agitate, Command
2nd: Telekinetic Maneuver, Calm Emotions
3rd: Warding Aggression, Blindness


Actually, I think you can.

I mean, the example says

Quote:
Lini selected mostly transmutation spells for her staff, so she chooses the transmutation trait. She could give it the primal trait, but choses to keep it open with the magical trait, much like the verdant staff in the Core Rulebook.

and the generic rules mentions examples

Quote:
Establishing magical pathways to turn a simple piece of wood or metal into a staff is no simple matter. Without some structure to bind multiple disparate spells to a single staff, the magic would surely fail. Thus, a custom staff must always be created around a single trait. For example, an elemental trait (air, earth, fire, or water), energy trait (acid, cold, electricity, fire, sonic, positive, negative, or force), alignment trait, the detection trait, the light trait, and so on. The staff and its spells must have the trait. A few traits are too broad to use, including incapacitation and the traits for spell schools and traditions. The GM might add others to this list.

Also, let's take a look at one of the existing "school staves", like the divination staff.

It just has the "Divination" trait, which means that seems to confirm it's possible to create a staff with just a "school" trait.

But any other staff has only the school trait ( transmutation, evocation, necromancy, etc... ).


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Ravingdork wrote:

The rules for Personal staves say that you must picks spells along a common theme, as defined by the traits that they possess.

But what about spells that have no legally selectable traits, such as warding aggression? Surely it's not intended that such spells be completely omitted as a possible option. Right?

If that was not intended, then by what criteria should we classify them? I'm certain that going to the opposite extreme and having a bunch of disparate traitless spells devoid of any theme at all on the same staff wasn't intended either.

As this is a discussion about intent, rather than the rules, I'm placing it in General. Please feel free to move it to Rules Discussion if that is a better fit.

If you want a Staff of Warding Agression, I think you'll be happy with a Wand of Warding Agression, it's less expensive.

Also, Staves having the same trait don't have the same "use". Fire links both offensive and defensive spells, but all related to Fire. Taking a theme like "defense" and stacking all the best defensive spells in the game is clearly not the intent.
In my opinion, Traitless spells are not meant to end up in a personal staff, as there are no other spell sharing anything with them.


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Or "Wards" could be the theme.
Forbidding Ward, Glyph of Warding, Warding Aggression.
It's not a trait, but it would be a theme if you could get enough.
I'd likely allow Alarm & Lock, maybe Wall of Force or other "pure magic barriers" too.


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As a GM, I would certainly allow theming in lieu of spells that don't have a theme. There are spells centered on gravity and magnetism doesn't have an associated trait.

Of course, this is purely fiat. Raw says no.


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I'd view the line of "The GM might add others to this list" as an indication that the GM can have final say on if a staff is themed or not - especially for spells that clearly have a thematic relation despite not having a specific associated trait.

For example, spells like Magnetic Acceleration, Magnetic Attraction, and Magnetic Repulsion clearly have a common theme, but do not have a common trait outside the evocation school. If enough spells themed around magnetism were added to build a staff around, I'd certainly allow a Staff of Magnetism despite not having a "magnetic" trait included on the spells.


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SuperBidi wrote:
If you want a Staff of Warding Agression, I think you'll be happy with a Wand of Warding Agression, it's less expensive.

I was thinking of a staff with at least warding aggression and true strike, since they combo well.


Charon Onozuka wrote:

I'd view the line of "The GM might add others to this list" as an indication that the GM can have final say on if a staff is themed or not - especially for spells that clearly have a thematic relation despite not having a specific associated trait.

For example, spells like Magnetic Acceleration, Magnetic Attraction, and Magnetic Repulsion clearly have a common theme, but do not have a common trait outside the evocation school. If enough spells themed around magnetism were added to build a staff around, I'd certainly allow a Staff of Magnetism despite not having a "magnetic" trait included on the spells.

the list the GM can add to is the list of spell traits that can’t be used for staves.

Obviously people can do whatever is agreed on in a home game, but i don’t see any supportive language for non-shared trait staves there.

Sovereign Court

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I don't think the intent of requiring a central trait was to specifically pick on traitless spells. Rather, the point was to prevent players from cherrypicking the best but totally unrelated spells.

I would certainly be willing to work with a player to find a central theme that's as good as using a trait to build a staff around. We have a decent system now to compare things against.


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Ravingdork wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
If you want a Staff of Warding Agression, I think you'll be happy with a Wand of Warding Agression, it's less expensive.
I was thinking of a staff with at least warding aggression and true strike, since they combo well.

I think we both agree, making staves based on whatever "trait" the player finds would lead to such kind of abuses. I think the system's already pretty open.


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Ravingdork wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
If you want a Staff of Warding Agression, I think you'll be happy with a Wand of Warding Agression, it's less expensive.
I was thinking of a staff with at least warding aggression and true strike, since they combo well.

While I see the tactical connection, I see no thematic connection.

Do you?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I’m a little bummed by the rules for personal staves, as, at the moment, certain trait baring spells can be a little thin at certain levels for the various traditions.

Also, I think I was super exited to get a staff that could have Gravity Well on it. But, alas.


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Castilliano wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
If you want a Staff of Warding Agression, I think you'll be happy with a Wand of Warding Agression, it's less expensive.
I was thinking of a staff with at least warding aggression and true strike, since they combo well.

While I see the tactical connection, I see no thematic connection.

Do you?

"This is my Staff of the Munchkin. Its shared spell trait is Cheese."

Dataphiles

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Personal staves are quite restrictive - many traits have very few spells underneath them, something to the tune of 5-8 of disparate levels. If you try making a staff of positive, or fortune, or whatever you will find it very difficult to fill up those levels.

This could be futureproofing as eventually those traits will probably have enough spells to make a staff, but currently it is very difficult unless you go with a common trait and most “personal” staves will end up looking the exact same in terms of spells.

Seeing as the whole thing requires GM approval anyway (and as such can’f simply be bought off the shelf or used in org play) I would let someone pick 2 minor traits/thenes (ones with approx 15 or less spells) or 1 major trait/theme (no school/tradition) to build their staff. I don’t really think getting all the best spells on your staff is going to be too much of a problem. The difference between having 1-2 spells on your staff that are very strong and all of them is mostly just a bit of flexibility.


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Ravingdork wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
If you want a Staff of Warding Agression, I think you'll be happy with a Wand of Warding Agression, it's less expensive.
I was thinking of a staff with at least warding aggression and true strike, since they combo well.

Seems like just the sort of thing that staves shouldn't do. Even if you don't exactly follow the "shared trait" rule, published staves pretty much always have a strong theme to them- and generally one where spells overlap a bit in terms of functionality, rather than pieces of a combo.


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Exocist wrote:

This could be futureproofing as eventually those traits will probably have enough spells to make a staff, but currently it is very difficult unless you go with a common trait and most “personal” staves will end up looking the exact same in terms of spells.

Things will stay like this for a long time it seems. Highly doubt we will get a good chunk of spells like this one in a long time.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Castilliano wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
If you want a Staff of Warding Agression, I think you'll be happy with a Wand of Warding Agression, it's less expensive.
I was thinking of a staff with at least warding aggression and true strike, since they combo well.

While I see the tactical connection, I see no thematic connection.

Do you?

I'm still working on the theme.

roquepo wrote:
Exocist wrote:

This could be futureproofing as eventually those traits will probably have enough spells to make a staff, but currently it is very difficult unless you go with a common trait and most “personal” staves will end up looking the exact same in terms of spells.

Things will stay like this for a long time it seems. Highly doubt we will get a good chunk of spells like this one in a long time.

My thoughts exactly. Any traits that didn't get filled out by THE BIG BOOK OF MAGIC likely isn't going to fill out any time soon, if ever.


Some traits that aren't specifically called out but probably should be added by the GM to the "can't use" list because they are too broad(as suggested by the rules)
-attack
-cantrip
- possibly mental
- possibly visual and auditory
- the common trait


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Tender Tendrils wrote:


- the common trait

Common trait too broad? Whaaat? ;P

Dataphiles

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Tender Tendrils wrote:

Some traits that aren't specifically called out but probably should be added by the GM to the "can't use" list because they are too broad(as suggested by the rules)

-attack
-cantrip
- possibly mental
- possibly visual and auditory
- the common trait

The attack trait isn't that broad, it has about the same number of spells as fire does - approx 20.

Cantrip is in no way too broad. Yeah there's like 25 cantrips but you can only put 1 on your staff anyway so unless you want a staff with just one cantrip there's no point.

Mental has like half of the occult spell list, it's a huge amount of spells, so definitely shouldn't be viable for a custom staff under these rules.

Visual and auditory each have about 20-30 spells, not really that broad.

Common isn't a trait (IIRC), the lack of a trait means common.


Exocist wrote:
Tender Tendrils wrote:

Some traits that aren't specifically called out but probably should be added by the GM to the "can't use" list because they are too broad(as suggested by the rules)

-attack
-cantrip
- possibly mental
- possibly visual and auditory
- the common trait

The attack trait isn't that broad, it has about the same number of spells as fire does - approx 20.

Cantrip is in no way too broad. Yeah there's like 25 cantrips but you can only put 1 on your staff anyway so unless you want a staff with just one cantrip there's no point.

Mental has like half of the occult spell list, it's a huge amount of spells, so definitely shouldn't be viable for a custom staff under these rules.

Visual and auditory each have about 20-30 spells, not really that broad.

Common isn't a trait (IIRC), the lack of a trait means common.

Quote:
Anything that doesn't list another rarity trait (uncommon, rare, or unique) automatically has the common trait.


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I'd still allow mental if there was an overarching theme (that was more specific than mental alone).


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Ravingdork wrote:
I'd still allow mental if there was an overarching theme (that was more specific than mental).

What mental needs is more traits like the fear trait for other mental spells (courage? confusion? etc)


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Tender Tendrils wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
I'd still allow mental if there was an overarching theme (that was more specific than mental).
What mental needs is more traits like the fear trait for other mental spells (courage? confusion? etc)

That's quite the rabbit hole.

Mental could spawn numerous sub-traits. I think it risks getting a bit too pedantic.


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If anyone is interested, I've updated my listing of spells by trait with the new spells from SoM.

Custom Staff Spell Traits


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Gisher wrote:

If anyone is interested, I've updated my listing of spells by trait with the new spells from SoM.

Custom Staff Spell Traits

Thank you again for doing this!


Mental is as broad as it is so creatures can be immune to it.

Even though allowing it as a staff is a GM call, my biggest problem with it is that the Mentalist Staff already exist.

If allowed it is a really strong personal staff for an occult caster, that said.


roquepo wrote:

Mental is as broad as it is so creatures can be immune to it.

Even though allowing it as a staff is a GM call, my biggest problem with it is that the Mentalist Staff already exist.

If allowed it is a really strong personal staff for an occult caster, that said.

if disallowing traits because a relevant staff already exists is the right thing to do, then there aren’t really any good traits left (unless you are on board with “commoner’s staff” type traits).


Lelomenia wrote:
roquepo wrote:

Mental is as broad as it is so creatures can be immune to it.

Even though allowing it as a staff is a GM call, my biggest problem with it is that the Mentalist Staff already exist.

If allowed it is a really strong personal staff for an occult caster, that said.

if disallowing traits because a relevant staff already exists is the right thing to do, then there aren’t really any good traits left (unless you are on board with “commoner’s staff” type traits).

It is not about allowing it or not (as a GM I would personally allow it, Staves are low impact in the overall power level of the game), it is about the staff having no reason to exist thematically as there is an existing staff that is almost the same.

The only reason I see to disallow it is that Mental may fall in the "Too Broad" category.


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The custom staff rules feel so needlessly restrictive. I get balance, but at my table, I just allow players to pick a theme and I adjudicate whether the request fits or if it's cheese. Like, the "Trickster's Crook" could have the classic illusions and charm type spells,the "Staff of Elements" could slot in spells with elemental traits and stuff like resist energy, the "Battlemaster's Rod" would have stuff like Ture Strike, Stoneskin, Weapon Storm, etc.

If players want something that COULD make sense, but feels like a reach or a bit sus I might allow it with a limit; Illusory Creature on the Battlemaster's Rod, for example, would work, but have the limitation that it has to appear as a battle ready soldier, etc


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Alchemic_Genius wrote:
The custom staff rules feel so needlessly restrictive. I get balance, but at my table, I just allow players to pick a theme and I adjudicate whether the request fits or if it's cheese.

I mean, that kind of seems like the intention. The base rules don't support much but there's a big 'ask your GM' clause baked right into it.


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Alchemic_Genius wrote:
The custom staff rules feel so needlessly restrictive.

Consider this:

For players it feels better to have a rule that perhaps the GM can loosen up a bit and everything works out alright than it does to have the book present you an option that the GM says no to you using.

For GMs it feels better to have a rule that is definitely not going to break your game if you include it that you can be lenient with if you want to than it does to have a rule you have to tweak if you ever implement it at all.

Grand Archive

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Yeah, to me the personal staff section essentially says, "Here are some rules. But, at the end of the day, just ask your GM."

Also, upon another glace, it really feels like something intended for GMs more than for players.


Ravingdork wrote:
Gisher wrote:

If anyone is interested, I've updated my listing of spells by trait with the new spells from SoM.

Custom Staff Spell Traits

Thank you again for doing this!

You're welcome!


Gisher wrote:

If anyone is interested, I've updated my listing of spells by trait with the new spells from SoM.

Custom Staff Spell Traits

You appear to be missing the shadow trait - probably because on AoN it is only listed among the planar traits which isn't a super obvious place to look for spell traits.


Gisher wrote:

If anyone is interested, I've updated my listing of spells by trait with the new spells from SoM.

Custom Staff Spell Traits

\o


thenobledrake wrote:
Alchemic_Genius wrote:
The custom staff rules feel so needlessly restrictive.

Consider this:

For players it feels better to have a rule that perhaps the GM can loosen up a bit and everything works out alright than it does to have the book present you an option that the GM says no to you using.

For GMs it feels better to have a rule that is definitely not going to break your game if you include it that you can be lenient with if you want to than it does to have a rule you have to tweak if you ever implement it at all.

To me it comes off as "heres the possibly pfs friendly way, but you can adjust as nessesary". Which I like, pf 2e being so easy to houserule is one of my favorite aspects of it.

I just don't get why they are so restricted that a custom "Staff of Illusions" that slots out a few illusions in exchange for other illusions can't be made


thenobledrake wrote:
Alchemic_Genius wrote:
The custom staff rules feel so needlessly restrictive.

Consider this:

For players it feels better to have a rule that perhaps the GM can loosen up a bit and everything works out alright than it does to have the book present you an option that the GM says no to you using.

For GMs it feels better to have a rule that is definitely not going to break your game if you include it that you can be lenient with if you want to than it does to have a rule you have to tweak if you ever implement it at all.

Pathfinder was always about putting power in the hands of the players. We shouldn't be shunting it back to the GM. There are plenty of other systems out there if you want that.


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sherlock1701 wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Alchemic_Genius wrote:
The custom staff rules feel so needlessly restrictive.

Consider this:

For players it feels better to have a rule that perhaps the GM can loosen up a bit and everything works out alright than it does to have the book present you an option that the GM says no to you using.

For GMs it feels better to have a rule that is definitely not going to break your game if you include it that you can be lenient with if you want to than it does to have a rule you have to tweak if you ever implement it at all.

Pathfinder was always about putting power in the hands of the players. We shouldn't be shunting it back to the GM. There are plenty of other systems out there if you want that.

PF2 has been pretty explicit about handing power back to the GM with the Rarity system.


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sherlock1701 wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Alchemic_Genius wrote:
The custom staff rules feel so needlessly restrictive.

Consider this:

For players it feels better to have a rule that perhaps the GM can loosen up a bit and everything works out alright than it does to have the book present you an option that the GM says no to you using.

For GMs it feels better to have a rule that is definitely not going to break your game if you include it that you can be lenient with if you want to than it does to have a rule you have to tweak if you ever implement it at all.

Pathfinder was always about putting power in the hands of the players. We shouldn't be shunting it back to the GM. There are plenty of other systems out there if you want that.

I am so not seeing how "player power" is shunted anywhere by this rule or what I said about it that your statement feels like a non sequitur.

If anything player empowerment is the result of this rule being set up as something a GM need not feel they must not include to maintain balance and something a player can see a clear path to using: pick a trait, stick with it instead of trying to be cheesy, and you've got yourself a custom staff a GM has no reason to say no to.

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