The cantrip "Mishap" and multiple uses of it


Advice and Rules Questions


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So, I'm asking this for myself and my DM. I'm selecting Mishap, a cantrip. I read it for the DM, and he said "So you're telling me that if you go into a room that has, for example, some type of 3rd level warding spell or something that lasts for a while, you can cast Mishap and if it works, as in you hit the required DC, it works, but if it doesn't work, you can stand there and cast it 10x in one minute, until you actually do hit the DC?"

I nodded.

He got a disgruntled look about him like he was going to make a special ruling against using cantrips over and over in a broken manner.

Help?

Am I wrong? I mean, the DC is 15 + the spell level and I have a caster level of 2, so it's going to take a really high roll to succeed, hence my reasoning on having to cast it again and again.

Am I abusing the cantrip ability?

Any insight and/or rulings would be appreciated. Thank you.

EDITED: The DM is specifically concerned that if I can just go into a dungeon and essentially disable all traps simply by casting Mishap over and over, it would ruin the purpose of having any traps, and I can agree with him that would ruin the dungeon. So a question is, would the trap have to go off in order for me to Mishap or if it is just sitting there waiting, I'm guessing we'd have to discern that there's a trap there in the first place? Again, insight is appreciated.

The Exchange

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Can you link to this cantrip? I’m not finding any spell (cantrip or otherwise) called mishap in PF1.


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Sorry, it is from 1001 spells. I'm accessing it via docs.google.com. Here's what it says:

Mishap
School: Transmutation; Level: Brd 0, Clr 0, Drd 0, Sor/
Wiz 0
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V, S
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One creature, object, or location
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None; Spell Resistance: Yes
You tap into chaos and release a mishap. Make a caster
level check (DC 15 + caster level of spell); if the check is
successful, select a scroll mishap. The mishap is centered
on a continuous spell effect within range; this spell has no
effect on 4th or higher level spells.

Dark Archive

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Ah, potentially borked 3rd party stuff.

Try asking in the 3rd party forums.


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The DC you're trying to hit is 15 +CL of the spell you're affecting with a mishap, not your CL. So if the CL of the Continuous spell in effect is, say, CL 10, you're trying to hit a DC 25. Then again, if the CL of the Continuous spell is CL1, you're trying to hit a DC 16.

If you're given a full minute to affect a "location" then yes, you're correct; by RAW you could spam this cantrip 10 times with no bad effect to you, hoping at some point to hit the DC. By RAW however, unless there's some kind of definition in the online text you're using, I don't see a definition for "location" in the Magic section under Targets. Therefore... could you target an entire cathedral, or just the doorway entering said cathedral, or what?

Also, the GM has to consider the time crunch of the adventure before allowing this cantrip. If there's no Continuous spells in place in the rooms/areas the PCs are likely to explore, but many of his monsters/villains may have those kinds of effects, then I'd say allow the cantrip since you'll have better things to do with your time in active combat with foes than to cast Mishap over and over.

On the other hand, if the adventure is a dungeon crawl with lots of magic traps present and no deadline to complete it, or wandering monsters coming after you or whatever, then this cantrip is potentially game breaking.

Liberty's Edge

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As Name Violation said, broken 3rd party stuff.
Searching for it on the Internet find something that isn't a gaming reference (1001 spells: The Complete Book of Spells for Every Purpose , linked for laughs).

If I was the GM I would limit it two ways:
1) You could try it only once for each magical trap. To retry you need to increase your caster level.
2) The Mishap is random, you don't choose it. You are tapping into chaos!

As the Mishaps would be a common event in your game, I would make an extended table, and possibly add a 50% chance that when the Mishap says "scroll user", the person affected is instead "the one causing the mishap".


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Diego Rossi wrote:

As Name Violation said, broken 3rd party stuff.

Searching for it on the Internet find something that isn't a gaming reference (1001 spells: The Complete Book of Spells for Every Purpose , linked for laughs).

If I was the GM I would limit it two ways:
1) You could try it only once for each magical trap. To retry you need to increase your caster level.
2) The Mishap is random, you don't choose it. You are tapping into chaos!

As the Mishaps would be a common event in your game, I would make an extended table, and possibly add a 50% chance that when the Mishap says "scroll user", the person affected is instead "the one causing the mishap".

So you would penalize the player because of . . . what? You not liking 3rd party spells?

Okay, I can see that this was a waste of time. I thought I might get some intelligent input.

Don't bother with you non-witty I'm-anonymous-so-I-can-say-what-I-want ridiculousness as I won't be coming back here further.

Liberty's Edge

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A cantrip substituting for a class ability of the rogue in my opinion isn't balanced. I will balance it as I see fit, especially when it is a third-party product, as those have very variable quality.


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This is the reason most GM’s do not allow 3rd party content.

This will have no effect on most traps. It specifies it is centered on a continuous spell of third level or lower. Constructed traps are not spells even if they are magical, they are traps. This would only affect a trap that is an actual spell. So, it would work on something like explosive runes or a glyph of warding, but not an actual trap. Against a mundane trap it does absolutely nothing.

Even if it does affect a spell trap it does not say it discharges the trap. So, all this does is to cause a random event to occur if there is a constant spell effect in the area.

This is really poorly written spell because it lists the target as one creature object or location. The first two are not a problem, but it does not define how large of the location is. If I were to allow this in my game (which I would not) I would remove that option. If the player pushed it, I would probably say fine it affects a random spell within range.

Since the description does not specify what spell it affects first, I would say if more than one spell is possible it is a random choice.

In conclusion this cannot be used to disarm all traps in a dungeon. In fact it can rarely disarm any trap.


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you should post your question in the third-party advice & rules forum. Otherwise we can only offer our best guesses.

Did you tell your GM the source so he could review the spell and source material? It is not nice if you just tell him this is a legal PF spell as it hasn't been reviewed by Paizo which would be the common assumption.


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See honestly, I see this as more like a way to cause a Mishap on someone using a magic item. If you're facing a foe at level 1, say a BBEG wielding a butcher's axe +1, that axe has a permanent, continuous Magic Weapon spell on it.

By choosing the mishap "Spell has delayed effect. Sometime within the next 1d12 hours, the spell activates. If the scroll user was the intended recipient, the spell takes effect normally. If the user was not the intended recipient, the spell goes off in the general direction of the original recipient or target, up to the spell’s maximum range, if the target has moved away", your cantrip has just effectively dispelled the magic in the axe for the next 1d12 hours, from 25' away, with no save.

THIS is why this spell should make a GM give you the stink eye. You can dispel permanent magic items at range for up to 12 hours, no save, with a cantrip. That is a shocking amount of power. I've had GM's call foul b/c I wanted Prestidigitation to make a foe's shoelaces untie and this spell delays magic item use.

Oh, and a note about traps: the spell inside the trap waiting to hurt the PCs wouldn't be dispelled, but this same mishap (delaying the spell for 1d12 hours) could cause the trigger mechanism to malfunction, if said trigger was an Alarm spell or some other permanent magic ability of the spell trap. So again, with a cantrip, some magic traps could just be straight up bypassed, no save. Beauty part? ANY class with a high enough Perception check can detect a magic trap.

Now the OP DOES have a point that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. The DC of the Caster Level check might make things a challenge. That butcher's axe for example; that would require the PC to roll a CL check vs a DC of 18, and at L1 even a 20-Int wizard would need to roll a 12 or better.

Coming back to the magic trap trigger scenario though, consider that a L1 rogue using Disable Device against a CR1 magic trap needs to hit a DC 21 skill check over the course of 1d4 rounds, while standing RIGHT NEXT to the trap's trigger mechanism... and we see where this cantrip circles right back to being broken.

My caveat would be that using this spell against a magic trap and failing the CL check required to cause the mishap would set off the trap. Now, depending on the trap's effect this may end up not doing anything to the PCs since they'll likely be at range from the trap at the time, but at the very least the fact that the trap is triggered may alert monsters/foes in the area to the PCs' presence. There should be SOME kind of risk to this strategy.


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This does not work against magic items because they are not spells. The only thing this works on is actual spells. Magic items like traps are not spells, even if a spell is a prerequisite for making the magic item.

People are making this more powerful than it really is. While it may be broken, it is not as bad as some people think. The fact that a cantrip can bring down a 3rd level spell is broken enough. You could use it to bring down a Magic Circle Against Evil, but it is not going to affect a +1 sword, or a magical trap or anything else that is not a 3rd level or lower continuous spell.


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I think many GMs would have an issue with a zero level spell bringing down a third level spell without some major gp cost.

Personally it should just cause a noticeable mishap (hint) if there's a trap within 15ft.

Liberty's Edge

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One of the problems of the cantrip is that the effect of the mishaps are based on affecting a spell when it is cast.

Let's consider Mark Hoover 330 example:
"Spell has delayed effect. Sometime within the next 1d12 hours, the spell activates. If the scroll user was the intended recipient, the spell takes effect normally. If the user was not the intended recipient, the spell goes off in the general direction of the original recipient or target, up to the spell’s maximum range, if the target has moved away"

The spell effect already exists. As the mishap is meant to happen when the spell is cast, it doesn't say "the spell is stopped and its effect delayed for 1d12 hours." We are adding that to make it work but the cantrip doesn't give any indication that it works that way. It simply says "apply a mishap". It doesn't even say "the mishap affects the spell", it says "The mishap is centered on a continuous spell effect within range;".

Another example:
"A surge of uncontrolled magical energy deals 1d6 points of damage per spell level to the scroll user."
1) We need to change scroll user to the caster of the spell.
Well, that spellcaster can be a wand, a scroll, a guy that is in another room, or even at home thousand of miles away. What happens if that caster is outside the range of the cantrip?
2) Alternatively the mishap could affect the target of the spell. But with that change, we are moving even further from the mishap text.
3) The spell is broken? Why? The cantrip doesn't say so, nor the mishap. A Horse With No Name assumes that because a mishap happens when the spellcasting fails, but that is inverting cause and effect.
A failed spell-casting causes a mishap, but nowere in the rules a mishap makes an already cast spell fail.
So saying that it disrupts the spell is fabricating something from nothing.
Let's say a caster use this cantrip against an animal companion benefitting from the Armor spell and that he will select this effect. At most, the AC would suffer 1d6 point of damage and the Armor spell will still work for its full duration.

Essentially, the whole cantrip is a suggestion of an idea and the GM needs to flesh out how it works.
A Horse With No Name asked if he is wrong. He is neither wrong nor right. The cantrip structure requires a lot of GM input to flesh it out and make it functional within the rules frame.


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It's a badly designed and checked 3rd-party spell. Your GM shouldn't allow it on that basis alone. There's just too much left unanswered which will require so much figuring out on his part that the amount of work needed isn't worth it. They could be designing an adventure or make their own mishap spell that works much better. Having to deal with that for a cantrip is already bad, having to deal with that in a mechanic that allows basically continuous and unlimited casting over and over is worse.

Mishap:
-----------------------------------------------
Mishap
School: Transmutation; Level: Brd 0, Clr 0, Drd 0, Sor/
Wiz 0
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V, S
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One creature, object, or location
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None; Spell Resistance: Yes
You tap into chaos and release a mishap. Make a caster
level check (DC 15 + caster level of spell); if the check is
successful, select a scroll mishap. The mishap is centered
on a continuous spell effect within range; this spell has no
effect on 4th or higher level spells.
------------------------------------------------

How it reads:
------------------------------------------------
Here's what we have:
Quote:
You tap into chaos and release a mishap.

Basically flavor-text and a brief description.

Quote:
Make a caster level check (DC 15 + caster level of spell); if the check is successful, select a scroll mishap.

Make a caster level check against what? Presumably a continuous spell effect in Close range of the target, as opposed to the caster... So technically, you'd be casting on a person, object, or location in Close range... but you'd then make a caster level check against [something], and if you pass... you select a scroll mishap.

Then...
Quote:
The mishap is centered on a continuous spell effect within range.

So you target mishap on a person, object, or location... then the GM apparently selects a continuous spell that is within the spell range of that target (which might be out of spell range of you if that effect is farther beyond the target, because it doesn't say anything about the spell having to be on the target itself), and you make a check. If you pass, you choose a scroll mishap, and it occurs centered on the spell's location (which might be a creature with an ongoing spell on them or it might be at the center of an ongoing spell area with a radius (like alarm).

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The problems:
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The problem is, the caster of mishap has almost no control over what ongoing spell effect is 'shadow targeted' by the spell. If there's 2 or more in range of their actual target, apparently it's chosen at random, it doesn't even go by the closest or nearest or on the target. So unless the caster knows there's a spell in a certain spot and there's no other spells, then the efficacy of mishap drops (how much it drops depends on the number of viable continuous spells and their spell levels within range).

Note This isn't like dispel magic that tells you it checks the caster level against an effect on the target, and goes down the list until you beat one. This specifically just centers on some continuous effect in range of the spell's target.

So, by the rules, a caster could just keep walking along, casting mishap targeting themselves every single round and (unless they had ongoing spells, like mage armor on themselves) nothing would happen until they got within Close range of such a spell, say, an arcane locked door or an alarm spell. Nothing in the spell description gives them any warning, so the GM would likely roll in secret, and if the caster level check beat the DC 15 + CL of that spell, they would ask you to pick a mishap. You don't know where or what it's on, so maybe you pick the 1d6 per level damage or you pick the delay mishap to maybe lower or suspend the operation of a trap or alarm. Those are about the best choices really. One works good against creatures with spells on them, the other for suppressing defenses. That's about best case scenario.

If you're in an area with multiple viable spell effects, mishap doesn't let you target those, so if there's even one 4th-level or higher one, the GM will randomly end up selecting one (kind of like target selection when using magic jar). He'd have you make a caster level check (or do it secretly) and even if you passed, nothing would happen, since mishap can't effect 4th-level or higher spells... but it's not stopped from trying or attempting to. Sure, you could recast it again and maybe get a different spell effect in the same area.

In the worst case scenario, if you do try to use it... you might hurt yourself or allies (depending on the mishap you choose). Let's say you see a bad guy and he's got mage armor on or some other spells, you don't have to know what they are and... even if you did you can't target them, only a creature, object, or location.

So you cast mishap on the bad guy (he's in Close range to you). If he has SR, apparently you'd have to beat that, but otherwise... then the GM does a little math and calculating on any continuous spell effects within Close range of the target (which will by necessity also include you, and any spell effects you may have on you).

So let's say you've got made armor and shield on yourself, the bad guy has mage armor, and bull's strength, and your allies have their own spells and two of them are carrying continual flame torches (which unlike most magical items are actually just spells and not enchanted items).

The GM picks one of those, makes a check or has you check against the caster level (without telling you which effect it is or more specifically where it's centered; ie. on you, your allies, their little torch with continual flame or the bad guy) and if you pass, asks you to choose a mishap. Obviously depending on which you choose, the effect can range from ineffective, to comical, to Pretty Bad[tm].

But the real problem is that mishaps aren't made to interact with ongoing spells as opposed to them occurring on casting. The power level is wildly disproportionate. Imagine if you knew an enemy had mage armor and you chose reverse effect. Other than a caster level check which they have no control over, they get no save or anything and suddenly they are at –4 to their AC instead of +4. That's an 8 point swing (and hope you or an ally's mage armor wasn't the selected effect in range)! Or it does nothing.

Even if you try to say, "Well, if I know there's a defensive spell, like alarm or something, I can delay it up to 1d12 hours (or at least its effect)." So, yeah, it won't get rid of a magic mouth but might make triggering it have no effect for 1d12 hours, but it says, 'within that time'. So even if you roll within 12 hours instead of 1 hour, it still might go off that very round or the next one (meaning your GM is going to have to decide or roll a completely new random dice roll to determine exactly what round in that potential 7,200 rounds the effect will go off if they want to be completely fair and impartial.
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I just think it's best to not aggravate your GM.

But, hey....
CHAOS!

Liberty's Edge

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Pizza Lord wrote:

But, hey....

CHAOS!

Yes, Chaos is nice, but this is very deterministic chaos (with a lower case c) where the caster selects what chaos appens.


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as a Rules forum I'm going to suggest we don't try to fix it here.

It's a good topic for the Homebrew forum.

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