Prestidigitation Question


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I know that you can use it to recolor things, and some people use it to recolor hair and stuff, but what about using it to apply clown makeup as a magical effect? Would this work?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

the best thing is to read the spell Prestidigitation.
You'll note that the effects are crude and artificial (think of applying makeup in a bumpy car ride). No bonus or roll for Disguise unless it's DC5...
A Disguise Kit and a few rounds would be more practical.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As above… it could sloppily apply the makeup but nothing more as providing a beneficial or precise application of clown makeup would be replicating the effect of a higher level spell which prestidigitation expressly states it cannot do.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The best you could hope for is something resembling a clown. It would be about the same skill level as a six your old girl trying to put on her mommy’s makeup. The nice thing about this is you can use the spell to clean up yourself when you realize how silly you look.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

You can use it to color your hair, but probably you will end with a single solid color, like blue anime hair, not a "natural" coloration.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

After going back and rereading Prestidigitation I am not sure it can actually be used to alter a creature. The description states it can color, clean or soil items[ in a 1-foot cube. It can also warm, or flavor 1 pound of nonliving material. It also specifies that items created by it cannot be used as tools, weapons or spell components.

In all honesty I have allowed the spell to be able to make changes to a person and will probably continue to do so. I don’t think it is a big deal if you can use it to change your hair color, but if you do it is pretty obvious that it is not your natural color. But RAW I don’t think it can actually affect a creature.

If the GM does allow you to use it on creatures, you could change multiple things, but it might take longer. When cast it last for an hour and you can continue to use it to make changes while it is active.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Quote:

Prestidigitation

School universal; Level arcanist 0, bard 0, magus 0, medium 0, mesmerist 0, psychic 0, skald 0, sorcerer 0, wizard 0
Casting
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Effect
Range 10 ft.
Target, Effect, or Area see text
Duration 1 hour
Saving Throw see text; Spell Resistance no
Description
Prestidigitations are minor tricks that novice spellcasters use for practice. Once cast, a prestidigitation spell enables you to perform simple magical effects for 1 hour. The effects are minor and have severe limitations. A prestidigitation can slowly lift 1 pound of material. It can color, clean, or soil items in a 1-foot cube each round. It can chill, warm, or flavor 1 pound of nonliving material. It cannot deal damage or affect the concentration of spellcasters. Prestidigitation can create small objects, but they look crude and artificial. The materials created by a prestidigitation spell are extremely fragile, and they cannot be used as tools, weapons, or spell components. Finally, prestidigitation lacks the power to duplicate any other spell effects. Any actual change to an object (beyond just moving, cleaning, or soiling it) persists only 1 hour.

Prestidigitation is vastly underrated and misunderstood spell in my opinion. Spellcasters use this spell for years. YEARS. If you're an elf, this becomes DECADES. This spell is how they practice in their "spellcaster's apprenticeship". However, while this wonderful spell packs a massive amount of utility, there are severe limitations. You may not duplicate the effects of other spells.

If you want to use Prestidigitation to create a magical disguise effect, this is definitely starting to get into the realm of duplicating what Disguise Self can do, so this is no bueno. However, if you want to use Prestidigitation to lift < 1 lbs. of material, such as clown face paint, and apply it to yourself as a mundane disguise over 1d3 x10 minutes, this is entirely possible and within the confines of the spell, and you'll be able to make opposed Disguise vs. Perception checks, but not with the +10 bonus from Magical Alteration modifiers in the Disguise skill. Honestly there's no mechanical difference between using your hands to apply the clown makeup or the Prestidigitation spell, this is essentially "character flavor" to use the spell to do it as opposed to making the Disguise with your hands and this isn't game-breaking in the slightest to allow it, but, if you're not actually trained up in Disguise as a skill then this might be a bad idea. However, like Mercer says, "you can certainly try".

Remember that Prestidigitation lasts for 1 hour once cast, and you can "color, clean, or soil items in a 1-foot cube each round." As far as coloring your skin or hair, strict RAW this isn't possible because you can only color, clean, or soil items, but if your GM allows it (I do allow it), you could make it look like you've been recently punched in the face with bruises and black eyes and a generous DM might give you a +2 circumstance bonus to Bluff someone and convince them you've been recently mugged. You could color your 1-foot cube's worth of your hair in different colors each round if you're performing a magic show for children, or simply trying to look trendy or cool. Once your Prestidigitation spell ends after the 1 hour, all of these colored skin/hair effects end. So this is certainly not ideal for long-term disguises.

Prestidigitation is a great spell for cleaning, soiling, warming, chilling, or flavoring things. Gotta win a Chili Cookoff Competition? Use Prestidigitation to make everyone else's chili taste like an old leather boot and your chili tastes like a perfect blend of meat and spices. "1 pound of nonliving matter" is not a lot of chili you can affect, but you don't need to target the big huge pot of chili, you can target what's on the judge's spoon or bowl as long as you can get within 10 ft. Covered in blood and gore after a brawl with goblins? Prestidigitation. Not any more. Shopkeep charging exorbitant prices? Prestidigitation. Look who just pissed himself (and for the next hour, too). Is your firewood soaked? Warm/clean it up with some Prestidigitation! What has 2 thumbs and has dry(ish) wood. This guy.

Dark Archive

Maybe you could use the cantrip "Oath of Anonymity"


I'm going a little different angle here.

Yes, I think you can apply clown make-up. But the caveat is that it can't be used for anything. It's not a tool, so it's not part of a career. It's not a disguise, so everyone still knows you're the clown.

My point is that if you just want "my character to look like a clown, with no mechanical benefit to doing so", then prestidigitation is good. If you're trying to do something that depends somehow on this clown make-up, then... not so much.


If you are trying to look like a clown so that someone does not recognize you that is using it as a disguise and would not be allowed. If this does work, it would still be obvious who you are and should probably draw attention to yourself.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I would allow prestidigitation to apply crude clown make up, but not provide a mechanical bonus to anything.

So, if you wanted to appear as a clown to make a child happy sure. It could help.

If you wanted to make a clown disguise, no.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Claxon wrote:
So, if you wanted to appear as a clown to make a child happy sure. It could help.

Nobody who appears as a clown does it to make a child happy.


If you use Prestidigitation to create a mundane disguise that changes your appearance of: gender, race, age, or size category, then you're emulating what the skill Disguise (Cha) can do, and you would be allowed to make Disguise checks per normal rules (albeit with massive negatives).
Using Prestidigitation in this way does not emulate Disguise Self in the slightest, because Disguise Self doesn't apply any negatives for changing gender, race, or change height/fat/thin and furthermore you gain a +10 bonus to your Disguise check.

So using Prestidigitation to create a mundane disguise is perfectly kosher.


Ryze Kuja wrote:

If you use Prestidigitation to create a mundane disguise that changes your appearance of: gender, race, age, or size category, then you're emulating what the skill Disguise (Cha) can do, and you would be allowed to make Disguise checks per normal rules (albeit with massive negatives).

Using Prestidigitation in this way does not emulate Disguise Self in the slightest, because Disguise Self doesn't apply any negatives for changing gender, race, or change height/fat/thin and furthermore you gain a +10 bonus to your Disguise check.

So using Prestidigitation to create a mundane disguise is perfectly kosher.

I don’t think Disguise Self is the problematic spell using it this way risks emulating… but rather Fabricate Disguise… which after reading the spell description… functions exactly how someone would expect Prestidigitation to work to create a mundane disguise…

A sloppy “disguise” could be done with prestidigitation… sloppy enough to not actually qualify as a disguise therefore not even getting the +5 for “minor details only” if even allowed a disguise check at all…

Liberty's Edge

Probably not exactly RAW, but I allow the use of prestidigitation to trim hair and beard, clean people (mud, dirt, sweat, etc. are non living), and so on. You apply your skills, it is simply an instrument, like scissors or a razor.

If you use it with disguise you get the same modifier as making a disguise with improvised tools.


Anything created with prestidigitation is crude and obvious. You would look like something trying to look like a clown instead of looking like a clown.

For the most part trying to use prestidigitation to disguise yourself is going to be self-defeating. If you use it to alter your appearance by temporarily changing something that change is going to be obvious and draw attention to you and probably cause the person you are trying to fool to pay more attention to you. I would probably assign a penalty for anyone using it to try and disguise themselves. Anything that last longer than an hour (Cleaning or soiling) would not be obvious. So, cleaning yourself up as part of a disguise is fine.

Prestidigitation does not belong to a school and is a universal school. That means that its actual effects are hard to define. Is the change an illusion or a transformation? If you are creating an illusion, and it is obvious that probably means that the target sees through the illusion without needing a saving throw. In which case it would be useless as a disguise.


What, specifically, is game breaking about letting this spell apply clown makeup? It gives no mechanical advantage, so if the PC or NPC is trying to be in disguise or perform, they'd still need to roll a skill check based solely on the skill they're intending to use. The spell has a very limited range, area of effect and such so it couldn't turn the WHOLE PC or NPC into a clown in one use of the spell, so multiple standard actions would be required to fully cement the disguise/costume of a clown, so really no massive action economy boost I don't think.

So... what is the problem? Why is this being debated so hard? This function would deal no damage, may or may not simulate the effect of a spell but otherwise generates no inherent mechanical benefit, as I mention doesn't much modify the action economy of donning a disguise or changing an outfit, and doesn't otherwise directly affect gameplay.

The only... ONLY... way that this function of the spell MIGHT be game breaking is if the PC or NPC using it was trying to use it offensively. For example, if the caster was trying to put clown makeup on someone else in order for that person to be found easily in a crowd. In that instance I would likely rule the spell to fail since Prestidigitation isn't supposed to be used in such a manner, but that might be up to y'all at your own games.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Quote:
Prestidigitation can create small objects, but they look crude and artificial.

Applying makeup isn't creating it.

If you create makeup, you get the equivalent of a child's makeup kit, something like a Hello Kitty makeup set, but that has no effect on how you apply it.

Quote:
A prestidigitation can slowly lift 1 pound of material. It can color, clean, or soil items in a 1-foot cube each round. It can chill, warm, or flavor 1 pound of nonliving material.

You can use Prestidigitation to apply preexisting makeup (even one made with Prestidigitation) but what you get depends on your Disguise skill. At most using Prestidigitation will allow you to do it without touching the makeup and give you an easier time reaching points that are hard to reach.

It doesn't even allow you to apply makeup faster, as it slowly move small objects.

If you put o your face the base white color of a clown visage, it will allow you to appropriately color different zones of it, as it will be affecting the makeup, not you. It will not be crude, as you aren't creating anything.

Same thing when changing the color of your garments. You aren't creating anything, so the "crude" limitation doesn't apply.

Unrelate, but, as a friend noticed, you can create great diet cookies.
They look crude and artificial and have the flavor you wish, with 0 calories. :-)


Chell Raighn wrote:
Ryze Kuja wrote:

If you use Prestidigitation to create a mundane disguise that changes your appearance of: gender, race, age, or size category, then you're emulating what the skill Disguise (Cha) can do, and you would be allowed to make Disguise checks per normal rules (albeit with massive negatives).

Using Prestidigitation in this way does not emulate Disguise Self in the slightest, because Disguise Self doesn't apply any negatives for changing gender, race, or change height/fat/thin and furthermore you gain a +10 bonus to your Disguise check.

So using Prestidigitation to create a mundane disguise is perfectly kosher.

I don’t think Disguise Self is the problematic spell using it this way risks emulating… but rather Fabricate Disguise… which after reading the spell description… functions exactly how someone would expect Prestidigitation to work to create a mundane disguise…

A sloppy “disguise” could be done with prestidigitation… sloppy enough to not actually qualify as a disguise therefore not even getting the +5 for “minor details only” if even allowed a disguise check at all…

Fabricate Disguise is instantaneous, making a Disguise takes 1d3 x 10 minutes per the Disguise skill rules.

So if you attempt to use Prestidigitation to lift 1lb. of makeup and create an instant disguise (or even allowing the disguise to be made in less than 1d3x10min), then this is definitely Fabricate Disguise territory and would indeed be no bueno.


Chell Raighn wrote:
Ryze Kuja wrote:

If you use Prestidigitation to create a mundane disguise that changes your appearance of: gender, race, age, or size category, then you're emulating what the skill Disguise (Cha) can do, and you would be allowed to make Disguise checks per normal rules (albeit with massive negatives).

Using Prestidigitation in this way does not emulate Disguise Self in the slightest, because Disguise Self doesn't apply any negatives for changing gender, race, or change height/fat/thin and furthermore you gain a +10 bonus to your Disguise check.

So using Prestidigitation to create a mundane disguise is perfectly kosher.

I don’t think Disguise Self is the problematic spell using it this way risks emulating… but rather Fabricate Disguise… which after reading the spell description… functions exactly how someone would expect Prestidigitation to work to create a mundane disguise…

A sloppy “disguise” could be done with prestidigitation… sloppy enough to not actually qualify as a disguise therefore not even getting the +5 for “minor details only” if even allowed a disguise check at all…

Your reasoning is entirely correct. I'm not sure how old the spell you linked is, but it's a perfect example of Prestidigitation's greatest weakness. Prestidigitation is an old spell at this point. I know it's been around since the beginning of 3.0, but I feel relatively safe in assuming it has been around since first edition. Please someone correct me if I'm wrong. Either way, prestidigitation gets cut down in its versatility with every new supplement, splat book, and supporting publication. Especially in the 3.x/Pathfinder era, this is an enormous list, even without taking into account 3pp.

Another easy example, the spell Spark. Prestidigitation is said to be able to produce a small flame to light a candle. Spark can instantaneously ignite a small fire, a candle, lantern, or any other ignitable thing. So, does Prestidigitation now lose its fire ability? I actually love the plethora of spells out there in some ways. They help to balance mechanical/rules consistency with players' desires for variety and versatility. But, the down side of having all of these options, assuming your group plays with them, is that some of the classic multi-purpose versatility spells get hamstrung.

I may have my terms mixed up, so again, please feel free to correct me, but I think the troubles with prestidigitation provide a good example of the troubles with Vancian magic in general. Magic is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts for fantasy games to encapsulate. Magic can do basically everything. Many systems try and let that be the guide, and allow players to do or describe whatever they want. Problem is, playing with a group, when someone has magic they become the yes button. Why bother with anything else. (Similar verbage, but I swear, THIS IS NOT about the martial/caster debate.) This is more akin to Superman vs. Red Tornado, Phoenix vs. ShadowCat, or more aptly Doc Strange vs. Mr. Fantastic. Basically the everything character vs. the themed or specialist character. But . . . I've segued too much here.

The issue is wrangling magic. To keep thing fair, balanced, fun, what have you, role playing systems have to try and impose rules on magic. Systems like Marvel or White Wolf try to let you create whatever you want (similar to crafting your own spells in Pathfinder), but then place rules on the mechanics of the actions you take to achieve your desired goals. With Marvel, the rules are so sparse and open to interpretation, you either end up with the god wizard, or a character who can't act until everything is already over. White Wolf and other systems that use spell points keep things better contained and still functional, but the rules for building/crafting/casting a spell are massive, complicated, and ponderous.

So we jump back to the Vancian system. Pre made spells with specific standardized actions, mechanics, numeric variables, and rules of application. As complicated as casters can be, way less book keeping and math headaches for most players. The down side, because everything is already laid out and defined, no matter how many options you have, a single magic character really CAN'T do everything. You can play with flavor text/fluff quite a bit, but if you want a mechanical benefit to go with your creativity, you're out of luck. But, the game designers saw this trouble, and so we get spells like Prestidigitation, and Wish, and several others I probably don't know to name. And, if you're willing to put up with the headache of building your own spells, with a friendly GM, you can. But then you run into balance problems, and game time usage, and all the other niggling details. So, bold and savvy designers, seeing a desire in the market for more spells, they make them. And the versatile spells get nibbled away at. The pendulum swings back and forth. . . . Dang it! Why can't magic just be simple :p


Late night ramble; sorry folks!

The TL;DR of my above post: Prestidigitation and its relative spells are the attempt of Vancian magic game designers to allow for some of the perks of non-vancian systems. But, with the advent of every new supplement of spells, Prestidigitation's versatility by RAW gets whittled away.

Best solution for my groups. Prestidigitation gets grandfathered in for what it could originally do by RAW/RAI. If someone wants to take one of the newer, more niche spells, it's a roleplay choice, and it may or may not come with some tiny in game bonus at time of use. GM, story, group's call.


Prestidigitations are minor tricks that novice spellcasters use for practice. Once cast, a prestidigitation spell enables you to perform simple magical effects for 1 hour. The effects are minor and have severe limitations. A prestidigitation can slowly lift 1 pound of material. It can color, clean, or soil items in a 1-foot cube each round. It can chill, warm, or flavor 1 pound of nonliving material. It cannot deal damage or affect the concentration of spellcasters. Prestidigitation can create small objects, but they look crude and artificial. The materials created by a prestidigitation spell are extremely fragile, and they cannot be used as tools, weapons, or spell components. Finally, prestidigitation lacks the power to duplicate any other spell effects. Any actual change to an object (beyond just moving, cleaning, or soiling it) persists only 1 hour.

The spark example is completely untrue. In Pathfinder Prestidigitation has a specific list of what it can do and igniting a flame is not on the list. Many GM may have allowed it to do so, but that is a house rule. Spark was created because this is really something a spell caster should be to easily do and is not powerful enough to be more than a cantrip. Prestidigitation was not meant to be the catch all spell that does everything it was designed to do minor parlor tricks.


Prestidigitation is everything that an IRL magician can do with a handful of small objects and not more. Trying to hide a small pebble for a trick? Prestidigitation to move it into position. Trying to do the "pull handkerchiefs out your mouth" trick? Prestidigitation to create them. Making a trick an need to make an object disappear? Create an edible version with Prestidigitation before the show. Make a small object float? You got it.

Yeah it can do basic coloring like throwing splashes of paint at an area or coloring a area with a color. But the only way to make a painting with it is with your own time and art skills, and careful use of "I will color this area". Think digital painting using using a program more basic than MS Paint.

Sure you can make "food" and change its properties but it has 0 nutritional value and at best will just be a placebo. Sure you can clean, color, or soil items in the small area, but that doesn't apply to creatures, and only works on a 1 foot cube at a time: I personally allow hair because I like the idea of Gnomes using that spell to change their hair color.


Mysterious Stranger wrote:

Prestidigitations are minor tricks that novice spellcasters use for practice. Once cast, a prestidigitation spell enables you to perform simple magical effects for 1 hour. The effects are minor and have severe limitations. A prestidigitation can slowly lift 1 pound of material. It can color, clean, or soil items in a 1-foot cube each round. It can chill, warm, or flavor 1 pound of nonliving material. It cannot deal damage or affect the concentration of spellcasters. Prestidigitation can create small objects, but they look crude and artificial. The materials created by a prestidigitation spell are extremely fragile, and they cannot be used as tools, weapons, or spell components. Finally, prestidigitation lacks the power to duplicate any other spell effects. Any actual change to an object (beyond just moving, cleaning, or soiling it) persists only 1 hour.

The spark example is completely untrue. In Pathfinder Prestidigitation has a specific list of what it can do and igniting a flame is not on the list. Many GM may have allowed it to do so, but that is a house rule. Spark was created because this is really something a spell caster should be to easily do and is not powerful enough to be more than a cantrip. Prestidigitation was not meant to be the catch all spell that does everything it was designed to do minor parlor tricks.

I stand corrected. I was recalling prestidigitation from D&D (I think 3.x). In that system, producing a flame from your fingertips was an example of the spell's capabilities. I didn't realize that option was gone in Pathfinder.


@Sysrykeback (about how old this spell is).

IDK if it was before 2nd edition, but in 2nd edition it was also called 'Cantrip' (my hardcover handbook call it 'Prestidigitation' and say it's also called cantrip, this link only bring that name) and had a 2nd level spell 'protection from cantrips' made to protect the teacher from his apprentices tricks. it was a 1st level spell (as 0 level wasn't invented yet) and lasted longer (to make up for not being able to cast it all day?)

2nd edition cantrip:
"Cantrip
Level: 1
Components: V, S
Range: 10 ft.
AoE: Special
Save: None
Casting Time : 1
Duration: 1 hr./level
Cantrips are minor spells studied by wizards during their apprenticeship, regardless of school. The cantrip spell is a practice method for the apprentice, teaching him how to tap minute amounts of magical energy. Once cast, the cantrip spell enables the caster to create minor magical effects for the duration of the spell. However, these effects are so minor that they have severe limitations. They are completely unable to cause a loss of hit points, cannot affect the concentration of spellcasters, and can only create small, obviously magical materials. Furthermore, materials created by a cantrip are extremely fragile and cannot be used as tools of any sort. Lastly, a cantrip lacks the power to duplicate any other spell effects. Whatever manifestation the cantrip takes, it remains in effect only as long as the wizard concentrates. Wizards typically use cantrips to impress common folk, amuse children, and brighten dreary lives. Common tricks with cantrips include tinklings of ethereal music, brightening faded flowers, glowing balls that float over the caster's hand, puffs of wind to flicker candles, spicing up aromas and flavors of bland food, and little whirlwinds to sweep dust under rugs. Combined with the unseen servant spell, it's a tool to make housekeeping and entertaining simpler for the wizard."

on the up-side, in the old version, items made from it lasted until destroyed (or dispelled), but where very fragile (my 2nd edition wizard used it to make crystal-like dishes to eat and drink from).

--------------------------------------

i had an argument with my pathfinder gm if i need to cast it before every tick i make or if it goes as in 2nd edition where 'Once cast, the cantrip spell enables the caster to create minor magical effects for the duration of the spell'. it lets a street performer to be a lot more flexible without the need to cast a spell before every trick.


I mean it does say in the spell that you can make tricks for an hour. (More than enough for most street performances.)


yea, but the question was if the duration was for every trick you make. or the ability to make the tricks. he never seen the 2nd edition spell so assumed it's every trick for itself. you cast the spell. if the trick have a lasting effect (such as color\light etc) it last an hour, but to make a new trick you need to recast the spell.


That's not how the spell works as written. It has nothing to do with knowing about other editions or not.

The duration of the spell is 1 hour. It says that it allows you to do tricks for 1 hour. It ends by saying that tricks with a duration (and are not exempteded) have a max duration of 1 hour.

It never says you can only.do 1 trick.


i agree, and that was my point to him as well, i just explained how he read it before we argued.


I am saying he was reading the spell pretty badly, regardless of his knowledge of 2e (which is not very relevant)

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

In the 1st edition AD&D you could replace a 1st level spell with 4 cantrips, one was Prestidigitation, another Color, another Firefinger, and so on.
I don't recall if they were added in Unearthed Arcana or a number of Dragon.

There was even Exterminate, capable to kill tiny animals with 1/4 HD or less (normal rats, essentially) in a 1' cube. Nice to remove fleas and other vermin. As a lark, I gave my players a wand of Exterminate. It ended by saving the life of one of the characters when an earseeker worm entered his ear and started burrowing toward his brain. No one had a Cure Disease at hand, but they were able to kill the worm with the wand. :D

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / General Discussion / Prestidigitation Question All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.