Geas Ritual willing vs unwilling


Rules Discussion


https://2e.aonprd.com/Rituals.aspx?ID=12

This may belong in "Advice", but I'll start here.

Can an unwilling target of a (heightened) Geas ritual pretend to be willing?
If an unwilling Geas target succeeds at their will save, are the casters aware?

Scenario: An NPC used a 7th level Geas ritual to bind a band of people (some PCs, others NPCs) to a contract that says (in a nut shell): "Overthrow Big Bad from his kingdom."

One NPC is on the Big Bad's side, but has to pretend to be willing to be bound by the Geas ritual in order to fool the PCs and other NPCs. That NPC takes certain measures to ensure he succeeds at his Will save.

Do the Geas casters know if he succeeded at his will save as an unwilling target even though that target pretended to be willing?

Thank you in advance.


The only way that I can see this spell being useful at all is if a 'begrudging willing' is allowed to cause the spell to work. So unless the character is actively and obviously resisting during the ritual, then it works - even if the character doesn't actually want to be under the Geas.

For heightened versions of the spell that can be used on unwilling targets, I think it is typical for will save results to be known to the caster. Though a Deception check may be appropriate to allow a character to pretend to be affected.

My thought on the design of the spells wording is to prevent the GM from using the ritual to force the players to do something - a railroad plot stick to beat them with. The ritual should only be used on the PCs if the players are in agreement with that being part of the plot.

Now, if the players and the GM agree to have a particular character or two pretend to be willing participants in the ritual, I could see that being done using a Deception check or simply through GM Fiat. But that is a plot decision that should be worked out above the table.


I feel like there was a general rule that you can't automatically tell on sight whether a creature saved vs. an effect or not unless the result is obvious from context (ie takes no damage from the fireball, gets turned into a newt, etc.). I could be misremembering from a different game so check your sources.

Now, if the NPC is able to get away with hiding their geas success, there's also the fact that it may be noticeable if they don't seem to be compelled as strongly as the others, perhaps taking an action which might borderline sicken a truly geased character. Such hints would be up to narrative needs and maybe subject to Deception checks to maintain the disguise or Perception checks to realize the NPCs behaviour isn't truly geas-compelled.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If PF1, spell caster knew if a creature successfully saved against a spell. However, there were also feats that allowed you to resist and hide it, so what the OP is asking for has precedent

In PF2, I'm not sure if the results of saves are known to the casters, and this is a ritual not a spell in this edition. However, the premise is really the same.

If the results of the saves are typically known (on targeted spell/effects) then I would simply say that the NPC has something equivalent to something like Enchantment Foil spell from PF1.


Thank everyone for their responses. This is helpful.

Allow me to ask my question in a different way for additional insights from the community.

Imagine a handful of good kingdoms united to defeat an evil kingdom that has been a menace for many decades. Each good kingdom commits a powerful champion who represents it as the highest military authority in the alliance. Because each kingdom’s short, mid, and/or long-term self-interest can sometimes conflict with the military effort to defeat the evil kingdom, each champion is inducted into the alliance through the Geas ritual (a ritual which is renewed annually).

Now, imagine that you are one such champion, but for whatever reason, you have fallen in with the evil kingdom. Perhaps you have been promised something, or perhaps you have become disillusioned with the alliance. Whatever the reason, your mission is now to communicate the alliance’s plans to the evil kingdom, and entice all the other champions to walk into traps or otherwise get killed.

How would YOU defeat the annual 7th-level Geas ritual, but still maintain your cover as a covert agent?

You are not necessarily a magic user. The evil kingdom can provide you with magic users able to provide for you the resources you need to do that.


Disguise a doppelganger and have them perform the ritual in your place.

Remember, this entire plotline is something that I feel should only be done with GM and player agreement beforehand.


breithauptclan wrote:
Remember, this entire plotline is something that I feel should only be done with GM and player agreement beforehand.

To clarify, the players are not members of this group of champions (though some may aspire to be). I want to lean on the player's understanding of the rules in order to identify the champion who has been betraying the alliance.

I do not want to play the "GM said this guy can't be affected by Geas" card. In fact doing that contradicts what I am trying to do.

Thank you for the doppelganger idea. That may be a worthwhile route.


Ah. So the point is for the players to try and detect which person is somehow subverting the Geas ritual.

Yeah, the doppelganger works well. The players just have to defeat the disguise and notice that the person in the ritual isn't the actual champion.

Another option would be to have the false champion actually be under the Geas. The players could detect that the person becomes sickened occasionally (because they are acting in violation of the terms of the Geas).


markrivett wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:
Remember, this entire plotline is something that I feel should only be done with GM and player agreement beforehand.

To clarify, the players are not members of this group of champions (though some may aspire to be). I want to lean on the player's understanding of the rules in order to identify the champion who has been betraying the alliance.

I do not want to play the "GM said this guy can't be affected by Geas" card. In fact doing that contradicts what I am trying to do.

Thank you for the doppelganger idea. That may be a worthwhile route.

Honestly, by the basic rules it may not be possible.

But it's totally reasonable for you to have an NPC that has a custom class archetype that alters their abilities to hide any alignment change and also hide his duplicity. Sounds like a very thematic evil (or even a CN or LN) kind of variant. NPCs needn't use player facing rules, but you should base the DCs to overcome these abilities on the monster rules for DCs and such (and players should have a chance to overcome).


The way I see it, geas implants a magical restriction on you.

If you let it (willing subject) no matter how sneaky you want to be, it's planted.

Only by outright trying to resist it you can fight it.

Similarly to how magical "pacts" are bound, I don't think simply lying will have an effect.

Basically the spell only cares if you say "OK" or not. And not why, how, and what you really think inside your head.

Edit :

As for a sneaky villain :
I can only assume that in a coalition of Good allies, a sneaky person can wiggle his way out by outright refusing because of stuff like "I cannot allow myself to get under magical restrains" which is a fully valid reason for even a CG character to refuse to bend his will.


shroudb wrote:

The way I see it, geas implants a magical restriction on you.

If you let it (willing subject) no matter how sneaky you want to be, it's planted.

Only by outright trying to resist it you can fight it.

Similarly to how magical "pacts" are bound, I don't think simply lying will have an effect.

Basically the spell only cares if you say "OK" or not. And not why, how, and what you really think inside your head.

Edit :

As for a sneaky villain :
I can only assume that in a coalition of Good allies, a sneaky person can wiggle his way out by outright refusing because of stuff like "I cannot allow myself to get under magical restrains" which is a fully valid reason for even a CG character to refuse to bend his will.

The issue is the character wants to resist, but pretend like they didn't. Which I can imagine being possible. I don't think that mental resistance needs to be obvious in this situation.

But there would need to be a mechanic (after the save) that deals with how the target hides from the ritual invoker that they've resisted.

Edit: I don't think there is anything about physically speaker or saying okay. Will saves are a purely mental thing. To me the willingness has to be in ones mind, and you can say whatever you want.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Claxon wrote:
shroudb wrote:

The way I see it, geas implants a magical restriction on you.

If you let it (willing subject) no matter how sneaky you want to be, it's planted.

Only by outright trying to resist it you can fight it.

Similarly to how magical "pacts" are bound, I don't think simply lying will have an effect.

Basically the spell only cares if you say "OK" or not. And not why, how, and what you really think inside your head.

Edit :

As for a sneaky villain :
I can only assume that in a coalition of Good allies, a sneaky person can wiggle his way out by outright refusing because of stuff like "I cannot allow myself to get under magical restrains" which is a fully valid reason for even a CG character to refuse to bend his will.

The issue is the character wants to resist, but pretend like they didn't. Which I can imagine being possible. I don't think that mental resistance needs to be obvious in this situation.

But there would need to be a mechanic (after the save) that deals with how the target hides from the ritual invoker that they've resisted.

Edit: I don't think there is anything about physically speaker or saying okay. Will saves are a purely mental thing. To me the willingness has to be in ones mind, and you can say whatever you want.

It's a magical pact imo.

Similarly to how if you sign one it doesn't matter if you didn't mean your signature to count.

As for speaking or not, it's a lengthy ritual involving the caster and the recipient.

Not "speaking" if you agree or not during some point of it, makes as much sense to me as the caster not directly mentioning all the stipulations of it.

Or, to put it otherwise, when the caster asks "do you comply?" you can choose to remain silent.

Now, if you remain silent, I also assume that everyone and their mother will be suspicious of you.
And if you answer "yes" the magic of the spell will count you as willing (at least in my table).


1 person marked this as a favorite.
shroudb wrote:


As for a sneaky villain :
I can only assume that in a coalition of Good allies, a sneaky person can wiggle his way out by outright refusing because of stuff like "I cannot allow myself to get under magical restrains" which is a fully valid reason for even a CG character to refuse to bend his will.

In this case of refusing to be part of Geas pact, the Alliance would simply say; “We respect your personal conviction to refuse this ritual, and we ask that you respect our need for a representative from your kingdom to commit to the magical contract. We will need someone else to represent your nation in this agreement, though we appreciate your continued commitment to this struggle in other ways.”

The doppelganger suggestion got me thinking.

Could a replica (via a heightened Replicate illusion spell) be the subject of a Geas ritual to allow the original to subvert it?

Perhaps a Mind Swap ritual would allow the bad guy to allow someone else to take their body, perform the ritual, and then swap back (allowing for one week of “hmm, that guy is acting strange” until minds swap back)


shroudb wrote:
Claxon wrote:
shroudb wrote:

The way I see it, geas implants a magical restriction on you.

If you let it (willing subject) no matter how sneaky you want to be, it's planted.

Only by outright trying to resist it you can fight it.

Similarly to how magical "pacts" are bound, I don't think simply lying will have an effect.

Basically the spell only cares if you say "OK" or not. And not why, how, and what you really think inside your head.

Edit :

As for a sneaky villain :
I can only assume that in a coalition of Good allies, a sneaky person can wiggle his way out by outright refusing because of stuff like "I cannot allow myself to get under magical restrains" which is a fully valid reason for even a CG character to refuse to bend his will.

The issue is the character wants to resist, but pretend like they didn't. Which I can imagine being possible. I don't think that mental resistance needs to be obvious in this situation.

But there would need to be a mechanic (after the save) that deals with how the target hides from the ritual invoker that they've resisted.

Edit: I don't think there is anything about physically speaker or saying okay. Will saves are a purely mental thing. To me the willingness has to be in ones mind, and you can say whatever you want.

It's a magical pact imo.

Similarly to how if you sign one it doesn't matter if you didn't mean your signature to count.

As for speaking or not, it's a lengthy ritual involving the caster and the recipient.

Not "speaking" if you agree or not during some point of it, makes as much sense to me as the caster not directly mentioning all the stipulations of it.

Or, to put it otherwise, when the caster asks "do you comply?" you can choose to remain silent.

Now, if you remain silent, I also assume that everyone and their mother will be suspicious of you.
And if you answer "yes" the magic of the spell will count you as willing (at least in my table).

Nothing about how spells normally work requires the target to speak as a general rule to say they're willing.

At least that certainly wasn't how it worked in PF1.

I'm sorry but I simply don't agree with your view. Willingness is purely a mental state and you can lie about being willing. Currently though, there are no specifically rules about hiding it and it's unclear if casters no if a target has succeeded or failed at a particular save. Or if there is a different feeling when having a willing vs unwilling target.

Since in general making a verbal statement binding about being willing for a spell makes things less interesting IMO (because then all magic is "binding") I prefer to have a scenario where you can lie and try to hide it.


Claxon wrote:
shroudb wrote:
Claxon wrote:
shroudb wrote:

The way I see it, geas implants a magical restriction on you.

If you let it (willing subject) no matter how sneaky you want to be, it's planted.

Only by outright trying to resist it you can fight it.

Similarly to how magical "pacts" are bound, I don't think simply lying will have an effect.

Basically the spell only cares if you say "OK" or not. And not why, how, and what you really think inside your head.

Edit :

As for a sneaky villain :
I can only assume that in a coalition of Good allies, a sneaky person can wiggle his way out by outright refusing because of stuff like "I cannot allow myself to get under magical restrains" which is a fully valid reason for even a CG character to refuse to bend his will.

The issue is the character wants to resist, but pretend like they didn't. Which I can imagine being possible. I don't think that mental resistance needs to be obvious in this situation.

But there would need to be a mechanic (after the save) that deals with how the target hides from the ritual invoker that they've resisted.

Edit: I don't think there is anything about physically speaker or saying okay. Will saves are a purely mental thing. To me the willingness has to be in ones mind, and you can say whatever you want.

It's a magical pact imo.

Similarly to how if you sign one it doesn't matter if you didn't mean your signature to count.

As for speaking or not, it's a lengthy ritual involving the caster and the recipient.

Not "speaking" if you agree or not during some point of it, makes as much sense to me as the caster not directly mentioning all the stipulations of it.

Or, to put it otherwise, when the caster asks "do you comply?" you can choose to remain silent.

Now, if you remain silent, I also assume that everyone and their mother will be suspicious of you.
And if you answer "yes" the magic of the spell will count you as willing (at least in my table).

Nothing...

So, you think that you can be put under a geas and not even knowing what the geas is about?

The rules are the same that govern the recipient and the caster as far as "talking" is concerned.

So you'll be under the negatives of the geas for as long as it lasts and nothing can tell you what the actual geas you should follow is.

Even worse you can agree to a Geas that seems good but the caster actually puts evil clauses instead "in his mind" that you never know.

That seems absurd to me, I can't agree with your view at all.


shroudb wrote:

So, you think that you can be put under a geas and not even knowing what the geas is about?

The rules are the same that govern the recipient and the caster as far as "talking" is concerned.

So you'll be under the negatives of the geas for as long as it lasts and nothing can tell you what the actual geas you should follow is.

Even worse you can agree to a Geas that seems good but the caster actually puts evil clauses instead "in his mind" that you never know.

That seems absurd to me, I can't agree with your view at all.

Sorry, I think you're taking out of context what I mean. And I think it should be very obvious that I was talking about in the context of being willing. Willingness is not something you need to state out loud. If it was a requirement, I would expect it to be mentioned explicitly.

The terms of geas though, I imagine would need to be spoken else the target wouldn't be aware of what they needed to do or not do. Of course, with the limited range (10 ft) you basically need someone to be completely at your mercy for 1 whole day to execute it. So considering you could kill them or worse in that time frame, perhaps it's not impossible. There is no explicit requirement the target be conscious for the geas.

Also, it's very much not a magical pact. Magical pacts don't have any specific rules that I'm aware of game terms, but generally I imagine them as being entered into willingly as a requirement. Geas isn't that in all circumstances. It is not a contract. It is magically forcing your will on another, and in some cases it's not resisted.

Anyways, rambling aside the end result is that no I don't believe a question of "are you willing" to be some sort of binding effect because the spell isn't stated to have such in any explicit terms.

Willing in the context of over other spell typically means "does not resist" and in the case of a will save the only kind of logical resistance is mental.

But you do have a great point, per the rules you can totally knock someone out, keep them knocked out, put them under a geas (assuming they fail the save) and have it penalize them because they wont know what they should be doing.

Now, one interest thing here is that you could have specific ritual caster that can only cast the ritual at minimum level (3) and that can only impact characters up to level 6 and only if they're willing. Supposing someone is lower than level 7, the ritual would fail if they weren't willing, and presumably that failure would be notable and different from succeeding in a save . So the low level version could be used to determine if someone was willing, presuming you have a way (in character) of equating character level restrictions within the spell to a character you can observe.


But that's my point.

If there are no "hard rules" for clearly stating the CORRECT rules of the geas for the caster.
How is it any different than stating TRUTHFULLY the willingness for the recipient?

The thing is that rituals are lengthy complicated... well, rituals.

They aren't 6 sec cast and done spells.

We obviously cannot have a full list of all the things happening in those 8h+ castings of them.

But when mechanics mention stuff like willingness and clauses, we can only assume that those are indeed covered at some point in those 8h of casting.

And if nothing forbids one side to simply lie out of those mechanics,then nothing forbids the other side as well.

So I think it's much better to simply rule out simply lying as a way out for EITHER side.

Furthermore, the lowest level geas cannot be cast on unwilling subjects. Not fails, but can't even be casted. So that automatically "detects" unwillingness. If the lower level version can do that, the higher level should as well.


shroudb wrote:

But when mechanics mention stuff like willingness and clauses, we can only assume that those are indeed covered at some point in those 8h of casting.

And if nothing forbids one side to simply lie out of those mechanics,then nothing forbids the other side as well.

So I think it's much better to simply rule out simply lying as a way out for EITHER side.

I disagree.

I think if willingness needs to be spoken out loud, the rules should explicitly say that. Since that's not something that's required on any other spell where willingness is a requirement. The difference is those other spells it's general going to be very obvious and are generally only beneficial and don't have a variant for an unwilling recipient.

Lying about the requirements of the geas by the caster would simply mean the the target ends up with a -4 (sickened penalty) because they don't know what rules to follow. Considering it takes 24 hours, it's honestly less bad than many other things that could happen to someone.

Honestly, considering there are many spells that can cause sickened 2 on their own as a 2 action spell the penalty from Geas isn't too bad.

Also, there are spells like zone of truth which you could use to establish if the target intends to be cooperative, prior to starting the ritual.

In the end, geas is simply more interesting if a creature can pretend to be willing and work against the caster. And if for no other reason, that alone makes it the more interesting way to play IMO.


markrivett wrote:

The doppelganger suggestion got me thinking.

Could a replica (via a heightened Replicate illusion spell) be the subject of a Geas ritual to allow the original to subvert it?

Perhaps a Mind Swap ritual would allow the bad guy to allow someone else to take their body, perform the ritual, and then swap back (allowing for one week of “hmm, that guy is acting strange” until minds swap back)

This is something that would likely be handled by a plot device. It may not be something that ends up being available to the player characters. It could be described as a heightened or modified version of a spell that does exist, or a custom feat or ability that this NPC character has (plenty of monsters have those).

The purpose of the published Geas ritual is for the players to be able to use it. So if there exists an option to subvert it that is easily accessible to the players, what would be the point of the Geas ritual?

Do the players know that this is the plot line of the campaign?

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Perhaps the NPC who is casting the geas is also in on the plan, and excludes the evil champion without anyone knowing?


breithauptclan wrote:
The purpose of the published Geas ritual is for the players to be able to use it. So if there exists an option to subvert it that is easily accessible to the players, what would be the point of the Geas ritual?

I don’t know if I agree with you. I think just about everything in Pathfinder can be adapted for a narrative function… especially at higher levels. I tend to think that, with enough preparation and information, a clever NPC (or PC) can (and should) be able to do the unexpected.

But I also want to avoid “Batman” levels of preparation where I’m telling the players “Oh there’s something extra EXTRA special that makes this not work the way you think it does.”

I think that robs the players of their investment in the system that they themselves are bound by.

breithauptclan wrote:
Do the players know that this is the plot line of the campaign?

The players know that the original group of champions, except for two members, were wiped out during a surprise attack that was supposed to destroy the Big Bad (cut the head off the snake). The generally accepted narrative from the few survivors who escaped is that the Big Bad was somehow expecting the attack and had laid an ambush. There is no definitive answer as to what went wrong (that the players, or anyone else, is aware of).

This thread is about dissecting what went wrong (Someone subverted their Geas) so I can provide nibbles and glimpses to the players that will unfold into a larger revelation which pits them against someone who was thought to be on their side.


Grumpus wrote:
Perhaps the NPC who is casting the geas is also in on the plan, and excludes the evil champion without anyone knowing?

That is a good suggestion. Thank you. The "bad champion" happens to not be a magic user and will require an ally who is. I had always thought of this ally as an advisor, but it could easily be the prominent caster of the ritual him/herself.


Grumpus wrote:
Perhaps the NPC who is casting the geas is also in on the plan, and excludes the evil champion without anyone knowing?

Considering that spells are explained to have obvious manifestations, it will be apparent that the spell did not affect a target if they are not targeted, or that it had no effect if it has some visuality to it. There are no feats to fake manifestations, only to hide that they take place in general. It might work better if there was an Illusionist hidden somewhere trying to mimic the manifestations, though.

Honestly, the Doppelganger idea is the best and easiest/simplest one to do. If the target is disguised, and people assume that they are so-and-so, they won't second guess that it's so-and-so unless they do something extremely out of character for so-and-so.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Honestly, the Doppelganger idea is the best and easiest/simplest one to do. If the target is disguised, and people assume that they are so-and-so, they won't second guess that it's so-and-so unless they do something extremely out of character for so-and-so.

While I am continuing to explore this scenario options as a mental exercise, I tend to lean this way the more I think about it.

Reason being is that Big Bad can coerce a doppelganger into undergoing the ritual (riches?)in place of the champion, but then what? Doppelganger isn't going to be happy about being bound to the Geas, and getting sick OR working against the Big bad as per the Geas. So what does a Big bad do with a sick or hostile doppelganger?

Time to make the Doppelganger vanish.

So, after years of this happening, the latest doppelganger gets to thinking "I wonder what happened to all my predecessors." And peaces together that he is gonna die as soon as the ritual is over. So, this Doppelganger now has to try and thread a needle where he exposes the plot, but can't be obvious about it or Big Bad will expedite the doppelganger's demise.

It gives me a mechanism through which to provide clues to the players.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Claxon wrote:

If PF1, spell caster knew if a creature successfully saved against a spell. However, there were also feats that allowed you to resist and hide it, so what the OP is asking for has precedent

In PF2, I'm not sure if the results of saves are known to the casters, and this is a ritual not a spell in this edition. However, the premise is really the same.

If the results of the saves are typically known (on targeted spell/effects) then I would simply say that the NPC has something equivalent to something like Enchantment Foil spell from PF1.

PF2 has a feat like that as well:

ource Character Guide pg. 12 2.0
Access Taldan nationality
Trigger You are affected by an emotion effect.
Taldan pride means you never show weakness. Roll a Deception check and compare the result to any observing creatures’ Perception DCs. On a success, that creature believes you were unaffected by the emotion effect. A creature tricked in this manner can’t benefit from the emotion effect and can’t use abilities that require you to be under this emotion effect; for example, if you successfully use this ability to trick a will-o’-wisp into believing you aren’t under a fear effect, it can’t use its Feed on Fear ability on you.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
markrivett wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:
The purpose of the published Geas ritual is for the players to be able to use it. So if there exists an option to subvert it that is easily accessible to the players, what would be the point of the Geas ritual?

I don’t know if I agree with you. I think just about everything in Pathfinder can be adapted for a narrative function… especially at higher levels. I tend to think that, with enough preparation and information, a clever NPC (or PC) can (and should) be able to do the unexpected.

But I also want to avoid “Batman” levels of preparation where I’m telling the players “Oh there’s something extra EXTRA special that makes this not work the way you think it does.”

I think that robs the players of their investment in the system that they themselves are bound by.

Mostly what I am thinking is that the rock-paper-scissors spells like Invisibility and See Invisibility are somewhat unsatisfying. That is what leads to the obsessive preparation: 'This needs to work. Have we covered all of the standard counters to this spell yet?'

If Geas had commonly known and available counters, then the people casting Geas and expecting it to work would also be checking for these commonly known and available counters. So either the ritual works reliably and there are no commonly known counters to it (at least not ones that wouldn't be checked for during the casting), or the ritual does not work reliably and no one casts it.

So what that leaves is uncommon outside the box thinking by a villain in order to get someone who appears to have gone through the Geas ritual, but actually is not bound by it. So that would have to be a plot twist that the players wouldn't know about from a thorough reading of the rule books.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

With regards to willingness, I seem to recall that an unconscious character can even declare themselves willing or unwilling. There seem to be no point at which a character needs to make it visibly obvious whether they consent in order to resist any effect which requires a willing target. Furthermore, since the ritual description mentions none, whether there are any obvious visual signs of a magical effect are purely subject to personal stylistic choices, which can always go either way as per the GM's predilection, so long as they are consistent.

Casting tends to have obvious manifestations, usually in the description if the coalescing and directing of energy during casting (and often have an obvious visual manifestation once cast, but I expect not always), so whether the spell or ritual includes a verification check that confirms whether it took place us yet unanswered and in the field of personal preference


Personally my stance is that the NPC is a custom champion archetype that allows them to mostly look like a good champion, and hide the fact that they aren't.

Perhaps they get access to things that good champions do, like Lay on Hands but it only scales every 2 levels instead of 1. Like real mechanical set backs. But they also get the evil versions too (but also at the same reduced effective rate). And in addition they get some specific feat options that let them hide what they're doing.

You have to make it such that mechanical players would have little desire to try to follow the path, but that the NPC is perfectly crafted for what you need.

Also, NPC simply aren't bound by the same rules as PCs, and players just need to accept that.

You shouldn't make every NPC some custom thing that subverts all the normal rules, but when used sparingly its much more interesting (IMO) when NPCs can do something unexpected that the players can't or didn't realize even existed.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Most of this is covered in the Geas and Ritual rules.

1) The spell does not give a will save to willing creatures, the caster just has to make a skill check. If the caster succeeds at the skill check, boom, all the willing participants are geased.
If the caster fails the skill check, it seems they would likely know it, since in the worst case they could be impacted by the attempted Geas themselves, and could I guess try again, or whatever.
The basic point here though is that, assuming willing participants, it's all on the caster and it's succeed or fail

2) Unwilling creatures DO get a Will save, and this important rider "A remove curse spell can counteract a geas on an unwilling creature, in addition to powerful magic such as a wish spell". If the unwilling creature fails the save the Geas works, but only for 1 week (unless the spell is particularly high level). Also note that a successful save does NOT cause the geas to fail, instead it enables them to "negate the effect". That suggests to me that the caster would not necessarily know something was amiss. Successful geas, but negated effect.

Outside homebrew, it's one geas ritual per target person also.

So, as I read it, the spy would have to go through their own geas ritual. They would be actually unwilling, but could pretend otherwise (nothing specified in the rules), and would get a will save. I would force a Deception check to Lie though, probably with some penalties since keeping up a cheerful appearance of agreement while madly resisting inside your head seems harder than the norm.
If the spy *makes* the save and makes the Deception check, the caster would probably be none the wiser. Successful geas, negated effect, successful Lie.
If the spy *fails* the save and makes the Deception check, the geas would take hold, but the spy could hit up his magical supporters for a remove curse.
If the spy *fails* the save and fails the Deception check, the geas would take hold and the caster would likely know that he/she was unwilling. What the caster does with the info is, of course, all plot line.

Risky business all around, but hey, that's the life of a spy!!

Might be easier to slip the caster a fat bribe to make the ceremony look good (maybe an illusion spell instead of the actual geas), and then off him in a convenient accident later before he can let slip or change his/her mind. Assuming Evil players of course.

Alternately, a Lawful Evil player could just have a solid lawyer look over the geas contract for loopholes, or actively work to get a subtle loophole included in the language.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Honestly, I don't think you need to worry about it from the player side.

Players might be interested in using geas. BBEG's can just have minions to do their bidding, no need for geas unless you want to introduce it into the plot to be subverted.

So you don't really need to worry about player facing mechanics interacting with geas too much, it's probably not going to come up. Sure, if the BBEG can incapacitate the whole party I guess they could decide to geas them. Or you could kill them? If you're worried about someone resurrecting them you get really dark and start amputating body parts but keep them alive. Resurrection wont work on someone who's not dead but incapable of moving on their own.

To be honest I like the fact that access to resurrection/raise dead is now uncommon. Honestly I think the baseline for the game should be that it's incredibly hard. Like have to go on a quest to get access to a one time use version of these effects. But, that player characters should have special mechanics that make it really hard to actually die. Like hero points, but instead a pool that can only be used to cheat death and not spent on anything else.

Anyways, back to the point, geas isn't really a tool I want to use as a GM against PCs. And as a tool of NPC against NPC....well you only introduce that if you want PCs to find a way to subvert it.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Rules Discussion / Geas Ritual willing vs unwilling All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.