Scare to death errata


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Eoran wrote:

As another spell comparison point: Curse of Death is also a less limited use ability than a spell slot spell.

It also costs 2 actions to cast and 1 action each round to sustain. It doesn't kill the target until they fail the save 4 times, or crit fail twice, or various other combinations. But it doesn't outright kill the target until stage 4.

How does that balance against Scare to Death? In either version.

It doesn't, because they're fundamentally different. Scare to Death is an instantaneous effect with a specific result that doesn't change over time or persist beyond its initial effects as normal. It's also expected to be far more powerful than a simple 5st level Hex Focus Spell based on level alone, since Scare to Death is expected to be available by the time 7th/8th level spells show up, and it becomes commonplace with 9th level spells. (Also, you're comparing Skill Feats to the worst class focus spells in the game. A more apt comparison would be a feat like Armored Assist or whatever other garbage niche Skill Feats there are.)

We can't seriously suggest that a "Curse DoT" should be equivalent to an instantaneous effect, even if they are the same level. This is like saying Persistent Damage should do as much damage as Strikes and Martial Attacks; they are fundamentally different, and are treated as such when it comes to determining the damage output for each. Same concept here. Otherwise we should just make a Fireball do persistent Fire damage of 8D6, and see how powerful that is.

Did I also mention that the Witch class is absolutely horrible and using it as a means of a balance point is just asking for things to be nerfed to oblivion, just to make the Witch, Alchemist, Investigator, and Swashbuckler look good? We're not doing anyone any favors by using obviously bad points of balance to justify nerfs, so let's not go down that tedious road, because I can guarantee you that I will derail the thread with how frustrating that concept is.

You want to compare Scare to Death to a 7/8th level spell? Okay, Disintegrate.

That spell requires a spell attack which casters are known for having the worst chance to hit with no real way to enhance it. The target must then make a fort save, which most creatures are good at. Only then will the spell do meh amount of damage, more often then not it will not kill anyone. Because it is a spell it only has so many uses.

So Scare to Death having a much higher chance to instant kill (effectively infinite damage) compared to the most damaging single target spell short of Polar Ray. Which Polar Ray has even less uses than Disintegrate, but Scare to Death always remained effective.

Also did you miss the part where Paizo refuses to buff casters but keeps making martials better? That's why people talk about nerfing martials. If casters aren't allowed to do anything outstanding because "oh no magic" why should martials have access to stuff that's even better?


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That's the wrong spell to be using for comparison. With S2D nerfed into uselessness we're back to using heightened calm emotions as the premier mook-slayer. One save, respectible AoE, critical failure may as well be death, failure is either the same or saps actions or entire turns from enemies.


Temperans wrote:

You want to compare Scare to Death to a 7/8th level spell? Okay, Disintegrate.

That spell requires a spell attack which casters are known for having the worst chance to hit with no real way to enhance it. The target must then make a fort save, which most creatures are good at. Only then will the spell do meh amount of damage, more often then not it will not kill anyone. Because it is a spell it only has so many uses.

So Scare to Death having a much higher chance to instant kill (effectively infinite damage) compared to the most damaging single target spell short of Polar Ray. Which Polar Ray has even less uses than Disintegrate, but Scare to Death always remained effective.

Also did you miss the part where Paizo refuses to buff casters but keeps making martials better? That's why people talk about nerfing martials. If casters aren't allowed to do anything outstanding because "oh no magic" why should martials have access to stuff that's even better?

I would compare Scare to Death to a 9th level spell instead. I have done this several times in this very thread, because that is the power level I gauge it at as being ineffective in comparison to spells. It really puts it at this one or two levels where it's a unique, overpowered, unreplicated ability, and that's honestly not that bad, given it's towards the tail end of games where the majority of players don't reach. Is it more powerful than an 8th level spell? Not exactly, because 6th level Slow can trounce encounters far more likely than Scare to Death can, simply because it requires only one bad roll, and not one good roll on top of it, and debuffs enemies in a far more widely available manner. Having done this in actual play a few times now, it's relatively far more useful than Scare to Death ever has been in both groups I play with, and it was done against enemies that are noted to have solid Fortitude saves. In essence, forcing one bad roll (per target) is far more likely than also requiring to force a good roll for yourself against a different DC. And it also requires far less power compared to an 8th/9th level spell, which can be used for far better spells. (Hello Maze, Weird, Disjunction, et. al.)

Yes, Scare to Death comes online before 9th level spells are available (the most comparable being Power Word Kill and Weird), but most martial/non-spellcaster options are always added/included before spellcaster options are, by design, so it makes sense that martials have a pseudo-9th level effect before Spellcasters get anything close to a 9th level effect. Incidentally, with this option not being martial-exclusive, suggesting that it should be compared to non-martials as a means of gauging power and thus justifying the nerf, means it also subtracts from the martials that do use this on a regular basis, and incidentally, both of our groups that used this were Martials, not Spellcasters.

But really, Disintegrate being used as a damaging effect, outside of it being the highest level spell slot when it's first introduced, is a very poor use of the spell. Being able to create an adhoc exit route/door, destroying loose weapons/objects with no saves, checks, or anything, or dispersing choice spell effects, are far, far better uses for Disintegrate than "I damage the enemy," and your explanation perfectly explains why that is: Because requiring both an attack roll and a fortitude save to deal damage is just plain stupid, turning it into a feelsbad spell. Notice that, when you target objects or spell effects, you don't roll anything. It just happens. And that's a great feeling to have with a spell. I almost wish all spells work that way (at least the utility ones). Needing to jump hoops to very unlikely not have an effect on the enemy (or have a fleeting effect that is very easily replicable with far less hoops to jump through) is just a stupid use of the spell you provided.

Incidentally, Polar Ray would be more helpful than Disintegrate in regards to Scare to Death. Why wouldn't we use that instead if the intent is we want to just insta-kill the enemy? Disintegrate only makes it to where they don't return when dropped to 0 HP, it's not an insta-kill effect itself anymore.

Martials are getting access to better stuff because it's a difference in edition expectations. People from previous editions were sick of Martials getting outpaced and trounced by Spellcasters, so that's why Martials have better things now. Spellcasters still have a few things that Martials can't do, but really, if Spellcasters didn't have those things, there would be no reason for anyone to play them, and for some, Spellcasting is still a desired playstyle (even if just for power gains).


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Usually the old Scare to Death might take one mook out of a fight, but with lucky rolls it can sweep a whole group, which is entertaining if it only happens once.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

commonplace with 9th level spells. (Also, you're comparing Skill Feats to the worst class focus spells in the game. A more apt comparison would be a feat like Armored Assist or whatever other garbage niche Skill Feats there are.)

Witches may be the worst class in the game, but it sure as hell isn't because of their focus spells. They have some of the best in the game. It just doesn't entirely make up for getting fewer spell slots than a wizard or less proficiency than a bard. (Unless yout table uses generous familiar rules readings for scouting and such, in which case witch rules.)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

One way to appreciate how strong pre-errata Scare to Death was is to consider it on a creature party level + 1 with a high-extreme Intimidation modifier.

- No MAP applied, doesn't affect other abilities they have
- Only requires the target to fail a single save, not even critically fail
- Only takes a single action to use, mixes with most abilities/routines


Captain Morgan wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

commonplace with 9th level spells. (Also, you're comparing Skill Feats to the worst class focus spells in the game. A more apt comparison would be a feat like Armored Assist or whatever other garbage niche Skill Feats there are.)

Witches may be the worst class in the game, but it sure as hell isn't because of their focus spells. They have some of the best in the game. It just doesn't entirely make up for getting fewer spell slots than a wizard or less proficiency than a bard. (Unless yout table uses generous familiar rules readings for scouting and such, in which case witch rules.)

It is, though. Their Focus Spells are pretty garbage, given that you must sustain each one (which takes actions away from you for minimal benefit). Even if we argue that they can be fire and forget, a lot of their power is stemmed into maintaining their effect, which hurts the power budget significantly; the Focus Spells could be more powerful and useful if their budget was handled better. Like, even Wizard Focus Spells aren't that bad or tedious. Force Bolt is a neat fire-and-forget damage effect that takes 1 action and is almost never resisted or negated. Also, compared to Bard or Sorcerer or Oracle, whom have primo Focus Spells, they're just bad. If those Focus Spells are supposed to be on par with those classes, they missed the mark considerably.


thewastedwalrus wrote:

One way to appreciate how strong pre-errata Scare to Death was is to consider it on a creature party level + 1 with a high-extreme Intimidation modifier.

- No MAP applied, doesn't affect other abilities they have
- Only requires the target to fail a single save, not even critically fail
- Only takes a single action to use, mixes with most abilities/routines

While I can understand the point being made here, the problem is that using the feat outside of the scope it was intended to be used for (such as on monsters against the PCs) will obviously result in the feat not functioning the way it was intended, or result in it being far more powerful than what it should be. Even if we want to argue that this feat is meant to defeat enemies lower level than you with minimal effort, and the situation you present is basically just the same scenario, but in reverse, the problem is that enemy modifiers to Saves/DCs are far different than PC modifiers to Saves/DCs, skewing the numbers and overall results of this effect happening. Monsters are designed to have higher saves to increase the likelihood of simply Succeeding saving throws against spells and effects where even a standard Failure results in wiping the enemy out, and PCs who don't possess Master to Saves and/or with a passable ability score modifier and the highest Resilient Runes available, will be far more likely to fail the check than a given monster.

Furthermore, there are no enemies capable of doing this, or possessing this skill feat, creating a non-existent problem in search of a pointless solution. Suggesting that enemies using it should be a valid balancing point is creating a red herring for people to chase with their pitchforks as a means of nerfing the feat. And let me tell you, as someone who argued that enemies with Kip Up or Foil Senses would invalidate certain PC options, when put in a scenario where PCs having those options invalidated certain enemy options that mimicked PC abilities, you will not win that battle. Enemies using PC abilities is atypical and not standard for gameplay; it's basically homebrew, in which case following the rules to their inevitable conclusion wouldn't help your case anyway.

The Exchange

Deriven Firelion wrote:

Normally, I would say that that a level 16+ ability shows up so rarely given the dearth of campaigns ever reaching that level(I can count on one hand the number of campaigns I have been in where we hit level 15+ in any version of pathfinder or DD in 30 years of play), however I keep forgetting that this board contains mostly people who play a huge number of simultaneous campaigns so that they are playing the game 4-5 days a week. Thus, they are stress-testing the game and even level 20 abilities are probably being played weekly.

I applaud all of the various poster whose dedication to effectively constantly play test the game may make this game the best it can be.


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Hsui wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

Normally, I would say that that a level 16+ ability shows up so rarely given the dearth of campaigns ever reaching that level(I can count on one hand the number of campaigns I have been in where we hit level 15+ in any version of pathfinder or DD in 30 years of play), however I keep forgetting that this board contains mostly people who play a huge number of simultaneous campaigns so that they are playing the game 4-5 days a week. Thus, they are stress-testing the game and even level 20 abilities are probably being played weekly.

I applaud all of the various poster whose dedication to effectively constantly play test the game may make this game the best it can be.

You are correct. Our group plays pretty fast. We have three campaigns so far that have reached 15 plus. So I've seen Scared to Death quite a bit. It is a nasty ability that I don't like as a DM. If it had one user per ten minutes or minute or something like that, so you're taking out one mook a fight I would have probably preferred that.

When you have the sorcerer or paladin opening with Scare to Death against enemies just to see how many die or get messed up, it becomes too common a use ability. That's what I was seeing.

Even the paladin would open with Scare to Death, take out maybe one or two enemies or debuff them, then the other party members would hit with spells or attacks. Scare to Death was a low resource use ability, no downside for using it, and had a decent quality effect for a common success even if you didn't force a Scare to Death save. It was an ability that had no downsides and all upside including its action cost.

I think they could have still made it a very cool ability not going this far on the nerf by making it once every minute or ten minutes and a two action cost. Those who want no changes might not be happy, but new players obtaining it would probably still like it. Something they can invest in to use once a fight with no real downside that has an amazing effect if it works.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
I think they could have still made it a very cool ability not going this far on the nerf by making it once every minute or ten minutes and a two action cost. Those who want no changes might not be happy, but new players obtaining it would probably still like it. Something they can invest in to use once a fight with no real downside that has an...

Heck - even if you ignore the death effect entirely, it's still a second Demoralize on a different immunity cooldown even when you *are* targeting higher-level monsters. Against lower level monsters it's that, plus the level of frightened is 1 instead of 0 on a fail, 2 instead of 1 on a success, and inflicts fleeing on a crit. That's a pretty beefy skill feat all by itself.


Just to update. The AoN is already updated to 3º print. (but they forget to remove the Death trait from StD)


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It's still a strong skill feat, it's just no longer such a massive power-level outlier. The fact that it's a natural endpoint to what's already one of the strongest things you can be doing with your skill increases means that, from a pure power level perspective, it's still something that a lot of characters will end up taking and using in campaigns that go that long.

My guess is that the current version of StD is probably closer to the original design intent in terms of kill frequency, at least based on the language of the errata and the design of the rest of PF2e, which doesn't contain anything that kills enemies nearly as reliably with so few resource limitations.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Hsui wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

Normally, I would say that that a level 16+ ability shows up so rarely given the dearth of campaigns ever reaching that level(I can count on one hand the number of campaigns I have been in where we hit level 15+ in any version of pathfinder or DD in 30 years of play), however I keep forgetting that this board contains mostly people who play a huge number of simultaneous campaigns so that they are playing the game 4-5 days a week. Thus, they are stress-testing the game and even level 20 abilities are probably being played weekly.

I applaud all of the various poster whose dedication to effectively constantly play test the game may make this game the best it can be.

You are correct. Our group plays pretty fast. We have three campaigns so far that have reached 15 plus. So I've seen Scared to Death quite a bit. It is a nasty ability that I don't like as a DM. If it had one user per ten minutes or minute or something like that, so you're taking out one mook a fight I would have probably preferred that.

When you have the sorcerer or paladin opening with Scare to Death against enemies just to see how many die or get messed up, it becomes too common a use ability. That's what I was seeing.

Even the paladin would open with Scare to Death, take out maybe one or two enemies or debuff them, then the other party members would hit with spells or attacks. Scare to Death was a low resource use ability, no downside for using it, and had a decent quality effect for a common success even if you didn't force a Scare to Death save. It was an ability that had no downsides and all upside including its action cost.

I think they could have still made it a very cool ability not going this far on the nerf by making it once every minute or ten minutes and a two action cost. Those who want no changes might not be happy, but new players obtaining it would probably still like it. Something they can invest in to use once a fight with no real downside that has an...

I play in two groups, and have gotten above 15th level as well. Both groups have used StD, and I am one of the players that have used it. And in my experience, it's not that powerful or reliable, given the scaling of enemy saves combined with requiring both an extremely favorable roll, another favorable bad roll from the enemy, and the enemy not being higher level than you.

In the one group, it's only ever worked twice, against enemies with abysmal Fortitude saves with some lucky Intimidate rolls, and I think the creatures were the same level, meaning it wasn't an extremely powerful one. It also hasn't ever been used past 16th level, largely because it's far easier to inflict Frightened 2 by Critting with a Greater Fearsome weapon with Flanking/Prone, and the party does enough damage to just murk enemies within 1 or 2 rounds. Fighters are OP like that, StD is just a means of not wasting numerous actions on weaker enemies, when the Fighter is meant to be using his actions on the bigger, meaner ones.

In the group where I used it, it was helpful against a few mooks, and even if I didn't outright kill a lot of them, having some of them run away for a couple rounds (1 round running away, 1 round running back) helped out a lot in dividing to conquer the encounter, meaning it was still quite effective, even if it didn't outright kill the threat. In that group, I killed 4 creatures with it, two of which were Cloud Giants headed by Evil creatures, the other 2 of which were Demons/Devils. Incidentally, this is also the group that got TPK'd by an overabundance of enemies with insane reach and AoOs, and in those cases, StD wasn't that effective.

I will say that the GM in the second group did get irritated with my consistent use of it, and tried to nerf it, but with the skill feat called Scare to Death, not being able to use it for its intended function (scaring enemies to death) is both false advertising and a GM calling badwrongfun for using an option as-published. He was also salty about how the Paladin Champion reaction worked in tandem with this skill feat, so there might have been bias with that perception of the feat.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
I think they could have still made it a very cool ability not going this far on the nerf by making it once every minute or ten minutes and a two action cost. Those who want no changes might not be happy, but new players obtaining it would probably still like it. Something they can invest in to use once a fight with no real downside that has an...
Heck - even if you ignore the death effect entirely, it's still a second Demoralize on a different immunity cooldown even when you *are* targeting higher-level monsters. Against lower level monsters it's that, plus the level of frightened is 1 instead of 0 on a fail, 2 instead of 1 on a success, and inflicts fleeing on a crit. That's a pretty beefy skill feat all by itself.

It's not a "second Demoralize," even if it effectively gives similar debuffs, in the same way Power Attack isn't a "second Strike," meaning abilities and effects which trigger or affect the Demoralize action do not apply, such as Battle Cry, Intimidating Glare, Intimidating Prowess, etc. This means you can't open with Scare to Death with Battle Cry, you can't benefit from Intimidating Glare/Prowess with Scare to Death, and so on. (And really, those parts are what I got wrong with Scare to Death, now that I re-read them. Whoops. Guess that means by RAW, I probably didn't kill one or two of those 4 enemies.)

But really, Incapacitate still triggers on either side (or both sides) of the skill. Unless your Natural 20 is also 10 + the enemy's Will DC, you will never Critically Succeed the Intimidation Check, and if the enemy's Natural 1 on their Fortitude Save is also 10 - your Intimidation DC (again, not altered with feats and abilities that trigger from Demoralize), they can never die. Heck, often if such an enemy merely Succeeds that Fortitude Save, they won't Flee, either.

I do agree it'd still be a nice skill feat, since the capacity to cause enemies to be Frightened isn't all that constant, even with abilities like Dirge of Doom or Aura of Despair/Fear, but I really think the "nerf" to Scare to Death is a little much, even if I do like that they made the Critical Success more consistently able to inflict Frightened 2 to enemies who don't also just roll a Critically Successful Fortitude Save.

I also look at it this way: If it does too much for a skill feat (instantly kill an enemy), it shouldn't have existed as a published option in the first place.

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