Monday, January 25, 2010

Pathfinder rule musings

Saving throws and magic items:
The save DCs for spell-like effects generated by magic items are too low, in my opinion. For example, the dagger of venom inflicts the effects of a poison spell on the target. This is a 4th level spell, so the Fort save DC is listed at 14. This DC does not, of course, incorporate the ability score modifier of the creator, presumably because that value is not known for every magic item. However, this means many magic items become pretty useless at mid-levels. Now remember, in the example above, poison is a 4th level cleric spell. That means the caster has to have at least Wis 14 to cast it. So, at minimum, the creator of a dagger of venom must have a +2 Wis bonus. I propose, then, that the save DC for this item should be 16, not 14. Also, if a PC wanted to make one, he should be able to use his own ability modifier. That way, a dagger of venom or any other magic item could be as dangerous to 15th level characters as it is to 3rd level characters.

Determining magic item functions:
I think the combination of using detect magic and the Spellcraft skill to identify magic items has caused many higher level spells to become much less useful. Consider, the number of spells that allow one to identify magic items, detect magic, identify, analyze dweomer, arcane sight and arcane sight, greater. Now admittedly, none of these spells exactly duplicates the effects of the others. For example, using detect magic or identify requires a Spellcraft check, while the higher level spells do not. However, I suspect most players will find little incentive to have all these spells in their daily list. There is just too much redundancy.

-Rognar-

16 comments:

Derobane-bane said...

I agree with spell DCs on magical items. It really sucks when you find a wand of fireball (tenth level caster) and the DC to avoid half the damage is reflex 13.

I think any creature should use his or her own applicable stat and feats for determining DCs. For example, a wizard finds a wand of slow. The said wizard has an intelligence of 19 and the spell focus (evocation) feat. The reflex DC when the wizard uses this wand should be reflex 18.

...or is this starting to step on the toes of the staff?

Rognar said...

I prefer using base ability scores for the item creator because the user of the item may not be a spellcaster. For example, the dagger of venom is likely to be used by a rogue or a fighter. What ability modifier would you use in that case? At least you can be certain that a cleric making such a weapon had a minimum Wis bonus of +2.

Derobane-bane said...

So if the dagger of venom was found in a random treasure pile, you could say that the fort DC would be 16 as the minimum.

What if a caster had a +8 from his intelligence modifier and then created a dagger of venom? Are you saying the new fort DC would be Fort 22?

That would be scary, indeed. It certainly puts a higher value on cloaks of resistance and saving throw feats. This also puts fighters and rogues on a more equal plane (in terms of 'save or die' effects) with the pure spell casters.

Derobane-bane said...

So my assassin in the new campaign will need to suck up to your lich wanna-be if he wants to get a dagger of venom made?

Maybe the pre-lich needs someone eliminated...

Rognar said...

Exactly. A random dagger of venom would be DC 16, but you could get a special order for a really powerful one. Incidentally, it is already in the rules that you can use metamagic feats to make more powerful spell-trigger items. For example, a DC 16 dagger of venom could be made by using Heighten Spell to make it a 6th level spell.

Unfortunately, you will have to suck up to a cleric or a druid to get a superpowered dagger of venom.

Derobane-bane said...

What my guy really needs is an Assassin's Dagger.

Here is a question for you:

The regular Assassin's Dagger gives a +1 to the DC on a Death Attack. Is it possible to calculate the cost of an assassin's dagger that gives a +2 to the DC on a Death Attack?

Rognar said...

That's a lot trickier, because it is not a spell-trigger item. It would have to be a DM's call. In any case, it's also a clerical thing with an even higher CL.

Rognar said...

Well, here's my guess. The base cost of an assassin's dagger is 10,302 gp. It is a +2 dagger which nomally costs 8,302 gp, so the death attack bonus adds 2,000 gp to base cost. Now, normally the price goes up geometrically when enhancement bonuses are added. For example, a +1 weapon bonus costs 2,000 gps, while a +2 bonus costs 8,000 gps. So, I would suggest a similar advancement. Thus, I would say an assassin's dagger with a +2 bonus to the death attack would cost 16,302 gp.

Derobane-bane said...

That is exactly the same as my conclusion.
Its good to check with the vets on this stuff once in a while.

So my new assassin needs 100,302gp for that shiny new +5 Assassin's Dagger with the +5 addition to the Fort DC for Death Attack... and an uber cleric to make the thing.

We have a lot of work to do...

Obiri said...

The one I've always noted was the Disruption property. At minimum its a +3 weapon so you are not likely to get it until 9th level but it has a will save of only 14 - The strongest save for undead.

Jason said...

I was always of the opinion that most Divination spells were intended for use from scroll or book casting. Sure sometimes, you might need to cast one of these spells while exploring, but how often is it going to be in an urgent situation?

Is your caster ever going to be called on to spend a round in the middle of a battle to identify the weapon being used to slaughter the party?

I think these spells are far from useless. But I agree that there is no reason to have the caster memorize them.

Rognar said...

I agree, and that's more reason why the higher level spells are redundant. If you have the time to spend examining a magic item, all you really need is detect magic and Spellcraft, or identify if you needs the +10 bonus. The higher level versions do other things beside analyze magic items, but that is their most useful capability and the big difference is that you can do it quickly (even in combat), a fairly marginal capability in my opinion.

Rognar said...

Obiri, you're right, disruption makes no sense at all. After all, heal spell is 6th level, so at worst, you would expect the save DC to be 16.

Obiri said...

The disruption spell is actually level 4. It's a nice spell when fighting a horde or undead since when cast it should have a decent DC. Too bad it has such a short duration.

My only worry about tweaking the DCs is that you can only cast a spell once per round (ok twice with quicken) but you can stab someone 8-10 times with enough levels and buffs. That's a lot of saves. Even if they only fail on a 1 or 2 they are going to miss a save or two before long.

Rognar said...

Weird. Disrupting Weapon spell is 5th level (I don't know this Disruption spell of which you speak). Which still doesn't jibe with a Will save DC of 14, and it is actually Heal spell that is listed in the requirements for making a disrupting weapon. Sounds like some errata there.

My original post really applied more to spell-trigger items, like the dagger of venom which can only be used once in a round and are also limited in the number of times they can be used per day.

Obiri said...

Ooops, Disrupting Weapon then.