Articles By Author - Skip Williams

Ask the Kobold: I Spy with My Little Eye

Q: My group has been discussing the nondetection spell and its usefulness against various divination spells. We’re divided into two camps, whose positions can be summed up as follows: Camp One: Nondetection works against all divinations spells, period. If you’re protected by nondetection no divination spell reveals anything about you unless the divination user makes a successful caster level check. Camp Two: Nondetection only protects against...

Ask the Kobold: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Q: Is it possible to use the major image spell to emulate the effects of other spells? Most of us are aware of the three different types of illusions and that things like major image shouldn’t be able to deal real physical damage since that’s the realm of shadow spells, but we’re interested in your advice on just what kinds of effects can be done with major image. Would an illusion of a hail of arrows from an unseen source...

Ask the Kobold: Taking the Initiative

Q: Is it possible to “take 10” or “take 20” on an initiative check? You can “take 10” on a check only when you are not threatened or distracted. Combat, even impending combat, is both threatening and distracting. So, in general, you cannot “take 10” on an initiative check. I can think of one possible exception: when a group plans an ambush and succeeds in surprising the foe, the GM might assume that the ensuing combat will go according to some...

Ask the Kobold: New Saves and Line of Effect

Q: Does a suggestion spell leave the subject any way to evade the spell’s effect? Once the subject fails the save, the spell works continuously and the subject seems to have little recourse. In a recent session, a player character gave an opponent (an active combatant in an encounter) a suggestion to “stand still and don’t move!” I gave the enemy a new save whenever the party attacked or tried to attack, and the opponent finally made the...

Ask the Kobold: Dealing with Entanglements

Entangled is a condition that represents a creature dealing with something stuck or entwined around its limbs (if it has any) and body. An entangled creature takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls and a -4 penalty on Dexterity, can move at only half speed, and cannot charge or run. Sometimes, an entangled creature cannot move across the battlefield at all. For example, a web spell can leave you literally glued to the place where you stand. In such...

Ask the Kobold: Were-bonuses and Laughable Actions

Need clarification on some mechanics in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game? You’re in the right place. Take a seat with veteran game designer Skip Williams. Not sure how a spell works? Curious why that monster does what it does? Trying to get your feats to play nicely together? Skip has the answer. Post your new questions for Skip about the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game in the comments below. Whoever gives us the best question will win a...

Ask the Kobold: Resolving Spells

(This week’s column uses 3.5E rules. The next one, however, will be the first to use the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules.) Spell descriptions contain a great deal of standardized nomenclature that helps explain what each spell does. The questions presented here involve a few of them. Aiming a Spell Aiming a spell involves choose exactly where a spell will work its magic. The game breaks spells down into a few broad categories that...

Ask the Kobold: Touch Attacks and the AC System

What are the differences between touch, ranged touch, and incorporeal touch attacks? What ability modifier applies to each of these attacks? All these attacks have one thing in common, the target’s armor, natural armor, and shield modifiers can’t defeat the attack (though incorporeal touch attacks provide some special cases). Enhancement bonuses that increase armor, natural armor, or shield bonuses also are not effective against touch attacks....

Ask the Kobold: Unhallowed Silence
and Making Tough Calls

How would do you adjudicate an unhallow spell when is has a silence spell added to it and the caster chooses to make evil creatures immune? My guess was that creatures save once when entering, and that the spell goes away when they leave, but they need to save again when they enter again. I also guessed that it would be a modified silence in that it would not have a 20-foot radius. Any way you adjudicate it, it appears to call for some slight...

Ask the Kobold: Teleport and Shadow Walk

Why in the world is the shadow walk spell 6th level when teleport is 5th level? Is seems to me that shadow walk’s travel limit of 50 miles/level is less useful that teleport’s 100 miles/level. Besides, teleport is instantaneous travel, whereas shadow walk can eat up hours of game time. Why shouldn’t shadow walk be 5th level and teleport be 6th level? Shadow walk is higher level than teleport for several reasons. The main reason is that shadow...

Ask the Kobold:
Why Villains Rearrange their Furniture

Is it possible to learn enough about a location through a scrying spell so you can teleport there? The combination of scrying and teleporting seems very potent and capable of breaking an adventure. Is there a way to limit this combination of spells without cutting them off completely? The teleport spell description specifically mentions scrying as a way to get familiar with a teleport destination, so yes, if you get a look at a place through...

Ask the Kobold: Ability Damage

What happens to your spells if the ability score that governs them is somehow reduced? Do you lose any spells? If your spellcasting ability is reduced to 0 or less do you lose all your spellcasting ability? Some of these questions are easy to answer, and some are trickier. Let’s start with the easy answers: No ability score can fall below 0, and there’s no such thing as a negative ability score. If ability damage or other reduction would reduce...

Ask the Kobold: Swift Spells

When you cast a spell as a swift action (maybe because the spell has a casting time of a swift action) can you also cast as spell as a standard action the same round? What happens if I cast a spell as a swift action while an enemy threatens me? And what if I then cast a regular spell while threatened? Yes, you can cast a spell as a swift action and another spell as a standard action during the same turn. You’re only allowed one swift action...

Ask the Kobold: Dropping Foes and Combat Feats

What qualifies as “dropping” an opponent when you’re using Cleave feat? For instance, if I use the Knock-down feat and successfully trip my opponent, does that count? [More…] The intended requirement is reducing the opponent to 0 hit points or less. (That is, make him “drop”). That also would include knocking out a foe with a nonlethal attack. Just tripping someone doesn’t count when I’m running the game. That...

Ask the Kobold: the Definitive Grappling Answers and Design Notes

Attempting a grapple is a special attack that takes place of a regular attack. So, if you gain multiple attacks in a round, and you fail at your first grapple attempt, you can try again, etc. until you run out of attacks, right? Does this mean I can convert any of my regular attacks to a grapple, regardless of sequence? For example, if I have three attacks (+15/+9/+3) and I attack a creature with my first attack, can I then declare my second...

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