Some people know all of the rules to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but many, many more do not. Here’s a list of the things we screwed up in our never-ending search for Pathfinder perfection…
When the aliens that first reach Earth ten thousand thousand years from now find the remnants of our ancient civilization buried beneath layers of frozen tundra, I assume they will unearth evidence of the discourse on Episode 70 of The Glass Cannon Podcast. Is that arrogant? Probably. Is it true? Definitely.
It won’t be easy to write a We Are Stupid for Episode 70 as the game became less of a game and more of a psychological torture chamber constructed by puppet master Troy Lavallee with a dash of help from the terrible decisions of myself and at least one other player who will not be named in this article.* At a certain point it felt like the rules went out the window and the dramatic finale of Book Two became a chaotic mess of victory and defeat, all at the same time. As much as I would like to reexamine all of our actions over the last two weeks and how they led us into this bizarre and depressing ending, that’s not my job here. My job is to look at the rules. Let me see if I can make sense of this madness.
First off, unless someone can point something out that I didn’t hear, I think we made it through Episode 69 pretty clear. I re-listened to it prior to this week’s show and I couldn’t find anything. I think the player’s moves (while ill-advised) were all legal, and I think Troy played it by the book as well.
There were, however, a few complicated moments in 70 that need to be addressed. We’ll start with the summoning of Ben Vereen, then we’ll talk about administering a potion to an unconscious character, before wrapping it up with a discussion of the rage Lorc used from his Victor’s Belt. In two of these three situations, we either played it by the book, or intentionally used a house rule, but for one of them, we blatantly cheated. Can you guess which is which?
First, the summoning of Ben Vereen. To date, this is probably my favorite thing that’s happened in one of our game sessions. Of course, I have a certain bias toward Ben Vereen. After all, I made him up, crafted his character sheets, and laughed with glee when he would go into a rage to slay a monster that had hit him. He was a bit like me as a player; I love that about him. But, like drinking whiskey in Target while shopping for baby clothes – just because it feels good, doesn’t mean it’s legal. We neglected a major rule of Pathfinder which was actually brought to our attention before the episode, I’m ashamed to say, by Airman Ramsey Harki who pointed out to us in an email that casting a spell while grappled requires a rather complicated concentration check:
A grappled creature who attempts to cast a spell or use a spell-like ability must make a concentration check (DC 10 + Grappler’s CMB + Spell Level)
What I didn’t realize while we were recording was that when you are swallowed whole you are considered to have the grappled condition. The difference between swallowed whole and grappling is that the grappler is not considered to be grappled as well. So, our giant gar could feel free to move and attack as normal on subsequent rounds. Well, we didn’t roll that concentration check, which is likely to have been very difficult. A giant creature’s CMB tends to be extremely high.
“But wait, Joe,” you may be thinking, “didn’t Gel cast Summon Monster III using a wand.” Why, you’re right, extremely perceptive listener. Wands are governed by a different set of rules. They use something called a “spell trigger” and while I could write another paragraph right here explaining spell triggers, I’ll just cut to the chase:
Wands use the spell trigger activation method, so casting a spell from a wand is usually a standard action that doesn’t provoke a attacks of opportunity. A wand may be used while grappling or while swallowed whole.
Bam! So, it seems that our ignorance actually allowed us to stumble into getting this particular summoning correct! I can say with reasonable certainty that none of us thought to look up the myriad of rules that could have stopped that summoning from happening, but it looks like we actually did it by the book! Furthermore, all evidence also appears to back up Ben Vereen’s ability to do a full attack action with natural attacks to claw away at the belly of the beast while inside. So it looks like topic 1 gets the legal stamp of approval.
Onto the administering of a potion to an unconscious character. As was pointed out by GCP fan and satellite rules lawyer Patrick Hallet on Facebook, drawing a potion is a move action, and administering it is a full round action. Which means that even if you were already standing damn close to the character you needed to heal, it would take two rounds to pour a potion down their throat. For several years, we have thrown the drawing of the potion as a move action out the window. We didn’t even know that it was a full round action to administer the potion until after Episode 10 (see We Are Stupid – Episode 10). It felt rough enough that it was a full round action to administer (which makes sense) making it take another round just to actually pull out the potion felt like overkill. This is a house rule which we’ve had in place for a while.
So that only leaves one topic left – Lorc’s Victor’s Belt.
I grow weary of writing these articles. The “if we’d played the game by the book, Lorc would be dead” article. Well, we managed to do it again, when I cheated with the Victor’s Belt to do worse than just keep Lorc live. You may be thinking, “You’re talking about the part in Episode 69 where you asked Troy to let the rage continue from the belt even though you were unconscious, right? I mean, that was fine by me. Lorc is the best character, so I want him to live too!” Thanks very much, thoughtful listener with good taste, but you are stupid. That is NOT what I’m talking about. That moment, in retrospect, was like the pebbles before the avalanche.
It wasn’t until after Episode 70 that, out of curiosity, I looked up the item explanation of the Victor’s Belt on The Archives of Nethys to see if there was any wording on the item which would suggest that it continues to grant rage bonuses through the unconsciousness of it’s wearer and goes a full five rounds no matter what. I should have never looked. Have you clicked on the link yet? Have you read it? Do you seeeee?
The rage on the Victor’s Belt works like the spell rage, not like the Barbarian Rage ability. That is a colossal difference. All along, I’ve been giving Lorc +4 to Strength and +4 to Constitution since that’s the rage I know and love. That’s the rage that Ben Vereen used to tear enemies to shreds. That’s the rage of a barbarian; the rage of a half orc gladiator in the fighting pits of Urgir! Well, apparently not. The spell rage is a 3rd level wizard/sorcerer/witch spell that gives you +2 to Strength and +2 to Constitution. It’s only half as powerful as I thought it was. Not only has Lorc been dealing more damage than he should have, he’s been getting more rage hit points and a higher constitution threshold to keep him alive! If we were playing this by the book, even including Troy’s generosity in letting the rage continue despite Lorc’s unconsciousness, he would have been permanently dead after Karguk’s second round of attacks. Hell, he would have been dead probably three separate times so far!
In my defense, when we first found the belt (while rifling through Raag’s private belongings like a pack of thieves), Troy specifically said that you enter a rage like a barbarian, and never mentioned that it works like the spell. Nonetheless, We Are Stupid. So the Victor’s Belt wins for the rule that we unknowingly broke! How apropos.
Until next time, guys, remember what I always say,”Charge first and strategize later”