We Are Stupid – Episode 74

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…

After listening to Episode 74, did anyone else get the phantom neck itches that come from imaging a spider swarm crawling all over your body, biting and poisoning every bit of exposed flesh?

No? Just me? Well, I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d write up a We Are Stupid.


Imagine, if you would, about 1,500 spiders occupying a floor space of about 10 feet. Picture that in your mind, in your house or apartment. Now, imagine it closing the distance on you rapidly, swarming, so to speak, onto your body. Would you try to swat at them as they approached? Of course you would (if running and screaming wasn’t an option). That would be called an attack of opportunity and that is what Nestor never did when the swarm attacked him. Whenever a swarm moves onto your space, you get a free attack of opportunity. Troy, being the cheater that he is and clearly sore from the shellacking we’ve given his monsters lately, “forgot” that Skid should get this option.

Now, imagine that the swarm is on you. They are biting and poisoning you, you feel weaker and your vision blurs. You stubble backwards and find yourself in your kitchen. You look desperately for something that will help you before you inevitably succumb to the toxins raging through your bloodstream. You see a knife block. Would you think, even in your weakened mental state, that taking an eight inch carving knife and swinging wildly at your legs, body, and air in front of you would do anything to stop these spiders? If you thought no, you’d be correct. What good is a knife going to do against 1,500 spiders each the size of a dime? Similarly, if you reach in desperation into your drawer of kitchen utensils and draw out an ice pick, do you imagine that stabbing at 1,500 spiders all over your body would do anyone but just hurt you more?

Pathfinder thought of this and made a rule that any swarm made up of diminutive creatures (such as spiders) are immune to weapon damage. They are immune because each spider is too small to actually be harmed by the weapon. A rapier being swung through them, or a single arrow being shot into them would be completely bloody ineffective. So, Nestor got away with one there. Actually, it could have been a major issue as the only way to damage (with our motley crew) would be for Della to cast an AoE spell. She’s got burning hands on her spell list, but on that stairwell, she would have had to attack one or more of us to possibly hit the spiders. Ultimately we would have been fine, but it would have resulted in some awkward conversations at the next eight hour rest period.

The New House Rule: Broken

How stupid are we?? We are so stupid that even when we make rules up we can’t remember to follow them. Do you recall a little contest we ran a while back where the winner would have their house rule idea instituted into the GCP game? Carlo Manuel won that contest and in our first juicy opportunity to use the new house rule that we instituted as of the start of Book Three, we just forgot about it and didn’t do it at all. Things were very tight on the web-ridden staircase and both Umlo and Ingrahild missed on ranged attacks; neither rolled a d100 to determine if they hit one of us. I understand why this happened (Troy was just trying to move the action along during his NPC’s combat turns), but that’s no excuse. We as players need to step up and say, “Excuse me, Overlord Lavallee, um, begging your pardon at speaking without first being spoken to, but I believe there’s a 20% chance that errant ax should hit my face.” Unfortunately We Are Stupid, or We Are Cowards. Either way, we’ve got to get better at following our own rules.

Scroll Fail

Moving on, there could also be some debate on whether or not the scroll of speak with the dead was consumed when Della failed to cast it. While the rules as written do not explicitly state that the scroll is destroyed and the spell lost, you will definitely find some discourse on this issue online. Some say that failing the check means failing to trigger the workings of the scroll at all, and that the writing on the parchment would remain intact. Others say that attempting to read the magic and cast the spell immediately triggers the scroll and whether the spell successfully casts is up to the die roll. Similar to a check to cast defensively, if you fail the attempt at casting the spell, you lose the spell. My gut tells me to go with the latter option on this one. If you fail to cast the scroll, it is lost. It’s harsh, but so is life in the tomb of an ancient dwarven giant killer.

We Are Smart

Just an addendum here. We brought up this question during the episode: if a creature is staggered, is it able to execute multiple attacks of opportunity in one round if it possesses the combat reflexes feat? We ruled in the moment that it can, and that appears to be right. The wording in the rules implies that an attack of opportunity is an immediate action that interrupts the flow of combat. When a creature is staggered, by the rules as written, it “can still take free, swift, and immediate actions.”

That’s it from me this week. If you have a minute, let us know where you stand on the Scroll Fail debate.

First time I’m signing off like this,

Joe (Sir Willimet)

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Doug Sundseth
Doug Sundseth

When casting a spell from a scroll, the caster level is the level of the scroll, not the person who reads it. (Consider what would happen if a Fighter with UMD and no caster level at all read a scroll, for instance, under the interpretation you used here.)