Pathfinder RPG Flaming Sphere & Invisibility effects




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  1. #1
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    Flaming Sphere & Invisibility effects

    Simply, does directing a Flaming Sphere into a square occupied by an opponent count as an attack with regard to negating one's own invisibility?

 

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    From this thread: http://paizo.com/forums/dmtz2d5l&pag...d-Invisibility

    I don't see whats so hard here. Part of the reason for invis dropping is game balance. [...] Creating a rock floating above someones head and then letting gravity take over is CLEARLY an intent to attack and cause damage to someone. That would drop your invis just as if you had created a rock and then picked it up and threw it. Same as cutting a rope to drop an anvil. You are targeting someone directly waiting for the correct time to cut the rope. An attack role will be made against your intended target. Sounds like an attack to me.
    The wording is ambiguous, and people have been arguing over it for years now. Is this indirect harm, or an attack? It seems to me that sending your big fiery ball of death at someone is a hostile act that would cause the Invis to drop. I would go with Rule Zero on this one.
    Last edited by Systole; Thursday, 4th October, 2012 at 10:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Systole View Post
    From this thread: paizo.com - Rules Questions: Flaming Sphere and Invisibility



    The wording is ambiguous, and people have been arguing over it for years now. Is this indirect harm, or an attack? It seems to me that sending your big fiery ball of death at someone is a hostile act that would cause the Invis to drop. I would go with Rule Zero on this one.
    Interesting reasoning in the quote you used, but I don't quite agree with that person's reasoning, as it would make summoning a creature also cause to drop invisibility, since there is little difference between cutting a rope to drop an anvil and calling a creature to do your dirty work for you. I'd personally be inclined to put flaming sphere on the same side as summoned creatures; you personally aren't directly interacting with the foe, but rather the creature/sphere. The other examples given in the person's example would have to be on a case by case basis.

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    Caveat: my opinion
    A flaming sphere breaks invisibility. "The sphere moves as long as you actively direct it (a move action for you); otherwise, it merely stays at rest and burns." Therefore, it is an active action to control it.

    A summoned monster is not an active action to direct it, necessarily. You can be at zero HP, summon an elemental, and then drop unconscious from the stress of casting. Because you didn't give it a different command, the elemental then takes it upon himself to move and attack that which he believes to have been your opponent. *It is hand waved that he does know who are your allies and who are your opponents, same as a bless spell knows.

    Applying that to the sphere, since if you fell unconscious, the sphere could not attack, it is considered a directed attack by you, which breaks the invisibility. And if you don't like that logic, "rolls in whichever direction you point" pretty much says the sphere has to see you pointing somewhere for it do go do its work.

    As to the "cutting a rope to drop an anvil" argument, well, again, that is kind of hard to do while unconscious, so I would call that an active attack as well.

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    I'm with Systole and SK on this one. Cutting the rope and directing the sphere both require active intervention on the part of the PC. Summoned creatures have a level of self direction that distinguishes them from the other two examples.

    To clarify: My "vote" is that Flaming Sphere (and any other spell effect that requires active direction to cause harm) breaks invisibility.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mowgli View Post
    I'm with Systole and SK on this one. Cutting the rope and directing the sphere both require active intervention on the part of the PC. Summoned creatures have a level of self direction that distinguishes them from the other two examples.

    To clarify: My "vote" is that Flaming Sphere (and any other spell effect that requires active direction to cause harm) breaks invisibility.
    If the comparable act is cutting a rope, then we're missing this part of the spell description:

    Thus, an invisible being can open doors, talk, eat, climb stairs, summon monsters and have them attack, cut the ropes holding a rope bridge while enemies are on the bridge, remotely trigger traps, open a portcullis to release attack dogs, and so forth.
    Emphasis mine. The spell explicitly says that cutting a rope to cause something to fall that hurts your enemy, or even triggering a trap you set, are NOT direct attacks, and you get to stay invisible. Didn't want my confusion on the rules to inadvertently make invisibility less useful than normal.

    Of course, neither of those acts are spells. I'd been thinking along the lines of what SS21 was saying, that the sphere was effectively a burning summons in the round after it's cast. In my head, at least, 'spell attack' involved the area and effect as you cast it. My thought was: casting the spell while invisible would break invisibility, but going invisible after casting it and only directing it wouldn't.

    Mind you, SK makes a perfectly valid point vis-a-vis other summons' ability to act independently. I think that's the distinction I was looking for to explain why Flaming Ball Summons was different than Lantern Archon Summons as regards invisibility, and given that it seems reasonably consistent to treat Flaming Sphere directed into an occupied square as an attack for purposes of removing invisibility.

    Secondary question, though: Flaming Sphere doesn't need a target to move. Does directing it to move in a direction where you have no way of knowing if it will encounter another creature constitute an attack? If Nathan can't see what's standing in the line of the flaming sphere (due to a darkness effect or the other creature being invisible), is he attacking when he randomly guesses a direction? If so, is he also attacking if he randomly selects a direction and guesses wrong (he's hoping to hit someone, but no one's there)?

    I suspect it's probably simpler to flatten things out and say 'if you hurt something with flamey, it's an attack,' but since we have the discussion going, I'm curious.
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    My personal opinion is if you're going to start splitting hairs at that level, you may as well tell players that any action they take beside moving is going to break invisibility and get rid of the spell entirely. The nuance of whether you have to move it or if it moves on it's own is simply asking for even more headaches by adding even more corner cases that you then have to deal with with increasingly silly and flimsy reasoning. Especially since I don't see how a magic spell is going to be able to tell friend from foe, it's just not worth the hassle even if it is probably technically correct from a strict rules standpoint. Illusion spells are supposed to require creativity to use, and a ruling like that simply tells people to skip them entirely.

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    Sorry if I seem annoyed, but after reading the linked thread, I think that if people have that much problem with invisibility, they need to just ban it from the game and be done with it. There was way too passive aggressive "reasons" for why it doesn't work for this and it doesn't work for that. I'm at a point with spells like that that if as a DM you' don't want to deal with them, ban them outright and save everyone the headaches; that passive aggressive bs and splitting hairs about the precise terminology of the precise wording used doesn't help anyone.

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    Sorry, SS, but I don't really see my reasoning as splitting hairs. And it fits within the logic presented by jkason as well.

    If my character cuts a rope in order to drop an anvil on a foe's head, that's the same thing as swinging a sword to hit that foe, or throwing a rock. He's using a tool to directly harm someone, and he has to make an attack roll using his own abilities/BAB/whatever.

    If he directs an already present sphere of flame to roll over a foe, that's the same as summoning a sphere of flame (a fireball) to fill the space inhabited by the foe. In both of those cases, the originator of the action is using a tool to try to cause direct harm to someone else. The thing doing the harming is in the direct control of the person who wants to do that harm. To say otherwise would mean that casting Fireball doesn't break invisibility - after all, he's simply summoning a great heaping mass of flame that happens to be in the same space as that occupied by his enemies. That's not an attack, right? (Now I'm splitting hairs . . . )

    If he cuts the ropes to drop a bridge - and all of the foes upon it - he's not using a tool to cause direct harm because in that case, it's not the tool that's causing the harm, it's the fall. If he summons a monster to attack, it's the monster that does the attacking. Yes, it's at his direction, but it's still the monster that's attacking. He's not swinging anything, he's not trying to hit anyone on the head with an anvil, throwing a rock, trying to hit anyone with a rolling ball of flame. It's the monster trying to do the hitting. To say otherwise leads to the reasoning that if my PC makes an Iron Golem, and then the Iron Golem attacks someone who enters the room he set it to guard (with specific instructions that the Golem attack anyone who entered the room), the PC's invisibility is broken even if he's a hundred miles away.

    In the case of a trap it's a little more blurry, but to my way of thinking the distinction is still clear. Although my PC triggers the trap, once it's triggered it's no longer under his control, and any attacks made use the traps stats, not my PCs.

    So it looks to me like if an attack is made, and that attack directly uses the originating character's stats and abilities for resolution, it breaks invisibility.

    OK, maybe it is splitting hairs . But at some point, somewhere, there has to be a line drawn. I haven't read the discussions on the Paizo boards, but it seems like on this issue there will always be debate about just where that line is and discussion is the only way to make that decision. The folks who are in favor of making invisibility more powerful do just as much hair splitting as those who want it limited.

    And banning invisibility works for home games, but in a shared world that's not really an option.
    Last edited by Mowgli; Friday, 5th October, 2012 at 10:41 PM.
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  • #10
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    We're basically arguing about the Three Laws of Robotics. And Asimov himself wrote a story about how flawed the damn things are. Whether directing a Flaming Sphere counts as a hostile action or whether it counts as indirectly causing harm can be argued either way. In the event where the wording sucks, it comes down to a judgment call.

    My feeling is, sending your fiery ball of flaming death at someone is sufficiently hostile to warrant breaking invisibility. But if you want to rule it the other way, I could really give a rat's ass. It's not game breaking either way. And I'm speaking as someone who spent four pages arguing about a +1 trait bonus to Perception.

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