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Status Conditions, Part 2: Hooked on a Bad Feeling – RPGBOT.Podcast S2E54

Show Notes

In this episode of the RPGBOT.Podcast, we continue our discussion of status conditions in TTRPGs. Once again we look at the evolution of these conditions across editions, tactical uses and counters, and exactly how not fun it is to have any particular status condition.

Materials Referenced in this Episode

Music by GavinNellist.

Image by Lars Nissen from Pixabay.


Randall  00:04

Scratches from the claws grow cold. Numbness spreads rapidly from the wounds followed by rigidity. Muscles stiffen. Joints lock. Your body stops responding to any mental command to move. Ghoul paralyzes player is a scene brought to you by dScryb.com. dScryb: describe your world. Visit dScryb.com/rpg bot that’s dScryb.com/rpgbot and use the code RPGBOT at checkout to get 10% off your first subscription payment. Welcome to the RPGBOT.Podcast. I’m Randall James, your paralyzed player, and with me is Tyler Kamstra.

Tyler  01:04

Hi, everybody.

Randall  01:05

And ash Ely.

Ash  01:06

Hey, guys.

Randall  01:08

All right, Tyler, what is happening?

Tyler  01:10

Well, last week, we talked about some status conditions and there was a bunch that we didn’t get to. So this week, we’re doing it again! We’re going to talk about more status conditions. Now, last time, we spent a good bit of time on you know, what happens when you’re affected by a given condition, how you can use it, especially for like grappling, prone, my favorite grapple/shove combination, those things. So today, we’re going to cover like the other half of the massive list of conditions in D&D and Pathfinder, how they work, how you can use them both as a player and as a DM, and just kind of how they’ve evolved since D&D 3.0.

Randall  01:47

awesome. So the first group that we want to talk about, like I like to call them the the “More Than a Feeling” group. Yeah, so there’s two things here, right\? So we can talk about like, kind of the set of charmed, dominate,d mind controlled, and then after that, we’ll talk about fear. But yeah, let’s focus on charmed, dominated, mind controlled for now.

Ash  02:07

Yeah, so charm, dominated, mind control, they’re, they kind of feed into each other, and they are often confused. So Charmed, is just sort of making a person friendly. it doesn’t mean that they are under your control, or you can tell them whatever you want them to do. It just means they’ll, according to I believe it’s fifth edition, they take it, they take anything you say in the most positive light or as if you are a friend, a friendly person. And then they are friendly. Dominated is just what it means, like the target just does what you say unless it is mortally threatening to them. And it can be kind of hard to suss out exactly like, you know, what a person would, like, what does that what would a friend really do for you? Like, would a friend handover the, the MacGuffin, the plot MacGuffin to the big bad evil guy if he charms you? Or is that a dominated thing? And I feel like with charmed and dominated it can get into sort of that gray area territory like figuring out what a what a person who is charmed, like what are the limits of that capability. Stuff like that.

Randall  03:19

Well, let me let me ask the question first. So let’s go game by game. So let’s do 3.x, 5e, then PF2. 3.x: are both charmed and dominated… Yeah, do they exist?

Tyler  03:31

Not explicitly. There were spells that would charm a creature. Charm person, dominate person, al those spells that are in fifth edition like those were in previous editions of D&D, but the charmed condition hadn’t been standardized so every effect that would somehow charm something would work a slightly different way. Like charm monster just said as charm person but for monsters, basically. 3.x had a scale for a creature’s disposition toward you. If I remember right, it was either five or six steps. If you call back to our Strixhaven review from late last year, the like the NPC rival friend characters that were included in the adventure like there was a there was a relationship track for them that ran from negative two to plus three. It’s effectively the same thing. So like all the way at the bottom is they outright hate you and will do things within their power to make your life hard, potentially including violence. All the way at the top is they really like you and they will go out of their way to assist you potentially even to the point of endangering themselves. Charm monster, charm person, charm spells will generally take a creature and put them all the way on the positive end of that so suddenly, you are their best friend. They’ll do things to help you. Depending on the creature, depending on their personality, they may or may not I willingly do something dangerous to assist you. But depending on the spell, there was frequently things that would be like, if you ask them to do something dangerous, they get another save. So very similar to fifth edition, but we didn’t have that standardized charmed condition. So everything was completely within just whatever was the description of the spell.

Randall  05:22

Okay, and so it’s pretty common for like, the spells in 5e, I’m gonna call, I’m basically going to call it a hangover. Right? You’re charmed. When charmed expires, yeah, and that person is going to have bad feelings towards you.

Ash  05:38

Yeah. And that’s the big issue with with term effects in fifth edition, is usually people would probably use charmed like a social encounter, because using it in combat isn’t actually the most effective. Because unless… dominate person is probably more useful in a battle, because with charmed, I believe it says so, it, well doesn’t say in the charmed condition, but in the spells that use it. It says that, if its allies are under threat by you are you are attacking it, it has advantage on the save. So it makes it not as useful in combat. And if you’re going to use it for a social encounter, then arguably, you only have until the spell ends, and then all of the progress that you did is immediately overwritten, because now they hate you for charming them. So.

Tyler  06:36

That actually comes down to the description of the spell in a lot of ways. Some spells specify that the creatures disposition changes when the spell ends. Like they can’t.. the 5e cantrip friends is an absolutely trash spell, never use it, you’ll regret it immediately. It makes a creature charmed for one round. And then after that round, the creature immediately becomes hostile to you. So like that one very explicitly says like, when the charm effect wears off, you’re going to be in trouble. So you’ve got six seconds. Work fast. Whereas-

Randall  07:13

I want to push back immediately, though, I feel like it’s the opposite. Like let’s say you’re in a social situation, and you really want somebody to attack you. That’s when you use friends, right?

Ash  07:23

That is true. That is true, but then-

Randall  07:26

Which is to say it’s completely useless for its intended purpose.

Tyler  07:29

Yeah, unfortunately.

Ash  07:30

Yeah, friends, yeah, friends.

Tyler  07:33

I mean, go ahead. Now, conversely, charm person, it doesn’t have a visual indicator that the spell was cast. It doesn’t have a visual indicator of success. Technically, the caster doesn’t know if the spell worked. So if you cast charm person, like the save is made behind the screen and that that is that. As far as you know, spell passed or failed, you basically have to suss out whether or not it worked based on the creatures behavior. So like if you walk up some creature, and they’ve never seen you before and they’re like “Hey, buddy, great to see you!,” then it probably worked. If they ask for your papers or something, maybe not. So when charm person ends, it does specify that the creature knows it was charmed by you. Now, as a person. If someone were to perform some sort of mind control on me of any degree, I probably wouldn’t appreciate that. I don’t know if I’d immediately resort to violence. At the very least I’d be like, “Hey, man, could you not?” But yeah, Ash, you are, you’re absolutely right. Like when the spell ends, any social progress that you’ve made with that person might be completely reversed. Like, they might say, “Hey, I know I just agreed to do all of this stuff. But I know you just magically charmed me and I no longer want to hold to that deal.” There are some Spells that don’t have that limitation that use charm or charm-like effects. They were kind of like a Jedi mind trick in that way where like the creature will do the thing you want them to do and they’ll justify it to themselves, however unnecessary. But yeah, always check the definition of the spell.

Ash  09:11

Yeah, and there are there are certainly charm effects where the creature doesn’t remember that it was charmed by you. But those are pretty rare and hard for players to get. The most I’ve seen those are from monsters in 5e, which is cool. That’s great. More ways to make your players mad at you. Charmed is one of those conditions tThat really really sucks for players because it’s asking a player to work against their own interests and kind of takes away their agency a little bit. And that’s why I’ve mentioned the fine line of charm, especially when it comes to players because there’s always going to be that argument about like, “well would I really do this? You know, is Charmed mind control?” so there’s a lot of rules lawyering that goes into charm that at the table a lot. At least when I run the game because I run games for like, just all DM’s so it always devolves. It always devolves into the “No, no, that’s not how charmed works. It works this way.”

Randall  10:11

I think like as a as a DM, you can like… one of things that were brought up a moment ago, was it the idea of would a player give up the MacGuffin if they were charmed? Or I should say would a player character give us a MacGuffin if they were charmed. And one right he goes to the spell right. Charm Person says, “you are charmed, and you would regard you as a friendly acquaintance.” Okay, cool. Would you hand the MacGuffin, if you knew how important it was, to a friendly acquaintance? Probably not. Right? If the language language was stronger than that might make it worthwhile. Towards your point, I think the secret here is to use this as a role playing tool, but not a mechanic’s tool. In certain… certainly like, I’m gonna phrase this strangely, not on the main quest line. This would be a fun thing to take into a tavern. Have one of your players get charmed by the barkeep, and then have the barkeep encourage them to buy drinks for the entire bar. And like you spent the gold that you were supposed to be taking to do something else except for gold is useless in 5e, so maybe it isn’t the gold. But yeah, like you can weave a fun story where a player would do something because their charmed. You can work with that person to make an understanding of like, look, let’s have fun. Let’s go in this direction. I want to see you RP. And if you RP, there’s definitely going to be some some inspiration in this for you. So you know, hey, get out there and dance. Right?

Ash  11:36

Yeah, I think I think you’re right. I think if you have your big bad evil guy casting charms on people, your players are just gonna start to get angry and frustrated. That being said, even with like said stuff, if you aren’t you, I think what Randall said is right, you want to use it as a sort of roleplay prompt. Like, explore this space, explore with me in this space, rather than an RP limiter, which it’s very easy to get into where it’s like, no, you have to do this, or you have to do X. Players don’t like being told what to do. They like having like feeling like they are an equal contributor, especially when it comes to their characters to a scene. So if you’re like, hey, this is going to be fun. Let’s play around in the space. Here’s what I’m giving to you. You can you can choose to, you can choose to explore in these parameters, rather than saying you have to do XYZ.

Randall  12:29

I really love that you said like the word “explore,” and let’s bring it back. So we’ve talked about the three pillars of D&D, right? Exploration, social interaction, combat. Okay, for both the exploration, as well as social interaction, charmed can be a good reason like, what if somebody was charmed and encouraged to go into the room that you were previously told you can’t go into? And what if the person who charmed them has the key that gets you there? Right? You have the social interactions you might, due to being charmed, you might be talking to people who otherwise the party was hesitant to talk to you because you thought they were associated with the bad guy. There’s a lot of fun things here that you can use the charmed status condition for, that are going to help us in the first two pillars. But when I look at it, and for everything that we talked about, I feel like as an actual part of combat, charmed is really not going to be that useful. Maybe the only place where I disagree with literally what I just said, at the edge of combat, right? The social interactions, if the expectation is that we’re immediately going to step into combat, even if the players don’t realize. That can be a little bit fun. But I think as the DM, what you need to do is be willing to either cause damage or effectively let it be known to the group. As soon as combat starts, maybe as soon as the first strike against the party happens, charmed is gone.

Tyler  13:44

Generally, yes. There are some exceptions, mostly from monsters. At least in 5e, the options for giving something natural charm condition are fairly limited. Like there’s a lot of things… there’s a lot of spells and special abilities and stuff for players that say if the creature is immune to the term condition, they’re just immune to this. But like resistance doesn’t matter for some reason. And it’s not actually the charmed condition because reasons. Yeah, but like I had the vampire stat block up right now they have a feature called charm. Vampire targets one humanoid can see yada yada if they fail to save they… sorry, wisdom save or be charmed by the vampire charm target regards to vampires a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. You’re not on the vampires control, but you take any requests or actions it does in the most favorable way. So it’s not, it’s not that far from the based charm condition and also it’s a willing target for vampires bite attack, so the vampire can chart and charm you in combat be like, “Hey, man, we’re best friends. I’m gonna come over and have a snack.” And you’ll be like, “cool, bro.” Yeah, so so like there are isolated cases. is where it does apply in combat. But it’s almost exclusively the monsters doing it to the players.

Randall  15:06

It’s a “Hello, friend, I am your Lunchable. Let’s party.” Well, and taking taking things in like the best way possible. It’s like, “oh, yes, you were I don’t know, flicking the bug off my, yeah, I don’t know what’s happening. That pinches. Why??

Tyler  15:23

I’m sure he had a good reason to stab me.

Ash  15:26

Well, now that we’ve got a basic idea of how it works in 5e, should we talk about Pathfinder, 2?

Tyler  15:33

Yeah. So it’s, it’s a bit closer to 3.x. The charmed condition didn’t exist in 3.x and it doesn’t exist in PF2. So any charm style effects essentially just come down to the specific wording of a given spell.

Ash  15:53

Although, pro tip if you’re in that situation with the Countess. You don’t turn the Countess, you turn their closest advisor, and then if they realize they’ve been charmed in PF2, just kill them. I have it pulled up here. And I actually think that Pathfinder has a pretty good way of dealing with charmed. So the charm spell, which I believe is a 1st-level spell. It like, because Pathfinder likes to do those degrees of success. It’s similar with charm. So there are different effects based on how hard the… how hard the target resists the effects. So if they critically succeed, they’re unaffected and they’re aware you tried to charm them. If they just succeed, it’s unaffected but it thinks your spell was something harmless unless it identifies the spell. If it fails, it becomes friendly to you. And if it was friendly, it becomes helpful. So essentially moves its disposition up one step, and it can’t use hostile actions against you. And then a critical failure, it becomes helpful for you and can’t use hostile actions against you. So it’s interesting that the only remember that you were charmed when, when they critically succeed on the safe or the spell also say states that they remember that you charmed them if it does something outside of its expectations, like something that it wouldn’t normally do, which I think is a is a very interesting way of putting it and adds a lot of versatility, a lot of like, decision making process in charm, where it’s like, okay, I don’t want this person to remember that I charmed them. Especially it makes it more useful in social interactions. Because then you… it just essentially makes you just a more magnanimous person, as long as you don’t like, have the guard, like, let you into a secure area or something. Which if you don’t really care about that, then there you go. That works too. But if like you’re in a diplomatic situation, let’s say and you are like the Countess or something, can possibly make a decision. Like she’s on the fence about sending troops to Avalere or whatever. Then you can just tip her that way and she won’t even remember that she was charmed. I feel like with Pathfinder it’s more… I would be more likely to use the charm spell in Pathfinder 2. I don’t think I’ve ever used charm as a player in 5e. That is one way to do it. Yes.

Tyler  18:27

All right.

Randall  18:28

Write that down. Yeah, no, agree. I’ve literally as a player, I’ve never used charmed in 5e.

Ash  18:34

It’s, it’s very situational.

Randall  18:37

And those situations don’t exist.

Ash  18:41


Randall  18:41

Well, I literally like I’m going to turn the shopkeeper that way I can leave and we’re never come into this store again, this store sucked. That’s what we’ve discovered. That’s the whole reason I charmed you to begin with. Maybe if your prices weren’t outrageous, I wouldn’t feel the need to steal from you.

Ash  18:56

Yeah, I think charmed and fivey is useful if you have no intention of ever ever interacting with an NPC ever again. That’s about the only situation that I can think that it’s useful for.

Tyler  19:08

Now, you could always if you do have to turn these NPCs again, you could just charm them again. You’re like, “Hey, buddy, I know I charmed you last time, and I feel real bad about that.”

Ash  19:20

Yeah, yeah, you should. Oh, okay.

Randall  19:24

Excuse me as I mumble underneath my breath.

Tyler  19:30

How cruel is that? That term person has both verbal and somatic components. So it’s incredibly obvious that you’re doing magic.

Randall  19:37

What are you doing? Why are you doing that? Ah, just kidding buddy. Yeah.

Ash  19:43

Ah, it was funny. That was really funny. Fist bump!

Randall  19:48

The Seinfeld episode. The high five. It’s kind of Grease Monkey, isn’t it? Anyway. I do want to mention so to talk about if you’re DM you’re looking for monsters that can impose the charmed condition Alright, so we have harpies. Hartpies will charm, also render that individual incapacitated. So that’s exciting. Yep, we have Incubus and Succubi. Those are exciting. They can charm persons. Lots of effects that come with it. Tyler already mentioned vampire. So yeah, for the DM super useful. 100% Take advantage.

Ash  20:23

Yeah, for players less useful. And so in addition to charmed, there’s the dominated, which we touched on, but dominated is really self explanatory. It’s you lose complete control of your character. And the thing that I want to say about dominate, if you’re going to use dominate it, like using dominate as a player is is very fun. Like, I have used dominate person before. And that can be fun. You turn an enemy into an ally. But as a DM, I would recommend you use it sparingly because it can really piss off your players. Anything that takes away agency from a player, especially if you’re turning that player against their friends, is gonna… it’s unless they’re unless the player is like into that as like, okay, I can have fun with this. And you know, what would my character do in an evil capacity? And stuff like that. But some players don’t like that. They don’t like their agency taken away from them. So while it can be useful, and while you can sort of make a, make a argument for why your big bad would use it on a player, I would say, use it wisely and not at the expense of your players fun.

Randall  21:35

Yeah, I think similar to what I said for charmed against your players, I will say the same thing for dominate here. I would argue you shouldn’t make this part of combat. Or if you’re going to do it, it needs to be extremely rare. And I’ll maybe make the argument that your players should know what’s coming. Like they’re super warned that like, oh, you know, you’re gonna go fight him. You know, he can take over your mind! And then, yeah, okay. Yeah, do something about it or don’t and fail. It’ll be great. But I do think dominate player could be fun if you’re setting up something like akin to a skill challenge akin to we’re in the castle and our goal was to protect the MacGuffin to make sure the MacGuffin didn’t get dragged out of the castle. Except one of you got dominated and you’re going to try to remove the MacGuffin outside of the castle. And removing that MacGuffin doesn’t have like world catastrophic impact. That could be a fun session, where it’s like, Okay, I’m gonna randomly roll the dice. You are the person under my control, and maybe even better is over time, like we’re rotating through who’s under control. And it’s basically like, can you as an individual make the choices to get it out while everybody else is fighting against you? I think that kind of I’m gonna call it almost like minigame could be a lot of fun for the role playing. It can be a lot of fun for like strategy and like, let everybody treat it like a puzzle where it is player versus player without it explicitly being combat.

Ash  22:55

Yeah, I think that’s, I think that’s right. I think with player versus player, unless it’s done really carefully. And with a good group, it can devolve really quickly. But it can also be useful tool for drama, as was seen in Critical Role when Vax at one point got dominated by by a big bad and turned against the party briefly. That was that that was fun, because the players were all on the same page and it worked. My suggest… My recommendation is if you’re going to use dominate person, don’t take control of the player character. Tell them okay, you now see this person as someone you have to die for or like work with. How will your character do this? And give the player still, the player is still able to control their character. But now their motivations have changed and their allegiances have changed. That way it doesn’t feel like the player is just like well, I guess I’m just gonna sit here while you use my guy now.

Randall  23:56

100%, absolutely.

Ash  23:56

I’m having a good time.

Tyler  23:59

Yeah, the… the description of dominate effects frequently saved like, whoever is dominating, still has to issue commands. So if you as the Dungeon Master/Game Master are dominating a player like yeah, get consent with everybody at the table for that to happen, but then be like, Okay, you’re dominated. Here’s how this is going to work. Character who is dominating, you will issue you a command. And I expect you to act on that command to the best of your character’s capabilities. And like, yeah, if they do a good job with that, give them inspiration or something when when they break the dominate effect. And yeah, as a player, like, I’d be like, Okay, I’m gonna murder my party. Good luck, guys. And then my party being wonderful, smart, well-optimized people, are gonna be like “Oh, no. You’re gonna get one round to enjoy this, Tyler. Sit down. We’re gonna go nuke the Big Bad while this happens.”

Randall  25:01

Yeah. But But I think you actually answered that exactly correct. So if you’re the DM in that situation, don’t say, I want you use your first attack to do this thing. And then I want to use your second attack to do this thing, or, Hey, as a Sorcerer, what I’d like you to do is quicken this bonus to have fireball. And then after that, I’d like you to use a fireball. Like don’t don’t do that. Just say, as the you know, the the as the bad guy. What you say to the character is “kill your friends” and then leave it up to the player to figure out how to kill the friends or like “kill that particular friend. Very tall.” Alright, great. That’s wonderful. But you know, Ash you said it, Tyler you hinted at it. Don’t literally say what to spin their turn on. Instead, give them the idea of what they should be doing. And then let them do it in their own way.

Ash  25:45

Yeah, exactly.

Randall  25:47

All right. So let’s move on to the second part of more than a feeling: fear or being frightened.

Tyler  25:55

So I’m going to point people back to our spooktober episodes from last year, especially the horror episode.

Ash  26:03

I was there!

Tyler  26:03

We’re not going to touch on how do we how do we make scary good. We’re just going to talk about the fear condition because I feel like we’ve already hit on the the making the spooky come out. We’ve done that pretty well.

Randall  26:16

I have to say, I’m very excited about this spooktober.

Tyler  26:19

Me too. It’s gonna be great. All right. So we’re going to start from 3.x again, because very informative. So in third edition, 3.5, PF1, fear was actually a progression kind of similar to fifth editions exhaustion track. So you started from shaken, which I wrote, shaked in here, for some reason, should have just wrote “shook”.

Randall  26:43

I was reading to shak-ed. So that’s exciting.

Ash  26:45

Oh, I’m shook!

Tyler  26:46

If you’re pronouncing like that, yah. So you start from shaken, which is like, I’m a little scared. I’m going to take some penalties to some stats. Then there’s frightened which is very similar to 5e’s frightened, like you have trouble doing stuff while the subject of your fear is there. Panicked is you run away. Cowering is you were so scared that you’re incapable of moving.

Randall  27:09

Okay, I want to ask the question just so I can really understand that. The episode of South Park where the monster is attacking everyone, and Randy’s running around with the cameras. “I’m so startled.” Where was he on the shaken to cowering.

Tyler  27:29

But depending on where he was in the episode, he probably got all the way up to panicked. I don’t remember him ever cowering, but I might be wrong.

Randall  27:38

Okay, good. So it probably started to shaken and theny managed to get all the way up to panic.

Tyler  27:42

Yeah. Which is actually a good segue into the concept of fear stacking. So just like in fifth edition, where you can pile on levels of exhaustion with stuff like Sickening Radiance. In 3.x, you have this thing called fear stalking. I mean, it’s not an official name in the rules, but it’s what people call it. And basically, you impose a fear condition repeatedly to force creatures down this condition track. So this is another one of those death spirals where like, the further you down you get, it’s harder to get off. So if you can make a creature shaken, you can make it sghaken again to move it up to frightened. And you can make shaken again to move it up to panicked. So like, you can stack multiple, like low-grade effects to force creatures down this track. And if you can make a creature run away from a fight, it’s almost as good as killing them in a lot of cases. So very effective strategy. You can do it with a lot of low-level effects that are pretty good. Like the spell Cause Fear or, or the spell Fear because why do we have a spell called Cause Fear and a spell just called Fear? I don’t know. I don’t know. But yeah, fear stacking. It was a thing. It worked pretty well. There’s some great ways to do it. And now that’s gone and I’m sad.

Randall  28:58

Yeah, I mean, 5e really took this in a… right, a different direction. It’s a lot less complicated. So frightened as a condition is pretty simple. Frightened creature has disadvantage on ability checks and attack roles, while the source of its fear is in line of sight. And the creature cannot willingly move closer to its source of fear. Those those two things, so there’s no stacking on it. It can be quite debilitating. Let’s say I’m a melee character and I’m rendered afraid, I’m render frightened of something that I’m fighting, fighting, and I’m not in melee range. I am useless.

Tyler  29:31

Yeah, absolutely. That’s one of the reasons dragons can be very hard to fight. Their fear aura thing really, really causes trouble for martial characters. And then they just eat casters.

Ash  29:44

yeah. And yeah, as someone who made a character built around using fear effects. It can be very fun and really powerful at low levels. But there’s a point where in 5e, it’s… it has diminishing returns. Because as you get higher I think… no, fear is not like sleep. Fear is just, it doesn’t affect the number of hit points. But there are certain, like, as you get higher people’s wisdom says are insane. It’s still arguably pretty useful at all levels, but not like, amazing, and the fact that they get a chance to save every turn makes it not great. And yeah, disadvantage on attacks and ability checks is good. And especially if you’re a caster, keeping things away from you. That’s why it worked really well for this build, because she was a caster. It can be very useful. But I do like the idea of fear stacking a bit more how it’s harder and harder and harder to get out of it the further down you go,

Randall  30:48

Yeah, that would be nice. Like something nice to keep. And even PF2 is like, counting system would also be like a pretty cool way of managing that. But you know, here we are talking about 5e. I want to ask the question. So you talked about a build that was leveraging fear and the frightened condition. What were the things that you were taking advantage of?

Ash  31:05

So the Bard College of shadows. Er, not college… is it college of shadows?

Tyler  31:13


Ash  31:14

Whispers! That’s that’s the one, thank you. College of whisper Bard. They focus on stuff like that. So they’re… out of combat, you can say something to a person to make them instantly frightened of you. Like, youi whisper something to them, and they are just fright- they’re just, excuse me, they’re just frightened of you. Um, so…

Randall  31:37

What are the things that you would say to somebody? It’s like…

Ash  31:40

I forget. I would say something innocuous. And then they just be like, “ah, ah!” But once you get to six, at a certain level, I think you can just… the college was for Bard, I have to look it up. But it takes advantage of fear really well. And then

Randall  32:00

Does somebody else smell bees?

Tyler  32:04

I’ve got a pocket got a pocket full of spiders.

Randall  32:08

Yeah, I wasn’t gonna go there for your sake, but here we are.

Tyler  32:10

Oh, I had to work myself up to it.

Randall  32:15

So he’s fine.

Ash  32:21

So I just remember to college of whispers that feature you convinced that you say something that seems innocuous to a target. Like if anybody’s listening to you, what it sounds like is you’re just saying something innocuous. But the target thinks that you know their deepest, darkest secret and can use it against them, which is very cool. But in terms of spells, like the main things that I focused on were fear. Cause Fear. Dissonant Whispers. So, essetially just, Dissonant Whispers was awesome for this build, especially because of the party setup that I had. I had, my friend was playing this Fighter. And basically what I would essentially do is wait until they were in melee with someone and cause Dissonant Whispers because that immediately gives them an attack of opportunity, which, which is very cool. So Dissonant Whispers if you just want to cool like a sphere effect, arguably useful at all levels. Dissonant Whispers is great. Cause fear, situational at best. Fear, if you can get it off in a good area is so good. The problem with Fear is that it’s a cone that you’re doing. So you have to target it in a way that you’re not going to affect your friends or just hope that they save out of it.

Tyler  33:43

Or just make friends with Paladins.

Ash  33:45

Yeah. But fear, especially against quick characters is really, really good. Like, so in this campaign, the DM had these characters that could move like 120 feet if they were dashing. And essentially what fear says is the creature needs- not only runs away from you, it has to take its action to run as far away from you as it can. So suddenly something that’s here and causing a lot of problems for us because they were a big problem. I just cast Fear on them and it was in the ocean and essentially they just they had to go so far away from me and if they can still see me at any point they have to keep doing that and because there was no that nothing blocking their line of sight something that was now here it is now like a mile away. Like you can bring those guys back if you want to, but they’re gone now. So yeah, that was a lot of fun. Like fear can be really useful if you if it’s in the right situation where you can set it up well.

Randall  34:52

I mean, even as far as the action economy goes just removing a single creature from the fight is tremendous for the paty.

Ash  34:59


Randall  35:00

if the only thing that happened was like I had to fight tWo and then I got to fight one instead of fighting three. Great.

Ash  35:07

Yeah, but the great thing about fear is if you target it right, you can cause several enemies to run away. So now instead of fighting five people you’re only fighting like two.

Randall  35:19

Incidentally, I feel like we we made fun of deaFENED last time, didn’t we?

Ash  35:22

We did, yes.

Tyler  35:23

That it wasn’t very good?

Randall  35:24

Yeah. Now here’s the deal: if you are deafened, you automatically automatically succeed on the saving throw against Dissonant Whispers.

Ash  35:31

That is true.

Randall  35:32

Take that!

Tyler  35:34

You might even call it a buff. So before we move on to PF2’s version of fear, another great option in 5e for using fear is oath of conquest paladin. Random wrote an awesome guide for the oath of conquest Paladin that uses fear to basically hold the enemies in place, and then push them prone. It’s like grapple/shove, but also scary. Very good. We’ll have links in the show notes.

Randall  36:04

Please spooky lay down.

Tyler  36:05

Oh, and if anybody just heard the sound of a bomb going off, it’s the Nth of July. There were fireworks happening. My dog is not happy.

Ash  36:15

Yes, there was an explosion near right in my backyard. So that was a fun little jolt awake.

Randall  36:22

And to be clear, like bombs and explosions. Alright. So some folks, right, we have Fourth of July. Independence Day in America. We are all in different cities in America. In the United States. And yeah, like people start shooting off fireworks like the week before the first of July. And then hopefully by like the seventh everybody’s burnt out on it.

Ash  36:43


Tyler  36:45

We can dream.

Randall  36:48

It’s gonna be great. I… actually, I have, a lot of fireworks to shoot off tomorrow. I’m very excited. That’s that’s a side story. Maybe we get into that. After the episode we’ll talk about it.

Tyler  37:04

So PF2 fear. So in Pathfinder second edition, there are a lot of status conditions that come with a number on them. Now somehow, we managed to avoid all of them on the previous episode. So here’s our first one. Fear is one of those conditions with a number so you will be like frightened one, frightened seven, something. And when you have the frightened condition, you take a minus whatever the number is penalty to everything. Like all your checks, all your DC’s. And in PF2 an attack is a check. So it’s like all your skill checks, all your attacks, all your saving throws, like all your skill DC’s, like which for fighty players imagine being so scared that you got a penalty to passive perception. Generally, it won’t get above like two or three as far as I’ve seen. And it wears off one point per turn. So like at the end of your turn, it’ll go down by one until it hits zero and you’re not scared anymore. It doesn’t affect the actions you can take. So you’re so free like I am I am frightened 20. I have just seen cthulhu. Whatever. My mind is broken, I am incapable of functioning. I can still walk up to it and be fine. Like, I’m not going to do anything effective but I can walk up to it. So it is a little different. This is one of those, one of those reasons why Pathfinder gets called “mathfinder” a lot because like oh great now I’ve got a bunch of status conditions that give me a bunch of penalties that I have to subtract in addition to my three various types of bonuses to add.

Randall  38:43

So you’re talking about the fact that like you could walk up to it. It’s probably worth calling out so take the actual Fear spell from PF2 though. So critical critical success, nothing happens. Success target’s frightened by one. If they if they fail the saving throw, frightened 2. Critical failure, frightened 3 and you’re fleeing for one round. So if you have multiple folks like casting fear or you’re casting fear on successive turns, there’s of course some likelihood that you’re actually going to be able to force them to flee and it’s gonna accumulate frightened… number? I don’t know what’s call it. Frightened count?

Tyler  39:19

No, unfortunately. They… so it doesn’t stack like it does air like it did in 3.x. So when you get a new Fear Effect, it’s just you keep whichever is the highest. Like if I’m already frightened 2 and you make me frightened 1, I’m still just frightened 2.

Randall  39:35

Oh, that’s garbage. I don’t like that.

Tyler  39:38

But it is also much easier to make creatures frightened. You can… as an action you can use the demoralize action which is use the intimidate skill to talk smack and make somebody Frightened 1.

Randall  39:52

Okay, that makes sense. And I guess yeah, as I read this spell, right, target is frightened. One target is frightened to not increment but yeah, okay. That makes sense. That’s not garbage. I didn’t mean it, PF2.

Tyler  40:04

It is still pretty good considering how effective the frightened condition is. Like, -2 penalty on all things is massive, even if it only lasts for like a round or two, depending on how you want to consider it.

Randall  40:18

Yeah, that’s pretty tremendous.

Ash  40:20

Yeah, and the fact that everybody can do it with like a demoralize is very good. It’s arguably like, as powerful as flat-footed and Pathfinder one was. So if you can flat-foot a person in Pathfinder one, like with a feint, you have a substantial advantage. But with with this, anybody can just demoralize and even if it’s just one round, and it’s minus one, it’s still very good.

Tyler  40:45

Yeah. And a lot of spells in PF2 Take two actions to cast. So if you’re a charisma-based spellcaster it’s a really good idea to demoralize and then cast your to action spell because you’re a bit more likely to succeed with that spell.

Randall  41:00

That’s funny, right? I’m going to intimidate you or demoralize you. And then I’m actually going to hurt you. That’s yeah, yes, let’s party.

Ash  41:10

That’s, uh… That’s messed up.

Randall  41:13

And so we want to talk about tabletop in general. And so when we talk about the idea of fear or being frightened, it makes perfect sense that we want to talk about Call of Cthulhu as well.

Ash  41:23

Yeah. So Call of Cthulhu doesn’t really have a frightened condition necessarily. Like it doesn’t have fear. But it does have sanity, which essentially kind of works the same way. So the way sanity works in Call of Cthulhu, is you have a certain amount of sanity points, and they go from 1 to 99. And so it’s essentially like if you can consider health as your physical hitpoints. Sanity is your mental hit points. And there are ways to recover it when it goes down. But it is hard. Like, you can either go to therapy, you can try to get with some of your bonds from your backstory. You can also just be committed.

Randall  42:13

Does flagellation or alcoholism fix this?

Ash  42:17

It can! If you have religion, if your character is a religious person, they can use something from their religious background to help them overcome their insanity. Like regain some sanity. I know it’s weird. But, but yes, that is a thing you can do.

Randall  42:33

I’m just thinking Darkest Dungeon. Like that’s that’s the that’s where my head’s at right now.

Ash  42:40

Well, as… so, it is, it is kind of like a death spiral feature. As your sanity goes down. It is harder and harder to, you know, resist sanity, debilitating effects.

Randall  42:52

Makes sense.

Ash  42:53

Essentially, every time you are… you’re encountering something that can give you fear or sanity damage, you have to roll under your sanity. And if you succeed, then nothing happens. But if you don’t, or you can take it… depending on the severity of what you’re seeing. So like fighting a ghoul for instance, if you see a ghoul, you for the first time, you’ll… If you succeed, you’ll probably take no sanity damage. If you fail, it’s like a d3 because Call of Cthulhu likes stuff like that. It like’s-

Tyler  43:25


Ash  43:26

It likes the, it does like d3’s. It likes that. The non-existent dice. I don’t know why. But it is a deal-

Randall  43:34

It messes with your mind. That’s why.

Ash  43:37

Yep. But like let’s say you meet like an eldritch entity, then even if you succeed, you will still take some sanity damage, just not as much. And what I also think is really cool about the sanityy system is if you if you see the same thing, in like the course of the day, you don’t have to make a sanity check again. So let’s say you fight a ghoul for the first time, you have to you have to do that sanity check. If you find another ghoul later on, you don’t have to make it again because now you’ve seen it and you’re used to it.

Randall  44:09

It’s old hat.

Ash  44:10

It’s old hat but after like a day, I think it’s a day. After a day, if you see a ghoul again, then you will have to do that sanity check again, because now you’re like you, you forgot about it, technically and then you come back and oh yeah, this thing exists. And in addition to that, like because Call of Cthulhu is a very in-depth system. It has different kinds of satnity: temporary, indefinite, and permanent. So temporary insanity is just you know, the stuff that we’re talking about you take some and sanity damage. Indefinite is if you take a large amount of sanity damage. So just if you lose sanity in, like ,small amounts of sanity, it’s fine. It’s whatever. But if you meet a threshold of sanity, if you lose a certain amount of Sandi in one day, one day only, like, let’s say it’s like a percentage of your current sanity. So let’s say like six, it was six and in a day, then you get what’s called indefinite insanity, which will come with bouts of insanity. Which can be you basically the random conditions like sometimes you’ll get like a bout of amnesia or paranoia, and stuff like that. And then permanent insanity is if your sanity is ever reduced to zero, you’re essentially dead as a character. You either are committed to an asylum or you become an agent of evil working against the party. So yeah, it’s a really in-depth system. As much as people say Pathfinder is mathfinder, I would argue Call of Cthulhu is worse in this respect. It is a d100 system. So it works on percentages. But yeah, no, it’s very in-depth system. And I think if you want to bring that kind of system into your setting for like, a fifth edition, like look at Call of Cthulhu. Don’t use the sanity stuff in the DMG, because it’s not very good.

Tyler  46:10

So let’s talk about getting sick in a different way. Let’s talk about poison and disease. All right, so Ash, you’re playing PF1 for the first time. Have you been poisoned or contracted a disease?

Randall  46:22

Yeah, no, weird.

Ash  46:23

I have, yes. I’m totally diseased right now. I am a little, I am feeling a little under the weather. But I believe I’ve been sickened. I have not gone up to nauseated and that wasn’t from a disease. It was from me drinking too much.

Tyler  46:41

Wonderful. All right. So I’m going to for people who have not played 3.x.

Randall  46:47

Wait. In game or your character?

Ash  46:50


Tyler  46:52

Wonderful. Alright, so for people who have not played 3.x, I’m going to make you sad for a minute. We’re going to talk about it. So poison and disease in in 3.x caused what what’s called ability damage and sometimes ability drain. We’ll get to that. Ability damage would semi-permanently reduce one of your ability scores. So like let’s say I was bitten by a viper. I make a fortitude save, which is 5e- equivalent to a constitution save in 5e. So I make a saving throw. If I fail, I take constitution damage. Constitution damage reduces my constitution score. I see Randall vigorously shaking his head. That’s the right respond.

Randall  47:34

I don’t, I don’t like this.

Tyler  47:35

Yes, your constitution score goes down, which can change your modifier which means you have to recalculate your hip points, which means you have to recalculate your fortitude saves, which means you have to recalculate, like, yeah. All of this on and on and on. So congratulations your poison and get ready to recalculate your character sheet! Hope you aren’t using paper. Disease is basically the same thing but slower. So ability damage was a huge thing in 3.x. Like every poison did this. The idea of poison doing hit point damage was literally not a thing. Like, if poison was involved, you had to be like, Okay, everybody chug antitoxins. This is gonna suck. Yeah, I’m glad it went away.

Randall  48:25

I mean, that’s terrible. Like we talked about the- Okay, we’re here to have fun. That doesn’t sound fun. That just sounds like… Yeah.

Ash  48:34

Oh, I just remembered I did contract with disease one time. So one of the characters I was playing went to hell. Yes. And encountered a succubus. Don’t ask me why a succubus was in hell. They’re demons not devils. Er, not, no, it wasn’t a succubus it was this other creature that it sprays you with this toxin. And if you fail the save, you get an addicted to it. And addiction mechanics are considered disease first off in Pathfinder

Randall  49:09

Good for them.

Ash  49:09

And they are brutal. They’re brutal! Like if you don’t have your addictive substance you get you get like stacking damage to your to a specific attribute. I hated it. I was so mad about it. There are ways to recover it but like it wasn’t like it wasn’t a thing that my character chose to be addicted to. It was just something that a creature sprayed me with and now I’m like “ooh, yes, please more.”

Tyler  49:41

Yeah. Poison and disease and 3.x. Not a lot of fun. Just a super… I mentioned ability to rain earlier. So ability damage will recover at like one point per ability score per long rest. So like you can gradually get that back by resting, but it takes several days. Ability drain is permanent until removed by magic. Fortunately, you can only usually only got ability drained from spells and things like that. Like shadows would do strength damage. So if you’re playing 5e and you look at the shadows and you’re like, Okay, shadows are going to reduce my strength and if I get to zero strength, I’m toast. I would not want that to be on every monster. Like if you’re having that thought as you look at the shadow, you’re correct. That is how poison worked in 3.x. Every poison every single one every snake, every scorpion, every poisoned, like, dark that shoots out of a wall. Every poison. It sucked and I’m glad it’s gone.

Ash  50:43

Yeah. I fought shadows, too. And here’s the thing was we’re just two players. Both of us picked strength as our dump stat.

Randall  50:54

Oh, no!

Ash  50:55

And we were fighting a bunch of shadows.

Tyler  50:59

A threat at any level.

Ash  51:01

Yeah, so my which is as 12 strength, right? Which is not great. My friend has five strength. So one good hit from a shadow would kill them. So yeah, that was terrifying. I ended up, I went from 12 strength to 2 by the end of that fight, which really sucked. I’m glad that that is gone.

Randall  51:32

Yeah, so let’s let’s talk about that. Let’s celebrate the fact that it’s gone.

Ash  51:36

Yes. Good job 5e, I’m glad you did it!

Tyler  51:37


Randall  51:40

Wonderful choices. All involved. We salute you. Alright, so, so now in 5e we have the poison condition.

Tyler  51:48


Randall  51:49

The poisoned condition is basically disadvantage on attacks and ability checks, right?

Tyler  51:56

Yeah, it’s I don’t feel good physically. You know, that’s pretty much it. Yeah. Callback to 3.x again, there were there were the second and nauseated conditions. Second was like I don’t feel good but it’s not really gonna stop me you just take minus two just some stuff. Nauseated is I am actively throwing up right now. I only get a move action on my turn. I can stumble around. I could technically draw a weapon but I’m probably not going to. I’m gonna spend the rest of my term being sick actively. Those are gone. Now we just have poisoned and 5e. Yeah, Randall like you said disadvantage on attack rolls disadvantage on ability checks. There are a lot of monsters that can cause the poisoned condition. Troglodytes are a great example at low levels, but there’s stuff across the whole level range. The Sickening Cloud spell can cause it for players so like, there are some options on both sides. Resistance and immunity to poison are both super common. So like the poisoned condition is pretty easy to get around. There spells protect you from it, there’s items. But yeah, don’t be poisoned. It’s not fun.

Ash  53:09

Yeah, poisoned can suck in 5e. When it comes to disease, though, is kind of a non-issue in 5e. Which we’ve talked about this, we did an episode on disease on Crit Fails. And I find that incredibly disappointing. I think that=

Randall  53:27

That you did the episode?

Ash  53:28

No, I find it disappointing that disease is a non-issue in 5e because diseases can be very interesting. Um, I agree that Pathfinder maybe went a little too hard when it came to disease. But I think 5e went too hard in the other direction, to basically making them an inconvenience at best or just nuisance at worst. But like, essentially, it’s not so much the diseases themselves, which there aren’t a lot of, but even the ones that do exist are completely negated by just very easy to attain abilities. Lesser restoration just gets rid of disease. Lay on Hands from a Paladin can purge you of disease. Like, there’s so many ways that you can just easily get rid of disease so something that couldn’t be like campaign arc in and of itself is just like oh you got the strongest disease the most deadly disease in this world? No worries. Two hit points from my my lay on hands, you’re good now. Oh, okay. That could have been cool, but I guess not. And then the question comes like how is disease a thing in the world anymore?

Tyler  54:49

Yeah, that’s the classic High Wizard problem. Like when they’re when there’s a… when someone can produce a magical solution to all of these problems, why haven’t they? The simple answer is actual clerics and actual paladins, super rare. But yeah, this is a weird callback. The Neverwinter Nights CRPG. D&D 3.0 as a video game. Very good except for the fact that it was D&D 3.0. The plot for like the first chapter of the game was Neverwinter’s overcome by this disease that is basically killing everybody. And I’m gonna spoil it for you. The twist is a little obvious. So like, bear with me, but earmuffs for the next 10 seconds. The clerics casting remove disease are the ones causing the disease.

Ash  55:40

Oh, that’s cool.

Tyler  55:41


Randall  55:43

It’s a racket.

Tyler  55:44

Exactly. Yeah, so the… Yeah, the… yes, that is how you spread the disease: by the cure. Yeah, Neverwinter Nights. At some point, maybe we’ll write an article about how to survive that game. It’s really fun to play. You just have to know how to survive 3.0’s mechanics because they’re rough and converting it to a video game didn’t fix that. Let’s see. Yeah, like you guys said disease isn’t really much of a thing in 5e. There are some things that were diseases in previous editions that either just went away like, die or rats in previous editions would give you this disease called filth fever, because like they live on a diet of filth, their mouths are gross. There was a disease called mummy rot. Mummy rot is still a thing, but it’s no longer a disease. It’s now a curse, which, when you think about it kind of makes more sense honestly anyway. Like a magical mummy slapping you isn’t just gonna be like, hey, you’ve got the mummy pox go home.

Randall  56:47

It’s more thematic, certainly. But, you know, hey, what’s the difference buddy?

Tyler  56:53

One’s a curse and it takes remove curse to get rid of it. And one’s a disease and you can get rid of that with lesteration- Lesser restoration. Remove Curse is like a fifth level spell list. Lessesster- words are hard.

Ash  57:03

Lesson Restoration is a second level I believe.

Tyler  57:06

There you go. Thank you.

Randall  57:07

Alright. Well established.

Tyler  57:13

So let’s, let’s peek at PF2 real quick. So for those of you either remembering nostalgically how poison and disease worked in 3.x, or people who are looking at it and saying like, “I never want to touch either of those systems just because of that mechanic.” PF2 is kind of a happy middle ground actually. So it has this general system called afflictions that’s used for poison, diseases, curses, a few other things. But basically, you’ll have an affliction, and you need to save against it successfully some number of times for it to go away. And the affliction itself will tell you like this is what happens as you move up and down the stages of this affliction because depending on the affliction, you could get worse, get better, get worse again. So kind of like a real disease like you could be getting better for a while, have a bad day, get worse, and then hopefully eventually recover. Or not, I don’t know. So afflictions will typically apply other status conditions. So instead of being like ah, I’ve taken 10 points of strength damage, you’ll be like enfeebled 2, which is the like, I am physically drained and my body isn’t functioning as well as it could. Generally, these afflictions won’t deal damage. It’s usually conditions of some kind. Sometimes it can be like some specific effect unique to that affliction. But it’s, it’s this very simple to understand universal rule throughout the entire system. So like, it works the same way for every affliction. So you learn how the affliction rules once and you’re good to go. And yeah, not nearly as much recalculating your character sheet.

Ash  58:55

Yeah, I kind of like that. It adds, it brings, it makes diseases a thing again. But it doesn’t be like, Oh, this sucks. This is so brutal and I hate this and now I have to recalculate everything. So yeah, I think that is a good, once again, like Pathfinder are continually proving to me, Pathfinder 2 continually proving to me, let’s take some of the good things from 3.5 and let’s take some good things from 5e and find a happy middle ground between them.

Tyler  59:27

Yeah, that’s a great way to think about it.

Randall  59:29

Yeah, I would totally agree. Like, without, you know, what we talked about for 3.x really ruins fun. What we’re describing right now, it’s essentially like diseases are allowed to have character again. You know, they can manifest in different ways. It can be interesting. It can be fun to run into a new disease as long as you’re not suffering from it.

Ash  59:48


Randall  59:50

And so yeah, I really liked that they kind of wrote that rules as written that okay, we have an idea of the afflictions. Afflictions are going to have this effect. That’s great.

Ash  59:58


Randall  59:59

The last group of status conditions that we want to talk through are what I want to call it the incapacitated and incapacitated family. So let’s step into this.

Tyler  1:00:07

Is that like the Addams Family, but they don’t move around a lot?

Randall  1:00:10

Not a whole lot at all. Actually, technically, they can move. They can’t dash.

Tyler  1:00:17


Randall  1:00:19

And that’s important, we’ll step into that. But yeah, so let’s maybe… I’m really approaching this from a 5e perspective. So let me lay out what’s there. And then let’s take a step back and talk about what’s happening in 3.x that relates to it. So in five years, we have this idea of being incapacitated. The core condition, you cannot take actions or reactions. You also cannot take bonus actions. You can move but you can’t dash because dashing is an action and you can speak. Alright, so incapacitated by itself, it doesn’t happen very often on its own. Usually what’s happening is you’re getting incapacitated and something else and those something elses tend to be paralyzed, petrified, stunned, or knocked unconscious. Paralyzed and unconscious, you have an auto-crit if the the attacker is adjecent to you. You know, petrified you become very heavy as if you were made of stone because you are. You’re petrified. Your diseases that you’re carrying, or anything that is wrong with you is frozen for a moment. And when you’re unpetrified, they come back at the stage that they were before you went in. Unconscious, like you drop all your items, you fall prone to the ground, and you’re very sleepy in the sense that you’re not awake. Stunned, you can’t move. So there’s a whole lot happening there. But it all kind of has that route of and no actions, no bonus actions, no reactions. So in 5e, your action economy is shot and you’re basically hoping that the next opportunity to save gets you out of this because it is devastating for your character.

Tyler  1:01:51

Yeah, it’s a little weird that the text for incapacitated calls out actions or reactions because when something says you can’t take actions it means actions of any kind including your your main action, reaction, bonus action, your free actions, even your free item interaction. Like you, you cannot do things. Movement potentially being an exception because movement in 5e is not an action.

Randall  1:02:19

Yeah, its movement.

Tyler  1:02:20

Its movement. Yeah. Now calling back to 3.x. There’s a lot of overlap there like a lot of those things have actually stayed pretty similar since third edition. The dazed condition for example says you can’t take actions, so similar to incapacitated except actions worked differently in 3.x. Movement was on action so you couldn’t move. You couldn’t take five-foot step. Like you couldn’t draw a weapon, you can’t cast a spell. You can’t, you basically can’t do anything. You can’t talk. So if you’re dazed, you’re done. Like basically you have an off switch for a turn. And then there’s a worse version of that cold stunned that in addition to not being able to do stuff you also drop everything you’re holding, you’re flat-footed, and you take an extra penalty to AC. We talked about how much it sucked to be flat-footed on the previous episode. Dazed you can still actively defend yourself so like you don’t take an AC penalty, your shield still does stuff for you, but stunned… stunned, hurts. Don’t be stunned. Conditions like paralyzed, unconscious, petrified, pretty similar except in like minor changes to the wording. So you didn’t get the automatic critical hit that you do with paralysis or if a creature’s unconscious or whatever in 3.x. Instead, 3.x had this thing called a coup de gras, which is you hit them, they make a fortitude saving throw against DC equal to the damage that you dealt. If they fail, they just die. Now what’s a-

Randall  1:03:56


Tyler  1:03:57


Ash  1:03:59


Randall  1:03:59

Okay, no, wait, okay. Say that one more time more slowly.

Tyler  1:04:04

I perform a coup de gras, which is a full round action. So like I generally have to be very close to the target. It’s a full round action. Takes my entire turn. I hit them. The target of the coup de gras then makes a fortitude save so if you’re playing 5e, think constitution save, against a DC equal to the amount of damage that I dealt. If I remember right, the coup de gras is also an automatic critical hit. So if you’re smart, you can bring something with like an x4 critical multiplier and just deal a mountain of damage to make this save impossible. So they make a fortitude save. If they fail, the creature dies outright.

Randall  1:04:40


Tyler  1:04:41

Yeah, so if you think paralysis is brutal in 5e, and it is, it was so much worse than 3.x.

Randall  1:04:49

Yeah, that that sounds absolutely terrible, but also awesome.

Ash  1:04:53

Oh, it’s actually worse. The DC is 10 plus the damn dealt.

Tyler  1:05:00

That seems unnecessary and cruel, but okay.

Ash  1:05:06

Yep. I don’t know why. Let’s make it harder. Add 10. There you go.

Tyler  1:05:11

Yeah, they’re probably assuming that you’re doing a coup de gras with something small like a dagger, not like, I’m level 10. I’ve got my +5 dagger of dude slaying, I’m just going to deal a million damage. Good luck! So I want to peek at the petrified condition as well while we’re here, because there’s some fun differences between 3.x and 5e. So in 3.x, the entire description is the creature has turned to stone and unconscious. That is it. It tells you nothing else about what it means to be stone. It doesn’t tell you about your diseases. It doesn’t tell you about poison. iIt doesn’t, like, anything else you have going on. As far as I can tell, if you are actively poisoned and then turn to stone, you continue to suffer the effects of that poison. You can die while petrified in 3.x. It’s real dumb. And also if people go and attack you and stuff, the DM has to find the stats for stone buried in the dungeon master’s guide, figure out like okay, how much damage resistance and hit points does stone have because this guy’s a statute?

Randall  1:06:15

Yeah, how hard is it to hit an inanimate object made out of stone. That’s a lot easier to hit.

Tyler  1:06:23

It’s a little silly. 5e’s description of petrified is much more detailed.

Randall  1:06:27

Okay, wait, how do you handle the fact that I was holding up my shield when I was turned to stone and perhaps the contact made contact with my shield?

Tyler  1:06:35

The monster ducks down and stabbs you in the shins.

Randall  1:06:39

Now that’s… That’s just mean.

Tyler  1:06:41

It works.

Randall  1:06:44

Yeah, I don’t I don’t like that at all.

Tyler  1:06:46


Randall  1:06:47

Yeah, it’s kind of funny that in 5e, they like they took that to an extreme and say, Okay, here’s the deal. We gave you eight words and 3.x. In 5e we’re going to specify so many things. Because they’re like your weight is specified all this bit about poison and diseases specified. Like it… I don’t know. I feel like there’s a lot of detail there. To the point. It’s like, I don’t get petrified that often.

Ash  1:07:08

Yeah, it’s really hard to get petrified of 5e.

Tyler  1:07:12

Yeah, it really is. It’s basically like mesuas, gorgons, and a couple of spells and I think that’s about it.

Ash  1:07:19

You have to fail three consecutive saves.

Tyler  1:07:22

It’s a it’s a lot easier to die than it is to be petrified. Which feels weird.

Ash  1:07:27

Yeah, it does feel weird.

Tyler  1:07:30

So one thing I should note in both 3.x and 5e, if you are petrified, you’re still a creature, which means any spells that affect objects do not affect you, but creatures that effects- but spells that affect creatures still do. So like if I went on a wild tear and decided to cast dissonant whispers on someone who is petrified, that’s the thing I can do. I can I can make them both petrified and scared. And also, and also hurt them. But I couldn’t say stone shape someone.

Ash  1:08:03

That would be brutal.

Tyler  1:08:04

It sure would. I wrote an article a while ago called “How to literally play Dungeons and Dragons.” And the premise of the article was you use a combination of stone shape and wall of stone to turn a creature into a dungeon. And then you bring in dragons. And then that player is now literally playing Dungeons and Dragons. It was good read.

Randall  1:08:32

I read the whole thing.

Tyler  1:08:33

It’s a fun read. I believe you can actually still use Wall of Stone because the stone just has to be supported by existing stone. It doesn’t say anything about being a stone object, just that it has to be stone. Magic!

Randall  1:08:50

The best way to use petrified.

Tyler  1:08:52

It sure is. So let’s hit PF2 super quickly. There, there isn’t an incapacitated condition. Like, there’s actually surprisingly fewer of these conditions than there are in 3.x and 5e. Paralyzed is still a thing. PF2 is actually really clever to distinguish between physical and mental actions. Like the Paralyzed condition specifies you can’t take physical actions, but you can still take mental actions including stuff like recall knowledge. So if your character is paralyzed, like you cannot physically move your body but anything that you can do just by thinking still works. So like if you could somehow cast a spell just by thinking about it, that will work. Recall knowledge still works like there’s a few other purely mental actions that you can use so like it’s kind of neat like your your eight intelligence Fighter could sit there paralyzed and be like, wonder if I know anything about ghouls? No, no, I don’t.

Randall  1:09:57

I know. I wish they’d stop clawing me.

Tyler  1:10:01

The petrified condition, basically the same as as 5e. It does specify that you’re an object though, which is interesting because in PF2, you can use stone shape on a petrified creature.

Ash  1:10:13

Oh no.

Tyler  1:10:14

Yeah. And then the unconscious conditions specifies that you can be awoken by taking damage, loud noises, etc. Like in 5e, whatever makes you unconscious will generally have some condition for waking up. Like the sleep spell a creature can spend an action to shake the target awake, and they wake up from the spell. In PF2, like that’s just baked into the unconscious condition. So if the character is naturally asleep, if they’ve been put to sleep by a spell, whatever, if they take any amount of damage, or if there’s a very, very loud noise, or, like, they can make a perception check to wake up if there’s a noise. So like, if you need to wake up your party, you can either A, blow a horn, make a loud noise, or B, you cast magic missle and do a small amount of damage everyone in the party, everyone’s awake, wake up, guys, here’s a d4 of damage.

Randall  1:11:04

Everybody loves that.

Ash  1:11:05

There is also stunned in Pathfinder two, which works kind of similar to other ones, too, I would say 5e. If you’re stunned it like the like we said before it comes with a value. So it could be like stunned one, stunned two, stunned three. And essentially you lose that amount of actions on your turn. So if you are say, but it is it is, the value of the stunned is then reduced by however many actions you are forced to sacrifice. So if you have like, let’s say, stunned 5, on first turn, you would lose all three of your actions. Now, that’s just your turn. The second round, you still have stunned 2 now. So you still have to sacrifice 2 actions on your turn. But you still have the 1 action.

Tyler  1:11:54

Yeah, there’s also a slowed condition which does exactly the same thing. So I’m not quite sure why they’re different conditions other than flavor, I guess. But yeah.

Ash  1:12:05

Sorry, I think slowed is doesn’t isn’t reduced by the actions that you are forced to sacrifice. It’s just permanent, for as long as slow is like a brawling a slow lasts. Whereas stunned is reduced by the amount of actions that you take. So, yeah.

Tyler  1:12:24

Sorry, I had to distract the displacer neast.

Randall  1:12:28

It was clever. I liked it a lot.

Tyler  1:12:30

So that’s conditions. We have gone through a great many conditions, and I hope you’ve learned some things. Don’t be slowed. Don’t be paralyzed. Don’t be dazed. Don’t be stunned. Don’t be poisoned, petrified, paralyzed, or put to sleep. Don’t be frightened or fatigued. That’s as far as I got. All right. But don’t be, don’t be… hugged? Sorry, Randall is frantically pantomiming putting arms around something and I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t work with it. No, I I could. I chose not to.

Randall  1:13:12

That’s fair. Yeah, I feel like you’re prone to that.

Tyler  1:13:16


Ash  1:13:17

Ah, my god, go away.

Randall  1:13:22

We have a question of the week this week. Our question of the week this week comes to us from Angia via Patreon. How would each of you rank 5e’s classes from best to worst? We know Tyler has Wizard at the top. But I’d love to know the whole list for all three of you. Thanks. Okay. I’m gonna go and give the caveat. There are a lot of classes. And yeah, I apologize. We’re probably not going to give you a top to bottom. But we’re going to give you a vague, wishy washy. It’s going to be wonderful.

Ash  1:13:51


Tyler  1:13:54

Angia has it right? wizards are at the top. Everyone else is at the bottom end of list.

Ash  1:14:00


Tyler  1:14:01

I’m kidding. I’m kidding. Wizards. Yeah, definitely, in my opinion, way up at the top. Clerics, artificers, also pretty high. I wouldn’t say they’re as good as Wizard but I’m willing to admit personal bias there. Right below them I’d say… Actually, bards are probably up there right next to clerics. Bards are crazy good in 5e right below them like sorcerers, warlock, warlocks, rogues, paladins. And I’d say yeah, everybody else kind of down a step below that. Monks, monks and Ranger struggle if you’re using just the player’s handbook subclasses but like later, subclasses are better. I’d say right now, Monk is still kind of like the lowest class just because it’s so hard to play effectively.

Ash  1:14:57

For me, I’m gonna disagree with Tyler. I think clerics beat wizards. Um, just because you can, you could solo a lot of things as a Cleric. Like the clerics, especially depending on which subclass you’re taking. They can build heavy armor, they have martial weapons, they have crazy good spells. Um, you can do a party of all clerics and basically fight any encounter in the game. Below them would be wizards and bards. I do agree with all of that. Artificers I would say are okay, they’re definitely… I would say, I’d personally put the Sorcerer above Artificer just because I think Sorcerer has more… It can it can go really hog wild with the Metamagic feats and stuff like that. For me, I also think Druids are really good. I think Druids, Sorcerers, and Artificers, I would say at around the same sort of level for me, especially depending on which subclass you’re taking. Like, if you’re doing bland, maybe not. But Moon Druids are crazy good. They’re very good. At the bottom, yeah, I would say if you’re going by PHB, it’s definitely Ranger, unfortunately. Monks, I’ve seen monks played really, really well. I have yet to see a Ranger that’s played really well. Unless it’s um, what’s that one? That everybody likes?

Tyler  1:16:32


Ash  1:16:33

Yep, that’s the one. Gloomstalker because it’s broken. Especially if… so I actually banned gloomstalker rangers from the game that I was running, where the sun died because gloomstalkers are incredible in a place that has no light where everything is at least dim light.

Randall  1:17:02

Oops, all gloomstalkers.

Ash  1:17:03

Yeah. So if you are doing an underdark campaign, and a DM lets you, take gloomstalker Ranger and never look back because it’s broken.

Tyler  1:17:15

Random published a gloomstalker ranger handbook right after monsters of the multiverse came out and he used the new version of the bugbear. This… the build does so much damage it can in one turn reliably do more damage than the average hitpoints of a CR-appropriate monster starting at like level four. All the way across the level range.

Ash  1:17:43

Yeah, yeah. No, gloomstalkers are very good. The rest of them not so much. And the one that breaks my heart for Ranger is this Beast Master. I wish it was better. I love pet classes. And I wish that it was better in 5e because it was very good and 3.x. But it’s not by the I mean, the revised Ranger, maybe, yeah.

Tyler  1:18:06

It’s better. It’s a lot better.

Ash  1:18:07

It is better. Like the… I would say the beast if you’re going to do good do Beast Master Ranger do the revised Beast Master Ranger that Mike mearls said it’s a lot better. But the other ones that I would probably lump at the bottom is Barbarian. Barbarians are good at one thing. That’s to hit things.

Tyler  1:18:26

Hey, man.

Ash  1:18:26

They don’t have a lot of they don’t have a lot of versatility.

Tyler  1:18:29

When half the game is nails, bring a hammer.

Ash  1:18:32

Yeah, but but the problem with with barbarians that’s different from like, say a Fighter is if you’re… if a creature is flying, I guess, you’re just hanging out now. Like, there’s nothing you can do.

Randall  1:18:43

4 javelins in your backpack.

Ash  1:18:48

I got some javelins.

Tyler  1:18:50

That’s when you fastball special the Barbarian.

Randall  1:18:53

Exactly. Just a hug.

Tyler  1:18:55

Yeah! All right, Randall. We’re gonna ask you the same question.

Randall  1:19:00

Oh, okay. I thought I was gonna get out of this one. All right. I’m gonna use a different metric. The metric that I’m going to use is fun to play.

Ash  1:19:09

That’s a good metric.

Randall  1:19:11

From that, I think I’m still going to put the Monk at the bottom.

Ash  1:19:16


Tyler  1:19:16


Randall  1:19:17

Like lots of lots of small hits. You know, I feel like you have to get the high levels for things to get more interesting. Stunning Strike is really awesome. It’s almost never going to hit. And so that’s really frustrating. So there’s that.

Ash  1:19:31

There’s Quivering Palm, though. Quivering Palm? You can just delete a guy.

Randall  1:19:36

That’s exciting. That’s exciting. What level do I have to get to to use that?

Ash  1:19:39

14 I think.

Randall  1:19:40

Yeah. Okay. All right. How many how many campaigns have you run up there? Yeah, okay.

Ash  1:19:44

No, you got me.

Randall  1:19:47

Okay. Fighter fighters are fun. All right. Maneuvers are fantastic. Druids are fun. Just like I want a table of like my I half CR creatures or my 1 CR creatures that I’m just gonna roll on and it’s gonna be great. Bards are fun I think just for the versatility like the amount of shape that you can apply to this is is absolutely awesome. Like what what kind of Bard do you want to be? Party on. Let’s make it happen. Sorcerers are fun for the reason that you said Ash. Like meta magic is really cool. You get to break a bit of the rules of magic in 5e it’s like, oh, I’m, you know, right? You’re supposed to be a full action. I’m going to reduce your bonus action and it’s going to be great. Twin spelling things is really awesome. Shaping sucks. Don’t do that. Yeah, oh good. You just take half the damage. And everybody’s happier with me because it wasn’t 20 damage. It was 10 now and then that’s wonderful somehow. I played a warlock once in a one shot. And I thought that that was a lot of fun. I think… I don’t know if it would have been as much fun in a longer campaign. But the idea of just Eldritch Blasting everything was great.

Ash  1:20:59

Yeah, I would say Warlocks are for me, like one of those that I think if you were just playing a warlock, it would get boring. But it’s a good multiclass. It’s a really good multiclass.

Randall  1:21:12

It’s kind of a funny idea. Like, alright, so you have you have your spells, your spells are great. And they’re they’re reasonably available, especially with the way a lot of folks play. Getting that short rest isn’t going to be super hard. In in the one shot that I played, what made the most sense for me, was to basically consistently use Eldritch Blast the entire round of combat. And granted, the one shot was basically one giant round of combat. And that’s reason to say like probably it does get boring after a period of time. But I was really kicking things in the teeth from really far away. And I liked that a lot. You know, what’s interesting for Wizard, right? Like, great if we’re… all right, I’m going to look at Alex, I think Tyler is going to make an argument against this.

Tyler  1:21:58

You’re wrong.

Randall  1:21:59

Nailed it. No, right, like level 10, level 15, Level 20, the Wizard is going to be awesome because they are at the point where they have so much awesomeness available to them. If you’re playing a campaign where you just don’t expect to get that high, you’re going to spend a lot of time working towards the awesomeness when you might have had more fun playing some of these other characters that we talked about.

Ash  1:22:20

Yeah, I think that’s true a lot is that spellcasters get really fun, like really fun at later levels, but are rough to play at the beginning. And it’s the opposite for martial classes. They’re very fun to play at the beginning, but they really drop off hard at the end.

Tyler  1:22:37

I think that’s a very reasonable criticism, and that gets into the linear fighters quadratic wizards concept. Personally, I’ve had a lot of fun with very low level wizards, but I’m willing to admit personal bias there.

Randall  1:22:52

No, it makes perfect sense. All right. So Angia, great question. I had fun with it. And I mainly had fun trying not to say the exact same thing that the other two people just said. That was the best part.

Ash  1:23:05


Randall  1:23:06

All hail the Leisure Illuminati! I’m Randall James. You can find me at amateurjack.com and on Twitter and Instagram @JackAmateur.

Tyler  1:23:13

I’m Tyler Kamstra. You’ll find me at RPGBOT.net. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at RPGBOTDOTNET. patreon.com/rpgbot, and reddit.com/r/rpgbot.

Ash  1:23:25

And I’m Ash Ely. You can follow me on Twitter @gravenashes.

Randall  1:23:29

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