OK, I had a situation on Tuesday night’s Pathfinder game (which almost ended as a TPK) where the Necromancer of the party succeeded at casting the Blindness/Deafness spell on a Sorcerer that was the main enemy in the fight. Before we proceed, let us get the definitive Pathfinder rules from the PRD and reproduce them here…
OK, so they are the official rules from the PRD and essentially from the books too. On Tuesday the Necromancer cast this spell as one of his initial tasks and succeeded in blinding the big bad sorcerer lady who had already taken down two of the party. The questions I am about to raise look to the basic heart of the magic system and casting a spell and I would dearly like to get an answer to this question nutted out as it troubles me.
|Such a powerful spell…Photo by Vassil; licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported|
Does a magic user need the power of sight to target an enemy?
Many of you are probably gut reacting and rolling your eyes at such a stupid question but let me go into a little more specifics here. The sorcerer of the piece was a tattooed sorcerer archetype and thus had a familiar that was out and about. Now the familiar cannot be the eyes directly for the caster but they do share an empathic link. The familiar was moving to the opponents after she was struck blind and I was allowing this empathic link to guide such spells as Magic Missile which have an automatic hit proponent to the spell.
Let us look to the official rules about aiming a spell first.
Aiming a Spell
So it specifically states in this rule that the target must be able to be seen or touched. Well, that leads me to ask the question, if a fighter has a chance with a blind swing of a blade or a blind shot with an arrow, shouldn’t a magic user be able to shoot blindly with a chance to hit also? The rules for blind attacks in combat are quite lenient in this regard in that you pick a square or direction (depending on your focus) and make a swing. If there is a valid target then there is still a 50% miss chance. I think this is very lenient as I would argue that the confusion of a melee makes things a lot more difficult to determine than that.
So I can see that maybe spells that rely on ranged attacks to hit magically should perhaps be considered under those rules. Spells that do not require an attack roll perhaps should be unavailable to the magician (such as Lightning Bolt for example) but something that calls on that attack perhaps should.
Then you have to think about area of effect spells too like Fireball. Shouldn’t the mage be able to hurl out a fireball and say to the GM “I toss a fireball 50 feet in front of me” and have it explode? Or is that power of sight something other than just an estimating tool. Is a 50′ estimation from a mage them actually picking out a space with their eyes and willing the magic energy there.
I really want to hear some ideas about this from you. This is a second level spell that effectively rendered a 9th level sorcerer useless (lucky for the party or it would have been a TPK – as it was they permanently lost two of the four members). It is such a powerful spell and when it comes off it is absolutely a coup for the party. In the end the Sorcerer was abandoned by her shipmates (she was the Captain of a pirate ship) and she chose death by swallowing down a poisoned sea urchin rather than the death of a thousand cuts the Necromancer was delivering. Two of the party were dead and one unconscious but stable leaving only the Necromancer to fight the blind Sorcerer and the Necromancer had no useful spells!
So let me know. How would you have handled this? Should I just apply the blanket rule: Can’t see, can’t touch, can’t cast as suggested or are there circumstances where you think this is unfair and should be bent like I did with the Magic Missiles? Until next time, keep rolling!