Thursday, March 26, 2015

Villainous Divinations from the Advanced Player's Guide

So, after doing an earlier post about what divination spells from the Pathfinder Core Rulebook villains could/should be using on your players, I decided it would be fun to follow up with the divination spells from the Advanced Players Guide.  This is certainly helped by the fact that there are many fewer divination spells in the APG.  As in the last post, spells with obvious uses or that likely won't be useful, like Sift, are omitted.  So, without further ado, here are the APG divinations that smart villains will be casting on your players:

First Level
Detect Aberration (druid 1, ranger 1): Use this spell like Detect Undead, as detailed in the previous post.

Residual Tracking (ranger 1): Again, the villain/opposing organization is at the scene of the "crime."  Did a PC leave a footprint?  Now you've got an idea of who you're looking for.  If the villain can also cast scry, there's a significant advantage if he hasn't seen the PCs in real life.  If not, the NPC casting residual tracking could make a passable drawing to give a smaller bonus/penalty mitigation with a successful Craft (drawing) check.  Finally, this would also be an interesting way to plant a red herring in a mystery/murder-mystery campaign.

Second Level
Blood Biography (bard 2, cleric 3, inquisitor 3, sorcerer/wizard 3): This spell gives the caster the answers to the following four questions:
  • Who are you? (The name by which the creature is most commonly known)
  • What are you? (Gender, race, profession/role)
  • How was your blood shed? (Brief outline of the events that caused its wound, to the best of the victim's knowledge)
  • When was your blood shed?
Again, this is useful for a villain who's lost a lieutenant in battle.  If a GM allowed casting this spell through scrying (I would), it would also be pretty cool.  Villains can use this to learn about the PCs' abilities from a dead ally.
Plus, the answers appear in blood on the wall.  The duration is instantaneous, meaning that they stick around.  As a plot device, imagine that the lieutenant fought the PCs, failed, and then was slain by his master.  She casts blood biography to leave a grisly message to the PCs/anyone that might cross her in the future.  

Create Treasure Map (bard 2, druid 3, ranger 2, sorcerer/wizard 2): Have a villain who's bent on revenge about the PCs?  Did that villain manage to kill a close NPC friend or perhaps an animal companion?  Create Treasure Map is a great way for that villain to circle back to go up against our valiant heroes.  As a GM I'd most likely use this spell to help the PCs "fail forward" in 13th Age parlance.  Maybe the PCs miraculously escape or aren't killed when they should be.  The villain has left their bodies to be conveniently raised by whatever brings the party back.  Why has the villain left the bodies?  The go after the PCs' treasure of course!

Eagle Eye (druid 2, ranger 2): I've loved the concept of this spell ever since I first saw it used in Might & Magic 2.  The spell creates a sensor ~500 ft. above you and can see in all directions.  It can't see through walls, but it can see through foliage.  Best damn spell for dealing with a siege--ever.

Follow Aura (inquisitor 2): Track an alignment for at least thirty minutes.  If you're a good guys and you know the good guys were here, you've got a much more effective way to track them than even with dogs.  (Related monster idea: Magical dogs that use an effect like this and can track good PCs.)

Guiding Star (cleric 3, ranger 2, witch 3): This spell seems like it should have some useful applications, but I can't think of anything right now.  Any suggestions?

Third Level
Seek Thoughts (alchemist 3, bard 3, inquisitor 3, sorcerer/wizard 3, summoner 3, witch 3): This spell requires the caster to be within 40 ft. of the target and it offers a will save.  So, it's best used by a villain that knows the PCs actions are against his plans but the PCs don't necessarily know who they're up against yet.  It could also be useful in a heavy roleplaying game where the villain and the PC do know they are up against each other but the politics of the situation means that the PCs can't out and out attack.  Ditto here for situations like a meeting under a flag of truce--what a great way to get an idea of what the PCs are planning to do to an opposing force!

Share Senses (sorcerer/wizard 4, witch 3): Pretty obvious here, but the villain's familiar is a great tool for spying on the PCs, especially if the familiar is something the PCs wouldn't expect.  Even if it is, and even if the PCs know they are dealing with the villain's familiar, they might not expect that it could communicate back concepts as complex as the villain could learn through casting Share Senses.  One problem--your villain must choose between seeing and hearing.  Hearing's most useful once the familiar sites the PCs, but seeing is most useful to figure out where they are.  First locate the PCs through another method--even their rough location--and send your familiar to them with hearing enabled--it will take you much further.

Well, folks, that's all there is to it.  There aren't a lot of divination spells in the APG.  If I'm feeling moved, I'll try this with the other hardbacks.  The Advanced Class Guide will likely get a treatment--a cursory glance shows a lot of spells with outside the box applications.