If my wizard is surrounded by an Emergency Force Sphere, what attacks can ignore/bypass the sphere and kill me?


3 Answers 3



Some examples:

  • anyone that can teleport, for example most Demons, can just teleport into the sphere and then do violence to you. Most creatures have to use standard actions to teleport, though, so you're still pretty safe.
  • Transmute Rock to Mud + optional follow-up Transmute Mud to Rock = a bad day for you
  • Stone Shape can crush or entomb you against your own sphere with the ground you are standing on.
  • Hungry Pit et al. similarly make your hemisphere a deathtrap
  • Earth Elementals and other creatures with Earth Glide or burrow speeds can just walk over and punch you in the face. Same for incorporeal creatures.
  • Creatures with sight-based rather than Line-of-Effect-based attacked can still cause you problems, e.g. Basilisks, Medusae, Bodaks
  • Creatures with auras may still cause you problems, dependant on how your GM resolves the SU/EX abilities and Line of Effect situation. By the rules-as-written, SU abilities don't have line-of-effect restrictions inherent in their use, unlike spells, and so things like e.g. Frightful Presence but also e.g. Shroud of Flame function fine through your force barrier (and in the latter case through normal walls as well). Some abilities clearly expect things to work this way (e.g. dragon frightful presence and glass windows) but other abilities clearly expect things to not work this way (e.g. Shroud of Flame and 10-foot-thick insulated adamantine walls). Usually it will depend on what direction the first problematic ability is problematic in in each campaign; it is to your advantage then that this be manufactured so that you try to use an aura through solid rock before the first dragon-through-a-window situation comes up.
  • Laser weapons, up to and including the X-laser, ignore force effects entirely and thus can shoot you without issue unless you are also invisible. Also, if your DM is silly and rules 'centered on you' means the middle of your space rather than a corner, enemies can reach you with a laser torch.
  • Diplomacy checks can pass through the wall, and potentially be seriously life-threatening for you. They typically take a minute, however, and that's longer than your spell probably lasts, probably.
  • Polymorph Any Object can turn the floor into lava. Or air. Or bees. The sphere is also only nearly watertight, not airtight, so there's a good chance PaO can instead turn the air inside your bubble into lava or the stuff the sun's made of or gelatinous cube or green slime or whatever.

Basically, the biggest problem is that you are still standing on a floor and floors can be dangerous. Beyond that, lasers, eye-based attacks, and auras can prove problematic. Emergency Force Sphere renders you immune to almost everything but still lacks the complete protective power of e.g. Plane Shift, with the immense benefit that you can cast it off-turn.

  • \$\begingroup\$ RE: "By the rules-as-written, SU abilities don't have line-of-effect restrictions inherent in their use, unlike spells…." I was under the impression that spell-like and supernatural abilities—both being magical—followed the general rules for magic unless stated otherwise. Please, disabuse me of this notion! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 17, 2018 at 22:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan See paizo.com/threads/… for much bickering. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2018 at 4:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Personally, I think the lack of rules on the matter and the fact that e.g. Poison (Su) abilities and Telepathy and the Unnatural Aura ability of spectres and such should work regardless of line of effect (in my estimation) make me take the 'it works through walls' side of things, though in practice actually it's more of a case-by-case basis in most campaigns I've been in lately. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2018 at 4:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan If you mean that the magic rules apply to SU abilities, that's true, but not the line of effect stuff (and there's very little rules about magic in general in the magic section you linked). Note that that section (and many others) say "...that indicates what a spell can affect.", "A burst, cone, cylinder, or emanation spell affects...", etc. I agree that probably applies to SLA as well, though, since they are "very much like spells", but that's also kinda not-explicit (but ruling that you need LoE for SLAs is totally without problems in my experience) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2018 at 4:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ When Special Abilities says, "A number of classes and creatures gain the use of special abilities, many of which function like spells," I've always assumed everything listed there (spells and extraordinary, spell-like, and natural abilities) functions like a spell except as noted. You may want to pose a question along the line of How close are supernatural abilities to spells? because I'm pretty sure they're closer than the (admittedly very small portion of your otherwise excellent) answer indicates. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2018 at 7:07

Some attacks can simply break the sphere

Pathfinder SRD has an article about damaging objects. If the Game Master rules that the weapon used for the attack is not "ineffective" for the purpose of destroying the sphere, hitting it should be trivial, and, granted that the damage is high enough to bypass its hardness, the sphere will fall sooner or later.

For example, a Heavy Bombard deals 9d6 points of damage (average of 31.5). Not that I claim that bombards are the best way to break the barrier, though.


There are options to bypass

Teleport effects bypass the wall, so a creature can teleport and then attack. Note that the spell description states that it is a "five-foot-radius hemisphere of force centred on you", but in practice a sphere can never be centred on a medium or smaller-sized character. (Spherical spell effects must be centred on a grid intersection, but medium or smaller characters must occupy a single square.) This means that there will be three spaces for other medium or smaller-sized characters to occupy when they teleport in.

(Having read this related question, there is dispute regarding the description given above of how the 5' radius is applied in this instance. If a GM takes the interpretation provided in the answer by ShadowKras then there is no space around the caster to teleport into. In this interpretation only a Fine, Diminutive or Tiny creature can teleport inside the Emergency Force Sphere to attack.)

The spell is a hemisphere of force, which "forms a relatively watertight surface if you are standing on a reasonably flat surface". This means that incorporeal creatures that start close enough can move through the ground beneath you and attack in the one round. Depending on the surface, the GM might rule that a creature in gaseous form could also make it through.

Cannot attack through(?)

However, the blanket statement in the description of Wall of Force that "breath weapons and spells cannot pass through a Wall of Force in either direction" and the rules on how physical attacks interact seem to prevent any attacks through a Wall of Force / Emergency Force Sphere without first destroying it. Destruction requires either massive amounts of physical damage that can overcome the hardness of 20 and the wall's hitpoints or use of the options described in the Wall of Force description (Disintegrate, Mage's Disjunction, Rod of Cancellation, Sphere of Annihilation).

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ From the FAQ: "Just because things are normally expressed on a flat grid doesn’t mean they’re actually flat. Any effect with a radius affects a sphere, not a circle. A cone is a 3d area. A line is a line, not a plane." I think the grid is a simplification of what is actually happening, the spell effect says its a hemisphere centered on you, then you are the center, not one of your grid intersections. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 13, 2018 at 11:29
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You might also be interested in pointing out the (optional) rule about effects centered on you. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 13, 2018 at 11:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Thanks for pointing out the references. I considered discussing Large creatures but felt it complicated the issue unnecessarily. However, I am unclear what you are recommending with your first comment - as a GM would you consider the centre of the effect to be the centre of the square the caster is in with a total diameter of 10'? (From a 2D perspective - I realise there is a third dimension) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 13, 2018 at 12:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your first point is invalid because the specifics of the spell trump the general rule about targetting spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Sep 13, 2018 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KerrAvon2055 see this answer: What is the actual area of Emergency Force Sphere?. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 13, 2018 at 15:30

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