3
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NOTE: This is about the number of rounds the creature effected by the Fear effect, not about the duration of the Fear Cone itself.

The Gaki is one of many creatures that have the Fear Aura or Fear Cone/Ray abilities.

These read as:

Fear (Su or Sp) Fear attacks can have various effects.

Fear Aura (Su) The use of this ability is a free action. The aura can freeze an opponent (as in the case of a mummy's despair) or function like the fear spell. Other effects are possible. A fear aura is an area effect. The descriptive text gives the size and kind of the area.

Fear Cone (Sp) and Ray (Su) These effects usually work like the fear spell.

The Mummy's Despair reads as follows:

Despair (Su)

All creatures within a 30-foot radius that see a mummy must make a DC 16 Will save or be paralyzed by fear for 1d4 rounds. Whether or not the save is successful, that creature cannot be affected again by the same mummy’s despair ability for 24 hours. This is a paralysis and a mind-affecting fear affect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Potions/Scrolls work like this:

Table: Potions gives sample prices for potions created at the lowest possible caster level for each spellcasting class. Note that some spells appear at different levels for different casters. The level of such spells depends on the caster brewing the potion.

Table: Scrolls gives sample prices for scrolls created at the lowest possible caster level for each spellcasting class. Note that some spells appear at different levels for different casters. The level of such spells depends on the caster scribing the scroll.

And finally, the referenced fear spell:

Range 30 ft. Area cone-shaped burst Duration 1 round/level or 1 round; see text Saving Throw Will partial; Spell Resistance yes

DESCRIPTION

An invisible cone of terror causes each living creature in the area to become panicked unless it succeeds on a Will save. If cornered, a panicked creature begins cowering. If the Will save succeeds, the creature is shaken for 1 round.

So putting everything in a concise manner:

  • Potions and Scrolls tend to be the minimum caster level required to cast the spell; but don't have to be

  • Fear Aura (Despair) spells out how long someone should be susceptible to fear for

  • Fear Cones (at least this one) doesn't spell out how long it is supposed to last; which is strange. The rules say it's similar to the Fear spell, but has no caster level associated with it in the Gaki's case and doesn't have one in the example case (where Fear Cone is defined)

  • The fear spell says it lasts for 1 round per caster level (upon failure)

Here are the options I can see:

A. The Panicked effect from the Fear Cone lasts 1 round because it is undefined

B. The Panicked effect from the Fear Cone lasts 1 round because it is undefined, and causes shaken if they pass their Will save (as per the spell)

C. The Panicked effect from the Fear Cone lasts 7 rounds*, because that is the minimum caster level of the spell, and causes shaken for 1 round on a passed will save

  • The bard gets it as a 3rd level spell but is caster level 7 when he casts it; thus the minimum is 7.

I am open to other interpretations, and I am assuming that version B is correct, as running for 7 rounds effectively removes someone from the encounter (especially as they will be several hundred feet away after that.) I'm mostly looking for a RAW answer and will worry about balancing the encounter after I know how it's supposed to work.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan How can one be Panicked as an instantaneous thing? That would mean that they run away on the monster's turn, and are normal on their turn; giving them more actions than they should have. 1 round is the minimum time for Fear to do anything AFAICT. Side note: I used that question to come up with my 1-round interpretation, funny enough \$\endgroup\$ – blurry Oct 15 '18 at 16:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ O, okay. I misread. I couldn't tell if the question was How long does the fear cone itself last? or if the question was How long do affected creatures remain affected by a fear cone? It's the latter then? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 15 '18 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Indeed, I guess I hadn't realized that it could be misread like that. I'll edit (or am open to an edit) in a few minutes \$\endgroup\$ – blurry Oct 15 '18 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ In essence, all you really need to know is the gaki's effective caster level for its ersatz fear spell effect, right? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 15 '18 at 16:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Yeah Iv been looking into this (pinging doesn't work if the person hasn't been on the chat yet). I remember something related to that, but not exactly addressing this issue. You can bookmark this link for a list of FAQs. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Oct 15 '18 at 18:09
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It is unclear and I would go with 7 rounds on a failed save

I searched all the errata threads and developer posts looking either for a specific correction of this issue, a clarification or a general ruling about supernatural abilities using the minimum caster level for the spell or the creature's HD as their caster level. All I found was this post by James Jacobs (Creative Direction) addressing the fact that certain creature's caster levels will not match their HD, so there is no clear ruling for spell-like abilities (he doesn't address supernatural abilities).

That said, I would say it lasts for 7 rounds if they fail their save, and 1 round if they pass. The ability says it works like the Fear spell, and since no duration is given, it should default to the minimum duration of the spell.

Do note, however, that some fear effects have a duration of "for as long as they remain within sight", or "for as long as they remain in the area" (Bogeyman), or even a different duration (Quickwood, Jack-o-Lantern), which is not the case for the Gaki.

Monster abilities that mimic a spell will first default to the wizard/sorcerer type of that spell (see this FAQ), then followed by the cleric version, and then the remaining casters in the following order: druid, bard, paladin, and ranger.

Two things to note here: All of a Gaki's spell-like abilities have a caster level of 7th, which will match the minimum caster level for the Fear spell, and their Fear's aura DC was calculated wrongly, as no matter what formula you use to calculate that DC, it should have been DC 18:

  • If using half HD (9/2) + cha bonus (+4): DC 18;
  • If using spell level (4th) + cha bonus (+4): DC 18.

This error was also pointed out in the official errata thread by a community member, and a few other errors on the Gaki's statblock by another member Regardless, the correct is using the creature's HD, as this is a specific rule for the Fear Aura/Cone universal monster ability.

This omission is not unique to Gaki, as the Pit Fiend, Gelugon and Cornugon also have no duration listed for their Fear Auras (reported here).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems quite thorough, thanks! I was attempting to find other monsters this morning but my search-fu failed me; it's no surprise that many don't list a duration \$\endgroup\$ – blurry Oct 15 '18 at 20:07

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