When planning a session or adventure, obviously one should take into account the approximate power level and capabilities of the players. For creatures and similar formal challenges, CR helps scale the difficulty of an encounter. However, as the PCs progress, they may gain capabilities that make situational challenges easy or even trivial. For example, challenges requiring escape or travel could easily be bypassed once one of the PCs learns Teleport. After learning/suspecting an apparent ally of treachery, Scrying greatly simplifies the process of finding out what they're up to. My problem is that, aside from a few examples, I don't know what to look out for.

How can I avoid being blindsided by significant PC capabilities like these? Note that my question is not about how to circumvent or build around these capabilities. Instead, I would like to know how to see them coming so I can handle with my own ideas. As such, it doesn't really make sense to look at specific examples; the examples are what is desired. Additionally, it's only especially important to consider when they have access to these capabilities from their own power, as the GM can easily avoid providing the PCs with power they are not prepared for.

Ideally, there would be a sort of list of special capabilities players have general access to and at what approximate levels. That is, the list may contain "instantaneous travel that ignores obstacles" or "spying at a distance". A spell compendium is not suitable; there are countless spells that just do damage, or that enhance capabilities acquired earlier. Without some familiarity with all of the spells available, it's not clear that spell X is really the first practical means of achieving some capability. In addition, not all capabilities are spells; consider Wild Shape and other class abilities.

If a list of major capabilities is impractical or not a good StackExchange format, tips for enabling a GM to find these milestones would be appreciated.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Questions like this work a lot better when you're proposing specific countermeasures to deal with specific player capabilities that you think exceed their expected power level, or the power level of the encounter you're planning. A question based solely around either your Teleport or Scrying examples might be on-topic (depending on how you present them), but as-is, this is probably well too broad to be on topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Oct 15 '18 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Xirema But I'm not looking for countermeasures, or suggesting that anything is too powerful. I'm looking for ways to see it coming. How can I word that better? \$\endgroup\$ – TheRubberDuck Oct 15 '18 at 22:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Xirema sorry for the double-comment - would "what steps can I take to avoid being blindsided by a new capability" be directed enough?? \$\endgroup\$ – TheRubberDuck Oct 15 '18 at 22:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Alright, I cleaned up the question a bit. Please be aware that the question is actually very specific. I want an overview of "special powers" in the Pathfinder universe, along with when they become generally available to an adventuring party. Surely this is something people deal with. \$\endgroup\$ – TheRubberDuck Oct 16 '18 at 1:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheRubberDuck A list will never be provided. This is way to board. "Special Abilities" is basically asking for every single class feature, spell and feat in the game. Remove all the stuff about listing abilities and simply focus on techniques for recognizing what abilities the players will have as they level up. Though "read the rulebook" may cover most of the answers and I can't guarantee this would get reopened. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Dec 13 '18 at 5:00