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The Warp Mind spell says the following:

You scramble a creature's mental faculties and sensory input. The target must attempt a Will saving throw. Regardless of the result of that save, the target is then temporarily immune for 10 minutes. Warp mind's effects happen instantly, so dispel magic and other effects that counteract spells can't counteract them. However, alter reality, miracle, primal phenomenon, restoration, or wish can still counteract the effects.

  • Critical Success The target is unaffected.
  • Success The target spends the first action on its next turn with the confused condition.
  • Failure The target is confused for 1 minute.
  • Critical Failure The target is confused permanently.

At first glance, this seems pretty nasty. Permanent confusion is a rough way to live. However, then I looked at the specific rules for the confusion condition, which say:

You don't have your wits about you, and you attack wildly. You are flat-footed, you don't treat anyone as your ally (though they might still treat you as theirs), and you can't Delay, Ready, or use reactions.

You use all your actions to Strike or cast offensive cantrips, though the GM can have you use other actions to facilitate attack, such as draw a weapon, move so that a target is in reach, and so forth. Your targets are determined randomly by the GM. If you have no other viable targets, you target yourself, automatically hitting but not scoring a critical hit. If it's impossible for you to attack or cast spells, you babble incoherently, wasting your actions.

Each time you take damage from an attack or spell, you can attempt a DC 11 flat check to recover from your confusion and end the condition.

This seems to suggest that the extraordinary measures needed to remove Warp Mind's effect aren't really needed. Just a good smack upside the head and 50% of the time you'll snap out of it.

Does the language of Warp Mind's critical failure effect override the general rules applicable to the confusion condition in general?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Or, worse, if there's nobody in range it would seem you target yourself, getting another check to break free. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Sep 20, 2023 at 23:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I love the idea that getting attacked by your ally helps with removing confusion. I think I'd be more confused if my close friend randomly punched me! \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Sep 21, 2023 at 16:35

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Yes, and I would not recommend that your GM rule otherwise

tl;dr

As I was reviewing and commenting on other answers, I think I've determined that the answer to this question is yes. Furthermore, it might be unreasonable for a GM to suggest otherwise.


The general language used for conditions states the following (emphasis mine):

Conditions are persistent. Whenever you’re affected by a condition, its effects last until:

  • the condition’s stated duration ends,
  • the condition is removed,
  • or terms dictated in the condition itself cause it to end.

The first criteria is what the condition's stated duration is. As the spell indicates that the duration is permanent, there is no hope of the duration ending on its own.

The next criteria evaluates the condition being removed. The spell stipulates the various ways that this can be achieved and they're probably not terribly viable for most parties in combat. 4 of them being 10th level spells and the remaining option being a spell with a 1 minute casting time.

So then we're left with the third criteria. Because the confused condition specifically indicates that it can be removed via a flat check whenever you take damage, this third criteria is applicable.

This third criteria also applies with regards to other conditions such as Fatigued or Doomed, which both state that they are removed or reduced, respectively, after a full night's rest. Additionally, it is helpful to look at the language used for the Frightened condition, which says that it reduces by 1 at the end of each turn unless otherwise specified.

The Fatigued condition is particularly interesting, because there are effects which stipulate that it can't be removed by the normal measures specifically. For example, the rules of Starvation and Thirst say:

Typically characters eat and drink enough to survive comfortably. When they can't, they're fatigued until they do. Without water, after a number of days equal to a creature's Constitution modifier + 1, the creature takes 1d4 damage each hour that can't be healed until it quenches its thirst. After the same amount of time without food, it takes 1 damage each day that can't be healed until it eats.

The Warp Mind spell lacks similar language stipulating that it can't be removed excepting for the spells listed therein, so the permanent duration stipulated only has the effect of ensuring the Confused condition won't just wear off with time, it will require an alternative.


But does that make sense?

Actually, it kind of does. The effects of the spell aren't minor. Even on a success, you're spending your turn confused and on a failure the duration is going to be a full minute. Note that there are not additional saves on this effect like the Confusion spell provides.

Looking at a few other offensive 7th level spells gives us an idea on the intended power level for the spell (I deliberately didn't include uncommon spells):

  • Beheading Buzzsaw - This spell feels like an all or nothing spell. It deals no damage on a successful save and on a standard failure only deals 5d10 + 4d6 persistent bleed. The money is on a crit failure which triggers another fortitude save to avoid decapitation and even that is an incapacitation effect. Overall, probably a lot of effort that's not going to make a huge difference once 7th level spells roll out.
  • Duplicate Foe - This spell gives a save and only on a failure does it really see its full potential whereby it effectively gives your team additional attack actions via a roughly equal leveled minion. Overall, though, this is just adding additional damage output for your team.
  • Force Cage - Unlike the version in Dungeons and Dragons, this spell is not nearly as save or suck. The duration maxes at a minute, requires persistent use of the Sustain a Spell action, the cage can be broken, and it's also the version which has openings thus allowing you to attack out if you've the appropriate attacks.
  • Prismatic Spray - Here we see some solid offense arrive in the form of complete randomness as all good prismatic spells should. Large amounts of flat damage that can be mitigated via reflex saves. If you get really unlucky, you're going to see some potentially nasty long-term effects, but you'll need to fail a few saves before that happens.

Overall, these effects strike me as things which aren't on the level of blow one save and you're done. You very well could die, but it seems like at a minimum you're going to have to fail at least 2 saves badly for that occur.

As such, it does not make sense to me for Warp Mind to have an effect with a single failure completely negating an enemy for the long-term. I think part of how this is handled will be dependent on how much the table metagames the effect.

Identifying a spell that was cast is generally not easy to do (at a minimum, you must spend an action to identify it and if you want to do it faster and reliably, you need to spend a skill feat and several proficiency boosts - notably for this to automatically identify you'll need legendary proficiency in the appropriate skill). Furthermore, there's nothing overtly obvious about the effect of the Warp Mind spell; if you do want to recognize that someone's confused in the middle of combat, you'd probably need to use the Sense Motive action but you notably need to have a Critical Success to understand that someone's being affected by magic; this might be hard to achieve until the GM sets a lower DC on the basis that the character has started attacking everything around them.

If the GM says that a character is confused, this spell's efficacy only really works if the players act as their characters would and do nothing because because barring another character informing them of the spell's effect, they shouldn't know.

They might have reason to do something when their good friend, Ragnar the Bone Smasher, begins smashing their bones. But that's going to be a full round of getting their bones smashed, which has a substantial impact on a combat encounter's action economy. If this spell is used wisely and targets someone in the middle of an enemy party, that's a lot more likely to cause an enemy's actions to be used for your group's benefit. It's benefits might feel a lot less useful if utilized on an enemy engaging your team's front line as half those actions might still come towards your team.

Regardless, this spell's effects trigger even on a successful save. This gets even worse on a failure. Either a failure or a critical failure pretty much obligates an opposing party to not only lose at least a full round of actions being directed towards it, then that enemy team is going to then need to figure out what's going on, land a successful attack on their ally, and have that ally succeed on the flat check in order to snap them out of it. And if they want to get out of that cycle fast their only choice is a 10th level spell.

So yes, the confusion ends upon succeeding on the flat check. But the situation first needs to occur that would trigger the flat check and a smart team using this spell would probably avoid attacking the confused character, instead focusing on the other opponents whom are dealing with the literal and figurative confusion that this spell has dropped into the middle of their ranks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ One spell that could be worth comparing is confusion, with the potential permanency and lack of recurring save warranting 3 extra spell levels and the incapacitation trait. Warp mind seems pretty poor in comparison if that permanency can be undone with one action. \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Sep 22, 2023 at 3:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brandon I feel like the supposition you make is heavily reliant upon metagaming the situation. Warp Mind can't be undone with one action, you need someone to identify the spell (1 action), you need someone to successfully land an attack on the confused party member (1 action or more), you need the afflicted character to succeed on their flat check. Conversely, with a success on the confusion spell, the target simply loses 1 action; on a failure they automatically get another save after every round; and the crit failure is equivalent to the standard failure for Warp Mind. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2023 at 13:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brandon because there's a specific action for identifying spells when their effect isn't obvious (2e.aonprd.com/Rules.aspx?ID=298), which you might fail. If you want to do it quickly and reliably, you need a skill feat and multiple applicable skill boosts (2e.aonprd.com/Feats.aspx?ID=834). Those investments are what's necessary to get past the first hurdle I've identified. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2023 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brandon how it is it obvious? What overt signs would suggest confusion prior to the target starting to randomly attack the people around them? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2023 at 14:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical do note that this is an incapacitation spell, so in many cases only boss-like enemies will be significantly dangerous with it. I'm not sure if you noticed it, but it's easy to overlook and your (otherwise good and thorough) analysis doesn't mention it. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Sep 22, 2023 at 17:06
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No, Permanent is More than a Duration

Warp mind's effects happen instantly, so dispel magic and other effects that counteract spells can't counteract them. However, alter reality, miracle, primal phenomenon, restoration, or wish can still counteract the effects.

As you've noted, these spells being mentioned as able to counteract the effects of warp mind would be fairly pointless if the permanent confusion can be ended on any damage roll. With most of these being the capstone 10th-level spells of their respective traditions this is a substantial call out, though with a full minute the permanent confusion could be counteracted with a sufficiently heightened restoration.

You use all your actions to Strike or cast offensive cantrips, though the GM can have you use other actions to facilitate attack, such as draw a weapon, move so that a target is in reach, and so forth. Your targets are determined randomly by the GM. If you have no other viable targets, you target yourself, automatically hitting but not scoring a critical hit. If it's impossible for you to attack or cast spells, you babble incoherently, wasting your actions.

Additionally, with no other viable targets the confused character automatically damages to themselves if able. If permanent confusion can be removed with any damage roll then it won't last very long outside of a restrained or otherwise incapable subject, certainly not much longer than a minute without a steady supply of viable targets who don't fight back.

While a GM could rule that 'permanent' is just referring to an unlimited duration, based on the mentioning of maximally powerful spells, the pointlessness of a longer duration without it, and the wording choice of "permanent" rather than "unlimited", it's likely intended to prevent the chance of recovery on taking damage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that this makes intuitive sense, but is there anything within the rules that would provide support for it? Notably, Warp Mind has an instant duration so it's effect occurs and the magic is over, thus, its effects cannot be dispelled. The general rules for conditions say that a condition ends, "...or terms dictated in the condition itself cause it to end." This makes me think that by virtue of the language used in the Confused condition, that the flat check is one of several ways to end the condition. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2023 at 15:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Re "Based on the 10th-level spells referenced", It also references a level 2 spell.* It's basically listing all spells that can remove conditions. The message being communicated is that spells that remove conditions can be used, as opposed to spells that counteract (like Dispel Magic). [* Restoration has no way of removing confusion, so not sure why it was mentioned.] \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Sep 21, 2023 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brandon, Warp Mind specifically says it can't be counteracted, only its effects can be counteracted, and Rejuvenation doesn't provide a way to counteract confusion. You really should re-read. Again, the message is that spells that remove conditions still work despite WM not being counteractable. It doesn't say these are needed, just that they work as normal despite WM not being counteractable. So you could use them, e.g., if you weren't in a position to damage the player. \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Sep 21, 2023 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Heightened to 6, you mean. (Heightened to 4th would be sufficient if you roll a crit success) Heightening to 8 mean it even succeeds on a failure (but not a crit fail). \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Sep 21, 2023 at 22:44
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Permanent here is stronger than persistent

Any condition is by default (that is, if the duration given is not limiting) already permanent in duration. The rules about conditions say:

Conditions are persistent. Whenever you’re affected by a condition, its effects last until the condition’s stated duration ends, the condition is removed, or terms dictated in the condition itself cause it to end.

So, there would be no need to state anything about being confused permanently, if all that meant was that it is persistent. It could just say the target is confused.

Permanently also is not a spell duration. The spell says "Warp mind's effects happen instantly, so dispel magic and other effects that counteract spells can't counteract them." so the duration of the spell is instantaneous.

Permanently must therefore must mean something more than persistence here: that the condition can not end as it normally would, and that the only way to get rid of it is to remove the condition with one of the spells explicitly cited to be able to do so.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As written, don't the rules for conditions stipulate 3 ways by which any condition can end? i.e. 'Last until the condition's stated duration ends', ok so the spell says the condition is permanent thus it won't be ending on its own; 'the condition is removed', ok so we could remove it using some of the measures listed in the spell itself; 'or terms dictated in the condition itself cause it to end,' this would mean that the language of the confused condition do have relevance for the sake of removing the condition. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2023 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical Yes that is how they normally end, without the “permanent” rider that gives you explicit ways on how it can be ended instead. I agree that it is somewhat indirect of an argument. You also could argue that “permanent” is the stated duration of the condition. My point is that stating that is unnecessary, as that is always the case. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2023 at 18:08

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