Expanding upon a title on question ramifications:

  • Game is RAW, the only no-go department are Wish shenanigans.
  • Arcanist, currently level 8.
  • Save-or-suck/Save-or-die focused build, mostly control mage.
  • Downsides of PK: two saves, Will and then Fort, both of which must be failed for spell to kill the target.
  • A maximum of 3 turn sequence, preferably 2.

What partial solutions to the problem I have so far:

  • Maximizing Int to increase DC (+9 total, assuming +6 Int Headband),
  • Witch Cohort using Evil Eye > Misfortune sequence > Bestow Curse if 3 turn sequence is to be used (that's -2 to saves, disadvantage and another -4 to saves, but assuming all of it will go through is extremely optimistic).
  • Bloody Tears and Jagged Smile buff on Arcanist before any encounter starts (+4 to DC).
  • Potent Magic Exploit (+2 to DC).
  • Vision of Hell (for a total of -4 to saves).
  • Persistent Spell Metamagic Rod (disadvantage on saves, stacks with misfortune).

For now, extremely optimistic scenario, it's a:

  • Sequence of Evil Eye + Vision of Hell > Bestow Curse + "something" > Misfortune + Phantasmal Killer. Middle turn of the sequence is one I'd love to skip in favor of more pre-combat buffs and constant buffs.
  • DC of 10 + 4 + 9 + 4 +2 = 29 DC total.
  • Saves with - 2 - 4 = -6 penalty (-2 without Bestow Curse) and double disadvantage.

...but I don't want to count on extremely optimistic scenarios, which is why I'm looking for more options to boost Phantasmal Killer/Weird chance of success.

I'm primarily interested in answers that revolve around levels 8-12 but options for later will be a nice addition too. Disregard the SR issues and counterspelling issues. I have solutions to those roughly planned out already.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The emotion, fear, and mind-affecting descriptors are problems at least as serious as the dual-save situation. There is also a RAW ambiguity about whether these spells are death effects, which would be another major flaw. Should answers assume the target does not have immunity to any of these (that are ruled relevant)? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 27 at 13:32

2 Answers 2


Sacred Geometry

Sacred Geometry is a little silly, but it works. If you've ever played the game of 24, you'll have fun. In short, take Sacred Geometry (Familiar Spell, Cherry Blossom Spell) and a bunch of ranks in Knowledge (Engineering), and infuse your familiar with Familiar Cherry Blossom Rays of Frost, Magic Missiles, or Acid Arrows, depending on your maximum castable spell level, for the cost of only 0th/1st/2nd level spell slots and spells prepared. Your familiar will then cast them at your victim, forcing fortitude saves (fairly easy, but you've stacked on a bunch of penalties by that point) to not lose 2 points to all mental or physical stats. Your witch can presumably take the feat instead of you. It's not ideal for several purposes, but it does stack on a little extra penalty - especially with acid arrow's damage every round. If you're taking Sacred Geometry, please, please read it carefully.

Potent Magic

This might be obvious, but Arcanists have a very useful feature that I didn't see in your question: spending an arcane reservoir point to increase DC by 1. If you care a lot, you might want to pick up the Potent Magic exploit, which increases this by a further 1.

Shadow Subdomain

Oddly, this subdomain for the Darkness and Death domains doesn't seem to be on d20pfsrd, though it is on Aonprd. Regardless, it is fantastic: 3+ times a day the user can reroll any nearby saving throw against an illusion or necromancy spell - fail or success. This could be the will or fortitude saves, I believe. Domains are a little tricky to get, so you'll need to either spend one of your cohort's levels on Cleric (not as bad as it sounds, domains are great and variant channeling is interesting, not to mention Idealist for some enhanced spells due to planar traits), or take Believer's Boon on the witch for 1/day use. Since your witch presumably has a familiar, an Emissary familiar might be more to your taste, also giving a 1/day use.

Arcane Concordance

It may be a bit pricey, but a wand of Arcane Concordance (or just a friendly bard) will give a final +1 and a few other goodies. Not a bad thing to have in your back pocket.

Fool's Gold

This one's a bit of a stretch, but the Fool's Gold spell (no, the other one) will give the foe another -2 penalty if it fails a save (again, an easy save, but with all the penalties you've already stacked on top...). I'm not sure how you want to plant it on your foe's person, but with enough ingenuity I'm sure it's possible. Familiars as always? Apport Object? Quickened Apport Object? Sacred Geometry (Familiar Spell) Apport Object?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I know Sacred Geometry is a bit out-of-budget, coming online at 12 at the earliest (if you take the feat, not your cohort), but it's so hilariously ridiculous that I listed it anyway. Free metamagic is very powerful. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Feb 17 at 1:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm using Potent Magic, since level 1. It's so obvious to me that I forgot to mention it, my bad. And yes, I plan to use Sacred Geometry for Heighten and Persistent initially. But it's not as broken as people think, due to "max level you can cast" hardcap. In this way Rods are way better, because Quickened Timestop is still on the table. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Feb 17 at 2:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm definitely looking for less involved boosts though. Things I can do before combat, things that don't get a save on their own or just crafted items that will boost DC in one way or another. Ultimate goal is "no RNG, just works". \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Feb 17 at 2:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I love that Arcane Concordance is level 1. Dirt cheap for at-Will spell trigger item, even without crafting it myself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Feb 17 at 2:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NecXelos Arcane Concordance looks to be level 3 to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Feb 17 at 6:12

In addition to those listed by Phoenices:

Weapon Trick: Ranged Weapon

This is admittedly yet another thing for your allies/cohort to do, but -4 is -4. Requires another feat as prereq.

Riving Strike

Again something for your ally, and again needs another feat. At least it stacks with the Weapon Trick if you can eventually get both.

Alchemical Power Component: Silver

For 10gp of silver, boost the DC of the disbelieve half of the spell by 1.


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