I am planning on having an imp commanding several kobolds ambush and attack my players. An imp devil in Pathfinder has invisibility as a spell-like ability, with a caster level of 6th. This means he can turn invisible for 6 minutes. Since this is taking place in a forest, I figure the imps smartest tactic is to pick something up, turn invisible, drop it on a PC, fly away, pick something up and hide it so it also turns invisible, drop it on a PC, rinse and repeat.

The description for invisibility states that causing harm indirectly does not break invisibility, and gives examples such as chopping down a bridge, activating traps, etc.

Simply put, does dropping a large rock or branch or something on someone count as causing harm indirectly? Or would it break invisibility?

Side note: The party makeup is currently Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue and Paladin all at level 1. I think this would be a cool fight, but I am concerned that it might be too difficult for them. None of them are highly optimized characters.


Dropping a rock on somebody's head is a direct attack: in intent and practice, it's exactly the same as throwing the rock. The imp will carefully gauge both his own location (and by extension, the rock's) and the timing to drop the rock, and will be the very last thing touching the rock before it rings some hapless PC's bell.

The counter-examples you gave are more indirect: when chopping down a bridge, the chopper doesn't get to move the bridge, and the precise moment of collapse is going to be unknown. Even when triggering a trap, the trap's target and effect were pre-determined; the trigger-er can't change the location that the trap affects.

Since your imp is going to control both the time and the place of the attack, and can move both freely, that should count as a direct attack. I have no RAW to back me up here, but it's a decent yardstick to measure "direct" by.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The RAW that backs it up is "it requires an attack roll". Not all attacks require an attack roll, but all attack rolls are attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 2 '13 at 17:57

It would break invisibility. But for imps, invisibility is an "at will" ability, so they could just become invisible again in the next round.

If you're concerned about this being too hard, give the party a place where they can take cover from dropping objects, such as the hollow of a large tree. Or let them find an item that gives them the ability to see invisible creatures.

Another option is for the party to simply outrun the imps if things aren't going well. Running humans are faster than flying imps, especially since the imps need to take time to find more rocks. From what I can tell, hustle/run rules don't apply to flying creatures.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Where did you get that hustle/run doesn't apply to fliers? \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Najmon Nov 2 '13 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Matthew Najmon Not certain. Just my interpretation of the rules I found here: d20pfsrd.com/alignment-description/movement \$\endgroup\$ – E L Nov 3 '13 at 6:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Odd: scrolling down that page, it specifies this for every move type except fly: climb and burrow explicitly say running is not allowed, and swim explicitly says that it is. Only fly is left out, and the fly skill doesn't seem to say anything about it either. I'm sure I've seen it made explicit somewhere that you can run while flying, but at the moment, I'm not sure where to find the reference. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Najmon Nov 3 '13 at 6:43

Invisibility says:

Thus, an invisible being can open doors, talk, eat, climb stairs, summon monsters and have them attack, cut the ropes holding a rope bridge while enemies are on the bridge, remotely trigger traps, open a portcullis to release attack dogs, and so forth. If the subject attacks directly, however, it immediately becomes visible along with all its gear.

I would say that dropping stuff could be equivalent to cutting a rope bridge or triggering traps. If you don't aim, but only drop stuff, that's not really a direct attack is it?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If you don't aim how do you expect to hit your target? \$\endgroup\$ – Loren Pechtel Jan 7 '14 at 22:51

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