The entry for Ioun Stones on the PFSRD, under the heading Implanted Ioun Stones, says this:

Rumors exist of stranger, darker magics that allow spellcasters to channel spells through their implanted stones, or that cause the stones to shatter if the owner is killed, but those with any actual knowledge of these procedures are dead, hidden, or not talking.

I can't find any further ruling on this entry, though. I understand the simplicity of ruling an Ioun Stone cracks when the implantee perishes and some simple magical explanations of this, but what about channelling spells through the stone?

Are there official rules for such an action?

And/or where a PC may find such knowledge? (Within the official Golarion campaign setting?)


1 Answer 1


There are no official rules for this, and as far as I can tell, no-one has suggested house rules for it anywhere online either.

That passage you quote is all the official answer the game provides, and it's (almost certainly) vague on purpose—it's RPG-book code for "we are leaving this up to the GM":

Rumors exist […] those with any actual knowledge of these procedures are dead, hidden, or not talking.

It is common in RPGs to leave things undeveloped when they're all of very niche, very specific, and rare. This used to be common in RPGs for even less niche/specific/rare things, because designers both recognised that every GM would alter the world anyway and leaving blanks made that easier, and because designers and developers have only so much time. Besides, when games defined everything, the publisher is inevitably lambasted for not allowing any room for GMs to customise the game and world for their home campaigns.

So, it's a long-established custom for even solidly-defined games to leave some of these lacunae for GMs to play with, if they so desire—especially in an example like this which would be open to player abuse. (Just imagine if there were official rules for these forgotten, unknown, or possible non-existent rumoured procedures: suddenly, somehow, every PC mage buying their first ioun stone would somehow know these unknowable things.) You still see it as a matter of course in official settings, where the GM can't avoid providing their own details to be able to run a campaign in the setting. This is still happens in rule sets as well, since not every possibility can be accounted for by the designers—and though some games do try to minimise these unspecified parts of the rules, eliminating every gap is impossible.

But when mention it at all, then? Because by mentioning it, the possible existence of such procedures is now official. The designers are backing up any GM who wants to flesh this detail out; a player that protests "that's not in the rules!" is (besides missing the point of the GM's role as worldbuilder even in existing settings) going to have that paragraph pointed out as a rebuttal.

This custom is easily confused with "Rule Zero", but isn't the same. Rule 0 gives GMs permission to change the rules (or alternatively, it acknowledges that the rules need the GM's consent to exist at their table). In contrast, gaps like these require GMs to fill them with their own creations in order for them to see play, whether that's creating NPCs and villages on a blank space on the map, or creating long-forgotten ioun stone rituals for players to discover as the reward of some quest.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I can understand leaving things ambiguous to allow customization within home-brewed worlds, but something as mechanical as channelling a spell through something, to me at least, requires a bit of game balancing. Thanks for the answer, though. I'll wait to accept to see if anything else turns up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Apr 22, 2014 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ As far as I can tell, this is an incomplete answer; it's not subjective, but you still need to "Back It Up!" as the BS/GS guidelines say. You assume Paizo never followed up that line, but have provided no evidence that this is the case. You just assume that the developers are using "RPG-book code-speak," which I grant they very well might be, but they also very well might not be (or might have been originally and then later added in more details in a supplement). A complete answer needs to at least establish how sure you are (e.g. where you looked and didn't find it). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 22, 2014 at 19:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the most likely answer, but consider adding more information about other RPGs (especially D&D, which PF is based on) that have this too. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dakeyras
    Apr 22, 2014 at 19:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Dakeyras Unfortunately, every RPG has these, so it's rather hard to explain them by example. I've tried by comparing this particular one to setting details, and how that's actually not any different from every other bit of setting work that a GM does in a published world. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 22, 2014 at 20:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Much better, that’s exactly what I hoped to see (aside from an answer that actually had an example of this being fleshed out). +2, as it were. I do think you are missing a major impetus for providing these kinds of things, though: it’s not just for rules-lawyer players, it’s also for the DM – for inspiration. Pretty cool idea, too, though I do wish they gave a better sense of where they were going with it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 22, 2014 at 23:07

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