We are playing an epic level campaign in which all PCs and most NPCs are 20th level. This has been really fun but I am quickly finding that it is very hard to get an advantage over some of the people I am fighting.

I am fighting a 20th Level Magus with the Bladebound and Kensai archetypes and I need him to fail a will save. The DC on the will save is 25. I don't know his stats but that's not that great at all against a 20th level character of any type.

What spells/methods/techniques can I use to help him fail this save?

  • I have considered Mind Fog but he will most likely save against it.

  • I am playing a ninja but he insists that he is immune to being flat-footed, surprised, or flanked so I cant use my capstone to lower his wisdom (How the hell can he do this? I see Iaijutsu Master but the way I am interpreting that is that he always acts in surprise rounds. He can act all he wants if he doesn't know I am there...!)

  • I have a 17th level Mindchemist/Psychonaut Alchemist cohort, but I cant seem to find anything good there that will help (although she is damn good at UMD and will be casting a scroll that is the reason I need him to fail this save).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Iaijutsu Master does not completely prevent flat-footedness, as he is still flat-footed until he acts for the first time. This will be rather early however, since his initiative will easily be in the 30s. \$\endgroup\$
    – MrLemon
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ The bonus question about whether a magus can spellstrike while silenced has been removed because we have a one-post-one-question site design. You (or anyone else!) is welcome to ask it as its own question though! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 15:22

5 Answers 5


It sounds like the foe is always going to succeed on all his saving throws. That means developing another method of

Getting a Target to Fail a Willpower Saving Throw

  • The ioun stone (flawed mulberry pentacle) (8,700 gp; 0 lbs.) causes its possessor to take a -2 penalty to Willpower saving throws. According to the glossary penalties

    are numerical values that are subtracted from a check or statistical score. Penalties do not have a type and most penalties stack with one another.

    In other words, ask the DM if the penalties from multiple mulberry pentacles stack (maybe couched as, "Were my character to have several of these spinning around his head, would he suffer the penalty multiple times?" if the DM-player relationship is particularly adversarial--see below). Then determine if creatures can be involuntary possessors of ioun stones: "When a character first acquires a[n ioun] stone, she must hold it and then release it, whereupon it takes up a circling orbit 1d3 feet from her head," says the description, but later the text says that ioun "stones only float when sent spinning around the head of an intelligent (Int 3+) creature." Emphasis mine. Experiment on the cohort. If penalties stack and involuntary possession is possible, the spell invisibility [illus] can affect objects; a level 17 alchemist should be able to manufacture such ioun stones and render them invisible, while a level 20 ninja may be able to succeed on a sufficiently high enough Sleight of Hand skill check to send spinning around a sword saint's head a handful of invisible mulberry pentacles without the victim noticing.

  • The spell limited wish [univ] causes the target to suffer a -7 penalty to his next saving throw, and the spell wish [univ] can force the target to reroll a successful saving throw via undoing misfortune. (Hey, it was a misfortune... for the ninja.)

That's all I have that don't also require another saving throw or conspirator (like MrLemon's witch). If the first method doesn't work, the ninja's still facing a level 20 character who likely has multiple methods of rerolling his saving throws (e.g. a golf bag full of luck blades). Thus, even with a limited wish and a wish involved, success is far from guaranteed.

That's because failing a saving throw ends characters' careers. It should be difficult--if not impossible--to make a character fail a saving throw outright by any means. We readers--at this point in the question's evolution--don't know what spell the cohort's casting from that scroll, but a failed saving throw could lead to the success of spells like dominate monster [ench], imprisonment [abjur], magic jar [necro], or trap the soul [conj]. Neither the DM nor you want those kinds of effects possible sans a saving throw, or even with a saving throw yet obscenely reduced.

The Foe's Probably Invulnerable Anyway

I'm speculating here, but if the DM's already told you the foe always acts in the surprise round, is never flat-footed, and can't be flanked, then--while that combination of abilities is possible--it sounds like the DM's subtly telling you No, and he wants you to find the foe's Secret Hidden WeaknessTM instead of confronting the foe directly. That shouldn't stop your attempts to confront the foe directly, but expect such confrontations--no matter how convoluted your plan--to fail until your ninja's found the MacGuffin or mastered the secret technique or whatever. It might be worthwhile questing for that rather than a method to make the foe fail a saving throw.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think your answer begs another question. Is there a way he could get that information out of the DM? For example on another question I read; someone said "The enemy is overpowered because he has the Can of Kickass, So you must get the can away from him to weaken him. How would the player get that info? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 1:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CataruMoore Through adventuring! (And research via means mundane like the gather information function of the Diplomacy skill and magical like the liberal application of divination spells like commune.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 5:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ The 3rd-party prestige class ioun angel's level 7 class feature curse stone grants a the ioun angel the specific ability to make a touch attack to spin a cursed ioun stone around an unwilling target, but these special cursed ioun stones, strangely, often cause fewer penalties than actual, regular cracked ioun stones. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 12:11

Use your Capstone ability

Not being flankable, surprisable, and not flat-footed† does not mean immune to sneak attacks.

He will still be denied his DEX-bonus (as well as his INT-bonus) to AC when:

  • He can't see the attacker, this is anything from a simple hide, to invisibility (which you have easy access to), to him being blinded. This can be prevented by having the Blind-Fight feat (for melee attacks), or the Improved Blind-Fight Feat (for ranged attacks, partly) though. It doesn't work at all if he somehow has blindsight (which I highly doubt).
  • He uses the acrobatics skill to move across a narrow or slippery surface. Grease, a 1st level spell, requires (easily beat) acrobatics checks to move, and is an easily accessible source for that. Note that if he doesn't leave the greased area, you can pile shuriken upon shuriken of sneak attacks on him using greater invisibility.
  • He is cowering, paralyzed or stunned. Thought these might be hard to achieve.
  • He is pinned (by someone other than you). Too bad your Alchemist seems to be the smart type, rather than Mr. Hyde.
  • The attacker sucessfully feints in combat against him.

† Though he WILL be flat-footed until he first acts in combat, even with Iaijutsu Master (Unless he has other means to prevent that, of course).

Other ways to reduce his saves

  • Shaken and Sickened are easy to inflict and both reduce saving throws by 2.
  • Poison sounds decent, but there are no injury poisons that reduce wisdom, and for those that do exist (inhale or ingested) the DC seems to stop at 15.

Other Character class features

  • A Witch's Evil Eye Hex will reduce his will save by 4, effectively no save, forever (-> Cackle Hex).
  • A Witch's Misfortune Hex will force him to re-roll everything, effectively forever. He does get a Will save though, so you need a high level witch for that.
  • A Dual-Cursed Oracle's Misfortune forces him to re-roll exactly once, no save.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, if you can inflict some negative levels on your target, each is worth -1 on saves, among other things. \$\endgroup\$
    – LAK
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 20:19

For a level 20 Magus you're looking at base +12 Will, +3 or +4 from Wisdom, probably +5 from magic item(s), +1 permanent resistance, and probably 5+ in other bonuses I can't think of, assuming your game isn't Mythic in which case a spell level 5 scroll wont do anything anyway. This puts his bonuses somewhere around 20-25.

So you have as little as 5% (nat 1) or (optimistically) as much as 20% chance that he will fail. For every method you use to reduce his roll by 1, you increase that by 5%. It would be nearly impossible to reduce his roll to the point that you have a 95% chance of his failure.

While the dark wanderer seems to be in ridiculously meta mega-high fantasy games, the numbers I'm using assume normal level 20's using an average of the level 20 character gen gold.

Your flat footed problem is easier to solve by methods provided by MrLemon, I would likely focus on that opportunity against a caster type and use whatever your scroll is on a less Willful opponent. Other methods of denying Dex (and also Kensai's Int) to AC (AKA allowing sneak attacks) include:

-TWF and the Feint feat tree up to Improved Two-Weapon Feint if your GM allows you to study re-train feats. You lose one attack in your full attack on a Bluff check, and continue the rest of your 5ish swings.

-Flanking. Hire a legendary fighter or monk to stand on the other side of your foe and Greater Grapple them every opportunity every turn. Alternately, have your buddy trip them. While prone, you are susceptible to sneak attacks. Magi wont have the greatest CMD's.

Finally, with the Blackblade Kensai, you should be more worried about his ability to enchant his weapon and full attack you. His black blade will likely have an 18 if not 15 crit range and auto-confirms from the Kensai line.

If your GM is sadistic, this fight will be extremely uphill for you. The magus has a unique level of potential to become anti-anything by specializing himself. He could easily have the ability to detect you while invisible, some form of armor or magic that prevents sneak attack damage, etc. If your GM just tried to make a good character and didn't specifically target you it might be a little different. You could always ask for a special way to hamper him, via telling your GM that the fight seems rigged and you want to go study Magi weaknesses. Hire a caster with Legend Lore and read the target's past- the spell description indicates that any character over level 10 should provide some information.

Essentially, get native ninja with it- before Naruto, ninja where known for underhanded techniques that defied the moral high ground of Bushido. Show him the error of his ways. Constantly disarm him. Use Dirty Trick. Intimidate him with knowledge of his family and how easy targets they could be.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Since we have a one-post-one-question site design the “bonus question” in the question post has been removed, so you might want to remove the part of this answer dealing with it. Normally I suggest to the asker that they post it as a separate question, but considering that user1113827 hasn't visited the site for two years they're not likely to. You are very welcome to post it yourself though, and immediately answer it with the text from this answer about it! That is a perfectly OK way to preserve a useful part of an answer that has been orphaned by an edit like this. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 15:25

In our games, killing a high level character with a single scroll is a way of saying "Really? Did you even try to think things through". This is because: 1) spell turning 2) your spells tend to be much higher CL than castings from a scroll, and the defensive capabilities of appropriate enemies reflect this 3) scrolls are incredibly cheap. You should expect any enemy you fight, even a 'measly' level 5 bandit to have access to any scroll in the game if need be, with the possible exception of spells with large material component costs (like wish). 4) We generally expect high level players to have a great deal of defenses specifically set up to protect against Wishes, Miracles, and the like. There's hardly any point in creating a dedicated plane of existence in accelerated time continually monitoring you for Wish-related shenanigans if you haven't even protected against something like dominate monster yet (which is mind affecting, so, REALLY???).

Nonetheless, just having the right spell is often the right solution, and you asked specifically how to get him to fail this save. If it's got to be this spell and its got to be from scrolls, I suggest having someone learn the spell (if necessary) and start an exponentially growing crafting system producing it. You need to out-produce his luckblade generators, which you can do, given enough time, but he likely has a large head-start on you, and this could take a long time. The biggest contributing factor to your success here is that while you can just hire or produce an army of patsies to try and use the scrolls for you all at once, he has to have all of the luckblades in his own personal possession. He may have been content with a few million fine-3 luckblades in a bag or as a shirt or something (I know I've been guilty of this before), in which case you should be able to overwhelm him easily. Even if he does have a immediate-action distribution system set up, it's DEFINITELY more expensive than your scroll and almost certainly takes longer to produce. You're fighting a Magus, which means he doesn't normally have access to certain crafting-time lowering wizard discoveries, but his crafting system might.

If necessary, while running your own exponential crafting system, track down some of his crafting planes and unleash an exponentially growing army to subvert and destroy them. You'll probably get some loot and besides, it's the kind of dungeon crawl high level play is all about.

In any case, once you have 400+ times as many scrolls as he has luckblades, you and your fine-sized army should go ambush him and cast that spell a few milliatillion times. Remember that most of your minions only successfully cast the spell on a 20, and may need boosters even then, and that he probably only fails on a nat 1. This should work, but these sort of shenanigans should probably have been going on since at least level 10, so YMMV if the GM decides you are 'too powerful'.


You could hit the Magus with a sphere of annihilation while he is distracted,Talisman OF ultimate evil are good send him thru a rift.....Find a way to sneak a item of monstrous attraction on him..or one of his servants...pray For celestial help before your fight with him....befriend his enemies......There is A Multitude OF Things you can do to cause him misery.....Tell A rival of his wear abouts.... consult with a vampire to destroy him and take his power.....Seek Artifacts....Or Visit A Church Of St Cuthbert.....They Will be more than willing to help you and probably might split the treasure and give you a reward..... Plot with a succubus to summon a Balor to take him out....😎👍Due To The Timeline Changes DM's should feel alittle more comfortable to allow the use and ownership of Artifacts.....Also you can trick him to follow you using and item as bait a tavern and set up powder kegs....while he distracted light all powder kegs and prey your group get out in time....you might have to resurrect some of your travel mates but you might have nerfed him and everything in the building ....I think one black powder keg cost 1500 gp plus it does 10d6 something area effect style.....so for 10ooo gold you have a hell of a bomb....just make sure no water hits the keg. 5gallons is enough to destroy 1 keg cause the black powder is useless wet....

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    – V2Blast
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 4:58

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