The third party class Malefactor by Total Party Kill Games for Pathfinder has the ability Taboo:

Taboo (Sp): With an imperious warning, a malefactor can decree a single creature within the range of this malediction to be taboo. Creatures that attempt to make a melee attack against, touch, or pass through the square occupied by a Taboo creature must make a Will save or become stunned for one round. A malefactor can also make a large or smaller unattended object taboo (Malefactors frequently use this malediction to cut off escape routes).

Say I cast Taboo on a tile on the floor.

First: Would this constitute as an unattended object?

Second: Is it like an invisible wall between their square and the Taboo square or would it act like stepping on the square triggers the effect? In other words, if done in this way, would they not be able to pass until they pass the Will save or Taboo ends, or would it be like a one turn stun passing through the tile?


2 Answers 2


The DM should rule that an individual tile comprising part of a tile floor is not a discrete object

Objects have hardness (which can be 0) and hit points (hp) (at least 1). A wall, like other objects, has a hardness score but a wall has hp per 10-ft. × 10-ft. section. "As with walls, dungeon floors come in many types and construction," and the DM should treat floors as having identical sectional construction. This makes a section of floor or a section of wall an object, and the game rarely considers the objects comprising another object themselves separate objects (e.g. the game doesn't consider a sword's blade, cross-guard, grip, and pommel different objects but, instead, considers a sword a single object).

Thus if the DM rules that tiles have individual hardness and hp scores and the tile the malefactor wants to target isn't held, worn, grasped, or otherwise attended, then that tile can be targeted with the special ability taboo. However, tracking each tessera of a mosaic this way is weird, and demanding the DM do so is cruel.

Better to stick to what appears to be the ability's spirit: the malefactor either retrieves from his own stuff an appropriately-sized object and discards that object or picks an appropriately-sized unattended object in the environment then uses on that object the special ability taboo.

Adjudicating the effects of the special ability taboo

After using the special ability taboo on an appropriate creature or object, a creature makes a Willpower saving throw each time it takes one of the following actions:

  1. The creature attempts to "pass through" a square occupied by the taboo creature or item. Note: The term pass through is unusual. Using enter or exit would've been clearer. I'd rule pass through means enter, but ask the DM.
  2. The creature attempts to touch the taboo creature or item.
  3. The creature attempts to make a melee attack against the taboo creature or item.

Succeeding on the saving throw means for 24 hours a creature is unaffected by any malefactor's taboo malediction. Failing the saving throw means the creature is stunned for 1 round, but, afterward, the creature can again attempt any of those actions.

Pedantry Alert!

Typical d20 nomenclature has a creature make a saving throw and the result is either success or failure (q.v. "Usually a harmful spell allows a target to make a saving throw to avoid some or all of the effect"). The malefactor's spell-like ability malediction synonymizes throughout making a saving throw with succeeding on a saving throw. For example, the spell-like ability taboo says

Creatures that attempt to make a melee attack against, touch, or pass through the square occupied by a Taboo creature must make a Will save or become stunned for one round.

According to usual usage, this means a creature must simply roll a saving throw and if the creature doesn't (for example, the creature voluntarily gives up its saving throw against the spell-like ability taboo) then the creature for 1 round is stunned. Therefore, as written, only the most persuasive malefactors will get any use of many of the their superpowers as most creatures will choose to make the saving throw and ignore many effects the malefactor generates.

Actually playing this way is, of course, deeply dumb, nerfing the class into uselessness, and, really, everybody knows what the abilities mean even if that's not what they say. But, if this is a bugaboo, I suggest asking for errata from publisher Total Party Kill Games.

As an aside, in the 3 cases above, the saving throw is made before the action that triggered it completes (i.e. trying to perform that action mandates the creature make a saving throw, not actually performing the action), possibly preventing the action from being completed (cf. the spell sanctuary). Also, "Effects that last a certain number of rounds end just before the same initiative count that they began on," so a 1-round stun effect won't impair the creature's actions the following round.

  • \$\begingroup\$ We've been treating "pass through" as enter since that seems to align closer than exit to the related effect of attempting to touch an item. \$\endgroup\$
    – PRX
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 16:49

Targeting a chunk of floor

First: it depends, but probably not, but you can probably do it anyway.

The Malefactor designates "a large or smaller ... object" as taboo. A 5-foot section of the floor is not an individual object, so it could not be targeted. A door is a single object, so it could targetted (assuming it's not ridiculously large); it appears that this is the intended use of taboo-ing an object. That said, in all but the most immaculate of spaces, there's likely to be some debris that the Malefactor can target legally.

So: if the floor is literally a tiled floor or a hardwood floor or has a throw-rug, probably, but you can't target a 5-foot section of "the floor", but you can probably find something that works well enough anyway (even if it means you have to prepare by tossing a pebble into a choke point).

Passing through a square

Second: "Creatures that attempt to ... pass through the square occupied by a Taboo ... object" must make a Will save or be stunned. As I read it, it's pretty clear that a Will save is triggered if a creature attempts to exit the object/creature's square via any vector other than the one from which it entered the square, on the same turn in which it entered the square.

So, we've got a 5-foot wide choke point with a taboo pebble sitting in the middle of it. The party is on one side, lobbing arrows at mass of goblins on the other.

The bravest of the goblins tries to charge the party; when he tries to exit the choke point, he makes a will save. If he succeeds on the save, the charge continues as normal. If he fails the save, however, he is stunned in the square with the taboo stone. When he can next act, he can pick up his sword, take a 5-foot step up to the nearest party member, and swing with no penalty: he's not passing through the square, simply exiting it.

The cowardliest of the goblins starts to run up to the party, gets into the taboo stone's square, and realizes that he left his oven on. He turns around and flees with out difficulty: he hasn't tried to pass through the square, he just entered and left it through the same side.

After seeing the brave goblin get stunned in the square, an archer might walk up into the square and start shooting arrows at the party; again, no chance of stunning because she's not trying to pass through the square.


As for touching: I read that as referencing the object, not the square: "creatures that attempt to make a melee attack against a taboo creature or object, that attempt to touch a taboo creature or object, or that attempt to pass through the square occupied by a taboo creature or object".

  • \$\begingroup\$ i'd believe the touching part is to prevent the 2nd bravest goblin to just pick up the stone and run away with it to save the others the stun for running through. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 15:36

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