Say, for example, a brawler uses knockout punch on a wizard holding a charge. Since the wizard would more then likely accidentally touch something on the way down, would the spell be wasted?

And here's for stretching it: What happens if say, the character was hit by a Stunning fist?

Both of these examples are assuming that said wizard fails his saves.


2 Answers 2


Nothing happens to the spell.

Touch spells don't require concentration to hold the charge, as I've touched on before. This means that the only ways to lose the touch spell (barring things like anti-magic fields and dispel magic spells) are to discharge it on a target, let its duration expire (if it's one of the rare touch spells with a non-instant duration like produce flame), cast another spell, or die.

While the hand-rule described in the linked answer isn't rules-as-written, I would strongly advise against having a touch spell discharge on anything that hits the person holding it. Not only does it lead to shenanigans, like having a downed caster accidentally kill their healer when they touch them to make a Heal check or deliver a cure light wounds spell, but players can pick up that line of logic and run with it forever.

Assuming the accidental touch clause means "the very first touch no matter what":

  • If a touch spell can affect an object, then it always hits something you're holding or wearing unless you are completely naked and flying/levitating when you cast it. You don't have time to reach out and touch something else because you're already in contact with several objects.

  • If it can only affect creatures, then it almost always hits you. The number of times you come into contact with yourself in a given round is immeasurable. Even ignoring various internal parts touching each other off and on as they do their jobs of keeping you alive, your fingers touch one another almost every time you flex or relax any one of them. Your tongue touches your teeth, the inside of your mouth; your teeth touch each other from time to time. When you blink, your eyelids touch. When you smell something sour, your nose may touch your lip. If the wind blows, your hairs may touch your skin - or each other.

That said...

If your table uses critical failure rules, feel free to assume a natural 1 on the save against a stun or paralyze means the caster accidentally nails himself with his touch spell as he goes down. Not much different than a gish botching an Athletics roll and landing on his own sword. Just beware that players will die a lot if they have a 5% to get hit again - possibly by devastating magic - for getting hit with Stunning Fist or hold person. Just remember to apply it to the others, too - swords and arrows can be dangerous too when you fall in a heap.

If you actually use this fumble rule, please, PLEASE don't use it for when someone falls unconcious due to HP damage. Having someone self-execute by stabbing/shocking grasping themselves when they're already at negatives is a little more cruel than you should be aiming for in any game but Hackmaster.


Yes, the spell would most likely be wasted due to the spell being discharged on the first object or person it made contact with, but it is up to the DM to decide how to handle determining whom or what that wizard made contact with on the way down since the spell wouldn't dissipate, but would actually be used on whatever it made contact with.

On the DM side of things, I would personally allow my players to roll with the DC based on whether they were trying to attempt to not hit anything on the way down, "accidentally" touch the brawler, etc. and possibly allow them to use either their reflex save to represent attempting to make their action before consciousness was lost, or a will save to represent the character using sheer force of will to try and save/use the touch spell before losing consciousness

The main thing to realize though is that the usage of discharged, means that it is successfully used on something, versus the wording of dissipates, which means it vanishes without being used based on the fact the word discharged is used to imply that it has successfully been used as referenced under combat -> cast a spell -> holding a charge

  • \$\begingroup\$ Giving the Wizard a chance to hit the Brawler when said Brawler succeeded on a special attack against said Wizard goes against any game logic that Pathfinder has (i.e. Success = Good for you!), IMO. The knocked out barbarian also wouldn't accidentally hit the Brawler with his greataxe, and there is no functional difference in that situation compared to the wizard. \$\endgroup\$
    – MrLemon
    Feb 23, 2015 at 9:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes but a touch spell doesn't just act like an axe, it is held indefinitely unless it comes into contact with something and is then used on the object touched, meaning some sort of determination as to what was touched needs to be made since by the RAW, the spell is used versus dissipating, plus a knocked out barbarian doesn't have to worry about his axe vanishing forever if it touches something when he falls to the ground either...also this is more or less about ways to enable the player to not lose their touch spell, since the game is supposed to be fun for the players, not the DM \$\endgroup\$
    – AtlaStar
    Feb 23, 2015 at 9:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, how does a touch attack, which does it's effect on contact equate to an axe which needs to penetrate armor... I'm not grasping the logic behind this \$\endgroup\$
    – AtlaStar
    Feb 23, 2015 at 9:33

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