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I have been looking over a lot of different Pathfinder spells to see how I could use them cleverly and found the spell maze, which banishes a target for 10 minutes. Can a creature (like the spell's caster) that's the subject of this spell, instead of trying to escape, use this maze time to, for example, apply buffs or summon an army?

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A creature can do what it wants while affected by the spell maze, including trying to escape

A creature doesn't have to, but it may try to escape the maze effect:

Each round on its turn, it may attempt a DC 20 Intelligence check to escape the labyrinth as a full-round action.

That is, the option to make an escape attempt is available in addition to whatever the creature could normally do. This is further supported later in the spell's description:

Spells and abilities that move a creature within a plane, such as teleport and dimension door, do not help a creature escape a maze spell, although a plane shift spell allows it to exit to whatever plane is designated in that spell.

This strongly suggests that, instead of trying to escape by making an Intelligence check, a creature can do other things like, for example, cast spells (including the spell plane shift to escape). Note that, while affected by the spell maze, the creature is in an extradimensional space, and this may limit the creature's options.

Summoning while in the labyrinth

Through Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition, the spell maze actually created the extradimensional space and the labyrinth of force then banished the subject creature there.

Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 (and, subsequently, Pathfinder) has the maze spell, instead, only banish the subject to an extradimensional labyrinth dimension (rather than creating the labyrinth for the subject). It's likely, then, that, for example, creatures summoned by a banished subject remain in the labyrinth dimension until they can escape on their own.


Previous versions of the spell maze were more... confining

In case there's some lingering confusion due to prevision versions, some older versions of the spell maze from Pathfinder's antecedent Dungeons and Dragons did, in fact, restrict a creature affected by the spell maze from doing anything but experiencing the labyrinth or trying to escape. For example:

  • The Player's Handbook (1978) for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons has this as part of the description of the spell maze:

    The recipient will wander in the shifting labyrinth of force planes for a period of time which is totally dependent upon its intelligence. (90)

    Emphasis mine. (It should be known that I have always interpreted this as the affected creature being restricted to just wandering, but another DM may interpret this differently.)

  • The Player's Handbook (1995) for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, 2nd Edition subtly changed the AD&D spell's description:

    The subject vanishes into the shifting labyrinth of force planes for a period of time which is dependent upon its Intelligence. (241)

    Emphasis mine. Yet, in the Dragon #170 Sage Advice column, the Sage addresses this issue head-on:

    The spirit of the spell description suggests that the nature of the labyrinth created by the maze spell prompts the victim to escape as soon as possible, and that no actions other than escape are possible while a victim is within. The victim can try a spell to get out, but he cannot do anything that does not contribute directly to escape.

It wasn't until the maze spell appeared in the Player's Handbook (2000) for Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition that a creature could—absolutely and without risking violating the spell's letter or spirit—do something other than try to escape the effect of the spell maze, that version of the spell having much the same text as the Pathfinder spell does now.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for this detailed description. Now if you excuse me, I have a NPC encounter to design with a witch that has 22 casts of Summon Monster of varying degrees. \$\endgroup\$ – Areadbhair Oct 27 '15 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Areadbhair Update includes why that probably won't work as well as expected. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 27 '15 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ One has to wonder where a summoned creature would even escape to if it makes its save. It never entered the labyrinth from anywhere, it was summoned inside. I guess the most reasonable solution would for it to be return to wherever it was before it was summoned, as if it had been banished to the maze by the act of summoning it there? \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Oct 27 '15 at 20:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik From a gamist standpoint, summoned monsters are on the summoner's clock and something he's spent resources on, so letting them eventually escape somewhere near the summoner seems only fair. I'd probably allow the summoned creatures (those that can, anyway) to escape adjacent to the summoner, given enough room, the summoner, after all, having been subject to the spell in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 27 '15 at 22:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Areadbhair You're running a campaign wherein there's at least a 15th-level caster. You're already outside the realm of developer-playtested D&D 3E and at the end of Pathfinder adventure paths, so, yeah, house rules will be necessary. Have fun, and give the PCs the same opportunities. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 27 '15 at 22:27
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Yes. On the creature's turn it may make an intelligence check to escape the labyrinth, but it does not have to. It still gets a turn and can cast whatever it would like during that time, barring any extra-dimensional limitations that may be placed on the creature. The question is, why would you want to use the spell in this way? The duration is 10 minutes if you don't attempt the check, making it not very useful for a safe-haven to buff yourself within, especially when there are lower level spells that can perform that same function. Then again, if you can cast this spell on yourself you probably have no problem hitting the DC 20 to escape the maze. I hope you don't roll a one.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Well then it's a good thing that your run-of-the-mill Summon Monster spells are Summoning sub-school and not Calling sub-school. \$\endgroup\$ – Areadbhair Oct 27 '15 at 13:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems to me that the summoned monsters won't be able to necessarily follow you if you escape the maze. There can be a DM's ruling that they will stay behind unless they can beat the DC themselves. \$\endgroup\$ – Nox Oct 27 '15 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ That will raise a question of what to do with 'On escaping or leaving the maze, the subject reappears where it had been when the maze spell was cast.' regarding the summoned creature that escapes the maze on it's own. Sorry, it's just a state of mind I'm in at the moment... \$\endgroup\$ – Nox Oct 27 '15 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude The first ruling might be a bit off, due to the fact that the creatures from summon monster lvl I-IX are specifically attracted to you within a round (as per Summoning Sub School) and not pulled from another plane (as per Calling Sub School). However I might be willing to accept the DM negation out of the fact that Maze specifically negates the Calling Sub School when most of the other schools of Conjuration also bring creatures t your aid. \$\endgroup\$ – Areadbhair Oct 27 '15 at 22:17

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