Does Protection from Evil protect against Fear in Pathfinder?

Note that Protection from Evil is written a little differently in Pathfinder than in D&D 3.5:

Second, the subject immediately receives another saving throw (if one was allowed to begin with) against any spells or effects that possess or exercise mental control over the creature (including enchantment [charm] effects and enchantment [compulsion] effects)... (Pathfinder Core p. 328)

The Fear spell is necromancy [fear, mind-affecting] (p. 281). I would consider it an attempt to exercise mental control, since it has the [mind-affecting] descriptor, and you are trying to make them take an action (drop what they're holding, and flee in terror). However, the rules seem murky on this point.

Can anyone either confirm or refute that Protection from Evil/Good is proof against Fear?


2 Answers 2


Pathfinder states that each spell of the Enchantment school as well as each Pattern and Phantasm spell in the Illusion school is Mind-Affecting. See Mind-AffectingD20PFSRD definition and the MagicD20PFSRD chapter for reference.

Enchantment spells affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior. A mind-affecting spell works only against creatures with an Intelligence score of 1 or higher.
All enchantments, illusion (patterns), and illusion (phantasms) are mind-affecting.

So it seems more like a definition of the Enchantment school instead of the definition of the Mind-Affecting descriptor.

Protection from Evil, as you pointed out does not mention the Mind-Affecting descriptor, but states that:

[...] the subject immediately receives another saving throw (if one was allowed to begin with) against any spells or effects that possess or exercise mental control over the creature (including enchantment [charm] effects and enchantment [compulsion] effects). [...]

If we accept these two assumptions:

  1. The Mind-Affecting definition does not only refers to Enchantment and Illusion spells (and the Necromancy-tied Fear seems to suggest so).
  2. An effect with the Mind-Affecting descriptor is eligible to get a second saving throw under a Protection from Evil spell.

Then the answer is Yes.

Note that this answer specifically address your citation of the Fear's Mind-Affecting descriptor. One could also argue that, as long as the Protection from Evil wording is concerned, a Fear actually triggers the abjuration spell's condition outright because - in fact - it exercise influence over the target's course of action.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Fear doesn't seem like mental control. You frighten the target, but that's very different from dominate, command, or even charm. Note that Mind-Affecting spells do one or more of three different things: affect minds, influence others, or control others' behavior. Fear affects someone's mind, but doesn't specifically control their behavior. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 14, 2014 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi KRyan. On a failed save, Fear imposes the panicked condition which actually dictates the creature's course of action (as does frightened). On a successful save, it bestows the shaken condition which is far less severe and leaves total control to the target upon his actions. \$\endgroup\$ May 15, 2014 at 14:58
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ By that logic, blindness/deafness imposes mental control, because the creature's actions are dictated by their inability to see. The caster of fear does not gain control, he or she merely reduces the target's own control over their actions. For example, the caster of fear cannot force the target to Cower, rather than flee, which in many cases would be preferable. Finally, why even list the other options under Mind-Affecting if everything is going to be mental control? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 15, 2014 at 17:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's also precedent in 3.5 that protection from X only works against a very restricted set of effects -- those that provide ongoing control. (That is, you get to choose and dictate their actions.) \$\endgroup\$
    – starwed
    May 16, 2014 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. You are right: one must accept the assumption #2 in order to consider Fear eligible for being subjected to another saving throw. But that's almost surely not the intended behavior of that spell. I was sticking on the point that Fear does control the target's behavior (a thing that Blindness/Deafness does not), while you correctly pointed the flashlight on the difference between controlling behavior and mental control of someone over the target. Protection from Evil seems to prevents only the latter. \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2014 at 10:00

I would argue that no, protection from evil does not protect against the fear spell.

If the spell creators wanted to handle all Mind-Affecting spells or effects, they probably would have used those words. Instead, they use the words "mental control" and list a very strict subset of those that are Mind-Affecting. While I'm not saying that only charm and compulsion enchantments are included (but I don't have any counterexamples), I do think the authors of the description included those to give us an example of how "mental control" differs from general Mind-Affecting spells.

In essence, I would say that spells like Charm and Command count as mental control because they change the target's opinions, beliefs, and decisions. Fear isn't a belief, opinion, or decision, it's just an emotion. For the sake of making fear mean anything to the game, there is a defined behavior to fear. However, the spell isn't "make the target run away" (that's what [Greater] Command is for), it's "make the target afraid". Because of this, I wouldn't say that the spell is exercising mental control.

Thanks to user PaulZ, I can reference an official Paizo FAQ for more information: Protection From Evil: Does this work against all charm and compulsion effects?

As PaulZ mentioned in a comment, they're restricting the Protection spells to not even include all of the enchantment spells, so it's safe to say that "Mind-Affecting" isn't enough. In fact, the FAQ specifies that the Confusion enchantment, which is very similar in spirit to Fear, is not affected by the Protection spells.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .