PFSRD: "You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack..."

Compel hostility: "Whenever a creature you can see that threatens you makes an attack against one of your allies, as an immediate action, you can compel that creature to attack you instead."

Double-checking the total concealment and invisibility rules as well, what I'm taking away is that you can still be threatened by an opponent who can't see you, they just can't take their attacks of opportunity you'd normally provoke. So then what happens if you use your technically-threatened status to redirect attacks to yourself via compel hostility, when you are invisible? I see a few possibilities, plus I could always have missed some...

A) Compel hostility only requires them to redirect their attack in an attempt to attack you, and gives them no benefits or knowledge in doing so (except that enemies who know how the spell works will know you must be in their threatened area), leaving them to have to guess which square you're in, thus making you almost impossible to hit.

B) Compel hostility redirects their attack to your square as part of its functioning, negating their need to guess a square but still applying your full miss chance from total concealment.

C) Compel hostility redirects their attack to you directly, negating your concealment entirely by virtue of your sudden attraction of their weapon (although you still get the benefit of AC normally).

I'm personally leaning towards B myself, though a strict rules-as-written reading probably indicates A. I'm not interested in cases that specifically focus on the invisibility spell; if I do use this (admittedly cheesy and slightly exploitative) tactic, I will almost certainly be using a different means of obtaining total concealment. (Actually, I will probably only have normal concealment, but an enemy dangerous enough to pull this tactic out on is likely to have reach...)

Rules-as-written are nice, but extrapolations or designer commentary are great, really anything as long as your assumptions come from somewhere.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this a thought exercise or did this happen? \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2016 at 7:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan It hasn't happened yet, but the character I'm making now has a very high chance of it happening in their career - if I choose compel hostility as one of their very limited spell choices. Basically, I could be both totally concealed from and threatened by any enemy with any form of reach I ever encounter - if I could use compel hostility as a near-perfect "you can't hit my allies", it would be a very attractive choice, especially since the big, dumb ogres and such likely to make the tactic possible should have weak Will and no SR. \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2016 at 7:52

2 Answers 2


The compel hostility effect fails if the caster has total concealment because the opponent can't attack you as demanded by successfully using the spell's effect; instead, the opponent can only attack a square that it guesses that you're in.

From Concealment on Total Concealment:

You can't attack an opponent that has total concealment, though you can attack into a square that you think he occupies.

This is not the case if you have concealment other than total or cover other than total, as these just give the opponent a penalty to his attack roll, but it is also the case for total cover, as, again, you can't be attacked.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited this, and I hope that's okay. I think this is technically accurate despite the outcome being unfortunate. \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2016 at 18:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan The edit is fine (looks better even), just curious as to why you wanted to edit it. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    May 26, 2016 at 18:20
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The original said the spell ends implying that were the effect to fail the spell compel hostility ends, which it doesn't (it's a personal range spell with a 1 round/level duration with an effect that can be used 1/round on different targets while it endures), so I really wanted to fix that so as to prevent that from becoming the answer's focus. While doing so, I changed out a since or two (which is more often used in relation to time), added the links and appropriate italics and capitalization for clarity, and restructured the opening so a reader knew the answer from the first line. \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2016 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ But, y'know, that was all. ;-) \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2016 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ As much as I wish this wasn't the answer, I think that quote is rock solid- you can't attack a creature with total concealment, ergo you can't be forced to, either. \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2016 at 20:30

What does it mean to say that Alice "threatens" Bob?

Here's the full quote from that PFSRD entry. (Emphasis mine.)

You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your turn. Generally, that means everything in all squares adjacent to your space (including diagonally).

So we have a clear definition for which squares Alice threatens, but the rules seem to be sort of vague about which characters Alice threatens. "Generally" if Bob is in a square adjacent to Alice, then Alice threatens Bob. But that "generally" implies that maybe there are exceptions?

I would argue that, if Alice can't actually make a melee attack against Bob despite being next to him, that seems like a really likely circumstance for an exception.

You indicated that you weren't likely to rely on the actual invisibility spell for this, which is fortunate, because some DMs might consider the use of compel hostility to be an attack. It's true that the spell's target is technically "you", but if you choose a particular enemy to be affected, overcome that enemy's spell resistance, and make that enemy perform a Will save, that seems an awful lot like targeting them to me.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If I remember right, I was thinking about taking compel hostility on my "death from the fog" rogue, which had a one-level dip into Waves Oracle to pick up obscuring mist and watersight, so the mist wouldn't obscure my vision. Thus I was going to bait attacks into the mist with compel hostility, using my total concealment from creatures more than five feet away as protection. (Since most Large and all Huge and larger creatures have reach, with careful positioning I could get total concealment most of the time against those kinds of big threats.) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 16, 2020 at 3:10

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