This is referring to the spell Break which seems to be a very powerful spells as it's the one way to undermine armour bonus by halving it and then eliminating it. The spell description:

You can attempt to break or at least damage any one Medium or smaller object within range. If the target fails its Fortitude saving throw, it gains the broken condition. If cast on a broken item, that item is destroyed on a failed save.

What is not clear is what counts as a medium sized object. This concept is mentioned throughout Pathfinder content but I cannot find anywhere that defines it. At what point does a boulder, cauldron, book, or any sort of object count as medium or bigger?

Also can a medium sized portion of a large object be targeted, such as: an archway that is a bigger size than Medium but the keystone was medium sized could the keystone be targeted. Or must it be considered part of a whole. Can a door as part of a building be considered a separate object? Is there any ruling on that other than GM discretion?

This extends to objects on an NPC such as targeting the bag or the bag and all the content.

The final area of ambiguity, when does an item get a fortitude save. Does the non-magical armour worn by a creature get a save using the creature's fortitude save? Can the armour even be targeted at all.


3 Answers 3


The spell break is complicated

While it's possible for the spell break to be used creatively, that it's a 1st-level spell that has a short range and that allows a Fortitude saving throw really limits its utility. Further, that it takes two failed saving throws to destroy anything with the spell makes me appreciate the 2nd-level spell shatter.

  • Determining an object's size: Objects use approximately the same size categories as creatures, making a Medium object equivalent to a Medium creature. This page of Space, Reach, & Threatened Area Templates under Creature Sizes should help a GM adjudicate whether an object falls within the spell break's limits.
  • Aiming a spell at an object: While some bigger objects like walls can be dealt with in 10-ft. × 10-ft. sections, usually it's not a thing to target parts of things (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). When the spell break says it targets one Medium or smaller object, it doesn't mean a Medium or smaller portion of a larger object; the spell must affect the whole object (or a discrete, called-out sectional equivalent of the whole object) or the spell fails. That is, Aiming a Spell says, "Some spells have a target or targets. You cast these spells on creatures or objects, as defined by the spell itself." A caster can't opt to affect less or more unless the spell says the caster can.
  • Aiming a spell at a door: Absolutely doors are individual objects.
  • Aiming a spell at a container: Successfully casting the spell break on a full container can break the container, loosing its contents, but not rendering its contents broken (that is, the spell won't, but, for instance, a long drop from a destroyed container still might). A caster's spell usually won't affect things inside a container because those things have total cover (and total concealment) from the container. This gets complicated fast though ("I can see the arrows in the quiver!"), so the GM may have to step in sooner rather than later if a caster insists on pushing such rules to their limits.
  • Making saving throws for objects: Damaging Objects on Saving Throws explains that unattended nonmagical objects don't even make saving throws; they just fail. Magical unattended objects make saving throws: "A magic item's Fortitude, Reflex, and Will save bonuses are equal to 2 + half its caster level." Attended objects are much better off: "An item attended by a character (being grasped, touched, or worn) makes saving throws as the character (that is, using the character's saving throw bonus)."
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, so a Fire Giant is immune to this because the armour it wears counts as larger than medium. Let alone his huge fortitude save. But a medium creature with meh fort-save, they might be a viable target? Otherwise it's mainly a utility spell like the strength-dumped mage's contribution to getting passed a barred door is to cast break on it. It does seem to be a lot better than Sunder. \$\endgroup\$
    – TREB
    Jul 20, 2016 at 17:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't quote me on this, but usually armor or a weapon for a creature is an object one size smaller than the creature itself. So a Large fire giant would wear armor that itself is a medium object, and wield weapons that are medium objects. So they would be valid targets. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Jul 20, 2016 at 17:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TREB Despite GreySage's excellent house rule, I might be tempted to estimate an armor's size based on its weight according to the Creature Sizes table; that'll make most armors, size-wise, vulnerable to the spell, but it'll only be a minor debuff anyway. Better, as always, is to just color spray. (Also, seriously, if your wizard's considering casting break on a fire giant's armor, something's already gone horribly wrong. ) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 20, 2016 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TREB I dunno, man. A typical CR 10 fire giant only suffers a −4 penalty to AC when a wizard successfully casts break on his armor. I'd expect a level 7+ wizard that takes a standard action to cast a spell to do better than that, but maybe my expectations are skewed. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 20, 2016 at 19:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TREB "Wizards: We sandbag so you can kick ass!" \$\endgroup\$ Jul 20, 2016 at 20:18


I don't remember where the rules for assigning size category to an object are stated explicitly, but it is generally the same as for creatures. You can use some guidelines from Animated Object monster entry (it has examples of objects of each size category) and from Equipment section of PHB.

Weapon Size: Every weapon has a size category. This designation indicates the size of the creature for which the weapon was designed.

A weapon's size category isn't the same as its size as an object. Instead, a weapon's size category is keyed to the size of the intended wielder. In general, a light weapon is an object two size categories smaller than the wielder, a one-handed weapon is an object one size category smaller than the wielder, and a two-handed weapon is an object of the same size category as the wielder.

Damaging part of an object

You can definitely damage a door since it is mentioned in Table: Object Hardness and Hit Points in Breaking and Entering If it is medium or smaller, you can use the Break spell, in any other case you can employ other magical or mundane means.

The same section has the following sentence:

Very large objects have separate hit point totals for different sections.

How to divide large objects into sections is largely up to DM, but I suggest treating any easily distinguishable object like a keystone as a separate object. Usually any 10 ft section of a wall is also treated separately.

Item's saving throws

I'll just cite the source:

Saving Throws: Nonmagical, unattended items never make saving throws. They are considered to have failed their saving throws, so they are always fully affected by spells and other attacks that allow saving throws to resist or negate. An item attended by a character (being grasped, touched, or worn) makes saving throws as the character (that is, using the character's saving throw bonus).

Magic items always get saving throws. A magic item's Fortitude, Reflex, and Will save bonuses are equal to 2 + half its caster level. An attended magic item either makes saving throws as its owner or uses its own saving throw bonus, whichever is better.


I've forgotten to answer about backpack. The description of the spell states that it can affect one object. Thus if you target a backpack, only the backpack is affected. Not its contents. Though the breaking of the backpack can affect its contents in turn (it can fall out and break if it's fragile, for instance).

And while it is common to treat a wall section as a separate object (have its own HP), it is not a separate object actually. So I'd say that you can’t target it with Break spell for two reasons: it is not a separate object and 10x10 ft object is larger than medium. Though DM is free to treat it differently.


Medium sized or smaller objects use the same scale as beings: a cubboard spanning 5 feet or less and standing up to 8 feet height is medium. Small objects are roughly same base area, but are more a cube of 5 feet in dimensions.

About the problem if a piece of the structure can be targeted I can't say for sure. I suspect, that as soon as it is a piece of the structure that stands out, it could be targeted, but I do not remember any say in the rules. So it would come to GM fiat here.

Next point about the question is about item (bag) or conceptual group (bag with items). I would not allow conceptual groups, as the rule text does say "damage any one [...] object"

About the fortitude safe I have no idea, but don't items gain a fortitude modifier based upon their material and makeup? I am unable to look this up at this moment for time issiues, but I suggest research into that direction.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer needs sources referencing the rules, if you can't access sources yet then it might have been better to not answer till you can look it up. I am continuing to research and may answer my own question but I am, so far, still at a loss. \$\endgroup\$
    – TREB
    Jul 20, 2016 at 16:22

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