When cast to affect a 5-ft. radius spread (its first mode), the shatter spell (CRB 341) has the following effect:

Used as an area attack, shatter destroys nonmagical objects of crystal, glass, ceramic, or porcelain. All such unattended objects within a 5-foot radius of the point of origin are smashed into dozens of pieces by the spell. Objects weighing more than 1 pound per your level are not affected, but all other objects of the appropriate composition are shattered.

However, the saving throw it allows for its first mode, "Will negates (object)", has the (object) tag, which carries the following implications (CRB 216):

The spell can be cast on objects, which receive saving throws only if they are magical or if they are attended (held, worn, grasped, or the like) by a creature resisting the spell, in which case the object uses the creature’s saving throw bonus unless its own bonus is greater.

No exception is made in the spell description, that I can see. Barring the odd case of an attended or magical item's success or failure on a Will save carrying weight, is the saving throw line simply redundant?


2 Answers 2


The spell description states that it only affects non-magical objects. Then it says that all unattended (non-magical) objects are smashed. So if there is any attended non-magical object fitting the before-going description (crystaline, etc.), they get a save. What kind of save? A will save.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is my understanding of it, but your answer doesn't lay it out cleanly enough for anyone looking for a ruling in a hurry. \$\endgroup\$
    – Firebreak
    Dec 29, 2016 at 4:56

The caster, when he casts the spell shatter in its first mode, designates a point of origin for the spell within the spell's range. Within the spell's area, each object that is both unattended (i.e. not carried, held, possessed wielded, or worn by a creature) and appropriate (i.e. nonmagical and made from "crystal, glass, ceramic, or porcelain") is destroyed, and each object that is both appropriate and attended makes a Will saving throw using the saving throw modifier of the creature attending the object; failure means that object's destroyed. Everything else is unaffected.

This does, however, make the shatter spell's saving throw entry for its first mode a little wonky.

The (object) portion of shatter's first saving throw entry is unusual

When the shatter spell's used as an area spell, it probably would've been enough for spell's designer to've listed the saving throw as Will negates then let the spell description do the heavy lifting of detailing what that means rather than asking the reader to pointlessly look up the details of the rarely-used (object) tag, which, in this case, brings little to table. That is, when used as an area spell the spell shatter isn't cast on the objects but on the area itself, so the saving throw here entry of Will negates (object) is pretty much the same as Will negates.

Except that a saving throw entry of Will negates implies that the creature makes just one lone Will saving throw against the entire effect of the spell shatter, with success leaving unharmed all the creature's appropriate stuff and failure rendering broken all of the creature's appropriate stuff. To clarify that isn't the case and that the creature makes saving throws for its attended appropriate mundane objects individually, the author would've then had to've said as much in the spell's description. Thus, here, the (object) tag becomes more reminder ("Make a separate Will saving throw for each appropriate object in your possession!") than rules ("Do the impossible and make several objects—rather than the area—the subject of an area spell!").

I agree that it would've been great had Pathfinder seized the opportunity to revise some of the game's classic elements—like the spell shatter—so that they were absolutely (ahem) crystal clear, but the game contented itself with functional—if imperfect—legacy spells dating back to the turn of the century that had been working fine as printed for over a decade,—in this case, not fixing what isn't outright broken.


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