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If you are casting chill touch and using attacks to inflict the spells effects on enemies, does missing the enemy cause you to lose one of the allowed attacks?

A touch from your hand, which glows with blue energy, disrupts the life force of living creatures. Each touch channels negative energy that deals 1d6 points of damage. The touched creature also takes 1 point of Strength damage unless it makes a successful Fortitude saving throw. You can use this melee touch attack up to one time per level.

An undead creature you touch takes no damage of either sort, but it must make a successful Will saving throw or flee as if panicked for 1d4 rounds + 1 round per caster level.

so lets say a third level caster casts chill touch, uses his free touch attack gained from casting a touch spell, and misses. Does he still have 3 available attacks, or does he only have 2 left for that particular casting of chill touch?

Does missing an attack affect the chill touch's "charge" to be reduced?

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of If a touch spell misses, can it be retried until it hits? \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Apr 10 '17 at 10:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it is not, as this is a cornercase specific to a chill touch. I know a touch spell can be retried until it hits, but chill touch specifies a certain amount of attacks with a single spell that gives multiple touch attacks. The question is more about if the chill touch loses "charges" whether the attack hits or not. \$\endgroup\$ – PnP Apr 10 '17 at 11:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not a duplicate question, since chill touch could very well be a special case here, so I’m not closing. But it is pretty much a duplicate answer since, as it turns out, chill touch is not a special case. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 10 '17 at 12:38
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You retain the charges.

There is nothing, other than the fact that Chill Touch allows multiple touch attacks, that suggest it works differently from other touch spells.

Targets: creature or creatures touched (up to one/level)

(...)

You can use this melee touch attack up to one time per level.

The spell has no duration on the held charges, which means you can hold the charges until one of those conditions are true:

  • You make one touch attack up to your caster level.

  • You cast another spell.

This ruling also has backup on a FAQ:

If a spell allows multiple touches, are you considered to be holding the charge until all charges are expended?

Yes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Except the part that I bolded in my original question in which the part "You can use this melee touch attack...". To me I could see that one "use" is an attempted melee touch. \$\endgroup\$ – PnP Apr 16 '17 at 6:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PnP the FAQ just says you are holding a charge until you expend it. Meaning that attempting touch attacks does not expend charges. Unless the spell description says that it does. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Apr 16 '17 at 14:05
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No, it does not. Touch-attack charges last until they are discharged in a hit (or otherwise). You can hold a charge indefinitely, and missing does not consume the charge. Chill touch gets multiple charges for one casting of the spell, but it is otherwise not a special case in any way—those charges are consumed only on hits, and not on misses.

In order for a spell to be a special case in this regard, and consume charges on misses, it would have to explicitly say so in the spell description. Chill touch does not.

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Per the PRD: (emphasis mine) Holding the Charge: If you don't discharge the spell in the round when you cast the spell, you can hold the charge indefinitely. You can continue to make touch attacks round after round. If you touch anything or anyone while holding a charge, even unintentionally, the spell discharges. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates. You can touch one friend as a standard action or up to six friends as a full-round action. Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. In this case, you aren't considered armed and you provoke attacks of opportunity as normal for the attack. If your unarmed attack or natural weapon attack normally doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity, neither does this attack. If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.

In light of these very clear rules, then you can indeed hold the charge forever, but you become very limited in what you can do. The "auto-discharge" means you may not want to just cast it and hold. Thus, don't call for a healer or many buff spells when you are charged up. The two answers above are both valid.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ For a lot of reasons, the “auto-discharge” rule is a really poor fit for the rules as a whole, and raises a whole lot more questions than the system is prepared to answer about it. It also gives rise to a number of abusive tricks, allowing people to cheat the action economy. So while you’re absolutely right, it is a rule, I would personally recommend strongly that everyone ignore it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 11 '17 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ An example of the kinds of questions that rule raises, and how it can be abusive. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 11 '17 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ A moment of silence for all horses who have died carrying wizards. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Apr 11 '17 at 16:04

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