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The Interactive SRD - Special Abilities

(c)2003 Jeffrey A. Mills, DVM

This material is Open Game Content, and is licensed for public use under the terms of the Open Game License v1.0a.


Special abilities are extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural.

Extraordinary Abilities (Ex): Extraordinary abilities are nonmagical. Effects or areas that negate or disrupt magic have no effect on extraordinary abilities. Extraordinary abilities have a default action type of Free Action.

Spell-Like Abilities (Sp): Spell-like abilities, as the name implies, are spells and magical abilities that are very much like spells. Spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance and dispel magic. They do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated (such as an antimagic field). Spell-like abilities have a default action type of Standard Action. Spell-like abilities must have defined caster levels, and require Concentration checks as if they were spells.

Supernatural Abilities (Su): Supernatural abilities are magical but not spell-like. Supernatural abilities are not subject to spell resistance and do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated (such as an antimagic field). A supernatural ability’s effect can be dispelled if the duration is longer than instantaneous, but a supernatural ability is not subject to counterspells. Supernatural abilities have a default action type of Standard Action.

Abilities use their default action types unless they indicate otherwise.

TABLE: Special Abilitiy Types

Spell resistanceNoYesNo
Antimagic fieldNoYesYes
Attack of opportunityNoYesNo

Dispel: Can dispel magic and similar spells dispel the effects of abilities of that type?

Spell Resistance: Does spell resistance protect a creature from these abilities?

Antimagic Field: Does an antimagic field or similar magic suppress the ability?

Attack of Opportunity: Does using the ability provoke attacks of opportunity the way that casting a spell does?


Various attacks cause ability score loss, either temporary ability damage or permanent ability drain. Points lost to temporary damage return at the rate of 1 point per day (or double that if the character gets total rest) per each damaged ability (in other words, if you have lost both Strength and Dexterity, you naturally regain 1 point per day of both ability scores), and the spells lesser restoration and restoration offset temporary damage as well. Drains, however, are permanent, though restoration can restore even those lost ability score points.

Some spells or abilities impose an effective ability score reduction, which is different from ability score loss. Any such reduction disappears at the end of the spell’s or ability’s duration, and the ability score immediately returns to its former value.

A full hit point score, however, can’t drop to less than 1 hit point per Hit Die.

The ability that some creatures have to drain ability scores is a supernatural one, requiring some sort of attack. Such creatures do not drain abilities from enemies when the enemies strike them, even with unarmed attacks or natural weapons.


An antimagic field spell cancels magic altogether.

No supernatural ability, spell-like ability, or spell works in an area of antimagic (but extraordinary abilities still work).

Antimagic does not dispel magic; it suppresses it. Once a magical effect is no longer affected by the antimagic (the antimagic fades, the center of the effect moves away, etc.), the magic returns. Spells that still have part of their duration left begin functioning again, magic items are once again useful, and so forth.

Spell areas that include both an antimagic area and a normal area, but are not centered in the antimagic area, still function in the normal area. If the spell’s center is in the antimagic area, then the spell is suppressed.

Some artifacts are not hampered by antimagic.

Golems and other magic constructs, elementals, outsiders, and corporeal undead, still function in an antimagic area (though the antimagic area suppresses their supernatural, spell-like, and spell abilities normally). If such creatures are summoned or conjured, however, see below.

Summoned or conjured creatures of any type and incorporeal undead wink out if they enter an antimagic field. They reappear in the same spot once the field goes away.

Magic items with continuous effects do not function in the antimagic area – the continuous magical effects are suppressed while in the field.

Two antimagic fields in the same place do not cancel each other out, nor do they stack.


Some creatures have the extraordinary ability to use a nonvisual sense (or a combination of such senses) to operate effectively without vision. Such sense may include sensitivity to vibrations, acute scent, keen hearing, or echolocation. This ability makes invisibility and darkness (even magical darkness) irrelevant to the creature (though it still can’t see ethereal creatures). This ability operates out to a range specified in the creature description.

Blindsight never allows a creature to distinguish color or visual contrast. A creature cannot read with blindsight.

Blindsight does not subject a creature to gaze attacks.

Blinding attacks do not penalize creatures using blindsight.

Deafening attacks thwart blindsight if it relies on hearing.

Blindsight works underwater but not in a vacuum.


Using a breath weapon is typically a standard action.

No attack roll is necessary. The breath simply fills its stated area.

Any character caught in the area must make the appropriate saving throw or suffer the breath weapon’s full effects.

Breath weapons are supernatural abilities except where noted.

Creatures are immune to their own breath weapons.

Creatures unable to breathe can still use breath weapons.


Charming another creature gives the charming character the ability to befriend and suggest courses of actions to his minion, but the servitude is not absolute or mindless. Essentially, a charmed character retains free will but makes choices according to a skewed view of the world.

The charmed creature doesn’t gain any magical ability to understand his new friend.

The charmed character retains his original alignment and allegiances, generally with the exception that he now regards the charming creature as a dear friend and will give great weight to his suggestions and directions.

A charmed character fights his former allies only if they threaten his new friend, and even then he uses the least lethal means at his disposal as long as these tactics show any possibility of success.

A charmed character is entitled to an opposed Charisma check against his master in order to resist instructions or commands that would make him do something he wouldn’t normally do even for a close friend. If he succeeds, he decides not to go along with that order but remains charmed.

A charmed character never obeys a command that is obviously suicidal or grievously harmful to her.

If the charming creature commands his minion to do something that the influenced character would be violently opposed to, the subject may attempt a new saving throw to break free of the influence altogether.

Any charmed character who is openly attacked by the creature who charmed him or the charmer’s apparent allies is automatically freed of the spell or effect.

Compulsion is a different matter altogether. A compulsion overrides the subject’s free will in some way or simply changes the way the subject’s mind works. A charm makes the subject a friend of the caster; a compulsion makes the subject obey the caster.

Regardless whether a character is charmed or compelled, he won’t volunteer information or tactics that his master doesn’t ask for.


A “cold” creature is immune to cold damage. It takes double damage from fire unless the fire attack allows a saving throw for half damage, in which case it takes half damage on a successful save and double damage on a failed save.


The creature crushes the opponent, dealing bludgeoning damage, after making a successful grapple check. The amount of damage is given in the creature’s entry. If the creature also has the improved grab ability, it deals constriction damage in addition to damage dealt by the weapon used to grab.


Some magic creatures have the supernatural ability to instantly heal damage from weapons or to ignore blows altogether as though they were invulnerable.

The number in a creature’s damage reduction is the amount of hit points the creature ignores from normal attacks.

Usually, a certain type of weapon—usually a magic weapon—can overcome this reduction. This information is separated from the damage reduction number by a slash. If a dash follows the slash then the damage reduction is effective against any attack that does not ignore damage reduction.

Any weapon more powerful than the type given after the slash also negates the ability. For purposes of damage reduction, the power rankings are listed on Table: Damage Reduction Rankings.

Whenever damage reduction completely negates the damage from an attack, it also negates most special effects that accompany the attack. Damage reduction does not negate touch attacks, energy damage dealt along with an attack, or energy drains. Nor does it affect poisons or diseases delivered by inhalation, ingestion, or contact. Attacks that deal no damage because of the target’s damage reduction do not disrupt spells.

Magical attacks and energy attacks (even mundane fire) ignore damage reduction.

For purposes of harming other creatures with damage reduction, a creature’s natural weapons count as weapons of the type that can ignore its own innate damage reduction. The amount of damage reduction is irrelevant.

TABLE: Damage Reduction Rankings

PowerRank Weapon Type
Best+5enhancement bonus
2nd best+4enhancement bonus
3rd best+3enhancement bonus
4th best+2enhancement bonus
5th best+1enhancement bonus
Weakest Silver, mithral, or other special material


Darkvision is the extraordinary ability to see with no light source at all, to a range specified for the creature.

Darkvision is black and white only.

Darkvision does not allow characters to see anything that they could not see otherwise—invisible objects are still invisible, and illusions are still visible as what they seem to be. Likewise, darkvision subjects a creature to gaze attacks normally.

The presence of light does not spoil darkvision.


In most cases, death attacks allow the victim to make a Fortitude save to avoid the affect, but if the save fails the character dies instantly.

Raise dead doesn’t work on someone killed by a death attack.

Death attacks slay instantly. There is no chance for a character to stabilize and thus stay alive.

In case it matters, a dead character, no matter how she died, has –10 hit points.


When a character is injured by a contaminated attack, touches an item smeared with diseased matter, or consumes disease-tainted food or drink, he must make an immediate Fortitude saving throw. If he succeeds, the disease has no effect—his immune system fought off the infection. If he fails, he takes damage after an incubation period. Once per day afterward he must make a successful Fortitude saving throw to avoid repeated damage. Two successful saving throws in a row indicate that he has fought off the disease and recovers, taking no more damage.

You can roll these Fortitude saving throws for the player so that he doesn’t know whether the disease has taken hold.

Disease Descriptions

Diseases have various symptoms and are spread through a number of vectors. The characteristics of several typical diseases are summarized on Table: Diseases.

Disease: Diseases whose names are printed in italic in the table are supernatural in nature. The others are extraordinary.

Infection: The disease’s method of delivery—ingested, inhaled, via injury, or contact. Keep in mind that some injury diseases may be transmitted by as small an injury as a flea bite and that most inhaled diseases can also be ingested (and vice versa).

DC: The DC for the saving throws to prevent infection (if the character has been infected), to prevent each instance of repeated damage, and to recover from the disease.

Incubation Period: The time before damage begins.

Damage: The temporary ability damage the character takes after incubation and each day afterward.

Types of Diseases: Typical diseases include the following:

Healing Diseases

Use of the Heal skill can help a diseased character. Every time the diseased character makes a saving throw against disease effects, the healer makes a check. The diseased character can use the healer’s result in place of his saving throw if the Heal result is higher. The diseased character must be in the healer’s care and must spend most of each day resting.

Characters recover points lost to ability score damage at a rate of 1 per day per ability damaged, and this rule applies even while a disease is in progress. That means that a character with a minor disease might be able to withstand it without accumulating any damage.

TABLE: Diseases

Blinding sicknessIngested161d3 days1d4 Str††
Cackle feverInhaled161 day1d6 Wis
Demon feverInjury181 day1d6 Con**
Devil chills†Injury141d4 days1d4 Str
Filth feverInjury121d3 days1d3 Dex,1d3 Con
MindfireInhaled121 day1d4 Int
Mummy rot*Contact201 day1d6 Con
Red acheInjury151d3 days1d6 Str
ShakesContact131 day1d8 Dex
Slimy doomContact141 day1d4 Con**

*Successful saves do not allow the character to recover. Only magical healing can save the character.

**When damaged, character must succeed at another saving throw or 1 point of temporary damage is permanent drain instead.

†The victim must make three successful Fortitude saving throws in a row to recover from devil chills.

††Each time the victim takes 2 or more damage from the disease, he must make another Fortitude save or be permanently blinded.


Most energy drains require a successful melee attack—mere physical contact is not enough.

Each successful energy draining attack bestows one or more negative levels on the opponent. A creature suffers the following penalties for each negative level it has gained:

If the victim casts spells, she loses access to one spell as if she had cast her highest-level, currently available spell. (If she has more than one spell at her highest level, she chooses which she loses.) In addition, when she next prepares spells or regains spell slots, she gets one less spell slot at her highest spell level.

Negative levels remain for 24 hours or until removed with a spell, such as restoration. After 24 hours, the afflicted creature must attempt a Fortitude save. The DC is 10 + one-half the attacker’s Hit Dice + the attackers’ Charisma modifier. (The DC is provided in the attacker’s description.) If the saving throw succeeds, the negative level goes away with no harm to the creature. If the save fails, the negative level goes away, but the creature’s level is also reduced by 1. The afflicted creature makes a separate saving throw for each negative level it has gained.

A character who loses a level to an energy drain instantly loses one Hit Die. The character’s base attack bonus, base saving throw bonuses, and special class abilities are now reduced to the new, lower level. Likewise, the character loses any ability score gain, skill ranks, and any feat associated with the level (if any). If the exact ability score or skill ranks increased from a level now lost is unknown (or the player has forgotten), lose a point from the highest ability score or ranks from the highest-ranked skills. If a familiar or companion creature (such as a paladin’s mount) has abilities tied to a character who has lost a level, the creature’s abilities are adjusted to fit the character’s new level.

The victim’s experience point total is immediately set to the midpoint of the previous level.

A character with negative levels at least equal to her current level, or drained below 1st level, is instantly slain. Depending on the creature that killed her, she may rise the next night as a monster of that kind. If not, she rises as a wight.

A creature gains 5 temporary hit points for each negative level it inflicts (though not if the negative level is caused by a spell or similar effect).


While on the Ethereal Plane, a creature is called ethereal.

Ethereal creatures are invisible, inaudible, insubstantial, and scentless to creatures on the Material Plane (the normal world). Even most magical attacks have no effect on them. See invisibility and true seeing reveal ethereal creatures.

An ethereal creature can see and hear into the Material Plane in a 60-foot radius, though material objects still block sight and sound. (An ethereal creature can’t see through a material wall, for instance.) Things on the Material Plane, however, look gray, indistinct, and ghostly. An ethereal creature can’t affect the Material Plane, not even magically. An ethereal creature, however, interacts with other ethereal creatures and objects the way material creatures interact with material creatures and objects.

Ethereal creatures move in any direction (including up or down) at will. They do not need to walk on the ground, and material objects don’t block them (though they can’t see while their eyes are within solid material).

Force effects are a special exception. A force effect extends onto the Ethereal Plane. Gaze effects and abjurations also extend from the Material Plane to the Ethereal Plane. None of these effects extend from the Ethereal Plane to the Material Plane.

Ghosts have a power called manifestation that allows them to appear on the Material Plane as incorporeal creatures. Still, they are on the Ethereal Plane, and another ethereal creature can interact normally with a manifesting ghost.

Ethereal creatures pass through and operate in water as easily as air.

Ethereal creatures do not fall or suffer falling damage.


If subjected to an attack that allows a Reflex save for half damage, a character with evasion takes no damage on a successful save.

As with a Reflex save for any creature, a character must have room to move in order to evade. A bound character or one in a completely restrictive area (crawling through a 2 1/2-foot-wide shaft, for example) cannot use evasion.

As with a Reflex save for any creature, evasion is a reflexive ability. The character need not know that the attack is coming to use evasion.

Improved evasion is like evasion, except that even on a failed saving throw the character takes only half damage.


At the beginning of each of the creature’s turns, it heals a certain number of hit points (defined in its description).

Unlike regeneration (see below), fast healing does not allow a creature to regrow or reattach lost body parts.

A creature that has taken both subdual and normal damage heals the subdual damage first.

Fast healing does not restore hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation.

Fast healing does not increase the number of hit points regained when a creature polymorphs.


Spells, magic items, and certain monsters can affect characters with fear. In most cases, the character makes a Will saving throw to resist this effect, and a failed roll means that the character is shaken, frightened, or panicked.

Becoming Even More Fearful: Fear effects are cumulative. A shaken character who is made shaken again becomes frightened, and a shaken character who is made frightened becomes panicked instead. A frightened character who is made shaken or frightened becomes panicked instead.


A “fire” creature is immune to fire damage. It takes double damage from cold unless the cold attack allows a saving throw for half damage, in which case it takes half damage on a successful save and double damage on a failed save.


This ability makes the creature’s very presence unsettling to foes. It takes effect automatically when the creature performs some sort of dramatic action (such as charging, attacking, or snarling). Opponents within range who witness the action may become frightened or shaken.

This ability affects only opponents with fewer Hit Dice or levels than the creature has. An affected opponent can resist the effects with a successful Will save with a DC of 10 + 1/2 frightful creature’s HD + frightful creature’s Charisma modifier. An opponent who succeeds at the saving throw is immune to that creature’s frightful presence for one day.


Some creatures have the supernatural or spell-like ability to take the form of a cloud of vapor or gas.

Gaseous creatures can’t run but can fly. A gaseous creature can move about and do the things that a cloud of gas can conceivably do, such as issue under the crack of a door. It can’t, however, pass through solid matter.

Gaseous creatures can’t attack physically or cast spells with verbal, somatic, material, or focus components. They lose their supernatural abilities (except for the supernatural ability to assume gaseous form, of course).

Creatures in gaseous form have damage reduction 20/+1. Spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities affect them normally. Creatures in gaseous form lose all benefit of material armor (including natural armor), though size, Dexterity, deflection bonuses, and armor bonuses from force armor (for example, from the mage armor spell) still apply.

Gaseous creatures do not need to breathe and are immune to attacks involving breathing.

Gaseous creatures can’t enter water or other liquid.

Gaseous creatures are not ethereal or incorporeal.

Gaseous creatures are affected by winds or other forms of moving air to the extent that the wind pushes them in the direction the wind is moving. However, even the strongest wind can’t disperse or damage a creature in gaseous form.

Discerning a creature in gaseous form from natural mist requires a Spot check (DC 15). Creatures in gaseous form attempting to hide in an area with mist, smoke, or other gas gain a +20 bonus.


Each character within range of a gaze attack must attempt a saving throw (usually Fortitude or Will) each round at the beginning of his turn.

An opponent can avert his eyes from the creature’s face, looking at the creature’s body, watching its shadow, or tracking the creature in a reflective surface. Each round, the opponent has a 50% chance of not having to make a saving throw. The creature with the gaze attack gains one-half concealment against the opponent (so any attack the opponent makes against the creature has a 20% miss chance).

An opponent can shut his eyes, turn his back on the creature, or wear a blindfold. In these cases, the opponent does not need to make a saving throw. The creature with the gaze attack gains total concealment against the opponent as if the creature were invisible. Thus, any attack the opponent makes against the creature has a 50% miss chance, and the opponent can’t use sight to target attacks.

A creature with a gaze attack can actively attempt to use its gaze as an attack action. The creature simply chooses a target within range, and that opponent must attempt a saving throw. If the target has chosen to defend against the gaze as discussed above, the opponent gets a chance to avoid the saving throw (either 50% chance for averting or 100% chance for shutting eyes). It is possible for an opponent to save against a creature’s gaze twice during the same round, once before its own action and once during the creature’s action.

Looking at the creature’s image (such as in a mirror or as part of an illusion) does not subject the viewer to a gaze attack.

A creature is immune to its own gaze attack.

If visibility is limited (by dim lighting, a fog, etc.) so that it results in concealment, there is a percentage chance equal to the normal miss chance for that amount of concealment that a character won’t need to make a saving throw in a given round. This chance is not cumulative with chances to avoid the gaze, but instead is rolled separately.

Invisible creatures cannot use gaze attacks.

Characters using darkvision in complete darkness are affected by a gaze attack normally.

Unless specified otherwise, an intelligent creature with a gaze attack can control its gaze attack and “turn it off” when so desired.


If the creature hits with a melee weapon (usually a claw or bite attack), it deals normal damage and attempts to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. No initial touch attack is required, and Tiny and Small creatures do not suffer a special size penalty. Unless otherwise stated, improved grab works only against opponents at least one size category smaller than the creature. The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use the part of its body it used in the improved grab to hold the opponent. If it chooses to do the latter, it suffers a -20 penalty to grapple checks, and can use its remaining attacks against other opponents.

A successful hold does not deal any additional damage unless the creature also has the constrict ability. If the creature does not constrict, each successful grapple check it makes during successive rounds automatically deals the damage listed for the attack that established the hold. Otherwise, it deals constriction damage as well (the amount is listed in the creature’s descriptive text).

When a creature gets a hold after an improved grab attack, it pulls the opponent into its space. This act does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The creature is not considered grappled while it holds the opponent, so it still threatens adjacent squares and retains its Dexterity bonus. It can even move (possibly carrying away the opponent), provided it can drag the opponent’s weight.


Incorporeal creatures can only be harmed by other incorporeal creatures, by +1 or better weapons, or by spells, spell-like effects, or supernatural effects. They are immune to all nonmagical attack forms. They are not burned by normal fires, affected by natural cold, or harmed by mundane acids.

Even when struck by magic or magic weapons, an incorporeal creature has a 50% chance to ignore any damage from a corporeal source—except for a force effect

Incorporeal creatures move in any direction (including up or down) at will. They do not need to walk on the ground.

Incorporeal creatures can pass through solid objects at will, although they cannot see when their eyes are within solid matter.

Incorporeal creatures are inaudible unless they decide to make noise.

The physical attacks of incorporeal creatures ignore material armor, even magic armor, unless it is made of force or has the ghost touch ability.

Incorporeal creatures pass through and operate in water as easily as they do in air.

Incorporeal creatures cannot fall or suffer falling damage.

Corporeal creatures cannot trip or grapple incorporeal creatures.

Incorporeal creatures have no weight and do not set off traps that are triggered by weight.

Incorporeal creatures do not leave footprints, have no scent, and make no noise unless they manifest, and even then they only make noise intentionally.


Invisibility makes a creature undetectable by vision, including darkvision.

A creature can generally notice the presence of an active invisible creature within 30 feet with a Spot check (DC 20). The observer gains a hunch that “something’s there” but can’t see it or target it accurately with an attack. A creature who is holding still is very hard to notice (DC 30). An inanimate object, or an unliving creature holding still, or a completely immobile creature, is even harder to spot (DC 40). It’s practically impossible (+20 DC) to pinpoint an invisible creature’s location with a Spot check, and even if a character succeeds at such a check, the invisible creature still benefits from full concealment (50% miss chance).

A creature can use hearing to find an invisible creature. A character can make a Listen check for this purpose as a free action each round. A Listen check result at least equal to the invisible creature’s Move Silently check result reveals its presence. (A creature with no ranks in Move Silently makes a Move Silently check as a Dexterity check to which an armor check penalty applies.)

A successful check lets a character hear an invisible creature “over there somewhere.” It’s practically impossible to pinpoint the exact location of an invisible creature. A Listen check that beats the DC by 20 reveals the invisible creature’s location.

TABLE: Listen Check DCs to Detect Invisible Creatures

Invisible Creature Is:DC
In combat or speaking0
Moving at half speedMove Silently check
Moving at full speed Move Silently check at –4
Running or chargingMove Silently check at –20
Some distance away +1 per 10 feet
Behind an obstacle (door)+5
Behind an obstacle (stone wall)+15

A creature can grope about to find an invisible creature. A character can make a touch attack with his hands or a weapon into two adjacent 5-foot areas using a standard action. If an invisible target is in the designated area, there is a 50% miss chance on the touch attack. If successful, the groping character inflicts no damage but has successfully pinpointed the invisible creature’s current location. (If the invisible creature moves, its location, obviously, is once again unknown.)

If an invisible creature strikes a character, the character struck still knows the location of the creature that struck him (until, of course, the invisible creature moves). The only exception is if the invisible creature has a reach greater than 5 feet. In this case, the struck character knows the general location of the creature but has not pinpointed the exact location.

If a character tries to attack an invisible creature whose location he has pinpointed, he attacks normally, but the invisible creature still benefits from full concealment (and thus a 50% miss chance). At your option, a particularly large and slow creature might get a smaller miss chance.

If a character tries to attack an invisible creature whose location he has not pinpointed, have the player choose the space where the character will direct the attack. If the invisible creature is there, conduct the attack normally. If the enemy’s not there, roll the miss chance as if it were there, don’t let the player see the result, and tell him that the character has missed. That way the player doesn’t know whether the attack missed because the enemy’s not there or because you successfully rolled the miss chance.

If an invisible character picks up a visible object, the object remains visible. One could coat an invisible object with flour to at least keep track of its position (until the flour fell off or blew away). An invisible creature can pick up a small visible item and hide it on his person (tucked in a pocket or behind a cloak) and render it effectively invisible.

Invisible creatures leave tracks. They can be tracked normally. Footprints in sand, mud, or other soft surfaces can give enemies clues to an invisible creature’s location.

An invisible creature in the water displaces water, revealing its location. The invisible creature, however, is still hard to see and benefits from one-half concealment (20% miss chance).

A creature with the scent ability can detect invisible creatures as it would a visible one.

A creature with the Blind-Fight feat has a better chance to hit an invisible creature. Roll the miss chance twice, and he misses only if both rolls indicate a miss. (Alternatively, make one 25% miss roll rather than two 50% miss rolls.)

A creature with blindsight can attack (and otherwise interact with) creatures regardless of invisibility.

An invisible burning torch still gives off light, as does an invisible object with a light spell (or similar spell) cast upon it.

Ethereal creatures are invisible. Since ethereal creatures are not materially present, Spot checks, Listen checks, Scent, Blind-Fight, and blindsight don’t help locate them. Incorporeal creatures are often invisible. Scent, Blind-Fight, and blindsight don’t help creatures find or attack invisible, incorporeal creatures, but Spot checks and possibly Listen checks can help.

Invisible creatures cannot use gaze attacks.

Invisibility does not thwart detect spells.

Since some creatures can detect or even see invisible creatures, it is helpful to be able to hide even when invisible.


Characters with low-light vision can see outdoors on a moonlit night as well as they can during the day.


Some monsters and spells have the supernatural or spell-like ability to paralyze or hold their victims, immobilizing them through magical means.

A paralyzed or held character cannot move, speak, or take any physical action. He is rooted to the spot, frozen and helpless. Not even friends can move his limbs. He may take purely mental actions, such as casting a spell with no components.

Paralysis works on the body, and a character can usually resist it with a Fortitude saving throw. Hold is a mind-affecting enchantment, and a character usually resists it with a Will saving throw.

A winged creature flying in the air at the time that it is held or paralyzed cannot flap its wings and falls. A swimmer can't swim and may drown.


When a character takes damage from an attack with a poisoned weapon, touches an item smeared with contact poison, consumes poisoned food or drink, or is otherwise poisoned, he must make a Fortitude saving throw. If he fails, he suffers the poison's initial damage (usually ability damage). Even if he succeeds, he typically faces more damage 1 minute later, which he can also avoid with a successful Fortitude saving throw.

One dose of poison smeared on a weapon or some other object affects just a single target. A poisoned weapon or object retains its venom until the weapon scores a hit or the object is touched (unless the poison is wiped off before a target comes in contact with it). Any poison smeared on an object or exposed to the elements in any way-if the vial containing it is left unstoppered, for instance-remains potent until it is touched or used.

Although supernatural and spell-like poisons are possible, poisonous effects are almost always extraordinary.

TABLE: Poisons

PoisonTypeInitial DamageSecondary DamagePrice
Small centipede poisonInjury DC 111d2 Dex1d2 Dex 90 gp
Greenblood oilInjury DC 131 Con1d2 Con100 gp
Medium-size spider venomInjury DC 141d4 Str1d4 Str150 gp
BloodrootInjury DC 1201d4 Con + 1d3 Wis100 gp
Purple worm poisonInjury DC 241d6 Str2d6 Str700 gp
Large scorpion venomInjury DC 181d6 Str1d6 Str200 gp
Wyvern poisonInjury DC 172d6 Con2d6 Con3,000 gp
Blue whinnisInjury DC 141 ConUnconsciousness120 gp
Giant wasp poisonInjury DC 181d6 Dex1d6 Dex210 gp
Shadow essenceInjury DC 171 Str*2d6 Str250 gp
Black adder venomInjury DC 111d6 Con1d6 Con120 gp
DeathbladeInjury DC 201d6 Con2d6 Con1,800 gp
Malyss root pasteContact DC 161 Dex2d4 Dex500 gp
NitharitContact DC 1303d6 Con650 gp
Dragon bileContact DC 263d6 Str01,500 gp
Sassone leaf residueContact DC 162d12 hp1d6 Con300 gp
Terinav rootContact DC 161d6 Dex2d6 Dex750 gp
Carrion crawler brain juiceContact DC 13Paralysis0200 gp
Black lotus extractContact DC 203d6 Con3d6 Con4,500 gp
Oil of taggitIngested DC 150Unconsciousness90 gp
Id mossIngested DC 141d4 Int2d6 Int125 gp
Striped toadstoolIngested DC 111 Wis2d6 Wis + 1d4 Int180 gp
ArsenicIngested DC 131 Con1d8 Con120 gp
Lich dustIngested DC 172d6 Str1d6 Str250 gp
Dark reaver powderIngested DC 182d6 Con1d6 Con + 1d6 Str300 gp
Ungol dustInhaled DC 151 Cha1d6 Cha + 1 Cha*1,000 gp
Burnt othur fumesInhaled DC 181 Con*3d6 Con2,100 gp
Insanity mistInhaled DC 151d4 Wis2d6 Wis1,500 gp

Type: The poison's method of delivery-ingested, inhaled, via an injury, or contact-and the DC needed to save.

Initial Damage: The damage the character takes immediately upon failing his saving throw against this type of poison. Ability score damage is temporary unless marked with an asterisk (*), in which case the loss is a permanent drain. Paralysis lasts for 2d6 minutes.

Secondary Damage: The amount of damage the character takes 1 minute after exposure as a result of the poisoning, if he fails a second saving throw. Unconsciousness lasts for 1d3 hours. Loss marked with an asterisk is permanent drain instead of temporary damage.

Price: The cost of one dose (one vial) of the poison. It is not possible to use or apply poison in any quantity smaller than one dose.

Perils of Using Poison

A character has a 5% chance to expose himself to a poison whenever he applies it to a weapon or otherwise readies it for use. Additionally, a character who rolls a 1 on an attack roll with a poisoned weapon must make a Reflex saving throw (DC 15) or accidentally poison himself with the weapon.

Poison Immunities

Creatures with natural poison attacks are immune to their own poison. Nonliving creatures and creatures without metabolisms are always immune to poison. Oozes, plants, and certain kinds of outsiders are also immune to poison, although conceivably special poisons could be concocted specifically to harm them.


Magic can cause creatures and characters to change their shapes-sometimes against their will, but usually to gain an advantage. Polymorphed creatures retain their own minds but have new physical forms.

The new form can range in size from Diminutive to one size larger than the subject’s normal form, and can have no more Hit Dice than the subject has, and cannot have more than 15 Hit Dice in any case. Polymorph cannot change the target into constructs, elementals, outsiders or undead unless the target is already one of these types.

If a polymorphed creature dies, it returns to its original form.

When the polymorph occurs, the subject’s equipment, if any, transforms to match the new form. If the new form does not use equipment, the equipment melds into the new form and becomes nonfunctional. Any part of the body or a piece of equipment that is separated from the whole reverts to its original form.

When a creature is polymorphed it regains hit points as if it had rested for a day, though this change does not provide other benefits of rest such as the restoration of lost ability score points. Returning to the target’s normal form does not provide this benefit.

The target of the polymorph gains the physical and natural abilities of the new form. Extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like abilities are not “natural”. Fast movement speeds (nonflying speeds above 60 feet and flying speeds greater than 120 feet) are usually the result of extraordinary or supernatural abilities; speed in these cases is limited to 60 feet and 120 feet, respectively. Low-light vision is considered a natural ability.

The subject gains scores and abilities that are average for the new form.

The subject retains its Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores, level and classes, hit points (despite any change in Constitution), alignment, base attack bonus and save bonuses (though new Strength, Dexterity and Constitution scores may affect adjusted attack and save bonuses).

The subject retains its original type, extraordinary abilities, spells, and spell-like abilities, but not its supernatural abilities.

Since creatures do not change types, a slaying or bane weapon designed to kill or harm creatures of a specific type affects those creatures even if they are polymorphed. Likewise, a creature polymorphed into the form of a creature of a different type is not subject to slaying and bane effects directed at that type of creature.

A ranger's favored enemy bonus is based on knowing what the foe is, so if a creature that is a ranger's favored enemy polymorphs into another form, the ranger is denied his bonus.

A dwarf's bonus for fighting giants is based on shape and size, so he does not gain a bonus against a giant polymorphed into something else, but does gain the bonus against any creature polymorphed into a giant.


All ray attacks require the attacker to make a successful ranged touch attack against the target. Rays have varying ranges, which are simple maximums. A ray's attack roll never suffers a range penalty. Rays never allow a Reflex saving throw, but if a character's Dexterity bonus to AC is high, it might be hard to hit her with the ray in the first place.


Creatures with this extraordinary ability recover from wounds quickly and can even regrow or reattach severed body parts.

Damage dealt to the creature is treated as subdual damage, and the creature automatically cures itself of subdual damage at a fixed rate.

Certain attack forms, typically fire and acid, deal damage to the creature normally; that sort of damage doesn't convert to subdual damage and so doesn't go away. The creature's description includes the details.

These creatures can regrow lost portions of their bodies and can reattach severed limbs or body parts. Severed parts die if they are not reattached.

Regeneration does not restore hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation.

Attack forms that don't deal hit point damage (for example, disintegration and most poisons) ignore regeneration.

An attack that can cause instant death, such as a coup de grace, massive damage, or an assassin's death attack, only threatens the creature with death if it is delivered by weapons that deal it normal damage.


A creature with resistance to energy has the ability (usually extraordinary) to ignore some damage of a certain type (such as cold, electricity, or fire) each round, but it does not have total immunity.

Each ability is defined by what energy type it resists and how many points of damage are resisted.

The creature still makes saving throws normally.

Count the creature's resistance from the start of its turn to the start of its turn the next round. Its resistance "resets" on its turn.

When resistance completely negates the damage from an energy attack, the attack does not disrupt a spell.

This resistance does not stack with the resistance that a spell, such as endure elements, might provide.


This extraordinary ability lets a creature detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell.

The creature can detect opponents by sense of smell, generally within 30 feet. If the opponent is upwind, the range is 60 feet. If it is downwind, the range is 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at three times these ranges.

The creature detects another creature's presence but not its specific location. Noting the direction of the scent is a standard action. If it moves within 5 feet of the scent's source, the creature can pinpoint that source.

The creature can follow tracks by smell, making a Wisdom check to find or follow a track. The typical DC for a fresh trail is 10. The DC increases or decreases depending on how strong the quarry's odor is, the number of creatures, and the age of the trail. For each hour that the trail is cold, the DC increases by 2. The ability otherwise follows the rules for the Track feat. Creatures tracking by scent ignore the effects of surface conditions and poor visibility.

Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.

Water, particularly running water, ruins a trail for air-breathing creatures. Water-breathing creatures such as sharks, however, have the scent ability and can use it in the water easily.

False, powerful odors can easily mask other scents. The presence of such an odor completely spoils the ability to properly detect or identify creatures, and the base Wilderness Lore DC to track becomes 20 rather than 10.


Unless noted otherwise, sonic attacks follow the rules for spreads; the range of the spread is measured from the creature using the sonic attack. Once a sonic attack has taken effect, deafening the subject or stopping its ears does not break the effect. Stopping one’s ears ahead of time allows opponents to avoid having to make saving throws against mind-affecting sonic attacks, but not other kinds of sonic attacks (such as those that inflict damage). Stopping one’s ears is a full-round action and requires wax or other soundproof material to stuff into the ears.


Some creatures can cast arcane or divine spells just as members of a spellcasting class can (and can activate magic items accordingly). These creatures are subject to the same spellcasting rules as characters are.

Spellcasting creatures are not actually members of a class unless their entries say so, and they do not gain any class abilities. For example, a creature that casts arcane spells as a sorcerer cannot acquire a familiar. A creature with access to cleric spells must prepare them in the normal manner and receives no bonus spells.


Spell resistance is the extraordinary ability to avoid being affected by spells. (Some spells also grant spell resistance.)

To affect a creature that has spell resistance, a spellcaster must make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) at least equal to the creature's spell resistance rating. (The defender's spell resistance rating is like a magical AC.) If the caster fails the check, the spell doesn't affect the creature. The possessor does not have to do anything special to use spell resistance. The creature need not even be aware of the threat for its spell resistance to operate.

Only spells and spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance. Extraordinary and supernatural abilities (including enhancement bonuses on magic weapons) are not. See When Spell Resistance Applies, below.

A creature can voluntarily lower its spell resistance. Doing so is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. Once a creature lowers its resistance, it remains down until the creature's next turn. At the beginning of the creature's next turn, the creature's spell resistance automatically returns unless the creature intentionally keeps it down (also a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity).

A creature's spell resistance never interferes with its own spells, items, or abilities.

A creature with spell resistance cannot impart this power to others by touching them or standing in their midst. Only the rarest of creatures and a few magic items have the ability to bestow spell resistance upon another.

Spell resistance does not stack. It overlaps.

When Spell Resistance Applies

Each spell includes an entry that indicates whether spell resistance applies to the spell. In general, whether spell resistance applies depends on what the spell does:

Spell resistance can protect a creature from a spell that's already been cast. Check spell resistance when the creature is first affected by the spell.

Check spell resistance only once for any particular casting of a spell or use of a spell-like ability. If spell resistance fails the first time, it fails each time the creature encounters that same casting of the spell. Likewise, if the spell resistance succeeds the first time, it always succeeds.

Spell resistance has no effect unless the energy created or released by the spell actually goes to work on the resistant creature's mind or body. If the spell acts on anything else (the air, the ground, the room's light), and the creature is affected as a consequence, no roll is required. Creatures can be harmed by a spell without being directly affected.

Spell resistance does not apply if an effect fools the creature's senses or reveals something about the creature, such as minor illusion or detect thoughts does.

Magic actually has to be working for spell resistance to apply. Spells that have instantaneous durations but lasting results aren't subject to spell resistance unless the resistant creature is exposed to the spell the instant it is cast.

When in doubt about whether a spell's effect is direct or indirect, consider the spell's school:

Successful Spell Resistance

Spell resistance prevents a spell or a spell-like ability from affecting or harming the resistant creature, but it never removes a magical effect from another creature or negates a spell's effect on another creature. Spell resistance prevents a spell from disrupting another spell.

Against an ongoing spell that has already been cast, a failed check against spell resistance allows the resistant creature to ignore any effect the spell might have. The magic continues to affect others normally.


The creature can swallow opponents it holds (see Improved Grab, above). If it makes a second successful grapple check after a grab, it swallows its prey. Unless otherwise noted, the opponent can be up to one size category smaller than the swallowing creature. Damage is usually bludgeoning, often accompanied by acid damage from the creature’s digestive juices. The consequences of being swallowed vary with the creature and are explained in its descriptive text.


As a standard action during its turn each round, the creature can literally run over an opponent at least one size category smaller than itself. The creature merely has to move over the opponent. The trample deals bludgeoning damage, and the creature’s descriptive text lists the amount.

Trampled opponents can attempt attacks of opportunity, but these incur a -4 penalty. If they do not make attacks of opportunity, trampled opponents can attempt Reflex saves for half damage. The save DC is 10 + 1/2 trampling creature’s HD + trampling creature’s Strength modifier (the exact DC is given in the creature’s descriptive text).


A creature with tremorsense locates other creatures by sensing vibrations in the ground.

The creature automatically senses the location of anything that is in contact with the ground and within range.

If no straight path exists through the ground from the creature to those that it's sensing, then the range defines the maximum distance of the shortest indirect path. It must itself be in contact with the ground, and the creatures must be moving.

As long as the other creatures are taking physical actions, including casting spells with somatic components, they're considered moving; they don't have to move from place to place for a creature with tremorsense to detect them.


By virtue of superior strength of will or just plain unholy power, some creatures (usually undead) are less easily affected by clerics or paladins.

Turn resistance is an extraordinary ability.

When resolving a turn, rebuke, command, or bolster attempt, added the listed bonus to the creature's Hit Dice total.

(c)2003 Jeffrey A. Mills, DVM

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