Bard's Fascination ability: broken?
- From: "Waldo" <peggoliathy@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 15 Oct 2005 07:13:21 -0700
I have an out-of-control Bard PC.
7th level. Maxed ranks in Perform, then took Skill Focus. 17 Cha plus
a +2 cloak means his total Perform is +18.
So. As a standard action, he can try to Fascinate. The creature gets
a Will save, but the average DC is going to be 28, so most CR 7-10
creatures will fail miserably.
Note that Fascination works on pretty much everything but mindless
things and undead. As a spell-like ability, it's subject to spell
resistance, but otherwise works fine on animals and outsiders alike.
Furthermore, you're allowed to Fascinate hostile creatures -- even
creatures that are attacking you, or are about to. The requirements
are minimal: the victim must be within 90 feet, able to see and hear
the bard, and able to pay attention to him. There can't be melee
combat or other loud, distracting activity going on nearby.
The bard can only use this once per day per level, but by 7th level
this hardly matters anymore.
True, the Fascination is broken if anyone casts a spell, approaches the
victim, or draws a weapon. (An interesting question is, what if you
have weapons already drawn? The PHB doesn't address this.) However,
it still allows party members to drink potions, do a quick search for
treasure, hide, and/or back out of sight to cast buff spells. It also
allows the party to gain a free round, by simply delaying their actions
until after the victim's initiative.
(N.B., the Bard has +7 init. So he usually goes early in the round,
allowing him to try Fascination right off.)
If the PCs play carefully, the cumulative effect of this can be quite
large. A recent example: the PCs were attacked by a BBEG, an evil
cleric who surprised them and hit them with a Flame Strike. Everybody
failed their saves and took ~34 points of damage. Since the BBEG was
11th level, and the party's average level is 8th, this was seriously
But: on his initiative, the Bard simply declared Fascination. After
all, the evil priest was 60 feet away, mutually visible, and -- the
player reasonably pointed out -- not in melee with them. Under the
straight rules from the PH, this was a legitimate tactic. I did slap a
negative modifier on it, but it didn't matter; the bard was still
easily able to roll a 30 or so, and my cleric simply couldn't make it.
Result: the party was able to escape, cure up, and prepare an ambush.
I wouldn't mind so much, but by this time they'd already used Fascinate
on pretty much everyone of the BBEG's non-undead minions. And they're
now starting to /flee/ melee, so that their enemies become eligible for
To make matters worse, A fascinated creature becomes vulnerable to the
bard's Suggestion power. This, thank goodness, has a reasonable DC --
just 17 in this case (though it's going up to 19 when he next levels).
Still, it means the bard gets up to seven free Suggestions per day.
He's using this power liberally, and it's pretty devastating,
particularly against low level guards-at-the gate and such.
One furious debate has been whether the bard gets to make one
Suggestion per use of Fascinate; or one use per fascinated creature per
use of Fascinate (because he can zap up to three at a time); or one use
per fascinated creature _per round_.
I've enforced the second. If the bard Fascinates three creatures, he
can throw one Suggestion at each of them; if he wants more, he has to
re-Fascinate them. This seems pretty liberal to me (since it gives up
to 21 Suggestions/day, and allows the bard to keep trying to Suggest
with an easy re-Fascination roll).
But the players have been loudly complaining. They say that the rule,
strictly read, would allow the bard to use it once per round, giving
him as many as 49 Suggestions per day. Their argument is that both
Fascination and Suggestion are spell-like abilities, and that when
these have limits on uses, those limits are always in the description.
The description of the bard's Suggestion power has no such limit; ergo,
there isn't one.
If anyone knows a good argument to counter this, I'd really like to
Anyway. Am I missing something here? Because even with just one
Suggestion per victim, this is still pretty powerful. The Fascinate
power alone is forcing me to change my tactics.
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