Invisibility is for more than just Halflings with golden rings!
It is worth it to go unseen and unheard when danger is about, and that is the best way to drop the hurt down on some unsuspecting monsters in a dungeon.
So today, me and the boys in the lab are going to talk to you about the merits of being invisible and how to make the most out of it.
How Does Invisibility Work?
In the Pathfinder RPG, being Invisible is considered one of a myriad of Conditions. Each one is sort of like a setting for your character. It modifies what your character can do or can’t do for a specific period of time.
Pathfinder 1st Edition
Invisibility in Pathfinder 1e seems rather simple at first, but it has a great deal of caveats.
The best way to look at this condition is to go over the Invisibility Special Ability, which breaks down everything that being invisible gets you.
To simplify if you are invisible:
- You cannot be perceived visually, even by Darkvision
- You are immune to the Ranger Favored Enemy Ability and by Sneak Attacks, but not by Critical Hits
- You can still be detected, but not just by sight. There is a DC 20 Perception test to detect if there might be something there that can only be done within 30 feet of you. Even then, they have to make a second Perception Test (DC your Stealth Test +20) to even pinpoint the approximate location of you. Should they attempt to attack or grab you, they still suffer a 50 percent miss chance thanks to your full concealment.
- If you are touched or struck by an attack, the enemy can still keep attacking you unless you move, then they will have to pinpoint you again.
- If you pick up an object, that object remains visible until you find a way to hide it (shove it in a pocket, wrap it in your cloak).
- You still leave tracks and displace water, so you can be tracked by your footprints or splashing.
- Characters or creatures with the Scent, Blindsight, or Blindsense can perceive you as normal.
- If you are carrying something that emanates light, like a torch, it still sheds light.
- You cannot use gaze attacks, as they require your target looking into your eyes.
- Divination spells still affect you, like Scrying.
- You gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls against sighted opponents.
- Your enemy does not gain their Dexterity Bonus to their AC.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition
Second Edition Pathfinder is very similar, but rather than listing rules has invisibility more like a cascade of conditions. This makes it easier to sort of build another condition from the ground up, as it were.
If you have the Invisible Condition:
- You have the Undetected Condition to everyone around you. Others around you cannot visually perceive you, and cannot target you specifically for attacks of effects. Though you can still get caught in Area of Effects.
- When making attacks against opponents, your opponents are considered Flat-Footed.
- Opponents can use the Seek action to attempt to see you. This is resisted by your Stealth skill. If they succeed on this check, you are still considered Hidden.
How to Turn Invisible
Well, first you craft a gold ring and bind all of the other rings of power to….
Wait, sorry. Wrong story.
You COULD do that, but there might be some more economical and non-corrupting options available to you.
By its very nature, Pathfinder Invisibility is very much magical in nature. At its most basic, the best way to gain an invisibility effect is to just have the spell cast on you.
Pathfinder First Edition
Pathfinder 1st Edition has the Invisibility and Greater Invisibility spells. When the spell is cast on you, both you and your items become invisible. However, if you drop anything, they become visible like normal. If any item carried by the affected individual extends beyond 10 feet from the person, then that item will become visible as well.
You can interact with the world normally, but if you attempt to attack the effect ends.
This spell can be made permanent by using a Permanency spell on the effect, but this will only work on an object not a person.
Greater Invisibility works the same but is a group effect. Should a person move more than 180 feet (36 squares) from the other nearest party member, the effect on them will end.
Creatures can use Invisibility as Spell-Like Abilities or Supernatural Abilities. Duergar, Fey, and Outsiders can often have the ability to turn themselves or other immortal, making them very dangerous foes.
There are also some alternative abilities and spells that offer an invisibility effect.
Vanish is an early arcane spell that allows certain spellcasters to become invisible for a short period of time (1 round/caster level).
Inquisitors also have an ability called Clandestine Inquisition, which allows them to be invisible for a short period of time.
Pathfinder Second Edition
Like 1st edition, Pathfinder 2e has the ever popular Invisibility Spell. It is very much like the above 1st edition spells, including the effect ending if you take a hostile action. However, you do get the ability to heighten that effect to do away with that caveat.
There are also some other spells that provide an invisibility effect: Invisible Item, Invisibility Sphere, Invisibility Curtain, Drop Dead, Blinding Fury, Mislead, and Disappearance are all spells at your disposal to play around with various invisibility effects.
Items granting invisibility are ICONIC in fantasy literature and mythology. Harry Potter’s cloak and the Ring of Power are the two items that immediately come to mind.
Pathfinder 1st Edition has its own Ring of Invisibility, but also has a few different cloaks of invisibility. There is the Cape of Effulgent Escape, the Cloak of Fiery Vanishing for those characters who are VERY extra.
There is also a fun little item called the Snapleaf, that is a limited use item that can grant you a short limited invisibility. Dust of Disappearance can also be used to gain a limited or greater invisibility.
It is also possible to craft your own Invisibility items using the Craft Wondrous Item feat, as long as you have the feat and the spell.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition has their own Invisibility armor rune that could be applied to any light armor. It comes with both lesser and greater qualities. The Greater giving you the option to use more than once a day.
Both versions have their own Potions of Invisibility, though with varying gold prices. This later option is probably the best and most versatile use of Invisibility as it lets you create your own moments to use the spell.
How to Make the Most Out of Being Invisible
One of the biggest limitations of Invisibility in BOTH editions is the fact that the Invisibility loses its effect the moment you take a hostile action. This can be somewhat limiting obviously, but this means that the Invisibility effect is most best used for reconnaissance and scouting.
The most stealthy party member uses invisibility to get in and get out, hopefully without being noticed. If they are noticed in any way, the concealment and miss chance are their way to retreat without getting into danger.
Following that, if the party is starting to lose a fight and needs to hastily withdraw from the combat, Invisibility can help you get the heck out of dodge and save your hides.
Typically you want to break line of sight, and then drop your invisibility effects to make sure you stay concealed. Just make sure you don’t leave any tracks behind that may allow your enemy to follow you.
This is where everyone in the party having an emergency bottle of Invisibility Potion would REALLY come in handy. Everyone drinks and runs! Kind of like when the bartender calls the tab at the tavern.
Finally, invisibility can be indispensable to a possible “Alpha Strike” type scenario. How good is an Ambush if your enemy can’t even perceive you? This is why the Duergar are so feared since they were introduced in the far off time of 1983. Their invisibility could make them set up perfect ambushes for the player characters.
Two can play at that game! Set yourself up for an ambush, and let your Rogue(s) get that first sweet sneak attack from invisibility without your enemies being even the wiser.
Granted your honorable fighters and paladins are probably not going to go for that option. However, like the enemies you are about to ambush: what they don’t know won’t hurt you!
Keep it Secret and Keep it Safe, Pathfinder!