Ask the Kobold: Gaze Attacks
I need a little clarification for gaze attacks; it seems that those attacks are always functioning. For example, a character who begins a turn within range of a creature with a gaze attack must make the appropriate saving throw.
However, a creature with a gaze attack also can take an action to force another save on its turn. How does that work, exactly? Why would an action be necessary if the gaze always is working? What, exactly, does it take to make a gaze attack work?
Is a gaze attack something that could have a limited number of uses per day? If so, would the gaze attack only function from activation until the beginning of the next turn, or more like a vampire’s gaze attack? [More...]
Yes, a true gaze attack is always on. Foes can meet the gaze by accident. And, a creature with a gaze attack can try to catch someone’s eye and thus use the attack aggressively.
A creature with a gaze attack need do nothing to have foes meet its gaze by accident. Any foe who can see the creature (and is within the gaze attack’s range) must make a save against the attack at the beginning of its turn.
A creature with a gaze attack can actively attempt to use its gaze as an attack. This takes a standard action from the creature as it tries to catch someone’s eye.
In either case, all that is required for the gaze to work is that a subject within range and line of sight to the creature with the gaze attack.
If the creature with the gaze has concealment against a potential subject, the subject might not need to make the save. In this case, the subject has a 50% to not need to attempt a save to avoid the gaze. If the gazing creature has total concealment the subject has a 100% of not needing a save.
A potential subject can effectively grant the gazing creature concealment by averting its gaze (concealment) or simply by closing its eyes or wearing a blindfold (total concealment). The concealment only applies to the creature averting or closing its eyes, and it applies to everything the creature does. For example, if you avert your eyes against a medusa and gain a 50% chance to avoid its gaze without a saving throw, your attacks against the medusa also have a 50% miss chance.
The rules don’t say so, but it stands to reason that a creature with a gaze attack can conceal itself by wearing a hood, veil, or mask. The creature can also choose to completely negate its own gaze attack without blinding itself.
A “per day” gaze attack could work. I recommend giving each use a duration of some kind, say a few rounds for a true gaze attack.
Some monsters (the vampire comes to mind) have something that works a little like a gaze attack. It works only when the creature uses an action to make someone meet its gaze. Such attacks are even easier to limit with uses per day—you wouldn’t need a duration, just a number of uses.
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