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Chapter 2: Tools / Building Creatures / Design Abilities

Constant and Automatic Abilities

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 69
Certain abilities shouldn’t use any actions. Auras are a common constant ability, with frightful presence, an adult red dragon’s dragon heat, and a xulgath’s stench as notable examples. An aura needs a range, and if it needs a DC, you’ll usually set it to the moderate spell DC unless the aura is one of the creature’s defining concepts. For example, the xulgath’s stench DC is significantly higher because the aura is such an iconic part of the creature.

Abilities the creature has no control over should be automatic. For example, the living wildfire fire elemental explodes into flame when it dies. It has no option not to, so this wouldn’t make sense as a reaction or free action. Conversely, the Ferocity ability is a reaction because it requires the creature to give itself a last push to stay at 1 HP.

Constant and Automatic Damage

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 69
Much like for reactions, damage for a constant ability should be pretty low. Usually this value is just below low Strike damage. Automatic abilities like the living wildfire’s explosion ability tend to deal moderate Strike damage or unlimited-use area damage, and can deal even more if they happen only after the creature is dead or otherwise no longer presents a threat.