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Girls like swarms of lizards, right? - Spider swarm craziness


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Fake Healer wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Mirror, Mirror wrote:
But, to take your concerns to the extreme, are ALL creatures with regeneration "crabs", since a party unprepared to counter their regeneration cannot kill them? That is essentially the same argument you used above.
No, as long as the substance that stops regeneration is level appropriate. For instance, a troll's regeneration is stopped by fire or acid, and it's certainly appropriate to expect that a 5th level party would have some method of creating fire in combat. If the regeneration was only stopped by +5 weapons (say), then that would be unfair because a 5th level party can't be reasonably expected to have a +5 weapon (notwithstanding the fact that they could probably pool their money and buy a single +5 arrow).
Agreed, so accordingly you can say that a 1st level party has access to torches, oil, 1st level scrolls and spells, and alchemist's fire.

Yes to the first two (although they work somewhat poorly, assuming that torches work at all), no to the second two (which are poor uses of money to a level 1 PC in the same sense that a +5 arrow is a poor use of money to a level 5 PC).

Qadira

Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:
tejón wrote:
If you hit something flammable (like most characters and many creatures, according to the rules for catching on fire) it's the best damage spell available at 1st and 2nd levels, falling to Scorching Ray at 3rd...
PRD wrote:

Catching on Fire

Characters exposed to burning oil, bonfires, and non-instantaneous magic fires might find their clothes, hair, or equipment on fire. Spells with an instantaneous duration don't normally set a character on fire, since the heat and flame from these come and go in a flash.

Characters at risk of catching fire are allowed a DC 15 Reflex save to avoid this fate. If a character's clothes or hair catch fire, he takes 1d6 points of damage immediately. In each subsequent round, the burning character must make another Reflex saving throw. Failure means he takes another 1d6 points of damage that round. Success means that the fire has gone out—that is, once he succeeds on his saving throw, he's no longer on fire.

A character on fire may automatically extinguish the flames by jumping into enough water to douse himself. If no body of water is at hand, rolling on the ground or smothering the fire with cloaks or the like permits the character another save with a +4 bonus.

Those whose clothes or equipment catch fire must make DC 15 Reflex saves for each item. Flammable items that fail take the same amount of damage as the character.

PRD wrote:

Burning Hands

School evocation [fire]; Level sorcerer/wizard 1
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range 15 ft.
Area cone-shaped burst
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw Reflex half; Spell Resistance yes
A cone of searing flame shoots from your fingertips. Any creature in the area of the flames takes 1d4 points of fire damage per caster level (maximum 5d4). Flammable materials burn if the flames touch them. A character can extinguish burning items as a full-round action.
...

Even if the spiders can't catch on fire, you could toss a blanket into their area or follow up an oil flask toss for a really cool spider fire. Or hell, just whack the swarm with lit torches. Or read one of the 15 different scrolls you bought as a 1st level dude afterwards. Or Alchemist's fire. Or any combination of the above really.

The point is that a party should be prepared for this stuff and should, especially at low levels, be relying more on mundane gear and consumable magic items (scrolls mostly). If they spend 95% of their money on the best armor and weapons they can afford and forgo buying adventuring gear then they get what they deserve.

Qadira

hogarth wrote:
Fake Healer wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Mirror, Mirror wrote:
But, to take your concerns to the extreme, are ALL creatures with regeneration "crabs", since a party unprepared to counter their regeneration cannot kill them? That is essentially the same argument you used above.
No, as long as the substance that stops regeneration is level appropriate. For instance, a troll's regeneration is stopped by fire or acid, and it's certainly appropriate to expect that a 5th level party would have some method of creating fire in combat. If the regeneration was only stopped by +5 weapons (say), then that would be unfair because a 5th level party can't be reasonably expected to have a +5 weapon (notwithstanding the fact that they could probably pool their money and buy a single +5 arrow).
Agreed, so accordingly you can say that a 1st level party has access to torches, oil, 1st level scrolls and spells, and alchemist's fire.
Yes to the first two (although they work somewhat poorly, assuming that torches work at all), no to the second two (which are poor uses of money to a level 1 PC in the same sense that a +5 arrow is a poor use of money to a level 5 PC).

Since when is a 25gp scroll (or 12.5gp if you made it) a bad investment? A wizard starts with an average of 70gp and about 25gp worth of must-have equipment (spellbook, component pouch, and some sort of simple weapon). A wizzo then has 50gp worth of stuff to buy....Acid-10gp, Alc-Fire-20gp, scrolls at 12.5 or 25gp each....and that is just one character. The rest of the party should be contributing to the damage also by picking up a flask or 2 of acid or some Alc-Fire or helping out to pay for some scrolls or with torches.


Fake Healer wrote:
Since when is a 25gp scroll (or 12.5gp if you made it) a bad investment?

Buying enough 25 gp scrolls to kill a spider swarm (3 or 4?) on the off chance you happen to encounter one is a poor investment, especially compared to flasks of oil or torches. A few flasks of alchemist's fire or acid is perhaps marginally worth it.


hogarth wrote:
Buying enough 25 gp scrolls to kill a spider swarm (3 or 4?) on the off chance you happen to encounter one is a poor investment, especially compared to flasks of oil or torches. A few flasks of alchemist's fire or acid is perhaps marginally worth it.

I often find Alchemist Fire worth the investment, FWIW. However, since even Oil and Torches can be used, and are VERY standard equipment, I feel the original point stands: Spider Swarm CR1 is not a "crab".

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:
PRD wrote:
Characters exposed to burning oil, bonfires, and non-instantaneous magic fires might find their clothes, hair, or equipment on fire. Spells with an instantaneous duration don't normally set a character on fire, since the heat and flame from these come and go in a flash.

Back at ya. Sorry, the argument that cloth is not a material and a backpack is not an item won't fly with me. The inclusion of hair in particular leads me to conclude that catching on fire is intended to be a risk to most creatures in most situations. Burning hands calls itself out as an exception to the rule on instantaneous fire, and I'll add that it's a pretty rare one.

Though spiders wouldn't burn very well, I agree. Note that I referred to dry grass earlier.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Fake Healer wrote:
Exactly. Toss a level appropriate troll at an unprepared party and they are stuck and they start complaining that the DM tossed something too hard at them.

Beat it into unconsciousness, then tie it up / put a large object on it / toss it in a hole / lock it in a room / have someone stand there stabbing it in the head every so often. A troll without fire or acid is merely a hard fight which turns somewhat annoying after you win it. You don't need fire/acid to have any chance at all.

It's still not good game design to tell a new group of players, "Oh, you didn't think to bring oil? Well, roll some new characters then."


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:
Fake Healer wrote:
Exactly. Toss a level appropriate troll at an unprepared party and they are stuck and they start complaining that the DM tossed something too hard at them.
Beat it into unconsciousness, then tie it up / put a large object on it / toss it in a hole / lock it in a room / have someone stand there stabbing it in the head every so often. A troll without fire or acid is merely a hard fight which turns somewhat annoying after you win it. You don't need fire/acid to have any chance at all.

Actually, once you knock it down, have one person hack it every other round, then get some wood and such together and start a bonfire. Roll it onto the bonfire. Dead Troll.

EDIT: Technically, though, all you have to do is light a torch and hit him with it. That does 1pt of fire damage. If he's -con or lower, he dies from that 1 pt of fire under the new rules.


A Man In Black wrote:
It's still not good game design to tell a new group of players, "Oh, you didn't think to bring oil? Well, roll some new characters then."

Not exactly. Just out-run the halfling/gnome/dwarf. It can't kill EVERYONE unless you let it.

And this problem is not just limited to 1st level. ANY party will be defeated unless they have the proper means to counter a swarm. It's part of the basic nature of a swarm. If you want to claim the weapon-immune enemies IN GENERAL are bad game design, that's something else.

However, if we assume that a higher level party WILL have the resources to deal with a swarm, then why do we make an exception at lower levels, especially when the items necessary to completly eliminate the enemy are so readily available?


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You shouldn't assume higher level parties can deal with swarms either. I played in a game where we lost all our equipment (stolen when we were captured), then the ship we were on (slave galley) sank and we washed up on shore.

The GM didn't think about the fact we had no spellcaster (just as well, no spell books), and so we only had equipment we had scavanged from the wreck. Nothing at all to deal with a swarm. He set 3 swarms of ants on us.

He finally gave us a pass on it, otherwise we'd have either died or gotten killed by old age trying to get past them. (We needed to get through a cave to get out of the jungle islet we were on, it's fuzzy, I remember we needed to go through the cave for some reason to reach civilization).

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Mirror, Mirror wrote:
And this problem is not just limited to 1st level. ANY party will be defeated unless they have the proper means to counter a swarm. It's part of the basic nature of a swarm. If you want to claim the weapon-immune enemies IN GENERAL are bad game design, that's something else.

They are. They're ESPECIALLY bad game design when they're designed to be faced by a party who is much less likely to accidentally have the red key. There's a reason that there aren't any CR 1 incorporeal enemies (or if there are, I need to write another one of these threads).

But I expect to see at least a few more posts that could be search-replaced to say "You didn't have a +2 weapon to kill the gargoyle? Well, players should learn to be prepared to face gargoyles and have that kind of thing ready beforehand! Heaven forbid players should never have to run away from an enemy because of their random and arbitrary immunities to anything the party can possibly do!"


A Man In Black wrote:
They are. They're ESPECIALLY bad game design when they're designed to be faced by a party who is much less likely to accidentally have the red key. There's a reason that there aren't any CR 1 incorporeal enemies (or if there are, I need to write another one of these threads).

Actually, a CR1 incorporeal creature would probably be EASIER to defeat than a swarm :P

Anyway, if all encounters could be dealt with in all ways, the game would be tediously dull. The fact that unusual monsters with differing strengths and immunities have various weaknesses is a big strength of the game, and GOOD game design. That a low-level creature needs some prep to deal with is not unlike anything else with immunities and abilities.

And I don't throw lycanthropes with DR 10/Gold and SR 20 at 5th level parties unless I think they can actually defeat them. Usually after giving them a few gold weapons and checking they have spells with no SR allowed...

Andoran

Exactly. This monster is particularly significant because it's CR 1.

CR 1 means that one of them should pose a minor challenge to a group of first level adventurers.

CR 1 monsters should not be immune to anything, ever, period. This thing is immune to all the damaging things any first level character is likely to have.

For a party of four characters to safely beat a single swarm, each of them would have to have one AoE effect (alchemist fire, acid flask, oil+torch, burning hands). It will take at least two hits, three on bad damage rolls, and one could miss.

Things like Torches, Alchemist Fire, etc are NOT something that should be assumed for a level one party. Even you think they should be, there's a number of fellow players saying they aren't, especially among newer, inexperienced players.

The fighter won't have any. he might not even have a torch - he's the tank, he has to spend all his money on all the other gear. The rogue might have a single acid flask, if he could fit it in with all the various other nit-nacks he's buying. The cleric is in the same position as the fighter, but might have one burning hands. The wizard, again, might have one burning hands prepared, and is the most likely to have alchemist fire or the like, as he has the most disposable income and a hard limit on really useful things he can do.

That's three mights and one maybe, far short of the four needed to safely insure defeat of ONE spider swarm. The CR is too low.

CR 1 means that a group of players new to the game could wind up fighting this thing on their first session. Against a group of inexperienced players, or players who just didn't think about swarms, one of these would wipe the party.

Or force them to run, assuming they think to do so (or the DM thinks to suggest it), but again, CR 1 means potential first monster that a player ever fights - he shouldn't have to run from that.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Quote:
And I don't throw lycanthropes with DR 10/Gold and SR 20 at 5th level parties unless I think they can actually defeat them. Usually after giving them a few gold weapons and checking they have spells with no SR allowed...

...or at least a reliable way to escape and acquire such things. The idea that the party should always win and never have to even consider retreat honestly irks me.

This doesn't apply only to creature encounters, either. There are times when you need to traverse a 30 foot chasm with crocodiles below. Plenty of stalagmites. Did you bring a grappling hook?

This sort of thing shouldn't happen often, but it should happen. Stymieing the players once in a while makes their victory sweeter when it's attained. It's a built-in side quest (and the trip home shouldn't be encounter-free, either).


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If spells affected a swarm the way elemental damage from a weapon does, then they would indeed be a CR 1 monster. Most wizards or sorcerers can cast at least one of Ray of Frost or Acid Splash, and that's a 1d3 at will spell. Yes, it might take forever to kill a swarm with that, but, it can be done. It would take 3 to 9 rounds, but it's certainly possible.

Andoran

tejón wrote:
Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:
PRD wrote:
Characters exposed to burning oil, bonfires, and non-instantaneous magic fires might find their clothes, hair, or equipment on fire. Spells with an instantaneous duration don't normally set a character on fire, since the heat and flame from these come and go in a flash.
Back at ya. Sorry, the argument that cloth is not a material and a backpack is not an item won't fly with me. The inclusion of hair in particular leads me to conclude that catching on fire is intended to be a risk to most creatures in most situations. Burning hands calls itself out as an exception to the rule on instantaneous fire, and I'll add that it's a pretty rare one.

The sticking point for me is that burning hands deviates from the standard in terms of extinguishing the fire. Forgetting for the moment that clothing, backpacks, hair, etc is normally considered to be part of the character for many rules, burning hands allows you to extinguish items with a full-round action, which is mentioned no where in the rules for characters catching on fire. Instead of trying to bridge the two rules, I just declare them separate and say that characters can't catch fire from burning hands. YMMV.

Besides this one point, I agree with pretty much everything else you said in this thread. :)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:
The sticking point for me is that burning hands deviates from the standard in terms of extinguishing the fire.

To be fair, the main text doesn't mention an action at all for smothering the fire; perhaps burning hands is the primary source text for that? All of the text in question is copy/paste from the 3.5 SRD, which was such a mishmash of poor edits that I'm not sure what to believe anymore. ;)

Without the ability to catch you on fire, burning hands just sucks. With that feature, it's a solid first level spell (still not the best on the list, but there are reasons to pick it). More than anything, that's what guides my ruling in this case.


BobChuck wrote:
For a party of four characters to safely beat a single swarm, each of them would have to have one AoE effect (alchemist fire, acid flask, oil+torch, burning hands). It will take at least two hits, three on bad damage rolls, and one could miss.

Check those numbers again. 85% chance to kill the swarm with a single Alchemist's Fire. Or 2 flasks of Oil (slightly less chance, but still). Torches dealing 1d3's mean if they all have 1 torch, they can likely beat the thing to death in 2 rounds, 1 if they get lucky.

Really, only 1 of them needs to have a really good AoE.

But let's consider this from another angle: Would the spider swarm even be a challenge to a 2nd level party? Now they most certainly DO have the resources to be prepared for the encounter, and it's really quite trivial. A single Burning Hands from the Wiz can easily take 1/2 it's hp away. To say this is a CR 2 creature is to greatly overvalue it's worth. So much so, in fact, the shortest route from level 1 to 2 would be finding spider swarms and throwing Oil at them! 2 swarms would be CR 4, and a sinch to SOLO the encounter!

THAT would be poor game design...


I would find it a bit ridiculous if a 1st level party killed themselves on a spider swarm. The speed of the swarm would let most party members escape without the swarm easily catching up. The intelligence of the swarm is also a factor, I imagine that a party could leave something to distract the swarm or otherwise outwit the creatures relying on instinct.

I would also expect party members to have torches, just as much as I expect them to have bags and rope. I wouldn't feel bad at all if a party needed to leave a dungeon just because rope was needed to travel deeper into the dungeon. I would have similar feelings if the party has to retreat because they lack fire.

Though, I wouldn't really send them against a first level party thinking of them as a CR 1 monster if they party wasn't specifically set up to oppose them (alchemist fire, burning hands, etc.). I would only really treat them as CR 1 monsters when the party is a slightly higher level and is more guaranteed to have options against the swarm.


A Man In Black wrote:
You know, repeating the argument sarcastically doesn't make it a better one. Generally, level X parties should not need to flee in fear from unintelligent CR X foes. Never mind that unless the party runs flat out quadruple speed the swarm is just faster than they are.

You've made the claim that spider swarms move at 80'/round twice now, but looking in the Bestiary I can clearly see that spider swarms have a movement of 20'. Unless, of course, you are claiming that mindless vermin always sprint for quadruple their normal speed...?

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Kurukami wrote:
You've made the claim that spider swarms move at 80'/round twice now, but looking in the Bestiary I can clearly see that spider swarms have a movement of 20'. Unless, of course, you are claiming that mindless vermin always sprint for quadruple their normal speed...?

You're claiming they don't?

Vermin have a simple program: if they can perceive food without danger between here and there, they move as quickly as possible toward food while avoiding danger. If food is moving or breathing, kill it.


The important stuff I'm gleaning out of this discussion includes the following (in no particular order):

1. Paizo accidentally left out the Vulnerabilities of Swarms in their core rules (this has been posted to the errata thread). One has to remember that as intended (but not yet errataed), flaming items like torches and lanterns do more damage to them than to normal creatures.

2. One big problem with Pathfinder specifically is that at-will cantrips, particularly light spells, makes it less likely a party will have torches or oil. Before PFRPG, I'd not heard of a party that wouldn't. It's possible, certainly, but in my opinion, unlikely.

3. However, a prepared party, even a first level one, can probably take out a swarm fairly easily. It will be a challenging fight, but far from impossible. The issue is indeed preparation.

4. Unless a party is comprised entirely of small creatures/dwarves, the party can probably out-run the swarm if need be. Other creativity regarding the mindlessness of the swarm may also keep the swarm from the party--frex, throw it meat--a swarm will go after the most easily caught prey; or leave the swarm's lair--they may only be protecting certain territory and are unlikely to pursue if that's the case. Folks have to remember that depleting a creature's hit points is not the only way to resolve a combat.

The end result as I see it is that regarding adventure design, the designer and/or GM has to make sure that the swarm is an appropriate encounter for the party encountering it, not just based on CR alone. Giving them the opportunity--but not handfeeding them--to be prepared is probably a good idea. It IS, under the right circumstances, level-appropriate, but not something a GM can toss into a dungeon willy-nilly (fortunately, the GM has a gillion other CR 1 encounters to choose if that one seems inappropriate).

It is too powerful to be a "typical" CR 1 encounter, but a "use common sense" matter of when an enemy like that will be appropriate.

Which really, is true of nearly every possible enemy a party may face. A red dragon is "overpowered" if the party has no magic weapons or access to fire resistance. That doesn't necessarily make it CR inappropriate, just not appropriate--or damned hard--for the given party in question.

Other thoughts: I always take CR generally as a suggestion (Frankly, I would never choose a creature as an appropriate encounter for a party SOLELY based on CR, but then I played 3.5 for far too long ;) ), and furthermore, I find certain monsters to be not best as 1 creature versus party fights, but for group fights versus parties of higher level. So, I might not throw a Spider Swarm at a 1st level party, but I may throw 2 Spider Swarms at a 3rd level party (2 of one "creature" equals the creature's CR+2)--that party at WBL guidelines will have 3,000 GP worth of equipment and be a lot more likely to have a few alchemical items that fit the bill.

The solution then is maybe--room permitting--to offer GMs tactics advice in future bestiaries. Stuff like, "Use this in groups versus high level parties, but despite this being a CR 1 monster, it should not be used as a level 1 encounter except when the party is prepared" would be very useful.


Mirror, Mirror wrote:
Check those numbers again. 85% chance to kill the swarm with a single Alchemist's Fire.

I think you left the touch attack out of your calculation; a spider swarm has a touch AC of 17...


A Man In Black wrote:
Vermin have a simple program: if they can perceive food without danger between here and there, they move as quickly as possible toward food while avoiding danger. If food is moving or breathing, kill it.

They also do not descriminate PC-based food from generic flanks of meat, so throwing some meat at a swarm should pacify them, based on your own premises. 5lbs of meat should be enough, so feed the swarm with the meat the party packed for the trip and walk on by. The vermin won't even try to attack them.

10lbs of meat, and the swarm should be full till the party leaves again. After all, they ARE mindless, and therefore only will hunt when hungry or feel attacked.

And if they are attacking because they feel attacked, they will NOT x4 move after the party after the PC's disengage. THAT would be hunger behavior.


hogarth wrote:
Mirror, Mirror wrote:
Check those numbers again. 85% chance to kill the swarm with a single Alchemist's Fire.
I think you left the touch attack out of your calculation; a spider swarm has a touch AC of 17...

Perhaps, but the floor has a touch AC of 5. I am assuming you are actually "attacking" the floor beneath the swarm when you use flasks and such. After all, the swarm shouldn't have the mass or the hardness to actually break the flask, right?


Mirror, Mirror wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Mirror, Mirror wrote:
Check those numbers again. 85% chance to kill the swarm with a single Alchemist's Fire.
I think you left the touch attack out of your calculation; a spider swarm has a touch AC of 17...
Perhaps, but the floor has a touch AC of 5. I am assuming you are actually "attacking" the floor beneath the swarm when you use flasks and such. After all, the swarm shouldn't have the mass or the hardness to actually break the flask, right?

If you attack the floor, you do splash damage (i.e. 1 point). I'm not saying that makes sense, but those are the rules.


hogarth wrote:
If you attack the floor, you do splash damage (i.e. 1 point). I'm not saying that makes sense, but those are the rules.

Well, good point. That drops the %age to 59.5, assuming you could get at least a +3 on the attack. You would need 2 to average it back to 85%.

It's still a decent tactic, though, and perefectly doable for a 1st level party.


Pony Stalker wrote:
Spiders are ikky and so are lizards.

/refrains from making a Little Miss Muffet joke

Happy Hanukkah


Mirror, Mirror wrote:
hogarth wrote:
If you attack the floor, you do splash damage (i.e. 1 point). I'm not saying that makes sense, but those are the rules.
Well, good point. That drops the %age to 59.5, assuming you could get at least a +3 on the attack.

I have no idea how you get a 59.5% chance of killing when the chance of hitting is only 35%.

EDIT: Fun fact -- out of all of the CR 1 creatures in the Bestiary, the spider swarm has the best touch AC (by a 2 point margin) and is tied for the best regular AC.


Hmm I know how I am going to settle this, I am going to start up a level 1 campaign in the next few weeks. My party is going to see a spider swarm and we'll see how they stand up. 2 members of the group tend to have things like acid flasks and alchemist fire, the rest probably wont have it. So we shall see what happens.

Qadira

Kolokotroni wrote:
Hmm I know how I am going to settle this, I am going to start up a level 1 campaign in the next few weeks. My party is going to see a spider swarm and we'll see how they stand up. 2 members of the group tend to have things like acid flasks and alchemist fire, the rest probably wont have it. So we shall see what happens.

I would like to hear how it goes. In the couple times that I have done the swarm thing to 1st level characters it was always a difficult fight but it was winnable and they never lost a PC, dropped one into negatives with a burning hands that rolled high after the swarm 'got him', but never a death.

You know, running a quick PBP playtest would work all this out....I wish I had the time to either run or play in one.


Cashmere is one of my PBP characters that I used to use, he had produce flame, a tanglefoot bag and a thunderstone. He would be able to help down the little beasties.


hogarth wrote:
Mirror, Mirror wrote:

I have no idea how you get a 59.5% chance of killing when the chance of hitting is only 35%.

EDIT: Fun fact -- out of all of the CR 1 creatures in the Bestiary, the spider swarm has the best touch AC (by a 2 point margin) and is tied for the best regular AC.

Doh! Took the inverse. It's 29.75, close to 30%.

Andoran

Mirror, Mirror wrote:
hogarth wrote:

I have no idea how you get a 59.5% chance of killing when the chance of hitting is only 35%.

EDIT: Fun fact -- out of all of the CR 1 creatures in the Bestiary, the spider swarm has the best touch AC (by a 2 point margin) and is tied for the best regular AC.

Doh! Took the inverse. It's 29.75, close to 30%.

see? you'd need four to be able to safely beat ONE swarm. Four uses of an item that costs 1/3 the wizards starting gold and has a single use. Four uses of an item that, due to it's price, is likely to be skipped over by at least one member of a four-person party, and certainly not doubled up on.

It's a nasty little mob.


BobChuck wrote:
see? you'd need four to be able to safely beat ONE swarm. Four uses of an item that costs 1/3 the wizards starting gold and has a single use. Four uses of an item that, due to it's price, is likely to be skipped over by at least one member of a four-person party, and certainly not doubled up on.

Flasks of Oil cost much less, and torches cost less, too. Torches can be used as a weapon and deal 1d3 damage per hit. Wiz could cast Burning Hands or Color spray to great effect.

Still not convinced. Yes, they are tough if unprepared. They would be underpowered at CR2, thus CR1.


Addt'l ways to counter swarms:

Produce Flame
Hypnotism
Sleep
Oil Flasks to the ground (AC5, burns everything on the square for 1d3 for 2 rounds)
Chill Touch

All available at lvl 1.


Mirror, Mirror wrote:

Addt'l ways to counter swarms:

Produce Flame
Hypnotism
Sleep
Oil Flasks to the ground (AC5, burns everything on the square for 1d3 for 2 rounds)
Chill Touch

All available at lvl 1.

Sleep and Hypnotism don't work against a spider swarm (vermin are immune to mind-affecting spells).


hogarth wrote:
Sleep and Hypnotism don't work against a spider swarm (vermin are immune to mind-affecting spells).

Yes, but not all swarms are vermin. I should have specified I was speaking more generically.

And I'm not really sure, but it seems Magic Missile, Acid Splash, and Ray of Frost would also work...


They can't be targeted by spells. That is to say, they can't be the target of spells that say like "1 target" or whatever. Has to be AoE. The exception for this being mental attacks against a swarm with a hive mind.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Can't be targeted by spells, but attacks with elemental damage do affect them per accidentally-omitted vulnerabilities text. Chill touch and produce flame would seem to fit that bill, but there are other rules which make them questionable. Disintegrate is the book example for a single-target spell, so ranged touch spells are out. What about regular touch spells (shocking grasp)? What if you hold the charge? Very odd rules tangle, there.

Andoran

Anyway, the point is, swarms are nasty, CR 1 swarms specially so.


But you maight not even need to fight them. They make no attacks, take no AoO's, so just run right by them. If they give chase, when you find the next opponent, run past them too and toun around and watch the fight.


tejón wrote:
Can't be targeted by spells, but attacks with elemental damage do affect them per accidentally-omitted vulnerabilities text. Chill touch and produce flame would seem to fit that bill, but there are other rules which make them questionable. Disintegrate is the book example for a single-target spell, so ranged touch spells are out. What about regular touch spells (shocking grasp)? What if you hold the charge? Very odd rules tangle, there.

That's kind of a stretch, don't you think?

prd wrote:
A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures

Touch spells such as shocking grasp say:

prd wrote:
Target: creature or object touched

That is a targeted spell.

Burning hands says:

prd wrote:
Area: cone-shaped burst

There is no "target" for burning hands and such spells.


There is a logical problem that a swarm CAN be hit with a burning torch or flask of acid, but a ball of flame produced by a spell cannot "touch" the same said swarm (produce flame).

I suppose that if diminutive or fine swarms were immune to ALL but AoE spells, including splash weapons, that WOULD qualify the Spider Swarm to CR 2 or 3.

However, as things are, are they really CR 2?

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Mirror, Mirror wrote:
There is a logical problem that a swarm CAN be hit with a burning torch or flask of acid, but a ball of flame produced by a spell cannot "touch" the same said swarm (produce flame).

Produce flame may actually be the notable exception, because it's not a touch spell. Substitute shocking grasp or chill touch, though.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
tejón wrote:
Mirror, Mirror wrote:
There is a logical problem that a swarm CAN be hit with a burning torch or flask of acid, but a ball of flame produced by a spell cannot "touch" the same said swarm (produce flame).
Produce flame may actually be the notable exception, because it's not a touch spell. Substitute shocking grasp or chill touch, though.

What's even more illogical is that a flaming long sword still does 1d6 fire to the swarm, but a 2d6 scorching ray or orb of flame doesn't.

Honestly, I always ruled spells could damage them if they did elemental damage (otherwise energy weapons wouldn't be able to either).

Andoran

mdt wrote:
tejón wrote:
Mirror, Mirror wrote:
There is a logical problem that a swarm CAN be hit with a burning torch or flask of acid, but a ball of flame produced by a spell cannot "touch" the same said swarm (produce flame).
Produce flame may actually be the notable exception, because it's not a touch spell. Substitute shocking grasp or chill touch, though.

What's even more illogical is that a flaming long sword still does 1d6 fire to the swarm, but a 2d6 scorching ray or orb of flame doesn't.

Honestly, I always ruled spells could damage them if they did elemental damage (otherwise energy weapons wouldn't be able to either).

IK,R?

Fighter: I hit it with my flaming sword!
DM: Your sword is ineffective, but your flame harms it.
Wizard: I hit it with my flaming flame of fire spell!
DM: Your spell is ineffective.
Wizard: WTF? :'-(
Fighter: X-D


well it looks like we have the ultimate anti swarm class now, i dont think a party with an alchemist will have any problem at all with the swarm, it might even be too easy an encounter.


Mirror, Mirror wrote:
However, as things are, are they really CR 2?

Easily. Just look at the amount of effort people are expecting the first level party to put into fighting them. The party is supposed to go in knowing they'll fight them, with spells and expensive expendable items specifically chosen and prepared to fight them despite the fact that casters have very few spells at this level (including spells known for arcane casters - is every sorcerer supposed to pick burning hands as their only first level spell? Even wizards only start with three in their spellbooks) and characters in general have notably limited funds after buying basic equipment. And the DM is also supposed to give them favorable conditions, with areas of water and sources of fire to help.

And even then, it's a hard fight, with difficult hit rolls on alchemical items, and the area spell the casters are supposed to use requires them to be practically in melee with a monster that can give them two chances to fail at casting a spell just by standing on them, and the party tank can't prevent that movement with AoO's since the monster is immune to weapon damage. It can move at full speed and still get it's full offensive abilities, making it faster then the party as well.

So it's a hard fight even with preparation where the party is expected to be willing to consume a fair chunk of both their renewable and non-renewable resources. That sounds like the description of a fight with a CR one, probably even two levels above the party. Remember, enemies a couple CR points above the party's level are supposed to be hard, not impossible - the kind of fight you might have to run away from if you aren't prepared for. Just like a Spider Swarm is for an average first level party.

(edited for length)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber
BobChuck wrote:

Exactly. This monster is particularly significant because it's CR 1.

CR 1 means that one of them should pose a minor challenge to a group of first level adventurers.

CR 1 monsters should not be immune to anything, ever, period. This thing is immune to all the damaging things any first level character is likely to have.

For a party of four characters to safely beat a single swarm, each of them would have to have one AoE effect (alchemist fire, acid flask, oil+torch, burning hands). It will take at least two hits, three on bad damage rolls, and one could miss.

Things like Torches, Alchemist Fire, etc are NOT something that should be assumed for a level one party. Even you think they should be, there's a number of fellow players saying they aren't, especially among newer, inexperienced players.

The fighter won't have any. he might not even have a torch - he's the tank, he has to spend all his money on all the other gear. The rogue might have a single acid flask, if he could fit it in with all the various other nit-nacks he's buying. The cleric is in the same position as the fighter, but might have one burning hands. The wizard, again, might have one burning hands prepared, and is the most likely to have alchemist fire or the like, as he has the most disposable income and a hard limit on really useful things he can do.

That's three mights and one maybe, far short of the four needed to safely insure defeat of ONE spider swarm. The CR is too low.

CR 1 means that a group of players new to the game could wind up fighting this thing on their first session. Against a group of inexperienced players, or players who just didn't think about swarms, one of these would wipe the party.

Or force them to run, assuming they think to do so (or the DM thinks to suggest it), but again, CR 1 means potential first monster that a player ever fights - he shouldn't have to run from that.

CR 1 doesn't mean a minor challenge to first level players. CR 1/2 and CR 1/4 mean a minor challenge. CR 1 means level appropriate. I've run swarms against Lvl 1 characters before, even characters without spellcasters.

Oil, alchemists fire did the trick. When that didn't work the players got creative, having the swarm chase them into another group of monsters was one handy tactic (while the swarm was busy killing goblins the PCs doubled back).
Not all CRs are based on DPS vs HP, take into account a Spider Swarm's intelligence, mindless nature and weakness to environmental effects and CR one is a perfect fit.

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