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Incorporeal or damage reduction; which comes first?


Rules Questions

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The Exchange

5 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Last night i pit my party against a shadow demon. It is both incorporeal and had has DR 10/ cold iron or good. They were hitting it with their magic weapons, which only do half damage, because they were not ghost touch; nor were they cold iron nor good.

Say they hit for 14 points of damage. Do i subract 10 for DR and halve the 4 for a total of 2 points of damage? Or do i halve the 14 and subtract 10 for a total of 0 points of damage?

As im writing this, it just occurred to me that if it were a mathmatical formula, it would follow the order of operations and divide before subtracting.

In last night's game i subtracted before i divided.


Waffle_Neutral wrote:

Last night i pit my party against a shadow demon. It is both incorporeal and had has DR 10/ cold iron or good. They were hitting it with their magic weapons, which only do half damage, because they were not ghost touch; nor were they cold iron nor good.

Say they hit for 14 points of damage. Do i subract 10 for DR and halve the 4 for a total of 2 points of damage? Or do i halve the 14 and subtract 10 for a total of 0 points of damage?

As im writing this, it just occurred to me that if it were a mathmatical formula, it would follow the order of operations and divide before subtracting.

In last night's game i subtracted before i divided.

Not sure if this is an actual rule or not. If I had to guess, I would say it is a James Jacobs rule of thumb, because that's what it sounds like to me. But, the rule of thumb was to apply effect such as that in the manner most advantageous to the defender.

So, in this case, you would do the incorporeal half damage first reducing 14 to 7 damage, and then apply the DR 10 for no damage, as that is more advantageous for the defender than applying DR first then halving.

The same is true if someone with fire resistance 5 succeeds on their reflex save vs a fireball. If the fireball is supposed to do 20 damage, then it is halved from the save to 10, then reduced to 5, rather than being reduced to 15 then halved to 7.


Incorporeal came first in 3.5, but that's because it was a miss chance then instead of a halving effect. They changed it to reduce the number of dice that needed to be rolled.

Looking at it mathematically, I think applying DR first is closer to the way 3.5 did it. Say you roll 25 damage with a non-good magical weapon; in 3.5, you'd have a 50% chance to deal 25 damage (so 12.5 average). Applying DR first in Pathfinder, you'd deal 7.5 damage. Applying incorporeal first, you'd deal 2.5 damage.

Applying incorporeal first in pathfinder makes the combination much, much stronger than in 3.5.


The DR should apply first since it stops incoming damage. Whatever gets through is then cut in half.


I'm seeing it the exact opposite way wraithstrike -- 1/2 then DR, just like a save throw followed by DR/energy resistance.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
wraithstrike wrote:
The DR should apply first since it stops incoming damage. Whatever gets through is then cut in half.

But you could just as easily argue that incorporeal applies first since it prevents damage from even happening, then DR applies because it reduces damage received.

If you treat incorporeal as "half the damage of the blow is never transferred to the target" then it doesn't make sense to apply DR to the damage which never happens.

So too with energy resistance/save-for-half combos. The save for half reduces the amount of energy you are exposed to. The energy resistance then protects you from a set amount of that energy.


Yeah as Bascaria points out I generally go with JJ's rule of thumb -- whatever is advantageous to the defender and being consistent from there.

I've recently fudged the hardness rules in specific cases because of the type of energy the wizard was using (I didn't half the damage and then subtract hardness -- I simply subtracted hardness, acid/electricity versus metal).

The Exchange

Bascaria wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
The DR should apply first since it stops incoming damage. Whatever gets through is then cut in half.

But you could just as easily argue that incorporeal applies first since it prevents damage from even happening, then DR applies because it reduces damage received.

If you treat incorporeal as "half the damage of the blow is never transferred to the target" then it doesn't make sense to apply DR to the damage which never happens.

So too with energy resistance/save-for-half combos. The save for half reduces the amount of energy you are exposed to. The energy resistance then protects you from a set amount of that energy.

This reasoning does make more sense. I didn't even really think about it until one of my players brought it up at the end. Not that they were complaining about it, because it worked in their favor. It was a hard fight, and would've been much harder if I did it the other way.

In the future I'll probably do Incorporeal before DR. The party was ill-equipped and were about to flee before they got a good hit with a spiritual weapon.


Saving throws are different. They are explicitly resolved first, and there have been no systemic changes to the saving throw rules that would change the basic math of combat between 3.5 and Pathfinder.

None of that is true of the Incorporeal rules. If you halve the damage first, anything with both Incorporeal and Damage Reduction (other than basic DR/magic, which is irrelevant as Incorporeal creatures are completely immune to non-magical attacks) is dramatically stronger than in 3.5, but the CRs havn't changed that much.

The 3.5 Shadow Demon was CR 8, 45 hp, AC 22, 2 claws +17 touch 1d6 vile (ie, unhealable) damage, at will darkness, 1/day deeper darkness, 1/week magic jar, Fort +7, Ref +16, Will +10.

The Pathfinder Shadow Demon is CR 7, 59 hp, AC 18, 2 claws +11 touch 1d6+1d6 cold damage, 1 bite +11 touch 1d8+1d6 cold damage, at will deeper darkness, fear, greater teleport, telekinesis, 3/day shadow conjuration, shadow evocation, and 1/week magic jar, Fort +5, Ref +11, Will +7. Oh, and DR 10/cold iron and good.

The Pathfinder Shadow Demon has better offense (since neither will miss very often thanks to being all touch attacks), better spellcasting, DR, and more hit points. It has lower saves, lower AC, and lower CR.

Applying the DR after incorporeal makes that Shadow Demon very nearly unbeatable by a level 5-8 party--in other words, one that should be expected to encounter a Shadow Demon as a non-boss, non-mook enemy. Good-aligned cold iron weapons are vanishingly rare at that level, +5 weapons are nonexistent, and dismissal is a 5th level sor/wiz spell (clerics get it as a 4th level spell, but more parties are clericless than sorc/wizard-list-less). The only hope for the vast majority of parties would be brute force damage, but if you apply incorporeal first even that means you're going to be doing a max of like 10% of the damage you roll to it, meaning its hit points are more like 590 than 59.

Sovereign Court

Incorporeal foes aren't something you should randomly drop on your PCs, there needs to be some foreshadowing or warning (pun intended).

Now As to the Shadow Demon I'm with the majority here, it's Incorporeal 1/2 damage, then DR. Now 5th level PC's should have access to at least the magic weapon spell, an oil of it, or you should drop a scroll along the way ahead of them unless you want them to run of course. There's also spells like ghostbane dirge in the APG.

If your PCs know they're fighting demons then both oil of bless weapon (50gp) and cold iron weapons should be high on their list of items to purchase!

--Vrocktoberfest


King of Vrock wrote:
Now 5th level PC's should have access to at least the magic weapon spell, an oil of it, or you should drop a scroll along the way ahead of them unless you want them to run of course.

Magic weapons do jack-all for a 5th level party against a Shadow Demon. They can do 0 damage without them and {0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,1,2} damage with them. An absolutely maximized 5th level barbarian would be lucky to do 25 damage per hit on average (2d6 greatsword + 10 strength + 1 magic + 6 power attack = 24 average damage), and 25 damage per hit with a weapon that is not magical, cold iron, AND good-aligned would deal 2 damage to a Shadow Demon if you apply incorporeal first.

It completely breaks it for its CR. No party of anywhere near its CR can be expected to be able to beat it in battle.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

I would say that to be fair, you should apply DR first and then cut the remaining damage in half. If you do half damage first then apply DR, you're essentially doubling the DR of the creature.

My barbarian hits with his greataxe with a massive 19 points of damage.

If I apply DR first, 9 gets through which is cut in half for 4.

If I apply incorporeal first, it does 10 points of damage, which is then reduced to 0.

I'd feel kind of cheated in the latter case.


Fozbek wrote:
25 damage per hit with a weapon that is not magical, cold iron, AND good-aligned would deal 2 damage to a Shadow Demon if you apply incorporeal first.

Note, by the way, that this is significantly LESS than the 2.5 average damage per hit I mentioned earlier. Let's a greataxe for simpler math; we get total damage values of {18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29}. Adjusting for Incorporeal and DR, those values change to {0,0,0,0,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4}. That actually averages to 1.75.

So your absolute beast of a barbarian, with a 20 starting strength, raging, using a +1 greataxe, deals a MAXIMUM of 4 damage to this thing. Your spellcasters deal 50% reduced damage as well with everything except force spells (ie, only magic missile at this level) BEFORE saves are considered, and this thing has pretty respectable saves as well as immunity or resistance to every energy type except sonic.

Oh, and it can greater teleport at will, so it's quite impossible to run away from.


First, I want to make an appeal, which I feel like I have to make every time I visit these boards, to consider the game outside the context of 3.5? It's a different game. These rules have explicitly changed. There is not a whole lot to be gained by looking at the old system here.

And as for the shadow demon... yeah, it's strong. If it's up against a barbarian without any help or a cold iron weapon, which is not as rare in my experience as it seems to be in yours. By 8th level, fighting outsiders isn't too uncommon, and it is a relatively small investment to get cold iron and silver weapons as back ups. Or, failing that, to get some blanches.

You are also assuming that the party has no access to anybody who can cast align weapon. Or oils of align weapon.

You are also not taking into account the severe weakness the shadow demon has which lowers its CR significantly:

Shadow Demon wrote:

Sunlight Powerlessness (Ex)

A shadow demon is utterly powerless in bright light or natural sunlight and flees from it. A shadow demon caught in such light cannot attack and can take only a single move or standard action. A shadow demon that is possessing a creature using magic jar is not harmed by sunlight, but if it is struck by a sunbeam or sunburst spell while possessing a creature, the shadow demon is driven out of its host automatically.

It is really not hard for a group of APL 8 or so to get access to some way of creating bright light, which is all it takes to neuter this guy.

So I don't buy your argument that a shadow demon will trounce all over a group because of his DR/incorporeal combo.

It also just doesn't make sense to apply DR first. Incorporeal makes half the force of the blow not even touch the creature. DR means that a certain amount of force is deflected harmlessly or instantly healed. What order does it sound like those two effects should occur in? (Protip: It's hard to deflect/heal force which never hits you).

EDIT: Let's also not forget versatile weapon and smite evil as ways to get around that DR. Or bless weapon, if that smiting paladin is feeling particularly friendly towards his neighborhood barbarian today.

And the DR is cold iron OR good, so you only need one or the other, not both.

EDIT 2, ninja'd on that last point.

Sovereign Court

Fozbek wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
Now 5th level PC's should have access to at least the magic weapon spell, an oil of it, or you should drop a scroll along the way ahead of them unless you want them to run of course.

Magic weapons do jack-all for a 5th level party against a Shadow Demon. They can do 0 damage without them and {0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,1,2} damage with them. An absolutely maximized 5th level barbarian would be lucky to do 25 damage per hit on average (2d6 greatsword + 10 strength + 1 magic + 6 power attack = 24 average damage), and 25 damage per hit with a weapon that is not magical, cold iron, AND good-aligned would deal 2 damage to a Shadow Demon if you apply incorporeal first.

It completely breaks it for its CR. No party of anywhere near its CR can be expected to be able to beat it in battle.

Did you read the first sentance I posted? A CR 7 Shadow Demon against a 5th level party with no forewarning is going to be deadly. But at 5th level you should have access to the magic weapon spell at the least. For a mere 50gp you have bless weapon at your disposal and a Shadow Demons DR is Cold iron OR good. So for 50gp and a little forewarning from an non-richard GM even 5th level characters should live to see another day.

--School of Vrock


Bascaria wrote:
First, I want to make an appeal, which I feel like I have to make every time I visit these boards, to consider the game outside the context of 3.5? It's a different game. These rules have explicitly changed. There is not a whole lot to be gained by looking at the old system here.

I only looked at the old system to compare CRs. Is it your opinion that a creature with more hit points, more damage, more spells, and insanely more defenses deserved a -1 CR change, when the explicitly stated intent of the Pathfinder CR/creature adjustments was to make creature CR as close to perfectly accurate as possible?

Quote:

If it's up against a barbarian without any help or a cold iron weapon, which is not as rare in my experience as it seems to be in yours. By 8th level, fighting outsiders isn't too uncommon, and it is a relatively small investment to get cold iron and silver weapons as back ups. Or, failing that, to get some blanches.

You are also assuming that the party has no access to anybody who can cast align weapon. Or oils of align weapon.

You have to have a magical cold iron good-aligned weapon. That's a very rare and expensive combination at 8th level, let alone at 5th. At 8th level (1 higher than their CR), shadow demons aren't intended to be terribly serious threats. At 5th level (2 lower than their CR), a single Shadow Demon should be a difficult encounter, but not one that should take a massive amount of resources or specialized preparation. That's what CR 7 means.

Quote:

You are also not taking into account the severe weakness the shadow demon has which lowers its CR significantly:

Shadow Demon wrote:

Sunlight Powerlessness (Ex)

A shadow demon is utterly powerless in bright light or natural sunlight and flees from it. A shadow demon caught in such light cannot attack and can take only a single move or standard action. A shadow demon that is possessing a creature using magic jar is not harmed by sunlight, but if it is struck by a sunbeam or sunburst spell while possessing a creature, the shadow demon is driven out of its host automatically.

It is really not hard for a group of APL 8 or so to get access to some way of creating bright light, which is all it takes to neuter this guy.

Deeper darkness at will. Next?


King of Vrock wrote:
Did you read the first sentance I posted?

Did you read what CR means? CR+2 is not supposed to be utterly impossible to defeat without specialized preparation.


Another thought on why I do incorporeal first:

Order of operations:

Parenthesis, exponents, multiplication/division, addition/subtraction

So: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.

Sovereign Court

Fozbek wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
Did you read the first sentance I posted?
Did you read what CR means? CR+2 is not supposed to be utterly impossible to defeat without specialized preparation.

Please CR +2 is about par for the course. The CR system in no way really challenges PC's. I regularly throw my PC against CR+2 encoutners and watch them walk over them with only a few bumps and bruises.

Against 20 pt buy CR+2 is a good fight, but not deadly. Most Pathfinder Society modules run a baseline +1 or +2 for most encounters and there are usually 6 of them per day!


Fozbek wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
Did you read the first sentance I posted?
Did you read what CR means? CR+2 is not supposed to be utterly impossible to defeat without specialized preparation.

It is supposed to be pretty hard though. That's why it is rated as "HARD." It should bleed off a significant portion of party resources and carry a real threat of PC death. The party shouldn't be rolling it over without a challenge and still roaring to take on the next, even harder, fight.


King of Vrock wrote:
Fozbek wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
Did you read the first sentance I posted?
Did you read what CR means? CR+2 is not supposed to be utterly impossible to defeat without specialized preparation.

Please CR +2 is about par for the course. The CR system in no way really challenges PC's. I regularly throw my PC against CR+2 encoutners and watch them walk over them with only a few bumps and bruises.

Against 20 pt buy CR+2 is a good fight, but not deadly. Most Pathfinder Society modules run a baseline +1 or +2 for most encounters and there are usually 6 of them per day!

That's exactly my point. CR+2 is supposed to be, not exactly a walk in the park, but not a serious threat.

A Shadow Demon is beyond being a serious threat to a level 5 party. It has better spellcasting than the party does, very difficult to bypass defenses, and offense at least on par with the party.

I will admit that I misread the DR as cold iron AND good, rather than OR. That makes it a little easier. Scrolls of bless weapon still aren't exactly standard operating procedure, though, and shouldn't be REQUIRED in order to face an enemy of fairly standard CR.

Star Voter 2015

Meh I would use a wraith at level 5 -- probably wouldn't have much to face afterward though for a bit (at least in a combat sense).

Heck they can be defeated with alchemist fires and acid flasks, if not holy water... most of my parties pack a good amount of such things through level 7 for contingencies like this.

Then the bards/magus/summoners/other arcane battly sorts have arcane strike (if not magical weapons), and the fighters generally carry a flask of oil of magic weapon (or greater magic weapon) just in case.

It's investments in survival -- you don't make them... well you probably don't survive.


Bascaria wrote:
Fozbek wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
Did you read the first sentance I posted?
Did you read what CR means? CR+2 is not supposed to be utterly impossible to defeat without specialized preparation.
It is supposed to be pretty hard though. That's why it is rated as "HARD." It should bleed off a significant portion of party resources and carry a real threat of PC death. The party shouldn't be rolling it over without a challenge and still roaring to take on the next, even harder, fight.

And they won't, if you apply DR first. That still reduces the damage set of the maximized barbarian from {18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29} (23.5 average) to {4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9} (6.5 average). That's effectively DR 17. Incorporeal first makes it effectively DR 22.


Fozbek wrote:
Bascaria wrote:
First, I want to make an appeal, which I feel like I have to make every time I visit these boards, to consider the game outside the context of 3.5? It's a different game. These rules have explicitly changed. There is not a whole lot to be gained by looking at the old system here.

I only looked at the old system to compare CRs. Is it your opinion that a creature with more hit points, more damage, more spells, and insanely more defenses deserved a -1 CR change, when the explicitly stated intent of the Pathfinder CR/creature adjustments was to make creature CR as close to perfectly accurate as possible?

Quote:

If it's up against a barbarian without any help or a cold iron weapon, which is not as rare in my experience as it seems to be in yours. By 8th level, fighting outsiders isn't too uncommon, and it is a relatively small investment to get cold iron and silver weapons as back ups. Or, failing that, to get some blanches.

You are also assuming that the party has no access to anybody who can cast align weapon. Or oils of align weapon.

You have to have a magical cold iron good-aligned weapon. That's a very rare and expensive combination at 8th level, let alone at 5th. At 8th level (1 higher than their CR), shadow demons aren't intended to be terribly serious threats. At 5th level (2 lower than their CR), a single Shadow Demon should be a difficult encounter, but not one that should take a massive amount of resources or specialized preparation. That's what CR 7 means.

Quote:

You are also not taking into account the severe weakness the shadow demon has which lowers its CR significantly:

Shadow Demon wrote:

Sunlight Powerlessness (Ex)

A shadow demon is utterly powerless in bright light or natural sunlight and flees from it. A shadow demon caught in such light cannot attack and can take only a single move or standard action. A shadow demon that is possessing a creature using magic jar is not harmed by sunlight, but if it is struck by a sunbeam or sunburst spell while

...

Not playing the "compare it to 3.5" game.

The weapon doesn't have to be cold iron and good. Just one or the other. So the barbarian can pull out his cold iron back up weapon and rub an oil of magic weapon on it. Or an oil of bless weapon. Or dip his regular weapon into a cold iron blanche. Or get a bard/sorcerer/wizard/magus to cast versatile weapon on him. Or get the paladin to cast bless weapon. Or get the cleric to cast align weapon. Lots of ways to get around it which a reasonably prepared 7th level character should have access to at least one of (remember, the CR system assumes the characters are reasonably prepared).

And yes, he can cast deeper darkness at will. And that is his only action for that round. Fun with the action economy. Then the cleric can cast daylight (representing a major resource expenditure, but one on part for a CR+2 encounter), to negate the deeper darkness. If the shadow demon persists, he continues to lose his actions for the round, doing nothing but sitting there casting spells (and taking attacks of opportunity from our cold-iron blanched greataxe wielding barbarian).

Star Voter 2015

Ironically either way the incorporeal counts as less DR the less damage you do.

Beyond that all it follows standard math rules, other examples, the advice of the designers (though I don't say their rules, simply their advice) and nothing supports the other reading of it any better.

AND we have proof that multipliers and dividers are done before damage reduction:

Quote:

Multiplying Damage

Sometimes you multiply damage by some factor, such as on a critical hit. Roll the damage (with all modifiers) multiple times and total the results.

Note: When you multiply damage more than once, each multiplier works off the original, unmultiplied damage. So if you are asked to double the damage twice, the end result is three times the normal damage.

Exception: Extra damage dice over and above a weapon's normal damage are never multiplied.

Dealing half damage is multiplying by .5 as such would apply before damage reduction.

Sovereign Court

I guess I'm just used to gaming with players at a much higher power curve. If you look around the boards you'll find that the CR system in the book really only works at 15 point buy. Anything above that or with almost every rolling method and it falls apart. My players like the harder encounters hands down.

PFS has sort of accepted that and in a roundabout way changed the dynamic for 20 pt buy, which seems the most common way to build PCs around here.


Bascaria wrote:
Not playing the "compare it to 3.5" game.

It isn't a game. Paizo's expressly stated intent was for CRs to be accurate across the board, and they clearly felt that CR 7 was an appropriate CR for the Shadow Demon despite it being hugely more formidable than its 3rd edition incarnation. Still, since you're being obstinate about it, let's compare the Shadow Demon to another CR7 creature, the huge air elemental.

The Shadow Demon has 36 less hp, 4 less AC, lower Fort and Reflex but higher Will saves, higher but penetratable DR, much better spell defenses (SR 17, immunity to cold and electric and resistance 10 to fire and acid), more damage (nearly auto-hit 1d8+4d6, 3d6 of that elemental, vs 2 2d6+6 attacks at +17 to hit normal AC), less reach, pounce, shadow blend, incorporeal, spellcasting that can negate its sole weakness/prevent enemies' escape/ensure its own escape, the ability to go invisible at will, and sunlight weakness (which doesn't actually remove its defenses at all, just limits it to a single action each round; more below).

If you apply Incorporeal before DR, the Shadow Demon is very, very, very obviously stronger than the Huge Air Elemental. It does more damage, has hugely better defenses, can go invisible in the vast majority of situations, and has effective spellcasting. Even with DR before Incorporeal, its defenses are still about as good as the Air Elemental; it'll be hit more, but for less damage on average, but has less hit points.

Quote:
So the barbarian can pull out his cold iron back up weapon and rub an oil of magic weapon on it. Or an oil of bless weapon. Or dip his regular weapon into a cold iron blanche. Or get a bard/sorcerer/wizard/magus to cast versatile weapon on him. Or get the paladin to cast bless weapon. Or get the cleric to cast align weapon. Lots of ways to get around it which a reasonably prepared 7th level character should have access to at least one of (remember, the CR system assumes the characters are reasonably prepared).

You keep ignoring the point that a CR 7 creature is considered a reasonable challenge for a 5th level party. You keep saying "well a 7th level character can do XYZ". How about a 5th level character? How many 5th level barbarians do you know that have magical cold iron backup weapons? How stupid do you think the Shadow Demon is to not concentrate on (or even possess) the guy blessing the weapons? It's not a mindless undead, it's a demon with above-human-average intelligence and wisdom.

The Shadow Demon is almost certain to get a surprise round on the party. It's invisible in less than natural bright light or daylight (move action at will to be invisible, low-level magical sources of light do not prevent it from using the ability), is immune to Perception checks to hear it (due to incorporeal), can travel through solid objects (due to incorporeal), and has pounce. It also has a +8 initiative, so it's reasonably likely to act first, or at least near first, in the first round of combat. How many 5th level arcanists can take 2d8+9d6 (40 average damage) damage before their first turn? And then the Shadow Demon can just go invisible again on its next turn. Or it could be conservative and/or "playful" and just do 2d8+5d6 (26 average damage) and go invisible before the party can set up their blessed weapons. It can do that at will and just wait out the blesses.

Quote:
And yes, he can cast deeper darkness at will. And that is his only action for that round. Fun with the action economy. Then the cleric can cast daylight (representing a major resource expenditure, but one on part for a CR+2 encounter), to negate the deeper darkness. If the shadow demon persists, he continues to lose his actions for the round, doing nothing but sitting there casting spells (and taking attacks of opportunity from our cold-iron blanched greataxe wielding barbarian).

The 5th level (even 7th level) cleric cannot continuously pump out daylight spells. The 5th level Cleric has, at most, 3 of them (1 from level, 1 from a 16+ wisdom, and 1 from domain), and he would have had to prepare them ahead of time. How many level 5 clerics do you know that prepare 3x daylight? Also, if he's casting daylight, then no one is casting bless weapon. That means only people with magical cold iron weapons can do anything to the demon.

Again, the light vulnerability only reduces it to a single action. It doesn't negate its defenses, and there's absolutely no way an on-level party can defeat a Shadow Demon in a single round without massive amounts of luck (two or three crits, etc) or specialized preparation. If you don't defeat it in a single round, it fades into the wall and waits until it can ambush the party again, or coordinates with other nearby creatures to attack in the middle of a heated fight.

---

That is all still somewhat of a problem if you take the sane route of applying DR first, but it's much easier to kill. A non-totally-optimized character can actually hurt it, for example.

Star Voter 2015

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Or you could simply use the holy water, or that wand of magic missiles. Or the fighter's cold iron weapon (and he should really have one by then). Now it being +1 could be a bit of an issue, but that's why he should have an oil, scroll or wand for the caster by now.

At 5th level you've got 10,500 gp worth of stuff. For a fighter I would be expecting a +1 main weapon, as well as a cold iron and silver weapon (possibly mithril if he's desperate for damage) ending with a ranged weapon that's +1 as well, a +1 armor, perhaps a +1 ring and some potions and oils. Excluding the potions and oils he's got 8.5k stuff there, leaving enough room for a wand of magic weapon and a nice stock pile of potions as well as mundane gear.

The shadow has 3 attacks that do 1d8 +1d6 cold -- not a lot of cold there and it is rather possible the cold damage won't be happening.

With the (now) +1 cold iron weapon the fighter can kill the shadow demon only losing out damage to the incorporeal part.

The solution cost under 100 gold pieces as an oil and under 800 gold pieces as a wand which he can continue getting use out of for a while.

And this is ignoring stuff like channeling against alignment, the paladin's now ghost touch weapon that he's smiting with, the bard's abilities that would add in, the magus's... etc.

All in all it's not an overwhelming challenge unless the party goes in willfully unprepared for adventuring.


Abraham spalding wrote:

Or you could simply use the holy water, or that wand of magic missiles. Or the fighter's cold iron weapon (and he should really have one by then). Now it being +1 could be a bit of an issue, but that's why he should have an oil, scroll or wand for the caster by now.

At 5th level you've got 10,500 gp worth of stuff. For a fighter I would be expecting a +1 main weapon, as well as a cold iron and silver weapon (possibly mithril if he's desperate for damage) ending with a ranged weapon that's +1 as well, a +1 armor, perhaps a +1 ring and some potions and oils. Excluding the potions and oils he's got 8.5k stuff there, leaving enough room for a wand of magic weapon and a nice stock pile of potions as well as mundane gear.

The shadow has 3 attacks that do 1d8 +1d6 cold -- not a lot of cold there and it is rather possible the cold damage won't be happening.

With the (now) +1 cold iron weapon the fighter can kill the shadow demon only losing out damage to the incorporeal part.

The solution cost under 100 gold pieces as an oil and under 800 gold pieces as a wand which he can continue getting use out of for a while.

And this is ignoring stuff like channeling against alignment, the paladin's now ghost touch weapon that he's smiting with, the bard's abilities that would add in, the magus's... etc.

All in all it's not an overwhelming challenge unless the party goes in willfully unprepared for adventuring.

Thanks for picking up the slack (and then some!) in my absence, Abe!

Also, bear in mind that consumable items like oil, scrolls, wands, and blanches don't even count as "wealth" for WBL calculations.


I think it has to be DR, then half for the game to balance close to correctly.

I'm going to go at this a different way: instead of pointing out how badly underCR'd the shadow demon is if you do it the opposite way, I'm going to point at Summon Monster.

If you do the DR first, a single shadow demon can solo a ridiculous number of encounters appropriate for a Summoner (or sorcerer/wizard/cleric/etc., but with less duration) of the level to call it -- in most dungeons not specifically written with it in mind, it's pretty trivial to send the shadow demon room to room incorporealing through the walls to kill whatever's inside while the party covers/barricades/whatever the door. If you apply the halving first, it gets even more ridiculous: many threats it'll be killing literally can't hurt it.

I've seen this done with most of whole dungeon floors of Legacy of Fire, so it isn't exactly theoretical.

If it is the case that incorporeal is applied first, I think the Shadow Demon needs to go up to something like SM8.


Dire Mongoose wrote:

I think it has to be DR, then half for the game to balance close to correctly.

I'm going to go at this a different way: instead of pointing out how badly underCR'd the shadow demon is if you do it the opposite way, I'm going to point at Summon Monster.

If you do the DR first, a single shadow demon can solo a ridiculous number of encounters appropriate for a Summoner (or sorcerer/wizard/cleric/etc., but with less duration) of the level to call it -- in most dungeons not specifically written with it in mind, it's pretty trivial to send the shadow demon room to room incorporealing through the walls to kill whatever's inside while the party covers/barricades/whatever the door. If you apply the halving first, it gets even more ridiculous: many threats it'll be killing literally can't hurt it.

I've seen this done with most of whole dungeon floors of Legacy of Fire, so it isn't exactly theoretical.

If it is the case that incorporeal is applied first, I think the Shadow Demon needs to go up to something like SM8.

Shadow Demon is on the Summon Monster VI list, so it takes an 11th level wizard to bring him out. You really think that the Shadow Demon can solo a bunch of CR 11 encounters? Almost all of whom will have DR of their own which is either the same as the Shadow Demon's (negating both), or not the same (meaning the shadow demons d8 physical damage is completely blocked and he's left with d6 cold... which many will resist as well).

I'm not saying that the Shadow Demon isn't strong. It is. And it's defenses are significantly stronger than many other things of a similar CR, but, as has been pointed out, a party must be willfully unprepared to have no way of getting around it's DR (and holy water/magic missile will just tear through everything), and while it excels at defense, hiding, and hit-and-run tactics, it, like all incorporeal creatures, is seriously lacking in the "being able to hit things hard" department. d8+d6 is simply not that scary.


Bascaria wrote:
Shadow Demon is on the Summon Monster VI list, so it takes an 11th level wizard to bring him out. You really think that the Shadow Demon can solo a bunch of CR 11 encounters?

Having seen it in play as described in the post you're responding to: yes.

There's a wide swath of encounters that are level 11 party appropriate that need a crit to damage the shadow demon while it's nickling and diming them every round. Maybe you've read a module where all the monsters in all the rooms have holy water ready to go, but I haven't.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Not sure I see the big issue here. So there's something that a barbarian needs help to defeat. *shrug*

We've got things in the game that are immune to magic; what's wrong with things that are immune to melee? Any force effect is going to pound the bejeezus out of it: magic missile is a first level spell, and force punch is level 3.

Way I see it, not every character/class can defeat every challenge. That's why adventurers form parties.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Tough question. I would definitely not compare the halving of the damage to making a successful save for half damage. I don't think they are comparable. The saves occupy a different, special place in a character's ability to survive, not merely a function of a body type.

I can see good arguments for applying DR first or halving the damage first. I think my rule of thumb would be to apply them in the order that doesn't suit the defender best, but the PCs in the story. I'm quite content to stack the odds in the favor of the players, particularly when the combination of the two defensive powers is substantial.

Star Voter 2015

Bill Dunn wrote:

Tough question. I would definitely not compare the halving of the damage to making a successful save for half damage. I don't think they are comparable. The saves occupy a different, special place in a character's ability to survive, not merely a function of a body type.

I can see good arguments for applying DR first or halving the damage first. I think my rule of thumb would be to apply them in the order that doesn't suit the defender best, but the PCs in the story. I'm quite content to stack the odds in the favor of the players, particularly when the combination of the two defensive powers is substantial.

Rainbow spray against an invulnerable barbarian, as well as critical hits. Both the halving from a successful save and the critical hit are multiplication -- multiplication comes before subtraction, and in the rules are part of figuring out how much damage is dealt -- once the damage is dealt then you reduce it by DR.

And as I point out with rainbow spray it's absolutely relevant.


Paizo said wrote:
A creature with this special quality ignores damage from most weapons and natural attacks.

Damage Reduction, just as making a Reflex save for example, is a way to avoid damage. It helps answer the question: do I take damage, and if so, how much?

Paizo said wrote:
Even when hit by spells or magic weapons, it takes only half damage from a corporeal source.

The incorporeal rules read as: when you take damage from a corporeal source, you only take half. You don't take half hypothetical damage; you take half damage when you are dealt any. It's like you had double HP against physical attacks.

DR makes you ignore damage, ergo not have it dealt. Since you don't get half damage you ignore, I would apply DR first to see what's the damage, then half the actual damage dealt.


Bill Dunn wrote:

Tough question. I would definitely not compare the halving of the damage to making a successful save for half damage. I don't think they are comparable. The saves occupy a different, special place in a character's ability to survive, not merely a function of a body type.

I can see good arguments for applying DR first or halving the damage first. I think my rule of thumb would be to apply them in the order that doesn't suit the defender best, but the PCs in the story. I'm quite content to stack the odds in the favor of the players, particularly when the combination of the two defensive powers is substantial.

But remember that one of the goals of 3E, way back when, was the creation of a unified core mechanic. This meant, on the small scale, that everything is resolved by d20+mod vs. DC. It also means, though, that you don't need 2 rules when 1 will do. We can all agree in the case of save for half and energy resistance that you do the dividing first and then the subtracting. Why do we need the exception here?

And "favor the players" is a great starting point for an off-the-cuff response during gaming when a fast answer is better than a fully researched answer, and it might be a good spot for your group for house-rules as well, but it isn't supported by the rules themselves, and I know that for me, at least, I'd be pretty upset with my GM if I knew that he was applying different rules to me than he was to his baddies.

EDIT: fixed a REALLY stupid typo in the first paragraph to make my argument not inane.


SinTheMoon wrote:
Paizo said wrote:
A creature with this special quality ignores damage from most weapons and natural attacks.

Damage Reduction, just as making a Reflex save for example, is a way to avoid damage. It helps answer the question: do I take damage, and if so, how much?

Paizo said wrote:
Even when hit by spells or magic weapons, it takes only half damage from a corporeal source.

The incorporeal rules read as: when you take damage from a corporeal source, you only take half. You don't take half hypothetical damage; you take half damage when you are dealt any. It's like you had double HP against physical attacks.

DR makes you ignore damage, ergo not have it dealt. Since you don't get half damage you ignore, I would apply DR first to see what's the damage, then half the actual damage dealt.

But the argument can be made just as easily the other way, and that's where the confusion lies.

DR ignores damage, but that doesn't mean it isn't dealt. It just means it doesn't get taken out of your hit point total while incorporeal halves damage received (as in, half the damage is never received). So if the big guy swings his sword for 30 damage, that is first halved (because half of it never hits) to 15, and then reduced by 10 (because 10 points of damage received can be ignored) to 5.

To look at it another way, DR says that it takes a fixed amount of force to break through your tough hide or overcome your body's natural wound closingness or cause actual damage to your skeletal body or whatever. Incorporeal says that half the force of a blow is never transferred from the weapon to the target. Of the half which is transferred, it still has to get past that natural toughness or regen or boniness or whatever it is.


The Shadow Demon is a horrible monster.

The incorporeal should apply first, and yes it makes it more of a monster than it already is. Basically doubles its DR and resistance.

It eats level 5 parties.

People have been talking about min-max barbarians critting it. Impossible, it is incorporeal (without a ghost touch weapon).

Force spells. Mostly you'd be flinging out magic missile at that level. It's SR blocks a lot of that. Enough to give the Shadow Demon time to eat your squishy, squishy caster.

Your brute fighters, it can possess and turn against you.

Your best hope is a paladin to go smite him.

They threw one of these buggers at you at level 5 in an AP. With no warning. And the only time you could have bought anything was at the beginning when you had no money... so no preparation, even by conservative players. Heard about a lot of wipes.

Funny thing though, if the Shadow Demon casts Deeper Darkness, it actually can't see through it either.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Abraham spalding wrote:


Rainbow spray against an invulnerable barbarian, as well as critical hits. Both the halving from a successful save and the critical hit are multiplication -- multiplication comes before subtraction, and in the rules are part of figuring out how much damage is dealt -- once the damage is dealt then you reduce it by DR.

And as I point out with rainbow spray it's absolutely relevant.

Like I care? As I said, I can see a couple of good arguments either way, and I'm going to rely on one that makes for better game play as I see it.




DR would be applied after the damage is halved.


Grick wrote:


DR would be applied after the damage is halved.

Ahh! Thanks! I knew that quote was out there somewhere, but couldn't find it for the life of me.

Star Voter 2015

Bill Dunn wrote:


Like I care? As I said, I can see a couple of good arguments either way, and I'm going to rely on one that makes for better game play as I see it.

Ah, see I thought we were talking rules here, in the rules forum, silly me.


Abraham spalding wrote:
Or you could simply use the holy water

You have to be adjacent to the Shadow Demon to use the holy water (can't throw it at incorporeal creatures), which means that, if it's not within 5 feet, you can't do it. It takes a move action to pull out the holy water (it isn't a weapon, so no Quick Draw or drawing as part of a move action), a move action to move adjacent to the demon, and a standard action to pour it. Unfortunately, you only get one move and one standard.

Even if it is adjacent, it does all of 5 damage on average. It would take 12 flasks of holy water to kill a Shadow Demon.

Quote:
or that wand of magic missiles.

Yes, that CL 1 wand will really do a wonderful job against SR 17. Even a CL 5 wand, which is 5 times as expensive, will still fail half of the time.

Quote:
Or the fighter's cold iron weapon (and he should really have one by then). Now it being +1 could be a bit of an issue, but that's why he should have an oil, scroll or wand for the caster by now.

Assuming the caster hasn't already been eaten (again, near-automatic surprise round, high initiative, and pounce), I still havn't seen very many 5th level warriors that have a full golf bag of weapons worth speaking of. If they do have a cold iron weapon, it's usually something random they've picked up along the way, like a dagger. You're also spending an awful lot of time putting away your normal weapon, pulling out your alternate weapon, applying oils and buffs to the weapon, and then realizing your wizard is dead and the thing isn't even there any more.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Abraham spalding wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:


Like I care? As I said, I can see a couple of good arguments either way, and I'm going to rely on one that makes for better game play as I see it.
Ah, see I thought we were talking rules here, in the rules forum, silly me.

In the absence of an explicit rule, you weigh the arguments one way or the other and make a decision. That's how rules get applied. I stated what I would decide after weighing the arguments. Arguing with my post using mathematical order of operations, when that had already been brought up, isn't going to sway me any more than it did before.

Star Voter 2015

Bill Dunn wrote:


In the absence of an explicit rule, you weigh the arguments one way or the other and make a decision. That's how rules get applied. I stated what I would decide after weighing the arguments. Arguing with my post using mathematical order of operations, when that had already been brought up, isn't going to sway me any more than it did before.

It hadn't been argued against however in any way shape or form in rules context either.

Also beyond that it has precedent in game mechanics too (with critical hits for example) -- we don't subtract DR then apply the critical hit, we do the multiples first (multiple the critical hit then subtract DR).

Finally I'm one for consistency, which way will you apply it for the PC? Will it matter then that if you half the damage first then apply DR they'll take no damage as opposed to applying the DR then halving the damage ensures they will take damage?

And how would you apply it with a level 11 flowing monk that has DR that fails the save from the elusive target ability?

My players would howl if they knew I wasn't using the same rules.


Ultimately, IMO, halving first just makes things with incorporeal and DR far too strong. Shadow Demons are an obvious example, but there are others. Halving first just dramatically increases the defensive power, far beyond what I have to believe is intended.

Star Voter 2015

Fozbek wrote:
Assuming the caster hasn't already been eaten (again, near-automatic surprise round, high initiative, and pounce), I still havn't seen very many 5th level warriors that have a full golf bag of weapons worth speaking of. If they do have a cold iron weapon, it's usually something random they've picked up along the way, like a dagger. You're also spending an awful lot of time putting away your normal weapon, pulling out your alternate weapon, applying oils and buffs to the weapon, and then realizing your wizard is dead and the thing isn't even there any more.

Silver spiked gauntlet one hand, cold iron the other. People don't do that already? You need 22 damage to get through the incorporeal and the DR if your weapon isn't good aligned or cold iron.

Fighter level 5 using a two handed +1 weapon with power attack is probably looking at 2d6+1(weapon training)+2(weapon specialization)+6(power attack)+6(Strength mod from a strength 18)+1(magical) or 2d6+16, which will get him an average of 1 point a hit and that's if he's nothing fancy. He can hurt it -- he would be better off to use his cold iron gauntlet that he spends a turn putting oil of magic weapon on sure. Now he's doing 1d4+4(power attack)+4(strength mod from a strength 18)+1(magical) or 1d4+9 or an average of 5 points a hit, and all he had to do was let go of his great sword which he'll have in his hands again with a simple swift action thanks to the weapon cord attached to it, and that's if he doesn't have armor spikes to use instead.

Is it a challenge for a fifth level party? Yes. Is it insurmountable? No. Will it hurt them a lot? Probably.

I never claimed such a fight would be easy -- only possible.


Abraham spalding wrote:

Yeah as Bascaria points out I generally go with JJ's rule of thumb -- whatever is advantageous to the defender and being consistent from there.

I've recently fudged the hardness rules in specific cases because of the type of energy the wizard was using (I didn't half the damage and then subtract hardness -- I simply subtracted hardness, acid/electricity versus metal).

I generally do that to. I really don't think there is a rule for it. If it was a PC I would do whatever is most advantageous. I was just going my my understanding of DR, but it is also reasonalbe to say that DR allows you to ignore a certain amount of damage which would represent your method.

edit:After looking at the argument for the math I will stay with my method. Cutting damage in half and then applying DR would be pretty rediculous IMHO. The attack does 30gets chopped to 15 due to being incorporeal, and then DR 10 drops it to 5.

PS:I did not check the actual DR but going from 30hp to 5hp of damage dealt is pretty harsh. 10hp is not much better, but it is better.


King of Vrock wrote:
Fozbek wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
Now 5th level PC's should have access to at least the magic weapon spell, an oil of it, or you should drop a scroll along the way ahead of them unless you want them to run of course.

Magic weapons do jack-all for a 5th level party against a Shadow Demon. They can do 0 damage without them and {0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,1,2} damage with them. An absolutely maximized 5th level barbarian would be lucky to do 25 damage per hit on average (2d6 greatsword + 10 strength + 1 magic + 6 power attack = 24 average damage), and 25 damage per hit with a weapon that is not magical, cold iron, AND good-aligned would deal 2 damage to a Shadow Demon if you apply incorporeal first.

It completely breaks it for its CR. No party of anywhere near its CR can be expected to be able to beat it in battle.

Did you read the first sentance I posted? A CR 7 Shadow Demon against a 5th level party with no forewarning is going to be deadly. But at 5th level you should have access to the magic weapon spell at the least. For a mere 50gp you have bless weapon at your disposal and a Shadow Demons DR is Cold iron OR good. So for 50gp and a little forewarning from an non-richard GM even 5th level characters should live to see another day.

--School of Vrock

Whether or not a warning is given is not factored into CR so that can't really be counted on.

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