Scorching Ray and fire resistance


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Does fire resistance apply to each Ray or to the total damage of all rays?

I *know* it applies separately to each Ray, but my DM is manical and needs the offical proof. Can I get some offical answer or a definative page number?


nexusphere wrote:

Does fire resistance apply to each Ray or to the total damage of all rays?

I *know* it applies separately to each Ray, but my DM is manical and needs the offical proof. Can I get some offical answer or a definative page number?

The fire resistance applies against each ray, even if all rays are targeting the same creature.

(sorry, this is not an official answer, just an opinion)


Funny, I can't find it spelled out in either the PRPG rule book or the d20 SRD.

I'm sure you are correct in how it works, but I don't know how to back you up.


Here is what you want: See P. 562 of PRPG under energy resistance:

"A creature with resistance to energy has the ability (usually extraordinary) to ignore some damage of a certain type per attack, but it does not have total immunity."

Key phrase: "per attack", so it applies to each ray.


Luc Dantés wrote:

Here is what you want: See P. 562 of PRPG under energy resistance:

"A creature with resistance to energy has the ability (usually extraordinary) to ignore some damage of a certain type per attack, but it does not have total immunity."

Key phrase: "per attack", so it applies to each ray.

Ha, read right over that. I knew it had to be there somewhere.


Luc Dantés wrote:

Here is what you want: See P. 562 of PRPG under energy resistance:

"A creature with resistance to energy has the ability (usually extraordinary) to ignore some damage of a certain type per attack, but it does not have total immunity."

Key phrase: "per attack", so it applies to each ray.

"per attack" is not necessarily the same as "per attack roll"

I'm aware it's not the majority opinion, but for my money all of the rays from Scorching Ray are a single source of damage, one "attack." (And I'm not arguing that this is the intended interpretation, it's just the one I'm running with.)

My best supporting evidence would be the spell itself, which notes that all the rays are fired simultaneously. If you're being hit by 8d6 or 12d6 fire damage all in the exact same moment, I have a hard time imagining why it should all be resisted separately, even if you had to make multiple touch attack rolls to deal the full damage.

EDIT: I should mention, I'm the DM in question.


Brodiggan Gale wrote:

"per attack" is not necessarily the same as "per attack roll"

I'm aware it's not the majority opinion, but for my money all of the rays from Scorching Ray are a single source of damage, one "attack." (And I'm not arguing that this is the intended interpretation, it's just the one I'm running with.)

My best supporting evidence would be the spell itself, which notes that all the rays are fired simultaneously. If you're being hit by 8d6 or 12d6 fire damage all in the exact same moment, I have a hard time imagining why it should all be resisted separately, even if you had to make multiple touch attack rolls to deal the full damage.

EDIT: I should mention, I'm the DM in question.

Would you say then, that a character with itinerative attacks, using a bow/sword would then total up the damage against a creature with damage reduction?


Additionally, consider the case of a creature with fire resistance being hit by, say, a team of three sorcerers all readying an action to fire their fireballs at the next creature who comes through the door. Three separate sources of exactly the same energy hitting at the same time...resistance once to the total fire damage, or resistance vs. each separate caster's effect?

In the example of a fighter tallying his hits, however, it's not the same case because it clearly falling into seperate attacks, i.e., the "per attack" phrase in question.

Broddigan Gale's leaning towards counting it all as one effect does have very light support from the first line of the Scorching Ray spell description, namely that the effect is "a [one] searing beam of fire" that is then split into X number of individual rays, but the ability to send these rays to different targets to me means that they are more like multiple arrows fired that each are susceptible to resistance, not so much one joint affect.


Brodiggan Gale wrote:

I'm aware it's not the majority opinion, but for my money all of the rays from Scorching Ray are a single source of damage, one "attack."

EDIT: I should mention, I'm the DM in question.

Hey good buddy, I think you misspelled 'correct' as majority.

Easy mistake to make, I know. ;-p
-Campbell


Carpjay wrote:
Broddigan Gale's leaning towards counting it all as one effect does have very light support from the first line of the Scorching Ray spell description, namely that the effect is "a [one] searing beam of fire" that is then split into X number of individual rays, but the ability to send these rays to different targets to me means that they are more like multiple arrows fired that each are susceptible to resistance, not so much one joint affect.

Does this mean if one of the targets has fire resistance, it diminishes the power of the other rays? I mean, if it's all one source, or attack of damage, then fire resistance of one target would apply to all the rays, correct?


"Does this mean if one of the targets has fire resistance, it diminishes the power of the other rays? I mean, if it's all one source, or attack of damage, then fire resistance of one target would apply to all the rays, correct?"

No, I think the resistance safely stays with the creature resisting, not reaching back to weaken or diminish the rays themselves. For example, five of us caught in a 20-hp fireball would take damage by reflex, but if one of us had resistance, that lucky one applies the resistance to the damage that he or she takes, not to the overall spell. Similarly, one of us having vulnerability does not make all of us take more damage...like resistance, it stays with its owner.

The only question is whether the seprate rays count as all one source because they came from the same spell...my instincts say the resistance applies to each attack-roll damage source, but it's a pretty fine point and I would not have heartburn playing for a DM who ruled the other way. The text for both the spell and resistance in general seem to be silent on this fine point, so it's DM's call.


nexusphere wrote:

Hey good buddy, I think you misspelled 'correct' as majority.

Easy mistake to make, I know. ;-p
-Campbell

Ah no, I'm quite certain I said what I meant to say. As for consensus equating to correctness... there's a fallacy for that, argumentum ad populum.


Brodiggan Gale wrote:
nexusphere wrote:

Hey good buddy, I think you misspelled 'correct' as majority.

Easy mistake to make, I know. ;-p
-Campbell

Ah no, I'm quite certain I said what I meant to say. As for consensus equating to correctness... there's a fallacy for that, argumentum ad populum.

What's the fallacy for just being wrong?

Factual error?

:-)

Still, there *must* be some official word on the subject.
-Campbell


Well, if we take Meteor Swarm as a similar spell where multiple meteors explode at the exact same time...

Quote:
Once a sphere reaches its destination, it explodes in a 40-foot-radius spread, dealing 6d6 points of fire damage to each creature in the area. If a creature is within the area of more than one sphere, it must save separately against each.(Fire resistance applies to each sphere’s damage individually.)

I think that's a nice precedent for similar spells.


If you want to compare resistance to DR, then look at Manyshot. It fires two arrows in "one attack". DR applies separately to each arrow, yes? If that's the case, then there's no reason to believe it wouldn't be the same for energy resistance in the case of Scorching Ray.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Something else to consider is that as the spell requires an attack roll for each ray, would that not also suggest that each ray may not be hitting the same spot?

If multiple attacks (which require multiple attack rolls) do not stack for DR, why would the rays stack (again, may not all be hitting the same spot)?

As someone else mentioned, would you apply this to multiple casters who fired off a single scorching ray at the same target, at the same time (delayed initiative)? If not, why allow it for multiple rays from the same casting? If so, have you considered what will happen if several casters cast 3 ray scorching rays at the same target?


Although by the RAW the DM is 'wrong' in this case, I do not think that his ruling will have a serious effect on game balance as long as he applies it evenly across the board...


Funkytrip wrote:

Well, if we take Meteor Swarm as a similar spell where multiple meteors explode at the exact same time...

Quote:
Once a sphere reaches its destination, it explodes in a 40-foot-radius spread, dealing 6d6 points of fire damage to each creature in the area. If a creature is within the area of more than one sphere, it must save separately against each.(Fire resistance applies to each sphere’s damage individually.)

I think that's a nice precedent for similar spells.

You might want to check the Pathfinder rules, not the 3.5 ones.

Pathfinder Meteor Swarm wrote:
Despite stemming from separate spheres, all of the fire damage is added together after the saves have been made, and fire resistance is applied only once.

Meteor swarm is a clear exception to the usual rule.


Pathos wrote:


Quote:
Would you say then, that a character with itinerative attacks, using a bow/sword would then total up the damage against a creature with damage reduction?

I totally agree with Pathos and Zurai - "Scorching Ray" deals individual sums of damage to which each is applied the creatures resistance. In much the same way a characters full attack against an opponent with damage reduction they dont bypass would have to count it against each and every hit (otherwise Damage Reduction is pointless).

"Resistance" is very much like Damage Reduction in its mechanical aspects, it works just the same way but against energy types instead of "slashing/piercing/bludgeoning/good/evil,etc."

That being said a Rogue WOULD apply Sneak Attack with each ray as per normal for spells that require attack rolls be made. (Sneak Attack does not apply to spells without an attack roll, such as Magic Missile or Fireball) Thats the caveat of this spell, and others like it that require attack rolls. That being said all the damage caused by the sneak attack is the same as the source that made it. So the "Xd6 Sneak Attack" would be all fire damage in this case, but then again the Rogue does have to be within the required range for the Sneak Attack to apply to each shot vs a flatfooted opponent (especially as ranged attacks dont count as flanking unless you have the "Arrowmind" spell active from the Spell Compendium) but then again this doesnt apply to spells.
Since you only get a ray every 4 levels after 3rd, its comparable to a Rogue with a high base attack bonus (somehow) that gets 3-4 attacks per round (excluding Rapid Shot or Two Weapon Fighting for a moment), so it does work.
"Ray Mage" builds (Sorceror or Wizard/Rogue) are pretty nasty for this reason but again, SR & a lowerer caster level for the a mage of equal level to their total character level...these tend to be the hurdle they get tripped at but it is effective with spells like "Scorching Ray".


Princess Of Canada wrote:
That being said a Rogue WOULD apply Sneak Attack with each ray as per normal for spells that require attack rolls be made. (Sneak Attack does not apply to spells without an attack roll, such as Magic Missile or Fireball) Thats the caveat of this spell, and others like it that require attack rolls.

Not true, actually, although it's a common misconception. Precision damage only applies to one attack roll if the attacks are a "volley" (ie, they are all targeted and rolled at once, instead of being able to resolve one, then choose the target for the next, etc). The most common example of this is 3.5 Scouts using Manyshot.

This is one of those rules clarifications (like Weapon Focus: ranged spell being legal) that was made in a 3.5 splat book and not carried forward to Pathfinder. The rule itself hasn't changed, but it's not directly stated anywhere in the Core Rules. For reference, scorching ray is even the example used in Complete Arcane when it clarifies this rule.


Zurai wrote:

Not true, actually, although it's a common misconception. Precision damage only applies to one attack roll if the attacks are a "volley" (ie, they are all targeted and rolled at once, instead of being able to resolve one, then choose the target for the next, etc). The most common example of this is 3.5 Scouts using Manyshot.

This is one of those rules clarifications (like Weapon Focus: ranged spell being legal) that was made in a 3.5 splat book and not carried forward to Pathfinder. The rule itself hasn't changed, but it's not directly stated anywhere in the Core Rules. For reference, scorching ray is even the example used in Complete Arcane when it clarifies this rule.

Ah I see, my apoligies, I noticed how "Manyshot" works and "Scorching Ray" is also in the same vein. The Rogue would achieve SA with the first shot only just as they were using "Manyshot".

I just remembered one of my old players back in 3.5 using a "Ray Mage" who always sneak attacked with this spell with the "Energy Substitution (Acid)" feat knowing few things were ever immune to Acid (based on how that stuff worked back then) and argued it applied to every ray. Scouts as you mentioned clarified this matter, I just didnt find about about it for a while and let him away with it...lol, but now hes trying to do the same thing (slightly different this time though), but at least he wont get away with it now (except on the 1st shot only).


Yep, exactly, and Manyshot is indeed the precedent and cause for the volley fire rule.

It's a bit squirrely as a ruling because Manyshot is two damage rolls from one attack roll, and scorching ray (and pretty much every other volley attack) is X damage rolls for X attack rolls, but them's the breaks.


Brodiggan Gale wrote:
Luc Dantés wrote:

Here is what you want: See P. 562 of PRPG under energy resistance:

"A creature with resistance to energy has the ability (usually extraordinary) to ignore some damage of a certain type per attack, but it does not have total immunity."

Key phrase: "per attack", so it applies to each ray.

"per attack" is not necessarily the same as "per attack roll"

I'm aware it's not the majority opinion, but for my money all of the rays from Scorching Ray are a single source of damage, one "attack." (And I'm not arguing that this is the intended interpretation, it's just the one I'm running with.)

My best supporting evidence would be the spell itself, which notes that all the rays are fired simultaneously. If you're being hit by 8d6 or 12d6 fire damage all in the exact same moment, I have a hard time imagining why it should all be resisted separately, even if you had to make multiple touch attack rolls to deal the full damage.

EDIT: I should mention, I'm the DM in question.

An attack is an attack. The roll of the die is irrelevant. The spell is as follows:

"Each ray requires a ranged touch attack to hit and deals 4d6 points of fire damage."

Each on is an attack as per the spell. Simple as that. So each attack applies fire resistance.


For me, the resistance applying to each ray is the only thing making this spell balanced for its level :)

That said, if the DM wants to run it differently, that's his prerogative. There aren't really many/any other spells or effects with a similar setup, so the decision wouldn't really carryover to anything else.


Majuba wrote:
For me, the resistance applying to each ray is the only thing making this spell balanced for its level :)

It helps that it maxes out at 3 rays instead of 4, now.


Zurai wrote:
Majuba wrote:
For me, the resistance applying to each ray is the only thing making this spell balanced for its level :)
It helps that it maxes out at 3 rays instead of 4, now.

When did Scorching Ray shoot 4 rays? I just checked both 3.5 srd and PF srd and they both max out at 3 rays at 11th caster level.


meatrace wrote:
Zurai wrote:
Majuba wrote:
For me, the resistance applying to each ray is the only thing making this spell balanced for its level :)
It helps that it maxes out at 3 rays instead of 4, now.
When did Scorching Ray shoot 4 rays? I just checked both 3.5 srd and PF srd and they both max out at 3 rays at 11th caster level.

Maybe that's from ye olde Melf's Minute Meteors....


Zurai wrote:


Pathfinder Meteor Swarm wrote:
Despite stemming from separate spheres, all of the fire damage is added together after the saves have been made, and fire resistance is applied only once.
Meteor swarm is a clear exception to the usual rule.

Which kinda means that Scorching ray falls under the usual rules, which means fire res for every ray ;-)


Brodiggan Gale wrote:

"per attack" is not necessarily the same as "per attack roll"

I'm aware it's not the majority opinion, but for my money all of the rays from Scorching Ray are a single source of damage, one "attack." (And I'm not arguing that this is the intended interpretation, it's just the one I'm running with.)

My best supporting evidence would be the spell itself, which notes that all the rays are fired simultaneously. If you're being hit by 8d6 or 12d6 fire damage all in the exact same moment, I have a hard time imagining why it should all be resisted separately, even if you had to make multiple touch attack rolls to deal the full damage.

EDIT: I should mention, I'm the DM in question.

By the same token, does fire resistance then apply to Incendiary Cloud only on the 1st round of the spell? If not, why not? That fire damage is from the same source.


Robert Young wrote:
By the same token, does fire resistance then apply to Incendiary Cloud only on the 1st round of the spell? If not, why not? That fire damage is from the same source.

Of course not, what made me question the interaction of Fire Resistance and Scorching Ray in the first place was the simultaneity of the Rays. The damage from Incendiary Cloud is not simultaneous, but taken over time. Also, for those bringing up examples of multiple casters holding their actions to fire at once, they would not be applying simultaneous damage either (in my book at least). It might be close, you might have several characters acting on the same initiative count, but they would still finish casting in a specific order and not all in same moment.

I'm aware that the RAW answer is likely that Fire Resistance would apply to each ray.

My primary reasoning was that from a simulation standpoint, there wasn't enough of a difference between taking 8d6 from, say, a fireball, and taking 4d6+4d6 simultaneously from multiple rays to warrant the extra resistance.

Also, from a balance standpoint, Scorching Ray does close to the same expected damage as a fireball or a lightning bolt, but only does it against a single target (or split between targets) instead of hitting everyone in an area. That sounds just fine for a 2nd level spell to me, and there was no need to penalize it further by stacking energy resistance in a way that doesn't apply to most other spells.


Brodiggan Gale wrote:

Of course not, what made me question the interaction of Fire Resistance and Scorching Ray in the first place was the simultaneity of the Rays. The damage from Incendiary Cloud is not simultaneous, but taken over time. Also, for those bringing up examples of multiple casters holding their actions to fire at once, they would not be applying simultaneous damage either (in my book at least). It might be close, you might have several characters acting on the same initiative count, but they would still finish casting in a specific order and not all in same moment.

I'm aware that the RAW answer is likely that Fire Resistance would apply to each ray.

My primary reasoning was that from a simulation standpoint, there wasn't enough of a difference between taking 8d6 from, say, a fireball, and taking 4d6+4d6 simultaneously from multiple rays to warrant the extra resistance.

Also, from a balance standpoint, Scorching Ray does close to the same expected damage as a fireball or a lightning bolt, but only does it against a single target (or split between targets) instead of hitting everyone in an area. That sounds just fine for a 2nd level spell to me, and there was no need to penalize it further by stacking energy resistance in a way that doesn't apply to most other spells.

Ahh, so the timing of the damage is preeminent in your translation of energy resistance, not necessarily the source.

As far as comparisons to fireball and lightning bolt, these allow saves for 1/2 damage that scorching ray does not allow. You've also got to consider that, by nerfing energy resistance for this spell, you've made it particularly more deadly for use with empower and maximize metamagics, which are easier to apply efficiently to a low level spell than higher level comparatives.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Brodiggan Gale wrote:


My primary reasoning was that from a simulation standpoint, there wasn't enough of a difference between taking 8d6 from, say, a fireball, and taking 4d6+4d6 simultaneously from multiple rays to warrant the extra resistance.

Comparing fireball to scorching ray doesn't really work, they're two different mechanics. Just because you get two rays from one casting doesn't make the damage simultaneous.

The fact that you can miss with one ray and hit with the other suggests that the damage is not in fact simultaneous, otherwise there is no reason the second ray wouldn't have the same result as the first, in which case the damage would increase by 4d6 instead of granting you a second ray.


Robert Young wrote:
Ahh, so the timing of the damage is preeminent in your translation of energy resistance, not necessarily the source.

Correct to a point, the fact that it's all simultaneous damage from the same source mattered as well.

Robert Young wrote:
As far as comparisons to fireball and lightning bolt, these allow saves for 1/2 damage that scorching ray does not allow.

I was including odds for saving/missing the touch attack in my estimates of damage actually. For example, at 8th level, a fireball is doing 8d6, and a scorching ray is doing 4d6/4d6. The average reflex save for foes you'll run into is +7 or +8 at that level and most arcane casters will have a DC of 18 or 19. This means the fireball is doing full damage half the time and half damage the rest of the time for a total average of 75% damage (roughly). By contrast the Scorching Ray caster is attacking with a +5 or +6 (Dex Mod + BAB) vs. a touch AC of 11 or so (admittedly, touch ACs vary a lot) giving the Scorching Ray a 75% chance of hitting.

Total it all up and the fireball is doing an average of 28 damage to any number of targets in an area, and the scorching ray is doing an average of 28 to one target, or 14 and 14 to two targets. That progression seems entirely reasonable to me, going from 2nd to 3rd and moving from a single target to an area fits right in with the other spell progressions.

Robert Young wrote:
You've also got to consider that, by nerfing energy resistance for this spell, you've made it particularly more deadly for use with empower and maximize metamagics, which are easier to apply efficiently to a low level spell than higher level comparatives.

I'll give you this one, the metamagic bit is the one thing that has had me thinking carefully on the subject.


Balodek wrote:
Comparing fireball to scorching ray doesn't really work, they're two different mechanics. Just because you get two rays from one casting doesn't make the damage simultaneous.

The spell description specifically states that all of the rays fire simultaneously, that line about simultaneity is actually what made me pause and think about this originally.


Brodiggan Gale wrote:
Robert Young wrote:
You've also got to consider that, by nerfing energy resistance for this spell, you've made it particularly more deadly for use with empower and maximize metamagics, which are easier to apply efficiently to a low level spell than higher level comparatives.
I'll give you this one, the metamagic bit is the one thing that has had me thinking carefully on the subject since I made the ruling.

Even when applying energy resistance to each ray, scorching ray is a high damage spell using the metamagics. An 11th level caster can't empower and maximize a Scorching Ray on their own due to a lack of a 7th level spell slot, but a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Maximize Spell costs only 14000gp. So 3 times a day you're dealing 72 damage if they all hit, and an average of 93 damage if also empowered, for only a 2nd or 4th level spell slot, respectively. Subtracting 30 from these totals instead of 10 is still a pretty good return on investment.


Robert Young wrote:
Even when applying energy resistance to each ray, scorching ray is a high damage spell using the metamagics. An 11th level caster can't empower and maximize a Scorching Ray on their own due to a lack of a 7th level spell slot, but a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Maximize Spell costs only 14000gp. So 3 times a day you're dealing 72 damage if they all hit, and an average of 93 damage if also empowered, for only a 2nd or 4th level spell slot, respectively. Subtracting 30 from these totals instead of 10 is still a pretty good return on investment.

Well, a few things here...

First, at 11th level Resist Energy gives you resistance 30, and would prevent 90 damage if it was applied three times to scorching ray, not 30.

Second, while there aren't a lot of other damaging spells at 2nd level to compare it to, an empowered/maximized scorching ray is still less effective (generally) than an empowered/maximized fireball and more effective than an empowered/maximized magic missile. It seems on par with (or even slightly weaker than) effects like an empowered/maximized touch of idiocy, hypnotic pattern, even flaming sphere (which would be dealing 27 damage a round for up to 11 rounds). Yes, Empower + a rod of metamagic Maximize is a powerful combination and one that highlights some good aspects of scorching ray, but is it any more gamebreaking than the effect of other spells of the same level using the same combination of rods/metamagic?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Think of it this way. you hit someone with two daggers. or two dagger attacks. If they had damage reduction, it would apply separately to each attack.

Scorching Ray at high levels is like multiple attacks. each ray would come up against fire resistance separately. Spell resistance however is checked once for the entire effect, that's an all or nothing roll.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Tell your DM from me:
How much damage would a PC receive from two slam attacks of a fire elemental if the PC had fire resistance 5? Wouldn't you figure the fire damage separately? Same with scorching rays.


LazarX wrote:

Think of it this way. you hit someone with two daggers. or two dagger attacks. If they had damage reduction, it would apply separately to each attack.

Scorching Ray at high levels is like multiple attacks. each ray would come up against fire resistance separately. Spell resistance however is checked once for the entire effect, that's an all or nothing roll.

James Thomas wrote:
Tell your DM from me: How much damage would a PC receive from two slam attacks of a fire elemental if the PC had fire resistance 5? Wouldn't you figure the fire damage separately? Same with scorching rays.

Scorching Ray, unlike both the examples above, and a number of examples people have posted before, delivers all of it's damage simultaneously and notes this in the spell description.

Iterative attacks, multiple slams, multiple casters, none of these things are simultaneous, Scorching Ray is.

The only other spell that delivers similar simultaneous sources of damage is Meteor Swarm, which does specifically note that it's damage is only reduced by energy resistance once.

(As I said before though, By RAW, energy resistance would probably apply to each ray, yes. It's not 100% cut and dry, but it's pretty close. I think at this point we're mostly discussing what impact if any going with the opposite ruling and only applying energy resistance once would have.)


I understand what your yout trying to get at by the timing aspect of this, but the rules clearly state that Energy Resistance is applied to each attack, and since Scorching Ray requires attack rolls this certainly qualifies.

Consider Energy Resistance like Damage Reduction, someone using the Manyshot feat to fire two arrows at the exact same time has to apply damage reduction to each even though it was fired simultaneously, ontop of that, if the character had Sneak Attack they can only apply it to one of those two arrows.

"Volley" type spells like "Scorching Ray" fire simultaneously in this rapid fashion, but just as DR applies to each arrow fired during Mayshot then so does Energy Resistance apply to each and every Ray fired by Scorching Ray.

Not to mention as others have said, with its low level its easy to apply Metamagic to, especially at high level. 4d6 Fire Damage is nothing to sniff at, for a 2nd Level spell I have seen it kill significantly tough opponents (especially if they critical with it by rolling a 20 - excluding if they can still take Improved Critical/Weapon Focus (Ray) anymore which used to be allowed in 3.5 or weaponlike spells).
That and it hits creatures Touch AC which is significantly easier and much more successful than making someone roll a Reflex save say vs a fireball.

The spell is just fine as it is, resistance applies to each one, and Spell Resistance applies to any fired at the creature that turn (however may there may be).
Thats the way its always worked in 3.5 and now here.

Resistance is not some kind of 'instantaneous' buffer that exists temporarily, its continual and permanent (excluding spells which cause vulnerability like those from the Spell Compendium) and counts against each and every instance that an attack with that energy source hits them. The same would apply to Damage Reduction, it wouldnt matter if a fighter came up to say an opponent with DR 10/Cold Iron without a Cold Iron weapon, he makes all his attacks (even if he had Two Weapon Fighting and said he was timing his hits to be simultaneous) and counts DR against every one despite what he may try and do intentionally.


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Brodiggan Gale wrote:
The only other spell that delivers similar simultaneous sources of damage is Meteor Swarm, which does specifically note that it's damage is only reduced by energy resistance once.

Only other spell maybe (I'm not gonna bother looking it up); however, it's not the only other Core energy damage option that does so.

Manyshot fires two arrows with the same attack roll that both either hit or miss simultaneously. If those arrows are enchanted with flaming, that 1d6 fire damage gets applies separately for each arrow, not totaled up and applied once.


Zurai wrote:
Brodiggan Gale wrote:
The only other spell that delivers similar simultaneous sources of damage is Meteor Swarm, which does specifically note that it's damage is only reduced by energy resistance once.

Only other spell maybe (I'm not gonna bother looking it up); however, it's not the only other Core energy damage option that does so.

Manyshot fires two arrows with the same attack roll that both either hit or miss simultaneously. If those arrows are enchanted with flaming, that 1d6 fire damage gets applies separately for each arrow, not totaled up and applied once.

Exactly right, compare these "volley" type attacks (ie...ManyShot, Scorching Ray, etc.) to any others and the result is the same regardless of the source (attacks or spells), Just treat Energy Resistance as Damage Reduction for energy types, it works exactly the same way. Counts against each and every attack.

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Every time an attack deals energy damage, a creature's energy resistance applies. Therefore, if you shoot 3 scorching rays at a creature with resist fire 10, you subtract 10 from the damage of all three rays. Energy resistance more or less works exactly the same as damage reduction; it applies to EVERY separate hit.

Meteor swarm is an exception to this rule, because it's a 9th level spell and it's powerful enough to break the rules.


James Jacobs wrote:

Every time an attack deals energy damage, a creature's energy resistance applies. Therefore, if you shoot 3 scorching rays at a creature with resist fire 10, you subtract 10 from the damage of all three rays. Energy resistance more or less works exactly the same as damage reduction; it applies to EVERY separate hit.

Thank you for the defintinive ruling on that James. I believe almost everyone was already in a consensus about it but this puts the lid on this for good.


Brodiggan Gale wrote:

Well, a few things here...

First, at 11th level Resist Energy gives you resistance 30, and would prevent 90 damage if it was applied three times to scorching ray, not 30.

Second, while there aren't a lot of other damaging spells at 2nd level to compare it to, an empowered/maximized scorching ray is still less effective (generally) than an empowered/maximized fireball and more effective than an empowered/maximized magic missile. It seems on par with (or even slightly weaker than) effects like an empowered/maximized touch of idiocy, hypnotic pattern, even flaming sphere (which would be dealing 27 damage a round for up to 11 rounds). Yes, Empower + a rod of metamagic Maximize is a powerful combination and one that highlights some good aspects of scorching ray, but is it any more gamebreaking than the effect of other spells of the same level using the same combination of rods/metamagic?

Good stuff.

Sure, a CR appropriate spellcaster can have great resistance, if he's already buffed or spends a combat action specifically to buff, but not a given under normal combat circumstances. The bestiary, aside from outright immunities, usually has CR appropriate critters sporting a resistance of 10 or 15 (but which is always on). I find this a much more likely encounter than the buffed caster encounter, YMMV.

Comparing same level spells can be problematic, but you could include 4th level spells in the discussion if we're talking a metamagic version of Scorching Ray. The Touch of Idiocy suffers in comparison due to range, needing a second spell cast to improve its effectiveness. Hypnotic Pattern grants a save to negate and is HD restricted. Flaming Sphere also grants a save to negate damage, and the emp/max version does 23.25 damage/round, but that's damage over time, with its own limitations.

All I'm really saying is that, situationally, Scorching Ray doesn't need much help to be a decent direct damage spell. If energy resistance is what's nerfing it, just cast something else. Being capable of doing 63/83 damage with 3 touch attacks AFTER resistance 30/10 seems a bit much for a 2nd level spell (4th level slot) to me.


Zurai wrote:

Yep, exactly, and Manyshot is indeed the precedent and cause for the volley fire rule.

It's a bit squirrely as a ruling because Manyshot is two damage rolls from one attack roll, and scorching ray (and pretty much every other volley attack) is X damage rolls for X attack rolls, but them's the breaks.

I know this is completely correct for 3.5, however without actual volley rules in pathfinder yet we've been running it separate attacks with separate chances for criticaling.

After all it seems odd to me that you can critical on one target for the spell and then not the others (since critical hit damage is precision damage).


James Jacobs wrote:
Meteor swarm is an exception to this rule, because it's a 9th level spell and it's powerful enough to break the rules.

I concur. Plus this note: even the special exception made by meteor swarm seems to apply specifically to its second application, i.e., the fireball-effect created when all meteors get to explode in a pattern. It equates to one burst of fire like a fireball, not like separate attack rolls as it might for the direct-hit application of the spell; the exception is noted, I expect, to prevent confusion with the separate mechanic happening in the first application in the same spell description.


Abraham spalding wrote:
(since critical hit damage is precision damage).

No, it isn't.

Each attack of a scorching ray can crit. It just can't all get sneak attack (or sudden strike, or skirmish) damage.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Brodiggan Gale wrote:


The spell description specifically states that all of the rays fire simultaneously, that line about simultaneity is actually what made me pause and think about this originally.

They may be simultaneous, but they are still separate rays even if they hit at the same time. In order to treat 2 rays hitting as 8d6 rather than 4d6 and 4d6, I'd expect a specific rule to that effect.

And on the subject of a fire elemental's slam attacks, they're not iterative, so there's no real assumption that they have to fall in a way that's not simultaneous. They're both attacks from the same source. Trying to say they're distinct from the scorching rays, I think, is trying to create a distinction that isn't really significant.


Zurai wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
(since critical hit damage is precision damage).

No, it isn't.

Each attack of a scorching ray can crit. It just can't all get sneak attack (or sudden strike, or skirmish) damage.

I think Abraham might be confused by manyshot, since you get two arrows on one attack roll you can only crit with one of them. however a close reading of the feat will show that crits are not precision based damage.

PRD wrote:

Manyshot (Combat)

You can fire multiple arrows at a single target.

Prerequisites: Dex 17, Point-Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, base attack bonus +6.

Benefit: When making a full-attack action with a bow, your first attack fires two arrows. If the attack hits, both arrows hit. Apply precision-based damage (such as sneak attack) and critical hit damage only once for this attack. Damage bonuses from using a composite bow with a high Strength bonus apply to each arrow, as do other damage bonuses, such as a ranger's favored enemy bonus. Damage reduction and resistances apply separately to each arrow.

no need to write it like that if critical hits were precision based.

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