Sneak Attack and Scorching Ray


Rules Questions

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Liberty's Edge

Raith Shadar wrote:
Mytiazair wrote:


Seriously, the amount of damage that a sneak attack can do isn't all that much anyway. I would urge the Design Team to reconsider this decision.
Provide proof with numbers. I would say the build is far more than "marginally combat-effective" and "combat-ineffective". It's the difference "combat-effective" and "why do I even bother DMing combat-effective".

Let us use a 11th-level character (Rog3/wiz3/arcane trickster 5) with the Magical Knack trait and some other method of getting a +1 to CL for scorching ray (we've already invested two traits, or a trait and a feat to pull this off) as an example (the earliest an arcane trickster would reasonably be able to pull off a CL11 Scorching Ray).

In order to pull off a sneak attack, something like Greater Invisibility (we're investing a 4th level spell slot now) would be required.

Assuming all rays hit, the difference between sneak attack on all three rays and a single sneak attack is a whole 8d6 damage, or 28 damage on average (and with this many d6s, the bell curve is very biased in favour of "around average).

A CR11 creature has 144.7 HP on average, so the additional sneak attack is doing about 20% of the monster's health - this would largely get lost in the noise, given the amount of damage other characters are able to inflict at this level.

This is not taking into account that a significant proportion (10-20%) of enemies of this CR have resistance or immunity to fire, blindsight, see invisible, or immunity to sneak attack, any of which makes this attack largely useless.

It is also not taking into account misses, which happen (and would lower the "best case average" of 28 damage).

It's unreasonable to state that an Arcane Trickster doing another 8d6 damage at this level on a scorching ray (as an effectively 8th-level wizard, he has 3+int bonus + school 2nd-level slots per day - and only three or four 4th-level slots per day), after using a round to set up the sneak attack, would get anywhere near "Why do I even bother DMing combat-effective".


How is the average damage 28?

4d6 ray and 5d6 sneak attack. Average damage is 31 per ray. Two rays per use.

That is average of 62 points of damage with a Dex-based character normally built to beat enemies on initiative.

That is 43% of the hit points of a CR11 creature.

You can pull off the attack using Invisibility or catching them flat-footed. Another advantage of the ray attack is it is one spell. The one spell casts the rays simultaneously. Wouldn't both rays get the benefit of invisibility?

Then if they are flat-footed, they nearly dead before the fight even starts. Why can't you stealth up on a creature as a Trickster and surprise them? The Arcane Trickster I built was sniper extraordinaire. He would sneak up and kill things before they had a chance to do a thing. It only gets worse as you get another ray.

Arcane Trickster Sniper is a nasty dude even without the multiple Scorching Rays. I was getting 18 point hits using Acid Splash just to do something without using a spell slot.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Remember the current errata on Scorching Ray and Sneak Attack.

One ray per casting gets the Sneak Attack damage.


Mytiazair wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Honestly, I'm more concerned with the rules being consistent (i.e., "one SA per targeted spell") than the rules protecting DPR of a niche build of one type of specialized character (i.e., "now my rogue using scorching ray can't get sneak attack on every single shot!").

ANY ruling that the Pathfinder Design Team makes would be a consistent ruling - that's why they make rulings, right? (One sneak attack per target, one sneak attack per attack roll, one sneak attack per spell...)

As has been pointed out in this thread, everywhere else is "one sneak attack per attack roll". This ruling adds an INCONSISTENCY, ("one sneak attack per attack roll, except for spells with multiple attacks, unless you're using the Surprise Spells ability, in which case you get it on all targets if its an AOE spell"), which can hardly be considered a good thing.

Regarding 'protecting DPR of a niche build of one type of specialized character', the numbers have already been crunched in this thread, and it's the difference between "marginally combat-effective" and "combat-ineffective".

Seriously, the amount of damage that a sneak attack can do isn't all that much anyway. I would urge the Design Team to reconsider this decision.

Yes, this is why I don't like this. And it turns the FAQ into something like the worst part of 2nd Edition rules. A pile of special rules for everything -- quite possibly worse than 2nd Edition, actually.

And it just raises further questions since most spells with multiple attack rolls don't have the "simultaneous" wording. And is a spell just like Scorching Ray except it says "you make one attack after another when this spell is cast" also 2nd level or is it 3rd level or what? Before it was easy, since it would be essentially the same spell. Now? Who knows? What about a spell like Holy Ice,* which doesn't say the attacks happen simultaneously (which the FAQ hinges on).

*And again, I say the problem with this spell is that a spell that gives you 15 attacks is horrible in and of itself. That's waaaay too much handling time for one action. There really out to be spell creation guidelines to avoid stupid crap like that. And, such spell guidelines would avoid special case rulings that could crop up during routine play.

Addition/Edit: And if it is one SA per spell, then does that mean a spell that gives multiple attacks over multiple rounds only provides an SA once? What if it gives 2 attacks per round? And since when has one SA per spell been a rule? (I don't see where the consistency is coming from, as others have said, it's been one SA per attack roll in the past).


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blackbloodtroll wrote:

Remember the current errata on Scorching Ray and Sneak Attack.

One ray per casting gets the Sneak Attack damage.

It's a FAQ, not errata.

And this thread is why it exists.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Drachasor wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:

Remember the current errata on Scorching Ray and Sneak Attack.

One ray per casting gets the Sneak Attack damage.

It's a FAQ, not errata.

And this thread is why it exists.

A minor misquote on my part.

Scarab Sages

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Honestly, I'm more concerned with the rules being consistent (i.e., "one SA per targeted spell") than the rules protecting DPR of a niche build of one type of specialized character (i.e., "now my rogue using scorching ray can't get sneak attack on every single shot!").

You've been falling behind on consistency with some of the other recent rulings.

Nearly all of which are substantial nerds to anybody a caster/melee hybrid.


The thing that I find funny about this is that before this, scorching ray would have been an example of why sneak attack would apply to all rays of something, because of the lack of language saying otherwise.


Cheapy wrote:
The thing that I find funny about this is that before this, scorching ray would have been an example of why sneak attack would apply to all rays of something, because of the lack of language saying otherwise.

To me it still is. I've find a lot of the FAQ answers to be more like "how I would rule in the game" than "what do the rules say."

Is Skip Williams still working for WoTC? I'm interested in whatever game he's Saging for.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Honestly, I'm more concerned with the rules being consistent (i.e., "one SA per targeted spell") than the rules protecting DPR of a niche build of one type of specialized character (i.e., "now my rogue using scorching ray can't get sneak attack on every single shot!").

If that the way you feel then be the same with Full attacks as well... I mean If am 2 weapon rouge with 7 attack per round I add SA to each Attack. Be the same regaurdless of how you attack be it by spell or by weapon.

Also If I can only SA once per targeted spell then should I only Crittal once per spell, add point blank damage, Bard song, prayer, ect as well?


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Just because you make an attack roll with a spell doesn't mean it's a weapon-like spell.

A????ok you lost me but I will ask clear smoke OR hazy a littel... Name one spell that you make a attack roll with that is not a weapon like spell.


This should clear a few things up for you.

Pathfinder Design Team wrote:

Ray: Do rays count as weapons for the purpose of spells and effects that affect weapons?

Yes. (See also this FAQ item for a similar question about rays and weapon feats.)

For example, a bard's inspire courage says it affects "weapon damage rolls," which is worded that way so don't try to add the bonus to a spell like fireball. However, rays are treated as weapons, whether they're from spells, a monster ability, a class ability, or some other source, so the inspire courage bonus applies to ray attack rolls and ray damage rolls.

The same rule applies to weapon-like spells such as flame blade, mage's sword, and spiritual weapon--effects that affect weapons work on these spells.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Tom S 820 wrote:

A????ok you lost me but I will ask clear smoke OR hazy a littel... Name one spell that you make a attack roll with that is not a weapon like spell.

clenched fist (and related spells)

produce flame
rope trick
any spell that requires you to make a melee touch attack against an opponent


Yes, apparently making multiple attack rolls with magic and getting sneak attack on them all is different than making multiple attack rolls and getting sneak attack on them all with any other non-magical source.

They used a precedent that you only get to add sneak attack once for abilities that do not normally require an attack roll to justify it balance-wise, when those abilities were restricted to a single because they usually would not allow you to use sneak attack -at all-.

Just let it go. It was a bad ruling, but it's their call.

Liberty's Edge

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TGMaxMaxer wrote:


Just let it go. It was a bad ruling, but it's their call.

Actually, no. It wasn't a bad ruling, it was a ruling you don't agree with.

It's the way it is with every heated debate: lots of passionate back and forth, the PDT issues a ruling, the losers cry about it...a lot.

A simple "I don't agree with this ruling, but thank you for your time and effort" would suffice.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

HangarFlying wrote:
A simple "I don't agree with this ruling, but thank you for your time and effort" would suffice.

This, a million times this.


I don't see the inconsistency that some people are on about. There is an existing precedent, "A single attack that causes multiple projectiles to fire at the same time gets sneak attack once." That precedent is set in the description of surprise spell with magic missile. It's also the way it worked in 3.5, from which the Pathfinder rules are derived.

When people talk about this being a bad ruling, they use a lot of arguments that don't make sense, which I will address here.

"But what about full attacks? Do I only get to add sneak attack once to those?": Well, no, all of those attacks aren't being fired at the same time. It is a situation that has literally nothing in common with scorching ray.

"But what about rapid shot?" Well, again, those attacks aren't happening at the same time. Literally nothing in common with this situation.

"But it completely ruins this build!" Not an issue of consistency, and I will admit that I don't know if it's good from a numerical balance perspective. Still, I can't think of many builds or concepts that can't be effective in spite of this ruling.

Also, as far as spells that allow multiple attacks that do not have wording regarding the attacks being simultaneous, I would assume that since the rays all being simultaneous is the reason you can only do sneak attack damage once then without that ruling RAW would allow those spells to do SA more than once.


TGMaxMaxer wrote:

Firstly, for those of you screaming about Telekinesis and Holy Ice, either the character using it is 18th level, and you should really take a look at the numbers a pure sorcerer can put out at that level, or at any lower level the character is spending 1900g -PER SHOT-(25x15x5) in a scroll, and wands specifically don't work on spells above 4th level, so no dice there. Using either BAB+Int or BAB+Wis to hit. Say around 11th level when this can actually happen maybe... BAB 8+Int/Wis around +3 if you're lucky, +11 to hit flat footed means ~30-50% chance depending on the CR 11 critter you pick out. Which for a party of 4 means he spent his average treasure for that encounter for that one attack. Meaning he gets no WBL increase for that encounter, in order to replace that -1- scroll, as a GM I'd call that a fair trade.

You should really read the spell and the items, and perhaps consider that anyone who can afford to spend 2k in a single round is more of a GM created nightmare than a rules one.

Now... Sean, Thank you for listing your reasoning.

It still seems contrived to allow multiple physical attacks requiring individual attack rolls to benefit from sneak attack damage but not multiple magically generated attacks requiring individual attack rolls, but there it is. Magic cannot be precisely targeted as quickly as a normal bow and arrow.

Thank you for your time and effort.

This is from the original ruling a page or two back.

It's a bad ruling IMO because a ninja that can throw 6 stars, an archer that can shoot 4 arrows, or a TWF rogue with 6 flanks, can get multiple sneaks.

While a caster who fires 3 rays, cannot, with the justification of Magic Missle, Fireball, and Manyshot only get to apply it once, so it's the same thing.

When those either do not require an attack in the first place, or only require one attack roll and multiple damage rolls(which I agree with, you should only get precision once per "hit").


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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Tom S 820 wrote:

A????ok you lost me but I will ask clear smoke OR hazy a littel... Name one spell that you make a attack roll with that is not a weapon like spell.

clenched fist (and related spells)

produce flame
rope trick
any spell that requires you to make a melee touch attack against an opponent

clenched fist has attack roll and damage sounds weapon like to me...

produce flame has attack roll and damage sound weapon like to me...

rope trick has no attack at all?????? Realy lost me on that one...

Can you Score with Critical with those spell?

I search my core book and found no "weapon like spell" term.
I search SRD nothing that fit either.


Weapon-like Spell is not the same as 'spell you make an attack roll with'. The FAQ I linked above makes this distinction.


Cheapy wrote:
Weapon-like Spell is not the same as 'spell you make an attack roll with'. The FAQ I linked above makes this distinction.

ok so by rule it should get sneak attack


Produce flame and flame blade are basicly the same spell...

Both can be melee touch attacks that do fire damage one is 1d6+5 max the other is 1d8+10 max. One is weapon like the other is not????

What if I scourhing ray 3 diffent tagets could I get sneak attack on all three?


By RAW, yes. But not since the most recent FAQ. That's what this whole thread was about to begin with.


The reason you do not is because all of the rays from scorching ray fire at once.

For flavor purposes think about it like this: You have complete precision control over the first ray, but limited control over the others. You can aim them well enough to hit the bad guy, but you can't focus them well enough to hit the bad guy's kidney and get sneak attack damage. However, they may hit his kidney anyway, which is why you can crit with all three rolls.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Don't really like the FAQ, but oh well. I don't play in PFS, so it really doesn't affect me. I'll just houserule it in my home game (which is basically what I was doing anyway, sneak attack applies anytime you meet the requirements for sneak attack, and you make an attack roll that does damage). Didn't care what you were using it on, melee, magic, ranged, whatever.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

It's an easy enough rule to remember.

Single/Iterative attack rolls = Sneak on each.
Simultaneous attack rolls = Sneak once.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Tom S 820 wrote:
Produce flame and flame blade are basicly the same spell...

One creates a beam of fire that the spell says you wield as if it were a scimitar, the other creates ... a flame ... that isn't described as being used like any other kind of weapon in the game.

Not the same spell.

Not the same thing.

One is a weapon-like spell, the other is not.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:

I think maybe the "answered in FAQ" answer is relating to this FAQ entry, which says:

The Surprise Spells class feature allows the Arcane Trickster to add his sneak attack dice to spells that deal damage that target flat-footed foes. This damage is only applied once per spell. In the case of fireball this means it affects all targets in the area, with each getting a save to halve the damage (including the sneak attack damage). In the case of magic missile, the extra damage is only added once to one missile, chosen by the caster when the spell is cast.

I didn't write that FAQ, and I don't know if I'm the one who cleared the FAQ-flag on this thread, and I know it's talking about the arcane trickster class, but perhaps it was marked as such because of the "only once per spell" ruling in that FAQ entry.

Surprise Spells I believe was written for spells like Fireball and Lightning bolt. that otherwise would never deliver sneak attack damage. The SA dice are only rolled once, but they'd be applied to every target within the spell effect.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Tom S 820 wrote:
Produce flame and flame blade are basicly the same spell...

One creates a beam of fire that the spell says you wield as if it were a scimitar, the other creates ... a flame ... that isn't described as being used like any other kind of weapon in the game.

Not the same spell.

Not the same thing.

One is a weapon-like spell, the other is not.

It is, however, a game mechanic that's now dependent on fluff to adjudicate, rather than something concrete. If weapon like spells had [Weapon] as a subtype, then there'd be no argument at tables over which spells are weapon-like and which aren't.

So, if scorching ray were instead fluffed as 'a magic bow appears and fires at target or targets you designate', it would qualify for SA, because the fluff says it's a bow making attacks. or, if the spell fluff said 'You say 'pew' and each time, the target you are pointing at receives a ray attack, and you may say 'pew' up to one time per 3 levels', that would also be a non-simultaneous spell. Both would be, mechanically, exactly the same as Scorching Ray, but both would instead get sneak attack on each successful attack that qualifies for it.

Again, not b@#*$& about the FAQ, as I said, doesn't bother me, but it would be easier to deal with if the spells had something mechanical to identify weapon like, rather than fluff that is easy to argue over.


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Ok, wait a second. Mr. SKR... I would like to politely suggest that you might be mistaken about produce flame.

"Alternatively, you can hurl the flames up to 120 feet as a thrown weapon." (PRD entry for Produce Flame, emphasis mine.)

Seems to me that this would make produce flame weapon-like. Specifically, it is treated as a thrown weapon.

Edit: Also MTD, the distinction is important. Flame Blade doesn't say it "looks like a scimitar" it says you WIELD it as a scimitar. This means that it functions with feats that apply to scimitars and, I assume, has the crit range of a scimitar.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
DetectiveKatana wrote:

Ok, wait a second. Mr. SKR... I would like to politely suggest that you might be mistaken about produce flame.

"Alternatively, you can hurl the flames up to 120 feet as a thrown weapon." (PRD entry for Produce Flame, emphasis mine.)

Seems to me that this would make produce flame weapon-like. Specifically, it is treated as a thrown weapon.

I think my point above is made. Does it get sneak attack when it's thrown but not used otherwise, or does it get sneak in all ways even though it's only 'as a weapon' when thrown? *le sigh* I like my rule better. Simpler, cleaner, no arguments about the spell fluff.


It's not about Spell Fluff, it's about functionality and specificity. I will say this, though, I do not believe there is a spell that you make an attack roll with that is NOT weaponlike. Clenched Fist was an example but I don't think it counts because it is like spiritual weapon, the hand is a separate entity making the attack roll.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
DetectiveKatana wrote:
It's not about Spell Fluff, it's about functionality and specificity. I will say this, though, I do not believe there is a spell that you make an attack roll with that is NOT weaponlike. Clenched Fist was an example but I don't think it counts because it is like spiritual weapon, the hand is a separate entity making the attack roll.

Yeah, actually it is about fluff.

Scorching Ray wrote:


SCORCHING RAY
School evocation [fire]; Level sorcerer/wizard 2
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect one or more rays
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes
You blast your enemies with a searing beam of fire. You may fire one ray, plus one additional ray for every four levels beyond 3rd (to a maximum of three rays at 11th level). Each ray requires a ranged touch attack to hit and deals 4d6 points of fire damage. The rays may be fired at the same or different targets, but all rays must be aimed at targets within 30 feet of each other and fired simultaneously.
Scorching Bowshot* wrote:


SCORCHING BOWSHOT
School evocation [fire]; Level sorcerer/wizard 2
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect one or more rays
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes
You conjure a flaming bow that blasts your enemies with a searing beam of fire. Your bow may fire one ray, plus one additional ray for every four levels beyond 3rd (to a maximum of three rays at 11th level). Each shot requires you to point to a target and make a ranged touch attack to hit and deals 4d6 points of fire damage. The rays may be fired at the same or different targets, but all rays must be aimed at targets within 30 feet of each other.
PewPew of Fire* wrote:


PEWPEW OF FIRE
School evocation [fire]; Level sorcerer/wizard 2
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect one or more rays
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes
You may point your finger at enemies and say 'pew' and generate a ray of searing fire that blasts your enemies. You may say 'pew' once, plus one additional 'pew' for every four levels beyond 3rd (to a maximum of three 'pew's at 11th level). Each 'pew' requires you to point to a target and make a ranged touch attack to hit and deals 4d6 points of fire damage. The 'pew' rays may be fired at the same or different targets, but all 'pew' rays must be aimed at targets within 30 feet of each other.

All three of these spells are mechanically the same. The only difference is the 'simultaneous' specification in Scorching Ray. They all require the same touch attack, give the same damage and number of rays. It's all in the fluff of the spell whether one get's SA on each ray or not.

EDIT : Fixed quoting, and spell name.

* : Made up spell


Um... no. They fire simultaneously. That is a specifically mechanical effect. It is the reason a single invisibility spell lets them all hit an opponent as though they are flat-footed, but it's also the reason they only get sneak attack on one of those rays. It has zero to do with fluff and everything to do with mechanics.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
DetectiveKatana wrote:
Um... no. They fire simultaneously. That is a specifically mechanical effect. It is the reason a single invisibility spell lets them all hit an opponent as though they are flat-footed, but it's also the reason they only get sneak attack on one of those rays. It has zero to do with fluff and everything to do with mechanics.

You can't fire another ray until 7th level.

At 7th level, you can cast a 4th level spell.

So, by the time it comes to pass, you are casting greater invisibility and not breaking your invisibility when you attack, which means you'd get sneak attack on both rays.

So.. yeah, not seeing it still.

EDIT : And note, this requires multiclassing, so you're caster level is down 2-3 levels. So you're likely 10th level before this is happening... not a game balance thing, and for other spells, it's all based on fluff, the weapon-like is based on it being described as a weapon.


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You are write, weapon-like is based on it either being a ray (Specifically clarified as weapon-like in the FAQ) or described as functioning like a weapon. Not looking like a weapon, mind you, but functioning as a type of weapon and being wielded as that weapon. I.E. It's being weaponlike is dependent on it being like a weapon. Again, this argument has no real functional purpose, since I do not think there is a weapon where your character makes the attack roll that is not weapon-like in some way.

On a side note, greater invisibility is completely irrelevant to the discussion. I used the example to clarify ways in which all of the rays firing at once is, again, mechanical and not fluff based. The fact that you could get a similar effect with a different spell by that time, regardless of which way the spell works, has no consequence for the subject of how the spell works.


mdt wrote:
DetectiveKatana wrote:

Ok, wait a second. Mr. SKR... I would like to politely suggest that you might be mistaken about produce flame.

"Alternatively, you can hurl the flames up to 120 feet as a thrown weapon." (PRD entry for Produce Flame, emphasis mine.)

Seems to me that this would make produce flame weapon-like. Specifically, it is treated as a thrown weapon.

I think my point above is made. Does it get sneak attack when it's thrown but not used otherwise, or does it get sneak in all ways even though it's only 'as a weapon' when thrown? *le sigh* I like my rule better. Simpler, cleaner, no arguments about the spell fluff.

Touch Attacks are a type of attack, as are ranged touch attacks. The rules specifically call them "attacks" in the combat section. Sneak Attack applies to damage with any attack under certain conditions. These attacks can also crit, as with any attack.

Granted, you can't take "Weapon Focus" for Produce Flame, but that's because of the limitations of Weapon Focus. In that sense it isn't "weapon-like" which is why some spells are not weapon-like.

But very few things in the game that affect attacks require an attack be done with a weapon, so it doesn't matter much.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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mdt wrote:
It is, however, a game mechanic that's now dependent on fluff to adjudicate, rather than something concrete. If weapon like spells had [Weapon] as a subtype, then there'd be no argument at tables over which spells are weapon-like and which aren't.

Yeah.

mdt wrote:
So, if scorching ray were instead fluffed as 'a magic bow appears and fires at target or targets you designate', it would qualify for SA, because the fluff says it's a bow making attacks.

Scorching ray already qualifies because its stat block says "Effect: ray," in the same way spiritual weapon says "Effect: magic weapon of force," mage's sword says "Effect: one sword," and flame blade says "Effect: sword-like beam."

Ray.
Magic weapon.
Sword.
Sword-like beam.

Not fluff, mechanics.

mdt wrote:
Again, not b@#*$& about the FAQ, as I said, doesn't bother me, but it would be easier to deal with if the spells had something mechanical to identify weapon like, rather than fluff that is easy to argue over.

If only.

BTW the spell description of a spell isn't fluff, there's rules content there... unless you think (for scorching ray, for example) the damage, how many rays you get, maximum spread of the targets, and that they're simultaneous is "fluff."

DetectiveKatana wrote:
Ok, wait a second. Mr. SKR... I would like to politely suggest that you might be mistaken about produce flame.

Good catch.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
mdt wrote:
It is, however, a game mechanic that's now dependent on fluff to adjudicate, rather than something concrete. If weapon like spells had [Weapon] as a subtype, then there'd be no argument at tables over which spells are weapon-like and which aren't.

Yeah.

Lol!


Sean K Reynolds wrote:


Mind you, we've already said that you can choose "touch" as a weapon for Weapon Focus.

So is "Touch" a different weapon for weapon focus purposes as "ranged touch" and would that be different than "Ray"?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
DetectiveKatana wrote:
It's not about Spell Fluff, it's about functionality and specificity. I will say this, though, I do not believe there is a spell that you make an attack roll with that is NOT weaponlike. Clenched Fist was an example but I don't think it counts because it is like spiritual weapon, the hand is a separate entity making the attack roll.

Shocking grasp is "weapon like" for you?

Chill touch?
Acid splash?

There are specific combat feats that you can use with those spells, but they don't resemble a weapon in any way.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
DetectiveKatana wrote:
You are write, weapon-like is based on it either being a ray (Specifically clarified as weapon-like in the FAQ)
FAQ wrote:

Weapon Specialization: Can you take Weapon Specialization (ray) or Improved Critical (ray) as feats? How about Weapon Specialization (bomb) or Improved Critical (bomb)?

All four of those are valid choices.

Note that Weapon Specialization (ray) only adds to hit point damage caused by a ray attack that would normally deal hit point damage; it doesn't increase ability score damage or drain (such as the Dexterity drain from polar ray), penalties to ability scores (such as from ray of enfeeblement) or drain, negative levels (such as from enervation), or other damage or penalties from rays.

—Sean K Reynolds, 10/23/10

Nothing there saying that it is a weapon like spell. it say that you can take weapon specialization in rays.

So, citation needed.

DetectiveKatana wrote:
Um... no. They fire simultaneously. That is a specifically mechanical effect. It is the reason a single invisibility spell lets them all hit an opponent as though they are flat-footed, but it's also the reason they only get sneak attack on one of those rays. It has zero to do with fluff and everything to do with mechanics.

Another "little" thing where the fact that they fire simultaneously is important:

FAQ wrote:


Ranged Touch Attack Spells and AOOs: When you cast a spell that allows you to make a ranged touch attack (such as scorching ray), and an enemy is within reach, do you provoke two attacks of opportunity?

Yes, you provoke two attacks of opportunity: one for casting the spell and one for making a ranged attack, since these are two separate events.
(Note that at spell that fires multiple simultaneous rays, such as scorching ray, only provokes one AOO for making the ranged attack instead of one AOO for each ranged attack. It still provokes for casting the spell.
This answer originally appeared in the 9/11/12 Paizo blog.

—Pathfinder Design Team, 03/01/13


Diego Rossi wrote:
DetectiveKatana wrote:
It's not about Spell Fluff, it's about functionality and specificity. I will say this, though, I do not believe there is a spell that you make an attack roll with that is NOT weaponlike. Clenched Fist was an example but I don't think it counts because it is like spiritual weapon, the hand is a separate entity making the attack roll.

Shocking grasp is "weapon like" for you?

Chill touch?
Acid splash?

There are specific combat feats that you can use with those spells, but they don't resemble a weapon in any way.

Being able to use Weapon Focus and similar feats with a spell is what MAKES it weapon-like. That's the definition.

So if the original context of this was how the rules are treating weapons different, then there's a bit of a point here. Scorching Ray is weapon-like, yet is treated different from a bow or something where you might have multiple attacks with multiple attack rolls. But in a way that's not here nor there, if only because "weapon-like" only means you can use certain feats with it.

That said, this doesn't do much to handle other spells like Holy Ice. Almost no other multi-attack roll spells specify that the attacks are simultaneous.

Personally, if I were doing these spells from the ground up, I'd probably do a few things:
1. Limit the maximum number attacks based on the spell/caster level -- and have an overall cap at something like 4/5 attacks.

2. Some spells like Scorching Ray or Holy Ice would have a number of Shots. Each Ray in Scorching Ray is a shot, basically a fixed package of damage. This could apply to stuff like multi-shot too (hey the names even match up!)

3. An "attack" would mean one attack roll. It could have multiple shots attached to it.

4. Scorching Ray and other spells would allow you to attack as a Volley or a Barrage. The former would group all the shots of the spell together into one attack roll. This roll would benefit from one-time effects like invisibility. One SA per Shot. A Barrage would fire each shot one after another -- first shot uses one-time effects, but SA and other once-per-attack effects would apply to each Attack of a Barrage.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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DetectiveKatana wrote:
So is "Touch" a different weapon for weapon focus purposes as "ranged touch" and would that be different than "Ray"?

I don't think we've ever said a character can choose "touch" or "ranged touch" as a valid choice for feats such as Weapon Focus and Improved Critical. We have said you can choose "bomb" and "ray."

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Drachasor wrote:
So if the original context of this was how the rules are treating weapons different, then there's a bit of a point here. Scorching Ray is weapon-like, yet is treated different from a bow or something where you might have multiple attacks with multiple attack rolls.

Well...

Scorching ray fires simultaneous shots, and you make multiple attack rolls, and the rules say you only get sneak attack with one shot.
Bow shots with iterative attacks are not simultaneous, and you make multiple attack rolls, and the rules say you can get sneak attack with each shot.
Bow shots with feats like Manyshot are two simultaneous shots, you make one attack roll, and the feat says you only apply sneak attack once.

Different circumstances, different things. That's why the rules treat them differently.


That line of reasoning suggests that non-spell abilities which effect multiple simultaneous attack rolls should also be subject to that paradigm, although the FAQ itself only applies to spells currently.

I am thinking about the Manticore Spikes ability, or Giant Porcupine Quills, they don't literally spell out 'simultaneous' but it seems strongly implied. I had thought the Archer Fighter ability "Volley" was simultaneous, but on second glance I don't really think that's suggested by the ability. Regardless of specific abilities, IF THERE IS a mundane/non-spell simultaneous multi-attack roll ability, should it be subject to the same paradigm?


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Drachasor wrote:
So if the original context of this was how the rules are treating weapons different, then there's a bit of a point here. Scorching Ray is weapon-like, yet is treated different from a bow or something where you might have multiple attacks with multiple attack rolls.

Well...

Scorching ray fires simultaneous shots, and you make multiple attack rolls, and the rules say you only get sneak attack with one shot.
Bow shots with iterative attacks are not simultaneous, and you make multiple attack rolls, and the rules say you can get sneak attack with each shot.
Bow shots with feats like Manyshot are two simultaneous shots, you make one attack roll, and the feat says you only apply sneak attack once.

Different circumstances, different things. That's why the rules treat them differently.

Properly speaking, the rules treat Manyshot differently because Manyshot explicitly says they do. Specific rules trump general rules after all. Well, that's how it was in 3.5 I hope it is the same in Pathfinder, otherwise everyone will have to memorize every feat, magical item, spell, and other ability in the game and figure out what they all imply about each other...and that's insane.

The rules, as written, do not say Precision damage doesn't work on simultaneous attacks. They do not even say it doesn't work on one attack that rolls damage to fire two shots.

Precision Damage wrote:
Precision damage is a special type of damage, which might more appropriately be called a "category" of damage because any of the other damage types listed here might also be considered "precision" damage under the right circumstances. Precision damage is usually dealt by classes like the rogue when he is able to catch an opponent unable to fully protect itself. Precision damage assumes that the target has a somewhat normal anatomy or at least has a physical form which might have weak spots which could be detected or taken advantage of. Previous editions of the game (prior to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game) limited what sorts of creatures are vulnerable to precision damage more than the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game does. This was a deliberate change to make a key class feature of classes like the rogue more frequently usable. Attacks which affect areas (such as splash weapons) usually do not deal precision damage.

Nothing about limitations due to multiple attacks of any kind.

Sneak Attack wrote:

if a rogue can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

The rogue's attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target. This extra damage is 1d6 at 1st level, and increases by 1d6 every two rogue levels thereafter. Should the rogue score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied. Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet.

With a weapon that deals nonlethal damage (like a sap, whip, or an unarmed strike), a rogue can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage. She cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack, not even with the usual –4 penalty.

The rogue must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment.

Again, nothing about limitations due to multiple attacks of any kind.

Any straightforward interpretation of the rules would indicate that SA should apply to any attack where you flank the target or it is denied AC -- as long as the target isn't immune or has concealment (or something else perhaps that blocks vision).

Errata to the rules is fine, but if you are going to have errata, shouldn't you just adjust the text on Precision Damage and perhaps Sneak Attack? Wouldn't that be more straightforward and lead to fewer questions in the future? For instance, the reasoning of the SA + Scorching Ray attack hinges on "simultaneous" which almost no other spell with multiple attack has in its description. That would make it far more accessible and easier to understand. I'd also think it would be wise to consider a more systematic approach to spells and abilities with multiple attacks (like I mentioned above), including limiting the number of attack rolls so it doesn't take undue handling time to resolve.

The problem with acting like "this just makes sense" is that it's not what the rules say and it isn't intuitively obvious either. It's errata in all but name, or perhaps Paizo House Rules. But this means to play by those rules instead of the book rules you'd have to come through all the FAQ questions and memorize all the little exceptions and differences to what the rules actually say. That's a headache.


BTW, just to verify/clarify the FAQ: you need to select one of the simultaneous attack rolls to be the one that would apply sneak attack before rolling any of them, so if that attack misses then none of the other attacks would do sneak attack? i.e. you don't get to apply sneak attack to one of the ones that hit, it must be decided before resolving hits/misses and if it is a miss (from AC or miss chance) then you lose out on the sneak attack...?


Exactly.

The rules didn't say that scorching ray and other simultaneous attacks only get sneak attack once, -until this FAQ said so-.

Up until then, the rules were: Multiple attack rolls, multiple sneak attacks. Provided the conditions were still satisfied of course(hence the only the first attack from invisibility, because you aren't invisible after the first one).

Exceptions were made for multiple damage abilities using a single attack roll (manyshot, vital strike)

and for the ability Sneak Spells, which allows spells without an attack roll to qualify for sneak attack, once per spell.

This FAQ actually changes a single spell only, so far as I know, because all the other examples in the original question don't have simultaneous in the description, so are not affected, or specify number attacks that are separated, so are not affected.

This was why I disagreed with it when you first outlined your logic.

It looked like a knee jerk reaction to the 4d6+10d6 x 3 in a single action, (which at that point is actually low, and costs around 330 gp/shot. At 19th level, around... 84x3 damage vs the most common resistance in the game.) A normal archer without any sneak attack at all does more than that.


Now that people mention it, how many spells are actually called out as being simultaneous.

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