Ranged Touch Spells and Bard Songs


Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

If a bard is singing, and a wizard fires acid splash, do they get the +1 damage?


Not with acid splash. But with rays, like ray of frost you would.
The reason is that rays count as weapons and other ranged touch spells do not.

Grand Lodge

Could someone define a 'ray'?


Rays are described as such under Effect.

Ray of Frost
School evocation [cold]; Level sorcerer/wizard 0
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect ray
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes
A ray of freezing air and ice projects from your pointing finger. You must succeed on a ranged touch attack with the ray to deal damage to a target. The ray deals 1d3 points of cold damage.

Acid Splash
School conjuration (creation) [acid]; Level sorcerer/wizard 0
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect one missile of acid
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no
You fire a small orb of acid at the target. You must succeed on a ranged touch attack to hit your target. The orb deals 1d3 points of acid damage. This acid disappears after 1 round.

Grand Lodge

But... it's a missile, of acid. That sounds like a weapon? Just like an arrow is a missile.

Grand Lodge

So if you use fiery shuriken, for example. Despite being shuriken, that you have to aim, that you can crit with. It's not counted as a weapon?


Doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?

Grand Lodge

The more I look, the less I agree. The definition of a ray appears to be 'A spell that requires an attack roll and does damage', nothing else.

Paizo Employee

I've always read the +1 to weapon damage meaning damage done USING a weapon. Though the spell effects are described as "missile" "projectile" etc, that's just fluff & doesn't actually create a weapon.

Grand Lodge

I see it as +1 damage when you're actually directing the impact and your input can actually cause it to be more or less lethal.

A fireball is a fireball. You choose where it explodes, but it will explode in exactly the same way every time. There is no aiming besides deciding where it goes boom.

A scorching ray, fiery shuriken, acid splash, or acid arrow is literally flung by the mage, relying on their dexterity, not their mind powers, to land accurately, and can score a hit on a better or worse part of the target. This is why you can crit with them, why they can be deflected or dodged, even by non rogues, and why it makes perfect sense that it would count.

A mage that is feeling super amped will produce the exact same fireball, because it's out of his/her control. A mage that is feeling super amped could score an acid splash to the face or a fiery shuriken between plates of the opponent's armor for maximum pain.

Grand Lodge

More RAW support:

PRD wrote:

Effect: Some spells create or summon things rather than affecting things that are already present.

You must designate the location where these things are to appear, either by seeing it or defining it. Range determines how far away an effect can appear, but if the effect is mobile, after it appears it can move regardless of the spell's range.

Ray: Some effects are rays. You aim a ray as if using a ranged weapon, though typically you make a ranged touch attack rather than a normal ranged attack. As with a ranged weapon, you can fire into the dark or at an invisible creature and hope you hit something. You don't have to see the creature you're trying to hit, as you do with a targeted spell. Intervening creatures and obstacles, however, can block your line of sight or provide cover for the creature at which you're aiming.

If a ray spell has a duration, it's the duration of the effect that the ray causes, not the length of time the ray itself persists.

If a ray spell deals damage, you can score a critical hit just as if it were a weapon. A ray spell threatens a critical hit on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage on a successful critical hit.

This is under the sorts of effect areas a spell can have. A spell is either direct(single or x creatures/objects), cone, cylinder, sphere, line, emination, burst, spread, or RAY.

There is no category, in RAW, that is 'aimed but not a ray', it just doesn't exist. If you aim it, it's a ray. Done deal, nice and simple.


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Nuku wrote:
The definition of a ray appears to be 'A spell that requires an attack roll and does damage', nothing else.

A ray is a spell where the Effect line says "ray".

If the Effect is not Ray, then it's not a ray.

Nuku wrote:
A scorching ray, fiery shuriken, acid splash, or acid arrow is literally flung by the mage, relying on their dexterity, not their mind powers, to land accurately, and can score a hit on a better or worse part of the target. This is why you can crit with them, why they can be deflected or dodged, even by non rogues, and why it makes perfect sense that it would count.

You could argue that those are weapon-like spells (like flame blade, mage's sword, and spiritual weapon) and thus they count as weapons, but they are not rays, and Weapon Specialization (ray) would not apply to them.

FAQ 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.

—Sean K Reynolds, 07/29/11

It specifically notes that fireball does not count.

Fireball: "If you attempt to send the bead through a narrow passage, such as through an arrow slit, you must “hit” the opening with a ranged touch attack, or else the bead strikes the barrier and detonates prematurely."

So a fireball can require a ranged touch attack, but it's specifically called out as not a weapon. Since rays are weapons, that means fireball is not a ray. That also means a ray cannot be defined as 'A spell that requires an attack roll and does damage'.

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